Oldboy director Park Chan-wook returns with The Handmaiden - an erotic thriller that is downright unmissable...
There’s a lush, operatic quality to Park Chan-wook’s movies, whether they’re dealing with vampires (2009's Thirst) or bitter tales of revenge (Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, Oldboy). The director brings his unwavering eye for minute detail to The Handmaiden, a deliciously lurid thriller which takes Sarah Waters' British novel, Fingersmith, and moves it to 1940s Korea.
At first, it looks as though we’re in for an intimate little chamber piece about a demure handmaiden, her wealthy young Japanese mistress and the latter’s suitor, a handsome nobleman who teaches her how to draw and paint. A passionate love triangle develops between them; Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) and Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo) are engaged to marry, yet a frisson of sexual chemistry »
The UK Channel 4 streaming service has finally arrived in the Us.
In January 2016, British television had undergone the beginning of a small (but important) revolution. Deutschland ’83, a visually stunning German spy thriller, premiered on Channel 4 (think the BBC but with an edge) and streaming service Walter Presents to 1.49 million viewers, with a consolidated viewership of 2.5 million. This funny, beautiful, and entertaining subtitled show moved British audiences away from the formulaic French- and Scandi-noir shows popularized thanks to BBC Four’s The Killing, and instead offered proof that foreign, subtitled dramas can be successful among audiences. After Deutschland ’83 aired, the show continued to find success with American viewers, having won an Emmy for Best Drama Series in 2016, while in the UK, Walter Presents continued to introduce a breadth of innovative and diverse foreign drama from the likes of Spanish prison drama Locked Up to French political thriller Spin. And now, after »
- Sinéad McCausland
Premiering back in September at the Toronto Film Festival, Walter Hill‘s The Assignment (formerly known as (Re)Assignment) came not necessarily as a galvanizing work from an old action master, but a charming, off-beat genre exercise as well as show-off for older thespians (chiefly Sigourney Weaver and Tony Shaloub). With the film now in theaters and on VOD, we were able to talk to Hill about the freedom and fun he had in making his first real low-budget film.
The Film Stage: How have action films changed since you returned to directing with Bullet to the Head?
Walter Hill: I think the changes were well in the works before I did Bullet to the Head. Obviously the superhero comic-book film has taken over. They’re now what’s referred to as action films, but I think they’re very different from the kind of movies we used to »
- Ethan Vestby
Fictional depictions of sexual violence are everywhere on film, TV and the stage, but do they take the wrong approach?
There has never been any shortage of women getting raped in popular culture, but it seems to have reached a peak recently, from Broadchurch to Game of Thrones. In terms of narrative tropes, it occupies the place that freak memory loss did in the 90s, kicking off all the action and driving it forward; never mind how unlikely that scenario was. The logic seems to go: “If you create a drama with a rape in it that doesn’t get talked about, that must surely be because the character didn’t get raped enough times.”
From the hot-button issues of Paul Verhoeven’s Elle – were the rapes gratuitous? Or was the real crime its flagrant waste of Isabelle Huppert? – to the complicated disquiet fostered by BBC1’s Apple Tree Yard (is it squeamishness? »
- Zoe Williams
Walter Hill is one of the great action and genre directors of the last 40 years, having made classics like “The Driver,” “The Warriors,” directed the pilot of HBO’s “Deadwood,” and produced, guided and rewrote the first three “Alien” films. With his latest film, “The Assignment” (originally titled “REAssignment” when it premiered at Tiff last fall), Hill finds himself in the unusual position of receiving sharp criticism for being transphobic.
“Want to know the truth, I don’t think it is very controversial,” said director Walter Hill, when he was a guest on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “It’s been attacked mainly by people that haven’t seen the movie.”
- Chris O'Falt
Let me get this out of the way up front: I think Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 sci-fi action classic, RoboCop, is a perfect film. With its mix of brilliant social satire, comic book action, dystopian sci-fi, and insane violence—a brilliant blend of ’80s aesthetics, Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner’s sharp script, a perfect cast, and Paul Verhoeven’s particular brand of genius/madness. It is the kind of movie that cannot really be reproduced… though two sequels and a 2014 remake certainly gave it a shot. That each came up short in different ways comes as no surprise. It only offers proof of the original movie’s magical alchemy.
Though they are disappointing in comparison to RoboCop, both of its initial sequels—1990’s RoboCop 2, directed by Irvin Kershner, and the Fred Dekker-helmed RoboCop 3 from 1993—attempt to replicate different aspects of the original and are not without some amount of charm, »
- Patrick Bromley
Recently, Ben Wheatley, the director of the shoot-off thriller Free Fire, described the role of film posters in relation to the ‘whole package’ of cinema (i.e. from the film itself to its marketing strategy) and how this has changed in the digital age. At Creative Review, which showcased ten character posters created by Empire Designs to promote Free Fire, Wheatley said of this part of the package that:
“It’s interesting, over the last few years with the posters, the kind of received wisdom [was] you wanted an integrated campaign which was just one poster and you just hammer home that image. But the net has changed all that. So, certainly with High-Rise and now with Free Fire, there »
- Sinéad McCausland
“That never happened because my short film was rubbish,” said Edwards, who was guest on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit.
Beyond his film being bad, Edwards realized the competition to be a director had multiplied since Spielberg had started out and it took more than a good short to get a foot in the door in Hollywood. Edwards’ first short, which he made with a his computer animator roommate, was one of the first student works ever to mix CGI with live action. The experience opened Edwards’ eyes to the computer as being the future of filmmaking and he now saw his path to Hollywood could be to make his own films from home, doing the editing and effects himself. »
- Chris O'Falt
Louisa Mellor Apr 3, 2017
Broadchurch delivered a powerfully affecting episode this week. Spoilers ahead in our review...
This review contains spoilers.
Please say it’s not so.
If the ITV website had a ‘choose your own ending’ option to save Mark Latimer, I’d click morning, noon and night between now and next Monday to get that poor man out of the water. Money, even. I’d give cold, hard cash to ensure that just out of shot in the final, terrible moment of this week’s emotional episode, is Ellie Miller standing Boudicca-like at the helm of a coastguard rescue boat, hair waving in the wind, ready with a foil blanket and a thermos of hot tea.
We’re powerless though. One way or the other, »
Ryan Lambie Apr 4, 2017
"We're not remaking, we're reimagining alongside you." That was how director Rupert Sanders pitched his live action version of the 90s manga and anime to a crowd of journalists, bloggers and anime fans at an event in Tokyo last year. Taking in a small exhibition of props, a Q&A, preview footage and pounding industrial live music, the event was, perhaps, an attempt to change the public discourse surrounding a controversial movie.
Aside from the inevitable suspicion surrounding a Hollywood version of a cult Japanese property, there was also the more damaging accusation of whitewashing. Scarlett Johansson was, after all, taking on the role »
A few years ago, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the death of influential film critic Pauline Kael, I wrote the following:
“I think (Kael) did a lot to expose the truth… that directors, writers and actors who often work awfully close to the surface may still have subterranean levels of achievement or purpose or commentary that they themselves may be least qualified to articulate. It’s what’s behind her disdain for Antonioni’s pontificating at the Cannes film festival; it’s what behind the high percentage of uselessness of proliferating DVD commentaries in which we get to hear every dull anecdote, redundant explication of plot development and any other inanity that strikes the director of the latest Jennifer Aniston rom-com to blurt out breathlessly; and it is what’s behind a director like Eli Roth, who tailors the subtext of something like Hostel Part II almost as »
- Dennis Cozzalio
It’s a new world, one where cybernetic enhancements are the norm to aid people in everything from vision and movement to the quicker absorption of alcohol, and Major Killian (Scarlett Johansson) is the shiniest toy on the shelf. While others are human with electronic additions, she’s a human brain inside a synthetic shell. A terrorist attack one year earlier left her body ravaged, but thanks to the work of Hanka Robotics and Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) Major is now a top agent with the city’s anti-terrorist unit.
Her latest assignment sees her tracking a mysterious threat named Kuze (Michael Pitt) whose digital wizardry and armed goon squads have led to the murder of several Hanka executives and scientists. The closer she gets to him though the closer she gets to a »
- Rob Hunter
After her break out role in the ’80s classic “Fast Times At Ridgemont High,” the enigmatic and darkly charming Jennifer Jason Leigh has charted a course in film unlike any other. This month, the Alamo Drafthouse honors her varied and galvanizing career in a much deserved retrospective, aptly titled “Jennifer Jason Leigh!”
The series, which began last night and continues into May, spans Leigh’s decades-long career, which includes David Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ,” Paul Verhoeven’s “Flesh + Blood,” and Joel and Ethan Coen’s “The Hudsucker Proxy.” One of her most recognizable films opened the series, Stephen King’s “Dolores Claiborne,” in which she went head to head opposite Kathy Bates in a bear of a role.
Read More: ‘Raw’ Review: This Tasty Art Horror Is David Cronenberg For Teen Feminists
Of particular note is the criminally under-appreciated “The Anniversary Party,” which she wrote, produced, and directed with her friend »
- Jude Dry
Ryan Lambie Apr 6, 2017
"I looked at American society in a kind of dazed way when I was doing RoboCop," director Paul Verhoeven told us earlier this year. Back in the mid-80s, when he was better known for his Dutch films like Soldier Of Orange and The Fourth Man, Verhoeven was still getting used to the pace and tone of American culture - and his outsider status arguably fed into the wry, spikily satirical edge in all three sci-fi films he made while in Hollywood.
"It was all so different from living in Holland," Verhoeven recalled. "A lot of my, let's say, amazement, at American society is in RoboCop; in the commercials, in »
Tom Jolliffe celebrates the cinematic delights of 1987…
The 80’s mark a special period in cinema for me. It’s predominantly an age thing. I grew up throughout the 80’s, soaking in some fantastic films. It was a rising golden age of blockbusters which took the foundations of what guys like Spielberg and Lucas launched in the late 70’s, as that stark, gritty and dramatically challenging output that delivered some of the best films of all time (The Godfather and more), gave way to more crowd pleasing, optimistic fare. The cinematic landscape went from the likes of The French Connection, The Conversation, and Chinatown to the more light-hearted Star Wars or Jaws.
As blockbusters swarmed the cinemas and multiplexes began spreading, audiences demanded entertainment. That trend has carried on and intensified and it’s truer than ever in these days of Marvel adaptations. The 80’s got me into cinema. That passion »
- Amie Cranswick
2017 / Color / 2.40:1 widescreen / Street Date March 14, 2017
Cinematography: Stéphane Fontaine
Film Editor: Job Ter Burg
Written by David Birke
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Michèle Leblanc, glamorous entrepreneur of a successful video game company, is the calm at the center of many storms. Her son’s girlfriend has given birth to another man’s child, an employee is stalking her with anime porn and her botox-ridden mother is betrothed to a male prostitute.
In the face of all this outrageous fortune, Michèle remains cool, calm and collected, even in the aftermath of her own harrowing sexual assault.
Elle, the new film from the Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven, begins with that already infamous assault, our heroine struggling under the weight of her attacker while an unblinking cat perches nearby, watching. »
- Charlie Largent
Cat people Michael Haneke, Haruki Murakami, Isabelle Huppert in Paul Verhoeven's Elle and Mia Hansen-Løve's Things To Come, and Emmanuel Bourdieu's Bébert in Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Kazuki Kitamura and Tamanojo in Takeshi Watanabe and Yoshitaka Yamaguchi's Samurai Cat (Neko zamurai), Robert De Niro favourite Lil Bub of Lil Bub & Friendz, and Sebastián Lelio when he spoke on Gloria, are the supporting cast in my conversation with Ceyda Torun at the Bowery Hotel in New York.
On following Sari - on her level: "It's all the nimble handiwork of Charlie Wuppermann, my cinematographer, and Alp Korfalı, who is a local, great cinematographer himself."
KEDi is a carefully and joyfully assembled collage of our interspecies interactions. Istanbul is cat city. They arrived thousands of years ago and »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
RoboCop 2: Collector’s Edition, 1990.
Directed by Irvin Kershner.
Shout! Factory continues its series of minor classics from the 70s through 90s with the release of Collector’s Editions of RoboCop 2. In the sequel to Paul Verhoeven’s hit 1987 film, RoboCop battles the corporate bad guys from the first film as well as a new criminal kingpin, but his biggest test is fighting a new RoboCop. Shout!’s Collector’s Edition features a new 2K scan, improved audio, and a nice batch of bonus features.
Fans of the original RoboCop were intrigued by the notion of Irvin Kershner directing the sequel, as well as the involvement of comic book legend Frank Miller in the screenplay. However, anyone expecting the film to attain the kind of status that The Empire Strikes Back has reached in »
- Brad Cook
Three great movies, all about love — and not only about love — will be entering the theatrical arena soon and if you are craving some love, you want to see these.credit: The Odyssey Online
About to be released March 24 by Music Box, “Frantz” premiered in Venice and Toronto Film Festivals this last fall. Boyd van Hoeij’s review in The Hollywood Reporter is the recommended review for those who like to read reviews in advance. He describes “Frantz” as “a richly imagined and superbly assembled period piece”. The L.A. Goethe Institute had a sneak preview and I was among the lucky who got to see it there.
“Frantz” by Francois Ozon
- Sydney Levine
Danish filmmaker to preside over Tiantan competition; festival line-up includes Moonlight, On Body And Soul.
Danish filmmaker Bille August will head the jury for the Tiantan competition at this year’s Beijing International Film Festival (Bjiff, April 16-23).
He has also opened a studio in the Chinese city of Hangzhou and serves as a “culture consultant” for the city. Bjiff will screen a retrospective of his films.
The Tiantan competition section will screen 15 films in total, which have yet to be announced. The festival will also screen retrospectives of the work of David Lynch, late Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni and Taiwanese actress and filmmaker Sylvia Chang.
Other films to screen at the festival include multiple Oscar winner Moonlight; Berlin Golden Bear winner On Body »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Liz Shackleton)
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