A sci-fi comedy from Mel Eslyn and a literary noir from Alice Troughton – who are, respectively, the long-time producer for the Duplass brothers and an award-winning UK television director (Doctor Who, Cucumber, The Living and the Dead) — debuting in limited release this weekend, alongside Adele Lim’s joy ride, a Lionsgate wide release – marking the first feature film debut by three women.
(Noting that Chelsea Peretti’s latest film Tribeca premiered First time female director kind of reinvented that phrase.)
Troughton called it “really reassuring” to see female villains opening movies. In the UK “we’re below 20% of the leadership force and … the roles of women directors are declining, as are the roles for people of colour. So the diversity is fading a bit after a really good push. So I felt very important as someone who had the privilege of being in a position to go and make a film, to go and make it. And also have a lot of fun with it,” during years of hard indie development that led to a 22-day shoot in June 2022. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Deadline’s review says it could give star Richard E. Grant the kind of late-career hit he did last year Living coped Bill Nighy.
Bleecker Street is opening the film, written by Alex MacKeith, in about 225 theaters.
Grant plays a narcissistic writer. Julie Delpy is his enigmatic curator wife and Daryl McCormack plays an ambitious young author brought to their secluded country estate to teach the couple’s son (Stephen McMillan) who becomes ensnared in a web of family secrets, resentment and punishments.
“I just love doing genre. … I’ve done science fiction, I’ve done westerns. And now that’s kind of bad,” said Troughton, who added that her second film project is in the works and will be announced soon.
The IFC movie Biosphere is the directorial debut of prolific producer Mel Eslyn, president of Mark and Jay Duplass’ production company, Duplass Brothers Productions. Written by Mark Duplass and Eslyn, it premiered in Toronto. Set in the not too distant future, Biosphere follows Billy (Duplass) and Ray (Sterling K. Brown), lifelong best friends who also happen to be the last two men on Earth. They survive thanks to Ray, a brilliant scientist who created the ordinary, apartment-sized biosphere they call home, equipping it with the creature comforts and necessities to sustain life on a doomed planet. But when the population of their pond – which supplies the essential protein – begins to dwindle, the men find themselves facing an ominous future.
The gist of the idea came from Mark Duplass years ago, Eslyn said. “The last two men on Earth, and they’re running out of food … and there were some other things, I think he was waiting for the road that we eventually ended up on, but we couldn’t quite see the road there. And I think there was a lot that I could bring to the table as a woman. And as a woman, and a queer woman, with a unique and different perspective. I just felt it in my gut and let me run with it.
“I saw an opportunity, with the last two men on Earth, to really analyze toxic masculinity. Why two men? Two men who are just. And why are they leaving? It feels like it’s very typical, and I wanted to explore it and push it into places where you don’t normally see a stand-up comedy.”
Other specialty openings: Magnolia Pictures presents the documentary League by Samuel D. Pollard in a one-week theatrical window exclusively with AMC in 50 markets. The story of the triumphs and challenges of Negro League baseball in the first half of the 20th century, told through archival footage and interviews with legendary players like Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil, whose early careers paved the way for the era Jackie Robinson. as well as Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. From entrepreneurial titans Cumberland Posey and Gus Greenlee to Effa Manley, activist owner of the Newark Eagles and the only woman ever inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the film explores black baseball as an economic and social pillar of black communities, a stage. about some of the greatest athletes ever and the unintended consequences of integration.
Osciloscope opens Carolina Cavalli’s debut film from Italy, Amanda, at IFC Center in NY and Laemmle Royal in LA shown in Venice, see Deadline review. Amanda (Benedetta Porcaroli) is a young woman born into an upper-class family with a loving mother who foots the bill for her lazy lifestyle. The fiery 24-year-old has a longing for a relationship, and she may have discovered it in a lost childhood connection.
A24’s Sundance Premiere Mother earth by former Olympic volleyball player Savanah Leaf opens at the Roxie in San Francisco. Tia Nomore stars as Gia, an adoring young mother who fights for her children. Her son and daughter are in foster care, and her unborn child is also up for grabs as she struggles with court-ordered classes and working enough hours to make ends meet. Opens New Directors/New Films in NYC in April.
Yellow Veil Pictures and Drafthouse Films present Cathryne Czubek’s documentary Once upon a time in Uganda at the Alamo Manhattan, DTLA and a handful of other limited exhibitor theaters. A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film at Wakaliwood in the heart of Uganda, where two unlikely friends from opposite sides of the world bond over their shared love of Chuck Norris and 80s gonzo action movies and come together for self-created explosive films.
Drafthouse Films is also opening Alex Winter’s documentary The YouTube effect at Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Austin, Chicago and San Francisco. The film, which premiered at Tribeca 2022, follows the rise of YouTube from humble beginnings in a pizzeria loft to its explosion on the world stage, becoming the largest media platform in history and sparking a cultural revolution and controversy in the age of disinformation.
CMC Pictures opens the thriller Lost in the stars, a blockbuster in China, starring Janice Man, Ni Ni, Yilong Zhu, in limited release. Directed by Rui Cui and Xiang Liu. A woman mysteriously disappears, then reappears while on vacation with her husband.
Musical notes: The Liberation of Trafalgar SHOW ODESZA: The Ultimate Cinematic Experience by Sean Kusanagi Friday in 500+ theaters in the US and 39 in Canada.
Unbranded Events presents Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 50th Anniversary in their last gig with founding member Gary Rossington, recorded last year. Rossington died of cancer in March. A one-week limited run begins Saturday.
Sunday, Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars: The Movie’s 50th Anniversary