7 items from 2014
In its early going, the Marrakech Film Festival, founded in 2001, remained relatively distant from Morocco’s still-fragile domestic film industry.
But in the interim years, public funding for national films has increased tenfold; since mid-last-decade, Moroccan films have more than held their own at the domestic box office: In recent years, over half the top-10 films at the annual box office have been locally produced.
Morocco’s new filmmaking generation — including Nabil Ayouch, Leila Kilani, Narjiss Nejjar, Faouzi Bensaïdi and Nour-Eddine Lakhmari — have made the cut at prestigious film festivals. Ayouch’s latest, “Horses of God” was Morocco’s official foreign-language Oscar entry and received major backing from U.S. helmer Jonathan Demme.
As domestic films have grown in maturity, popularity and international appeal, the Marrakech Festival – one of the biggest cultural events in Africa and the Arab world – has also opened its doors to local films, including pics in Competition, »
- Martin Dale
It would take a lot to squander the talents of Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer, but Elsa & Fred comes awfully close to doing so. Without much to recommend beyond the merits of the veteran actors, the inconsequential romantic drama swerves from being pondering to pleasant and back again. During the scenes of the couple’s impromptu running around the bustling city, trying to find a spark through more delinquent pleasures, the film finds its pulse. When we are locked in their apartments, watching their strained attempts at finding friendship, Elsa & Fred is dragged down by the screenplay’s inactivity.
Indifferently directed by Michael Radford of Il Postino fame, the drama focuses on two seniors living in adjacent, golden-lit New Orleans apartments. Elsa Hayes (MacLaine) is a bit of a troublemaker, trying to get out of paying for damaging a sports car by playing up her oblivious senior citizen qualities. Divorced »
- Jordan Adler
Anything Elsa: Radford’s Remake Rough Around the Edges
English director Michael Radford, still best known for earlier works 1984 (1984) and the critical darling Il Postino (1994), arrives with his most notable effort since that Demi Moore diamond heist flick, Flawless (2007) with a remake of Argentinean director Marcos Carnevale’s 2005 film, Elsa & Fred. Featuring two iconic American stars in this rehashed material gains Radford a lot of leverage in what’s otherwise a rather feeble claptrap of mounting cliché, though it will indubitably find a strong herd of champions from older audience members hungry for mainstream-minded cinematic vehicles aimed at their sensibilities and starring familiar faces.
In tax-break friendly New Orleans, octogenarian Fred (Christopher Plummer) has recently lost his wife, and is aggravated this his daughter Lydia (Marcia Gay Harden) has taken it upon herself, and with the help of her smarmy husband (Chris Noth), to relocate him to a smaller apartment. »
- Nicholas Bell
Brazilian actor-turned-director Selton Mello has is following up his milestone art film “The Clown,” Brazil’s Oscar entry, with “A Movie Life” adapting the book “A Distant Father” by Chilean Antonio Skarmeta, one of whose other novels was turned by Michael Radford into “The Postman.”
A rites-of-passage story of big dreams in ‘60s small-town Brazil, “A Movie Life” turns on Tony, who returns from college to his home-town in the sleepy sierras of southern Brazil. His father has fled home. Tony becomes a teacher college graduate, courts a lovely local girl, frequents a cinema in a neighboring town – which harbors a shocking surprise.
“Everything that I hold dear is there,” Mello said of Skarmeta’s novella: A great emotional adventure, captivating characters, a fun and moving plot.”
- John Hopewell
Elsa & Fred is the story of two people who, at the end of the road, discover that it’s never too late to love. After losing his wife, Fred (Christopher Plummer) feels disturbed, confused and alone, so his daughter (Marcia Gay Harden) helps move him into a small apartment where he meets Elsa (Shirley Maclaine).
From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into Fred’s life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live – be it more or less – is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases.
- Melissa Thompson
Cannes — Stealth Media Group has boarding comedy “Road to Capri” for international sales, and will introduce the project to buyers in Cannes. Atlas Distribution Company will handle U.S. distribution.
The cast includes Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”), Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”), Ian McShane (“Deadwood”), Maria Grazia Cucinotta (“Il Postino”), Franco Nero (“Django”) and Nicolas Vaporidis (“Men Vs Women”).
The film follows two young men, one American, Daniel (Muniz), and the other Italian, Luca (Vaporidis), who have absolutely nothing in common until one fateful day. On that day each would learn of the death of their father — but what neither was expecting to learn was that their father was the same man, and that they had inherited the family home in Capri, equally. Under the guidance of their uncle, Guido (Nero), they set out on a road of discovery that leads to Capri and the “sharing” of the family home. »
- Leo Barraclough
Best Supporting Actor Oscar Predictions 2014 (photo: Jared Leto in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’) As explained in our previous Oscar 2014 predictions post, this year’s Academy Award nominations in the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories initially looked impossible to predict. For Best Supporting Actor, Jared Leto was the front-runner for his performance as a transsexual with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club, and Michael Fassbender was another strong possibility for his evil planter in 12 Years a Slave — but who else? (See also: "Oscar Predictions 2014 Best Actress: Meryl Streep Possibly to Break Another Record," "Oscar Predictions 2014 Best Actor: Robert Redford Possible Near-Record," "Best Supporting Actress 2014 Oscar Predictions: Jennifer Lawrence and/or Scarlett Johansson to Make Oscar History?" and "Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Picture, Best Director.") A couple of weeks ago, the SAG Award nominations helped to clarify things some, but, just as in the Best Supporting Actress category, there remains quite »
- Steve Montgomery
7 items from 2014
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