#247 March 4, 2015

Sheila writes: Before directing the Oscar-nominated (and Oscar-winning) “Whiplash,” writer/director Damien Chazelle made a short film called “Whiplash,” an excerpt from the larger story, with J.K. Simmons in the same role that just won him an Oscar. Miles Teller’s role is played by Johnny Simmons. You can view the short film on Youtube (clip below). It’s 17 minutes long, but it still gives a glimpse of the feature it would eventually become.


Welcome to Me (2014). Directed by Shira Piven. Written by Eliot Laurence . Starring Kristen Wiig,
Linda Cardellini,
James Marsden . Synopsis: A year in the life of Alice Klieg, a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who wins Mega-millions, quits her meds and buys her own talk show. Opens in US theaters on May 8, 2015.

Infinitely Polar Bear (2014). Written and directed by Maya Forbes. Starring Zoe Saldana,
Mark Ruffalo,
Keir Dullea. Synopsis: A manic-depressive mess of a father tries to win back his wife by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young, spirited daughters, who don’t make the overwhelming task any easier. Release dates TBD.

While We’re Young (2014). Written and directed by Noah Baumbach. Starring Naomi Watts,
Amanda Seyfried,
Ben Stiller . Synopsis: A middle-aged couple’s career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives. Opens in US theaters on March 27, 2015.

Alex of Venice (2014). Directed by Chris Messina. Written by Jessica Goldberg,
Katie Nehra. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead,
Don Johnson,
Chris Messina. Synopsis: Workaholic attorney Alex [Winstead] is forced to reinvent her life after her husband suddenly leaves. Now faced with the humdrum and sometimes catastrophic events that permeate the fabric of our lives, Alex discovers both a vulnerability and inner strength she had not yet tapped all while trying to hold together her broken family. Opens in US theaters on April 17, 2015.

Dark Horse (2014). Written and directed by Louise Osmond. Synopsis: An inspirational true story of a group of friends from a working men’s club who decide to take on the elite ‘sport of kings’ and breed themselves a racehorse. Release dates TBD.

A Second Chance (2014). Directed by Susanne Bier. Written by Anders Thomas Jensen. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau,
Ulrich Thomsen,
Nikolaj Lie Kaas. Synopsis: How far would decent human beings be willing to go, when tragedy blurs the line between just and unjust? With “A Second Chance”, Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen have crafted another startling yet moving drama about how easily we lose our grasp on justice, when confronted with the unthinkable, and life as we know it is hanging by a thread. Opens in the UK on March 20, 2015. Other release dates TBD.

Eva (2011). Directed by Kike Maíllo. Written by Sergi Belbel,
Cristina Clemente. Starring Daniel Brühl,
Marta Etura,
Alberto Ammann. Synopsis: A shy genius is employed by his former university to design robot software. Released internationally in 2011, The Weinstein Company has picked up “Eva” and is releasing in the US, starting on March 13, 2015.

Glassland (2014). Written and directed by Gerard Barrett. Starring Will Poulter,
Toni Collette,
Jack Reynor . Synopsis: Set in Dublin Glassland tells the story of a young taxi driver (Reynor) who gets tangled up in the world of human trafficking while trying to save his mother (Collette) from addiction. Opens in the UK and Ireland on April 17, 2015. Other release dates TBD.

My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn (2014). Written and directed by Liv Corfixen. Synopsis: Liv Corfixen documents her husband, filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn,, during the production and release of his movie Only God Forgives (2013). Internet release dates February 27, 2015.

The Clan (2015). Written and directed by Pablo Trapero. Starring Guillermo Francella,
Peter Lanzani. Synopsis: Set in the ’80s, the film is based on the true story of the wealthy Puccio family, who were responsible for a string of kidnappings and murders. Opens in Argentina on August 20, 2015. Other release dates TBD.

Dreamcatcher (2015). Directed by Kim Longinotto. Written by Lisa Stevens. Synopsis: ‘Dreamcatcher’ explores the cycle of neglect, violence and exploitation which each year leaves thousands upon thousands of girls and women feeling that prostitution is their only option to survive. Release dates TBD.

Suite Française (2014). Directed by Saul Dibb. Written by Saul Dibb, Matt Charman. Starring Margot Robbie,
Matthias Schoenaerts, Michelle Williams . Synopsis: During the early years of German occupation of France, romance blooms between Lucile Angellier, a French villager and Bruno von Falk, a German soldier. Release dates TBD.

The Gunman (2015). Directed by Pierre Morel. Written by Don MacPherson. Starring Sean Penn,
Idris Elba,
Javier Bardem . Synopsis: A former Special Forces soldier and military contractor suffering from PTSD tries to reconnect with his long time love, but first must go on the run from London to Barcelona and across Europe in order to clear his name. Opens in US theaters on March 20, 2015.

Diary of a Chambermaid (2015). Directed by Benoît Jacquot. Written by Benoît Jacquot (adapted from the novel by Octave Mirabeau). Starring Léa Seydoux,
Vincent Lindon,
Clotilde Mollet . Synopsis: A scheming servant works for a wealthy couple in France during the late 19th century. Opens in France on April 1, 2015. Other release dates TBD.

Growing Up & Other Lies (2014). Written and directed by Darren Grodsky,
Danny Jacobs. Starring Adam Brody,
Wyatt Cenac,
Danny Jacobs . Synopsis: After struggling for years as an artist in New York City, Jake is calling it quits and returning home to Ohio. On his last day in the city, he persuades his three oldest friends to help him retrace their greatest adventure together: a walk down the entire length of Manhattan. But their attempt to reclaim the glory of their early 20s doesn’t go quite as planned. Over the course of the day, buried conflicts emerge as Jake becomes embroiled with his ex-girlfriend and his friends dip into their own crises of manhood. Opens in the US in limited release on March 20, 2015.

Ex Machina (2015). Written and directed by Alex Garland. Starring Alicia Vikander,
Domhnall Gleeson,
Oscar Isaac . Synopsis: A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I. Opens in US theaters on April 10, 2015.

Marfa Girl (2012). Written and directed by . Starring . Synopsis: A story centered on a directionless 16-year-old living in Marfa, Texas and his relationships with his girlfriend, his neighbor, his teacher, a newly arrived local artist, and a local Border Patrol officer. Opens in the US in limited release on March 27, 2015.

* NSFW language in the trailer *

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

Sheila writes: Peter Sobczynski has written a touching and informative essay on Leonard Nimoy for, to commemorate the actor’s passing. Sobczynski writes, in part, “Although Spock, the science officer for the U.S.S. Enterprise, was famous for looking at things from a purely logical and emotion-free perspective, he would turn out to be the heart and soul of the franchise–while Shatner’s Captain Kirk was off performing the usual heroic duties–fighting bad guys, romancing green-skinned babes and speechifying at length (and with more pauses than a Pinter play), Spock allowed viewers to look at the mysteries of space with a more curious and contemplative mindset.” You can read the whole thing here.

Roger Ebert interviewed Leonard Nimoy in 1979, and it’s a wonderful profile of the actor. Ebert writes, “I stepped down gingerly from the engine room, walked through the eerie silence of the infirmary, turned a corner and entered a dressing room, and was confronted by the rather unsettling sight of Mr. Spock himself. Leonard Nimoy was in makeup, ears and eyebrows and one-piece pullover and all, and it took an effort to remember that this was the same Leonard Nimoy I’d just seen playing a San Francisco psychiatrist in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and that there were not actually any half-human, half-Vulcans to be interviewed – no, not even at Paramount.” You can read the whole thing here.

And finally, Alan Sepinwall on why Spock was Star Trek’s most important creation.

Your First “Inappropriate” Movie?

Sheila writes: editor-in-chief Matt Zoller Seitz wrote a charming and funny essay about watching “Aliens” with a group of kids, none of whom had seen the film before. Seitz’s essay sparked a bunch of conversation, on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere, about “inappropriate” movies people had seen when they were children. Sam Adams, at Criticwire, asked a group of critics, What’s the first “inappropriate” movie you remember watching, and what effect did it have on you? The results make a great read.
How about you? What’s the first “inappropriate” movie you remember watching?

Free Movies

The Bigamist (1953). Directed by Ida Lupino. Starring Joan Fontaine,
Ida Lupino,
Edmund Gwenn . Synopsis: Harry and Eve Graham are trying to adopt a baby. The head of the agency senses Harry is keeping a secret and does some investigating. He soon discovers Harry has done an unusual amount of traveling from his home in San Francisco to Los Angeles. Harry is tracked down in LA where he has a second wife and a baby. Via flashbacks, Harry tells the adoption agent how he ended up in two marriages.
Watch “The Bigamist.”

Royal Wedding (1951). Directed by Stanley Donen. Starring Fred Astaire,
Jane Powell,
Peter Lawford. Synopsis: Stage stars Tom and Ellen Bowen embark to open their show in England. Arrived in London, confirmed bachelor Tom auditions and is taken with cool dancer Anne Ashmond. Will romance break up the act?
Watch “Royal Wedding.”

Pygmalion (1938). Directed by Anthony Asquith,
Leslie Howard. Starring Leslie Howard,
Wendy Hiller,
Wilfrid Lawson. Synopsis: Shaw’s play in which a Victorian dialect expert bets that he can teach a lower-class girl to speak proper English and thus be taken for a lady.
Watch “Pygmalion.”



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