Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

discs toad road

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Toad Road James (James Davidson) is a slacker, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for meaning he sits around all day doing nothing. Instead, he sits around all day smoking, popping, and snorting anything he and his friends can get their hands on, but that starts to change when he meets the new girl, Sara (Sara Anne Jones). She’s new to the drug scene, he introduces her, and she gets hooked just as he wants out. He agrees to one last trip with her. Shrooms in hand, the two head out to the legendary Toad Road to investigate rumors of the seven gates of hell. It goes according to plan until he wakes up to discover she’s disappeared. Writer/director Jason Banker’s debut feature is low budget, raw, messy, unsure of itself, and yet oddly mesmerizing. The “horror” element introduced via the title feels almost like an afterthought added to make the film more marketable, but the core of the film works as a frequently intense and often painful look at the obvious and not so obvious struggles that come with drug addiction. The doomed love story adds to the film’s tragic allure, but the real life fate of Miss Jones sadly cements it. [DVD extras: Commentary with writer/director Jason Banker and friends, deleted scenes, featurettes, booklet]

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Ain

It’s been a while since we opened our week with one of these discussion threads. And I miss them, so I’m bringing it back, at least for now while our Managing Editor Scott Beggs is on vacation. Which, as you may know from the course of the site’s history, means that we’ll be experimenting again, with hallucinogens. Or something along those lines. While we figure out the office non-prescription drug situation, it’s time to talk about the things you watched this weekend. It’s a chance for you to share what you’re up to, give us your review and find other queue-filling goodness courtesy of legions of FSR readers around the world. The comment section awaits. I’m proud to get us started.

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The Movies of August 23

We aren’t the only ones beating this particular drum. It very well could be the best weekend for movie releases all year. From indie darlings to the final event movies of the summer, in every genre, this weekend features some of the most interesting, engaging, thrilling and downright entertaining releases we’ve seen in all of 2013. To further explore this point, allow us to run you down the list of releases (in varying degrees of wide and limited engagements) with some comments to help fuel the fire.

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Aint Them Bodies Saints

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints isn’t a Terrence Malick knockoff. Whenever a movie has beautiful landscape shots or characters talking with a musical quality, Malick’s name is the first one to appear in comparison, but writer/director David Lowery‘s Sundance darling bares little similarity to Malick’s work. This isn’t a story of criminals wildly in love, but of a man, Bob (Casey Affleck), trying to return to his lover and former partner in crime, Ruth (Rooney Mara). With the exception of the film’s opening, Lowery doesn’t show any of the big scenes you expect from that plot synopsis: Bob escaping from jail; getting into a car chase with the coppers; or finding himself in a shootout. The film starts with a bang, but as Lowery puts it, he wanted to focus on what came after that bang.

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Aint Them Bodies Saints

For the writer and director of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, David Lowery, the story of Ruth (Rooney Mara) and Bob (Casey Affleck), two lovers pulled apart by their Bonnie and Clyde-style life, was too compelling to be confined to one film (read our own Allison Loring’s glowing review from Sundance here). Thoughout Saints, the characters are mostly apart, compelling Lowery to go so far as to write a short film about the couple in their carefree, young-love days before their crime spree caught up with them. But alas, the project never worked out. Enter Criterion Collection artist Eric Skillman, who together with comic book artist Matthew Southworth, took the plot of Lowery’s prequel and created New Tattoo, a digital graphic novel available in its entirety over at Entertainment Weekly. It’s a cool-hued (and just plain cool), subdued little feature that complements the film beautifully; anyone who saw Saints would have loved to see more about the hopeless lovers in the days when things were a little less bleak. Plus, isn’t it always great when filmmakers give us something like this for free?

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Aint Them Bodies Saints

Editor’s note: Allison’s review originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-running it as the film opens in limited theatrical release this weekend. Bob (Casey Affleck) and Ruth (Rooney Mara) are hopelessly in love. Even when they fight, they cannot help but fall back into each other’s arms with Bob reminding Ruth he will always follow her, always be with her. But with Bob down on his luck, a bad decision and a few gun shots have him headed off to jail, leaving Ruth without her husband and a baby on the way. Despite this turn of events, Bob and Ruth never give up on each other, a fact made achingly clear from the way they cling to each other even as Bob is being taken away. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints starts where most heist stories end, showing audiences what happens when the dust settles and the “bad guys” are put away. Skipping ahead four years, Ruth’s daughter, Sylvie, is now grown and the two are now living a quiet life on their own. Bob still writes to Ruth, and she keeps every letter, but beyond that Ruth has not seen him since that faithful day, and Sylvie has never laid eyes on her own father. While there are a few men looking out for Ruth and Sylvie, Officer Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster) has clearly taken a particular interest in the two. Ironically, Patrick is the officer who was gunned down, which then lead to Bob’s arrest, but it is […]

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Aint them Bodies Saints

So you wanna see the Rooney Mara/Casey Affleck movie that everyone (including us) lost their minds over at Sundance? Awesome. We want to show it to you. We’re co-hosting a screening in Los Angeles tomorrow evening (8/13) at 7:30 Pacific, and we need you (and your handsome/beautiful +1) to fill some seats. All you have to do is email me at scott@filmschoolrejects.com by midnight Pacific (8/12) with the subject “How About Them Saints?” and tell us your name and why you want to go. Super easy. We’ll choose the winners at random and notify them tomorrow morning. And in case you don’t know about the film, here’s a trailer and a bit more about it.

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the-worlds-end-new-movie-release-october-2013-1

This August has made for a tricky must-see guide to compile. If this were any other year, the honorable mentions alone would’ve made the final cut. There’s a lot of quality competition. As such, I’m both pleased and disappointed I couldn’t include Brie Larson’s performance in Short Term 12; a blood-drenched fun home-invasion movie, You’re Next; a new film from the director of Boy A; and more. Then again, having too many good movies on the horizon is a bit strange to complain about. Last month I called July the most promising month of this summer season, and I was wrong. I must’ve forgotten this loaded August, the fantastic lineup of major and specialty releases this month make it. If you were underwhelmed by this summer’s offerings, there’s more than a few here to make you feel more satisfied about this (extended) season.

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The East

With the year’s first large scale film fest, the Sundance Film Festival, kicking off later this week, it’s high time that we started making some predictions about some of the films that are most likely to explode off the screen up in snowy Park City. Every Sundance (and, really, every major film festival) churns out its darlings, its favorites, its gems, those films that take weary festival-loving audiences by storm and become not only the talk of the festival, but the talk of the cinematic world. Of course, anyone who has ever attended even a massive festival like Sundance knows that festival buzz doesn’t exactly spell out mainstream success, but it’s sure as hell a nice place to start. While our intrepid Sundance team – myself, Allison, and Rob – have already weighed in our individual “most anticipated” films of the festival, those personal picks don’t cover the full gamut of films poised to become the big ticket films at this year’s festival. Here’s our attempt to sniff those babies out. After the break, check out the fifteen films we’re banking on to light up this year’s Sundance.

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Mud

The prospect of heading back to the snowy mountain that houses the Sundance Film Festival brings up many questions – is my jacket warm enough? Do I have boots with good traction so I do not slip on the ice? Will I be able to use my iPhone with gloves on? But beyond these basic survival questions, the one major question is: what films do I want to see? The Sundance lineup gets increasingly more impressive with each passing year and the festival program for 2013 certainly lives up to that standard. After putting together the puzzle that is a festival schedule (a task not for the faint of heart) I am genuinely looking forward to all the films on my list, but these are the ten films I am most looking forward to plopping down in a (hopefully) warm theater to watch. Stay tuned to FSR for my reviews and see if these films end up being ones that should be added to your own “must-see” lists for the year.

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