SIFF ’18 Capsule Review: ‘LEAVE NO TRACE’ 

Following 2010’s Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik continues to peer into the grungy sideshow of backcountry American life in the delicately told Leave No Trace. About a father and daughter who attempt to live off the land, Granik’s third feature film tackles heavy themes with a soft touch, allowing Ben Foster and Thomas Harcourt McKenzie’s soulful performances to soar in this quiet coming-of-age character study. A treatise on the bonds that tie and emotional scars too ugly to bear, Leave No Trace is a graceful and absorbing drama about the profundity of family love. (B+) Read More


SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘TIME TRAP’

Aliens. Conquistadors. Cavemen. All three filmic mainstays crop up in soft sci-fi thriller Time Trap from directors Ben Foster and Mark Dennis. A pulpy adventure reminiscent of 80s classics like The Goonies and Back to the Future, Time Trap tells the story of a company of graduate students and their pre-teen tagalongs who go looking for their professor in a cave that manipulates time. Clipping along using an intriguing premise to overcome middling characters, Time Trap is in a constant state of reinvention as it moves along, adding new layers of logistical gears to keep us on our toes and invested in its windy plot. Fun above all else, Time Trap is a great little schlocky detour into indie pop cinema sure to earn warm welcomes from excitable festival crowds. (B) Read More


Out in Theaters: ‘HELL OR HIGH WATER’

Over a hand of cards, Ben Foster’s Tanner stares daggers at a rival player. “Don’t chase me, Comanche,” he taunts, pushing a healthy pile of chips towards the pot, bloodlust flaring in his pupils. Comanche chases. And wins. Tanner slinks away, tail defiantly untucked. The chip-rich champion carnivorously confronts him, “Do you know what Comanche means?” Violence seems imminent. It hovers; an invisible, palpable force. “Enemy to everyone,” the Comanche growls. Tanner stares back dead-eyed, unsure if this confrontation spells death. Not seeming to care either way. Pimple-inducing tension streaks through the scene like nudists at a Pride parade. Sweat drips down the screen. “You know what that makes me?” Tanner’s response stabs, barbed as a butterfly knife. “A fucking Comanche.”
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Out in Theaters: ‘WARCRAFT’

Warcraft, the uber-geeky, crazy-spendy passion project/live-action shart from director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) attempts to capitalize on a prodigious worldwide fandom by kowtowing to the nerdy needs of message board trolls and Mountain Dew guzzlers. In bending the knee, the once-great auteur has log-jammed his feature with a waterfall of meaningless (at least to non-World-of-Warcraft-gamers) exposition, allowing for a marble-mouthed plot that’s so dense, so busy and so blundering, one can only shudder at the thought of the echo chamber of dorks responsible for letting this 160-million dollar turkey come to fruition. But their foul cinematic foal has come home to roost in all its Avian-diseased glory and the symphony of ill-timed laughs and exasperated sighs shall serve as unbiased representation of what is in store for Warcraft viewers. Reckless fan servicing, harebrained plot devices and dramatically empty characterization all mash their meaty skulls to render a film that’s entirely inaccessible and subsequently snoozy as all hell for anyone without extreme existing affinity for the source material, making Warcraft, in effect, the world’s most expensive sleep aid. Read More


Out in Theaters: ‘THE FINEST HOURS’

Craig Gillespie experienced his breakout “hit” in 2007 at the Toronto International Film Festival with Lars and the Real Girl. You know the one. That strange indie splash that made leagues of women (and men) jealous of an inanimate sex doll, quasi-adorably (and entirely eerily) doted on by a mustached Ryan Gosling. From there, Gillespie directed an underrated and ably cast remake of Fright Night. As a suave vampire, Collin Ferrell gave his crowning scenery (and neck) chewing performance. Some would call this Gillespie’s transition to the mainstream and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong, though the Disney-produced baseball drama The Million Dollar Arm really saw the last twinkle of a celebrated indie director taken by the vast empire of film as multi-media conglomerate.  Read More


Ben Foster Channels Armstrong in First Look at Biker Biopic

Set to play Lance Armstrong in Stephen Frears‘ upcoming biopic of Lance Armstrong, Ben Foster has jumped on the saddle as the Tour de France champion turned discredited athlete. From his sinewy limbs to the bumblebee yellow Postal Service jersey, Foster fits the bill nicely in this first look as the film just began shooting. Tracking Armstrong’s rise to seven-time world champion, his battle with cancer, and last year’s stripping of his championship titles, the film doesn’t look to flatter the once respected founder of Livestrong. Hopefully, the story won’t involve too much of dragging through the mud, as it risks making the same mistakes of The Fifth Estate – mostly, penning the story before the ink has dried.

Pulled from the pages of David Walsh‘s exposé “Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong,” the film, scripted by Trainspotting‘s John Hodge, follows Walsh’s eventually successful attempts to expose Armstrong for using performance enhancing drugs. Chris O’Dowd (The Sapphires) co-stars as Walsh and is joined by Guillaume Canet (The Beach) and Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad).

The Untitled Lance Armstrong Biopic
is directed by Stephen Frear and stars Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Guillaume Canet, Jesse Plemons. There is no official release date yet. 

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