Making the world safe for filmgoers since 2002.
As I’ve said before, I might do one, maybe two interviews a week in the normal course of events, but during film festival season, the interviews come fast and thick, with film folk visiting San Francisco to preview their work to festival audiences weeks, sometime months, in advance of the release date. And such was the week just passed, with conversations ranging from the unexpected charms of borderline personality disorder to riveting looks at cultural icons. Viz to wit:
Director Shira Piven was in town for the serious comedy, WELCOME TO ME, which opens theatrically and VOD on 5/8. In it, Kristen Wiig dazzles us again as Alice Klieg, a woman whose mental health issues lead her to use her lottery winnings to fund a talk show devoted entirely to herself. I am still miffed that Wiig wasn’t nominated for more awards, including Oscar(tm) for last year’s THE SKELETON TWINS, and I can only hope that this even darker, yet more insightful performance rectifies that oversight.
Brett Haley seems like the least likely person to write and direct a film about a 70-year-old widow on the verge of rejoining the dating pool after 20 year, but then again, perhaps it’s his 31-year-old perspective that makes I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS such a universal story. It speaks movingly to the habit all us us can fall into of being comfortable instead of adventurous, and the surprise of relationships that are unconventional, if only we were open to them. His film opens 5/15.
Bill Pohlad directed LOVE & MERCY with two actors playing Beach Boy founder and creative innovator, Brian Wilson. Paul Dano is Brian in the 1960s, when his mind, but not his talent, was beginning to fail him. John Cusack is Brian in the 1980s, a virtual prisoner of a manipulative psychologist played by Paul Giamatti. Told with visual layering that echoes Brian’s revolutionary layering of soundtracks over one another, LOVE & MERCY opens 6/5. The awards buzz will start right around the same time.
Expect more awards buzz for Jason Segel in James Ponsoldt’s THE END OF THE TOUR, in which Segel uses his innate likability to subvert our expectations and deliver a visceral, complex performance as David Foster Wallace. The film covers the last few days of Wallace’s book tour for Infinite Jest, hailed as the book of its generation, and the tricky relationship between Wallace and the reporter, David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), sent to cover the tour. It opens in limited release on 7/31.
MERU is an enthralling documentary that takes us where few of us will ever willingly go, the anti-Everest, which is the eponymous Nepalese mountain that has defied all attempts to be conquered. Co-directed,with Chai Vasarhelyi, by mountaineer Jimmy Chin, it follows two expeditions he took with Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk, while also explaining to those of us who prefer to be at sea-level why they willingly risk life and limb to stand where no human has stood before. MERU in all its majestic poetry opens 8/5.
No release date yet for T-REX. but this gripping documentary is one that should be seen by every girl in the world, and the boys and the men that love them. And they shouldn’t have to wait until its television premiere in 2016. The T-Rex of the title is Claressa Shields, the fiercest teenager in America both in the ring and out of it. A member of the first female American boxing team to compete in the Olympics, she started training at 11, when women boxers had few prospects and less respect.Recruited by producer (and boxing enthusiast) Sue Jaye Johnson, directors Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper show the struggle behind the fighting, and the towering resilience and youthful vulnerability of a young woman who had a dream, and knows how to achieve it.