If there was one bad ass who could capture the title of “The Greatest Bad Ass Alive Today,” that bad ass would be the legendary Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director, producer, action choreographer, and multiple-time world wushu tournament champion Donnie Yen. If you only knew Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe, the blind warrior from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” you already know him to be pretty bad ass. But if you only know Donnie Yen from a Star Wars movie, it’s time you get to know him a little better.
After missing yesterday’s opening day, I made sure to get myself down to Santa Monica to soak up information on hundreds of movies from around the world. Part of me would love to say I was looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack, that big-budget title with an A-list cast and director, but where’s the fun in that? I’d much rather go hunting for movies that look interesting, or at least could be ironically interesting, that won’t be as heavily covered by other outlets.
And, boy, did I find some!
Every November, the film world comes together in a swanky hotel off the beach in Santa Monica, where film producers and distributors sell (or pre-sell) their latest movie concepts to buyers from around the world. Cannes might be the best known film market, although it’s far better known for the Film Festival aspect than the film market aspect, but the American Film Market (AFM) is one of the absolute must-attend events in the industry.
The Early Report features the most detailed listings on the Internet of the independent and foreign films scheduled to be released in the upcoming week, including actual and estimated screen counts, running times and ratings, when available. This week’s report covers 32 new openers in theatres for the week of October 6th.
Going in to Scott Eastwood’s new movie, “Overdrive,” I wasn’t expecting much. I had seen the trailer for the movie in front of “Atomic Blonde” while on vacation in France two months ago, and immediately dismissed it out of hand as a wannabe “Fast and Furious” type. I just tuned it out the way you tune out a commercial while watching last week’s episode of “The Good Place” on Hulu. If I had been paying attention, I might have noticed it was primarily in Marseilles, where I had been not two days earlier. So when I read about this tidbit two months later, I decided to check it out. And what I ended up getting was something that, while not a great movie, was quite a bit of fun, and better than any of the “Fast and Furious” movies they’ve been making for the past decade.
Why do we watch movies? For newer works, we go to see the newest effort from a favorite actor, writer, director or cinematographer, or we feel the story is something we can relate to, or because it comes recommended from friends or critics or has received a lot of awards buzz. Maybe we’ve not heard of the filmmaker, but a distributor who has acquired a reputation for giving chances to edgy and interesting work is releasing it. So while Screen Media isn’t quite at the level of a 1990’s Miramax, a 2000’s THINKfilm or a 2010’s A24 in terms of prestige, they have slowly been moving away from their former bread and butter of Z-level dreck like “Croczilla” and “Paranormal Whacktivity” and giving theatrical life to curious works from directors like Tobe Hooper and Paul Bettany. And while I have never heard of writer/director Ryan Eggold, he was able to nab an embarrassment of riches when it came to casting his feature debut, including Cobie Smulders, John Cho, Peter Gallagher, Ryan Hansen, Charlyne Yi, Briga Heelan, Luis Guzman, Dana Delany and Lea Thompson. Which is why I was interested in checking out “Literally, Right Before Aaron.” That’s one hell of an eclectic cast.