Oscar History

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Entries in Rust and Bone (5)


The Irresistible Danger of Matthias Schoenaerts and Michael Shannon

 As we continue Actor Month here's Murtada on Matthias Schoenaerts & Michael Shannon.

One might ask what do Matthias Schoenaerts and Michael Shannon have in common. A hulking body (stocky Schoenaerts and tall angular Shannon). Intensity? Yes but also a certain menacing danger that sweeps through in every performance. It's a danger that comes out sexy with Schoenaerts and somewhat evil with Shannon. One never knows what they are going to do next, and that's why they are so mesmerizing to watch.






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NYFF: Les Cowboys

Our coverage of the New York Film Festival turns to France - here's Jason line-dancing along with Thomas Bidegain's modern-ish spin on The Searchers called Les Cowboys.

Much like the killer whales that hover so symbolically over the film there are several themes swimming above and below the surface in Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone. The one that landed the biggest blow was its dissection of patriarchal macho via Matthias Schoenaerts' character (Matthias has built his career on the dichotomy between his hulking frame and his tender heart). As a result Rust & Bone's final act, which felt like a detour at first, proved inevitable and invaluable to the film's ultimate achievement. Absence, it turns out, makes the heart grow colder, and only sacrifice - in this case the shattering of exceptional fists - could pound it back to life.

Les Cowboys, the first film directed by Thomas Bidegain, who wrote Rust and Bone (and other famous French films like A Prophet and Saint Laurent), similarly becomes a story of paternal symbiosis - the effects of a father's psychic touch, bruising adjoining generations. In fact the father in Les Cowboys (played by the usually comic François Damiens) and Matthias Schoenaerts' character in the earlier film share the name Alain. While they're both fixated on saving those around them, they're very different men. Cowboys' Alain, though, never finds his way to the forest from the trees. His obsession and his abandonment make eventual islands of everything he comes into contact with.

It's he first who is abandoned, when his sixteen year old daughter steals away in the night with her Muslim boyfriend, sending a letter behind saying not to follow. But follow he must, his pride as a father maligned. The daughter's action at first seems only thoughtless and cruel, an erratic whim of a love-struck teenager. With time - and there are long passages of time in Les Cowboys, trailing across similarly long and distant frontiers - as her father's eyes and words narrow and harden, we begin to understand she might've had more cause to search for breathing room.

There is also a son, a brother, barely even noticed at first. He's a footnote in his own father's eye-line, until he ages up into a capable third hand. What might become of him, dragged along in the wake of these two outwardly moving forces, both as good as ghosts to him? Les Cowboys has smart things to say about these almost ritualistic cycles of abandonment. Yes, one can be a wanderer, and yes two together (or, it turns out, two also apart) are always going some place, but three? Well, three leads to four and five and that universe, once thought ever expanding, manages its own ways to close itself back up again.

Les Cowboys screens at NYFF on Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2.


César Noms: "Amour" vs "Rust & Bone" vs "Holy Motors"

Editor's Note: You may have figured out over the years that The Film Experience is more than a little fond of France and French cinema. Sadly I've never been to France. This year I've asked my friend in Paris, Julien to keep us up to date so he sent in the following article about this year's nominations. You should follow Julien Kojfer on Twitter because he's great. Just pretend you understand French whenever he goes there! - Nathaniel R

Julien takes it from here.

Three Films that also made waves Stateside

Here’s one for all you francophiles out there. France’s very own AMPAS, the César Academy, revealed its own set of nominees this morning. Since I’m guessing a lot of you won’t be familiar with most of the anointed films and performers, I’ll guide you through the major categories - a usual mixed bag of auteurist fare, populist hits, and biopic dreck.  


  • Amour
  • Rust and Bone
  • Holy Motors
  • Farewell, My Queen
  • In the House
  • Camille Rewinds
  • Le Prénom (What’s in a name) 


  • Michael Haneke for Amour
  • Jacques Audiard for Rust and Bone
  • Leos Carax for Holy Motors
  • Benoît Jacquot for Farewell, My Queen
  • François Ozon for In the House
  • Noémie Lvovsky for Camille Rewinds
  • Stéphane Brizé for Quelques heures de printemps

The major categories were bumped up from 5 to 7 nominees since the last couple of years, which makes no sense to me whatsoever, but who cares. The über-frontrunner is obviously Amour, which will be difficult to deny considering that Palme d’or and those 5 Oscar nominations.

This is Michael Haneke's 2nd Best Director nomination at the César Awards. He was previously nominated for Caché (Hidden)Rust and Bone seems to be the main challenger, but since Jacques Audiard has already triumphed twice at the César for his two most recent efforts, voters will presumably see no objection in handing the César-less Haneke his due. Also keep in mind that César voters are notoriously generous to foreign auteurs: Roman Polanski has won the Best Director prize thrice (and for English-speaking films to boot: Tess, The Pianist and The Ghost Writer) and past best director winners also include Joseph Losey (American) for Monsieur Klein, Andrzej Wajda (Polish) for Danton, Ettore Scola (Italian) for Le Bal and Denys Arcand (Canadian) for The Barbarian Invasions

The other nominees make for a surprisingly strong lineup: Farewell, My Queen (on Nathaniel’s own Top Ten list) is superior costume fare from respected veteran Benoît Jacquot; the deliciously sly In the House is François Ozon’s best film since 8 Women; Noémie Lvovsky’s Camille Rewinds is so charming and heartfelt that it manages to make you forget how blatantly it rips-off 80s classic Peggy Sue Got Married; and of course Leos Carax’s astonishing Holy Motors is everyone’s favorite comeback story of 2012 (I’m sorry, Ben who?) 

MORE AFTER THE JUMP including Cotillard vs. Riva

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LFF: The French are coming!

David here, heralding the return of the BFI London Film FestivalCraig and I are back again, and we’ll be bringing you various updates across the next two weeks. The 56th festival kicked off last night with the European premiere of Frankenweenie, but my first round-up post has more of a Francophile feel to it…

Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard in 'Rust & Bone'

With Rust & Bone, director Jacques Audiard is still in the business of tempering abrasive, down-on-their-luck characters in the French banlieues with a style that smears the poetic and the aggressive into one confrontational melting pot. It seems to be part of Audiard’s intention to throw severe miserablism at his audience just to see if they can survive. Still, such a vibrantly aggressive film with a charged sense of the physical is a rare thing, and Audiard works to balance the lead performances by Marion Cotillard (whom Jose was just raving about) and Matthias Schoenaerts between a dark emotional percolation and a keen awareness of their physicality and the relationship of their bodies. Cotillard is expert at scorching her character Stephanie’s lust and enhanced sense of her own body onto the screen, and the building frisson between Stephanie and Schoenaerts’ Ali happens less through dialogue (the brisk, careless attitude of Ali puts paid to that) and more through the relation of their bodies and faces. The film may tilt wildly into grandiose dramatics or voracious sentimentality and some notes may strike an off chord, but they are all part of Audiard’s passionate approach; they reflect the beautiful, distorted, uncomfortable mess of a world that these two people inhabit. The rust rubs up against the bone and they spark, hurting but creating fire and feeling. (B+) (full review)

Wild in a different way is the narrative conceit of François Ozon’s In the House, confident again after the successful pastiche. French literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini), despairing of his students’ lack of talent and effort, is intrigued by Claude’s (Ernst Umhauer) piece on the homelife of his best friend Rapha (Bastien Ughetto). Pushing his new protégé to enliven his continuing stories, the lines between fiction and reality blur as Claude, Germain and Germain’s wife Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) become more invested and obsessed with the lives of Rapha’s family. There are echoes of younger Ozon in the cautious dissection of a middle-class family home by an Umhauer’s enigmatic potboiler, but the director sticks less rigidly to the theatrical setting of Water Drops on Burning Rocks and 8 Women and delineates various domestic and public spaces with distinctive mise-en-scene. With this consistent shift in setting come the frivolous shifts in tone – Claude’s interpretation of Germain’s literary suggestions remain unpredictable to all but him, and so the audience is thrown between caustic parody, sensual romance, ghostly thriller, and myriads of diverse moods with gleeful abandon. Ultimately, Ozon makes little of what amounts to a toe-dip in social politics, but it skips along at a brisk pace and Umhauer’s pleasingly chilled performance is matched by Emmanuelle Seignier’s melancholy, spaced ennui as Rapha’s mother. In the House is a unique prospect and even if could’ve been so much greater, it’s a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours. (B-)

Jean-Louis Trintignent holds Emmanuelle Riva in 'Amour'

As you might expect, Michael Haneke’s Amour is pretty much the opposite proposition. Haneke presents the story’s end before his title card prompting a rewind to the beginning. The udience knows they’re in for a wearing, emotional experience to reach the beatific sight of a decomposing body surrounded lovingly by petals. We’re in familiarly confrontational territory with Haneke here, but the title suggests the tender centre of this enterprise, inhabited by breathtaking work from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. They play a wealthy, elderly French couple whose life becomes confined to their apartment after Anne (Riva) suffers a stroke. Haneke’s camerawork is predominantly his usual tableau-style observation, but increasingly, as Anne worsens, the close-ups proliferate. The actors and the camera draw us deeper into the nauseatingly devastating slide towards death. Such is the power of Anne’s irascible pride that Haneke feels intrusively cruel when he won’t let her escape his camera, cutting across the apartment to catch her wheelchair zooming away from her husband. Questions niggle about why Haneke felt the need to film such a painful story, but it gains infinite legitimacy and value from the presence of Trintignant and Riva, who uncover every emotional nook and cranny of the wounded dignity and painful decisions involved in such a lengthy and dedicated love. (B+)

Follow David on Twitter @randomfurlong for instant, 140-character screening reactions.


Million Dollar Marion

Jose here, still reeling from Rust and Bone this past Sunday (going again today in a couple of hours because it's that good). My first reaction after watching it was: wow, Marion Cotillard truly has been trying to prove to us all her Oscar win was no accident.

I am not a fan of La Vie en Rose but year after year I have found myself more astounded by Cotillard's work. She was heartbreaking in Nine and was the only thing in Inception worth anyone's time, but it's in Rust and Bone where she provesonce and for all  that she's one of the most fearless actresses of our time. Most people think she's a shoo-in for a Best Actress nomination but I'm not sure this will be so easy, given that her character isn't likable at all and we know that AMPAS likes to like its leading ladies; even Margaret Thatcher and Aileen Wuornos had redemptive qualities in their movies.

Cotillard's Stephanie doesn't give a damn if someone likes her or not. When we first meet her she's just been beaten by a guy in a club and she just picks herself up and goes home to her boyfriend, whom she resents for asking for an explanation. After a gruesome accident leaves her disabled, she doesn't change her ways; instead she finds herself a f*** buddy (Matthias Schoenaerts) and becomes involved in some shady business. Can you imagine Million Dollar Baby's Maggie Fitzgerald becoming fiercer after her accident? Rust and Bone is surprising in more than one way and its extreme lack of sentimentality will surely leave some perplexed. But Cotillard is phenomenal. There is one particular scene - set to Katy Perry's "Firework" of all things - where she doesn't speak, but communicates so much through her eyes and face that she should be a frontrunner. She is that good.