Sundance Turns the Big 3-0 by Trace De La Torre

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Los Angeles — With Sundance Film Fest just hours from lighting up screens — there’s something more perceptibly INDIE about this year’s line-up than usual (hitting the big 3-0 maybe?) — surely adding to all the merrymaking that marks the annual film festivities.

Here’s my Top 10 film picks that will everyone buzzing in 2014:

1.) Cooties

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Directors: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Cast: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer
THE BUZZ: Already bought by UPI for territories including the U.K. & Germany — ‘Cooties’ is pegged as the breakout hit of the midnight section — plot centers around a mysterious virus that breaks out in a remote elementary school transforming students into freak zombies…

dear white people  2.) Dear White People  
Director: Justin Simien
Cast: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Dennis Haysbert
THE BUZZ: A satire centered around four Black students attending an Ivy League College in the midst of a riot caused by a popular ‘African American’ themed party on campus.

3.) Frank     frank
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal
THE BUZZ: A quirky bio-pic comedy starring Fassbender as mysterious 80’s pop singer Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom promises to be draw — even if I never heard of him.

4.) God’s Pocket     God's Pocket
Director: John Slattery
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro
THE BUZZ: Wow — WHAT A CAST — based on the 1983 novel by National Book Award Winning author — Pete Dexter — this drama stars Hoffman as a man whose son dies in a supposed accident in the gritty blue-collar neighborhood of ‘God’s Pocket’.

5.) Laggies      Laggies
Director: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell
THE BUZZ: A bit more commercial fare — this dark Dramedy stars Keira Knightley as a commitment-phobe who runs off to hang out with a 16-year old friend to stall on her decision after her boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Sounds quirky.

6.) Life Itself     Life Itself
Director: Steve James
THE BUZZ: A heartrending documentary shot during the last four months of Roger Ebert’s life. Bring the tissue.

Get the 1st look here: http://youtu.be/O6IRCBbGKCo

7.) Love Is Strange     Love is Strange
Director: Ira Sachs
Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei
THE BUZZ: Touching Dramedy about the consequences a gay couple — played by Lithgow & Molina — face when they tie the knot after 38 years together. Shot in Manhattan & Brooklyn also stars Marisa Tomei. Bring the tissue, chocolates, and Gummi Bears.

8.) The Skeleton Twins

skeleton twins
Director: Craig Johnson
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell
THE BUZZ: Estranged sibling twins cheat death on the same day without knowing it — karmic forces bring them back together to do some bitter-sweet soul-searching — especially about their love lives.

Click HERE: http://youtu.be/AnfPH8_e-jc to hear filmmaker Craig Johnson talk about his film ‘Skeleton Twins‘ premiering in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

9.) Song One     song one
Director: Kate Barker-Froyland
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen
THE BUZZ: A touching drama set against the Brooklyn music scene sees Anne Hathaway play a woman who’s been estranged from her family but returns home after her brother suffers an accident that leaves in a coma — grasping to fill in the void left by time — she retraces her brother’s life as an aspiring musician and tracks down his favorite musician to vicariously make up for lost time through music. Definitely bring the tissue.

10.) Wish I Was Here   wish i were here
Director: Zach Braff
Cast: Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Joey King
THE BUZZ: Braff’s much touted Kickstarter-funded Dramedy sees him playing a middle-aged husband, father, failed thesp, faced with the daunting task of home-schooling his kids.

Sundance Film Fest runs Jan. 16-26 in Park City, Utah — GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

‘Big Ass Spider’ – A Breath of Fresh Air in a Stale Film Market by Trace De La Torre

Big Ass Spider BEST COLOR PROMO  I hate Spiders — with a psychotic passion — but when I came across ‘Big Ass Spider’, it was a breath of fresh air in a stale market of Supernatural, Vampire, Demonic, Psycho Thrillers.

‘Big Ass Spider’ spins a tale of a giant alien spider that escapes from a military lab wreaking havoc across Los Angeles.

Big Ass Spider DT LA            Big Ass Spidey Hereos

After a GARGANTUAN military strike fails to quash it, a team of scientists and one sly, wily, exterminator plot to annihilate the monstrous creature before the City of Angels is devoured. Big Ass Spider Stars            Big Ass Spidey

‘Big Ass Spider’ CRAWLS its way into theatres on Oct. 18 — just in time for Fright Season — promising to be one helluva FUN ride for all Angelenos, and squeamish thrill seekers alike — everywhere…

Here’s a look at the Trailer: 

Written by Gregory Gieras, Directed by Mike Mendez, and Produced by Shaked Berenson, the film is bound to resonate deeply with audiences because it harks back to a nostalgic time in cinematic history when movie audiences got their cheap thrills with cult classic ‘Creature Features’ that didn’t so much threaten the fate of their souls.

Here’s my list of terrifying standout ‘Creature Features’ that make the grade:
THE FLY (1986)  The Fly 1986
A David Cronenberg sci-fi remake — matching the original 1958 version — sees
scientist Jeff Goldblum accidentally splice his DNA with a housefly.
THEM! (1954)
Cult classic ‘Them!’ — highly influenced by fears over atomic energy in
the 50s, sees GIANT RADIO ACTIVE ANTS rampage through New Mexico, winning OSCAR
GOLD for its special effects of the day.  

THEM!
 ARACHNOPHOBIA (1990) Arachnophobia
Jeff Daniels battles a plague of highly poisonous spiders in small town America.
Still terrifies 20+ years on.
mimic MIMIC (1997)
Scientists Jeremy Northam & Mira Sorvino release a genetically engineered insect
into the New York subway to kill off a mass of diseased cockroaches in Guillermo
del Toro ‘s sci-fi Horror akin to Frankz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’. The mutant
breed spreads rapidly, feasting on humans, mimicking their actions until they
completely encompass their bodies & souls.
THE DEADLY MANTIS (1957)  Deadly Mantis
Another 50s B-movie concerned with rampaging giant insects. Here, a volcanic
eruption melts polar ice, releasing a 200-foot-long Praying Mantis -– which soon
makes its way to invade Washington, D.C.
EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS! (2002) Eight Legged Freaks!
A 21st century take on those 1950s B-movies, this squeamish Horror-Comedy sees a
small town RAIDED by enormous, toxic waste-altered spiders.  Stars David
Arquette, and a pre-fame Scarlett Johansson with oodles of green CGI spider-guts.
Naked Lunch NAKED LUNCH (1991)
David Cronenberg clearly has a fancy for giant insects. In his adaptation of
William S. Burroughs’ cult novel, Peter Weller’s exterminator is exposed to
chemicals causing him to hallucinate human-sized bugs. Not for the weak.
THE SWARM (1978) The Swarm
A disaster movie with a stellar cast and sheer camp cements this as a Cult Classic disaster movie where a massive swarm of killer bees is the tormentor. FUN FACT: REAL BEES were used (!) – people were employed to clip off the stingers.
TARANTULA (1955)                                            Tarantula!   
To battle a world-wide food crisis, a scientist attempts to enlarge
cattle but instead unleashes a giant spider. FUN FACT: A young Clint Eastwood makes an appearance.
HIGHLY DANGEROUS (1950) Highly Dangerous
A British Cold War Comedy-Thriller where Soviets employ insects as
weapons-of-mass-destruction — using them as carriers of deadly germs. Margaret Lockwood’s
entomologist goes to the Balkans to find investigate, with enjoyably deranged
consequences.
Slither  SLITHER (2006)
An enjoyably despicable mix of Sci-Fi Horror Comedy — Slither sees a
parasitic alien slug crash on Earth, breed in disgusting fashion and
transform small town residents into hive mind-controlled zombies. Not to be missed by 80’s Cult Horror Fans.

THE FLY (1958)                                                              The Fly
The original lacks the twisted sexuality of Cronenberg’s 1980’s remake, but it
still packs a frightful punch. A scientist attempting to create a teleportation machine mingles his DNA with a fly during an experiment gone wrong, leaving him with the insect’s head and “arm”. NASTY!
THE WASP WOMAN (1959) Wasp Woman
Searching for the Fountain of Youth, a cosmetics company owner
attempts to stave off the effects of age by ingesting a serum derived from wasp
jelly, with disastrous results – she transforms into a murderous, LUSTY, Wasp Woman.

THEY NEST (2000)                                                                             They Nest
A deadly breed of insects infests a small town in Maine,
digging deep into people’s flesh and eating them from the inside out.  Directed by Ellory Elkayem, also responsible for Eight Legged Freaks, this silly TV movie plays on our universal revulsion of cockroaches.
Spiders 2000  SPIDERS (2000)
In Gary Jones’ magnum opus, an experiment to mingle spider and alien DNA (OH WHY?!) results in a mutant spider being let loose in a government facility, killing everyone in its path.

Black Scorpion THE BLACK SCORPION (1957)
Volcanic activity in Mexico sets free giant scorpions who ravage the countryside.  Starring Richard Denning (Creature From The Black Lagoon).  The film features some great stop-motion animation by Willis O’Brien (King Kong).  FUN FACT:  ‘The Black Scorpion’ started with a low budget, and as production wore on, faced financial straits.  By end of filming, money was so tight, O’Brien and his assistant were working out of a garage.  SO FUN!

J.K. Rowling + Warner Bros. = Fantastic Beasts — by Trace De La Torre

J.K. Rowling

In case you haven’t already heard — J.K. Rowling is teaming up with (The Mothership) Warner Bros. to develop & scribe ‘Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them’ – a screenplay inspired by the textbook Harry Potter used with his pals at Hogwarts.

‘Fantastic Beasts’ will be the 1st in a series based on the Hogwarts textbook & the fantastical adventures of its fictional creator:  Newt Scamander — the story starts in New York, 70 years before Harry Potter.

Here’s a m.a.g.i.c.a.l. look into J.K.’s next great adventure:

Joe Eszterhas to Head 2013 London Screenwriters’ Fest — by Trace De La Torre

Prolific. Irascible. Legendary. — Joe Eszterhas to headline the ‘2013 London Screenwriters’ Fest’ for 3 days at the prestigious – Regents University School of Drama, Film & Media – a world centre for the media & creative industries located in Regents Park (one of the most popular Royal Parks in London).

Here’s a look at some of Eszterhas’ best known films — along with the Theatrical Trailer of his 1995 psycho-sexual thriller & MY FAVE: Jade — starring: Linda Fiorentino, David Caruso, & Chazz Palminteri.

Joe Eszterhas

‘JADE’ 1995 Theatrical Trailer:

London Screenwriters’ Fest runs October 25th – 27th   www.LondonScreenwritersFestival.com