Brit Marling

Amplify

Numerous filmmakers have made their influences into mentors. Paul Thomas Anderson’s ’90s films were deeply indebted to the work of Robert Altman, with whom he developed a personal friendship, and even worked as an uncredited “backup director” for The Prairie Home Companion. And the well-publicized friendships between Peter Bogdanovich and titans of classic cinema (Howard Hawks, John Ford, Orson Welles) have threatened to obscure the notable films Bogdanovich actually made as his primary contribution to the world of movies. Many filmmakers hew themselves close to those whom they give homage, either personally or aesthetically. Yet this relationship typically produces a sort of third party amongst a collision of influences, a meeting of minds and personalities that shapes films which, while heavily indebted to what came before, use the past as a platform for expressing something notable on its own. That’s what makes A.J. Edwards’ debut work, The Better Angels, such a curious cinematic object. It’s a film that not only bears a significant debt to the style of Terrence Malick (and openly, proudly so), but produces such a perfect exercise in Malick-style filmmaking that it never quite reveals an autonomous personality of its own. It’s hard to think of a more confident, more elegantly executed debut feature than The Better Angels, but it’s also hard to think of any other strong debut that leaves the personality of its filmmaker obscured as deeply in the shadows as this.

read more...

The Keeping Room

“War is cruelty,” Daniel Barber‘s The Keeping Room reminds us as the Civil War-set film begins to unspool, thanks to a pre-credits coda that shares one of Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman’s most memorable quotes about war in general and the American Civil War specifically. (Sherman is also credited for such bangers as “war is a terrible thing!” and “if they want eternal war, well and good” and yes, even the inimitable “war is hell” — for a lauded general, Sherman sure hated war a lot.) War is indeed cruelty, and although Barber drives that point home (again and again), The Keeping Room does it with grace, care and an appealing spirit that place it a cut above other war-set films that don’t involve a battle field-set rager. Penned by Julia Hart (the film is the screenwriter’s first feature, and what a fine start it is), The Keeping Room chronicles what happens to people during war — specifically, female people — when their lives are irrevocably changed even if they don’t actually go into battle. They’re still at war, even if they’re not expected to literally fight alongside their countrymates. It’s just a different kind of war. Left alone on their farm (the film only specifies that it’s set somewhere in “the American South”), sisters Augusta (Brit Marling) and Louise (Hailee Steinfeld) are forced to fend for themselves alongside their single slave Mad (Muna Otaru). Survival isn’t easy, and the women spend the majority of their time hunting and gathering food, sitting morosely and trying to keep a creeping fear at bay. […]

read more...

review i origins

Editor’s note: Our review of I Origins originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited release. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) is a molecular biologist primarily interested in the function, capability, and evolution of the human eye. He’s worked on curing color blindness and takes photos of people’s eyes in his free time, but it’s his latest project that sets him on a spectacular course. Hoping to eliminate the sharpest arrow from creationists’ quiver of arguments against evolution (and for intelligent design), he sets out to map the various stages of human eye evolution. Karen (Brit Marling), a first-year student assigned to his lab, excitedly assists the project by searching for a currently sightless species that nonetheless feature the genetic material needed to create even the simplest eye. Running parallel to Ian’s work in the lab is his newly blossomed love life with Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), a girl he meets at a Halloween party. The mask she wears prevents him from seeing her face, but some quality time spent bumping and grinding together atop a toilet combined with her memorable eyes makes the experience unforgettable for him. His quest to find her is aided by a seemingly predestined series of numbers, and soon the two are deep in love. He’s a pragmatic scientist, and she’s a believer in spirituality and fate, but after tragedy strikes those two worlds come together in unexpected fashion.

read more...

Michael Pitt and Britt Marling in I Origins

[Rob’s note: Fair warning, this trailer and post contain 2nd/3rd act spoilers that Fox Searchlight should have known better than to include in their marketing.] There’s a point that we get to in movie trailers where fantastical and awe-inspiring story becomes maybe a little too hokey and we’re left with the cheesy pieces. It’s hard to say if there’s one singular problem causing this phenomenon to happen or if attempting to cram every crazy event that happens in the film into a little over two minutes just makes it seem extra ridiculous. Such is the case with the trailer for I Origins, a film that will probably be perfectly enjoyable once it hits theaters. But packed in pint-sized form, things seem to be getting out of hand for this team of scientists and their host of crazed ideas. The story follows Michael Pitt as a biologist who spends his time studying the function and mapping of the human eye. In his time outside the lab, he’s falling deeply in love with Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), a girl with beautiful, mesmerizing eyes — “the eyes that changed this world.” After some sort of tragedy befalls the couple, Sofi is out of the picture, but her eyes are still the focus of his strange life, especially when his pretty lab assistant (Brit Marling) points out that a child in India has the exact same eye mapping as his beloved. What that means is beyond me (and hopefully you; I don’t like feeling dumb), but it’s […]

read more...

brit 2

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij left a positive impression on me a few years ago at South by Southwest. Not only with Sound of My Voice, their first full-length feature film together, but also in person during the brief time I spent sitting down with them. That is a movie that raises quite a few questions, and it was obvious they had every possible answer to these questions in mind. Both on screen and off, the two filmmakers displayed between them a clear confidence and shared interests. With their second collaboration, “the eco-terrorist” thriller The East, the two came to town for a press day near their old stomping ground, Georgetown University. Marling and Batmanglij met for the first time there, and it was fitting interviewing them close to the campus after having discussed their college and city experience a few years ago in Austin. Despite having found a nice little home with Fox Searchlight and having more money to work with now, the duo remain the same, sharing a similar interest in certain themes and the type of stories they want to tell.

read more...

The East

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij stepped onto the indie scene in a prominent way with Sound of My Voice. The collaborators made a surprising movie that truly engaged in a conversation with its audience, asking plenty of questions and giving you the proper amount of clues to form your own answers. Their followup film, The East, isn’t so much about questions, but it’s a shame the movie lays everything on so thick and in such obvious ways, leaving little room for any moral ambiguity. At the end of the day, this is a movie where the good guys are the good guys and the bad guys are kind of the bad guys. One of those characters, who fluctuates between both camps in contrived ways, is Sarah (Brit Marling). She works for a private intelligence firm made for evil corporations and such, has a boyfriend, and a nice life. Sarah, being the up and coming hotshot agent she is, like any other spy protagonist, is assigned to infiltrate an eco-terrorist cell known as “The East.” Assigned by her boss, Sharon (Patricia Clarkson) — who even gets to spew out exposition on a rooftop with that cliche helicopter lingering in the background — she has complete faith in her spy. It’s an obvious B-movie set up, and for the first half, it moves exceptionally well in that regard.

read more...

Page

The last time Ellen Page was onscreen, she played a pseudo intellectual temptation for the protagonist of Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love. It was a comical role, one that really fit in nicely with the oblivious Allen-type characters. Now she can be seen in The East with a performance that couldn’t be more different. Here, playing Izzy, Page is an intimidating presence in the eco-terrorist group the film follows. In terms of genre and performance, it’s a 180-degree turn for the actress. Like most actors, that’s something Page strives for. She’s been making some inspired, or no-brainer, choices of who to craft those diverse performances with. In Christopher Nolan, David Slade, Jason Reitman, Lynn Shelton and James Gunn, Page has worked with some of today’s best talents. The East finds her joined up with an exciting duo in the film world, Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling. We discussed Batmanglij and Marling’s thriller with Ellen Page, as well as her process, the world The East unveils, and more:

read more...

Cahill and Marling

There are few films that I’ve come around on as much as I’ve come around on Mike Cahill‘s Another Earth. When the film bowed at Sundance 2011, it was as one half of the buzzed-about “arrival” of star and co-writer Brit Marling, who quite memorably debuted yet another film at the festival that she also co-wrote and starred in (the still far superior Sound of My Voice). While SOMV instantly captivated me (and continues to do so), Another Earth frustrated and, quite frankly, angered me. Its unique plot – a twin Earth is discovered heading towards our own Earth, and it soon becomes obvious that said twin Earth also contains a twin of everything else, including Marling’s unlucky Rhoda Williams – seemed utterly wasted, with Cahill and Marling more concerned with mining the non-drama of Marling’s inappropriate relationship with a guy whose family she accidentally killed. Another Earth only came, well, down to Earth in its final scene, and that scene’s masterful use of mystery and revelation made the rest of it all the more frustrating. We knew what the film could have been, and it simply wasn’t that. (Then again, the film did win both a Special Jury Prize and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the festival, so what do I know.) And yet. Over the years, my disdain for Another Earth has given way to curiosity and respect. If it’s on TV, I am going to watch it. I want more from Cahill, even if I am not sure if I actually liked his first film (I think I […]

read more...

image

We are all just going to forget this poster for Zal Batmanglij‘s The East doesn’t exist (well, after we finish this post), because it’s a pretty poor example of the latest from the director and co-writer. The standard issue, face-heavy (and, honestly, are those pictures of stars Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgaard, and Ellen Page just lifted from stills from the movie?) one-sheet for the new eco-terrorism thriller doesn’t do much to convey that it’s a smart, enthralling piece of work that will stick with you long after you’ve seen it. Here: The East is a smart, enthralling piece of work that will stick with you long after you’ve seen it. Goodbye, poster. The East opens in theaters in May. [BlackBook]

read more...

TheEast_still3

  So far it has only been seen at Sundance, but The East is giving those of us not in Park City a glimpse of what it has to offer, in the form of a trailer. This is the latest collaboration between director Zal Batmanglij and his co-writer/star Brit Marling, the duo who brought us the weird and interesting cult movie Sound of My Voice last year. The East casts Marling as a private intelligence operative who protects the interests of big corporations and sends her off on a mission to infiltrate and take down a cell of dangerous eco-terrorists. Sounds easy enough, right? Not when you start to fall in love with the operation’s charismatic leader and your loyalties begin to be pulled in two different directions. The trailer for the film doesn’t tell us all of this, though. Instead it masquerades as a sort of propaganda video/audio-visual threat aimed at rich people and big business. A mission statement gets read as we see images of big companies polluting the Earth and oppressing the poor and of this organization of revolutionaries making preparations to fight back. Threats are made and creepy masks are worn. If you’re a business owner with a bursting bank account, you might want to skip this one for fear of it making you squirm in your seat. But for everyone else, prepare to catch glimpses of Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgård, and Patricia Clarkson. For an indie movie, The East boasts a pretty impressive cast.

read more...

Aural Fixation - Large

Have you ever looked at the expensive highrises that dot the New York City skyline and wondered what it would be like to run one of the companies housed within them? Not necessarily the long hours, tough decisions, and stress that would come with such a position, but the type of life that kind of work leads to – a life of privilege, beauty, and lack of consequences. A life where working above the fray causes you to feel like you may almost be above the fray itself. Director Nicholas Jarecki takes us past the velvet ropes and doormen into this decedent and stunning world, a world you usually only find in people’s fantasies, but one that is a reality for those select few able to afford it. While this life is unquestionably beautiful and enticing, the big businessman it is afforded to got a bit of a shake up when things started crashing down on Wall Street and those who may once have been viewed (and viewed themselves) as untouchable started to experience some undeniable cracks. Arbitrage focuses on the life of powerful businessman Robert Miller (Richard Gere), a man whose world is surrounded by rich mahogany, dollar signs, and the insides of town cars. His life is one you would expect for a man in his position, but Cliff Martinez takes a more unexpected route with his score, giving this stiff and almost antiquated environment some real texture and vibrancy. The juxtaposition of these classic settings with Martinez’s more modern, electronic sound helps create a […]

read more...

Arbitrage 2012 Film

Editor’s note: With Arbitrage hitting theaters this week, here is a re-run (totally free! no financial risks to you!) of our Sundance review, originally posted on January 22, 2012. Last year’s Sundance Film Festival featured a break-out hit with J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call, a taut and talky tale of investment bankers trying to chuck bad money and bad books in the early days of the financial crisis. Chandor’s film cleaned up nicely on the awards circuit, and it’s surely paved the way for screenwriter and documentarian Nicholas Jarecki‘s feature film debut, a sexier sister to Margin Call.  Arbitrage brings out the big guns to tell its twisted story – starring Richard Gere as hedge fund magnate Robert Miller attempting to sell his family business, with Susan Sarandon as his charitable wife Ellen, Brit Marling as smarty-pants daughter Brooke, and the ever-solid Tim Roth as a police detective steadily cracking open their rarefied lives. Here, Jarecki has crafted great atmosphere – we understand the Millers’ lifestyle and relationships within mere minutes, and the film holds that tone and that feel throughout its perhaps slightly-too-long runtime. Arbitrage is slick and watchable, well-made and with some nice surprises, but it’s void of any sense of humanity, and seeing rich people doing bad stuff doesn’t amount to stick-to-your-ribs cinema.

read more...

Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

Just last week we reported that Robert Redford’s latest film, The Company You Keep, managed to score a distribution deal before it even played any festivals. Well, the film is gearing up to play Venice and Toronto regardless, so TIFF has released a trailer promoting it. Complete with typewriter sounds and vintage news footage, said trailer starts off by making The Company You Keep look like it’s going to be an authentic, journalistic look at the history of the radical anti-war group The Weather Underground, but then we’re suddenly dumped into present day, and it’s revealed that this is actually going to be a fun-looking chase movie about the last few members of the movement still being on the run from the law. The Company You Keep is full of grizzled old activists/bank robbers, plucky young reporters, plucky young F.B.I. agents, action, intrigue, murder, and a cast that features names like Redford, Susan Sarandon, Shia LaBeouf, Brendan Gleeson, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Brit Marling, Julie Christie, Stephen Root, and Stanley Tucci.

read more...

Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

The latest directorial effort from screen legend Robert Redford, The Company You Keep, was all set to make a big splash and impress distributors at the upcoming deal-making feeding grounds that are the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, but a new development is making it look like the film’s screenings at those fests are going to come off as something of an afterthought. If you’ve got a used car that you need to get rid of, or maybe some old exercise equipment lying around that you’ve been thinking of putting on eBay, then maybe you should think of having Redford write the ad copy for you, because it seems that he’s something of a salesman. THR is reporting that the director, along with his fellow producers Nicolas Chartier and Bill Holderman, have already struck a deal with Sony Pictures Classics to handle all U.S. distributions rights for the film. Based on a book by Neil Gordon, The Company You Keep stars Redford himself as a former Weather Underground militant, wanted for bank robbery and murder, who gets exposed decades after his crimes by a meddling young reporter (as played by Shia LaBeouf).

read more...

Arbitrage Movie

The feature narrative directing debut of writer and documentarian Nicholas Jarecki features a flaming car, a businessman, and way too much money on the line to tell the truth. Arbitrage – starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, and Brit Marling – is the story of a car accident that threatens to derail the gravy train of a morally-questionable man facing a large merger. The trailer makes a huge impact. It’s incendiary and thrilling, hopefully marking the arrival of a stunning work of drama. Not too bad for a movie channeling a super sexy macro-economic pricing theory. Check it out for yourself:

read more...

Co-writer and star of the stunning Sound of My Voice, Brit Marling has been poised to break out for over a year now. Marling is one of two emerging “it girl” female stars that lit up the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, sharing the honor with Elizabeth Olsen (who, like Marling, appeared in two films that year, Silent House and the infinitely better Martha Marcy May Marlene). Marling, of course, has a leg up on the apparent competition, as she has also co-written both of her starring vehicles with their respective directors. While her other Sundance film, Another Earth, was not met with as much acclaim as SOMV (either at the festival or in its own limited release), the two form compelling companion pieces, particularly with the knowledge that Marling wrote them at the same time – she’d write Another Earth in the morning with Mike Cahill, dedicating her evenings to SOMV and Zal Batmanglij. Both Sound of My Voice and Another Earth focus on people who are looking for something to alleviate them from the pain present in their daily lives, but while Another Earth relies on the introduction of an entirely new planet to drive its narrative, SOMV instead centers on the vast expanses that exist in single human beings. It is not just a better film than Another Earth, it is a film that is exceedingly accomplished, confounding, and consuming beyond just basic comparisons. Wrapped in a tidy 85-minute package, Batmanglij and Marling have created their own world, […]

read more...

Few recent marketing campaigns have impressed me as profoundly as Fox Searchlight’s push for Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling‘s Sound of My Voice. The Sundance hit comes with a plotline that’s ready-made for some inventive viral work, as it centers on a mysterious cult in Los Angeles, its compelling leader (Marling), and a pair of documentary filmmakers who infiltrate the organization in order to film an expose (they, of course, find much more than they bargained for). The marketing team for Sound of My Voice have clearly had a great time “recruiting new cult members” for the film with weekly meetings in Los Angeles (hey, they even got me there), but they decided to take the show on the road, stopping at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival to lure in fresh members. The result? An amusing, confounding video that reveals a startling amount of information about the film. While moviegoers who have yet to see the film will surely be intrigued by the video, it is people who have already seen Sound of My Voice who will be most stirred by it. Why? Because a very unexpected member of the cult shows up as part of the recruitment team. While I would not call the video a true spoiler, if you’re looking forward to seeing Sound of My Voice and want to stay fresh, perhaps save this video for viewing after you watch this phenomenal film. Already seen SOMV? Prepare to have your interpretations rocked.

read more...

Last month was eclectic. We got Disney‘s like-it-or-hate-it box-office bomb, a sweet and violent comedy following the goons of hockey, one ass-kicking and nonstop action picture, an 80s TV show adaptation that was better than it originally had any right to be, and a Tarsem kids’ film that defied most expectations based on that horror story of a trailer. A pretty strong March, and that’s not even counting The Hunger Games. Before we head into the unpredictable summer movie season, we got 30 days filled with a plenty of excellent and probably not-so-excellent releases coming out. Here are 8 1/2 movies worth seeing this month.

read more...

It’s perhaps too spot-on that Los Angeles’ own Ukrainian Cultural Center also functions as a theater, with a big stage and grand Art Deco features nestled inside and outside of it. After all, I am here for some theatrics, but not the kind that take place on a stage or even on a screen – but the kind that require participation and collusion and even a healthy slice of delusion, even as they also beg for stories and plots and costumes. I am not here for a movie or a concert or a reading. I am here to join a cult.

read more...

To say that I have been eagerly anticipating Zal Batmanglij‘s Sound of My Voice is the understatement of the year. I’ve been rabid about seeing this thing ever since it premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival (where everyone loved it) and then followed that up with a run at last year’s SXSW Film Festival (where everyone loved it), and though I attended both festivals, I could never manage to fit the film in to my schedule. I even remember standing outside the Alamo, heartbroken and thunderstruck, after I missed a screening of the film by a mere five minutes. Batmanglij co-wrote the film with star Brit Marling, and while I’ve more than taken my lumps for hating Marling’s other Sundance 2011 film, Another Earth, I’ve been assured that I will love Sound of My Voice, so perhaps my indie cred isn’t dead just yet. That all said, the film stars Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius as a couple/documentary filmmaking team who attempt to break into a Marling-led cult for a project, only to find themselves pulled under her sway. The film will finally hit theaters this April, and marketing is just beginning to roll out. Snap on over to Apple to watch the film’s first two minutes, and if that intrigues you (hint: it will), mark your calendars for Thursday, when you can watch the first twelve minutes (comprising the first of ten “chapters” that make up the film) of Sound of My Voice at the film’s official site […]

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3