Archive for April, 2014

Calvary

April 29th, 2014 - admin

“That’s certainly a startling opening line!” is the strikingly dismissive response of a priest taking confession, after an unseen speaker tells of first tasting semen when just seven years old; a declaration fired with the intensity of an automatic rifle and its connotations blatantly obvious.  The priest tries “to start again” but this is more than the usual ritualistic mitigation exercise, that familiar Catholic Church speciality when it comes to institutional sexual abuse.  This is a priest with sincerity – a commanding moral authority – and every line of his craggy face speaks of immediate regret; somebody who had simply been caught off guard.

 

But this is of no concern to the speaker.  His abuser is dead and he wants revenge – or closure perhaps – and, more than anything, to be heard, and what better way of achieving catharsis, he supposes, than to kill a ‘good’ priest.  He is here to serve a notice of execution – literally – and gives the priest seven days to put his house in order.

 

It’s chilling stuff, setting the tone – jet black – for this comedy drama, which plays for laughs, gallows humour style, on the rural Irish coast and feels more like the apocalypse than a Calvary-like sacrifice of the film’s title; a contemporary biblical noir with an absurdist edge that, nevertheless, takes itself very, and for some tastes, too seriously.

 

Brendan Gleeson – is there a better actor around? – returns from John Michael McDonagh’s debut film, ‘The Guard’, for this follow up and plays the priest, Father James, who knows his tormentor – we don’t – and continues with his duties regardless.  He has a worldliness, a hard earned wisdom, having come to the priesthood late as a recovering alcoholic and still grapples with the temptation of the demon drink at extreme moments.

 

It creates an ambiguity that complicates his relationship with the more disruptive parishioners, played by an array of Irish talent.  Aidan Gillen, Orla O’Rourke and Gary Lydon bring a sneering cynicism to characters who have thrown in the metaphorical towel, accepting a living damnation where ‘mortal sin’ is an an inverted virtue and a Godless vision of society becomes a political weapon without a cause; a self-defeating nihilism.  Gleeson’s own son, Domhnall, appears briefly as a naive cannibal murderer – the other end of the scale from Hannibal Lecter – and when the priest grants him an audience in the nick it’s electrifying; both having an absolute conviction in the purity of their worldview that cuts across the light/dark binary opposites and, at times, they come close to providing a mirror image of each other in ways that are unexpected – often non-verbal – and highly disturbing.  And Stand-up comedian, Dylan Moran, catches the eye as a fiendish banker, Michael Fitzgerald, who contemptuously pisses on a Holbein but secretively craves redemption amongst his self-loathing.

 

Less good, are scenes between the priest and his troubled daughter that appear a little forced and distracting, constantly running the risk of staginess, and the use of the priest’s dog, who was never going to make it to the film’s end, as plotting shorthand.

 

This is a film of huge ambition, deconstructing, well, everything and not limited to a satirical take on the Catholic Church or wider Irish society and renders any ‘who-will-do-it’ curiosity irrelevant.  It’s less even and, every once in a while, cinematic, than his razor sharp debut, the best film to date from either of the McDonagh brothers, but it still holds together notwithstanding the odd gripe.

 

And it’s superbly lit by cinematographer, Larry Smith, who heightens the threatening seascape entirely in keeping with the rest of the film’s Gothic spirit without overdoing it.

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‘The Act of Killing’ follow up to arrive this autumn

April 29th, 2014 - admin

Joshua Oppenheimer’s keenly anticipated companion piece to his outstanding documentary, ‘The Act of Killing’, will make an appearance at the back end of the festival season with likely screenings at Telluride and Toronto.  ‘The Look of Silence’ will continue with the exploration of Indonesian death squads in innovative ways but switch focus from the perpetrators to the victims.  Oppenheimer is still filming and plans to complete post production by the end of July.

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Spielberg committed to ‘BFG’ adaptation

April 28th, 2014 - admin

Steven Spielberg is fully committed to directing a big screen version of Roald Dahl’s children’s classic, ‘BFG’, but he hasn’t confirmed that it will be his next film.  The original story, with a young orphan girl and a friendly outsider at its heart, could not be more suited to Spielberg’s favourite themes.  And, reinforcing the association, ‘ET’ writer, Melissa Mathison, has adapted the script.

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‘Spidey 2’ takes control internationally

April 27th, 2014 - admin

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ expanded from 14 to 39 markets and dominated the international box office with a powerful $67.2m weekend.  South Korea led the way with an impressive $13.4m debut, which broadly followed the original’s launch in the territory.  The film currently stands on an early $132m ahead of opening in approximately 25 more markets next week.

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‘The Other Woman’ over-performs during quiet session

April 27th, 2014 - admin

Nick Cassavetes’ PG-13 rated ‘The Other Woman’, starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton, easily won a quiet North American weekend box office after grossing a strong $24.7m from 3,240 theatres.  After a dearth of female comedies during recent months, women turned out in droves and propelled the final tally to $7m more than market expectations.  A ‘B+’ CinemaScore from first night audiences helped mitigate against bad reviews – currently 39% on Rotten Tomatoes – and little social media pre-release interest.

 

Last weekend’s No. 1, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, now entering its fourth week on release, returned a further $16m in second place.  First weekend holdover, ‘Heaven Is For Real’, looked set to mount a challenge after a close Friday but, in the end, finished $2.2m behind.

 

Meanwhile, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ is waiting in the wings ready to shake things up next weekend.

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Ron Howard adapting international mega-seller

April 25th, 2014 - admin

Ron Howard will adapt Joël Dicker’s international mega-seller, ‘The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair’ as his next directing project.  It’s a post modern mystery thriller that has a novelist entangled in a historical murder conundrum where truth is stranger than fiction.  Howard’s disaster movie, ‘Heart of the Sea’, starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson, is currently in post-production but won’t arrive until next year.buy cialis online australia paypal cialis online ireland cialis online deutschland buy cialis toronto
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The Other Woman set to win box office race

April 25th, 2014 - admin

Fox’s PG-13 rated The Other Woman looks set to end Captain America 2’s reign at the top of the North American box office when it lands in 3,240 theatres this weekend.  Reviews are disappointing – a 39% current Rotten Tomatoes’ score – and there is little interest on social media but Fandango is reporting that the film has the highest online pre-sales.  The revenge comedy could gross $18m+ if it generated some positive word of mouth from first night audiences.cialis generic australia how can i buy cialis onlinecialis buy online usabuy cialis non prescription
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‘Foxcatcher’ receives North American release date

April 25th, 2014 - admin

Bennett Miller’s Cannes competition title, ‘Foxcatcher’, starring Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, will arrive in North American theatres on November 14th alongside an awards campaign.  It depicts the circumstances surrounding David Schultz’s tragic murder after winning an Olympic wrestling gold medal in the same year as his brother.  Both of Miller’s previous films, ‘Capote’ and ‘Moneyball’, received best film Oscar nominations.cialis low cost cialis 2.5 mg cost walmart buy cialis sydneygeneric cialis 5mg online
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The Past (Le Passé)

April 24th, 2014 - admin

An auteur, in the true sense, runs the risk of repetition or contrivance, of course, when engaging with dominant themes over and over again.  Asghar Farhadi’s latest picture, The Past (Le Passé), returns to one – the forensic deconstruction of a failed marriage – that has yielded the internationally acclaimed and multiple award winner, ‘A Separation’ and the lesser known but equally good ‘Fireworks Wednesday’, two of the finest films on the subject and every bit Bergman’s equal – easily.  But success – here, in the artistic sense – raises the stakes and, as the proverbial curtains opened for the new one, the pressure was on for Farhadi to deliver something different.

 

Farhadi shifts the location from his native Iran to France but both ‘A Separation’ and ‘Fireworks Wednesday’ had a universality that transcended our pre-conceived notions of Iranian society with his characters – particularly those from the middle classes – sharing many similarities with their counterparts in the Western world; something that isn’t evident from the Iranian new-wave’s gritty social realism.

 

And it’s an Iranian man, Ahmad, who arrives at Charles de Gaulle airport in the opening sequence to see his estranged wife, Maria, whom he had deserted four years earlier after a nervous breakdown.  They greet on opposite sides of a glass barrier and mouth words that neither they or we understand, but it’s no bar to a wider communication through familiarity and gesture.  Farhadi dazzles us with his stylistic box of tricks – we immediately wanted to see it again – opening and closing the space through mise-en-scène, cinematography and sound – or lack of – in conjunction with the characters navigating their way through the maze-like terminal; prefiguring much of what is to come in dramatic form.  It’s jaw dropping.

 

This feels like a reunion but it’s not.  Ahmad has returned at Marie’s request to put the final seal on the endgame – divorce – but discovers that she has not booked his hotel for an obviously fabricated reason; forcing him to stay at her apartment, their former marital home, which she now shares with a new lover, Samir, his son and her two daughters from an even earlier marriage.  Her motives are unclear; revenge and second thoughts seem a possibility but never quite fit.

 

It’s all as uncomfortable as it sounds – often difficult to watch – but something was very wrong before Ahmad arrived and we soon find ourselves in a classic Farhadi ‘shit happens’ set up ‘A Separation’ style.  Samir’s son rejects his new home but seemingly cannot live without it, Marie’s eldest daughter rebels uncharacteristically but there seems more to it than the change of circumstances and Samir is on an emotional knife-edge but reveals very little.  It’s intriguing, a complex web of consequences perhaps, but Maria is out of her depth and increasingly turns to Ahmad as the father figure, more out of habit than anything else but, inevitably, leaving Samir’s nose out of joint.

 

But there are other stories playing out off screen with their own pasts, ties and loose ends that have more impact on the characters’ lives than those that Farhadi elects to show.  The ground shifts, we never have the film’s measure, and just as in real life, we always feel that there is more to everything than meets the eye.  It’s fascinating and alienating in equal measure and something that Farhadi does really well.

 

Berenice Bejo (‘The Artist’) and Tahar Rahim (‘ A Prophet’) give both Maria and Samir a crippling self absorption that excludes each other and everybody else – a devastating start to a new relationship – which makes us curious and, ultimately, the film becomes more about them than Ahmad.

 

Ali Mosaffa, who is involved in all the best scenes, plays Ahmad as quietly watchful and perceptive, one more suited to the sidelines where he is destined to return.

 

And the silent past throws up a moral dilemma that not only shapes the present but condemns it.

 

This is an acutely smart piece of filmmaking, or, at least, until the plot starts to resolve itself as we approach the climactic moments, when melodrama raises its unwelcome head and the new tone seems to contradict much of what came before; the plot seemingly straining for more but yielding less.  If only Farhadi had kept it equivocal and completed the perfect trilogy.  Or, was it the presence of the earlier films – the need to differentiate – that sent Farhadi down the wrong path?cialis online pay with paypal buy cialis online u.s. pharmacy buy cialis malaysia buy cialis online us pharmacy

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Jessica Chastain to play Hollywood icon

April 24th, 2014 - admin

Jessica Chastain has come aboard Andrew Dominik’s long-gestating adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ bestseller, ‘Blonde’, which should enter production during August.  It’s an intriguing deconstruction of Marilyn Monroe’s star persona with Chastain playing the Hollywood icon after her death as she sets the record straight.  Dominik’s long term collaborator Brad Pitt, who starred in ‘The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford’ and ‘Killing Them Softly’, is producing via Plan B.cialis generico cialis generic buy cialis online cialis online pharmacy
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Tarantino working on rewrite of post-Civil War Western

April 21st, 2014 - admin

Quentin Tarantino has dropped the biggest hint yet that his post-Civil War Western, ‘The Hateful Eight’, will find its way to the big screen after all.  At the weekend’s reading/theatrical performance of the script at LA’s packed Ace Hotel Theatre, Tarantino confirmed that he is currently working on a rewrite but did not disclose any other details.  Tarantino had originally vowed not to complete the film after an industry insider leaked the script’s first version online.cialis online canada buy cialis ukcialis no prescription cialis buy
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Too close to call

April 21st, 2014 - admin

‘Rio 2’ and ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ were neck and neck when the international weekend box office came to a close and there is still time for a twist.

 

Fox has already confirmed that ‘Rio 2’ finished the session on $47.1m from 65 international markets, which takes the animation sequel passed the $200m milestone.

 

Estimates suggested that ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ was just $0.1m behind but Sony has not yet announced the actuals.  Either way, it was an astonishing performance with the film opening in just 14 international markets, including an exceptional $15m from the UK.buy cialis online safely cialis cost per pill cialis online italia cialis discount card
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Turturro’s new comedy off to a flyer

April 21st, 2014 - admin

The speciality market grabbed the headlines at the North American box office when John Turturro’s new comedy, ‘Fading Gigolo’, starring Woody Allen, massively exceeded expectations at the weekend with the second best limited debut of the year so far.  Boosted by a strong leap from Friday to Saturday as word of mouth kicked-in, it arrived with a spectacular $39,600 per site average from five theatres.  Millennium will commence its expansion next weekend in line with a standard platform release strategy.

 

At the other end of the scale, it was a disastrous opening for the $100m budget, ‘Transcendence’, which could only muster a putrid $11.2m over the session.  With shocking reviews – 19% Rotten Tomatoes rating – and an equally bad ‘C+’ CinemaScore, it seemingly faces almost immediate box office oblivion.  The sci-fi adventure is the directorial debut of Oscar winning cinematographer, Wally Pfister (‘Inception’), and signals troubling times for the film’s star, Johnny Depp, with it being his fourth consecutive box office failure.

 

There is no change at the top where ‘Captain America’ and ‘Rio’ sequels remain No. 1 and 2 after grossing $26.6m and $22.5m respectively.  ‘Captain America 2’ slightly over-performed after winning the battle of the Saturday and Sunday weekend family audiences.buy cialis online overnight shipping cheap cialis online canadian pharmacy buy cialis daily cialis online india
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Another box office failure for Johnny Depp

April 20th, 2014 - admin

The Easter holiday is traditionally a difficult one at the North America box office but nobody could have anticipated Transcendence’s catastrophic opening .  Things looked dodgy on Thursday night when a quiet start left market analysts predicting an underwhelming $20m session at the top end but a truly putrid $4.8m Friday, could leave it facing a final tally as much as $8m lower.  And with poor reviews – a shocking 19% Rotten Tomatoes rating – and an equally bad ‘C+’ CinemaScore from first night audiences, it has no momentum and faces box office oblivion against the backdrop of a $100m budget.

 

The sci-fi adventure marks the directorial debut of Oscar winning cinematographer, Wally Pfister (‘Inception’), and stars Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and Morgan Freeman.  It will be Johnny Depp’s fourth consecutive box office failure.

 

Meanwhile, last weekends No. 1 and 2, the Rio and Captain America sequels,  are in a tight battle for the top spot, which is too close to call.  They are both likely to close the session around the $25m mark.buy cialis daily online cialis cheapest price cialis daily use cost cialis generic reviews
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Choppy waters for Pfister’s first feature in the director’s chair

April 19th, 2014 - admin

‘Transcendence’, the debut film from Oscar winning cinematographer, Wally Pfister (‘Inception’), seems unlikely to make a significant impact on the North American box office after a quiet Thursday night opening.  Market analysts are predicting a $20m session at the top end, which would not be enough to challenge last weekend’s No. 1 and 2, the ‘Rio’ and ‘Captain America’ sequels.  It has a strong cast, including Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and Morgan Freeman, but has suffered from poor reviews and a shocking 19% Rotten Tomatoes rating.cost of cialis at walgreens cialis online apotheke cialis cost at cvs buy cialis from canada
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Cannes line-up causes familiar controversy

April 18th, 2014 - admin

Cannes seems to be heading for a familiar controversy after artistic director, Thierry Fremaux, announced this year’s official selections at Paris’ Normandie Cinema.  After only one woman filmmaker – Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi – had appeared in the main competition during the last two years, there was only a marginal improvement this time around with the inclusion of Alice Rohrwacher (La Meraviglie) and previous Grand Prix and Camera d’Or winner, Naomi Kawase (Still the Water).  Some of those thought likely to feature may not have completed their films, of course, but that’s not the case with the proven Jessica Hausner (‘Amour fou’), Pascale Ferran (‘Bird People’) and Keren Yedaya (‘Harcheck mi headro’), all of whom had to settle for a place in the Un Certain Regard sidebar.  The same thing happened to Claire Denis’ ‘Les Salauds’ last year.

 

The main competition welcomes back previous Palme d’Or winners, Dardennes brothers (‘Two Days, One Night’), Mike Leigh (‘Mr. Turner’) and, with his final film, Ken Loach (‘Jimmy’s Hall’); two of French cinema’s most senior figures, Jean-Luc Godard (Goodbye to Language) and Olivier Assayas (‘Clouds of Sils Maria’); and other Cannes regulars, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Winter Sleep), David Cronenberg (‘Maps to the Stars’), Atom Egoyan (‘The Captive’) and Bertrand Bonello (‘Saint Laurent’).  None were a surprise and all made speculation lists easy.

 

There will be wide interest in Michel Hazanavicius’ ‘The Search’, being the follow-up to his Oscar winner and global phenomenon, ‘The Artist’.  Andrei Zvyaginstev (‘Leviathan’) and Tommy Lee Jones (‘The Homesman’) are also making a second appearance in the main competition alongside Hazanavicius.

 

Twenty five year old, Xavier Dolan (‘Mommy’), steps up to the main competition for the first time having made earlier appearances in the Directors’ Fortnight and Un Certain Regard.  Bennett Miller (‘Foxcatcher’), Abderrahmane Sissako (‘Timbuktu’) and Damian Szifron (‘Wild Tales’), together with Rohrwacher, are the other first timers.

 

Speculation surrounding new films from Terrence Malick and Paul Thomas Anderson was wide of the mark with both being incomplete.  It always looked like headline making hype rather than a serious proposition.

 

There is a story brewing around Fatih Akin’s ‘The Cut’ but nobody wants to discuss it.  By all accounts, the film was an official selection but didn’t feature in the announced line-up.  Seemingly, it was Akin who made the move – pity.

 

Wim Wenders’ collaboration with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, ‘The Salt of the Earth’, which is a surprise Croisette birth, makes an appearance in the Un Certain Regard.  As does Ryan Gosling’s high profile debut film, ‘Lost River’, featuring his ‘Drive’ co-star, Christina Hendricks.

 

Other notable Un Certain Regard nominees include Lisandro Alonso (‘Jauja’), Mathieu Amalric (‘The Blue Room’) and Wang Chao (‘Fantasia’), all of whom have potential for upstaging those competing for the Palme d’Or.

 

Keenly awaited new films from David Michod (‘The Rover’) and Sergei Loznitsa (‘Maidan’) receive midnight and special screenings respectively.

 

Fremaux confirmed that opener, ‘Grace of Monaco’ – already announced – will be Olivier Dahan’s director’s cut.  Dahan is currently embroiled – as others have been before – in a dispute with Harvey ‘Scissorhands’ Weinstein over the North American version.

 

‘Coming Home’, the latest drama from Chinese master, Zhang Yimou, will close the festival out of competition.

 

Line-up:

 

COMPETITION

 

“Goodbye to Language” (Jean-Luc Godard)

 

“The Captive” (Atom Egoyan)

 

“Clouds of Sils Maria” (Olivier Assayas)

 

“Foxcatcher” (Bennett Miller)

 

“The Homesman” (Tommy Lee Jones)

 

“Jimmy’s Hall” (Ken Loach)

 

“La Meraviglie” (Alice Rohrwacher)

 

“Leviathan” (Andrei Zvyaginstev)

 

“Maps to the Stars” (David Cronenberg)

 

“Mommy” (Xavier Dolan)

 

“Mr. Turner” (Mike Leigh)

 

“Saint Laurent” (Bertrand Bonello)

 

“The Search” (Michel Hazanavicius)

 

“Still the Water” (Naomi Kawase)

 

“Timbuktu” (Abderrahmane Sissako)

 

“Two Days, One Night” (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

 

“Wild Tales” (Damian Szifron)

 

“Winter Sleep” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

 

OPENER

 

“Grace of Monaco” (Olivier Dahan)

 

OUT OF COMPETITION

 

“Coming Home” (Zhang Yimou)

 

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois)

 

“Les Gens du Monde” (Yves Jeuland)

 

UN CERTAIN REGARD

 

“Amour fou” (Jessica Hausner)

 

“Bird People” (Pascale Ferran)

 

“The Blue Room” (Mathieu Amalric)

 

“Charlie’s Country” (Rolf de Heer)

 

“Dohee-ya” (July Jung)

 

“Eleanor Rigby” (Ned Benson)

 

“Fantasia” (Wang Chao)

 

“Harcheck mi headro” (Keren Yedaya)

 

“Hermosa juventud” (Jaime Rosales)

 

“Incompresa” (Asia Argento)

 

“Jauja” (Lisandro Alonso)

 

“Lost River” (Ryan Gosling)

 

“Party Girl” (Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis) (opener)

 

“Run” (Philippe Lacote)

 

“The Salt of the Earth” (Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado)

 

“Snow in Paradise” (Andrew Hulme)

 

“Titli” (Kanu Behl)

 

“Tourist” (Ruben Ostlund)

 

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

 

“The Rover” (David Michod)

 

“The Salvation” (Kristian Levring)

 

“The Target” (Yoon Hong-seung)

 

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

 

“The Bridges of Sarajevo” (various directors)

 

“Maidan” (Sergei Loznitsa)

 

“Red Army” (Polsky Gabe)

 

“Silvered Water” (Mohammed Ossama and Wiam Bedirxan)

 

“Caricaturistes – Fantassins de la democratie” (Stephanie Valloatto)
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Abdellatif Kechiche prepares for summer shoot

April 17th, 2014 - admin

Abdellatif Kechiche will commence filming this summer on the follow up to his controversial Palme d’Or winner, ‘Blue Is the Warmest Colour’.  It will be an adaptation of François Bégaudeau’s coming-of-age novel, ‘La Blessure, la vraie’, but Kechiche intends to relocate it from France to Tunisia.  Bégaudeau is best known within film circles for his extraordinary collaboration with Laurent Cantet on ‘The Class’ where he co-adapted the script from his own book and played the lead.buy real cialis online cialis cheapest buy cialis 5mg online cheap cialis from canada
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‘Vita and Virginia’ coming to the big screen

April 17th, 2014 - admin

Dutch filmmaker, Sacha Polak, will direct a big screen version of ‘Vita and Virginia’ for Mirror Productions as her third feature.  Eileen Atkins provides the script based on her own play, which, in turn, adapts the intimate letters of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West and offers an invaluable insight into their relationship.  Polak’s debut film, ‘Hemel’, won the FIPRESCI Prize at Berlin’s Forum sidebar and her follow up, ‘Zurich’, is currently in post production.buy cialis with paypal buy cialis professional cheap cialis australia can you buy cialis online
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A different way of seeing: Larissa Sansour’s Nation Estate

April 15th, 2014 - admin

Larissa Sansour’s short film/video installation, ‘A Space Exodus’, was an ironic take on Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ where she plays an astronaut taking ownership of the moon with a Palestinian flag.  But this was an act of survival, a million miles away from a superpower strutting its colonising stuff, and represented the Palestinian people/nation displaced from Earth and finding a new home in Outer Space.

 

Sansour continued to subvert the sci-fi genre, turning notions of the outsider inside-out – an unlawfully ousted insider in this universe – with her controversial, as it turned out, and most prominent piece, ‘Nation Estate’.  It’s another short, sitting on the borders of video art and experimental film – a distinction fast losing any relevance – and serves as a reminder to film programmers that the shorter format, just like in literature, is a means to an end in itself and not, simply, a stepping stone – a glorified promo – en route to a coveted feature.

 

Playful yet deadly serious, Sansour returned to terra firma in ‘Nation Estate’ for another satirical sci-fi solution to the Palestinian dilemma.  It’s one that sees the shrinking state downsized to a single building – a gargantuan skyscraper, quite literally – which extends vertically almost ad infinitum and gives us a utopian town planner’s (wet) dream turned dystopian.

 

Sansour plays the main and only substantial character, an unnamed woman wearing gear from an undetermined future but it’s close enough to now, in the same way as Spike Jonze’s more recent ‘Her’, to serve as an analogy of a contemporary reality at a very slight remove.  And just like ‘Her’, the sci-fi has a retro feel – Sansour argues, with some force, that this is always a trait of the genre – which traps the current Middle East in a claustrophobic virtual time zone sandwiched between an interchangeable future and past; triggering a wholly appropriate anxiety within the viewer, in the most abstract sense, to echo the position on the ground, one where the political standoff is destined to remain at a standstill.

 

She takes the elevator to Bethlehem, each floor has its own city, where hints of former Palestine float within a hyperreal simulacrum of faux historical monuments – an inverted theme park – combining high tech with ancient culture; the ultimate in designer alienation and post modern despair.

 

Her flat is as austere as a hospital clinic; boxes within boxes.  But we see her watering an olive tree – something real – and it comes across as a silent and impotent act of deviance; clinging on to a fading past with a private act that should be public and becomes so by virtue of Sansour’s film.

 

And it’s the film as a political statement – weapon perhaps – that caused a media storm even before entering production.  Various photo sketches that Sansour was developing for the film’s launch as part of a multimedia event Wilson Twins style received a nomination for the Lacoste Elysée Prize.  That is, until the sponsors blacklisted the photographs as ‘too pro-Palestinian’ and removed them from the process.

 

Sansour turned art whistleblower and the usual latent price of corporate sponsorship became very public and, under pressure maybe, the Swiss Musee de l’Elysee withdrew from hosting the prize and showed ‘Nation Estate’ instead in a rare victory of sorts.cialis online without cialis cost cvs cialis cost canada cialis 10mg cost
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Starred Up

April 15th, 2014 - admin

Early on in this brutal but realist new feature from David MacKenzie, a wild young offender bites a prison officer’s balls pit bull style and refuses to let go; establishing his credentials with an unforgettable – and unimaginably painful – calling card as he prematurely transfers – ‘starring up’ – from a modern day Borstal to an adult prison and gives us the ultimate new kid on the cell block entrance.

 

It’s like watching a young Michael ‘Charles Bronson’ Peterson – the UK’s most violent prisoner – as he takes on the big boys and the battle-hardened screws with his ‘razor blade’ sharp intelligence and whip sword weapon of a body.

 

In time honoured fashion, he’s a lost cause in the eyes of the establishment – only fit for ‘warehousing’ as the corrupt Governor puts it – and an unwelcome disruption to the cell block status quo where the screws turn a blind eye to the cons’ power struggles in return for an easy life.

 

Only a prison therapist cares and he runs anger management groups but needs treatment himself – his Achilles heel.  These scenes are explosive – it’s what cinema is all about – the screen barely containing the tension as caged men explore their emotions at the brink of erupting – kicking off – seemingly the only state that lowers their guard.  It’s startlingly authentic, written by insider, Jonathan Asser, who was a prison therapist earlier in life, and sets the film’s tone more than the obligatory discordant jangle of locking doors and chiming bars.

 

Jack O’Connell plays the young offender and his character carries the quasi-sardonic surname, Love.  He’s only 24 but been on the screen for years, including an early supporting role in Shane Meadows’ ‘This Is England’.  This is O’Connell’s moment, his emergence as a star, with a breathtaking portrayal that combines an emotional indifference and knowing irony that is quite different from Ray Winstone’s iconic jnr gangster in ‘Scum’ all those years ago and far more sinister for it.

 

MacKenzie takes a risk with the plot; giving a literal edge to the metaphorical father/son theme of the prison sub-genre with Love’s old man being in the same ‘nick’.  It occasionally threatens to destabilise the film but MacKenzie holds it together by inverting the more conventional set pieces and there’s a magnetic chemistry between Ben Mendelsohn as the dad and chief con No. 2 and O’Connell that distracts us from any plot contrivance or, at least, until after the final credits.discount cialis 5mg cheap cialis 20mgbuy cialis cheap prices fast delivery where to buy cialis online safely

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Cannes unveils new poster

April 15th, 2014 - admin

Cannes Film Festival has unveiled this year’s poster and again hit the mark with its winning brand of iconic retro-cool.  The latest features Marcello Mastroianni in a classic scene from Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, looking every bit the epitome of Sixties defiance.  It follows spectacularly reworked images of Marilyn Monroe,  Paul Newman and Faye Dunaway during the last three posters.generic cialis uk next day deliverybuy cialis 10mg buy generic cialis online uk buy cialis online reviews
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‘Rio 2’ wins close race at the international box office

April 14th, 2014 - admin

‘Rio 2’ had more staying power internationally than in North America when it grossed a strong $62.3m from 62 markets to claim the top spot after a close contest with ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.  This reverses the two top positions at the domestic box office as ‘Rio 2’ claimed an impressive 35 No.1 launches.  But it was China, where the animation comedy landed in second place, that lead the way with an impressive $12.1m return.

 

Marvel/Disney’s ‘The Winter Soldier’ was only $2m behind from 54 markets.  The superhero sequel now stands on early $317.7m internationally and, after factoring in North America, $476.7m worldwide.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes advantage of Rio 2’s stumble

April 14th, 2014 - admin

When ‘Rio 2’ finished Friday with a slender lead over ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, it looked set for a comfortable win at the North American weekend box office, anticipating a likely boost from Saturday and Sunday family audiences and strong word of mouth following an excellent ‘A’ CinemaScore from first night audiences.  But things did not pan out that way when the animation comedy only grew by a soft 28% on Saturday and it was left trailing in second place on $39m from a market high 3,948 theatres at the end of the three day session.  It was only just below the market’s pre-release expectations but missed Friday night’s revised forecast by $6m.

 

Meanwhile, ‘The Winter Soldier’ over-performed during the entire session and finished Sunday night on $41.4m from 3,938 theatres, a good $3m above the market’s original projections.  The superhero sequel has now grossed an impressive $159m domestically after two weekends in play.

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Magnolia Pictures pick up ‘White Bird in a Blizzard’

April 14th, 2014 - admin

Magnolia Pictures have picked up North American rights to Gregg Araki’s Sundance title ‘White Bird in a Blizzard’ and plan a theatrical release later this year.  Shailene Woodley stars in the controversial adaptation of Laura Kasischke’s novel, ‘Blizzard’, where the unexpected disappearance of a teenager’s mother shapes her adolescence years.  It’s Araki’s first feature since ‘Kaboom’ four years ago.

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‘Rio 2’ establishes early lead

April 13th, 2014 - admin

Fox’s Rio 2 held the slenderest of leads over Captain America: The Winter Soldier after Friday when both films over-performed in the battle for the weekend No. 1 spot at the North American box office.

 

With a powerful $12m Friday from a market high 3,948 theatres and an excellent ‘A’ CinemaScore propelling word of mouth, Rio 2 should finish the weekend close to $45m, a good $3-5m above market expectations.

 

The Winter Soldier was only $0.1m behind from 3,938 theatres but needed a good lead on Friday to have had a realistic chance of negating Rio 2’s Saturday and Sunday family audiences.  The superhero sequel, nevertheless, is on pace for a $41m three-day session, which would represent a decent 49% weekly fall (stripping out its opening Thursday), 6% less than expected.

 

Jonathan Teplitzky’s fourth feature, The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgård, opened in four theatres for a platform release and grossed a solid $18,078.

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‘Rio 2′ in close battle with ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

April 11th, 2014 - admin

‘Rio 2′ arrives in North America as the early favourite to win the weekend box office but it is not a foregone conclusion.  Market analysts are expecting ‘Rio 2’ to finish around the $40m mark but it’s far harder to second guess last weekend’s No. 1, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.  Current estimates assume a 55% weekly fall to $38m but coming off an ‘A’ CinemaScore and strong reviews, it could easily over-perform.

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Manoel de Oliveira starts filming on new short

April 11th, 2014 - admin

The astonishing Manoel de Oliveira has commenced filming on his short film, ‘O Velho do Restelo’ (‘The Old Man from the Restelo’), at the age of 105.  It sounds intriguing with Oliveira drawing on Portuguese literature to reflect on his country and its history.  The shoot should last 5 days and Oliveira hopes to finish the film during August.

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Film Movement acquires Tribeca competition title

April 11th, 2014 - admin

Film Movement has swooped early and picked up US distribution rights to Paolo Virzì’s latest feature, ‘Human Capital’ (‘Il capitale umano’) ahead of its international premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Based on Stephen Amidon’s critically acclaimed novel of the same name, Valeria Golina and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi star in this complex real-life story where a road accident integrally links two families.  Virzì has had little exposure stateside previously notwithstanding a Golden Lion nomination at Venice for ‘Hardboiled Egg’ (‘Ovosodo’).

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Brie Larson joins ‘Room’ adaptation

April 10th, 2014 - admin

Brie Larson has come aboard Lenny Abrahamson’s big screen adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s award-winning bestseller, ‘Room’, which is currently in pre-production.  It’s a kidnap drama with similarities to the real life Josef Fritzl case and features a mother and her five year son, both imprisoned within the tiny room of the film’s title.  Abrahamson’s Sundance hit, ‘Frank’, starring Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson, will arrive in North American theatres this summer.

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Participant Media co-finance Guggenheim’s new doc

April 10th, 2014 - admin

Participant Media has joined Image Nation in financing Davis Guggenheim’s keenly awaited documentary on Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Malala Yousafzai.  The student activist survived an attempted assassination two years ago when the Taliban opened fire on her school bus for promoting girls’ education.  As with Guggenheim’s Oscar winner, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, the film will form part of a wider social awareness campaign.

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Charlize Theron in talks to come aboard ‘The Last Space’

April 9th, 2014 - admin

Sean Penn is moving through the gears on his next feature in the director’s chair, ‘The Last Space’, a refugee camp drama set in North Africa.  Although it’s early days, Penn plans a summer shoot and Charlize Theron has entered negotiations to play the lead.  Adèle Exarchapoulos (‘Blue is The Warmest Colour’) will be in the supporting cast but all other details are under wraps.

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Susanne Bier to make Sutton Hoo feature

April 9th, 2014 - admin

Susanne Bier (‘In A Better World’) will direct a big screen adaptation of John Preston’s acclaimed novel, ‘The Dig’, based on Moira Buffini’s script.  The project has already attracted funder interest ahead of next month’s Cannes market but news that Cate Blanchett is in negotiations to star will significantly raise its profile.  Blanchett would play amateur archaeologist, Edith Pretty, who was a key figure in the thirties Sutton Hoo excavation and the discovery of a lost dark ages civilisation in southern England.

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Les Salauds (Bastards)

April 7th, 2014 - admin

Since when have we judged films with a mainstream eye – that most passive of viewing tools – expecting everything served on a plate, where narrative ingenuity becomes abstract opaqueness and intrigue cannot exist outside conventional genre plotting without coming across as a muddled mess?  And why did the Cannes Film Festival hide behind this curse when snubbing Claire Denis’ compelling new mood piece, ‘Les Salauds’ (‘Bastards’), burying it in the Un Certain Regard sidebar rather than giving it a proper place in the main competition for what would have been – astonishingly – only her second picture to challenge for the Palme d’Or, the other being, ‘Chocolat’, twenty six years ago?  And would it have stood more chance with a male filmmaker when Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s comedy drama, ‘Un Chateau en Italie’ has the distinction of being the sole film by a woman to receive a nomination during the last two years?

 

‘Les Salauds’ has Vincent Lindon reuniting with Denis for the first time since the outstanding romantic drama, ‘Vendredi Soir (‘Friday Night’).  Denis has compared him to Jean Gabin but he reminds us more of Michel Piccoli and a certain Sixties French-lead masculinity – a moody sternness that shifts from the carnal to the surprisingly sensitive – an impression augmented by his character’s Nouvelle Vague style vintage car.  And there are times when the film comes across as Denis’ contemporary take on Chabrol’s Sixties exploration of Hollywood’s post war psychological thriller.  But it also brings to mind the more measured contemporaneous Left Bank modernism of Alain Resnais – a million miles from Chabrol – or Claude Sautet’s sometimes overlooked gem, ‘Les Choses de la Vie’ (‘The Things of Life’), which starred Piccoli as a dying man struggling to rationalise life’s multi-layered ambiguities in ways that have obvious parallels to Lindon’s character.

 

The film opens with driving rain that sets its drenched tone, with edgy neo-noir  bleakness framing everything from a femme fatale, male anxiety and the classic noir ending done with a brutal Brechtain literalism/hyperreality where Denis sends-up her own film with more than a nod to Godard.  It provides a light touch to an otherwise jet black deconstruction of institutional corruption within the family and business, which, with a classic Denis trope, is at its most acute when the two collide.

 

Lindon plays Marco, a rugged sea captain with revenge on his mind.  His sister’s husband has committed suicide after seemingly allowing a loan shark in all but name, Edouard Laporte, to sexually torture Marco’s niece when repayments were tough.  But nothing is quite as it first seems in this twilight world of half truths and secrets and things backfire catastrophically when he encounters Laporte’s mistress, Raphaelle, seductively played by Chiara Mastroianni.

 

This all becomes a pretext for Denis to take on that once bastion of male domination – even more than Cannes – European Modernism and subvert its language to explore masculinity in reality and as a social construct, one of her major themes obviously, but with a new inverted irony that brings the two facets closer together than ever before, almost crossing over into a post modern simulacrum but not quite.  It’s intriguing and raises questions, which Denis can not fully answer here but, presumably, she will revisit in her coming films.  Only a true auteur can do this and only a patient viewer will appreciate it.  What a pity that the Cannes’ programmers weren’t prepared to board the train.

 

And if that was not temptation enough, it is worth watching for Agnès Godard’s mesmerising and playfully cinematography alone.

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‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ conquers China

April 7th, 2014 - admin

Disney/Marvel boasted the sixth highest ever launch in China when their latest superhero adventure, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, arrived in the territory with a stunning $39.2m weekend.  This powered the tentpole sequel to $107.1m for the international session, taking its revised tally to a dominant $207.1m after two weekend’s in play.  After factoring in North America, it already stands at an impressive $303.3m worldwide.

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‘Captain America 2′ destroys opposition

April 6th, 2014 - admin

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, dominated the North American box office, comfortably exceeding market expectations with a commanding $96m opening weekend from a market-high 3,938 theatres.  Speculation that it could hit the $100m mark after a stunning Thursday night and Friday launch was always wide of the mark but the tentpole sequel did claim the highest April opening of all time, beating Universal’s current record-holder ‘Fast Five’ by $10m.  An ‘A’ CinemaScore from first night audiences and strong reviews, combined with a blistering start overseas, laid the foundations for powerful word of mouth, which will sustain another lengthy run for the Disney/Marvel superhero series.

 

It was a disappointing second weekend hold for Darren Aronofsky’s  controversial ‘Noah’, coming off a confident debut.  The biblical epic fell by almost 60% – partly following negative publicity from religious groups – in grossing a lukewarm $17m from 3,571 theatres, being $4m below more modest market forecasts.

 

‘Divergent’ also ran behind projections in the No. 3 spot, grossing an underwhelming $13m from 3,631 theatres during its third weekend in play.

 

‘Noah’ and ‘Divergent’ now stand at $72.3m and $114m respectively in the domestic market.

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‘Selma’ takes shape

April 5th, 2014 - admin

Leading cinematographer, Bradford Young, has come aboard Ava DuVernay’s long-gestating ‘Selma’ after the pair collaborated on the Sundance hit, ‘Middle of Nowhere’.  The civil rights drama features Martin Luther King’s 1965 landmark voting rights campaign and stars David Oyelowo and Tom Wilkinson.  DuVernay took over the reins last July after Lee Daniels withdrew due to funding frustrations.

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‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ blitzes domestic box office

April 5th, 2014 - admin

The latest Marvel/Disney tentpole, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, landed in North America with a whacking $37m on Thursday night (starting at a comparatively early 20.00) and Friday.  With an ‘A’ CinemaScore from first night audiences and strong reviews – currently leading to an 88% Rotten Tomato rating – momentum should power it to a staggering $95m over the weekend.  This would be the highest April opening of all time, beating Universal’s current record-holder ‘Fast Five’ by $9m.

 

Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic ‘Noah’, which made a confident start last weekend, grossed a disappointing $4.9m on Friday.  It will finish the weekend around the $17m mark, being $4m below more modest market projections.

 

‘Divergent’ is in the No.3 spot after grossing $4.1m during its third Friday in play and the action sci-fi adventure is on pace for a lightweight $12m weekend.

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Superhero adventure exceeds expectations

April 5th, 2014 - admin

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ made a flying start at the North American box office, grossing a whacking $10.2m on Thursday night.  The superhero adventure made a comparatively early start at 8 p.m. but it’s still heading for a powerful weekend in the $85-90m range.  It must exceed $86m to claim the highest ever April opening.

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Tarantino arranges script reading

April 3rd, 2014 - admin

Quentin Tarantino will present a one-off reading of his script for the ill-fated Western, ‘The Hateful Eight’, at LACMA on Thursday, April 24th.  It is not known whether any of Bruce Dern, Christoph Waltz or Tim Roth – all linked to parts in the film – are participating in the reading but Tarantino will be in attendance providing stage directions.  Tarantino was developing it as his next feature when a film insider leaked the script, which has resulted in an ongoing court case and the film’s demise.  It remains to be seen whether Tarantino can bring it to life in this format but tickets will cost $200.

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Amy Adams in negotiations for next Villeneuve feature

April 2nd, 2014 - admin

Amy Adams is in negotiations to come aboard Denis Villeneuve’s ‘The Story Of Your Life’, which should enter production at the beginning of next year.  It will be a sci-fi revisionist drama and concerns a linguist’s resourceful attempts to communicate with an alien craft.  Villeneuve’s previous two films, ‘Prisoners’, and ‘Enemy’, both received world premieres at the last Toronto International Film Festival.

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