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Category: Now Playing

Jason Segel Enlisted Book Club Buds to Channel David Foster Wallace in ‘The End of the Tour’

Judging from conversations and Twitter activity in the moments before the world premiere screening of The End of the Tour at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, there was as much trepidation as there was excitement about the prospect of the life of the late, great author David Foster Wallace being dramatized on film. Yet even though the film, and actor Jason Segel in particular, made great pains to evoke Wallace’s singular way of talking, thinking, and being, it turned out that The End of the Tour is far from a biopic—it documents just a few days at the end of the author’s press tour for Infinite Jest—and rather uses writer David Lipsky’s best-selling account of his time reporting an ultimately unpublished profile of Wallace for Rolling Stone as a jumping off point for a rumination on fame, American manhood, and loneliness, among many other things. It’s also, despite a bigger budget and stars like Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, and Joan Cusack, very much a deeply felt James Ponsoldt (Smashed, The Spectacular Now) film.

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In a Summer of Blockbusters, Don’t Forget the Indies

If you’ve been to the movies this summer, you’ve probably had a lot of fun watching dinosaurs behave badly, deadly robots travel through time or the earthquake-induced, computer-generated destruction of California.  These films and other blockbusters have a place in our culture, but don’t miss checking out what is in many ways a banner season for risk-taking and refreshing independent movies.
Some of my favorite new independent films are in theaters now or opening soon.

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‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ Pushes Ezra Miller to the Brink

Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez may not be the second coming of Dr. Philip Zimbardo, the groundbreaking psychologist at the helm of the Stanford Prison Experiment, but that doesn’t preclude his new film from channeling the same chilling tenor as those controversial events.
One could speculate that every film screening is an “experiment” of sorts, as a number of audience members intimated during The Stanford Prison Experiment’s Q&A session at the film’s Sundance premiere, but Alvarez is loath to concede that his film manipulates with the same scheming tendencies as the experiment itself.

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What To Watch In July: ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment,’ ‘Cartel Land,’ and more

A perilous journey into the world of drug cartels, a simulated prison experiment that reduces Ezra Miller to a weeping boy, and a Christmas Eve spent with transgender prostitutes in Los Angeles. Yeah, July has something for everyone.
Those three Sundance favorites—Cartel Land, The Stanford Prison Experiment, and Tangerine, respectively—headline a slate that further catapults us into summer moviegoing season.

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‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’ Retraces an Illustrious Singer’s Life of Complexity

Passionate, mercurial, prodigiously talented. They’re adjectives that could personify any number of entertainers, but maybe none more than the utterly compelling, endlessly perplexing Nina Simone. In January at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, director Liz Garbus—an Oscar-nominated and first-class artist in her own right—premiered her sweeping portrait of the complicated singer and pianist whose classically trained skills were paired with an undeniable fervor for activism.

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Crystal Moselle Traces the Reclusive, Cinema-Obsessed Lives of ‘The Wolfpack’ Boys

A stranger-than-fiction documentary, The Wolfpack reveals the almost unbelievable story of the Angulo family. They’re seven children—six brothers and one sister, all with waist-length black hair—who are being raised on welfare in a crowded, untidy apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The surprise here is that they weren’t allowed to leave for 17 years due to their Hare Krishna father’s fear of the outside world.

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June Now Playing: ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,’ ‘Dope,’ and more

Check out these Sundance-supported films coming to theaters, DVD, and Blu-Ray this month, including this year’s Grand Jury Prize winner Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Rodney Ascher’s jarring fright film The Nightmare, and a refreshing and decidedly westcoast update to coming-of-age films in Dope.
In Theaters

Friday, June 5 The Nightmare, directed by Rodney Ascher

Friday, June 12 The Wolfpack, directed by Crystal Moselle

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Wednesday, June 17 The Tribe, Myroslav Slaboshpytsky
Friday, June 19 Eden, directed by Mia Hansen-Løve

Dope, directed by Rick Famuyiwa 

Infinitely Polar Bear, directed by Maya Forbes

The Overnight, directed by Patrick Brice

Friday, June 26 Fresh Dressed, directed by Sacha Jenkins

DVD and Blu-Ray
Tuesday, June 2 Camp X-Ray, directed by Peter Sattler
Tuesday, June 9 Rich Hill, directed by Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo
Tuesday, June 16 Wild Tales, directed by Damian Szifron
Monday, June 1 La Ciudad, directed by David Riker
Tuesday, June 2 The New Black, directed by Yoruba Richen
Wednesday, June 10 FUEL, directed by Joshua Tickell
Monday, June 15 Rain in a Dry Land, directed by Anne Makepeace
Thursday, June 25 Across the Creek, directed by Jonny Cournoyer

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Storybook Meets Six Shooters: John Maclean on His Sundance Hit ‘Slow West’

The Western may be among the most American of genres—if not the most American of genres—but that has never stopped filmmakers from around the world, from Italy to Japan and beyond, from trying it on for size. In Slow West, winner of the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2015 Festival, English writer-director John Maclean doesn’t transpose the genre to Europe—he brings a European sensibility to the American West. Considering the preponderance of immigrants who migrated to and settled in America, it wasn’t exactly a crazy notion.

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May Now Playing: “Slow West,” “Results,” and more

Michael Fassbender stars as a bounty hunter in romantic pursuit of a female fugitive in John Maclean’s award winner Slow West, a European rendering of the classic Western that brandishes its six-shooters with a serving of gallows humor. Also coming to theaters in May, director Andrew Bujalski trains his lens on the idiosyncratic world of fitness trainers in Results, starring Guy Pearce, Kevin Corrigan, and Cobie Smulders. Check out all of this month’s releases below.

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‘True Story’ Director on Casting James Franco: “He’s Playing With What It Means to Be a Movie Star”

Journalistic ethics and the relationship between storytelling and the truth are at the forefront of True Story, a compelling cat-and-mouse drama that marks the debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rupert Goold. The film, which premiered out of competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, stars Jonah Hill as Mike Finkel, a disgraced New York Times reporter, and James Franco as Christian Longo, who’s been arrested for the murder of his wife and children. The director, who also adapted the screenplay from Finkel’s memoir, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, acknowledged the importance of casting the right actors, for what is essentially a two-hander.

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Now Playing: James Franco and Jonah Hill Play Cat and Mouse in ‘True Story’

While we lament a dearth of Sundance-supported releases hitting theaters this month, April is still apt for film viewing from the couch with a gathering of great stories coming to DVD, Blu-Ray, and On Demand. Among the small batch of theatrical releases, Rupert Goold’s True Story—yes, based on a true story—follows disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) and convicted murderer Christian Longo (James Franco) in a tale of journalistic ethics and unlikely relationships. And if you’re so inclined to do your viewing from home, check out 9 #ArtistServices titles newly available on Netflix and a crop of indies coming to DVD and Blu-Ray.

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