12 items from 2014
(So ok, maybe I don't hate All mimes...) There have been many famous French directors in the history of cinema, but few have been as universally loved as Jacques Tati. A former mime, his films are sight-based observational comedies, featuring long stretches without dialogue. Often you're just watching Jacques Tati himself, either as his famous Monsieur Hulot or as some other character, spectacularly failing to do something in a normal way. Then again, watch a bit closer and you see him questioning what's normal anyway. Most of the time, any bumbling from the main characters results from the fact that the "normal" thing they try to do is actually pretty stupid already, maybe considered appropriate by modern society but hardly logical. Tati was one of...
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Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they get lost in the whirling modern wonder of Jacques Tati‘s fictional Paris to revel in whimsy, caprice and noisy angst. In the #43 (tied) movie on the list, the doofy Mr. Hulot (Tati) bumbles around the labyrinthine steel and concrete of a tech-addled city while tourists bounce around station to station and the background eventually comes to the foreground. Honestly, writing a plot synopsis for Playtime is a self-defeating purpose. But »
- FSR Staff
With the delightful exception of Disney’s jaunty, form-busting “Get a Horse!,” a mood of sweet melancholia prevails among this year’s typically fine Oscar nominees for animated short, the best of which offer a welcome draught of personal vision and emotional subtlety not always evident in their feature-length counterparts. Although these five distinctly accomplished offerings vary widely in tone, style, subject and inspiration, almost all of them have something touching to impart about the challenges of isolation and the consolations of friendship in unexpected places — whether it’s the unlikely bond between a man and his dog in the all-metal dystopian world of “Mr. Hublot,” or a kind-hearted witch who adopts one pet after another in “Room on the Broom.”
Certainly an infectious sense of team spirit informs director Lauren MacMullan’s “Get a Horse!,” the deliriously inventive Mickey Mouse cartoon that accompanied Disney’s Oscar-nominated smash “Frozen” in theaters. »
- Justin Chang
Isaac Julien's seven-screen installation, which features Franco as an art adviser, revolves around the flow of capital – the unseen director of all our lives
• Watch a trailer for Playtime here
The city rears up around us, lit windows against the night, the corporate buildings blocking the sky. In an all-white empty office, a hedge-fund manager plays a lonesome trumpet. A skittering drum kicks in, adding an urgent pulse. The pulse is money: capital at work. Ranks of computers and servers churn the numbers in a sub-basement world where the capital flows.
In an auction room, prices are spiralling. Actor James Franco, playing an art adviser, explains how art has become a hedge against money's instability. The price of art has nothing to do with the art itself. In another scene, auctioneer Simon de Pury explains the exponential rise of the art market since the 2008 financial crash. Superstitious, he always »
- Adrian Searle
Michel Landi (born 1932) is an incredibly prolific French poster artist with more than 1,500 posters to his name, many of which, like his Bullitt, are very well known. Having worked from the late 50s—when he began by painting the billboards outside Paris movie theaters—through to the 00s, he has worked in many different mediums (he had a notable airbrush period in the 80s) and isn’t really known for one distinctive style. But I recently discovered a number of painted posters by Landi from the late 60s and early 70s that are all very much the work of one artist: all distinguished by wildly expressive brush strokes and a generous, almost fauvist, use of color. The first one I noticed was this exuberant re-release poster for Jacques Tati’s Jour de Fête which renders a carousel as a whirlwind of paint. »
- Adrian Curry
Paris – The 16th UniFrance Rendez-vous gathered 150 journalists from Europe and beyond to screen screeners and conduct interviews with the makers and stars of the latest crop of French films now rolling out across the world. Variety asked a clutch of them to opine – something that’s in their DNA – on which title at the junket had the best box office prospects in their territory, the best performances in a junket film, and – at time when UniFrance is tubthumping for thesps to put their backs behind the promotion of the films they star in, who was really good value in an interview. The poll is no Variety Rendez-vous Awards, but it tips its hat to some potential box office hits, in relative terms, and engaging perfs on and off the screen.
Richard Mowe, Cinefile, U.K.
Best B.O. Prospects
This has to be “Chinese Puzzle” which scored highly with audiences »
- John Hopewell
Is This a Lasting Treasure?: Chen’s Sophomore Rom-Com a Sugary Sweet Endeavor
Arvin Chen, the Taiwanese-American director and screenwriter of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? certainly has a penchant for flights of fancy, though his latest film has an inescapable streak of melancholic longing that sometimes lends it an engaging advantage over similarly formulated titles in this vein. Your attraction to fluffy escapades involving miscommunications in love and lust will most likely determine your reaction to the film, which, as its poppy title taken from an iconic ditty from the Shirelle’s indicates, will resolve itself in satisfactory fashion so you’re left with a warm, faded glow of enjoyment. Dipping into moments of magical realism, Chen channels a tradition of classical cinema that may have you recalling Jacques Tati or Jacques Demy, though it doesn’t quite reach a confectionary crescendo as those particular influences would suggest. »
- Nicholas Bell
Directed by Jacques Tati.
Monsieur Hulot battles the modern architecture and technology of Paris, creating pockets of benign chaos through to the early morning.
Playtime opens on an airport lounge for what feels like ages. People are dwarfed in the longshot, going about their business. After a while, the static camera's reason becomes apparent. This is a film dictated by its environment, not those that inhabit it. The precise way each character moves, the exact lines of latitude they travel across...they are nothing but cogs in some vast machine.
But then appears a cog that doesn't quite fit. He walks on his toes, as though in constant danger of falling forward, and his trousers are slightly too short, revealing the bright socks that clash with the rest of his outfit. He doesn't move in the predetermined routes of others. »
- Oliver Davis
Simon Columb kicks off our Buster Keaton month with a short introduction...
In his definitive book on Silent Comedy, Paul Merton, 88-pages in, titles a chapter “Enter Buster - and Others”. Many would imagine Buster Keaton, with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, are front a centre in a guide on the era. Indeed, while Chaplin is an icon, it is Keaton who holds critical favour. The end of his life was marred by financial struggle and yet now, many consider Keaton superior to Chaplin in his intelligent direction, innovative techniques and everlasting tone of comedy. In 1917, when Charlie Chaplin was well-known, Buster Keaton made his screen debut in the Roscoe Arbuckle short “The Butcher Boy”, hence his late introduction in Merton’s book. If Keaton was told in 1917 that he would be known in the same capacity as Chaplin, he would surely laugh it off as simply ludicrous. Or he’d stare at you blankly. »
- Gary Collinson
A co-financier and sales agent, and sometimes producer and distributor on “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” “The Artist” and “Asterix & Obelix: God Save Britannia,” Wild Bunch has backed a significant number of the most ambitious recent films to come out of France. And that’s not to mention “Holy Motors,” “Polisse” and long-standing relationships with Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Ozon, Gaspar Noe and Arnaud Desplechin. Now, Wild Bunch is cutting down on French films for world sales.
One year ago, Wild Bunch founder-partner Vincent Maraval shook the French film industry with an article in Le Monde, arguing that French films were too expensive and that this is directly due to France’s subsidy system, above all its obligation for broadcasters to invest in French cinema.
12 months later, in the first of a series of Variety Q & As, coinciding with the Unifrance Paris Rendez-vous, Maraval announces that Wild Bunch is scaling back on French film investment, »
- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy
2014 is shaping up to be an exciting year for moviegoers. From films like The Lego Movie and The Monuments Men, to the endless list of big budget summer releases, I’m sure that we’ll all be kept very busy at the multiplexes. But for me the most exciting part of any new movie year is when the Criterion Collection announces their monthly titles. As they did the year before, Criterion recently published a charming drawing teasing some of their 2014 releases. Let the debates begin!
The people over at Criterion Cast and Criterion Forum (via The Playlist) have their own ideas about what the picture represents. Some of the doodles are self-explanatory: an exploding head is likely to be David Cronenberg’s Scanners and the gentleman in a box smoking a pipe looks very much like Jacques Tati. The picnic scene could be any number of films, including Picnic At Hanging Rock and Ringu. »
- Lauren Humphries-Brooks
Criterion has released their annual New Year teaser image hinting at titles we can expect from the boutique distributor over the course of the new year and the most easily recognizable titles include David Cronenberg's Scanners, an upgraded version of Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock, Howard Hawks' Red River and a box set celebrating Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot, which would seem to suggest Blu-ray editions of Mr. Hulot's Holiday and Mon Oncle. I'd say we may be able to expect Daniel Petrie's A Raisin in the Sun and I can't tell if the deer in the bushes suggest The Deer Hunter or not. The beatles in the grass could suggest Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night and the girl with the long black hair at the picnic could mean Hideo Nakata's Ringu. The red sun seems almost obviously Terence Young's Red Sun »
- Brad Brevet
12 items from 2014
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