Ghost Team One

discs toad road

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Toad Road James (James Davidson) is a slacker, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for meaning he sits around all day doing nothing. Instead, he sits around all day smoking, popping, and snorting anything he and his friends can get their hands on, but that starts to change when he meets the new girl, Sara (Sara Anne Jones). She’s new to the drug scene, he introduces her, and she gets hooked just as he wants out. He agrees to one last trip with her. Shrooms in hand, the two head out to the legendary Toad Road to investigate rumors of the seven gates of hell. It goes according to plan until he wakes up to discover she’s disappeared. Writer/director Jason Banker’s debut feature is low budget, raw, messy, unsure of itself, and yet oddly mesmerizing. The “horror” element introduced via the title feels almost like an afterthought added to make the film more marketable, but the core of the film works as a frequently intense and often painful look at the obvious and not so obvious struggles that come with drug addiction. The doomed love story adds to the film’s tragic allure, but the real life fate of Miss Jones sadly cements it. [DVD extras: Commentary with writer/director Jason Banker and friends, deleted scenes, featurettes, booklet]

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All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

If you’re seething with unreleased rage and only know three guitar chords, there are a ton of options for you at theaters this week. From the boys finally loving Mandy Lane to Machete continuing his fight against good taste (which must have done something terrible to his family), and from Captain Phillips fighting back against pirates to William Faulkner rising from the grave to strangle James Franco, there are an unhealthy amount of victimized people taking up arms against a sea of bullies. Naturally, vengeful ghosts and an evil Disneyland come into play as well. On the punk rock side, there’s Green Day battling Broadway and a poorly-lip-synced attempt at telling the story of an iconic haunt that never played bluegrass music. There’s also a lot more going on in a week with a massive amount of movies. Here’s your trailer-ized guide to what’s coming out:

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Ghost Team One

If Sundance is the alternative film festival, Slamdance is the alternative to the alternative. We’re proud to be media sponsors for the festival, and to share a few filmmaking spotlights on the movies playing there this year. This second batch features some secret and educational recordings. A talk with directors Scott Rutherford and Ben Peyser shows how they crafted Ghost Team One — a paranormal comedy where two things get weird in the spirit world after two guys chase after a beautiful woman. Plus, J.R. Hughto talks about his film Diamond on Vinyl, where a man is secretly recording private moments with his fiancee. Of course, she finds out. On the educational front, Cary McClelland brings his globe-trotting expertise to the cause of illuminating what’s going on in Pakistan with the film Without Shepherds. So let’s get uncomfortably close and dig deeper to learn more about these budding filmmakers:

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laststand19

As written, The Last Stand is not an interesting movie. It’s a simple modern-day western as action flick with dialogue that’s nearly 100% expositional and a plot that offers nothing in the way of surprise, suspense or subtlety. It could really have been made at any time and starred any major or minor actor and been roughly the same as what we’re looking at this weekend with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the leading role. But The Last Stand is arriving now and indeed with Schwarzenegger’s name on the top of the marquee, his first starring vehicle in ten years. That makes the movie of note all by itself, in such a way that it might as well be actually titled “The Return of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Or “Arnold is Back,” although this would imply that it’s an opportunity for winking bits of self-awareness. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of silly references to the Arnie classics and signature lines. He thankfully got the obvious “I’m back” shtick out of his system in last year’s The Expendables 2.

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