18 items from 2011
Despite the UK Film Council's golden age, 2011 was very much a mixed bag of events
In some ways, 2011 was the strangest year in living memory for British cinema. The UK Film Council was officially wound up at the end of March, a showy act from this coalition government, annulling a Labour creation on the grounds of high salaries and cronyism, but transferring much of its budget and responsibilities to the British Film Institute. And this at a time when the Film Council was having a golden age: a bag of Oscars for The King's Speech and a feeling that it had fostered real talent. Something was going very right for British cinema. Lynne Ramsey's We Need to Talk About Kevin premiered at Cannes; Steve McQueen's Shame and Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights made waves at Venice.
Two film-makers from Iran showed that cinema was able to address »
- Peter Bradshaw
Release Date: Dec. 6, 2011
Price: DVD $29.95
Studio: Olive Films
France’s great Gérard Depardieu (Inspector Bellamy)—sporting a wild mane of hair—stars in the 2010 comedy-drama movie Mammuth, co-starring the usually-fine and always-beautiful Isabelle Adjani (Ishtar).
The movie turns on a 60-year-old working-class man named Serge (Depardieu), who decides to retire and reap his pensioner’s rewards. Unfortunately, Serge runs into the implacable wall of bureaucracy after finding out that his former employers have neglected to declare his earnings. To receive full benefits, he needs to go back to them and gather the missing affidavits. Encouraged by his wife, Serge climbs onto his old 1970s Mammoth motorcycle and sets off on a trip to recover his lost wages—unaware that he’s also due to encounter some buried memories. As he reconnects with old friends, Serge discovers that their idea of »
Roundups on some of the more interesting titles opening this weekend have been updated through today: The Last Picture Show, 50/50, Margaret, Take Shelter and My Joy — see, too, Daniel Kasman's review — as well as another on the documentaries.
"Hillbilly horror is nothing new," writes Cheryl Eddy in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. "Some might mark its heyday as the 1970s, a decade containing Deliverance (1972), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and I Spit On Your Grave (1978). Others might point to Herschell Gordon Lewis's immortal Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), probably cinema's most persuasive example of why Yankees road-tripping below the Mason-Dixon Line should never, for any reason, detour off the main highway…. But what if, asks Eli Craig's Tucker and Dale vs Evil, you were totally misjudging those sinister-seeming whiskey-tango yokels? What if, despite being a little unwashed and fond of sharp objects and power tools, they »
In Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern's black comedy Aaltra, a pair of mutually hostile paraplegics set out in their wheelchairs from Belgium to Finland to seek compensation from the manufacturers of the harvester that maimed them. Their new film, Mammuth, is also a quirky road movie, in this case about Serge (Gérard Depardieu), a recently retired French butcher in a small-town meatpacking plant. He has to drive around south-western France on his old Mammuth motorbike to gather documents from all his past employers in order to claim his state pension. Depardieu, now the size of a beached whale, exudes sadness as he meets a succession of fellow eccentrics while pursuing his hopeless task. The earlier film was in elegant black-and-white; this one is in grainy, almost granulated, colour and is intermittently very funny. In one bizarre scene (reminiscent of a similar moment between Depardieu and Robert De Niro »
- Philip French
X-Men: First Class (12A)
Considering the odds were stacked against this – preceding as it does four X-Men movies (including Hugh Jackman's Wolverine), entering a superhero-stuffed summer schedule, juggling scores of characters, and telling a story fans know already – this does a remarkably good job. The cold war setting offers a new take on closeted mutanthood, and a parallel version of the Cuban missile crisis, not to mention Bond-like stylings, and McAvoy and Fassbender add dramatic ballast to some overbearing special effects.
(Asif Kapadia, 2010, UK) 106 mins
A Formula One doc that doesn't follow the formula, this assembles a compelling, even moving, biography of the superstar Brazilian driver using only archive material and audio interviews; no talking heads or modern-day footage. The racetrack excitement is contagious.
Last Night (12A)
- Steve Rose
Rio Breaks explores the lives of the young surfers of the favelas. Its writer and producer Vince Medeiros joins Jason and Asif to discuss the Brazilian love of sport and daring and how surfing is keeping young people away from the violent gang culture.
Jason SolomonsXan BrooksJason Phipps »
- Jason Solomons, Xan Brooks, Jason Phipps
Gérard Depardieu's bittersweet road movie boasts some genuinely unsettling moments
The black comedies of Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine combine intense Frenchness with a kind of Anglo-American comedy-sensibility, something of Adam McKay or Ricky Gervais. Mammuth is their best yet: a funny, sad and weird road movie starring Gérard Depardieu in a pungent role. Kervern and Delépine have an unmatched ability to spring something new on the viewer, to keep you off balance, and there is one jaw-dropping scene which shows Depardieu engaging in the kind of recreational activity which certainly never featured in Green Card.
He plays a fat, resentful and slow-witted man called Serge, nicknamed "Mammuth" on account of his extreme corpulence: this film is a glorious rebuke to the Hollywood piety that leading characters have to be sympathetic. Serge is uncompromisingly unsympathetic. He is married to supermarket shelf-stacker Catherine, played by the directors' repertory regular Yolande Moreau. »
- Peter Bradshaw
Edinburgh fails to entice, Don Draper steps behind the camera, and Gérard Depardieu proves that the French believe in Dutch courage
What's happened to Edinburgh? The world's longest-running film festival is in peril and there appears little can be done as the start date of 15 June approaches. Recent patrons Tilda Swinton and cameraman Seamus McGarvey will not be in attendance (Swinton's shooting Wes Anderson's new film, Moonrise Kingdom, with Bruce Willis, go figure; McGarvey is filming superhero mash-up The Avengers in Hollywood). Even more worrying is the absence of perennial supporter Sean Connery. The Bond star and local boy made good celebrated his 80th year with a screening of The Man Who Would Be King at the festival last year, but has withdrawn his involvement for this latest edition. The festival, under new management and seeking new direction after the departure of Hannah McGill, has even jettisoned the Michael Powell award, »
- Jason Solomons
He's young (22), talented, he directs, writes, produces and acts: don't you hate Xavier Dolan already? Those green with envy will find plenty to object to about the French-Canadian's second movie, not least the fact that it's rather good. It's a love triangle for our times: at its apex a charming Adonis who becomes the covert object of desire for two friends, a guy and a girl. Like its characters, it's not quite as sophisticated as it wants to be, but it's honest, accomplished and recklessly romantic.
The Hangover Part II (15)
The location is different (Bangkok – or at least the movie version) but this sequel to the hit amnesiac prenuptial buddy comedy takes no risks with formula or cast (even Mr Chow is back). The adult humour, though, »
- Steve Rose
We can all agree that this has been a terrible few weeks for French masculinity – thanks not only to the off-duty actions of former Imf chief and alleged "rutting chimpanzee" Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but also to the moronic, insulting rationalisations offered de haut en bas by highly placed apologists such as Bernard-Henri Lévy and Jack Lang, who've sounded like scheming bourgeois misogynists from some mid-period Claude Chabrol movie.
Before this grotesque episode, Dsk had always reminded me of the great burly, barrel-chested, ugly-beautiful stars of French gangster movies; you could just imagine him blackmailing Lino Ventura, whom he strongly resembles (all the more so in handcuffs) or beating up Yves Montand in some Pigalle pissoir.
Luckily, we can still turn to Gérard Depardieu to redeem this fine tradition of Gallic movie sex symbols resembling bison who've »
- John Patterson
At her best, Adjani was always a victim going over the edge of sanity, and that seems to match Truffaut's account of her at work
It has never been safe to predict what Isabelle Adjani was going to do, or why. In 1974, François Truffaut was planning to make The Story of Adele H, about a daughter of Victor Hugo who falls in love with a young army officer and goes mad in her efforts to get him to return the love. He wanted someone new for the lead role, and was intrigued by Adjani in a recent hit comedy called La Gifle. Adjani was 19 and ravishing; but she was under contract as a stage actress to La Comédie-Française.
Truffaut pursued her. The theatre company declined to release her. The matter went to law. Adjani stayed quiet – but in the end she had her way. She would do Adele H. Truffaut »
- David Thomson
Fans of Gustave de Kervern and Benoît Delépine's kooky sense of humour will be pleased to know the zany writing team behind last year's Mammuth - and 2004's darkly comic and highly inventive wheelchair road movie, Aaltra - are back with their latest offering, Louise-Michel.
The Euro is strong and orders are down in economically bad times, but, after reassurances from the factory bosses, the workers are given their own name-embroidered smocks. Yet upon arriving to work the next day they find, without any warning, that the factory has been shut down and decide to call a worker's meeting. As a result of said meeting, the workers are offered a mere 2,000 Euros for over 20 years work - an insulting offer that leaves a bitter taste - until ex-con Louise suggests they pool their resources and hire a hit-man to “whack” their unscrupulous bosses. Well, it's that or making a nude calendar. »
Xavier Beauvois' "Of Gods and Men" dominated the nominations of the 36th Annual Cesar Awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars. "Of Gods" received 11 nominations total and will compete against Heartbreaker (L'Arnacoeur), Gainsbourg (Vie Heroique), Mammuth, Le Nom Des Gens, The Ghost Writer, and On Tour for Best Film.
Here is the full list of nominees:
Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes Et Des Dieu), dir: Xavier Beauvois
Gainsbourg (Vie Heroique), dir: Joann Sfar
The nominations for this year’s César Awards (France’s Oscar equivalent) has been announced. In addition the awards ceremony has also chosen Quentin Tarantino as the recipient of the ceremony’s honorary award. Alain Terzian, the president of the Académie des arts et techniques du cinéma announced at a press conference this morning confirmed that the director would be present to ick up his award in person.
The 36th edition of the Césars will take place on February 25 in Paris.
Here’s the full list of nominees:
L’arnacoeur by Pascal Chaumeil
Le nom des gens by Michel Leclerc
Source. Inception, The Social Network are among foreign nominees. Best Film Heartbreaker (L’Arnacoeur), dir: Pascal Chaumeil Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes Et Des Dieu), dir: Xavier Beauvois Gainsbourg »
- Sasha Stone
It’s going to be an American night at this year’s César Awards (France's Oscar equivalent). For starters, Quentin Tarantino is the recipient of the ceremony’s honorary award, Alain Terzian, the president of the Académie des arts et techniques du cinéma announced at a press conference this morning in Paris. It was also confirmed that the Inglorious Basterds director will pick up his trophy in person. Additionally, three American movies are among the seven nominees for Best Foreign Film: Christopher Nolan’s Inception, David Fincher’s The Social Network and Clint Eastwood’s Invictus. Presided by Jodie Foster and hosted for the second year running by French actor Antoine de Caunes — a witty guy but meek compared to Ricky Gervais — the 36th edition of the Césars will take place on February 25 in Paris. See the full list of César nominees after the jump. As an overview, Xavier Beauvois »
- Talia Soghomonian
Quentin Tarantino will receive an honorary achievement award at the 36th annual Cesar Awards on Feb. 25. The Cesars are the French equivalent to the American Oscars, and Tarantino is being recognized for being a “great international artist,” according to Cesar president Alain Terzian. The French Academy’s nominations also were announced, with Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men and Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer dominating the major categories. Several American films were nominated for Best Foreign Film, including Oscar frontrunner, The Social Network. See below for the list of the best films:
- Jeff Labrecque
Roman Polanski directing The Ghost Writer Best Film Heartbreaker produced by Nicolas Duval Adassovsky, Yann Zenou, Laurent Zeitoun, directed by Pascal Chaumeil Of Gods And Men produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Grégoire Sorlat, Etienne Comar, directed by Xavier Beauvois Gainsbourg (Vie HÉROÏQUE) produced by Marc du Pontavice, Didier Lupfer, directed by Joann Sfar Mammuth produced by Jean-Pierre Guérin, Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern, directed by Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern The Names Of Love produced by Caroline Adrian, Antoine Rein, Fabrice Goldstein, directed by Michel Leclerc The Ghost Writer produced by Robert Benmussa, Alain Sarde, directed by Roman Polanski TOURNÉE produced by Laetitia Gonzalez, Yaël Fogiel, directed by Mathieu Amalric Best Foreign Film Les Amours Imaginaires, Xavier Dolan Bright Star, Jane Campion The Secret In Their Eyes, Juan José Campanella ILLÉGAL, Olivier Masset-Depasse Inception, Christopher Nolan Invictus, Clint Eastwood The Social Network, David Fincher Best First Film Heartbreaker, Pascal Chaumeil, produced by Nicolas Duval Adassovsky, »
- Steve Montgomery
18 items from 2011
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