Hello! I’m Mark Olsen,and welcome to your weekly field guide to a world of Only Good Movies.
We are very excited about what is shaping up to be an incredible run of films for the Indie Focus Screening Series over the next couple of months. As always, space is limited, but we think it’s worth the effort. L.A. Times subscribers are given priority access to RSVP and seating, plus a concession voucher. (So a drink is on us!) For info, check here: events.latimes.com/indiefocus.
Nonstop movies. Movies nonstop.
Actor Felix de Givry and director Mia Hansen-Love of the film "Eden." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Mia Hansen-Løve is among my favorite filmmakers working today. Her films all feel honest and fresh and deeply emotional. Her new film, “Eden,” is no exception, but it has a scale and scope that are new. Co-written with her brother Sven Hansen-Løve, the film covers some 20 years on the French electronic music scene, which would also launch Daft Punk to stardom. In the story, a DJ tries to navigate the distinctions between failure and success, dream and reality.
The film is now playing in Los Angeles, but I’ve been on its trail for some time now. I was at the world premiere last fall and then caught up with Mia Hansen-Løve and star Felix de Givry at Sundance for a video interview. We screened the film and had a Q&A with De Givry and Sven Hansen-Løve a few weeks back. I also wrote a Sunday Calendar feature this week. (And Kenneth Turan liked the film too!)
American actress, writer and director Greta Gerwig has a small but pivotal role in the film. A longtime fan of Mia Hansen-Løve as a filmmaker, Gerwig recalled meeting her in person for the first time and said, “I fell very deeply in girl-crush love with her. … I was a goner when we were talking.”
Gerwig also said, “I think she’s one of the greats right now. She’s one of the people who are true auteurs making excellent, personal, interesting films with her own cinematic language that she’s developed. There’s a handful of people like that, and she’s one of them.”
Chanel Iman, left, Kiersey Clemons, Tony Revolori, director Rick Famuyiwa (rear), Shameik Moore, Blake Anderson and Quincy Brown from the movie "Dope" at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 24, 2015. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Now getting an unusually wide release for a movie picked up at Sundance, “Dope” was definitely one of the most talked-about films at this year’s festival back in January. With its ’90s-loving teenage dorks in contemporary Inglewood and a drug-dealing caper plot, the film was recently referred to by The Times’ Lorraine Ali as “part ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ part ‘Boyz n the Hood.’”
“It’s not a ’hood film or romantic comedy or Tyler Perry,” writer-director Rick Famuyiwa said to Ali. “It’s like there’s only two or three things black films can be, and it’s none of those.”
In LA Weekly, writer Amy Nicholson called the film “poised to be one of the summer’s sneak successes. … It’s funny, off-kilter, smart and sincere.”
From left, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godreche, Patrick Brice, Adam Scott and Naomi Scott of "The Overnight." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
We had a fantastic Indie Focus Screening Series event last week with “The Overnight” followed by a talk with writer-director Patrick Brice, producer Naomi Scott and cast members Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche. The film involves two couples in Los Angeles who meet for a dinner party and find things getting unexpectedly intimate from there. The film is a sex comedy but also a satire of contemporary Los Angeles and an examination of the anxiety of inadequacy that often comes with living here.
“Usually when you see sex approached in comedies, it’s in kind of a glib way,” said Brice during the Q&A. “It’s about sex, but it’s also about connection.”
The Times’ Oliver Gettell was there too, and he described the film as “unabashedly raunchy, occasionally creepy and surprisingly sweet.”
In his L.A. Times review of the film, Gary Goldstein referred to Paul Mazursky’s 1969 satire when he referred to the film as “a kind of latter-day ‘Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,’ but with a bit more envelope-pushing ... engaging, funny and frank.”
Amy Kaufman spoke to Schwartzman and Scott about the film’s signature full-frontal dance scene. Even though they were wearing prosthetics, as Scott said, “We were both nervous. ... Nudity is not fun.”
‘The Blues Brothers’
The church service scene from the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers." (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Fans of the recent action-comedy “Spy” who have not seen “The Blues Brothers” would do well to check out the 1980 film when it plays the New Beverly on June 26 and 27. It is a musical, a comedy and an action film with some truly incredible car chases. Directed by John Landis, “The Blues Brothers” stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as musicians on a mission to save the orphanage where they grew up, with spirited cameos by the likes of James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker. If I made a list of movies I could watch pretty much anytime, “The Blues Brothers” would be on there for certain. And the 2013 Vanity Fair article on the movie’s chaotic production is an epic unto itself.
Email me if you have questions, comments or suggestions, and follow me on Twitter @IndieFocus