At Any Price

Ramin

At Any Price is like a film someone stored in a time capsule during the 1970s, and we’re just now finally opening it. Influenced by Five Easy Pieces and other landmarks of that era, director Ramin Bahrani set out to make a rural drama that, despite popular belief, has an audience. He ran into resistance while seeking financing, and one might think that was because of the film’s unlikable huckster protagonist, Henry (Dennis Quaid). The trouble didn’t come from the anti-hero lead, however, but rather in the story’s rural setting. According to the money men, nobody wants to watch a movie that’s not set in a major city. Bahrani finds, understandably so, that belief to be ludicrous. And At Any Price has made its way to screen with its setting intact, a fact he is pleased with. The writer and director behind Goodbye Solo and Chop Shop originally had his eyes set on making a western, which didn’t come to fruition. Funny enough, At Any Price wasn’t much easier to get made, despite not being a part of what some consider a “dead genre”.

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Pain and Gain Red Band

This is the month we’ve been building towards ever since the start of 2013. This year was made for this month. Why did the Mayans postpone their destruction of our dear Earth? So they could see what Michael Bay‘s small movie was like. Pain and Gain is his first non-Transformers movie in nearly eight years, and it’s about time the Mayans and the rest of us saw it. That Hasbro series had its moments, but not in the way The Rock and The Bad Boys films did. Pain and Gain looks to fit into that half of Bay’s career. Summer comes early with his dark, ‘roided up comedy, and the same can be said for the movies we’re seeing from Danny Boyle, Shane Carruth, and Joseph Kosinski. In fact, Kosinski’s Oblivion is the only blockbuster on the list. April is shaping up to be a huge month for smaller movies.

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At Any Price

At first glance, the trailer for At Any Price looks like it’s advertising a melodramatic movie that takes a mock-heroic look at being a farmer, but when you see that this thing has been directed by Ramin Bahrani, the guy who made minimal but affecting work like Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, and Goodbye Solo, you know there has to be something else there. And having seen this one at last year’s TIFF, I can confirm that there is indeed something else there. In between this trailer’s fast-cutting of fist fights, yelling, and make-out sessions, you can catch glimpses of the story at the heart of the film. It’s not only one of fathers and sons, and the pains and pressures that they put on one another, but it’s one of the pressures put on the modern farmer, and how big corporations are taking over the business of producing our food and forcing the people who have been producing it up to this point to either get big too or get out of the way. Like each of Bahrani’s works to date, this one is a real eye-opener.

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When you live in small-town Middle America, it seems that you have only three options. You farm, you drive a race car, or you leave. Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart; Chop Shop; Goodbye Solo) is a filmmaker who tends to look at immigrants in America who are trying to find a livelihood away from home. With his new film, At Any Price, he takes a closer look at the struggles of Middle America and how the shift in business models over the generations threatens the very fabric and moral pride of the people. Due to the bigger demand for more-focused growing, it’s become impossible for small farmers to survive on their own. As a result, these people become either antiquated and bankrupt or form progressive, self-made conglomerates. We then see the effect of corporate America and ask, “Is this great for the economy? The man? Both? Neither?” In At Any Price we see Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) as the farmer trying to be as progressive as possible. One of his first scenes puts him at another farmer’s funeral, offering to purchase land from the man’s bereaved son. Henry’s passion is his farm. He wants to make it into an even better business than he received from his father, so that he can then hand it off to his son. The problem is that he’s made some morally questionable decisions in the process of seeking to resolve his ambitions. And these decisions eventually come back to haunt him.

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TIFF 2012 Header

Editor’s Note: We’ve asked a Jamaican to go to Canada to cover the movies of TIFF 2012. Andrew Robinson, whose work you can check out over at his blog, has obliged and will be filling us all in on the antics in the Great White North. Here’s his first missive. Any day now I’ll be on a plane heading to Toronto for the very first time in order to attend a film festival for the very first time. I’ve been excited to attend the Toronto International Film Festival (affectionately known as TIFF) for the past three years, and now it’s finally happening. Before we dive into this list, which honestly cannot do the festival’s amazing looking lineup any justice, I will give a couple caveats. It’s based on my confirmed schedule, and therefore two films which I’m genuinely excited for but will not be able to see (Rian Johnson’s Looper and Michael Haneke’s Amour) are not on it; it’s also in no sort of ordered preference. So with that out of the way and with all the excitement being thrown around, let’s take a quick look at the films that I’m most excited for:

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Noah Baumbach

As is tradition (and a pretty fun one at that), the Telluride Film Festival has announced their lineup just one day before the festival kicks off in Telluride, CO. The 39th Telluride Film Festival will include twenty-five narrative and documentary films in its Main Program, with a total of “nearly 100 feature films, short films and revivals representing over thirty countries, along with Tribute programs, Conversations, Panels and Education Programs.” This year’s slate includes a number of anticipated films and many that are already gathering momentum on the festival circuit, including Michael Haneke‘s Amour, Ramin Bahrani‘s At Any Price, Michael Winterbottom‘s Everyday, Sally Potter‘s Ginger and Rosa, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, Thomas Vinterberg‘s The Hunt, Roger Michell‘s Hyde Park on Hudson, Jacques Audiard‘s Rust & Bone, Sarah Polley‘s Stories We Tell, and Wayne Blair‘s The Sapphires. In addition to these solid picks, Telluride will also unveil some surprise “Sneak Previews” over the weekend. Past sneaks have included 127 Hours, Black Swan, and Up in the Air. Additionally, Marion Cotillard, Roger Corman, and Mads Mikkelsen will all be honored. After the break, check out the complete listing of Telluride’s just-announced festival slate.

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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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