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Sunday
May172015

Cannes Review: Carol

Our friend Diana Drumm is in Cannes and will be sending a few reviews our way. First up, Todd Haynes hotly anticipated Carol... (note: this review contains a couple of spoilers for those who haven't read the book)

Within a year of publication, Patricia Highsmith’s first novel “Strangers on a Train” became a seminal Hitchcock thriller. After half a century, her second novel “The Price of Salt” (published under the pseudonym of Claire Morgan) is now a Todd Haynes romantic drama (under the succinct title Carol). Whereas the former concerns two male strangers duplicitous in murder, the latter is about two women finding love in constrictive 1952 New York City. Turning the pulp novel into a palpable parable, Carol is a master stroke in Haynes’s 21st century oeuvre (Far from Heaven, Mildred Pierce, et al.), and harkens back to the pressurized strength of Safe and the sexual fluidity of Velvet Goldmine - both capturing and throwing off the starched restrictiveness of postwar America, and deftly upgrading the melodrama with social relevance.

Inspired by Highsmith’s own stint at Macy’s (and her affair with Philadelphia socialite Virginia Kent Catherwood), 20-something shopgirl Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) waits on and is struck by elegant “blondish woman in a fur coat” Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). A friendship builds between the two, to the jealousy of Therese’s huffy square boyfriend (Jake Lacy), who dismisses it as schoolgirl crush, and the consternation of Carol’s matinee-handsome, soon-to-be ex-husband (Kyle Chandler), who uses it as ammunition in their ongoing divorce negotiations. [More]

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Sunday
May172015

Happy 75th Waterloo Bridge

Today is the 75th anniversary of Vivien Leigh's favorite from her own filmography Waterloo Bridge (1940). You shoud definitely see it if you only know Scarlett & Blanche

 

Saturday
May162015

'Cate Blanchett Will Slay You'

Next Season on the WB This Season at Cannnes: Cate, the Cinephile Slayer

It's not really "news" per se to share the information that Cate Blanchett has won another round of extravagantly positive reviews for a performance; that's kind of her thing, and habitual happenings aren't news. But the early round of Carol reviews are in and everyone loves it. 

 The adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel "Carol" (or "The Price of Salt" depending on when it was published) about a married woman (Cate Blanchett) carrying on with a younger shopgirl (Rooney Mara) has been our Most Awaited feature for two years running in our annual We Can't Wait series. It's been EIGHT YEARS since Todd Haynes had a movie out. To prevent overhyping, I'm not going to fully read any reviews but here are some blurb whore quotes that could sell tickets whenever they decide to release the movie.  My gut says December and I'm not happy about waiting that long:

And the acting slays you: Cate Blanchett, especially, somehow leaps over her own highest standards with a subtlety that’s little short of phenomenal.
-The Telegraph 

A superbly realised companion piece to his 50s Sirkian drama Far From Heaven... creamily sensuous, richly observed."
-The Guardian

The success of the material ultimately rests on the formidable strength of its actresses, both credibly buried in their roles."
-Indiewire 

Carol is both a beautiful miniature and a majestic romance"
-The Wrap 

Oscar Trivia For the Road...
The last time Cate indulged in the lesbian angst subgenre she was the younger woman and she and her co-star were both Oscar-nominated as were the Screenplay & Score. Coincidentally the last time Todd Haynes had a real Oscar hit, the film also received 4 nominations and also lost each of its categories. Will history repeat itself? Against my better judgment I skimmed several reviews and frequent mentions of the films "quiet" and "restraint" and "careful pacing" don't make it any kind of Oscar slam dunk, but then again Oscar is only icing. What's more important is this --  new Todd Haynes cake! 

Saturday
May162015

1979: Revisiting The Black Stallion

In honor of the Year of the Month (1979) and horse racing’s most exciting month – with the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness, being run today – Lynn Lee revisits a childhood favorite movie, The Black Stallion.

As a little girl, I didn’t ride horses but I loved reading about them, from Black Beauty to Misty of Chincoteague to just about every book in the Black Stallion series.  Naturally I loved the Black Stallion movie and watched it multiple times in my pre-teen years.  I recently decided to watch it again and see how I felt about it over two decades later.  Here are the five things that struck me most strongly this time around:

1. How quiet the film is.
There’s barely any dialogue.  That makes sense for the first half, most of which takes place on a desert island where the two shipwrecked protagonists, the boy Alec and the Black Stallion, slowly earn each other’s trust.  But even after they’re rescued and return to society and enter a big honking horse race, the quiet remains.  Most of the human characters have only a handful of lines... [More]

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Saturday
May162015

Cannes: Then and (Right) Now

Imperator Furiousa cleans up nice for CannesAs Cannes moves past that opening night international glamour, and into its heavy screenings opening weekend, there's a lot of reminiscing going around as well for those that aren't attending: Keyframe is looking at the 1985 festival -- which was heavily criticized for being too American --  to see what it tells us about the 2015 festival. And, of course, over at Nick's Flick Picks, Nick is looking back at 1995. He has corralled several critics to talk about and rewatch those films too, but that part hasn't been posted yet. Can't wait! But here's a little about what's been happening at the festival if you are, like 99.9% of the world including me, NOT in the South of France right about now, but wish to think about it intermittently. 

Out of Competition
Mad Max Fury Road premiered at Cannes just as it was opening in theaters. That's a good excuse to get celebrities at your premiere and stay in a global conversation but, as good as the movie is -- and whoa it's thrilling (easily the best Mad Max film and the best action film since probably the last time James Cameron made anything) though I think maybe "the sistine chapel of action filmmaking" might be overstating it a little -- why go to a movie that's in theaters when you're at this kind of Best of World Cinema That Will Probably Never Make It to Really Big Screens Near You? Which is not to say that you shouldn't go. You absolutely should if you're not at Cannes. It's INSANE. And that is a high high compliment since most movies with insane premise play things so conservative in their mise en scene, you know? Michael's review will be up shortly and I'm sure I'll talk about it more too.

Woody Allen's PARKER POSEY: THE MOVIE... excuse me, Irrational Man, has also premiered as his movies do, Out of Competition. Our friend Tim Robey offered delicious shade in his review:

The word “murder” arrives in the script the second Kant, and his theories of human reason, pop up at the start. Like the superb Crimes and Misdemeanors, and also like Match Point, this contains a killing...

But honestly, I don't care if it's another mediocre effort from Allen. I'm so excited that Parker Posey got a big part again in a movie that people will actually see. And I love that she totally stole the show at the events with her incognito wacky glamour.

Supposedly Inside Out, another mainstream English-language film premiering there, is also a return to form of sorts for Pixar, but pardon me if I take this Oscar buzz with just a giant lick of salt - I think the days of Pixar (and maybe animation in general) being up for Best Picture are over. Those kinds of runs don't last forever and once people stop thinking of you in that light, it can be hard to return. 

"The Lobster" character posters

Competition Buzz
Gus Van Sant, who has won big at the festival before, won't be repeating. His latest, Sea of Trees, which stars Matthew McConaughey as a suicidal man visiting Japan, was not well received. That's putting it lightly if you just skim the THR or Variety reviews. I'm choosing not to read or even skim reviews on The Lobster, but from what I've heard your guess is as good as mine to what it actually is and if it's great at being whatever that is. Our Little Sister, a Japanese family drama has been warmly received for being touching without being sentimental and Sony Pictures Classics will distribute in the US.  

The buzziest title thus far is the Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul. It's winning very generous reviews and it's also a debut feature which means that even if the competition jury surprises by stiffing it -- every year the press acts like they know what the jury will do and it never works out that way -- it could still win the Camera D'Or (which has a separate jury, just for debut films). Now we have to wonder if those titles will be the Oscar picks for Japan or Hungary.  I'm going to assume yes on the latter so I've updated the Foreign Film wild guesswork on the Prediction Charts.

Finally...
Yes, we will have another fashion lineup soon. But for now please accept our vote for the worst person in Cannes this year: Russian celebrity Elena Lenina. This is a film festival. Imagine sitting behind her at any of these premieres. Her 'do is suddenly your protagonist, whether its a Holocaust tragedy, a Woody Allen dramedy, or an insane action flick. Screw the narrative. 

True confession: Even when I see a person with high hair completely outside of movie scenarios like, say, on the street or in a talking head box on the news or several tables away at a restaurant my first thought is always 'oh god, please don't sit in front of me at the movies!'.

Be considerate of the comfort of your fellow moviegoers, readers -- shave your head!

Friday
May152015

Beauty Break: Cool Riders

We hope you enjoyed National Bike to Work Week. We didn't make too big a thing about it but for Tim's trip back to The Triplets of Belleville, Nathaniel's childhood awe at seeing Kermit ride a bike, Lynn's recall of the kid's bike fantasy channeled in E.T. The Extraterrestial, and two instant watch recommendations with gays quite attached to their cycles.

RDJ showing off. What else is new?

I wanted to play along physically but I couldn't bike to work because I work from home and that would be highly impractical going from bedroom to work station. 

To close out this little detour, please blast some Stephanie Zinone while you lust after these cool riders aka beautiful actors on bikes. Which of these bikes would you hop on and whose handlebars would you ride?

Many more beauties and hot wheels after the jump...

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