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Entries in Directors (239)

Tuesday
May232017

Zach Snyder and the Separation of Art and Artist

by Ben Miller

Many outlets are reporting the news that director Zack Snyder is stepping down from directing the upcoming Justice League in order to be with his family following the suicide of his daughter, Autumn, in March. This news has unfortunately prompted some insensitive reactions online. This brings to light an interesting separation between the artist and the art they create.

Snyder has his fair amount of detractors.  I was impressed by his debut with Dawn of the Dead and got caught up in the zeitgeist that was 300.  But, I have been less than thrilled with his contributions to the superhero genre in Watchmen, Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

This has birthed a persona of the man – Zack Snyder, director.  His personal life and character has been shielded by a believed persona of what we feel this man is like, just because of the films he makes.  We assume that the CGI heavy and slow-motion leaning visual style says more about the man than anything else...

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Friday
May122017

Pedro Party: All About My Mother

It's a Pedro Party all week. Here's Lynn Lee on her introduction to Almodóvar...


To all actresses who have played actresses.  To all women who act.  To men who act and become women.  To all the people who want to be mothers.  To my mother.”

All About My Mother was the first Almodovar film I ever saw, and as it happens, I saw it with my own mother.  I don’t remember why I picked it for us to see together.  It certainly wasn’t because of the title or because I thought it would be something she’d particularly like.  In fact, if I’d thought about it more, I might have been anxious that she would find it too outré.  Or for that matter, that I would; as both a movie lover and a young adult, I was just beginning to learn what was out there and how far it stretched beyond my own personal experience.

To our credit, or rather to Almodovar’s, there was no reason for such trepidation...

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Saturday
May062017

Q&A: The Force is With Reader Questions

by Nathaniel R

I got a little verbosely carried away whilst answering reader questions so you get two Q & A columns from your last batch of questions. Thanks for playing. This week I asked for a few Star Wars Questions but that's just three of the six questions answered here. Ready, let's go! 

TROY: Within the past year Cynthia Erivo has won a Tony, Grammy, and Daytime Emmy for her work in the recent Broadway revival of The Color Purple, making her only one step away from completing the EGOT. Which type of project do you think would giver her her best chance at winning an Oscar?

NATHANIEL: I hate to get nitpicky but technically should Daytime Emmys even count with the EGOT? If you count any old Emmy as towards the EGOT than about 100,000 people you've never heard of who have local Emmies (seriously they give those statues out like candy) are 1/4th of the way to that showbiz goal. It's only Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Lopez, and their fans that would argue that Daytime Emmys count. No shade!

Anyway my dream for Erivo is that they give her either the film version of The Color Purple musical, though I fear they'd just hand it to a bigger less worthy star (like, oh, Jennifer Hudson, who she and Danielle Brooks, the other Tony nominee from that show, both ran circles around onstage) or a film version of Caroline or Change (if they won't rehire the incredible Tonya Pinkins) as those two roles are powerhouse vehicles for a black woman with giant pipes. But any musical role would be dreamy. That voice!

 PEDRO: What is your favorite Star Wars character? And your favorite Star Wars actor?

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Thursday
Apr272017

Paul Verhoeven Sticking To Dark Habits, Making Erotic Nun Movie

Paul Verhoeven is a walking, talking trigger warning; it’s not difficult to imagine him sitting behind an Inside Out-style control center smashing his fist on every red button in sight, cackling with perverse glee as he crawls under your skin like a psychologically disturbed porcupine with a bad case of rabies. Fresh off the especially spiky heels of last year’s Elle – his infamous “rape revenge comedy” that catapulted légende française Isabelle Huppert onto the stages of American awards ceremonies, better late than never – Variety reports that the Dutch provocateur plans to grind out a 17th century nunsploitation flick entitled Blessed Virgin as his next feature, replete with Sapphic undertones and hellish visions of religious erotica; a series of descriptors that should surprise approximately no one when it comes to all things Verhoeven.

After all, this is the same director who obliterated the military-industrial complex with giant man-eating space bugs, exposed the American entertainment industry with pole-licking showgirls, and, yes, drove a hatchet through the contemporary French bourgeoisie with a number of problematic sexual assaults.

Based on the book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy, Blessed Virgin tells the sordid true tale of Sister Benedetta Carlini’s subversive exploits as the Christ-communicating, same-sex bedding abbess of an Italian nunnery. Going straight from one hyper-religious sister to another, Elle star Virginie Efira is set to reteam with Verhoeven to play the lead. Do Paul Verhoeven’s (intentionally) problematic visions delight or disgust you? 

 

Wednesday
Apr192017

Captain Marvel might not be imaginary after all!

While I remain skeptical about Marvel Studios commitment to their female heroes, they took a small step forward in making Captain Marvel a reality by signing directors to the project. That's right, directors, as in plural. The writer/director duo of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck won the gig. They're not doing the screenplay this time (which is new for them) but still co-directing. They debuted with the searing Half Nelson for which Ryan Gosling earned a well deserved Best Actor nomination. Their subsequent films (Sugar, It's Kind of a Funny Story, and Mississippi Grind) weren't quite as acclaimed but were respectable outings. They've recently been directing performance-centric shows like Looking, Billions and The Affair.   

What does this mean for the film? Well it bodes well for the acting (not that Brie Larson needs a lot of help there) since they always do right by the talent but we hope they have amazing first-timer intuitions in terms of helming action setpieces and doing a ton of greenscreen. What's the learning curve like on that?

Captain Marvel will supposedly open on March 8th, 2019. 

Thursday
Apr132017

Cannes Line Up

by Nathaniel R

The Cannes lineup was announced very early this morning (time differences, don'cha know) and we're here to give you details, not just film titles. While TFE doesn't attend ($) we do follow from afar and hope to make the trek some day. The 70th Annual Cannes Film Festival runs May 17th through May 28th.

OPENING NIGHT

Which is a high profile gig but also risky as the knives are often out for a sacrifice to the festival gods to launch the cinextravaganza. 

Ismael’s Ghosts (Arnaud Desplechin)
French auteur Desplechin's latest will be released in the US by Magnolia. It stars French A-Listers Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Mathieu Amalric, and Louis Garrel and revolves around a filmmaker (Amalric) working on a new picture when his long dead lover Carlotta (Cotillard) returns to life sending his life into a tailspin. If you've never seen Desplechin classics Kings and Queen (2004) and A Christmas Tale (2008) get right to that!

THE COMPETITION LINEUP...

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Monday
Mar272017

When "Life" Goes Wrong...

by Nathaniel R

Stop me if you've heard this one before: a group of scientists are tasked with bringing samples of life back from outer space. Soon they are trapped in a nightmarish monster movie, as the alien life force picks them off one by one.

Life, the latest monster movie set in space, does a lot of things right despite its familiarity. Let's give credit where it's due. It hired capable involving actors in all the underwritten roles including Jake Gyllenhaal who we'll follow anywhere, even into deep space for a Alien ripoff. It's very handsomely lensed by prestigious cinematographer Seamus McGarvey. The direction by Daniel Espinosa (Child 44, Safe House) makes repeated smart use of the zero gravity setting, with well staged setpieces and even some unexpectedly beautiful compositions; the earliest casualty among the crew prompts the movie's eeriest morbidly pretty image. Apart from one confusing action sequence near the climax, the filmmakers seem to have a complete handle on the material.

So why then, is it unsatisfying? 

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Sunday
Mar262017

New Directors / New Films: "Happiness Academy"

Have you ever seen a film which mixes documentary with fiction? Hybrid films, films with documentary and fiction parts or at least performed / acted elements have been around for some time. I'm not enough of a documentary expert to know if this is an increasing trend but in the past few years I've seen a few. From my (extremely limited) experience the combo can spark frissons of excitement and thoughtful layers as in Sarah Polley's autobiographical mystery Stories We Tell. The hybrid approach can also be both fascinating and exhausting simultaneously as with Clio Barnard's The Arbor (2010) in which actors lipsynched to recorded interviews from the actual documentary subjects.

At this year's New Directors / New Films festival, which wraps today in NYC, the hybrid technique (genre?) gets another discussable entry via Happiness Academy...

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