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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 film festivals (260)

Friday
May232014

Posterized: Xavier Dolan

Mommy, which spurred spirited conversation at Cannes (and really wowed our woman on the ground, Diana) and could walk away with a prize this weekend (as literally all of director Xavier Dolan's previous features have but for Tom at the Farm, which went the Venice/Toronto route instead).

Xavier Dolan at the photocall for "Mommy" at Cannes, 2014

I remain perplexed that an international star with this much critical cachet and this many easily marketable elements (young, hot, queer) hasn't found a deep pocketed patron in the world of US distribution, in the way many auteurs do. Think of how Miramax used to favor certain directors or the way Sony Pictures Classics really invested in building the Pedro Almodovar brand. I keep hoping a younger edgier disribution company (my dream: A24) will fall in love with him because with the right promotion and cultivation, he'd have a devout following Stateside. For now, if only here, he'll have to make do with critics and really hard-working cinephiles who attend festivals regularly.  

The Canadian wunderkind just turned 25 and Mommy is his fifth feature in five years. If he keeps up this pace he could have a filmography that's impossible to be a completist about later on. Get in early and sample the goods. They're yummy. Distributors might not have made it easy for you wherever you live, but at least Netflix has been kind. How many of his previous features have you seen?

 

I Killed My Mother (2009)
Dolan's debut won much acclaim at Cannes including two prizes and became Canada's Oscar submission (it was not nominated). Much film festival chatter and an international release in major cities around the world, EXCEPT THE US, kept the buzz going for another year. Supposedly it hit US theaters this past March (yes, in 2013, four years after taking international cinephilia by storm) but I want proof that it actually happened because it seems like every year since 2009 we were told it was opening. [Available on Netflix Instant Watch]

Heartbeats / Imaginary Lovers (2010)
This unrequited love triangle, available on Netflix Instant Watch, won the "Regards Jeunes" at Cannes and was released in the US briefly in 2011 under its new boring title. [Nathaniel's Review at Towleroad]

Laurence Anyways
(2012)
This trans epic, Netflix to the rescue again, ran nearly 3 hours, and was the first that Dolan didn't star in himself. It took another two prizes at Cannes ("Queer Palm" and "Best Actress") and a brief US release in 2013. [Glenn's love for this movie is huge.]

Tom at the Farm
(2013) 
This thriller about a young man (Dolan) attending his lover's funeral in the country, only to discover that the lover was closeted and the family virulently homophobic, is still awaiting US release. [Nathaniel's TIFF Review]

HOW MANY HAVE YOU SEEN?

 

Tuesday
May202014

Cannes Diary Day ???: "The Homesman," Or How Tommy Lee Jones Failed at Feminist Storytelling

Diana Drumm is reporting from Cannes for the The Film Experience. 

 

Based on the award-winning novel (that Paul Newman was attached to for years) by Glendon Swarthout (“The Shootist”), The Homesman is a bizarre, unwieldy Western about 31 year-old spinster Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) and questionable character Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) who are driving three insane women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter) back East for treatment, or at least respite from their literally-maddening frontier lives.  

Or for a convoluted, reference-laden way to generalize it all, think of The Homesman as an inverse of the Robert Taylor-starring not-quite-classic Westward The Women (1951) meets the Glenn Close-starring made-for-TV movie Sarah, Plain and Tall (1991) with the madness and mismatches of Quills (2000, Briggs being the less couth, toned down subversive Marquis) divided by the stunning Western cinematography of Brokeback Mountain (2005, via Oscar nominee Rodrigo Prieto). Apologies, my brain is flooded with movies. 

Scale of Tommy Lee Jones orneriness, gender politics, and star cameos after the jump...

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Sunday
May182014

Cannes Diary Day 4 Pt 2: Hilary & Tommy Promote "The Homesman"

Diana Drumm reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience

 

At today’s The Homesman press conference, Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank lived up to their public personas, the former as a well-meaning curmudgeon and the latter as diplomatic would be sweetheart. This dynamic was evident when Jones made the off-putting comment that editing is time consuming but “it’s not hard work” and Swank, spotting the possible faux pax in front of a room of international movie press, swooped in by clarifying maybe not for someone like him with his great mind and thoughtful vision, but she’d be lost and that editing is indeed hard work.

Well-trained in the art of dodging cringe-inducing questions, Swank managed to pivot from a meant-to-be-complimentary question about the disparity between her beauty in person and her plainness onscreen to an empowering impromptu speech about the subjectivity of attractiveness. She shared that some people have told her that they found her characters Maggie (Million Dollar Baby) and Mary Bee Cuddie (The Homesman), to be attractive because of their strength. Considering that the film tackles the issues of female subjugation and objectification, it was all the more uncomfortable when multiple professional journalists either commented on her physical appearance or prefaced their question with a comment on her physical appearance.

What did these reporters expect? She’s a movie star at Cannes promoting a film, the very definition of a glamorous day's work. And isn’t that a pretty tired narrative for Swank, dating back over a decade?

To Swank’s left, Jones bordered on ornery, not understanding a number of questions (giving unrelated answers or asking reporters to rephrase) or speaking in vague, sometimes dismissive, terms about cast and production (“The difficulty was the weather.” … “It’s not real research, we’re not curing polio.”).  As for both directing and acting on this film, he deadpanned:

As a director, I can tell you that I do everything I tell myself to do.”

Dodging the more thematic  and film-specific questions, Jones repeatedly answered “The movie speaks for itself,” without further explanation. On a rare upbeat note, Jones did spark to a question about the film’s music (plugging his son, the film’s music consultant) and went into a long-winded explanation about finding era-appropriate tunes and building wind organs.

In response to a HuffPo reporter’s line of questioning about women’s issues in the 1800s (when the film is set) relating to those of today, Jones said,

 I don't think there's a woman in this room that has never felt objectified or trivialized because of her gender. There's a reason for that and a history of that, and I think that's an interesting thing."

A smattering of applause. Jones won back a few of the hearts he may have lost.

 

Day 1 Arrival & Opening Night | Day 2 Grace of Monaco | Day 3 Mr Turner & Timbuktu  | Day 4 Amour Fou & The Blue Room |  Day ??? The Homesman Review 

Sunday
May182014

Cannes Diary Day 4: Amour Fou & The Blue Room

Diana Drumm reporting from Cannes...

The Blue Room and Amour Fou, two films in the Un Certain Regard section, examine the pitfalls of unrequited romance. A French modern noir, The Blue Room centers on an extramarital affair between a farm equipment rep and a pharmacy employee that leads to a murder investigation. A German Romantic period piece, Amour Fou also centers on an extramarital affair, though this time between poet Heinrich von Kleist and wife of a businessman Henriette Vogel which also leads to violent crime. The former film's narrative goes in and out of its protagonist’s recollections, while the latter follows its protagonist’s determined trajectory. Neither man actually loves his mistress, with one outrightly denying and the other unwilling to admit, but both end linked inextricably to their “beloveds” through tragic means...

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Saturday
May172014

Cannes Diary Day 3: Mr Turner & Timbuktu

Diana Drumm is reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience on two new films that have won strong reviews.

Timothy Spall as Mr. Turner

Mr. Turner
Mike Leigh’s latest (and the current Palme d’Or frontrunner though we're only a few days into the festival) opens on a pastoral landscape of seemingly neverending fields. A windmill in the middle-ground and sunlight speckling through the vastness give hints of perspective. As the camera lingers, two women ease their way into frame and jolt the viewer into the 19th century. Chatting back and forth and carrying their errands’ loads, they breathe human life into the painterly image (lensed by Leigh's regular cinematographer, Oscar nominee Dick Pope). The camera follows this humble pair until it spots a graying stout figure staring off into the field and sketching near-furiously. Sticking out like a sore crooked-toothed thumb in this panorama, this is J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall), the controversial but influential British painter best remembered for his Romantic oil painting landscape and seascapes though he also worked in watercolor.

Spanning the final quarter decade of the artist's life, Mr. Turner eases through the artist’s autumn loves, losses and disappointments. The film opens with Turner leading the life of a discontented bachelor. His ex (Ruth Sheen who led Leigh's last, Another Year) and two daughters live elsewhere, though they call on him regularly enough to nag and harbinger guilt about his lack of involvement in their lives. His two main companions are his father (Paul Jesson), who acts as his studio assistant buying paints and hosting potential clients, and his housekeeper (Dorothy Atkinson), who he occasionally rogers from behind. Their relationship resembles a bizarrely reticent S&M relationship more than institutionalized employer-employee rape.  

More after the jump...

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Friday
May162014

Cannes Diary Day 2: Or, How I'm Still Grappling With 'Grace of Monaco'

Diana Drumm is reporting for The Film Experience from Cannes

As you should know by now, thanks to mid-screening tweets, prompt reviews and Nathaniel being awesome as always, Grace of Monaco is bad. So bad that Cannes critics are being divided into indifference, dislike and rollicking hate. I, for one, fall into a fourth category, that of the now-jaded hopeful still grappling with how it all could have gone so horribly wrong. It’s from the director behind La Vie En Rose and... NICOLE KIDMAN. And I do mean grappling, I’ve barely eaten since that lovely sandwich or slept since nodding off on the Nice-Cannes commuter and my attempts at writing an actual review have gone the way of nonsensical jibberish with many ‘rather’s, ‘while’s and ‘thereby’s. Plus I’ve missed multiple opportunities to stow-away on champagne and celebrity-laden yachts. (Well, maybe not, but you get the gist – me, bedraggled by disappointment.) It could be the jet lag typing, but I wish I could go back to the before time, before I knew for certain that Grace of Monaco was a bad film. 

For weeks, I’ve been hushing naysayers, lah-lah-lahing the latest Weinstein cut rumors and ignoring the strawberry blonde Nicole Kidman as Grace press photos. With its synopsis reading like My Week with Marilyn meeting Evita for cucumber sandwiches to discuss an upcoming charity event and swap stories about who was handsier, Ari Onassis or Alfred Hitchcock, I kept telling myself that whether Grace was good or bad, it would be nice to see Grace Kelly’s story onscreen. I was wrong, so wrong. This isn’t to say that the film’s downright awful, or even amongst Cannes’ worst (Splitting Heirs, anyone?), but as someone with only love in her heart would say, it’s not that I’m angry, it’s that I’m hurt and disappointed. 

Princess Grace and Old Hollywood fairy tales after the jump...

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