Indie Insights: New From the Sunshine Kids, Popular Midnight in Paris, Trailering United Red Army

Indie Insights: New From the Sunshine Kids, Popular Midnight in Paris, Trailering United Red Army

May 25, 2011

Deals: The screenings may be over, but the deal frenzy spilled over past the end of this year's Cannes Film Festival (and Market). Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin, the high-profile drama starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilley as the parents of of a high school shooter, got picked up by Oscilloscope Labs, which plans a release late this year, along with an awards push for Swinton.

Two films that debuted at earlier festivals will also receive theatrical releases this year. A Bag of Hammers, a comedy/drama starring Jason Ritter and Rebecca Hall, will hit in August, courtesy of MPI Media, while All She Can, a tale of of a young woman who becomes a power-weightlifter to earn a college scholarship, should be out this summer. All She Can debuted at Sundance as Benavides Born and has been recut, per indieWIRE.

Looking a little further down the line, He Loves Me, a new film from the directing duo of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, will begin production in July thanks to a deal with Fox Searchlight, according to Deadline. It's presented as a reunion for the Little Miss Sunshine filmmakers, since Paul Dano will be starring in the movie, but he's the only cast member returning; the reunion is otherwise behind the scenes, with the Sunshine producers also returning. Dano, who had a supporting role in Sunshine, takes the lead this time, along with Zoe Kazan, who penned the screenplay. We can expect He Loves Me in theaters sometime next year.

Box Office: Last weekend's mainstream box office story revolved around Pirates and 3D, but Woody Allen's new romantic fantasy, Midnight in Paris, put a cork in that bottle of rum, earning an amazing $599,003 from just six theaters. Of course, those theaters (four in Manhattan, two in Los Angeles) showed the film on multiple screens and represent the backyard of Allen's audience, as it were. The real test will come when Sony Pictures Classics expands the film across America this weekend and next. It's a fizzy, wonderfully light picture; Owen Wilson is winningly indecisive, and Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams lead a great supporting cast. I think it will play very well to people who've stayed away from Woody Allen's movies in recent years. See the Movies.com reviews by Dave White and Grae Drake for more reasons why you should make a date to see Midnight in Paris.

The biggest upcoming limited release this weekend will be Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt, which will open in just four theaters (two in New York, two in Los Angeles). Coming out of Cannes, critical opinion has been divided roughly between "brilliant masterpiece," "great but flawed" and "self-indulgent bore." (I'm in the first camp.) It's definitely a film that you need to see, as much as anything because it's so personal that it demands an individual reaction; spirited discussions with moviegoing companions are sure to follow.

Hot Trailer of the Week: If you loved Carlos, Olivier Assayas' epic tale of the legendary revolutionary / terrorist, or were fascinated by The Baader Meinhof Complex, which examined Germany's Red Army Faction, then you'll want to see United Red Army. It's an absolutely mesmerizing film, directed by Kôji Wakamatsu, that traces the evolution of "hardcore student radicals, who moved beyond peaceful protest to outright terrorism, while conducting bloody internal purges," in the words of critic Mark Schilling, writing in The Japan Times.

Wakamatsu befriended members of the Japanese Red Army after the group came into existence in 1971, and even joined them briefly as a "trainee." Yet his film does them no favors, showing how youthful idealism (mostly evident in the period before the group was formed) dissolved into a harsh view of mankind and their so-called "comrades." Set to a strikingly dissonant, haunting musical score by Jim O'Rourke, the film becomes increasingly more personal, as the group begins to devour itself once they withdraw to an isolated mountain lodge for an extended period of "training." It's not necessarily an easy film to watch, because Wakamatsu creates a horrific scenario, based in truth, and coated in a quality best described as "can't look away."

United Red Army opens this weekend at one theater in New York. Beyond that, theatrical prospects appear extremely limited; however, the good news is that the film will be released on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray, and that will make it available for everyone to see for themselves. In the meantime, whet your appetite with a look at the international trailer, which gives just a bit of this unique movie's flavor.

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