Pick of the Litter – August 2015

BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four

(20th Century Fox) Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Jamie Bell. The Fantastic Four is one of Marvel’s signature properties, a superhero team that for many years was one of their go-to comic book franchises. It hasn’t translated well cinematically, with two movies whose light tone alienated a lot of fans. Fox is trying to reboot the franchise with Josh Trank (Chronicle) at the helm and a more modern take on a series that has taken criticism for being behind the times. Marvel recently canceled the comic book series and is refusing to promote the movie which doesn’t bode well for their relationship with Fox, who also owns the X-Men cinematic rights. Still, a good movie can cure a lot of ill will, and there are those who think that this might be the movie that establishes Reed Richards and company as a blockbuster film franchise. August 7

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet

Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet

(GKIDS) Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek, John Krasinski, Quvenzhane Wallis. One of the great artists of the early 20th century was the Lebanese-born Gibran. A true Renaissance man, he was a philosopher, poet, writer, painter and counterculture icon. His best known work is The Prophet, in which the prophet Almustafa, on the way to the docks to board a boat that will take him home after 12 years of exile, stops to talk to nine different people about various facets of life. Taking the form of prose poetry, there are poems within the novel that have been animated by separate directors in the movie with a variety of styles. From the trailer, the movie looks visually stunning. This could be a masterpiece of animation if the rest of the movie is as good. August 7

Call Me Lucky

Call Me Lucky

(MPI) Barry Crimmins, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Marc Maron. Barry Crimmins is one of those comedians who was better known to stand-up comics than to the general public. His humor was topical and his style confrontational. He pulled no punches, he’d hold no bars. And yet beneath all that anger beat a compassionate heart, particularly for those who suffered the same childhood that he had – and there were many who did. When he discovered that sexual predators were using America Online to find children for pornography and sexual encounters, he knew he had to put a stop to it. He took his fight all the way to Congress. This stirring documentary is the work of friend and colleague Bobcat Goldthwaite. August 7

How to Smell a Rose-A Visit with Ricky Leacock on His Farm in Normandy

How to Smell a Rose: A Visit With Ricky Leacock on His Farm in Normandy

(Film Forum) Richard Leacock, Valérie Lalonde. Master documentarian Les Blank turns his cameras on a colleague, a cinematographer who helped pioneer the hand-held camera which paved the way for modern documentaries today. Leacock now lives a bucolic life on a farm in Normandy (hence the somewhat unnecessarily unwieldy title) but his recollections go back to the post-war era when he started creating compelling cinema. Indie cinema wouldn’t exist without him. August 12

People Places Things

People Places Things

(The Film Arcade) Jemaine Clement, Regina Hall, Jessica Williams, Stephanie Allyne. A Kiwi ex-pat living in New York City and working as a teacher, comes home one day to find his wife cheating on him. Already possessed of a kind of miserable life outlook, he completely falls apart but a new relationship with an African-American colleague gives him a hopeful outlook which he transfers to his twin daughters. Yes I know it sounds fairly typical, but anything with Jemaine Clement in it is bound to be extraordinary and the trailer for this indicates that this won’t be any exception. August 14

We Come as Friends

We Come as Friends

(FilmBuff) Hubert Sauper, David Gressley. Oscar-nominated documentarian Sauper followed up his Darwin’s Nightmare with a new film about the partitioning of Sudan with the new nation South Sudan breaking away in 2011. The complicated politics, the exploitation of her resources and the lingering colonialism and imperialism are all caught by Sauper’s unblinking eye. Using a plane he built himself to fly into remote areas, Sauper goes into remote parts of the South Sudan to talk to people who have no voice and less hope. August 14

Digging For Fire

Digging for Fire

(The Orchard) Orlando Bloom, Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt. The latest from prolific director Joe Swanberg features his most star-studded ensemble cast yet. When a husband finds a gun and a bone on the hillside behind their home, it sends the two of them careening on separate adventures over the course of a weekend. With an impressive cast, mumblecore vet Swanberg looks to put together one of his quirkiest and yet most accessible films yet. Generally, his movies are always interesting even when they don’t always succeed. August 21

 

 

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