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Entries in Two Faces of January (6)

Friday
Sep052014

Review: The Two Faces of January

Michael Cusumano here to review the latest stylistic throwback based on the writing of Patricia Highsmith.

When people gripe “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” films like Hossein Amini’s The Two Faces of January are the kind of movie they mean. It’s adapted from the work of an acclaimed novelist whose books were the source of such beloved films as The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train. It features big stars in sumptuous foreign locales. It is made with a careful attention to detail. It doesn’t dumb things down or clutter the plot up with needless action. It is fair to say I was primed to love this movie, yet it never quite jolts to life. At some point my investment in the story passed from suspense to impatience. It never went so far as indifference, but I was pretty far from the edge of my seat. Rather, I was leaned back in my chair, head in my hand, thinking what a classy job everyone involved was doing and admiring the sumptuous visuals and thinking how this was going to end up being one of those reviews that used the word “sumptuous” a lot.

The key problem is that foreign intrigue of the Hitchcock variety requires storytelling that stays a few steps ahead of the audience, and it's easy to keep leaping ahead of January’s characters. Far too much time is spent with characters sitting in cafés, smoking, drinking, and eyeing each other suspiciously, when they should be trying to have sex with or murder one another, preferably both. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
May182014

Linkages

The Film Stage Such exciting news. Looks like Luca Guadagnino (of I Am Love brilliance) finally has another feature lining up after many thwarted attempts. Not much is known about the thriller but he'll direct Tilda Swinton again but this time she's not the only major international draw: the cast also includes Ralph Fiennes, Margot Robbie and Matthias Schoenaerts.
Cartoon Brew the producer of Legends of Oz, that animated flop, is mad and blaming everything but the movie for the movie's failure
Pajiba gets righteously angry about how lightly the media is reacting to this "prankster" who is attacking celebrities on the red carpet. His latest victim was America Ferrera at Cannes . Naturally superhuman Cate Blanchett is the person that was quickest to console her.

The Powder Room wonders why none of the gay superheroes are hitting movie screens (and the comments sections raises a great point that X-Men Days of Future Past could have totally used Northstar in place of Quicksilver and been the first to do so) 
Playbill here's a fun list for those who love musicals: top ten signature showtunes for the original performer. Featuring Bernadette Peters, Babs, Sutton Foster and more 
HitFix listens to the Godzilla score via ubiqutous Alexandre Desplat 
Variety and Godzilla is crushing it at the box office but more on that and the review later today
The Guardian is reasonably fond of The Two Faces of January. I'm still so excited for that one despite the lack of excitement that greets it in general
Television Blend by now you've probably heard that the entire Twin Peaks series AND Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) are coming to Blue-Ray with tons of new extras. It's been so long since I've seen the show that I'd love falling completely into that world again for awhile

Saturday
May102014

Cast This: Can We Get a Patricia Highsmith Biopic Up in Here?

We're getting three starry Patricia Highsmith adaptations in the next year or so at the cinemas. First up is The Two Faces of January (Viggo, Kiki & Oscar Isaac) and then Carol (Cate, Rooney & Sarah Paulson). 

 The latest to ready itself for the cameras is The Blunderer. The cast will include Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, Imogene Poots and Toby Jones. 

Highsmith adaptations are nothing new for the cinema and soon there will be little left to adapt.

Walter Stackhouse (Wilson) is a successful architect married to the beautiful Clara (Biel) and leading a charmed and perfect life. But his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a spiral of chaos as he is forced to play cat-and-mouse with a clever killer (Jones) and an over-ambitious detective. Walter's obsession, his lies and his lust for another woman (Poots) will collide in a crush of guilt, innocence and, ultimately, fate.

Highsmith adaptations are nothing new for the cinema and soon there will be little left to adapt.

But why hasn't anyone made a biopic yet?

She was a complicated character in her looks, her art, and her temperament: famously misanthropic (and racist, too), an alcoholic, complicated lifelong relationship with her mother (who once confessed to trying to abort her) who lived to be 95, bisexual with volatile affairs, and a crazy cat lady to boot.

Who should play her in a biopic?  Two names came immediately to my mind but I want to know your thoughts before I reveal them. A few more pictures after the jump [one NSFW] and a few more notes about Hollywood's interest in her work. 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May182013

Early Bird Oscar Predix: The Costume Designers

Whether or not you think Catherine Martin has already won this year's Costume Design Oscar - paging pink-suited Jay Gatsby! -- the upcoming battle for Oscar nominations is hardly an easy read even if there are only four spots to sashay towards in your suit & gown finery. Costume Design is my favorite Oscar race outside of all the Actressing, not frequently for what the Academy chooses but for the breadth and depth of the competitive field each year. Here's a few questions I'm already asking myself and by extension, you. So join me in the sartorial contemplation...

Steven Noble's work on "Two Faces of January" looks just divine in stills. How's the film?

This far ahead of the nominations (only 242 days to go!) it's anyone's guess and anyone's game. 

Which frequently forgotten designer will finally get the red carpet welcoming committee? 
The possible answers are plentiful so let's talk four of them. Your guess is as good as mine why The Lone Ranger's Penny Rose, who has delivered truly iconic costumes in major Costume Parade Jobs over the years (Evita and Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl being the standouts) has yet to be nominated. I actually find it quite insane. Another frequent miss is Louise Frogley, the favored costuming goddess of the Oceans gang (both Soderbergh and Clooney call on her services). She could snag an easy nomination this year for Monuments Men but then again WW II films are hardly done deals in this category since there are a) numerous options to choose from each year b) she's been ignored for this period before (The Good German) and c) this category doesnt always choose Best Picture nominees for their nominations even if they're WWII films - remember when Inglourious Basterds missed?

plunging necklines will spice up "American Hustle" this year

For now I'll make a wild guess and say that this year's frequent snubbee finally are two: Saving Mr Banks' Daniel Orlandi and/or American Hustle's Michael Wilkinson. Orlandi been passed over for blatant Oscar-bids like Cinderella Man and Frost/Nixon and though a nomination was never going to happen for his cheeky 60s homage Down With Love that doesn't mean it shouldn't have! Will this Walt Disney/Mary Poppins era behind-the-screen story feel like grotesque corporate hagiography coming from Walt Disney Pictures or will it be good and fun and visual enough to earn respect from AMPAS members? Meanwhile,  American Hustle's Michael Wilkinson is temporarily leaving the undoubtedly lucrative but respect-challenge realm of fanboy pictures (Watchmen, TRON Legacy, and 300 among others) for David O. Russell's first true period film. Will the plunging necklines on Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence catch Oscar's eye? Oscar totally stands at attention for those two beauties.

Ben Barnes and Jeff Bridges in "Seventh Son" with costumes by 2 time nominee Jacqueline West

Will any of the many genre flicks make inroads here this year? 
There are just so many to choose from. Thor, Wolverine, Supes and Iron Man will undoubtedly cancel each other out even for people who love superheroes. If voters don't feel like returning to Middle Earth for another Peter Jackson fantasy, other genre films that could catch the costuming branch's eye include Seventh Son (with Julianne Moore as an evil feather caped sorceress), the apocalyptic or cyborg-riffic (Snowpiercer and Elysium), or even Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The first Hunger Games missed a nomination despite being quite Costumey at points but the new designer is Trish Summerville and people really went for her punk edge on David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.   

Which rising stars will make it?
With Oscar's Holy Trinity (Sandy Powell, Milena Canonero, and Colleen Atwood each have three Oscars) not strongly in the discussion yet --at least at this writing -- which rising design stars might finally gain a foothold? I'm currently betting on Steven Noble whose work on Two Faces of January is drool-worthy from a distance. But will people like the film? (Patricia Highsmith adaptations are tricky things to pull off.) 

Kurt & Bart -- I'm not sure which is which... and no they are not boyfriends

And how about that Kurt & Bart team who might be the hipster favorites of the Costume world now given their club scene origins and indie entry into cinema (see John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus). They have three films this year. Their work on Stoker already wowed (though that film will win nominations only if hell freezes over or Identity Thief competes for Best Picture) and they also did the clothes for Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart follow up) and the showy-Leto-drag and skinny-McConaughey for Dallas Buyer's Club

and now... THE COSTUME DESIGN CHART

thoughts?

Saturday
Oct062012

Two Faces of January. Three Faces of Beauty

Two Faces of January, a thriller based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, has released its first official still which includes Two Faces of Obsession (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst... Oscar Isaac, backgrounded, has a good one, too). Viggo and Kiki are also in On The Road together (in which Viggo is particularly fantastic in a showy small part) though they share no scenes.

No word yet on who did the costumes but I like 'em.

I read this novel at some point but I don't remember a thing about it other than the Greece setting, that it was moody and triangular, and that the ending disappointed me - don't remember why just that it did. Still. Highsmith transfers well to film (see her 'Ripliad' series which has been adapted a few times already)

 

(When I was researching that poll I was said to hear that Barry Pepper had also starred in a Mr. Ripley adaptation called  Ripley Under Ground (2005) but the movie was never released. Barry Pepper really needs a more fortunate career.)

Hossein AminiTwo Faces of January is currently filming in Greece which surely can use all this movie-making revenue of late (see also: Before Midnight) but it isn't a stylistic choice. That's where a good portion of the travelogue thriller is set. This marks the feature directorial debut of Oscar nominated Iranian British screenwriter Hossein Amini -- my favorites from his work are Drive (2011), Jude (1996) and The Wings of the Dove (1997) -- so The Film Experience is officially rooting for success as he makes the jump behind cameras.

Monday
Jul022012

"I said, 'What kind of link are YOU?' "

Lists and Miscellania
Comics Alliance 50 comic book characters that resonate with LGBT audiences. Very few of them have made the trek to the movies. Just sayin'. Hopefully some day some of them will.
The Wrap wonders if Beasts of the Southern Wild can become a commercial hit. 
Hollywood Elsewhere on the Philistines who aren't into Magic Mike
Tom Shone on Brave Pro: the hair; Con: bear slapstick. Awww, I loved the bear slapstick.  
Thelma Adams interviews Michelle Williams on Take This Waltz 
Pajiba "Love is Dead Forever!" because the only appropriate response to the impending Tom Cruise / Katie Holmes divorce is total hysteria.
Scene Stealers  the ten most deliciously awkward moments in Wes Anderson's filmography? Written pre Moonrise Kingdom obviously because that's loaded with them.

Into the Future
/Film Screenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive) will direct his first feature, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Two Faces of January with Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac. I have actually read this novel which is a rare thing when we're talking up "future movies". Sadly I don't remember it at all so I can't comment on the casting other than that I find that either of those faces is good for any month.
First Showing Luc Besson may follow up the De Niro / Pfeiffer Malavita with the adaptation of sci-fi French comic book Valerian

My Favorite Reviews / Essays o' The Moment
Wesley Morris on Moonrise Kingdom -Wes Anderson finally comes through
Norman Buckley on Birth like Vertigo, it will only gain in stature