April 2015

THE LOBSTER - Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster will have its world premiere at this year’s 68th Cannes Film Festival>

Variety | April 16, 2015 | Justin Chang

"Star-studded English-language dramas from Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Denis Villeneuve, Justin Kurzel, Paolo Sorrentino and Matteo Garrone will vie for the Palme d’Or alongside new films by Valerie Donzelli, Jacques Audiard, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Jia Zhangke at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival, which unveiled its official selection lineup on Thursday.

While there are only two U.S. directors in competition — Haynes with “Carol,” a 1950s lesbian love story starring Cate Blanchett, and Van Sant with his suicide drama “The Sea of Trees,” pairing Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe — this year’s Palme race looks to feature more high-profile Hollywood talent than any in recent memory. Canada’s Villeneuve (“Prisoners,” “Enemy”) will bring his Mexican drug-cartel drama “Sicario,” with Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin, while Australia’s Kurzel (“The Snowtown Murders”) secured a Palme berth for “Macbeth,” his Shakespeare adaptation toplining Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

In a further sign of the ever-increasing globalization of film culture, two highly regarded European directors will make their Cannes competition debuts with English-lingo efforts: Greek helmer Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”) with “The Lobster,” an out-there sci-fier starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, and Norwegian director Joachim Trier with “Louder Than Bombs,” a family drama with Isabelle Huppert, Gabriel Byrne and Jesse Eisenberg. Two Italian heavyweights are also bringing English-language fare: Paolo Sorrentino with “Youth” (pictured below), toplining Michael Caine and featuring Weisz, Jane Fonda, Paul Dano and Harvey Keitel, and Garrone with “The Tale of Tales,” a lavish, effects-driven fantasy starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly.

As expected, American studio/specialty fare will be similarly well represented out of competition, with world-premiere screenings of Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone; George Miller’s previously announced actioner “Mad Max: Fury Road,” with Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron; and Pixar’s latest toon extravaganza “Inside Out.” The latter will be joined out of competition by another animated feature, Mark Osborne’s French-produced, English-language adaptation of “The Little Prince,” featuring voice work by Riley Osborne, Jeff Bridges, Del Toro and Cotillard.

Meanwhile, of the eight first features announced in the official selection, few will likely stir more interest than director Natalie Portman’s “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” an Israel-shot adaptation of Amos Oz’s bestselling autobiography that will receive a Special Screenings berth.

Asia will enjoy its strongest competition presence in some time with “Our Little Sister,” a Japanese comicstrip adaptation from Hirokazu Kore-eda; “Mountains May Depart,” a three-part drama from mainland Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke; and “The Assassin,” a long-gestating martial-arts epic from Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien. Cannes 2015 also looks to be a robust edition for Italian filmmakers, with Palme bridesmaids Garrone and Sorrentino duking it out with Palme laureate Nanni Moretti, back with his semi-autobiographical drama “My Mother.” And perhaps the most unexpected competition entry is “Son of Saul,” a Holocaust drama from first-time Hungarian helmer Laszlo Nemes, and the sole debut feature in contention for the Palme.

All these tantalizing prospects aside, Thursday morning’s press conference in Paris left a number of question marks, starting with the fact that only 17 films were announced for competition and 14 in Un Certain Regard, a program that runs parallel to the competition. Cannes delegate general Thierry Fremaux (appearing alongside newly installed president Pierre Lescure) assured those in attendance that more pictures would be added to the lineup in the coming days. It remains to be seen whether that means making room for any British and/or Latin American filmmakers, who are currently unrepresented in competition.

As it stands, while the proceedings will kick off with Emmanuelle Bercot’s previously announced “Standing Tall,” starring Catherine Deneuve, the festival has yet to announce either a closing-night film or an opening film for Un Certain Regard. Acknowledging that there were many films that didn’t make the cut despite having been well liked by the screening committee, Fremaux added, “It’s a good selection. It’s new, it’s fresh … Our selection will lay out some assumptions, some hypotheses, and the mission is to put new names on the world cinema map.”

Fremaux also addressed the large number of English-lingo movies from non-native English speakers, noting that he and his committee had refused many films that used the language in an absurd or non-intuitive fashion.

“We’re trying to make this point understood by certain American producers who really think English is the world’s language,” Fremaux said. “We just can’t have Latin American, Asian or Middle Eastern characters speak in English as if it were their own language.”

Lescure noted that the Sorrentino and Garrone films were worthy exceptions: “The coherence of the choice of language stems from artistic considerations rather than economic ones.”

Of the many films that went unmentioned in Thursday’s announcement (including Terence Davies’ “Sunset Song,” Miguel Gomes’ “Arabian Nights” and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Love in Khon Kaen”), two of the most conspicuous and surprising no-shows were Arnaud Desplechin’s “Nos arcadies” and Gaspar Noe’s “Love.” The absence of these two Cannes mainstays can be chalked up in part to an even-stronger-than-usual year for French cinema, which will be represented in competition by Jacques Audiard’s immigrant drama “Erran”; Maiwenn’s “Mon roi,” a love story starring Bercot and Vincent Cassel; Valerie Donzelli’s incest-themed drama “Marguerite and Julien”; and Stephane Brize’s “A Simple Man,” with Vincent Lindon.

Other French-speaking entries that were unannounced on Thursday include Xavier Giannoli’s “Marguerite,” Guillaume Nicloux’s “Valley of Love,” Jaco van Dormael’s “The Brand New Testament” and Joachim Lafosse’s “The White Knights,” though it’s expected that most if not all these titles may yet find berths in the official selection or in the Directors’ Fortnight, which will announce its lineup on April 21. (The Critics’ Week sidebar will be announced on April 20.)

Donzelli and Maiwenn are the only two female directors competing for the Palme d’Or, a number in line with last year’s; slotting Bercot’s “Standing Tall” in competition would have brought the total to three. Still, the festival would seem to be making some attempt to address past criticisms of its underrepresentation of women — not only by opening with its first female-directed movie in the nearly 30 years since Diane Kurys’ “A Man in Love” (1987), but also by partnering with French luxury goods company Kering to present Women in Motion, a series of talks and panels highlighting women’s achievements in cinema.

As usual, Un Certain Regard, a sidebar devoted to work by emerging talents as well as established auteurs, will provide a significant platform for national cinemas not represented in competition. These include India (Neeraj Ghaywan’s “Fly Away Solo,” Gurvinder Singh’s “The Fourth Direction”), Romania (Corneliu Porumboiu’s “The Treasure,” Radu Muntean’s “One Floor Below”), Iran (Ida Panahandeh’s “Nahid”), Iceland (Grimar Hakonarson’s “Rams”) and South Korea (Shin Su-won’s “Madonna,” Oh Seung-euk’s “The Shameless”).

Another Korean film, Hong Won-chan’s serial-killer thriller “Office,” will receive a Midnight Screenings slot, as will “Amy,” Asif Kapadia’s documentary portrait of the late singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse.

At the press conference, Fremaux made a point of noting that the festival would “wage a campaign to slow down the contemporary practice of (taking) selfies on the red carpet.” While Fremaux said he didn’t want to be coercive or prohibitive, he felt that said practice was “extremely ridiculous and grotesque.”"

http://variety.com/2015/film/festivals/cannes-film-festival-lineup-2-1201473674/ Facebook Link

THE NAMES - Don DeLillo Novel ‘The Names’ Headed for Big Screen>

Variety | April 7, 2015 | Ramin Setoodeh

"Director Alex Ross Perry has optioned the rights to Don DeLillo’s 1982 novel “The Names,” Variety has learned.
Perry (“Listen Up Philip,” “Queen of Earth”) is planning to adapt the script and direct. “The Names,” DeLillo’s seventh book, is set in the summer of 1979 in Athens and throughout the Middle East with a cast of expats who start to investigate a string of murders committed by a cult. DeLillo fans consider the work underrated. (The New York Times review described it as “a powerful, haunting book, formidably intelligent and agile.”)

Perry is currently writing the screenplay for Disney’s live-action “Winnie the Pooh.” He'll produce “The Names” with Christos V. Konstantakopoulos.
DeLillo has allowed only one of his previous novels to be made into a film — David Cronenberg’s 2012 drama “Cosmopolis,” starring Robert Pattinson."

http://variety.com/2015/film/news/don-delillo-the-names-movie-1201467607/ Facebook Link

QUEEN OF EARTH - IFC Films has acquired North American rights to Elisabeth Moss Starrer 'Queen of Earth'>

hollywoodreporter | 14 April 2015 | by Gregg Kilday

"Alex Ross Perry directed the film, which also stars Katherine Waterston and bowed at the Berlin Film Festival.
IFC Films has acquired North American rights to Alex Ross Perry's Queen of Earth, starring Elisabeth Moss and Katherine Waterston as two best friends who, during a lakeside retreat, confront the issues that have driven them apart.

The film, which had its world premiere at this year's Berlin Film Festival, also stars Patrick Fugit, Kate Lyn Sheil, Kentucker Audley and Keith Poulson. Written and directed by Perry, it was produced by Perry, Moss, Adam Piotrowicz and Joe Swanberg and executive produced by Christos V. Konstantakopoulos and Forager Film Company.

"Perry has created a fascinating and unnerving psychological portrait, which elicits a career-best performance from Moss and cements Perry's status as a filmmaker to watch," said Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films.
The deal for the film was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, senior vp acquisitions and productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films, and Sean Berney, manager of acquisitions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films, directly with the filmmakers."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ifc-films-picks-up-elisabeth-788730 Facebook Link

February 2015

7 CHINESE BROTHERS - 7 Chinese Brothers to premiere at SXSW on March 15 in the Narrative Feature section. Jason Schwartzman slated to attend the Q & A. >

Director/Screenwriter: Bob Byington

A man unaccustomed to telling the truth learns to at least describe it.

Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Tunde Adebimpe, Eleanore Pienta, Olympia Dukakis, Stephen Root (World Premiere)

http://www.indiewire.com/article/sxsw-reveals-features-and-episodics-lineups-new-judd-apatow-and-alex-gibney-make-the-cut-20150203?page=3 Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Sight & Sound calls Love is Strange "simply one of the best films about a long-term gay relationship ever made">

Sight & Sound | 13 February 2015 | By Keith Uhlich

"Ira Sachs gives the comedy of remarriage a modern-day refresh with this warm, wise story of a newly vagrant gay couple in New York.

Writer-director Ira Sachs continues his semi-autobiographical streak after the career highlight of Keep the Lights On (2012). Love Is Strange is a perfectly poised 90-minute portrait of an ageing gay couple who find themselves not so much thrown out of their own apartment as thrown out of their own lives. Unlike the drug-addled obsessions of Keep the Lights On, however, this is a film you could take your grandparents to see, in the nicest possible sense of that proposition.

Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are a couple who have been together for decades. At the beginning of the film they get married, and it’s a communal and celebratory Manhattan affair: the reception at their modest apartment is full of love, with friends and family telling them what an inspiration they are.

But because of this public declaration, George finds that he has fallen foul of his conditions of employment at the conservative Catholic college where he is a music teacher, and is summarily sacked. He and Ben can no longer afford to live where they do. They sell up, get almost nothing in cash terms, and have to stay with different households.

There then follows a painful portrait of Ben living with his nephew and family, and George perching in the apartment of some gay cop neighbours, whose late-night socialising means he can’t go to bed on the couch. Forlorn telephone conversations follow. “Sometimes when you live with people you know them better than you care to,” observes Ben.

Lithgow and Molina have known each other for years, and fall easily into a sense of advanced brotherliness that is entirely convincing. But this is really Lithgow’s film and we dwell most in his company; his Ben is a penniless artist (apparently based on someone known to Sachs) with a good heart, albeit one riddled with cardiovascular disease.

His gentle mentoring of Joey, the teenager he is obliged to share a room with, is one of the film’s focus points; the boy is played by Charlie Tahan, who was Zac Efron’s ghostly brother in Charlie St Cloud (2010) and, more amusingly, Victor in Frankenweenie (2012). Joey is a grumpy teen who can spout a touch of unthinking homophobia – he hates Ben occupying his room; and he disapproves when Ben, returning to art as an escape and as an affirmation of who he is, paints a portrait of his friend Vlad on the roof.

The film’s colours are warm and summery, and the music plays a central part, from the Chopin piano at the start to the lessons conducted by George: one very precise scene in which he teaches a little girl seems to unlock his own voice – in voiceover he reads a letter about tolerance to the parents of the school. The editing is crisp and spare without being brutal, and serves best purpose, removing a whole skein of unnecessary detail without harming the emotional core of the story.

Interestingly, Sachs has talked about this film as a kind of comedy, and there are gently funny scenes, such as when the couple pretend to be Stonewall veterans and get free drinks in a bar; there’s a deft cinephile mix of the personal and a tribute to 1940s ‘married then separated’ movies such as The Philadelphia Story.

Sachs has also talked of it as a film about education “with a small ‘e’”. That seems most evident in the ultimately benign and helpful effect Ben has on George. Sachs, who has recently married his long-term partner and lives in Manhattan, has based some of the film on real-life characters – the gay cops, for example – and real places he has recently got to know, such as the city’s small public parks.

There are so many good things about this film. It’s a Manhattan romance. It’s a love letter to the rapidly vanishing bohemian and artistic milieu of New York, now priced out of town. It’s a wise description of the ‘make your own family’ culture of some modern lives. It’s a gentle anatomy of the horrors of outstaying your welcome, of being poor, sick and old. And it’s simply one of the best films about a long-term gay relationship ever made.

Most of all it’s a film about love – love that’s a little frayed around the edges sometimes but straightforward, funny and true.

ra Sachs borrows heavily from his own life experiences for Love Is Strange, merging the influences of Ozu and Woody Allen to paint a gentle character study of a gay couple whose lives are thrown into turmoil when they decide to get married after almost 40 years together.

http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/reviews-recommendations/film-week-love-strange?utm_content=buffera9d61&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Financial Times Review - 4 STARS - Alfred Molina and John Lithgow are superb as a gay couple forced out of their apartment >

Financial Times | 12 Feb 2015 | by Nigel Andrews

"In a week when Valentine’s Day goes viral at the cinema (see also Love Is All ), here is a bittersweet charmer from American indie filmmaker Ira Sachs. You could call it Fifty Shades of Gay. Love comes to — indeed long ago came to — two ageing New Yorkers newly forced out of their apartment. Their blissful but belated wedding has been followed by a mortgage-imperilling job loss. With choirmaster George (Alfred Molina) fired from his Catholic school, painter companion Ben (John Lithgow) patiently packs his things. Off the two go into the cold.

It’s a King Lear for the post-Stonewall era: touching, funny, wise, and wryly suggesting that though gays may never have had it so good, they could still have it better. For one dispossessed monarch pinballed round early Britain, read two human butterflies forlornly flitting across Manhattan in forced separation. Ben takes the lower bunk in a nephew’s son’s bedroom. By day he exasperates with his loose-ends chatter the nephew’s writer wife (Marisa Tomei). George grabs a berth with two gay cop friends. Parties every night for a man long past his party-loving days.

When two is company, even two and a half is a crowd. The stress fractures stretch from guests to hosts: personal crises and household quarrels are both suddenly in the eavesdroppers’ domain. What happened to privacy? Writer-director Sachs (Keep the Lights On) is a gifted, Chekhovian miniaturist. He perfects every tic and tock of his two heroes’ lives, as they gaze at the clock of their existence, robbed of the togetherness that made minutes, hours, days worthwhile. Molina and Lithgow are both superb: two crusty romantics searching for crumbs in a world, however well-meaning, that is too busy for love unless it comes tidy, manageable and vexation-free.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2d634ab2-b2b1-11e4-a058-00144feab7de.html#axzz3Re6cX95d Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Love Is Strange Guardian Review - 4 STARS - A same-sex marriage sucker-punched by catastrophe >

The Guardian | Thursday 12 February 2015 | by Peter Bradshaw

"There is such unassuming artistry and maturity in this sweet, sad, wise movie by Ira Sachs, who has shown a flair for relationship nuance in films such as Keep the Lights On (2012) and his noir drama Married Life (2007). This is his best work yet: a wonderfully acted study in intimacy and the mystery of how much of our identity is invested in coupledom, especially in the long haul of marriage. Love is strange, says the title. Perhaps it gets stranger the longer you stay in love.

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play Ben and George, a gay couple in late middle age who live in New York City. Ben is an artist who is the financially dependent one; George is a music teacher at a Catholic school who pays the bills on the apartment they have recently bought. After living together for 40 years, Ben and George take advantage of recent changes in state law and get married. The exuberant reception at their place for a wide, loving circle of friends and relatives is a happy affair, more an anniversary party than a wedding. It reminded me, perhaps oddly, of the family parties in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), in which the characters played by Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O’Sullivan start singing boozily – but those traces of melancholy and regret are absent here. Later, Ben amiably says he spent the afternoon at the cinema, seeing a revival of Busby Berkeley’s The Gang’s All Here. Another very Woody Allen moment.

All the guests had themselves made a kind of commitment: to redouble their friendship and love for the happy couple. But no one could have imagined how soon they would be expected to redeem this pledge. George is fired from his job by church authorities who disapprove of the gay wedding, though they were happy enough with the deniable hypocrisy of his merely having a roommate. Unable to meet their mortgage payments, these two men suffer an unthinkable catastrophe: in what they imagined to be the comfortable evening of their lives, they become homeless refugees, having to split up temporarily and live separately with two sets of friends who, with strained generosity, take them in.

Their humiliation is complete as we realise that each man is with the wrong host: hard-working George is billeted with a laid-back couple of gay cops who like noisy parties and get-togethers in the evening; after a hard day teaching private pupils, George comes back wanting peace and gets none. He would have been better off with Kate (Marisa Tomei) and Elliot (Darren Burrows), whose ordered but strained family life is put under further stress by genial Ben, who has the bunk bed in their teenage son’s room and does nothing all day but hang around getting under Kate’s feet. Their chaotic situation would be amusingly suited to bohemian foreign-exchange students; for grown, ageing men, it is almost shocking.

What is even more disquieting for each is the revelation that, agonising though the situation is, it can work – after a fashion. They can get by. Their love is real enough, but they can function as individuals, as single people. It is as if they are young again – messy and troublesome kids living with their parents, meeting up for dates and illicit sex, yet what they are concealing is not their sexuality but the fear of disaster, the fear of ending their days in poverty and failure, with the relationship that they thought was the bedrock of their existence shattered, almost casually.

Yet Ben and George are vouchsafed something long-term couples rarely have: a vision of what remains of them as individuals, a demonstration of the fact that individuals are what they inevitably are, and not some platonic fusion. It is a guide, of sorts, to how they might function without each other – and how, indeed, they will one day have to do this.

This is a film of great gentleness and subtlety. Sachs arguably sucker-punches us at the end by omitting one key scene, and yet when the truth about this omission dawns on the audience, it confers retrospective power on what has gone before. Lithgow and Molina give excellent performances in a film composed in a reflective minor key."

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/feb/12/love-is-strange-review-john-lithgow-alfred-molina-gay-couple Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Love is Strange releases in the UK today>

Find out where it's playing: http://on.fb.me/1IU5BRg

For tickets and further details visit: http://bit.ly/1BSuMdX

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QUEEN OF EARTH - The Match Factory Picks Up Alex Ross Perry’s ‘Queen of Earth’ >

Variety | Feb 5, 2015 | Leo Barraclough, John Hopewell

"The Match Factory has picked up Alex Ross Perry’s “Queen of Earth,” which premieres in Berlinale Forum.

The film stars Katherine Waterston (“Steve Jobs,” “Inherent Vice,” “Michael Clayton”) and Elisabeth Moss, who appeared in the director’s previous film, “Listen Up Philip.”

“Queen of Earth” centers on best friends Catherine and Virginia, who escape to the lakeside cabin of Virginia’s parents while they hash out their issues.

Joe Swanberg of Forager Film Co. and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos of Faliro House Prods. produced the film.

The Match Factory also handled “Listen Up Philip.” Michael Weber, managing director of the Match Factory, said: “We are very happy to work again with Alex Ross Perry on such a promising film like ‘Queen of Earth.’ Alex’s unique way of storytelling and original style make us proud to represent his new film.”"

http://variety.com/2015/film/news/berlin-the-match-factory-picks-up-alex-ross-perrys-queen-of-earth-exclusive-1201424489/ Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Love is Strange in the London tube. Opens today at the Curzon Soho and on Feb. 13 across the UK>

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January 2015

QUEEN OF EARTH - Alex Ross Perry's 'Queen of Earth,' Starring Elisabeth Moss, Will World Premiere at Berlinale 2015>

indiewire | Ryan Lattanzio | 15 Jan 2015

Alex Ross Perry's 'Queen of Earth,' Starring Elisabeth Moss, Will World Premiere at Berlinale 2015.

"Moss was transcendently good in Perry's critics' darling "Philip." So good, in fact, that we picked one of her scenes as one of the 10 best of the year. Chalk this project, which shows Perry entering thriller territory and with a steadier camera for the first time, up with Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" and Malick's "Knight of Cups" as one of the most exciting Berlinale entries."

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/alex-ross-perrys-queen-of-earth-starring-elisabeth-moss-will-world-premiere-at-berlinale-2015-20150115 Facebook Link

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