(Photo by Think Film /Courtesy Everett Collection)

38 Moon Movies To Celebrate The Moon Landing

The moon and the Earth: Name a more iconic duo in the galaxy. They’ve been around for almost as long as each other, separated by a mere 30 million years. They rotate in synchronicity. And sometimes the moon blocks the Sun for some cool Earth shade. You don’t see Jupiter and Titan being such BFFs. And we hear Oberon and Uranus aren’t even on speaking terms.

And for as long as Earth’s greatest, overachieving inhabitants have gifted themselves the invention of cinema, we humans have sought to depict the moon on screen. 1902’s A Trip to the Moon created the movies’ first iconic single image, a rocket ship face-planted in a crater, mythologizing the moon as sphere of whimsy, wonder, and fantasy. After July 20, 1969, the moon was gifted a new definition, one of scientific achievement and human triumph.

On the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by a crew of three American astronauts with the full power of NASA behind them, Rotten Tomatoes pays tribute with every moon movie to ever sprout its own Tomatometer. These are narrative movies set on the moon (H.G. Wells’ First Men in the Moon, Airplane II: The Sequel), and about going to the moon (First Man, Apollo 13), and expansive documentaries (In the Shadow of the Moon, For All Mankind). They’re also movies about the moon landing itself, like The Dish and Moonwalkers. And we’re featuring movies where the moon is significantly visited (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), or where the moon is thematically woven into the plot, such as A Walk on the Moon or Under the Same Moon.

Ready to make a spacewalk to Earth’s closest and oldest friend? Then hop in for our guide to 38 moon movies — we guarantee you’ll be over the proverbial celestial satellite!

#1

A Trip to the Moon (1902)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100000%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Astronomers go on an expedition to the moon.... [More]
Directed By: Georges Méliès

#2
Adjusted Score: 100831%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Wallace and Gromit enjoy a day out with a difference when a quest to find cheese prompts a visit to... [More]
Starring: Peter Sallis
Directed By: Nick Park

#3
Adjusted Score: 52981%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The history of the Apollo 8 lunar mission and the three men on the crew.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Hildebrandt

#4

Apollo 11 (2019)
99%

#4
Adjusted Score: 109454%
Critics Consensus: Edifying and inspiring in equal measure, Apollo 11 uses artfully repurposed archival footage to send audiences soaring back to a pivotal time in American history.
Synopsis: Never-before-seen footage and audio recordings take you straight into the heart of NASA's most celebrated mission as astronauts Neil Armstrong,... [More]
Directed By: Todd Douglas Miller

#5

The Dish (2000)
96%

#5
Adjusted Score: 98241%
Critics Consensus: A feel good movie without an abundance of mush.
Synopsis: The true story of a group of eccentric scientists who are responsible for manning a satellite dish inauspiciously located on... [More]
Directed By: Rob Sitch

#6

Apollo 13 (1995)
96%

#6
Adjusted Score: 101306%
Critics Consensus: In recreating the troubled space mission, Apollo 13 pulls no punches: it's a masterfully told drama from director Ron Howard, bolstered by an ensemble of solid performances.
Synopsis: This Hollywood drama is based on the events of the Apollo 13 lunar mission, astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#7
Adjusted Score: 98616%
Critics Consensus: Director David Sington poetically interwove 20th Century's cosmonautic history with its effect on the public's view of their country, their heroes and their future.
Synopsis: In 1961, NASA started its Apollo program to realize President John F. Kennedy's dream of putting a man on the... [More]
Directed By: David Sington

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 105590%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential of all sci-fi films -- and one of the most controversial -- Stanley Kubrick's 2001 is a delicate, poetic meditation on the ingenuity -- and folly -- of mankind.
Synopsis: An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#9

Things to Come (1936)
90%

#9
Adjusted Score: 94615%
Critics Consensus: Eerily prescient in its presentation of a dystopian future, Things to Come's special effects may be somewhat dated, but its potent ideas haven't aged at all.
Synopsis: It's Christmas 1940, and Everytown resident John Cabal (Raymond Massey) fears that war is imminent. When it breaks out, the... [More]

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 95778%
Critics Consensus: The Last Man on the Moon takes a justifiably reverent look at a largely unexplored chapter in the history of American space exploration -- and a side of astronaut's lives that's rarely considered.
Synopsis: Astronaut Eugene Cernan discusses his two missions to the moon, and what he loved and lost in the process.... [More]
Directed By: Mark Craig

#11

For All Mankind (1989)
95%

#11
Adjusted Score: 94722%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Directed by Al Reinert and with music scored by Brian Eno, "For All Mankind" provides a testament to NASA's Apollo... [More]
Directed By: Al Reinert

#12
Adjusted Score: 93861%
Critics Consensus: Bursting with Terry Gilliam's typically imaginative flourishes, this story of a possibly deranged Baron recounting his storied life is a flamboyant and witty visual treat.
Synopsis: During the "Age of Reason" of the late 18th century, the Turkish army lays siege to a European city where... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#13

Moon (2009)
90%

#13
Adjusted Score: 97254%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Sam Rockwell's intense performance, Moon is a compelling work of science-fiction, and a promising debut from director Duncan Jones.
Synopsis: Astronaut Sam Bell's (Sam Rockwell) three-year shift at a lunar mine is finally coming to an end, and he's looking... [More]
Directed By: Duncan Jones

#14
Adjusted Score: 87548%
Critics Consensus: This inspirational 3D IMAX film approximates for audiences what it is like to set steps on the moon.
Synopsis: Buzz Aldrin described the lunar surface as "magnificent desolation." He is one of only 12 astronauts who have walked on... [More]
Directed By: Mark Cowen

#15

First Man (2018)
87%

#15
Adjusted Score: 115785%
Critics Consensus: First Man uses a personal focus to fuel a look back at a pivotal moment in human history - and takes audiences on a soaring dramatic journey along the way.
Synopsis: Hoping to reach the moon by the end of the decade, NASA plans a series of extremely dangerous, unprecedented missions... [More]
Directed By: Damien Chazelle

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 25496%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When the tiny nation of Grand Fenwick suffers a plumbing malfunction, Prime Minister Rupert Mountjoy (Ron Moody) decides to use... [More]
Directed By: Richard Lester

#17

Mock Up on Mu (2008)
86%

#17
Adjusted Score: 26698%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Old NASA footage, trailers from Hollywood movies and TV series and scripted dramatizations combine to depict fictional tales about space... [More]
Directed By: Craig Baldwin

#18

Despicable Me (2010)
81%

#18
Adjusted Score: 88001%
Critics Consensus: Borrowing heavily (and intelligently) from Pixar and Looney Tunes, Despicable Me is a surprisingly thoughtful, family-friendly treat with a few surprises of its own.
Synopsis: Supervillain Gru, a man who delights in all things wicked, hatches a plan to steal the moon. Surrounded by an... [More]

#19

Nude on the Moon (1960)
80%

#19
Adjusted Score: 49888%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Louis Silverman

#20

Countdown (1968)
67%

#20
Adjusted Score: 18793%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A scientist (James Caan) replaces a military officer (Robert Duvall) as an astronaut on a space-race moonshot.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 62106%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Around the turn of the 20th century, Joseph Cavor (Lionel Jeffries), a brilliant British scientist, creates his own spacecraft and... [More]
Directed By: Nathan Juran

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 75471%
Critics Consensus: If Under the Same Moon is often manipulative, it is also heartfelt, and features strong performances from its leads.
Synopsis: Single mother Rosario (Kate del Castillo) leaves her young son Carlitos (Adrian Alonso) in the care of his grandmother and... [More]
Directed By: Patricia Riggen

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 72805%
Critics Consensus: An impressive showcase for Diane Lane and an assured debut from director Tony Goldwyn, A Walk on the Moon finds absorbing period drama within a family at a crossroads.
Synopsis: Unfulfilled housewife Pearl Kantrowitz (Diane Lane) suffers in quiet misery as the tumultuous events of the summer of 1969 unfold... [More]
Directed By: Tony Goldwyn

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 48202%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Spaceship passengers reach the orb and learn if its atmosphere can sustain human life.... [More]
Directed By: Fritz Lang

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 70983%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Recruited by the CIA in 1967, young filmmakers (Matt Johnson, Owen Williams) shoot footage of a fake moon landing after... [More]
Directed By: Matt Johnson

#26

Destination Moon (1950)
64%

#26
Adjusted Score: 63233%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A team composed of an aerospace scientist (Warner Anderson), an ex-Air Force general (Tom Powers) and an industrialist (John Archer)... [More]
Directed By: Irving Pichel

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 59705%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this film of unconnected humor sketches, bad movies and late-night television are parodied extensively. A doctor (Griffin Dunne) has... [More]

#28
Adjusted Score: 55512%
Critics Consensus: Provides lots of laughs with Myers at the healm; as funny or funnier than the original.
Synopsis: In his second screen adventure, British super spy Austin Powers must return to 1969, as arch-nemesis Dr. Evil has ventured... [More]
Directed By: Jay Roach

#29
Adjusted Score: 20221%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Following the Civil War, demolition expert Victor Barbicane (Joseph Cotten) develops the world's most powerful explosive, Power X. When other... [More]
Directed By: Byron Haskin

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 34187%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Though haunted by combat memories, heroic pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays) agrees to return to the cockpit to man the... [More]
Directed By: Ken Finkleman

#31

Moonwalkers (2015)
42%

#31
Adjusted Score: 43596%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1969 London, a CIA agent (Ron Perlman) and the manager (Rupert Grint) of a rock band must find a... [More]

#32

Iron Sky (2012)
40%

#32
Adjusted Score: 40101%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The Nazis build a moon base in 1945 and hide there until 2018 when they plan to return to power.... [More]
Directed By: Timo Vuorensola

#33
Adjusted Score: 45959%
Critics Consensus: Its special effects -- and 3D shots -- are undeniably impressive, but they aren't enough to fill up its loud, bloated running time, or mask its thin, indifferent script.
Synopsis: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and his new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), join the fray when the evil Decepticons renew their... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 13657%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: They wear black tights and lure astronauts (Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, Marie Windsor) lunar.... [More]
Directed By: Arthur Hilton

#35
Adjusted Score: 43774%
Critics Consensus: It's undeniably visually impressive, but like its predecessor, Independence Day: Resurgence lacks enough emotional heft to support its end-of-the-world narrative stakes.
Synopsis: As the Fourth of July nears, satellite engineer David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) investigates a 3,000-mile-wide mother ship that's approaching Earth.... [More]
Directed By: Roland Emmerich

#36

Apollo 18 (2011)
23%

#36
Adjusted Score: 24365%
Critics Consensus: A boring, suspense-free Paranormal Activity rip-off that feels long even at just 90 minutes.
Synopsis: Apollo 17 was the last U.S.-sponsored lunar voyage -- or was it? Hours of found footage, classified for decades, point... [More]

#37
Adjusted Score: 11391%
Critics Consensus: The Superman series bottoms out here: the action is boring, the special effects look cheaper, and none of the actors appear interested in where the plot's going.
Synopsis: Seeing the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a nuclear arms race that could lead to Earth's destruction,... [More]
Directed By: Sidney J. Furie

#38
Adjusted Score: 7566%
Critics Consensus: The Adventures of Pluto Nash is neither adventurous nor funny, and Eddie Murphy is on autopilot in this notorious box office bomb.
Synopsis: "Pluto Nash" is an action comedy set on the moon in the year 2087, starring Eddie Murphy as the title... [More]
Directed By: Ron Underwood

It’s the beginning of the month again, which means we’ve combed through all the new releases on Netflix and Amazon Prime to bring you the best of the best. Read on for the full list of Certified Fresh films made newly available.


New on Netflix

 

In the Shadow of the Moon (2006) 95%

This documentary chronicles the history of NASA’s missions to the moon between 1968 and 1972, bringing together surviving crew members and presenting archival footage to stirring effect.

Available now on: Netflix


The Little Prince (2015) 93%

Jeff Bridges and Rachel McAdams lead an ensemble voice cast in this adaptation of the classic French story, which utilizes a combination of CGI and stop motion animation to tell the story an aviator who crashes in the desert and meets a prince from another world.

Available 8/5 on: Netflix


An Inconvenient Truth (2006) 93%

Davis Guggenheim’s Oscar-winning documentary focuses on former Vice President Al Gore’s efforts to educate the public on the dangers of global warming.

Available now on: Netflix


The Tribe (2014) 88%

This Certified Fresh drama, unique in that all of the dialogue is in sign language, is the story of a group of students at a Ukrainian school for the deaf involved in all matter of criminal activity.

Available now on: Netflix


Young at Heart (2007) 90%

This documentary profiles a chorus group comprised of senior citizens who sing covers of songs by the Ramones, the Clash, and Sonic Youth.

Available now on: Netflix


Winter in Wartime (2008) 74%

This World War II drama from the Netherlands centers on a young teen in Nazi-occupied Holland who helps hide a wounded British soldier.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Amazon Prime

 

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) 92%

This recent Coen brothers project stars Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan in a modest dark comedy about a struggling 1960s singer-songwriter trying desperately to sign a record deal.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


No Country for Old Men (2007) 93%

Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem star in the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning dramatic thriller about a man who discovers a briefcase full of cash, the deadly hitman ordered to retrieve it, and the grizzled local sheriff trying to make sense of it all.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


The Piano (1993) 90%

Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, and Anna Paquin star in Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning period drama about a mute piano player and her daughter living in New Zealand during the mid-19th century.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Mr. Holmes (2015) 88%

Ian McKellen and Laura Linney star in this Certified Fresh drama about an aging Sherlock Holmes in deep rumination about an unsolved case that has haunted him through the decades.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


The Matrix (1999) 88%

– Trilogy

Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne star in the Wachowskis’ groundbreaking sci-fi action series about a man who wakes from a virtual reality sleep to discover the real world has been ravaged by sentient robots, and only he holds the power to defeat them. The entire trilogy is available on Amazon Prime.

Available now on Amazon Prime: The Matrix, Reloaded, Revolutions


The Others (2001) 84%

Nicole Kidman stars in this supernatural thriller about a woman trying to protect her children from the spirits who dwell in her Victorian mansion, only to discover that things may not be what they seem.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Cloverfield (2008) 78%

Odette Yustman and Lizzy Caplan star in Matt Reeves’ found footage thriller about a group of New Yorkers attempting to survive an attack on the city by a giant monster.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


The Eclipse (2009) 75%

Ciarán Hinds stars in this thriller as a widower with two children who connects with a supernatural fiction writer with troubles of her own after he is plagued by terrifying visions.

Available now on: Amazon Prime

One of the best films of last year comes to DVD this week (Gone Baby Gone, written and directed by Ben Affleck, starring brother Casey Affleck), but there are tons more to pick from — a NASA documentary, praised by critics (In the Shadow of the Moon), a crime thriller about cops and family (We Own the Night), and (sigh) a new Tyler Perry movie (Why Did I Get Married?). You be the judge!


Gone Baby Gone

Tomatometer: 93%

Casey Affleck stars as Patrick Kenzie, a private investigator hired to search Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood for clues in the abduction of a young girl. Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel and adapted by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, Gone Baby Gone has been hailed by critics for its noirish tension, complex questions of morality, and its realistic immersion into the culture of working class Boston. In his directorial debut, Ben Affleck has crafted one of 2007’s best films; more impressively, he’s done what more established directors before him could not — he’s transformed younger brother Casey Affleck into a leading man. Amy Ryan’s mesmerizing turn as the missing girl’s deadbeat mother is nominated for an Oscar — how do you like them apples? Insightful featurettes and a commentary track with Affleck and Stockard round out this excellent release.

 

In the Shadow of the Moon

Tomatometer: 94%

One intimate, wondrous documentary about NASA’s Apollo program is one giant leap for DVD this week for the Discovery Channel set. If you find yourself flipping through the television for science programs, you’ll marvel at the sight of rockets blasting off in close-up and other archival footage used to poignant effect. Former lunar astronauts like Buzz Aldrin offer their own warm recollections of space travel which remind us of the enormous impact made when man first stepped foot on the moon.

 

Kurt Cobain About a Son

Tomatometer: 74%

Documentarian AJ Schnack crafts a haunting portrait of late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain — his childhood, his discovery of music, and his tragic rise to fame — without relying on footage or photographs of the grunge legend. Culling from over 25 hours of interviews taped by music journalist Michael Azerrad for his book Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, the film employs the disembodied voice of Cobain himself to paint a picture of the man within the poster boy for Gen-X anomie. Instead of supplementing his film with songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Schnack offers a soundtrack of Cobain influences like The Melvins, Half Japanese, Iggy Pop and Leadbelly.


 

We Own the Night


Tomatometer: 54%

Nightclub manager Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) is torn between loyalties when his policeman brother (Mark Wahlberg) and father (Robert Duvall) get involved in a deadly anti-crime crusade in 1980s New York. Writer-director James Gray sprinkles in car chases and shoot-outs, but keeps his eyes trained on character drama in this gritty, violent crime thriller. A handful of behind-the-scenes featurettes flesh out the bonus menu, and Eva Mendes also steams up the screen as Green’s hot-blooded girlfriend, Amada.

Romance & Cigarettes


Tomatometer: 52%

If you’ve been waiting for years for John Turturro‘s Romance & Cigarettes (which was originally supposed to hit theaters back in 2005), wait no longer! The star-studded musical — a romantic comedy about iron worker Nick Murder (James Gandolfini) choosing between his wife (Susan Sarandon) and his mistress (Kate Winslet) — is written and directed by the kooky character actor, who came up with the idea while shooting the Coen brothers’ Barton Fink. Along for the ride are thesps Steve Buscemi, Mandy Moore, Eddie Izzard, Mary-Louise Parker, and Christopher Walken, who hoof their way through genre-spanning tunes from Cyndi Lauper to Engelbert Humperdinck.

Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?


Tomatometer: 48%

Even if you’re not a fan of actor/director/playwright Tyler Perry‘s work, you may take some solace knowing one thing: his latest comedy-drama is completely devoid of his iconic family matriarch, Madea. Tackling the topics of marriage and fidelity, Perry directs himself and a cast of stars (Sharon Leal! Janet Jackson! Jill Scott!) in a tale of a group of married friends confronting each other while on a Colorado getaway.

No Reservations


Tomatometer: 39%

Mix one part no-nonsense master chef (Catherine Zeta-Jones) with a dash of a newly orphaned niece (resident cutie pie Abigail Breslin); toss in a rascally brash, easygoing sous chef (Aaron Eckhart) and let stand. Serve well chilled to unimpressed film critics.

The Martian Child


Tomatometer: 28%

Continuing a series of roles as widowed father figures dealing with children (see: Grace is Gone), John Cusack stars as a science-fiction writer with creative block who takes in a young boy who thinks he is an alien. Adapted from the autobiographical novel by David Gerrold (the man who wrote the classic Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles, for what it’s worth), The Martian Child nevertheless garnered mostly scorn from critics for being call-your-dentist saccharine and unbearably sentimental.

So there you have it. Choose wisely, and ’til next week, happy renting!

David SingtonDavid Sington’s Certified Fresh film In the Shadow of the Moon puts us on the Apollo missions, learning first-hand from its crew and through astonishing photography captured onboard the full scale and experience of their missions to the moon. Featuring footage never before seen and all-new interviews with astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Mike Collins and more, it’s a stirring portrait of brave men’s missions to teach us more about the world beyond our own. Rotten Tomatoes caught up with Sington, rather appropriately at London’s Science Museum, to find out more about the film.

Everyone has a fascination with space and the Apollo missions, but what was fascinating about the film was how much footage I don’t think many people have seen.

David Sington: The people who found it really are the producer Duncan Copp and his colleague Chris Reilly who was the archive producer. My company did a film which Duncan directed for us a few years ago. It was a television documentary for National Geographic about a shuttle mission so Duncan spent a lot of time at Johnson filming the training. The public affairs people at Johnson are also the people who look after the archive, so Duncan basically saw this large room full of racks of film cans and asked what it was. They said it was the Apollo film archive, and Duncan realised that basically no-one had actually explored this archive.

At the time of the missions Nasa made thirty-minute film documentaries, from this material, which it put out to the media. If you ring up Nasa and say, “I’d like Apollo footage please,” you get a box of these tapes. And it’s a lot of material; it was a lot of missions. I think for the vast majority of people making a Nasa documentary, that footage is enough. But obviously behind those little films there are 10,000 rolls of original film material, from the early days of the programme right through to the end. I think a lot of people just didn’t really realise it was there.

Nasa themselves had never sought to exploit this material and because we knew about it I think that was a big incentive for us to do the film. It would give us an opportunity, with a decent budget, to spend time in the archive and see what was there, but we were confident there must be hours of interesting material and that it wouldn’t have been seen before.

How does it work in terms of clearing this footage for the film?

DS: The brilliant thing about Nasa is that as a publically-funded organisation this material is public domain. In theory anybody can use it and it’s license-free. However, you also have to get hold of it. That, I think, requires that you can show the archivist that you know what you’re doing and that you have a serious purpose. They’re not going to let any old Tom, Dick or Harry go rifling through these film cans because it’s historically important material. It’s a little bit like going and looking at manuscripts at the British Museum. In theory it’s open to all, but in practice you have to be a reputable scholar and show that you know what you’re doing and that you have a serious purpose for looking at this stuff. Fortunately we had a pre-existing relationship with the people at Nasa because of the previous film we’d made.

Remastering from the film stock to High Definition video is an expensive business and that’s really where the expense lies. We spent a huge deal of money on the archive doing that, so again, in theory it’s free, in practise it’s really, really expensive!

In the Shadow of the Moon

It’s certainly well worth the effort; seeing that footage as sharp and clear as it is in the film is a sight to behold. You realise that you’re not seeing computer graphics, you’re seeing what these astronauts saw.

DS: To me it’s obviously a fantastic technical achievement, Apollo, but it’s also a human experience. A great adventure. It’s also, I think, a really profound moment in human history; because what makes us human is that we’re self-aware. We know our situation while other animals don’t. That self-awareness was certainly not complete, or lacked a crucial element, until human beings were able to leave the Earth; to go into space, and look back at the Earth and then return to it. It’s like leaving your home as a child, or leaving your home city; when you come back you see it differently. I think these people, and there were only twenty-four of them in the whole of human history, have seen what that is, what our human situation is. And that understanding was communicated to us through the pictures but I think you also want to hear it from them, to listen to them talk.

It’s also an important threshold or step in the evolution of human consciousness if one wants to put it in rather grandiose terms. It’s nonetheless true. So I think understanding the human level, the human experience, is very important and that’s the importance of the Apollo missions. It’s not that we returned rock samples from the moon, though that was scientifically enormously important, but that human beings went. It wouldn’t have been the same if it were just a robot, as the Russians sent to the moon. The astronauts are also given the freedom to tell that story in their own words, and very often that story is so human and so unscientific.

DS: They’re smart regular guys. I was quite surprised, actually, at how diverse they were as people. Alan Bean’s a very different character to Buzz Aldrin, who’s different again from Mike Collins, who’s different from Charlie Duke. They’re actually as diverse as you can possibly expect ten men of the same nation and generation to be. And also, I think, they’re very funny, and that was another thing that took me by surprise. That allowed the film to have a bit of humour which I think is important for any film, it helps the audience engage with it.

I think we were getting them at a good time as men in their seventies. They were able to look back, I think, once all the hoopla had fallen away. It got them back to the real essence of the experience. And I think that that experience of leaving the Earth and returning has marked them all. It’s a good thing; it gives them a perspective on life. They’ve literally seen the world from a different perspective and a perspective we’ve not seen in film except through photographs, which is not really the same thing. I think that perspective just gives them a rather wonderful sense of what’s important and what’s not important. I think people who know what’s what in some way are calmer and easier to deal with and they don’t get fussed about trivial things. It’s a very attractive personality trait.

In the Shadow of the Moon

In a strange sort of way, they’ve probably got a clearer idea than any of us of our own insignificance too. There’s a line where one of them can’t believe just how fragile the Earth looks from that far out.

DS: I think that the great power of film is that it can take the audience somewhere new, somewhere they haven’t been, and allow them to experience things vicariously through the characters in the film. That’s really the essence of drama, and it has been since the ancient Greeks. As Aristotle explained, it’s all to do with empathising with the characters and feeling, through them, the pity and fear of dramatic events. So I think that one can do that equally powerfully in a non-fiction film. That’s really what we were trying to do, to allow the viewers to share the experience that the astronauts had. What did it feel like to do these things? Obviously, nothing can match the experience itself but I hope that with the footage and the experience of the astronauts themselves one does get some sense of what it was like.

At least I think one certainly gets a sense of what it was like to witness the events through television at the time. And I think that’s also partly what the film’s about; what it was like to be back on Earth in those heady days sharing that experience. I think that certainly the film does achieve that.

I walked away feeling that nothing has really been that absorbing since. No event, to my mind, had captured the imaginations of so many, so powerfully and so positively. It made me wonder why that fascination dwindled and why the space missions aren’t as powerful for people anymore.

DS: I think that’s because, in a sense, the element of human exploration is not present at the moment. The space shuttle, and the Russian space craft, can’t venture beyond Earth orbit. They don’t go fast enough, fundamentally. That means that we’re just going somewhere we’ve been before and we’re seeing things we’ve seen before, so it’s unsurprising that people aren’t as wrapped up in the 105th shuttle mission as they are in the first landing on the moon. That’s just human nature and it’s entirely right and proper.

But I think it’s interesting that now the shuttle is really reaching the end of its life, I think that’s the reason we’ll go back to the Moon because there’s really no point in building another spacecraft to take people into orbit. We’re not really going to learn anything more from going up into orbit and really there aren’t very many things that people can do in orbit that can’t be done by machines. So unless we’re going to give up completely on human space flight, which I just don’t think we will, I think we will go back to the Moon and we will go to Mars. Or at least we’ll try. Going to Mars will be a really big challenge.

In the Shadow of the Moon

And presumably we’ve still got quite a lot to learn from the Moon.

DS: Oh, absolutely. The Apollo missions took men to another world and brought them back again but I think that eventually human beings will leave the Earth and never come back. We’ve got amazing technology, now, for creating images and I think if we can send men to the Moon and Mars the experiences they share with us will be even more vivid than they were during Apollo. One of the things that I think the film hopefully brings out is the political effect of going to the Moon. The way it allows people to see themselves, simply, as human beings first and foremost. And I think that’s a very valuable thing politically.

If we go back again in twenty years that sense of global solidarity will be enormously important. Issues like climate change are global issues. All our problems now, the serious ones, are really global ones; political, environmental and economic problems. What happens to mortgage lending in America effects the production of factories in China and vice-versa. We need to develop a sense of ourselves in one place rather than many, many different places. That’s not to say we need a World Government, I think that would be too far for people, but we need a gut feeling of ourselves as human beings first and I think that’s the value of going to the Moon. It’s not primarily, actually, to do with the scientific knowledge that we gain, though that’s obviously very interesting.

The Times bfi 51st London Film Festival - RT Highlights
LondonWelcome to the Times bfi 51st London Film Festival, the capital’s annual event celebrating the best in cinema from around the globe. Running this year from 17th October to the 1st November, the festival will play host to many local, national and international films, premieres, actors and directors.

Unlike the hyper-competative and sales-led environments of Cannes and Sundance, the London Film Festival is an altogether simpler affair, inviting members of the public to sample the films on offer. And the festival’s timing puts it in the perfect position to pick early Oscar hopefuls; many of the films in the programme are already generating early buzz and for most in the UK it’ll be the first and only chance to see them before the end of the year.

So it’s with that in mind that RT-UK editor Joe Utichi and film critic Paul Anderson have been hitting the festival to cherry pick the twenty films from the festival you’re likely to be hearing a lot about in the coming months.

Click on the films below to find out more, or click here to browse through the feature from the beginning.The Assassination of Jesse James, The Darjeeling Limited, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Eastern Promises
Enchanted, Funny Games, Grace is Gone, I'm Not There
In the Shadow of the Moon, Into the Wild, Juno, Lions for Lambs
Lust, Caution, Planet Terror, The Savages, Sicko
Son of Rambow, Surprise Movie, Talk to Me, Things we Lost in the Fire

The Times bfi 51st London Film Festival - RT Highlights
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

It’s a long title, long film, long coats and a long time getting to the screen. There’s a lot of long going on here. It took two years to score a release once it was done, so what’s wrong with it? Well, er, nothing.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Brad Pitt‘s labour of love, is slow; very slow. Slow and long. But good westerns should be. The best western is as much about the pace and the look as it is about anything, and this looks amazing. There are sumptuous shots of prairies and sepia tinted men in hats and (long) coats saying a lot without speaking much. The film feels poetic and meditative, like you could be doing yoga while it’s on.

Yes it is Pitt’s movie but the star is Casey Affleck as the titular coward. Robert Ford always wanted to be in the James Gang, he idolised Jesse, wanted to be him, dag nabit he probably fancied him. The poster boy of the 1880’s, so myth would tell us, was a Robin Hood figure and American icon, but Jesse James was a vicious killer and this film doesn’t shy away from that, the source being a fictional version of the story by Ron Hansen.

There aren’t many gunfights as such and those that do happen flash up are brutal and over with quickly, as one suspects they probably were at the time. The parallel with Pitt’s own celebrity is interesting, this is a film as much about fame and idolisation and in the end Robert Ford thought he was doing society a favour by shooting James in the back.

Andrew Dominik is the Australian director of Chopper and in what is only his second film, rivals John Hillcoat’s The Proposition in handling the Wild West with great skill, giving the story time to breathe. Pitt stalks around brooding dark violence and menace while Affleck’s Ford is baby faced, naïve and eager to please. It is evident on this example at least that Affleck is destined to outshine brother Ben in front of the camera.

Take a cushion, you’re in for a fair stretch, but it is worth every ass-numbing minute. Gorgeous to witness, with some modern day resonance, an interesting story and subtle yet lightening performances. Paul Anderson

The Darjeeling Limited

Wes Anderson makes a welcome return to intimately quirkily comedy after the outrageously quirky comedy The Life Aquatic. Or, Wes Anderson makes another one of those quirky comedy things. It largely depends on your point of view.

The Darjeeling Limited tells the tale of three brothers and their pilgrimage across India in search of their mother who abandoned them years prior. Former Anderson collaborators Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson join Adrien Brody as the three brothers exploring India aboard the titular train, along the way learning more about each other than they’d ever learnt before.

Like many of Anderson’s characters, not one of the brothers has much in the way of redeeming qualities, and like many of Anderson’s locations, India is presented as a country of bright colours and strange inhabitants. Indeed, it’s safe to say that if you’re a Wes Anderson fan you can’t go wrong with this film; it’s pretty-much more of the same. For anyone not so enamoured of Anderson, that’ll be a big problem as this certainly won’t be the film to change that.

In the mid to late nineties, Anderson championed the quirky American indie, but as box-office receipts and film-school grads have multiplied, so the quirky American indie is fast enveloping the entire American indie landscape, and whether Anderson’s particular brand of quirk has any originality left at this point is a big topic for debate.

Schwartzman, Wilson and Brody do fine jobs in their roles, and the film’s opener – a fifteen minute segment entitled Hotel Chevalier and co-starring Natalie Portman – makes the project worth checking out on its own. For cineastes, it’s a well-realised portrait of love and lust while Portman fans can admire the lack of clothing on display.

But Hotel Chevalier is available for free on iTunes in the US, and at this point it’s worth wondering if more of the same from Anderson in the film proper really justifies the cost of admission. Joe Utichi

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Julian Schnabel is an artist in the truest sense; he makes art. He attracts like-minded individuals; Johnny Depp is not so much an admirer more a kindred spirit. Transforming a heart-breaking story into an entertaining film needed an artist’s hand and eye and luckily this film got it.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly takes its name from the deeply moving book from Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor of Elle magazine in France, who, at the age of 43, suffered a huge stroke that should have killed him but instead left him paralysed save for the ability to blink one eye. His brain was fine, he could understand, but he couldn’t speak. His condition was diagnosed as ‘locked in syndrome’.

The film begins as Bauby’s eyes open after a two-week coma, and for the opening segment the camera becomes his only working eye. Eventually we get to see the twisted, dribbling mouth of the wheelchair bound victim and Schnabel cleverly takes us on a comparison journey, in home movie style, with the ruggedly good looking Parisian Bauby living and loving life.

Beautiful women surround him; Celine, the mother of his three children, (Emmanuelle Seigner), to whom he is still cruel, is a saint. His speech therapist Henriette (Marie-Josee Croze) and the woman charged with dictating the book, Claude (Anne Consigny), are now beyond his once effortless seductive powers.

The narrative unfolds as an internal monologue from Matthew Amalric‘s Bauby, complete with snide remarks at the surgeon and a preoccupation with his nurse’s cleavage. His only releases are his flights of fancy; his imagination is not locked in and consequently he dines where he likes, seduces women, and travels wherever he wants, all the time cursing for being too selfish and unkind to his children.

Henriette and Claude could lend Job some patience, as the alphabet communication system is spelt out over and over until the correct letter, then word is reached. The most moving scenes are with Bauby’s father Papinou (Max Von Sydow) shown both in flashback and in an agonising post-stroke phone call, where a housebound elderly father likens his son’s situation to his own.

The book is a deeply moving, affecting and very funny masterpiece and Schnabel has replicated Bauby’s imagined world superbly to visually stunning effect. Flawless performances deserve a wide audience and make The Diving Bell and the Butterfly one of the Festival highlights. PA

Eastern Promises

A companion-piece to the excellent A History of Violence, David Cronenberg has enlisted the help of Viggo Mortensen again and directed a script from Steve Knight who brought us the story of the London people you see but ignore, Dirty Pretty Things. And he nearly gets away with it.

Mortensen is a Russian driver for an Eastern European gangland family and is tattooed to the max. A teenage girl dies while giving birth and Naomi Watts, a midwife, is so shaken by this she decides to find out more about her. This leads to a discovery of a diary, which in turn leads her to Mortensen. And do you know what? She really shouldn’t go there.

Vincent Cassel plays Mortensen’s tighter-than-tight buddy and in usual Cassel style can make you feel the need to change your underwear with just one look. This is an extremely violent film and although not a horror picture in Cronenberg’s usual sense, some scenes are certainly horrific.

Mortensen is brilliant (Aragorn… who knew?), and Watts her usual high standard, while Cassel is just nuts.

Unlike Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises doesn’t capture the underbelly of the unseen so well. The homoeroticism is overplayed (why does Mortensen need to be naked to get a tattoo on the shoulder?) and there is no tangible sense of being an outsider looking into a closed world through the crack in the door, which would have made a half-decent thriller into a tense and buttock-clenching one.

Is this the end of horror for Cronenberg? Unlikely, but Eastern Promises is a disappointing follow-up to A History of Violence. Come on Dave, bring on the gore. PA

The Times bfi 51st London Film Festival - RT Highlights
Enchanted

Disney’s first attempt at hand-drawn animation in years, Enchanted, is perhaps one of this year’s family film highlights.

The tale of a tried and true Disney Princess, Gisele (Amy Adams), who finds her Prince Charming (James Marsden) before being sent to a faraway land by an evil stepmother (Susan Sarandon), is primarily live-action, book-ended by 20 minutes of hand-drawn Disney.

The faraway land in question is New York City, and so we open with an animated Gisele singing, dancing, and generally sickeningly happy as she engages a gaggle of woodland animals in some spring-cleaning. When she’s later sent down a well and into New York City we see her struggling with her surroundings and generally having trouble living a Disney life in a cold, harsh real world.

Fortunately, the film’s ultimate message, that real life isn’t a Disney cartoon, is unlikely to play to its young target audience, but it’s the biggest gag for parents and allows the whole family to enjoy the comedy and adventure without resorting to cheap and cheerful Dreamworks-esque innuendo.

Marsden is every inch the Prince Charming and Adams, while clearly not as beautiful as most outrageously sexy Disney princesses, moves with so many obvious Disney flairs that it’s a wonder they didn’t animate the whole thing and have her mime the animations.

The joke wears thin towards the end, and the film threatens to undermine years of classic animation from Disney of old, but when it works it really works, and it’s a joy to behold. It’s also worth a trip just for some hand-drawn animation, though on that score a CGI squirrel during the New York sequences rather ironically ends up stealing the show. JU

Funny Games

Funny Games is Michael Haneke‘s shot-for-shot remake of his German version for an American audience. It was just as nasty with subtitles.

A wealthy couple take peachy son and cuddly dog to summer home for a well-earned break. While dad and son sort out the sailing boat, that nice polite boy staying with friends’ next door pops round for some eggs. D’oh, he smashes them, asks for more and smashes those too. Hang on why is he wearing gloves?

So begins a descent into torture, bondage, humiliation, violence, blood and audience culpability. Yes, as an audience member one feels complicit and voyeuristic, as the so-called games are unveiled. Haneke wants to evoke this feeling; he wants the troubled youth and aggressive society in which they inhabit to be all your fault.

Funny Games is a deeply unlikeable film, but there is no criticism implicit in that, it is meant to be unlikeable. No one cries better on screen than Naomi Watts and as ever she is willing to visit the land of raw for her art and as usual does it brilliantly. Tim Roth as the husband is a bit-part once he gets clobbered with a golf club and it is Michael Pitt who steals the show as the creepily polite psychopath accomplice to Brady Corbet‘s egg-smasher. It was ever thus with cinema psychos that the more ‘normal’ they seem the more sinister they really are.

The nods and winks to the camera are a touch irritating as is the rewind bit in the middle but if you’ve seen the original you’ll be expecting all that. Funny Games is an uncomfortable, disturbing film perfect for festivals. PA

Grace is Gone

Lonesome Jim writer James C. Strouse marks his directorial debut with Grace is Gone, a moving portrait of a man struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife in Iraq and his role as a single parent to two young girls.

What’s most remarkable about the film is that it doesn’t attempt to politicise its story at all. As John Cusack‘s Stanley Philipps opens the film, leading his team at an out-of-town shopping complex in a chant about how the customer is always right, we instantly connect with him, and as he learns of his wife’s fate a couple of scenes later we’re already invested in his life. So when his brother, unaware of Grace’s passing, later attempts to chastise Stanley for his position on the war he’s quickly silenced. It’s a film about family conflict, not political conflict, and it’s all the stronger for it.

The film takes a journey with Stanley as he abandons his commitments, pulls his kids out of school and takes them on a road trip with the sole purpose of keeping the news of their mother’s death from them. It becomes an albatross that hangs over Stanley, but it’s just as much an enabler, for on the journey he gets to grips with his role as a parent and his relationship with his kids.

Cusack has never been better, his nack for engaging an audience more essential here than ever due to some of the more dubious decisions Stanley makes along the way, and Strouse directs with much-needed reserve, never allowing the film to get in the way of Stanley’s story. JU

I'm Not There

Velvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes‘ film about a seventies glam rock idol, split filmgoers down the middle. You either get it and it’s a masterpiece or you think there was nothing glamorous about the seventies and all bands look like bricklayers in make up. This time round Haynes is lucky, Bob Dylan already polarises people.

Haynes has taken six moments in Dylan’s life in I’m Not There, married them to what he believes is the musician’s personality at the time, and cast six different actors to play him, including a woman and a black kid.

Littered throughout the piece are references to characters in Dylan songs and well-documented events throughout his life. None of the characters is called Bob Dylan however. Ben Whishaw is Arthur Rimbaud, reflecting the singer’s love for the poet, Heath Ledger plays him as an actor troubled by his success and disappearing from view; Richard Gere, whose sequence is the weakest in the film, is Billy The Kid, a nod to Dylan’s appearance in Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, and Marcus Carl Franklin is supposedly a black 12 year-old Woody Guthrie, a youth out of time. The stand-out performance and the one that takes up most screen time is Cate Blanchett‘s as Jude, a singer at the height of fame struggling with the constant barrage of questions about the meaning of the songs and the singer’s authenticity. To her credit, five minutes in you forget she’s a woman.

Ambitious and inspired, it’s a little long and full of too many Dylan in-jokes and references. It won’t change your mind either way about Dylan but it might encourage other filmmakers to try future biopics in this way. PA

The Times bfi 51st London Film Festival - RT Highlights
In the Shadow of the Moon

Theory: There’s nothing more exciting than listening to the former astronauts for the Apollo missions tell their tales of visiting the lunar surface. Except perhaps being one of them. Yes, David Sington‘s In the Shadow of the Moon is a little heavy on the America-the-Great, but it’s also one of the best documentaries of the year; a fascinating portrait of men so brave that most regular Joes couldn’t possible comprehend their journey.

And, to its credit, it allows them to get on with it – there’s no narrator – we’re just shown fascinating footage from the moon’s surface, from the launch pad, from the shuttle, and in between these men tell us their story.

For the real space-junkies, there’s doubtless little in here to learn, but for the rest of us the film is full of fascinating factoids and, like the best movies set in space – fictional or not – it’ll leave you feeling smaller than the smallest needle in the biggest haystack. JU
Into the Wild

While most outside America will be unfamiliar with the name Christopher McCandless, the story of his abandonment of civilisation in favour of hiking across America on his way to Alaska is one we can probably all relate to. Who hasn’t thought about throwing off the shackles and experiencing nature in all its glory?

Of course most of us are either too scared or too sensible ever to attempt to do that and that’s perhaps why McCandless’ tale is so intoxicating; his journey is one we all wish we had the courage to take.

Sean Penn directs Emile Hirsch in this adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild, about McCandless, and while it runs a little long, at 140 minutes, in takes in some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable and keeps us gripped throughout as we join our young lead on his journey into either enlightenment or insanity.

Penn deifies McCandless a little too readily, encouraging us to make an idol out of him, and while most will happily do just that, it also makes it hard for us to engage with the film. Penn’s embrace of no-frills solitariness is flawed by the trailers, catering and crew we know to be behind single shot.

No, real credit must go to Hirsch, who goes out of his way to inhabit McCandless regardless of the creature comforts available to him off-screen, for it’s with him and him alone we must ultimately spend two hours of our time with. JU

Juno

Jason Reitman‘s debut feature, Thank You For Smoking, coming, as it did, in the same year as his father Ivan’s My Super Ex Girlfriend, was a brilliantly biting satire about the tobacco industry and suggested that perhaps dad’s talent had been well and truly passed on.

His second, Juno, continues his trend for witty comedy, casting Ellen Page as a high-school girl whose desire to lose her virginity leads to an unfortunate bout of pregnancy. She meets Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner through an ad in the Penny Saver and agrees to adopt the infant their way. But nine months is a long time, and pregnancy seems sure to bring with it a whole heap of inconvenience.

Page is brilliant as Juno, and a cast of recognisable supporting players back her up with aplomb. It’s definitely full of quirk – it’s an American indie after all – but, like Thank You For Smoking, there’s something real at the film’s heart and we’re encouraged to believe the quirk rather than let it wash over us. JU

Lions for Lambs

The most high profile of the recent glut of war themed releases – due mainly to its stellar cast – Lions For Lambs gets its title from an alleged quote from a World War One German General who said of the British troops, “never before have I seen such lions led by such lambs”. Apocryphal or not the debate over right against might is real enough.

There are three layers to the film. The first is a moral, ethical, hypothetical discourse with Robert Redford as a scarily convincing looking college Professor and Andrew Garfield as the owner of a fine mind behind a surfer exterior; the second is a political and strategic debate with media and PR consequences featuring an electrifying face off between Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise. Thirdly is the actuality of the troops in a war zone.

The performances are flawless with Cruise on his best smarmy bastard form as the ambitious senator and cheerleader for the masters of war trading blows with Streep’s journalist, over a new plan for the war in Afghanistan. Streep pleads mea culpa over the media’s acquiescence during the first Iraq/Afghan surge, but is less compliant this time even in the face of an exclusive story. Redford and Garfield debate whether seriously smart people should ‘do something’ with specific reference to two soldiers, Redford’s ex pupils, from neighbourhoods ignored by Uncle Sam who worked hard for their college grades then enlisted to make a real change.

And yes it is those same soldiers we see in the war zone, injured and low on ammo. Lions for Lambs is a one eyed view on the futility of the war on terror. Redford’s politics are all over it despite his best efforts at balance with Cruise’s hawk view. Nothing happens in the film in terms of action bar a few exchanges from the pinned down troops; it’s all about the dialogue and its evident that this is what Redford wants to achieve. When you leave the cinema and go to the pub he wants you to engage and discuss the politics of a war that few in the US want anymore.

There are many Vietnam references and lots of questions needing answers and decisions to be made as a consequence. What do you want to do? Do you want to end the war on terror? Do you think you should act/protest/enlist/run for the Senate? America’s liberal, artsy intelligentsia is pricking consciences but does anyone or should anyone outside the US care? PA

The Times bfi 51st London Film Festival - RT Highlights
Lust, Caution

Ang Lee‘s startling ability to jump between projects as diverse as Hulk, Crouching Tiger and Brokeback Mountain is almost as exciting to behold as every new film from the director is.

Lust, Caution is no exception; it’s a thrilling, breathtaking, dramatic, devastating and enrapturing film about a young girl who goes undercover in World War II-era Shanghai in an attempt to woo and then assassinate a key political figure.

Based on an Eileen Chang story, Tony Leung is Mr. Yee, a seemingly untouchable man whose heart is won by Tang Wei‘s Wang Jiazhi. And while Leung is outstanding, it’s Tang Wei, in her first role, who really steals the show, delivering a nuanced and emotional performance as a girl torn apart by politics and her heart, two elements that rarely see eye-to-eye.

Key sexual moments between Yee and Wang are shot explicitly, though never exploitatively, and it’s interesting to note that the film will be released as an NC-17 in the US. The rating is commercial suicide, but the film simply wouldn’t have the power it has without the sex scenes so it helps that it’s penned by the exec in charge of the studio, long time Lee collaborator James Schamus.

Breaking box-office records in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Lust, Caution deserves to have the same cross-over effect as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and here’s hoping this is the NC-17 film that breaks down the confines of the curious American ratings system. JU

Planet Terror

Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first; Machete is the only fake trailer attached to the theatrical standalone print of Planet Terror. It makes sense that it’s Robert Rodriguez‘ trailer that made the cut, but for those of us outside the United States for whom the idea of pirating the camcorder jobs done on Grindhouse doesn’t sit right, it’s a crying shame. We’re missing out on Edgar Wright’s brilliant Don’t, Eli Roth’s inspired Thanksgiving, and Rob Zombie’s brilliantly-titled Werewolf Women of the S.S. You can sit all the way through the credits; you’ll be wasting your time.

Honestly, the idea of experiencing the whole, balls-to-the-wall grindhouse experience was the biggest disappointment facing fans outside North America, but the Weinsteins’ needs must, and their decision to split the flicks could have been forgiven had the full experience, at the very least, survived two ticket prices. We got some extra time with Death Proof, but the Planet Terror that’s hitting cinemas is the same cut premièred as part of Grindhouse, providing ample opportunity to queue up all the fake trailers within it. As it is most theatregoers outside of the US will, in fact, be missing that full experience at the very least until the DVD arrival of Planet Terror. So why bother?

Well, for starters, perspective is important. As much as the brothers Weinstein plan to reap the rewards that come from double-dipping the Grindhouse experience internationally, we are still getting two films from a pair of the most creative film-makers on the planet. Death Proof is unadulterated Tarantino, and Planet Terror is the funniest zombie movie since Shaun and the goriest since 28 Days.

The films exist in something of a shared universe. For those who’ve seen Death Proof first, nods to Jungle Julia’s fate and an expansion of that somewhat cryptic Dr. Block/Earl McGraw scene will bond the two films even if they’re covered by separate admissions, and the fake film grime and dodgy projection effects cross both features.

Multi-hyphenate Rodriguez creates a stunning world in which he unleashes his zombie plague, draws delicious characters straight out of seventies B-movies, and lets his actors run wild with them. Freddy Rodriguez Rose McGowan shine, but with the remaining cast performing so brilliantly around them it’s the ensemble that sells it. JU

The Savages

It’s a tricky thing, the what-to-do-with-the-old-folks-when-they-start-to-lose-it movie. Filmmakers are always battling with the question of balance between dark humour and pathos, not forgetting to allow just enough dignity to prick everybody’s conscience about dealing with the elderly. One of the better more recent attempts was Away From Her based on the short story by Alice Munro with Julie Christie as an Alzheimer’s victim. The Savages nails the balance beautifully.

Directing her own script, Tamara Jenkins has landed two of cinema’s best in the lead roles. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney are John and Wendy Savage, siblings suddenly thrown together after years of non-communication, to take care of their father who is rapidly descending into dementia. John is writing a book on Brecht, he is also about to end a long-term relationship and Wendy is a penniless playwright in an unfulfilling relationship with a married man.

So they’re pretty uptight people, right? What plays out is a beautifully told story of responsibility, guilt, communication and selfishness with a heavy dose of realism. Philip Bosco is dad Lenny, a heady mix of deaf, cantankerous and incontinent, who beat his kids when mum left and wasn’t as bothered about caring for them as they are about him now.

Hoffman plays the pragmatist, managing the situation with the adroitness of a nursing home administrator. Linney’s Wendy is more emotional and tries to get dad into a beautifully landscaped home but sadly dad fails the test, so she buys a lava lamp for his room. What is prevalent throughout is the brilliant comedic touch in Jenkins’s script, which allows some hilarious bickering between Hoffman and Linney, especially when he puts his neck out playing tennis.

To its credit The Savages doesn’t bash you over the head with its message about being good to the old folks. Some people get ill and old, Lenny cuts a pathetic and pitiful character, but we all die and luckily the script is funny and nuanced enough, while being executed brilliantly by the leads, not to make it maudlin. PA

Sicko

Michael Moore is back with a new documentary about the healthcare system in America and its ill-treatment of patients who are paying through the nose for medical cover.

Sicko presents a compelling case against HMOs, but as with most of Moore’s work it is more than obvious that while the facts are indisputable there are plenty more he’s chosen to ignore. For this British critic, his portrayal of the socialised system of our NHS made that abundantly clear. Yes, as Moore shows us, we don’t pay for our hospital visits, and the cashier in hospitals gives us money for transport home after an operation, and our doctors are, indeed, incentivised to offer the best care to their patients.

But Moore neglects to ask how long we need to wait for a hospital bed in many cases. Or if people ever get sick because the hospitals they’re staying in aren’t clean enough. This is where our NHS fails, but because it doesn’t support Moore’s case it’s simply not mentioned.

That the treatment of patients in America is shockingly inhuman in many cases is obvious, and Moore uncovers a huge number and variety of horror stories about it. Like much of his work, though, while the film will inspire plenty of discussion through its accessibility, the discussion about Moore himself will outweigh that of the subject he examines. JU

The Times bfi 51st London Film Festival - RT Highlights
Son of Rambow

You can tell that Son of Rambow came from a pair of creative types. There’s something about the notion of a couple of friends getting together after school with a video camera and a vague memory of cool things they’d seen in movies and putting together their own tribute that just screams creativity and one wonders how much of the film came from Nick Goldsmith and Garth Jennings‘ own experiences as kids.

When his parents strict religious beliefs force him out of a Geography lesson and into the hallway, Will meets troublemaker Carter and strikes up an unlikely friendship. Carter teaches Will a little of his streetwise attitude and, when he’s shown First Blood, Will convinces himself he’s Rambo’s son and shows Carter a sketchbook full of colourful illustrations which tell a slightly odd but rather wonderful story.

The pair set out to make a sequel in which Will, as the Son of Rambow, attempts to rescue his dad and save the world. Along the way they pick up some collaborators, but when tensions fray on set their friendship, Carter’s relationship with his brother, and Will’s relationship with the church are all called into question.

Best known for producing and directing Hitchhiker’s Guide as well as any number of the nineties greatest music videos as Hammer and Tongs, Goldsmith and Jennings bring their creative flair to an independent level with this heart-warming coming-of-age story that’s been gathering momentum since its debut at this year’s Sundance.

But what’s most important is that Son of Rambow is so much more than its basic premise. Those of us who grew up with grand designs to make the next Indiana Jones will identify with Will and Carter, but all can identify with the film’s grander themes. Lead brilliantly by its two confident young leads, Son of Rambow may well be the best British movie of the year. JU

Surprise Movie: No Country for Old Men

The last few years haven’t been kind to the Brothers Coen. Indeed, you have to go back to 2001 – past The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty – to get back onto comfortable ground when it comes to their work, and considering these are the guys who brought the world Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing and The Big Lebowski, that’s a crying shame. Fortunately with this year’s offering, which played as the surprise movie at the LFF, the Coens have gone back to those roots and have delivered a film worthy of the standards they’ve previously set. No Country for Old Men is classic Coen, both sumptuously involving and wickedly funny.

Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy, the Coens have brought their unique sensibilities to bear on a tale of a drug deal gone wrong and the $2 million in cash found at the scene by a hunter living a modest life in Texas. His name is Llewellyn Moss and he’s smart enough to know that someone will be coming for the loot. But it soon becomes obvious you can’t prepare for Chigurh, an assassin with a flair for creative execution and an enthusiasm for high body counts.

On the trail, too, is an aging Sheriff called Bell who’s convinced the world has changed on him a little too much as he jumps from crime scene to crime scene hoping to track Moss down before Chigurh has a chance.

Full of just the right mix of drama, action and comedy, this is the sort of movie that’ll have you engrossed until its final moments. And if it does get a little bogged down in Texan philosophizing in those final moments, they do nothing to touch what’s come before. JU

Talk to Me

It’s easy to forget in this multimedia, mass media, and global communications world just how important radio used to be at times of major unrest or trauma. The 1960s was a turbulent decade of change and 1968 in particular was the most incredible year. Martin Luther King was assassinated, so too Bobby Kennedy and, in Washington DC at least, there was a man who gave hope to those with a sense of hopelessness following those two tragedies. Talk to Me is his story.

Ralph ‘Petey’ Green was an ex con, raised by his maternal Grandmother, who learned to DJ in jail playing records his Grandma sent him. Between songs he would speak the felon’s point of view. A recovering junkie and alcoholic he spoke the same language and had been to the same places. Released early thanks to a deal he cut with the warden, he bullied his way into a job at Washington radio station WOL, whose head of programming, Dewey Hughes, was the brother of a fellow inmate. Don Cheadle plays Green and Chiwetel Ejiofor is Hughes.

The film plays out as a ‘what Petey did next’ to a glorious soundtrack of soul and funk music over two decades. Cheadle plays Petey with such exuberance, even when showing his many flaws, that all thoughts of ‘that accent’ in Ocean’s are banished forever. This guy was bling way before bling existed. Green set up volunteer programmes all over the city and encouraged poor kids from the projects to get educated and avoid the path leading to incarceration. Can you imagine Wogan having the same effect? TV snapped him up and he became a big star and eventually quit drinking.

he performances of the two leads are what save the film from becoming a plodding catalogue of Petey adventures. Ejiofor plays the black man working in the white man’s world brilliantly; the initial exchanges between him and Cheadle when Petey derides him by calling him Mr Tibbs are lightning. Hughes went out on a limb for Green and the two became firm and lifelong friends.

The studio boss is Martin Sheen; comically corporate and at first exasperated by Hughes’s decision to employ Green. But it soon becomes apparent to everyone that Green has a connection to the street and the listeners the station wants to reach, through his own experiences and his articulation of the civil rights issues and the plight of the Afro-American; evidenced by his heartfelt announcement of the shooting of Dr King, equal parts sad and angry. Suddenly the voice of the street was being heard by ‘The Man’.

Green had bucket loads of self-belief which the film overall lacks. Take the lead performances away and Talk to Me doesn’t go anywhere, which is a shame because the story deserves better. PA

Things we Lost in the Fire

Are there any better ‘lived in’ faces than Benicio Del Toro‘s? If he saw you at the bus stop and introduced himself as a recovering heroin addict you’d believe him right? Conversely Halle Berry is too beautiful, that smile, those cheekbones, that skin! Luckily they got cast in the right roles, then.

Berry and David Duchovny are prosperous and sexy and utterly devoted to each other and their two kids. Then he gets shot and killed trying to help a woman being attacked and suddenly lives are shattered and the people involved are ill equipped to pick up the pieces. Del Toro plays Jerry, he and Duchovny’s Brian have been best friends forever. He’s a failed lawyer and junkie going to his addict meetings and working as a janitor. Berry turns to him after the shooting to help her get her life back on track. She asks him to come live in the garage, converted after the fire of the title, so they can lean on each other and patch up their lives. This works up to a point but their relationship is strained as Del Toro gets on with the kids really well, knows some of their secrets (because their dad told him), and fulfils some of the role that Duchovny hadn’t a chance to. Berry’s character Audrey is in denial and not coping with her loss.

It is a gently humorous film with a brilliantly convincing performance from Del Toro, especially during cold turkey after a relapse into the old ways. Berry is tearful and luminous but it seems as if it’s nothing more than just a job, emotionally there is no depth. Yes there is a lot of sad, and a drizzle of schmaltz and a surprising amount of emotional intimacy; Bier handles the pace, relationships and chemistry with the actors with expert ease. The kids are really cute too.

Overall it’s unclear what Things We Lost in the Fire is trying to say. Life goes on? We all suffer loss and face traumatic events and sharing is good? Whatever the message, it would be ignored without Del Toro’s mighty performance. PA

After struggling at the box office over the last few years, Russell Crowe scored his first number one film in more than seven years with the critically-acclaimed Western 3:10 to Yuma which bumped fellow Hollywood remake Halloween out of the top spot. The weekend’s other new releases, the action film Shoot ‘Em Up and the comedy The Brothers Solomon, both failed to make much of a dent into the typically-slow early September marketplace. The top ten slumped to its lowest point since late April while aside from Yuma, no wide release managed a per-theater average of more than $3,000.

Lionsgate scored its first top spot debut of the year with 3:10 to Yuma which shot up an estimated $14.1M in its opening frame from 2,652 theaters. Averaging a solid $5,317 per venue, the R-rated drama stars Crowe as a captured outlaw and Christian Bale as the man set to accompany him to the train that will take him to prison. Not since his career-making turn in 2000’s Oscar-winning picture Gladiator has Russell Crowe inhabited the number one spot at the box office. Last year’s dramedy flop A Good Year bowed to an embarrassing $3.7M on its way to a puny $7.5M while 2005’s well-reviewed Cinderella Man debuted below expectations with $18.3M leading to a $61.6M domestic total. Critics were very supportive of Yuma giving much praise to the two lead actors as well as to director James Mangold (Walk the Line).

After a record Labor Day weekend launch, the horror entry Halloween plunged 62% and dropped a notch to second place with an estimated $10M in ticket sales. The Rob Zombie-directed film pushed its ten-day cume up to a rosy $44.2M which already makes it the top-grossing R-rated fright flick of the year. Halloween seems on track to finish with roughly $60M for MGM.

Sony’s teen hit Superbad became the 20th film of 2007 to cross the $100M mark over the weekend. The raunchy sex romp collected an estimated $8M, dropping only 36%, and pushed its total gross to a stellar $103.7M. A final gross in the neighborhood of $125M seems likely for the inexpensive $18M production.

Rival comedy Balls of Fury lost half of its opening weekend audience and placed fourth for the frame with an estimated $5.7M pushing the 12-day tally to a respectable $24.3M. The Focus release should end up with $35-38M.

Matt Damon‘s third blockbuster in less than a year, The Bourne Ultimatum, followed in fifth with an estimated $5.5M, off 47%, lifting the cume to $210.1M from North America. The assassin pic joins Shia LaBeouf‘s Disturbia as the only 2007 films to spend six weeks in the Top Five. Worldwide, Ultimatum climbed past $300M making it the top-grossing film in the Bourne series globally with many international markets still to come.

The new Clive OwenPaul Giamatti action pic Shoot ‘Em Up debuted in sixth place with a disappointing $5.5M gross, according to estimates. Making its way into 2,108 theaters, the R-rated film averaged a weak $2,585 per site for New Line. Reviews were mixed.

New Line’s action sequel Rush Hour 3 followed in seventh with an estimated $5.3M, down 37%, boosting the cume to $129.3M. Fellow funny franchise flick Mr Bean’s Holiday dropped 43% to an estimated $3.4M giving Universal a domestic total of $25.1M. The global gross has now risen to a stunning $215M.

A pair of female-skewing pics rounded out the top ten. The Nanny Diaries grossed an estimated $3.3M in its third weekend, off 35%, giving MGM $21M to date. Leggy musical smash Hairspray dipped only 28% which was good enough to allow the John Travolta hit to climb back into the top ten with an estimated $2M. Cume stands at $114.9M for New Line.

Opening terribly in wide release outside of the top ten was the R-rated comedy The Brothers Solomon which bowed to an estimated $525,000 from 700 theaters for a dismal $750 average. The $10M production failed to even make the Top 20.

A pair of films enjoyed encouraging and almost identical launches in arthouses over the weekend. The lunar mission documentary In the Shadow of the Moon bowed to an estimated $41,200 from four sites for a solid $10,300 average. The ThinkFilm release was “presented” by Ron Howard and will add more theaters within New York and Los Angeles and expand to Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. on Friday. MGM’s Richard Gere war drama The Hunting Party debuted in four venues as well and grossed an estimated $40,000 for a strong average of $10,000 per theater.

Two competing late-August action titles were tossed out of the top ten. Fox’s Kevin Bacon revenge pic Death Sentence tumbled 62% to an estimated $1.6M in its sophomore frame for a ten-day sum of only $7.9M. Look for a $10M final. The Jet LiJason Statham actioner War has done somewhat better and took in an estimated $1.4M in its third session. Crashing 68%, the Lionsgate release has taken in $20.5M thus far and should conclude with around $23M.

Among summer megahits still climbing the list of all-time domestic blockbusters, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix rose to $288.2M after its ninth weekend while Transformers inched up to $311.4M after its tenth attack. The July releases now sit at 31 and 21, respectively, on the all-time list.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $62.7M which was up a healthy 28% from last year when The Covenant debuted in first place with $8.9M; but down 11% from 2005 when The Exorcism of Emily Rose opened in the top spot with $30.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com


Ah, Edinburgh, a city known for contrast, vibrancy, comedy, castles and, for a couple of weeks in August, a little congestion. You see, the Edinburgh International Film Festival competes with the infamous Fringe comedy festival, as well as half a dozen other festivals, and no-doubt a couple of weddings and a stag do. Hotel rooms are as scarce as A-listers from the film and comedy world are abundant and restaurants are practicing their, “I’m sorry sir, you should have booked in February,” routine.

Edinburgh Castle

The festival has, in the past, played home to the world premiere of Serenity and the European first-show for Clerks II. Its programme is open to the public, and provides a wide variety of home-grown, European, American and international cinema. This festival sees two of the freshest movies of the year from the US play to UK audiences for the first time – Knocked Up and Ratatouille and they’re joined by the indie likes of Hallam Foe and French warbler Les Chansons d’Amour.

In short, there’s something for everyone of every age, gender and nationality, and it’s probably one of the most relaxed and, in turn, exciting festivals on the calendar. It’s also a good place to start or join in that ever-exciting early awards buzz, and with that in mind we thought it’d be a good idea to let you know what we and the critics think of the films on display so you can add them to your wish-list.

So without further ado we present, in no particular order, our fifteen favourites of the festival. We’ve gathered quotes from the Tomatometer and our critic friends too to spotlight the cream of the cinematic crop as chosen by our international pool of critics and ourselves respectively.

THE BEST OF BRITISH
Five films that represent the best the UK has to offer at the Edinburgh Film Festival – whether produced in the UK, directed by British talent or starring British actors.

Hallam Foe – dir. David Mackenzie

Hallam Foe

You may remember director David Mackenzie‘s previous films, Young Adam and Asylum, with respective Tomatometers favouring fresh and rotten. In the eyes of the critics we’ve spoken to, and this dashing RT-UK editor, Hallam Foe looks set to do away with any doubts and land firmly as one of the year’s freshest.

Being the tale of a rather strange teenager, the titular Hallam, who escapes a devilish stepmother for the lofty heights of Edinburgh and falls in love with a woman who’s the spitting image of his mother, the oedipal tale is at turns hilarious and heart-rending. As is Mackenzie’s wont, it’s about real people with unique lives and as a coming-of-age drama there is none finer. Its depiction of this festival’s host city, Edinburgh, isn’t troubled by big-screen sheen – this is the real Edinburgh, and it’s beautiful.

Bell and Myles are outstanding, and Claire Forlani reaches a level of wicked sadism that only Claire Forlani could accomplish and still have you falling madly in love with her. It’s quirky, but not so quirky that it becomes ridiculous, and it’s probably one of the finest films you’ll see this year.

“Affirms the raw talents of both David Mackenzie and Jamie Bell (who’s come a long way since Billy Elliot).”
Rich Cline, SHADOWS ON THE WALL

“An intriguing rites-of-passage story with a delirious, skewed perspective and an almost palpable sexual pulse.”
Damon Wise, EMPIRE MAGAZINE

Stardust – dir. Matthew Vaughn

Stardust

We first experienced a sprinkle of Stardust courtesy of director Matthew Vaughn‘s invitation to the edit suite and while we loved what we saw we were curious to see if the film could maintain the pitch of the footage for its entire runtime. Having taken two trips to see the unfinished version, we’d say we’re fairly enthusiastic about the results.

Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman (to settle the argument before it starts, it began life as an illustrated novel before being published without the illustrations), Stardust follows young Tristan Thorn (newcomer Charlie Cox) as he journeys across “the wall” into a magical land in quest of a falling star to retrieve for the beautiful Victoria (Sienna Miller) in exchange for her hand in marriage. When he discovers the star is actually a young woman (Claire Danes), they begin a quest back home and, along the way, are pursued by a handsome prince (Mark Strong), a wicked witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a devilish pirate (Robert De Niro), all of whom have their own designs on the star.

And if that cast list isn’t enough to woo you, pray silence as we barrage you with Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellen, Mark Williams, Ricky Gervais, David Walliams and Rupert Everett.

And we have a Princess Bride fan in the office who’s convinced he’s found a movie to rival his classic. You can start queuing now.

“With its heart worn proudly on its sleeve, it’s one of the best date movies of the year, a compatibility litmus test for starry-eyed romantics.”
Kevin Crust, LOS ANGELES TIMES

“The antic spirit of The Princess Bride looms large over Stardust, creatively adapted from Neil Gaiman’s much more sober 1998 graphic novel. That’s probably a good call.”
Joshua Rothkopf, TIME OUT NEW YORK

WAZ – dir. Tom Shankland

Waz

On paper WAZ (the A is actually a Delta symbol so it’s pronounced Was or W-Delta-Z depending on the mood you’re in) looks like every other torture porn movie cluttering cinemas at the moment. But to lump it in with Saw and Hostel would be to do it a disservice, because this debut feature from director Tom Shankland is much more inventive.

Detective Eddie Argo and his new partner, Helen Westcott, begin investigating a series of grisly murders with one thing in common; a mathematical equation has been carved into each of the victims. When they learn that the equation – the WAZ of the title is a part of it – is designed to test altruism, and that the victims are being offed in pairs, forced to kill each other to “save” themselves, the case turns even nastier, and as Westcott gets to know her new precinct she’s seeing things that don’t add up in the police department’s handling of previous cases.

Set in New York but filmed, predominantly, in Belfast, with a cast that includes a Swede, an Australian and a Brit, the accents are a touch on the unpredictable side, but stirring performances from Stellan Skarsgard, Melissa George, Ashley Walters and Selma Blair make you forget those troubles, and the film creates a visually arresting universe and ramping tension that keep you glued to the screen.

“Director Tom Shankland launches himself into the industry with a fierce sense of style and energy to spare.”
Rich Cline, SHADOWS ON THE WALL

WAZ distastefully delivers.”
Derek Elley, VARIETY

Sugarhouse – dir. Gary Love

Sugarhouse

Lest you think we have a thing for Ashley Walters, it’s worth pointing out that Sugarhouse and WAZ mark genuinely impressive turns by the young actor following his stunning breakthrough in Bullet Boy. We’d make some sort of So Solid Career pun but that’d be annoying.

Sugarhouse, another debut film this time from director Gary Love, is a smarter kind of Brit gangster flick. Walters is crackhead D who is looking to sell a gun to Steven Mackintosh’s city worker. D’s motives are money, his client’s are revenge. But there’s a third in the form of Andy Serkis as this year’s most terrifying baddie, Hoodwink. The gun’s his and he’s damn sure not going to let D sell it on.

Based on a play, Sugarhouse is decidedly intimate, most of the action collected around D’s crack den, and its sense of realism – lacking in the works of Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn – is refreshing. It’s not about effing and blinding, it’s about the seedier side of life.

“Despite thin caricatures and dodgy dialogue, this still stands out on the street.”
Kat Brown, EMPIRE MAGAZINE

“Andy Serkis delivers a performance that makes his turn as King Kong look like Johnny Vegas’s knitted monkey sidekick.”
Stella Papamichael, BBC

Control – dir. Anton Corbijn

Control

Starring Sam Riley, Samantha Morton, Craig Parkinson and Alexandra Maria Lara

Anton Corbijn‘s Control captivated audiences upon its Cannes debut earlier this year, and with good reason; the biopic of Joy Division’s late lead singer, Ian Curtis, delivers a somber but beautiful glimpse into the life of the tortured musician that should enrich fans of the Manchester band and move the uninitiated in comparable measure.

Shot in gorgeously stark black and white monochrome, Control follows Curtis (Sam Riley), a sensitive working-class daydreamer in 1970s England, as he falls into the role of lead singer for a local band. That band, of course, soon becomes post-punk legend Joy Division; the lads sign a record deal, go on tour, and get big. But life gets in the way of fame for Curtis, and the demands of his budding fame – a young wife (Samantha Morton) and child, and a new girlfriend (Alexandra Maria Lara) on the side – paired with recurring epileptic seizures that render him helpless sometimes mid-concert, become too much for him to juggle.

With its pulsating score (all songs performed, and well, by the actors themselves) and a transcendent central performance by Curtis doppelganger Riley, Control paints a sensitive portrait of a tragic artist whose legacy lived on for decades after his untimely death at the age of 23.

“Corbijn has done his research during 30 years as a photographer, striking a realistic balance between farce and tragedy.”
Stephen Dalton, THE TIMES

“Somber, sad and compelling.”
Russell Edwards, VARIETY

THE BEST OF THE US
We cross the Atlantic (figuratively) to take a look at the five top films playing in Edinburgh from the US of A.

In the Shadow of the Moon – dir. David Sington

In the Shadow of the Moon

Featuring Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Michael Collins and Jim Lovell

Theory: There’s nothing more exciting than listening to the former astronauts for the Apollo missions tell their tales of visiting the lunar surface. Except perhaps being one of them. Yes, David Sington‘s In the Shadow of the Moon is a little heavy on the America-the-Great, but it’s also one of the best documentaries of the year; a fascinating portrait of men so brave that most regular Joes couldn’t possible comprehend their journey.

And, to its credit, it allows them to get on with it – there’s no narrator – we’re just shown fascinating footage from the moon’s surface, from the launch pad, from the shuttle, and in between these men tell us their story.

For the real space-junkies, there’s doubtless little in here to learn, but for the rest of us the film is full of fascinating factoids and, like the best movies set in space – fictional or not – it’ll leave you feeling smaller than the smallest needle in the biggest haystack.

“The excitement, majesty and extraordinary human accomplishment of the American lunar program of the ’60s and early ’70s is rousingly captured in In the Shadow of the Moon.”
Todd McCarthy, VARIETY

“This exquisite documentary about the Apollo program takes the magic of moon flight and miraculously makes it downright down-to-Earth.”
Frank Lovece, FILM JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL

Ratatouille – dir. Brad Bird

Ratatouille

Starring Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano and Peter O’Toole

Films about rats, it seems, don’t tend to go down well with the squeamish movie-going public. That’s just about the only way to explain the poorer-than-expected box office returns for the gem that is Ratatouille. Of course, we’re not talking bomb here – it’s currently sitting at around $300m so they won’t be remortgaging – but it’s a surprise considering it’s one of Pixar’s finest movies in a crop of fine movies.

The project, about a gastronomic rat named Remy who finds himself the sous-sous-chef at a posh restaurant, has a troubled history; original director Jan Pinkava was replaced by Brad Bird with barely a year of the seven-year development time left on the clock. Pinkava left Pixar and has “no comment” on the whole affair, but given last year’s troubled Cars the tabloid tales have knocked a little of the sheen from Pixar.

Fortunately the film – credit to Bird and Pinkava – is astonishing and more than settles any doubts about the affair affecting the movie. As is traditional with Pixar, the actors are chosen because they’re right for their characters and the film’s visuals shame every other CG movie released this year. Bring on Wall-E.

“Displaying the usual meticulousness associated with the Pixar brand, Ratatouille is a nearly flawless piece of popular art.”
A.O. Scott, NEW YORK TIMES

“A film as rich as a sauce béarnaise, as refreshing as a raspberry sorbet, and a lot less predictable than the damn food metaphors and adjectives all us critics will churn out to describe it. OK, one more and then I’ll be done: it’s yummy.”
David Ansen, NEWSWEEK

Death Proof – dir. Quentin Tarantino

Death Proof

Caught up in this year’s Grindhouse scandal – Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez made two back-to-back flicks to be put out as one and then no-one in America went to see them – Death Proof is the Weinstein Company’s first attempt at recouping some of the expense internationally. It’s Tarantino’s half, which means lots of talking, lots of references to classic pop-culture, and plenty of hot women with well-manicured feet.

The film follows Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) as he crosses country to do damage to a bevy of beauties in his “death proof” car – he can crash it at any speed and live to tell the tale. So we first meet Jungle Julia (Sydney Poitier) and her posse (Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd and, notsomuch, Rose McGowan) before the film shifts state and introduces us to stuntgirls Tracie Thoms and Zoe Bell (who was Uma’s stunt-double on Kill Bill and their friends Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rosario Dawson.

But it’s not so much about the story or the characters as it is about the Tarantino dialogue, the homages to seventies B-movies and the fake film grain added to make it look like the print has been kicked around a bit. One segment is even in black-and-white suggesting it’s not even a complete print and the missing reel has been substituted with one from a black-and-white version of the film.

Death Proof, the standalone, replaces a title card pointing to a missing reel in the Grindhouse version with the full version, a seedy lap dance from Ferlito. And it’s steamy-hot but, of course, all the good frames have been ripped out – presumably stolen by projectionists as the print gathered dust. It’s all a very heart-warming reference to classic B cinema.

As a standalone, Death Proof is far more satisfying than it is as part of Grindhouse, though a scene with Michael Parks, while far too good to cut out, doesn’t working without the audience having seen Planet Terror. The irony is that, because Planet Terror builds to a crescendo ending and is followed by a film that takes a while to get going, Death Proof should have been the first part of Grindhouse and Planet Terror should have been the first to be released independently. Still, forgive the Weinstein mistakes and be sure you see Death Proof, even if you’re one of the lucky ones to have already seen Grindhouse.

“All the nutrition of a narcotic compound.”
James Rocchi, CINEMATICAL

“A beautiful piece of Americana. Stupid, and brilliant.”
– Alistair McKay, SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY

Knocked Up – dir. Judd Apatow

Knocked Up

There’s a reason this comedy – usually a tough genre with the critics – is currently sitting in the nineties on the Tomatometer; it’s genuinely that good. From The 40-Year-Old Virgin helmer Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen stars as a man whose one-night-stand turns into a twenty-year commitment when his beau, Katherine Heigl, turns up pregnant. Oops.

Perhaps the buzziest film of the year – an R-rated trailer first circulated virally ages ago – it’s a laugh-a-minute romp through hysterically inappropriate gags with Rogen chewing the scenery at every opportunity, and fantastic supporting performances from Paul Rudd and Alan Tudyk.

Keep an eye out for Jonah Hill – you’re about to hear his name a lot when Superbad hits cinemas – and be sure to bring the girlfriend. Knocked Up‘s real success is that it appeals to every demographic, with just the right mix of cheap laughs and heartfelt drama that both sexes will fall in love with it, and it’s loveable “hero”.

“A refreshingly frank, funny odd-couple comedy with engaging leads and too many belly laughs to count.”
Tom Charity, CNN.COM

“Apatow’s gleefully raunchy movies are, in an odd and charming way, extremely family-friendly.”
Joe Leydon, VARIETY

Paranoid Park – dir. Gus van Sant

Paranoid Park

Starring Gabe Nevins, Taylor Momsen, Daniel Liu and Dillon Hines

Gus van Sant is fascinated with adolescence, and his fascination has thrown out some deeply meditative films in the last few years. From his Cannes triumph Elephant, through Last Days and now Paranoid Park, van Sant’s stoic trilogy is a labour of love that seems to shun convention at every turn.

While Last Days, ostensibly a biopic of the final hours of Kurt Cobain, and Elephant, about high-school serial killers, have courted controversy, Paranoid Park plays things decidedly safer, adapting Blake Nelson’s novel about a skater boy who accidentally kills a security guard while venturing out-of-bounds on Portland’s rail network.

And because it’s safer it’s also probably his most accessible of the three – Elephant and Last Days did little until their powerful endings while Paranoid Park first introduces us to Alex (played by newcomer Gave Nevins) before exploring how the accident affects his life.

The film looks beautiful and is rather unconventionally shot in the square 4:3 aspect ratio, while 8mm cutaways punctuate the film gracefully. It’s a testament to van Sant’s ability that he can say so much by doing so little; you could collect the film’s dialogue on a postage stamp.

“Van Sant has composed an emotional mosaic that brings you inside Alex.”
Kirk Honeycutt, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Bears some similarities with Elephant. A similarly photogenic teen milieu is shot with fluid, graceful camerawork; a non-linear structure slots together like a puzzle to reveal the panicked mindset of a boy under agreat deal of stress.”
Wendy Ide, THE TIMES

THE BEST OF THE REST
Of course, Edinburgh is about more than British and American movies – here we take a look at some top titles from the rest of the world, as well as a few British and American flicks that we couldn’t quite squeeze into the first two categories.

Day Watch – dir. Timur Bekmambetov

Day Watch

Starring Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Aleksei Chadov and Dima Martynov

Timur Bekmambetov‘s follow-up to his masterful Night Watch – a film which came out of left field from Russia and gave Hollywood a run for its money – is possibly even less accessible than its predecessor. Day Watch cuts straight into the universe, grabbing its audience by the lapels and forcing us to remind ourselves of the story so far.

It’s also decidedly more heartfelt than Night Watch; Khabensky’s Anton wrestling with a son who’s deserted him for the Day Watch and his responsibilities to his unit. The line Anton walks is blurrier than anything to come out of the big American studios, and it’s refreshing to see a little ambiguity.

Jeannette Catsoulis says it best in the New York Times. Day Watch “dazzles and confuses with equal determination.”

“Spectaculars don’t come much more bombastic than this goth-Russian supernatural epic.”
Colin Covert, MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

“The filmmakers destroy Moscow with the same glee that Godzilla has in stomping Tokyo. Even though Day Watch is probably a good 20 minutes too long, it’s easy to forgive its excesses because Bekmambetov just seems to be having so much fun.”
Beth Accomando, KPBS.ORG

A Mighty Heart – dir. Michael Winterbottom

A Mighty Heart

When A Mighty Heart was first announced the reaction seemed to be shock – Angelina Jolie as a black woman? But it’s the story here that has the power, and her fine performance ensures nothing else matters.

Still, it’s an odd project to see Michael Winterbottom direct. Considering he’s recently crafted films as varied as Road to Guantanamo, A Cock and Bull Story and, erm, 9 Songs we should be long past the point of surprise when it comes to the projects he works on, and yet who could have foreseen him direct Angelina Jolie in a film produced by Brad Pitt?

Nevertheless, it wowed critics in Cannes and sent doubters – both from camps Jolie-isn’t-black and Winterbottom-doesn’t-do-Jolie – running. It’s a Winterbottom film through-and-through and the smart turns of the supporting cast – including Dan Futterman and Irfan Khan – make an impressive film even more impressive.

“The director’s rapid-fire and choppy editing gives you a genuine feel for the many different sides of Karachi, and the urgency of the investigation.”
James Christopher, THE TIMES

“What is best about A Mighty Heart is that it doesn’t reduce the Daniel Pearl story to a plot, but elevates it to a tragedy.”
Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

Weirdsville – dir. Allan Moyle

Weirdsville

Allan Moyle‘s Weirdsville imagines a scenario that defines the term, “bad day.” When Royce and Dexter find the latter’s dead girlfriend following an overdose, it’s a simple trip to a seedy basement to bury the evidence. Only a group of satan-worshipping ne’er-do-wells happen to be doing their own ill deeds at the same time. And when the girlfriend can’t stay dead it seems like nothing is going to go their way.

What follows is nothing short of riotous as the pair of hapless losers beg, steal and borrow their way to morning. Moyle, whose last big hit was 1995’s Empire Records serves up a devilishly intriguing black comedy that keeps you on tenterhooks ’til the end. Weirdsville may well be another cult classic in the making.

Wes Bentley and Scott Speedman are brilliant as Royce and Dexter, while support from some cultists, a dead girlfriend, a bunch of drug dealers and a midget security guard keep them on their toes throughout.

“A cleverly constructed, capably crafted and often uproarious shaggy-dog black comedy.”
Joe Leydon, VARIETY

“So much gonzo enthusiasm that it’s impossible not to enjoy watching these crazed characters bounce off of each other.”
Rich Cline, SHADOWS ON THE WALL

Two Days in Paris – dir. Julie Delpy

Two Days in Paris

It’s rather fitting that actress Julie Delpy’s feature film debut would be Two Days in Paris. You can imagine the financiers meetings as she explained that it was about a couple, a French girl and an American boy, and their brief stay in the City of Love. The dollar signs in their eyes are as clear as day.

And it’s with a brilliantly witty sense of irony that we behold the end result. If Before Sunset is one of the most romantic movies ever set in the French capital, its female lead has gone on to deliver one of the most unromantic. The culture clash is the source of much comedy between Delpy and the brilliantly on-form Adam Goldberg, but if Sunset is about how communication can reignite a relationship, Days is about how misreading it can be disastrous.

It’s not very often a journalist will imply that watching a film is like witnessing a car crash powerless to do anything and mean that as a compliment, but in this case it’s definitely fitting. Two Days in Paris marks Delpy as a director to watch and its sharp wit will leave it resonating with anyone who’s ever found even the slightest fault in their partner.

“Julie Delpy’s and Adam Goldberg’s performances are so assured and spontaneous that they don’t even seem to be acting.”
Stephen Holden, NEW YORK TIMES

“[Delpy has] created two original, quirky characters so obsessed with their differences that Paris is almost a distraction. I don’t think I heard a single accordion in the whole film.”
Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

Rocket Science – dir. Jeffrey Blitz

Rocket Science

Jeffrey Blitz first examined kids under the stress of hormones and intellectual competition in documentary form with Spellbound. With Rocket Science he this time spins a fictional yarn, but it nevertheless still manages to capture the real emotional minefield that is adolescence.

Hal Heffner’s stutter is incurable by any therapist-recommended treatment, but when he meets Ginny Ryerson and she introduces him to the world of high school debating, he finds a project to immerse himself in; one that, he’s sure, will rid him of his impediment. But when Ginny starts playing truant from their meetings and the stress of his parents’ divorce begins to take its toll he wanders whether getting even is preferable to getting mad. Enlisting the help of former debating champion Ben Wekselbaum, he becomes determined to beat his former tutor at her own game.

Reece Thompson’s nuanced performance as Hal betrays a talent beyond his age and Anna Kendrick’s Ginny is as beguiling as she is infuriating. It’s these two key performances that cement the emotional core of a film that succeeds through subtlety without ever having to hold back from its comedy. It’s certainly not the first quirky American indie to release, and its quirk threatens to alienate audiences who believe they’re tired of that sort of thing. Rocket Science matches its quirk with real emotional truth and that’s enough to separate it from the herd.

“It may gross as little as Welcome to the Dollhouse or as much as Clueless, but whichever it does, it’s in the same league.”
Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

“A fiercely personal and yet engaging–and often outright hysterical–look into a young man on the brink of adulthood.”
Rich Cline, SHADOWS ON THE WALL

Check the website for more details about the festival and use the links below to find out more about the movies, directors and stars referenced within!

We know some of you hate reading those cumbersome long reviews, so here’s a gaggle of Sundance screening write-ups in three sentences or less. See if you can look forward to "Resurrecting the Champ," "Angel-A," "King of California," "Smiley Face," and more!

"Smiley Face"

Comic actress Anna Faris nails the mannerisms of being high in the first half of this stoner comedy (super-slow thinking, paranoia, the munchies), but her character’s subsequent meandering adventure will totally harsh your mellow. THC enthusiasts will be mesmerized by the film’s opening credits, which recall that animated Junior Senior music video (you know which one I’m talking about). Otherwise, look for performances by John Cho, Adam Brody and John Krasinski, and an all-too-brief, but unforgettable bit by Danny Masterson (as Faris’ borderline-psycho sci-fi geek roommate).

"King of California"

Michael Douglas is a wacky dad! Evan Rachel Wood is an overly-mature teen! Unfortunately, the best part of watching this film is hearing Wilco’s "California Stars" play over the end credits, marking the end to a familiar story with one-too-many cute-clever tricks up its sleeve. I’ve got one nagging question: do they really sell scuba gear at Costco?

(Extra points to Douglas for growing/sporting the world’s most obvious Don Quixote beard for the year’s most obvious Don Quixote-esque character.)

"Resurrecting the Champ"

A surprisingly good based-in-truth journalism story about a hungry sportswriter who happens upon a long-forgotten boxer, "Champ" benefits from an unusually vulnerable performance by Sam Jackson (with a high raspy voice and jittery, downcast eyes). Josh Hartnett puts in a pretty good desperation-tinged turn himself, and the script pulls both together nicely on a theme of love and baggage between fathers and sons.

"In the Shadow of the Moon"

As awe-inspiring as it is to watch man-made rockets launch into space, seeing said Discovery Channel-esque footage played over and over again (at least, footage that looks the same — who can tell their Apollo 7s from their Apollo 17s?) becomes terribly repetitive over the course of 100 minutes, despite the occasionally witty remarks of former astronauts (especially Apollo 11 orbiter Michael Collins) who have been there, done that, walked on the moon.

"Dedication"

Justin Theroux‘s rom-com directorial debut is pretty conventional stuff — boy (Billy Crudup) meets girl (Mandy "Candy" Moore), boy begrudgingly falls in love with girl, boy’s personal dysfunctions alienate girl, boy must win back girl in the quirkiest way possible — but adds just enough intrigue to the mix (including Tom Wilkinson as Crudup’s beyond-the-grave mentor and a handful of colorfully painted characterizations) to make this love story not-so-routine. Moore’s dyed-dark hair and kohl-rimmed eyes (and at times, Crudup’s overly flamboyant mental illness schtick) are often "we’re putting on a show"-level distracting, but who can resist a love story set in Montauk, Long Island?

"Angel-A"

Luc Besson fans and lovers of old black and white romances may be able to forgive "Angel-A" its shortcomings; the tale of a diminutive down-on-his-luck hustler who saves (or is it the other way around?) an astronomically leggy blonde from jumping off a bridge is fun, touching, and beautifully shot on the streets of Paris, but cuts too quick to a convenient denouement to be fully believable. That aside, the 5’10" former Victoria’s Secret model (and aspiring filmmaker) Rie Rassmussen is phenomenal as the titular beauty in only her second feature-length gig, and her chemistry with French actor Jamel Debbouzze ("Amelie") is delightful to watch.

"The Go-Getter"

Talk about a road movie. This winding soul search of a film stars Lou Taylor Pucci as a nineteen-year-old who, alone after the death of his mother, steals a car and sets off across the Midwest in search of a long-lost half-brother; along the way, we can predict he’ll meet a bevy of oddball characters, each whom will help him along his quest in their own quirky way. Uneven pacing and too many brief cameos make some stretches of this film as long as a dusty highway and just as empty, though rolling, atmospheric music by indie folkster M. Ward carries you along, at least for a bit.

For our full coverage of the 2007 Sundance Film Festival (news, reviews, interviews, and photos) click here!

Results are in for this year’s Sundance festival winners, including awards for John Cusack‘s "Grace is Gone," Christopher Zalla’s "Padre Nuestro," NASA documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon," and the racy teen horror flick, "Teeth."

Read on for the full list of awards:

Grand Jury Prize: Documentary – "Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)"

Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic – "Padre Nuestro"

World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary – "Enemies of Happiness"

World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic – "Sweet Mud"

Audience Award: Documentary – "Hear and Now"

Audience Award: Dramatic – "Grace is Gone"

World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary — "In the Shadow of the Moon"

World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic – "Once"

Directing Award: Documentary – Sean Fine & Andrea Nix, "War/Dance"

Directing Award: Dramatic – Jeffrey Blitz, "Rocket Science"

Excellence in Cinematography Award: Documentary – Heloisa Passos, "Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)"

Excellence in Cinematography Award: Dramatic – Benoit Debie, "Joshua"

Documentary Editing Award – Hibah Sherif Frisina, Charlton McMillian, and Michael Schweitzer, "Nanking"

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award – James C. Strouse, "Grace is Gone"

Documentary Jury Special Jury Prize – "No End in Sight"

Independent Film Dramatic Competition Special Jury Prize for Acting – Jess Weixler, "Teeth" and Tamara Podemski, "Four Sheets to the Wind"

Independent Film Dramatic Competition Special Jury Prize for Singularity of Vision – Chris Smith, "The Pool"

World Cinema Documentary Competition Special Jury Prize – "Hot House"

World Cinema Dramatic Competition Special Jury Prize – "The Legacy"

Alfred P. Sloan Prize – "Dark Matter"

In this week’s Ketchup, our correspondents from The Sundance Festival gave their thoughts on several premiering films, and the Oscar nominations were first announced, then debated.

Also, Sean Connery spoke about whether he’ll appear in the next "Indiana Jones" adventure, the official "300" poster was unveiled, and this week’s "Spider-Man 3" tidbit came in the form of more movie stills. Read on for more.

This Week’s Most Popular News:

Sundance News: "Chicago 10" Disappoints; Dakota Fanning’s "Hounddog" Violating Child Pornography Laws? "Crazy Love" Causes Bidding War
Since the Sundance Film Festival started two days ago, three films have already drawn extra media attention. "Chicago 10," Brett Morgen’s highly anticipated follow-up to "The Kid Stays in the Picture," disappointed critics; "Hounddog," starring Dakota Fanning, might face a child pornography violation; and "Crazy Love," with its wild and disturbing love story, generated a bidding war between indie distributors. What will the rest of the week bring?

Oscar Nominations Announced: "Little Miss Sunshine," "Dreamgirls," "Borat" Deemed Worthy
The expected heavy hitters made the grade — Scorsese, Whitaker, "Dreamgirls" — but there were a handful of surprises…let’s just say, if you thought you’d never read "the Oscar-nominated ‘Borat’" in print, think again! The nominees for the 79th annual Academy Awards are in!

Connery on "Indy 4"
Dark Horizons reports that Sean Connery has told UK Teletext that he’s waiting to read the "Indiana Jones 4" script before he makes a decision as to whether or not he’ll reprise his role as Indy’s dad, Dr. Henry Jones, who first appeared in the series’ third installment, 1989’s "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."

Final "300" Poster Unveiled!
Ah, the battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans, squaring off against an enormous herd of bloodthirsty Persians, and redefining courage and sacrifice in the process. You probably fell asleep when your high school history teacher tried to tell you about it, but luckily, Frank Miller used it as the inspiration for a graphic novel; since filmmakers seem to really enjoy adapting Miller’s books, the battle of Thermopylae will be hitting screens March 9 in the form of Warner Bros. Pictures’ Zack Snyder-directed "300.

Look Out! Screenshots of "Spider-Man 3"

It won’t arrive in theaters for more than three months, but the spoilers, interviews, and other assorted information regarding "Spider-Man 3" are already in full swing — it’s almost as if the studio was looking for free advance publicity or something. And now, courtesy of IGN Movies, we’ve got 22 new stills from the movie to stare at. They won’t last you until May 4 — but then again, at the rate this stuff is leaking out, they won’t have to.


Wait! There’s more…

In Other News:

  • Eddie Murphy is in negotiations to star in the Paramount Pictures comedy "NowhereLand," which would be his next project after completing the comedy "Starship Dave."
  • Kate Bosworth has joined the ensemble cast of the Vegas thriller "21." The film will also feature Kevin Spacey, who is co-producing.
  • Maria Bello and Ray Liotta will star in the indie hitman-for-hire thriller "Downloading Nancy," with Johan Renck making his directorial debut.
  • THINKFilm has acquired North American rights to the documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon," which features interviews with the surviving Apollo astronauts, as well as exclusive NASA archival footage.
  • Thor Freudenthal will direct "They Came From Upstairs," an adventure/fantasy in which a group of kids must protect their vacation home from invading aliens.
  • Salma Hayek will star in and produce Spanish-language romantic comedy "La Banda," her first Spanish-language project in Mexico since starring in telenovelas in the early 90s.
  • Gold Circle Films has purchased John Travis’ horror thriller script "The New Daughter," based on a short story by John Connolly.
  • Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have acquired rights to the Claire Messud novel "The Emperor’s Children," with Brian Grazer set to produce and Ron Howard seen as a possible director.

Volviéndole raíces…

The deal floodgates opened today, with studios picking up "Clubland," "My Kid Could Paint That," "Waitress," "In the Shadow of the Moon," and "Joshua."

As previously reported, child painting doc "My Kid Could Paint That" sold to Sony Pictures Classics for just under $2 million ($1.85 million, to be precise). The film follows a kid whose paintings made her an abstract art celebrity, but whose parents might have orchestrated her success as a hoax.


"My Kid Could Paint That"

The NASA astronaut documentary, "In the Shadow of the Moon," also sold theatrically today to ThinkFilm for $2 million, while Discovery Channel nabbed broadcast rights. "Moon" will debut in 2007.


"In the Shadow of the Moon"

Shortly after its 11:30 am premiere, Adrienne Shelley‘s posthumous pic "Waitress" went to Fox Searchlight for "just under $4 million," according to Anne Thompson’s Risky Biz blog. The drama about an unhappily married woman in a small Southern town star Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion and will be released this year.


"Waitress"

Warner Independent nabbed North American rights to the Brenda Blethyn starrer "Clubland," about lovelorn kid in a showbiz family. The sale of this Australian pic is being called "one of the biggest sales of the festival."


"Clubland"

Also sold over the weekend was the family psychological thriller "Joshua," starring Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga as parents of a potentially sinister young boy. Fox Searchlight acquired the film for $3.7 million.


"Joshua"

Check out our full Fundance at Sundance coverage!