Dark Horse

Dark Horse Movie 2012

The parallel is too easy, but Todd Solondz‘s Dark Horse really is a Dark Horse. Not only does the main character, Abe (Jordan Gelber), take some time to get any empathy, the movie itself isn’t exactly an instant winner. The reason is clear: so much of it is tied directly to a curly hair-chested baby of a man who drives a yellow hummer and doesn’t understand anything except his own victimhood. With only ten minutes under its belt, it’s difficult to see falling in love with it. That’s where the saying about books and covers comes in. Almost any other director might struggle to avoid making a movie focused on Abe into a chore, but Todd Solondz is most comfortable when he’s most uncomfortable, and the result is a drama that is singed with comic moments that belong in a therapist’s waiting room.

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As Todd Solondz explains, Dark Horse is a different kind of take on the Judd Apatow celebration of the Manchild. It’s a bit more aggressive, a lot more realistic, and complex in the way that fans have come to expect from the director of Welcome to the Dollhouse and Palindromes. Set beyond cheerful pop music, the film follows Jordan Gelber, looking a lot like Jeff Garlin, as he attempts to navigate what he views as a cruel, unfair world in the yellow hummer his parents bought for him. He discovers something like love with the depressed Miranda (a differently-named character reprised by Selma Blair from Storytelling), and he struggles (often hilariously) to understand a world shifting around him. Fortunately, Solondz took some time out to discuss his take on later-life childhood, how to respond to fans who laugh at child-rape, and how the indie filmmaking world has changed since the 1990s. Download Episode #135

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There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat. The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything. There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.

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Having not spent my childhood as an eyeliner-wearing outcast, my knowledge of the Emily the Strange character is quite limited, leading to lots of personal speculation, such as “how do you find narrative in a lunchbox?” The truth is, you don’t, but luckily for fans of Ms. The Strange, there’s actually a wealth of material to mine for a feature film that goes far beyond cheap tee shirts from Hot Topic (but I don’t put it past anyone to make a film about based on a tee shirt). That’s good news for screenwriter Melisa Wallack, who has just signed on to write the Emily the Strange feature film script. Wallack most recently penned the script for Tarsem Singh’s untitled Snow White project over at Relativity (that’s the one with Lilly Collins, Armie Hammer, and Julia Roberts), but she’s also got two Black List projects under her belt, 2007’s Meet Bill (which she also co-directed) and Science Fair (currently in development). If you’re going to turn a logo into a film, signing on a talented screenwriter is a good way to start.

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Considering how much I like striped shirts, pasta, and films from controversial Greek directors, it looks like I may need to stow away in someone’s suitcase and get over to Italy next month for the 68th Venice Film Festival. The fest, which runs from August 31 to September 10, has just released their lineup for the year, and I may be speaking out of my macaroni here, but this batch of films really wets my noodle. Nathan already reported last month that George Clooney’s The Ides of March was likely to join the festival, and today’s announcement confirms that twofold – Ides will not only show at the festival, it will serve as opening night film. Other good stuff here includes Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (which has one of my favorite trailers of the year), Roman Polanski’s adaptation of play God of Carnage (shortened to Carnage), Ami Canaan Mann’s Texas Killing Fields, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, Steve McQueen’s Shame, Todd Solondz’s Dark Horse, Madonna’s W.E., Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, and Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos’s Alps. In short terms, this is an incredible lineup of films that I cannot even remotely snark on, because I would probably do something violent if it meant I could go to the festival. Check out the full list of films after the break.

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Emily the Strange

Dark Horse Entertainment’s president, Mike Richardson, has confirmed rumors that his production company will produce a feature film based on skateboarder Rob Reger’s counterculture iconEmily the Strange.

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Universal Studios and Dark Horse have signed a 3 year production and development deal. What does this mean for movie fans? Step inside, step inside!

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