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Lola Versus

Jeff Orlowski’s Chasing Ice (USA 2012), Don Coscarelli’s John Dies at the End (USA 2012) and Daryl Wein’s Lola Versus (USA 2012) have been added to the 55th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 19 – May 3) schedule.

Featuring breathtaking displays of remote and beautiful landscapes that may never be seen again by human — or any — eyes, Chasing Ice chronicles the quest of photographer James Balog to create his project the Extreme Ice Survey. Like many, Balog was initially skeptical of the existence of climate change. But, after researching the changing state of Earth’s melting glaciers and then witnessing those changes firsthand through field studies, Balog became convinced of the realities and consequences of climate crisis. He then set out to record the ever-changing landscapes of the world’s glacial terrain, with a photographer’s eye for majestic vistas and incredible places. Filmmaker Jeff Orlowski observes the painstaking and obsessive methods Balog uses to capture images that serve both as valuable topographic documents and as uniquely beautiful contemplations of ice and water. Celebrating Earth’s natural beauty while simultaneously serving as an environmental clarion call, Chasing Ice is a stunning and important document of our world in transition. Chasing Ice plays 7:15 pm, Thursday, May 3, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Balog is expected to attend. Oscilloscope Laboratories will open the film in theaters this fall.

John Dies at the End

Talking bratwursts, monsters made of meat and dogs with magical powers — the madly fertile brain of Don Coscarelli (the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster) strikes again. Dissecting the incredibly baroque plot of his latest film would take out much of the fun, but the gist involves a super-powered psychoactive substance called “soy sauce” which causes its users to have extreme psychic experiences and the ability to travel across time and space. It can also overpower those who ingest it, turning them into shape-shifting monsters. The sauce makes its first appearance in the town of Sherwood, Illinois, where two pals come across it at an outdoor party. The duo teams up with other party survivors to defeat the substance and the various demons it sends after them. Adapting the popular Internet-launched novel of the same name by Jason Pargin, Coscarelli creatively shifts the action back and forth in time as David narrates his incredible story to an interested journalist played by Paul Giamatti. With wonderfully witty dialogue and some terrifically gory set pieces, John Dies at the End is the most inspired horror-comedy in years. John Dies at the End plays 9:45 pm, Wednesday, May 2, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Coscarelli is expected to attend. The film is coming soon to theaters.

Lola lives in bliss. She has a perfect fiancé — an artist who cooks, is funny, handsome, sweet and great in bed. She has a satisfying job, great friends and a beautiful loft in New York City. However, this so-wonderful-it-is-not situation is about to enter an era of unprecedented tumult and despair. Displaying remarkable range as Lola, indie star Greta Gerwig plays a young woman who, just in time for her 29th birthday, concludes her Saturn return (an astrological phenomenon associated with upheaval, maturation and change). In Lola’s orbit are Henry, Luke and Alice, each played by three equally engaging young actors: Hamish Linklater (The Future, SFIFF 2011), Joel Kinnaman (Safe House) and Zoe Lister Jones (Salt). Each at turns provides support and obstacles that Lola must navigate as she restarts her life. Romantic entanglements, adult dating, loneliness and betrayal are all fair game in this funny, dark and emotional journey on which Lola attempts to locate herself. Along the way she meets Nick Oyster, a prison architect with a strange approach to flirting, played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach in a wonderfully awkward and oddly hilarious supporting performance. But the film belongs to Gerwig, whose multi-faceted performance points to a breakthrough of astronomical proportions. Lola Versus plays 9:15 pm, Monday, April 30, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Director Daryl Wein is expected to attend. Fox Searchlight is releasing the film this summer.

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