Who doesn’t love a good blockbuster? Big budgets, thrilling action, and entertaining set pieces will continue to drive audiences to the movies, and for good reason. However, cinema art can also provide us with great moments that capture our curiosity and spark our imagination. In fact, some of the most critically acclaimed movies of all-time, and many Academy Award® winners, could be labeled as “cinema art.”
So, what is “cinema art?” Frequently produced and distributed outside the major studio system on a relatively small budget, cinema art movies typically handle serious matters in an artistic and often experimental way, geared towards more of a niche market rather than for a mass audience. In an artform where social realism takes precedence, on-location filming is favored over studio sets and sometimes amateur actors are even used.
Stretching back to the origin of movies, the genre has provided some of the most recognizable and talented filmmakers in cinema who have put their uncompromising visions onto the screen with a unique flare and style that is all their own. Foreign language movies are also included in this genre, recognizable by many of the same features with the addition of subtitles, although rarely referred to as “cinema art” in their respective countries. Instead, they are more commonly known as “auteur” or “national” cinema, the former originally coined in France to distinguish filmmakers of the French New Wave (a movement and form of European cinema art from the 1950s and 1960s).
Below are a few cinema art movies to keep an eye on this week as they debut in select Regal theatres nationwide:
BEFORE YOU KNOW IT
Runtime: 1hr 38min
Starring: Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock, Judith Light, Linda Arroz, Alec Baldwin
Directed By: Hannah Pearl Utt
Written By: Jen Tullock, Hannah Pearl Utt
Two members of a dysfunctional and codependent family, sisters Jackie (Jen Tullock) and Rachel (Hannah Pearl Utt), learn their mother, whom they thought was dead, is in fact a soap opera actress named Sherrell (Judith Light).
Hannah Pearl Utt and Jen Tullock team up for their second feature as writers and co-stars with Hannah Pearl Utt also directing. Academy Award® nominee Alec Baldwin co-stars as Peter.
JUST A STRANGER
Genre: Drama, Romance
Runtime: 1hr 57min
Starring: Anne Curtis, Marco Gumabao, Edu Manzano, Cherie Gil
Directed By: Jason Paul Laxamana
A married woman, Mae (Anne Curtis), falls in love with a man half her age, Jericho (Marco Bumabao), despite the fact they are both tied to someone else.
Filipino director Paul Laxamana began his career making Kapampangan-language shorts and music videos before making his feature debut in 2010 with the comedy Astro Mayabang.
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance, Thriller
Runtime: 1hr 51min
Starring: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, Indira Varma, Rhys Ifans
Directed By: Gavin Hood
Written By: Gregory Bernstein (screenplay), Sara Bernstein (screenplay), Gavin Hood (screenplay), Marcia Mitchell (based on the book “The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion”), Thomas Mitchell (based on the book “The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion”)
Based on true events, this political thriller tells the story of a spy gone rogue. During the lead up to the Iraq War in 2003, a British intelligence specialist, Katharine Gun (Kiera Knightley), receives a memo from the NSA with a shocking directive. She makes the gut-wrenching decision to defy her government and leak the classified memo to the press, igniting a chain of events with international consequences. In doing so, Katharine exposes a vast political conspiracy and puts herself and her family in harm’s way.
Executive producer Claudia Bluemhuber and producer Ged Doherty reunite with director Gavin Hood following their collaboration on Hood’s previous movie, Eye in the Sky (2015). Their work on Official Secrets began when Bluemhuber sent the script telling the true story of Katharine Gun to both Doherty and Hood. “The first time I read the story, I couldn’t believe I didn’t know anything about it,” says Doherty. “The real challenge was how to tell this story in a way that is accurate and true,” says Hood, “and still have it be dramatic without deviating from the truth in order to create a ‘Hollywood’ movie.”
One of the most important parts of adapting this true story was the casting of its central figure. “We just thought [Kiera Knightley] would be the perfect person to play Katharine Gun,” says Doherty. To prepare for the role, in addition to meeting with Katharine, Knightley read government e-mails from the time that are now in the public domain. “Those gave me the background I needed to play the scenes and the knowledge I felt Katharine probably would’ve had in some way that made her so absolutely certain that leaking that document was the right thing to do,” says Knightley. Gun’s true story also drew an excellent supporting cast to the project, which includes Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, and Rhys Ifans.