The Hero – Everybody’s Hero

I love Sam Elliot. Everyone loves Sam Elliott. And yet, when it came time for Q&A with cast and crew after the film The Hero was over, nobody asked Sam a question until we burned halfway through our question period!! Does noone want to hear Sam’s voice? Is this not America? Oh, excuse me. I was having a For the Love of the Game moment.

But I get ahead of myself. For those of you unlucky enough to not get into a screening of The Hero, I feel bad. Really, I do. This was a @SundanceFest gem. Sure, everyone was fighting to get the tickets for the sold out shows, but it was most likely for the pure pleasure of seeing, and hearing, Mr. Elliott. What they didn’t know, was what a good film they were going to be treated to.

The tagline “An ailing movie star must come to terms with his past and mortality.” is quite succinct. That is exactly what the film is about.

The Hero, Sam Elliot, Catharine Ross, Nick Offerman, Laura Prepon, Brett Haley

The Hero’s director and cast assemble onstage post-premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

After Nick Offerman came running onstage in circles with coffee in hand, arms extended out like an airplane, and making fluttering noises, the comedic character who plays Elliott’s neighbor and drug dealer was outstanding in his dramatic turn in the film. For those who are used to seeing him in Parks and Recreation on @NBC, he does a fine job in this film. I rather enjoyed seeing him in a serious, and humorously lighthearted, supporting role.

As for Laura Prepon’s role, playing love interest (and person interest) to Sam Elliott, I have to say that I was so pleased with how their relationship was treated. Very non-Hollywood. I felt Laura’s character was handled with such unusual grace, that had it been played the stereotypical way, this film could have been disappointing. Her role was quite pivotal. Without giving anything away (because I don’t do spoilers), this film introduces you to the idea that bitterness and joy can be found in the most unexpected places, even when you think doomsday is on the horizon.

The Hero, Sam Elliott, Katharine Ross, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Brett Haley

The Hero ensemble shares a laugh.

I loved the message of this film. It dealt with difficult subject matter, but in such a humanized way. The characters, their feelings, their philosophies, are all relatable.

The intercuts of images throughout leave you wondering what they represent. Are they flashbacks, flash-forwards, or simply representative of the wanderings of our hero’s mind.

The writers had Sam Elliott in mind when they wrote the script but were careful to say that not everything in the film is biographical.

The film’s U.S. rights were picked up by The Orchard for approximately $3M.

Director Brett Haley obviously had this in mind. Sometimes, journeys are not meant to be taken alone. See this film.

#experiencesundance @sundancefest #thehero #lauraprepon #samelliott #nickofferman @sundanceorg @sundancefestnow @firstlooktvfilm @filmindependent @scriptmag @variety

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To The Bone – Heavy, but in a Good Way

When I went in to see To The Bone, I was thrilled we were able to score tickets, but was not sure what to expect from a film about a 20 year old anorexic girl who tries to get help from a doctor who runs a group home that is difficult to be accepted into.

Director/Writer Marti Noxon pulls it off in a surprisingly dramatic way with comedic tones throughout – and it works. Treating a serious matter with humor throughout gives the film a very real, no bullshit, realistic touch.

To The Bone, Keanu Reeves, Lily Collins, Marty Noxon, Sundance Film Festival

Ellen (Lily Collins) consults with Dr. William Beckham (Keanu Reeves) in To The Bone

Lily Collins plays the 20 year old anorexic patient in search of her purpose, her future, and essentially herself and Keanu Reeves plays the doctor who runs the group home and meets daily with his patients trying to help them save themselves.

Other members of the cast in key roles included Alex Sharp (the optimist and love interest), Lily Taylor (Ellen’s mother), and Carrie Preston (Ellen’s annoying step-mother).

Sundance Film Festival, To The Bone, Keanu Reeves, Marti Noxon, Lily Collins,

To The Bone cast goofs around (left to right Lily Collins, Carrie Preston, Director/Writer Marti Noxon, and Keanu Reeves)

One of the most surprising things about To The Bone is that Keanu Reeves turns out one of his best roles showing a wide range of emotion. Sure, I loved John Wick just like anyone else because of the straight and ruthless way in which Keanu plays him, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from him all these years. This is a new Keanu. And I like him. His no-nonsense doctor has a somewhat sick sense of humor and he laughs at himself, perhaps to let his patients know he cares, but must keep that safe distance.

Sundance Film Festival, To The Bone, Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves – To The Bone

The emotional intensity is there throughout the entire movie and not once did I find myself leaving the film to analyze or question whether or not a moment was real or whether the limits had been pushed too far or not.

Director Marti Noxon was forthcoming in telling the audience after the film that the movie was somewhat auto-biographical and that writing about her experiences and then turning them into a film with others who had similar eating disorders was therapeutic. They were very careful during filming to not put those actors at risk by having them relive their experiences or fall into old patterns.

This film is definitely worth the watch. It’s a unique story told by those who have lived through it, but not without cost. It’s an imaginative and truthful, original story told in a way I have not seen before.

The film was picked up by Netflix for about $8M. One third of the films at the Sundance Film Festival this year were directed by women. This may not reflect what is happening in the rest of the filmmaking world yet, if Marti Noxon’s work is an indication of the kind of storytelling we can expect in the future, it will soon be the norm.

#experiencesundance @sundancefest #tothebone #keanureeves @sundanceorg @sundancefestnow @firstlooktvfilm @filmindependent @scriptmag @variety