9 items from 2014
Jack O'Connell gives an electrifying performance as a violent teenager forced to confront parental authority in prison
When inspirational director Alan Clarke cooked up an authentic television portrait of incarcerated British youth in the late 1970s, the resultant film was so alarming that it was promptly banned by the BBC. Clarke subsequently remade Scum for the cinema, and both the small- and big-screen versions of his most notorious work have since cast long shadows over their respective mediums. Plaudits, then, to David Mackenzie for fashioning a tough but empathetic (if uneven) prison drama which marks out its own territory in an arena in which Clarke's epochal work is still the daddy, even now.
Shot (but not set) in Northern Ireland on a tight schedule and even tighter budget, this eye-catching and frequently pulse-pounding drama finds high-risk young offender Eric (Jack O'Connell) being moved up to an adult prison where he »
- Mark Kermode
They called him the French Al Pacino, but the award-winning star of A Prophet is not to be typecast. Here Rahim talks about his latest role – in the tight emotional drama The Past – and there's a Christmas comedy in the pipeline
Back in 2005, studying in Montpellier, in south-eastern France, Tahar Rahim found himself the subject of a documentary named Tahar the Student. In one scene, we see him in his bedroom, with a poster on the wall for Al Pacino in Scarface; four years on, the young French actor would be widely compared to Pacino in that very film.
Rahim had only appeared in one feature, a bit part in a horror movie, before his explosive breakthrough in Jacques Audiard's 2009 thriller A Prophet. He played Malik, a gauche young petty criminal who rises through the ranks of prison society to become a ruthless gangster, and the performance – quiet but assured, »
- Jonathan Romney
Hybrid children’s 3D hit was made using green shooting practices.
As well as securing critical acclaim, French bug picture Minuscule: The Valley of the Lost Ants (Minuscule: La Vallée des Fourmis Perdues) is also winning praise from local ecologists.
Figures unveiled at the Ile de France Film Commission’s Location Expo in Paris revealed the production had reduced its potential carbon footprint sevenfold by employing green shooting practices.
The Minuscule format is already known to millions of young viewers around the world through a popular TV series shown on channels such as BBC Four in the UK, Nhk in Japan and the Disney Channel and ABC in the Us.
The feature version hit cinema screens in France at the end of January, drawing some 650,000 spectators in the first two weeks on release. It will head to several other international territories »
Two breakneck motorcycle rides — one across the sand dunes of a Brazilian wind farm, the other into the foggy abyss of a German autobahn — bookend Karim Ainouz’s stunning fifth feature, “Praia do Futuro,” and while the riders disembark for the intervening film, the exhilarating forward momentum between these scenes is near-constant. Part tactile gay romance, part inquisitive journey into self, this spare but sensually saturated story of lives lost and found in Fortaleza and Berlin frequently seems on the verge of losing control (apt, perhaps, for a study of lives lived on multiple edges), but its visual and sonic verve more than compensate for some overworked symbolism. Lgbt-focused fests and distribs will rightly pounce, but Ainouz’s ultra-chic pic is propulsive enough to make waves in other arthouse markets.
From its florid chapter headings to the umpteenth application of David Bowie’s ubiquitous anthem “Heroes” over the closing credits, »
- Guy Lodge
Gregoire Melin’s Kinology has taken international sales rights to “Pere Noel,” a family comedy starring Tahar Rahim and produced by the team behind “The Intouchables.” Kinology is also co-producing the film.
In “Noel,” Rahim stars as a robber dressed as Santa Claus who is followed by a 6-year-old boy convinced he’s the real St. Nick.
“It’s a tender comedy,” Melin said.
Stephane Celerier’s Mars Distribution will release the film in France. Commercial net M6 and pay TV Orange have pre-bought the $14.5 million pic.
Pic started shooting Monday in Paris.
- Elsa Keslassy
Paris –Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color” won the Cannes Palme d’Or. But the Wild Bunch-sold title has some serious competition at France’s Cesar Awards – the country’s equivalents of the Oscars.
Announced Friday by France’s Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the Fouquet restaurant on the Champs Elysees Friday, “Blue” scored in eight categories, two behind Gaumont’s “Me, Myself and Mum,” the directorial debut of Comedie Française-trained actor Guillaume Gallienne, which, having won two prizes at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, broke out to a more than two million tix sales at the French box office, making it one of France’s only considerable hits of last year.
“Blue” and “Me, Myself and Mum” are two gems discovered at Cannes: »
- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy
Paris – Comparisons are odious. But even judged by average receipts abroad over the last 10 years, French films punched a lame year outside France in 2013, bereft of blockbusters and plagued by long-term structural problems shared by much of Europe’s movie production.
Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones, Luc Besson’s retired goodfella action-comedy “Malavita” (pictured) exec produced by Martin Scorsese, scored €47.4 million ($64.5 million) outside France.
Box office from a Cannes Palme d’Or winner and the first movie to come out of a Relativity-EuropaCorp three-pic co-production pact were not enough to save France’s overall 2013 figures.
Total Gallic pic tix sold abroad slumped to 50 million admissions, worth €280 million ($380.8 million) in box office gross, 65% below 2012’s banner best-ever-on-record of 144.1 million tix sales, but »
- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy
Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Actress (photo: Meryl Streep in ‘August: Osage County’) (See also: "Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Actor.") Compared to the vibrant Best Actor field, the 2014 Academy Awards’ Best Actress category looks somewhat anemic. Not in terms of quality, but in terms of quantity. Whereas ten actors could be called strong competitors for the Oscar 2014 shortlist, only five actresses can be considered truly strong candidates for this year’s Best Actress shortlist. Besides these five, there are three unlikely runners-up and a handful of long shots — and we mean "long" as in "light-years-away long." Note: Exact SAG Award and Academy Award matches are actually less common than you might think for the reasons mentioned in our previous Oscar 2014 predictions post (see link in the paragraph above). For instance, last year Marion Cotillard and Helen Mirren were both shortlisted for the Best Actress SAG Awards for, respectively, Jacques Audiard’s »
- Steve Montgomery
A visceral, swaggering performance in the prison drama is set to help propel the former Skins star to stardom. He reveals why 2014 is lining up to be his big year – and why he's ready for it
Jack O'Connell is not pissing about. These are his words. He has just put in the performance of his career in prison drama Starred Up, he's shooting Angelina Jolie's Unbroken – an account of the life of Olympic runner and second-world-war hero Louis Zamperini – in which he again takes the lead, and he's about to tackle a blockbuster with Zack Snyder in 300: Rise of an Empire. He has been acting for 10 years. He's done with partying – he's ready to justify himself. He's intense and focused, older and wiser than the kid who came up through the ranks of the E4 teen drama Skins. He's 23 years old.
I meet O'Connell at the tail end »
- Henry Barnes
9 items from 2014
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