28 June, 2016

"The Shallows" Review (***½)

Blake Lively stars in "The Shallows."

This may just be me, but when I first set eyes on the trailer for “The Shallows” I scoffed a good scoff; it seemed like an on-the-nose title for what would surely be a shallow shark-trope jump-scare film, made bearable only by a beautiful locale.

I was very wrong—so thrilled to be wrong.

“The Shallows” is an impressive departure from the fairly baseline arena of the action/horror genre that director Jaume Collet-Serra has thus far resided in. I went in expecting the shark-equivalent of a slasher, where I’d likely want the chick to die mid-way through and be done with it. Instead what I had the pleasure of imbibing was a bonafide triumph story. One of those involuntary reflex fist-in-the-air stories, where you feel genuinely engaged in the struggle and cheer for the victories. Yeah!

"Me Before You" Review (***)

Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke star in "Me Before You."

Director Thea Sharrock's film adaptation of Jojo Moye's 2012 best-selling novel doesn't quite meet the expectations that its textual counterpart set. The simultaneous depth and quirk that filled up every inch of the novel's two primary characters, Louisa and Will, didn't translate between the two mediums. Where the novel was round, the film was flat, and truly it's as simple as that. That's my primary critique. It's not a bad movie, it's really not. Jojo Moyes adapted her own work and included just enough to capture the essence of the plot and also created characters substantial enough to carry the weight—both emotional and physical—of the story. Despite the disparity between the two mediums, however, it's unarguable that this movie will be a 2016 hit. Sam Claflin as the handsome but ruthless quadriplegic Will Traynor, and Emilia Clarke as the effervescent, hopelessly-optimistic caretaker are perfect. They're mesmerizing on screen, and the chemistry could spark a fire even on the mistiest of nights. They're stunning and they make their acting, particularly the emotionally straining scenes, effortless and right. They're genuine and endearing. Additionally, Emilia Clark has, uncontestably, the most expressive eyebrows in Hollywood.

26 May, 2016

"V/H/S" and "The Signal" Producer Linda Burns Teaches Script Breakdown & Budgeting Workshops June 4th & 5th

Linda Burns, long-time Atlanta filmmaker and instructor of The PA Academy (presented by Atlanta Film Society and Georgia Production Partnership), is offering several workshops in June that will appeal to those looking to break into the film industry in Georgia, or professionals looking to hone their skills in breaking down, scheduling and budgeting their scripts.

One way that Burns earned a stellar reputation in Atlanta's film community was by staying here in the 1990s and 2000s, when much of the state's film business was stagnant. After the film boom began in the mid-to-late 2000s, Burns' educational offerings and partnerships with ATLFS and GPP became wildly popular. Well known for producing television and commercial work, Burns also has produced indie smash hits "The Signal" and "V/H/S."

On Saturday June 4th, Burns is teaching the first of a two-part workshop—Breakdown & Schedule Your Indie Script—followed by her entry-level class—Create a Proper Film Resume. On Sunday, June 5th, she will follow-up with part-two—Budget Your Indie Script.

19 May, 2016

#GAfilm Review: "The Nice Guys" (***½)

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling star in "The Nice Guys."

“The Nice Guys” jostles your funny bone and warms the part of your heart (the top right half, I think) that stores all your nostalgia. It makes you admire a time, or even a mentality, that you didn't know you missed. I wasn't alive in the 1970s and I'm not a violent person, but this is a time/universe I want to occupy (minus the guns and danger), even if only for a day.

It’s indubitably a Shane Black film—dialogue that sizzles and jokes that zing. There’s also some violence, raucous behavior, perfectly 70s outfits, and lots of glorious vinyl. Black directed as well as co-wrote the script with writing partner Anthony Bagarozzi. 1977 is as much a character in this film as its two stars, the moralistically misguided Jackson Healy (played by the talented and surprisingly bellied Russell Crowe) and the shambled mess of a detective, Holland March (Ryan Gosling, handsome even in his drunken stupor).

09 May, 2016

"Everybody Wants Some!!" Review (***½)

Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin and Ryan Guzman star in
"Everybody Wants Some!!"

Richard Linklater’s filmography is chock-full of some of the most influential and timeless films of the past 20 years. For me, his “Before” trilogy is his best work. The three films—for those who haven’t seen them (yet)—follow a couple’s relationship over the course of about 16 years. Each movie in the trilogy pretty much amounts to a series of conversations between the two leads as we check in on them at different points in their lives. The director’s focus on passing time and nostalgia is perfectly represented in these three films. Linklater seems to have a fascination with hindsight that allows his films to not only get better and better with age, but to sneak up on you and pack way more of a punch than you might have expected before the final credits start to roll.

07 May, 2016

#GAfilm Review: "Captain America: Civil War"

Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. star in "Captain America: Civil War."

Taking pause from the tropes, "Captain America: Civil War" sobers the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in eloquent and effective fashion; asking its audience, clearly and concisely, to consider the cost. For once in the MCU’s history, we don’t have mass-casualties justified by 'the greater good,' nor the grand contradiction of heroism that tends to accompany them. Instead, Earth’s mightiest heroes are asked to take a hard look in the mirror and redefine their brand of heroism.

Directors Joe & Anthony Russo impress with how they approach these themes; they’re not flashy or shiny, they don’t use 'entertainment' as an excuse for mindless destruction, and they don’t insult the intelligence of their audience. As I watched this film, I was floored by the risk taken in trading out the big bangs for the big ideas, yet it never once felt like an disingenuous soapbox capitalizing on an election year. Moments that we’ve cheered for in previous installments are replayed for both us and our heroes with renewed, real-world, perspective—allowing us to feel the weight and consequence of their actions, as they do.

04 May, 2016

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival to Honor Lawrence Kasdan with Inaugural Icon Award

At the opening night of the 16th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in January, executive director Kenny Blank announced the organization's next big step in achieving global recognition for their brand—the Icon Award for Contributions to the Cinematic Arts.

Perhaps best known for writing "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Kasdan has also had a tremendously successful career as a director and producer, making films such as "Body Heat," "The Big Chill," "The Accidental Tourist," "Grand Canyon" and "Wyatt Earp." Kasdan has received four Academy Award nominations across three categories (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay).

06 March, 2016

Sign a Petition to Get Donald Glover to Take "Atlanta" to the Atlanta Film Festival!

Donald Glover is a hero in his hometown of Atlanta. Establishing himself as a force in film, television, comedy and music, Glover has garnered a huge fanbase through work as a writer on shows like "30 Rock," an actor on TV's "Community" and films such as "The Martian" and "Magic Mike XXL," as a stand-up comic and as a recording artist and DJ using the stage names Childish Gambino and mcDJ.

In 2015, it was announced that Glover would create, write, produce and star in a new show for FX titled "Atlanta." Production is currently underway (filming in Atlanta), but the show is already highly anticipated. Set for a summer 2016 premiere, we think it would be perfect for Glover to bring the show to ATLFF this spring.

We want Donald Glover to come to the 2016 Atlanta Film Festival, which takes place April 1-10. Whether he screens an episode or not, we want Glover there to talk about the show, his career and our city. We've heard from inside sources that ATLFF has invited Glover, but has yet to be able to firm up any plans. We hope to use 1,000+ signatures to encourage Glover to attend the 40th annual festival and show off his new work.

13 February, 2016

"Time to Say Goodbye" Review (***½)

Maximilian Ehrenreich stars as Simon in "Time to Say Goodbye."

To what, you ask? Great question. A question the closing title frame resolves with an iteration of this German film's original German release title: "Simon sagt 'Auf Wiedersehen' zu seiner Vorhaut"—or, "Simon Says Goodbye to His Foreskin"—a title as straightforward as this comedy's charm. Twelve-year-old Simon Grünberg (Maximilian Ehrenreich, "The Book of Life") approaches his Bar Mitzvah in the midst of his parents' marital separation. His recently observant Jewish father (Florian Setter) advocates for his circumcision, seeing the significance of his son's covenant with God as a non-negotiable rite of passage. His mother (Lavinia Wilson), a fiery and headstrong erotica author, finds this appalling and refuses to subject her son to circumcision for the sake of pious rules. Simon, for lack of a better term, is torn.

10 February, 2016

The Local Lense on the Red Carpet Premiere of "Race"

Hosts Beth Keener and Greer Howard hit the red carpet for the Atlanta premiere of Stephen Hopkins' "Race," starring Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, Carice van Houten. 

Beth Keener & Greer Howard hit the red carpet at Atlantic Station in Atlanta for the premiere of "Race."  The movie tells the incredible story of US Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens. Thrust onto the world stage during the 1936 Olympics in Germany, he faces off against Hilter's Nazi regime. "Race" is an inspirational film about courage, determination and friendship.

Beth & Greer interview star Stephan James, who trained for the film at Georgia Tech while he was in town filming "Selma" in 2014. Actress Kim Fields hosted the evening, which was also attended by Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges.

Check out the video below. "Race" opens nationwide on February 19th.