Trollhunter – 103 min, comedy

the_troll_hunter_movie_image_01

Some films change your life; they say deep and abiding things about human nature, and make you think long and hard about the world. Trollhunter is not one of those films. The mock-documentary about three student filmmakers who stumble upon a Norwegian government secret while trying to make a film about bear poachers is at its heart deeply silly. Trollhunter succeeds though because it plays its premise completely straight. The temptation in a film about a man who hunts trolls for a living would be to camp it up with a knowing wink at the audience, but to the credit of director André Øvredal and star Otto Jepersen everything is laid before you simply and solemnly; the humor is found in the context, or in the words of Øvredal, “[it adds] to the absurdity of everything to insist so intensely that it’s real.” (Chris Eggertsen Bloody Disgusting, 5/6/11Continue reading

Advertisements

Middle of Nowhere – 97 min, drama

maxresdefault
Emayatzy Corinealdi in Middle of Nowhere

It’s not easy to get a film about the interior life of a black woman made. In 2003 director Ava DuVernay, best known for her stunning 2014 Martin Luther King film Selma, wrote a script about a young med student putting her life on hold when her husband is incarcerated for weapons dealing. At the time DuVernay was a Hollywood publicist, working on the Laurence Fishburne/Derek Luke action film Biker Boyz. While on set she got to know the director, Reggie Bythewood and his wife Gina Prince-Bythewood (director of Beyond the Lights). They read her script and wanted to produce it. “So we went out and we attached Sanaa Lathan and Idris Elba and shopped it in the traditional way that you did in 2003 when you were in black Hollywood. You’d go to the studios and it was, ‘Oh, wow, great script, but we don’t make movies about the interior life of black women. If you want to make that, make that, and then we might be interested in an acquisition, right?’ That’s what we heard everywhere. Gina and Reggie were great. They got me into these rooms. The bottom line was the rooms. They weren’t ready then, and they still ain’t ready now for this type of story.” (Nekisa Cooper Filmmaker, 11/1/12) Continue reading

Chicken Run – 84 min, comedy

chickenrun3

“It’s The Great Escape… with chickens.”

The pitch meeting for Chicken Run must have been rather out of the ordinary, but by the time the directors, Nick Park and Peter Lord of the Bristol based Aardman Animations Studio, sat down to lunch with DreamWorks founder Steven Spielberg in 1997, they had six Oscar nominations between them, resulting in three Best Animated Short Oscars for Wallace and Gromit director Nick Park. That kind of hardware comes with a certain amount of leverage, plus they were lucky – Spielberg owned chickens. “We hit it off really well. Our first meeting with Spielberg was in a restaurant eating chicken, talking about chickens,” Nick Park recalled when the film was released three years later in June of 2000. (Paul Fischer Dark Horizons, 6/23/00) Continue reading