Saturday, May 18, 2024

‘Shortcomings’, ‘Passages’ & ‘Klondike’ At The Indie Box Office – Deadline

Festivals past are populating a busy specialty market this weekend with films from Sundance and Venice. Sony Pictures Classics is giving Randall Park’s Shortcomings a substantial 400+ screen release. See Deadline review. Mubi is out with Passages in New York and LA – both premiered to critical acclaim in Park City.

There’s been some drama around the latter after the MPA gave the Ira Sachs film an NC-17 rating, which Mubi “officially rejected.” The distributor/streamer/producer  said it “remains committed to releasing Passages nationwide in its original version as the filmmaker intended, with our full backing, unrated and uncut.” Rates a 94% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, Deadline review here.

Casey Affleck and Noah Jupe-starring Dreamin’ Wild from Roadside Attractions on 400 screens follows the life of singer-musician brothers Donnie and Joe Emerson. Deadline review. Magnolia’s A Compassionate Spy, coming in the wake of blockbuster Oppenheimer, is an espionage thriller about controversial Manhattan Project physicist Ted Hall that opens in NY, LA, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Deadline review here. Both were Venice premieres.

Echoes of the SAG-AFTRA strike this weekend: A24 paused the scheduled release of Julio Torres’ Problemista starring Tilda Swinton which was set for a limited launch. However, the distributor is going great guns with horror Talk To Me, which adds about 30 screens to last week’s opening to 2,368 theaters and stands at a $15.8 million gross heading into the weekend.

Shortcomings, written by Adrian Tomine, follows Ben (Justin Min), a struggling filmmaker in Berkeley, California and girlfriend, Miko (Ally Maki), who works for a local Asian American film festival. When he’s not managing an arthouse movie theater as his day job, Ben spends his time obsessing over unavailable blonde women, watching Criterion Collection DVDs, and eating in diners with his best friend Alice (Sherry Cola), a queer grad student with a serial dating habit. When Miko moves to New York for an internship, Ben is left to his own devices, and begins to explore what he thinks he might want.

Passages, opening in New York (IFC Center, Film at Lincoln Center) and Los Angeles (Landmark Nuart) and set in Paris takes on messy modern relationships. A gay couple’s marriage is thrown into crisis when one of them begins a passionate affair with a younger woman he meets after completing his latest film. Stars Franz Rogowski (Great Freedom), Ben Whishaw (Women Talking) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color).

Dreamin’ Wild by Bill Pohladis is based on the 2012 New York Times article “Fruitland” about the Emerson Brothers whose 1979 album as teens gets rediscovered in 2011. Roadside released the filmmaker Bill Pohlad’s previous music biopic Love & Mercy about Brian Wilson. The film played the spring film festival circuit including closing night at the Seattle Film Festival, where it’s a hometown story. In addition to the specialty audience, the distributor also reached out to faith-based auds as there is a spiritual aspect to the story.  

Filmmaker Steve James’ A Compassionate Spy follows Hall, who infamously provided nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, told through the perspective of his loving wife Joan, who protected his secret for decades. Recruited in 1944 as an 18-year-old Harvard undergraduate to help Robert Oppenheimer and his team create a bomb, Hall was the youngest physicist on the Manhattan Project and didn’t share his colleagues’ elation after the successful detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb. Concerned that a U.S. post-war monopoly on such a powerful weapon could lead to nuclear catastrophe, Hall began passing key information about the bomb’s construction to the Soviet Union.

Saban is releasing action thriller Mob Land (former titled American Metal) starring Shiloh Fernandez, Stephen Dorff, Ashley Benson, with Kevin Dillon and John Travolta, on 200+ screens. Deep in the heart of Dixie, in a small town struggling with the ravages of addiction, a local sheriff (Travolta) tries to maintain the peace when desperate family man Shelby (Fernandez) robs a pill mill with his reckless brother-in-law, Trey (Dillon), angering the New Orleans mafia. 

Samuel Goldwyn Films presents Klondike, Ukraine’s entry for the Foreign Language Feature, Oscar in New York (Angelika Film Center), Los Angeles (Laemmle Royal) and Sedona, AZ (Alice Gill-Sheldon Theatre). Filmmaker Maryna Er Gorbach won Best Director at Sundance 2022 in the World Dramatic Competition (it was the festival’s first Ukrainian film ever in the section). Also screened in Berlin, winning the second place in Panorama Audience Award category. The story of expectant parents Irka and Tolik living in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border during the start of the Donbas war in July 2014. After an international air crash catastrophe elevates the tension enveloping them, pregnant Irka (Oksana Cherkashyna) refuses to be evacuated and leave her home, even as their village is captured by armed forces. Deadline review here.

IFC Films debuts Amy Redford’s Toronto-premiering romance thriller What Comes Around with Stranger Things actress Grace Van Dien and Summer Phoenix. A young love affair becomes a menacing game of cat and mouse where nothing is what it seems.

More to come…

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