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Entries in Juliette Binoche (15)

Saturday
Feb212015

César Winners: Kristen Stewart (!!!), Timbuktu, and More

Can Timbuktu upset IDA for foreign film at the Oscars? The big winner of the 40th annual César Awards (aka the French Oscars) was the Oscar-nominated foreign language film from Mauritania, Timbuktu. It took home seven prizes but despite the excitable headlines 'round the web it wasn't quite a clean sweep and not quite super dominant since it had no acting nominations. But it did terrifically well, all told, losing only one of its 8 nominations, Set Decoration, to another retelling of The Beauty and the Beast starring new TFE obsession Léa Seydoux. Can we please get that one stateside?

Saint Laurent, France's Oscar submission this season (mixed reviewed but also loved by Team Experience) won only Costumes. If it had such restrained love at home, one wonders why France submitted it as it was not typical Oscar bait - way too gay/risque for AMPAS.

The history-making news is that Kristen Stewart became the first American woman to win a competitive César for acting (Adrien Brody won for The Pianist previously). The César Awards often give American stars tributes and honoraries (like Scarlett Johansson last year and Sean Penn this time) but they don't regularly compete and they certainy don't win. The prize was Best Supporting Actress for Clouds of Sils Maria. We can vouch that she's just fantastic in it as the close confidante / personal assistant of Juliette Binoche's diva actress. Their chemistry is, as Margaret said, "insane".  

Which is why this part of Kristen's acceptance speech is so great...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan282015

From Sils Maria to Timbuktu, France Celebrates the César Awards

Glenn here while Nathaniel is travelling back from the wonders of Sundance. I do so enjoy looking at national awards since they paint such a gloriously global view of the film world that most of the American award bodies simply do not even attempt. They're always a good way of finding out about films that may otherwise go unnoticed in the ever-expanding world of film festivals (increasingly the only way to see many of these films, anyway) and a great way of finding the next big thing to which you can tell your friends and colleagues, "I saw them first in that tiny foreign film."

This year's César Awards from France have announced their nominations and it's a handsome looking bunch, even if I've only seen a few of the actual nominees (again, blame those tricky new age distribution methods and diminishing foreign indie market). I was super happy to see Bertrand Bonello's Saint Laurent, France's unsuccessful 2014 Oscar submission, in the mix across the board since I flipped for it at NYFF last August. I certainly enjoyed it more than Nathaniel, and when it finally gets a release across the oceans I'll be more than pleased to beg people to go and see it. Curiously, it will compete against last year's second biopic of the famed fashion designer, Jalil Lespert's less well-received Yves Saint Laurent, in several acting and technical categories.

Elsewhere Abderrahmane Sissako's exceptional France-Mauritania copro Timbuktu adds a collection of César nods to its net of successes including that historic Oscar nomination. Another Oscar nominee, Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night, also snagged a nomination, which is hardly surprising, but the acclaimed Dardennes brothers' film missed out in every other category except foreign film, so I suspect there's some eligibility tango being played there. Is she eligible because she's French, but the film isn't because it's Belgian? If anybody can enlighten us that would be fabulous. Wim Wenders' The Salt of the Earth, his Oscar-nominated documentary about anthropological photographer Sebastião Salgado, also made the César list and we'll have a discussion on that film and the other doc nominees soon.

The last film I need to mention is one that American audiences will finally get the chance to see in April. Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria - simply Sils Maria in France - which had a very successful day despite leaving last year's Cannes Film Festival with no prizes and some questionable buzz. I'm going to assume the César embrace of a French film performed predominantly in English is rare, but don't want to claim it as fact. What I do know is that it's excellent and I'm worried about some of the write-ups it will get when released in America. Nevertheless, the nomination for Kristen Stewart is particularly sweet given how easy it would be for a French organisation to push her to the side and focus on Juliette Binoche. She's the best thing in it after all. Who needs a sequel to Snow White and The Huntsman, am I right?

Following is the entire list of nominees. Which ones have you been lucky enough to see?

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan092015

Binoche Has Gone Full Zhivago (65th Berlinale)

Berlinale cometh.

Not until February but Juliette Binoche is starting early since she's arriving by sled. But seriously that's the first image from the Opening Night film Isabel Croixet's Nobody Wants the Night. The film co-stars Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) and Gabriel Byrne (as explorer Robert Peary) and takes place in 1908 in the Arctic and Greenland. My Binoche comes in waves and recedes with the tide and such but it's big and full right now after her wonderful work in Clouds of Sils Maria which will open in the US eventually. Promises promises. Binoche is always so wonderful.

Competition films this year include: Andrew Haigh's 45 Years (his first since Weekend!), Andrea Dresen's As We Were Dreaming, Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella, Peter Greenaway's Eisenstein in Guanajuato, Jayro Bustamante's Ixcanul Volcano, Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, and Alexey German''s Under Electric Clouds.

50 Shades of Grey will also premiere at the festival. But frankly, it just doesn't seem kinky enough for Berlin. The city, not the festival. 

I can never go to the Berlin International Film Festival because it hits just days after Sundance and concludes just a couple weeks before the Oscar. *sniffle*

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)

Click to read more ...

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...  

Click to read more ...