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Entries in The Death and Life of John F Donovan (5)

Saturday
May182019

Xavier Dolan

by Samantha Craggs

It's been 10 years since Xavier Dolan, age 20, burst out of the gate at the Cannes Film Festival with his first ever movie, I Killed My Mother. It was a raw, imperfect effort. The deeply autobiographical narrative rambled at times. A plethora of shots framed the subject in the middle lower third of the screen, leaving space for blank white walls and reams of extraneous information. But it was a first-hand look at being a queer teenager fighting with his parents in the new millennium. For taste-makers at Cannes, it was more than enough. His movie showed in the Director's Fortnight, and Dolan, a former Québecois child actor who'd never even directed a short film, became the arthouse's youngest rock star. 

We've watched him learn the craft in two-hour intervals ever since. He works at a frantic clip, so he's made eight movies in 10 years. The now 30 year old filmmaker will premiere that eighth feature Matthias et Maxime at Cannes on May 22nd. Love or hate his offerings so far, one thing is guaranteed – this one will look nothing like I Killed My Mother. Let's do a ranking of his movies so far, after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep122018

Queer TIFF: "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan"

by Chris Feil

The party of Xavier Dolan is petering out. Or at least for his crowd of defenders, the noble few who have been willing to see past histrionics for the queer pop opera of his cinema. But for all of the detractive claims of the young director consistently falling down his own rabbit holes, it stands to ask what people want from the cinema if not directors drunk on their own Kool-Aid.

And yet his newest effort, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, is the toughest to defend. Despite some moments when the film really hits its stride, Dolan is mostly merely strident, crafting a trolling work that dares you to not call it as petulant as it is. His films have been called nakedly autobiographical or trite, and this film turns those whiffing dismissals into text. Is one person’s trash the next person’s honesty, in all its cringeworthiness and misguided perceptions? Does what is genuine and true about the thing we deem unworthy still have merit despite our perceptions of its limitations? These are fascinating questions that this film can’t quite elevate or answer, and the results are frequently embarrassing.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug022018

More Fall Festival Happenings!

Chris here with more news for the fall festivals! We're counting down the days until Nathaniel and I are in Toronto, and TIFF just announced all of their Canadian titles to be seen at the festival. Most notorious among them is the delayed Xavier Dolan film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, which will be a world premiere. Producers had previously noted that the film would be likely for the fall fests, but it's post-production woes made those comments a bit in flux. Regardless, we are very curious to see Dolan's first English language effort and his bursting cast that includes Jacob Tremblay, Natalie Portman, and Kit Harrington (but not Jessica Chastain, left to the cutting room floor).

Another noteworthy announcement is that the New York Film Festival has chosen its closing film: Julian Schnabel's Venice-bound Van Gogh biopic starring Willem Dafoe At Eternity's Gate. The film joins that fest's opening night The Favourite and centerpiece Roma, which will each play other festivals. It had been unclear in the past few months if the film would be released in time for the 20189 Oscar season but CBS films looks to open the film in November. Can we bank on Dafoe as one of our Best Actor sure things this year? And could Schnabel return after The Diving Bell and the Butterfly got so close to Oscar?

Friday
Aug042017

This & That: Silkwood, Stewart, and other things we forgot to talk about

Herewith a random collection of things that have been clogging up The Film Experience pipeline (i.e. my desktop and emails) which I never got around to writing about and no team maker volunteered to cover. In some cases I saved a photo I don't remember from what and for what!

Once you're done reading the post please imitate that "empty trash" desktop noise and feel as uncluttered as I will once I've hit publish.

We'll start with Meryl because that always gets you going...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec102014

Bates, Sarandon & Curtis: Actressexual News Galore!

Manuel here bringing you some delicious actressexual news that'll make all of you 80s/90s film lovers really happy. 

A photo posted by xavierdolan (@xavierdolan) on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:41pm PST

Xavier Dolan's upcoming English language debut film, The Death & Life of John F. Donovan is slowly amassing quite the cast. The Mommy director had already announced the casting of Jessica Chastain and Kit Harrington but he's also added Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates to the cast. Needless to say, the boy has taste. Also, if you're not following him on Instagram, you're really missing out. That's where he's been sharing tidbits from his upcoming film, but also more NSFW-ey stuff like this (think he was celebrating casting Kit, Susan & Kathy?).

In other news, Ryan Murphy, who has yet to meet an 80s or 90s cinema goddess he doesn't want to shower with a juicy part (see: Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett), has conscripted Jamie Lee Curtis for his upcoming horror/comedy anthology seriesScream Queens. You have to admit, that's some amazing casting. Joining her is Emma Roberts, a regular member of the Murphy AHSacting ensemble (and a Scream queen herself!). I won't hold my breath for this being a great show, but I will look forward to the sure to be batshit crazy stuff he'll have Curtis do. If nothing else, he'll have rescued her from a career as yogurt spokesperson so we should be grateful for that. 

Which 80s/90s star do you wish were given a plum role by an established TV mogul and/or a tantalizingly exuberant up and comer?