The animated feature Abominable centers on Yi (Chloe Bennet), a teenager who discovers a young Yeti living on the roof of her apartment complex in Shanghai. Yi and her friends are determined to bring this creature, whom they have affectionately named Everest, back to his family in the Himalayas.
“I never connected with princesses, said Bennet who’s best known for her work on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “I never felt that was something I saw in myself so the idea (behind) Abominable and that Yi as a character will inspire young girls to feel okay with themselves is really exciting.”
Click on the media bar to hear Bennet talk about she shares similar character traits with Yi:
Abominable was the #1 last weekend, taking in 20.8 million.
Low Tide centers on Alan (Keean Johnson), a high school youth who spends his summer breaking into the homes of New Jersey residents with his friends Red (Alex Neustaedter) and Smitty (Daniel Zolghardri). During one of their exploits, Alan brings his younger brother Peter (Jaeden Martell) along, and they find a bag of gold coins in the home of a recently deceased man.
Directed and penned by Kevin McMullin, Low Tide is an introspective and compelling thriller about brotherhood and the perils of greed, and during out interview with Keean Johnson he talked about his immediate attraction to the project.
“Not only did he write the best script that I had read that year, but he also put a little treatment together,” said Johnson. “He spent one day walking around New Jersey just shooting certain things – he just wanted to make this lookbook of how he envisioned the movie looking and feeling. It was a short little video and that small video triggered such a passion. I saw the look and aesthetic he was bringing to this guerilla shoot. He was shooting by himself. I knew then I wanted to be a part of (Low Tide) in any capacity.”
In the past couple of years, Johnson has collaborated with directors Roland Emmerich (upcoming feature Midway), James Cameron, (Alita: Battle Angel) and now McMullin (who’s a first-timer). Click on the media bar to hear Johnson talk about taking in “so much” information and lessons from these filmmakers:
Directed by Noah Hawley (Legion), Lucy in the Sky centers on Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman), an astronaut who has problems adapting back to daily life after a profound journey into space. Jon Hamm is fellow astronaut Mark Goodwin who embarks on an affair with Lucy.
“It’s about what happens when your perspective is suddenly shifted with the advent of a very unique experience,” said Hamm. “And that experience is going into space and seeing the world and your life and the relationships in a completely different light.”
The picture is loosely based on Lisa Nowak’s respective trials as a NASA astronaut and adjusting to civilian life. Click on the media bar to hear Jon Hamm talk about the “artistry” and “subtlety” behind Lucy in the Sky.
Lucy in the Sky, directed by Noah Hawley, opens nationwide October 4.
Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock explored the unhealthy aspects of solely eating McDonald’s for one month in Super Size Me, and with Super Size Me 2: Holy Chickenhe continues his exploration of the fast food industry.
This time out Spurlock takes on the seemingly impenetrable business of “Big Chicken.” In the documentary we witness Spurlock attempt to open his own fast food restaurant (named Holy Chicken) as well as grow his own chickens in the process. The plight of the chicken farmers (the subjects interviewed are heavily in debt) as well as the manipulative ways corporations promote their fried chicken sandwich are among the subjects tackled buy Spurlock. If you’re a fan of Spurlock’s filmmaking, then Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken should definitely be up your ally.
“I think a lot of people are shocked when they learn about the chicken farmers and I think a lot of people are also shocked when they learn about the chicken industry in general,” said Spurlock, whose other directing credits include Freakonomics and Mansome. “When they start to see the labeling practices of Big Chicken. When they start to understand how misleading things like all natural or hormone free, or free range actually is to them, people get angry. People get taken aback. They want to go out and do something. I think that type of motivation is what you hope comes out of a film like this. You hope people come out of the movie instead of feeling meh or nonchalant, you hope that they are motivated in some way to activate some change.”
Click on the media bar to hear Spurlock discuss the secrets to collaboration as a filmmaker.
Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken is available On Demand.
One of this year’s surprise indie features is Well Go USA’s Freaks, a sci-fi thriller about a young girl named Chloe (Lexy Kolker) who is forced to remain inside her home thanks to her paranoid father (Emile Hirsch).
Her dad believes the world is out to harm both of them, but when Chloe encounters a mysterious man named Mr. Snowcone, she starts venturing out into the real world.
The picture, which is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, features a standout performance from Kolker, whom Dern believes is a naturally talented actress.
“She sees everything and she gets everything,” said Dern. “And that’s amazing. She’s on to it. If you’re trying to be too nice to her or are you trying to get pissed off at her, she’s on it right away. (She’ll say) ‘Well why are you mad at me?’ I saw that look in your face, you just didn’t like what I did. She sees it but she tells you. You can thank Mom and Dad for that because they obviously let her open up when she was young. So she’s a natural. She can go wherever she wants in this business.”
Dern has had a fantastic year cinema wise, as he’s also starred in the critically acclaimed features Once Upon A Time In Hollywoodand The Peanut Butter Falcon. Click on the media bar to hear him explain why he was more than happy to collaborate with Freaks directors Adam Stein and Zach Lipovsky (co-star Amanda Crew can be heard in the sound bite):
Laurence Fishburne stars in the character driven narrative Imprisoned, as he plays a vengeful prison warden named Daniel Calvin. Dylan Burke (Juan Pablo Raba) is a reformed ex-convict who is now settled down with a loving woman named Maria (Juana Acosta). Daniel is determined to exact revenge over Dylan and ultimately the film becomes a battle of wills between the strong willed individuals.
Shot in Puerto Rico, the picture was penned, produced, and directed by Paul Kampf, an artist whose background in theater helped inform him as a filmmaker. Building a theater from the ground up as well as becoming a founder at Equitas Entertainment, Kampf understands that sometimes one needs more than one particular job to get a film made.
“Now I’ve come to understand that it tends to be what’s required to get something going,” said Kampf, who cites his theater experience as a foundation for taking a big picture approach to his filmmaking. “You’re the writer and you try to introduce it to financiers to get behind it and then you have to convince them the project is worthwhile to invest in as a producer. And then you have to convince them that you’re the right director for the project. The hats just shift around depending on which room you’re in.”
One of Imprisoned’s strongest assets lies in the tension and chemistry between Juan Pablo Raba and Laurence Fishburne. Click on the media bar to hear Kampf talk about the actors’ working dynamic during production.
Imprisoned, now playing in New York, hits Los Angeles on Friday, September 20 and Chicago on September 27.