Sam Rockwell

Superb cast anchors McDonagh’s outstanding southern tale  

Grieving mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) expresses her frustration with her daughter’s stalled murder investigation via three billboards. 

“Raped while dying / And still no arrests / How come, Chief Willoughby?” So read the titular three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, in writer/director Martin McDonagh’s brilliant, searing new blackest of black comedies. Whether the picture is correctly classified as a comedy – as its trailer would have it – may be a point of argument, however. While the film is not without its head-shaking, laugh-out-loud moments, they serve as counterpoint to the overarching dark, almost biblical tale that envelopes them, which will leave the viewer contemplative and affected for days after the credits roll.
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Sundance 2015 Spotlights: Six Feature Films

Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, closed last Sunday, February 1st, and the award winners were announced that day; they can be found here.

Spinning Platters Sr. Film Reviewer Carrie Kahn continues her coverage of Festival films, so you can know what to look for in the coming year – and what to avoid – as many of these titles are purchased and widely distributed

As a reminder, we are using our patented Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide to advise you accordingly:

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Liam James, Steve Carell, and Toni Collette in The Way, Way Back

Liam James, Steve Carell, and Toni Collette in The Way, Way Back

The first truly great summer movie has arrived today with the opening of The Way, Way Back, a delightful picture that adults and teenagers alike are sure to love. Co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, (who also penned The Descendants), in their directorial debut, have made a sweet, charming, funny film that is destined to become a coming-of-age genre classic.

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More spotlights from the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF), which ends this Thursday, May 9th. Tickets for screenings still available at: http://festival.sffs.org/

Fill the Void
(Israel 2012, 90 min; Hebrew with English subtitles)

Yiftach Klein and Hadas Yaron in Fill the Void

Yiftach Klein and Hadas Yaron in Fill the Void

In this Israeli Film Academy Best Picture winner, director Rama Burshstein takes us inside the Tel Aviv Hassidic community. Shira (Hadas Yaron) is a conflicted young woman under pressure to marry her recently deceased sister’s husband. Hadas Yaron, resembling Greta Gerwig both physically and stylistically, deftly conveys Shira’s uncertainty and vulnerability. At the Q&A I attended, Burshstein called the film a “journey of feeling,” an apt description of this beautiful meditation on commitment and love.

Next showing:
No U.S. release date yet; has been playing film festivals. [read the whole post]

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Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Sam Rockwell in SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS

Seven Psychopaths may only be the second feature-length film from writer/director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), but it appears that he’s already having his 8 1/2 moment. A fragmented and bizarre but explosively funny crime comedy, it is ostensibly the story of Marty (Colin Farrell), a screenwriter attempting to write his next script, titled…Seven Psychopaths. There’s just one problem: despite the title, Marty has only thought of one psychopath. But when his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), an aspiring actor and serial dognapper, and his dognapping partner Hans (Christopher Walken), unwittingly steal Bonny, the beloved shih tzu of vicious L.A. gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson), Marty begins to realize that he may actually be surrounded by psychopaths.

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