Cannes 2016 Lineup! It’s chock-a-block!

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.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 395 – Have an Exit Strategy

The multiplex continues to bore Kurt and Andrew, who have no interest in costumed heroes or a uniformed Reese Witherspoon. So it is off to Argentina for the Oscar nominated anthology film, Wild Tales. Game of Thrones hits the half-way mark and Kurt may have finally convinced Andrew of a) just how tedious things in Meereen have gotten, b) how much Stannis Baratheon has come into his own this season, and c) the power of a good long shot.

The watch-list creates a divide in taste on music and documentary form with Brett Morgan’s Montage of Heck. The strengths and weakness of Wes Craven’s The New Nightmare are discussed, along with a tangent on lost concept over-spill resulting from sold out movies. Don’t Look Now, but there is more Nic Roeg discussion on the Cinecast. As is the case of Kevin Costner, Shawn Levy and the race to the middle(brow). Finally, Alex Gibney’s Scientology doc, Going Clear is compared and contrasted with PTA’s The Master, for dos and don’ts in filmmaking.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 

 
 

 

Would you like to know more…?

Pedro, Penny and Antonio: Together at Last!

A vision of things to come?

I‘m pretty sure Pedro Almodóvar hit his peak last year with his exceptional, The Skin I Live In. Exquisitely shot, masterful storytelling, compelling characters… and twisted as hell. It was also the first time the director has worked with Anotnio Banderas in over 20 years, so that was exciting. The only thing that could’ve made it exceed five stars would have been of course his muse, Penélope Cruz.

But wait, word comes today that Almodóvar has seen the error of his ways and filming will begin this summer for his next film, The Brief Lovers, starring both Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas; believe it or not their first collaboration.

So maybe “starring” is a hasty word to describe their roles in the film as they are reportedly shooting all of their scenes in one day. So my guess is we won’t see much of them in the film and instead Pedro will rely on his other, more regular, set of talented actors for the heavy lifting. Javier Cámara (Talk to Her) looks to be the lead in the film, but The Brief Lovers will also include Guillermo Toledo, Raúl Arévalo, Hugo Silva, Cecilia Roth, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Blanca Suárez, José María Yazik and Antonio de la Torre.

The story will be set against a plane accident. The passengers, fearing for their lives, begin to confess their inner secrets. According to Agustín Almodovar, it will be a “frenzy comedy” with a flavour of Pedro’s films of the ’80s.

This is good news! Sounds delightfully like something along the lines of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which was the last full-on comedy Almodóvar has done (almost fifteen years ago) and it was fantastic.

The Brief Lovers is scheduled to open worldwide next spring and apparently those who have read the script claim that is the funniest script that Pedro has written in years. So welcome to my first “most anticipated list” title for 2013 Pedro!

TIFF 2011: First Wave of Titles Announced

 

 

A number of the Row Three Staff make it an annual ritual to see between 30 and 50 films during the month of September when Toronto is taken over by its largest celebration of cinema from around the world, The Toronto International Film Festival, aka TIFF. So the first announcement of titles is interesting because it often goes back to what the festival was many moons ago: a Festival of Festivals, where best films from Cannes, Berlin and Sundance (amongst others) are offered to local audiences. Of course the festival has gotten bigger over the years (and much more expensive) and World Premieres are also par for the course, but this first announcement allows to see many of the ‘big titles’ (aka Special Presentations and Masters programmes) with guaranteed distribution will make their World, North American or Canadian debuts.

A quick survey by director offers new films from David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method), Lars Von Trier (Melancholia), Pedro Almodovar (The Skin I Live In), Francis Ford Coppola (Twixt), Fernando Meirelles (360), Alexander Payne (The Descendents), Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive), Steve McQueen (Shame), Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz), George Clooney (The Ides of March), Roland Emmerich (Anonymous), Todd Solondz (Dark Horse), Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea), and Luc Besson (The Lady).

Other titles of interest is the former Soderbergh project starring Brad Pitt, Moneyball, as well as a lot of stuff from popular music, including Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam documentary, David Guggenheim’s U2 documentary and a feature film from Madonna simply titled W.E.

Some interesting genre films, including the James Ellroy adaptation, Rampart, which has a loaded cast: Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster and Anne Heche. South Korean thriller The Countdown exposes uses the underbelly of Seoul as a backdrop for a thirller. The Hugh Jackman and Olivia Wilde comedy, Butter, which also features Kristen Schaal. Noirish Killer Joe features Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple and Gina Gershon. And the B&W silent comedy favourite at Cannes, Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist will be screening, as will Joseph Gordon-Levitt cancer comedy, 50/50 which also features Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Phillip Baker Hall and Anjelica Huston

In the more dramatic side of things, I’ve been quite anticipating Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur which features Peter Mullan as an angry, cynical alcoholic who has reached rock-bottom is surprisingly brought back into life by a complete stranger: a middle-class woman with a strong belief in Christ. Eddie Marsan is also in it. Also Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilley star in Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas star in Lasse Halstrom’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. And from the directors of Persepolis comes another enchanting film adaptation of a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi: Chicken with Plums follows the last days of a talented musician’s (Mathieu Amalric) life as he desperately seeks to replace his beloved instrumental, the violin.

There are many titles, 50 in all so far, for those who wish to peruse over at the TIFF website.

Almodóvar’s “The Skin I Live In” [teaser]

If there’s one director that can be called truly an auteur, it’s Pedro Almodóvar. Since I’m a lover of anything unique, it’s no surprise that his latest, The Skin I Live In, is one of my most anticipated films of the next year. Arguably the most prolific foreign director of this generation, surprisingly this is Almodóvar’s first step into the realm of horror; at least “horror” as Pedro sees it.

Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard, an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After twelve years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault.

In addition to years of study and experimentation, Robert needed a further three things: no scruples, an accomplice and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. Marilia, the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig…

The trailer (actually just a quick scene) has finally arrived as a treat for all of us not lucky enough to be at Cannes this year. Not sure how I would categorize this scene. Is it creepy or comical or emotional? Likely a conglomerate of all three when put into context of the film. It’s been a while since Banderas has been in anything worthy of mention, but after having seen Almodóvar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! earlier this year, I have no doubt he’ll be back on the top of big name stars by year’s end with Pedro’s (and Soderbergh’s) help.

Thanks to Twitch for the above synopsis and the heads up on the trailer…

 

 

Almodóvar Marathon: “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (1988)

 


STARRING: Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano, María Barranco

Throughout this mini-marathon, we’ve been sort of jumping around within Almodovar’s filmography without any clear cut route in mind. We (meaning my girlfriend and myself) have just been going where the heart leads. We’ve revisited some of his more recent work and also gone further back to his beginnings (although some of those pictures are difficult to get a hold of [legally]). While none of Almodovar’s work is terribly dark or sinister, a lot of his pictures as of recent have sort of delved into the darker side of humanity. True that most of it is fairly light and breezy, at times even humorous, but still relatively tragic and often sad and even depressing. So we decided it was time to visit the comedic side of Almodovar’s work with his first truly internationally acclaimed picture, Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios; better known to American audiences as Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Voice actress Pepa is involved with a married man, Iván, of whom she constantly daydreams and lusts after. In a convoluted series of events that will catch up with our protagonists later on in the film, Pepa traces his movements and discovers that he’s involved with another, quite out of her head lover, with whom he has a grown up son, Carlos. Carlos and his overbearing fiancée arrive at Pepa’s apartment with the intention of subletting the place, unawares that their potential landlord is one of his father’s many lovers. Meanwhile, Pepa’s close friend, Candela drops by the apartment in a panic, claiming she’s on the run from the police who believe she’s mixed up in some sort of terrorist plot and needs a place to hideout. Essentially through a series of missteps, improbable coincidence and misunderstandings, these characters all comedically bounce off one another until all hell proverbially breaks loose.

Would you like to know more…?

What’s Up Lovely to Screen Next Friday in L.A.

As you might know, a few of us have been big fans of 2009’s New York Lately and we (I) have been highly anticipating screenwriter/director Gary King’s next effort, What’s Up Lovely. Well it looks like the wait is almost over for a few lucky folks out in Los Angeles next weekend.

If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out this newest venture from Mr. King (before me… grrr). The event is being held at the Downtown Independent at 8pm on Friday, May 14th. Make your way over there and catch Gary and star Jenn Dees as well as some other cast and crew. It’s only ten bucks and I guess there’s a big rooftop party afterwards. All the info on the event and the film itself can pretty much all be found right over here.

SYNOPSIS:
In the dead of night, a recently unemployed insomniac wanders the streets of New York discovering a city beyond her wildest imagination.
Luci loses her job and times are tougher than ever. Unable to sleep, she begins an after-hours journey embarking on a series of strange encounters as she wanders the dark metropolis. During one unforgettable night, Luci comes face to face with her innermost fears and desires as she tries to find her way back home.
Based on a concept by Jenn Dees and Gary King, WHAT’S UP LOVELY is a drama about the struggle to survive the city while battling the enemy within ourselves.
If you’e interested, and you should be,

I’ve been told the film sticks with several of King’s major influences (including Soderbergh, Wong Kar-Wai, Almodóvar) but is a little bit more Lynchian this time around. Whatever that means I can guarantee it piques our interests big time around here. Possibly gonna be some RowThree staff at the shin dig, so seek us out and buy us lots of cocktails.

You can check out the trailer underneath the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Almodóvar and Banderas Reunite (for Horror!?)

 

Though the recent mini-marathon (now considered to be sort of a slow walk) of Pedro Almodóvar films has taken a seat on the back burner for now, I’m nonetheless pleased and uber-excited to find out today that Almodóvar’s next venture into film will tackle the unexpected genre of horror. Excited? Why yes, yes I am.

It’s been about twenty years since Pedro worked with a then fairly unknown Antonio Banderas in 1990’s Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! (our review). But now the prolific director and actor have decided to reunite for what will be “the harshest film [he’s] ever written.”

The picture is titled La Piel que Habito which means, “The Skin I Live In.” It’s the story of a plastic surgeon’s (Banderas) revenge on the man who raped his daughter. With Almodóvar’s apparent love for Hitchcock (obviously present in his last film, Broken Embraces (review) I’m sure we can expect something pretty special and interesting considering this is the first time either director or actor have tackled this genre.

The film will be based on the book “Tarantula” by Theirry Jonquet and thanks to ThePlaylist, we’ve found a synopsis of that book aver at Amazon:

Richard Lafargue is an eminent plastic surgeon haunted by dirty secrets. He has an operating theatre in the basement of his chateau and keeps his partner Eve imprisoned in her bedroom, a room he has equipped with an intercom and 300-watt speakers through which he bellows orders. Eve is only allowed out to be paraded at cocktail parties and on the last Sunday of each month, when the couple visit a young woman in a mental asylum. Following these outings, Lafargue humiliates Eve by forcing her to perform lewd sexual acts with strangers while he watches through a one-way mirror. In alternating chapters, Jonquet introduces seemingly unrelated characters: a criminal on the run after murdering a policeman, and an abducted young man who finds himself chained naked in a dark chamber, forced to endure all manner of physical torture at the hands of a mysterious stranger, whom he calls Mygale, after a type of tropical spider. All of these characters are caught in a deceitful web, doomed to meet their fate.

Holy balls. If Pedro keeps from holding back any punches, this could be a pretty intense little (or not so little as the case may be) genre film. In Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!, Banderas played a little bit of a psychopath true, but it was fairly lighthearted and comical. Almodóvar says that Banderas’ character here is “brutal… I could have continued with a puerile guy with an overpowering power of seduction, but this guy is a real psychopath.”

Sadly no Penélope Cruz here, but the prospect of a terror inspired film from someone with the eye for detail, color and composition as Almodóvar can’t be higher. Shooting starts this summer and this just went straight to the top of films I most anticipate for 2011.

Bring. It. On!

 

Bookmarks for December 16

poster_house-of-the-devil
  • Evolution of Horror Movie Poster Designs: 1922 – 2009
    For those who like One Sheets, track some of the trends and styles of Horror pictures, here is rough chronological sampling since the genre was born right up to this year.
  • A History of African-Americans in film
    “An interesting time line in words and pictures that show the progress of “Race movies” over the past 100 years.”
  • Golden Globe nods don’t ensure Oscar love
    “Amid the first rush of Globes fanfare, it will be tempting to look at their five nominees for best drama and five for best comedy/musical and declare them the likely front-runners to become the Academy Ten. For even though the HFPA places 10 bets in its two best picture categories, it hasn’t done all that convincing a job in years past of predicting the Academy’s five best picture nominees. Why should its record improve now that the Academy has upped its ante?”
  • Box Office 2.0: ‘Broken Embraces’ and the Cannes ’09 Crop
    Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces” has managed three consecutive weekends with per-theater-averages of over $40,000, and this weekend – upon expansion from NY to LA – still managed a $18,255 PTA. Impressive.
  • I Am a Follower (and you should be too)
    Here is a write up that will be posted and updated as the time goes on – with the important people Gary King (New York Lovely) believes you should take an interest in as they all have something special and unique to share in and among the indie film world.
  • Take me to a whole new world…but don’t show me how we got there.
    The insistence on a certain type of realism, which in Hollywood comes down to slickness, truncates the audience’s imagination. When everything is presented in the slickest way possible, it’s difficult to engage with film in a meaningful way – unfortunately, this is what people have come to expect.

Almodóvar Marathon: “Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!” (1990)

 


STARRING: Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril, Loles León, Julieta Serrano

The first film from Almodóvar I’ve come across that is straight up comedy – at least the first one I remember laughing out loud with so often. As I continue through this leisurely marathon, I expect that I’ll find another comedy somewhere within his filmography, but I’m skeptical that I’ll find one with such darkness, bizzarity or brazenness in its contempt for its characters and almost subversive pondering of male/female sexual politics.

A simpler and easier to follow story from the collected works of Mr. Almodóvar I’ve not seen (yet). It follows the struggle and ordeal of really only two characters and sticks with them (and nearly only them) as their situation complicates and unfolds. A beautiful, young porno star named Maria is attempting to make her way into mainstream film making. Hampering her endeavors is an addiction to drugs and a “holier than thou” attitude. The film within the film, “Midnight Phantom”, is put on indefinite hold when Marina disappears for days on end during production. She has been taken hostage in her own home by an escaped mental patient (Banderas) who has developed an unhealthy obsession with Marina. He busts into her apartment, forcibly and violently restraining her and keeping her tied to a bed and gagged; explaining to her that once she gets to know him, he will be a good husband to her and a wonderful father to their children. As the drama unfolds, the balance of power between the two teeters back and forth before slowly shifting to her side and eventually the entire dynamic of their “relationship” is altered in a way that must be seen to be believed.
Would you like to know more…?