Billy Gil graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has worked for People and Daily Variety. He is the editor of the Pipeline section and IndieFile, both of which highlight independent films on DVD. For IndieFile tips and inquiries, email email@example.com. For inclusion on IndieFile's Feedroom channel, contact Renee Rosado (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow IndieFile on Twitter, at Twitter.com/IndieFile.
Amazon is selling a bunch of indie DVDs for cheap. They're neatly organized by genre (action & adventure, comedy, cult/horror, documentary, drama, mystery/suspense) as well as by country. Prices are from $5.99 and up. You can get a three-disc Jean Renoir Collector's Edition set for $15.49, a three-disc Jean-Luc Godard Collector's Edition set for $18.49, El Topo for $11.99 and Evil Dead I and II for $9.49 each. Check it out.
IndieFile took a much-needed vacation last week (hello, Puerto Rico!). So it’s time to play catch up. Here are some bits and pieces from past week in indie film:
• The late John Hughes will have one of his cultier classics re-released on DVD Oct. 20 (prebook Sept. 8) with Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Those Aren’t Pillows Edition, from Paramount. The $14.99 DVD includes a special feature on Hughes and how he graduated from teen films to make a film that focused on adults.
• Gay/arthouse film purveyors TLA Releasing kicks off its 2009/2001 production slate with BearCity, which began principal photography in New York Aug. 10. The film is described as kind of a “Sex & the City” with gay men, and it will be released in 2010. More information can be found at www.bearcitythemovie.com.
• 2009 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection Shrink streets Sept. 29 (prebook Sept. 2) from Lionsgate. The film stars Kevin Spacey as a disillusioned celebrity psychiatrist and co-stars Saffron Burrows, Mark Webber, Dallas Roberts and Keke Palmer. The $27.98 DVD includes deleted scenes, a commentary and interviews with director Jonas Pate and producer Braxton Pope, as well as a the music video for “Here,” a new original song by Jackson Browne.
• Lionsgate also announced The Dead, John Huston’s final film, starring his daughter, Anjelica Huston, adapted from a James Joyce story about a woman who confesses of a past love to her husband, who then questions the lack of passion in his own life. The $14.98 DVD streets Nov. 3 (prebook Oct. 7).
• Film Movement announced New York Times Critic’s Pick The Country Teacher would hit DVD Sept. 8 at $24.95. The film is about a teacher who tutors a young man in the countryside and comes to find no one in the town realizes he is gay, or that he has a secret affection for his student. The Country Teacher is in Czech with English subtitles and includes the short film Peter and Ben, from British director Pinny Grylls.
• First Run Features Sept. 15 releases the awesomely titled Old Jews Telling Jokes at $19.95. I shouldn’t have to tell you why this is going to be awesome and hilarious. Sept. 15 the distributor also releases Full Battle Rattle (DVD $24.95), The Adventures of Werner Holt (DVD $24.95), The Axe of Wandsbek (DVD $24.95) and The Modern Con Man Collection (three-DVD set $29.95).
• Oscilloscope Laboratories signed a three-year distribution agreement with Milestone Films to give Oscilloscope rights to Milestone’s library of independent features, documentaries, and foreign and silent films (read the story here). Oscilloscope president and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch also said Aug. 6 that he is quickly recovering from cancer surgery. We wish him well.
• Palisades Tartan will release P, its first Asia Extreme release since acquiring the Tartan Films library last May, Oct. 20 (prebook Sept. 22) at $19.95. The film is about a young exotic dancer in Bankok trained in dark magic who gradually loses control over her abilities. P is directed by Paul Spurrier, who was a child actor in such shows as “Max Headroom.”
• SXSW 2010 is coming. Press applications will be accepted beginning Sept. 8, and the site has been redesigned (http://www.sxsw.com).
• Lionsgate/Barnholtz Entertainment Sept. 1 release Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas at $26.98, starring Antonio Sabato, Jr. as the true-life serial killer. Should be interesting to see how a former underwear model takes on this infamous murderer.
• Deadgirl, a screwed up horror film about teens who find a captive girl in an abandoned mental hospital and decide to keep her there, will be released by MPI’s Dark Sky Films Sept. 15 at $24.98. Bloody Disgusting loves it, so that tells you what you’re in for. The film from executive producer Christopher Webster (“Hellraiser” and “Heathers”) and co-directors Marcel Sarmiento (Heavy Petting) and Gadi Harel comes in an unrated director’s cut with a making-of featurette, a commentary and a make-up effects still gallery.
• Cinevolve Studios this week is screening two of its first theatrical offerings, 12 in a Box and El Tinte de la Fama, at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles. Both films scored nice reviews from the LA Times.
Rick Yune is largely known for scene-stealing roles playing bad boys in the 007 feature Die Another Day and The Fast and the Furious. Now the commanding Asian-American actor has made his feature producing and screenwriting debut with The Fifth Commandment, which was just released on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The $24.96 DVD includes a making-of featurette and another on the film’s stunts.
Yune also stars in the project, about an assassin who must go against his adoptive brother when he’s assigned a mark his brother is assigned to protect. Besides being a lot of fun, The Fifth Commandment is a cross-cultural affair featuring a multiethnic cast and a hip-hop flavor — Yune utters some Schwarzenegger-worthy lines such as “this track is scratched” and “you gotta lay down a new beat.” We spoke to Yune about making his direct-to-video martial-arts film:
IndieFile: What spurred you to make this film?
Yune: Basically I got into the business without any backing and training. I went to business school and was a hedge-fund trader for a fund on Wall Street years ago, but I realized it wasn’t my passion.
[Once I got into acting] things moved pretty quickly. It got to a point where I didn’t know if I had what it took to make it to the next level. I wanted to learn about the filmmaking process and try to bring something on my own. When I was an actor, I didn’t feel like I was doing that much. … I had an idea for a story based on a number of films I had seen, but more specifically, The Professional (aka Léon by Luc Besson) and wanted to do a different take on that genre. Some of my friends from Wall Street were spurring me on and willing to back me on my venture.
IndieFile: Who are some of the people you looked to for inspiration, with this film and your career more generally?
Yune: Marlon Brando, Dean Martin and Montgomery Cliff. I love the original “Star Wars” series. Film to me is such an amazing medium because it transcends time, culture, language and a lot of other barriers. Of recent films I love what Chris Nolan did with Batman. As far as action is concerned, I love the films that deal with the different shades of morality like The Dark Knight and the “Bourne” series.
IndieFile: Can you tell me about the locations you shot at for this film?
Yune” The interior shots were in L.A., but a lot of it was shot in Thailand, in many different locales around Bankok, which is such a beautiful, exotic place to film. The people and the vibe there really gave a lot to what the film was about.
IndieFile: Can you talk about some of the making-of features?
Yune: I think what I learned the most about this whole process and anything about overcoming odds is it really has to do with the commitment and loyalty that a few people have. That’s the one thing I would like to share about the making of The Fifth Commandment. Or about going for your own endeavors that anything is possible. There were so many different situations where we could have stopped midway through our tracks, … [but] we put all our hearts together and we were able to make it happen. If we could do it, so could anyone else.
IndieFile: This film moves past some cross-racial lines. Was that something you could relate to, the meshing of cultures, as someone of mixed descent?
Yune: Yeah, I think you live in that world where it doesn’t really matter where you’re from or what you look like anymore, and I think we’re going in that direction now. I mean look who we have for president now. I love to see movies in foreign countries, I saw Transformers 2 in Africa, the same reaction you get in Hollywood you get in a country in Africa. With the story, first off, I wanted to base it on human nature and that what we are all created from is essentially the same. We’re all looking for the same things. I wanted people to be able to relate to it no matter their racial background or history.
IndieFile: You’re in great shape in this film. Can you talk a little bit about the training you do and the marital arts in the film?
Yune: This is really my first straight-up action film, and I wanted to bring something new that nobody had seen before. We worked in a style of fighting that originates out of Rikers Island Jail called 52 Blocks. It’s more about the utility of movement rather than having anything sort of superfluous. And we wanted to base it on rhythm, like an eight-count rather than a four- or two-count and the fighting you see in a lot of action films. We wanted to base it upon something musical as well, so we brought in a dance choreographer and tried to meld the two. I think being up 20 hours a day for 55 days also helped keep my metabolism up — some days we would have 70 takes in one day.
Street Date: 9/15
Studio: National Entertainment Media
SRP/Format: $24.98 DVD or Blu-ray (Reserve on Amazon)
Reserve on Netflix
Direct-to-DVD/Blu-ray romantic comedy Camille, starring hot blondies Sienna Miller and James Franco, is hitting stores in Sept. 15 from National Entertainment Media. Franco plays an ex-con trying to avoid Johnny Law by taking his unsuspecting new bride (Miller) on a honeymoon to Niagara Falls. Are sleazy guys all Franco plays? And Miller continues her long line of ingénue roles, although that may change after she’s seen as The Baroness in the upcoming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The film also stars the late David Carradine, as well as Ed Lauter and Scott Glenn.
A new documentary and reality programming conference has popped up: WestDoc, taking place Sept. 14-16 at Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica. The goal is to connect documentary and reality TV producers and broadcasters. For more info, check out www.TheWestdoc.com.
Street Date: 9/08
Prebook Date: 8/11
Studio: Monterey Media
SRP/Format: $26.95 DVD
Reserve on Amazon
Reserve on Netflix
See? It’s not all dreary foreign titles and gloomy indies on IndieFile. Monterey Media is releasing the inspirational tale Local Color, starring Academy Award-nominated Armin Mueller-Stahl, Trevor Morgan, Samantha Mathis, Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated Ray Liotta, Academy Award-nominated Charles Durning, Golden Globe Winner and Emmy-nominated Ron Perlman, Academy Award-nominated Diana Scarwid and Julie Lott. The all-star cast tells the story of a successful artist in his young years who befriends an elderly alcoholic genius who has given up on art and on life. Sort of a tried-and-true formula that has produced some classics, and the trailer looks good.
Sacha Gervasi, screenwriter of such films as The Terminal, made his directorial debut by rediscovering his old metal idols in Anvil! The Story of Anvil, coming to DVD ($24.98) Oct. 6 (prebook Sept. 1) from MVD Visual and VH1.
Gervasi toured with Anvil as a youth in Canada during the 1980s, getting to hang out with his favorite band, formed in 1973 by Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner. Now in their 50s, the band continues to record and tour.
Anvil’s journey and struggles are documented in the film, which has spurred renewed interest in the decades-old band. Gervasi spoke to us about how the film has affected the band and their following:
HM: What prompted you to rediscover Anvil?
Gervasi: I was listening to Metallica, and I was just listening to this record and I thought, ‘Wow, this sounds just like Anvil.’ Whatever happened to Anvil?
I went on the Internet and discovered they were still producing records. I just thought it was amazing. I got in touch with them and me and Lips hooked up. The best part about it was it was just like I had seen them the day before even though it had been 20 years.
HM: Did you know you wanted to make a film about Anvil or was it just curiosity?
Gervasi: I just wanted to hang out with my old friends, and after I spent a weekend in L.A., it was obvious there was a movie there.
HM: What kinds of feelings did it stir up for you to be with the band again?
Gervasi: It was a tremendous gift they gave me, which was to be 15 again. I was able to relive my youth. Rob and Lips were dressed like they were 20 years ago.
HM: What’s on the DVD?
Gervasi: There are some really great things where you see Lips working at his catering company, speaking to his coworkers. He’s this influential heavy metal rocker delivering lunches to preschoolers.
There’s also an interview with Lars Ulrich (of Metallica). It’s 30 minutes. He tells the whole story, which is really quite incredible.
HM: Has the film at all affected album sales and show attendance for the band?
Gervasi: It definitely has. We’re coming up at giant stadiums. They’re opening for AC/DC in front of 50,000 people in two weeks. In a nine-day span, they’re going to play to 150,000 people, which is more than they’ve played in 20 years combined. So the film has had a pretty amazing affect on the band. Plus they’ve started to sell CDs.
HM: I found a lot I could relate to in Anvil, as a struggling musician, even though they are very, very different situations. How do you think others can relate to the film, even those who’ve not been in bands?
Gervasi: I think that it’s anyone with a dream [who can relate to the film]. Obviously you could connect as a musician, but I think anyone who dreams of doing anything [can relate], even if it’s slightly out of reach, yearning for something they can’t quite get. It’s not just playing to musicians who haven’t had success yet. I was talking to Chris Martin of Coldplay, and he’s seen it five times. I spoke with Billie Joe of Green Day, they dedicated their encore to Anvil. Everyone knows the pain of wanting something and not being able to get it. It’s odd, right? I think anyone can relate. We’ve had people who — clothes designers, travel agents — [love the film], and I think that’s the story. Anyone who aspires to something artistic. It’s the story of not giving up.
HM: I was left at the end of this film wondering, what’s next for Anvil? Are you working with them again?
Gervasi: They’re going to make a record. We’re doing tons of stuff with them, it’s pretty wild. They’re focusing on their new album and touring [and we’re filming it]. ... I think it’s going to go into a series.
HM: What is being done peripherally with the film, such as on the Web and marketing-wise?
Gervasi: There’s going to be a Guitar Center contest. I think you can win a chance to jam with Anvil. There are a few things in the works.
We’re going on a 40-day tour in October to November with the band and the film, playing in big theaters. We’re filming it and hopefully it turns into series, etc., etc. It’s endless, man. Random House bought the book, and that comes out in October. And they’ve also got three songs [slated to be released] on Rock Band.
HM: Are you surprised by just how positive the reaction to this film has been?
Gervasi: Yeah, Of course. It’s pretty great. You just never know what’s going to happen, especially with a documentary. To have it embraced in the way that it’s been … it’s been a delightful surprise. You just don’t know when you’re making a movie if it’s going to be any good or if people will like it. It’s an unexpected gift.
HM: What do you hope people get out of this film, aside from thinking twice about starting a band and touring Europe?
Gervasi: I tink if Anvil is not a cautionary tale, I don’t know what is. I think there are a lot of bands who have drawn inspiration from this film because it’s a movie about doing it for its own sake. I think it says in the movie ‘success is in not giving up,’ you know what I mean?
See the trailer here.
Street Date: 11/24
Prebook Date: 10/30
Studio: Ryko/Blue Underground
SRP/Format: $29.95 Blu-ray
Australian Academy Awards winner My Brilliant Career, starring Oscar-nominee Judy Davis and Sam Neill, comes to Blu-ray Disc in November from Ryko’s cult-film Blue Underground label. This was Davis’ breakout role as Sybylla Melvyn, a young writer with a wild heart. The film has languished for some time and has been fully restored and remastered under the supervision of Academy Award-nominated director of photography Donald McAlpine (Moulin Rouge). Special features include a commentary with director Gillian Armstrong, an interview with Armstrong, an interview with producer Margaret Fink, footage from the Cannes Film Festival premiere and The Miles Franklin Story.
Here's a scene from the film someone posted on YouTube:
Have you see the Toronto Film Festival lineup yet? They’ve been adding titles throughout the past month, including this week’s announcement of George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead. See the whole list here: http://www.tiff.net/filmsandschedules/filmlist/default.aspx
IndiePix has announced three intriguing documentaries to street in August and September.
First up is Audience of One (reserve on Netflix or Amazon), arriving Aug. 18 at $24.95. This documentary comes from pastor/filmmaker Richard Gazowsky, who received a prophetic message to create a Hollywood epic in the vein of both Star Wars and The Ten Commandments. In light of Comic-Con this weekend, I can’t think of anything more appropriate to highlight.
In September IndiePix bows two documentaries about artists: Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry (reserve on Netflix or Amazon) Sept. 15 (prebook Aug. 11) at $24.95, about American tattoo master Norman K. Collins; and In a Dream (reserve on Netflix or Amazon) Sept. 22 (prebook Aug. 11) at $24.95, about filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar’s muralist father and his tumultuous relationship with the filmmaker’s mother.
AUDIENCE OF ONE
HORI SMOKU SAILOR JERRY
IN A DREAM