Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s most mainstream endeavor yet is set to be released next month. Synchronic, a new feature from the directors of Spring, Resolution and The Endless, stars former Mr. Grey, Jamie Dornan and Marvel’s new Captain America, Anthony Mackie. It promises to be just as fascinating as Moorhead and Benson’s previous flicks, if this first trailer is anything to go by, however, when the film originally screened at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, critics were conflicted over comparisons to the pair’s previously stellar efforts.
Here’s an official wee synopsis for you:
“When New Orleans paramedics and longtime best friends Steve (Mackie) and Dennis (Dornan) are called to a series of bizarre, gruesome accidents, they chalk it up to the mysterious new party drug found at the scene. But after Dennis’s oldest daughter suddenly disappears, Steve stumbles upon a terrifying truth about the supposed psychedelic that will challenge everything he knows about reality—and the flow of time itself.”
Despite the film’s theatrical release plans, co-director Moorhead has publicly asked that people avoid seeing his new joint on the big screen, posting on Instagram “we want to be very clear: at the time of writing this, we personally wouldn’t go to an indoor movie theater, so we can’t encourage you to. To us, this isn’t only about feeling safe in a theater, this is also about the scientific community indicating that enclosed spaces like movie theaters are still a hazard for spreading COVID-19 to others.”
LX 2048 Review: A Thought-Provoking Albeit Uninspired Sci-Fi Drama
James D’Arcy as Adam Bird
Gina McKee as Dr. Rhys
Delroy Lindo as Donald Stein
Juliet Aubrey as Dr. Maple
Anna Brewster as Reena Bird
Written & Directed by Guy Moshe
Click here to rent or purchase LX 2048!
LX 2048 Review:
Life after death is one of the most fearsome and unknown aspects of existence and the sci-fi genre has explored various means of humanity’s desire to get around the eventual state, from uploading consciousnesses onto technology to body swapping and even cloning and Guy Moshe’s LX 2048 makes a thought-provoking attempt at exploring the latter, it’s unfortunately too predictable and too overlong to make for an entertaining affair.
It is 2048. Mankind has by now destroyed the ozone layer to such a degree that normal human beings cannot be out in daytime. People spend their waking hours at night and almost everything is done inside the virtual realm. From work to school to socializing, most people just stay home and conduct their affairs from their Virtual Reality designated spaces. Mental depression has become so prevalent that the entire population is required to take the state issued pill 001LithiumX. In this new world order, Adam Bird is a rare breed. Adam insists on waking up during the day. He insists on leaving his house and going to work in a physical office. He has 3 kids in a time when most people barely breed, and he adamantly refuses to take 001LithiumX, fighting to stay human in a world that is rapidly transforming into the artificial. But things change when Adam discovers his heart is mysteriously failing. With no possibility for an organ transplant, Adam is now scheduled to be replaced by a cloned upgrade – an improved version of himself that will be supplied to his estranged wife as part of the Premium 3 government insurance plan. Spiraling out of control, Adam starts living on borrowed time, seeking to find a solution before his replica will be sent to raise his kids and replace his existence across the board.
The initial world introduction takes an actually interesting approach to the world of the future, one in which we are so reliant upon our technology that not only are we never seeing the light of day, but we no longer can as the ozone layer has made it toxic to be caught in direct sunlight. It’s a subtle enough critique on the dangers of global warming for the planet that most genre fare tends to handle with too heavy a hand and sits as one of the positives of the film, especially as technology never seems to stop advancing and our desire for them hasn’t slowed down one bit.
However, the story that we see and the characters that we follow tend to be a mixed bag of unoriginal plotting and unlikable characters that it’s hard to ever truly connect with the film. While one should generally want to sympathize for D’Arcy’s Adam, a family man rebelling against a sheep-like modern society who wants to ensure his family is covered as he faces a sooner-than-expected meeting with his maker, the way he’s written and illustrated makes it really hard to want to root for him or even care about him. From essentially cheating on his wife with an artificial intelligence sex bot to constantly lashing out at his family, doctors and co-workers, he’s not a protagonist that’s easy to connect to or feel for, making his “life” story as uninteresting as the film’s critiques on modern technology.
This isn’t to say that D’Arcy himself delivers a bad performance, because the majority of the film really is carried on the back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe star’s presence and he performs what’s written plenty well. Everything from his anguish over his impending death to condemnations of those around him all feel really believable coming from the 45-year-old star, but unfortunately his great work can only go so far to elevate the lackluster material, especially in odd attempts at levity in which Adam unfortunately faces an Oedipus complex upon calling his mother and being greeted with a 17-year-old avatar of her in skimpy clothing. D’Arcy’s shocked reactions feel real and believable for anybody that would face such a sight, but when moments such as these do nothing for the plot or the characters at large, it goes to show the odd writing choices made by Moshe.
Feeling more like an overdrawn and uninspired episode of Black Mirror rather than a groundbreaking feature affair, LX 2048 certainly raises some thought-provoking questions and tries its hardest to explore them truthfully but falls mostly flat that by the time the final credits roll, if the viewer is left pondering their own existence it’s only as to why they spent it watching this film.
‘The Nest’ Director Sean Durkin on How You Make a Thriller Feel Haunted [Interview]
Writer/director/producer Sean Durkin is unafraid to take us to some dark places, providing a unique and compelling vision along the way. The winner of the Sundance directing award for Martha Marcy May Marlene, he returned to that festival with The Nest, a creepy, harrowing character piece about a family’s struggles with their own dreams and expectations. It’s a film that takes genre elements and gives them a welcome twist, belying expectations at every move, resulting in a deep character piece that’s moving and effective.
In his original review, /Film writer Ben Pearson called the film a “searing, smoldering exploration of ambition”, and I also alliteratively described it as a “brittle, bleak take of a family fueled by hubris and ambition.” With an exceptional core cast of Carrie Coon, Jude Law, Charlie Shotwell and Oona Roch, there’s much to dig into this rich story.
/Film spoke to Sean by phone prior to the film’s theatrical relase.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision
Your film is a Canadian-UK co-production about a transatlantic crossing. Do you yourself feel like a Canadian-UK co-production, and did that come to mind when you were crafting the film?
[Laughs] Yeah! I was born in Canada, and I lived in England as a kid, though I’ve spent most of my life in America. So it’s funny the makeup of the film is very much all three countries.
How did that inform this thriller that you wrote how these cultures collide?
It always just starts from a character place. When I was a kid I moved to London from New York, and there was this huge difference, much different than it is now. I thought that would be good for this stark change as well as beyond that, when it becomes about family and marriage and getting into the detail of that and those things. I always start on my personal level. Over time I make decisions to shape it, such as about what year did I set it in. I chose 1986 because I wanted it to be centered on the eve of the financial Big Bang. Many companies in London being sold off at the time, and it seemed a chance to make a lot of money. Obviously no one knew that the financial markets would crumble a year later. I did want those values of that time to be at the core of what was going wrong in the family, with this idea of this guy who who’s been sold this idea of success and thinking he’s doing the right thing for his family, not thinking about the details and what it means emotionally. So it always comes for me out of the character first, and their decisions and the bigger scenes come later.
Success in America is rated one way, but there still is the massive baggage of class in Britain, where no matter what you earn you often can’t buy your way to prestige.
That was a big part of Rory. I really felt strongly about showing where he came from, even if it’s just a few minutes. To learn that Rory grew up on this estate [ie., lower income housing], it shows that he has broken out of that class system. That’s something major that drives his character. That leads him to be quite confused about who he is because he’s so worried about what he’s not.
That’s why I really loved the whole central metaphor of the title of the film. It’s all about where we come from and our origins – we can’t choose our nest, but we choose what happens after. Then there are things like cuckoo birds that take over other birds’ nests and make it their own, but that’s an even darker drive.
Exactly. It’s about where we choose to build a home.
Can you talk about bringing that family together?
Each person took a different path. I’d spent some time with Carrie through friends the year before and got to know her a bit. For some reason at first I wasn’t even thinking about her, and then my casting director said her name and it was like a light opened up! I needed someone who could capture a duality. I think we’re not used to seeing characters that are more than one thing – You have this person who is hard-working, engaged in physical labour, mucking out stalls, and a real horse person, but also a woman who loves to get dressed up and go out. That’s just a surface description of it, but to capture those things in tandem believably is quite tricky, and Carrie just has that in her. With Jude, I asked him to read it and he met me in L.A. From the very first conversation we just wanted the same things from the project, which was to find that nuance and heart and love that’s underneath everything Rory does, even if it doesn’t seem like it at times. Jude just has massive heart and warmth and so I just knew that he would capture that and give it that real internal life. For casting the kids, we did a pretty wide search in New York. This is Oona’s first role, she had self-taped audition and I knew immediately she’s it. Her character had to have a toughness and adry humor under everything, and Oona just had that in her first audition. Charlie’s done so much work, he’s so experienced, so reliable, he’s such a great kid. I’d seen a bunch of people, and come across his tape and we met in person and it was, like, how old are you?! It’s quite a quiet role and he’s not that, and so it was great for him to have the wise eyes underneath this character.
This felt a little bit, in a good way, like a Cronenberg film, maybe because of Jude’s involvment. Are there specific filmmakers, specific tones that you looked at while crafting the script of getting that sense of unease that is baked through it?
The movie that really opened my eyes to what a family drama could be was Shoot the Moon, the Alan Parker film from the early 80s, which I had never even heard of. That’s just the best family drama I’ve ever seen, hands down. The writing’s incredible, the acting’s incredible, the direction’s incredible, it has a naturalism, but an atmosphere in really subtle ways, in the setting, in the changing seasons, in these parents splitting up and they’re in two different houses. That became a guide for me when writing it. In addition to that I drew upon the films of Alan Clarke, since I’m making something set in England of the 80s. Clarke explored very different worlds than this, but he had an ability over and over again to capture some absolute truth of British life. Then, films like The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby are my bedrock.
I guess that’s what I’m reaching for. There’s a thriller element here, and if you look at Eastern Promises or History of Violence, there’s this dance between genres, that you have what’s essentially a family drama wrapped in this other sort of hard intensity. Kubrick makes sense, and even Bergman – You’ve mentioned previously you’re a big fan of Persona.
Yeah. I wanted the genre elements without fully going there, without making it a horror film, obviously. I wanted to use the elements to represent the emotional experience of what was going on with characters. I was creating these bones of the haunted house, without being haunted. Yet the people in it feel haunted.
Do you consider yourself part of the American Indie community?
I don’t think about those things. I’m just interested in the work. I have a wide variety of interests that I haven’t got to explore yet, so I just do the work that I’m drawn. Whatever the labels are around that, I’m not sure about. I would just say I’ve done a small part of what I can and want to do.
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Arif Zahir to Replace Mike Henry as Voice of Cleveland Brown in Season 19
Fox has found the new voice of “Family Guy’s” Cleveland Brown. Voice actor Arif Zahir will be taking over the role from Mike Henry, who said in June he would be stepping down from the part, series creator Seth MacFarlane and showrunners Rich Appel and Alec Sulkin said Friday.
“I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color,” Henry, the longtime voice of the fan-favorite Black character, said at the time, as Fox announced it would no longer have white actors voice people of color on its shows.
Henry will remain the voice of Cleveland for the Fox animated series’ upcoming 18th season, which has already completed all of its episodes and airs its premiere Sunday.
“Family Guy” was renewed for Seasons 19 and 20 earlier this week, and Zahir will be begin voicing Cleveland on the 19th season episodes, which have just begun production. Henry will remain a voice performer and series regular on the show.
The announcement of Cleveland’s new voice actor comes one day after Fox revealed Alex Désert would be replacing Hank Azaria as the voice of Carl on “The Simpsons” Season 32 premiere Sunday.
“I welcome Arif to the ‘Family Guy’ team,” Henry said. “Arif’s vocal talent is obvious, but his understanding of Cleveland and his respect for the character give me confidence that he is in the right hands. I look forward to getting to know Arif and working with him to make sure Cleveland stays every bit as awesome as he has always been.”
Zahir added: “Firstly, I’m eternally grateful to have received this once in a lifetime opportunity. When I heard that Mike Henry was stepping down from the role of Cleveland Brown- my favorite cartoon character of all time- I was shocked and saddened, assuming we’d never see him again. When I learned I would get to take over the role? Overabundant gratitude. To Mike, you created something truly special and I promise I will do my absolute best to honor your legacy. To Rich Appel, Alec Sulkin and Seth MacFarlane, thank you for this incredible gift. And to the millions of fans who love this show, I promise not to let you down.”
Zahir is repped by CAA.
“Family Guy” Season 18 premieres Sunday at 9:30/8:30c on Fox.
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