If Disney+ is carving out a niche of just “dog movies,” then we’re all in. Especially if one of those aforementioned dog movies stars Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe, who by all accounts shouldn’t be slumming it in a made-for-streaming inspirational drama about a musher who braves 300-plus miles of the Arctic tundra with his beloved sled dog. And yet Togo is the kind of heartwarming family film from the Disney era of old that will reduce us to tears with only the trailer. Watch the Togo trailer below.
Willem Dafoe and an adorable dog? You don’t even need to ask us to watch Togo, Disney+’s newest original film coming to the streaming service this December. Dafoe stars in the true story as champion dogsled trainer Leonhard Seppala who, along with his trusty lead sled dog Togo, makes the famous 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska — an impossible 300 mile run through dangerous arctic blizzards that is the subject of this year’s The Great Alaskan Race. Directed by Ericson Core and written by Tom Flynn, Togo also stars Julianne Nicholson, Christopher Heyerdahl, Richard Dormer, Michael Greyeyes, Michael McElhatton, and Michael Gaston.
It seems like Disney is bringing back the sled dog movie, a genre that the House of Mouse had quite a history with, like with classics White Fang and, uh, Snow Dogs. It’s a movie that will see its comeback on the big screen as well, with Disney’s upcoming theatrical remake of The Call of the Wild.
Here’s the official synopsis for Togo:
When a deadly epidemic strikes the town of Nome, Alaska, and the only cure is more than 600 miles away, the town looks to champion dogsled trainer Leonhard Seppala Willem Dafoe to help transport an antitoxin serum. Seppala turns to Togo, an unassuming, undersized and aging Siberian husky, to be his lead. His wife Julianne Nicholson has championed Togo since his days as a mischievous puppy who could dig himself out of any situation—literally and figuratively—and Seppala, having observed Togo’s loyy and tenacious spirit, knows Togo offers his only chance of surviving this mission. Undaunted by the massive storm heading their way or his wife’s urging him not to go, Seppala and Togo set out on the deadliest leg of what becomes a larger relay involving multiple mushers and gale-force winds and a wind chill factor dipping to 70 degrees below zero with little to no visibility. It is a harrowing journey on which Togo saves Seppala from certain death, causing the veteran musher to grasp the depth and intensity of his feelings for his lead dog, even as he risks running him to his death. They complete the task in time with Togo going down in history as one of the greatest sled dogs ever, but it is this unbreakable bond between man and dog which is the ultimate prize—and which truly saves Seppala.
Dream team Abel Ferrara and Willem Dafoe, who most recently collaborated on “Tommaso” and “Pasolini,” have done it again with the upcoming Berlinale premiere, “Siberia.” IndieWire shares the stunning first trailer for the film, which is currently seeking U.S. distribution, below. The film premieres at the Berlin Film Festival on February 24.
Throughout, star Dafoe who recently won an Indie Spirit award for his supporting turn in “The Lighthouse” wanders the nightmares and dreamscapes of the mind. “You’ve destroyed my life,” a woman laughingly tells him, launching Dafoe, whose character is called Clint, on a dark night of the soul across haunting set pieces. The film boasts cinematography from Stefano Falivene, who worked on Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic” and also shot Ferrara’s “Pasolini.”
Here’s the official synopsis of the film, courtesy of the Berlin Film Festival. In short, we’re firmly in Ferrara country here, a world of broken men swirling among trippy images: “A man flees from one world to another that is strange and cold. Furs and fires keep him warm; a cave serves as his shelter. He is a broken man who wants to be alone. But even isolation does not bring him inner peace. Once again, he goes on a journey, this time into the self. He explores his dreams, confronts memories and seeks out visions. The rare encounters with other people are in languages he does not speak, determined by bodies that fascinate him, and by types of love he explores and then loses. His journey becomes a dance with demons, but time and again it flares up: light. In cinema history there have been many attempts to portray the mythical as something intimate, and the radical as a personal journey. But there is only one artist who is as wildly anarchistic, metaphysically mysterious, and at the same time god-obsessed and fanatical about the truth: Abel Ferrara, joining forces here once again with his acting alter ego, Willem Dafoe. While his previous film ‘Tommaso’ explored the way desire plays out in families, in ‘Siberia’ the male ego abandons all semblance of everyday life in a tumultuous montage. To expose and discover himself.”
Ferrara wrote the screenplay with Christ Zois, who most recently penned Ferrara’s 2014 “Welcome to New York.”
Although “The L Word: Generation Q” may have tried desperately to speak to a “new generation” of queer women and non-binary folks, fresher creative voices quickly rose to the top in its place. Though people still watched. Showtime’s “Work in Progress” was the best queer comedy of the year, Netflix’s “Feel Good” was an unexpected delight, and “Vida” is returning just in time for queer audiences to catch up on the best show about queer women of color on TV. Yet another contender released a promising first trailer today: “Betty” is a stylish and youthful portrait of Brooklyn teen skaters that already appears extremely queer.
The six-part half-hour arrives on HBO from filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who quickly made waves in 2015 with her her riveting documentary hybrid “The Wolfpack.” “Betty” is adapted from her second feature, the similarly hybridized “Skate Kitchen,” which followed a group of teenage girl skaters in New York City. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews and was released by Magnolia Pictures that year.
In his B+ review of “Skate Kitchen” out of Sundance, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “The streetwise alternative to ‘Girls,’ the movie weaves together such a complete vision of its subjects that the rest of the world barely exists. Of course, there's a long-standing precedent to capturing this subculture — ‘Kids’ did it, with more adventurous storytelling twists, more than 20 years ago — but Moselle's subjects hold their own with the surprising ability to clarify their emotions through the cathartic process of hanging out.”
“Betty” features many of the film’s original stars, most of whom had not acted before, including Kabrina Adams, Dede Lovelace, Nina Moran, Rachelle Vinberg, and Ajani Russell. All accomplished skaters in their own right, the first trailer shows the charismatic crew navigating various crushes and friendship trials with compelling panache and humor.
“Betty” is directed, co-written, and executive produced by Moselle. Lesley Arfin and Patricia Breen are also co-writers. Arfin, who also EPs, is a comedy writer best known for co-creating the Netflix series “Love” with Judd Apatow and Paul Rust.
HBO will release “Betty” beginning May 1 at 11 pm ET. Check out the exciting first trailer below: