10 items from 2016
Sean Penn has a reputation for being a serious actor and a serious man. But he recently took part in a rather silly project: The Angry Birds Movie. The animated family film adaptation of the birds-vs.-pigs mobile app is a goofy affair, packed with slapstick comedy and scatological humor. And Penn was eager to sign himself up after watching an early cut of the movie. In Angry Birds, Penn lends his voice to Terence, a character that doesn’t ever speak. Massive, stony Terence — whom lead bird Red (Jason Sudeikis) meets in anger management — isn’t the talkative type, but he utters a few grunts and growls every now and then. Meanwhile, the other birds do speak, though that they would wasn’t an immediate given when players of the game were waiting to find out how it would be turned into a movie. (In the Finnish Angry Birds cartoon series, »
- Emily Rome
Rovio's immensely popular Angry Birds video game will come to life on the big screen with The Angry Birds Movie, which hits theaters on May 20. Way back in October 2014, Sony Pictures announced the voice cast, lead by Jason Sudeikis as Red, but today, Entertainment Tonight has revealed a new voice cast member, Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn. The actor has been cast as a massive bird named Terence, who only speaks through grunts and other non-verbal forms of communication, which you can see in a new clip where Terence meets Red.
Terence is introduced to Red and other birds such as Danny McBride's Bomb in an anger management class, run by Matilda (Maya Rudolph). We're not sure how exactly Terence fits into the story, but Sean Penn joins a voice cast that also includes Josh Gad (Chuck), Bill Hader (Leonard), Peter Dinklage (Mighty Eagle) and Kate McKinnon (Stella). The voice »
Remember, remember the fifth of November.
We first heard these words upon the opening of a little film called V for Vendetta, that was released ten years ago today. Based on the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd and Tony Weare, the premise centers on an anarchist named V, who sets out to murder his former captors, bring down the government, and train his protégé Evey—all while sporting a Guy Fawkes mask.
The film starred Natalie Portman with her famously shaved head, and Hugo Weaving as V. Together, they made this graphic novel adaptation into a cult classic, and a film that still resonates, maybe even stronger than ever, today.
Graphic novels are extremely popular, and they’re the perfect source for a film adaptation. The story and the visuals are essentially laid out for the filmmaker, and these adaptations are often incredibly true to the original work. »
- Adriana Floridia
Paris — On the heels of Berlin’s Efm, Wild Bunch has locked major territory sales on Radu Mihaileanu’s sprawling saga “The History of Love” with Gemma Arterton, Derek Jacobi, Sophie Nelisse and Elliott Gould.
Spanning over six decades and unfolding across six continents, “The History of Love” is based on American novelist Nicole Krauss’ international bestseller. The love tale, which marks Mihaileanu’s English-language debut, charts the journey of Leo, an old Polish Jewish immigrant who never truly recovered from losing the great love of his life, Alma, after she emigrated with her family to the States during WWII. Now living in New York, in present times, Leo crosses paths with a teenage girl who helps him reconnect with his past through a long-lost manuscript called “The History of Love.”
Now in post, the 15 million Euros movie has been acquired by eOne (Canada), Prokino (Germany), Vertigo (Spain), Bim (Italy »
- Elsa Keslassy
It’s true. There is a subversive, darkly comedic, and unconventionally brilliant film starring Ryan Reynolds that you can watch right now; however, said offering is not based on a comic book, it doesn’t rehash formulaic tropes, and it didn’t open on 2000+ screens this past weekend. No, “Deadpool” is not that film and it couldn’t be that film based on the financial stakes that a studio production carries. When you are trying to pave the ground for a merchandise-selling franchise with mass appeal while simultaneously seeking to satisfy the wishes of a demanding fan base, you clearly can’t fully make something that's out of the ordinary or as daring as you are supposed to and still meet all the criteria – but you can definitely make the audience believe you did.
Frankly, what “Deadpool” offers is a façade of originality built on a pseudo edgy screenplay that believes raunchy penis jokes, slightly more violent content than in usual superhero fare, and endless meta references, are marvelously clever and groundbreaking elements. That could have been, but when these are jam-packed into the most bafflingly generic story possible, which was shamelessly tailored to open on Valentine’s Day weekend, all those ideas the team behind it thought were so amusingly unique are turned into desperate attempts to drown viewers under a relentless amount of information via quick dialogue in order to hide how safe and undercooked the project actually is underneath.
It isn’t difficult to agree with the general consensus that Reynolds was the right choice to play the offbeat character, but regardless of how engaging his performances aims to be, what surrounds him is a lazily written romance, an uninteresting and simplistic origin story, a villain with no tangible reason or motivation to be devious, and a slew of purposeless supporting characters ranging from an archetypical best friend to two bland X-Men mutants.
Still, if nothing else, “Deadpool” reminds us that this actor, now finally turned action star after his fair share of monumental flops such as “Green Lantern” or “R.I.P. D.,” could be more than just another Hollywood hunk jumping around in a latex suit. Though in film he spends most of his screen time regurgitating self-referential gags and murdering henchmen and civilians galore, his devilishly charming delivery exudes satirical nuance even when the material at hand is repetitive and unwarrantedly juvenile. His psychopathic behavior and raunchy sense of humor might very well be exactly what the fans wanted and maybe even an accurate depiction of who the character is on the source material, but no one, critic or audience member, should be expected to be versed on the specifics of this property. It is, after all, the job of the screenwriters and the director to make a film that can be enjoyed even by those who have no previous knowledge of who “Deadpool” is. Sure, let's say most people found it enjoyable on the most basic level of what entertainment can be, but it’s hard to think anyone who wasn’t already invested in the character prior to watching the film learned anything about this murderous vigilante beyond the cliched and shallow idea that he wants the girl, revenge, and a pretty face. Even lesser Marvel characters show more depth.
But this doesn’t mean Reynolds has not taken on a role that demands much more of his abilities while still being a humorous affair. Back in 2014, “The Voices,” a film by Iranian-born director Marjane Satrapi, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it took most audience members and press by surprise. Tonally ambiguous, the film glides back and forth between gory horror and grim comedy in such a strangely memorable manner that it's sure to make many very uncomfortable. That decisive conviction to venture into genre territory unafraid to be disliked and holding nothing sacred is what “Deadpool” lacks.
Unfortunately for “The Voices,” however, that admirable attitude to be what its screenwriter and director wanted it to be without compromising anything for the sake of success, rendered it, in the eyes of its distributors, too risky and bold for them to take a chance on it. It took Lionsgate more than year to release the film, and when it finally happened Satrapi's film was given a one-week theatrical run in Los Angeles, New York, and a handful of other cities. A very quiet, lets-dump-it-and-get-rid-it-of-it kind of release for a film by an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and starring two bankable talent like Reynolds and Anna Kendrick . Its perfectly balanced weirdness proved to be far too outrageous for a market that likes to pretend it’s adventurous while hiding behind tentpoles.
In “The Voices” Reynolds plays Jerry, an extraordinarily sweet and proper young man who works at a warehouse. He is all smiles, but beneath his docile appearance, Jerry is hiding serious unresolved emotional issues that can potentially trigger his most dangerous side. He lives in a large space shared only with his loving dog, Bosco, and sassy cat, Mr. Whiskers. How do we know Mr. Whiskers has a cheeky demeanor? Well, that’s because Jerry and his pets literally engage in conversations about his life. When Jerry is debating how to approach the young girl he likes at work, Fiona (Gemma Arterton), Bosco, being the voice of reason, encourages him to be himself, while Mr. Whiskers insidious comments attempt to push the unstable man into commit violent acts.
Showcasing yet another facet of his talent, Reynolds also voices both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers, which are very distinct. He is in essence playing three characters at once in a film with talking severed heads and a musical credits sequence that includes Jesus Christ himself. It’s all partially absurd but entirely enthralling. What Reynolds can do when granted a role in a project that doesn’t care about being a four-quadrant film, but rather about creating something extraordinary is impressive. Without a doubt Ryan Reynolds gives the best performance of his career in “The Voices,” and does so thanks to the work of a filmmaker that is just as unconcerned with what Hollywood wants as the film itself.
“Persepolis” and “Chicken with Plums” director Marjane Satrapi is a visionary who took the risk of making a film she knew was unapologetically insane as her English-language debut, and while the American box-office didn’t reflect the sheer genius of “The Voices,” she crafted an improbably layered horror comedy with much more heart and guts than anything starring an A-list actor right now. She grabbed Michael R. Perry’s screenplay and turned into something unnervingly magical, so much that a serial killer demands our sympathy and elicits our laughs scene after scene. A saturated color palette where men wear neon pink, a vibrant pop-heavy soundtrack, the sharp banter from Jerry’s four-legged friends, and some unforgettably deranged sequences, construct a film that was seen by way too few when it was first released and that deserves a place in the pantheon of underrated cult films that were too fearless for their own good.
When a film like “The Voices,” a far superior example of a filmmaker and an actor creating something that defies the norm, is denied a chance to larger exposure because of its premise and unusual tone, and another formulaic product from the endless slate of superhero films is heralded as a “game-changer, ” something is clearly wrong with the way we rate originality. Sure, their scales can’t even be compared in terms of budget and marketing campaigns, but the two films exist in the same general genre and star the same actor in roles that are supposed to be irreverent and disturbing. The problem is that one lies about what it really is and the other is just that thing the other is lying about. Marjane Satrapi has experience adapting graphic novels, her first two films where based on her published works, Fox or Marvel should get her on the phone and pitch her a superhero film. I doubt she’ll take it, but maybe she can share some pointers on what it really means to be unique.
- Carlos Aguilar
After Bollywood celebs like Irrfan, Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Om Puri, Sonu Sood and Gulshan Grover bagged roles in the West, now Tamil-Hindi actor Dhanush is all set to make his debut his Hollywood debut with Uma Thurman and Alexandra Daddario in The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir Who Got Trapped In An Ikea Cupboard.
Directed by Iranian-French director Marjane Satrapi (of Persepolis fame), the comic adventure features Dhanush as Aja, a conjurer from a forgotten Indian colony of artists, who is sent to Paris by his mother on a secret mission. A source from the set says the shoot is scheduled in India, France, Italy and Morocco in mid-2016.
When asked director why she chooses Dhanush, she says, “As I was watching various Indian movies, Dhanush became the most obvious choice — his intelligence, his killer smile, his ability to enter fully into the skin of any character »
- Press Releases
Uma Thurman (“Kill Bill”), Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”) and Laurent Lafitte (“Little White Lies”) have joined Bollywood star Dhanush in Marjane Satrapi’s “The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir.”
TF1 International reps the English-language project and will kick off pre-sales at Berlin’s European Film Market.
“Extraordinary Journey” will mark the most ambitious project undertaken by Satrapi, the Iranian-born French comicbook artist and filmmaker behind Cannes’ jury prize winner “Persepolis” and “Chicken With Plums.”
Luc Bossi’s Brio Films is lead producing. Vamonos Films, Italy’s Paco Cinematografica and India’s Little Red Car are co-producing. “Extraordinary Journey” has already been picked up by SquareOne in Germany. »
- Elsa Keslassy
Nicholas Winding Refn: “This initiative gives young people in particular the chance to see films and understand that film is a futuristic language.” Photo: Richard Mowe
Should the film industry really be encouraging people to watch films on their mobiles, tablets and computer screens rather than experiencing them, initially at least, in cinemas?
Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) declared in Paris that he has no inhibitions about how film fans consume cinema. “There are as many variations in watching movies as there are sexual positions,” he posited rather controversially.
Isabelle Giordano (Unifrance director general): The philosophy behind the event is to give a new lease of life to titles that may not have had adequate exposure through conventional channels Photo: Richard Mowe
He heads the film-makers’ jury for the Unifrance initiative MyFrenchFilmFestival which was launched at a shindig in the Eiffel Tower as part of »
- Richard Mowe
UniFrance has upped the ante for the sixth edition of its online festival MyFrenchFilmFestival, expanding the fest’s global reach with more partners and movies.
The prestigious launch was hosted at the Eiffel Tower before a crowd of filmmakers, actors, French industryites and international journos.
In attendance was Danish helmer Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive,” “Only God Forgives”), who is presiding the filmmakers jury, along with his fellow members Marjane Satrapi (“Persepolis”), Felix Van Groeningen (“The Broken Circle Breakdown”), David Robert Mitchell (“It Follows”) and Valérie Donzelli (“Marguerite and Julien”).
“My FrenchFilmFestival gives young people the opportunity to see the films and understand film is a futuristic language,” said Refn on stage.
The competition roster is made up of Jérôme Bonnell »
- Elsa Keslassy
The great Charlie Kaufman has made his first foray into the world of animation with the critically praised Anomalisa, which we named one of the best films of 2015. Finally expanding over the next few weeks, to celebrate, we’ve decided to look back at some of the finest animated films that one might not want to show the entire family.
Who said cartoons were just for kids? As this week’s list will demonstrate, some of the finest weren’t necessarily designed with undiscerning young audiences in mind. Crossing genres and styles, these fifteen amazing features should probably be watched after this kids have been put to bed. Of course, there are many great examples beyond these, so please suggest your own favorites in the comments.
- Tony Hinds
10 items from 2016
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