By The Playlist | The Playlist July 2, 2014 at 3:46PM
Synopsis: A documentary film that recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert.
What You Need To Know: Well, for one its directed by Steve James, the filmmaker behind "Hoop Dreams" and the very excellent, though underseen violence-in-Chicago documentary "The Interrupters" (among many others). For two, it’s about Roger Ebert, the veritable deity in the world of film criticism beloved by many. The film has candid appearances by Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, Ava DuVernay, Ramn Bahrani, the late Gene Siskel and many more. A must-see for film critics, and definitely of interest for cinephiles that grew up in the era of “Siskel & Ebert,” and in case you’re not convinced our review called it, “a profoundly moving story about one of cinema’s greatest super heroes.” Sold.
Release Date: July 4th
“A Most Wanted Man”
Synopsis: A Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught in the international war on terror.
What You Need To Know: First and foremost its directed by Anton Corbijn, the rock-photographer-turned-filmmaker who gave us the Joy Division biopic "Control" and the moody, atmospheric assassin picture "The American" starring George Clooney (the latter of which being tremendously underrated). And the cast is terrific. You have the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last starring roles, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, "Inglourious Basterds" star Daniel Brühl, excellent German actress Nina Hoss (often a muse for the auteur Christian Petzold) and relative newcomer Grigoriy Dobrygin playing the titular Most Wanted Man. Reviews from Sundance were semi-cool (including ours), suggesting a slow burn that might have been better suited and expanded into a TV mini-series, but all this talent makes it worth checking out regardless.
Release Date: July 25th
Synopsis: A wealthy, inventive bachelor endeavors to find a cure for his lover Chloe after she's diagnosed with an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.
What You Need To Know: Say what? Well, it’s weird and wonderful film from the eminently inventive Michel Gondry, of course, and his first real adaptation (based on a beloved French novel). Also his first feature-length French-language film, the movie stars Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Aïssa Maïga and Omar Sy. Jam packed with as much “trademark whimsical bricolage” as you’d expect, our reviewer didn’t take to it wholeheartedly, but called it “endearing” and evincing “spectacular imagination on display.”
Release Date: July 18th
Synopsis: A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.
What You Need To Know: Mike Cahill directed the Sundance indie "Another Earth" in 2011 which helped usher in the era of actress/writer Brit Marling. The film was ambitious, but a low-budget perhaps marred its full potential. But "I Origins" by all accounts is Cahill taking the promise of his debut and blowing it out into something rather marvelous. Tracking philosophical/metaphysical concerns with a subdued, almost sci-fi-ish bent, the movie could potentially answer the question: what would a movie look like it if it was the bastard offspring product of Krzysztof Kieslowski and Christopher Nolan? Our Sundance review wrote, “ ‘I Origins’ also cements [director Mike Cahill] as the real deal; a filmmaker who will hopefully continue to take us to places full of mystery, wonder and awe.” Hey, that sells the rest of us, we’re there.
Release Date: July 18th