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Entries in biopics (181)

Friday
Sep152017

Review: Darren Aronofsky's "mother!"

This review contains mild spoilers from the first half of the film since everything is essentially a spoiler given the cryptic promotions. The review was previously published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

“Baby?” is the first line spoken in Darren Aronofsky’s new film mother!  but not its first image. The film begins with a defiant girl burning in a house consumed by fire. Javier Bardem collects a gem from the ashes. He places it on a shelf with other less brilliant but similar gems and we watch as the house restores itself from blackened ash. What to make of this rebirth… or is it a timelapse reversal of the destruction? Are we seeing the future or the past?

Cut to Jennifer Lawrence, waking up suddenly in bed. Where is her husband?

Baby?

While Lawrence is the star she’s a cypher-like presence in this particular film (new for her) a mostly passive figure to whom the action happens... We learn very little about her marriage besides the fact that he is a writer and she spends her time restoring their massive home.

Then a knock on the door…

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep132017

TIFF: Elle Fanning is "Mary Shelley"

Our ongoing adventures at TIFF

In the summer of 1816 legendary Romantic literary figures Mary Shelley (and stepsister Claire Clairmont), Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and Dr John Polidori were holed up in a Swiss estate and challenged each other to write scary ghost stories. From that fateful contest two famous works of horror emerged ("Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus" in 1818 and "The Vampyre" in 1819 -- neither of them actual ghost stories!). Ken Russell attacked this collision of authors with his trademark sexual abandon and visual insanity in Gothic (1986) and his wasn't the first or last film to stare with fascination at that morbid contest 201 years ago. We return to that summer for a good chunk of Haifaa al-Mansour's Mary Shelley but with far different intent.

Haifaa al-Mansour, the first Saudi female film director (she previously directed Wadjda) is more interested in the trailblazing of Mary Shelley (née Godwin) as a female author -- and the unique challenges that came with her gender in the literary world of 1818 -- than in the creation of Frankenstein...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep092017

Official Foreign Film Submissions Thus Far

All the foreign submission charts have been updated to reflect the speedy announcements of new titles. We're now up to 46 (last year's tally was an all time record of 85). Somehow I neglected to include Ireland on the submission charts. They've selected an "audacious" biopic about the singer Joe Heany called Song of Granite. The film uses both documentary footage and narrative sequences. It's in black and white and looks gorgeous in still photos

Submissions we've reviewed thus far here at TFE...

Submissions we've seen but haven't yet reviewed...

  • Czech Republic's Ice Mother
  • Egypt's Sheikh Jackson
  • Finland's Tom of Finland

Submissions we're scheduled to see soon...

  • Poland's Spoor
  • Sweden's The Square

The rest of the list (thus far). We'll look out for opportunities to see them...

  • Azerbaijan's Pomegranate Orchard
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina's Men Don't Cry
  • Brazil's Bingo: King of the Mountain
  • Bulgaria's Glory
  • Chile's A Fantastic Woman
  • Croatia's Quit Staring at My Plate
  • Dominican Republic's Woodpeckers
  • Georgia's Scary Mother
  • Germany's In the Fade
  • Greece's Amerika Square
  • Iraq's The Dark Wind
  • Ireland's Song of Granite
  • Japan's Her Love Boils Bathwater
  • Kosovo's Unwanted
  • Latvia's Chronicles of Melanie
  • Lebanon's The Insult
  • Lithuania's Frost
  • Luxembourg's Barrage
  • Mexico's Tempestad
  • Morocco's Razzia
  • Nepal's White Sun
  • Netherland's Layla M
  • Pakistan's Saawan
  • Palestine's Wajib
  • Portugal's Saint George
  • Romania's The Fixer
  • Serbia's Requiem for Mrs J
  • South Korea's A Taxi Driver
  • Spain's Summer 1993
  • Switzerland's The Divine Order
  • Thailand's By the Time It Gets Dark
  • Turkey's Ayla: The Daughter of War
  • Ukraine's Black Level
  • United Kingdom's My Pure Land
  • Venezuela's El Inca
  • Vietnam's Father and Son

Current predictions

Tuesday
Sep052017

Some Rami to Love

Look, it's the first image of Rami Malek as the iconic Freddie Mercury in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. The film will be directed by Bryan Singer, who is stepping away from the mutants for once, unless you count Freddie Mercury's mutant lungs / range (four octaves -heeeyyy) which maybe you should. What'cha think?

It's quite a fine image, really. Rami's unique facial structure really plays up the Freddieness once you add that moustache. For what it's worth we are promised that this will not be a traditional biopic (it covers only the formation of the band in 1970 through their Live-Aid performance in 1985). There have been murmurs that the project might not do justice to Freddie's story, or his sexuality, because the surviving members of Queen are totally involved. That's always tricky with true stories when the actual people are involved in telling it.

With deep apologies to Queen, I'm now singing one of my favorite of their hits with new lyrics

All we hear is Rami oh ga ga
Rami oh goo goo
Rami oh ga ga
All we hear is Rami oh ga ga
Rami oh blah blah
Rami oh, what's new?
Rami oh, someone still loves you!

Friday
Sep012017

OTD: Vera Drake and Lily Tomlin

On this day (Sept 1st) in showbiz history...

1934 Metro Goldwyn Mayer releases their first animated short, The Discontented Canary. It wasn't Oscar nominated but they soon begin to crash Walt Disney's stranglehold on that particular category back then, with nearly annual nominations (for a time) beginning in 1939 (Peace on Earth) and regular wins in the 1940s thanks largely to the Tom & Jerry series

1952 Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea is first published. It wins the Pulitzer and gets adapted to the movies twice, the first time as a feature in 1958 with Spencer Tracy and the second time as an Oscar winning Russian animated short in 1999 which was painted on glass. 

1977 Blondie signed their first major record company contract. Whatever happened to that Debbie Harry biopic we were supposed to get? Wasn't it going to star Kiki Dunst or was that just our TFE fantasy?

2004 Mike Leigh's marvelously humane and potent Vera Drake wins the Golden Lion in Venice. The film is nominated for 3 Oscars including a surprise Best Director bid. Imelda Staunton goes on to lose the Oscar to a far inferior performance. We've been demanding a recount ever since.

Happy Birthday to Them
Oscar Nominees: Lily Tomlin (Nashville), Rachid Bouchareb (Foreign Film nominations for Algeria: Outside the Law and Days of Glory)
In Demand: Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Boyd Holbrook (Logan, Narcos)
Other Famous Types: Gloria Estefan
Foreign Stars: Fengyi Zhang (Chinese movie star), Lhumnita Gheorghiu (brilliant Romanian actress), Mohammed Assaf (Palestinian pop star) 

Wednesday
Aug162017

Soundtracking: "Evita"

It's Madonna's birthday!! Chris Feil looks back at one of her biggest soundtracks...

By the mid-90s, musicals were all but dead, even though Disney created their own resurgence in animated form. Madonna’s career however was always heading toward reviving it: she constantly reinvented the game for the music video and her Breathless Mahoney songstress was Dick Tracy’s genre flirtation device. With her divisive performance in Evita, she brought the cinematic musical back into the popular culture and delivered a hit soundtrack in the process.

And I should qualify that for emphasis: a hit soundtrack to a quasi-opera about propaganda and Argentine political figures when the popular music landscape highlighted Alanis, Tupac, and The Smashing Pumpkins. Madonna did that in arguably the least accommodating musical or cinematic climate, and perhaps only Madonna could have done it. Like it or not, much of the film’s success (even musically) is thanks to her star power, no matter how indelible Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s score remains.

Click to read more ...