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Sundance 2018: Patient Nicolas Cage Fans Will Be Very Happy With ‘Mandy’

By Rob Hunter

It’s exactly what you expect from the director of ‘Beyond the Black Rainbow’… and exactly what you want from the star of ‘The Wicker Man’ remake.

Low-key weirdness and high-energy intensity may not seem like an ideal match, but the pairing of director Panos Cosmatos and Nicolas Cage sees both talents giving everything they’ve got into a uniquely memorable collaboration. A simple plot synopsis for Mandy sounds exactly like a thousand other tales of revenge — a man seeks revenge for the murder of his wife — but the devil is in the ridiculously trippy and very bloody details.

Red (Cage) is a logger working the remote Shadow Mountains in the early 80s, and he comes home each day with a smile to his girlfriend, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). Her company is his lifeblood, and whether they’re discussing the stars or simply sleeping arm in arm beneath them it’s as perfect a life as he could hope for. Red’s not alone in his interest in Mandy, though, as a cult leader named Jeremiah (Linus Roache) has decided he wants her to join his caravan of killers. The group attacks the couple late one night leaving Mandy dead and Red refusing to die, and while the killers leave the carnage behind vengeance is soon on their trail.

Cage has dabbled in characters touched by hell before — Ghost Rider, Drive Hard, The Croods — but none have captured the feeling of being immersed into a hellscape as completely as Mandy. Cosmatos’ style is such that nearly every moment outside of the first ten minutes feels one or more steps removed from reality. Early on the sensation works as a calming, dreamlike salve to the point that we feel the couple’s calm and affection, but once the film shifts it enters into a fever dream of color, tension, and unease.

A big part of that is our time spent with Jeremiah’s “family” and the nightmarish gang he summons to abduct Mandy. An elaborate signalling draws the latter, a quartet of ATV-riding cenobite-like beings who were clearly once human but are now… not quite, but as unnerving as they are the cult members are still more frightening. Their humanity is very much intact, and they’re all the more dangerous and terrifying for it.

The film, co-written by Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn, is divided clearly into two parts, and it’s there where it will find and lose viewers. The first is pure Cosmatos, and anyone who’s seen Beyond the Black Rainbow knows that means scenes that are beautifully composed, seductively scored, and maybe three to four minutes too long. It’s more about tone and surreal atmosphere than convention, but it shifts into the best of both worlds after the attack.

Cage goes bonkers as only Cage can — one extended sequence sees him grieving in his tighty-whities while screaming, alternating between chugging vodka and pouring it on his wounds — and he stays in that mode through to the end. He secures weapons, from a crossbow he calls the Reaper to an elaborate battle ax he smelts himself, and he immediately gets to work chasing down every one responsible. Bodies are savaged, flesh is burned, piles of cocaine are snorted, and Cage sits wide-eyed at the center of it all.

As amazingly over the top as much of this is it’s worth noting that beneath the blood, sweat, and ever-shifting color palette sits a legitimately terrific performance by Cage. From the early calm through the later rage, there’s a focus here that’s been missing from too many of his direct to DVD “action” films of late. His grief is palpable, and we watch as that sorrow and anger combine to fuel his vengeance. His time with Riseborough feels lived in and real — not the dreamlike atmosphere, but the relationship itself — and it makes the inevitable turn that much more affecting.

Mandy‘s first act seems guaranteed to test the patience of viewers unaccustomed to Cosmatos’ way of doing things, and a handful of trims to the first hour would work wonders for the pacing (provided they keep the world’s best Erik Estrada knock-knock joke). If you make it past that hour, though, and I recommend that you do, the back half delivers a world unlike any other. Brutal brawls, very funny Cage quips, animated sequences, a chainsaw duel, a mother-flippin’ tiger, and more await.

Mandy Final Digitalversion Poster Copy

The article Sundance 2018: Patient Nicolas Cage Fans Will Be Very Happy With ‘Mandy’ appeared first on Film School Rejects.

Source: https://filmschoolrejects.com/mandy-review/

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Jumanji Wins Box Office for Third Straight Weekend

(NEW YORK) — “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” outdid another weekend’s worth of newcomers to top the North American box office for the third straight weekend, making the surprise hit the fifth-highest grossing film of all time for Sony Pictures.

“Jumanji,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, sold $20 million in tickets, according to studio estimates Sunday, bringing its five-week domestic total to $317 million. That makes Sony’s reboot the studio’s best non-Spider-Man movie domestically, not adjusting for inflation.

The film’s unexpectedly strong staying power has lent a boost to the January box office but kept new releases from reaching the top of the box-office chart. “Jumanji” has also reigned overseas, where it has grossed $450.8 million and topped all films internationally for three straight weeks.

The war drama “12 Strong,” starring Chris Hemsworth, debuted in second with $16.5 million in ticket sales. The Warner Bros. release, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is a fact-based tale, adapted from Doug Stanton’s best-seller “Horse Soldiers,” about a group of Special Forces soldiers sent into northern Afghanistan just weeks after Sept. 11.

“12 Strong” appealed largely to an older crowd. Seventy-nine percent of its audience was over the age of 25, said Warner Bros.

The heist thriller “Den of Thieves” slotted in at third place with an opening weekend of $15.3 million. The STXfilms release stars Gerard Butler and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.

Though “Paddington 2” disappointed last weekend in its debut, the acclaimed sequel slid just 25 percent in its second week. “Paddington 2,” which has set a new record for the most widely reviewed 100-percent fresh movie on Rotten Tomatoes, grossed $8.2 million in its second week of domestic release thanks in part to good word of mouth. Warner Bros. acquired the film’s North American distribution from The Weinstein Co. in November.

Also showing unexpected legs was “The Greatest Showman,” the Hugh Jackman-led musical about P.T. Barnum. It dipped just 12 percent in its fifth week of release. With another $11 million, “The Greatest Showman” has now grossed $113.5 million for 20th Century Fox.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” expanded nationwide, taking in $3.4 million from 896 theaters. The Focus Features release, starring Daniel Day-Lewis in what the actor has said will be his final performance, has grossed $6.2 million.

Also notable: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” crossed the $600 million mark domestically with $6.6 million in its sixth week of release. The Disney release stands at $604.3 million domestically — or no. 9 all-time, not accounting for inflation — and $1.296 billion worldwide.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final four-day domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” $20 million ($32.6 million international).

2. “12 Strong,” $16.5 million ($2.5 million international).

3. “Den of Thieves,” $15.3 million ($1.3 million international).

4. “The Post,” $12.2 million ($6.6 million international).

5. “The Greatest Showman,” $11 million ($11 million international).

6. “Paddington 2,” $8.2 million ($2.4 million international).

7. “The Commuter,” $6.7 million ($10.2 million international).

8. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” $6.6 million ($9.9 million international).

9. “Insidious: The Last Key,” $5.9 million ($18.4 million international).

10. “Forever My Girl,” $4.7 million.


Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” $32.6 million.

2. “Secret Superstar,” $25.9 million.

3. “Forever Young,” $22.5 million.

4. “Insidious: The Last Key,” $18.4 million.

5. “Coco,” $18.3 million.

6. “Ferdinand,” $17.5 million.

7. “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” $15.2 million.

8. “Wonder,” $12.6 million.

9. “Darkest Hour,” $12.1 million.

10. “The Greatest Showman,” $11 million.

Source: http://time.com/5111809/jumanji-tops-box-office/

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Indie Focus: All Sundance edition from Park City


Hello! I’m Mark Olsen. Welcome to another edition of your regular field guide to a world of Only Good Movies.

This week’s dispatch is coming to you from the elevated altitude of Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival, where a team of Times journalists are working to bring you the best of…

Source: http://www.latimes.com/la-et-mn-indie-focus-all-sundance-20180120-story.html

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22 Films We Can’t Wait to Watch at Sundance 2018

By Film School Rejects

Before we head to Park City, here are a few movies we can’t wait to watch.

The annual tradition of traveling to Park City, Utah in mid-January to screen a number of films that will become relevant as the year goes on is upon us. Yes, it’s time for another Sundance. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s time for our team to list the films we can’t wait to see once we pack our bags full of winter clothes and pile into condos full of other film-loving nerds. If we look back to the films that ended up on our 2017 list, you’ll see a few that stuck in the mainstream consciousness, including A Ghost StoryThe Big SickCall Me By Your NameI Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore and Mudbound, plus a few others that were released into theaters.

The point is that Sundance is the starting line for the year in film. This includes films that may compete for Oscar gold in 2019, breakout performances from fresh faces, and a bunch of other movies that are likely to be bought by Netflix and Amazon. We’re headed into the mountains to find the best of them, dear readers. But first, here are the ones we’re most looking forward to at this year’s festival.

Red Dots

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn Still

The NEXT category of Sundance is often filled with experimental, unusual, and odd little films. It’s where Sundance keeps it weird. But every once in a while, they debut something unexpectedly brilliant. That’s not to say that An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is going to be that for 2018, but it is a movie starring Aubrey Plaza, Craig Robinson, Emile Hirsch, and Jemaine Clement. Directed by the same guy (Jim Hosking) who gave the world The Greasy Strangler in 2016. So that has to be worth something, especially if you’re a fan of the absurd. – Neil Miller

Red Dots

Assassination Nation

Assassination Nation

I love all kinds of films, but as my heart belongs to all things dark and twisted Sundance’s Midnight section is my sweet spot each year. This is writer/director Sam Levinson‘s second feature to play the fest (after 2011’s Another Happy Day), and it sounds terrifically bonkers. It explores what happens when the anonymity of our online lives is stripped away revealing vicious truths and dirty secrets, and what happens is bloody chaos. Call it a satire or call it a mild exaggeration of real life, but either way I’m excited to watch the madness unfold. – Rob Hunter

Red Dots


Beirut Still

It wouldn’t be Sundance without an appearance from Jon Hamm. The former Don Draper stars as U.S. diplomat in this political thriller scripted by the great Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Rogue One). Being released in April, Beirut has the edge of already having a wickedly cut trailer online. Watching Hamm butt heads with Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) while navigating deadly terrain sounds unmissable. – Matt Hoffman

Red Dots

The Catcher Was a Spy

The Catcher Was A Spy Still

Spy films come in all shapes and sizes, and while the bigger ones like Steven Spielberg’s terrific Bridge of Spies grab all the attention there’s plenty of room for smaller tales to succeed. This true story sees Paul Rudd playing against type as a professional baseball player pulled into a new world of deception, and what it lacks in grand scale it makes up for with its supporting cast including Jeff Daniels, Guy Pearce, and Paul Giamatti. Here’s hoping it delivers the goods as both a spy story and a biopic of a hero previously lost to history. – Rob Hunter

Red Dots

The Death of Stalin

Death Of Stalin

We’ve already reviewed this film at Fantastic Fest last year, but I was not the person who reviewed it. I didn’t see it. So yes, this is me selfishly wanting to see a film I missed at another festival. Which usually isn’t the case at Sundance. Sundance is where you go to discover films out of nowhere. But for Armando Iannucci, who previously gave us In the Loop and Veep, we’re more than willing to make an exception. – Neil Miller

Red Dots

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade Still

What Sundance is complete without a coming-of-age film? Eighth Grade, from debuting director Bo Burnham, sounds like this year’s (much younger and less dark) Ingrid Goes West in following a 13-year-old challenged to forge real-life connections in the digital age and own up to her true ‘offline’ identity. This looks like a big deal for young actress Elsie Fisher (Despicable Me, McFarland, USA) and hot indie distributor A24 has already scooped it up. It’s destined to generate some talk out of Park City. Tomris Laffly

Red Dots

The Guilty

The Guilty Still

Truth be told, “World Cinema” generally flies under-the-radar in Sundance. But here is a Danish thriller from a first-time filmmaker that’s worth keeping top of mind. The Guilty sounds like a true nail biter with a kidnapping story unfolding within the confines of a creatively used single location. If our instincts are correct, this can easily become a surprise sleeper hit. We can’t wait to find out. – Tomris Laffly

Red Dots

Hearts Beat Loud

Hearts Beat Loud Still

The closing night film of Sundance ’18 comes from Brett Haley, who gave us 2017’s The Hero, an excellent dramedy featuring a stellar performance from Sam Elliott. This time around, Haley has Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons in front of his camera as a single father and his soon to be pre-med daughter, respectively. What we can expect from these three collaborators, based on their previous work, is warmth, sincerity, and good humor. Which sounds like a great way to end a long, cold week in the mountains. – Neil Miller

Red Dots

I Think We’re Alone Now

I Think We're Alone Now Still

Elle Fanning and Peter Dinklage join forces to face the end of the world in the latest film from Reed Morano. The film will explicitly avoid explaining the cause of the apocalypse, which sort of leaves me expecting something like ‘The Leftovers’ meets The Road. This is Morano’s first feature since her award winning work directing for The Handmaid’s Tale, which is keeping this film a staple on ‘must see’ lists. Morano is also lensing the film, so even if it absolutely bombs we can count on it looking nice. – Matt Hoffman

Red Dots

Juliet, Naked

Juliet, Naked Still

Nick Hornby‘s words have reached the screen with results both fantastic (High Fidelity, About a Boy) and less so (A Long Way Down), but the highs far outnumber the lows. That means we’re excited to check out his latest, and the cast — Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, Chris O’Dowd — certainly doesn’t hurt either. Director Jesse Peretz showed himself capable of mixing humor and heart with 2011’s Our Idiot Brother, and I’m betting he’s even more successful this time around. – Rob Hunter

Red Dots

Leave No Trace

My Abandonment

Director Debra Granik is a reliable name to bet on in Sundance. With her 2004 debut, Down to the Bone, she won the US Dramatic Competition’s directing prize. With Winter’s Bone (2010), also a Sundance premiere, she went on to the Oscars with 4 nominations (including Best Picture), and by the way, kicked off the career of the then unknown Jennifer Lawrence. Will Leave No Trace, a quiet tale of an Oregon father-daughter living off the grid, be a similar launch pad for the young Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie? I can’t wait to find out. Tomris Laffly

Red Dots


Lizzie Still

Now more than ever, true crime is certainly in style. Craig William Macneill explores the life of Lizzie Borden (Chloë Sevigny) who was charged with the brutal axe-murders of her mother and father. The media frenzy explored in recent true crime exports I, Tonya and ‘The People vs. OJ Simpson’ will not be found in this film, set in 1892. Instead, Macneill seems to be taking an approach that in interested in exploring Borden’s interiority, which leaves a great opportunity for an excellent performance from Sevigny. Did I mention Kristen Stewart also stars as Borden’s lover? – Matt Hoffman

Red Dots


Mandy Still

Nicolas Cage going full-on nutty can’t make a bad movie good (sorry Mom and Dad), but at the very least it guarantees a movie won’t be boring. His latest sees him focusing that crazy rage in a dark direction as a man seeking revenge for the murder of the woman he loves. The perpetrators are described as “a vile band of ravaging idolaters and supernatural creatures,” and if that doesn’t have you salivating I’m not sure you’re even alive. Director Panos Cosmatos has taken his time since 2010’s Beyond the Black Rainbow, but if he can pair that film’s visual style with Cage’s intensity this might just be the year’s craziest film. – Rob Hunter

Red Dots

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation Of Cameron Post Still

Good news, fans of Appropriate Behavior (hopefully this includes everyone who’s seen writer/director/actress Desiree Akhavan’s 2014 feature debut). She is back with a new film: an adaptation of Emily Danforth’s coming-of-age novel about a gay high school teen (Chloë Grace Moretz), sent to a conversion therapy center by her conservative elders. The Miseducation of Cameron Post promises to be an empathetic portrayal of identity and a young woman owning it with confidence against the odds. Tomris Laffly

Red Dots

Night Comes On

Night Comes On Still

This is a film that I’m pumped to see based on the lead actress alone. Dominique Fishback was incredible in the recent first season of HBO’s ‘The Deuce’. In the David Simon penned epic, Fishback stars as prostitute Darlene. In this film, Fishback plays an 18-year-old who crafts a complicated plan to start anew after being released from prison. It wouldn’t be Sundance without a great coming of age story and I’m hoping this is it. – Matt Hoffman

Red Dots


Ophelia Still

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet gets a retelling here with its focus on the lady-in-waiting whose growing love for the young prince leads to devastating consequences. Or does it? The film is described as offering “a fresh and empowering female perspective” so I’m hoping it pulls an Inglourious Basterds and refuses to be beholden to its source. We’ll find out if that’s the case soon enough, but even if it ends as its author originally intended a cast that includes Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, and Clive Owen means it’ll still be worth watching. – Rob Hunter

Red Dots


Puzzle Still

Kelly Macdonald goes from devoted housewife to competitive puzzler. Did you know that there are competitive puzzle competitions? Well, now there’s a movie about them. It’s about a woman breaking free from a sheltered life in a boring marriage to become a rogue puzzler. That woman is played by Kelly Macdonald. That’s enough for me to fit this one into my schedule. I have questions about the puzzle competitions. – Neil Miller

Red Dots

Sorry to Bother You

Sorry To Bother You Still

Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson lead the way in this witty-sounding dramedy (that looks like a total blast on paper) about a telemarketer on the rise and his skeptical gallery artist girlfriend. If this isn’t enough to get you excited, and it should be, take note that according to the film’s synopsis, Armie Hammer plays a cocaine-snorting, orgy-hosting, obnoxious, and relentlessly optimistic CEO” in Boots Riley’s debut. Done deal. Sign us up, please! Tomris Laffly

Red Dots

Summer of ’84

Summer Of

Turbo Kid was one of 2015’s most creative surprises with its retro sci-fi/action and playful spirit, and the film-making trio behind it are now back with something a bit darker. Its setup looks to exist in a similar vein to Among the Living as a group of young friends are forced to grow up fast when faced with a serial killer in their midst. Add in a stylized 80s setting and an awesome synth score, and these Canadian film lovers may have another cult hit on their hands. (Although I’m sure they’d prefer an actual hit.) – Rob Hunter

Red Dots

The Tale

The Tale Still

Perhaps one of the timeliest films of the festival, The Tale stars Laura Dern as a woman who must reevaluate her life after realizing that she may have been sexually assaulted as a child. Dern has been doing some of her best work yet over the past four years, so it’s really exciting to see her continuing to take challenging material, and in a lead role no less. The film also features an impressive supporting cast rounded out by Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn and Common. – Matt Hoffman

Red Dots

Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers

It’s a completely crazy, only-in-the-movies story. Except, it is 100% true. Tim Wardle’s documentary follows the extraordinary lives of Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman, the identical triplets who’ve been adopted by three different NY families in the 1960s and found each other completely by chance at the age of 19. The brothers’ journey might sound like a nostalgic fairy tale at first—the triplets did become the toast of New York for some time, during their good years—but their story takes a dark, well-documented turn fast. This investigative film will surely open up some old wounds and maybe even ruffle certain feathers. Not to be missed. Tomris Laffly

Red Dots


Tyrel Still

This one sounds a bit like Get Out 2.0, but in the hands of Sebastian Silva, I’m sure it will be one of the festival’s best. Jason Mitchell (Mudbound) stars as Tyler (not Tyrel), a black man who goes to a weekend getaway for a friend’s birthday Upon his arrival, Tyler realizes that everyone else at the party is white. Silva is a master of switching tone, so expect Tyrel to start out as a comedy and then suddenly accelerate into madness. The film is also one of FIVE films at this year’s festival to feature the great character actress Ann Dowd. – Matt Hoffman

Red Dots

All images courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The article 22 Films We Can’t Wait to Watch at Sundance 2018 appeared first on Film School Rejects.

Source: https://filmschoolrejects.com/sundance-2018-movies-to-watch/

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L.A. movie openings, Jan. 12


Jan. 12

Abe & Phil’s Last Poker Game

Comedy-drama with Martin Landau, Paul Sorvino, Maria Dizzia. Written and directed by Howard Weiner.


Futuristic indie thriller. Directed by Farasat Khan.

Blur Circle

Drama with Cora Vander Broek, Matthew Brumlow, Ryan Artzberger. Written by Brian Elliott…

Source: http://www.latimes.com/la-ca-list-0107-movie-openings-20171229-story.html