14th May2016

Cannes Film Festival (Film)

by timbaros

740f4da215cd9647789997805f7c8867Where will the film business movers and shakers be from May 11th – May 22nd? In Cannes at the annual 69th Cannes Film Festival. Anybody who is anybody in the film business will be spending at least one night in five star hotels, in limosines, and on the red carpets to the many premieres promoting their latest film. And this year, like all other years, the star wattage is turned on extra high. Offerings from Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen and George Clooney prove that this year’s festival is no Sundance – it’s better and bigger, warmer, and more expensive, with lots more sun and skin!

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The opening night film of the festival is Woody Allen’s 47th – ‘Café Society.’ It’s a romantic comedy-drama (of course) about a young man who arrives in 1930’s Hollywood and gets swept into the whole scene. Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively star.

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‘BGF’ is Steven Spielberg’s first live-action 3D film. Starring Mark Rylance, who Spielberg directed to an Oscar for last year’s ‘Bridge of Spies,’ it’s about a Big Friendly Giant from a magical land. Expect lots of buzz for this fantasy movie.

Jodie Foster is back at Cannes, this time as director of ‘Money Monster.’ She directs an all-star cast about a broadcaster and producer who are held hostage in their own studio. Clooney, Julia Roberts and hot young star Jack O’Connell (’71’) star. The red carpet will be chock-a-block for this premiere.

Films in Competition include:

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‘Julieta’ – Pedro Almodovar is back with another film about a woman’s trials and tribulations.

Cannes darling, and wonderkid Xavier Dolan, is back to Cannes with his new film ‘It’s Only the End of the World.’ The 27-year old wrote and directed this movie about a terminally ill writer (Gaspard Ulliel) who returns home after a long absence to tell his family that he is dying. Dolan has won an amazing 6 Cannes film prizes for his last four films, expect more accolades for this one as well.

Sean Penn directs Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem in ‘The Last Face,’ about a director of an international aid agency in Africa who meets a doctor amidst the turmoil of war around them.

There are 19 films competing in the festival’s Un Certain Regard competition, including:

‘Captain Fantastic’ (USA) – Director Michael O’shea’s story of reclusive single father of six kids who have to leave for the outside world, forcing them to rethink their existence. Viggo Mortensen stars.

‘The Red Turtle – a dialogue-less animated film from The Netherlands follows the major life stages of a castaway on a deserted tropical island.

Another film that is showing out of competition is Shane Black’s ‘The Nice Guys.’ Out in the U.S. on May 20th, Ryan Gosling, Matt Boner, Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger star in this film about a private detective who investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970’s Los Angeles.

Director George Miller will be presiding over the jury this year, a jury that includes Kirsten Dunst, Donald Sutherland, and Vanessa Paradis (yes, Johnny Depp’s ex).

British Film Director Andrea Arnold is represented by the film ‘American Honey.’ Starring controversial actor Shia LaBeouf, it’s a road movie about a group of traveling magazine salespeople.

‘The Neon Demon,’ from Nicolas Rinding Refn (Drive), is a horror thriller about an aspiring model whose youth and beauty are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will use any means to get what she has.

The Full line up of the festival is below:

Competition
“Toni Erdman,” directed by Maren Ade
“Julieta,” directed by Pedro Almodovar
“Personal Shopper,” directed by Olivier Assayas
“American Honey,” directed by Andrea Arnold
“The Unknown Girl,” directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
“It’s Only the End of the World,” directed by Xavier Dolan
“Slack Bay,” directed by Bruno Dumont
“Paterson,” directed by Jim Jarmusch
“Rester Vertical,” directed by Alain Guiraudie
“Aquarius,” directed by Kleber Mendonca Filho
“From the Land of the Moon,” directed by Nicole Garcia
“I, Daniel Blake,” directed by Ken Loach
“Ma’Rosa,” directed by Brillante Mendoza
“Bacalaureat,” directed by Cristian Mungiu
“Loving,” directed by Jeff Nichols
“The Handmaiden,” directed by Park Chan-Wook
“The Last Face,” directed by Sean Penn
“Sieranevada,” directed by Cristi Puiu
“Elle,” directed by Paul Verhoeven
“The Neon Demon,” directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Un Certain Regard
“Varoonegi,” directed by Behnam Behzadi
“Apprentice,” directed by Boo Junfeng
“Voir du Pays,” directed by Delphine Coulin and Muriel Coulin
“La Danseuse,” directed by Stephanie di Giusto
“Clash,” directed by Mohamed Diab
“La Tortue Rouge,” directed by Michael Dubok de Wit
“Fuchi Bi Tatsu,” directed by Fukada Koji
“Omar Shakhsiya,” directed by Maha Haj
“Me’Ever Laharim Vehagvaot,” directed by Eran Kolirin
“After The Storm,” directed by Kore-Eda Hirokazu
“Hymyileva Mies,” directed by Juho Kuosmanen
“La Large Noche de Francisco Sanctis,” directed by Francisco Marquez and Andrea Testa
“Caini,” directed by Bogdan Mirica
“Pericle Il Nero,” directed by Stefano Mordini
“Captain Fantastic,” directed by Matt Ross
“The Transfiguration,” directed by Michael O’Shea
“Uchenik,” directed by Kirill Serebrennikov

Out of Competition
“The BFG,” directed by Steven Spielberg
“Goksung,” directed by Na Hong-Jin
“Money Monster,” directed by Jodie Foster
“The Nice Guys,” directed by Shane Black

Special Screenings
‘L’ultima Spiaggia,” directed by Thanos Anastopoulous and Davide del Degan
“A Chad Tragedy,” directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
“The Death of Louis XIV,” directed by Albert Serra
“Le Cancre,” directed by Paul Vecchiali

Midnight Screenings
“Gimme Danger,” directed by Jim Jarmusch
“The Train to Busan,” directed by Yeon Sang-Ho

Cannes will wrap up it’s last night with a highly exclusive awards ceremony, and then the next day the rich and famous will flock to Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix, leaving other people to clean up their messes in Cannes.

Off
13th Sep2015

Irrational Man (Film)

by timbaros

WASP_DAY_03-0228.CR2Woody Allen’s 47th film, ‘Irrational Man’, sticks to several themes he’s already explored in a few of his previous films, and is not one of his best.

An older man being pursued by a younger woman is a plot device that Allen has presented to us many times before (Magic in the Moonlight and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger). In ‘Irrational Man,’ Joaquin Phoenix plays pot-bellied depressed middle age philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix). He’s the newest teacher at a small town college in Rhode Island. He’s single and doesn’t seem to have much going for him. However, two women vie for his attention; unhappily married fellow teacher Rita (Parker Posey) who fantasizes them running away together to Spain, and student Jill (Emma Stone). Jill is in Abe’s philosophy class, and she is mesmerized by his teachings and his stance on life. They start to spend lots of time together outside of the classroom, much to the dismay of Jill’s perfect boyfriend Roy (Jamie Blackley). Abe tries and tries to resist the urge to sleep with Jill, though he has no trouble having sex with Rita. However, Abe’s relationship with Jill is becoming stronger and stronger, until he can no longer resist her, and they eventually sleep together. Jill is so smitten with Abe that she breaks the news to her boyfriend Roy that she wants to break up. The plot then takes a turn: one day at a diner Abe and Jill overhear a woman talking about a local judge who has ruled against her in a divorce proceeding and has awarded custody of her kids to her husband. She also tells the people she is with how the judge has destroyed her life. At this point Abe decides he’s going to do something about this woman’s problem. His decision rejuvenates him, it transforms him from someone who is aimless and depressed to someone who is full of life and energetic. And he actually does go through with his plan. Of course his actions are irrational, but to him they are rational. But does he think he’s pulled off the perfect crime?

There’s not much more to the film’s plot which is probably why it’s only 95 minutes. But Allen does get more from his actors than what the script provides. Phoenix is perfectly cast as the loner professor who struggles with his identity but is lucky enough to have two attractive women vying for his attention. Stone overdoes it a bit as Jill, the student who has a good thing going with Roy but sees something attractive in Abe that we don’t see. Stone played a similar role in Allen’s last film – ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ – falling for Colin Firth’s much older character. Posey is a delight as Rita, fantasizing about a life with Lucas in Europe. But Allen’s script doesn’t provide much magic, it’s humdrum at the very best in a film that can be categorized as not one of his best. It also won’t have much box office appeal here in the UK- in the U.S. the film has made a measly $3.7 million – a far cry from ‘Magic in the Moonlight’s’ total gross of $32 million. At age 79, we’re sure there’s lots more films in Woody Allen’s repertoire to redeem himself from this one.

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21st Sep2014

Magic in the Moonlight – Film

by timbaros

images-244Woody Allen makes about one film every year. When his films are good, they are very good, and when they are mediocre, they are disappointing. His new film – Magic in the Moonlight – falls into the later category.

Allen has been on a roll the last ten years. His output has included Blue Jasmine, for which Cate Blanchett won a 2014 Best Actress Oscar for her role as a socialite who’se life changes for the worse; Vicky Cristina Barcelona, winning Penelope Cruz a 2008 Best Supporting Actress Oscar; To Rome with Love; Midnight in Paris; Cassandra’s Dream and Match Point. The 79 year-old writer, director and actor has had a career that has spanned over 50 years, and there seems to be no slowing down for him. He’s already at work on his next project – called ‘Untitled Woody Allen Project” now that Magic in the Moonlight is in cinemas. It won’t be winning any awards like some of his previous films. It’s a cute film, that’s it, there’s no other way to describe it.

Similar in plot to Allen’s 2010 film You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, where divorcee Gemma Jones sees a fortune teller for spiritual advice, in Magic in the Moonlight we get a main character who is psychic medium using seances to speak to the dead, and a magician who believes the psychic is a fake.

Set in 1920 south of France, Colin Firth plays Chinese magician Wei Ling Soo, who is actually Englishman Stanley Crawford, a well-known magician, world famous yet anonymous, whose neatest trick is to disappear and reappear in a different spot in the same room. He’s also cynical, grouchy, and not very pleasant to be around when he’s off stage. He hears about a woman who has amazing psychic abilities, so he goes on a mission, along with his life-long friend Howard (Simon McBurney) to see what this psychic is all about and to try to debunk her. The psychic turns out to be lovely Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), an American from Tennessee. Sophie and her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) are in the South of France staying at an opulent house at the invitation of the very wealthy Catledge family, including the matriarch Grace (a Jacki Weaver – having the same facial expressions she has in all of her other films, though this time with more makeup), and her son Brice (Hamish Linklater) – who holds a candle to and romances Sophie to the point of singing songs to her on his tiny ukelele. They are convinced that Sophie can help Grace contact Grace’s late husband.

Crawford shows up at the Catledge mansion pretending to be a businessman named Stanley Taplinger. Immediately he dismisses her as a fake, though she seems to tell him events in his life that she couldn’t possibly know about. But during one seance where Sophie allegedly contacts Graces husband, there are knocks on a door and a candle floats in the air, Crawford (Taplinger) begins to think that Sophie’s talents are for real. He even confesses to his aunt who lives nearby (Eileen Atkins) that he believes her powers could actually be real. What follows next is a bit predictable. Crawford slowly starts falling for Sophie, especially after one day when they visit Crawford’s aunt and their car breaks down in heavy rain, they spend time with each other in a planetarium, drying off and learning about each other. By this time Sophie knows that Taplinger is actually Crawford who is actually Soo, and that he has a fiancée back home in London.

So Crawford slowly starts falling in love with Sophie, even though Brice is still very much in the picture. Crawford even confesses this to his aunt who tells him to go for it, coaxing out of him his true feelings for Sophie. The rest plays out like you would expect it, with a very predictable ending that is not very original.

Magic in the Moonlight has the same sort of romanticism these as Allen’s Midnight in Paris and To Rome With Love. In these three films, love is in the air and there’s a question but yet always a certainty if the two leads will wind up with each other or not. But Magic in the Moonlight is missing some of the Woody Allen formula. Sure, Firth is excellent as the doubting magician, and Stone is glowing everytime she is on screen, and the rest of cast (bar Weaver) are all just fine. But this is Allen’s show, and we can’t help but realize that there is not much magic in Magic in the Moonlight.

28th May2014

Fading Gigolo – Film

by timbaros

images-171Fading Gigolo is not, I repeat, not a Woody Allen film. It may have the look and feel of being a Woody Allen film, with similar dialogue and the New York City locations, but it’s not made by the famous writer and director who brought us such classics as Annie Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Hannah and Her Sisters.

Written, directed and co-starring John Turturro, in Fading Gigolo Allen plays a pimp to Turturro’s character Fioravante. It’s a strange role for Allen to play, but it actually works thanks to his characters’ witty dialogue and his upfront and honest and sarcastic personality. It’s a shame that the rest of the film is not on the same level.
Having previously worked together in Allen’s bookshop, Fioravante, now a part-time florist, needs to make some extra cash to pay the bills. He has a nice apartment and nice clothes, so it’s a bit hard to believe Fioravante needs money that bad. But Allen’s character, Murray, has a shrink – Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone) who has mentioned to him that she would like to have extra-marital sex and that if knew anyone who was available for such a task. Turturro, whose real age is 57, is hardly gigolo material. Sure, he’s a bit handsome in a sort of older man past his 40’s and-still -can-barely-pull-off-sexy kind of way, but it’s simply not believable that the hot and stunning Stone would want a guy like him – heck, she can have anyone she wants. Meanwhile, Dr. Parker’s friend Selima (the sexy vivacious Sofia Vergara) also wants a piece of Fioravante. And at one point in the film they want to share him. Throw in quiet, lonely, not very attractive grieving Hasidic widow Avigal (a blank and barely there Vanessa Paradis), who starts to fall in love with Fioravante, and Turturro the writer and director makes it appears that almost every woman in New York wants him.
There are lots of funny scenes in the film, and they all involve Woody Allen. At one point they chat to a very young woman in a restaurant, and it’s Allen’s character who charms the woman, and not Turturro’s – he just sits at the table with his hands crossed. In Fading Gigolo, it appears that Turturro is trying to copy Allen’s directorial and writing style but comes up short. While Turturro’s adept at directing scenes that are not too complicated and writing sharp dialogue for a man who is the king of sharp dialogue, it might’ve been a vain move to cast himself in the lead of a gigolo. He’s no gigolo, and he’s a bit faded.

 

04th Oct2013

Blue Jasmine – Film

by timbaros

images-4Jasmine’s life is no longer what it used to be. Once married to a rich businessman in New York City who turns out to be a crook and a cheat, she moves to San Francisco to start a new life. This is the plot of Woody Allen’s charming new film Blue Jasmine.

Jasmine, in an Oscar-worthy performance by Cate Blanchett, lived in a sumptious apartment on Park Avenue, had lots of clothes and jewellery, and seemed to have the perfect life. Her husband, Harold “Hal” Francis (a perfectly cast and suave Alec Baldwin), was a successful businessman. But it was all smoke and mirrors. Not only was her husband having affairs behind her back, but he was also swindling investors (friends and family included – a la Bernie Madoff), including her sister and her husband. When he tells Jasmine that he is leaving her for a much younger woman, she decides to call the FBI to report him. By doing this, she realizes her life will change dramatically, and change it does. Jasmine has a nervous breakdown, everything that she and her husband owned are taken by the U.S. government, and she is left with just the clothes she has. Broke and nowhere to go, she heads to San Francisco to live with her half-sister, Ginger (an adorable and perky Sally Hawkins). Blue Jasmine juxtaposes her San Francisco life with her former New York life, the smallest memory or thought she has in San Francisco takes her mind back to certain New York memories. Yet, still mentally unstable and extremely emotional,  she is at a loss as to what to do with her life.  Thanks to her sister’s fiance Chili (recent Emmy winner Bobby Cannavale), she gets a job as a receptionist in a dentist office while at night she studies computers so that she can become an interior designer. In the meantime, she meets and falls in love with wealthy diplomat Dwight Westlake (Peter Sarsgaard), yet she is not quite ready to tell him about her previous life in New York, including the fact that her husband committed suicide in prison. Jasmine is not having it easy.

Blue Jasmine, written and directed by Woody Allen, is one of his best films in years. His last two films, the charming To Rome With Love and the beautiful Midnight in Paris, took him to Europe. With Blue Jasmine Allen is back on familiar territory (New York). Allen tends to bring out the best in acting from his actors, and Blue Jasmine is no exception. Blanchett has never been better, in Blue Jasmine she is obviously having a hard time of life, and when it appears she is on the way up, she just gets knocked back down again. Her character is a strong woman, but circumstance beyond her control have changed that. Baldwin, all so suave and slick, is one of those actors where you can always count on giving a great performance, and in Blue Jasmine he does again. Hawkins, always so bubbly in everything she is in, is fantastic as the sister who is happy with her lot in life (working as a clerk in a grocery store) and being attracted to men who are not very ambitious. Max Casalla as Ginger’s ex-husband is very good as he still blames Jasmine for her husband’s swindling of all of his money and the breakdown of his marriage. Blue Jasmine is a very charming movie, with great performances, great location scenery in San Francisco, and a timely story. Let’s hope Woody Allen continues to make movies for the next 50 years.