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"Looking"'s Final Episode *sniffle*

"I'm crushed over this news but it appears "Looking" has been cancelled (confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter). But at least HBO will be giving it a special movie to wrap up the storylines." -Stan

We're also crushed. But thanks to Manuel for recapping this beautiful second season.



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Entries in Berlin (14)


We Can't Wait! #9: Taxi

Jafar Panahi poses as a taxi driver in "Taxi"Team Experience is counting down our 15 most anticipated for 2015. Here's Amir...

Who & What: Politically troubled Iranian auteur, Jafar Panahi, returns with his third film in four years. Any other director would be considered prolific with numbers like that, but consider that Panahi has managed it despite being under an official, though increasingly lenient, ban on filmmaking. His latest film, a realist comedy set in the confines of his car, stars him as a taxi driver whose interactions with his passengers form the narrative. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, making him the only Iranian filmmaker with two top prizes from the big three festivals – the first was Venice’s Golden Lion for The Circle.

Why We’re Excited About It: Panahi has been cranking out masterpieces with such regularity that his inventive, powerful cinema is often taken for granted, especially since his political situation pushed discussions about his films to the background. His insightful, heartfelt and often humorous social studies are some of the best films of the past two decades and Taxi seems to be a return to his earlier interests, after a couple of self-reflexive experiments. The reviews from Berlinale showered the film with unanimous praise, and coming off the best film of his career, Closed Curtain, Panahi continues to work at his very peak. (Nick Davis discussed that film and Panahi’s earlier work with me at length on the Hello Cinema podcast.)   

What If It All Goes Wrong: Before the film had its premiere, my only fear was whether the car setup of the film would read as gimmicky or become tiresome. Reviews suggest those fears were baseless. Otherwise, I don’t see how this can go wrong.  

Jury Chairman Darren Aronofsky presented Jafar Panahi's crying niece with the Golden Bear in his absence.

When: Specialty arthouse distributor, Kino Lorber, has acquired the North American rights. Whether they want to build renewed momentum in the fall festival circuit or capitalize on the film’s Berlin win earlier in the summer isn’t yet clear.

previously in 'we can't wait'


Binoche Has Gone Full Zhivago (65th Berlinale)

Berlinale cometh.

Not until February but Juliette Binoche is starting early since she's arriving by sled. But seriously that's the first image from the Opening Night film Isabel Croixet's Nobody Wants the Night. The film co-stars Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) and Gabriel Byrne (as explorer Robert Peary) and takes place in 1908 in the Arctic and Greenland. My Binoche comes in waves and recedes with the tide and such but it's big and full right now after her wonderful work in Clouds of Sils Maria which will open in the US eventually. Promises promises. Binoche is always so wonderful.

Competition films this year include: Andrew Haigh's 45 Years (his first since Weekend!), Andrea Dresen's As We Were Dreaming, Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella, Peter Greenaway's Eisenstein in Guanajuato, Jayro Bustamante's Ixcanul Volcano, Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, and Alexey German''s Under Electric Clouds.

50 Shades of Grey will also premiere at the festival. But frankly, it just doesn't seem kinky enough for Berlin. The city, not the festival. 

I can never go to the Berlin International Film Festival because it hits just days after Sundance and concludes just a couple weeks before the Oscar. *sniffle*


Berlinale Wraps: Uma, Prizes, Foreign Film Oscar Hopefuls

Richard Linklater with his Silver BearOne of these years we will make it to the Berlinale! The festival closes today and things go quiet on the megawatt festival front until Cannes in May (though festival season never really ends what with regional festivals everywhere and Tribeca, which we'll cover, in the Srping).

Early English language punditry assumed that Richard Linklater's 12 year spanning Boyhood (my review) or Wes Anderson's reportedly delightful Grand Budapest Hotel would win but english language press always assumes that about American pictures. James Schamus jury thought otherwise, though they honored both with prizes, giving the Golden Bear to the Chinese noir Black Coal, Thin Ice. In fact, a lot of prizes went to Asian cinema this year.

Awards, Umas, and Oscar hopefuls after the jump...

Click to read more ...



I've been struggling and struggling to come up with something to say about Shia Labeouf's paper bag look at the Berlinale over the weekend. Thought it seems ready made for a meme -- think of all the has-beens that could be mocked! -- you wouldn't be able to tell who was being mocked once you'd photoshopped the bag over the head. 

I know only two things about this. First, that James Franco exploded when he saw it, both sexually aroused and furious that he hadn't thought of it first. Second, that at least one cinephile in each top film market will do this look for Halloween and not enough people will get the joke. 


Meet the Berlinale Jury

The 64th Berlinale begins today in Germany - a press conference for Grand Budapest Hotel is streaming right now. It's the second of the six most powerful and premiere-heavy festivals each year, which schedule like so: Sundance -January; Berlin -February; Cannes - May; and the September glut of Venice, Telluride & Toronto. Like most of the biggies Berlinale has multiple juries for multiple types of awards, major and niche. But here's the main competition jury presided over by former Focus Features chief James Schamus. 

The Jury, The Competition Films, and Oscar History after the jump

Click to read more ...


Berlin Announces Its Winners.


Jose here. The Berlin Film Festival came to its end a few hours ago and the big winners came from Romania and Bosnia. Călin Peter Netzer's Child's Pose won the prestigious Golden Bear, while Danis Tanovic's An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker picked up the Jury Grand Prix as well as the Best Actor award for Nazif Mujic.

The winners as selected by the jury headlined by Wong Kar-wai were:

  • Golden Bear: Child's Pose by Călin Peter Netzer
  • Jury Grand Prix: An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker by Danis Tanović

    Tanović's movie has a real life family recreate an event that almost cost them their son's life. Not only does this sound like an interesting project but it also shows a two year trend in the festival where real life people dramatizing events have taken the main prizes. Last year's Golden Bear winner, Caesar Must Die (which is great and just opened in NYC!) had real life inmates put on a Shakespeare play. Tanović has also had a great record with awards, remember his No Man's Land upset Amélie for the Oscar twelve years ago? We might be in the presence of the first Oscar-y movie of 2013...

Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd in Prince Avalanche

  • Silver Bear for Best Director: David Gordon Green for Prince Avalanche
  • Silver Bear for Best Actress: Paulina García for Gloria

    García keeps on perpetuating the fantastic renaissance of Chilean cinema. Chile is having a great year so far, with No (which just opened in the US) being perhaps the only movie that could give Amour a run for its money in the Oscar race. Incidentally Pablo Larraín, who directed No is listed as a producer for Gloria.
  • Silver Bear for Best Actor: Nazif Mujić for An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker

A still from Closed Curtain.

  • Silver Bear for Best Script: Jafar Panahi for Closed Curtain

    Panahi, who is still banned from film making, shot this in his own beach house and once again managed to smuggle the film out of Iran! Just two years ago, his brilliant This Is Not a Film (which was shamefully left out of the Oscar documentary race) caused a commotion in Cannes after it arrived via birthday cake! Is it just me or is Panahi's life much more interesting/politically inspiring than Argo? Sigh.
  • Award for an outstanding artistic contribution: Vic and Flo Saw a Bear by Denis Côté
  • Teddy Award: W imię... by Małgośka Szumowska (the Teddy, an LGBT-focused award, is chosen by an independent jury)

    On an interesting note, the Special Award winner - Vic and Flo Saw a Bear- also features lead characters who are gay, yet the movie wasn't featured in any of the Teddy selections. Makes for an interesting question on how different jury members vote for different things and spread out the wealth.

  • Special Mentions:
    • Promised Land by Gus Van Sant (whatever happened to this movie Stateside?)
    • Layla Fourie by Pia Marais

In recent years, more than ever before, we've seen an overlap of Berlin and Oscar, particularly in the Foreign Language category. Just last year Berlin gave awards to War Witch and A Royal Affair, both of which ended up being nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category this year. Which of these movies are you dying to see? Have you kept up with Tanovic's work after his Oscar win?


"The Grandmaster"'s First Screening / Press Conference

It seems like we've been hearing about Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster for about a decade now. But it finally exists as a "completed" project. No more tinkering. The movie will premiere at Berlinale next month. With a running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes (or 2 hours and 13 minutes depending on which report you read). The movie has now been screened and press conferenced... in China. Here are the stars earlier today at that first post-screening press conference. 

Chang Chen, Zhang Ziyi, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai meet the press

The entire team at the press conference. Wong Kar Wai, cast, and key crew

Tony, a frequent overseas correspondent among TFE readers, writes...

Very enthusiastic first wave of response! Apparently more straightfoward, no fragmented, mosaic-style narrative structure. Every frame is desktop picture pretty (obviously). Zhang Ziyi's performance singled out. More than one critic mentioned the first 2/3 of the movie is especially fantastic."

Hmmm. I worry about the last sentence. Generally you have to end strong to not win mixed reviews. Let's end with a newish picture of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (aka one of the greatest movie stars in the universe) in the title role.

Can't wait! Wong Kar Wai and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai haven't made a movie together in so long and with so many masterpieces and/or damn strong pictures behind them (2046, In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Chungking Express, etcetera...) it'll hopefully be a worthy reunion