Gary Fleder

Branagh Swan Song

This is a special edition of Short Starts, where we look at the Sundance shorts program class of 1993. 1992 and 1994 are very notable years in the history of the Sundance Film Festival. Mostly for features. In between, the 1993 event should be recognized for its short film program. It was only the second year of this section — though shorts were an increasingly significant part of the fest since 1988 — and it remains, two decades later, probably the most important (if not best) batch of short films to ever come together in Park City. Among the filmmakers receiving their first real notice in this program were Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, David Wain, Eugene Jarecki, Tamara Jenkins, Ted Demme, Stanley Tucci (as writer/producer), Gary Fleder, Alex Sichel, Mike Mitchell and animators Eric Darnell and Matt O’Callaghan. Their early works played alongside shorts by Michael Almereyda, Lourdes Portillo and two eventual Oscar nominees, Christian Taylor‘s The Lady in Waiting and Kenneth Branagh‘s Swan Song. It is the last film that is especially relevant now because Branagh helmed the biggest new release in theaters this weekend, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. That’s the latest franchise entry for the actor-turned-director, another feature that’s very far removed from his initial reputation as a filmmaker interested primarily in Shakespeare adaptations and movies with an old fashioned dramatic sensibility (I don’t care how Shakespearean his Thor movie seems, it’s still just a Thor movie).

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review homefront

Jason Statham made his big screen debut in 1998’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and just four years later he got his first starring role as The Transporter. He’s been punching and kicking ever since, averaging between two to four films per year over the last decade, with 2013 coming in at the high end with lead roles in both Parker and Redemption and an end-credits cameo in a major action franchise. There are of course exceptions, but we can probably all agree that Statham’s more of a quantity over quality kind of guy. His newest action romp, Homefront, offers some bang for your buck, but it probably won’t be changing that assessment. Phil Broker (Statham) is working undercover as a member of a motorcycle gang that dabbles in the manufacture and distribution of meth. The big bust goes sideways, and when the gang leader’s son gets swiss-cheesed in front of his eyes, he swears vengeance against Broker before being carted off to jail. Two years later Broker and his young daughter, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic), are settling down to a new life in a small Louisiana town. The sins of the past soon come calling though when a local meth dealer (James Franco) discovers Broker’s past and invites some old friends to town for payback.

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Actor/writer/director/student/weirdo James Franco has tried to pull off a lot of things over the past few years, but he’s yet to attempt to be an action hero. That may be about to change though, because THR is reporting that he just signed on to star in a project that involves two of the cornerstones of movie masculinity. The film is called Homefront, it comes from a script that was penned by Sylvester Stallone, and it will see Franco acting opposite Jason Statham. Uh-oh, Mr. Franco, looks like we’re gonna need a bigger boat (full of HGH). Okay, so maybe painting Franco as an action hero is pushing it. According to the report, Franco will actually be playing the villain of the piece, a meth dealer who goes by the name of Gator. Apparently he runs the town he lives in due to his super-profitable, meth-dealing lifestyle, and when an ex-D.E.A. agent (Statham) moves his family in down the street in hopes of living a sleepy life, it leads to some fireworks. Stallone’s script is based off of a novel of the same name that was written by Chuck Logan, so to get a better idea of the specifics of the story we can turn to the books Amazon description, which reads:

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published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+


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