Movies have definitely taken a back seat the last few months. Part of it is the doldrums of early year releases which are often mediocre at best. Throw in a load of really great (and in some cases not so great but they tickle us anyways) TV shows, and you get a very TV heavy media spew.
I‘m all in for Nicolas Winding Refn’s dark, glittery horror-fantasia of the global modelling scene, The Neon Demon. The film was just announced to play Cannes, and here is the trailer. It appears to straddle the line between accessible but arty Drive and flat out esoterica of Only God Forgives
When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.
The film also stars Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Jena Malone and will be getting a regular release in June.
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It appears to be a great year for international cinema, if the line-up for Cannes is any indication. New films from Nicolas Winding Refn, Woody Allen, Jeff Nichols, Park Chan-Wook, Steven Spielberg, Andrea Arnold, Ken Loach, Pedro Almodovar, Olivier Assayas, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Shane Black, Jim Jarmusch, Paul Verhoeven, The Dardennes Brothers, and young canuck, Xavier Dolan. And that is just getting started.
Woody Allen’s star-dense Cafe Society will kick off the festival on May 11th with the following films playing in competition.
“Toni Erdmann” (Maren Ade)
“Julieta” (Pedro Almodovar)
“American Honey” (Andrea Arnold)
“Personal Shopper” (Olivier Assayas)
“The Unknown Girl” (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardennes)
“It’s Only The End Of The World” (Xavier Dolan)
“Slack Bay” (Bruno Dumont)
“Paterson” (Jim Jarmusch)
“Staying Vertical” (Alain Guiraudie)
“Aquarius” (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
“Mal De Pierres” (Nicole Garcia)
“I, Daniel Blake” (Ken Loach)
“Ma’ Rosa” (Brillante Mendoza)
“Bacalaureat” (Cristian Mungiu)
“Loving” (Jeff Nichols)
“The Handmaiden” (Park Chan-Wook)
“The Last Face” (Sean Penn)
“Sierra Nevada” (Cristi Puiu)
“Elle” (Paul Verhoeven)
“The Neon Demon” (Nicholas Winding Refn)
The rest of the line-up (those out-of-competition for the Golden Palm) are tucked under the seat.
Per usual I know absolutely nothing about the second (or third?) tier comic book heroes when they’re first released in cinemas. I had no idea who Iron-Man was and I certainly didn’t know anything about Ant-Man or The Guardians of the Galaxy. Now here comes Doctor Strange. Not a clue. But…
It’s also got The Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and an all-star, international cast that generally symbolize quality. Plus there’s some nice The Matrix and Inception like imagery going on here. So I would say at first glance, I’m interested in seeing some Marvel during my normal “going to the movies for Oscar fare” time of year.
Release Date: November 4
Director: Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us from Evil, Sinister, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Writers: C. Robert Cargill (Sinister), Jon Spaihts (Prometheus)
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Scott Adkins, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benedict Wong
- New 2K digital master, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New interviews with director Olivier Assayas and actors Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart
- Cloud Phenomena of Maloja, a silent 1924 documentary by Arnold Fanck that is seen in the film
- PLUS: An essay by critic Molly Haskell
- Restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack
- New interviews with Stanley Kubrick scholars Mick Broderick and Rodney Hill; archivist Richard Daniels; cinematographer and camera innovator Joe Dunton; camera operator Kelvin Pike; and David George, son of Peter George, on whose novel Red Alert the film is based
- Excerpts from a 1966 audio interview with Kubrick, conducted by Jeremy Bernstein
- Four short documentaries from 2000, about the making of the film, the sociopolitical climate of the period, the work of actor Peter Sellers, and the artistry of Kubrick
- Interviews from 1963 with Sellers and actor George C. Scott
- Excerpt from a 1980 interview with Sellers from NBC’s Today show
- PLUS: An essay by scholar David Bromwich and a 1962 article by screenwriter Terry Southern on the making of the film
Director: William Peter Blatty
Screenplay: William Peter Blatty
Based on a Novel by: William Peter Blatty
Starring: Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Robert Loggia, Tom Atkins, William Peter Blatty
Running Time: 118 min
BBFC Certificate: 15
William Peter Blatty is best known for writing the novel and screenplay for the hugely successful horror film, The Exorcist, but it’s not well known that prior to that he made his name writing comedies such as A Shot in the Dark (co-written with Blake Edwards). To follow up The Exorcist however, Blatty went in a bizarre new direction, taking cues from both sides of his career. He took a book called Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane he’d written in 1966, wrote a new version called The Ninth Configuration, released as a novel in 1978, and then turned that into a screenplay which would become his directorial debut, released in 1980.
The Ninth Configuration is an unusual film that sees military psychologist Col. Vincent Kane (Stacy Keach) sent to a remote mansion where a group of mentally ill and AWOL soldiers are being kept under observation. Supposedly the army couldn’t fathom why so many of its men were returning home from Vietnam with mental health problems and wanted to see if they were faking or not and what could be done about it in either case.
Once there, Kane finds the patients more troubled than he imagined and, following an interesting theory about Hamlet from one of the patients, he decides to indulge their strange requests and fantasies. One patient in particular catches his interest during this time, astronaut Capt. Billy Cutshaw (Scott Wilson). He completely snapped just before being due to pilot a rocket to the moon and now questions the existence of God in amongst his wild behaviour. Kane is determined to prove the existence of God to Cutshaw by giving a true example of self-sacrifice to help others, but in doing so, he starts to crack himself.
Man With a Movie Camera, the silent Soviet documentary from director Dziga Vertov, has an incredible reputation. Not only did the prestigious British publication Sight and Sound proclaim it the greatest documentary ever made in a poll of filmmakers and critics, but in the last of their once-a-decade polls to select the out and out greatest films of all time, it appeared at number 8. I’ve seen it before and have it on DVD, but when Eureka announced it as the latest addition to their Masters of Cinema series on dual format Blu-Ray and DVD, packaged with four other films by Vertov, I felt it was time to revisit it.
The films included with the set alongside Man With a Movie Camera are Kino-Eye (1924), Kino-Pravda #21 (1925), Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (1931) and Three Songs About Lenin (1934). Below are my thoughts on the individual films.
Man With a Movie Camera
Director: Dziga Vertov
Screenplay: Dziga Vertov
Starring: Mikhail Kaufman
Country: Soviet Union
Running Time: 68 min
I actually watched the films in the set in chronological order, but thought I’d start my review by looking at the tentpole title. After busily producing at least 45 short and feature length documentaries from 1918 (according to the IMDB), Vertov’s final silent film, Man With a Movie Camera, took many of the techniques and ideas he’d been developing for over ten years and put them into a boldly experimental look at a ‘day-in-the-life’ of four cities in the Soviet Union. Also looking at the role of the camera at the time, the film is a showcase of cinematic techniques as well as a celebration of city life.
Well, I imagine some of you are thinking, ‘an experimental silent Soviet documentary from the 20’s? No thanks, I’ll stick with the latest Marvel release. I’ll maybe whack it on if I fancy a nap on the sofa’. I can appreciate this opinion. On paper, Man With a Movie Camera sounds incredibly dull. However, it’s one of the most thrilling films you’ll ever see. Vertov pulls out all the stops to bombard us with a multitude of camera and post-production tricks, from super-imposing a man setting up a camera on top of a seemingly huge second camera in the film’s opening shot, to the wildly fast-cutting crescendo of visuals that draws it all to a close. Most of the effects haven’t dated much either. Yes, the superimposition is obvious compared to modern standards, but it’s not that bad and effects such as some slow motion footage of sportsmen are as smooth as any modern techniques. There’s even some stop motion animation used to great effect.
For the foreseeable future it might seem like Andrew is a little drunk right at the beginning of the show; usually that happens at the end. But the truth is he has just woken up at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. So the graveyard shift is affecting speech patterns and logic, but it hasn’t kept us from the theater. In various capacity between the two of us, we were able to catch Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition, Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some and Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special. So yeah, this one is kind of a love fest all around. In the Watch List we have some great 80s trash, a Richard Gere marathon, some great kid-friendly fare, Kim Jong-un and Robert DeNiro tries not to shit the bed. All this and much much more in the Kurt and Andrew Sunday conversation.
As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
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