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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Entries in Directors (167)


AFI Awards: Mustang, James White, and More...

Deniz & AliceThe Los Angeles AFI Festival, presented by Audi, ends tonight with the premiere of Paramount's The Big Short with it's all star (male) cast. But two women we're instant new fans of were the winners. First time feature director Deniz Gamze Ergüven and second time feature director Alice Winocour both had films in the fest (Mustang, which they cowrote and Ergüven directed, and Disorder, which was titled Maryland when it first debuted at Cannes, which Winocour wrote and directed.) Mustang opens in NY & LA a week from tomorrow. Disorder is due in March next year. They're both very much worth seeing so keep an eye on these two very talented women. I know we will. 


Jury:  Inkoo Kang (TheWrap), Sheri Linden (The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times) and Nigel M. Smith (The Guardian).

New Auteurs Grand Jury Award: Land and Shade (César Augusto Acevedo)
The jury cited it's  "visual eloquence, formal rigor and emotional power" in painting a portrait of a rural family in Colombia and its observations about the explotation of the poor and environmental degradation

more prizes follow...

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Foreign Quickies: Mustang, El Club, Ixcanul

Three quick takes on foreign film competitors from the long list of eligible titles, all screened at AFI.

Mustang (France) Opens November 20th in select cities. Cohen Media Group.
Given that 2015's loudest topic may well be the need for fresh cinematic female voices, the French/Turkish production Mustang deserves $100 million blockbuster status instead of art house ghettoization with a $300,000 gross which is what they're infinitely more likely to get. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven and screenwriter Alice Winocour, two very talented women, team up to tell the riveting story of five spirited sisters living with their hands-off grandma who keep colliding with the confines, literal and metaphoric, of the patriarchy. An innocent 'schools out for the summer' beach romp prompts the end of their adolescent abandon as their horrified conservative uncle steps in to shape them up, train them to be subservient wives, and marry them off to respectable families. Though the premise is reminiscent of Sofia Coppola's elegiac and dreamy Virgin Suicides, the execution is not. Ergüven and Winocour are more physically grounded and rambunctous in their presentation and there is no distancing conceit of viewing the sisters through the eyes of boys. Mustang has successfully rowdy comedic moments, an earthy non-exploitive sensuality, often clever visual framing, and even a hard-won scrappy optimism to balance out its tough reality checks. In short: it's excellent. Let's hope the Foreign Film Oscar Committee agrees. A- 
(See also: Amir's TIFF Review)


Ixcanul (Guatemala) -Kino Lorber will distribute in the US. Dates TBA
At the well attended premiere of this memorable Guatemalan Oscar submission (their first!), the director brought out, not one of the actresses, but an older woman dressed in South American finery who was some kind of public official/icon (the applause was so loud I missed her title/name). The takeaway of the intro was that Guatemala has a tiny but newly excited film industry and they're extremely proud of this little movie. As well they should be. Ixcanul (or Volcano) looks at a poverty-stricken Kaqchikel family, living next to an active volcano and working on a coffee plantation. The volcano, in addition to being a beautiful and alien visual backdrop for a movie is also a monolithic wall, blocking their view of the rest of the world; Mexico and the United States, to the North, are more myth than reality. The family hopes to marry their sexually curious daughter off to their comparatively rich boss and thereby lift all their futures. Needless to say, things don't go as planned. While the actions of nearly all the characters are often enraging, Ixcanul is never mean spirited, condemning the exploitation of their ignorance rather than the ignorance itself. (One heartbreaking emergy trip to a nearby city shows the family utterly at the mercy of an untrustworthy translator since they don't even speak Spanish in the mountains.) Bustamante's well crafted film is authentically steeped in a nearly alien culture but its humanity is entirely familiar. B


El Club (Chile) - Music Box Films will distribute in the US. Dates TBA
My first encounter with the acclaimed director Pablo Larrain was the violent Tony Manero, a film about a Chilean sociopath obsessed with winning a Saturday Night Fever lookalike contest. It was altogether unsavory and though the director's command was evident I couldn't wait for it to end. The second was the wondrous No, starring Gael García Bernal as an unlikely hero who helps rid his country of their dictator through an unlikely ad campaign. Though not without its necessarily dark moments -- all the Larrain films I've seen take place during the Pinochet era in Chile -- it was an exuberant, moving, and technically amazing film which I was happy to champion; it went on to be nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. The third encounter is, sadly, more reminiscent of the first in its absolute mandate to rub your face, artfully, in brutal shit.

The film begins deceptively as a mellow observational drama about a strange retirement community in a yellow house by the sea. Shortly, though, the curtain of ambiguity is lifted by an uninvited drunk stranger who stands outside the house spewing a hostel tirade of obscenities. The house, you immediately realize, is a shelter/prison for criminal priests that the Catholic Church is hiding away and the man shouting was one of their victims, repeatedly raped as a young boy. The depressing reveal deepens when you realizes that there are houses like this all over the world. 

Fans of disturbing cinema might admire Larraîn's chutzpah but everyone else should steer clear. Though the film has strong performances, particularly Antonia Zegers as a despicable nun and Marcelo Alonso as a remarkably stone-faced priest sent to assess the inhabitants of the house, it's a tough sit through spiritual rationalization, disturbing psychologies, and actual brutality [SPOILER WARNING] Animals are viciously killed in the film -- albeit just barely off camera -- and I never would have seen it if I had known. [/SPOILER]. Even the resolution, which could be read as spiritually uplifting is ambiguous; it played for me more like a sick pitch-black joke about "penance" and "redemption". (I will be wary of seeing another Larraîn film despite my love for No.) No Rating.


Interview: Germán Tejeira on 'A Moonless Night,' Uruguay's Oscar Submission

Jose here. When I scheduled my interview with director Germán Tejeira who is based in Montevideo, I hadn’t been counting on the internet being unaware that Uruguay had gotten rid of their own Daylight Savings Time, a practice which was deemed “old fashioned” and “inefficient” by the progressive government. We had to reschedule the interview, but Tejeira was kind enough to laugh the confusion off and even sent me an article which explained how this new practice had brought chaos within his own country. It was an anecdote I found peculiarly surreal, something out of a movie perhaps, and one that for that matter reminded me of Tejeira’s own A Moonless Night, a charming account of three men trying to find their, existential, way in the Uruguayan countryside during New Year’s Eve.

Cesar (Marcel Keroglian) is a cab driver spending the holiday with his ex-wife’s new family, Antonio (Roberto Suarez) is a magician en route to a presentation whose car breaks down stranding him and his rabbit Oliver, Molgota (Daniel Melingo) is a singer released from jail a day earlier so he can perform at a New Year’s party. Their routine is altered by a blackout, but to say their stories cross paths in a traditional way would be a disservice to Tejeira’s lovely screenplay, and his perceptive direction. The film has been selected as Uruguay’s Oscar representative and I discussed that with the director, as well as his perception of what films should provoke in spectators, and whether Uruguay has a well defined “cinematic identity”.

Read the interview after the jump...

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Topic Du Jour: Female Directors

If you haven't read Vulture's list of 100 female directors Hollywood could be hiring you should. It's a great 'shut your mouth' argument for those suits that hilariously say 'well, we would hire female directors if there were any!' Bless Kyle Buchanan for spearheading this -- though I hope he had interns helping.  Naturally there will be passionate responses. Diversity arguments will always promote some degree of snark -- see Anthony Mackie's recent comments about the Black Panther movie's search for a director -- and nitpicking, including here.

But we nitpick with love.

David Poland argues that "strategy," not shaming, is what's required and that statistics and math won't help. He neglects to detail the strategy though. As for myself I (mostly) love the list and think it's important that a wake up call like this is out there -- what did happen to Laverne herself, Penny Marshall, who directed so many huge hits in the 80s and 90s? It's smart to make the list far reaching and extensive but some of the people are not reasonable for an argument either because their careers have been over for so long or because...wait for it... they aren't good directors. (Obviously there are many bad directors with penises who get lots of work. But we'd like them to find other jobs, too!)  

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Posterized: 21st Century Spielberg

Spielberg & his current muse, Tom HanksDepending on whether you count 1971's Duel as Spielberg's debut (it's a TV film but most cinephiles seem to count it where they don't count television features as the debuts of other auteurs) Bridge of Spies, opening today, is Steven Spielberg's 25th or 26th full length feature film. His superstar-making run as an auteur (1975's Jaws through 1985's The Color Purple) is so often discussed and mythologized that for this week's edition of Posterized, let's just look at his output in this new century.

Bridge of Spies, the new cold-war thriller starring Tom Hanks, headlining his 4th Spielberg picture, appears to be divvying people up into two camps from early reviews. Doubters say it's too slow and lacks thrills. Devotees praise it's glorious classical filmmaking. Will there be a Happy Medium crowd that meets in the middle and says, 'a little dull sure but worth it for the glorious classical filmmaking'?  We all have time to decide now that the movie's open.

How many of Spielberg's eleven most recent films have you seen?
All the posters and what's next for Spielberg after the jump...

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Don Cheadle x 4 in "Miles Ahead" 

Nathaniel reporting on the closing night film of the New York Film Festival

Don Cheadle has been an esteemed actor for a full twenty years now. His big reputation began with his breakout turn in The Devil with the Blue Dress (1995) and kept building. Somewhere along the way, despite a Best Actor nomination for Hotel Rwanda (2004) the leading man career didn't materialize (apart from his 4 time Emmy nominated gig on Showtime's House of Lies). The sturdy ensemble player attempts to right that wrong by producing, writing, directing and starring (whew) in a Miles Davis biopic.

Cue the trumpets!

And here we are. Miles Ahead was given the honor of closing this year's New York Film Festival. Sony Pictures Classics will release the film.

It's tough to argue that Cheadle hasn't earned a spotlight as bright as this. [More...

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Great Moments in... Craft Services

Clint Eastwood likes broccoli.

This report just in from the set of Sully, Clint Eastwood's latest. It is not a biopic about the star of Monsters, Inc. The 85 year old workaholic's latest project will star Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who landed a plane in the Hudson River in 2009 (remember that?) to save everyone's lives onboard. It seems a slim premise for a whole feature but maybe Clint will keep the running time short for a change? That would give him more time to squeeze in a second or third picture for 2016, you know.