‘Minari’ Debuts With Qualifying Run; ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’, ‘Farewell Amor’ And ‘Wander Darkly’ Make Theatrical Premieres – Specialty Preview
Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari made its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year and immediately became the talk of the fest after it won Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Now, A24 is set to share this moving story with the world — well, in limited release at least. The family drama opens in select theaters for an awards season qualifying run but will open wider on February 12, 2021.
Written and directed by Chung, Minari parallels his life as it tells the story of a Korean-American family that uproots from metropolitan Los Angeles to rural Arkansas to chase the American Dream. Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Yuh-Jung Youn, Noel Kate Cho and Alan Kim, the film follows the family as the dynamics change in their new household when their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother comes to live with them. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari gives a fresh perspective when it comes to the immigrant experience while illustrating the resilience of family.
“Their laughs, love, struggles, arguments, missteps, disappointments, hopes and dreams make this something of a universal tale that many families, of all backgrounds, probably will identify with,” said Deadline’s Pete Hammond in his review. “It certainly is a reason that the film was the talk of Sundance and, now being released in the midst of a pandemic, is a film that offers reassurance that tough times can be overcome.”
He added, “In some ways, it harkens back to classic cinema like The Grapes of Wrath, but its warm sensibilities, never over-sentimentalized, hit right at the heart. Minari might be small in its scope, but it looms large in every other way. This is not a movie to like, it is a movie to love.”
When the filmmaker and cast visited the Sundance studio in January, Chung said the seed for Minari started in 2013 when he had his daughter and moved to Los Angeles. “[There were] lots of things that were happening that were feeding into the desire to tell a story that’s more personal and to talk about what it’s like to be a father,” he said. “It all kind of came together in 2018 when I started to just write down — as almost as an exercise — a bunch of memories that I have as a child when I was around Alan’s age. That was really the kernel, the seed of the story.”
For Yeun, who stars as the family patriarch, he connected with the beautiful script saying that it “captured a feeling of what an immigrant experience is like.”
He added, “He captured the feeling of what a family is like, of what marriage feels like, what growing up in a religious household feels like…there are so many things that I could relate to with Isaac. I hadn’t seen many tellings of stories of the other done in a way that wasn’t idealizing them or romanticizing them or needing them to be afflicted by some external force that validates their existence.”
Watch the trailer below.
Bleecker Street is taking us to the rural greenery of Ireland with the romantic dramedy Wild Mountain Thyme starring Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan hitting select theaters and on demand today.
Written and directed by John Patrick of the Oscar-winning Moonstruck, Wild Mountain Thyme tells a sweeping love story between headstrong farmer Rosemary Muldoon (Blunt) and Anthony Reilly (Dornan). As Rosemary pines over Anthony, seems to have inherited a family curse, remaining totally oblivious to her romantic advancements. Under the thumb of his father Tony’s (Christopher Walken) plans to sell the family farm to his American nephew (Jon Hamm), Anthony is jolted into pursuing his dreams.
The film is adapted from Shanley’s Broadway play Outside Mullinger and marks the first time he has sat in the director’s chair since the Oscar-nominated Doubt in 2008. The film was sold at Cannes last year and considering Shanley’s track record and the all-star cast, Wild Mountain Thyme may very well be an awards season contender.
Wild Mountain Thyme also co-stars Jon Tenney, Dearbhla Molloy, Danielle Ryan and Lydia McGuinness. Watch the trailer below.
Filmmaker Ekwa Msangi made her feature film debut with Farewell Amor at the Sundance Film Festival — and it certainly made quite an impression.
The immigrant drama, which currently sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, follows Angolan immigrant Walter (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) who, after 17 years is joined in the U.S. by his wife Esther (Zainab Jah) and teen daughter Sylvia (Jayme Lawson). They may be family, but after so much time apart, they’re strangers sharing a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.
As they attempt to be reacquainted, this “new” family struggles to overcome the emotional distance between them. Walter is trying to let go of a previous relationship while Esther struggles with a new country, culture and a husband who seems distant. Sylvia is a dancer just like her father, and while she also finds her new life difficult, she bravely starts to explore the city and show herself through dance.
A universal immigrant story, Farewell Amor provides a unique perspective of three characters bound together by history and hope. It is an intimate and deeply personal look at an inter-generational tale that has defined America since its inception.
When the filmmaker and cast visited Deadline’s Sundance studio in January, Msangi said that the movie was inspired by her uncle, who came to the U.S. on a student visa in the mid-’90s with the intention of bringing the family he left behind.
“It’s been 25 or so years later and they’re still in the process of applying for visas and ever hopeful that one day it will happen,” said Msangi. She said that Farewell Amor explores the effects that the separation has had on the family and asks the question, “What would happen if the visa wasn’t the issue?”
IFC Films release the film today in select theaters and on digital and VOD platforms. Watch the trailer below.
When Wander Darkly filmmaker Tara Miele stopped by Deadline’s Sundance studio in January she said she had two goals in mind when it came to the drama. “I really wanted to do something that structurally reflected the way that my brain works, which is very rarely in the present, but often in the past, or projecting into the future,” she said. “The other thing was finding a way to reflect on a relationship—the best and the worst moments of it—and to try to take stock of, what is it worth, at the end of the day?”
The Lionsgate pic follows Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) after they find themselves in a surreal state following a traumatic accident. They go on a disorienting journey through the duality of their shared moments. By reliving fond recollections from the beginning of their romance while also navigating the overwhelming truths of their present, they must rediscover the love that truly binds them together.
“I found myself really emotional at the end, and actually, every time I went back and read the script, there were these beats, and I couldn’t help but cry,” said Miller in regards to reading the script for the first time. “I felt like if that was happening in a reading of a piece of material, it was something I had to do.”
Luna, who joined Miller and Miele in Deadline’s Sundance Studio, said of the film, “I think it’s a very smart way to talk about love. I think it’s really sad, but I have kids, and I don’t see stories of love that I want them to see… this [relationship] is quite interesting because they’re willing to look back. I don’t think we do that often in life.”
Wander Darkly opens in select theaters and on demand today. Watch the trailer below.
In Pete Hammond’s review of the Julia Hart-directed crime drama I’m Your Woman debuting on Amazon today, he said of the movie: “Although buried in genre, Hart’s take is as refreshing as it gets, with the female voices in front of and behind the camera taking control for a change in this kind of bare-knuckled, darkly hypnotic, if lethal, thriller.”
In I’m Your Woman actress Rachel Brosnahan steps far away from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to play suburban housewife Jean who seems to be living an easy life supported by husband Eddie’s (Bill Heck) career as a thief. That said, something bonkers is bound to happen.
When Eddie betrays his partners, Jean and her baby are forced to go on the run, and Eddie’s old friend Cal (Arinzé Kene) is tasked with the job of keeping them safe. After Cal mysteriously disappears, Jean befriends Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake), and the two women set out on a perilous journey into the heart of Eddie’s criminal underworld.
Currently streaming on Netflix, Deepa Mehta’s coming-of-age drama Funny Boy based on the novel by Shyam Selvadurai enters the awards season race as Canada’s official Oscar entry for Best International Feature.
Distributed by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing, Funny Boy was shot on location and set in Sri Lanka in the ’70s and ’80s and also stars Nimmi Harasgama, Agam Darshi, Ali Kazmi andSeema Biswa. The film explores the awakening of sexual identity by a young boy named Arjie (portrayed by Arush Nand and Brandon Ingram). As political tensions escalate to a boiling point between the minority Tamils and the majority Sinhalese, a young boy comes of age in a society and family that doesn’t embrace difference outside of societal norms. Arjie loves dressing up for pretend weddings with his girl cousins, which causes whispers between his parents and other relatives. He doesn’t understand why they call him “funny” but he does not it’s a bad thing to be called that.
When his magnetic, free-spirited aunt Radha returns to the family home and embraces Arjie for all that he is, the two develop an unbreakable bond. As Arjie, Radha, and their entire family’s lives are irrevocably impacted by simmering tensions in their country that erupt into civil war, an indelible story about love, identity, and freedom unfolds.
This weekend brings a robust slate of documentaries starting with the experimental Gunda from director Victor Kossakovsky and executive producer Joaquin Phoenix. Neon will release the docu for an exclusive one-week virtual run in New York and Los Angeles before expanding in 2021.
Gunda, which was nominated for the Berlinale Documentary Award takes us to the farm as it chronicles the lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Filmed in black and white cinematography and set to the farm’s ambient soundtrack, Kossakovsky immerses us in the lives of these subjects, giving us another worldly — and magical perspective.
Directed by Ryan White, who received Emmy noms for HBO’s The Case Against 8, Netflix’s The Keepers, Assassins takes us to a few years back when Kim Jong-nam — the half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un — was assassinated in the hustle and bustle of Malaysia’s international airport. The extreme murder was followed by the bizarre story of the two women who killed Jong-nam. They claimed they had been hired to pull a video prank and had no idea what they were really doing. They were arrested anyway and in Assassins, the audience is taken on a journey around the world to take an unprecedented look at the real story of the murder.
In another docu spotlighting a mysterious murder, Finding YingYing directed by Jiayan “Jenny” Shi pulls the curtain back on the mysterious disappearance of 26-year-old Chinese student Yingying Zhang, who came to the U.S. to study. Through exclusive access to Yingying’s family and boyfriend, Finding Yingying closely follows their journey as they attempt to unravel the mystery and seek justice for Yingying while navigating a strange, foreign country. The film comes from MTV Films and Kartemquin Films and earned the SXSW Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Voice earlier this year.
In Jack Baxter’s docu The Last Sermon, the filmmaker travels across Europe to take a look at the bigger picture of international terrorism. Through visiting refugee camps and mosques and meeting dynamic characters, The Last Sermon looks to spotlight the essence of Islam and uncover the truth about the international terrorists who almost killed them. The docu debuts in virtual cinemas today and hits on demand and digital platforms on December 15.
Rounding out the docus for this weekend are Loira Limbal’s Through The Night which takes a look at the flourishing of 24-hour daycare centers across the country, exploring the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider – whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center. In the spirit of Paris is Burning, Dennis Keighron-Foster Amy Watson’s Deep In Vogue puts the ballroom culture in the UK, charting the buildup to the Manchester ICONS Vogue Ball.
Other films hitting select theaters and on demand today are Liming Li’s martial arts action pic IP Man: Kung Fu Master at Magnet Releasing starring Dennis To as the titular legend. Drew Barrymore will bring the funny in the Jamie Babbit-directed The Stand In which follows an actress headed to rehab that hires an on-set stand-in to take her place. This can only lead to hilarity in the vein of the classic Trading Places. RLJE Films is set to debut the Adam Egypt Mortimer-directed action thriller Archenemy which features Joe Manganiello as a hero from another dimension who teams with a teenager to take on a drug syndicate.
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