8 items from 2015
Not alright, alright, alright. That was more or less the universal reception to “Sea Of Trees,” Gus Van Sant’s drama starring Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts, and Ken Watanabe, when it premiered at Cannes this year. Much anticipated, given its prestigious Competition slot, McConaughey’s recent hot run, and Van Sant’s Palme d’Or-winning track record, the film bowed back in May to a chorus of boos, and has been notably absent from the fall festivals, and the release calendar. Following McConaughey’s depression-stricken American to Japan’s famous "suicide forest," where he meets a similarly distraught Japanese businessman, our review said that the film “mixes the thrills of ‘Gerry’ with the subtlety of ‘Finding Forrester’ and the originality of the ‘Psycho’ redo,” and that the title was appropriate, because “it makes you feel like you’re drowning, and it’s full of sap.” But the reaction doesn’t »
- Oliver Lyttelton
The Toronto International Film Festival has added 5 Galas and 19 Special Presentations to its huge and highly anticipated international lineup including the Closing Night Film, Paco Cabezas’s Mr. Right.
In July, it was announced that Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition will open the 2015 Festival. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper and Judah Lewis, Demolition will have its world premiere on September 10 at Roy Thomson Hall.
Toronto audiences will be among the first to screen films by directors Ridley Scott, Deepa Mehta, Lenny Abrahamson, Brian Helgeland, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, Jason Bateman, Cary Fukunaga, Catherine Corsini, Stephen Frears, Tom Hooper, Hany Abu-Assad, Meghna Gulzar, Terence Davies, Jonás Cuarón, Julie Delpy, Rebecca Miller, Rob Reiner, Catherine Hardwicke, Pan Nalin, Lorene Scafaria, David Gordon Green, Matthew Cullen, Gaby Dellal, James Vanderbilt and Marc Abraham.
- Michelle McCue
Gus Van Sant's new film "The Sea of Trees," a meditative suicide drama starring Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe, has reportedly not fared well at the film's first press screening in Cannes today.
The reaction first emerged a few hours ago as tweets from critics like Scott Foundas and Greg Ellwood indicated that the movie received a chorus of boos.
Subsequently reviews have popped up online in The Guardian which give it a 1/5 and called it a "fantastically annoying and dishonest tear-jerker" that essentially parodies Van Sant's own "Gerry".
Meanwhile Indiewire calls it "painfully misguided" and Van Sant's worst movie. This is not the kind of reaction that U.S. distributor Roadside Attractions was probably hoping for as it picked up the film on Wednesday for a North American release later this year.
Source: Variety »
- Garth Franklin
Gus Van Sant's "The Sea of Trees," starring Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe, has found a home. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions has acquired Us rights to the film at the Cannes Film Festival, where it is playing in competition. When I wrote up this year's awards prospects vis a vis Cannes, I noted that "The Sea of Trees" might, however, prove too esoteric if it's in the vein of films like "Gerry" and "Last Days," towering achievements that just couldn't penetrate on the broad level of Academy recognition. From what I've been told by someone who has seen "Sea," that's indeed the case, but the performances, I'm told, are exceptional. So maybe McConaughey or Watanabe can keep their races interesting. We'll know more Saturday after the film screens for international press. Of course, Van Sant never really aims for the Academy's sweet spot. When things work out, it's generally on his terms. »
- Kristopher Tapley
Last year's edition of the Cannes International Film Festival brought with it the usual early awards possibilities. Some went the distance (Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" in a number of categories). Others fell short (Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner"). But while Sundance is certainly stepping up its awards-relevance game, the Croisette is where people really start pondering how the film year will shake out once the Oscar drums start banging late in the fall. One person who has leaned into the fest heavily the last couple of years is Harvey Weinstein. He has consistently held an event showcasing materials for The Weinstein Company's upcoming releases there, but this year he has a pair of films actually in competition that could make waves on the circuit. And it all starts with one of the most long-awaited films of the bunch. Todd Haynes' adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's "Carol" is, along with »
- Kristopher Tapley
Director Gus Van Sant’s has had great experiences at the at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Palme d'Or in 2003 for his drama “Elephant," and not so great experiences — 2011’s “Restless” was not so warmly received. He’s been on the Croisette several times, and he’ll be In Competition once again for his upcoming film, “Sea Of Trees.” But which Van Sant will show up? The filmmaker obviously vacillates from the commercial (“Milk”) to the more esoteric and introspective (his entire “Gerry” through "Paranoid Park" run, which went from 2002 to 2007 and includes four films, so it'll be interesting to see what flavor we get here). Well, despite the starry cast of Mathew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe (“Inception”), and Naomi Watts, it sounds like the artier Van Sant will appear at Cannes. “Sea Of Trees” sounds like more of an existentialist, minimalist effort, and it follows two strangers who meet »
- Edward Davis
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell our readers what brought the two of you together for Nightlight?
Beck/Woods: We’ve actually known each other since we were 11, and we’ve been making movies together as long as we’ve been friends. Throughout middle school and high school we made dozens of shorts and no-budget features, which really taught us the craft of filmmaking. We never formally studied film production aside from consuming DVD features and commentaries (“That Moment” on the Magnolia DVD is beyond inspirational), so we always refer to those early years as our “film school” experience. Since then we’ve constantly co-written and co-directed all of our works, including a »
- Jonathan James
I am at my second Sundance Film Festival.
These are my reviews.
Sundance Film Festival 2015 Reviews
U.S.A., 2014, 108 min., color
Plot (courtesy of Sundance): Gerry is a talented poker player whose habit is getting the best of him. He convinces younger player Curtis to join him on a road trip, and they begin gambling their way toward a highstakes game in New Orleans. During their journey, true motivations are revealed, and the two bond.
Review: Four aces is an almost unbeatable poker hand. This film is about gambling (one ace). Mendelsohn is an amazing greasy actor (emotionally and with most of his characters, visually) and there is almost no one I’d rather watch in a poker movie besides Matt Damon and Ed Norton (another ace »
- Jeff Bayer
8 items from 2015
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