Lesley Coffin 157 posts

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‘Distant Constellation’ captures essence of disappearing community

Filmed over a six-year period, Shevaun Mizrahl’s debut film Distant Constellation required a slow and steady approach. The meditative film focuses on the final years of several seniors living in a Istanbul retirement home, all while the neighborhood they live in is being torn down and redeveloped.

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‘On Her Shoulders’ captures the struggle after survival

Just a few weeks ago Nadia Murad made headlines when she became the first Iraqi to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her work helping victims of genocide and human trafficking. Her advocacy comes from her own devastating experience as a victim of Yazidi genocide and being taken into slavery by members of ISIS for […]

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Maryam Keshavarz’s ‘Viper Club’ vividly captures mother’s nightmare

Susan Sarandon stars as Helen, the mother of an adult son (Julian Morris) and journalist whose been kidnapped by a terrorist group. Forced by government to remain silent in the face of ransom demands, she turns to her son’s internet community of journalists for support.

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‘What They Had’ tells a story of family with an undercurrent of feminism

It may not be past Halloween yet, but we probably already have the holiday family tearjerker of the year. In January of this year, writer-director Elizabeth Chomko (a playwright and actress) premiered her family drama What They Had to Sundance Film Festival audiences.

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‘Private Life’ explores a couple’s mutual mid-life crisis in the face in infertility

Private Life focuses on the painful, sometimes absurd, experience of trying to have children later in life, starring Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a couple hoping to become parents and Kayli Carter as their step-niece and potential egg donor.

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‘After Everything’ looks at love before, during and after illness

If the romantic comedy is a dying genre, Hannah Marks (best known as an actress) and Joey Power are hoping to revive it with their fresh new film, After Everything.

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Art and obsession in Sara Colangelo’s ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’

In The Kindergarten Teacher, a remake of the 2014 Israeli film by Nadav Lapid, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Lisa, a longtime kindergarten teacher longing to make a contribution to the arts. When her own desires to pursue poetry are met with apathy, she begins to see herself as a patron of a student (Parker Sevak) in her class she believes to be a prodigy.

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Director Polly Draper writes, casts sons in ‘Stella’s Last Weekend’

Nat and Alex Wolff, who’ve continued to work in Hollywood with prominent roles in films like Paper Towns and Patriot’s Day, respectively. But Draper brought them back together with her latest project, the film Stella’s Last Weekend (out October 12) about two brothers who realized they’ve both fallen for the same girl.

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In ‘Capernaum’ Nadine Labaki gives voice to Lebanon’s invisible children

When the film Capernaum begins, audiences are immediately struck by the dramatic stand the film takes on the nature of poverty and neglect of children. A 12-year-old named Zain, in juvenile prison for stabbing someone, has sued his parents for neglect, telling the judge he’s suing them because they “gave him life.” While hearing this […]

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Eva Vives shares own real-life survivor story in fictional ‘All About Nina’

In the 15 years between her first feature and new film, All About Nina, Eva has added director to her resume on two short films. But for a debut feature, Vives comes out swinging.

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Becca Gleason looks back to ‘Summer 03’ in new teen comedy

While summer is officially over, films are still enjoying the warmth of the sun, including writer-director Becca Gleason’s teen comedy Summer ’03. The film, starring Joey King, is set during the week 16-year-old Jamie loses her grandmother Dotty (June Squib)…but only after Dotty reveals some truths to her family on her deathbed.

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Judy Greer faces her fears with ‘A Happening of Monumental Proportions’

Greer’s film focuses on the terrible days of two men: a widowed single father who loses his job on Career Day (played by Common) and a suicidal music teacher (played by Anders Holm) … all happening on the same day that the principal (Oscar-winner Allison Janney) finds a dead body at her school.

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Reed Morano talks twisty apocalypse drama ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’

Along with two upcoming films, she has I Think We’re Alone Now in theaters now, a relationship drama set just after the apocalypse, starring Elle Fanning and fellow Emmy winner Peter Dinklage.

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‘That Time of Year’ director talks frustrating family bonds

Despite happening in September, a multitude of films this year were set during and around Christmas at the Toronto International Film Festival. After all, many can relate to the high pressure that comes with the holidays, especially holidays you celebrate with your family. That sense of frustration and love is key to Paprika Steen’s new film That Time of Year, a dramedy set on Christmas.

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‘Float Like a Butterfly’ director: “There’s no such thing as a natural-born misogynist”

At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics was awarded to Carmel Winters for Float Like a Butterfly, who attended the festival with her stars, Hazel Doupe (Francis) and Dara Devaney (Michael).

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Sam Taylor-Johnson returns to indie world to make dream project a reality

Back to her indie-roots, with her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson (the star of her first feature Nowhere Boy) alongside her once again to star and co-writer, they adapted James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces into a new film which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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‘Out of the Blue’ star Patricia Clarkson at TIFF: “We need more female critics”

This understanding of the direct connection is part of the reason director Carol Morley was compelled to make her own version of Martin Amis’ 1997 novel “Mystery Train.” Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, Out of the Blue stars Patricia Clarkson as Detective Mike Hoolihan.

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Women behind horror-western ‘The Wind’ hope to subvert familiar genres

The only human beings for miles, the two women develop a close but contentious relationship, made all the worse by the fear that something supernatural is among them. I spoke with the film’s writer, director, and leading actress Gerald about creating historical accuracy in genre and joining what has traditionally been a boys club.

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Amma Asante on making controversial ‘Where Hands Touch’

Since being announced as Amma Asante’s follow-up to A United Kingdom, the British director best known for her 2013 film Belle has been fighting the immediate controversy for her new film, Where Hands Touch.

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‘The Land of Steady Habits’ looks at male psyche with critical, empathetic eye

Adapting Ted Thompson’s novel The Land of Steady Habits, Holofcener focused her dramatic-comedy on a male protagonist.The film stars character-actor Ben Mendelsohn, taking a break from villainous roles, as newly retired Anders Hill,

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‘I Am Not a Witch’ a fairytale spin on human rights issues

Exploited and imprisoned for life, Nyoni was particularly interested in the practice in Zambia, a traditionally matriarchal society. While dealing with a heavy human rights issue, Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch using aspects of fairytales and satire to tell the story of a child accused and brought into one of these communities.

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Modern fairytale ‘Lost Child’ a personal journey for Ramaa Mosley

A dark, modern fairytale, the film is also remarkably personal for Mosley, dealing with the aftermath of family trauma and the loss of her brother.

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‘City of Joy’ director talks Netflix pickup, bringing Congo into global conversation

Documentarian Jane Mukanilwa followed the first year’s “class” of women, documenting both their unthinkable stories of violence, as well as their remarkable steps made towards recovery at City of Joy.

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Amy Scott’s ‘Hal’ celebrates life and career of Hollywood icon

Simply titled Hal, Scott uses clips from his films and interviews with those who knew him well (along with directors of today who consider him an influence) to explore the brief life and career. Like Ashby himself, Scott’s career as an editor turned director, making Hal an ideal fit of director and subject.

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TIFF looks to Share Her Journey, change narrative of women in film

TIFF is doing all this during the sophomore year of their program, Share Her Journey, a five-year commitment to increase opportunities for women to develop skills and create films through various programs.

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Summer ends with the bloody, beautiful ‘Let the Corpses Tan’

Based on a pulp novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, the two tell the story of three thieves who hide out after a robbery with an artist and her boyfriend. As more and more people crash the villa (including ex-lovers and cops), things turn into a massive, shoot-out.

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Heather Lenz explores infinite world of ‘Kusama’

In her new film Kusama: Infinity documentarian Heather Lenz takes audiences on a journey to experience her remarkable work but also digs into woman who created it.

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Laura Nix shines light on the young people ‘Inventing Tomorrow’

In Laura Nix’s new documentary, focusing on four students’ competing in the annual event, she shares the sad image of environmental crisis they face with joyful and hopeful moments of seeing young people inspired by what change science can bring about.

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‘Hot to Trot’ charms, offers important message of acceptance

In the world of ballroom dance, gender roles seem to not only be traditional but down right strict. The pairs are always male-female, with the strict men lead-women follow rule of dance in place…as they have always been.

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Emmy-nominated ‘What Haunts Us’ seeks change from within

With the increasing number of newly released documentaries, it’s rare to stand out from the pack. Alongside City of Ghosts, Jane and Strong Island, Paige Tolmach’s What Haunts Us is nominated for the Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking at this year’s Emmy awards.

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