Heather Graham

Flowers

If you are at all familiar with V.C. Andrews’ Dollanganger stories, you know that the author’s wildly popular five-book series are basically readily consumable insanity. Andrews’ sensibilities ran towards the “Gothic” and the “family saga,” and that’s never been clearer than in her wackadoo Dollanganger series, which doesn’t require reading for people to have familiarity with it. Let’s put it this way – do you remember a creepy film from your childhood in which Kristy Swanson and her siblings were locked in an attic by their evil grandmother and weak-willed mother and she eventually banged her brother in said attic? Yup, you’ve got familiarity with Flowers in the Attic, which means you’ve got familiarity with Andrews and the Dollangangers and now you quite keenly realize just what type of “family saga” Andrews liked to write about. Despite her prolific and bestselling writing career, only two Andrews books have ever been brought to the big screen – Flowers in the Attic came first with the 1987 Swanson-starring outing that also featured Louise Fletcher and Victoria Tennant, with the lesser-known Rain following in 2006. Flowers in the Attic is basically a curiousity – the attic incest film – but it’s a prime example of the taboo smut Andrews liked to peddle to the masses. It probably should have spawned at least a pair of sequels, considering the depth of material that Andrews wrote, but it’s instead a wacky footnote in film adaptation history. Until now! Flowers in the Attic is now on […]

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Ramin

At Any Price is like a film someone stored in a time capsule during the 1970s, and we’re just now finally opening it. Influenced by Five Easy Pieces and other landmarks of that era, director Ramin Bahrani set out to make a rural drama that, despite popular belief, has an audience. He ran into resistance while seeking financing, and one might think that was because of the film’s unlikable huckster protagonist, Henry (Dennis Quaid). The trouble didn’t come from the anti-hero lead, however, but rather in the story’s rural setting. According to the money men, nobody wants to watch a movie that’s not set in a major city. Bahrani finds, understandably so, that belief to be ludicrous. And At Any Price has made its way to screen with its setting intact, a fact he is pleased with. The writer and director behind Goodbye Solo and Chop Shop originally had his eyes set on making a western, which didn’t come to fruition. Funny enough, At Any Price wasn’t much easier to get made, despite not being a part of what some consider a “dead genre”.

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3

At Any Price is truly a baffling film. At many times I found myself laughing, I found my mouth agape, I buried my head in my hands… And I hardly think that was the filmmaker’s intended audience reaction. It’s almost hard to believe that someone actually wrote this thing, that the film is even for real. This is especially surprising since the film’s writer/director, Ramin Bahrani (who co-scripted with Hallie Elizabeth Newton), has several good indie films under his belt, including Goodbye Solo and Man Push Cart. The film throws logic and caution to the wind, features an insanely campy performance from Dennis Quaid, flip-flops each character’s motivation with abandon, has zero regard for morality and never ceases to have a cheese factor that explodes through the roof. On the positive end (which is understandably quite narrow), the two race car scenes were shot well, as they were quickly paced and tension-filled. And Zac Efron is always a sight for sore eyes, especially during his two passion-filled sex scenes.

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At Any Price

At first glance, the trailer for At Any Price looks like it’s advertising a melodramatic movie that takes a mock-heroic look at being a farmer, but when you see that this thing has been directed by Ramin Bahrani, the guy who made minimal but affecting work like Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, and Goodbye Solo, you know there has to be something else there. And having seen this one at last year’s TIFF, I can confirm that there is indeed something else there. In between this trailer’s fast-cutting of fist fights, yelling, and make-out sessions, you can catch glimpses of the story at the heart of the film. It’s not only one of fathers and sons, and the pains and pressures that they put on one another, but it’s one of the pressures put on the modern farmer, and how big corporations are taking over the business of producing our food and forcing the people who have been producing it up to this point to either get big too or get out of the way. Like each of Bahrani’s works to date, this one is a real eye-opener.

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Goodbye to All That Casting

Schneider. Lynskey. Sedaris. Weston. Sold! Variety reports that indie film MVPs Paul Schneider, Melanie Lynskey, Amy Sedaris, and Celia Weston have all joined the cast of Angus MacLachlan‘s feature debut, Goodbye to All That. Additionally, other newly-announced cast members include Heather Lawless, Heather Graham, Anna Camp, and Ashley Hinshaw. That’s one heck of a wonderful cast but, considering that MacLachlan’s feature screenwriting debut was the critically lauded Amy Adams career-launcher Junebug, it’s no surprise that so many great talents would want to hitch their wagons to MacLachlan’s star. The film centers on “what happens to a man who’s unexpectedly divorced by his wife and forced to adapt to a new life, balancing the well-being of his daughter with his newly-complicated sex life.” While official casting notes on who is playing who have not yet been reported, it’s probably safe to say that Schneider will star in the central role (and the man knows his complicated sex, see: All the Real Girls). Perhaps Lynskey is set for the difficult role of unexpected ex-wife? Sounds wonderful. The film is set to start lensing in Winston-Salem, N.C. later this month.

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Of course you do. We’ve talked quite a bit about Stephen Elliot’s About Cherry here on the site, and now all our lovely Gotham-based readers have the chance to actually go see the film for free tonight in the Big Apple (we know no one calls it that, but About Cherry is about being starry-eyed, and damn if we aren’t too). About Cherry will screen tonight, Tuesday, September 18th, at 7:30PM at the IFC Center, thanks to IFC Midnight and Fleshbot, and you can go.

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When you live in small-town Middle America, it seems that you have only three options. You farm, you drive a race car, or you leave. Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart; Chop Shop; Goodbye Solo) is a filmmaker who tends to look at immigrants in America who are trying to find a livelihood away from home. With his new film, At Any Price, he takes a closer look at the struggles of Middle America and how the shift in business models over the generations threatens the very fabric and moral pride of the people. Due to the bigger demand for more-focused growing, it’s become impossible for small farmers to survive on their own. As a result, these people become either antiquated and bankrupt or form progressive, self-made conglomerates. We then see the effect of corporate America and ask, “Is this great for the economy? The man? Both? Neither?” In At Any Price we see Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) as the farmer trying to be as progressive as possible. One of his first scenes puts him at another farmer’s funeral, offering to purchase land from the man’s bereaved son. Henry’s passion is his farm. He wants to make it into an even better business than he received from his father, so that he can then hand it off to his son. The problem is that he’s made some morally questionable decisions in the process of seeking to resolve his ambitions. And these decisions eventually come back to haunt him.

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All right, all you great big, bright, shining stars out there. It’s time to hear what Paul Thomas Anderson has to say. With recent movies like There Will Be Blood and his latest, The Master, the director is smack in the middle of a stretch in his career in which he’s defining a new genre called Discomfort. Boogie Nights looks downright cheerful by comparison, so it’s nice to go back and listen to the writer/director discuss his great, early achievement. And here we have it, all 37 things we learned listening to PT Anderson talk about Boogie Nights. You got the touch…!

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Some movies have concepts that are hard sells and immediately put them at a disadvantage. Shoot a story that on its surface seems challenging or boring, and you’re really going to have to convince your audience that you’ve done your job well in order for them to give your work a chance. And then there are movies like About Cherry, which could look like the most poorly crafted film of the year, and would still get everyone’s attention. That’s because About Cherry is about a fresh young hunk of meat (Chronicle‘s Ashley Hinshaw) just getting into the porn industry; a subject that pretty much anyone can find at least some way to get excited about. And it’s also a subject that seems to give advertisers a lot of leeway in how they want to sell their product. While About Cherry’s first trailer seemed to sell it primarily as an indie romance about youth and finding love, the latest seems to sell it as much more of a slick and moody drama about the dark side of the entertainment industry. We’re shown a lot more footage of the porny stuff getting filmed, which seems to be the hard sell, and then we hear the naive young protagonist describe a coked-up James Franco as being “the nicest guy,” which introduces an unsettling amount of dread.

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If this first trailer for Cherry is to be believed, stumbling into a career in pornography is shockingly easy – all it takes is one dirtbag boyfriend and one impressionable teenage girl. In Cherry, Ashley Hinshaw (who you might recognize from Chronicle) takes a few dirty pictures for some pocket change, as encouraged by her skeezy boyfriend Jonny Weston, but her cash-grabbing photo shoots have an unexpected result – they allow her enough money to run off to San Francisco with her best friend (played by, of all people, Dev Patel). In the city by the bay, Hinshaw (obviously) ends up starring in fetish porn films, falls into a destructive relationship with a coked-up lawyer (played, of course, by James Franco), and apparently lies a lot. Without that marquee cast, Cherry would sound a lot like some classic After School Special material. But while Cherry sounds a bit basic, it does come complete with an interesting pedigree – it’s directed and co-written by first-time filmmaker Stephen Elliot, a former sex worker and author most famous for his lauded book “The Adderall Diaries.” The film also marks Elliot’s co-writer Lorelei Lee‘s first foray into screenwriting, though she has an extensive list of starring roles in various pornos, all complete with titles I can’t list here, because this is a family site. Check out the trailer for Cherry after the break, hopefully after you nix any plans for your own porno career.

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Sitting at a formidable and weighty 98% on Rotten Tomatoes is legendary director Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull, a biopic of Jake LaMotta, a 40s era boxer who was nicknamed “The Raging Bull” because of his short fuse and aggressive style in the ring. Michael Ritchie isn’t a legendary director. Despite the fact that he’s made movies like The Bad News Bears and Fletch, I’ve never even heard someone bring his name up in a conversation. And his attempt at a boxing movie, 1992’s Diggstown, is sitting at a paltry 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, derided and then forgotten by a cruel world unwilling to look past the ridiculous shirt and tie combinations James Woods wears in the film. This injustice will not stand.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr relives his childhood by running around with a Super 8 film camera, trying to capture a train derailment on film. He deftly uses the cover of shooting a home movie with a bunch of local tweens who ride around on their bikes all day like some extras in a Spielberg film. However, when the cops come after him for suspicious behavior, he ducks into the local cinema to catch the live-action big screen adaptation of the Judy Moody books. This might not be helping his case.

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James Franco has another project in the works. Somebody sound the Franco Alarm! It will be for a film where author Stephen Elliot makes his directorial debut filming a script that he co-wrote with a former porn star named Lorelei Lee. Don’t pretend like you aren’t familiar with her work. Cherry tells the story of a bright-eyed young girl who moves to San Francisco, enters the world of pornography, and presumably then has a great time working a fulfilling job in an industry where everyone is stable and well adjusted. Or maybe they’ll go another route, and the opposite will happen to her. Regardless, the role of the 18-year-old girl has not yet been cast, but several others have. For his part, Franco will be playing a coke-addicted lawyer that the girl becomes involved with. Lili Taylor (High Fidelity, Six Feet Under) will play the girl’s mother, who shockingly has a drinking problem. Heather Graham will be an ex porn star/current porn director who becomes obsessed with the young girl, and Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel will play the girl’s best friend, who is secretly in love with her. Probably once she starts blowing dudes on camera he will have some sort of existential crisis. Also, it sounds like whomever they find to play the female lead is going to have to be ridiculously charismatic to justify having all of these people falling all over her. What do you think? Are you ready for another movie about the porn industry? As […]

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews this week’s new movies: Land of the Lost and The Hangover.

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the-hangover-header

Even though our own Cole Abaius already posted his first interview from his Vegas trip (with Zach Galifianakis), we have not even begun to spread the love all over Todd Phillips’ latest comedy The Hangover.

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