Kate Lyn Sheil

Kate Lyn Sheil

Remember back when we told you that it was time you started paying attention to indie it girl Kate Lyn Sheil? Well, not to get out braggy on, but we were right. Sheil has got a packed schedule — just look at her IMDb page, which is crammed with “completed” and “post-production” features, shorts and television projects — but the actress has managed to make some room for another feature film, one that’s already been poised to rocket its talented team into the next echelon of indie filmmaking. Needless to say, it’s a good fit for Sheil. Sheil has just joined up with Drake Doremus‘ Equals, the latest feature from the perennial Sundance favorite (the director behind films like Breathe In and Like Crazy, both of which have bowed at the film festival in recent years to general acclaim), a futuristic and sci-fi-tinged project titled Equals. The film is a big step forward for Doremus, a high concept affair that still manages to focus on relationships (Doremus’ speciality). Complete with a script by Nathan Parker (Moon), Equals could be the next big sci-fi romance to hit the box office. Oh, and the rest of its cast doesn’t hurt, with Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult and Guy Pearce already on board.

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the heart machine gallagher

More than 15 years have passed since You’ve Got Mail, and online dating in the movies can still seem a little weird. Thanks to video chat programs like Skype, they’ve at least become more visual, but there’s still the issue of disconnect between characters that is obviously realistic but also heightened by the extra screen of the movie frame. When we see a couple talking through their computers, one of them is always going to seem extremely distant and also extremely confined by that computer window. It’s hard to feel something between two people in love through that barrier, even if we know what the experience is like, how that feeling can exist. It’s one of the very few things holding down The Heart Machine, an otherwise superb romantic drama that does seem conscious of having to grapple with such an obstacle. But the film’s pair, Cody and Virginia (John Gallagher Jr. and Kate Lyn Sheil), aren’t given a lot of comfort time to show us any true feelings. In the opening scene they’re Skyping, well into a relationship it seems, and on her end is the sound of a lot of emergency vehicle sirens. After they hang up, Cody goes to a sound effects website to remind himself of what a German ambulance actually sounds like, because as it turns out Virginia has led him to believe she’s in Berlin for six months. And that German ambulance clip is not what he heard on the call earlier. Suddenly he’s […]

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heart machine still

Spoiler warning: If you haven’t watched the first ten episodes of this season of House of Cards, there are some small potential spoilers ahead. One of the strange things about small screen programming and binge-watching is that opinions can form, break, change, and reform in a matter of days and hours, not over the course of whole weeks and months. Earlier this week and on the tail of watching just the first episode of the second season of House of Cards, I happily penned a bit of a rating system for who viewers should be rooting for this season, and although I won’t detail just how and by whom I have been disappointed, mere days later, I’m already scoffing at my own early predictions and hopes for a season that has become more about diminishing returns than building up good stories and good characters. But although plenty of House of Cards has crumbled into soap opera-styled twists and double-crosses that are increasingly hard to believe, there is one plotline that continues to maintain both intrigue and interest – the near-imprisonment of former prostitute Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan), who has unexpectedly found solace in a close new friend, in the form of Kate Lyn Sheil as the strangely soothing Lisa Williams. The duo met early in the second season, when Lisa reached out to Rachel on the bus to query her about her musical choices. For Rachel, so long trapped by Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), the concept of a friend was […]

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heart machine still

Nearly a year ago, I devoted the Fund This Film column to an indie feature called Funny Bunny in part because it was to star Kate Lyn Sheil, one of the most interesting young actresses working today. You should know her from such movies as The Comedy, The Color Wheel, V/H/S, Sun Don’t Shine, Somebody Up There Likes Me and maybe Listen Up Philip if you were at Sundance this year. Unfortunately, she had to drop out of Funny Bunny (which was funded and then made, and we’re still looking forward to it), and now here I am to spotlight another Kickstarter project with Sheil’s name attached. I can guarantee she’ll be in this one, as it’s already been shot and is set to debut in competition at SXSW next month. It’s called The Heart Machine. Co-starring with Sheil in this romance thriller is Short Term 12‘s John Gallagher, Jr. They play a couple who falls in love via the Internet, without ever meeting in person because they’re separated by the Atlantic Ocean. He’s in New York City and she’s in Berlin. Or maybe she’s not? Like a dark indie dramatization of a Catfish episode, there’s possibly some serious lies at the base of this relationship, and Gallagher’s character apparently becomes obsessed with investigating whether or not his online girlfriend has been in New York City the whole time. I find it appropriate — or maybe it’s ironic? — that a movie about not knowing what you’re getting on the […]

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Funny Bunny title

“If you love movies that are trying to tell real, unadulterated stories, pure, heartfelt stories, you need to be a part of supporting those films and helping them come into the world, because that’s the only way that they will.” – Alison Bagnall When we contribute to a crowdfunding campaign, we tend to think of the specific project at hand. The quote above reminds us that for movies that pledge can also be an investment in more than a single film. It’s about supporting and encouraging independent filmmaking overall and certain genres or kinds of movies. Bagnall acknowledges that she makes a particular sort of film, which maybe is not everyone, yet which is really, really loved by enough people that they need to be made. Studios and larger production companies might not see reason to make films that a small audience is really into when they get more money out of films that a large audience is just sorta into. The quote above comes from Bagnall’s Kickstarter campaign video for her next feature, Funny Bunny. And we can assume that if we like her previous works, 2003′s Piggie and 2011′s The Dish and the Spoon (one of our must-see picks for SXSW that year) and even Buffalo ’66, which she co-wrote, that we’ll want to see this too. As she describes it, the film is about “a friendless anti-obesity crusader, a trust fund manchild and a reclusive factory farming activist.  These three marginal people bump up against one another and […]

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We open with a gasp. Amy Seimetz’s feature directorial debut, Sun Don’t Shine, kicks off with its lead actress (Kate Lyn Sheil) fighting for breath under the blazing Florida sun, thanks to a knock-down-drag-out fight with her boyfriend (Kentucker Audley) in an empty slice of wetland far from any prying eyes. The two struggle in the mud and sand, until the scuffle is finally over and they resume driving far away from something very bad, very bad indeed. An understated take on the classic Bonnie and Clyde trope with a mumblecore vibe, Seimetz’s film centers on two runaway losers who need to get somewhere far from home – and fast.

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Billed as “a deadpan fable about time sneaking up on and swerving right around us” by the SXSW programmers, Bob Byington‘s Somebody Up There Likes Me is boring twaddle masquerading as something more exiciting and more important, thanks to a barely hidden high concept conceit that frequently make the production just look sloppy and inattentive. The film and its often blank-faced lead, Keith Poulson, are without any of the charm and cheekiness of Byington’s previous films, namely the lovely and funny Harmony and Me. Poulson’s Max Youngman is a typical shiftless twentysomething – a waiter, he doesn’t appear to have many life or professional goals and, personally speaking, he’s not doing so hot either. His ex-wife (Kate Lyn Sheil) doesn’t want to get back together, which she proves handily by having sex with another dude within minutes of Max leaving her house. Max’s only friend is his waiter co-worker Sal (Nick Offerman) who, even later in the film after over thirty years of friendship and a number of job changes, Max still calls “the waiter.” A slightly spur-of-the-moment date with co-worker Lyla (Jess Weixler) appears to signal a positive change in Max’s life, and thus the film, but while Somebody Up There Likes Me tracks decades in Max’s life and innumerable changes, there’s little actual evolution to be found.

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