Friday, April 26, 2013

Cannes Competition Jury & Additional Films

     Yes! In being a huge Jim Jarmusch fan since I first saw his noir comedy Down By Law and his revisionist, black and white anti-Western Dead Man. I am always intrigued and excited about all his upcoming projects. I know the vampire film, damn, it is basically a genre all by itself now, but knowing Jarmusch has made a vampire film is exciting. The witty, dry directors new film Only Lovers Left Alive will indeed be in the competition selection at the upcoming Cannes film festival. The film stars Tilda Swinton as Eve and Tom Hiddleston as Adam, two fanged-lovers that have been in and out of love for centuries. The film also stars John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska and Anton Yelchin. It is great that we will be able to hear and read about the Cannes veterans newest film in a couple of weeks.
     The competition jury has also been announced that is headed by Film Jury President Steven Spielberg. The jury members include Nicole Kidman, British Director Lynne Ramsay, who also has a short film at the festival, Japanese Director Naomi Kawase, Daniel Auteuil, Christoph Waltz, Vidya Balan, two-time Academy Award Director Ang Lee and Romaninan Director Christian Mungiu.
     The festival also added Claude Lanzmann's Le Dernier des Injustes as an Out of Competition selection. Three films have been added to the Un Certain Regard selection including Hiner Saleem's
My Sweet Pepperland, Lucia Puenzo's Wakolda and Katrin Gebbe's Tore Tanzt.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I am a huge fan of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai. His films have a feel for the loner, the lovesick and encompasses energetic fuel of big city life, mainly in Hong Kong. A lot of that has to do with his usual cinematographer Christopher Doyle, and although he is not working with him on this film, the look of this film is astounding. It is a Wong Kar-wai film and it has been awhile since his failed, first English language debut My Blueberry Nights. It stars his long time acting collaborator Tony Leung as well. Here is to hoping this film, about the famed martial arts trainer for Bruce Lee, Ip Man and its forever in post production status with a lot slow motion fighting scenes in the rain, is has good as the trailer makes it. If not, at least it will be visually amazing.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cannes additions including AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS

     More films have been added to the big Cannes Film Festival happening next month in France. The most exciting title to have been included is David Lowery's Sundance hit Ain't Them Bodies Saints which stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in where Affleck's character escapes a Texas prison to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has not met. I can't wait to see this film. Feels like a heavy dramatic thriller and that is right up my alley, maybe even a little rebellious Bonnie and Clyde type feel to it. Somewhat, but not exactly. The films director Lowery also edited Shane Carruth's Upstream Color, which I will be seeing sometime this week. The film will have a special screening at the Cannes Critics Week. The other interesting inclusion is the Alejandro Jodorowsky documentary La Danza de la Realidad focusing on the filmmakers childhood. This is the first film from the cult-loved, experimental Chilean filmmaker in over twenty years. There is also another documentary film about Jodorowsky's cinematic attempt at making DUNE. Both films will be apart of the Director's Fortnight.  I will have all the updated films to sidebar collections in the Director's Fortnight and the Critics Week in my list of Cannes films which you can get to here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

More Cannes Films

Well, one film that I posted in the notable films not at Cannes section was Ari Folman's The Congress. The film has been added to one of the sidebar sections of the festival and will open the  Director's Fortnight selection. The film is the first to be announced in this category and is a pleasant addition. Based on Stanislaw Lem's short story "The Futurological Congress," an aging, out-of-work actress accepts one last job to provide for her disabled son. The studio will scan her image and use it as they see fit, making her unhireable for future projects. The film stars Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti and Danny Huston, and is shot by rotoscoping live-action performances, much like his other film Waltz with Bashir, but having live-action sequences as well. As more films are announced I will be adding and updating them to my Cannes Film Festival post.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Notable Films Not At Cannes 2013

     Although many films by Cannes-loved directors, such as Ozon, Denis, To and Miike seem to always make there way to the French Riviera in May, there are also some notable absences from this years festival. Most notably for me is Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive. Jarmusch, being loved by Europeans and is always a staple at the festival winning numerous awards for his films, possibly may not have his film finished yet or maybe the programmers did not want a vampire tale this year. Another omission is Bong Joon-Ho's Snowpiercer. He, having directed two successful and interesting films, The Host and Mother, surprises me of not being there but it could easily still be in post-production. Also, the absence of Ari Folman's The Congress not being in the festival is somewhat of a surprise with the enormous appreciation of his animated film Waltz with Bashir.
     We already knew that Cannes regulars Pedro Almodovar and his newest I'm So Excited, and Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine were not going to be in the festival per the directors requests. The only other films that I'm disappointed are not being shown at the festival are Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave, probably a more realistic and honest approach to slavery than Tarantino's Django Unchained, and the Sundance favorites Before Midnight from Richard Linklater (probably because it opens May 24th) and Ain't Them Bodies Saints from David Lowery. Lowery's film still could be added though.
     I'm sure there are more films that would have been nice to hear word from that are not playing at Cannes but before to long Telluride, Venice and Toronto will be upon us.

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL Official Lineup Announced

     Today, the 2013 Cannes Film Festival announced in official lineup. The best news for me is the inclusion of Alexander Payne's black-and-white road trip film Nebraska and the Coen Brothers 60s folk music film Inside Llewyn Davis in the main competition selection. Got to love the Coens! Other highlights announced for the in-competition (for the coveted Palme d'Or) include, Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives, Roman Polanski's Venus in Fur, Steven Soderbergh's HBO film Behind the Candelabra and Cannes regular Takashi Miike's cop thriller Wara No Tate (Shield of Straw). These are interesting films to me but I also am excited to hear about Arnaud Desplechin's Jimmy P. with Benicio del Toro, Asghar Farhadi's The Past, his follow-up to is Academy Award winning A Separation, and Kore-Eda Hirokazu's Soshite Chichi Ni Naru (Like Father, Like Son). If you have not seen his amazing Still Walking check it out. Kore-Eda Hirokazu is an amazing filmmaker.
     In the Un Certain Regard, or original and different international cinema section, the highlights include Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, Claire Denis' Les Salauds (The Bastards) another ridiculously talented filmmaker, and Ryan  Cogler's Sundance smash Fruitvale Station.
     The Out-of-Competition films that appear to be enticing are J.C. Chandor's All is Lost with Robert Redford, Guillaume Canet's Blood Ties. The Midnight Screening includes another Cannes regular Johnnie To's Blind Detective. Also, Kim Novak will be in attendance for a special showing of Alfred Hitchcock's haunting masterpiece Vertigo, recently named by Sight & Sound as the number one film of all time.
     It appears programmer Thierry Fremaux wanted a star studded festival and he got it. Especially with the Opening Night Film being Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. The selection looks quite exciting and with directors like Payne, Coen's, Polanski and Denis, it has to be good and interesting.The Festival runs from May 15 to 26 in southern France. Here is a complete list of all the films, announced has of know since there might be a few handed in the weeks heading up to the festival, and the categories each one is in after the jump.


The Place Beyond The Pines

Directed by Derek Cianfrance
Written by Derek Cianfrance & Ben Coccio

     Derek Cianfrance's second directorial feature The Place Beyond the Pines is an ambitious tale of fathers and sons, love and redemption and the choices we make that define our path in life. A film that is as lofty as its length, running around 140 minutes, but navigates the borders of what people can and will do to provide for their families, even if that involves travelling paths of robbery, corruption, violence and drugs. Cianfrance has crafted an almost masterpiece with outstanding performances, but the film slightly falters with lack of attention given to the matriarchs of the families, instead focusing primarily on the relationships decisions have on our lives.
     Luke (Ryan Gosling) plays a motorcycle stunt driver at carnivals in Schenectady, New York when he learns that a waitress, with whom he had a fling with, Romina (Eva Mendes), has a one year-old son that belongs to Luke. He insists on taking care of the child by any means necessary which leads him to finding a job with Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), a mechanic who also has robbed banks. Luke gets greedy with his new illegal profession which leads to an intense confrontation with a young law-schooled cop Avery (Bradley Cooper). This confrontation leads the two sides on a crash course journey that lasts over fifteen years and the collision of morals and consequences of each character.
     Cianfrance broke the film down into three parts. The first revolving around Luke, the second around Avery and the third taking place fifteen years later. This film is so ambitious that it is almost too ambitious. It is an ever encompassing tale that is grounded in equal parts of realism and cinematic beauty. Who actually knows if Luke would consistently get away with the earlier bank robberies and would Avery fight the fraternized system of police corruption, containing Ray Liotta in another scumbag police officer role, and survive in any way? It is a film that's setting of Schenectady feels a little dirty, with small town, chain smoking minimalism, where we see the impoverished, working class side and the more middle class, socially acceptable arena of life. The scenes with Robin and Luke at Robin's trailer park home exemplify a life of poverty in an honest, unflinching way.
     The film felt honest in its approach of father and son dynamics where each father wanted to provide a sanctuary for their young sons. That bond is shown in depths Luke will go to provide financial support for his son and how Avery fights off violence, fear and police corruption to keep his son protected from a criminal-laden and politically corrupt world. Where it was lacking was in the attention needed to the mothers. Romina and Jennifer (Rose Byrne), who is Avery's wife, feel as if they were pushed aside to focus on the brooding, father-son side of life. That is the one thing that caused the film to feel as if it missed its mark a bit, although Eva Mendes gives the best performance of her career. It needed that touch of grace to counter the physical, unnerving life of crime, corruption and defense that is portrayed throughout the majority of the film.
     The film is a crime epic that spans multiple generations and contains some of the finest acting of film I have seen this year. Ryan Gosling is fully tattooed and grimy, wearing cut-off Metallica shirts, which is cinematic foreshadowing in itself. It is a raw, uncompromising performance that is reminiscent of his touching, haunting work in Cianfrance's first directorial feature Blue Valentine. His character is a violent, chain-smoking thug that desperately wants to provide for his son. He is electrifying in this role and really continues to show his talents as one of the best actors in the business.
     Bradley Cooper shows great range and growth, along with is almost perfect work in David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, as the young ambitious cop Avery. He shows passion, concern and towards the end, love with a sense of irony and self preservation. The real star of the film though is Dane DeHaan who plays a teenager, I won't delve too much into who he is so not to ruin some of the plot, and shows such beautiful, heartbreaking compassion and resolve that aids in bringing the story full circle.
     The Place Beyond the Pines is an artful film with beautiful cinematography from Sean Bobbit (Shame) and an absolute haunting, atmospheric score from composer Mike Patton. There is a scene in the final act where Dane DeHaan's character is riding a bike down a country road, of course with no cars in sight, and the camera is following him from above with the score for the film playing that just gave me chills. The music blended and gave a chilling warning of acts to come that, along with Cianfrance's beautiful direction and writing, shows he is a truly talented filmmaker. 
     The film is a towering achievement of father and sons, cigarettes, violence and decisions. Cianfance is a true talent and has grown immensely since his film Blue Valentine with this crime epic. The film has its faults and maybe does not clearly state its true purpose other than telling a multi-generational story about redemption and the hardships of life, but is told with sophistication, honesty and cinematic allure. The Place Beyond the Pines is a film not be missed and Cianfrance is a director with a bright future.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Film Trailers: MAN OF STEEL

Wednesday's film trailers is just the newest trailer for Zack Snyder's upcoming Superman origin film Man Of Steel. It looks interesting, especially with Christopher Nolan producing and writing the story with David Goyer. The cast includes Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon and Laurence Fishburne. This film, along with Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim and Neill Blomkamp's District 9 follow-up Elysium, are probably the only big summer blockbusters I am really looking forward too. It has got to be better the Bryan Singer's boring Superman film Superman Returns. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013



Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Joe Ahearne & John Hodge

     Danny Boyle is no stranger to highly kinetic packed films with mesmerizing cinematography and intense music. His latest effort Trance nails the lensing and music down but tends to become saturated in its attempts at being too clever. That is not to say I did not enjoy the multiple, and I mean multiple plot twists and turns, the graphic nature of its violence and the flat out fact that Danny Boyle is an extremely talented director. It just got to a point where all those twists caused the story to become a confusing, tension-less noir that's overall energy and visuals kept it from being a total misfire by Boyle.
     Simon (James McAvoy) is a fine art auctioneer who is in the depths of a gambling addiction and debt. He meets up with Franck (Vincent Cassell) who pays his debts but in return wants Simon to help him steal an expensive Goya painting. Simon is stealing the painting with ulterior motives and Franck catches him and clubs him on the head causing Simon to forget where he has put the painting. They use Elizabeth, a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson), to dig out Simon's amnesia and find the location of the painting. There, our story is set. A good premise with an outstanding opening sequence where Simon explains the intricate machinations of the proper heist. The energy, story and visuals are all there and my attention was in full swing, but as this story begins to unravel it loses its potency with an amalgamation of too many genres and left me with a feeling of being let down because the end result is unsatisfactory and felt as if it was a "I wasted my time" moment.
     The film is a neo noir but does not hold any of smooth flow that Boyle's first noir film Shallow Grave (1994)contained. That is a great film. Instead of making a plot that is simple, but devious, he has made one that attempts to change the range and level of the story one too many times. It is dark, Boyle does not shy away from a view moments of gruesome violence and torture, moody and full of twists, and has a female with possible intentions of her own, but is too muddled. It also goes from a heist film to a revenge actioner to a psychosexual thriller with an ever so nude shot of Elizabeth that holds key plot points but feels out of place, to a dreamlike mystery that is void of any tension and focus. The script by Hodge, who worked with Boyle on Shallow Grave and Trainspotting (1996), and Ahearne needed to have a punch at the end that did not dive right into the maelstrom of being way too clever for its own good. I understand everything that happened by the end of the film but was too annoyed and exhausted to care. There were too many elements and genres that drove what started as a good story into being a mediocre, if not frustrating film.
     Cassell is great in the film. He almost toned down his ability to be sinister and truly unaffectionate while still being an evil mob like figure, but the real standout is Dawson. She shows a great deal of range and not because of the nudity. She holds her own and brings forth strength and despair that can be understood after seeing the film. McAvoy is pleasurable as always and simplistic, but his character really becomes frustrating as the film unravels. Another point is that I do not want to give away too many scenes or plot points because it is much better seeing it knowing as little as possible. Anthony Dod Mantle's lensing is has beautiful as always and his shots of these swanky, excessive flats are full of mirrors and neon lights that reflect reds and multiple images of different characters that lead to the varying levels of each characters intentions and motivations. Rick Smith's score is fast paced, upbeat and flows with the actions of the film without standing outside of the narrative.
     Danny Boyle is a fantastic director and can use stylistic photography and music like no other, but is in a bit of a slump right now. His last three efforts, the boring, feel good Slumdog Millionaire (2008), the one man going to a lose an arm film 127 Hours (2010) and Trance show his joy of tackling different genres but with limited focus. Some of this may be due to the fact he directed the London Summer Olympics ceremonies and his theatre obligations, but he has not knocked a film out of the park in a while. Really since the underrated sci-fi film Sunshine (2007). He is unbelievably talented and hopefully will find that mix of energy and storytelling that he did with his great earlier films Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, but with Trance his attempt at a stylish neo noir just left me with a feeling of too much mixing of genre without the pay off and storytelling to keep up with the energy. Multiple viewings would help though, but my initial reaction is highly mixed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Wednesday trailers presents the new trailer for third installment of co-writer & director Richard Linklater and co-writers & actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke's "Before" trilogy (if you want to call it that) Before Midnight. Early word out of Sundance was highly positive and anticipation is at an all time excitement for this film. The other films in the triptych, Before Sunrise (1995) Before Sunset (2004), follow the relationship, conversations, humanity, love and overall search of all of these themes that revolve around everyday life of Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy). These films are fantastic with absorbing dialogue and breathless direction from Linklater. Movies for adults, by adults. I loved the passion, wit and love that absorbed the other two films and the trailer for the upcoming Before Midnight finds the couple in Greece, on vacation and still going through eccentricities and compromises of life. Can't wait. Enjoy the trailer. The film opens May 24, 2013.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

EVIL DEAD (2013)

Evil Dead

Directed by Fede Alvarez
Written by Fede Alvarez,  Rodo Sayagues & Diablo Cody

     When I first read of the upcoming remake of Sam Raimi's classic horror comedy Evil Dead (1981) I was instantly skeptical and distraught. I mean, this is one of the seminal works of 80s horror, not to mention horror cinema in general. It spawned the careers of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, and was a fantastic riot on low-budget filmmaking and the blending of genre. I feel if your going to do a remake of a classic like this, it needs not to be too stylistic and must incorporate some of the gory, cheesy humor that made the original so great. Your not going to be able to have Bruce Campbell in it so your already at a loss there, but be honest to the material and be graphic. Also, all your effects need to be handmade and no computer generated nonsense. Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead (2013) remake fails on many levels but keeps it real with the expressive, offensive gore and limited, to no use of CG special effects.
     I will try to keep this review spoiler free since the best way to see any film is with limited awareness but do understand it is extremely violent and graphic. Anyone reading this hopefully has seen the original and know the basis of the plot. In this version, five friends in their twenties travel to a remote cabin, being in the family ownership of brother and sister David (Shiloh Fernandez) and Mia (Jane Levy), to aid in countering and treating Mia's drug dependency. Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) round out the group of friends and the madness begins. They discover a Book of the Dead that summons sleeping demons that attempt to take all of there lives. Mia is the first one taken and possessed by Hell and she goes after the other four cabin members attempting to bring them all to their ultimate demise. 
     I know that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, creators of the original, backed and supported this film and its new edge of violence and excessive blood, but I just was not completely satisfied with the end result. The acting felt to insanely bad instead of just being flat-out bad. Usually in these cheap horror films, and this had a reasonable budget of 14 million mainly due to fact of limited CG effects and no name actors with the exception of the little known Lou Taylor Pucci, but the acting was almost laughable. It was, in my opinion, not laughable in the way of adding a comical element to the film but just not talented. When Mia went to express a frightening emotion or the existence of a damaging presence it was so bad it was annoyingly unwatchable. Even if the film is a B-horror film it needs to at least try with the performances. I did not buy their acting and it was one of the biggest problems with the film, not that I was expecting Oscar worthy performances but give me something more.
     The other problem I had with the film was the serious tone it contained. Where was that comedy that had been such an important aspect of the original? It kept the edge off the intense graphic nature of the material and it is what made it and Bruce Campbell classics. The look of the film, like most horror pictures was too perfect and moody. I did not like that part of it cause if felt like a studio picture, which it was, but took away from the free spirited and almost cartoonish nature of the original. The original was cheap. It looked cheap and focused on the makeup and intense camera work. I understand that this is stand alone film that appreciated the original but wanted to go in its own way and introduce the material to a new audience but like I have said before, it is the Evil Dead. It has to be funny and graphic and cheap. 
     The one thing that worked and I was very satisfied with was the complete lack of CG special effects. I applaud Alvarez and his team for keeping it honest in that way. It is graphic and the makeup is great. Bloody, sticky, gross and at times, well a lot of the time, extremely disgusting. If they were going for that utterly intense vomit-inducing gore they achieved it. Not that I got sick to my stomach but I could easily see where some would. It was so graphic at one time I saw three people walk out on the film, but who knows if they knew what they were getting themselves into when they went to see this film. It is always good to do a little research before going to the film. 
     In the end, I did not hate this remake of the Evil Dead, I kind of enjoyed it because it was technically  interesting by avoiding CG effects in its production. A little more "Raimi cam" would have been nice but for all intensive purposes it is what it set out to be, a ultra graphic horror film. I recommend it if you just want to see a gross, escapist horror film or are curious of what they did with this remake of the original. It did not knock it out of the park since it was almost devoid of any humor but it will always be hard to top the amazing cheesy greatness of Sam Raimi's original horror comedy classic. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


After being a definite fan of Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive and enjoying his films Bronson and the Pusher trilogy, I am ecstatic about seeing his newest film Only God Forgives. Another collaboration with Ryan Gosling, where he runs a Thai boxing club as a front for his criminal business, as well as being an ex-kickboxer. Kristin Scott Thomas plays his mother who is one of higher ups in the Bangkok criminal underworld. The trailer is fascinating with hypnotic, gorgeous cinematography, a mellow, ironic song and suggests a film that will contain much violence and fighting. Excited to see how this one turns out and hopefully it will play at next months Cannes Film Festival so we can hear some early word on the film. 

Film Trailers: EVIL DEAD (1981)

The Original. Bruce Campbell. Sam Raimi. Blood. Comedy. More Blood. Great Makeup/Effects. Enough said. Wait, did I say Bruce Campbell. Enjoy.