STRATOS - Stratos by Yannis Economides wins the Best Feature Orpheus Award at the 2015 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival>
LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Telegraph Review : Listen Up Philip review: 'Brilliant black comedy' ★★★★★>
The Telegraph | 4 June 2015 | Robbie Collin
"Alex Ross Perry's wince-inducing black comedy about two repellent literary blowhards marks the arrival of a major new talent
In real life, you could probably spend around five minutes with Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman) before you’d start thinking about hurling either him or yourself down the nearest fire escape. But from behind the safety screen of cinema, his company’s pure pleasure.
Philip is a low-flying gargoyle on the New York literary scene whose second novel may be about to lift him to more rarefied altitudes. We’re given to understand that Philip is a good writer – or good enough, at least. But it soon becomes clear that, within the book trade, he’s a real world-beater in two highly competitive fields: misanthropy and egomania.
When we first meet him, he’s spending an enjoyable day settling old scores: firstly with an ex-girlfriend, whose face he’s keen to rub in his coming success. “It sounds like you’re bragging,” she says, after he reels off his publisher’s plans for his new, apparently star-making novel. “That’s because I am,” he snaps back, without missing a beat.
Later, he stops by his publisher to announce he’s pulling out of his own book tour because he wants the work to speak for itself, and then tries to engineer a Hemingway-esque fist-fight for a magazine profile he’s writing on an equally awful contemporary.
Philip lives with his girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss), a successful photographer, but seems incapable of taking an interest in her life, and drops her at the first opportunity to go and live with the bestselling author Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), a subtle, Philip Roth-like grotesque who’s ensconced in a sprawling farmhouse upstate. (Compounding the Rotherie, this section plays like a riff on Roth’s 1979 novel The Ghost Writer.)
The idea is that the trip will be a working getaway for Philip, though it soon devolves into a mutually poisonous backslapping session for these two deeply unlovely funhouse-mirror visions of writerly success.
Bubbling away throughout is a dense, swingeingly serious narration performed by Eric Bogosian, which seems to unspool directly from Philip’s head, as if he’s writing his own life story – in the third person, naturally – as he lives it.
The film doesn’t have a single remotely sympathetic character, and its sense of humour is so lip-chappingly dry every ticket should come with a complimentary jar of Vaseline. Basically, if you enjoyed Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg or Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums but wished those directors had eased off the schmaltz a bit, Philip is the scumbag for you.
This outstanding black comedy of bad manners is the third feature from the young American filmmaker Alex Ross Perry, and only at the end when you wincingly reflect on what you’ve seen do you realise what a Niagara-straddling tightrope-walk the whole thing has been.
Listen Up Philip skewers literary preciousness with Genghis Khan-like zeal, but the film itself is, very proudly, both literary and precious. For a sizeable chunk of its second act, the film drops Philip’s story entirely and refocuses on Ashley instead, which is the kind of novelistic structural trickery that’s hellishly difficult to pull off on-screen.
It was also shot on Super 16mm film, mostly hand-held and at close quarters, which gives it a highly self-conscious vintage look. Yet the film is written with such supreme elegance and shot with such vibrant and absorbing beauty that it breezily gets away with everything its characters try and fail to.
What’s more, Perry somehow allows his cast enough space in this meticulously authored environment to work creative wonders of their own. Schwartzman’s wan gaze and flair for deadpan comedy combine to create an impregnable aura of self-regard; it’s hard to think of another role that’s suited him this perfectly since Rushmore, his 1998 debut.
Pryce seizes on a role full of fine-grained unpleasantness and makes hay with it, while Moss, who’s used to middle-distance simmering on the television series Mad Men, thrives in grainy close-up. There’s a 30-second shot of her face seconds after an unhappy encounter with Philip in her flat, that’s a masterclass in screen acting: anger, disbelief, fear, uncertainty and relief, each one dovetailing perfectly with the next.
Whether Listen Up Philip is a significant step up for Perry or just business as usual, I can’t tell you: his previous two features, Impolex and The Colour Wheel, have yet to be released in the UK. But either way, this film signals a notable arrival, and the time to acquire a taste for him is now."
THE LOBSTER - ‘The Lobster’ tops Cannes winners social media buzz>
Screendaily | 28 May, 2015 | By Michael Rosser
Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan may have won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival but it was Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster that sparked the most mentions on social media, according to analysis firm Way To Blue.
The Lobster, which won the Jury Prize, generated more than 12,400 mentions while Dheepan drew close to 7,700. Lazslo Neme’s Grand Prize winner, Son Of Saul, topped 7,000.
Way To Blue ranked films by calculating numbers for “overall buzz” and “intent-to-view,” as well as most buzzed about topics and stars from a sample size of 990,000 mentions from May 13-24.
However, that figure was down 29% compared to Cannes 2014, when stars such as Robert Pattinson – a big draw for fans on social media – attended the festival.
Overall, Mad Max: Fury Road generated the most mentions with close to 19,000 mentions while Todd Haynes’ Competition title Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, came second with nearly 17,400.
The festival buzzword was ‘Feminism’, generating more than 10,200 mentions, nearly a third of which was dedicated to ‘Flatgate’, regarding women being turned away from the red carpet for not wearing heels, originally reported by Screen.
THE LOBSTER - The Lobster has won the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival>
The Guardian | 24 May, 2015 | by Catherine Shoard
Jacques Audiard has cemented his place as the premier contemporary French director by winning the Palme d’Or in Cannes for his seventh feature, Dheepan.
Dheepan review - Tamil Tiger loose in the urban jungle makes powerful thriller
The new film from Rust and Bone director Jacques Audiard has a former fighter in the Sri Lankan civil war trying to make a new life in France with a fake family
Audiard, 63, took the Grand Prix (or runner-up award) five years ago for A Prophet, and competed at the festival three years ago with Rust & Bone. His new film is a less-starry affair than those two; the tale of a former fighter in the Sri Lankan civil war trying to make a new life in France with a fake family.
In his speech, Audiard thanked his father, the prolific screenwriter Michel Audiard, who died in 1985.
It was a night of surprises at the 68th Cannes film festival, with many critics’ favourites thwarted and the jury – who are only allowed to award one prize per film – exhibiting eclectic taste and a pronounced accent on the celebration of French acting talent.
Son of Saul star: ‘God was holding the hand of every Jew in the gas chamber’
This year’s Grand Prix went to 38-year-old debut director László Nemes for Son of Saul, the Auschwitz-set story of a prisoner working as a Sonderkommando, guiding Jews into the gas chambers and then disposing of their bodies.
Bookies’ favourite The Lobster, a British co-production directed by Greek film-maker Yorgos Lanthimos, took the Prix du Jury (or third prize) for his satire about single people who must find a mate within 45 days or be turned into a wild animal. The director thanked his producers and actors, including Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz.
Carol, Todd Haynes’s adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith lesbian romance The Price of Salt, which many had tipped for the Palme d’Or, had to console itself with one-half of a shared best actress award. Rooney Mara took the gong for her role as an inexperienced shopgirl in 1950s New York who begins a relationship with Cate Blanchett’s unhappily married mother-of-one.
Haynes, accepting the award in Mara’s absence, said both he and she were “completely blown away and surprised” by the honour. “I love you, I wish you were here,” he said.
The Lobster review - dark satire on relationships gets fishy near the tail-end
Yorgos Lanthimos’s first English-language feature is enjoyably strange but fails to follow through on its premise
Mara’s joint winner, Emmanuelle Bercot, was rewarded for her role as a woman recovering from a broken leg in little-loved French domestic drama Mon Roi.
Veteran French star Vincent Lindon earned prolonged applause as he took the stage to pick up the best actor award for Stéphane Brizé’s The Measure of a Man, in which he plays a man crushed by his job as a supermarket security guard. Lindon beat the likes of Michael Caine (for Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth), and Tim Roth, who plays a traumatised palliative care nurse in bleak drama Chronic.
That film did take the best screenplay prize went to its writer/director Michel Franco, who paid tribute to jury chairs the Coen brothers, “my heroes”, as well as to Roth, who chaired the Un Certain Regard jury who presented his previous film, After Lucia, with their top prize three years ago.
Serving under the Coens on this year’s jury were Franco’s countryman Guillermo del Toro, as well as the actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Sienna Miller. Early in the ceremony, the London singer and pianist Benjamin Clementine performed the song Fare Thee Well from Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coens’ folk drama which took the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2013. The brothers looked on, toes not visibly tapping.
In a less explicable musical interlude, The Lobster and Tale of Tales actor John C Reilly took to the stage to sing a be-bop version of Just a Gigolo with four-man Dixieland outfit the Flyboys, before presenting the Camera d’Or for best first film to César Augusto for Land and Shade. After his speech, Augusto continued the musical theme of this year’s ceremony by leading the audience in a rendition of Happy Birthday to Reilly, who turned 50.
Best director went to Taiwanese film-maker Hou Hsiao-hsien, whose martial arts epic The Assassin marks his return to cinema after an eight-year absence.
Jane Birkin presented the honorary Palme to veteran director Agnes Varda, who won a standing ovation. In an emotional speech, Varda, now 86, paid tribute to her late husband, new wave film-maker Jacques Demy, who died 25 years ago.
Critics are mixed on the overall quality of this year’s festival. Artistic director Thierry Frémaux’s programme was at pains to promote homegrown talent, with nine of the 19 competition films either French productions or co-productions, and US and UK directors thin on the ground.
But although there has been an absence of high-profile turkeys such as last year’s opener, Grace of Monaco, the number of flat-out classics was also been felt to be down. Last year’s festival saw the premieres of Leviathan, Winter Sleep, Mr Turner, Jimmy’s Hall, Foxcatcher, Wild Tales, Clouds of Sils Maria, Mommy and Two Days, One Night. The sense on the Croisette is that fewer of this year’s crop are likely to progress either to Oscar contention, or into the cinematic canon.
Instead, the headlines were dominated by the midnight screening of Gaspar Noé’s 3D sex movie, Love, and by “flatgate”, which saw the festival under attack after security guards banned a number of women – including an amputee – from premieres for not wearing high heels.
Full list of awards
Dheepan dir: Jacques Audiard
Son of Saul dir: Laszlo Nemes
The Lobster dir: Yorgos Lanthimos
Hou Hsiao-Hsien, The Assassin
Chronic dir: Michel Franco
Camera d’Or (best first feature)
La Tierra y la Sombra (Land and Shade) dir: Cesar Augusto Acevedo
Vincent Lindon, The Measure of a Ma
Best actress: (joint)
Rooney Mara, Carol; Emmanuelle Bercot, Mon Roi
Best short film
Waves 98 dir: Ely Dagher
THE LOBSTER - Alchemy Nears Deal for Festival Hit 'The Lobster'>
Hollywood Reporter | May 19, 2015 | by Pamela McClintock, Rebecca Ford
"Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos' surreal parable The Lobster is nearing a deal with Alchemy for U.S. rights after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15 to rave reviews.
The movie, which marks Lanthimos' English-language debut, is set in a dystopian near-future in which people are transformed into animals of their choosing if they fail to find a matching mate within a designated time period.
Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz star, with Farrell's character checking into the "hotel" for single people that gives him 45 days to find a mate. But when things go terribly wrong, he escapes and joins a group of rebel singles in the woods, where he falls in love.
Lea Seydoux and John C. Reilly also appear in the film, which screened in competition.
Lanthimos' first three films were Kinetta, Oscar-nominee Dogtooth and Alps."
7 CHINESE BROTHERS - Spotlight has acquired international sales rights to Bob Byington’s Jason Schwartzman starrer>
screendaily | 20 May, 2015 | By Jeremy Kay
Seana Flanagan, Molly Christie Benson and Nancy Schafer produced 7 Chinese Brothers and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos of Faliro House Productions served as executive producer.
Schwartzman, Tunde Adebimpe, Eleanore Pienta and Stephen Root star in the tale of an unemployed man with a callous outlook on life who tries to change his life to win the heart of a co-worker.
Spotlight brokered the deal with producers Flanagan and Schafer.
THE LOBSTER - BBC Review : ‘One of the best films of Cannes and 2015’>
BBC | 15 May, 2015 | by Nicholas Barber
"It’s a surreal satire about a dating game in which humans who can’t couple up are turned into animals. Nicholas Barber explains why The Lobster is Cannes’ first five-star film.
So far in Cannes, we’ve had Toby Jones cuddling up to a giant flea in Tale of Tales, and Tom Hardy chomping a two-headed lizard in Mad Max: Fury Road. But neither film is as wholeheartedly and disturbingly weird as The Lobster. A deadpan comedy with echoes of Orwell, Kafka and Kubrick, it’s the third film to be directed and co-written by Yorgos Lanthimos, maker of Dogtooth, but it’s his first film in English, and his first to feature such big names as Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C Reilly and Ben Whishaw. When the project was announced, some critics worried that Lanthimos’s peculiarly Greek surrealism wouldn’t work when it was combined with these more mainstream elements, but it turns out that there was no need to fear. Bolstered by an array of pitch-perfect performances, the Lobster is as twisted and unsettling as his previous films, but it also fits snugly into the tradition of the best British absurdism, from Monty Python and The Prisoner to Big Train and Chris Morris’s Jam.
Farrell, who disguises his movie starriness with a paunch, a thick moustache, and a perpetual air of discomfort, plays an Irishman who has just been left by his wife. He has to get back on the dating circuit, but in the alternate reality of The Lobster, that’s a strictly organised process. First, he is transported to an old-fashioned coastal hotel – the kind of drab place that seems to be out of season all year round. Once the receptionist has jotted down his dietary requirements, she goes on to ask him to nominate his sexual preference; after hearing that bisexuality is off the menu, Farrell’s long, frowning pause before picking “heterosexual” is as funny as anything he does in In Bruges. The hotel’s no-nonsense manageress, a priceless Olivia Colman, then runs through the rules of the establishment. Farrell has 45 days to find a suitable life partner among his fellow guests. He can earn extra days by hunting down and capturing the single people – or ‘loners’ – who hide in the nearby woods, but if he hasn’t paired off with anyone by the end of his stay, he will be transformed into the animal of his choice. He chooses a lobster: he enjoys swimming, after all. The manageress is impressed. Most people choose dogs, she remarks, which is why there are so many dogs in the world.
For all its craziness, The Lobster is a shrewd commentary on the societal pressures we’re all under to form relationships, and the deceptions and self-deceptions some of us resort to as a result. In the film’s totalitarian universe, hotel guests aren’t allowed to get together with someone unless they share a “defining characteristic”, but that characteristic can be as arbitrary as a slight limp or a fondness for biscuits. In our own universe, marriages have been built on less.
Having said that, The Lobster is never in danger of being a clunking, obvious lampoon. The genius of the film is that it is so downbeat and matter-of-fact about its gloriously silly concept. Speaking calmly in formal sentences, the actors never signal that there is anything ridiculous about their situation, and no one is shocked by the manageress’s regulations, even when she is instructing them to put their hands in a toaster. Everyone is used to things being the way they are. When a camel meanders past the characters, no one bats an eyelid, so it’s left to the viewer to wonder who the unlucky ungulate might once have been.
But be warned: The Lobster presents some truly grisly sequences with the same cold-blooded detachment, and the unblinking treatment of these atrocities makes them all the more distressing. Some scenes in the film’s second half are especially hard to take. When the action moves out of the hotel and into the woods, the comedy doesn’t stop, but the film also becomes a thriller, a romantic drama, and an out-and-out horror movie. Many viewers will be alienated by this harshness. But no one who sees Lanthimos’s profound and richly detailed satire will forget it. It’s bound to be hailed as one of the best films of Cannes, and of 2015."
THE LOBSTER - Yorgos Lanthimos, Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrel interview - Festival de Cannes - Page Officielle>
THE LOBSTER - Variety Cannes Film Review: ‘The Lobster’>
Variety | May 15, 2015 | By Guy Lodge
Longevity and lifelong fertility are among the reasons why a human may wish to become the eponymous creature, explains Colin Farrell’s protagonist at the outset of “The Lobster.” The tasty crustacean’s rich associations with the Surrealist movement appear to have slipped his mind, but not that of Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose supremely singular fifth feature — his first in English — takes his ongoing fascination with artificially constructed community to its dizziest, most Bunuelian extreme to date. A wickedly funny protest against societal preference for nuclear coupledom that escalates, by its own sly logic, into a love story of profound tenderness and originality, this ingenious lo-fi fantasy will delight those who already thrilled to Lanthimos’s vision in “Alps” and the Oscar-nominated “Dogtooth,” while a starry international cast should draw as-yet-unconverted arthouse auds into his wondrously warped world.
As in Lanthimos’s other features, it’s only once the complex (yet firmly cemented) rules of his narrative universe become clear that his characters’ actions accrue practical and psychological reason; “The Lobster” is a film in which nearly every scene requires bookmarking, to be intuitively cross-referenced at a later point. The stark, arresting pre-credit opener sees an unidentified woman (Jacqueline Abrahams) drive agitatedly through a stretch of soggy countryside, stopping abruptly to shoot a donkey in a field before moving on. The act is never referred to in the ensuing two hours, yet it comes to encapsulate all the film’s roiling emotional stakes in miniature.
From this point, Lanthimos and regular co-writer, Efthimis Filippou, waste little time establishing the laws of a mundane dystopia that doesn’t look severely different from the world we live in now: one of low-level shopping malls and slightly chintzy resort hotels, in which marriage and procreation is still the prized objective of polite social activity. Yet the powers that be have taken a somewhat more regimented approach to the latter institution, by which single folk are actively punished for their failure to pair up. Restricted to the rural outskirts of a damp, unnamed city, they are literally hunted down by other unattached prisoners of The Hotel, an aggressively beige institution where inmates are given 45 days to find a mate within their ranks — or be turned into an animal of their choosing and released into the wild.
If that seems ridiculous, The Hotel — and, by extension, the film — nonetheless have strict standards of what constitutes rational and irrational occurrence. While no one bats an a eyelid at the transformation of humans into flamingos, the two-by-two mandate of Noah’s Ark still applies: A wolf and a penguin cannot live together, decrees the no-nonsense Hotel manager (the splendid Olivia Colman), “because that would be absurd.”
The recipient of this lecture is new captive David (Farrell), a mild-mannered divorcee who seems less desperate to secure a match than some of his fellow guests — including a young man with a limp (Ben Whishaw) and a middle-aged one with a lisp (John C. Reilly). Only Farrell’s character is named; others are billed solely by their chief disability, also the principal criterion by which compatibility is determined here. Lovers are not mutually drawn by their most attractive virtues, Lanthimos appears to argue, but by the shortcomings that they recognize in each other. If common myopia or vulnerability to nosebleeds seem tenuous bonds on which to build a relationship, are they any less so than shared enthusiasms for Mexican food or long walks on the beach?
Thus does Lanthimos’s confounding setup emerge as a brilliant allegory for the increasingly superficial systems of contemporary courtship, including the like-for-like algorithms of online dating sites and the hot-or-not snap judgments of Tinder. If the unreasonable pressure on single people — particularly those of a certain age — to find companionship has already driven humanity to such soulless means, perhaps the scenario outlined in “The Lobster” isn’t so outlandish after all. One thinks back to the worst-case nightmare of fiction’s most fretful singleton, Bridget Jones, whose fear of being found “fat and alone and half-eaten by Alsatians” may indeed be wittily (and quite literally) referenced here.
When David’s last-ditch attempt at forcing a union with a cold-hearted inmate (played with hilariously stony relish by Lanthimos regular Angeliki Papoulia) comes to naught, he escapes the Hotel grounds only to found that society is no less forgiving on the other side of the conservative pro-couple barrier. In the forest, he falls in with militant opposition group The Loners, led by Lea Seydoux’s unsmiling anarchist, whose rigid rules forbidding any form of romantic interaction prove no less oppressive than the ideals of The Hotel. It’d be unfair to further unpick Lanthimos and Filippou’s beautifully structured tangle of poetic ironies and reversals, except to say that the payoff is at once crueller and more rapturous than in the director’s previous, fiercely disciplined work. Via the character (and enigmatic narrating voice) of Rachel Weisz’s questioning Loner, “The Lobster” gradually sheds its chilly shell, building to a soft tumult of feeling.
Lanthimos’s films are such pristinely mannered directorial creations — unmistakably bound by their deader-than-deadpan humor, tweezer-set visual composition and stark stabs of violence — that it never seems his actors should be permitted to do much more than hit their regimented marks. Once more, however, his terrific ensemble surprises with the intricate human detailing they achieve under his seemingly distant steerage. Colman is first among equals in a big-screen role that finally requires the knack for exquisitely oblivious comedy she has repeatedly demonstrated on British television, but no role of any size is wasted here: In particular, fellow Britcom graduate Ashley Jensen etches a haunting, fine-scale study of desolate singledom in a few brief scenes. Taking over from the initially cast Jason Clarke, Farrell once again proves that hangdog vulnerability, rather than rakish heroism, is his strongest suit as an actor; he’s the porous lead this potentially airtight construction needs.
Shooting largely on the wind-tousled, gray-flannel coastline of Ireland’s County Kerry, Lanthimos’s favored d.p. Thimios Bakatakis is once more an invaluable ally in establishing the spatial and social architecture of his director’s story world. His boxy, formal framing and bilious color palette reveal much about the restrictions applied to the people within them, as does the tidy, function-first bleakness of Jacqueline Abrahams’s production design.
As usual, Lanthimos eschews an original score in favor of existing classical and pop compositions, which aggressively punctuate an otherwise quietly thrumming soundscape with brute impact. Beethoven, Shostakovich and Stravinsky all put in prominent appearances, but the most evocative selection here may well be Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue’s morbid country-Gothic ballad “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” which its plaintive plea for unrestrained love: “Do you know where the wild roses grow, so sweet and scarlet and free?” Perversely romantic almost in spite of itself, “The Lobster” doesn’t offer the answer, but it suggests we keep looking.
THE LOBSTER - Cannes Review: Yorgos Lanthimos' Outstanding 'The Lobster' Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz & John C Reilly>
indiewire | May 15, 2015 | By Oliver Lyttelton
"Six years ago, Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos arrived with a bang into international cinema with "Dogtooth," a pitch-black drama that won acclaim around the world and the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes. 2011's follow up "Alps" was more divisive (though we loved it), but Lanthimos is one of most original talents to have emerged in cinema in recent years —his English-language debut "The Lobster" bolsters his status.
There is a vein of dark humour running through Lanthimos' earlier films, but "The Lobster" embraces it wholeheartedly: the film's a blend of the works of Charlie Kaufman and Luis Buñuel, an uproarious yet deadpan satire concerning societal constructs, dating mores and power structures that also manages to be a surprisingly moving, gloriously weird love story.
Colin Farrell plays David, a schlubby architect who, when he's left by his wife, has to check into a hotel. His society values coupledom, and while there, he has 45 days to find a new partner, ideally one with whom he shares a "defining characteristic" with. If he fails, he'll be transformed into an animal of his choosing, as his brother was a few years earlier (he's now a dog that accompanies David).
Overseen by a stern Hotel Manager (Olivia Colman), he soon befriends Limping Man (Ben Whishaw) and Lisping Man (John C Reilly), and scouts out the possibilities —the young Nosebleed Woman (Jessica Barden), the desperate Biscuit Woman (Ashley Jensen), and the chilly Heartless Woman (Aggeliki Papoulia, star of "Dogtooth" and "Alps"). The "guests" can also buy extra time on a hunt: for every Loner —guests who've left the hotel and rejected the system— that they bag in the woods with a tranquilizer dart, they receive a reprieve of one day.
It's an absurd premise, but one that Lanthimos and his game cast commit to with gusto: this strange not-quite-dystopia is surreal, but there's a rigorous internal logic at work, and the script painstakingly builds a world that stretches far beyond the frame of what we're seeing on screen. In part, it's thanks to the formal, straight-ahead language that every character uses: this is a world without much in the way of subtext or uncertainty (when checking in, Farrell is told that being bisexual isn't an option and that he can't have half shoe sizes), where the most passionate statements are made with coded gestures rather than words, and it does much to complete the film's milieu.
The early sections of the film set in the hotel sees Lanthimos mercilessly skewering modern relationship culture. For all the film's absurdity, it depicts a society that insists that you're not complete if you're not in a couple, where you fixate on surface similarities in the hope of a connection, and where you play pretend and try to change yourself in the hope of proving more compatible. That's not exactly a world that's going to be unfamiliar to audiences, now, is it? It helps that the film is very, very funny, and not in an uneasy-laugh or mild-chuckle kind of way: though there's darkness and even violence here, it's first and foremost a comedy, and the script is packed with excellent jokes, from wry throwaway observations (the final test for a couple at the hotel is to be sent on a vacation together, and if arguments ensue they can be "assigned" children) to broader physical bits —John C. Reilly's background with Adam McKay and Tim & Eric proves particularly useful here, even among a perfectly deadpan cast.
But this isn't all that "The Lobster" has to offer. It's a film of two halves, shifting gears and locations abruptly in the second half and introducing a second society of the woods-dwelling Loners (which includes Lea Seydoux, Michael Smiley and Rachel Weisz, also the film's narrator), who shun relationships and plot their revenge on the couples.
It's here that Lanthimos makes clear that the film's talking about bigger things than modern relationships. The Loners have their own strict rules and brutal punishments for those that break them, and as the movie mutates into a surprisingly affecting and complex romance, one realizes that the director is setting his sights more than anything on societal structure, the ways that those in power cling to it, and even fundamentalism (the latter making it an unlikely companion piece to the other early Cannes highlight "Mad Max: Fury Road").
I's impeccably crafted —from its Bernard Hermann-ish score to the carefully composed but never airless imagery. The cast don't have a weak link among them either —Farrell, as a dadbod-sporting Everyman with a dark side, delivers his best performance yet, while a quietly sleazy Whishaw, the gloriously schoolmarmish Colman, and the tragic Jensen are among the particular highlights.
In the end, all the strangeness adds up towards something genuinely significant: an atypically rich and substantial comedy that's stuffed with great scenes and performances even before you start to chew on its bigger questions. It's Lanthimos' most accessible and purely enjoyable film yet, and the first great relationship movie of the Tinder and match.com age. At one point, a character is asked what she wants to do on the night before she turns into an animal, and responds that she'd like to watch the movie "Stand By Me." If "The Lobster" was the last film put before us before we were transformed into a pony, we wouldn't complain. [A]
THE LOBSTER - Watch First Teaser Clips From 'The Lobster,' 'Sicario,' 'Love,' 'Irrational Man,' 'Macbeth' & More>
The Playlist | May 14, 2015 | By Edward Davis
"The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival has kicked off and you can follow along with all our coverage by clicking right here. The jury, led by Joel and Ethan Coen, whose members include Jake Gyllenhaal, Sophie Marceau, Guillermo del Toro, Xavier Dolan, Sienna Miller and more, are in place and most of the key films have yet to be unveiled. But Cannes has given us a little taste of what’s to come. In the opening ceremony video (which you can see below), hosted by Master of Ceremony, French actor Lambert Wilson, clips from almost all the competing films have been revealed.
They give us a glimpse at coveted titles like Denis Villeneuve's crime drama "Sicario" with Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Emily Blunt in the lead roles, Gus Van Sant's "Sea of Trees," which stars Matthew McConaughey (you can see a full clip here), Todd Haynes' lesbian love story "Carol" starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (you can see that full clip here) and the first footage of "Macbeth” with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard (watch it here).
Other notable first looks include brief clips from Yorgos Lanthimos’ weirdo sci-fi romance/comedy “The Lobster” starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, Jacques Audiard’s “Dheepan,” Gaspar Noe’s 3D love/sex tale “Love,” and Joaquin Phoenix and Parker Posey in the first clip from Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man.” We're sure that extended versions of each will eventually be seen, but if you can’t wait, take a quick peek at the first footage of most of these movies."
Clips begin at the 22:00 mark.
SIBERIA - Abel Ferrara To Launch Willem Dafoe-Starrer ‘Siberia’ On Croisette>
Deadline | May 14, 2015 | by Mike Fleming Jr
"Abel Ferrara, who launched his controversial Gerard Depardieu-starrer Welcome To New York at Cannes last year, will return to announce his plans for his next film. He’ll unveil at a 4 PM Monday press conference Siberia, a film he wrote with Chris Zois that will star Willem Dafoe. Ferrara will announce he’s taking to Kickstarter to raise money for the film. The press conference will be held at Club Silencio.
The film is inspired by Carl Jung’s Red Book, the revolutionary text on dreams. The movie will explore the language of dreams, and the unlocking of primal emotions like fear, regret and desire. Diana Phillips will produce for Unlimited Films Ltd, and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos will exec produce for Faliro House.
The firebrand filmmaker sparked to the idea of grassroots support through Kickstarter in association with The Sundance Institute. “Kickstarter is about being part of a community — the filmmaker and audience coming together to share the process of bringing an idea to filmic life,” Ferrara said in a statement. “It’s simple, direct, empowering, revolutionary. The perfect vehicle for Siberia.”
The Kickstarter page looks great. http://bit.ly/SIBERIAMOVIE
Ferrara and Dafoe are close collaborators and this will be their fifth film. The others were New Rose Hotel, Go Go Tales, 4:44 Last Day On Earth, and Pasolini. The actor has worked closely with Ferrara in forming the film.
“Abel understands, obviously, that if you give performance a connection to what is going on then when it’s time to actually do the thing there’s an understanding,” Dafoe said. A production start is planned for October in Italy and the U.S. We’ll run the Kickstarter link when it’s live next week."
7 CHINESE BROTHERS - Jason Schwartzman’s Dog Comedy ‘7 Chinese Brothers’ Sells to Screen Media Films>
The Wrap | May 5, 2015 | by Jeff Sneider
Jason Schwartzman’s Dog Comedy ‘7 Chinese Brothers’ Sells to Screen Media Films
"Screen Media Films has acquired U.S. rights to Bob Byington’s comedy “7 Chinese Brothers” starring Jason Schwartzman, his dog Arrow, Olympia Dukakis, Stephen Root, Tunde Adebimpe and Eleanore Pienta.
“7 Chinese Brothers,” which premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, will be released in August as a day-and-date theatrical release.
Schwartzman stars as Larry, an inebriated sad sack who rides a tide of booze onto the shores of an undiscriminating Quick-Lube. The only bright spot is probably his boss, Lupe (Pienta). Will Larry keep it together long enough to win the girl, provide for his French bulldog (Schwartzman’s real-life dog Arrow), laze about with his friend Major (TV on the Radio’s Adebimpe), and do his cantankerous grandmother (Dukakis) proud?
Byington wrote and directed “7 Chinese Brothers,” which was produced by Molly Christie Benson, Seana Flanagan and Nancy Schafer. The film was executive produced by Christos V. Konstantakopoulos and features music from Chris Baio of the band Vampire Weekend.
“We've been fans of Jason and Bob’s work for a while and couldn't be happier to be working on ‘7 Chinese Brothers’ with them,” said Seth Needle, director of acquisitions and marketing for Screen Media Films. “They both deliver the usual funny/quirky/insightful efforts we've come to expect and know audiences will take to.”
“I'm excited to be working with Screen Media,” said Byington. “Ideally this one will have a good reach.”
The deal was negotiated by Screen Media’s Needle with Zac Bright of Preferred Content and WME Global on behalf of the filmmakers."
THE LOBSTER - First Posters For Yorgos Lanthimos' 'The Lobster' With Colin Farrell And Rachel Weisz>
indiewire | May 5, 2015 | by Kevin Jagernauth
Cannes: First Posters For Yorgos Lanthimos' 'The Lobster' With Colin Farrell And Rachel Weisz
"After breaking out with "Dogtooth," and continuing his distinctly weird voice with "Alps," Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos is stepping up his game. The director is working with established international stars for his next film, "The Lobster," and with a Cannes Film Festival premiere on the horizon, the first posters are here.
Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed and Angeliki Papoulia star in the movie, which takes place in a dystopian future where single people are arrested and forced to find a mate in 45 days. If they don't find one, they can either be transformed into an animal of their choosing or get released into the woods. We can't wait.
No U.S. distribution just yet, but if all is well on the Croisette, it shouldn't be too long for news."
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.”"
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."
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."
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)
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.
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.
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."
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
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.”"
LOVE IS STRANGE - Love is Strange in the London tube. Opens today at the Curzon Soho and on Feb. 13 across the UK>
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."