Night Moves

KOCH header

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Citizen Koch The sadly ridiculous details of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s election and recall fight are just part of the backdrop for this documentary about the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizen United” ruling and the rise of the Tea Party. At the center of it all are the billionaire Koch brothers (and other immensely rich donors), who having been empowered by the court’s decision unleash a tidal wave of legal support for political agendas. To be clear, this is not an impartial doc looking at two sides of a story. That may sound improper, but some things that look politically slanted are actually straightforward facts. Both sides of the aisle have seen their fair share if disgusting behavior, and this doc looks at the actions on the right that led to a heavy loss for the idea of a democracy of the people. The film spends a bit too much time with ex-governor/Congressman Buddy Roemer, but the core message and theme rings true elsewhere as the power of the people is blatantly replaced by the power of the dollar. You could argue that the people of Wisconsin got what they deserved (via the majority vote) as Walker proceeded to dismantle the state’s unions — and you’d be right — but that doesn’t make the damage and nationwide fallout any less distressing or unfortunate for America’s future. [DVD extras: Deleted scenes, […]

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Night Moves Movie

Superheroes rule the box office and the Guardians of the Galaxy have brought us the biggest film of the summer (which is about to dethrone Captain America to become the biggest film of the year). But talking about these big-budget behemoths with gigantic box office rewards (unless you’re the latest installment of the Expendables or Sin City brand) means talking about the same thing over and over again – a happy hour of strange creatures, diversified only by a couple comedies. Fortunately there’s a great mix of summer fare that kicked absolute ass on a very modest per-screen basis. One can’t exactly expect that a limited release in select big cities would fare as well if it expanded to thousands of theaters across the nation (averages generally shrink when/if they do), but it’s still great to see the “little guy” head into a release in a handful of theaters and earn a better average than the top summer film (Guardians had $23,118 on 4,080 screens). All of the following movies beat that average (save one that opened on only two screens), and offer everything from period dramas to modern comedy to films that took over a decade to capture. The men in tights, so to speak, may have won the box office, but I’m happy a selection of films like this still exists in this ever-mainstream movie world.

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Night Moves

Editor’s note: Our review of Night Moves originally ran during last year’s TIFF, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release. Early in Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves, a film about pollution and its effects on the environment is shown to a group of Oregon environmentalists, including Dena (Dakota Fanning) and Josh (Jesse Eisenberg). Post-screening, the film’s director is bombarded with the usual kinds of questions any filmmaker is forced to field at such an event (surely there’s a cut featuring someone asking what the budget was somewhere out there), but a defiant Dena only wants to know what sort of “big plan” can be put into action to right the wrongs against our planet. With just one question, Dena puts all of her cards on the table, and so does the film. Dena and Josh are primarily concerned with big plans – and they’ve got one. Intent on blasting a hole in the burgeoning industrialization taking over their state, the two have been slowly cooking up a plan to do just that, by busting a hole in a nearby dam. Aided by Josh’s friend Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), the three are already in the final stages of their ecoterrorism scheme by the time Night Moves kicks up, and the film’s first act ticks steadily toward to their criminal (and perhaps criminally stupid) act.

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Avengers Shawarma

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Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning in Night Moves

Kelly Reichardt, the director of Wendy and Lucy, Old Joy and Meek’s Crossing, is known for her collected and measured filmmaking, and her ability to attract fantastic talent to her projects (like Michelle Williams in two of the above mentioned). With her latest feature, Night Moves, those eerily calm undertones leftover from her previous work are still present, but the stakes are higher in a more nervewracking plot. Reichardt has again attracted a wealth of talent to star in her new film, this time gathering Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard as a group of ecological activists (whatever you do, just don’t even think about calling them ecoterrorists — Sarsgaard isn’t too keen on that label) who hatch a plot to bomb a hydroelectric dam. The first (French-subtitled) trailer for Night Moves (which, if we’re being honest, sounds like a groovy dance flick about an up-and-comer in 1970s NYC and less like a high-stakes ecodrama) has launched, and it shows something different than the average heist or crime thriller. It’s about what happens after the crime has been committed and the bomb has gone off.

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Labor Day

Toronto: land of prestige films, poutine, and Oscar buzz. At least, that’s what happens every September during the Toronto International Film Festival (poutine is, of course, available year-round). With the festival kicking off later this week, we thought it prudent (and let’s be honest, sort of necessary and obvious) to run through the list of our most anticipated titles set to screen at TIFF. It’s a hell of a list, mainly because unlike so many other film festivals, a large number of the films set to screen at TIFF are already kitted out with their own (upcoming!) wide release date. This isn’t Sundance, where you can wait two years for a film that was beloved at the festival to come to a town near you. (Though, this is TIFF, where you can wait seven years for a film that was beloved at the festival to come to a town near you – looking at you, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane!) In any case, there are dozens upon dozens of films screening at TIFF (many of which sound alike), but only one dozen that we’ve deemed our Most Anticipated of the festival. Which one will be the breakout hit? Which one will pull in all the awards? Which one will you get to see in seven years? Let’s find out.

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news dakota fanning night moves

Our real-life world is fraught with with espionage, whistleblowers and radical political movements, so it’s only fitting that the film world is following suit. Kelly Reichardt‘s Night Moves explores a little bit of all three in the form of extreme environmentalism. Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard play three radical environmentalists attempting to pull off the most dangerous, ballsy protest of their lives: blowing up a hydroelectric dam that represents the industrial culture they hate so much. The film focuses as much on the build-up to the plan as it does the execution, as seen in these newly released stills, courtesy of The Playlist. Check out the other two stills below.

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Kelly Reichardt

As fans of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, most of our coverage of Kelly Reichardt‘s eco-terrorism film, Night Moves, has made mention of the similarities between her film and Marling and Batmanglij’s latest, The East, as both films center on eco-terrorism groups who are bent on destruction. However, it now appears that we should have been playing closer attention to yet another eco-terrorism film and its similarities to Night Moves, mainly because the team behind that other film are alleging that Reichardt’s film has lifted from the production’s material in a big way. THR reports (via Cinema Blend) that Edward R. Pressman Film has filed a lawsuit against the production (including Reichardt, screenwriter Jonathan Raymond, executive producers Todd Haynes, Larry Fessenden, Alejandro De Leon, Film Science, RT Features CEO Rodrigo Teixeira, and foreign sales agent The Match Factory GmbH) that demands that all work the film stop because “the plaintiffs claim that the unproduced work is a blatant rip-off of the popular Edward Abbey novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, which is about to be turned into an authorized film from the Catfish team of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.” Oops.

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Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning in Night Moves

In somewhat disappointing casting news, Variety reports (via FirstShowing) that Kelly Reichardt‘s next film, the eco-terrorism thriller Night Moves, will not star Paul Dano and Rooney Mara as had been previously reported. Dano had been linked to the film earlier this year, while Mara’s name had been consistently mentioned, though she had never been officially attached. Instead, the film will star Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning, who join the long-attached Peter Sarsgaard to round out the main trio, three eco-terrorists who hatch a plan to blow up a dam. Sarsgaard will be the “mastermind behind the bomb,” with Eisenberg set to play the “ringleader” and Fanning as a rich girl who backs the plan financially. While both Eisenberg and Fanning are interesting actors, Dano and Mara have always struck me as much more compelling, so it’s hard not to feel as if this is a trade down. However, Eisenberg’s role will likely call for him to exhibit some new facets to his craft (it’s hard to imagine that a eco-terrorist ringleader won’t have to rely on something like charisma to pull in new recruits), and working under a performance-minded filmmaker like Reichardt should be good for everyone involved. Also, they don’t really seem to have as much to lose.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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