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I hope to actually watch something at home tonight, but as far as this week was concerned it was nothing but trips to the theater for screenings. First there was Lucy on Tuesday night, then Guardians of the Galaxy on Wednesday and ending with Hercules on Thursday. It was also a week in which I was able to review all three of those movies so there isn't much left to say in those terms either. I do still have David Cronenberg's Scanners to review for you and we're hoping to record our Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull audio commentary today so we can have that ready for podcast subscribers this week. Beyond that there is little else to say. I was unable to review a new Werner Herzog movie this last week as I only have three left to go and I'm hoping to get »
- Brad Brevet
Based on the 2006 debut novel by musician Willy Vlautin, The Motel Life also marks the directorial debut of brothers Alan and Gabe Polsky. It is apropos that a story about two brothers be told by two brothers, and the Polskys have some semblance of a track record, both having produced Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant remake. In this instance, they find themselves behind the camera in the bleak, uncompromising Sierra Nevadan frontier, as one traumatic accident sends two brothers into a tailspin.
- Kyle North
Love him or hate him, you can’t help but admire Nicolas Cage. With his mannered speaking and exaggerated gesticulations, he is the king of offbeat. When paired with directors willing to embrace his quirks, he excels. He was hilarious for the Coen brothers in Raising Arizona, lovable as the Elvis-loving romantic in the David Lynch classic Wild at Heart and mind-blowing as the drug-addicted cop in Werner Herzog’s The Bad Lieutenant. In his new film, Joe, directed by David Gordon Green, the 50-year-old actor beguiles as a contractor employed to poison trees. »
This morning the first wave of the 2014 Toronto Film Festival lineup was announced and so far it's an impressive list of films including films from Noah Baumbach, Mike Leigh, David Gordon Green, Jason Reitman, Bennett Miller, David Cronenberg, Antoine Fuqua, Edward Zwick, Mikael Roskam, David Dobkin and many others. One surprising detail is there was no announcement of an opening film so along with everything below there is still at least one biggie on the way, and while they say it has nothing to do with their "premiere" mandate, I wouldn't be surprised if it might be Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman and they're waiting to see if it will be the North American premiere. Then again, could Birdman open both Toronto and Venicec But what else could it bec Maybe David Ayer's Furyc No chance for Christopher Nolan's Interstellar... or is therec Probably the films announced so far »
- Brad Brevet
As Nicolas Cage returns to Oscar-worthy form in David Gordon Green's extraordinary Southern Gothic drama Joe, we celebrate some of the strangest roles he's essayed along the way, from insect-munching Manhattanite to bee-wrangling bear impersonator. It's not always pretty, but it's never boring...
Vampire's Kiss (1988)
After he was a leading man, but before he was a very good one, Cage played that 1980s stalwart – the Yuppy Dick – in this off-kilter black comedy. Enunciating in an inexplicably anglicised drawl, like Loyd Grossman shouting through a tube, his character Peter Loew confides to his therapist: "I brought this girl up to my place, really hot, you knooooooow... Suddenly, this bat comes sweeping down out of noooowhere. I'll be daaaaamned if I didn't get really turned on!"
From here things only get stranger, with Loew exhibiting all the usual signs of vampirism: cringing at the sign of crosses/mirrors, shouting the alphabet »
Six movies for me this week beginning with three I've already reviewed in Werner Herzog's Heart of Glass (review here), Sex Tape (review here) and The Purge: Anarchy (review here). I also saw Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight which I expect to have a review for you on Monday as well as David Cronenberg's Scanners, which I only have one more "feature" on the new Criterion Blu-ray to watch before I review that. Though, I put "feature" in quotes because what's left is Cronenberg's first feature film Stereo. Finally, I watched Zatoichi in Desperation, which is easily the worst Zatoichi film I've watched yet. The editing is awful, there is hardly a story and there is even a scene where a gang of men chase down a mentally challenged young man and masterbate him until he orgasms, with his semen actually hitting one of the men in the face. »
- Brad Brevet
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a film about apes. The title isn't misleading or a metaphor or anything. This is a movie about primates and though there are human protagonists sharing screentime and functioning as significant pieces in the plot, it's very much an ape affair. Key characters - Caesar, Cornelia, Koba - are all chimpanzees.
Actually, that's not completely true. In fact it's a damn dirty ape lie for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a work of great deception. This fresh bestial blockbuster employs the most state-of-art moviemaking technology to achieve its trickery, ironically bringing the primitive world to visceral life on screen by using the most advanced techniques available.
The truth about those convincing, hyper-real chimpanzees? Caesar is played by Andy Serkis, »
Edited by Adam Cook
Above: Senses of Cinema has a new issue—and a new look! The Locarno Film Festival has announced their juries & lineup. We've a separate post with all the details here. The good folks at The Brooklyn Rail have assembled a very impressive Critics Page, with various contributors offering their takes on the state of film art. Well worth browsing every piece here. The Venice Film Festival has announced its selection of 21 restored Classics for this year's edition. Above: Criterion's slate for October is one of their best in a while. John Ford's My Darling Clementine, Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, a Complete Jacques Tati box set (!), and more. At the Jerusalem Film Festival, a group of Israeli filmmakers, including Keren Yedaya, Tali Shalom, Nadav Lapid, Efrat Corem, Shira Geffen, Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz, and Bozi Gete, have called for a ceasefire. For Interview Magazine, Matthew McConaughey »
Ubiquitous as always, there’s a whole lot more of Werner Herzog coming our way over the next few months. The upcoming 16-film Blu-ray set, arriving at the end of this month, would normally be plenty, but there's also his first narrative feature since 2009: "Queen of the Desert." After years of development, casting, re-casting, and production, his biopic, following the influential cartographer Gertrude Bell — and starring Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis, and James Franco — is prepping for the fall festival circuit. In advance, the first still has arrived and can be seen below, courtesy of The Film Stage. For a look back at the rich, eclectic Herzog canon check out Fandor, which is streaming the 16 titles featured in that aforementioned Blu-ray set. Also worth examining is their reprint of a 1998 interview/profile he did at the time of "Little Dieter Needs to Fly." Fitting that one of his »
- Nick Newman
Queen of the Desert, Werner Herzog's biopic on Gertrud Bell starring Nicole Kidman wrapped filming in March. Though it's still looking for a distributor it looks like post-production is all done since producers are tweeting about the final cut and calling it "Epic". Herzog has also expressed real enthusiasm about Nicole's performance in his slightly oddball way of speaking.
"Now, Nicole Kidman,” Herzog said of her lead performance in "Queen Of The Desert." “Wait for that one. Wait for it. I make an ominous prediction: How good she is.”
(You can even hear his voice when you read quotes from him, can't you?)
Nicole shared this photo of the wrap of shooting.first official image. will they keep this aspect ratio? it's so Lawrence of Arabia long
Of course all of this is from people who are involved in the picture so they'd never be anything less than enthusiastic. »
- NATHANIEL R
It may be a mildly controversial proposition to assert but, apart from clear-cut cases from fairly early in his career (pre-eminently Aguirre, the Wrath of God  and Every Man for Himself and God Against All/The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser ), Werner Herzog’s documentaries are far better, on the whole, than his fiction films. This assertion comes with necessary caveats: some of his fictions, including the even earlier Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) and Fata Morgana (1972), come freighted with a bracing dose of "pure" documentary observation; and, inversely, some of his documentaries are enlivened by a large dose of fictional techniques, such as in the spooky Lessons of Darkness (1992).>>> - Adrian Martin »
The year is 1998 and Werner Herzog is one of few filmmakers who possess an aura. Not tabloid longevity, but the true beatification that comes with being a small-town Bavarian who ended up surviving not only postwar Germany but Central African prisons, Peruvian arrows, Klaus Kinski, pilgrimages across Europe and forty years in the film industry. His struggles are sometimes self-imposed but always Promethean; his vision, personal, strange and poetic. And his fans: devotional. Herzog doesn't do much to discourage the following...which is why Herzog, I and his assistant director, Herbert Golder, were laughing when we read the fortune opened by the holy man at a restaurant not far from Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope building, where Herzog was doing some work. "A modest man never talks of himself," it said. It was already too late.>> - Susan Gerhard »
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Shout! Factory:
A visionary creator unlike any other, with a passion for unveiling truths about nature and existence by blurring the line between reality and fiction, Werner Herzog is undoubtedly one of cinema’s most controversial and enigmatic figures. Audiences the world over have marveled at his uniquely moving, often disturbing, but always awe-inspiring stories, and his ever-growing body of work has inspired an untold number of filmmakers. He is, and continues to be, the most daring filmmaker of our time.
In celebration of this cinematic vanguard, Shout! Factory will release Herzog: The Collection on July 29th, 2014. Limited to 5,000 copies, the 13-disc box set features 16 acclaimed films and documentaries, 15 of which are making their Blu-ray debuts. Herzog: The Collection also features a 40 page booklet that includes photos, an essay by award-winning author Stephen J. Smith, and in-depth film synopses by Herzog »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
Over the weekend producer Nick Raslan tweeted he'd seen the final cut of Werner Herzog's newest film, Queen of the Desert and in true producer fashion said, "It's a true Epic." Along with the high praise he tweeted the above picture offering our first look at the film, which many believe may be headed to one, if not several, of the upcoming fall film festivals. The film is based on the true story of Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman), the traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attache for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century. Robert Pattinson, James Franco and Damian Lewis co-star. In a recent conversation with The Playlist, Herzog discussed the performance from Kidman in the film saying, "Wait for that one. Wait for it. I make an ominous prediction: How good she is." So, as I've been reviewing Herzog's older films (read my »
- Brad Brevet
German filmmaker Werner Herzog is on the brain today. The 71-year-old filmmaker is about to celebrate the release of the superb Shout Factory boxset "Herzog: The Collection" and he’s got a new film waiting in the wings. Titled “Queen Of The Desert," the film features the filmmaker’s most starry cast to date: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson, “Homeland” star Damian Lewis and many more. The film chronicles the events of Gertrude Bell's life, a British explorer, traveler, archaeologist and political officer. And apparently it’s done and in the can. Co-producer Nick N. Raslan tweeted the first photo of the movie over the weekend, said the movie was done and described it as a “true epic” (you can see the tweets below). Surely if the picture is done that means we can absolutely expect it at one of the fall film festivals this September, at either Tiff, »
- Edward Davis
"I look upon the volcano, the lava bubbles with fury and the Earth spits fire. It's the end of days and tells of a near future where all we know will be burned and left in ashes." Werner Herzog never said that, but it sounds to me like something he would say were he to look upon a pool of molten lava, considering whether this means the end of the Earth as we know it, even though he may be looking at an active volcano that's been spewing lava for thousands of years with no immediate effect on the state of the Earth or humanity. Herzog has such a unique view of the world that he can do this. It's almost as if he is able to separate words from reality, looking for a deeper meaning of not only what he's looking at, but what he's describing. When it comes »
- Brad Brevet
In his first ever feature documentary, Werner Herzog has created something of a "60 Minutes" piece without the narration and asides. We've come to experience Herzog's documentaries with his interjections and narration guiding us down narrative paths we otherwise might not have considered, but here he leaves everything up to the observer as he documents a brief moment in the life of a handful of people afflicted with deafblindness, largely from the perspective of 56-year-old Fini Straubinger. The documentary begins with Straubinger and several others she's in consistent communication. She has maintained a certain level of speech having gone deaf and blind as a teenager, but many of the people around her communicate largely through the use of what is referred to as the Lorm alphabet, in which a variety of strokes on someone's hand eventually spells out words so as to essentially "talk" to one another. It's clear what they are doing, »
- Brad Brevet
Friday Am Update: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes earned an estimated $4.1 million from Thursday night shows beginning at 10 p.m. That's a significant improvement on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which earned $1.25 million at midnight.Unfortunately, it doesn't compare favorably to recent releases. That number is less than half of the Thursday night openings for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla and Transformers: Age of Extinction. Godzilla and Spider-Man benefited from 7 p.m. showtimes, though Transformers was essentially in the same position as Apes.Another unflattering comparison: on the same weekend last year, Pacific Rim scored $3.6 million from late Thursday shows. For the weekend, the movie wound up with just $37.3 million.Apes should still be safely over $50 million for the weekend. But the odds of it breaking out to over $75 million now look slim.Forecast: Coming off the slowest Fourth of July in over a decade, the »
- Ray Subers <email@example.com>
The 2014 march of outstanding documentaries about artists continues on with the best of the impressive group of feature films. But this artist’s means of expression are not the brush as in Tim”S Vermeer or still photography as seen in Finding Vivian Maier or cinema itself (along with many superb illustrators) in Jodoworsky’S Dune. Nope, this artist’s (and after viewing this film, that title is not up for debate) means of expression were words with typewriters, computer keyboards, and his own voice utilized instead of brushes on canvas or cameras. The subject of Steve James’s (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) new feature documentary is celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert. He had been a fixture on TV screens for decades, discussing and debating current movies usually with Gene Siskel, so you may think that you know everything about good ole’ “Uncle Rog”. But though he left »
- Jim Batts
Chicago – We’d all be so lucky to live a full life of love, success and dignity. But earning it and then dying with it is the ultimate accomplishment.
The film festival hit “Life Itself” honestly portrays the life and death of a great man that any man or woman can strive to emulate. In the face of terminal cancer and leaving an empire and the love of your life behind, not many people can close the curtains as Roger Ebert did with so much humility, humor and grace.
But I admit it: I’m typically not a documentary kind of guy. You have to care about the person or the subject or the cause. While the filmmakers always deeply do, many fail to make you feel the same way. “Life Itself” isn’t selling you. Even if this man somehow never touched your life at all, you’ll »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
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