Wednesday, June 19, 2024

‘Carol Doda’ Doc, Late Night With The Devil

Q&A’s are a staple of indie opening weekends since they tend to sell tickets but Bob and Jeanne Berney’s Picturehouse has raised that bar, offering audiences seven-minute live burlesque revues before selected screenings of documentary Carol Doda Topless At The Condor. The ode to the woman, and to 1960s San Francisco where she broke out topless, opens in limited release in New York, LA, San Francisco and San Rafael. Dancers in what Bob Berney called a “Doda-esqe burlesque” will not be topless,” he said — “but pretty close.”

Dancers start in the audience then move to the front of the theater against a specially designed backdrop of image and sound on screen. “It brings you into that world immediately. You are there before the film starts,” he said.

“Eventizing” a film is great if you can do it. The box office is much better but still a bit weird since Covid. Berney hopes word of mouth on the pre-shows, and the doc, will get people into seats. “As an indie film, it’s a way we can work with the exhibitor to show we really do want to support the theater.”

Carol Doda expands from four to 25 theaters next week, including a half dozen in the Bay Area, and will roll out through April, hitting 150-200 locations. The distributor, now also burlesque producer, will revue this week at the NuArt in LA and the Roxy in San Francisco, adding the Angelika in NYC next. Pre-shows depend on the availability of dancers in each market, with 10 a go so far, including two in Canada, and more rolling out.

The documentary from San Francisco filmmakers Marlo McKenzie and Jonathan Parker premiered at Telluride in 2023 and the Mill Valley Film Festival. It follows Doda, a daring young woman who fired one of the first shots in the sexual revolution of the 1960s and became an international sex symbol and a San Francisco tourist attraction second only to the Golden Gate Bridge. She died in 2015 at 78.

The film was produced by Metallica co-founder and drummer Lars Ulrich and is based in part on Three Nights at the Condor, a memoir by Benita Mattioli, the wife of Condor co-owner Pete Mattioli. 

(Filmmakers will also hold a traditional Q&A.)

IFC Film’s Late Night With The Devil by Aussie duo Colin and Cameron Cairnes opens on 1,034 screens, wide for IFC, which says the film could produce the label’s best-ever opening weekend. Unfolding almost in real-time, the film is set during a 1977 late-night talk show broadcast that unexpectedly transforms from amusing to sinister, unleashing evil into the nation’s living rooms. Stars David Dastmalchian (The Suicide Squad, Oppenheimer) as talk show host Jack Delroy. Georgina Haig plays his wife and Faysal Bazzi a clairvoyant.

The Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Spooky Pictures pic premiered at SXSW — see Deadline review — and has since played Fantasia Festival in Montreal, Sydney Film Festival, BIFAN in Korea, Sitges, London Film Festival, and Toronto After Dark. Cameron and Colin won the Best Screenplay prize for the film at Sitges. See Deadline review.

Mubi presents Radu Jude’s dark comedy Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World in New York (IFC Center) and Los Angeles (Laemmle Royal). Expands to more markets next week and throughout April.

The Romanian director whose Bad Luck Banging Or Looney Porn won the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2021, takes another darkly comic swipe at the indignities of modern day life. Overworked and underpaid production assistant Angela (Ilinca Manolache) is assigned to film a workplace safety video for a multinational corporation in Bucharest. When one of the interviewees makes a statement that ignites a scandal, Angela has to re-invent the story. Featuring appearances from Nina Hoss, Uwe Boll, and Angela’s TikTok alter-ego Bobiță. Deadline’s review says “this willfully uncommercial but bloody-minded film could be genuinely seminal in its anarchic and totally individualistic approach, slipping discordant, Godardian subversion into a darkly comic, Ruben Östlund-style human drama.”

The Avenue opens the directorial debut of Adam Cooper’s Russell Crowe-starring crime thriller Sleeping Dogs on 69 screens release. Crowe is an ex-homicide detective with a fractured memory forced to revisit a case he can’t remember. As a man’s life hangs in the balance on death row, he must piece together the brutal evidence from a decade-old murder investigation, uncovering a sinister web of buried secrets and betrayals. With Karen Gillan Marton Csokas, Tommy Flanagan, Harry Greenwood and Thomas M. Wright. Written by Cooper & Bill Collage, adapted from E.O. Chirovici’s novel, The Book Of Mirrors.

Riddle of Fire from Yellow Veil Pictures, written and directed by Weston Razooli, opens at 30+ locations nationwide including Alamo Manhattan in NYC, Alamo DTLA in LA and 30+ select theaters across North America, along with a 35mm print run. Premiered at Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight and also screened at TIFF. A neo-fairytale set in Wyoming follows three mischievous children running an errand for their mother that becomes an odyssey. On the hunt to obtain her favorite blueberry pie, the children are kidnapped by poachers, battle a witch, outwit a huntsman, befriend a fairy, and bond together to become best friends forever. Stars Razooli, Leo Tipton, Charles Halfrod.

Comedy Free Time from Cartilage Films, written and directed by Ryan Martin Brown in his feature debut, opens at the Quad in NYC, adds LA next week, expands into spring. In this search-for-meaning-in-the-modern-world film, Colin Burgess is Drew, approaching the end of his twenties and, with it, his relative youth. Looking to make a sudden change, he decides to quit his cushy desk job and “embrace life.” Cycling quickly through friends, hobbies, and goals, it’s not long until Drew realizes he has no idea what to do with his newfound freedom. Featuring a wide ensemble of funny New York City performers and filmed on location in the midst of America’s “Great Resignation.”

It’s the first feature from Cartilage, launched by Jasper Bach some years ago as a theatrical booking agent but dormant for a bit. Bach, formerly of IFC Films, moved to Variance Films last year and relaunched it as a smaller label to distribute low-budget American indies that he thinks should be championed. Bach said he was introduced to Brown and his film “and I thought it was great. It spoke so well, with a rare understanding, of its generation in a way that hasn’t been reflected as well on screen in that way before.”

From Utopia, queer revenge thriller Femme opens at the IFC Center in NYC and The Grove in LA with a national expansion April 5. Stars Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Candyman) and George Mackay (1917). Directored by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping, it premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama section. Stewart-Jarrett (Misfits, Candyman, Mope) plays successful drag queen Jules, whose life and career are destroyed by a violent homophobic attack. When he encounters lead perpetrator Preston (MacKay) in a gay sauna, the attacker doesn’t recognize him, allowing Jules to infiltrate his life and seek revenge. The screenwriting debut for Freeman (IndustryThis Is Going To Hurt and The Power) and theatre director Ng. See Deadline’s Berlin review.



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