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Entries in Juliette Binoche (12)

Friday
Nov142014

AFI: 5 Reasons to see 'Song of the Sea' and 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Margaret here, reporting from the LA festival beat with short takes on upcoming indies before they head to a theater near you.

FIVE REASONS TO SEE... SONG OF THE SEA
An Irish animated film from Oscar-nominee Tomm Moore about the mythical selkies-- women who turn into seals, or vice-versa-- and a small seaside family in Western Ireland.

1) Breathtakingly stunning artwork. This is quite possibly the most beautiful animated film I've ever seen. The lush backgrounds (reminiscent of Klimt paintings!) are all handpainted-- director Tomm Moore compared moving his designing from paper to digital with "Dylan going electric." Much of the team from 2009’s The Secret of Kells reunited here, though Sea's visuals are a bit softer and have more of a Japanese influence.

2) A refreshing lack of cynicism. Song of the Sea is a rare thing: a children's feature with no winking adult jokes, pop references, or corporate tie-ins-- just a lovely story, simply told.

3) A complex villain. As Nathaniel pointed out in his quick TIFF review, not only is "The Owl Witch" memorably designed, her motivations and development are unusually knotty and compelling for a simple folktale-type story.

4) Hauntingly beautiful score. The music has a key role in the plot, and perfectly serves the film's romantic mysticism. I defy anyone to leave a viewing without the selkie song looping in their brain.

5) It's got a strong shot at an Oscar nomination. While it's true that this is a competitive year for Animated Feature, Moore's previous film The Secret of Kells landed a nomination with much less recognition -- that heightened profile and the fact that it really stands out visually form the pack gives it a boost.

FIVE REASONS TO SEE... CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

A multi-layered meta-fiction about acting, aging, love and attraction from Olivier Assayas, featuring Juliette Binoche as an actress returning to the play that made her famous, and Kristen Stewart as her personal assistant.

1) Juliette Binoche. Her Maria Enders is just delicious to watch. She's magnetic, emotionally rich, and adept at the aging woman, the brilliant actress, and the self-involved star. One devastatingly catty line ("He's a great actor") is tossed off with such a light touch I was almost on the floor.

2) The chemistry between Binoche and Stewart is insane. Their easy rapport, their mutual jealousy, their co-dependency is instantly convincing. When Stewart's Valentine runs lines for Maloja Snake with Maria as her younger lover, the textures of attraction and intimacy they play (Is this part of the text? How much of what we're seeing between them is real?) are fascinating.

3) Chloe Moretz... if you're into that sort of thing. She has a key role as the unpredictable tabloid-fixture actress cast to play opposite Maria Enders in the revival of Maloja Snake, and reliable sources tell me that she is good in it. I cannot be objective (she just bothers me) but that visceral dislike actually worked for the movie.

4) The Swiss countryside (and its clouds) are magnificent. Much of the film takes place in the Alps, and there is no skimping on sweeping landscapes and beautifully streaming light. Cinematography is by Yorick Le Saux, who also lensed I am Love.

5) That third act. Who saw that coming? How do we feel about it?

Song of the Sea is due in December, and Clouds in March (such a long wait time after its Cannes debut. And why?). Now, who still needs convincing?

Wednesday
Nov052014

The Honoraries: Jean-Claude Carrière, Part 2

Our 2014 Honorary Oscar tribute series continues with a two-part look at the long fascinating career of Jean-Claude Carrière. Here's Tim with Part Two.

Yesterday, Amir did a wonderful job of introducing us to the supremely gifted and abnormally prolific Jean-Claude Carrière, focusing on his iconic collaboration with Luis Buñuel. As important as that work was for both men, it tells only a fraction of the tale. With nearly a hundred screenplays to his credit in a career that’s still holding steady, 54 years on, it’s simply not possible to reduce the full scope of Carrière’s contribution to cinema to his work just one collaborator.

And so we now turn to Carrière's writing in the years following Buñuel’s death. Given the transgressive, ultra-modern nature of their films together, it’s perhaps a bit surprising that Carrière’s output from the ‘80s to the present would be dominated by prestigious literary adaptations and costume dramas - what could possibly be less transgressive than that? But just as Belle du jour is nothing like the usual late-‘60s erotic drama, so are Carrière’s late-career period pieces only superficially akin to awards-bating fluff. 1979’s The Tin Drum, which he adapted alongside director Volker Schlöndorff and Franz Seitz, is one of the nerviest films about the psychology of Nazi-era Germany ever filmed. In the scenario he provided for Andrzej Wajda’s 1983 French Revolution film Danton, he built a foundation for an angry, vivid drama about the corruption of politics. These are confrontational films, even upsetting.

As the years progressed, Carrière perhaps mellowed, enough to pick up one final Oscar nomination for 1988’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which he shared with that film’s director, Philip Kaufman. Although even here, “mellowing” is a relative term.

(The Unbearable Lightiness of Being, Birth, and Valmont after the jump)

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Thursday
Oct092014

NYFF: Maria Dances on the Mountain-tops

Straight from the final week of The New York Film Festival here's Jason on Olivier Assayas' new film Clouds of Sils Maria, starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart.

If I was going to make a sort of Cinematic Mad Libs where I filled-in-the-blanks with all my favorite people, places, and things, which then somebody would take that list and turn that into a movie, there's a good chance that Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria would be the result. Noun-wise we have my favorite actress Juliette Binoche. Place-wise we have the Swiss Alps, my favorite place in all the world. And Thing-wise we have Rainer Werner Fassbinder's play (and movie) The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Sils Maria tosses all these ingredients into a pot and cooks up a stew that listen, I was just never not gonna like. It was made for me! And it is delicious.

Maria Enders (Binoche) is a big deal actress and international movie star - she is basically Juliette Binoche. She has flirted with the Hollywood game after rising up in serious roles, and is now trying to swing back to the interesting stuff again. At her side, insistently, is her personal assistant Val (Kristen Stewart), always juggling a couple of cellphones and a thousand appointments at once. Into their life comes a script about the love affair between a woman and her female personal assistant - Maria had played the ingenue role in her youth, but now she's going to tackle that of the older woman. The two women take to the mountains (a gorgeous expanse of Northern Switzerland, misty with metaphor and, uh, mist) to rehearse the two-parter, slipping between their roles and reality, and debating the give-or-take between what makes a movie star and what makes an actress and if they can reconcile the spaces.

It helps, of course, to have that extra level of frisson introduced that here we have a Serious Actress and International Movie Star having this on-screen debate with an International Movie Star who very much would like to be a Serious Actress (and who, by the way, is a Serious Actress - Kristen Stewart's fantastic in this) - in the Q&A following the film Assayas underlined how important it is that we always see it's Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart on screen, that the performative aspect never dissipates; I found the endless reflections of actress and person and character fascinating. And the fact that this is a talky acting piece about making a talky acting piece in between big-budget other-stuff. And the way the big-budget other-stuff swoops in and effects all that talky acting. As the third woman (a well-cast Chloe Grace Moretz) comes in, a mask of whatever-the-moment-calls-for, nothing but a mirror, we watch where the conversations land - the way the theater stage itself is over-produced and overwhelmed, a maze of clear boxes like a re-staging of Chinese Roulette by way of Playtime.

It's very much of a piece with Fassbinder's work though - while Petra von Kant is fogged up and made into this movie's own separate thing it's clear that's what everybody's riffing upon, and as with that film (and most of Fassbinder's work) it is the performance itself that is placed at the forefront. Everyone is playing their roles, hitting their marks, spinning towards their inevitables - the snake will roll in just on time, even if you're not there to see it. "Is it set on Earth?" Binoche asks a director pitching her a science-fiction movie towards the end - after all she's already been up in the clouds, dotting the snow-caps with sacrifices; it's probably time to come down now.

--

Clouds of Sils Maria played last night at NYFF and plays again tonight at 9pm.

Saturday
May242014

Cannes Diary: "Foxcatcher" and Best Actor, "Clouds of Sils Maria" and Actresses

Diana Drumm reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience

With the Palme d’Or announcement looming over the Croisette, critics and casual filmgoers are scattering to catch the festival favorites screening throughout the Palais and/or selecting their bets for the Awards ceremony. Yours truly is in a bizarre, hazy limbo between the two, writing up what’s left of my coverage and running to more screenings. Without further rambling, here are two more competition films (an Oscar favorite and an indie to look out for) along with my personal pick for Best Actor. Will Jane Campion and jury agree? 

Foxcatcher
Bennett Miller’s true story drama looks at the relationship between Olympic wrestlers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and American old money heir John E. du Pont (Steve Carell), that would lead to a point-blank murder. Opening with black-and-white footage of a foxhunt (horses, hounds, riding gear) on the du Pont Foxcatcher estate, the film then cuts to Mark Schultz in not quite as posh straits, getting paid $20 to give a speech to an elementary school and chowing down on lukewarm ramen. So when he gets the call that John E. du Pont (apparently an avid wrestling enthusiast despite his status and it being a sweaty arm sport) wants to fly him out to meet, Mark leaps at the chance before getting any specifics on du Pont...  

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Wednesday
May212014

Cannes Monologue: Certified Copy

Andrew with another Cannes-themed monologue… 

At 50 Juliette Binoche remains one of the cinema’s finest actors – excellent in multiple languages. Though her time in Godzilla (now playing) is short, we can look forward to much more in Words and Pictures and Cannes entry Clouds of Sils Maris, the latter written specifically for her. Can Olivier Assayas film capture as many of her finest assetts as her Cannes winning turn in Certified Copy (2010)?

 

Certified Copy, my favourite of the decade (thus far), is remembered most often for its cerebral nature, a puzzle we must solve. Yes, much of it is rumination on theory but it's theory with passion and feeling. For all of its technical and intellectual merit, it’s also a love letter to Binoche from writer/director Abbas Kiarostami. 

Given it’s musings on what’s real and what’s a copy, Elle (Binoche’s character) might not quite qualify as a “real” woman - her name literally translates as “She” – as much as a platform for Kiarostami and Binoche to examine temperaments, hers change at the drop of hat, and ideas. The film makes you work but is all the more rewarding for it. Late in the movie, Elle and James head to quaint restaurant. They are no longer an affable writer and beleaguered fan they were at first but a beleaguered married couple.

She heads to the bathroom to put on lipstick and a pair of earrings. When she returns he doesn’t notice, too annoyed with the subpar wine. She tries to quell his moodiness. [More...]

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Sunday
May182014

Godzilla, A God Amongst Blockbusters

This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad


If Hollywood's goal is to infantilize all audiences into impressionable insatiable snot-nosed consumers of movie-product (remember how easy it was for a commercial to make you all "gimme!" as a kid) they’re doing a great job this year. Though movie studios churn out plenty of all-quadrant dross every year that's aimed at pleasing children of all advanced ages and genders, it rarely goes this well. The year began in the shadow of Disney's unexpectedly unstoppable Frozen and the critical and commercial smashes keep coming. The Lego Movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are the two biggest hits of the year (thus far) and not undeservedly. They're like joyful corporate filmmaking - cash grabs, sure, but no robbery is involved since they give you your money’s worth. And here comes the third home run: Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014).

[Insert prehistoric monstrous rawr here]

Can my review just be wild-eyed hyperactive childish pointing? "LOOK!!!"  No? Fine. A few slightly more coherent thoughts featuring hot soldiers, worried women, and monster smash-ups after the jump...

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