21 posts categorized "Film Festivals"

October 06, 2016

THE DIRECTORS VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: BY COLE SMITHEY

AKIRA KUROSAWA: PIONEER

TAKESHI KITANO: RENAISSANCE MAN

SOFIA COPPOLA: AUTEUR

 ROBERT ALTMAN: SATIRIST

 JIM JARMUSCH: OUTLIER

 SAM PECKINPAH: LIBERATOR

 KEN LOACH: SOCIAL REALIST

 JOE CARNAHAN: THE BEST-KEPT SECRET

 CATHERINE BREILLAT: TRANSGRESSOR

 WERNER HERZOG: MENSCH

DAVID FINCHER: MODERNIST

WILLIAM FRIEDKIN: THE MUSCLE

JOHN CASSAVETES: INDIE ICON

PAUL VERHOEVEN: REBEL

LARS VON TRIER: PROVOCATEUR

QUENTIN TARANTINO: MAVERICK

 ALFRED HITCHCOCK: MASTER OF SUSPENSE

 LUIS BUNUEL: FETISHIST


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June 03, 2016

Michael Gingold’s Fangoria: A Study in Entropy — EXCLUSIVE

By Cole Smithey

New York, NY — My BS detector went into the red the minute I read IndieWire’s overworked lede, “Fangoria Editor-in-Chief Michael Gingold Fired After 28 Years — Guillermo del Toro and Others Offer Support.”

GINGOLD

The piece that followed (written by Graham Winfrey) poured praise upon Michael Gingold as a “patron saint of the horror community.” My mind went immediately to the many Fangoria writers who took their assignments from Michael, only to discover that their pay would not be forthcoming. The notoriously passive aggressive, selfish, and narcissistic Gingold would ignore their email requests for what was rightfully theirs. New York is a small town. I’ve heard firsthand stories from Fangoria writers who never received payments that were due them. Michael would pretend to be actively attempting to get writers their money, knowing they would never be paid. Lying to writers to keep them working is about as low as it gets. Throughout it all though, Michael made sure he got paid week after week, month after month, year after year. An ethical editor (and yes such editors do exist) would have done the right thing when faced with this type of untenable situation, and resigned. 

Longtime Fangoria staff writers, some of whose lives were effectively ruined after they slogged away for weeks if not months without pay, before finally walking away from a career that evaporated before them.

Who offered support to the unpaid writers on whose backs Michael Gingold rode high and mighty for so many years? Certainly not Guillermo del Toro.

For the record, I did a one-on-one interview with del Toro in Cannes for "Pan's Labyrinth" in 2006, and found him to be a delightful guy. 

I posted a reply on Indiewire and on Twitter saying that Gingold was not the saint he was being painted as. “Worm” was the term of art I chose. Immediately, I started receiving Twitter hate messages defending Michael Gingold as “not the guy who signed the checks.” They informed me that Fangoria owner Tom Defeo was the guy to blame.

Another red flag went up. Didn’t these industry “professionals” know the magazine’s managing editor was responsible for all day-to-day operations, including paying the writers? — Evidently not. Why was this cluster of trolls trying to shield Gingold from criticism? If Michael Gingold was the patron saint of independent horror, why would he actively allow writers to be promised money he knew wasn't there? Things didn’t add up.

Suddenly, Twitter locked my account because someone was trying to hack into it. The horror fanboys were coming for me. I had to create a new super-strong password. My attention went back to the IndieWire article. Mitch Davis (“co-director of the Fantasia International Film Festival) is quoted extensively in the piece, painting a picture of doom and gloom for Fangoria for “discarding seasoned writers with so many years of history, knowledge and trust among fans.” That’s all well and good but why, if Davis has so much investment in discarded writers from Fangoria, didn’t he speak up on their behalf until now? Why, indeed.

Like all print publications, Fangoria has been bleeding money for years. As the IndieWire article points out, it “hasn’t put out a print edition since its distributor went out of business in 2015.” How Michael Gingold managed to hang on to a steady paycheck this long, without putting out any print issues in 2016, is a mystery.

FANGO346The elephant in the room is, of course, why and how Fangoria lost so much financial ground under Gingold’s failed editorial vision for the publication. No one should be praised for doing such an obviously crappy job, regardless of how long he or she milked it.

Whether or not Fangoria’s new Editor-in-Chief Ken W. Hanley can turn the magazine and website into something profitable, remains to be seen. Hopefully, Mr. Hanley will at least see to it that his writers get paid. Either way, with people like Guillermo del Toro and the handful of trolls that came after me on Twitter, I’m sure Michael Gingold will be treated better than he deserves. He’s already gotten way too much out of the deal.

In this episode Mike Lacy and I drink Hoptimum (from Sierra Nevada) and discuss Woody Allen's 1986 romantic comedy Hannah and Her Sisters. Bon appetite. 


Hannah and Her Sisters

May 13, 2015

CANNES 2015 — DAY 1

During the festival there are more exotic fast cars per square kilometer in Cannes than anywhere else in the world. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, McLarens, and Maseratis ostentatiously rev their engines through Cannes’s crowded narrow streets. Scooters and motorcycles somehow manage to slip past. Driven by brawny young men busy talking on cellphone headsets, or by statuesque women with big hair, the flashy cars embody all of the glamour, celebrity culture, and excess of Hollywood on the Rivera.

Cannes Day 1
It’s ironic then that the film that opened this year’s festival should be a reflection of France’s unsteady future in the face of rampant unemployment. Following the horrific Charlie Hebdo attacks, the festival heads made a conscious decision to deviate from its usual habit of giving the opening night slot to a piece of Hollywood tripe in favor of “La Tete Haute” (“Standing Tall”), a French social realist drama from director Emmanuelle Bercot. “Tete” avoids clichés as it digs into deep-seeded problems of psychological and social conditions. The powerhouse casting of Catherine Deneuve as a juvenile detention judge centers the film. Benoit Magimel more than pulls his weight as Yann, a counselor assigned to guide the rehabilitation process of Malony, a troubled victim of terrible parenting. The fiction that all mothers are innately good people is given a proper trouncing here.

Newcomer Rod Paradot is a revelation as Malony. His gut-wrenching naturalistic performance is as good as it gets. Paradot owns the movie with an instinctive portrayal that’s up there with Marlon Brando’s best work. If some critics recoil from “Standing Tall,” it says more about their inability to grapple with the genre than it does about the movie. “Standing Tall” is the kind of uncompromising film Ken Loach would love.

Cole with Peanuts
There were fireworks on the first night, but the cumulative emotional power of the films in this year’s festival promises to leave indelible memories and lessons far greater than burning bits of paper in a night sky.

SmartNewMedia

April 29, 2014

Cannes 2014



CannesPoster2014

COMPETITION PRIZES

Palme d’Or: “Winter Sleep” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey-Germany-France)

Grand Prix: “The Wonders” (Alice Rohrwacher)

Director: Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”

Actor: Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner”

Actress: Julianne Moore, “Maps to the Stars”

Jury Prize: “Mommy” (Xavier Dolan) and “Goodbye to Language” (Jean-Luc Godard)

Screenplay: Andrey Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, “Leviathan”

 

OTHER PRIZES

Camera d’Or: “Party Girl” (Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger, Samuel Theis)

Short Films Palme d’Or: “Leidi” (Simon Mesa Soto)

Short Films Special Mention: “Aissa” (Clement Trehin-Lalanne)

Ecumenical Jury Prize: “Timbuktu” (Abderrahmane Sissako, Mauritania-France)

 

UN CERTAIN REGARD PRIZES

Un Certain Regard Prize: “White God” (Kornel Mundruczo, Hungary-Germany-Sweden)

Jury prize: “Force Majeure” (Ruben Ostlund, Sweden-France-Denmark-Norway)

Special Prize: “The Salt of the Earth” (Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, France-Italy)

Ensemble: “Party Girl” (Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger, Samuel Theis, France)

Actor: David Gulpilil, “Charlie’s Country” (Rolf de Heer, Australia)

 

DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT PRIZES

Art Cinema Award: “Les Combattants” (Thomas Cailley, France)

Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “Les Combattants”

Europa Cinemas Label: “Les Combattants”

 

CRITICS’ WEEK PRIZES

Grand Prize: “The Tribe” (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, Ukraine)

Visionary Prize: “The Tribe”

Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “Hope” (Boris Lojkine, France)

 

FIPRESCI PRIZES

Competition: “Winter Sleep”

Un Certain Regard: “Jauja” (Lisandro Alonso, Denmark-U.S.-Argentina)

Directors’ Fortnight: “Les Combattants”


The New Zealand director, producer and screenwriter Jane Campion, winner of the Palme d’or for The Piano, will be the President of the Jury of the 67th Festival de Cannes. Cannes has always sought to adopt a universal and international approach, and in tune with this tradition, Campion will be surrounded by eight luminaries of world cinema, from China, Korea, Denmark, Iran, the United States, France and Mexico. 

As in 2009 the Jury will therefore include five women and four men. Their task will be to decide between the 18 films in Competition in order to select the winners – to be announced on stage at the ceremony on Saturday 24th — May. The winner of the Palme d’or will be screened during the Festival’s closing evening on Sunday 25th of May, in the presence of the Jury and the entire team of the winning film.

THE JURY

Jane CAMPION – President
(Director, Screenwriter, Producer – New Zealand) 

Carole BOUQUET (Actress – France)

Sofia COPPOLA (Director, Screenwriter, Producer – United States)

Leila HATAMI (Actress – Iran)

JEON Do-yeon (Actress – South Korea)

Willem DAFOE (Actor – United States)

Gael GARCIA BERNAL (Actor, Director, Producer – Mexico)

JIA Zhangke (Director, Screenwriter, Producer – China) 

Nicolas Winding REFN (Director, Screenwriter, Producer – Denmark)

Carole Bouquet, Actress (France)
After her film debut in 1977 with Luis Buñuel in That Obscure Object of Desire, Bouquet alternated between arthouse and blockbuster productions. A Bond Girl in 1981 in For Your Eyes Only, she worked with Bertrand Blier on Buffet Froid (1979) and Too Beautiful For You (1989) for which she won the César for Best Actress. She appeared in Le jour des idiots by Werner Schroeter, Michel Blanc’s Dead Tired and Embrassez qui vous voudrezLucie Aubrac by Claude Berri, L’Enfer by Danis Tanovic, Nordeste by Juan Diego Solanas (Festival de Cannes 2005) and Unforgivable by André Téchiné.

Sofia Coppola, Director and screenwriter (United States)
Coppola’s first feature film, The Virgin Suicides (1999) was selected for the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, where it met with international critical acclaim. Four years later, after several Oscar nominations for Lost in Translation, including Best Director, she walked off with the Best Screenplay award. Her third film, Marie-Antoinette was selected in Competition at Cannes in 2006. After picking up a Golden Lion in Venice forSomewhere (2010), Sofia Coppola opened Un Certain Regard with her last film The Bling Ring at the Festival de Cannes in 2013.

Leila Hatami, Actress (Iran)
Born in Tehran into a family of filmmakers, she started out acting in films directed by her father, Ali Hatami, before starring in Dariush Mehrjui’s Leila (1998) which brought her to national attention. It was Asghar Farhadi who established her on the world stage with A Separation (Golden Bear at the 2011 Berlin Festival). She picked up the Best Actress award in Karlovy Vary for her role in Ali Mosaffa’s Last Step in 2012.

Jeon Do-yeon, Actress (South Korea)
The first Korean actress to receive the Best Actress award at the Festival de Cannes for her role in Secret Sunshine by Lee Chang-dong (2007), Jeon Do-yeon started out as a television actress before turning exclusively to cinema. Her major films include I Wish I Had a Wife by Ryoo Seung, My MotherThe Mermaid by Park Jin-pyo and The Housemaid by Im Sang-soo, presented at Cannes in 2010. A massive celebrity in her country, she has just finished shooting Memories of the Sword by Park Heung-sik.

Willem Dafoe, Actor (United States)
Twice nominated for an Oscar, for Oliver Stone’s Platoon and Shadow of the Vampire, Dafoe has appeared in 80 films including Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson, Light Sleeper by Paul Schrader, The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorsese, Antichrist by Lars von Trier and The English Patient by Anthony Minghella. He will soon be appearing in A Most Wanted Man by Anton Corbijn and Pasolini by Abel Ferrara. A co-founder of the Wooster Group – an experimental theatre collective – he is currently on tour with Bob Wilson’s play The Old Woman.

Gael García Bernal, Actor, director and producer (Mexico)
Bernal first came to public attention in Iñárritu’s Amorres Perros, soon followed by Y Tu Mamá También by Alfonso Cuarón. He then featured in films directed by some of the greats of international cinema, such as The Motorcycle Diaries by Walter Salles, Pedro Almodóvar’s Bad EducationThe Science of Sleep by Michel Gondry, Babel by Gonzalez Iñárritu, and The Limits of Control by Jim Jarmusch. In 2005, he founded his Canana production company with Diego Luna and in 2010, after a few short films, directed his first feature film,Deficit, selected at La Semaine de la Critique at Cannes.

Nicolas Winding Refn, Director, screenwriter and producer (Denmark)

His first film, Pusher (1996), written and directed at the age of 24, immediately became a cult movie and he shot to fame throughout the world. He then directed Bleeder (1999), Fear X (2003), Pusher II & III (2004 & 2005),Bronson (2008) and Valhalla Rising (2009), all characteristic of the style that came to be dubbed "Refn-esque". In 2011, Drive was presented at the Festival de Cannes and won the Best Direction prize, awarded by the Jury presided by Robert De Niro. His last film, Only God Forgives, featured in Competition at Cannes in 2013.

Jia Zhangke, Director, screenwriter and producer (China)
After first studying art Jia Zhangke, born in 1970, attended the Beijing Film Academy in the 1990s. After the success of his first film, Xao Wu (1998), he directed Platform (Zhantai, 2000) and Unknown Pleasures (Ren xiao yao, 2002) selected for Venice and Cannes respectively. Still Life picked up the Golden Lion in Venice in 2006. He also presented 24 City at the Festival de Cannes, in Competition in 2008 and I Wish I Knew for Un Certain Regard in 2010. Last year, A Touch of Sin garnered the Best Screenplay prize awarded by the Jury presided by Steven Spielberg.

Copyrights:
1. Jane Campion © Lisa Tomasetti
2. Jia Zhangke © RR
3. Willem Dafoe © RR
4. Leila Hatami © Saba Siahpoush
5. Carole Bouquet © Paul Schmidt
6. Gael Garcia Bernal © RR
7. Jeon Do-yeon © RR
8. Nicolas Winding Refn © Jonas Bie
9. Sofia Coppola © Andrew Durham

Cannes-international-film-festival

OPENER

“Grace of Monaco” (Olivier Dahan, France-U.S.-Belgium-Italy) Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Kelly in Dahan’s 1960s-set biopic, which, is kicking off the festival out of competition. The Weinstein Co. is distributing the film Stateside. 

CANNES SELECTION

COMPETITION

“The Captive” (Atom Egoyan, Canada) Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson star in this abduction thriller, Egoyan’s sixth competition entry; the Canadian helmer won the Grand Prix for 1997’s “The Sweet Hereafter.” 

“Clouds of Sils Maria” (Olivier Assayas, France-Switzerland-Germany) IFC has Stateside rights to this English-language picture about an actress who withdraws to the Swiss town of the title, starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz. Assayas was previously in competition with “Clean,” “Demonlover” and “Les Destinees sentimentales,” but has yet to win a Cannes prize. 

“Foxcatcher” (Bennett Miller, U.S.) Once slated to open last year’s AFI Film Festival before being pushed to 2014, this third feature from the highly regarded writer-director of “Capote” and “Moneyball” is an account of the murder of Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz. Sony Classics is releasing the film Stateside. 

“Goodbye to Language” (Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland) Previously at the festival with 2010’s characteristically cryptic “Film socialisme,” Godard will make his seventh appearance in competition (if you count his contribution to 1987’s “Aria”). His latest offering will be presented in 3D.

“The Homesman” (Tommy Lee Jones, U.S.) Set around his period Western is the actor-director’s first helming effort since his 2005 debut, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” which won two prizes at Cannes (including an acting award for Jones). 

“Jimmy’s Hall” (Ken Loach, U.K.-Ireland-France) Reportedly the British realist’s final fiction feature, this drama about the Irish communist leader James Gralton will mark Loach’s 12th time in competition. He won the Palme d’Or in 2006 for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” and recently received a jury prize for 2012’s “The Angels’ Share.” 

“Leviathan” (Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia) A multi-character fusion of social drama and sci-fi set in a “new country,” Zvyagintsev’s fourth feature marks his first return to the Cannes competition since 2007’s “The Banishment”; his previous film, “Elena,” closed Un Certain Regard in 2011.

“Le Meraviglie” (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy-Switzerland-Germany) One of two female directors in competition this year, Italian writer-director Rohrwacher delivers her second feature after her 2011 Directors’ Fortnight entry, “Corpo celeste.” It’s the story of a 14-year-old girl in the Umbrian countryside whose secluded life is shattered by the arrival of a young German ex-con.

“Maps to the Stars” (David Cronenberg, U.S.) This satire of the entertainment industry will be the Canadian auteur’s fifth film to screen in competition at Cannes (following “Crash,” “Spider,” “A History of Violence” and “Cosmopolis”), and his second consecutive collaboration with star Robert Pattinson. It could also be his first film to win the Palme d’Or. 

“Mommy” (Xavier Dolan, France-Canada) One of the younger directors to crack the competition (at age 25), the Quebecois helmer scooped up multiple Critics’ Week prizes for his 2009 debut, “I Killed My Mother,” and entered Un Certain Regard with “Heartbeats” and “Laurence Anyways.” His latest is a relationship drama starring Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement and Antoine-Olivier Pilon. 

“Saint Laurent” (Bertrand Bonello, France) Not to be confused with Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent,” the other recent biopic of the French fashion designer, Bonello’s film stars Gaspard Ulliel, Louis Garrel and Lea Seydoux. The helmer was previously in competition with 2011’s “House of Pleasures” (then titled “House of Tolerance”) and 2003’s “Tiresia.” 

“The Search” (Michel Hazanavicius, France) Berenice Bejo and Annette Bening topline this drama centered around the bond between an NGO worker and a young boy in war-torn Chechnya. A remake of Fred Zinnemann’s Oscar-winning 1948 film of the same title, it marks Hazanavicius’ return to the Cannes competition after his 2011 prizewinner, “The Artist.” 

“Still the Water” (Naomi Kawase, Japan) By now a Cannes competition regular, Kawase won the Grand Prix for 2007’s “The Mourning Forest” and received the Camera d’Or for her 1997 debut, “Suzaku.” Her latest film is set on the Japanese island of Amami-Oshima and centers on a young couple trying to solve a mysterious death. 

“Mr. Turner” (Mike Leigh, U.K.) A four-time veteran of the Cannes competition who won the Palme d’Or for 1996’s “Secrets & Lies” and director for 1993’s “Naked,” the British master will return to the festival with this portrait of the 19th-century painter J.M.W. Turner, starring Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville. Sony Classics is distributing in the U.S. 

“Timbuktu” (Abderrahmane Sissako, France) The Mauritanian-born, Mali-raised director, who was previously at Cannes with 2006’s “Bamako,” tells the story of a young couple who were stoned to death in northern Mali for the crime of “not being married before God.” 

“Two Days, One Night” (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium) Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione and Olivier Gourmet star in this story of a young woman trying to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job. Already acquired by Sundance Selects for the U.S., it will be the Belgian brothers’ sixth film to compete at Cannes; they have won the Palme d’Or twice, for 1999’s “Rosetta” and 2005’s “L’enfant.” 

“Wild Tales” (Damian Szifron, Argentina-Spain) Pedro Almodovar is one of the producers of this series of comic sketches from Argentinean writer-director Szifron, making his first appearance at Cannes.

“Winter Sleep” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey-Germany-France) This three-hour-plus drama is set in the titular landscape of Ceylan’s previous film (and 2011 Cannes Grand Prix winner), “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.” The rigorous Turkish auteur also won the festival’s directing prize for 2008’s “Three Monkeys” and the Grand Prix for 2002’s “Distant.”

OUT OF COMPETITION

“Coming Home” (Zhang Yimou, China) Zhang’s 12th collaboration with Gong Li (star of his Cannes competition entries “Ju Dou,” “To Live” and “Shanghai Triad”) is a romantic drama set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution. Sony Classics is distributing the film in North America and other territories.  

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois, U.S.) This Fox-distributed sequel to 2010’s smash hit “How to Train Your Dragon” follows in a long line of DreamWorks toons that have bowed on the Croisette, including “Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” “Kung Fu Panda” and last year’s “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”

“Les Gens du Monde” (Yves Jeuland, France) Jeuland’s latest documentary pays tribute to the 70-year history of France’s daily newspaper Le Monde.

UN CERTAIN REGARD

OPENER: “Party Girl” (Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis, France) This directorial debut for all three co-helmers tells the story of a 60-year-old nightclub hostess who finally decides to settle down by marrying a member of her clientele. 

“Amour fou” (Jessica Hausner, Austria-Luxembourg-Germany) This follow-up to Hausner’s acclaimed 2009 drama “Lourdes” is “a parable about the ambivalence of love” inspired by the suicide pact of the 19th-century poet Heinrich von Kleist and his friend Henriette Vogel. (Sales: Coproduction Office)

“Bird People” (Pascale Ferran, France) Ferran’s first film since her acclaimed “Lady Chatterley” is a relationship drama with a supernatural element, starring Josh Charles (formerly of “The Good Wife”) and Anais Demoustier. 

“The Blue Room” (Mathieu Amalric, France) The French actor-helmer, who won a directing prize for 2010’s “On Tour,” stars along with Lea Drucker in this adaptation of a 1964 Georges Simenon novel. 

“Charlie’s Country” (Rolf de Heer, Australia) This third collaboration between de Heer and actor David Gulpilil extends the director’s commitment to exploring Australian Aboriginal culture. It world premiered at the recent Adelaide Film Festival. 

“A Girl at My Door” (July Jung, South Korea) Produced by Cannes competition favorite Lee Chang-dong, Jung’s debut feature centers around a young woman being abused by her stepfather.

“Eleanor Rigby” (Ned Benson, U.S.) Previously a two-part, 191-minute drama titled “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” this Weinstein Co. release starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy chronicles the dissolution of a marriage. 

“Fantasia” (Wang Chao) The Chinese writer-director was previously in Cannes with his 2006 Un Certain Regard prizewinner, “Luxury Car.”

“Force Majeure” (Ruben Ostlund) Formerly titled “Tourist,” Ostlund’s fourth feature was shot at a ski resort in France and deploys “aesthetic and narrative codes that are completely different from what we’re used to,” said Fremaux. The Swedish helmer was previously at Cannes with 2011’s “Play” and 2008’s “Involuntary.” 

“Harcheck mi headro” (Keren Yedaya) This is the third feature from Israeli helmer Yedaya, who was previously at Cannes with 2009’s Jewish-Arab love story “Jaffa” and her 2004 Camera d’Or winner, “Or (My Treasure).”

“Hermosa juventud” (Jaime Rosales) The Barcelona-born director was previously in Un Certain Regard with 2007’s “Solitary Fragments.”

“Incompresa” (Asia Argento, Italy-France) Argento has been a fixture of the festival as a director (2004’s “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things”) and an actress (“Boarding Gate,” “The Last Mistress,” “Go Go Tales,” “Dracula 3D”). Her latest helming effort, which features Charlotte Gainsbourg, takes its title from that of Luigi Comencini’s “Incompreso” (“Misunderstood”).

“Jauja” (Lisandro Alonso, Denmark-U.S.-Argentina) Viggo Mortensen stars in this drama about a father and daughter journeying from Denmark to an unknown desert. It’s the Argentine auteur’s first feature since his 2008 Directors’ Fortnight entry, “Liverpool.”

“Lost River” (Ryan Gosling, U.S.) Until now known under the title “How to Catch a Monster,” Gosling’s writing-directing debut, which was acquired last year by Warner Bros. for U.S. distribution, is a Detroit-shot fantasy-drama starring Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan and Eva Mendes. The actor has been a frequent visitor to Cannes lately in films including “Drive,” “Only God Forgives” and “Blue Valentine.” 

“Run” (Philippe Lacote, France-Ivory Coast) Ivory Coast native Lacote shines a light on his country’s violent history with this drama about a runaway who has just killed the prime minister of his homeland. 

“Salt of the Earth” (Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, France-Italy-Brazil) Wenders’ latest documentary is a portrait of the photographer Sebastiao Salgado (father of co-helmer Juliano Ribeiro Salgado), focusing on his eight-year Genesis project. 

“Snow in Paradise” (Andrew Hulme, U.K.) This Kickstarter-funded debut feature for editor-turned-director Hulme is “very contemporary,” says Fremaux. It tells the story of a petty criminal in London’s East End who seeks redemption through Islam. 

“Titli” (Kanu Behl, India) A rare independent feature financed by Bollywood powerhouse Yash Raj Films, Behl’s debut film follows a young man in Delhi trying to escape the oppression of his brothers. 

“Xenia” (Panos Koutras, Greece-France-Belgium) Two brothers head to Thessaloniki to look for the father they’ve never met in this dark portrait of contemporary Greek society. 

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

“The Rover” (David Michod, Australia) Michod’s follow-up to “Animal Kingdom” stars Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson and Scoot McNairy in a violent thriller set against the Australian outback. A24 has U.S. distribution rights. 

“The Salvation” (Kristian Levring, Denmark) “It’s a Danish Western, and that’s the best way to describe it,” Fremaux said. 

“The Target” (Yoon Hong-seung, South Korea): A remake of French director Fred Cavaye’s actioner “Point Blank.” 

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“Bridges of Sarajevo” (Aida Begic, Isild le Besco, Leonardo di Constanzo, Pedro Costa, Jean-Luc Godard, Kamen Kalev, Sergei Loznitsa, Vincenzo Marra, Ursula Meier, Vladimir Perisic, Cristi Puiu, Marc Recha, Angela Schanelec) This omnibus work will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI. Godard and Loznitsa, both of whom contribute shorts here, have features elsewhere in the official selection.

“Caricaturistes: Fantassins de la democratie” (Stephanie Valloatto, France) A documentary about 12 newspaper cartoonists from around the world.

“Maidan” (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine) A Fremaux discovery and two-time Cannes competition veteran (with 2010’s “My Joy” and 2012’s “In the Fog”), Loznitsa here directs a documentary on the protests in the Ukrainian capital’s central square.

“Red Army” (Polsky Gabe) A hybrid political-sports documentary that examines Russian hockey culture during the Cold War, directed by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Gabe.

“Silvered Water” (Mohammed Oussama and Wiam Bedirxan, Syria-France) A portrait of violence in modern-day Syria as filmed by multiple video activists in the besieged city of Homs, tied together by Oussama, who is currently exiled in Paris.

Soucre: Variety

Cannes Classics 2014

 Picture of the film Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage Italian Style) by Vittorio De Sica

Sophia Loren as a guest of honor, the birth of the Italian western, 30 years old for Paris, Texas, a homage to Henri Langlois, Kieslowski back at Cannes, a masterpiece of Georgian cinema, an unacknowledged film by Raymond Bernard about WWI, rediscovering the colors of Sayat Nova, restorations coming from all over the world, here comes Cannes Classics 2014.
 
 
Ten years ago our relationship with contemporary cinema was about to be shaken up by digital revolution. The Festival de Cannes created Cannes Classics, a selection which allows production companies, right holders, cinematheques and national archives throughout the world to show their work done to preserve patrimonial value. Now an essential part of the Official Selection with a presence that inspired several international festivals. Cannes Classics presents old-established features and masterpieces from the history of film in restored prints.
 
Cannes also gives itself the mission to delight audiences of today with the memory of cinema. Thus Cannes Classics confers the prestige of the world's biggest festival on rediscovered films, accompanying all new exploitations: release in theaters, VOD or DVD edition/Blu-ray of the great works of the past.
 
The selected films for 2014 will be screened at the Palais des Festivals, Salle Buñuel or Salle du Soixantième, with the restoration teams and with those who directed them, when they still among us.
 
The program of the edition 2014 of Cannes Classics is made of twenty-two features and two documentaries. The films will be screened as the right holders wish them to be:  DCP 2K or DCP 4K. For the first time no 35mm print will be screened at Cannes Classics with regret for some or with celebration for others.

  • Guest of honor: SOPHIA LOREN

Award for Best Actress in 1961 and president of the jury in 1966, Sophia Loren is the guest of honor of Cannes Classics. She will be present at the screening of LA VOCE HUMANA (2014, 25mn), directed by Edoardo Ponti, which marks the occasion of her comeback to the movies. During the same evening Marriage Italian Style (Matrimonio all'italiana) by Vittorio De Sica (1964, 1h42) will be screened in 4K restoration by L’Immagine Ritrovata. Restoration carried out in collaboration with Surf Film by Cineteca di Bologna and Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage with contribution from Memory Cinema, at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. French distributor Carlotta.


Sophia Loren has also accepted to give a masterclass—a conversation which will take place on the stage of Salle Buñuel.
 
PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI / A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS / POUR UNE POIGNEE DE DOLLARS by Sergio Leone (1964, 1h40)
To celebrate the birth in 1964 of the Italian western, the Cinematheque of Bologna will present the film restored in 4K by L’Immagine Ritrovata of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS directed by Sergio Leone in 1964 with Clint Eastwood and Gian Maria Volonte. Restoration carried out by Cineteca di Bologna and Unidis Jolly Film at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. Funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.
The screening has been made possible by the right holders: the Paladino family and Unidis Jolly Film, which produced and distributed the film. Thanks to the Leone family. 

  • Thirty years old for PARIS, TEXAS by Wim Wenders (1984, 2h25)

Awarded by the President of the Jury Dirk Bogarde and handed out on stage by Faye Dunaway, the Palme d’or of Paris,Texas is thirty years old. Wim Wenders will be back on the Croisette (besides his selection at Un Certain Regard with THE SALT OF THE EARTH) with a new print of PARIS, TEXAS. After The Umbrellas of Cherbourgby Jacques Demy, Under the Sun of Satan by Maurice Pialat or The Leopard by Luchino Visconti, the Festival de Cannes shows restored copies of its Palmes d’or.
HD Transfer done at Deluxe Laboratory in New York, supervised by Wim Wenders, and Spirit Scan made at the German laboratory CinePost Production. Digital transfer made by Criterion.

REGARDS SUR UNE REVOLUTION : COMMENT YUKONG DEPLAÇA LES MONTAGNES by Marceline Loridan et Joris Ivens (1976, 1h11)
A presentation by Marceline Loridan and the Archives françaises du film of the CNC.
Digital restoration was carried out from the 2K scan of the 16mm negatives. Scans and restorations were carried out by the laboratory of CNC Bois d'Arcy. Coulor grading and finishes have been made by the Eclair laboratory.
 
CRUEL STORY OF YOUTH (SEISHUN ZANKOKU MONOGATARI) by Nagisa Oshima (1960, 1h32)
A presentation by Shochiku studio. 
The digital restoration was performed in by 4K Shochiku Co., Ltd. under the supervision of Takashi Kawamata, cameraman of Nagisa Oshima. The film will be distributed in France by Carlotta.

  • WOODEN CROSSES (LES CROIX DE BOIS) by Raymond Bernard (1931, 1h55)

Presented by Pathé and the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux – Pathé.
The film was scanned and restored in 4K by the laboratory L'Immagine Ritrovata Bologna. The restoration was carried out by Pathé.

  • OVERLORD by Stuart Cooper (1975, 1h24)

A restoration presented by The Criterion Collection (New York).
HD Digital transfer supervised by director Stuart Cooper from a new 35mm fine-grain master. Mono sound now in 24 bits.

  • LA PAURA / ANGST / LA PEUR by Roberto Rossellini (1954, 1h23)

Within the framework of the Rossellini project, a restoration made in 4K by L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna.
Cannes Classics has been welcoming since 2011 the ambitious Italian project, The Rossellini Project, from the collaboration between Instituto Luce Cinecittà, Cineteca di Bologna, CSC-Cineteca Nazionale and Coproduction Office (in charge of international sales). After presenting La Macchina Ammazzacattivi (La Machine à tuer les méchants, 1948) and Viaggio In Italia / Journey To Italy (Voyage en Italie, 1954), please findAngst / La Paura by Roberto Rossellini.
Print restaured by the Cineteca di Bologna with L’Immagine Ritrovata collaborating with the Istituto Luce Cinecittà, CSC-Cineteca Nazionale and Coproduction Office.

  • BLIND CHANCE (PRZYPADEK) by Krzysztof Kieślowski (1981, 1h57)

A presentation by the Polish Film Institute.
Restoration carried out in 2K with the color framing supervised by the director of photography.    

  • THE LAST METRO (LE DERNIER METRO) by François Truffaut (1980, 2h21)

Presented by MK2 and the Cinémathèque française with the support of the French and American Fund on the occasion of the thirty years of François Truffaut’s passing away.
The original negative was scanned in 4K and restored frame by frame by 2K Digimage laboratory. Restoration and color framing were supervised by DP Guillaume Schiffman.

  • DRAGON INN  (龍門客棧) by King Hu (1967, 1h51)

A presentation of the Chinese Taipei Film Archive.
Digital restoration made in 4K by the L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna from the negative. The director of photography has supervsed the color framing.  

  • DAYBREAK (LE JOUR SE LEVE) by Marcel Carné (1939, 1h31)

Restoration 4K presented by Studio Canal.
Work on the images made by Eclair, sound restored by Diapason in partnership with Eclair.

COLOR OF THE POMEGRANATE (SAYAT NOVA) by Sergei Parajanov (1968, 1h17)

Restoration financed by the Film Foundation-World Cinema Project (New York) and made in 4K by L’immagine Ritrovata.

  • LEOLO by Jean-Claude Lauzon (1992, 1h42)

A presentation of « Éléphant, mémoire du cinéma québécois. »
Digital restoration made in 2k from the original negative, sound restored by the Cinémathèque québécoise. Technical services: Technicolor, creative services: Marie-José Raymond et Claude Fournier for Éléphant.

  • GACIOUS LIVING (LA VIE DE CHATEAU) by Jean-Paul Rappeneau (1965, 1h30)

Presented by TF1 DA.
Film restored in 2K at Mikros from the original negative, with a restoration of the stock shots. Color framing realized in collaboration between Jean-Paul Rappeneau and Pierre Lhomme, director of photography. Restoration of Michel Legrand’s music by Stéphane Lerouge.

  • JAMAICA INN (LA TAVERNE DE LA JAMAÏQUE) by Alfred Hitchcock (1939, 1h40)

A presentation of the Cohen Film Collection LLC.
Digital restoration made in 4K by 4K RRsat Europe – Ray King and Anthony Badger Finishing Post Productions Ltd – Jason Tufano and Marc Bijum.

  • LES VIOLONS DU BAL by Michel Drach (1974, 1h44)

Restoration Silverway Média. Financing by Port-Royal Films with the CNC and the support of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah.

  • BLUE MOUNTAINS (LES MONTAGNES BLEUES) by Eldar Shengelaia (1983, 1h31)

A presentation of the Georgian National Film Center.
The digitalization of the image and the sound was made from the original negative in 4K par Gosfilmfond Russia.

  • LOST HORIZON (HORIZONS PERDUS) by Frank Capra (1937, 2h12)

A presentation of Park Circus in a digital print restored in 4k by Sony Pictures Colorworks. Park Circus will release the film in 2014.   
 
THE BITCH (LA CHIENNE) by Jean Renoir (1939, 1h35)
Film presented by Les Films du Jeudi and the Cinémathèque française with the support of the CNC and the help of the Fonds Culturel Franco-Américain (DGA – MPA – SACEM – WGAW).
Restoration in 2K (from a 4K scan) made by Digimage Classics and sound restoration by Diapason.

TOKYO ORINPIKKU (TOKYO OLYMPIAD) by Kon Ichikawa (1965, 2h40)

A presentation of the International Olympic Committee.
The film was digitally restored in 4K from the original film elements for the International Olympic Committee by Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging and Audio Mechanics in Burbank, USA.

Also two documentaries about cinema:

LIFE ITSELF by Steve James (2014, 1h58): the life and journey of Roger Ebert, great American film critic. 
 
THE GO-GO BOYS: THE INSIDE STORY OF CANNON FILMS by Hilla Medalia (2014, 1h30): the story of Cannon Films and the producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who will be present.
 
At last  (1963, 2h13) restored by Gaumont and Eclair will be screened as the opening film of the Cinéma de la plage to give an echo to the poster of the 67th Festival de Cannes and pay a tribute to Marcello Mastroianni.    

The whole program of the Cinéma de la Plage will be announced later.  

While the Official Selection of feature films for the 67th Festival de Cannes will be revealed on Thursday 17th April, the list of Short Films is unveiled in advance.

The Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury, presided by Abbas KIAROSTAMI, will nominate the prize-winners for the Short Film Competition and the Cinéfondation Selection.

THE 2014 SHORT FILMS COMPETITION 

This year, the Selection Committee received 3,450 short films, representing 128 production countries.

Nine films will compete in 2014 for the Short Film Palme d'or, to be awarded by Abbas Kiarostami, President of the Jury, at the Awards Ceremony of the 67th Festival de Cannes on Saturday, May 24th.

For the first time, an azeri and a georgian film will take part in the Short Films Competition.
 
SHORT FILMS IN COMPETITION:

Ran HUANG THE ADMINISTRATION OF GLORY 15’ China
       
Dea KULUMBEGASHVILI UKHILAVI SIVRTSEEBI
(Invisible Spaces)
10’ Georgia
       
Sato MASAHIKO, Ohara TAKAYOSHI, Seki YUTARO, Toyota MASAYUKI, Hirase KENTARO HAPPO-EN 13’ Japan
       
Simón MESA SOTO LEIDI 15' Colombia United-Kingdom
       
Sergey PIKALOV SONUNCU
(The Last One)
15’ Azerbaijan
       
Petra SZŐCS A KIVEGZES
(The Execution)
14’ Hungary
Romania
       

Clément TREHIN-LALANNE

AÏSSA

8’ France
       
Laura WANDEL LES CORPS ÉTRANGERS 15’ Belgium
       
Hallvar WITZØ

JA VI ELSKER

(Yes we Love)

15’ Norway
       

* The Italian film A PASSO D'UOMO by Giovanni ALOI was removed from the Short Films Competition because he has proved to break the regulation of this Selection.

THE 2014 CINÉFONDATION SELECTION 
 

The Cinéfondation Selection selected 16 films (14 fiction films and 2 animation films) among the 1,631 submitted this year by cinema schools from all around the world.

This year sees a very significant broadening of scope of the Selection, with a 38% of the schools being selected for the first time and one country – Egypt – which has never previously been selected. Besides, more than half of the sixteen selected films (9) have been directed by women.

The three Cinéfondation Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony prior to the screening of the winning films on Thursday 22nd May in the Buñuel Theatre.

THE CINEFONDATION SELECTION: 

Max CHAN OUR BLOOD 25’       Hampshire College
USA
       
Pierre CLENET 
Alejandro DIAZ 
Romain MAZEVET 
Stéphane PACCOLAT
HOME SWEET HOME 10’ Supinfocom Arles
France
       
Omar EL ZOHAIRY THE AFTERMATH OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE PUBLIC TOILET AT KILOMETER 375 18’ High Cinema Institute, Academy of Arts
Égypt
       
Reinaldo Marcus GREEN STONE CARS 14’ NYU Tisch School of the Arts
USA
       
HAN Fengyu LAST TRIP HOME 25’ Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Singapore
       
Meryll HARDT UNE VIE RADIEUSE 
(A Radiant Life)
17’ Le Fresnoy
France
       
Chie HAYAKAWA NIAGARA 27’ ENBU Seminar
Japan
       

Atsuko HIRAYANAGI

 

OH LUCY!

21’ NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia
Singapore
       
Inbar HORESH THE VISIT 27’ Minshar for Art, School and Center 
Israel
       
Stefan IVANČIĆ LETO BEZ MESECA 
(Moonless Summer)
31' Faculty of Dramatic Arts 
Serbia
       
Daisy JACOBS THE BIGGER PICTURE 7' National Film and Television School
United Kingdom
       
György Mór KÁRPÁTI PROVINCIA 21' University of Theatre and Film Arts
Hungary
       
KWON Hyun-ju SOOM 
(Breath)
33' Chung-Ang University
South Korea
       
Léa MYSIUS LES OISEAUX-TONNERRE
(Thunderbirds)
22' La Fémis 
France
       
Fulvio RISULEO  LIEVITO MADRE 
(Sourdough)
 17' Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia
Italy
       
Annie SILVERSTEIN  SKUNK  16' The University of Texas at Austin
USA
       

October 06, 2013

THE 51st NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL IN VIDEO ESSAY

SmartNewMedia

October 20, 2011

NYFF 2011 in Perspective

The New York Film Festival 2011
By Cole Smithey

NYFFEasily the best New York Film Festival I’ve experienced in the 15 consecutive years I’ve attended it, 2011 was truly an exceptional year. Of the 17 films I saw there was only one disappointment (Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants”) and one unforgivable dog (“Martha Marcy May Marlene” – I compulsively make fun of the title every time I say it). Martin Scorsese personally introduced a surprise screening of his latest film “Hugo” to a packed house.

Documentary filmmaking enjoyed strong entries with Chris Hall’s and Mike Kerry’s “The Ballad of Mott the Hoople” (which sadly will go to DVD), Joe Berlinger’s and Bruce Sinofsky’s “Paradise Lost 3,” and Alex Stapleton’s Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel.” Martin Scorsese’s named also showed up on the MTV-aired doc “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.”

While overrated festivals like Toronto pretend to compete with Cannes, and unfocused festivals like Tribeca continue to feel around for an identity, the New York Film Festival has proven once again that it knows how to treat filmmakers, celebrities, and its participating journalists. Kudos to Richard Peña, John Wildman, Courtney Ott, and the rest of the staff at Lincoln Center for making 2011 a festival to remember.

Le Havre

La HavreAki Kaurismaki's humanist themed comedy of manners and intentions is a whimsical allegory about the desperate plight of immigrants and the communal actions needed to address the issue. There's an air of magical realism in the film's tone that places shoeshine man Marcel (Andre Wilms) in the unique position of harboring a young illegal immigrant named Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) from West Africa in Marcel’s French hometown of La Havre.

Marcel leads a frugal existence with his loving wife Arletty (Kati Outinen) in a small house on a little back street of the sleepy seaside town. The couple's minimalist lifestyle still allows for simple pleasures. With his wife's approval Marcel slips out to his favorite bar for an aperitif while Arletty prepares their dinner. Arletty doesn't want her husband know she's dying from cancer. So it comes as a shock when she has to be rushed to the hospital for an extended stay. When a dock guard hears the cry of a baby coming from a sealed shipping container, local officials are called in to open the giant London-bound metal box. Inside are a group of immigrants from which Idrissa escapes before running into the sympathetic Marcel who agrees to help the boy get to London to reunite with his mother.

Filmed with a deliberately simplistic regard, Kaurismaki embraces a regional sense of identity that allows supporting characters to flourish. Police Inspector Monet (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) gets wind of Marcel’s complicity in hiding the boy, and makes his position clear to Marcel. Enjoyable scenes between Darroussin and Wilms play out with a suspenseful sense of deadpan humor. As with all of the Finnish auteur’s films, there’s a bitter sweetness at play. When Kaurismaki adds the story’s final grace note it comes as rich reward. Few filmmakers have such delicate command of the poetic potential of cinema.

The Kid With a Bike

Kidwithabike_3The Dardenne brothers tweak slightly their polished neorealist formula of personalized socially consciousness cinema related to their home country of Belgium, and their hometown of Seraing in specific. Composed music plays a role. The Dardennes continue the focus of their oeuvre on the plight of the country's youth. The result is a somewhat less than convincing story about a troubled 11-year-old boy named Cyril (Thomas Doret).

Having been recently abandoned by his single-parent father Guy (Jérémie Renier), Cyril searches desperately for his dad, and for his bicycle which has also gone missing. The manic boy escapes from the boys' home where he has been placed to return to the now empty apartment he once occupied with his father. Chased by his keepers back into the home Cyril throws himself at a visiting woman who sits in a lobby. Hairdresser Samantha (Cecile de France) helps reunite Cyril with his bike and agrees to look after the violence-prone boy on weekends. Samantha is at a loss to understand Cyril's self-destructive impulses that land him in a string of violent altercations. Still, Cyril's good fortune expands when Samantha agrees to keep him with her full time. Cyril’s guardian angel helps him track down his dead-beat dad at the restaurant where he works. Guy gradually makes clear that he wants nothing to do with his needy son. The filmmakers explore too shallowly Guy's reasoning for essentially throwing his son away. This, coupled with a lack of perspective on Samantha's backstory, weighs heavy on the film as a narrative contrivance that is nonetheless buffered by Thomas Doret’s exceptional performance.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Marcymartha"Work-shopped in a Sundance writing and directing lab" proves to be the kiss of death for an overwrought and underdeveloped psychological thriller that refuses to either poop or get off the pot. Newbie writer/director Sean Durkin wears his obsession with Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke on his snot-covered sleeve. Evidently they don't teach that flashbacks are a bad idea at NYU film school—where Durkin attended--or at Sundance since exactly half of Durkin's story is told using the most common crutch in narrative existence.

Durkin has an ace up his sleeve in newcomer Elizabeth Olsen, whose beguiling nubility and haunting mood shifts the filmmaker milks for all they’re worth. Olsen plays the title character whose name Martha gets transmogrified to Marcy Mae by a creepy cult leader named Patrick (John Hawkes) who feeds on the flesh of his mostly female clan on a remote farm commune in the Catskills. Martha's "Marlene" identity is the least explained, and is left dangling along with every other plot thread the filmmakers bother to create.

Martha runs away from the commune at the beginning of the story. She calls her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), who she hasn't been in touch with for two years, to come pick her up. Lucy and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy) take Martha into their spacious riverside home in Connecticut. Martha displays odd behaviors such as skinny dipping in broad daylight and crawling in bed with Ted and Lucy while they're having sex. She doesn’t believe in such capitalist traps as pursuing a career. She holds onto firm but unstated beliefs about “the right way to live.”

Flashbacks reveal Martha's rape at the hands of Patrick, and her indoctrination as a "leader and teacher" at the commune. The filmmaker constantly jockeys back and forth between Martha's increasingly problematic situation with Lucy and Ted, and her not so distant past that informs her subconscious and conscious mind. Martha is an unreliable protagonist the audience is tempted to side with in spite of her volatile personality. "Martha Marcy May Marlene" comes across as an extreme right-wing fantasy about the leftist mind. If we take Martha, as the filmmakers seem to intend, to represent the kind of person engaged in the global protests against savage corporate greed then we are forced to admit that they are emotionally disturbed sociopathic human beings. The big problem with the movie is the filmmakers forgot to tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

In spite of its all-too-obvious machinations “The Kid with a Bike” touches on social ills in a direct fashion without preaching. When Cyril falls in with a neighborhood thug to perform a violent crime with no reason other than for the approval of an older male figure, we see clearly what the filmmakers are getting at. A kid with a bike is nothing without both a mother and a father figure. The Artist Inspired proof that a black-and-white silent film with a 4:3 aspect ratio can be more entertaining than a 3D anything, "The Artist" conjures a bygone age of Hollywood that reminds us why we love cinema. Director Michel Hazanavicius's wonderful movie made a splash at Cannes before becoming the critical darling of the 2011 New York Film Festival.

The Artist

The-ArtistJean Dujardin ("OSS 117 - Lost in Rio") combines Errol Flynn and Fred Astaire in his role as silent film superstar George Valentin. The story finds matinee idol Valentin enjoying a glamorous silent film career in Los Angeles near the end of the Roaring Twenties. Flawlessly tailored and groomed, here is a man who can do no wrong. His marriage to a grumpy wife (Penelope Ann Miller) isn't all it's cracked up to be but George has his constant companion, a Jack Russell terrier, to keep his sprits up. Valentin goes along for the ride when Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), an ambitions young starlet, creates a welcome bit of impromptu romantic zing during a public photo op. The kiss she plants on George’s cheek makes front page news. With her infectious smile and adorable dance moves Peppy's silent film career catches fire in the company of the suave and urbane Valentin. The advent of the Talkies doesn't bode well for Valentin, who refuses to participate for a reason that only becomes clear late in the story. Peppy is more adaptable. Cast aside by his producer (John Goodman), Valentin dips into his personal savings to produce, direct, and act in silent movie that necessarily flops on the same day as the release of Peppy's breakout sound role. Our impeccable hero hits the skids.

Apart from a precise use of appropriate music, Michel Hazanavicius teases the audience with sound as a delightful narrative ingredient. Will we ever hear Valentin speak? It is a silent movie after all.

Between brilliantly executed performances, dance numbers, and an exquisitely told romantic story about loss and redemption, is a flawlessly crafted film that shimmers. Visually, it’s astoundingly gorgeous. Equal parts drama, romance, spectacle, and comedy, "The Artist" is an instant classic. There is a line of thinking that states a film has to linger around for a decade before it can have a "classic" status bestowed upon it. To that notion I say, watch "The Artist."

Pina

PinaLike his German compatriot Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders has a knack for the documentary form. Wenders's 1999 Buena Vista Social Club remains one of the best music documentaries ever made. Unlike Herzog however, Wenders may want to consider sticking exclusively to this type of storytelling in light of his recent failing efforts with narrative film. His last film "Palermo Shooting" (2008) is a film better left forgotten.

In discovering the human and artistic impact of his friend, the famed late choreographer Pina Bausch, Wenders takes a unique approach that involves set piece reenactments of Bausch dance routines performed by her fiercely devoted company of dancers, the Tanztheater Wuppertal. Bausch started the company in 1973. Wenders puts state-of-the-art 3D technology to ideal usage in capturing the dynamic vibrancy of transformative dance numbers that reveal the personalities of the individual dancers, as well as the bold vision of their artistic muse. Interspersed between the dances are brief direct-to-camera reminisces from individual dancers about Pina that tell the story of an artistic force of nature who lived and breathed nothing but dance.

Wenders had been in discussions with Bausch for many years about making such a film. Sadly, the visionary choreographer passed away in 2009 just as "Pina" was entering pre-production. Audiences will find much inspiration in the film's many passionate solo, pas de deux, and group dances performed in public spaces and in various theatrical settings. Natural elements such as dirt and water take on mystical qualities in dynamic dance performances that truly take your breath away. There are many aural, visual, and visceral surprises in this sublime film. If you aren’t a fan of dance, you will be after seeing Pina’s magnificent dances performed by dancers who worked with her for decades. "Pina" was one of the highlights of the 2011 New York Film Festival.

Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel

CormanOne of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema gets his due in a comprehensive love-letter documentary that celebrates Roger Corman's illustrious film career from top to bottom and inside-out. The inspirations, ideologies, and methodologies of Corman’s "one-man-band" of independent filmmaking come through in exhaustive clips from his more than 200 films, and from a plethora of interview segments. Aside from outspoken interview sequences with Corman himself, documentarian Alex Stapleton interviews everyone from the filmmaker's wife and business partner Julie Corman to Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard, John Sayles, Peter Fonda, William Shatner, and Pam Grier. The effect is a raucous celebration of Roger Corman's polite demeanor, colorful films, and his stripped-down approach to movie-making that gave so many directors and actors their start.

"Monster From the Ocean Floor," "Apache Woman," The Little Shop of Horrors," "Bucket of Blood," "The Fast and the Furious," "Death Race 2000," "The Intruder," and his psychedelic exploration of LSD "The Trip" are just a handful of Corman's many films examined with more insights than seem possible for such a fast-paced documentary. It would be a daunting task for any filmmaker to even attempt a documentary about such a prolific and influential figure as Roger Corman, but Alex Stapleton lovingly crafts a 95 minute filmic encyclopedia that touches all of the bases. "Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel" fills an essential chapter of cinema history. It is destined to become an integral addition to the curriculum of more than a few college film courses.

The Descendants

DescendantsDeath and dying play a big part in Cinema's current zeitgeist. From apocalyptic films like "Melancholia" to cancer-themed comedies like "50/50" there is a pressing dialogue of facing up to the reality of certain death with some amount of courage and dignity. So it is that Alexander Payne struggles to make funny the pending death of a comatose adulterous wife whose husband Matt (George Clooney) must facilitate a socially responsible passage for the mother of his two daughters. Perhaps the best thing "The Descendants" has to offer is its depiction of Hawaii as a place like any other that only appears as a tropical paradise on the surface. Payne has mastered a certain style of deadpan humor exemplified in a scene where Clooney's cuckold runs down a suburban street in sandals. He is anxious to question his friends about their knowledge of the man his wife was cheating on him with before she was critically injured in a waterskiing accident. There’s a slapstick air to Clooney’s gawky physicality and the sound of flip-flops hitting asphalt. Still, it’s a scene you feel like you’ve seen a hundred times before. There’s numbness to the humor. Alexander Payne is certainly a competent director. He knows just where to put the camera. But as a writer he remains stuck in a navel-gazing kind of rut. “About Schmidt” (2002) fell prey to Payne’s sluggish sense of ponderous humor. “Sideways” was his best film because he stepped outside the need to gaze upon ugliness. In “The Descendants,” the writer/director takes a brighter disposition in a literal sense. Hawaii’s bright sunlight and natural beauty work some magic. But it’s not enough to resuscitate a script that is as depleted as the comatose character toward which the narrative steers. 

My Week With Marilyn

MyweekwithmarilynMichelle Williams delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Marilyn Monroe in director Simon Curtis's thoughtful adaptation of the legendary actress' diaries by Colin Clark. At 23 Clark served as 3rd assistant director to Laurence Olivier for his 1956 romantic comedy "The Prince and the Showgirl." Here Eddie Redmayne movingly portrays a star-struck young Brit who momentarily wins the heart of the most sensual creature on the planet while working as Marilyn’s hand-picked liaison to the British theatrical world—a culture upon which she is an obvious encroachment. Michelle Williams effortlessly evokes the tragic icon's layers of insecurity and hopeless romanticism, which slip into fits of manic depression. Williams's mesmerizing set-piece performance of songs, such as a climatic rendition of "That Old Black Magic" transports the film into the erotic euphoria that Monroe stirred in the hearts and libidos of men. Equally effective is a charming dance number Williams reenacts from the film within the film. Williams's magical transformation into Marilyn Monroe is uncanny; you never question it for a moment. Although the movie has its weak spots--Julia Ormond turns in a one-note portrayal of Vivian Leigh and Zoe Wanamaker veers toward caricature as Paula Strasberg--Michelle Williams delivers a deft multidimensional character study built on truthfulness and soul. “My Week With Marilyn” isn’t just a gem; it’s a diamond.

The Skin I Live In 

Pedro and AntonioPedro Almodóvar proves himself an apt technician at sustaining suspense in the thriller genre. Antonio Banderas returns to work with Almodóvar for the first time in over 20-years, since his memorable performance "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!." The years have been kind to Banderas who brings his A-game to a deliciously diabolical role. Plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Banderas) is a mad scientist with plenty of method to his particular madness of creating an indestructible skin. His wife died in a car fire. His daughter committed suicide. He harbors vengeance. But why? The Toledo-based doctor conducts experiments in the privacy of his luxurious mansion laboratory. Not even Dr. Frankenstein had it so good. His mother (Marisa Paredes) serves as his dutiful maid. Almodovar's meticulous attention to detail keeps you hypnotized. Every visual component is exact in color, placement, and scale. Naturally, the evil doctor is using a human being to live inside the hybrid-pig-DNA membrane he has perfected. His comely patient Vera (Elena Anaya) is confined to a large room. She wears a skin-tight body suit and practices yoga for hours on end. Dr. Ledgard secretly observes Vera through a large two-way mirror. Elena Anaya is an exquisite object of fetishistic delight for Almodovar to pour his patient camera over.

Based on Thierry Jonquet's novel "Mygale" "The Skin I Live In" is a haunting film that tips its hat to Alfred Hitchcock. There's a goodly dose of Georges Franju's 1960 French horror classic "Eyes Without a Face." Elliptical time shifts tell the story in a disjointed fashion that makes you want to see the film twice even as you're watching it. There's mystery here to savor as you would any great piece of cinematic art. Pedro Almodóvar has created a masterpiece. Plan on seeing it twice.

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

AnotoliaNuri Bilge Ceylon continues his minimalist yet universal exploration of society with a fascinating police procedural that values story over plot and character over prejudice. The mastermind behind such instant classics as "Climates" and "Three Monkeys" uses every detail of atmosphere and human communication to tell a quietly complex story about a murder and the imperfect methods of the men assigned to solve the crime.

At night Doctor Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner) accompanies a group of police officers and a soldier as they drive around the dark outskirts of the Anatolian steppe. They have with them two incarcerated suspects they hope will lead them to the grave of a missing man. Police Commissar Naci (Yilmaz Erdogan) lets his temper flare at his prisoner who leads the three-vehicle caravan on a wild goose chase in search of a "round tree" by one of the road's many fountains that provide water for travelers in the arid region. Prosecutor Nusret (Taner Birsel) reigns in Naci when the Commissar turns violent against his prisoner. The cops joke about food and engage in a bland kind of non-specific repartee that diffuses tension even as it subtlety discloses fragments of personal information. They stop for food at the home of man whose beautiful daughter momentarily entrances them.

"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" is a film about how detectives communicate. It’s also about how entrused public servants wrangle with overpowering emotions and personal secrets. Anger and sadness are traits to be submersed under rote routines of professional conduct. Their personal sense of justice can be confused and arbitrary. And yet, these men are doing a job that must be done. Nuri Bilge Ceylon is a lover of humanity. His great concern for every one of his characters that goes beyond their innocence or guilt. He recognizes the balance of both qualities in their actions. As a sociological study, the film is edifying on many levels. As a drama it is at turns inscrutable, revealing, and moving. The cinema of Nuri Bilge Ceylon is a transformative one. It is unique and honest. Most significantly, it is rare.

Carnage

CarnageRoman Polanski's cinematic chamber-piece rendition of Yasmina Reza's celebrated stage play "The God of Carnage" is an outsized comedy contained in the confines of a New York apartment.

Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly play Penelope and Michael Longstreet, a bourgeoisie married couple whose son lost a couple of teeth to a schoolyard bully who hit him in the mouth with stick. Rather than take America's kneejerk legal route, the mostly well-intentioned couple attempt to resolve matters via an afternoon discussion with the parents of the offending bully. Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz play the bully’s parents Nancy and Alan Cowan. Alan is a corporate attorney with a mind like a steel-trap and a constantly ringing cell phone that takes precedence to all other concerns. Nance is an investment broker with a queasy stomach. The Cowans and the Longstreets are equally matched in the area of self-righteousness, but not so much in the realm of what used to be called political correctness. Hiding behind a veneer of politeness, each character digs deeper into their personal bag of tricks to articulate a holier-than-thou brand of intellectual independence. Tempers flare, insults are tossed, vomit flies, and a bottle of scotch is consumed on the way to seeing a myriad of hypocrisy that lurks inside high-minded examples cultured, educated, and civilized society. The laughs come hard and fast.

There's considerable gratification in watching this quartet of great film actors working in Polanski’s deliciously theatrical setting. The film was shot in real time. The director himself makes a cameo appearance as a curious neighbor. Brief, explosively funny, and sardonic as hell “Carnage” is what you might get if you condensed three of Woody Allen’s early films into a 75 minute one-act. This movie is a kick. The Woman WIth Red Hair Japan's Pink Film genre lasted from the early '60 through the mid-'80s. Although Western audiences are most familiar Nagisa Ōshima's 1976 film “In the Realm of the Senses” as the genre’s most representative film, Japan’s Pink Film industry provided several generations of filmmakers with a lucrative outlet for their creativity. One of the country's oldest production studios “Nikkatsu” turned exclusively to making what it termed Roman Porno in the early '70s to compete for audiences distracted by television. Each Roman Porno film had to have four nude or sex scenes per hour. Nikkatsu served as an ideal training ground for Tatsumi Kumashiro, who directed his first film "Front Row Life" in 1968 and went on to be one of the genre's most prolific directors.

The Woman with Red Hair

Red HairKumashiro's 21st film, "The Woman with Red Hair" is a study in social commentary disguised as porn. Construction worker Kozo and his pal have outdoor sex with the boss’s daughter before picking up a red-haired woman eating noodles at a truck stop in the pouring rain. Kozo takes the girl (Junko Miyashita) back to his squalid apartment where the lovers slip into a marathon of love-making interrupted by economic and social pressures that surround them. Character-discovery occurs during ravenous sex acts that extend to kinky expressions of fantasy and revealing post-coital conversations. The woman is on the run from an abusive boyfriend. She has a son she left behind. She might be a recovered heroin addict. One thing is certain; the woman with red hair is insatiable.

In keeping with strict codes of Japanese law that forbade the showing of genitalia or pubic hair, Tatsumi Kumashiro composes the sequences of unbridled love-making with clever angles and purposefully placed foreground objects. There’s a nervousness and honesty in the way the lower class couple express themselves. Anger and violence tempers their efforts at finding fresh paths toward a fleeting pleasure that must be refreshed immediately lest it vanish forever. Incredibly lusty and inflected with a cinéma vérité style “The Woman with Red Hair” aspires to a degree of social realism that features the surroundings of its characters as an influence that causes them to live in a state of constant fear. It compares favorably with Michelangelo Antonioni's 1964 film “Red Desert.” The emotionally exposed characters battle against oppression by an industrial world with a confused humanity hungry for release.

A Dangerous Method

DangerousChristopher Hampton's stage play "The Talking Cure" provides the basis for David Cronenberg to dive into the largely overlooked story of Sabina Spielrein and her influence on the fathers of modern psychoanalysis--Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Sabina (played with astonishing authority by Keira Knightley) is a Russian Jewish patient brought to Jung's Burgholzli Clinic in Zurich in 1904. Her "hysteria" impedes her speech as she contorts her face, neck, and head in violent spasms. Outwardly, she appears quite insane. Michael Fassbender's Jung is able to calmly look beyond Sabina's off-putting physical demeanor in the interest of curing her. Jung is intent on using Sabina as a premier test patient for Freud's conversational therapy which he mistakenly calls "psychanalysis."

The film glides effortlessly across years as Jung meets Freud (Viggo Mortensen) to discuss psychoanalysis. Cronenberg masterfully controls the soundscape. Music is never allowed to intrude on a scene. Ugliness becomes beautiful; beauty becomes divine. Jung and Freud share a special bond of intellectual endeavor that comes through in their candid conversations about dreams. Jung shares his nighttime reveries for Freud to openly dissect. Privately, Jung questions Freud’s insistence that sex is the crucial element to all mental dysfunction even if his own experience with rehabilitating Justine points to just such a conclusion. Jung assists the perceptive and unguarded Sabina in her pursuit to become a psychoanalyst. He also seeks out a rationalization to ignore his wife and children long enough to enter into an adulterous BDSM affair with the heretofore virginal Sabina.

“A Dangerous Method” is a lush character study and history lesson that tenaciously explores the personal conflicts of ego and id between Jung and Freud. The film also pays generous homage to the woman whose outré sexual desires enabled her to turn Freud’s theories around. Freud entrusted her with several of his patients for her to treat. As an actors’ showcase the film is stunning. Vincent Cassel gives a memorable portrayal as the nihilistic psychiatrist Otto Gross, who encourages Jung to take sexual advantage of his patient. David Cronenberg has matured into a director of immeasurable confidence and gracefulness. He maintains his trademark fearlessness toward sexual obsessions and their potentially cataclysmic effects. Like Otto Gross he is incapable of “passing by an oasis without stopping to drink.”

Melancholia

MelancholiaMelancholia 2011 is the year of apocalypse in cinema. "The Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "Melancholia" each offer differing visions of Earth's waning days. Lars von Trier evinces consolation for the end of planet Earth and all its evil inhabitants in the form of a colossal planet named Melancholia, which is travelling on an elliptical collision course. Von Trier opens the film with one of the most haunting and lushly composed sequences ever captured on film. Kirsten Dunst's Justine placidly observes in hyper slow motion as electricity flows between an overcast sky and her fingertips. Black birds fall around her like harbingers of a funeral procession. Dunst’s delicate features are filled with stern ambivalence. As she reveals through her actions during the night of her wedding party, Justine’s atheism has prepared her bettern than believers to live out the final hours of human existence with a composure calculated to allow for whatever choices she might make. Telling off her demanding boss, and cheating on her doting husband (Alexander Skarsgård) of just a few hours, are obligatory actions. Justine is an anti-heroine without a trace of superficiality. She's a lying, cheating hypocrite just like everyone else. The difference is she admits it to herself. If Justine sounds like an alter-ego of the filmmaker who shook the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, getting himself thrown out of the festival for his incendiary comments during a press conference; she most certainly is.

Had the jury at Cannes chosen von Trier's superior "Melancholia" over Terrence Malick's cluster-bomb "The Tree of Life" in spite of von Trier's "persona non grata" status, justice would have been served. As with all of von Trier’s films, “Melancholia” will divide audiences. Atheist audiences can take special pleasure in von Trier’s exquisitely uncompromising vision. After all, what’s a beginning without an end?


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May 21, 2011

Lars von Trier - Persona non Grata

Lars von Trier Danish Lars von Trier is a great filmmaker. He's also as inept a masochist as he is a humorist. Von Trier's snarky comment "Okay, I'm a Nazi," made during his press conference in Cannes in support of his competing movie "Melancholia," was delivered with a heavy dose of grandstanding irony that doesn't translate well on paper. It was as if he was saying, yeah, and I'm a mass murderer too, as a way of putting a cherry on a fallen cake. It wasn't a smart way to wrap up his attempt at being entertaining. He fed himself to the hungry wolves—i.e. and international press itching for something incendiary to write about. To watch Kirsten Dunst sitting next to him at the press conference trying to stop him with harsh looks and even a whispered request, as he digs himself into pit of idiocy, was as squirm-inducing as von Trier's outlandish comments. His statements about empathizing with Hitler as he sat in his bunker proved a self-fulfilling prophecy. More interesting than von Trier's Johnny Rotten-styled attempt at giving the press what they wanted was their response. Von Trier succeeded in shocking them to their fragile core. The Cannes Festival board of directors took quick steps to extract an apology from von Trier before kicking him out of the festival as a persona non grata. Von Trier blamed his "stupid" behavior on his recent return to sobriety and a "perverse need to please." Masochism is a tough business."

Lars3Von Trier says he's proud to be persona non grata and that he won't be doing anymore press conferences in the future. That’s too bad. He certainly has a great headstone epitaph now. As von Trier did with the self-imposed limitations of his influential "Dogma 95" film theory, he has placed himself in a kind of exile. One thing you can bet on is that his films will be as interesting and controversial as ever.

2011 is the year of apocalypse in cinema. "The Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "Melancholia" each offer differing visions of Earth's fast waning days. Lars von Trier evinces consolation for the end of planet Earth and all its evil inhabitants in the form of a colossal planet named Melancholia, which is travelling on an elliptical collision course.

Von Trier opens the film with one of the most haunting and lushly composed sequences ever captured on film. Kirsten Dunst's Justine placidly observes in hyper slow motion electricity that flows between an overcast sky and her fingertips. Black magic is upon her. Black birds fall around her like harbingers of a funeral procession. Dunst’s delicate features are filled with stern ambivalence. As she reveals through her actions during the night of her wedding party, Justine’s atheism has prepared her better than believers to live out the final hours of human existence with a composure calculated to allow for whatever impulsive choices she might make. Telling off her demanding boss, and cheating on her doting husband (Alexander Skarsgård) of just a few hours during the wedding party, are obligatory actions. Justine is an anti-heroine without a trace of superficiality. She's a lying, cheating hypocrite just like everyone else. The difference is she admits it to herself. If Justine sounds like an alter-ego of the filmmaker who shook the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, she most certainly is.

If von Trier’s more deserving "Melancholia" had won the Palme d'or over Terrence Malick's winning "Tree of Life," in spite of von Trier's "persona non grata" status, there would have been a hurricane of journalists going wild. Justice would have been served. Having seen both films, I can say with certainty that "Melancholia" is the far better of the two. No contest. It's interesting to see what makes the media go ballistic in an era when there's 25% unemployment in America and Mother Nature is demolishing wide swaths of the planet every other week.

As with all of von Trier’s films, “Melancholia” will divide audiences. Atheist viewers can take special pleasure in von Trier’s exquisitely uncompromising vision. After all, what’s a beginning without an end?

Melancholia


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April 22, 2010

What to See at This Year's Tribeca Film Festival

  TFF 2010 Whether you're visiting New York for a few days or a Manhattan local used to asking people next to you in film screenings to put their fucking cell phones away, you probably have some inclination to see what all the hubbubs about over the film festival that got its start at the hand of Robert De Niro after the 9/11attacks to attract people back downtown. With 85 features screening at this year's festival it can be a tough decision about which one or two films most deserve your $16.

SexAndDrugs Ignore Time Out New York's predictable picks like "Joan Rivers - a Piece of Work" (bleck!) and go straight to Mat Whitecross's punk icon Ian Dury biopic "sex & drugs & rock & roll." Chameleon character actor Andy Serkis is on fire as the polio-afflicted singer who led his band The Blockheads through London's '70s and '80s pub rock circuit with a vengeance of catchy rhymed couplets. You will not be disappointed.

(Public screenings: Sat. 4/24 9pm--Village East Cinema 181 2nd ave @12th street, Mon. 4/26 3pm--School of Visual Arts 333 West 23rd st., Wed. 4/28 11pm---School of Visual Arts 333 West 23rd st., Thurs. 4/29 11:30pm--Village East Cinema 181 2nd ave @12th street).


Get-low-poster If you're more in the mood for an unconventional drama, Robert Duvall can do no wrong as Felix Bush, a '30s Tennessee hermit who decides to stage his own living "funeral party" where people can gather to tell infamous stories of his life. Bill Murray gives an understated performance as funeral director Frank Quinn. There's clever humor and muted pathos in this deceptively sophisticated drama from debut director Aaron Schneider.

(Public screenings: Tues. 4/27 6pm--BMCC Tribeca Pac 189 Chambers st. (btwn.Greenwich & West st.), Thurs. 4/29--Chelsea Clearview Cinema 260 West 23rd st. (betn. 7th and 8th st.), Fri. 4/30 4pm--Chelsea Clearview Cinema 260 West 23rd st. (betn. 7th and 8th st.)

Disappearance_of_alice_creed Suspense tightens in J. Blakeson's UK thriller "The Disappearance of Alice Creed." Eddie Marsan ("Happy-Go-Lucky") and Martin Compston ("Sweet Sixteen") play a couple of hoods who kidnap a young woman (Gemma Arterton - "Quantum of Solace") with 2 million euros worth of ransom plans. There's nothing like a good British crime thriller, and this one is packed to the gills with talent.

(Public screenings: Sat. 4/24 7pm----School of Visual Arts 333 West 23rd st., Sun. 4/25----Village East Cinema 181 2nd ave @12th street, Mon. 4/26 7:30pm--Village East Cinema 181 2nd ave. @12th street).

James-franco Want get into a gritty New York mood? Then check out Jay Anania's drama "William Vincent" in which the always impressive James Franco plays a Manhattan loner who drifts toward crime as he wanders in and out of places and situations. Julianne Nicholson plays Anne, the woman who will draw William out of his shell.

(Public screenings: Sun. 4/25 6pm--Chelsea Clearview Cinema 260 West 23rd street, Tues. 4/27 6pm--Chelsea Clearview Cinema 260 West 23rd street, Thurs. 4/29 7:30pm--Village East Cinema 181 2nd ave. @12th street, Fri. 4/30 9:15pm--Village East Cinema 181 2nd ave. @12th street).

Killer_inside_me You could go farther into the mind of a sociopath with Michael Winterbottom's modern noir "The Killer Inside Me." Casey Affleck plays Lou Ford, a small-town Texas deputy sheriff who makes a pact with the devil, or in this case Jessica Alba as prostitute with bad ideas. Escalating violence attends.

(Public screenings: Tues. 4/17 7pm SVA Theater 333 West 23rd street, 4/29 9:45pm--Village East Cinema 181 2nd ave @12th street, 4/30 10:30pm--Village East Cinema 181 2nd ave @12th street).

May 10, 2009

Tribeca 2009: It's a Wrap

Tribeca_film_festival-2009 In its eighth year, the Tribeca Film Festival finally found its identity as a medium-scaled arena for an eclectic collection of documentaries, independent films, horror movies, dramas, comedies, science fiction, and foreign fare to vie for audience attention. From a press standpoint, the festival has become a friendlier place for journalists to ply their trade. The inclusion of a screening library, while not comprehensive in its scope, provided some much needed freedom to screen films, and is a system that should be adopted by every other film festival in the world. Attracting its share of celebrities--Eric Bana, Spike Lee, and Steven Soderbergh were easy to spot--this year's festival maintained the right amount of movie biz glitz without cramping the style of Manhattan's been-there-done-that attitude.
 
Variety Bette Gordon's 1984 independent psychological thriller "Variety," written by Kathy Acker, was shown in a special retrospective screening. A stunning proto-feminist noir experiment set in the sex shops of 1983 Times Square during Manhattan's economic downturn, Christine (Sandy McLeod), a Midwest transplant, takes a job as a ticket booth clerk at a Times Square porn theatre called the "Variety." Surprisingly, the sleazy urban atmosphere fires her erotic desires, and curiosities about the power of her own sexuality. Christine goes on a baseball game date at Yankee Stadium with Louie (Richard Davidson), a wealthy regular patron at the Variety with underworld connections, and secretly follows him after he's called away from their date. When she isn't stalking Louie, Christine tests the influence of her dirty imagination by speaking erotic fantasy monologues to her non-pulsed journalist boyfriend Mark (Will Patton). Daring, raw, and in tune with the social crosscurrents of the period, "Variety" achieves a cumulative effect of short-circuiting preconceived notions of taboo sexual stereotypes via Christine's journey of discovery. It's a thriller that takes poetic liberties equal to the harmonic leaps of John Lurie's evocative musical score.


Premiere+Outrage+2009+Tribeca+Film+Festiva+-f-UIq7tOWqm With "Outrage," documentarian Kirby Dick brought the same methodical approach he applied to "This Film is Not Yet Rated," about Hollywood's shadowy ratings board, to examine the practice of closeted gay, largely Republican, politicians to systematically vote against gay rights issues as a way of deflecting attention from their own sexuality. Former closeted politicians, such as ex-New Jersey governor James McGreevey and current U.S. Representative Barney Frank candidly expound on their personal experiences of living double lives. Gay blogger Michael Rogers provides fervent discourse about the necessity of outing closeted politicians as a public service in a media environment that savors heterosexual scandals--see John Edwards--yet avoids exposing the hypocrisies of people like Ken Mehlman or Florida Governor Charlie Crist. From the film, it seems clear that Washington is full of closeted gays, some self-hating and some merely desperately frightened for their livelihoods. Either way, the winds of generational change are upon us.


Rudo_cursi2 In "Rudo y Cursi," writer/director Carlos Cuaron (screenwriter on "Y tu mama") told the story of rival Mexican step-brothers Beto (Luna) and Tato (Bernal) who get a golden opportunity to leave behind their impoverished lives as fruit-pickers when Batuta (Guillermo Francella), a soccer agent, discovers their skills and brings them into the fast paced world of pro soccer. Tato dreams only of achieving fame as a singer in spite of his lack of ability--he earns the undesirable nickname Cursi (Corny), while the more serious Beto, nicknamed Rudo ("rough"), falls prey to gambling leaches out to steal his soccer fortune. Bernal and Luna cherish their roles with palpable delight and play off one another with an authentic chemistry that is infectious. Both actors bring their A-game to the film, and the result is a pure delight. As prosaic as the story seems on the surface, there's plenty of heartfelt subtext in every frame.


PDVD_004 Scott Sanders' Blaxploitation homage "Black Dynamite" had me rolling on the floor kicking and laughing with its perfectly timed jokes and sight gags. "Black Dynamite" could just be the big break that Michael Jai White deserves for his unforgettable performance as a super soul brother cut from the same cloth as Shaft and Dolomite. It's easy to get a contact high watching "Black Dynamite" as if you were sitting in a Times Square movie house circa 1976 watching the man get his comeuppance.


CBGB Mandy Stein's "Burning Down the House: The Story of CBGB" was a welcome reminder of the famous East Village haunt where The Ramones, Talking Heads, Richard Hell, Wayne County, The Dead Boys, Patti Smith, and every other punk group that mattered performed back in the good old/bad old days of New York. Although Stein's film left out a lot of significant information about its martyred subject, CBGB founder Hilly Kristal, it adds yet another essential chapter to the story of New York's Punk Rock movement.


Departures_poster-341x500 Yojiro Takita's Oscar-winning "Departures" wet the eyes of everyone in the audience, and proved that the Academy voters can get right a category like Best Foreign Film.

Stephan Eliott's Noel Coward adaptation "Easy Virtue" hit a lilting gallop of '20s era England with Jessica Biel playing a racecar-driving American interloper to Kristen Scott Thomas' snooty matriarch.

Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience" succeeded on the efforts of its extreme-porn-queen-cum-legit-thespian Sasha Grey as a $2,000-an-hour-call girl living in NYC with her fitness-trainer boyfriend. Former Premiere magazine Editor Glenn Kenny is hilarious in his role as a very sleazy know-it-all opportunist.


RGB-HOUSE-OF-THE-DEVIL_STILL3 Ti West's "The House of the Devil" sent chills as an old-school horror film homage to an '80s that should have been. Even with some rumored butcher-edit job by the film's producers, it's a dark treat that ramps up suspense from three or four angles at once. Former Warhol Superstar Mary Woronov ("Rock 'n' Roll High School") is perfectly creepy.


Newsmakers Anders Banke's "Newsmakers" proved to be a super slick remake of Johnie To's "Breaking News," about a Russian Public Relations effort to glamorize for television a tense stand-off between some heavily-armed bad guys holed up with hostages in a post communist block apartment complex. Super action eclipses the upside of sexy.


Moon Duncan Jones' "Moon" is the best Sci-Fi movie to come along in a generation or two. Sam Rockwell gives a pure tour de force performance as a lonely astronaut worker on the moon in this must see sci-fi thriller. I'll give you a clue--there's a clone involved. "Moon" was my favorite new film of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.


Intheloop1 "In the Loop" could be the most hilarious British political satire of the past 20 years. Based on the BBC TV show "The Thick of It," about the wonky inner workings of US and British politics during an unintended build-up to war, the movie was a crowd favorite.


2009 Tribeca Film Festival Awards:

Heineken Audience Award: City Island

CITY.ISLAND Raymond De Felitta's "City Island," a comedy about a family of misfits staring Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Alan Arkin, and Emily Mortimer, won the Heineken Audience Award of $25,000 at this year's festival.


Best Narrative Feature: About Elly

RGB-ABOUTELLY_STILL1 Asghar Farhadi's Iranian mystery on the Caspian Sea captured the hearts of World Narrative Feature Jurors Bradley Cooper, Uma Thurman, Todd Haynes, Meg Ryan and Richard Fischoff: "The universality of the characters and themes and the director's riveting grasp of this story make About Elly a film that collapses barriers and deepens our understanding of the world we share.”

RGB-ECLIPSE-THE_STILL1 Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film: Ciaran Hinds
Magnolia Pictures picked up world rights to writer/director Conor McPherson's psychological drama "The Eclipse," staring Ciaran Hinds as a recently widowed husband and father who sees ghosts in the Irish seaside town where he lives.


Best New Narrative Filmmaker: Rune Denstad Langlo for North

RGB-NORTH_STILL1 Rune Denstad Langlo's first narrative feature, after working in the documentary format, is a wry road comedy about a ski lift operator making his way to the north of Norway, to meet a son he never knew he had. The jurors have noted that Denstad's "consummate vision, strong grasp of story and command of the language of cinema make him a standout amidst a strong pool of candidates."

Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film: Zoe Kazan in The Exploding Girl

RGB-EXPLODINGGIRL_STILL1 After a smattering of small roles here and there, Zoe Kazan has truly broken out with her performance in Bradley Rust Gray's The Exploding Girl, a film about a young woman during a summer home from college. "Zoe shines in this understated role," the jurors comment. "Every component of this brilliantly restrained performance displays a command of her craft that stunned and moved this jury.”

Best Documentary Feature: Racing Dreams

RGB-RACINGDREAMS_STILL2 Marshall Curry's documentary is a gripping tale about young go-karters who one day dream of driving in the big leagues of NASCAR. "We reacted with unanimous, unquestioned affection for Racing Dreams," the jurors state, "and found it a completely compelling, entertaining film of incredible quality.”
 


Special Jury Mention: Defamation

RGB-DEFMATION_STILL2 Yoav Shamir's documentary analysis of anti-Semitism existing today has earned him a Special Jury Mention in this year's Festival. Examining the issue from a wide variety of angles, the accolade for this open-minded film is not surprising. The jurors state that the award is for "lifting the veil on a subject so openly discussed."

Best New Documentary Filmmaker:
Ian Olds for Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi

RGB-FIXER_Still1 Olds' film about the murder of a kidnapped Afghani hired by news organizations to work in Afghanistan is a mesmerizing tale, as horrifying as it is fascinating. According to the jurors, the work is “a film about an unsavory world, and its unsavory characters, which through its superb direction, shines a light on a world unfamiliar to many Americans."

Best New York Narrative: Here and There

RGB-HEREANDTHERE_STILL3 Darko Lungulov's debut narrative feature about a New Yorker who travels to Belgrade is as geographically diverse and sensitive as the city of New York itself. The jurors were pleased by the fact that "it gave us not only New York, it gave us great characters, a great story, it gave us the world.”


Honorable Mention: Entre nos

RGB-ENTRENOS_STILL1 Paola Mendoza and Gloria LaMorte's beautiful film is based on Mendoza's real-life experiences as a child, when her family moved from Colombia to New York City. Their sensitive depiction of issues ranging from immigration to poverty to single motherhood earned them an Honorable Mention in this year's Festival.




Best New York Documentary: Partly Private

RGB-PARTLY-PRIVATE_STILL1 Documentarian Danae Elon's look at the practice of circumcision in the modern-day world, especially modern-day New York, is a gripping look at the ancient practice, as well as so much more. "There were moments in this film that brought the whole world back to New York," the jurors said. "They were uniquely New York moments."

Best Narrative Short: The North Road

RGB-NORTHROAD_STILL1 Actor Carlos Chahine steps into the role of director for the first time to make a touching short about a man driving his father's remains back to his hometown. The jurors feel that "The director, Carlos Chahine, portrays the absurdities and contradictions of how we deal with grief through humor, freshness and subtlety.”

Best Documentary Short: home

RGB-HOME_STILL1 A touching work that deals with how Hurricane Katrina affected the house he grew up in, Matthew Faust's home seems a natural pick to win the Best Documentary Short award. "It tells a post-Hurricane Katrina story in a new, inventive and poignant way.”



Special Jury Mention: The Last Mermaids

RGB-LASTMERMAIDS_STILL1 The runner-up for Best Short Doc is this fantastic short, a film about female deep-sea divers off of the Jeju Island. The film's glimpse into a lost world is particularly eye-opening, and the jurors said that "the filmmaker provides a glimpse into a closed sisterhood—proud of their traditions, yet accepting the disappearance of their way of life.”


Student Visionary Award: Small Change

RGB-SMALLCHANGE_STILL11 A film about a six year old girl hoping for the Tooth Fairy to arrive, Australian filmmaker Anna McGrath's student film Small Change is deceptively simple. The jurors state that "The filmmaker uses minimal storytelling to achieve maximum emotional impact and we commend the terrific performances of the young actors.”


Special Jury Mention: Oda a la Piña

RGB-ODAALAPINA_STILL1 This homage to a famous Cuban poem deals with a struggling cabaret dancer. Helmed by student filmmaker Laimir Fano, the film "captures the cultural rhythms and unmistakable sounds of the city to artistically portray a sense of poverty in what remains of old Havana and its beauty.”

May 29, 2008

The 61st Cannes Film Festival Awards its Favorites

By Cole Smithey

CANNES, France May 25. At this year's Cannes Film Festival, the jury, presided over by Sean Penn, awarded the Palme d'Or to Laurent Cantet for his heavily work-shopped film about a French junior high school teacher in a tough neighborhood, whose teaching style is challenged by his difficult students.

The Palme d'Or award in the Court Metrages (Shorts Films) category went to director Marian Crisan for "Megatron," about a young Romanian boy whose single mother takes him, for his eighth birthday, to Bucharest where his father lives.

The Camera d'Or (First Film Prize) went to director Steve McQueen (no not that one) for "Hunger," about Bobby Sands' 1981 hunger strike in Northern Ireland's Maze Prison.

The Prix Un Certain Regard went to director Sergey Dvortsevoy for "Tulpan," about a young Kazakh naval officer who returns to the steppe to live a nomadic life.

The Prix Du Scenario (Best Screenplay) went to Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne for "Lorna's Silence," about a young Albanian woman (Arta Dobroshi) in cahoots with Fabio, a Belgian mobster, to make money so she can open a snack bar with her boyfriend. Lorna suffers through a fraud marriage to Claudy (well played by Jeremie Renier), a junkie that Fabio plans to kill in order to put Lorna in another sham marriage, this time to a rich Russian. If the plot sounds convoluted it doesn't impede an inevitable flood of surprising physical and emotional responses from the poker-faced Lorna. "Lorna's Silence" was one of the strongest films in competition.

The Prix Du La Mise En Scene award (Best Director) went to Nuri Bilge Ceylan for "Three Monkeys," about a father, mother, and son caught in a web of corruption, betrayal, and murder.

The Prix Du Masculine (Best Actor Prize) went to Benicio Del Toro for Steven Soderbergh's unconventional two-for-one Che Guevara biopic "Che."

"The Argentine" begins with Che's famous 1964 speech at the United Nations, and finishes with Batista's overthrow at the hands of Che's well-organized guerilla troops. The second half "Guerilla" picks up after Che's lost year in Africa when he slipped into Bolivia to help lead a doomed revolution. Problematically, the two films are scheduled to be released separately, drawing into question tonal differences between them. Soderbergh doesn't attempt to consolidate the story of Guevara's life, but rather to concentrate on the way the rebel leader attempted to build on his success in Cuba to spread revolution around the world.

The Prix Du Feminine (Best Actress Prize) went to Sandra Corveloni for her performance in Walter Salles' and Daniela Thomas' "Linha de Passe," about four brothers attempting to break out of limited opportunities in Sao Paulo.

The honors for the Grand Prix (Grand Prize) went to Matteo Garrone's "Gomorra," based on Roberto Saviano's tell-all mafia expose. Director Matteo Garrone weaves together five stories of mob-related corruption sucking dry the provinces of Naples and Caserta. A tailor, enslaved to his occupation since childhood, two would-be teen gangsters, a pair of illicit toxic disposal contractors, and a young boy living in a drug-infested housing project, make up the indelible characters in this devastating picture of social collapse.

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