17 items from 2015
“Let’s go, then.” First-time director Martin Jelinek sets out his intent with three simple words in his Tallinn Black Nights Festival Tridens Competition entry “Road-Movie.” From the Czech Republic, the film stars Matej Marunka as Jakub, the co-owner of a Prague travel agency who, ironically enough, is stuck in his job. Taking the weekend off to visit his hometown for his mother’s birthday, he meets Ilona (Agata Krystufkova), an old childhood friend, and together they make plans to drive off and escape.
Jelinek acknowledges that the road-movie genre is generally viewed as an American genre. “But, paradoxically,” he says, “the films that come to mind and that inspired me aren’t American — like (Wim Wenders’) ‘Alice in the Cities’ or ‘Kings of the Road.’ Of the American ones I’d mention just the one, (Vincent Gallo’s) ‘The Brown Bunny.’ European filmmaking was always capable of delving into genres and, »
- Damon Wise
“How Most Things Work” marks the first feature made by Fernando Salem. A story about a woman’s road trip on a search for her mother, Salem wanted to look for answers about life, death and love while still making the film fun and entertaining to the audience. Can you talk about ‘How Most Things Work¡? “How Most Things Work” is my first film. By chance I started writing this project here, in Mar del Plata in 2006 when I was screening my short “Trillizas Propaganda!” I went to the beach and started a notebook for the film. It was nine years ago. It took me that long to make this film happen. “How Most Things Work” wants to be a very deep film, but in an entertaining way and with great actors. It is a very particular coming-of-age road movie. Celina, the lead character is looking for her mother, but »
- Jacob Bryant
Rushes collects news, articles, images, videos and more for a weekly roundup of essential items from the world of film.Above: the trailer for Spike Lee's new joint, Chi-raq.We're hotly anticipating Dennis Lim's new book on David Lynch. The New Yorker is running an excerpt, quoted below, the Criterion Collection has posted a section about Mulholland Dr., and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which Lim heads, has announced its suggestive series pairing films by Lynch with those by Jacques Rivette."In Lynch’s own speech and in the speech patterns of his films, the impression is of language used less for meaning than for sound. To savor the thingness of words is to move away from their imprisoning nature."Screening in the above series is Rivette's marvelous Don't Touch the Axe, to which Notebook contributor Ryland Walker Knight has penned a poem: "...The game that is »
No film buff wants to see a promising, or prominent filmmaker pull a disappearing act a la Terrence Malick, (though it seems he isn’t keen to repeat another lapse like the one between Days of Heaven to The Thin Red Line), but whether they’re dealing with unforeseeable professional (endless pre-production woes, writer’s block) or personal issues, sometimes there is a considerable time between projects.
With John Cameron Mitchell, Charlie Kaufman, Rebecca Miller, Patty Jenkins, Kenneth Lonergan and more recently, Barry Jenkins recently moving out of the so called “inactive” period, we decided to compile a list of the top ten American filmmakers who, for the most part, we’ve lost sight of and would like to see get back in the director’s chair again. Most of the filmmakers listed below have gone well over half a decade without a substantial movement in this category. Here is »
- Nicholas Bell
Like many cities in countries that fell under the sway of the former Soviet Union, the adjacent towns of Gdynia and Gdansk, on Poland’s beautiful Baltic coast, each have two faces. One is energetically modern, avid for tourism, its bustling center dotted with swank hotels and Western chain stores frequented by well-heeled shoppers. Not far away, but invisible to the stylish crowds flocking to this year’s 40th annual Gdynia Film Festival, lie architecturally brutal high-rises and bare-bones cafeterias, the grim remains of pre-capitalist Poland.
The extraordinary story of how this forward-looking country got here from there was made available to visiting film journalists on a guided tour of the Gdansk shipyards early on in the festival. There sits an impressive museum and memorial to the Polish workers who, in the early 1980s, joined forces with students and the Catholic Church to throw off Moscow’s yoke.
Poland has changed hands many times. »
- Ella Taylor
There are plenty of frightened faces but not a single scare in “Ghost Theater,” another dud from horror-meister Hideo Nakata (“The Ring,” “Dark Water”), whose helming and production standards have sunk to the level of any hack director in Nipponese TV. Revolving around a theater troupe haunted by an evil mannequin that saps them of their life force, the film could be renamed “Doll About Eve” with its creaky and vacuous tale of rivalrous actresses. The film’s complete lack of mystery, tension and gore becomes an unwitting metaphor for J-horror, a doddering genre that’s desperate for fresh blood. The pic has been sold to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, where its tameness will suit the region’s censorship laws on horror; elsewhere, poor word of mouth will go viral.
“Ghost Theater” is billed as a remake of Nakata’s 1996 horror-thriller, “Don’t Look Up” (already remade in Hollywood by »
- Maggie Lee
After a decade of support and development led by the Polish Film Institute, the Poland production story is as much about quality as it is about quantity. Since its inception, the org, established to foster a strong native film sector and create viable international partnerships, has been guiding emerging filmmakers, who put out more than 40 features annually, along with the help of coin gleaned from television, cinemas and distributors.
According to industry observers, the mechanism has had unusual success in commercial and critical arenas.
Last year Lukasz Palkowski’s acclaimed Cold War account of a courageous, unconventional surgeon, “Gods,” drew north of 2 million domestic tix and rose to success alongside another strong Polish project, the real-life spy story “Jack Strong” by Wladyslaw Pasikowski.
The successes were no flukes, says Izabela Kiszka of the Pfi.
“Polish viewers are (coming) back to the cinema,” she says. “We had approximately 40 million admissions, and »
- Will Tizard
★★★☆☆ Last time he was on the Venice Lido, Jerzy Skolimowski was chasing Vincent Gallo through the snow in 2010's wordless survival picture Essential Killing. This year he enters the race for the Golden Lion with a film that smacks more of a precocious 17-year-old arriviste rather than a director of some 77 years. 11 Minutes (2015) is a mad punk smorgasbord of fractured time, multiple narratives, point-of-view shots, vague apocalyptic anxiety and a pounding soundtrack. A found footage prologue of sorts, taken from various sources, introduces us to our characters. A video snatched from a camera phone sets up a couple in a luxury apartment. He has a black eye and dinner suit; she is lazily sensual and teasing.
Elsewhere, another man waits to sign his parole log at the police station. A boy sees something strange in the sky and tries to capture it on his webcam. A clock ticks, amplified to »
- CineVue UK
There’s a lot of life but a comparative dearth of humanity in “11 Minutes,” a buzzing, hurtling, too-fast-to-think thriller that scarcely makes sense of one of its numerous cross-woven mini-narratives. Antically jumping, rewinding and shifting perspectives across a tight (but not 11-minute) timeframe as a cross-section of Warsaw residents witness the chaotic prelude to a calamity, this unexpectedly trend-conscious return for veteran Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski will earn him some slightly patronizing plaudits for its sheer caffeinated drive — as if skilled 77-year-old filmmakers are expected to set all their work at a walking pace. But while “11 Minutes” gives his technique a brisk workout, it’s minor-to-sloppy on a conceptual and narrative basis, shot through with underbaked script threads — some of them raw dough, frankly — passed off as experimental snapshots. The pic’s surface flash, however, may dazzle up some European distributor interest.
Anyone who saw Skolimowski’s last feature, 2010’s »
- Guy Lodge
Jerzy Skolimowski knows how to rattle an audience. He's the co-writer behind Roman Polanski's "Knife In The Water," his last feature "Essential Killing" cast Vincent Gallo as an Afghan Pow, and now he's back on the festival circuit with "11 Minutes." And it looks like one that you can only dare to ignore. Starring Richard Dormer, Wojciech Mecwaldowski, Andrzej Chyra, Dawid Ogrodnik, and Paulina Chapko captures various slices of life in Warsaw all in eleven minute fragments, with everything pulling together for a grand finale. Sounds like a one that will be a lot of fun to see how it's pulled off. Here's the official synopsis: After a seventeen-year break from filmmaking in the 1990s and 2000s, one of the major figures of Polish cinema returned to his native country and emerged with 2008's wonderful Four Nights with Anna, heralding the resurrection of a protean artist. Firmly ensconced back in Poland, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Mad Sin Cinema and LostWitch Releasing are now accepting submissions for Snuff: The Anthology. From Shane Ryan, creator of the Amateur Porn Star Killer Trilogy, Snuff will bring to you the finest faux rape and murder scenes from around the globe. "The best part for the filmmakers," says Ryan, "is that we've worked out a deal so that even films not accepted into the anthology will get released on VHS and/or DVD through LostWitch Releasing (in talks with more VHS/DVD companies as well). It's win-win for everybody."
I sat down and asked Shane Ryan a few brief questions about the project.
Jw: Hey Shane, I thought up a few questions that I would want answered if I were submitting to Snuff: The Anthology. Are you ready?
Jw: To be honest, I'm a little confused by what you are looking for. What »
Exclusive: UK sales outfit to handle Venice-bound thriller starring Richard Dormer.
The Poland-Ireland co-production is Skolimowski’s fourth film to play in competition at Venice and follows the same 11 minutes in the lives of several different characters: young and old, prosperous and destitute.
Essential Killing was also repped by HanWay and played at Venice in 2010, where it picked up the Special Jury Prize, CinemAvvenire »
- email@example.com (Andreas Wiseman)
20th Century Fox
It’s a classic marketing adage that “sex sells”, and so it’s no surprise that movie studios and filmmakers often try to shove as many sex scenes as humanly possible into big-budget Hollywood movies in order to satisfy a perceived audience desire to see attractive people making whoopee.
That said, this can often go too far, either by way of gratuitous sex distracting from the plot, actors who have no chemistry, or a strange, unexpected tonality which makes the scene function differently than the cast and crew initially intended. These 15 sex scenes, whether in good films or bad, left at least one of the actors involved wide-open to derision, and in some sadder cases, it’s now the best thing they’re known for.
- Jack Pooley
Wolfe Releasing has taken U.S. rights on Finnish auteur Mika Kaurismaki’s “The Girl King,” an English-language biopic of 17th century Swedish Queen Kristina toplining Rising Swedish star Malin Buska in the title role.
Sold by Scandinavian sales company The Yellow Affair, pic is about one of the most iconic queens in history, Queen Christina of Sweden. She was crowned Queen in 1633 at the age of six and raised as a prince.
Mika Kaurismaki is known for comedy “L.A. Without a Map,” with Johnny Depp, Vincent Gallo, and Julie Delpy, and more recently Finnish comedy/road movie “Road North.” He is the older brother of director Aki Kaurismaki.
“Girl King” is a co-production between Finland, Canada, Germany, and Sweden.
The deal was negotiated by Jim Stephens, »
- Nick Vivarelli
The new owners of Gerald and Betty Ford's Rancho Mirage home are providing a peek at the abode and its charmingly dated style. Industry executives Bill Damaschke and John McIlwee, who purchased the 6,300 square-foot, seven-bedroom estate after the Ford family put it on the market in 2012, gave a video tour of the premises for T Magazine. The couple has a fondness for storied residences, having lived in architect John Lautner's Garcia House in the Hollywood Hills since 2002, which they purchased from director Vincent Gallo. Read More Power Couples: At Home and at Work With 11 Hollywood
- THR Staff
S’Blood: Lee’s Facsimile of Bill Gunn an Odd Satisfaction
Surprisingly, after the failure of his 2013 remake of Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, provocateur Spike Lee’s latest, the Kickstarter funded Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, is also a remake, a modernization of Bill Gunn’s 1973 classic Ganja & Hess, a film tenuously positioned within the spectrum of Blaxploitation. Lee initially explained that the film was about blood addiction and not vampires, with early conversations indicating that this had nothing to do with the likes of Blacula. But those familiar with Gunn’s brilliant and strange (if somewhat compromised) original film will see his stamp all over it, directed with uneasy disconnect from Lee. It’s an odd, sometimes off-putting film, but it strikes a distinctive, addictive chord, generating a particular scent that will draw you down its path. Though Lee expressly wishes the focus of the film to be about »
- Nicholas Bell
Esteemed Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski began his directorial career in the late 60′s, but gained international acclaim outside of his native film system, dipping into the French/Belgian production of The Departure (1967), headlined by Jean-Pierre Leaud (and winning the director the Golden Berlin Bear), before helming a trio of infamous UK productions starting with 1970′s iconic Deep End, an adaptation of Nabokov’s King, Queen, Knave (1972) and the mystical genre film The Shout (1978) featuring Alan Bates and John Hurt. Skolimowski would compete at Cannes five times, winning the Grand Jury prize twice, for The Shout and 1982′s Moonlighting. And then three rounds in Venice would nab him two more Jury Prizes, for The Lightship (1985) and Essential Killing (2010). Skolimowski was assumed to have retired after a hiatus dating from 1991′s 30 Door Key, but broke his silence with 2008′s Four Nights With Anna, followed by Essential Killing, »
- Nicholas Bell
17 items from 2015
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