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Michelle Pfeiffer and Grease 2

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Entries in film festivals (334)

Wednesday
May202015

Cannes Actress: Zhao Tao and Jane Fonda

The latest buzz from Cannes is that the Best Actress race is heating up. Or at least speculation is. Marion Cotillard's Lady MacBeth has yet to screen but those that have seen it early are typically wowed. But we know at this point not to expect Cannes juries to point and go "Her! Her!". If there is a Blanchett-Vanquisher out there it may well be Zhao Tao who stars in the "giddily ambitiousMountains May Depart.

That's the latest from the reknowned Jia Zhangke, a regular at the fest for whom Zhao Tao is a recurring player (Still Life, Platform, A Touch of Sin). Mountains is Zhangke's fourth try at the Palme and though he usually comes away empty-handed, his last attempt A Touch of Sin (2013) took Best Screenplay. Despite the jury completely changing each year Cannes somehow has an Oscar-like sense of momentum wherein you generally move up the ranks as to which prizes you take; longevity wins the Palme. (It's not as simple as that of course but there can be a weird cumulative coronation effect.)

So that makes the Palme race: Hungary's Son of Saul vs. USA's Carol vs China's Mountains May Depart? (Or am I forgetting something that's been similarly ecstatically received?) Typing them out that way it makes Cannes sound like the Olympics of the movies, only annual instead of bi-annual. And maybe it is?

In other Canne actressy news, our friend Kyle Buchanan says that Jane Fonda walks away with Paolo Sorrentino's Youth which stars Michael Caine as a retired film composer.  I'm hearing that Fonda's role is very showy (an old combative muse to Harvey Keitel's director character), but quite small. Nevertheless I couldn't help but immediately picture both Grace (Jane) and Frankie (Lily) as Oscar nominees this year in Supporting (for Youth) and Lead (for Grandma) and how much media fun would that be? Sorrentino had a major Cannes sensation and eventual Oscar winner with his last film The Great Beauty. This one is in English which naturally will give it a leg up with Oscar voters if it opens this year but it's already more divisive which can be a problem. Still love/hate divides are tough to predict with awards. All you sometimes need is the right people on the love side to turn the critical tide around. And anyway when this mixed review called it 'elegant fun' I just thought... doesn't that describe a lot of well received prestige films?

But just to remind us that she's already one of the immortals (with 2 Oscars, multiple classic films, and celebrity outside of acting as well, the legend is assured) here is Jane Fonda looking amazing on the cover of W --  their oldest cover girl ever.

Here's an interesting bit on self-awareness from the W interview

One day on the set of On Golden Pond, a film that she coproduced so that she could costar with her father, the legendary actor Henry Fonda, she was fixing her hair when Katharine Hepburn (who played her mother in the film) pinched her cheek and demanded, “What do you want this to mean?” “It was 1981, and I didn’t know what she was talking about,” Fonda recalled. “Back then, I didn’t give my looks a fare-thee-well, and that bothered Katharine. She said to me, ‘This is what you present to the world. What do you want it to say about you?’ Her question has been lodged in my psyche ever since. I now think what Katharine meant was awareness of a persona. She wanted me to consider how I wanted to be seen. Now I pay attention to how I present myself to the world. I realize that it matters.”

 

Monday
May182015

Cannes Review: Irrational Man

Diana Drumm sends us another review from Cannes... 

A promising premise and captivating performances fall flat as a philosophy professor leaps after a misguided notion of the philosophical imperative, tumbling after one of his own theoreticals to disastrous results. Like much of Allen’s lesser filmography, Irrational Man dabbles in some of the auteur’s favorite subjects (philosophy, middle-aged male crisis, May-December or in this case June-November romances) and takes on more than it can chew, choking up in the third act.

The film’s tone shifts with the stumbled abandon of a dizzied drunk trying to make up his mind whether to stand or stay seated, from murky to light to dark, sprawling discussions to tensed farce...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May162015

Cannes: Then and (Right) Now

Imperator Furiousa cleans up nice for CannesAs Cannes moves past that opening night international glamour, and into its heavy screenings opening weekend, there's a lot of reminiscing going around as well for those that aren't attending: Keyframe is looking at the 1985 festival -- which was heavily criticized for being too American --  to see what it tells us about the 2015 festival. And, of course, over at Nick's Flick Picks, Nick is looking back at 1995. He has corralled several critics to talk about and rewatch those films too, but that part hasn't been posted yet. Can't wait! But here's a little about what's been happening at the festival if you are, like 99.9% of the world including me, NOT in the South of France right about now, but wish to think about it intermittently. 

Out of Competition
Mad Max Fury Road premiered at Cannes just as it was opening in theaters. That's a good excuse to get celebrities at your premiere and stay in a global conversation but, as good as the movie is -- and whoa it's thrilling (easily the best Mad Max film and the best action film since probably the last time James Cameron made anything) though I think maybe "the sistine chapel of action filmmaking" might be overstating it a little -- why go to a movie that's in theaters when you're at this kind of Best of World Cinema That Will Probably Never Make It to Really Big Screens Near You? Which is not to say that you shouldn't go. You absolutely should if you're not at Cannes. It's INSANE. And that is a high high compliment since most movies with insane premise play things so conservative in their mise en scene, you know? Michael's review will be up shortly and I'm sure I'll talk about it more too.

Woody Allen's PARKER POSEY: THE MOVIE... excuse me, Irrational Man, has also premiered as his movies do, Out of Competition. Our friend Tim Robey offered delicious shade in his review:

The word “murder” arrives in the script the second Kant, and his theories of human reason, pop up at the start. Like the superb Crimes and Misdemeanors, and also like Match Point, this contains a killing...

But honestly, I don't care if it's another mediocre effort from Allen. I'm so excited that Parker Posey got a big part again in a movie that people will actually see. And I love that she totally stole the show at the events with her incognito wacky glamour.

Supposedly Inside Out, another mainstream English-language film premiering there, is also a return to form of sorts for Pixar, but pardon me if I take this Oscar buzz with just a giant lick of salt - I think the days of Pixar (and maybe animation in general) being up for Best Picture are over. Those kinds of runs don't last forever and once people stop thinking of you in that light, it can be hard to return. 

"The Lobster" character posters

Competition Buzz
Gus Van Sant, who has won big at the festival before, won't be repeating. His latest, Sea of Trees, which stars Matthew McConaughey as a suicidal man visiting Japan, was not well received. That's putting it lightly if you just skim the THR or Variety reviews. I'm choosing not to read or even skim reviews on The Lobster, but from what I've heard your guess is as good as mine to what it actually is and if it's great at being whatever that is. Our Little Sister, a Japanese family drama has been warmly received for being touching without being sentimental and Sony Pictures Classics will distribute in the US.  

The buzziest title thus far is the Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul. It's winning very generous reviews and it's also a debut feature which means that even if the competition jury surprises by stiffing it -- every year the press acts like they know what the jury will do and it never works out that way -- it could still win the Camera D'Or (which has a separate jury, just for debut films). Now we have to wonder if those titles will be the Oscar picks for Japan or Hungary.  I'm going to assume yes on the latter so I've updated the Foreign Film wild guesswork on the Prediction Charts.

Finally...
Yes, we will have another fashion lineup soon. But for now please accept our vote for the worst person in Cannes this year: Russian celebrity Elena Lenina. This is a film festival. Imagine sitting behind her at any of these premieres. Her 'do is suddenly your protagonist, whether its a Holocaust tragedy, a Woody Allen dramedy, or an insane action flick. Screw the narrative. 

True confession: Even when I see a person with high hair completely outside of movie scenarios like, say, on the street or in a talking head box on the news or several tables away at a restaurant my first thought is always 'oh god, please don't sit in front of me at the movies!'.

Be considerate of the comfort of your fellow moviegoers, readers -- shave your head!

Tuesday
May052015

The Inefficient Filmmakers Guide to Making a Movie in Six Years

One of "Animal"'s incredibly evocative posters.

"Or, How to Have the Most Fun While Having a Nervous Breakdown"
-by David Dastmalchian 

[ICYMI -the rising actor David Dastmalchian is guest blogging today! -ed.]

I have said this in jest many times – and will probably continue to joke about it again and again – but the truth of the matter is that I came dangerously close to having a severe nervous breakdown in the weeks that led up to the filming of Animals.  For the uninitiated, Animals is a feature film that I wrote, acted in and produced.  My close friend and Midwest compatriot, Collin Schiffli, directed the film about a homeless couple who struggle between the reality of their addiction to heroin (and one another) and the fantasy life that they imagine for themselves.  

Although it’s not a “biopic” by any means, the film was definitely influenced by my own personal battles with the same demons as my characters. More...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr292015

Tribeca: Suffer the Little Children

Here's Jason with a real pair of downers to conclude our Tribeca Coverage. Thanks for reading along. Next up in the festival game: Cannes...

Bridgend -- I'm a little perplexed about Bridgend winning half of the awards at the fest; besides a few arresting visuals I found the film moribund on arrival. The film fictionalizes the true-life story of a town in Wales where a mysterious rash of suicides has plagued the hills. Lead actress Hannah Murray (best known in the US as Gilly on A Game of Thrones, although I didn't recognize her once while watching the movie and I'm a big Thrones fan) gives us a vivid enough slide into Crucible light hysteria but I never really bought what the movie was selling - it skims over too many unreasonable plot holes in deference to its stifling mood, and at times is downright silly with trying too hard. A literally shitty sex-romp on a dirty mattress in the woods is somehow played straight, even as visions of Divine in Female Trouble flood our minds.

Meadlowlands -- Also suffering from all outward signs of Film Festival Depression, where people suffer beautifully, so beautifully, Meadlowlands does have a few nice performances even as it wrings every manipulative drop out of Dead Kid Grief it can. Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson play parents whose cookie-munching moppet gets snatched at the start of the first reel; the kid's never more than a plot device through which we can watch them suffer, and suffer they do, beautifully. Wilson gets the less overbearing arc to play which is good since he's an actor I appreciate for his low-key style; Wilde smartly under-plays her over-drawn hand (cutting and autistic kids, oh my) but man alive by the time the elephant shows up all I could think of was "Don't think about elephants."

OUR COMPLETE TRIBECA 2015 COVERAGE
18 reviews. A round of applause for Joe, Jason, and Abstew

 

Tuesday
Apr282015

Tribeca: Tastes Like Applesauce

With another dispatch from the Tribeca Film Festival here's Jason on a new lo-fi comedy.

I can remember it taking me halfway through writer-director Onur Tukel's previous outing, the hipster-vampire sex-comedy Summer of Blood (which showed at last year's festival; he's becoming a annual TFF figure), to find myself slipping over from a sort of sneering distaste for him as an on-screen presence - ahh yes, he plays his own main characters too! - to actually vibing on what he was doing: thankfully he does seem to get that he's the most annoying man in the room at any given time. 

With his new movie Applesauce (and I'll be damned if I know why it's called Applesauce, even after actively spending some time trying to suss out the title) it was like starting over from Square One again - am I gonna find my way to the joke again?... 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr272015

Hot Docs "Best of Enemies"

Amir continues his coverage of Toronto's Hot Docs festival. Will he spot any future Oscar nominees?

It is hard to imagine today that there was once an America where political debates in the media were sensational, not just sensationalized. Harder yet is to envision a time when conservative political commentators weren’t complete buffoons, but rather eloquent, smart thinkers. That is exactly the time that Best of Enemies transports us to, Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s film about the televised debates leading up to the 1968 Republican and Democratic national conventions. ABC, then trailing as America’s third network and in search of a ratings boost, decided to pit two of the country’s most famous commentators against one another: the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr. The two were known to dislike each other and their pairing on live TV was sure to cause a stir.

Their prediction proved to be correct when on the 8th night of a series of incendiary discussions, Buckley reacted to Vidal’s name-calling and being labeled a “crypto-Nazi” with a momentary burst of anger...

Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the face and you’ll stay plastered.”

 

Click to read more ...