21 November, 2014

Review: "Wish I Was Here" (**1/2)

Pierce Gagnon, Zach Braff and Joey King star in "Wish I Was Here"

I was bouncing with anticipation prior to watching Zach Braff's most recent, crowdfunded, writing/directorial feature "Wish I Was Here," which is why I'm disheartened to write what is about to be an extremely lukewarm review. Perhaps part of this feeling results from my difficulty in disassociating "Wish I Was Here" from "Garden State."

I loved "Garden State." Though I wouldn’t rank it among my Top Ten, it easily ranks among my Top Twenty Favorite Films. It’s strange and expressive and not at all geometrical. The soundtrack in "Garden State" is purposeful and thoughtful and fulfills its duty in emotionally supporting the characters without inundating them in anyway. The evolution of the soundtrack is perfectly synonymous with the growth of the characters. In “Wish I Was Here,” I found there to be a nearly opposite effect. I was so interested in the song choices that I stopped thinking about the movie and focused on the lyrics and instrumentals in the songs themselves. They’re gorgeous songs, and I’m glad to have heard them, but the soundtrack didn’t at all enhance my viewing of the film, if anything it removed me from it.

Savannah Film Festival Opens With Victor Levin's "5 to 7" (**½)

Crowds wait below the Trustees Theatre marquee on Broughton Street.

The 2013 Savannah Film Festival showcased a few strong films—"The Past," "The Invisible Woman," "Hank & Asha"—and honored some worthy guests—Alexander Payne, Jeremy Irons, Abigail Breslin. The overall quality of content, however, was down from in years past. The 2013 opening night film, "Nebraska," certainly had the right pedigree and was attended by both director Payne and star Bruce Dern. Previous opening night films have included "Silver Linings Playbook" and "The Artist," so you could have colored me surprised when I learned this year's opening night film was one that wasn't even on my radar—Victor Levin's "5 to 7."

With Oscar-hunting films like "The Imitation Game," "Whiplash" and "Foxcatcher" included in the lineup, I'm surprised that "5 to 7" was chosen as the film to kick it off. The movie premiered earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival and features Anton Yelchin and Bérénice Marlohe as lead players with Glenn Close, Frank Langella, Olivia Thirlby and Lambert Wilson in supporting roles.

20 November, 2014

Review: "Beginners" (****½)

Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, and this adorable Jack Russell Terrier
star in "Beginners"

If heartstrings were things to be actually played, mine would be in perfect harmony. “Beginners” is a film where, upon reflection now while writing this, I can’t help but smile and hug myself. It’s a gorgeous story that so seamlessly elevates storytelling to a new level of honesty, hilarity and tragedy.

I feel it fair to mention that this is a film I’ve seen four times, and the superb, though often misspelled 95-paged screenplay is a lovely piece of work with which I’ve now read twice. I’ve read Mike Mills reviews and interviews and commentary on this film; it’s a problem for me that when I love something, I nearly smother it to death. I choke every last breath out of the thing for two reason I think: one, for the pure and honest sake of information; and two, to prove I love it the most. And with “Beginners,” I’ve upturned every rock, looked under every pebble, read the tweets, explored the blogs, smiled at the reviews; I’ve discovered and read and digested nearly everything you can on this movie, and I love it no less for having done so. The only thing left for me to do is write about it, which brings us to now.

Review: "Gone Girl" (****½)

Editor's Note: It is a pleasure to introduce you to the newest part of the Reel Georgia team, Ali Coad. I met Ali in early 2014, when we both began working for the Atlanta Film Festival. Ali holds a degree in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Georgia, so you'll have to pardon my writing once you read hers. But however eloquent she may be—and she is very eloquent—everything Ali writes exudes a crystalline sincerity, as if your best friend is writing to you personally. I know y'all will enjoy all that Ali has to offer and I look forward to reading every word. -CM

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in "Gone Girl" 

I had read Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl” prior to seeing director David Fincher’s captivating adaptation, and in my humble opinion, this film lives up to all the volcanic hype and energy that presupposed it’s release. I liked the movie just as much as, it seems, most people did. I saw this film with a friend of mine who was in the enviable, nearly-impossible position of knowing nothing about this movie; I don’t really know how that happened, but it did. She knew who Ben Affleck was and, really, that’s about it. And when the twists and turns came, as we all knew they would, I’d catch small glimpses of her reactions and there was this beautiful, thrilling purity to it. Despite knowing what was going to happen, I still loved the intricate flimflam, but the electric magic of the big reveal was lost on me simply because I saw it coming. I still enjoyed it, but it didn’t pack the same punch for me as it did for my friend.

“Gone Girl” is the story of Amy and Nick Dunne. How from the outside looking in, they have a loving, perfect marriage. Fincher reinforces this idea by filming them through long hallways, through windows, in closed-off spaces; he really highlights the claustrophobia that can, sometimes though not always, accompany a partnership, even a loving one. It’s fair to say, like any other couple, that Amy and Nick struggle: Nick looses a job, his mom gets sick, Amy has parental pressures and obligations, they move, they argue over children. But at the end of the day, they love each other. Or so it seems.

16 November, 2014

An Instagram Reel of the 2014 Savannah Film Festival

In the past, We've posted some photos directly on here from around town for various festivals. But since the @ReelGA Instagram account remains pretty active while we are fest-ing, I'll just share what the 2014 Savannah Film Festival looked like with those of you who may not be following us on the photo app.

We took a lot of pictures of stars on the red carpet, the historic spires and structures of downtown Savannah and of the bright lights of the Trustees and Lucas Theatre marquees. The cream of the crop made it to Instagram. Enjoy! Make sure you are following @ReelGA for more throughout the year (even though not everything is #GAfilm related).

Check out over a dozen photos after the jump!

15 November, 2014

Call for Entries Open for Macon Film Festival

Earlier this year, the Macon Film Festival announced it would move from February to July for it's 10th annual festival in 2015. The move is in collaboration with the Bragg Jam Music, Arts and Kids Festival. Together, the two fests will form a 10-day event in downtown Macon, celebrating the best of the city's vibrant arts community.

Along with the new dates, new submissions dates are also in place. The Early Bird deadline closes on Monday, November 17th with the regular deadline closing in two months, on January 12th, 2015. Click here to learn more about submitting your film.

The 2015 Macon Film Festival takes place July 16-19, 2015 and features $13,000 in prize money across several different short film and feature film categories. The Macon Film Festival has quickly made a huge impression on Georgia's film festival circuit. This move to July will only further solidify the festival's unique presence.

27 October, 2014

Savannah Film Festival Adds Screening of "Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me" With Special Guests

The Savannah Film Festival has added a special screening of the documentary "Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me." The film aptly premiered at the Nashville Film Festival back in April and played a few other festivals before opening in New York City this past weekend.

The country music legend's struggle with Alzheimer's disease has been no secret. The film centers around his farewell tour throughout the United States, Australia and Europe. Director/producer James Keach will be in attendance alongside Jane Seymour, who also served as a producer. Glen Campbell's wife Kim Campbell will also be present.

"Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me" plays Saturday, November 1st at 4 PM at the SCAD Museum of Art. 

25 October, 2014

22 Films to See at the 2014 Savannah Film Festival

Did you know that in the now 17-year history of the Savannah Film Festival, it has never rained? Autumn in Savannah is an incredible thing. Warm days, cool nights and although the live oaks don't carry the same bright colors as the trees up north, this city is colorful enough. But the amazing fall feelings and beautiful weather are just a couple of reasons why we love attending this festival. A diverse and exceptional group of films is the main draw.

The usual Oscar players are in the mix this year, with films like "Foxcatcher," "The Imitation Game" and "Whiplash" dotting the lineup. Foreign fare like "Two Days, One Night" and "Parisian" add some cultural flavor while the slate of indie features seems like it might make for SAVFF's strongest competition lineups yet. Documentaries are plentiful, seeing as a 'Docs to Watch' series adds eight of the most highly buzzed non-fiction works of the year to an already healthy group of films. Georgia-based and produced documentary "Paradise Garden: Howard Finster's Legacy" has played at various places across the state in recent months and is competing for a jury prize here.

It is refreshing to see lesser-known—but still promising—titles like "5 to 7" and "Escobar: Paradise Lost" in opening and closing night slots, rather than some of the bigger titles playing mid-week.

We've highlighted 22—yes, twenty-two—films for you to check out at this year's festival. It's going to be a great one. You've got eight days, so get started!

24 October, 2014

Gena Rowlands, Matt Bomer, Analeigh Tipton among honorees at 2014 Savannah Film Festival

The 2014 Savannah Film Festival honorees clockwise from top left:
Gena Rowlands, Matt Bomer, Analeigh Tipton, 
Asa Butterfield

Out of all of Georgia's film festivals—and there are now more than ever—the Savannah Film Festival is the most star-studded. Every year, a bevy of Hollywood's biggest and brightest names come to Georgia's first city to showcase their work and be honored by the now 17-year-old film festival. Last year, Jeremy Irons, Alexander Payne, Natalie Dormer and Abigail Breslin were honorees. Gena Rowlands, Matt Bomer, Analeigh Tipton and Asa Butterfield are this year's special award winners.

20 October, 2014

2014 Savannah Film Festival competition films

The lineup for this year's 17th annual Savannah Film Festival was released earlier this month. While plenty of big Hollywood and international films are featured that will go on to garner awards attention in the coming months, SAVFF also sheds a light on independent film. Below, we've gathered all of the features and short films in competition this year.

Look for more information on the special guests and gala presentations later this week, but in the meantime, check out www.savannahfilmfestival.com for the complete schedule and more information. The festival takes place from October 25th through November 1st.

Narrative Features

Amira and Sam
An army veteran struggles to assimilate back into a country he barely recognizes while trying to win the heart of an Iraqi immigrant who is teetering on the brink of deportation.

When published Japanese author Kyoko Murakai travels to Paris, France, in search of the perfect character to inspire her next novel, she encounters carefree Parisian women and an enigmatic Spaniard across the hall who force her to rethink her own life and marriage.

The Sound and the Shadow
When the 6-year-old girl next door goes missing, Harold realizes that his secret audio recordings of the neighborhood may provide clues to the case. But when his overzealous new roommate Ally pushes him into a dangerous investigation, Harold’s world is turned upside down. “The Sound and the Shadow” examines the perceptions and stories we create from the sounds of our neighbors — and the secrets we hide behind our own walls.

After giving up on his dream of making it in the Chicago improv scene, a young comedian reconnects with the former love of his life while working at a coffee shop in his hometown. Afraid of growing old alone like his recently divorced father, Warren must choose between winning Emma back or finding the courage to go after his dreams a second time.

An unlikely friendship forms in the spectacular Alaskan wilderness, giving a runaway girl hope and sanctuary in America's last frontier.