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Friday
May162014

Yes, No, Maybe So: Interstellar

Christopher Nolan's space-travel epic Interstellar finally reveals something of its plot (the Earth has depleted its natural resources. "time to die," a replicant might say but Michael Caine aint having it and suggests space travel instead.

In the first non-teaser trailer we get quick glimpses of the biggest names in the cast and spend lots of time with Matthew McConaughey, a former engineer with two kids, one named after Murphy's Law (but I don't quite remember Murphy's Law this way, do you?)

trailer breakdown after the jump

Click to read more ...

Friday
May162014

"Alone in Berlin" and Back on Marquees

Few things gave greater pleasure last year than the reemergence of Emma Thompson on the film scene, shoe chucking, Annie-scripting, Mary Poppins writing, and all. I'm not sure who or what convinced Emma that it was time to reclaim her place in the cinema but I thank them profusely and ever so much.

While she didn't receive the expected Oscar nomination for Saving Mr Banks, despite carrying it on her very capable film-elevating shoulders, her next project looks super promising so we hope it picks up interest in the Cannes market.

If all goes according to plan she'll play one half of a married couple who defy Nazis in Alone in Berlin. The true story is based on the book "Alone in Berlin" by Hans Fallada. The plot premise goes like so...

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich...

With Emma leading a drama we're in good hands but the rest of the cast makes it doubly enticing. Actor turned director Vincent Perez (Queen Margot) has also enlisted Mark Rylance, in many ways the reigning god of the stage, as Emma's husband.

Rylance in the sexually explicit Intimacy (2001) his last bigscreen leading man gig, and in "Jerusalem" for which he won all theater awards ever created a few years ago

He's rarely onscreen though if you've seen Intimacy (2001) or Angels and Insects (1995) you'll remember him. Hollywood's favorite youngish German Daniel Brühl (Rush, Inglourious Basterds) is also on board and we assume he is the key baddie Escherich.

Sounds promising, yes?

Emma with Terry Gilliam at a film premiere last monthEmma Thompson just turned 55 and though the fiftysomething years tend to be the leanest for actresses (too old, under Hollywood logic, to lead movies and too young for the juicy "old lady" roles) but maybe Emma's people realized that Dench (79), Redgrave (77), Mirren (68), and Smith (79) aren't getting any younger. Thompson is their natural successor for that whole swath of character types and Thompson doesn't seem to have much competition in the realm of aging British divas that virtually everyone loves. Tilda Swinton (53, after all, is her own special case and weirdly ageless, never young even when she actually was or old now unless the makeup artists are having Budapest prosthetic fun with her). Thompson's main competition for these future roles was surely Kristin Scott Thomas (54) but she's planning that vanishing act now. American actresses not named Streep have it much much rougher than their British counterparts once they hit their fifties so it would be wise for that generation of stars (Bening, Moore, Linney, Clarkson, Hunter, Tomei) or any that have already all but vanished who'd like to return (Allen, Pfeiffer, Davis, McDormand) to start honing their plummiest British accents. 

Friday
May162014

Cannes Diary Day 2: Or, How I'm Still Grappling With 'Grace of Monaco'

Diana Drumm is reporting for The Film Experience from Cannes

As you should know by now, thanks to mid-screening tweets, prompt reviews and Nathaniel being awesome as always, Grace of Monaco is bad. So bad that Cannes critics are being divided into indifference, dislike and rollicking hate. I, for one, fall into a fourth category, that of the now-jaded hopeful still grappling with how it all could have gone so horribly wrong. It’s from the director behind La Vie En Rose and... NICOLE KIDMAN. And I do mean grappling, I’ve barely eaten since that lovely sandwich or slept since nodding off on the Nice-Cannes commuter and my attempts at writing an actual review have gone the way of nonsensical jibberish with many ‘rather’s, ‘while’s and ‘thereby’s. Plus I’ve missed multiple opportunities to stow-away on champagne and celebrity-laden yachts. (Well, maybe not, but you get the gist – me, bedraggled by disappointment.) It could be the jet lag typing, but I wish I could go back to the before time, before I knew for certain that Grace of Monaco was a bad film. 

For weeks, I’ve been hushing naysayers, lah-lah-lahing the latest Weinstein cut rumors and ignoring the strawberry blonde Nicole Kidman as Grace press photos. With its synopsis reading like My Week with Marilyn meeting Evita for cucumber sandwiches to discuss an upcoming charity event and swap stories about who was handsier, Ari Onassis or Alfred Hitchcock, I kept telling myself that whether Grace was good or bad, it would be nice to see Grace Kelly’s story onscreen. I was wrong, so wrong. This isn’t to say that the film’s downright awful, or even amongst Cannes’ worst (Splitting Heirs, anyone?), but as someone with only love in her heart would say, it’s not that I’m angry, it’s that I’m hurt and disappointed. 

Princess Grace and Old Hollywood fairy tales after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May162014

Tim's Toons: Cannes competitor Shrek 2, ten years later

Tim here. Cannes is in the air, and as we do, I’ve been thinking about festivals past, when I landed on the fact that this very day is the tenth anniversary of the premier of Shrek 2 on the Croissette. And just as I started writing up a whole thing about big English-language crowdpleasers and their history of opening up the festival, talking about the toxic reception that Grace of Monaco has received in that slot (as so many of them do), when I landed on the further fact that Shrek 2 wasn’t that year’s opening night film (Almodóvar’s Bad Education was). No sir, Shrek 2 was an official selection in that year’s main competition. Which feels genuinely insane – no other American animated film, to my knowledge, has ever competed at Cannes, so how would something as unapologetically commercial as Shrek 2 get the nod? And yet it did, and somehow managed to receive not a single award from Quentin Tarantino’s jury.

Anyway, the date serves more generally as an ideal moment to look back from across the intervening decade at what remains the highest-grossing animated feature in U.S. box office history – neither the Zeitgeist explosion of Frozen (with nine years of inflation to help it) nor multiple releases of The Lion King were even been able to seriously threaten its crown – and one whose massive success caused it to influence so much of mainstream animation over the intervening years.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May152014

Dressed to Link

Today's Must Read
The Hairpin's "Being Maleficent", on play-acting, female aggression, and iconic villainy

'Me, please,' they said. 'I want to be Aurora.'

I chewed my fingernails and felt my glasses slip down my nose. I wanted to be Aurora too. I wanted to be the center of the play. I wanted the woodland creatures to dance around me and the whole room to talk about my beauty, even if it was just pretend. But at seven, I was already hyper-aware of my skinned knees, my knobby elbows and my boy haircut. I stood up. 'I’ll be Maleficent.'...

More Recommended Links
de film Krant loved this impassioned vote for Brian de Palma as a sensibility shaper and the problems with "greatest of all time" lists
Grand Old Movies looks back at a Norma Shearer movie I hadn't heard of - Let Us Be Gay (1930). With deglamming! 

/bent Tilda Swinton reteaming with her Teknolust director and she will reportedly play a "phosphorescent talking cat" rather than the female lead. Um...
Pajiba the first teaser for Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella if you feel like looking at a shoe for a minute 
The Stake has a response to that much discussed MZS article on how boring/interchangeable superhero movies are 
VF smart piece from Joanna about how Samuel L Jackson's star cameo on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. exposed the show's core flaw. Co-sign.
Variety Harrison Ford for Blade Runner 2. I guess maybe he doesn't hate it anymore?
Film School Rejects so they're making a Morrissey biopic that's not called Morrissey and won't include any of his music and which he didn't approve. okay.... 

 

Fonda and Ziyi at the Grace of Monaco premiereWe Cannes Cannes Cannes
And here's a reminder to check out our extensive Cannes coverage. I'm so happy we've gone full French. Now to pester Diana again for more info on what she's up to...

Diana's Diary
- we finally have someone on the ground
Opening Gala Tidbits - in which critics attack, buyers buy, and Kidman still owns my heart
Best Palme D'Or Winners ever? - we made a group list
Competition & Un Certain Regard - Nick and I chatted up the lists of mouthwatering possibilities 

Thursday
May152014

Weight Watching

Earlier today I read Matt Singer's essay at The Dissolve about audience's attraction to the flabbiness of Seth Rogen (vote on our related poll!) in Neighbors. I like this essay which raises good points but it's depressing that no one ever extends this kind of enthusiasm or 'justify our love' ink to seeing less than perfect physical women on the screen.


Unrelated but coincidentally apt: On the bus home from my weekend in Boston on Sunday night the guy across from me was watching Bridget Jones's Diary on his laptop. I haven't seen it in years and years and every time I glanced over (I know it's not cool to eaveswatch but screens hypnotize me) I just thought "Zeéeeee* looks so pretty" Of course this is the movie wherein she was meant to be 'unattractive'.

Weight is a tricky emotionally loaded topic but the truth, at least according to me, is that there's room for all physical types in the world and "ideal weight" can vary quite a lot from person to person at least in terms of aesthetic pleasure. Some people look good at any weight, the lucky bitches. I personally think I have a tiny range of weight wherein I look my best (and I'm 20 lbs over it right now so I'm in Rogen territory. sigh) but some people look their best with some chunk and others when they're razor thin. Zellweger was one of the actresses that launched a million essays about standards of beauty and aspirational anorexia and all of that in the Aughts but if you ask me she was never more beautiful than when she was meant to be frumpy. I've never understood why the producers of Chicago didn't actually want her Bridget Jones body (especially since the films were close together) since it would have been a lot more period appropriate, sexier while dancing, and a better physical match for CZJ's traditional beauty hourglass physique. 

As for me I'm desperate to get back to the gym. But that might just be because I've been trapped in my apartment for two days with this awful cold. Tomorrow I will go for a jog if I have any strength at all. I've been half tempted to start an email self-help group for those of us who want to lose some weight, using movies as inspiration. But then that might give Hollywood the wrong idea and suggest that we only want Efron-style bodies. Can't we have a happy medium? My ideal body type both to look at and to have is definitely between the superhero (way too much work and boring as f***) and the schlub (way too much letting yourself go and ice cream... sweet sweet ice cream)

*Yes, it's true the Smackdown did a whammy on us and we keep thinking about Renée Zellweger

Thursday
May152014

Mad Men @ the Movies: Mutilations, Model Shop, and Mojo

Don't open the box, Peggy, don't open the box! DON'T OPE

Too late. With so much time, cameras and distance between us Peggy didn't hear the shouting from my apartment. Yeah, I was actually shouting. I am generally as quiet with the TV as I am in movie theaters... unless the show calls for raucous participation like, oh, Election Night or Drag Race. And though Mad Men invites gasping and laughter and speculation and veritably lives to provoke responses those responses are generally of the sort that take time to unpack. 

Which is, perhaps, why I never write about the show. Or at least not weekly as intended. I'm always still unpacking; the show seems denser than ever what with its ever expanding universe (now bicoastal and double-floored in NYC) and ever growing cast of characters to populate the agency which has tripled (at least) in size since Season 1. That's a lot of baggage to unpack. And not just of the personal damage variety... though there's always been plenty of that in Matthew Weiner's masterwork.

A trip to the movies, intruding showbiz, and a couple of stray observations after the jump...

Click to read more ...