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Entries in Juliette Binoche (10)

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.

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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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Sunday
Mar092014

Happy Binoche Day

Our favorite French Oscar winner celebrated the big 5-0 today.

Better news:  Several movies on the way!

In both the would be blockbuster Godzilla and Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria, both arriving this year, she has potential talent imbalance problems with co-stars (CGI Monster, Kristen & Chloe respectively) but both films might be great, fingers crossed.

She's also currently filming the true-story The 33 with Antonio Banderas and Rodrigo Santoro which is about that Chilean miners who were trapped for weeks.  Three more movies have been announced but announcing and actually happening are two different things with movies. We'll see. Hollywood has lost interest (Hollywood only allows one French lady at a time so Marion Cotillard has to watch her back with Léa Seydoux rising) but we shouldn't!

Juliette Binoche's last team-up with Olivier Assayas was the terrific "Summer Hours"

What's your favorite Binoche? Mine is 100% Trois Coleurs: Bleu though she's perfection in quite a few others, like ahhhh Flight of the Red Balloon. Just gorgeous. 

Monday
Sep162013

Lauren Bacall Gave Good Face

JA from MNPP here, putting my lips together and blowing a very happy 89th birthday in the direction of the living legend Betty Joan Perske... that is, Lauren Bacall. Next year marks the 70th anniversary of her film debut in Howard Hawks' To Have and Have Not, opposite - who else - Humphrey Bogart. And she's still at it, although her last disputably notable role was in 2005 with Lars Von Trier's Manderlay. (I haven't seen The Walker - how was she in that?) It's weird but when I think of Bacall I always immediately think of her as the suitably boring straight woman opposite a trio of over-actors in Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind. Why is that the role out of all her roles that I think of? Is it just I'd always rather be thinking about Dorothy Malone...? Tell me - what's your favorite Bacall? And do you hold a grudge against Juliette Binoche for stealing her Oscar, or are you a sane person who thinks the fact that Juliette Binoche has an Oscar is one of the most right things with the world?

Saturday
Apr202013

April Showers: “The English Patient”

 Andrew here with an April Shower to pass the evening.

I’ve always gravitated towards film scenes incorporating water. Often it does not transcend the aesthetic (water on screen just looks pretty), but even as downpours – natural or man-made –are often utilised as read-made ways of attuning the audience to moments of sadness, it’s great when filmmakers utilise it other ways. I say utilise with slight hesitation because in a film where Minghella seems to be telegraphing nodes and nodes of information, the rain scene in The English Patient comes off as especially slight.

The titular patient (formerly known as Count Laszlo de Almásy) has been severely burned across the body and confined to a bed, remembering ghosts of his past. He is dying, and convivial Nurse Hana – running from ghosts of her own – is keeping him comfortable in his last days in an abandoned Italian monastery as World War II draws to a close. They are joined by mysterious thief Caravaggio and sapper Kip and his Sergeant Hardy. A few moments before the rain is released, an agitated Hana bicycles out to find Kip, her new lover. He is busy defusing a bomb which has his name written on it. Literally.

 

 [more]

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