Sleepwalk with Me

2012_cloud atlas

The movies listed here aren’t necessarily the year’s best, but they’re still great movies that never found an audience during their theatrical run for one reason or another. At least one of those reasons is you, but instead of berating you for failing to support the films while they were in theaters and needed your help, we’re hoping to point you in their direction now. (Which reminds me… go see Jack Reacher!) But first, a few qualifications. I’ve excluded movies that played in fewer than 100 theaters since that’s the distributor’s fault. I’m not featuring films that made over $30m, and I’m not including subtitled foreign releases which the masses avoid by default. These are only films that had a real chance of making a lot more money, so while I wish more people saw the LCD Soundsystem concert doc Shut Up and Play the Hits, I’m not surprised that it only made $510k. So here are 12 great movies that failed at the box office but deserved much better (and should be sought out immediately on Blu-ray/DVD, streaming, whatever)… and 6 terrible flicks that you were right to avoid.


disc killer joe

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Killer Joe Chris (Emile Hirsch) is having a bad day, but when he decides the key to solving all of his problems is to have his mother whacked by a hit man (Matthew McConaughey) he discovers that things can always get worse in this refreshing return from William Friedkin. Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Church and Juno Temple are all along for the violent and darkly comedic ride, but it’s McConaughey who shines through the grime, brutality and Southern hospitality gone bad. He excels as a cruel bastard looking for love in some very wrong places who’s unafraid to take what he wants even if that means abusing Gershon with a KFC drumstick. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Featurette, Q&A, SXSW intro, commentary, trailer]


Avengers Re-Release

Well, it looks like he’s done it. After publicly denouncing the spread of Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me as offensive “to [his] very core,” Joss Whedon asked movie fans to boycott the indie film by requesting it come to their town. While Sleepwalk With Me has yet to expand fully, it did $68,000 in just a single theater last weekend – a fact that most likely burns Whedon to no end. The best per theater average his superhero movie managed was a miniscule $47,000. Point: Birbiglia. So how has Whedon responded? According to /film, he and Marvel are re-launching The Avengers into more theaters this Labor Day weekend in a move that reeks of pure desperation. It’s a Hail Mary pass that points out just how terrified the director is of Birbiglia’s  advancing indie film. It’s tough to see the fight get this nasty – especially when it’s between such good friends. You’ll need to check your local listings for both, but whose team will you be on? Whedon’s, Birbiglia’s or both?  


Obamas America

The Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy continued to make money this weekend. In fact, the top 7 box office earners from last week all kept their spots this time around except for Sparkle which dropped to 11th place and allowed The Dark Knight Rises and Timothy Green to improve their positions. Premium Rush opened to 7th place with $6.3m on 2,255 screens – resulting in a per screen average that was on par with movies that have been out for two to three weeks and lower than some new offerings. It wasn’t an auspicious opening, but even as the top winners ossify in the August doldrums, the real winners are indie films, and at the top of the heap is 2016: Obama’s America. Based on the book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” by Dinesh D’Souza and co-directed by D’Souza and John Sullivan, the documentary takes a look at what the country and world might be like if the President were to earn a second term. After a limited run in July, the documentary had a successful weekend with $6.2m (which you’ll note almost beat out Premium Rush), vaulting to the number 6 spot on the list of highest-grossing political docs. Even more dramatic, it’s now the highest-grossing right-leaning political doc, beating out Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (which was produced by Sullivan) for the honor. It seems possible that Obama’s America might be able to increase its position on the overall list by earning $5.3m more to overtake Capitalism: A Love Story. Depending on how the expansion is handled, and how audiences […]



Editor’s note: Festival favorite Sleepwalk With Me hits limited release this week, so what follows is a re-run of our Sundance review of the film, originally posted on January 27, 2012. Kate loved the film so much that she saw it again just two months later at SXSW. From its very first moments, Mike Birbiglia‘s Sleepwalk With Me establishes a very specific relationship with its audience – Birbiglia, playing a version of himself, turns to the camera and reassures us that what we’re about to hear is indeed true, and then he makes us laugh. Birbiglia is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actor, and Sleepwalk With Me is his directorial debut, which is loosely based on his own life. A mix of painful personal stories about a failing relationship, try-and-fail outings at his primary career, and the unraveling of his life by way of a serious medical condition (yup, sleepwalking), the film is (genuinely) both hilarious and heartfelt. Birbiglia directed, co-wrote, and stars in the film. Which is based on his one-man show of the same name and his 2010 comedic memoir, “Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories.” Which probably all sounds incredibly self-indulgent, but it’s not, because Birbiglia is more than willing to make himself look like a loser and an asshole and untalented wanker (even though he’s none of those things). At one point, during one of his conversations with the audience and before the recounting of a particularly painful and embarrassing tale, Birbiglia reminds us that we’re on his side. It’s […]


Joss Whedon

As those who follow the film industry closely might already know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon released a passion project earlier this summer that went by the name of The Avengers. It was a fairly popular film, playing in over four thousand theaters, breaking a bunch of box office records, and making $1,461,891,916 worldwide to date. That’s not to say that it was a complete success though. It still hasn’t broken every box office record, it still hasn’t made all of the money…and now it may never get to because of a cocky young upstart named Mike Birbiglia. You may have heard of Birbiglia before: he’s a stand-up comedian, a writer, and a radio personality who has turned his memoirs entitled “Sleepwalk With Me” into a modestly budgeted indie film that will be given a limited release with minimal promotion. Enough promotion that it’s likely to ruin Whedon’s chances at being declared King of Hollywood though. As the Avengers director explains in this video, Sleepwalk With Me was only supposed to open on thirty-some screens originally, but due to a dogged campaign by Birbiglia and his dangerous, cult-like following, it’s now set to open on over 80. Simply put, this will help push The Avengers out of some of the 500 or so theaters it’s still playing in, and effectively take food out of the mouths of Joss Whedon’s (myriad) children.


Side By Side Movie

This hasn’t been the most prolific of summers as far as blockbusters are concerned. The Avengers gave this season a promising start, but no action film came close to matching its scope and sheer love for fun. Last month was the most disappointing proof of that, with the very flawed Amazing Spider-Man and the messy finale we got with The Dark Knight Rises. However, there’s been a good run of independent releases so far — Killer Joe, Headhunters, Safety Not Guarnteed, Your Sister’s Sister, Take This Waltz, etc. —  and this August is no different, with plenty of small and greatly satisfying offerings to be discovered.


Sleepwalk With Me

Whether it’s been as a comedian, writer, storyteller, or frequent contributor to This American Life, Mike Birbiglia has made a living just talking about his experiences and getting audiences to relate to his day to day struggles. The latest development in his career progression is this new film, Sleepwalk With Me, a tale of struggling in a new career, dealing with societal pressure to start a family, and living through an insane medical condition that makes you do crazy shit while you’re asleep; all material ripped straight out of Birbiglia’s real life experiences. Sleepwalk With Me started as a stage show called “Sleepwalk With Me Live,” which later got recorded and became a best-selling comedy album of the same name. The next step was to turn the stories into written memoirs, so “Sleepwalk With Me & Other Painfully True Stories” was born, and went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. This new film adaptation of the material features Birbiglia acting in the starring role, co-directing with Seth Barrish, and co-writing with a handful of collaborators. That’s a lot of Mike Birbiglia.



This year’s SXSW may be over, but it’s certainly not forgotten. Another week of barbeque, buddies, beer, and – oh yeah – movies down, and we’re still recovering, both in terms of remembering everything we saw and attempting to pry ourselves out of our stretchiest of pants. As with any film festival, the stunning depth of films available to watch has resulted in a solid handful of serious favorites. This time around, our twelve favorite films of the festival include big studio comedy, intimate documentary, the best action film in years, true independent features, and even a picture made entirely on cell phones. Take a look at our twelve favorites from this year’s SXSW after the break.


Reject Radio

If you’ve been rocking back and forth with anticipation for The Raid: Redemption, your wait is almost over. It hits theaters this weekend (alongside another certain highly-anticipated movie), and to whet your appetite, we talk with writer/director Gareth Evans who dissects an action scene for us. Plus, Kate Erbland and Rob Hunter join us for the Movie News Pop Quiz and to share their favorites from SXSW that will be coming to your neck of the woods. Download Episode #126



Spend enough time on the festival circuit and certain films just keep coming back around – but fortunately, they’re usually good ones we’re happy to see again. As the first big film festival of the year, Sundance often features some of the best independent films that people like us Rejects will be jawing about for months to come. SXSW offers the chance for cinephiles to catch a bevy of films that other people have been carrying on about for weeks and weeks, thanks to both their regular programming and their ever-clever Festival Favorites section, which is packed with (you can probably guess) films that have played recently at other festivals that the SXSW crowd will eat right up. After the break, get reacquainted with ten films we saw, reviewed, and (in some cases) loved back in January in snowy Park City, Utah. All ten are playing at this month’s (let’s be real, this week’s) SXSW Film Festival in Austin, our very own hometown film fest. Luckily enough, some of our favorite Sundance films pop on this list, including one I enjoyed so much that I am going to see it again in Austin.



Brace yourself, SXSW attendees and fans, we’re about to hit you with a metric ton of new information. Leading off with the big stuff! SXSW has just added a number of new films to be screened, including a fistful of Sundance hits, including Safety Not Guaranteed, Sleepwalk With Me, Shut Up and Play the Hits, Searching for Sugar Man, and Chasing Ice. That news alone should excite you, but it comes bundled up with still more, including the complete conference line-up, along with the news that all screening and panel dates and times are finally live. Meaning? If you’re a psychotic planner like me, you can get cracking on crafting your schedule for maximum fun and consumption. I’m frankly afraid to look at the schedule just yet, because it will send me spiraling into a fit of planning that I might not emerge from for many hours. But you? You can start planning now. After the break, check out the full line-up for all conference panels, along with descriptions on all of today’s just-announced film titles.



Welcome to Day Two of Kate Christmas. Yesterday, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival announced their first wave of programming, featuring twenty-six titles that will be screening in competition. While the arrival of those titles was enough to send me into a tizzy I have still not recovered from, today the festival has only piled on the pre-holiday goodies with the announcement of their Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films. A few titles of note to get your juices flowing – Gareth Evans‘ The Raid (also known round these parts as “oh, hell yeah”), Andrea Arnold‘s take on Wuthering Heights, Katie Aselton‘s second directorial outing Black Rock (scripted by her husband Mark Duplass), Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish‘s Sleepwalk With Me (based on Birbiglia’s hilarious book), and Lynn Shelton‘s Your Sister’s Sister. Again, that’s just a taste, so check out the full list of Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films after the break.

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published: 02.01.2015
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published: 01.30.2015

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