I Origins

CALVARY discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Calvary Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a small town priest in rural Ireland who receives an oddly unwelcome confession one morning from someone who calmly promises to murder him by the week’s end. The priest goes on with his business, trying his best to do right, but the next seven days are filled with frustration, eccentricity and an unsettling energy in those around him. Writer/director John Michael McDonagh‘s second feature is a slowburn character piece that weaves black comedy and mystery through a soulful rumination on the power of forgiveness. Gleeson is a quietly rumbling powerhouse and gives an immensely affecting lead performance, and the supporting cast is a stellar mix of aggressively engaging friends, strangers and suspects including Chris O’Dowd, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, M. Emmet Walsh, Domhnall Gleeson (Brendan’s son) and Kelly Reilly. The script is filled with wisdom and wit, and it leaves you feeling drained and reflective on those who’ve passed through your own life. It’s my favorite film of the year. It’s the best film of the year. It will stay with you well into next year. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

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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.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

June ended with a blockbuster that encapsulated everything wrong with most summer movies. Bloated, thin, self-indulgent, mean-spirited, and incomprehensible are a few ways to describe Michael Bay‘s Transformers: Age of Extinction. It’s not the worst film of the series, but it’ll definitely go down as one of the worst films of the summer. Still, audiences love Bay’s brand and the film made more money domestically in its opening weekend than Edge of Tomorrow has thus far stateside, which is just heartbreaking. Thankfully, we have summer movies like Edge of Tomorrow and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to remind us not all blockbusters are run-of-the-mill studio products. Besides Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or another viewing of Edge of Tomorrow there’s plenty of other movies to check out this month. Here are the must see movies of July 2014:

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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 […]

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Sundance 2014

Seems like just twelve days ago that Kate Erbland and I posted a list of our most anticipated films playing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Our choices were based on elements as diverse as cast, premise, the filmmaker’s previous work, and even the two-word concept of an “abortion comedy.” As is always the case, though, expectations are never fully met, and while some movies we expected to love ended up disappointing us others that weren’t even on our radar completely blew us away. That, in a lanyard-wearing nutshell, is the beauty of film festivals. Unlike movies that open at your local cineplex or release onto Blu-ray and DVD each week, the majority of festival titles are unknown entities. There are no trailers or other marketing materials for these films, and the talent involved are often barely familiar faces at best. Most of the screenings are complete crapshoots, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This year’s Sundance was one of the most rewarding film festivals I’ve attended in regard to quality, and it’s evident in the high number of films already picked up for distribution. It’s telling that I had to exclude great and/or highly entertaining movies like Dear White People, Cooties, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, and The Battered Bastards of Baseball to narrow down my list below. Keep reading to see Kate’s and my top fourteen films of Sundance 2014.

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laggies

There’s no science when it comes to picking the big winners at a film festival before the first film strip unfurls (or someone hits play on a digital file, as is most often the case these days), no proven method to the madness, no guaranteed formula to finding the best of the best. It’s a gamble every single time, and that’s precisely where much of the joy in attending a film festival comes from. That discovery, maddening as it may seem. This year’s Sundance Film Festival is predictably stuffed with all manner of films and talents – from the star-studded to the utterly up-and-coming – and while it’s certainly easy to pick out pictures that “sound” like they might be good or at least feature “bankable” talent, there are always a few sleepers that sneak in and captivate an unsuspecting audience. That all said, we here at Film School Rejects have attempted to apply our expertise and our personal interests to this year’s festival in order to pick out a handful of films that just might be the best of the fest, but that are at least guaranteed to send us running into a theater to see them once the festival kicks up. It’s time for Sundance! And it’s time for films! It’s even time for anticipation! And now it’s time for some anticipated Sundance films!

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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 […]

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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