12 items from 2016
While the Toronto International Film Festival generates a sea of press coverage and industry activity in the fall, the Locarno Film Festival receives far less attention from the general public. However, the late summer European gathering — which concluded its 69th edition on Sunday — is a major attraction to cinephiles around the world, and the program contains a variety of world premieres that could wind up finding more audiences beyond the festival circuit — if, that is, buyers take note. Here’s a plea for a few of this year’s highlights to find some homes.
“Hermia & Helena”
Argentine director Matias Piñero’s first English-language feature, in which a young woman comes to New York to work on a translation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is another clever look at the way contemporary characters relate to classic literature to understand their lives. With bit parts for American indie faces Keith Poulson, »
- Eric Kohn
"A Swiss mother who’s lost her son in a car accident decides to track down the Frenchwoman responsible for his death in Frédéric Mermoud's Moka, a lean but skillful adaptation of the eponymous novel by Anglo-French writer Tatiana de Rosnay," begins Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter. "Emmanuelle Devos stars as the mourning mother-on-a-mission, while co-star Nathalie Baye plays the owner of the car—whose coffee-like color gives the film its title—that was involved in the hit-and-run accident. This is the kind of psychological thriller that could’ve been written by Patricia Highsmith several decades ago as it contrasts obsession and revenge with a slow uncovering of the psyche of the two female leads." Along with the trailer, we're collecting reviews. » - David Hudson »
The title of “Moka,” an elegantly lean, low-temperature thriller from Swiss writer-director Frédéric Mermoud, turns out to be less enigmatic than it sounds: It’s the color — a neutral, creamed-coffee hue of 1970s vintage — of the car responsible for the unseen hit-and-run that sets its intriguingly hesitant revenge plot in motion. That’s a fitting name for a film that paints largely in subtle, in-between shades, as grieving mother Emmanuelle Devos finds herself torn between impetuous fury and more calculated psychological warfare in tracking down those responsible for her teenage son’s death. A Chabrol-like slow burn more concerned with fine character crinkles than grand narrative revelations, this Locarno premiere is complicated considerably by Devos’ ever-astute, ambiguous presence; though it’s more sleek than sensational, “Moka’s” classical genre impulses give it a shot at international distribution.
From “I’ve Loved You So Long” to last year’s “Zurich,” grief »
- Guy Lodge
Swiss filmmaker Frédéric Mermoud’s second feature, “Moka” – a complex psychological thriller starring Emmanuelle Devos and Nathalie Baye, primarily lensed in Switzerland – will screen at the Locarno’s Festival’s Piazza Grande. its prime location for more accessible crowd-pleasers. Mermoud’s debut “Complices” (Accomplices) played at Locarno, in 2009. He also directed episodes 5-8 of the first season of the hit French supernatural TV series, “Les Revenants” (The Returned), a game-changing series for France which was broadcast on the Sundance Channela and became the first fully-subtitled series broadcast on the U.K.’s Channel 4 in more than 20 years..
Mermoud, who lives between Paris and Lausanne, talks to Variety about his latest feature.
What were the main challenges in adapting the novel by Tatiana De Rosnay?
- Martin Dale
To coincide with the release of Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan [read our review here], the winner of last year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, we’re looking through this auteur’s back catalogue. With consistent critical acclaim, we’re here to see if such receptions still hold up, and to see if certain films still warrant such appraisal. We may also be able to detect recurring themes, motifs, and visual traits, and to see if they’ve matured in later projects, or have diminished in time. In short, we’re ranking the man’s films from worst to best.
Jacques Audiard firmly roots himself in the crime underworld of Paris with his follow-up to Read My Lips. Thuggish broker Thomas Seyr (Romain Duris) involves himself in unscrupulous activity to assist in his real estate enterprise. »
- Matthew Lee
At the beginning of director Arnaud Desplechin’s 1996 international breakthrough “My Sex Life… or How I Got into an Argument,” a narrator tells us that Paul, played by a young Mathieu Amalric, and Esther, a young Emmanuelle Devos, have “been together for 10 years, and for 10 years, they have not been getting along.” Knowing about the messy dissolution of their relationship, and about everything else that happens in the film informs the experience of Desplechin’s new prequel, the award-winning “My Golden Days.” Still, you don’t need to see “My Sex Life” to enjoy “My Golden Days,” which is wonderful. »
- Tim Cogshell
In the roving, restlessly imaginative films of Arnaud Desplechin, everything is in flux and nothing is nailed down. Like Greek gods and goddesses fallen to earth, his characters rant and storm, banter and cajole, turn on each other one moment and fall into an embrace the next. His freewheeling visual style, often predicated on iris shots, zoom lenses and disjunctive editing techniques, turns clutter into clarity as it follows the tempestuous logic of his characters’ emotions. Even his titles can’t always make up their minds: “My Sex Life … or How I Got Into an Argument,” the name of his sprawling 1993 magnum opus about an incurable and incorrigible lover of women named Paul Dedalus (played by Mathieu Amalric), captures the character’s chronic logorrhea as well as his maddening indecision.
While Desplechin has worked with Amalric in several films since — “Kings and Queen” (2004), “A Christmas Tale” (2008) and the English-language psychotherapy »
- Justin Chang
Commonly known as a lieu that breeds new filmmaking talents, Nicholas Bell and I look back at the filmmakers who made the most noteworthy splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Here are our Top 10 New Voices countdown:
Producer on Patrick Wang’s The Grief of Others and Trey Edward Shults’s Krisha, Jim Cummings showed everyone who is the “boss” with the devilishly funny, conceptually sophisticated and fastidiously well executed short film. In one stroke, Cummings demonstrates a formal rigour, an impressionable, sumptuous pulse and fall-out-of-your-seat choreography. Winner of the top prize with the Short Film Grand Jury Prize, Thunder Road is a crowd pleaser and one heck of a lucky charm calling card. (El)
#9. Bernardo Britto – Jacqueline (Argentine)
On our radar two years back with his animated short (Yearbook), we were quite surprised by the form and the off the chart text »
- IONCINEMA.com Contributing Writers
Justin Long, Michael Nyqvist, Emmanuelle Devos and Rosanna Arquette also star. The film is the directorial debut of Matthew Ross, a former consultant on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and managing editor of Filmmaker magazine.
The story follows the love affair between a Las Vegas chef and a promising fashion designer that is badly derailed when the woman’s past and present demons resurface. Nyqvist portrays a man from Lola’s past.
The film is described as a psychosexual noir love story set in Las Vegas and Paris about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and ultimately the search for redemption.
- Dave McNary
Exclusive: One of the last Sundance Film Festival buzz titles has come off the board. Universal has made a deal for most of the world for a minimum guarantee north of $2 million for Frank And Lola, the Matthew M. Ross-directed drama that stars Imogen Poots, Michael Shannon, Justin Long, Michael Nyqvist, Emmanuelle Devos and Rosanna Arquette. The film is a psycho-sexual noir love story set in Las Vegas and Paris about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and ultimately… »
A movie starring Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots? I don't really need to know anything else to have my ticket sold for "Frank & Lola." But for those who might need a little more push to investigate what the film is all about, the first clip has landed in advance of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Read More: New Projects For Michael Shannon, Lena Dunham, Plus First Look At Miles Teller In 'Bleed For This' Co-starring Michael Nyqvist, Justin Long, Emmanuelle Devos, and Rosanna Arquette, the directorial debut my Matthew Ross follows a Las Vegas chef who falls into a relationship with an enigmatic young woman. Here's the official synopsis: Frank is a brooding, staunch Las Vegas chef who always focused his energy into his culinary talents—until he meets Lola, a young and beautiful enigma. Together, Frank and Lola build an intense relationship that saves each other from their mutual despair. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Paris – A European cast many directors would die for – Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot and Olivier Gourmet – will star in “The Midwife” (“La Sage Femme”), directed by Martin Provost, produced by France’s Curiosa Films and sold by Memento Films International.
Mfi will introduce “The Midwife,” now in pre-production, to buyers at this week’s UniFrance Rendez-Vous With French Cinema, where it is likely to be seen as one of the highest-profile and most attractive of new arthouse projects coming on to the market.
France 3 Cinema and Belgium’s Versus (“The Nun,” “Our Children”) co-produce.
Written by Provost, who won seven Cesar Awards for “Seraphine” including best picture, actress and screenplay, “The Midwife” turns on Claire (Frot), a tremendously gifted traditional midwife who one day receives out of the blue a phone call from Beatrice (Deneuve), her father’s ex-mistress who disappeared from her life 30 years ago, saying she has something important to tell her. »
- John Hopewell
12 items from 2016
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