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October 2014 Film Preview

October 2014 Film Preview

October may be the time of ghosts and ghouls, not that you’d know it from the many diverse film offerings made by and starring women this month. But we definitely start with one ghoul: the one in Gone Girl, opening October 3. Based on the worldwide bestselling book by Gillian Flynn, the thriller features rising star Rosamund Pike as seemingly perfect and perfectly contented housewife Amy Dunne, whose disappearance on her fifth wedding anniversary sparks a nationwide investigation. Her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck), is the main suspect. 

This month also brings us two films highlighting the importance of female
friendship and the trials of growing into adulthood, with You’re Not You,
starring Hillary Swank and Emmy Rossum on October 10, and Laggies, starring
Keira Knightley and Chloe Grace Moretz on October 24, with directing and
writing credits from Lynn Shelton and Andrea Seigel on the latter,
respectively.

October 17 sees another famous female star, Kristen Stewart of the Twilight
franchise, continuing to expand her career with Camp X-Ray. An optimistic soldier assigned to Guantanamo Bay, Stewart’s clear-cut beliefs in good and evil are challenged by the moral quandaries surrounding her. Also
addressing the perils of war is 1,000 Times Good Night, starring Juliette
Binoche as Rebecca, a photojournalist committed to capturing images of war no
matter the cost — even if that cost is separation from her husband (Nikolaj
Coster-Waldau) and daughter (Lauryn Canny) — with no guarantee Rebecca will
return home alive.

The documentary front offers many compelling, hard-hitting subject matters,
beginning with The Decent One on October 1, as Vanessa Lapa examines hundreds
of correspondence, photographs, and footage of Gestapo leader Heinrich
Himmler, who believed himself a heroic figure and a family man despite his
atrocities. Watchers of the Sky also addresses genocide with a portrait of the
man responsible for the recognition of war crimes as an act punishable by law:
lawyer Raphael Lemkin, himself a Polish-Jew and a first-hand witness to the Holocaust.

Also on October 17, Citizenfour shifts focus to modern legal concerns as Laura
Poitras chronicles her highly secretive meetings with a man threatening to
whistleblow illegal surveillance techniques by the government – a man named Edward Snowden.

Finally, October marks the release of one of the legendary Studio Ghibli’s
final cinematic offerings, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. A hand-drawn animation
adaption of an iconic Japanese folk story and featuring the ever busy Chloe Grace Moretz (her
second appearance on this list) as the eponymous princess, the film marks a
bittersweet end to a studio highly regarded for its female-centered films.

All descriptions are from press materials unless indicated otherwise.

October 1

The Decent One (doc) – Directed by Vanessa Lapa
A recently discovered cache of hundreds of personal letters, diaries, and photos
belonging to the Nazi Gestapo chief seems to reveal a thoughtful, loving
husband and devoted father to his daughter. The documents first found in the
Himmler family house in 1945 were hidden in Tel Aviv for decades and eventually sold to
the father of the Israeli documentary filmmaker Vanessa Lapa. Through readings
of Himmler’s and his family’s most personal writings and rarely seen restored
film footage from key German archives, Lapa has fashioned a fascinating case
study: a portrait of the man responsible for some of the worst atrocities of
the Second World War who thought of himself in heroic terms.

October 3

Gone Girl
Directed by David Fincher and based on the global bestseller by
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the
occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports
that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure
from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union
begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits, and strange behavior have everyone
asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

The Good Lie – Written by Margaret Nagle
They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.” Orphaned by the brutal civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims travelled as many as
a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a
humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America. In The
Good Lie
, Philippe Falardeau (writer and director of the Oscar-nominated
Foreign Language Film Monsieur Lazhar) brings the story of their survival and
triumph to life. Sudanese actors Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, and
newcomer Nyakuoth Weil, many of whom were also children of war, star alongside
Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon and Corey Stoll.

A Good Marriage
When her husband (Anthony LaPaglia) of more than twenty years is away on one of
his business trips, Darcy Anderson (Joan Allen) looks for batteries in the
garage. Instead, she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a
horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively
ends a good marriage.

The Hero of Color City – Co-Written by Jess Kedward and Kirsty Peart
Each night, when Ben falls asleep, his Crayons’ magical Crayon Box transports
them to Color City, a world of dazzling hues, soaring fantasy, and the whimsy of
childhood. When Yellow (Christina Ricci) is accidentally left behind in Ben’s room, she awakens
two Unfinished Drawings: King Scrawl, a huge monster, and Gnat, Scrawl’s
sidekick. They follow Yellow to Color City and claim the enchanted Rainbow
Waterfall and all of its color for themselves. Soon Color City will fade, and
our lovable crayon characters will disappear. It’s up to Yellow and her pals,
Blue (Wayne Brady), Green (Jess Harnell), Red (Rosie Perez), and the twins, Black (David Kaye) and White, to save the day. Meeting with
fantastical creatures and fun adventures along the way, Yellow discovers she
has more courage than she knew and learns to believe in herself and to count on
the support of her friends.

The Supreme Price (doc) – Directed by Joanna Lipper
In 1993 Nigeria elected M.K.O. Abiola as
president in a historic vote that promised to end years of military
dictatorship. Shortly after the election, Abiola was imprisoned as another
military regime seized power, and his wife, Kudirat, took over the leadership
of the pro-democracy movement, organizing strikes and marches and winning
international attention for the Nigerian struggle. Because of this work, she, too, became a target and was assassinated in 1996. Director Joanna Lipper
elegantly dovetails past and present as she tells this story through the eyes
of Hafsat Abiola, who was about to graduate from Harvard when her mother was
murdered. Her father died in prison two years later under mysterious
circumstances. Determined not to let her parents’ democratic ideals die with
them, Hafsat returns to Nigeria after years in exile and is at the forefront of
a progressive movement to empower women and dismantle the patriarchal structure
of Nigerian society. The Supreme Price provides an unprecedented look inside
of Africa’s most populous nation, exposing the tumultuous, violent history of a
deeply entrenched corrupt culture of governance where a tiny circle of
political elites monopolize billions of dollars’ worth of oil revenue while the
masses remain impoverished.

October 10

Addicted – Co-Written by Christina Welsh
Based on the best-selling novel by Zane, Addicted is a sexy and provocative
thriller about desire and the dangers of indiscretion. Successful businesswoman
Zoe Reynard (Sharon Leal) appears to have attained it all — the dream husband
she loves (Boris Kodjoe), two wonderful children, and a flourishing career. As
perfect as everything appears from the outside, Zoe is still drawn to
temptations she cannot escape or resist. As she pursues a secretive life, Zoe
finds herself risking it all when she heads down a perilous path she may not
survive.

You’re Not You – Co-Written by Shana Feste
Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby) and rapidly
rising star Emmy Rossum (Shameless) intertwine in You’re Not You, a
surprisingly funny, defiantly unsentimental, and starkly moving portrait of a
high-stakes friendship between two women — one literally in need of a voice, the
other discovering the full power of hers.

Awake: The Life of Yogananda (doc) – Co-Directed by Lisa Leeman
This feature documentary explores the life and teachings of Paramahansa
Yogananda, who authored the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which
has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers,
philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today. It was the only book that Steve Jobs
had on his iPad, and he arranged to give away 800 copies of it to the
dignitaries who attended his memorial service. It was also a point of entry
into Eastern mysticism for George Harrison, Russell Simmons, and countless
yogis. By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his
struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient teachings accessible to a
modern audience, attracting many followers and ultimately helping millions of
seekers today to turn their attention inwards, bucking the temptations of the
material world in pursuit of self-realization.

October 17

Camp X-Ray
A young woman (Kristen Stewart) joins the military to be part of something bigger than herself and her small-town roots. But she ends up as a new guard at Guantanamo Bay instead, where her mission is far from black and white. Surrounded by hostile jihadists and aggressive squadmates, she strikes up an unusual friendship with one of the detainees. A story of two people, on opposite sides of a war, struggling to find their way through the ethical quagmire of Guantanamo Bay. And in the process, they form an unlikely bond that changes them both.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Legendary Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, Pom
Poko
) revisits Japan’s most famous folktale in this gorgeous, hand-drawn
masterwork, decades in the making. Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an
old bamboo cutter (James Caan) and his wife (Mary Steenburgen), a tiny girl
grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady (Chloë Grace Moretz). The mysterious
young princess enthralls all who encounter her, but ultimately she must confront
her fate: the punishment for her crime. From the studio that brought you
Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and The Wind Rises comes a powerful and
sweeping epic that redefines the limits of animated storytelling and marks a
triumphant highpoint within an extraordinary career in filmmaking for director
Isao Takahata.

Life Inside Out – Directed by Jill D’Agnenica; Written by Maggie Baird and Lori Nasso
Life Inside Out tells the story of Laura (Maggie Baird), the mother of three teenage boys, and
her youngest son Shane (Finneas O’Connell), the family misfit and a disappointment to his father.
When Laura stumbles upon her long-forgotten guitar, she is taken under its
spell and rediscovers her love for song-writing. When she impulsively flies off
to her first open-mic night, she takes an unhappy Shane along for the ride.
Despite a rocky entry into the late-night mélange of musicians and unusual
characters that populate the club, Laura starts to blossom and Shane seems
oddly at home. Soon, following his mother’s lead and with a little help from
YouTube, Shane begins to discover musical gifts of his own. Although the family
struggles under financial pressure and the path to creative expression is
bumpy, together, through the power of music, they’re finally able to make sense
of a world in which they’ve felt so lost.

Watchers of the Sky (doc) – Directed by Edet Belzberg
With his provocative question “Why is the killing of a million a lesser
crime than the killing of an individual?” Raphael Lemkin changed the
course of history. The Sundance Award-winning film Watchers of the Sky examines
the life and legacy of the Polish-Jewish lawyer and linguist who coined the
term “genocide.” Before Lemkin, the notion of accountability for war crimes was
virtually non-existent. After experiencing the barbarity of the Holocaust
first-hand, he devoted his life to convincing the international community that
there must be legal retribution for mass atrocities targeted at minorities. An
impassioned visionary, Lemkin confronted world apathy in a tireless battle for
justice, setting the stage for the Nuremberg trails and the creation of the
International Criminal Court. Inspired by Samantha Power’s Pulitzer
Prize-winning book A Problem From Hell, this multi-faceted documentary
interweaves Raphael Lemkin’s struggle with the courageous efforts of four
individuals keeping his legacy alive.

Citizenfour (doc) – Directed by Laura Poitras
In January 2013, Poitras (recipient of the 2012 MacArthur Genius Fellowship and
co-recipient of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service) was several years
into making a film about surveillance in the post-9/11 era when she started
receiving encrypted e-mails from someone identifying himself as “Citizenfour.” He was ready to blow the whistle on the massive and covert surveillance
programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. In June 2013, she and
Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man
who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film
that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in
the history of cinema: a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute
before our eyes.

October 24

Laggies – Directed by Lynn Shelton; Written by Andrea Seigel
Overeducated and underemployed, 28-year-old Megan (Keira Knightley) is in the throes of a quarter-life crisis. Squarely into adulthood with no career prospects, no particular motivation to think about her future, and no one to relate to, Megan is comfortable lagging a few steps behind while her friends check off milestones and celebrate their new grown-up status. When her high-school sweetheart (Mark Webber) proposes, Megan panics and — given an unexpected opportunity to escape for a week — hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year old Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Annika’s world-weary single dad Craig (Sam Rockwell). Lynn Shelton (Your Sister’s Sister, Humpday) crafts a sweet, romantic coming-of-age comedy about three people who find their lives intertwined in the most unconventional way as they make their way through the imperfect realities of modern-day life. Keira Knightley shines as Megan, a rare female slacker hero who shows us that while you never stop growing up, you can choose to stop lagging, and start living on your terms.

1,000 Times Good Night
Rebecca (Juliette Binoche) is one of the world’s top war photojournalists, capturing
dangerous and chilling images in the most dire landscapes, all in an effort to
shed light on the real cost of modern war. But she’s also a wife and mother,
leaving behind a husband and two young daughters every time she travels to a
new combat zone. After a near-death experience chronicling the ritual of a
female suicide bomber, her husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) levels an
ultimatum: give up the dangerous profession or lose the family she counts on
being there when she returns from each assignment. Yet the conviction that her
photos can make a difference keeps pulling at Rebecca’s resolve, making it
difficult for her to walk away entirely. With an offer to photograph a refugee
camp in Kenya, a place allegedly so safe that daughter Steph (Lauryn Canny) is
allowed to join her, Rebecca comes face to face with just how much she risks
each time she steps back into the fray.

White Bird in a Blizzard
Kat Connors (Shailene Woodley) is 17-years-old when her perfect homemaker mother, Eve (Eva Green), a
beautiful, enigmatic, and haunted woman, disappears, just as Kat is discovering
and relishing her newfound sexuality. Having lived for so long in a stifled,
emotionally repressed household, she barely registers her mother’s absence and
certainly doesn’t blame her doormat of a father, Brock (Christopher Meloni), for the loss. In fact,
it’s almost a relief. But as time passes, Kat begins to come to grips with how
deeply Eve’s disappearance has affected her. Returning home on a break from
college, she finds herself confronted with the truth about her mother’s departure,
and her own denial about the events surrounding it.

Tiger Lily Road
Two small-town women (Ilva Dulack and Karen Chamberlain) capture a handsome fugitive who breaks into their house trying to escape a snowstorm and the law. Pretty soon he wishes he had picked another line of work. (Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival)

October 29

The Great Invisible (doc) – Directed by Margaret Brown
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico
in a blaze of fire that could be seen 35 miles away, killing 11 workers and
causing the worst oil spill in American history. The Great Invisible, the first
comprehensive overview of the incident and its aftermath, is the result of four
years that Alabama-born Brown spent traveling in the small towns and major
cities all around the Gulf, talking to those affected. With an eye for
unforgettable characters, Brown gained the trust of a wide range of people,
from industry insiders to small-town fishermen, from lawyers administering BP’s
faulty compensation fund to the shell-shocked survivors of the initial blast
(one of whom provides chilling first-person video taken onboard the Deepwater
Horizon in the days leading up to the disaster). Together, their testimony adds
up to a damning portrait of an industry whose lack of government oversight led
to unthinkable catastrophe, a lack of oversight that has not changed, despite
the widespread outrage at the time.

October 31

Before I Go To Sleep
A taut thriller based on the worldwide best-selling novel by S.J. Watson,
Before I Go To Sleep is the story of a woman (Nicole Kidman) who wakes up every
day with no memory as the result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day,
terrifying new truths begin to emerge that make her question everything she
thinks she knows about her life, as well as everyone in it, including her
doctor (Mark Strong) and even her husband (Colin Firth).

ABCs of Death 2 – Co-Directed by Kristina Buozyte, Jen and Sylvia Soska
ABCs of Death 2 is the follow-up to the most ambitious anthology film ever
conceived, with productions spanning from Nigeria to the UK to Brazil and everywhere
in between. It features segments directed by over two dozen of the world’s
leading talents in contemporary genre film. The film is comprised of twenty-six
individual chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of
the alphabet. The directors were then given free rein in choosing a word to
create a story involving death. Provocative, shocking, funny and at times
confrontational, ABCs of Death 2 is another global celebration of the next generation
genre filmmaking.

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