Black Rock

discs last will

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh Leon (Aaron Poole) has returned to his estranged mother’s (Vanessa Redgrave) home for the first time in years, but it’s her death that brought him back. Charged with going through her belongings before selling off the property he discovers that before she passed away his mother had developed an odd fascination with angels. The discoveries continue as strange events begin happening that lead him to believe his mother may be trying to communicate with him from beyond. Haunted house movies, both the good ones and the bad, usually share little more than a desire to entertain and scare, but the rare ones try to do a little more than that and make audiences feel or think as well. Writer/director Rodrigo Gudiño‘s debut feature belongs in that latter category as its creepy and atmospheric tale is accompanied by an examination of love, grief, and faith lost and found. There are scares here, but they’re subtle and disarming instead of loud and jump-worthy. If you enjoyed The Conjuring and you don’t have A.D.D. be sure to give this one a chance. [DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, short film]

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Lovett banjo 1

There are two main challenges with most independent films – time and money. But whether you are dealing with a big budget studio blockbuster or small independent fare, music is usually the last thing to be added and usually puts composers up against tight deadlines with little money left to work with. Brian Tyler, who recently composed the music for Iron Man 3, commented that no matter what kind of movie you are working on, “It’s a race and there’s really no time to second-guess yourself on a movie, regardless of the scale, when the time crunch is upon you.” This race against time is a common adversary for almost all composers, but this time crunch seems especially heightened when it comes to independent films. To dive in to this issue further, I spoke with Ben Lovett who composed the music for two independent films released last year, Sun Don’t Shine and Black Rock. Independent films can be a double edged sword allowing for great creativity (thanks to fewer “cooks in the kitchen” that come with studios), but with less funds and time to work within.

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review black rock

Here’s the thing. If your movie is going to feature two attractive women, completely nude, my first reaction shouldn’t be to laugh. And my second reaction most definitely shouldn’t be to hope they get dressed as soon as possible. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Black Rock is a new thriller with a fairly unusual pedigree. Katie Aselton (The League) stars and directs from a script by her traditionally light-hearted husband, Mark Duplass, and the resulting film is an occasionally successful hybrid of character piece and generic slasher. It essentially drops well-written characters into a highly traditional genre scenario, and while the combination has its benefits it also allows for more than a few issues.

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Black Rock

It’s funny that our last episode was called The Greatest Escape, because this week we’ll be talking about how to survive when someone who hunts people for sport is chasing you. Or, at least, what movies have taught us about it. Hint: your chances aren’t good. With Geoff on vacation, Brian Salisbury helps us out with his Count Zaroff impression and his latest research into the only way to enjoy M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening. Plus, we top it all off with an interview with Black Rock writer/actor/director Katie Aselton (seen running for her life above) where we don’t ask her for fantasy football tips. For more from us on a daily basis, follow Brian (@briguysalisbury), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #19 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Black Rock Trailer

As if relations between the sexes weren’t strained enough already, along comes Black Rock, a new thriller from writer Mark Duplass (from everything) and director Katie Aselton (The Freebie) that looks like it’s going to fan the flames further, ensuring that we get at least another year of clueless nincompoops publicly declaring their unsettling opinions about rape. The basic story follows three ladies (Aselton, Lake Bell, and Kate Bosworth) who trek out to an isolated island where they used to have camping trips when they were young; you know, to rekindle lost youth or something. When they’re out there though, the island proves to not be as isolated as they thought. They happen upon a group of three very male hunters (Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, and Anslem Richardson), one of the ladies gets a little frisky with a bearded gentleman around the campfire, and then he gets way handsy and his buddies suddenly turn super-psychotic. While it doesn’t seem like this story ever reaches Straw Dogs or I Spit on Your Grave levels of grossness, things then degenerate into a battle of survival between the sexes that seems to have more than a little bit of that revenge movie/backwoods horror vibe crossed with a smidge of the Surviving the Game/Hunger Games man-being-hunted trope.

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We’ll make this brief, dear readers – today has been a strange day. Since that first day (the one where I showed up to the airport without my driver’s license which, PS, is still missing), things have been relatively drama-free. Sure, both sleep levels and real meal levels are low, but most everything else is on the up and up. Except for some movies. Oof.

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The annual week I spend in sleepy Park City, Utah, carousing with the rest of the online film criticism glitterati, eating criminally overpriced pizza, barely sleeping, and consistently worrying about early on-set frostbite is my favorite week of the year. Not just for the pals, the pizza, and the sleep deprivation, but for (shockingly!) the movies. I’ve been lucky enough to see some truly great stuff at Sundance over the past two years – The Freebie, Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Take Shelter all come to mind quite quickly, particularly because those films all stuck with me long enough to make it on to my top ten lists for their respective years. That’s staying power, and that’s the power of Sundance – seeing films in January that stay top-of-mind (and top-of-top-ten-list) for eleven months (and beyond). So which films from this year’s Sundance will prove to be long-range winners? While I can certainly make some very educated guesses, there’s no way to know for sure until my eyeballs meet Park City’s theater screens. That said, it’s probably safe to assume my ultimate favorite is somewhere on the following list of my ten most anticipated films for this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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Welcome to Day Two of Kate Christmas. Yesterday, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival announced their first wave of programming, featuring twenty-six titles that will be screening in competition. While the arrival of those titles was enough to send me into a tizzy I have still not recovered from, today the festival has only piled on the pre-holiday goodies with the announcement of their Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films. A few titles of note to get your juices flowing – Gareth Evans‘ The Raid (also known round these parts as “oh, hell yeah”), Andrea Arnold‘s take on Wuthering Heights, Katie Aselton‘s second directorial outing Black Rock (scripted by her husband Mark Duplass), Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish‘s Sleepwalk With Me (based on Birbiglia’s hilarious book), and Lynn Shelton‘s Your Sister’s Sister. Again, that’s just a taste, so check out the full list of Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films after the break.

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