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Entries in Directors (215)

Wednesday
Sep212016

Curtis Hanson (1945-2016)

Director Curtis Hanson passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Word is that Alzheimer had forced a retirement five years ago.

Eminem won a Song Oscar for his collaboration with Curtis Hanson in "8 Mile"

Hanson's brush with A list "prestige" was brief (3 Oscar nominations for producing, co-writing, and directing the much-admired LA Confidential) but his career was a fine example of versatile craftsmanship. He served as an important reminder that there's more to directing than auteurial stamps...

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Friday
Sep162016

TIFF: François Ozon's Elegant "Frantz"

Nathaniel R reporting from TIFF

Frantz is dead when Frantz begins though everyone who knew him keeps willing him back to life through memories and the general refusal to let go. The movie has a terrifically simple plot generating event which reaps bountiful plot threads and emotions: In 1919 Germany, just after the first World War, a young girl named Anna (Paula Beer, Venice Winner Best Young Actor) repeatedly encounters a Frenchman named Adrien (Pierre Niney) while visiting her dead fiancee Frantz's (Anton von Lucke) grave. Then he comes knocking at her door. Why is he there? What does he want with Anna and Frantz parents? At first she and Frantz's parents (Ernst Stötzner and Marie Gruber, both superb) are wary about him since the wounds between the countries are still fresh. Quickly they warm to him though, much to their town's disapproval, when they realize that he knew their beloved Frantz (who had always loved Paris before the war).

Told in roughly two acts, the first in Germany is superb with a fine curtain closer if it were a play. (In fact, Frantz feels nearly like a full movie right then and there.) The second act in France, is perhaps too much of a good thing as the film suffers from repetition. Still the emotional arcs and tough emotional questions (is it better to lie than to cause more suffering?) are beautifully rendered. Ozon's hand is assured and elegant throughout. In fact, his queer gaze makes Frantz a more complex journey than it would have been with another director. Flashbacks to the young soldiers as friends are highly romanticized, nearly erotic. And this idealization is at fascinating odds with the film's feelings about romanticizing war and what the characters lives otherwise tell us about them. (In black and white with shifts to color a few times, always when Frantz appears in flashbacks, but more mysteriously on two other occassions.)

Grade: First Act: A / Second Act: B
MVP: François Ozon
Oscar Chances: France has four finalists for the Oscar submission this year. We're rooting for Elle but I think either that film or Frantz is likely to make the finals (9 films) at least with Oscar's foreign committee should it be the one that's selected.
Distribution: Music Box Films will release Frantz in the US. No dates have been announced yet but I suspect first quarter of 2017. 

Tuesday
Aug302016

Team Experience's Most Anticipated Fall Festival Films

Oscar season is upon the horizon, dear readers. And the (un)official starting siren for the race ahead is the fall festivals. Venice kicks off tomorrow, overlapping with Telluride and Toronto in September, the comes New York and Chicago before the AFI Fest in November.

Our host Nathaniel will be heading out to Toronto in a few short days, so expect to see his responses during those days. While we can't all take in the glut of a major film festival, the fun of watching from home is hearing how the films on your radar are being received. So to let you know what we'll be waiting for, Team Experience has rallied our:

Top 15 Most Anticipated Films of the Fall Festivals

 

Films narrowly missing the list included Una, Voyage of Time, Loving, American Pastoral, and The Salesman. On our list you'll find five films directed by women and nine from non-US directors. We weren't at Cannes or Sundance, so not everything on our list is a world premiere (and we know you're still looking forward to those as well). Let's just say our #1 made like Katie Ledecky at the Olympics or Mo'Nique at the Oscars, but the list is still bursting with enticements. You can see previous posts on the festival lineups here and here. Chicago is just beginning to announce and Telluride doesn't announce their lineup until the start of the festival.

See what made our list and the festivals they will play after the jump...

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Sunday
Aug212016

Interview: Alice Winocour on Disorder, PTSD, and Joining the Academy

by Nathaniel R

Alice Winocour, writer/director of "Disorder"The absence of strong female representation behind the camera has been a constant sore subject this past year in the world of cinema. But there are shining exceptions to the rule. Though Alice Winocour began making shorts a dozen years ago and released her first feature in 2013, the 40 year old French director really broke through with the one-two punch of Mustang (which she co-wrote) and Disorder (which she co-wrote and directed) last summer at Cannes. Mustang went on to an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film (and much love - including right here). After serving on the Cannes International Critics Week jury this summer (one year after her own breakthrough double) she's making the rounds promoting Disorder which has finally hit US screens after its festival run.

I had the pleasure of seeing both films nearly back to back at AFI last November and I was stunned that the same person was involved with both. She admits that "it was funny to switch from one film to the other" during their festival runs. They really couldn't be more different, one a memoirish feminist drama and the other a tightly wound home invasion thriller. I had the pleasure of sitting down with her in Manhattan this month to talk about her big year.

NATHANIEL: Since you've written a few features was Disorder a conscious choice to show your directorial chops? Thrillers are not generally thought of as writer's pictures. 

ALICE WINOCOUR: Writing is an unconscious process. You don't think about it like that. You just fall in love with the subject or character and then you start to tell the story...

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Thursday
Aug182016

Arthur Hiller (1923-2016) and "Making Love"

Arthur Hiller with his Jean Hersholt Huminatarian AwardOscar nominated Canadian born Hollywood director Arthur Hiller died yesterday at 92 years of age. Though he's best remembered for the 1970 mega-hit Love Story  -- so popular in its day it would have been equivalent to a Jurassic World at the box office today (no really) -- his career was actually quite varied. He did dramas, romances, buddy comedies, period pieces, you name it.

Among his best known films which is your favorite?

  • The Americanization of Emily (1964)
  • The Out of Towners (1970)
  • Love Story (1970)
  • Plaza Suite (1971)
  • Man of La Mancha (1972)
  • Silver Streak (1976)
  • The In-Laws (1979)
  • Making Love (1982)
  • Author! Author! (1982)
  • Outrageous Fortune (1987)
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) 

Outrageous Fortune was probably my favorite of his films - Bette Midler & Shelley Long were so funny together --  but the film that's the most interesting, historically, is Making Love as it was the very first mainstream LGBT film...

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Friday
Aug122016

Posterized: Director Stephen Frears

Streep & StephenThe "Posterized" series has fallen into a 'totally inconsistent director' zone. Last week we looked at Woody Allen's filmography, full of impossible peaks and embarrassing valleys and everything inbetween. The 75 year old British director Stephen Frears hasn't had peaks that are quite as dizzy from the genius altitude but his valleys aren't as cringeworthy as Allen's, either. He's a safe middle distance director that critics and audiences and Oscar can all love, albeit not stay married to. He's made 22 features over the course of his long career which began with 1971's Gumshoe after which he disappeared into epidodic British TV for a decade or so until his movie career really started to sizzle; My Beautiful Laundrette put him on the global map. But did he ever really top that breakthrough?

For all the ups and downs that followed, the consistency is his love for actresses: he famously directed Helen Mirren to her Oscar, and he's worked with Glenn Close, Judi Dench, and Michelle Pfeiffer twice each.

It's a busy summer for Frears.  He's prepping a third feature with Judi Dench called Victoria and Abdul, he's added Meryl Streep to his grande dame arsenal via Florence Foster Jenkins, and he'll receive the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award at the 22nd Annual Sarajevo Film Festival which starts today.

All the Frears theatrical posters are after the jumpHow many of his films have you seen?

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