To Rome With Love

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Wake in Fright John Grant (Gary Bond) is a civilized man doing a stint as a schoolteacher in the Australian outback, but trouble arises when he tries to head home to Sydney and never quite makes it. His layover in a small, forgotten town leads to new friends and a night or two (or three) of drunken debauchery, gambling and animal cruelty. This lost then found again classic of Australian cinema is a dread-filled descent into a sun-baked and alcohol-fueled hell. Bond does a fine and frightening job moving from responsible man to lost soul, but it’s Donald Pleasance who stands out as a disreputable doctor with one foot in the crazy house. Director Ted Kotcheff captures deranged desolation to perfection and marks ’70s Australia one of the most terrifying places on earth. That said, the kangaroo hunt is barbaric and painful to watch (or even to fast-forward through). Also available on DVD. [Extras: Commentary, featurettes, obituary, trailers, 28-page booklet]

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Perhaps we were spoiled with last year’s Midnight in Paris, auteur Woody Allen‘s return to (delightful) form after a few years of basically forgettable, minor efforts like Whatever Works, Scoop, Cassandra’s Dream, and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Suffice to say, Allen’s next cinematic trip to a classic, romantic European city has come complete with heightened expectations, and while his To Rome With Love occasionally harnesses some of the charm and ease of Paris, it’s a wholly different film experience, and a less enjoyable one to boot. Much like Paris, Allen has lined up a sizable and talented cast for his latest outing, though he’s chosen Rome as his own spin on throwaway rom-coms like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day and the far superior Love, Actually, instead of focusing on a single leading character. Allen uses the city of Rome as the (often only) link between all manner of people – Italians, Americans, young, old, famous, common, talented, sexy, unsexy, ambitious, bored, confused, the list goes on – and lets them play out their theatrically-tinged trials and tribulations against a gorgeous Roman backdrop. It’s frothy and fizzy enough, but To Rome With Love isn’t the sort of film that is likely to leave a lasting impact on its audience. It’s popcorn entertainment for the indie set.

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Prometheus

One month down in the summer movie season. We got a decent opener, certainly not a grand start. Joss Whedon‘s box-office juggernaut and Wes Anderson‘s lovely Moonrise Kingdom aside, we faced disappointments. The Dictator was hit and miss. Battleship was more bloated than big. Although it was better than its harsher critics suggested, Dark Shadows didn’t exactly win over any of Depp and Burton’s naysayers. Now, with June, we’ve got an even more promising month; 30 days packed with Abraham Lincoln killing vampires, a rock musical, and a talking bear movie. All the required ingredients for a proper moviegoing month. This is such a busy month the honorable mentions are more honorable than usual, even Adam Shankman‘s Rock of Ages, that movie being marketed as a celebrity karaoke party. Even though The Loved Ones is apparently a must-see movie, 99.9% of you will not be able to see it this month, hence why it’s not on the list. But what is?

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Gird your loins, Los Angeles, the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival is coming, and this time, the fest is bringing strippers with them. Lots and lots of (cinematic) strippers. The festival has already announced four titles, which include the North American Premiere of Woody Allen‘s To Rome With Love as the festival’s Opening Night Film, along with Gala screenings for Benh Zeitlin‘s Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lorene Scafaria‘s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Ava DuVernay‘s Middle of Nowhere, but it’s high time LAFF unveiled their full slate. And what a slate! As announced today, the festival will close with the World Premiere of Steven Soderbergh‘s Magic Mike and will also feature the World Premiere of Alex Kurtzman‘s People Like Us. Other titles announced today of note include Sundance favorites The Queen of Versailles, Teddy Bear, The House I Live In, Celeste and Jesse Forever, Robot and Frank, and Searching for Sugar Man. Additional titles that pop out include Emmett Malloy’s Big Easy Express, Alejandro Brugués‘ Juan of the Dead, Adam Leon’s Gimme the Loot, and Joshua Sanchez’s Four. LAFF also runs a variety of special programs, including Community and Retro Screenings, a crammed slate of short films, and their trademark “Eclectic Mix” of music videos. After the break, you can check out the full line-up for this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, along with synopses for all features and a full list of all shorts and music videos playing at the fest. LAFF runs from Thursday, June 14 to Sunday, June 24. Passes […]

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Cannes! It’s upon us! At this stage last year, I offered my pre-festival wishlist for what films might screen at Cannes (and got six out of eighteen picks correct in the process), which was based on rumors and guesswork from around the net. This year, in the interest of embracing the spirit of imagination, the emphasis is on spurious gossip and pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. Plucking films that might have an outside chance of screening on the Croisette this year (in some cases so far outside they won’t even be in France until months after the fest, probably), I’ve compiled my Ultimate Cannes 2012 Wishlist. The caveat to this of course is that probably very few of the bloody things will actually screen – at least not to the majority of the collected press – but what’s life without whimsy? Yes, the bent is firmly on American films, and English language ones, but in my defense, I don’t care. It says “wishlist” up there for a good reason. Realism aside, here are 13 movies I hope play at Cannes this May.

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Los Angeles’ hometown film festival, the aptly-titled Los Angeles Film Festival, returns to downtown La-la Land this summer and, if the festival’s first programming announcement is any indicator, Angelenos are in for a real treat this year. The festival has just announced their Opening Night Film, which is set to be the North American Premiere of Woody Allen‘s To Rome With Love. We’ve got quite a bit of love for the film already – it just popped up on our Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2012 list at number 16 (beating out stuff like G.I. Joe, Battleship, and Step Up Revolution) earlier this week – and Allen has again assembled a great cast for a (hopefully) charming story of love, Italian style. The film stars Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page, and will open in theaters on June 22. This year’s festival will again be centered in downtown Los Angeles, with its central hub at the sprawling L.A. LIVE complex. The fest will run from Thursday, June 14 to Sunday, June 24. Passes are currently on sale to past Festival attendees and Film Independent members, and they will be available to the general public on April 22. General admission tickets to individual films go on sale on May 29. Keep your eyes peeled for more on-the-ground Reject coverage of LAFF as we creep ever-closer to downtown’s best summer event.

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Nothing says “summer at the movies” quite like a metric ton of big name blockbusters flooding theaters near you – superheroes on top of superheroes, classic television series brought back from the dead, animated gems about finding yourself – oh my! But with the cinema summer growing ever-larger, the stakes being pushed ever-higher, and enough content to keep audience members in their seats ever-longer, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Which is why all the members of the Voting Body of Film School Rejects gathered together in our secret chambers to vote on just which films have won our Most Anticipated nod. Twenty films emerged from our complicated, decades-old voting process (read: a Google doc) to be crowned winners. Why twenty? Well, there are twenty weeks in the cinematic summer season (if you count May, which we do – April will be included next year if Hollywood keeps this up), and that should give you movie-lovers a reasonable goal to meet for the viewing season. We’ve even managed to pinpoint our most anticipated movie-going weekend of the summer – June 22nd, when four films open in theaters, all of which made our list. But beyond the mathematics that went into picking the summer’s best weekend, there were also some genuine surprises on the list – including big tentpole films missing completely (sorry, Battleship and Dark Shadows), some indies that sneaked in with lots of votes, a battle royale that went down between our number one and number two picks, […]

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Woody Allen continues his European tour with his next film, To Rome With Love. This time around, the auteur appears to stick with the light fluffiness that made his Midnight in Paris such a delight to behold, but with a much deeper cast of characters to suit the film’s vignette style. The film’s synopsis tells us that it “is comprised of four separate vignettes and tells the story of a number of people in Italy—some American, some Italian, some residents, some visitors—and the romances and adventures and predicaments they get into.” Players in those various vignettes include Allen himself, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Robert Benigni, Judy Davis, Alison Pill, and Greta Gerwig. With the film’s first trailer, we get our first glimpse what we can expect from each section – Allen being neurotic (shock); a potential love triangle involving Eisenberg, Gerwig, and Page; a flimsy and flighty Cruz; and Benigni becoming famous for something. I can already guess which vignettes I’ll feel the most amore for – can you?

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The latest stop in writer/director Woody Allen’s tour of Europe has, up until this point, been referred to as Nero Fiddled, which is a clever title referring to the myth that the Roman Emperor Nero played a fiddle while watching the city burn to the ground. Clever though it is, it’s also a little high-brow, and probably would go over the heads of most mainstream audiences. Normally going over the heads of the masses wouldn’t be much of a problem for a New York intellectual like Allen, but following the substantial and slightly surprising success of Midnight in Paris, one would imagine that the studio is looking to bring all those people that made their way out to the theater back for Woody’s next any way that they can. Perhaps to that end, the movie has been retitled, right before its marketing campaign looks to begin. From now on the project that stars names like Ellen Page, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody himself will known as To Rome With Love, a title that once again mentions the city in which it is set by name, and that feels right at home sitting next to Midnight in Paris.

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