10 items from 2016
The 2000 film “Center Stage” — the source material for “Center Stage: On Pointe,” which is itself the third film in what we are now forced to call the “Center Stage” universe — is, for what it is, modestly brilliant. Written by Carol Heikkinen, who also wrote cult classic “Empire Records,” and directed by Nicholas Hytner, a theater director of some acclaim, the original “Center Stage” is a slightly too-cerebral melodrama about the pressures of professional dance meeting the pressures of being a teenager. It did not do notably well at the box office, but — like “Empire Records” — “Center Stage” found an audience after its theatrical release, due to some combination of home video sales and TV airings of the relatively family-friendly film.
Because the film is so easy to watch — this is a nice way of saying “mediocre” — it invites repeat viewings, to the point that what happens ceases to matter at all. Instead »
- Sonia Saraiya
On this day in history as it relates to the movies...
1828 Feral teenager Kaspar Hauser is discovered wandering Nuremberg, claiming to have been raised in total isolation. Theories abound and the story inspires many artists down the road including Werner Herzog in the film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974).
1886 Al Jolson is born. Will later star in the first "talkie" The Jazz Singer (1927)
1894 Silent film star Norma Talmadge is born
1897 Bram Stoker's epistolary novel "Dracula" is published. Never stops being adapted for film and television but our hearts will always belong to Francis Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) despite the aggravating double possessive
1907 John Wayne was born. Did he always talk like that?
- NATHANIEL R
Much has been made about Amazon having an unprecedented five pics across the Cannes Official Selection, but so do Belgian filmmakers the Dardennes brothers. A key difference being that the venerable brothers, who direct and produce movies together, have also helmed one of the five titles bowing in Cannes under their Les Films du Fleuve label. They are among a handful of auteurs who have won the Palme d’Or twice.
In this, a banner year, Les Films du Fleuve produced the Dardennes’ new drama, “The Unknown Girl,” and co-produced Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation” and Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake,” all in competition, plus Italian noir “Pericles the Black Man” and French costumer “The Dancer,” both in Un Certain Regard.
Their Cannes clout stands as testimony to the force of cross-border European production as a means to counter Amazon and Netflix.
It also means “The Unknown Girl »
- Carole Horst
French producer Alain Attal is launching Tresor TV, a sister banner which will produce high-end drama.
Attal has Stephanie Di Giusto’s “The Dancer” playing in Un Certain Regard and Nicole Garcia’s “From the Land of the Moon” in competition.
Attal has tapped Louise Barnathan, former exec at TV shingle Compagnie Phares at Balises, as head of development and production. Philippe Lefebvre, Hubert Caillaro, Dominique Boutonnat and Emmanuel Sierra are partners in the TV outfit.
Attal said the TV operation will be housed at his Paris-based movie shingle Les Productions du Tresor and will be collaborating with many of the movie talent who have a relationship with the producer.
“We’re developing a bunch of projects, notably series and TV movies »
- Elsa Keslassy
Exclusive: Ken Loach’s Cannes Competition title has sold to multiple territories.
French sales powerhouse Wild Bunch has closed a slew of deals on Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or contender I, Daniel Blake, capturing life on the breadline in contemporary Britain, following its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Loach’s 13th film in Competition, I, Daniel Blake centres on a carpenter, who finds himself unemployed after a heart attack and single mother battling bureaucracy nightmare in the UK welfare system.
The film has sold to Germany (Prokino), Spain (Caramel), Greece (Feelgood), Switzerland (Filmcoopi), Hungary (Vertigo), the Czech Republic (Film Europe), Former Yugoslavia (McF Megacom), Romania (Independenta) and the Middle East (Teleview), Turkey (Filmarti Film) and Balkans (Iriku)
Uruguay’s Sun Distribution Group has taken all Latin America rights apart from for Brazil, which has been acquired by Imovision.
“They were all closed here during the early days of the festival, which is what »
Were ever words on screen more deserving of groans than the fatal “based on a true story”? To be fair to novice helmer Stéphanie Di Giusto, she acknowledges she took some licenses with dancer Loïe Fuller’s biography, but then why bother with the “based on” line when nearly all of “The Dancer” deviates so wildly from the truth? More problematic, even if we accept the film as pure fiction, is its pedestrian construction and ill-conceived script, unlikely to spark interest in one of the most innovative and influential performers of the last century and a quarter. Its $9 million budget was a lot of dough for main producer Alain Attal to round up, though perhaps Euro play might see respectable returns.
Di Giusto claims “almost no one” remembers Fuller, though ask anyone remotely familiar with dance history, film history and the Belle Époque, and they’ll all be able to »
- Jay Weissberg
Lily-Rose Depp popped up at the photocall for her film La Danseuse at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday. The 16-year-old model and actress struck a series of poses in a cozy Chanel hoodie and shorts set and linked up with her costars Mélanie Thierry, Gaspard Ulliel, and Kristen Stewart's ex-girlfriend Soko. Lily-Rose plays the role of famed dancer Isadora Duncan in the 19th century drama, and looked every bit the burgeoning movie star when she arrived on the red carpet for the big premiere later that evening. Also on hand for the fun in Cannes is Lily-Rose's mom, Vanessa Paradis; the French native is one of this year's jury members at the festival along with Kirsten Dunst, Donald Sutherland, and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. Vanessa and Lily-Rose have yet to hit the red carpet together this week, but how stunningly similar the teenager looks to her mom is »
- Brittney Stephens
Lily-Rose Depp isn't your average 16-year-old. With a Chanel contract, a film selected for this year's Cannes Film Festival, and 1.4 million (and growing) Instagram followers, the daughter of Johnny Depp and French star Vanessa Paradis has just added a Vanity Fair cover to her burgeoning résumé. Appearing in the latest issue of the glossy's French edition, the "icon in the making," as Vanity Fair France dubbed her, says she's plunged head-first into French cinema after tenuous steps in two Kevin Smith films"For me, it's simple: I like to act," she tells the magazine. "It frees me. I want to make it my craft. »
- Peter Mikelbank
★★★★☆ British director Ken Russell passed away in 2011 leaving behind a life's work devoted to filmmaking at its most exuberant and vital. Russell made a number of films in the early part of his career which depicted artists brimming with the same enthusiasm of expression as the director himself. The Great Passions is one of two collections which the BFI are releasing to honour his distinctive approach to the biographical form. The three films collected here are dedicated to Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Dante's Inferno), Isadora Duncan (Isadora) and Henri Rousseau (Always On Sunday) - three artists whose eccentricity provide a perfect foil to Russell's own bravura style.
- CineVue UK
“Thank You, Del” exalts the continuing legacy of Del Close, the late actor, writer and teacher whose coaching of numerous future stars (including multiple “Saturday Night Live” generations) and popularizing of improv techniques indelibly shaped modern comedy. Todd Bieber’s documentary doesn’t offer in-depth biographical treatment, or even much insight into improvisation itself, preferring instead to dwell on some celebrity personal reminiscences and the torch-carrying annual Del Close Marathon hosted by acolytes the Upright Citizens Brigade. The result isn’t all that enlightening, but provides a fun watch with comedy luminaries like Amy Poehler and as-yet-unknown talents demonstrating their love for the performance idiom on stage and off. Cable broadcast is the pic’s natural destination.
Close, who died in 1999 at age 64, worked in various New York stage settings (including with Mike Nichols and Elaine May) before joining San Francisco’s influential sketch comedy troupe the Committee in the late 1960s. »
- Dennis Harvey
10 items from 2016
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