Movie-Still Monday: Yosemite

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It’s the fall of 1985. The intertwining tales of three 5th grade friends, Chris, Joe and Ted, unfold in the suburban paradise of Palo Alto, as the threat of a mountain lion looms over the community.

This indie was written and directed by Gabrielle Demeestere, which stars James Franco, Henry Hopper, Steven Wiig, Barry Del Sherman, and Alec Mansky.

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Top Ten Man vs Nature Disaster Movies

With the recent release of Everest, we thought we would satisfy our natural destructive interests with a list of some of our favorite movies highlighting man’s fight for survival against the planets natural forces, be it loud earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, and our course, massive title waves.

David’s Top Five Man vs Nature Movies

 

Poseidon Adventure (1972)

09dvd-2-6001This Twentieth Century Fox-made deity of disaster movies started out as a relatively low-budget ($5,000,000) feature for the financially strapped Hollywood studio and ended up making over $93,000,000. It’s a typical disaster melodrama complete with an all-star cast (five Oscar winners). It’s strength comes from some pretty well drawn characters and good performances that make it easy for viewers to care for each character—not since The Poseidon Adventure have viewers encountered a greater loss than that of Shelly Winter’s Mrs. Rosen. With little special effects or big epic shots, this is a small budget disaster movie that delivers as much adventure as our current CGI ornate movies but also a level of intimacy that is rarely seen today. Poseidon Adventure is pure disaster cinema.

Earthquake (1974)

earthquake !When this epic disaster blockbuster was released, it not only had state of the art special effects, an all-star cast including: Charlton Heston, George Kennedy (the King of disaster flicks), Ava Gardner, Richard Roundtree all at the top of their game, oh and some guy listed in the credits as Walter Matuschanskayasky (Walter Matthau)—it also had Sensurround. This ticket-selling gimmick produced a low frequency sound vibration along theater seats giving an audience the feeling of being in the movie. Earthquake became the fourth highest grossing film of 1974. The second highest grossing film that year was the other disaster flick The Towering Inferno.

The Impossible (2012)

The Impossible !It wasn’t too long ago when the devastating 2004 tsunami struck Southeast Asia killing over 230,000 people. More disturbing than the other films on this list as it’s a true part of our recent history (perhaps too soon?). That truth makes it a little less of an adventure and more of dramatization than the tidal wave that overturns the fictional ship in the Poseidon Adventure.

Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia 1A study of one woman’s journey through despair and clinical depression after learning that the earth is going to collide with another much larger planet. The film features a career high performance by Kirsten Dunst, who went on to win a number of awards. This is not so much a man versus nature film but humanity accepting reality and surrendering to our final end. Melancholia may have one of the most disturbing yet satisfying endings of all disaster films as a strangely cathartic masterpiece.

Meteor (1979)

Meteor 1Maybe an odd choice when you consider the splendid special effects in 1998’s Armageddon and Deep Impact—a banner year for civilization threatened by comets and asteroids. But 1978’s Meteor, featuring Natalie Wood (speaking perfect Russian) and Sean Connery, was the first script to blow up the foreign body speeding towards earth by unifying the efforts of both cold war enemies the U.S. and the Soviet Union and turning the cold war symbol of mass destruction—the nuclear “defense” missile—on the deadly meteor.

Myrna’s Top Five Man vs Nature Movies

 

127 Hours’ (2010)

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Based on a true story, mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) fights for his survival after being pinned beneath a boulder in a narrow, isolated canyon. Franco delivers a captivating performance, anchoring the Danny Boyle docu-style drama. Over the next five days we see him go through a range of emotions—pain, fear, resilience and resignation—as he fights for his life in a seemingly no win situation. Ralston survives the elements to finally learn that he has the courage and the wits to rescue himself by any means necessary.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

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The Perfect Storm is a thrilling film of survival against impossible odds, odds that overcome the courage (or insanity) of some men. Director Wolfgang Petersen’s (Das Boot) film is about the 1991 hurricane that struck the New England Coast. Unaware that the storm is coming, a boat, dubbed the Andrea Gail, is trapped in the storm and the fishermen try to make it home alive. A terrific true story, packed with drama and action. The scope of the film is enormous and the storm itself is a sight to see on screen. Petersen is great at showing us the immense dilemma that the characters are in. The Perfect Storm is a good film from but considering it’s crafted by the same hands who made Das Boot, it is slightly disappointing. The Perfect Storm relies on awesome special effects for the hurricane scenes and is definitely a solid action drama film with a very good cast of actors.

Twister (1996)

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Twister follows almost-divorced storm chasers Bill (Bill Paxton) and Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) as they try to save Oklahoma from a series of violent tornados that threaten to destroy the state. For the next twenty-four hours the Harding’s and their scrappy, gold-hearted crew try to get a tornado to scoop up one of their tracking devices with the goal to get inside one of those suckers. They are hoping they will learn about tornadoes’ patterns and better be able to predict their movements, all the while competing against the big, bad corporate-financed tornado chasers in their shiny black vans. The action starts in the opening frame and never lets up—if you are a thrill ride junkie Twister is the film for you.

Armageddon (1998)

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N.A.S.A. discovers that an asteroid is headed straight for Earth and we will have impact in less than a month. They recruit a misfit team of deep core drillers to save the planet. Enter Bruce Willis (Harry, a tough guy with a heart of gold) in full action mode as the leader of his motley crew of roughnecks, a group of oil drillers that are sent into space to plant a nuclear warhead in an asteroid “the size of Texas” and blast it apart. Once on the rock, just about everything unexpected that can happen does. Its 200 degrees in the sun, 200 below zero in the shade and the surface is covered with razor sharp rocks, as one of Harry’s crew describes it, “it’s the scariest environment imaginable.”

Armageddon is as hyperactive and as deafeningly loud as you can expect from director Michael Bay, but the special effects are stupendous. And by the film’s end every emotional button you might have has been pushed raw and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Touching The Void (2004)

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Director Kevin Macdonald’s film is based on mountain climber Joe Simpson’s book Touching the Void: The Harrowing First-Person Account of One Man’s Miraculous Survival, the remarkable true story of two young British mountain climbers’ near-death experience scaling a 21,000-foot peak in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. Based on one of the most captivating tales of survival one can imagine, the film gains credibility from sequences filmed in the exact locations where the events took place. Macdonald’s uncompromising reenactments put us inside the physical and mental nightmare that Joe Simpson and Simon Yates endured. Intense and drenched in the riveting determination of one man’s will to live, Touching The Void is a surprising film that rattles your nerves and sends a cold chill deep inside.

MoviefiedNYC Review: True Story

Before having seen True Story I was entirely unaware of the national headline account that was Chris Longo (James Franco) and Mike Finkel (Jonah Hill). So, like any blue blooded American about to see a movie based on a true story, I did absolutely no research. A full 24 hours after having seen this film I’ve read through a dozen or so articles regarding this interesting twist of fates. If you read on let’s just consider this your research.

Let me preface this review with my apprehension in writing about a movie that features a well-known journalist(will he ever read this? who knows) but a small part of me wishes he does. This is admittedly a novice thing to do but feels necessary, so if by chance you’re reading this Mr. Finkel I do hope you enjoy my writing.AAA Fra

Longo and Finkel are seemingly star-crossed in the fated journey depicted by True Story. I don’t buy the ‘fate’ aspect suggested by the film, I do believe through everything we see play out that Longo was cool and calculating, manipulating Finkel for his own perverse need.

We first meet Christian Longo as Mike Finkel, a writer for the New York Times on assignment in Mexico. Shortly after our introduction he is apprehended by the FBI with no resistance. Let go by the New York Times, he’s more than willing to take a chance and investigate a story he had no idea he was involved in. Weeks into his attempt to journalistic-ally redeem himself, going so far as offering to cover a snowboarding event, Mike Finkel is caught off guard by a strange phone call inquiring his input on Christian Longo case and his own identity being used.

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I’m thus far convinced there isn’t a hole to pigeon James Franco in, from Pineapple Express to 127 Hours, to the much talked about Interview; the only trend evident in his film’s is that if there’s a spotlight, it’s on him. This goes without saying when watching True Story. Franco’s depiction of Longo is confident and eerie just like Longo in his initial interviews and police reports. There is a smirk that never really leaves Franco’s face even when he’s upset with the line of questioning that comes from Finkel (Hill).

Finkel is more invested in the outcome of Longo’s case than anyone else, the brief encounter he has with the family even seems emotionally forced for the film’s sake. I needed to know if he did it and I’m never satisfied with the stories Longo tells. Jonah Hill (Superbad, Money Ball and This Is the End) does a good enough job convincing me that he is Finkel, the remorseful writer seeking redemption. Needing Longo’s story to pull himself out of the hole he dug himself at The Times, it’s why we see Mike Finkel so eager to form a relationship with Longo beyond identity theft inquiry. I found myself in an ever changing flux of feeling bad for Mike Finkel and being disgusted by him all the while wanting justice for MaryJane, Sadie, Zach and Madison.

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By far my favorite moments have to be the dramatic opening scene, when Finkel’s girlfriend, Jill (Felicity Jones) visits Longo and hears the verdict. Without giving much away I implore you to watch this film for the cinematic thriller it is, especially in the first scene. If you aren’t sure which side to be on beforehand it will do a sound job of persuading you. As for the scene with Jill: you’ll understand when you see it. Throughout the film she’s portrayed as mousy and supportive, never truly stating her opinion until this moment. I was consumed by the intense beauty of her emotion. [Side note: I kept thinking ‘How cool is her job?’ every time they showed her at work] The verdict scene is easily spoiled with a quick Google search but there is a sickness that comes with it that you can’t get from reading an article, it sticks in your throat like a silent sob. I felt remorse and relief upon the end of this film up until what I like to call the ‘Where Are They Now?’ portion of a true-to-life film.

– Meagan Ryerson

Tonight at The Tribeca Film Festival: Adderall Diaries [Pic]

In honor of the 14th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, MoviefiedNYC brings you a daily movie still from a film featured in this year’s festival that is premiering today (4/16) that we think you shouldn’t miss. Click on the title of the film to learn more about it and alternate show dates and times.

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Ed Harris and James Franco in Director Pamela Romanowsky’s The Adderall Diaries.

The Adderall Diaries

Featuring supporting performances by Amber Heard, Cynthia Nixon, and Christian Slater, Pamela Romanowsky’s first feature is an unflinchingly honest drama about fathers and sons, what it means to tell the truth, and the way we choose to write our own story. —Cara Cusumano

#TFF2015

Tribeca Film Festival: Our Audience Award Favorites

TFF 2015 Competition Collage

This coming April  at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival competition, the World Narrative and World Documentary Competitions will be presented in the following juried categories: Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, sponsored by AT&T; Best New Narrative Director (for first-time feature directors in any section); Best Actor in a Narrative Feature, sponsored by Citrin Cooperman; Best Actress in a Narrative Feature, sponsored by Citrin Cooperman; Best Screenplay in a Narrative Feature, sponsored by Freixenet Spanish Cava; Best Cinematography in a Narrative Feature; Best Editing in a Narrative Feature; Best Documentary Feature; Best Editing in a Documentary Feature; and Best New Documentary Director (for first-time feature directors in any section).

One narrative film directed by or written by a woman with a film making its North American, International, or World Premiere will receive the Nora Ephron Award, sponsored by Coach, which recognizes a woman who embodies the spirit and vision of the legendary filmmaker and writer Nora Ephron. Two feature films—one narrative and one documentary—will be selected to receive the Audience Award, the audience choice for best feature film and that is what we are interested in the here the most at MoviefiedNYC.

The films playing in the World Narrative Competition, World Documentary Competition, Viewpoints, Spotlight and Midnight sections are all eligible. To catch up with all the entries please visit the Tribeca Film Festival site, below are some of our favorites at the blog.

World Documentary Feature Competition

Carlos in his '56 ThunderbirdPhotographer: Michael ColesHavana Motor Club, directed and written by Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt. (Cuba, USA) – World Premiere. Reforms have offered opportunity in Cuba but the children of the Revolution are unsure of the best route forward. For a half-dozen drag racers, this means last-minute changes to their beloved American muscle cars, as they prepare for the first sanctioned race in Cuba since 1960. Punctuated by a lively Cuban soundtrack, Havana Motor Club offers a fascinating glimpse at the resilience and ingenuity of the competitive spirit. In Spanish with subtitles.

Porto Alabe being allotted to the UnicornPhotographer: Guillaume Bonn

Palio, directed and written by Cosima Spender and Co-Written by John Hunt. (UK, Italy) – World Premiere. In the world’s oldest horse race, the Palio, taking bribes and fixing races threatens to extinguish the passion for the sport itself. Giovanni, unversed in corruption, challenges his former mentor, who dominates the game. What ensues is a thrilling battle, filled with the intoxicating drama that is at the center of Italian tradition. In Italian with subtitles.

 World Narrative Feature Competition

Luke Wilson (Philip) Photo credit: Reed Morano

Meadowland, directed by Reed Morano, written by Chris Rossi. (USA) – World Premiere. Sarah and Phil’s son goes missing, shattering their life together and forcing each to find their own way to cope. Cinematographer-turned-director Reed Morano presents a masterfully crafted contemplation on a relationship strained to the breaking point. Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson capture the unraveling emotions with remarkable power, alongside Kevin Corrigan, John Leguizamo, Elisabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, Juno Temple, and Merritt Wever.

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The Adderall Diaries, directed and written by Pamela Romanowsky. (USA) – World Premiere. Elliott (James Franco), a once-successful novelist inflicted with writer’s block and an Adderall addiction strives to escape his problems by delving into the world of a high-profile murder case. Amber Heard, Ed Harris, and Cynthia Nixon co-star in this adaptation of Elliott’s best-selling memoir.

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Sworn Virgin (Vergine Giurata), directed and written by Laura Bispuri, co-written by Francesca Manieri. (Albania, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Switzerland) – North American Premiere. As a young woman living within the confines of a Northern Albanian village, Hana longs to escape the shackles of womanhood, and live her life as a man. To do so she must take an oath to eternally remain a virgin. Years later, as Mark, she leaves home for the first time to confront a new set of circumstances, leading her to contemplate the possibility of undoing her vow. In Albanian, Italian with subtitles.

Viewpoints

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The Wolfpack, directed by Crystal Moselle. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. Everything the Angulo brothers know about the outside world they learned from obsessively watching movies. Shut away from bustling New York City by their overprotective father, they cope with their isolation by diligently re-enacting their favorite films. When one of the brothers escapes, the world as they know it will be transformed. A Magnolia Release.

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Lucifer, directed and written by Gust Van den Berghe. (Belgium, Mexico) – United States Premiere, Narrative. An angel falling from heaven to hell unexpectedly lands in a Mexican village where his presence affects the villagers in surprising ways. Inspired by the biblical story, Lucifer is a mesmerizing, moving, and unique exercise in form, presented in the director’s own format, Tondoscope. In Spanish with subtitles.

Midnight

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Scherzo Diabolico, directed and written by Adrián García Bogliano. (Mexico, USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.Armed with a fine-tuned chokehold and penchant for piano sonatas, a wearied accountant breaks his mild-mannered routine when he kidnaps a young woman. What starts as a carefully calculated plan soon crescendos into his worst nightmare. A delightfully twisted black comedy, Scherzo Diabolico is the latest opus from director Adrián García Bogliano. In Spanish with subtitles

Spotlight

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Dirty Weekend, directed and written by Neil LaBute. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative. Neil LaBute returns to Tribeca with this sharp-edged comedy treat about the ripple effects of desire, whether it’s followed or left unredeemed. Matthew Broderick and Alice Eve are wonderful together as colleagues with secrets who come to depend on each other for understanding as they go to find a spark of excitement in Albuquerque, after dark.

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The Emperor’s New Clothes, made by Michael Winterbottom & Russell Brand (UK) – International Premiere. Cinema’s prolific writer/director Michael Winterbottom and comedian/provocateur Russell Brand join forces in this polemical expose about inequality and the financial crisis. From London to New York the film combines documentary style, archive footage and comedy to explore how the crisis has gravely affected the 99% and only benefited the 1%.

#TFF2015

Opening This Weekend: May 9

The Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals are behind us. Though here in New York we were still wearing coats after Easter, I am hoping this is now also a thing of the past and that May arrives with spring weather, fully loaded with flowers, and the start of the summer movie season.  This May brings us an eclectic mix of films with a few award caliber entries (The Immigrant, Belle and Ida), the beginning of the summer blockbuster season (The Amazing Spiderman 2X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla), and a few comedies to smooth out the edges (Walk of Shame and Neighbors). 

So, whether you choose to check out that indie you heard so much about or the latest big studio release, don’t forget to click on the movie title below to view the trailer. We want to make sure you know what you are getting into before you head to the theater.

– Myrna E. Duarte
May 9 
Chef

When Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen — and zest for life and love. Chef is written and directed by Jon Favreau (Elf, Iron Man). 
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (3D)

Directed by Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre and written by Adam Balsam and Barry Glasser, Legends of Oz: Dorthy’s Return features the voice talents of “Glee” star Lea Michele as Dorothy, Patrick Stewart, Martin Short, Oliver Platt, Dan Akyroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Hugh Dancy, James Belushi, and more. The film has been hyped for a couple years now but I just feel it looks like sale bin material. 
Moms’ Night Out

All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and fun – a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation, and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours … what could go wrong? You might find yourself watching this movie?
Neighbors

The release of Neighbors, the latest comedy from Forgetting Sarah MarshallGet Him to the Greek and The Muppets director Nicholas Stoller looks like the perfect summer comedy as Seth Rogen goes head-to-head with Zac Efron and a whole fraternity of douchebags including Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.  In the film a young couple (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) suffering from arrested development are forced to live next to a rowdy and obnoxious fraternity house after the birth of their newborn baby. Zac Efron, Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all play the rowdy and obnoxious frat boys.
The Double (Limited)

The latest sci-fi mind bending feature The Double is based on Fydor Dostoyevsky The Double: A Petersburg Poem, stars Jesse Eisenberg – twice! Eisenberg plays both James and Simon, the latter of which goes crazy when his exact copy/doppelganger suddenly shows up. The cast includes Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Noah Taylor and appearances by Craig Roberts & Yasmin Paige of Ayoade’s SubmarineThe Double is directed by Richard Ayoade who co-wrote the script with Avi Korine (brother of Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine). 
Fed Up (Limited)

This is the movie the food industry doesn’t want you to see. Stephanie Soechtig’s new documentary Fed Up blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, revealing a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history. From Katie Couric, Laurie David ( An Inconvenient Truth) and director Stephanie Soechtig, Fed Up will change the way you eat forever
Palo Alto (Limited)

Gia Coppola, granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola,  writes/directs Palo Alto, based on a collection of short stories by James Franco, who also stars in the film. Welcome to the bizarro John Hughes world; this is a suburban-teen comedy gone all wrong. The kids know everything about sex, substances and suicide, but can’t begin to figure out how or what they feel. Emma Roberts leads an unforgettable cast that includes Franco, 17-year-old Jack Kilmer (his father Val plays a supporting role) and Colleen Camp. 
Stage Fright (Limited)

Four words – Meat Loaf Horror Musical. 

Meat Loaf and Minnie Driver star in a wacky horror musical comedy set at a musical theater camp. I have a feeling this might end up being cult horror classic kind of material. 


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Literary Shorts Gain Traction, by Scott Alexander Hess


Can a clever literary film teaser actually boost a book’s sales?  Increasingly, authors who gave the “book trailer” concept a thumbs down are reconsidering. Brian Gresko, editor of the anthology When I First Held You (Berkley Books, June 2014), was initially ambivalent about the use of book trailers, but he has warmed to the marketing tool and is featuring the film short for his book prominently on his site.  “I’ve come to like trailers when they’re done right. They can give an author an opportunity to talk about his or her work, or tease it in an interesting way,” says Gresko. Gresko cautions, however, that to boost a book, the short needs to be smart and well-crafted.

 “Gary Shteyngart’s trailer for Little Failure was very funny, irreverent, and also insightful (in what it says about celebrity culture), just like Shteyngart’s work. It’s also loaded with celebrities, which makes it fun to watch,” says Gresko “I also like the trailers for Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s novel Bittersweet, which are creepy and tantalizing, and make me excited to read the book, but they don’t tell me exactly what the book is going to be about, which is seductive.”


But how thrilling does a literary short need to be to really engage a “twitterfied” nation? Adam Cushman, who not only created a trailer for his debut novel Cut (Black Mountain Press), but runs the Los Angeles based company Red 14 Films, whose business is to create literary shorts, says you need to hook the audience in the first ten seconds. “Every choice you make is important: music, cinematography, tone, and especially the video title. On some level there’s still a general feeling that when it comes to book trailers anything will do. But it really won’t do. If you don’t respect your audience and thrill them, entertain them, and most important, show them something new, they’ll probably continue to think that most book trailers are awful. Which they kind of are,” says Cushman.  Cushman’s company also shot trailers funded by an inventive Kickstarter campaign which raised over ten thousand dollars. 

“Many in the publishing industry see true potential in book trailers as an interactive and engaging cross-media collaboration, believing that they can do for print what the music video did for the recording industry back in the 1980s,” says  Rocco Rivetti, associate producer at Red 14 Films.  Rivetti adds that the Kickstarter campaign was a rallying point for four authors, with the backing of their publishers: Jason Ockert, Monica Drake, Scott Dominic Carpenter, and Matt Bell, who worked in collaboration with their publishers, Dzanc Books, Crown Publishers, MG Press, and Soho Press.

“I view an investment in a cinematic book trailer as just that: an investment. If it creates some short-term buzz for your book, then great, but I think it’s probably better viewed as a way to raise longer term awareness for authors and their work,” says Joshua Kornreich who just dropped a trailer for his new novel Knotty, Knotty, Knotty (Black Mountain Press, 2014). His trailer: 

As an author (my latest novel, The Butcher’s Sons, will be published by Lethe Press in the fall of 2015, and my debut novel, Diary of a Sex Addict; is being translated into German soon), I found a great teaser could do wonders for a book. Indeed the film for my short story “The German Soldier” (thanks to dynamite film maker Blake Drummond) has gotten more buzz then the story itself. But good buzz, as they say, is good buzz. 

The German Soldier (Promo) – Short story by Scott Alexander Hess

www.scottalexanderhess.com