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Entries in Dakota Fanning (14)

Thursday
Apr242014

Tribeca: Eco-Thrills in "Night Moves"

Tribeca coverage with Glenn on the latest from Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy & Lucy)

“Reserved, even by Kelly Reichardt’s standards.” That was the line I used to describe this Portland director’s latest, Night Moves, after its screening at Tribeca. Having premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival, it’s understandable that it didn’t make all that much noise in the intermediate months given it’s such a quiet, guarded film despite its eco-thriller roots and name cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard. Like all of Reichardt’s films, however, it is that very low-key ingredient that makes it memorable. While it doesn’t soar to the breathtaking heights of Meek’s Cutoff, which just like Night Moves took a genre prone to testosterone-filled violence and twisted it into a elegant mood piece, her latest is a surprisingly thrilling experience even when its director seems to be actively trying to go against those genre instincts.

Eisenberg and Fanning star as Josh and Dena, young environmental activists with an unclear history. He works at an organic farm while she works at a women’s retreat and spa while attending meetings big on ideas but low on execution. Despite not being terribly friendly to one another they are off purchasing a boat and joining Sarsgaard’s Harmon in a location out of the city. The three plan on blowing up a dam that was built to allow people to “play their iPods non-stop” and killed native species in the process. They are environmentalists, but others will call them terrorists. In fact, one of the very best moments in the film is a lingering shot of an armed police guard at a rural farmer’s market. Society has always looked upon the environmentally conscious with a suspicious unease – consider why green political parties can never truly rise up against their more capitalist competition despite most people agreeing that two party systems are corrupt and terrible either way you cut it. Maybe that’s just me getting carried away, however.

What I found so interesting about Night Moves is the way Reichardt handles the thriller elements. She uses silence and performance to spike tension. An extended scene where Dena purchases fertilizer, using her baby-faced (how does she now look younger than her sister Elle?) to manipulate and disarm the garden store employees, casually throwing in a blunt-forced nudge to the sexism that is still alive and well – “You’d sell it to me if I looked like those guys.”  She allows her actors faces to guide the audience. When the detonation occurs, her camera remains tightly focused on Eisenberg, Fanning and Sarsgaard; their reactions being the audience trigger rather than overbearing orchestral demonstrations and pyrotechnics.

This take on the material is to be expected from, say, a film about a woman and her dog or a desolate Oregon Trail western, but I imagine many audiences will bump heads with the way she handles it here. It reminded me a lot of Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, choosing to take a somewhat impressionistic approach rather than the sensationalist one that the material could typically result in. I appreciate that and these are always the type of films that tend to stick in my head longer than, say, Zal Batmanglij’s The East from last year. I didn’t too much like the way Fanning’s character devolved, especially given the way the screenplay by Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond had developed the feminine elements of the story, but even then the keen eye of Reichardt and cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt allow for an overcast beauty throughout.

There’s little here that Reichardt non-devotees will find to sway them, but for me she remains a brilliantly talented name in modern film. I would easily rank her alongside the likes of Aaron Katz (whose Land Ho I reviewed at Sundance and is also playing at Tribeca) and Sofia Coppola as one of the most interesting American voices working in today. Night Moves is reserved, but is grounded in a reality that is more thrilling than most of what Hollywood throws our way.

Thursday
Apr242014

Tribeca: "Every Secret Thing" with Dakota Fanning & Diane Lane

Tribeca coverage continues with your host Nathaniel on a new feminine driven mystery


Twisted women are an easy hook for this movie nerd and Every Secret Thing's premise provides. Ronnie (Dakota Fanning) and Alice (Danielle MacDonald) are just out of juvenile prison for a gruesome crime they committed when they were all of 11. Rivals rather than friends as children, in no small part because of Alice's single alcoholic mom (Diane Lane) who pours affection on both girls, biology be damned, they impulsively kidnapped a baby girl one terrible day. Years later, the two disturbed girls are back in their hometown and the years in lock-up have obviously further scarred them. Ronnie has withdrawn into a vaguely Goth shell and Alice, who has eaten her feelings for years, still protests her innocence.

But then another baby goes missing...

Every Secret Thing is written by the gifted Nicole Holofcener (based on Laura Lippman's novel of the same name) but directing duties this time go to Amy Berg. Berg is an Oscar nominated documentarian making her first narrative feature though she's been in the news lately because of the Bryan Singer allegations and the new documentary she's making about Hollywood sex rings. Holofcener's involvement is both surprising and not. On the one hand the film is largely about interpersonal relationships between women (her specialty) but on the other it lacks the kicky personality and wit of her other films. Just about the only laughs in this sometimes monotonous drama come from the gallows. Alice, memorably if arguably overplayed by MacDonald, has an odd relationship to the truth which sometimes makes for the kind of laughter that you have to swallow half-way through from guilt (Should I be laughing at this?)

Though Every Secret Thing has enough solid actressing to keep you engaged (Lane and MacDonald are trying to push the material to the weirder place that it should live in but the film isn't brave enough to follow) it's usually no more than solid. Fanning's role is disappointingly the slimmest of the four principle women. Elizabeth Banks' straight-laced detective, who investigated the original case and is on the case again, is too one note to maintain interest. In the end Banks's work and the underlit cinematography reflect a kind of dreary punch-pulling in the acting and direction, that make the film far too sedate given its pulpy plot points. Every Secret Thing keeps blanketing the sharper edges of its actually gruesome story, just when it should be exposing you to bracing truth, like it's tucking you in drearily so you won't have nightmares. B-/C+

Thursday
Apr102014

We Can't Wait Addendum: "The Last of Robin Hood"

In January we did a countdown of 2014 movies we were most looking forward to. With the distribution news that The Last of Robin Hood, an Errol Flynn bio of sorts with Kevin Kline will be released I feel the need to give it a shout out.

Errol Flynn keeps entering my consciousness when I least expect him lately. I was talking to Diana (currently in LA with Anne Marie to report on the TCM Film Festival for y'all right her) the other day over dinner and she brought him up. She loves the swashbuckling movie star and enjoyed the film at TIFF. I was also at a very chic event celebrating the photography of George Hurrell and there was a huge absolutely stunning portrait of Errol Flynn mixed with several perfect Joan Crawfords.

So when I read the news today, I became properly stoked at last. I love the poster's clever arrowhead riff (pictured left top) on that most boring of poster tropes, one visual stripe per star. I was once friendly with the film's directors (though we've lost touch). And, out of curiousity, I looked up a picture of Errol with his inappropriately young girlfriend at the end of his life and my jaw dropped...

Kevin Kline and Dakota Fanning couldn't be better casting, could they? 

The Complete List of "We Can't Wait" Titles in case you missed them.
We'll be following all these titles closely this year! 
01 Carol (TBA)
02 The Grand Budapest Hotel (March)
03 Foxcatcher (TBA)
04 Under the Skin (April)
05 Inherent Vice (TBA)
06 Into the Woods (Christmas)
07 Snowpiercer (TBA)
08 Nymphomaniac (March)
09 Boyhood (July)
10 Big Eyes  (TBA)
11 The Last 5 Years (TBA)
12 Gone Girl (Oct)
13 Begin Again (TBA)
14 Veronica Mars (March)

Runner Up Films

Wednesday
Dec182013

Top Ten: The Best Sister Acts in Hollywood History

Today's top ten list was inspired by the passing of the great Joan Fontaine, half of Hollywood's most embittered AND most successful sibling rivalry, all-female division. Usually when a movie star has a sibling, one is considerably less successful than the other which is why the Fontaine & de Havilland business was so enduringly fascinating. (If we're talking mixed gender siblings only Warren Beatty & Shirley Maclaine are truly comparable in terms of parallel mega-careers). I'm dedicating this list to the Talmadge sisters, silent screen stars (though most of their work did not survive) as well as the one and only Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorleac (her gorgeous elder sister who died way too young)... those Young Girls of Rochefort. But Rochefort is a long way from Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD'S TOP TEN FOURTEEN (ACTRESS) SISTER ACTS

The Sisters Mara: Kate & Rooney

14 Kate Mara (1983-) & Rooney Mara (1985-)
Rooney, currently playing Joaquin's ex-wife in Her, became a very big deal two years ago with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Kate is currently working the Netflix original House of Cards. If Hollywood futures are kind they'll climb this informal list.

13 more actressy-sibling sets after the jump

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Saturday
Sep072013

TIFF: Boogie Nights Revisited as Radio Show

Jason Reitman's Live Reads have long since gained "event" status on the West Coast and occasionally here in Toronto. Last year's TIFF event, a live reading of  American Beauty won so many raves that I knew I had to be there for the live read of Boogie Nights, another 90s classic and one much dearer to my heart. ... My crotch? Somehow Boogie Nights played much dirtier read aloud which got me to appreciate the unbelievable balancing act of the movie all the more. Somehow Mark Wahlberg's dumb sweetness, Julianne Moore's eager-beaver maternal warmth, Melora Walters and Don Cheadle's lost soul puppy love and the entire cast's totally committed work in Paul Thomas Anderson's classic elevate the material (already great to begin with of course) into something both stylized and authentic and totally endearing.

This time through without the visuals what I appreciated most was the comic glories of its dimwitted poetry.  Like this from Dirk:

You don't know what I can do! You don't know what I can do, what I'm gonna do, or what I'm gonna be! I'm good! I have good things that you don't know about! I'm gonna be something! I am! And don't fucking tell me I'm not!

Or literal dimwitted poetry like this from Reed...

I love you, you love me | Going down the sugar tree |  We'll go down the sugar tree, and see lots of bees: playing, playing |  But the bees won't sting, because you love me

more

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