Daniel Crooke, here, nursing a serious case of intercontinental jealousy. Yesterday marked the kick-off of the 69th Cannes Film Festival with a typically out of competition Woody Allen picture (Café Society, met with polite nods and a lingering line of extra-textual inquiry) and today George Miller and his jury of wisecrackers and Kikis hunker down for eleven days of cinematic deliberation. To those of us salivating across borders for news of the Farhadi, Arnold, Dolan, or Almodóvar, let’s celebrate with one of Cannes’ greatest gifts: a proud tradition of actress-heavy posters. [More...]
Entries in film festivals (306)
Whilst the world's cinephiles eyes are all turned to the mother of all film festivals, Cannes, down under the Sydney Film Festival have just announced their cracking line up. While it's not one of the most prestigious festivals, it's carved a perfect spot for itself on the cinematic calendar in June each year. It's one of the first festivals to be able to screen films only previously shown at Sundance and Berlinale in the first half of the year, and the then just concluded Cannes film festival. Sydney Film Festival of course has its own world premieres of Australian films, and while this year doesn’t have as many as previous years, there’s some exciting works all the same. Here is just a sample of what’s in store for Sydney siders.
Australian World Premieres
Opening the Festival and also running in competition will be Ivan Sen’s Goldstone, which is a sequel to his Mystery Road which opened the festival in 2013. Ivan Sen is one of Australia’s most influential and consistent Australian directors whose casts always reflect the diversity of Australia and in particular the traditional owners of the land, so this is a must see. There’s even Jacki and David Wenham to bring the star wattage. Other Aussie treats to keep an eye out for is queer teen drama Teenage Kicks by Craig Boreham, and gore fest horror film Red Christmas by Craig Anderson refreshingly featuring Dee Wallace as a middle aged horror heroine.
Auteurs, LGBT films, and documentaries after the jump!
One day I will figure out to keep up with the cinematic madness but April contained none of those days. A week ago the Nashville Film Festival wrapped and I have yet to share with you the prizes my jury bestowed! Not that you've been clamoring to read about films you've never heard of but one of the joys of film festivals is in the discoveries. Hence my great thrill to be asked to sit on the "New Directors Jury". Let's survey a handful of the competitors starting with the two winners, both of which made one step closer to theaters this week.
HONORABLE MENTION The Fits (2016)
I'm starting with this one because it's out very soon (June 3rd in NYC / June 10th in Los Angeles) and you absolutely shouldn't miss it. I'm already eager to see it again. We need directors with fresh voices and a unique gaze and we've got one in Anna Rose Helmer. The Fits follows a young girl named Toni (Royalty Hightower, pretty great) who spends her days helping her older brother with his job cleaning a boxing gym. She's fascinated by the boy rituals and the girl rituals which are happening just down the hall where a local dance squad rehearses in another gymnasium. Just when you think you've figured out the film's theme (there's certainly much to ponder in its gender dynamics) one of the dancers has a violent fit and faints and you realize Helmer has a lot more yet on her mind. There's no easy allegories here and maybe it's a little opaque but there's much to ponder in its metaphysical poetry, thoughtful camera work and editing and, above all else, its persistent fly-on-the-wall curiosity, the camera a soulful twin to Toni's ever-searching eyes. B+ (A-?)
Breaking News: The Fits got a poster (left) and a perfect moody trailer this week from Oscilloscope Pictures.
More after the jump including an awards magnet which keeps winning festivals...
Tribeca Film Festival wrapped this weekend and I want to hear a huge round of applause for Manuel Betancourt and Jason Adams who filed so many reports. The festival's main narrative competiton was juried by Anne Carey, Chris Nashawaty, and the actors James Le Gros, Mya Taylor and Jennifer Westfeldt. Additional juries handled documentaries, new directors, and international narrative features.
Festival Winners Reviewed
Dean (Manuel) -Best Narrative Feature
The Fixer (Nathaniel) -Best Actor Dominic Rains
Always Shine (Jason) -Best Actress Mackenzie Davis
Women Who Kill (Jason) -Best Screenplay Ingrid Jungermann
Contemporary Color (Jason) - Documentary Cinematography Jarred Alterman and Documentary Editing Bill Ross
Madly (Manuel) - Actress in an International Feature Radhika Apte in "Clean Shaven," a segment in Madly
Other Films Reviewed
All We Had (Manuel)
Charro de Toluquilla (Manuel)
Elvis & Nixon (Jason) *now in theaters*
Everybody Knows...Elizabeth Murray (Manuel)
Fear Inc (Jason)
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Jason)
A Kind of Murder (Jason)
King Cobra (Jason)
The Meddler (Manuel)
Memories of a Penitent Heart (Manuel)
Special Correspondence (Jason) *now on Netflix*
Strike a Pose (Manuel)
P.S. We'll have more on Strike a Pose (2016), the documentary about Madonna's dancers from Truth or Dare (1991) that Manuel reviewed, in a couple of weeks. You know we can't pass up the opportunity to celebrate Truth or Dare's 25th anniversary in style so we'll have a "blonde ambition" theme week (May 8th-13th) with Madonna madness and other cinematic blondes to mix it up. (We're now waiting impatiently for news about a proper release for Strike a Pose)
Anne Marie here, reporting from sunny Los Angeles!
The 6th Annual TCM Classic Film Fest starts today in Hollywood, kicking off 4 days of fan-friendly classic film viewing. Though Turner Classic Movies's festival is only six years old, the TV channel works to make each year bigger and broader than the year before it. This year, TCM will honor legendary director Francis Ford Coppola with a handprint ceremony, and call on the likes of Angela Lansbury, Faye Dunaway, Rita Moreno, and Anna Karina to introduce its decades-and-countries-spanning festival lineup. If you thought "Classic Movies" meant films shot in LA from 1930-1950, TCM has some mind-altering revelations for you!
This year's theme is Moving Pictures; movies that not only move us to tears (It's A Wonderful Life and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), but also laughter (Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid), trepidation (Band of Outsiders), spiritualism (The Passion of Joan of Arc), and introspection (Network, M*A*S*H). Throughout the festival, TCM continues to challenge the defintion of "classic," expanding the cinema canon and bringing film experiences from across history and nations. I'll be on the ground to report on the best of these, with plenty of surprises on the way.
The TCM Film Festival comes on the heels of two major announcements from the network: the launch of the fan subscription service TCM Backlot, and the TCM/Criterion streaming collaboration to be launched in fall, Filmstruck. TCMFF, already a six-years-strong example of TCM's ability to engage with fans, provides the network with a platform to celebrate these new opportunities. Time and promotion will tell how propular these new ventures will be. In the meantime, we have a film festival to attend!
Oscar-robbed George Miller is back! Well, not in movie theaters (alas) but as president of this year's Cannes Film Festival competition jury. The announcement of the jury is always a cause for excitement since the list provides an annual eclectic mix of international artists both behind and in front of the camera. For 2016 we have:
George Miller (Writer/Director/Producer, Australia) fresh off of his across-the-board triumph Mad Max Fury Road
Jury Members (Alpha Order)
Arnaud Desplechin (Writer/Director, France) His current release is My Golden Days (our interview) and he's also responsible for the sublime double of Kings & Queen (2004) and A Christmas Tale (2008) which are must-see feats of intricate storytelling & actressing
Kirsten Dunst (Actress, US) Little Kiki has long since grown up though she's the youngest member of this jury at 33. There seems to be a renewed appreciation for her talent out there, for which we have Fargo season 2 to thank. But really the artistic renaissance goes back to All Good Things (2010). Though she was all but wasted in Midnight Special (just discussed) she has exciting projects coming including the remake of The Beguiled.
Valeria Golino (Actress/Writer/Director/Producer, Italy) Though Golino hasn't been a major presence in Hollywood since the late 80s/early 90s (Rain Man, Big Top Pee Wee, Hot Shots!) she's kept the career going in her homeland -- recently winning Best Actress in Venice -- and branched out to be a multi-hyphenate threat.
Mads Mikkelsen (Actor, Denmark) we've loved him since his early Danish films and now the whole world does. This is rarely acknowledged but he's the reigning face of Oscar's Foreign Film category having starred in more nominees than anyone else in the past ten years (After the Wedding, The Hunt, A Royal Affair). And 2016 is another big year: he'll chase jury duty with two probable box office behemoths: Rogue One and Doctor Strange this winter.
László Nemes (Writer/Director, Hungary) has had an incredible year 12 months. His film debut Son of Saul took the Grand Prix last summer at Cannes and then an Oscar and now he's in the jury. What a swift rise. We wonder what he'll do for an encore. He's the second youngest member of the jury - he and Dunst are the only members under 40.
Vanessa Paradis (Actress/Singer, France) Her most recent film success was with Jean Marc Vallée's Café de Flore (2011) and she's still recording music. You can listen to her on Spotify if you so choose. Do you choose? Most famously (at least stateside) she's Johnny Depp's babymama. Her son with Johnny is only 13 and since he's named after Johnny (John Christopher Depp III) he'll have to go by his middle name or his nickname "Jack" if he wants to follow daddy into showbiz. Their 16 year old daughter has, of course, already started her acting career.
Katayoon Shahabi (Producer, Iran) We aren't familiar with her but she's apparently a mover and shaker in international distribution and Irandian documentaries. Also her company produced the masterpiece A Separation which you know we worship here.
Donald Sutherland (Actor, Canada) Over 50 years in front of the camera now with classics occasionally peppering that gigantic resume. With over 180 credits we assume he just lives on sets.
What do you think of this year's jury?
Team Experience is at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's Manuel on two grief-driven features.
Dean (Winner of The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature)
Dean (Demetri Martin, who wrote and directed the film) is a professional illustrator whose first book of drawings was described as “full of whimsy.” The same could be said for the film itself. Just as Dean’s illustrations (Martin’s own) are simple, at times humorous, sketches (a faceless man wearing a t-shirt that reads “Ask me about my face,” a centaur to a horse-headed human body: “It’s not bestiality if we 69!”), the film finds comedy in simplicity; there are some surprises here but mostly this is a straightforward affair. You could say that Dean is a whimsical bicoastal dramedy about grief and it succeeds precisely because it's so assured.
Brooklyn-based Dean has lost his mother, and the narrative follows his attempt at coping with this loss. His father, played with relish by Kevin Kline, is seemingly moving on too fast, wanting to sell the house he shared with his wife, a decision that pushes Dean to flee to Los Angeles. Both men find themselves engaging with women that help push them past their comfort zones. Lessons are learnt, and personal growth is unavoidable, but Martin uses the film’s whimsy to his advantage: split-screens and his quirky drawings visually highlight the levity that runs through his script (a meet-cute with Gillian Jacobs is impossibly twee and surprisingly spunky at the same time). That I’m using words like “whimsy” and “twee” in positive terms should tell you that I fell in love with this film even as I know it works within a very specific register that may not be for everyone; then again, any film that gives Mary Steenburgen and Kline a flirtatious scene centered on criticizing a Broadway play about (maybe?) time travel was always going to appeal to my interests. Grade: A-
Susan Sarandon shines after the jump...