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Abel Ferrara has been toying with the idea of making a film on the life of late Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini since the early 1990s. The original idea was set to be quite different from the one we’ve got, mind, and would see actress and collaborator Zoe Lund (Ms. 45, Bad Lieutenant) playing a sort-of female version of Pasolini living the life that he did (the project was scrapped when Lund tragically died in 1997).
It’s easy to understand why Ferrara, the enfant terrible of New York cinema, was and is attracted to Pasolini: both men have been accused of peddling exploitation from those who find their work morally objectionable but, conversely, they have also been hailed as genuine auteurs and makers of important art (Pasolini more so than Ferrara, it must be said).
Pasolini chronicles the final 24 hours in the late director, novelist, critic and intellectual’s life. »
- Lewis Howse
“Narrative art is dead – we are in a period of mourning”; “To scandalise is a right, to be scandalised a pleasure”; “Refusal must be great, absolute, absurd…” Abel Ferrara’s infatuated tribute to Pier Paolo Pasolini is littered with such gnomic bon mots, which could apply equally to either director. Like Pasolini, Ferrara has courted both outrage and admiration; he made his name with The Driller Killer, and remains most celebrated for Bad Lieutenant, a film drenched in equal parts with Catholic ideology and censor-baiting exploitation.
This handsomely oblique film focuses on the very end of Pasolini’s life, as he completes work on Salò, Or the 120 Days of Sodom and makes plans for Porno-Teo-Kolossal, the unmade magnum opus which is here reimagined by Ferrara in startling, elegiac fashion. Willem Dafoe »
- Mark Kermode, Observer film critic
The fearless champion of bad taste talks spirituality, improvisation and his shamanic approach to shooting a film about Pasolini’s fateful final hours
Related: Pasolini review – monument to a murdered film-maker
Abel Ferrara has a charming chuckle, particularly when confronted with highfalutin statements about his work from nervous journalists. The grizzled, leonine exterior of the 64-year-old film-maker, a native New Yorker of Italian descent now living in Rome, appears to house a kind heart and a generous spirit. This might seem unexpected in the director of Bad Lieutenant and King of New York, with their extremes of physical and emotional violence, but look past the cult status – built on the headlines inspired by 80s video nasty The Driller Killer – and what shines through in his work is a fearless, often painful but always exhilarating exploration of existential and spiritual faith. His more recent films – Mary, 4.44 Last Day on Earth, and »
- Rowan Righelato
I've made my affections for Nicolas Cage no secret on this site. It's a love ironic and not. I truly believe the actor can command a strong performance when given a chance, even today despite the rantings of those who believe otherwise -- I'll point to Joe and the first Kick-Ass to back my case. Even when he's bad, though, his odd fixture usually remains alluring. The mannerisms, delivery and personality traits he gives to his characters are entirely his own, and only occasionally does that not work in his favor with regards to entertainment, like in last week's The Runner. His most insane performances, from The Wicker Man to Vampire's Kiss, are not always celebrated but they're sure-as-hell remembered, and that's the case for the actor as well. Talking to Time about his filmography while promoting his aforementioned new political drama, the kookier and/or more emotionally demanding roles »
- Will Ashton
Early this morning I left the cinema from one film on the way to another when a friend said why not this instead of that? Since nothing was driving me in my original direction more than curiosity, and my friend's own sparked more than enough for this other possibility, my path was diverted, as can happen so serendipitously at a film festival. And indeed I owe my friend thanks, as what I saw, Thithi, the debut feature by 25-year-old independent Indian director Raam Reddy, is the best new film I've so far seen in Locarno.Its beginning already promised greatness: a crumpled down, cranky old man sits in his village thoroughfare hilariously heckling and insulting every man, woman and child passing him by, each of whom pay him no mind. Walking to the nearest alley to relieve himself, this venerable citizen keels over, sending the story after his elderly son, »
- Daniel Kasman
★★☆☆☆ In Tiller Russell's Precinct Seven Five (2014) we see how a small precinct in East New York became its most corrupt, as the boys in blue came to be on the payroll of local drug gangs. Michael Dowd and his partner Kenny Eurell were at the heart of it, and both could fit straight into a Scorsese film; this is no accident, since it is exactly how they would like to be perceived. Mikey D is jovial, unrepentant; like Lance Armstrong, he is even proud of the scale of his downfall. In the 90s his drug habits and wild behaviour echoed Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant (1992), but even when cocaine-addled and running lights around the ghetto in his red corvette he never feared being busted.
- CineVue UK
The ever-industrious Nicolas Cage has yet another film heading our way, with political drama The Runner his latest production. As part of the publicity work for the film, he chatted to Time magazine about the roles across his career that are his favourites. And it'd be fair to say he covered a mix of his work.
"I though that Werner [Herzog] and I got up to something special in Bad Lieutenant. Certainly, Mike Figgis and I found something pretty emotionally naked in Leaving Las Vegas", he said, the latter being his Oscar-winning role.
The other two roles he cited?
"I was very happy with Vampire’s Kiss, which in my opinion was almost like an independent laboratory to start realising some of my more expressionistic dreams with film performance. Then using what »
Nicolas Cage has been in a lot of movies over the course of his more than 30-year career. Some of them have been great, some of them fell just short of that, and others are straight up terrible. That said, he.s bound to have some personal favorites, and in a recent interview, he revealed four roles that are especially near and dear to his heart. Talking to Time recently about his upcoming role in the new political drama, The Runner, about a fictional politician in the wake of the Bp oil spill, he fielded a question about his favorite roles. He said: There.s a few of them, sure. I thought that Werner [Herzog] and I got up to something special in Bad Lieutenant. Certainly Mike Figgus and I found something pretty emotionally naked in Leaving Las Vegas. I was very happy with Vampire.s Kiss, which in my »
Joining Spider-Man in the annals of dizzyingly rapid reboots, Fox’s second stab at “Fantastic Four” comes just eight years after the first try and its sequel, which didn’t set the bar inordinately high. Yet if this latest version, with a significantly younger cast (one’s tempted to call it “Fantastic Four High”), clears that threshold, it’s just barely, drawing from a different source to reimagine the quartet’s origins without conspicuously improving them. All told, the movie feels like a protracted teaser for a more exciting follow-up that, depending on whether audiences warm to this relatively low-key approach, might never happen. (Brian Lowry)
Read the full review
Like David Bowie joining Bing Crosby for a medley of Christmas carols, “Ricki and the Flash” combines a number of promising elements that don’t seem to have any business being anywhere near each other, »
- Variety Staff
With an impending election on the American horizon, it seems fitting for a few political dramas/thrillers/think pieces to start finding their way into cinemas. Everyone seems to have their own (correct) opinion in regards to political action these days, as social media and journalistic “investigation” only strengthen everyone’s singular voice. But with so many other poignant political assessments already logged in Hollywood’s catalog, it’s hard to find much weight in the issues that Austin Stark’s The Runner raises. It’s an oil-spill-gone-worse scenario that’s more about a struggling politician than White House corruption itself, led by a tormented Nicolas Cage in one of his better roles of the last few years (sans Kick-Ass, Joe, and of course, Drive Angry). Yet, by the film’s conclusion, no new ground finds itself covered.
- Matt Donato
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill takes a back seat to the sticky personal and career complications of an idealistic Louisiana Congressman in “The Runner,” an earnest but lifeless political drama that makes an average hour of C-span seem like “House of Cards” by comparison. One of the innumerable low-budget indies Nicolas Cage has turned to in a combined move toward career revitalization and tax-debt payback, this uninspired directing debut for producer Austin Stark (“Happythankyoumoreplease,” “Infinitely Polar Bear”) features solid work by its star but is far too staid and familiar to earn either arthouse prestige or the kind of cult that flocked to Cage’s 2009 Bayou State romp, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.”
Cage reveals the same general desire to be taken seriously as an actor again here that was already on display in the recent “Joe” and “The Dying of the Light,” right from an early scene »
- Scott Foundas
It is ironic that people want to escape risk all the time but at the same time a large part of the populace is fascinated with gambling. The foremost example of this fascination is the spate of gambling movies which hit the screen every year. Some become part of pop culture, some win critical acclaim, and some set the box office on fire. But one thing is for sure: gambling aficionados watch them with great eagerness, sometimes in the hopes of catching a trick or two. Rain Man is one movie which comes to mind where the autistic lead character counts cards at a casino, but that one is not a gambling movie.
Now, there are different kinds of gambling. Some of them involve gambling as the main plot point while others have gambling going on in the background while the story takes its course. Casino is one example of »
- Gary Collinson
Atlas Distribution plans a September 2015 release for Werner Herzog's portrait of British Intelligence officer and cartographer Gertrude Bell "Queen of the Desert." But don't expect an awards candidate here. Despite kudos for Nicole Kidman's performance as Bell, the romantic drama opened grimly at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival. Kidman stars as Bell opposite Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) and James Franco as British army officer Henry Cadogan. Kidman's buddy Naomi Watts was reportedly originally cast in the role of Bell before it went to fellow Aussie Kidman. Damian Lewis costars. Herzog penned and directed the $36 million epic, which wrapped in Spring 2014 (around the time when we hoped to see the film at his Telluride stomping grounds) and was shot in Morocco, Jordan and London. This is Herzog's first narrative feature since 2009's hilarious, acid entertainment "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" starring. »
- Ryan Lattanzio
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- Christopher Campbell
Scavenger’s Song: Johnson’s Chilling, Stylized Sophomore Feature
Opening with a brooding, atmospheric ambience as we drift through a throbbing drug bust set to an electric synth score, Gerard Johnson’s exciting sophomore film, Hyena, recalls early 80’s efforts from the likes of Abel Ferrara or Michael Mann, an exciting concoction of style and tone overlaying familiar narrative tropes. Though the film doesn’t quite maintain this level of elation, dipping into a customary groove that reveals little outside of the inevitable consequences that accompany the actions we see here, Johnson proves to be a promisingly abrasive new voice coming out of the UK. Utilizing the talents of DoP Benjamin Kracun (For Those in Peril, 2013), and bringing along composer Matt Johnson and editor Ian Davies from his 2009 debut, serial killer film Tony, the end result is an unsettling nightmare sporting an arresting energy often absent from trajectories so recognizable. »
- Nicholas Bell
Ah, 1989. The year the Berlin Wall came down and Yugoslavia won the Eurovision Song Contest. It was also a big year for film, with Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade topping the box office and Batman dominating the summer with its inescapable marketing blitz.
Outside the top 10 highest-grossing list, which included Back To The Future II, Dead Poets Society and Honey I Shrunk The Kids, 1989 also included a plethora of less commonly-appreciated films. Some were big in their native countries but only received a limited release in the Us and UK. Others were poorly received but have since been reassessed as cult items.
From comedies to thrillers, here's our pick of 25 underappreciated films from the end of the 80s...
25. An Innocent Man
Disney, through its Touchstone banner, had high hopes for this thriller, »
Although your humble correspondent missed three days of TriBeCa films in a row due to a back injury, there was no way he could miss Maggie. Director Henry Hobson was able to attract Arnold Schwarzenegger to his low-key zombie project, despite the fact that Hobson was making his feature debut with a budget so small that you could make Maggie two or three times over for the amount that Arnold was paid to appear in Terminator: Genisys. The uniqueness of Hobson’s vision is evident from the first scene, where he is able to establish clearly the particulars of his zombie semi-apocalypse with only the barest minimum of exposition. As society teeters on the edge, both law and medicine struggling to handle the “Necroambulist” virus, Abigail Breslin plays the infected Maggie and Schwarzenegger plays her father, agonizing over the decision of what to do when she turns.
So many »
- Mark Young
On behalf of his 2012 film "The Motel Life," Stephen Dorff will attend the 17th annual Ebertfest this year. Directed by Alan Polsky (a producer on Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant") and Gabe Polsky (director of 2014 doc "Red Army"), this working-class crime drama got a very positive review from Roger Ebert. The film was part of Dorff's career renaissance after getting a boost from Sofia Coppola's meandering "Somewhere." Also revealed is a list of panel discussions taking place at this year's Ebertfest from April 15-19 in Champaign-Urbana. On Sunday, April 19th following a screening of director Ethan Hawke's "Seymour: An Introduction," the film's subject, famed pianist Seymour Bernstein, will conduct an onstage master class with University of Illinois students. This year’s panel discussions, featuring many of the directors, actors, critics and other festival guests, including Heloise Godet, Godfrey Cheshire, Scott Foundas, »
- Ryan Lattanzio
I’m not the world’s biggest Abel Ferrara fan, but even I must admit that the 64-year-old director of Bad Lieutenant, King of New York, and Ms. 45 — he of the extended stretches of cataclysmic addiction and self-destruction and career implosion — seems like the ideal person to take on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. Strauss-Kahn (or Dsk as he’s more commonly known) was the former Imf head and budding leftist political savior busted for allegedly raping a maid in a New York hotel in 2011. Though the charges were later dropped, the case and its fallout uncovered a world of almost unimaginable debauchery and scuzziness, of international high-level sex rings and sex parties and, as one later accusation disturbingly (but memorably) put it, “aggravated pimping.” This is not the kind of material for a stately biopic or a political drama. This is nasty, strange business — perfect for Ferrara, whose work often »
- Bilge Ebiri
“If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.” —Aristotele OnassisFor over forty years now Abel Ferrara’s cinema has spewed out from the gangrenous wounds of our civilization of images. Never mind how ugly it was, it was always in your face. And unapologetically so. The damnation of life, as low as it could possibly get, and the existential dirt polite society and cinema sweep under the carpet have been Ferrara’s carnal muses. If crime and the underworld were often his preferred milieu, it never was out of teen-aged fascination for the dark side of society but because there he senses and lenses the bio-illogical matrix of our lives: the law of the jungle rationalized into the language of the Bible. Redemption in his cinema is never a concrete possibility, it functioned as a sort of moral mirage for lost souls—the »
- Celluloid Liberation Front
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