Saturday, May 18, 2024

Richard E. Grant in ‘The Lesson’, Mark Duplass in ‘Biosphere’ Open – Deadline

A sci-fi comedy from Mel Eslyn and a literary noir from Alice Traughton – who are, respectively, the long-time producer for the Duplass brothers and an award-winning UK television director (Dr Who, Cucumber, The Living and the Dead) — debuting in limited release this weekend, alongside Adele Lim’s Joy Ride, a Lionsgate wide release – marking the first feature film debut by three women.

(Noting that Chelsea Peretti’s recent film Tribeca premiered First time female director kind of re-coined that phrase.)

Traughton called it “really reassuring” to see female villains opening movies. In the UK “we’re under 20% of the directing force and… roles for women directors are falling, as are roles for people of colour. So the diversity is fading a bit after a really good push. So it felt very important as someone who had the privilege to be in a position to go and make a film, to go and make it. And also just having fun with it,” during the years of hard indie development that led to a 22-day shoot last June. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Deadline’s review says it could give star Richard E. Grant the kind of late-career hit he did last year Living coped Bill Nighy.

Bleecker Street is opening the film, written by Alex MacKeith, in about 225 theaters.

Grant plays a narcissistic writer. Julie Delpy is his enigmatic curator wife and Daryl McCormack, an ambitious young author brought to their secluded country estate to teach the couple’s son (Stephen McMillan) who becomes ensnared in a web of family secrets, resentment and punishment.

“I just love doing genre… I’ve done sci-fi, I’ve done Westerns. And now that’s kind of bad.” Traughton said her second film project is in the pipeline and will be announced soon.

IFC Film Biosphere is the directorial debut of prolific producer Mel Eslyn, president of Mark and Jay Duplass’ production company, Duplass Brothers Productions. Written by Mark Duplass and Eslyn, it premiered in Toronto. Set in the not-too-distant future, Billy (Duplass) and Ray (Sterling K. Brown), are lifelong best friends who also happen to be the last two people on earth. They survive thanks to Ray, a brilliant scientist who created the ordinary, apartment-sized biosphere they call home, outfitting it with creature comforts and the necessities of sustaining life on a doomed planet. But when the population of their pond – which supplies essential protein – begins to dwindle, the men find themselves facing an ominous future.

The gist of the idea came from Mark Duplass years ago, Eslyn said. “The last two men on the ground, and they run out of food..and there were a few other things, I think he was looking down the road we ended up on, but he couldn’t quite see the road there. And I think there’s been a lot that I can bring to the table as a woman. And as a woman, and a queer woman, with a unique and different perspective. I just felt it in my gut and let me run with it.”

“I saw an opportunity, with the last two men on earth, to really analyze toxic masculinity. Why two men? Two men who are just. And why are they leaving? It seems like it’s so typical, and I wanted to explore that and push it to places you don’t normally see a buddy comedy go.”

Other specialty openings: Magnolia Pictures presents the documentary League by Samuel D. Pollard in a one-week theatrical window exclusively with AMC in 50 markets. The story of the triumphs and challenges of Negro League baseball in the first half of the twentieth century, told through archival footage and interviews with legendary players like Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil, whose early careers paved the way for the Jackie Robinson era , as well as celebrated Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. From entrepreneurial titans Cumberland Posey and Gus Greenlee to Effa Manley, activist owner of the Newark Eagles and the only woman ever inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the film explores black baseball as an economic and social pillar of black communities. stage for some of the greatest athletes ever and the unintended consequences of integration.

Oscilloscope opens Carolina Cavalli’s debut film from Italy Amanda at the IFC Center in NY and Laemmle Royal, LA. Venice premiere, see Deadline review. Amanda (Benedetta Porcaroli) is a young woman born into an upper class family with a loving mother who foots the bill for her idle lifestyle. The combative 24-year-old longs for connection and may have discovered it in a long-lost childhood connection.

A24’s Sundance Premiere Mother Earth by former Olympic volleyball player Savanah Leaf opens at the Roxie in San Francisco. Tia Nomore stars as Gia, an adoring young mother who fights for her children. Her son and daughter are in foster care, and her unborn child is also up for grabs as she struggles with court-mandated classes and working enough hours to make ends meet. Open New Directors/New Films in NYC in April.

Yellow Veil Pictures and Drafthouse Films present Cathryne Czubek’s documentary Once upon a time in Uganda at the Alamo Manhattan, DTLA and a handful of other limited-run exhibitor theaters. A look behind the scenes of filmmaking in Wakaliwood in the heart of Uganda, where two unlikely friends from opposite sides of the world bond over their shared love of Chuck Norris and gonzo 80’s action movies, and come together to create their explosive films.

Drafthouse Films is also opening Alex Winter’s documentary The YouTube effect at Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Austin, Chicago and San Francisco. The film, which premiered at Tribeca 2022, follows the rise of YouTube from humble beginnings in a pizzeria’s attic to its explosion on the world stage, becoming the largest media platform in history and sparking a cultural revolution and controversy in the era of disinformation.

CMC Pictures opens the thriller Lost In The Stars, a blockbuster in China, starring Janice Man, Ni Ni, Yilong Zhu, in limited release. Directed by Rui Cui and Xiang Liu. A woman mysteriously disappears, then reappears while on vacation with her husband.

Musical notes: The Liberation of Trafalgar PRESENT ODESZA: The Ultimate Cinematic Experience by Sean Kusanagi Friday in 500+ theaters in the US and 39 in Canada.

Unbranded Events presents Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 50th Anniversary in their last gig with founding member Gary Rossington, recorded last year. Rossington died of cancer in March. A one-week limited run starts Saturday.

Sunday, Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars: The Movie’s 50th Anniversary

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