Michael Angarano

The English Teacher

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran as part of our Tribeca coverage, and as of today, the film is in limited release. In The English Teacher, star Julianne Moore plays an English teacher; I point that out, redundantly, because the character type is almost redundant. Everything that you would expect from a stereotypical high school purveyor of Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne is true about Moore’s Ms. Linda Sinclair. She’s introduced as the obvious loner, a shy woman in love with the classics. She goes on blind dates with terrible men, who she imaginatively grades in her head like a student’s paper. The script even goes so far as to make sure she’s buffeted by voiceover narration, in an inevitably British accent. Yet Moore, and to an extent director Craig Zisk, do an excellent job at keeping Ms. Sinclair away from the frustrating blandness of the stock character, at least for the first act of the film. There isn’t necessarily more to her than meets the eye, but the people around her allow her to grow into something more interesting. The English Teacher has quite the admirable start, winning the audience over in spite of all of our preconceived notions about this sort of self-consciously charming indie movie. That’s how it begins, anyway. Ms. Sinclair is a bored English teacher in a small Pennsylvania town, somewhere in the vicinity of Scranton. She bumps into a former student at the bank. Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano) is a playwright, or at least he went […]

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review brass teapot

John (Michael Angarano) and Alice (Juno Temple) are a young couple high on love and low on net worth. He goes to a job he hates every day while she struggles to find even that much, but their lives are upended when she’s compelled to steal an old, brass teapot from a rundown antique shop. The teapot, like something designed by O. Henry’s more sadistic brother, dispenses cash when in the presence of pain. As John states and promptly ignores early on, this is going to end badly. Almost immediately the duo are taking turns hurting themselves and each other for the blood money that fills the pot. They smash, hit, and burn themselves. They get tattoos, Brazilian waxes and root canals. And they agree that they’ll stop as soon as they reach $1 million. But greed has a funny way of helping people rationalize even the most idiotic decisions, and soon they’re in well over their heads with the pain, the cruelty and with a pair of Hassidic Jews prone to using their own brand of violence to get what they want.

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The English Teacher

This much is obvious about Craig Zisk‘s The English Teacher: Julianne Moore‘s eponymous character is somehow sexually repressed because she’s sporting both a ponytail and ugly glasses. Horrors! Someone give that woman a makeover, stat! The romantic comedy stars Moore as a never-married high school English teacher whose entire world is thrown into a tailspin when a former student (Michael Angarano) pops back into her life with a brilliant play that she’s convinced her relatively staid high school will put on. They won’t, but you know what will get put on? Julianne Moore on Michael Angarano! Oh, yeah! Not messy enough? Well, it looks like Moore also takes a shine to his dad, played by Greg Kinnear. Will it all turn out for the best? Of course it will. Hey, at least there’s potential for Nathan Lane to have a nervous breakdown. Check out the trailer for The English Trailer after the break.

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trailer_brass teapot

It was a rare thing once upon a time to see films debuting on VOD before hitting DVD or even theaters, but that’s no longer the case. While there have been several successes in recent years the most buzzed about involves the film Bachelorette which made barely $400k in theaters but took in $5.5 million from its pre-theatrical VOD run. That’s no chump change for a low budget independent film. One of the many smaller films hoping to duplicate that success is Ramaa Mosley‘s The Brass Teapot. Michael Angarano and Juno Temple star as a young couple beaten down by life who soon discover that if they have to suffer why not do it for cash? A magical antique purchase seems to offer them a shortcut to happiness, but the cost may be more than their bodies and hearts can afford. Check out the Twilight Zone-inspired shenanigans below.

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The absolute worst thing you could say about Steven Soderbergh’s latest film is that its lead, Gina Carano, is consistently out-acted by Channing Tatum. On its surface and for obvious reasons that’s a pretty damning statement. But when viewed as a whole performer instead of just an actress you quickly realize that Carano has a very particular set of other skills. Skills she has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make her a nightmare for people like Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and other male stars with recognizably pretty faces. A nightmare for them, but entertaining as hell for the rest of us.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Audiences have been eagerly awaiting the release of soon-to-be retired (or so was once widely claimed) Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, Haywire, after advanced screenings confirmed what the trailer suggested – a literally kick-ass time at the movies. Starring a Hollywood unknown, Gina Carano is known more for her mixed martial arts skills and those skills are put to the test on the big screen as she goes up against a powerful boys club comprised of the likes of Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Fassbender. Playing a black ops solider betrayed by her company, Carano is forced to not only figure out why she was double crossed, but do so while trying to keep herself from being killed in the process (and leaving an impressive body count of her own in her wake.) Soderbergh turned to composer David Holmes to create the musical landscape for a film that is not only action-packed, but also dramatic, thrilling, emotional, even funny at times and overall – fun. But what made this film such a fun time at the movies? Many factors of course (the story, the actors, the direction), but the element that seemed to keep this idea of playfulness running throughout was provided by the score, and almost subconsciously so. Holmes is no stranger to scoring a film that flips the script every other scene and forces the audience to not only try and keep up with the action, but unravel the truth behind the story as well. He […]

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By now everyone knows that after his upcoming two-part hockey flick Hit Somebody, Kevin Smith is done making movies. If Red State is any indication, the time’s right for his exit. Smith’s Westboro Baptist Church-inspired horror-thriller has been making headlines since his ill-fated fake auction following January’s Sundance premiere. He’s taken it on the road, showing it to packed houses across North America. It played a week at the New Beverly Cinema in L.A. The filmmaker’s tweeted about it incessantly. Now, it’s on DVD. And it’s still really, really bad, a simplistic, poorly-constructed exercise in low-rent genre moviemaking. It’s as if Smith made the movie just so he could promote it. Horny Midwestern teens (Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun) sneak away one school night to have sex with an older woman they’ve met online. Turns out the woman, Sara (Melissa Leo), is the daughter of the psychotic fringe preacher Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) and Abin really, really doesn’t like fornicating.

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The world of independent cinema is filled with movies labeled by way of comparisons to other directors who once walked the same low-budget halls. Violent crime films that play with structure are Tarantino-esque, movies with twentysomethings who ramble on aimlessly about their boring lives are grouped in with the Duplass brothers’ mumblecore films, bleak but blackly comic films about miserable people constantly being shat upon are Solondz-ish, and so on. Which is why it’s so refreshing when an indie comes along that eschews such easy comparison and instead finds a unique and original voice. Ceremony is not that indie. But while it owes an obvious debt of narrative and character to a director whose name rhymes with Wes Anderson, the film stands on its own as a fun and witty look at love whether it be first, young, or unrequited. It focuses on a young man filled with lies and falsehoods but through him finds an honesty about relationships often missing from comedies big and small. The film also features a breakout performance from Michael Angarano, a handful of fantastic supporting performances including a stellar turn from Reece Thompson, and that rare and elusive event… an appearance by Uma Thurman that doesn’t grate on the nerves.

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Once again, Freddie Highmore is set to play an artistic talent, but this time he’s a little older and a little angstier. There’s no need to talk about how difficult creating a sweet and sour movie about the frustrations of teens is because it’s a nearly impossible genre. However, this trailer for The Art of Getting By (formerly called Homework) sells the film on a lot of strengths. I’d offer a synopsis, but, you know, the trailer sort of does that all on its own. Check it out for yourself:

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In this ambitious but failed departure from the guru of fanboys, Kevin Smith meditates on the current philosophical extremism in fundamentalist Christianity and government. What starts out as a possible teen titty movie about three Midwestern kids trying to get laid quickly turns into an American Gothic tale about an extreme right-wing church lead by Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks in a fearless and ferrous performance) and their biblical battle with portly ATF officer Keane (John Goodman in a hero of the day moment). With recent tragedy in Arizona, the film does take on a timely quality, but never fully develops into the balls-out horror movie Smith promises.

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After attending a writing camp, Benjamin hopes that his science fiction novella will win the top prize being judged on by his idol Ronald Chevaliar, but the pompous has-been ends up plagiarizing it and earning a best-seller.

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ff-gentlemen

Fox Searchlight just dropped a line into Reject HQ to give us a few sweet updates on Jared Hess’ upcoming film, Gentlemen Broncos, including a hot new poster and details on a trailer debut.

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Ronald Chevelier

Fans of Flight of the Conchords will recognize the brilliant actor behind this oddball sci-fi writer as Jemaine Clement. Don’t be fooled though, this is very seriously inspirational shit…

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Spider-Man casting

Spider-Man producers Laura Ziskin and Grant Curtis are currently in the process of looking over photos of young boys to fill the tight suit of the arachnid-like hero in the upcoming fourth and fifth installments.

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Jet Li Faces Off with Jackie Chan in The Forbidden Kingdom

Unlike Clarence Worley in True Romance, I’m not obsessed with martial arts movies. One of my criticisms of these films is that they take themselves way too seriously.Fortunately, this is not a problem with The Forbidden Kingdom

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