Pride and Prejudice

Sheffield Doc Fest Chatworth

Increasingly it seems film festivals have to be about more than just the films. That isn’t to say they’re becoming carnivalesque in their additional gimmicks, from live music to crazy events involving roller skating or a mix of debate and boxing; but there is a lot of that stuff going on, too. Film festivals have to be about the experience of watching films, because today there are so many options for seeing the stuff they’re programming, eventually. And lately there are even ways to see festival films outside of a festival during the festival, from crowdfunder reward streams to special theatrical showings around the U.S. Not all the selected films go on to have distribution, but those that don’t aren’t the ones attracting audiences to festivals anyway. There has to be a reason for people to attend in order to see those smaller works, and simply having larger works they already want to see isn’t enough. The best means of getting us there is quite plain and probably obvious: present the films well and develop a strong sense of community in which those films can be enjoyed collectively and discussed. Sheffield Doc/Fest has that appeal down pat, which is important as the event garners more competition from London’s Open City Docs Fest, also held in June, and Sundance London, which takes place in April, not to mention the theatrical, television and Netflix releases of many of its own films. In addition to some new favorites, I saw docs this week I didn’t care for, and I saw docs I’d already seen, and almost always there was still […]

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discs header short term 12

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Short Term 12 Grace (Brie Larson) works at a home for troubled teens, but while she’s fantastic at her job, her empathy for the kids sees her bringing home their pains far too often. Her boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.) works there too and hopes the two of them can grow as a couple, but he knows her past has led to too much of her heart being cordoned off for the kids. Their situation grows even more untenable when a new girl arrives at the facility. Writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton‘s film is a small wonder. It’s essentially a character piece, a glimpse into the life and love of one woman and the people around her, but it’s crafted and performed so effortlessly that it feels like emotionally rich time spent laughing and crying with friends. There’s a slight misstep in the third act where the film loses sight of its characters in deference to a more conventional narrative, but it’s a minor trespass. Check out Allison’s full review here. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, behind the scenes, featurettes, original short film]

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Austenland

Editor’s note: Kate’s review originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-running it as the film opens in limited theatrical release this weekend. Obsession with fictional literary heroes is nothing new, but Austenland’s Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) has taken her love for Jane Austen’s (again, fictional) Mr. Darcy and the Regency-era world he (as written in a fictional novel) inhabited in Austen’s (still fictional, Jane) “Pride & Prejudice” to new lows. While the source material for Jerusha Hess’s film, Shannon Hale’s very popular novel of the same name, found its heroine focusing her attentions on a still more fake Darcy – the one played by Colin Firth in the also very popular but not entirely true to Austen’s work BBC miniseries version of “Pride & Prejudice” – Hess wisely expands Jane’s obsession to apply more thoroughly to the rest of Austen’s work and her Regency Era. It is perhaps one of the few wise choices made in service to the adaptation, as Hess’s film, though frequently funny, is almost disastrously goofy and doofy, headed up by a poorly-drawn leading lady who, had she not been played by someone as lovely as Russell, would be the target of scorn by everyone she meets. We quickly learn that Russell’s Jane has been obsessed with Mr. Darcy for most of her life, with Hess kicking off the film with an amusing sequence of flashbacks that show Jane progressing through her teen years and on into adulthood with a moony-eyed stare […]

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Joe Wright set up a big challenge for himself with Anna Karenina. The material could easily lend itself to the stuffy brand of period piece, which is the type of film we see all too often during the awards season. Wright didn’t want to make that film, though. With his theater concept, he may have stripped the budget down, but, according to Wright, it was the exact type of challenge where the most creativity comes from. That notably happened with his previous project, Hanna, as well. Everyone adored the long-take fight scenes in that film, and that approach came out of saving time, budget, and, of course, creative impulse. It’s those type of decisions Wright seems the most excited by. Here’s what director Joe Wright had to say about why his brain switches off when filming, the power of limitations, and why Anna Karenina is his least indulgent film:

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Today is Mother’s Day. Don’t worry, we’ll wait while you go and pick up that last minute gift (Amazon gift cards are great at this point) and take a few moments to call your mom and tell her you love her. It’s something that I did earlier today, taking a few moments to check in with the most important lady around, my Mom. And while talking to Mom meant explaining why I don’t call so often and hearing gossip about all the family members I call even less, it also meant talking about our latest favorites in the world of film and television. Because that’s what we do, Mom and I. We talk about the shows we’re watching, she asks me about the movies she should see in theaters and I implore her to read the Game of Thrones books because they are so much better than those Sookie Stackhouse books she reads. This is my relationship with my beloved mom, we share experiences over the 1,400 mile gap between Austin, TX and Cleveland, OH. We used to do the same thing when I was a kid, and the gap was the 30 feet between my room and my parents’ bedroom. We’ve always just liked watching movies together. I’ve long held to the notion that it wasn’t comic books or anti-socialism that got me into the world of pop culture, it was my Mom. So on Mom’s day, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate her favorites in our weekly […]

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This time a week ago I never would have imagined I’d stay up all night Thursday, having my own little tea and scones party, to watch a wedding of two people I didn’t know. Even if the festivities were thrown by the English Royal Family in honor of the most recognizable union of royal and commoner. It wasn’t until Wednesday that I caught the bug and started feeling a connection to these two genetically gifted kids who had the balls to get up in front of 15 billion people and pledge themselves to each other and their country. I had Royal Wedding fever, and I was going to do everything I could to make that moment last. The decision to keep many details of the wedding a secret and the media inflated love story spanning almost a decade was too much for even my cold heart to keep from melting. It was the real life movie version of all those BBC costume dramas and Jane Austen adaptations I spent years watching. The chaste, passionate love of two people who shouldn’t be together defying the odds, marrying, and starting a life so many of us will never experience. But at the same time it was relatable and sweet—just like Jane Austen always promised.

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This week, I’m showing off my dedication to the cause. I’m taking time away from my very, very (very) busy Sundance schedule to drop another edition of This Week in Blu-ray.

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Test your boyfriend.

Love is in the air for some reason, so we’ve developed a fool-proof way of testing whether your significant other is worth your time. Now for girls!

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austen-zombies

Now this is my kind of literary classic. One that involves zombies.

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Natalie Portman

The bigwigs over at the BBC should be pleased to hear that Natalie Portman, the latest big screen Anne Boleyn, has reportedly pulled out of the upcoming adaptation of Emily Bronte’s classic period novel, Wuthering Heights.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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