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Scott Foundas: Well, Peter, another Berlin Film Festival has come to a close, ending on a high note with the awarding of its top prize, the Golden Bear, to Jafar Panahi’s “Taxi.” Panahi’s film screened right at the start of the festival and emerged as an early consensus favorite among critics here. As it turns out, the Darren Aronofsky-led jury felt the same way, and I’d like to think their decision was based solely on the movie’s artistic merits, rather than the unfortunate position in which its director finds himself in his native Iran, where he’s been under house arrest for the last four years. It’s impossible, of course, to watch “Taxi” without thinking about the unusual circumstances under which it was made — something this highly self-reflexive film very much invites you to do. But what makes “Taxi” a great movie, I think, »
- Peter Debruge and Scott Foundas
America’s Second Amendment inadvertently serves to keep Mexican drug cartels stocked with U.S.-made, military-grade artillery in “600 Miles,” an understated, astutely gauged look at the way weapons flow south to arm Latin American infighting, as seen through the eyes of two characters on opposing sides of the law: a low-level Mexican weapons smuggler (Kristyan Ferrer) and the American Atf agent (Tim Roth) he kidnaps after a bust goes bad. Whereas many directors would be tempted to exploit the subject in over-the-top action-movie mode, first-timer Gabriel Ripstein opts for a less sensational, true-to-life approach suited for discriminating festival and arthouse audiences.
Following in the gritty-realism tradition of “Maria Full of Grace,” while acknowledging that the illicit traffic flows both ways — in this case, from north to south — “600 Miles” tackles an issue that’s gotten considerably less exposure in the news for the simple fact that Americans don’t seem »
- Peter Debruge
We're knee-deep in awards season at the moment, with all the attendant speculation, drama and controversy you would expect. Who should win? Who was snubbed? Who will fall over before they reach the podium? We're looking at you, Jennifer Lawrence.
Around this time, we tend to realise the shocking number of lauded films from previous years which we still haven't seen. So here's a selection of the best award-winning films you can catch up with on Netflix:
Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 classic hardly needs an introduction from us. The film took three Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for Marlon Brando, as well as a record five Golden Globes and further nods from the Grammys, and Writers and Directors Guilds of America.
Paris — The Paris-Ile de France region is increasingly positioning itself as Europe’s premier film production hub, while simultaneously building synergies with its closest rival, London, and also with production centers in Belgium and Luxembourg.
In recent years there has been a sea change in the way the local industry works. Since the Nouvelle Vague, France has charted its own distinctive path in the film world, including a strong emphasis on auteur films. But this underlying commitment to the “Art et Essai” — broadly, arthouse — films is complemented by a new generation of directors interested in integrating VFX and animation work within their projects.
In the wake of the digital revolution, all areas of French film production have gone digital, including subtle use of “invisible” VFX on auteur films. Recent examples include VFX work by Mikros Image on Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” and Buf »
- Martin Dale
Paris – France’s Mikros Image, with headquarters in Paris and offices in Montreal, Los Angeles, Liège, Brussels, Luxembourg and Milan, plans to reinforce its animation and VFX work, revolving primarily around its three-main operation centers: Paris, Belgium and Montreal.
With a 250-strong workforce, the company is one of France’s veteran and most highly-respected VFX shingles.
Mikros rose to international recognition with its 2010 Oscar-winning toon short “Logorama” and bowed a dedicated animation division in June 2012 in Levallois-Perret, Paris.
Its first animation feature, Louis Clichy and Alexandre Astier’s €37 million ($42 million) “Asterix: the Land of the Gods,” was released in France on Nov. 26, clocking up 0.93 million admissions for distributor Snd in its opening week. The film’s cumulative 3.2 million admissions, complemented by worldwide sales, makes it one of the most successful French toon pics ever.
- Martin Dale
★★★★☆ Jessica Hausner's Amour Fou (2014) has enjoyed considerable praise since it premiered in the Un Certain Regard section back at the Cannes Film Festival last May and is a quietly effective denunciation of the idea of dying for love. It's a reserved period piece, but as with her brilliant Lourdes (2009) it's Hausner's restraint that ends up imbuing her argument with power. We meet German romantic writer Heinrich von Kleist (Christian Friedel, who audiences may recognise from fellow Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or-winning The White Ribbon) as a young, melancholy poet more than a little in love with the notion of death.
- CineVue UK
Paris based director Yves Montmayeur has carved out quite a niche for himself with an extensive filmography of acclaimed, film-related documentaries. His 2013 Michael Haneke focused effort - Michael H Profession: Director - is something of an anomaly in Montmayeur's work in that it casts its eye on a European talent rather than to Asia but the director of Pinku Eiga: Inside The Pleasure Dome Of Japanese Erotic Cinema, Johnnie Got His Gun, In The Mood For Doyle and Electric Yakuza Go To Hell returns to his regular stomping ground of Asian cult cinema with his upcoming Meiko Kaji: Under The Sign Of Scorpion.The subject, of course, is iconic Japanese actress Kaji Meiko, leading lady in the Female Convict Scorpion and Lady Snowblood films -...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
Catherine Deneuve: César Award Besst Actress Record-Tier (photo: Catherine Deneuve in 'In the Courtyard / Dans la cour') (See previous post: "Kristen Stewart and Catherine Deneuve Make César Award History.") Catherine Deneuve has received 12 Best Actress César nominations to date. Deneuve's nods were for the following movies (year of film's release): Pierre Salvadori's In the Courtyard / Dans la Cour (2014). Emmanuelle Bercot's On My Way / Elle s'en va (2013). François Ozon's Potiche (2010). Nicole Garcia's Place Vendôme (1998). André Téchiné's Thieves / Les voleurs (1996). André Téchiné's My Favorite Season / Ma saison préférée (1993). Régis Wargnier's Indochine (1992). François Dupeyron's Strange Place for an Encounter / Drôle d'endroit pour une rencontre (1988). Jean-Pierre Mocky's Agent trouble (1987). André Téchiné's Hotel America / Hôtel des Amériques (1981). François Truffaut's The Last Metro / Le dernier métro (1980). Jean-Paul Rappeneau's Le sauvage (1975). Additionally, Catherine Deneuve was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category »
- Steve Montgomery
It’s a lonely and unforgiving road to take, but daring filmmakers often like to box us into challenging places. Michael Haneke has made an entire career based on bracing confrontation, and some of the best films of 2014 were engrossingly austere and demanding in presentation and form (“Under The Skin,” “Foxcatcher,” Enemy”). But we rarely see such taxing audacity from first time filmmakers. Making his debut feature-length effort with “Take Me To The River,” Matt Sobel borrows a page from the uncomfortable school of filmmaking, but colors it with his own peculiar, but distinct, perspective. Controlled and self-assured, Sobel’s mysterious film is interested in the odd sensations of confusion, misperception, and misunderstandings. Played out like a genuinely strange waking dream, “Take Me To The River” plunges you into the cloudy waters of “what the fuck is going on?” On a Nebraskan farm, a large, but unassuming family reunion is taking place. »
- Rodrigo Perez
The Vienna and Luxembourg-based firm, co-founded by Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu and Bady Minck, are currently at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (Iffr) (Jan 21-Feb 1) for the world premiere of its new film, Dreams Rewired narrated by Tilda Swinton.
Speaking in Rotterdam, the producers revealed that the first project in development with Jelinek is La Belle Dormeuse (The Beautiful Woman Sleeping), to be directed by Ulrike Ottinger. It is described by the producers as “a modern feminist vampire story”.
The second is Die Liebhaberinnen (Women As Lovers), which is adapted from Jelinek’s 1975 novel of the same name and will be directed by newcomer Caroline Kox.
Amour Fou is already producing a short film by Kox, titled Casting A Woman.
The Jelinek projects are likely to shoot in 2016.
In the meantime, the company »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Geoffrey Macnab)
Park City, Utah – There are too many films and not enough time between shuttle shuffles and line waiting to cover the festival day by day. So, in pure improvised festival-going fashion, I’ll now be posting reviews for material that I see, but necessarily in viewing order. Enjoy!
Image credit: Sundance Institute
A human being who looks better at his current age than I ever will in my entire life, Robert Redford has a sprightly screen presence that has carried him through thick and thin, even brutal storms that live-or-die on his charisma (Aka “All is Lost,” one of the best films of 2013). For his next adventure, Redford goes softer than a survival story, but nonetheless into an amusing jaunt with “A Walk in the Woods.”
Based on the nonfictional accounts by New Hampshire writer Bill Bryson, Redford embodies the author as an amusing smart-ass, »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
The sudden loss of one parent and the looming death of another set the stage for “James White,” a stripped-bare family drama that marks the feature directing debut of indie producer Josh Mond. Familiar in its general trajectory, but unusually raw and ragged in its emotional architecture, Mond’s fraught portrait of a mother and son in crisis sports a pair of knockout performances by Cynthia Nixon and “Girls” alumnus Christopher Abbott, and a vivid feel for wayward New York youths cocooned by upper-middle-class privilege, but little in the way of redemptive creature comforts. Audiences seeking spiritual uplift are strongly advised to look elsewhere.
Mond, who previously directed several short films, is best known as the longtime producing partner of directors Antonio Campos (“Afterschool”) and Sean Durkin (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), whose New York-based Borderline Films collective has carved out a certain niche of dark, provocative psychological dramas strongly influenced »
- Scott Foundas
A fiercely committed ensemble and an exquisite sense of historical detail conspire to cast a highly atmospheric spell in “The Witch,” a strikingly achieved tale of a mid-17th-century New England family’s steady descent into religious hysteria and madness. Laying an imaginative foundation for the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials that would follow decades later, writer-director Robert Eggers’ impressive debut feature walks a tricky line between disquieting ambiguity and full-bore supernatural horror, but leaves no doubt about the dangerously oppressive hold that Christianity exerted on some dark corners of the Puritan psyche. With its formal, stylized diction and austere approach to genre, this accomplished feat of low-budget period filmmaking will have to work considerable marketing magic to translate appreciative reviews into specialty box-office success, but clearly marks Eggers as a storyteller of unusual rigor and ambition.
A New England-born, Brooklyn-based talent who started out in the theater, Eggers has several film »
- Justin Chang
The Museum Of Modern Art and the Film Society Of Lincoln Center announced the first nine films in the long-lived showcase for new work. They include Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s winner of the Critics’ Week grand prize at Cannes, which is set in a Ukrainian school for deaf and mute coeds and is told entirely in sign language, with no subtitles. The Tribe is one of four films that will make their way to Manhattan from Park City, Utah, where they’re also on the Sundance roster: Charles Poekel’s Christmas, Again, about a heartbroken Christmas-tree salesman; Rick Alverson’s Entertainment, a follow-up to The Comedy, about a broken-down comedian doing stand-up across the Mojave Desert and Kornél Mundruczó’s White God, winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes about a dog’s journey back to its owner after being abandoned in the city.
Representing 11 countries from around the world, »
- The Deadline Team
Arriving on DVD without having experienced a Us theatrical release, The Dark Valley toured several smaller film festivals after premiering a year ago at the Berlin International Film Festival. Multiple category winner at both the German Film and Bavarian Film Awards, with a stop at Karlovy Vary and a late 2014 North American stint, which included programming in the mini German Currents events in Los Angeles, it’s unfortunate the title didn’t receive a wider platform considering its rather curious elements.
Selected as Austria’s entry for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar submission, this is perhaps director Andreas Prochaska’s most accomplished narrative effort, as he’s generally steeped in television or pulpy genre. His latest, a by-the-numbers Western, captures a rather poetic ambience, even as it manages to neglect both its protagonist and rather garish details that skews the film into horror film territory. UK star Sam Riley »
- Nicholas Bell
Marrakech’s jury prexy, Isabelle Huppert, has just completed a four-month stint in the United States, where she co-starred with Cate Blanchett in the Sydney Theater Company production of Jean Genet’s “The Maids,” at the Lincoln Center Festival, followed by her film roles in Joachim Trier’s “Louder than Bombs,” alongside Jesse Eisenberg and Gabriel Byrne, and in Guillaume Nicloux’s “The Valley of Love,” with Gerard Depardieu.
In an interview at the Marrakech film festival she explained that her recent intensive U.S. experience is a pure coincidence of back-to-back projects.
Huppert explained that she’s very happy with the roles that she has been offered recently and is not overly concerned about being typecast, for example »
- Martin Dale
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is notable in the season for a number of reasons. First, it's a massive voting body unlike most on the circuit, so their nominations choices can often hint toward consensus. Second, their winner very often goes on to win the Academy Award for Best Director, which as we all know tends to presage the Best Picture Oscar. But... ...one wonders how those two elements are being viewed as of late. After all, the last two years have seen a split, once by necessity ("Argo" director Ben Affleck was not nominated), the second time in a close race. Could it be that the Academy will start looking at these categories differently rather than as a package deal? Maybe, maybe not. I have no real answers there. I'm just asking the question. Anyway, the DGA nominated mostly expected names today. Clint Eastwood, naturally. "American Sniper" is cruising. »
- Kristopher Tapley
The cinema of Michael Haneke may be described as cold, distant, even isolating, as the Austrian auteur prizes the examination of estrangement and the discontent of families or individuals trapped within the confines of what we refer to as modern society. He also cares little for coddling audiences, often directly criticizing what we’ve come to expect and desire from cinematic narratives. Starting out as a director in television in the early 1970′s, it would be his 1989 feature debut The Seventh Continent that first garnered attention, followed by 1992′s Benny’s Video (starring Angela Winkler), which played at Director’s Fortnight, as did his 1994 title 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance. In 1997, Haneke would direct a television adaptation of Kafka’s The Castle, starring Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Muhe, the acting couple that would headline one of his most galvanizing titles also that year with Funny Games, »
- Nicholas Bell
Mention the word “overcrowded” and awards pundits immediately talk about the best-actor race. But the director ranks are just as jam-packed — and offer a more interesting insight into the state of the film biz.
There are at least a dozen individuals whose 2014 efforts are worth remembering; however, there are only five slots, meaning some deserving folks will be disappointed on Jan. 13, when the Directors Guild of America announces nominees, and on Jan. 15, when the Academy unveils the Oscar contenders.
This year’s director crop includes some interesting trends:
Two women: Ava DuVernay for “Selma” and Angelina Jolie for “Unbroken” mean history could be made this year. Admittedly, two is not a lot, considering there are 323 eligible films. But it is a sign that things are changing.
- Tim Gray
Looking for more highbrow fare to supplement your holiday binge-streaming of "Friends" on Netflix? While several of 2014's best films now on Amazon Prime are also up on Netflix—including Pawel Pawlikowski's Oscar-shortlisted beauty "Ida" and Roger Michell's underseen autumn-years romance "Le Week-End"—Amazon Prime subscribers can enjoy even more this weekend. We've rounded up the best of the best: "Borgman" (dir. Alex van Warmerdam) A dark suburban fairytale that takes cues from Yorgos Lanthimos ("Dogtooth") and Michael Haneke ("Funny Games"), while firmly remaining its own strange beast, "Borgman" hovers perilously over a stiff upper-class family whose bearings are unmoored by the appearance of a mysterious vagrant fellow (Jan Bijvoet). A creepy blast from beginning to end. "Coherence" (dir. James Ward Byrkit) "Coherence" is not just smart science fiction: it's a triumph of crafty »
- Ryan Lattanzio
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