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Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne

"I'm stoked that she's now part of the MCU and hopefully be given some good scenes and not be totally wasted." - Iggy

"I thought Sharon Stone had been cast in the Ant Man sequel....Pfeiffer is a surprise here. I`ve read Evangeline Lilly wanted her, Michael Douglas wanted his wife and the studio wanted Sharon" -Eder

 

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Thursday
Sep172015

TIFF: Embrace of the Serpent (and Oscar Foreign Film Updates)

TIFF tends to be the best opportunity all year to see several Foreign Film Oscar submissions in quick succession. The trick is you don't often know which ones they well be and sometimes,  due to release dates in their home countries, they end up as submissions the following year. Last September, at this same festival for example I saw Labyrinth of Lies and Sand Dollars which are now the Oscar submissions for this year's race from Germany and The Dominican Republic.

Two days before Embrace of the Serpent was proclaimed Colombia's official submission, I attended the screening. Good luck for me and good choice for them: it's mesmerizing.

Ciro Guerra's third film wraps itself all around you with otherworldly danger. And this is not just a word choice via subliminal suggestion from the slimy encircling imagery of an enormous snake giving birth that occurs before the title. This journey film's stunning black and white photography by David Gallego (a relative newcomer!) only adds to the dreamlike visuals of the Colombian Amazon, totally transporting you into a rickety boat on the water, on two different journeys 40 years apart. The film was inspired by real life journals of explorers and both trips involve a white scientist searching for a mystical plant called Yakruna, which is said to have great healing power. Each of them take as their guide the same Amazonian shaman Karamakate who is played by as a younger man by Niblio Torres and and older man by Antonio Bolivar, neither have acted for cameras before but Karamakate in both forms has real screen presence.

The dangerous stops along the river's way angrily condemn the decimation of indigenous cultures by colonized rubber plantations and missionaries. We also get a taste of religious insanity on par with The Devils, and the jungle madness of Apocalypse Now and Aguirre the Wrath of God. And the films it recalls don't stop there. The snake birth is just one of three spectacularly trippy off-narrative sequences, the final one daring to invoke 2001: A Space Odyssey, with its psychedelic mysteries. If Embrace of the Serpent never feels wholly original as a result and only Karamakate registers as a three dimensional character, it's still an intense journey and very rewarding visual feast. This Colombian wonder won the top award at Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes earlier this summer, and could well impress Oscar voters who love a visual epic. Oscilloscope will distribute it in the States. Cross your fingers that it'll play on the biggest possible arthouse screen near you. B+/A- 

Related: There have been several foreign film submissions announced while I've been festivaling it up in Toronto. So make sure to check out the updated foreign film charts.

Current Predictions plus all time stats/trivia
• Afghanistan through Estonia  11 official
• Ethiopia through The Netherlands 20 official
New Zealand through Vietnam 16 official 

We now have 47 official titles, with probably 20-25 more yet to be named with the biggest missing links (i.e. countries that Oscar is fond of) being Denmark, France, Israel, Poland and Spain.

Thursday
Sep172015

TIFF: French Sexy Time Movies

Nathaniel, reporting from TIFF, where the French still love la petite mort. Due to the graphic nature of these films the reviews of Gaspar Noé's 3D explicit sex movie Love and the French teens-gone-wild Bang Gang: a modern love story (which is about exactly what it sounds like it's about) are both hidden after the jump where naughty things must go... Think of the children!

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep172015

1963 Look Back: Liz Taylor's 10 Best Looks From "Cleopatra"

Abstew kicks off our celebration of 1963 as we countdown to the next Smackdown (date TBA but probably early October)...

There's epic film making and then there's Cleopatra. Certainly in a class all of its own, the film spanned different countries, directors, stars, budgets, an original run time that clocked in at over six hours, and one legendary love affair far more interesting than the one being portrayed in the final film. Thanks to audiences wanting to see if La Liz and Richard Burton's explosive relationship off screen was able to be captured on the 70 mm Todd-AO celluloid, Cleopatra ended up being the #1 box office champion of 1963...and still ended up nearly bankrupting 20th Century Fox. Originally budgeted at $2 million, the final budget ballooned into an unprecedented amount of $44 million (roughly over $300 million when judged for inflation today) including a million dollar contract for star Elizabeth Taylor, making her the highest paid performer at the time. (She ended up walking away with over $7 million due to delays and a percentage of the box office.)

And it feels like at least half of that inflated budget went toward Taylor's costumes alone. Setting a Guinness Book of World Record at the time, Taylor goes through 65 costume changes in the film and earned all 3 (yes, 3) of its Costume Designers the Oscar for their efforts. Renié was responsible for the women's costumes, Vittorio Nino Novarese created the men's, and thanks to Irene Sharaff, who was in charge of all of Elizabeth Taylor's looks, we have a sumptuous treasure trove of couture fit for a queen (or at least Hollywood royalty). Deciding on a more modern look and color palette than what would have actually been found in ancient Egypt at the time of the film's setting, Taylor's looks influenced early '60s fashion with an influx in Egyptian like jewelry and even inspired a Revlon "Syphinx" line of make-up. So in honor of the film's sartorial contributions to cinema, let's take a look at 10 of Elizabeth Taylor's best looks as the legendary Queen of the Nile...

10. Travel Rug Chic

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Thursday
Sep172015

Women's Pictures - Amy Heckerling's Clueless

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a teen movie made after 1995 owes a debt to Clueless. Since its release 20 years ago, Amy Heckerling's classic has had surprising longevity: it revitalized teen fashion in the wake of grunge, resuscitated a genre (while also spawning a new subgenre), spawned a platinum soundtrack, launched a new generation of acting careers, like way altered the teenage lexicon, and inspired a rap video as late as 2014. We at Team Experience reference it at least once a year. And though Clueless landed at #3 on our recent Back To School Team Top 10, the two films that topped it were both direct beneficiaries of Clueless's wit and satire. Clueless redefined the teen film genre, divorcing it from the darkness of the 80s, while maintaining the social satire and serious observation that gave the totally quotable dialog resonance for an optimistic, clueless new generation of 90s teens. 

When Amy Heckerling was refining her Austen-inspired idea at Paramount, the genre she had helped create a decade previous with Fast Times At Ridgemont High was faltering. [More...]

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Thursday
Sep172015

TIFF: Mustang, 3000 Nights

Amir continues our coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival with a duo of middle eastern films directed by women, the first of which is one of five films shortlisted for Oscar submission selection by France.

Mustang (Turkey/France)
Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s first feature is an astonishingly assured debut. The story of five orphaned sisters who live with their grandmother and uncle in rural Turkey is at once a joyous celebration of youth and a rage-inducing depiction of young girls’ lives in religious, conservative societies. Locked inside their house after they are found innocuously playing with male classmates at the beach, the girls are forced to stay away from school and spend their days getting primed to be housewives.

The first half takes on a mostly comic tone, as the girls defiantly rebel against increasingly harsh measures by finding inventive ways to step out of the house or sneak off with their boyfriends. One forced marriage and an unfortunate disaster later, however, the film takes a sharp turn for the serious. [More...]

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Thursday
Sep172015

What's Next for Jennifer Lawrence 

Murtada here with some casting news. With commitments to her two franchises coming to an end soon, Jennifer Lawrence is getting busy considering all types of movies. November 20th brings The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 her 4th and last outing, for now, as Katniss Everdeen. Next summer’s X-Men Apocalypse is supposedly the last time we will see Lawrence as Mystique.

This week came news that she is attached to an adaptation of the book Red Sparrow about a Russian intelligence officer trained as a seductress and her handling of a rival CIA operative. This movie could re-team her with Francis Lawrence her first Hunger Games director. It’s a hot property in Hollywood that previously had director/actress combos of Darren Aronofsky/Natalie Portman and David Fincher/Rooney Mara interested.

More projects and some recent Lawrence quotes after the jump.

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