Promised Land

Matt Damon re-teams with the director of Good Will Hunting.

River of No Return

Marilyn Monroe explores the Wild West.

Satellite Boy

Pete lives with his grandfather in an old abandoned outdoor cinema.

Wuthering Heights

Forbidden love in the United Kingdom.

Cafe de Flore

Vanessa Paradis in an emotional French tale.


GUEST POST: 5 Favorites by Gina Prince-Bythewood

The writer/director for the critically praised romantic drama Beyond The Lights (starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker) stopped by Reel Artsy to share her 5 Favorites:

Hey, I am Gina Prince-Bythewood and I write and direct. Feel blessed and grateful to do both. But then if I couldn’t I would literally go crazy, so it is better for all of us that I have the opportunity. My five favorite things in music and film are…

BROADCAST NEWS. Hysterically funny one moment and heartbreaking the next. Its like a master class in writing. You can feel the craft in every line. There was not one false moment. Holly Hunter was brilliant! Changed the perception of what a leading lady had to be. Direction was flawless. It is the kind of film I aspire to make – commercial with critical acclaim.
HOOP DREAMS. If you scripted this as a film, you would be accused of hewing too closely to sports movie clich├ęs. But because it was real life, it is mesmerizing and unexpected. I have watched it so many times and never tire of the surprising trajectories of William and Arthur. Changed the game for documentaries. Made them commercial. And I’m a baller so I have that added affinity.
LAURYN HILL, “X-FACTOR”. Listening to this song is an emotional experience. It is filled with so much truth and heartbreak and angst. On the level of Nina Simone’s “Blackbird.” Hauntingly beautiful. I ache when I listen. I create playlists for every script I write. “X-Factor” was on repeat when I wrote the fourth quarter of “Love & Basketball.” It was my fuel.
MAXWELL, “THIS WOMAN’S WORK”. Kate Bush sang the original and it was always one of my favorite songs. Then one night I was flipping through channels and I stopped on MTV, where Maxwell was on “Unplugged.” That falsetto hit those first notes and I was on the floor. It is an emotional wrecking ball. I knew immediately I wanted to put it in a film. Petrified that another filmmaker would discover it too and use it first. I put it up against “the first time” in ‘Love & Basketball” and it was a wrap. No edits or massaging necessary. Perfect marriage of image and song.
NINA SIMONE, “BLACKBIRD”. When I was in the early stages of writing “Beyond The Lights,” I knew the character Noni would sing a Nina Simone song when she was a little girl. I just didn’t know which one. Listened through a stack of Nina CD’s and stumbled across it. It was like it was written for the film. Lyrically perfect. Hauntingly beautiful. Stripped and raw. It changed the trajectory of the story. It was the original title of the film and it still kills me that I had to change it. “Beyond The Lights” is “Blackbird” visualized.  


[Beyond The Lights DVD release is scheduled for Febrary 24th]

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Beyond The Lights (2014)

This movie rocked me to the core. The mood, tone, cinematography and storyline offer a staggering tale of heart-warming love.

Beyond the Lights plays like a post-rock song... Quiet, loud, quiet, loud. Each emotionally charged scene pulls our heart strings with a skilled subtle dynamic that swells with a satisfying ethereal finale. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker were the instruments, they played their roles with pitch-perfect vulnerability making Noni and Kaz people you wanted to cheer for, complicated, flawed, but beautiful together. I got teary-eyed when Noni sang the second rendition of  "Blackbird." She had me bleeding for her when she stood in the driveway asking Kaz to "see" and love her. Witnessing the transformation of her fragile soul bloom was a quiet explosion in the sky. A brilliant firework. Nate Parker made Kaz suave and sexy; genuine and down-right-decent.

How often do you get to see two people fall in love over sweet potatoes in the car? Not everyone will get the power of that visual. But I ate it up.

I loved the fact that Noni was biracial, and British, and that element, those layers, are something I've wanted to see portrayed on the big screen.

I knew when I finished Beyond The Lights, that I had to see it again, and I did the next day, and then the next day after that. Why? Because Gina Prince-Bythewood directed the type of film that I've always wanted to see. As a movie blogger you wait in eager expectation for the kind of film that makes you fall in love with movies all over again. Beyond the Lights is that film for me. It happens every once in a while, 500 Days of Summer, Blue Valentine, Medicine for Melancholy, Once, Never Let Me Go, I Will Follow (to name a few). And it's a splendid slice of filmmaking when it does.

This movie is special to me, and I can only hope that it becomes special to you. And that, my dear readers, is the beauty of movie magic.

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Trailer - Beyond the Lights

The trailer for Beyond the Lights offers a slice of everything I want to see happening in black film. Awesome female director. Check. Talented young leads. Check. Clips that ooze emotion in an artistic and stylishly beautiful way. Check. It's quite possible I may have found my new favorite movie. Yes, more, and please.

In theaters November 14th.

Official Sites: IMDb / Facebook

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Trailer - Dear White People

Dear White People is a "satire about being a black face in a white place." The story takes place on a college campus, and the film had some major buzz at the Sundance Film Festival. Here's the trailer:

In theaters October 17th.

Official Site:

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RSVP - Free Tickets to Special Screening of Coherence in NYC

The fine folks behind the indie sci-fi film Coherence have offered Reel Artsy readers a chance to watch a special screening of the film on June 19th at the East Village Cinemas in NYC. If you're in the New York area and you'd like to attend simply RSVP here, and you'll get added to the list. It's on a first-come-first-serve basis. The screening starts at 7:40pm. 
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, COHERENCE is a tightly focused, intimately shot film that quickly ratchets up with tension and mystery. 

The film co-stars Reel Artsy "fempire" favorite Lorene Scafaria (Seeking A Friend for the End of the World) and Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

In theaters June 20th.

Official Website:

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Drinking Buddies (2013)

It's way too fun watching Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson together. Borderline stalker-ish. They have loads of chemistry, LOADS.

Johnson has perfected the role of an "average guy," and he's crafted it in a way that makes it completely entertaining. His work on New Girl proves that he's able to deliver "relatable" and funny on a weekly basis, and Drinking Buddies amplifies that charming everyman persona. And let's not forget Olivia Wilde... fans of House knew back then she deserved a true starring role. This is it. Her character gets to be messy, complicated, three-dimensional, smart, witty, and an overall a well-rounded female lead. These kind of starring roles are rare to come along in Hollywood, especially for women. Wilde needs more projects of this caliber, quick and pronto.

I'd be remiss to not mention Joe Swanberg, and the finely tuned cast he assembled as director. Everything about this movie screamed Swanberg's touch, but in the most subtle ways.  For those familiar with his early work (Hannah Takes the Stairs) and his mumblecore beginnings you'll find yourself saying, "Wait, is this a Swanberg film?" Why, yes, it is indeed.

Available on Netflix.