17th May2017

70th Annual Cannes Film Festival starts today (Film)

by timbaros

Festival2017_30X18_DEFThe glitz, the glamour, the stars, the red carpet, the sun. Yes, it’s time again for the Cannes Film Festival.

From May 17 – 28, the film and party bacchanalia is the place to be and be seen. It’s a festival so unlike any other, the stars come out in full force. And for this, the 70th annual, there will be eighteen films competing in the main competition. Among these include:

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-Sofia Coppola’s American Civil War thriller The Beguiled, a remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film, with high wattage stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst.
-Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories are two films produced by Netflix. Okja stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton about a girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal, while The Meyerowitz Stories stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman about siblings dealing with an ageing father.
Amazon is also in the game with:

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-Wonderstruck, starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams and tells the story of two deaf children living parallel lives in the 1920’s and 1970’s, and
-You Were Never Really Here starring Joaquin Phoenix as a war veteran who tries to save a sex-trafficking victim.
-Good Time. Robert Pattinson plays a bank robber who struggles to evade the police.
-Happy End. Isabelle Huppert, fresh from her award-winning performance in Elle, is in this family drama that is set against the backdrop of the European refugee crisis.

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-The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Kidman and Farrell (again) star in this tale of a boy attempting to bring a talented surgeon into his family, with disastrous consequences.
-L’Amant Double (The Double Lover). Popular French Director Francois Ozon’s thriller about a young woman who falls in love with her therapist before realising he’s not who she thinks he is.
-A Gentle Closure. A Ukrainian film that tells the bleak tale of a woman trying to learn the truth about a prison in remote Russia.

The year’s film festival includes 49 films from 20 countries, including nine feature debuts. The Opening night film – which is out of competition – is French film Ismael’s Ghosts by director Arnaud Desplechin – which follows a filmmaker whose life is sent into a tailspin by the return of a former lover just as he is about to start shooting a new film, and starring festival favorite Marion Cotillard. The closing, a highlight of the festival, will be, as always, the film awards that honour the best films and performances that were shown. Other areas of the film festival include the Un Certain Regard section (the official selection). There will be 16 films in this section – with actress Uma Thurman to preside over this jury. One of the Out of Competition films include How to Talk to Girls at Parties, by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and stars Kidman (again), Elle Fanning and Matt Lucas and is about a couple of British 1970’s teen-aged boys who go to a party to meet girls, only to find that the girls are very different from their expectations. Kidman will also be seen in a screening of Jane Campion’s television series “Top of the Lake” – Kidman will be very busy during the festival! The Cinéfondation is the short film section of the festival, to be be presided over by Romanian Director Cristian Mungiu. And Italian actress Monica Bellucci will host the open and closing ceremonies.
Non-film industry members of the public (who without a pass are pretty much locked out of all the events and screenings of the festival) are welcome to watch films in the evening public screenings that take place on the beach (Cinema de la Plage), while those with VIP passes will be invited to go to the many parties, events, and the A-list fundraiser gala Cinema Against AIDS.

Members of this year’s main jury include filmmaker Pedro Almodovar who will be joined by American actress Jessica Chastain, among others. One of the prizes to be given out is the Caméra d’or, awarded for best first feature film (which was won by British Director Steve McQueen in 2008 for Hunger). And the town of Cannes will be taken over by the attendees of this film festival which is a must to attend for anyone in the film industry, and even if you are not, it’s just great to soak up and take in the glitz and the glamour, and it will make you feel like you are really part of something special.

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17th May2017

Manchester by the Sea (DVD)

by timbaros

manCasey Affleck gives a devastating performance in Manchester by the Sea.

In a role that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor, Affleck is Lee Chandler, a man stricken with grief, so much grief that gets worse when he gets word that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler in flashbacks) suddenly passes away in their hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire. Joe leaves behind teenage son Patrick (newcomer Lucas Hedges) and so it’s left to Lee to be Patrick’s guardian.

But Lee just doesn’t have the energy, or the passion, to take in his nephew. Now a handyman, he moved to Boston after a tragic event that took the lives of his three children, a tragic event that could’ve been prevented, and a tragedy that caused the breakdown of his marriage to Randi (Michelle Williams). So he’s really quite unsure and struggles with what to do with Patrick. Lee can’t send Patrick to his mother, who he is not close to, as she is pretty much out of the picture. And Patrick doesn’t want to move to Boston to live with Lee. But everyday Lee struggles, struggling with guilt over the death of his children, and guilt that is very evident in his face and posture, and grief that will more than likely will never go away. But it is up to Lee to make sure his nephew is taken care of.

There is so much darkness in Manchester by the Sea that it’s hard to leave the film without feeling depressed and sodden. Yet it’s Affleck’s acting that propels this film to must see and award-worthy status. Affleck, who is Ben Affleck’s younger brother, gives the best performance of his career. His Lee is quite unlike any character you’ve seen all year – and Affleck plays him amazingly. Williams is also very good as Lee’s wife who eventually moves on and starts a new life, and BAFTA Rising Star nominee Hedges is a real find and perfect as the rebellious teenager. In a film produced by Matt Damon, who was originally going to star as Lee, and with excellent writing and directing by Kenneth Lonergan (2000’s You Can Count on me), who cements himself to A-list status of Hollywood filmmakers with this film, Manchester by the Sea is one of this year’s few must-see films. Now out on DVD.



Manchester By The Sea [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Tate Donovan
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

New From: £4.99 GBP In Stock
Used from: £1.67 GBP In Stock

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17th May2017

Room (Theatre)

by timbaros

unnamed-319The story of a mother and son held captive in a room was so beautifully and emotionally told in last year’s film ‘Room.’ There is now a stage adaptation of that Oscar-winning film playing at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Emma Donoghue, who wrote the book in which the film was based on, also wrote the stage adaptation, and it’s an interesting one. The stage show mimics the plot of the movie, however, more elements are added to it. First off, there’s a narrator who speaks out loud the thoughts of 5-year old Jake (ably played by Harrison Wilding on the night I saw it); it’s Jack’s perspective this show is told from (as in the book); and surprisingly the show is also told via songs – effective at times but a bit inappropriate at other times.

Room, in case you missed the film, is about a woman and her son who are being held hostage by a man simply known as Old Nick (Liam McKenna). The mother, Ma (excellently played by Witney White), has been imprisoned by him for seven years. Ma and Jack are unable to leave the room, locked in by the man who is Jack’s father who takes his liberties with Ma whenever he wants. And Ma has to be ever so grateful when he brings her and Jack the staples and necessities they need to live on. But it’s Jack who has adapted to living in the room – it’s all he knows. He also knows to hide in the wardrobe when Old Nick comes to visit – it’s these time that the show takes, to great effect, a dark and eerie tone. It’s complemented by the set – a room in the middle of the stage – that cleverly swings around when Nick is ‘visiting’ – so we see Jack’s frightened viewpoint from the wardrobe – which is also his bed – it’s expertly thought out. Jack’s thoughts come via the narration by Fela Lufadeju – Big Jack – who is Little Jacks’ voice and his conscience. It’s narration that at times is cute and funny and at times very serious, but it’s also does get in the way of the very dramatic story unfolding on stage.

Without giving too much away, and as mentioned above, the rest of story plays out in similar parallel with the movie, with the second half taking place in a home (as opposed to a room), where Ma and Jack have to adjust to life outside the room. It’s with the help of Ma’s mother (a good performance by Lucy Tregar) that shifts the second half into another gear, a bit slower and less intense than the first, but dramatic nonetheless.

Room has elements of it that work and don’t work. Room’s premise is very theatrical, with the whole story being told inside four walls, which this production excellently shows. In the first room there are the items that Jack has named (plant, TV, etc..), then there’s a hospital room, and then on to Grandma’s house, it’s a set superbly designed by Lily Arnold. And there is also excellent use of lighting and visuals on the walls that are characters and images seen from the eyes of a child. The cast do a very good job and it’s a helluva emotional show to be performing seven times a week (three young actors take turns playing the role of Jack). But the use of Big Jack is a device that doesn’t quite work, and some of the songs (music by Kathryn Joseph) in the second half just don’t quite work with the dark theme of the show. Nonetheless, if you loved the movie and read the book, then this is must see theatre, and only it’s playing until June 3rd.

To book tickets, please go here:
http://www.stratfordeast.com

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