Thursday, April 23, 2009

Official Cannes Selection

Up (Pete Doctor)-- the first digital 3-D animated film to ever open the festival-- my the times they are a changing. This also marks Pixar's first appearance at the festival.

  • Pedro Almodovar - Broken Embraces
  • Andrea Arnold - Fish Tank
  • Jacques Audiard - Un Prophete
  • Marco Bellocchio – Vincere
  • Jane Campion - Bright Star
  • Xavier Giannoli – A L’Origine
  • Isabel Coixet – Map of the Sounds of Tokyo
  • Michael Haneke - The White Ribbon
  • Ang Lee – Taking Woodstock
  • Ken Loach – Looking for Eric
  • Lou Ye - Spring Fever
  • Brillante Mendoza – Kinatay
  • Gaspar Noe – Enter The Void
  • Park Chan-Wook – Thirst
  • Alain Resnais – Les Herbes Folles
  • Elia Suleiman – The Time That Remains
  • Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
  • Johnnie To – Vengeance
  • Tsai Ming-liang – Face
  • Lars Von Trier – Antichrist

  • Bong Joon Ho - Mother-- Bong had an international hit a few year back with The Host.
  • Alain Cavalier - Irene
  • Lee Daniels - Precious-- premiered at Sundance this year-- stars Mo'Nique in what's considered an awards worthy performance.
  • Denis Dercourt- Demain Des L’Aube
  • Heitor Dhalia - Adrift
  • Bahman Ghobadi - Nobody Knows About The Persian Cats
  • Ciro Guerra - The Wind Journeys
  • Mia Hansen-Love - Le Pere De Mes Enfants
  • Hanno Hofer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Propescu and Ioanna Uricaru - Tales From The Golden Age
  • Nikolay Khomeriki - Tale In The Darkness
  • Yorgos Lanthimos -Dogtooth
  • Pavel Lounguine - Tzar
  • Raya Martin - Independencia
  • Corneliu Porumboiu - Police, Adjective
  • Pen-Ek Ratanaruang - Nymph
  • Joao Pedro Rodrigues - To Die Like A Man
  • Haim Tabakman - Eyes Wide Open
  • Warwick Thornton - Samson & Delilah
  • Jean Van De Velde - The Silent Army
  • Hirokazu Kore-Eda - Air Doll


  • Robert Guediguian - L’Armee Du Crime
  • Alejandro Amenabar - Agora-- the director of The Others and Oscars winning The Sea Inside returns with a biopic starring Rachel Weisz.
  • Terry Gilliam - The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus-- Heath Ledger's swan song-- so nervously excited about this one

  • Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar - A Town Called Panic
  • Sam Raimi - Drag Me To Hell
  • Marina De Van – Ne Te Retourne Pas


Jan Kounen – Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

A very auteur heavy Cannes list (i like) with the likes of Tarantino, Lee, Campion and von Trier all the mix. The festival begins May 13 with French actress Isabelle Huppert heading the jury, her being only fourth women in history to do so.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Festival de Cannes 2009

A tentative roster of this years selections of the Cannes Film Festival have emerged, nothing is totally confirmed yet, but these films (many of which look mighty juicy) are favorites for selection. I've always been fascinated to the allure of Cannes, as it's the easily the most prestigious and important of the film festivals-- anything that reminds me of film in a historical sense makes me salivate. Rumored pictures are:

Inglourious Basterds- Quentin Tarantino's latest, a Naxi- saga with Brad Pitt. Tarantino has a history with the festival when his Pulp Fiction won the Palme D'Or in 1994. (Link to trailer)

Taking Woodstock- Ang Lee's latest centered on the famous music festival stars Demetri Martin, Imelda Stuanton and Emile Hirsch... me can't wait. (Link to trailer)

Tetro- Francis Ford Coppola's latest, an Argentine family drama with Vincent Gallo-- hum a melding of Coppola with The Brown Bunny auteur-- I might be afraid of this one.

Bad Lieutenant- Werner Herzog's remake of the infamous NC-17 rated Harvey Keitel film, this time starring Nicolas Cage-- hopefully will improve Cage's rep.

Antichrist- Lars von Trier's latest starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg; von Trier, a notorious wacko, reportedly threw his Grand Prix prize in a river a decade ago. (Link to trailer)

Drag Me to Hell- Sam Raimi's return to horror-- an odd Cannes choice, but I'm game. (Link to trailer)

Up- Pixar's latest masterwork (hopefully; probably) has already been slated to open the festival in digital 3-D, a Pixar and Cannes first-- perhaps it will be in competition and win the big prize. (Sigh)

Bright Star- Jane Campion's (The Piano) latest, a biopic of John Keats with Ben Whishaw (I'm Not There) and Abbie Cornish (Stop Loss.)

Looking for Eric- the latest from Scottish director Ken Loach, who specalizes in socially concious working class Scottish depravity-- his 2003 film Sweet Sixteen is my personal favorite, and his 2006 film The Wind That Shakes the Barley won the Palme D'Or, so he always has to considered a favorite for selection.

Vengence- a Hong Kong thriller from filmmaker Johnny To.

The White Ribbon- the latest from Michael Hanake (The Piano Teacher, Funny Games, Cache)-- be very afraid.

Broken Embraces- Pedro Almodovar's latest noir stars Penelope Cruz-- salivate!

Official selections will be announced on April 23, and the festival starts May 13.

source: Awards Daily

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Savage Grace: Or the Resurgence of the Amazing Julianne Moore

Late last night while battling insomnia I stumbled up the free on demand movies and found a disturbing little title from last year. It was the Savage Grace, a bracing film from early last year about the rich and entitled Baekeland family. A family who made millions in the cosmetics world, and set about destroying themselves. It's a small film, one that made barely a blip in box office (it stalled at about $400,000, but thanks to cable companies maybe can recoup slightly. The film isn't great and earth shattering, it works best a travelogue and an amazing star vehicle for the luminous Julianne Moore. She stars as Barbara Baekeland, a woman who married money and lived a life of depraved privilege. It's a great dame role, and easily the strongest performance this esteemed actress has bequeathed to salivating fans since her banner year in 2002 (where Far From Heaven and to a lesser extent The Hours haunted my humble brain.) And for that, I rejoice!

The reason the film works at all is because Moore gets to play such a tragic nut job, reminding me and the half dozen other people who viewed it how miraclous she can be in a role worthy of her singular strenghts. She's a ballsy actress, and Barbara is a jaded women with huge balls. She gets to act dirty and naughty, seemingly reveling it, while silently shading her discpicible women with just enough refined humanity to tease that a real, vulnerable is desperately hiding beneath her designer clothes. It's been a long time since the great Moore has had a character to truly sink her teeth into, and release mad gushes of crazed emotion. The wonderful thing about it, is that in Moore's hands it feels totally authentic, no matter how you view her character, which is a fairly dreadful one.

The film explores the twisted relationships between Barbara, her vacant husband Brooks (The Hours' Stephen Dilliane, always good even in bit parts like here), and her son Tony (Eddie Redmayne), and demonstrates Moore's favorite stock role as the terrible mother (think about: The Forgotten, Far From Heaven, The Hours, The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, World Traveler, Freedomland, even Boogie Nights, this woman has a penchant for playing some of the most deplorable mothers in screen history-- caution to any further young actors thwarted to playing Moore's children.) Savage Grace, directed by Tom Kalin, who had a big breathrough with the queer hit Swoon in the mid-90s, shows the episodic evolvement (or devolvement) of these three characters over a 20-year period, which consisting mostly (as from I can gather) moving around to every beautiful part of the world. It's a randy film (easily Moore's mostly sexually charged role since the wee days of Amber Waves) as well as a beautifully photographed one, but mostly a distrubing one-- as the boundaries between mother and son (who has his own warped, bi-curious takes on sexuality), become tighter and tighter, there's even a threesome between mother, son, and mutual boyfriend Sam (Hugh Dancy). Savage Grace as a film is a bit thin, even with it's real-life tale of a the damaged rich, but perhaps that was intentional as none of the characters are ever completely honest for a second.

The revelatory thing for me is the return of Moore, and she is positively electrifying, reminding me of what a gutsy, outsider actress she is. For she is the muse of both Todd Haynes (their union in Safe and Far From Heaven is pure movie heaven) and Paul Thomas Anderson (she was the juiciest in both Boogie Nights and Magnolia in my humble opinion.) She had the hutzpah to deliver a full on monolouge bottomless in Robert Altman's Short Cuts and make it the most awkwardly true part of a riveting film with 50 million great actors. Her brief performance in Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men bounced to film to a scarily alive, anything will happen place. She made the most of her most successful stab at comedy in The Coen's The Big Lebowski, oh Maude. She's an actress for the ages, best at portraying conflicted women (with various views of morality) living on the fringe, which is where her most incredible performance come from.

Hollywood, in its weird packaging ways, has tried to tame her raven haired rouser to more earth bound genre work like romanctic comedy (Nine Months, Laws of Attraction) and thriller (Freedomland, Next, The Forgotten), but she can't be tamed, and shouldn't be tamed. And it's been a sad couple of years for restless Moore fans, ready for another indelible performance from one the best screen actors of all time. For instance, there's a airport scene in Savage Grace where Barbara scolds her husbands with such reckless abandon, screaming the word "cunt" to the top of her lungs, reminscient of that great go-for-broke scene in Magnolia at the drug store...she can't be tamed, the cinema would be far to boring for that.

Savage Grace B
Julianne Moore A- (welcome back)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Brothers Bloom

Here's a really cool poster to The Brothers Bloom directed by Rian Johnson, who three years ago made a terrific little oddity called Brick. Attached is a trailer that looks diverting. The film was supposed to open last year after making its rounds in the 2008 festival circuit, but was pushed to spring. It's not an awards film, but here's hoping it's still something special-- love the cast.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Adventureland; I Love You, Man

Perhaps due to this recession-y time, or general periods of personal funk, and have therefore lapsed in finite criticizing. And so I ventured into the theater on two separate occasions to two separate R-rated comedies, and was not just pleased, but elated and joyous.

Adventureland is directed by Greg Mottola, who previously essayed the coming of age road two years ago in Superbad returns with an even stronger tale of youth ennui. Set in 1987, centering around recent college graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), an intellectual type eagerly awaiting his summer tryst in Europe, when a recession of his own dashes that dream-- reshaping it into a summer job at a Pittsburgh amusement park. Lots of things happen in the film that one would expect-- drinking, pot, sex talk; but the secret to Adventureland (which so far has been sadly under-seen, judging by box office reports-- c'mon American public-- you can support trash like Fast & Furious and Hannah Montana, and gold like this too!) is there's plenty of stuff you wouldn't expect-- great acting from a witty and riotous ensemble, a nifty soundtrack that rivals Dazed & Confused on terms of wicked coolness, a gritty 80s lived-in visual palette, unexpected pathos, and a nicely modulated, minimalist performance from Kristen Stewart-- hopefully this film is atonement for Twilight.

And so the love (be it eternal or fleeting; time will tell) I have for Adventureland comes from the perception that I was expecting another Superbad, which isn't a bad thing necessarily, but received a teen comedy\art film hybrid. I can forgive some of the cliches because nothing in film plays like a cliche. Part of the that hangs on Eisenberg's leading performance-- he's playing a nerdy virgin, but he's in on the joke and it seems realistic that Stewart's Em (an appealing fellow amusement park Games person-- compared to flashier personnel in charge of the rides, called Riders) would dig his goofy charms, and his little joints. The friendship developed between James and fellow Gamer Joel (Martin Starr), a nerdy Jew who has an affinity for Russian literature, fell just as authenitc. As does the quirker mom and pop owners of the amusement park (played by SNL alum Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, sublime.) And back to the very divisive Stewart for a second, who plays a very singular screwed up young lady (a specialty), whose radiant in a slouchy, slacker kind of way, guided by a gifted director (whom I sadly underrated) expressing the skill I was quite fond of in Panic Room and Into the Wild.

I Love You, Man
is directed by John Hamburg, whose previous credits include Along Came Polly and the screenplays for the Meet the Parents features, and despite a Ben Stiller-ized ouvre that doesn't quite impress me, I definitely have some love for I Love You, Man. Much of that is due to the unmittigated pleasure in watching the relaxed breathy comedy stylings of Mr. Paul Rudd and Mr. Jason Segal. The simple story revolves around Rudd's Peter Klaven, a recently engaged male who after realizing he has never had a best friend goes on a quest to find one. After a string of bad "dates," including a full on gay one (played to nervous delight by Reno 911's Thomas Lennon), Peter meets his one in Sidney Pife (Jason Segal.) And again, as in Adventureland, romantic and buddy comedy cliches ensue, but it's freshly spun, so it never feels like part cogs in keeping the story going to inevitable happy ending.

The joy of the film the riffing between Rudd and Segal-- it's almost a battle for absurdist supremacy. A scene consistenting of little else but the two of them nicknaming each is easily on of the funniest parts of any movie in quite a while. And while the buddy bromance is fully the center, the film actually also works as a credible romantic comedy with Rashida Jones (daughter of Quincy) playing Peter's fiance. There's a natural report between the two of them. And also a grand commraderie between the entire gifted ensemble including Jane Curtin, Andy Samburg, J.K. Simmons, Jamie Pressley and Jon Favreau. I pretty much do indeed love you, man!

And so perhaps I've grown softer, or these Judd Apatow-ian comedies just jelled perfectly with me, either way, as long as fine specimens of American comedies like Adventureland and I Love You, Man keep entering the marketplace, all is well in movie land if you ask me.

Adventureland A-
I Love You, Man B+
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...