Miss Bala

Foreign Objects - Large

Laura (Stephanie Sigman) is a tall, long-limbed beauty who feels trapped and unappreciated in her small town outside Mexico City, so she leaves and follows the bright lights and promises of stardom by entering a pageant. The goal is simple. Represent her community, win, and then watch as her life changes for the better. A single poor decision finds her at a local bar with her girlfriend on the night a group of armed thugs sneak in and mow down most of the party goers. Laura witnesses the assault, and the lead attacker witnesses her. She attempts to report the incident (in a round about way), but she chooses a dirty cop who hands her over to the gang leader, Lino (Noe Hernandez). And just like that her life is no longer her own. Lino forces her to take part in a crime, but he then rewards her by pulling some strings to get her a spot in the pageant. And so it goes. She’s abused, assaulted and used, again and again, with little in the way of effort to fight back or escape her new fate. She’s a victim, a cog in the bloody wheels of criminal progress, and there’s no turning back.

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Elizabeth Olsen

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of things you’ll enjoy. We promise. We begin tonight with the story of the evening. Or more to the point, the casting story of the evening. Elizabeth Olsen has been offered the lead role in Oldboy, the Spike Lee directed remake of the incredibly popular Korean revenge film. Heralded for her performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene, Olsen has burst onto the scene with her ability to act, something she has over her elder sisters, Mary Kate and Ashley. She’s a good choice for just about everything, even a movie that probably shouldn’t be attempted in the first place. Like this one.

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If you’ve been paying as much attention to the lineup for this year’s AFI FEST as the rest of us Rejects (read: quite a bit), you’ve surely noticed that the festival’s programming is packed with a number of films that have played some of the year’s biggest festivals. If you’re in Southern California, the Hollywood-based (and free) film festival will give you a chance to check out the same films that played at Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Venice, New York, Fantastic Fest, Sundance, London, and more. It’s like traveling without leaving your own area code, or spending the cold, hard cash it would take to fly halfway around the world. Sounds pretty simple now, huh, shut-in? AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available right HERE). The complete schedule grid is online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, check out 22 festival favorites (and a sampling of some of the other festivals they’ve played) that you may have missed throughout the year. Not sure if they’re worthy of clearing your AFI FEST schedule for? I’ve linked to all of our previous coverage, too, so you really have no excuse.

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As it turns out, I’ve been slightly remiss when it comes to praising this year’s 25th edition of AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi. I’ve tossed off comments about how the festival gets better with every passing year, but in the wake of today’s announcement of the festival’s Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings, I’ve realized that I have not gone far enough. AFI FEST has not just gotten better this year, the festival has made a dramatic jump to top-tier status, rolling out titles that play like a cinephile’s Christmas list for 2011. Today’s lineup announcement is essentially a “best-of” list of this year’s festival favorites, including Michel Hazanavicius‘s The Artist, Steve McQueen‘s Shame, Oren Moverman‘s Rampart, Lynne Ramsay‘s We Need to Talk About Kevin, Roman Polanski‘s Carnage, Simon Curtis‘s My Week with Marilyn, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Gerardo Naranjo’s Miss Bala, and Wim Wenders‘s Pina. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. The best part? Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting October 27). After the break, check out the full list, including descriptions and showtimes, of the films to be featured as AFI FEST Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings.

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While at Cannes, our own Simon Gallagher called Miss Bala, “a blend of situational horror and politically-laced action thriller that I’d have no trouble recommending to anyone.” As a Briton, that’s the most excited he can legally get. The film from Gerardo Naranjo focuses on a young woman named Laura (played by Stephanie Sigman) who is entering the Miss Baja competition with a friend. When thugs shoot up the place and leave her alive, she finds herself in the quicksand of the drug cartel world where she’s in near constant danger. The film is also a social comment on how bad things have gotten in Mexico, told with the kinetic language of bullets and desperate situations. Now, you can check out the trailer for yourself:

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