December 2014

KNIGHT OF CUPS - The first seven films for the 65th Berlin Film Festival Competition program have just been announced. Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight Of Cups’ included in the lineup.> Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - A.O. Scott of the The New York Times names Love is Strange one of his Top 10 Movies of 2014, writing that "this tale of romance, friendship and real estate is a magnificent and universal love story.">

NY Times | Dec 11, 2014 | By A. O. Scott

A.O. Scott of the The New York Times names Love is Strange one of his Top 10 Movies of 2014, writing that "this tale of romance, friendship and real estate is a magnificent and universal love story." Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Love Is Strange in the Top 10 movies of 2014 list posted by the venerable French journal Cahiers du Cinéma> Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Love Is Strange tops Vanity Fair's "10 Best Movies of 2014" list>

vanityfair | Dec 8, 2014 | by Richard Lawson

"Giving particular, intimate life to a massive political issue, Ira Sachs’s achingly poignant film is ostensibly about gay marriage. After an older couple, played by the superb John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, finally tie the knot, Molina’s character loses his long-held job at a Catholic school for violating its morality clause. The film that follows, though, is far more complex than just a story about that fallout. Love Is Strange, as it turns out, is about all kinds of love, and about time, and about living in a city. For all its thoughtfulness and grace, its heart and humor, Love Is Strange bowled me over when I saw it this spring and has not left me since. But I’m happy to have it still lingering—its warmth and unassuming wisdom are a rare, lasting gift." Facebook Link

WHEN I SAW YOU - When I Saw You has just been awarded two more prizes. BEST ACTOR to MAHMOUD ASFA (Tarek) as well as the UNICEF Award from the Olympia International Film Festival>

 Facebook Link

November 2014

Both LOVE IS STRANGE and ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE receive nominations for the 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards.>

Indiewire | November 25, 2014 | by Nigel M Smith

Both LOVE IS STRANGE and ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE receive nominations for the 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards.

LOVE IS STRANGE received four noms including Best Feature and Best Screenplay. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina also grabbed nominations for Best Male Lead and Best Supporting Male.

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE received nods for Best Screenplay & Best Female Lead (Tilda Swinton). Facebook Link

FOR EVER - Margarita Manda wins the best director award for her movie Gia Panta at the Cairo International Film Festival>

Screendaily |19 November, 2014 | By Tiffany Pritchard

The Cairo International Film Festival ended its 36th year with a glitzy ceremony [pictured] below the ancient pyramids on Tuesday.

In an attempt to move forward from previous years when films were overshadowed by protests, or when the festival was altogether cancelled in both 2011 and 2013 due to political upheaval, the Minister of Culture, Gaber Asfour announced “this festival is a fresh new start.”

From actresses Basma Hassan, Lyla Elwi and Ghada Abdel Razek, actors Mahmoud Hemida, Asser Yasin and Tamer Habib to filmmakers Mossad Fouda and Khaled Youssef, a bevy of Egypt’s notable talent were present to help celebrate the conclusion of the ten day event that opened on Nov 9 at the historic Citadel.

From the main sections Film on Films, Festival of Festivals, Special Presentations, International Competition - 45 films screened as Arab and African Premieres, 5 as World Premieres and 4 as International Premieres. Yousra headed the international competition jury, marking the first time the festival had both a female and an Egyptian as Jury President.

The screen icon, along with eight additional jury members, awarded Iranian drama Melbourne with the Golden Pyramid as best picture, Margarita Manta as best director for Greece’s Forever, Adele Haenel as best actress in France’s Love at First Fight, Egypt’s Khaled Abol Naga for best actor in the Palestinian Oscar contender Eyes of a Thief, Alê Abreu for best screenplay for the animated Brazilian feature The Boy and The World and Zaki Aref for best artistic contribution for Egypt’s world premiere Gates of Departure.

The Fipresci Award was given to Sand Dollars, directed by husband and wife Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guzman.

Festival revamped

Esteemed film critic Samir Farid, stepping in as the festival’s new president, continued with change by introducing parallel programmes that were independent of the festival: Perspective of Arab Cinema (run by Egyptian Filmmakers Syndicate), Critics Week (run by Egyptian Film Writers and Critics Association) and International Cinema of Tomorrow (run by the Student Union at Cairo’s High Cinema Institute, inclusive of both a short film and student film competition).

The Arab Cinema special prize went to Naji Abou Nawar’s Theeb, while the Saadeldin Wahba Award was given to Kamal Kamal’s Moroccan Sotto and the Salah Abou Seif Award was handed to Lebanon’s Zeina Daccache for Shahrazad’s Diary.

International Critics Week praised Serbian Vuk Rsumovic’s No One’s Child by awarding the film with the Shadi Abd El Salam prize along with Tinatin Kajrishvili’s Brides that won the Fathy Farag Award for best artistic contribution.

Young scriptwriters were awarded with a host of awards by the High Cinema Institute’s Student Union, including Best Script to Sherif El Zohairy for Qanun Al Tafo.

Short films also stacked up awards, with the best student film award handed to Finland’s Cilla Werning for Sentra and The Talking Trees and the best short film award given to Brazil’s Fauston Da Silva for My Friend Nietzsche.

The festival’s diverse line-up of 150 films represented 50 countries, in addition to a cultural programme inspired by the Rome International Film Festival. A tribute to Greek cinema and classical films was also featured in the programme.

Despite the difficulties in obtaining world premieres because of a lack of budget, the Director of Film Programming Joseph Fahim said they worked diligently in securing a wide range of films with the consent of the over-riding governing body, The Ministry of Culture.

“Though films must not reflect negatively on religion, we had, for the most part, free reign with censorship laws. As a first, we screened films such as Godard’s Goodbye to Language and the Dominican Republic’s Sand Dollars that involves a relationship between two women. These screenings were completely full and mandated a third screening, showing there is a demand for all types of content,” said Fahim.

Pushing prestige and notable filmmakers, the festival opened with Fatih Akin’s immigration drama The Cut and closed with Mikra Anglia’s epic saga Little England, that is also positioned as Greece’s Oscar candidate.

On the flip side - a nod was given to the likes of Egypt’s legendary director and producer Henry Barakat, as well as the Naguib Mahfouz Lifetime Achievement Awards given to Noureddine Sail for his contribution to Moroccan film and television, Nadia Lutfi for her work as one of the country’s pillars of the Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema and Volker Schlondorff for his directorial role amidst the New German Cinema movement.

Films were screened at the prestigious Opera House on seven cinema screens, using DCP formats comported to previous years which included DVD formats. Also different, tickets were reduced in price to 20 EGP, and further halved for students, while cinema sections including Greek and classic films were free.

The vast array of changes proved effective as an estimated 1000 tickets a day were sold, more than double what was sold in 2012.

“I wanted to create 10 days where the Egyptian public could enjoy film (and culture), something that would help distract from the sadness that we suffer. We are in a war, and people want something else to think about,” said Farid.

Mohamed Samir, also new to the festival as artistic director, reiterated, “I want to live in a country that has a major festival that serves the industry, where real cinema lovers come and watch international films – altogether bringing the idea of a liberal Egypt. When things are in the right hands like Samir Farid, we can produce a good festival.”

LOVE IS STRANGE - Oscars’ Foreign Language Preview: Gay Contenders Come Out With Pride>

variety | 12 Nov 2014 | by Peter Debruge

"This year brings an interesting exception in Ira Sachs’ “Love Is Strange,” a sweet, low-key romantic drama centered on a longtime gay couple, finally allowed to marry, who find themselves kicked out of their New York apartment and forced to rely on family and friends for housing — essentially a same-sex twist on Leo McCarey’s 1937 “Make Way for Tomorrow.” Sachs’ film was a rare crossover success, overcoming the obstacles one imagines facing a film in which the characters are not only gay, but gray (that is, well past the age of the average American moviegoer). This, of course, is what filmmakers want: for their work to appeal beyond the rigidly defined demographic of the characters themselves.

“If you look at the bulk of the work coming out of other countries, they’re still making human dramas about everyday life that are not being made here,” says Sachs, who deliberately — and somewhat defiantly — chose to tell stories centered on gay lead characters (first “Keep the Lights On” and now “Love Is Strange”) after a gap of 15 years." Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Watch the UK Trailer for Love is Strange >

Love is Strange is released by Altitude Film Distribution in the UK on 13 February 2015. Facebook Link

October 2014

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Criticwire Review>

Criticwire | October 24, 2014 | by Max O'Connell

"Listen Up Philip’s protagonists are irredeemable a-holes. That’s what makes it great.

Alex Ross Perry's "Listen Up Philip" deals with the same erudite misanthropes that Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson does, but Perry doesn't give his men redemption." Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Watch a clip from Listen Up Philip >

Watch a clip from the film "Listen Up Philip," starring Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce.

Wall Street Journal | 22 Oct 2014 Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - America’s most vital filmmaking movement finally shows its face on Canadian screens>

National Post | Calum Marsh | October 24, 2014

"This weekend, accompanied by little fanfare, a masterpiece arrives at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. It is Listen Up Philip, an audacious, electrifying comedy by Alex Ross Perry, and it is the best new American film to emerge in years. That alone makes Listen Up Philip an event — an occasion for moviegoers to celebrate. But for cinephiles in Toronto, the film’s theatrical debut is significant for another, less obvious reason: It is the city’s first glimpse of the most vital filmmaking movement in the United States today." Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Ira Sach's LOVE IS STRANGE is a 2014 Gotham Award Nominee for Best Picture>

The Hollywood Reporter | 23 October 2014 | by Hilary Lewis

“Each year the Gotham Awards honor the best work from our independent storytellers and help new audiences discover their work. We congratulate this year’s nominees, from the master film artists to the talented newcomers, a true representation of the rich and diverse range of today’s independent filmmaking,” IFP executive director Joana Vicente said in a statement. “We are grateful to our nominating committees of film critics, journalists, programmers and film curators for their dedication to selecting the nominees from so many worthy submissions.”

The Gotham Awards traditionally marks the official start of Oscar season, recognizing the best in independent film. Recent past winners have included Oscar nominees Inside Llewyn Davis, The Act of Killing, Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Beginners, The Tree of Life, Winter’s Bone and The Hurt Locker. Last year's most-nominated film, 12 Years a Slave, went on to win the best picture Oscar." Facebook Link

MAASAI - Maasai by Harry Lagoussis wins the best short fiction film award at the 7th annual London Greek Film Festival> Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Watch the trailer of 'Listen Up Philip' and find a theater near you>

Now Playing in Select Theaters and Available on iTunes and On Demand!

In Theatres


Greensboro, NC (Geesksboro Coffeehouse Cinema)
Lake Park, FL (Mos Art Theatre)
Tucson, AZ (The Loft Cinema)
Santa Fe, NM (Center for Contemporary Arts)
Wilmington, DE (Theater N)

Lancaster, PA (Ware Center)

Hamilton, NY (Hamilton Theater)

Madison, GA (Retro Cinema)

Duluth, MN (Zinema 2)

Milwaukee, WI (UWM Union Theatre)

Missoula, MT (Roxy Theater)
Edmonton, AB (Metro Cinema Society)

St. Johnsbury, VT (Catamount Arts)

Winnipeg, MB (Winnipeg Cinematheque)
Howell, MI (Historic Howell Theater)

Memphis, TN (Memphis Brooks Museum of Art)

Tallahassee, FL (Tallahasse Film Society) Facebook Link

HARDSHIPS & BEAUTIES - Mitsigan - Hardships & Beauties to screen in 3 cinemas in Poland as part of the Polish National Film Archive Retrospective "NOT JUST NEW WAVE - NEW GREEK CINEMA">

Hardships & Beauties - Mitsigan - Hardships & Beauties to screen in 3 cinemas in Poland as part of the Polish National Film Archive Retrospective "NOT JUST NEW WAVE - NEW GREEK CINEMA"

Cinema Illusion (Warsaw)
Nowe Kino Pałacowe (Poznan)
Kino Kosmos Centrum (Katowice)

 Facebook Link

September 2014

MAASAI - Harry Lagoussis wins Best New Director at the Short Film Festival in Drama >

Harry Lagoussis wins Best New Director at the Short Film Festival in Drama for Maasai, "a minimalist film with strong characters and performances, a cross-section of the relationship beween two brothers who are no longer children."

 Facebook Link

NORWAY - Norway set to screen at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas>

Screenings :

Sunday, Sep 21
Wednesday, Sep 24

MISS VIOLENCE & STRATOS in the list of films recommended for a nomination for the European Film Awards at this year’s 27th European Film Awards>

THE 27th EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS: 50 Films in EFA Selection 2014

During a press conference in Riga, European Capital of Culture 2014 where this year’s 27th European Film Awards will take place, the European Film Academy and EFA Productions announced the titles of the 50 films on this year’s selection list, the list of films recommended for a nomination for the European Film Awards! With 31 European countries represented, the list once again illustrates the great diversity in European cinema.

The selected films also cover a wide range of genres and themes from comedies to family drama, political satires and historical epics, from thrillers to literature and theatre adaptations. Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - CLIP - John Lithgow on The Colbert Report talking with a very funny Stephen Colbert about playing a gay man in Love is Strange. Colbert gives him hell, and John gives it right back> Facebook Link

THINGS PEOPLE DO - The Anniversary Award of the 40th Deauville American Film Festival goes to Saar Klein’s “Things People Do” with Jason Isaacs and Wes Bentley> Facebook Link

LUTON - German Premiere tonight for Luton at the Oldenburg International Film Festival>

Screenings :

Theater hof/19 12.09.14 - 19:00
Kulturetage 13.09.14 - 14:30[detail]=828 Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - In his first-ever Reddit AMA, the filmmaker discusses queer film, Marisa Tomei and how little he's thought about his name's similarity to 'Sriracha.'>

indiewire | September 10, 2014 | by Jake Folsom

Ira Sachs' new film "Love Is Strange" is brimming with Hollywood names — Marisa Tomei, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina all have principal roles. But the film tells a story that has yet to be made by a big studio: a romance between two older-middle aged men (Lithgow, Molina) who are getting married after being together for 39 years. Also included in the cast is Cheyenne Jackson, who plays a gay cop — a fun, likely crowd-pleasing role.

With the recent release of the film, Sachs has done a Reddit AMA where people asked about queer characters on film, future projects and whether he's considered the fact that his name is (almost) an anagram for 'Sriracha." Among other things, Sachs shared plans for a new film, announcing a title for the first time ("Thank You For Being Honest") -- he also encourages people to check out queer art organizations he has founded for budding artists, including Queer Art Mentorship. Here are other highlights, in the filmmaker's own words:

He loved working with Marisa Tomei.
"We were shooting a scene where she has no dialogue — she's alone in bed with her husband, played by actor Darren Burrows — and I watched her on the monitor very closely. It was then, seeing how much she could express in her face (almost as if she was writing paragraphs for me, but without words), that I understood how brilliant an actress she really is, and why she has three Academy Award nominations (and one win!). She is extraordinarily committed to making each moment on screen meaningful and complex."

The film industry makes it hard for queer filmmakers to reach their potential.
"I get inspiration from so many filmmakers not working today, who actually seem more sophisticated in their presentation of gay characters than most working today, including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Patrice Chereau, Chantal Akermann, Pier Paolo Passolini....what's challenging today is for queer filmmakers to sustain a career for years, which is what's necessary to get better and deeper."

He's skeptical about the MPAA's R rating for "Love Is Strange."
"They claim it's for language -- there are a few F-words and 2 MF-words -- but there is enough precedent for them to decide that the film is still very suitable for family audiences. It's more of a shame than I knew, because I'm now hearing of friends not taking their children, and I am shocked that they follow the rating. It's about as family friendly a movie as 'Miracle on 34th St.'"

Real life couples inspired "Love Is Strange."
"My mother and stepfather, my great uncle and his partner, a wonderful man named Michael Zimmer, who lived in the West Village in a house with 2 gay cops on the top floor; and one gay couple we read about who lost a job with the Catholic Church after having gotten married."

Sexuality is merely one facet of a character.
"I do think it's odd when people talk about the film with surprise that the characters aren't ONLY defined by their sexuality -- as if I would ever write a character that doesn't have many different elements of their personality. It's no great feat of mine, or an extra effort, to make gay people as human as other characters in my film!"

The wedding scene was the toughest to shoot.
"[At] weddings no one really moves, [so] keeping the visuals compelling, without motion by the actors, was tougher than I expected."
"Love is Strange" is the second in a trilogy.
"Mauricio Zacharias and I are working on a third film in what we consider a trilogy of NYC stories, following "Keep the Lights On," and "Love is Strange." This time we are writing an intelligent film for kids and adults, about kids and adults. It's called 'Thank You For Being Honest' (hearing it here first!), and it's about two boys who take an oath of silence and stop talking to their parents." Facebook Link

MISS VIOLENCE - INDIEWIRE - Alexandros Avranas On His Brilliantly Perverse Miss Violence>

indiewire | September 8, 2014 | by Carlos Aguilar

In "Miss Violence," apparent normalcy shattered by a sudden death becomes the starting point for one to decipher the malign force that controls the lives of the members of a Greek family. Dir. Alexandros Avranas talked to us from Greece and shared the stories behind the making of this marvelously intriguing film.

Apparent normalcy shattered by a sudden death becomes the starting point for one to decipher the malign force that controls the lives of the members of a Greek family. Concealing crucial information about the family mechanics, director Alexandros Avranas uses a calculated pace to explore manipulation, authority, and compliance. In his film, evil doesn’t have a single face, but instead becomes a shared responsibility. Cautiously revealing its secrets with utmost precision, “Miss Violence” is a brilliantly perverse work that is sure to shock and leave a lasting, unsettling, impression. The film has received numerous awards in its homeland, as well as in Stockholm, Venice, Montreal, and most recently at the Los Angeles Greek Film festival.

Avranas talked to us from Greece and shared the stories behind the making of this marvelously intriguing film.

Carlos Aguilar: This is such an impressively unsettling and successfully cryptic story, what’s its genesis?

Alexandros Avranas: It’s based on a real story that happened in Germany in 2011. I heard it from a friend in Berlin, and then I did some research and I found out even more things. Then I wrote the script and, of course, some elements are not taken directly from that story, but the concept is based on true events.

Aguilar: You chose to start the film with a very shocking opening sequence, and then we spend the rest of the film looking for the reasons behind that event. Why did you decide to start the film in that way?

Alexandros Avranas: Firs of all, what happens in that opening sequence is the first thing I heard about the story. I was very shocked and touched. I decided to open the film in this manner so that audiences can something to encourage them to explore this family and this situation. It was very risky to start with something so shocking and powerful because it would have made it very easy for the film to turn out flat the rest of the time. When you start with the crescendo it is not easy to keep that going the whole time. But I think the reasons behind it were right, and that’s why it worked here.

Aguilar: There is a lot of concealment in your film. We don’t know the names of these people or who plays what role within the family. Did you want the audience to know as little as possible for a large portion of the film?

Alexandros Avranas: There is a big difference between European and American cinema. Sometime we start from a point in which you don’t know anything and you don’t understand anything. If they don’t know anything, you can create a specific way for the viewer to think about the film. From there they can start understanding or try to find out what’s going on. At the beginning you don’t fully understand the family mechanics and their relationships to each other. It’s so complicated but at the same time is really easy. This encourages the viewer to develop a particular way of thinking about this film.

Aguilar: One of the strongest characters here is the father played by Themis Panou. He spearheads the film and really plays a big role on how the other characters interact with each other. How difficult was it to write and then cast this character?

Alexandros Avranas: When I was casting this role I knew I wanted someone that was elusive. Before winning the Hellenic Academy Award for this role, Themis was not a very well known actor. He would often act in supporting roles. I tried to use this feeling or quality of never being the protagonist to enhance the character. Since he had never been the protagonist, it would be interesting for him to be the protagonist, or the lead, in this family. It was almost like a game. For me, this wasn’t the most difficult role to write or cast because the whole thing is based that part of his personal story. The character himself has a lot of things to work with. He is hiding behind his actions. Other roles in the film were more difficult to develop.

Aguilar: Family remains normal in the face of the horrific things that happen around them. Where does this strange and unfitting normalcy come from?

Alexandros Avranas: Family is the first society we are part of. The way we exist or act within our family is the same way we relate to the larger outside society. Family shapes your point of view on things. Therefore, these people believe that all these things that happen in their family are normal and they thing that they happen out of love. They believe they are showing love to each other because they don’t really know what love is.

Aguilar: The father is the one in charge and who should be blame for all the terrible crimes committed. However, no one ever really challenges his authority. Are they all to blame for what goes on in the family?

Alexandros Avranas: He started it, but the mother is also someone else that could be blamed for it. She knows what’s happening and she has never spoken out about it. Eventually, she decides to do something against it, but it’s too late. In the real story she never when against him or spoke out about it. She went to prison for 15 years because she never said, “Yes he did it.” On the other hand, even if she had said that, she would have still gone to prison because she knew. In the film there is the same motive and situation. The mother knows but never speaks out. I also think the film questions when does the victim stops being the victim and starts being a perpetrator? This is something the viewer must answer for himself. What are the boundaries or limits between a victim and a perpetrator? Eleni (Eleni Roussinou)is a victim of course, but she also becomes the perpetrator for the younger sister. It is very complicated.

Aguilar: What was your approach to working with the young actors? How much did they know about the matter at hand?

Alexandros Avranas: For this film we rehearse a lot. With the main actors we rehearsed for almost a year, and for the young children I took a long time to cast them, probably around six months. When I found them, I spoke to them as if they were young adults and not children. I told them the truth, everything about the script. Their parents were also very supportive. It was not so difficult to get what I wanted because when I cast somebody it means I believe they have something in them that related to the character and I’m trying to get it out. They don’t really have to act, they have to be themselves and I place them in the correct situations for the film.

Aguilar: What inspired you to make the film when you heard the original story? Was it the secret and how shocking it was? Or was it the story behind the story?

Alexandros Avranas: Making the film meant taking a very big risk because the subject is very sensitive, and I didn’t want to make the film to simply shock people. If you compare the film with the real story, the film is very soft. It is nothing compared to what really happened. It was very difficult for me and for the actors because it is not a happy story at all. For me the most interesting part was to explore what happened in this small society, as well as the symbolism behind is as a reflection of our current society. Since we don’t live in a time when the enemy was very clear in the form of wars or dictatorships, this is my way to criticize our society, not only Greek society, but all of Europe. The crisis is not only Greek, is European. The moral crisis is everywhere. It was very important for me to get across the political meaning behind the film: a leader in a society and why people don’t do anything against him. Why do people in this society still trust him to be a leader?

Aguilar: Would you say your film fits within what’s been deemed “the Greek weird wave”, alongside films like “Dogtooth” or Attenberg”?

Alexandros Avranas: As a Greek director I’m very happy that Greek cinema is very strong right now, but I don’t believe there is a wave. No one really talks about it like the French Nouvelle Vague or Dogma. Those were groups of people that shared similar philosophical or aesthetic beliefs. We don’t even know each other. Lanthimos and Tsangari are friends, but I don’t know them. I’ve said hello to Lanthimos before but I’ve never met Tsangari. This is why we can’t call it a “wave,” because we don’t have anything in common. Maybe the one thing we do have in common is that we are young people that want to make films and speak out about what’s going on. That’s the only commonality I can see.

Aguilar: Perhaps one of the most powerful images in your film is when see the family standing around the dead body, why would you say that’s the most symbolic image in your film?

Alexandros Avranas: That image - which is on the film’s poster - is very symbolic because, just like the film, the poster doesn’t lie but it doesn’t tell you the whole truth. When you see the poster you get the feeling of the film because you cans see that something happened but you don’t know what exactly happened. There was a murdered, but you don’t know who has been murdered. You see the truth, but you must find out many other things. I think this is how society and politics work as well. We sort of know where they start but we don’t know exactly how they work. I think in a sense the film reflects how political systems function in our time. We don’t know everything.
"Miss Violence"

Aguilar: Why “Miss Violence”?

Alexandros Avranas: It was very difficult to find the right title. The film is not only about abuse, or family, or about politics. Every title I had in mind made the film sound very closed, and I think the film is very open in many levels. The title is sort of a play on words. “Miss Violence” could be taken from the sentence “I miss violence,” someone is missing violence. But it also has to do with the fact that in the story the protagonist is the father, a male, but the film is really about the women. “Miss Violence” could refer to a female. It is not about women who perpetrate the violence, but those who are the victims of violence.

Aguilar: How has the film been received outside of Greece? Is it too difficult for people to take in?

Alexandros Avranas: I was in Toronto, New York, and many other European countries and I witnessed how controversial the film is. Half of the viewers loved the film, and the other half doesn’t want to believe these things happen. They prefer to close their eyes to things like these. Society works like this in regards to many other matters. This is why some things are taboo. We know about them but we prefer not to talk about them. But for the most part I’ve always felt it has been very well received. It is a heavy film, and it was very heavy for us to make, but it’s an honest film. It tells the truth. Facebook Link

Alex Ross Perry's LISTEN UP PHILIP and Ira Sachs's LOVE IS STRANGE to screen at the 2014 BFI London Film Festival.>

Screenings :

Listen Up Philip

Oct 9, 2014 6:00 PM
Vue West End Cinema, Screen 5

Oct 10, 2014 9:00 PM
Curzon Mayfair Cinema, Screen 1

Love is Strange

Oct 15, 2014 6:00 PM
Odeon West End, Screen 2

Oct 17, 2014 1:00 PM
Odeon West End, Screen 1 Facebook Link

August 2014

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Alex Ross Perry's set to screen at the 52nd NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL>

Showtimes :

Thu, Oct 9 - 6:00pm
Alice Tully Hall
Fri, Oct 10 - 9:00pm
Francesca Beale Theater Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - CLIP - Marisa Tomei and Director Ira Sachs sit down with the TODAY show's team to discuss Love Is Strange> Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - NY Times - John Lithgow and Alfred Molina Play a Longtime Couple>

NY Times | 15 Aug 2014 | By TIM MURPHY

On a recent afternoon, the actors John Lithgow, 68, and Alfred Molina, 61, were sitting side by side in spread-collar shirts, munching on club sandwiches in a private meeting room at the Loews Regency Hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Both men live in Los Angeles, but Mr. Lithgow was in New York playing the title role in “King Lear” at Shakespeare in the Park, and Mr. Molina had caught Mr. Lithgow onstage the night before.

“His performance was revelatory,” Mr. Molina raved, referring to Mr. Lithgow and putting an affectionate hand on the other actor’s arm. “He’s the best Lear I’ve seen.” Then, while Mr. Molina (who can be seen playing a Mexican mogul on the El Rey TV series “Matador”) told a drawn-out joke about two actors of varying fortunes bumping into each other on the street, Mr. Lithgow regarded him with tenderness, amusement and, perhaps, a soupçon of impatience.

Even though both men have been married to women for decades, it was easy to take them for an old gay married couple — which is, in fact, exactly what they play in Ira Sachs’s “Love Is Strange,” which opens on Friday. In the film, shot last year throughout Manhattan and featuring Marisa Tomei and Cheyenne Jackson, Mr. Lithgow is Ben, an increasingly absent-minded painter, and Mr. Molina is George, a gentle-voiced music teacher at a Roman Catholic high school.

After nearly 40 years together, the couple get married — an act that costs George his job with the archdiocese. The income loss means that Ben and George must sell their cozy apartment and, while they search for new digs, live apart for the first time in years, bunking with family members and friends.

If the separation feels a bit contrived — couldn’t their loved ones simply chip in to find them a sublet? — it is the starting point for a meditation on long-term domestic intimacy in all its comfort, thorniness and banality.

Critics have singled out the film’s fine-grained scenes from a marriage. Variety noted that the couple were hardly idealized; instead “they still bicker and fuss, and in one of the film’s most moving scenes, an errant husband apologizes for his past indiscretions.”

Mr. Lithgow and Mr. Molina say that their on-screen intimacy was easy to create, partly because they have known each other casually for years. In fact, a keen eye will detect in Ben and George’s apartment a photo that is actually of the two actors at an early-1980s theater awards event.

“I can’t remember which event it was, though,” Mr. Lithgow said. (He will also star this fall in a Broadway revival of Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance.”)

“Me either,” said Mr. Molina, adding that a decade or so ago the two became closer during the illness and death from cancer of a mutual friend, the actress Ileen Getz.

Mr. Sachs cast Mr. Molina in “Love Is Strange” first (the director loved his over-the-top scene as a cracked-out, gun-toting drug dealer in “Boogie Nights”), then Mr. Lithgow, knowing that the two were acquainted. “As a director,” Mr. Sachs said, “you make sure that the actor you’ve cast likes the actor you want to cast. Even though John and Fred,” which is Mr. Molina’s nickname, “had never worked together before, I knew they had this common history and sensed that there’d be great chemistry between them.”

Mr. Sachs said gay actors were considered and on a preliminary shortlist for the roles, but he added: “Sexuality is, in and of itself, not a significant factor in my casting. As Laurence Olivier said, that’s why they call it acting.”

Mr. Lithgow and Mr. Molina say their rapport in the film, which feels like a cozy, well-worn groove from the start, happened easily. “I imagined Ben and George fully formed,” Mr. Lithgow said, “because even on the page, this story almost shimmered with emotional authenticity.” (Mr. Sachs wrote the screenplay with Mauricio Zacharias.)

Mr. Molina agreed, saying he and Mr. Lithgow took their cue from the tidy apartment of a real-life retirement-age gay couple in Jackson Heights, Queens, that doubled as Ben and George’s place. “They’d saved every Broadway program,” he recalled. “You could just imagine them walking the street together keeping a discreet distance, having gone years accepting their lot as second-class citizens.” (The poster for “Love Is Strange,” in fact, shows Ben and George side by side on the street in just that arrangement.)

Mr. Sachs said that he had discussed the film with his lead actors over a few dinners. “They’ve both been married themselves for around 30 years, and I myself am now in a marriage I can imagine becoming more beautiful with time,” he said. “The three of us understood each other as men who know the texture of a long love.” Mr. Sachs, 48, is raising children with his husband, Boris Torres, 37, a painter whose works show up in the film.

No scenes were rehearsed. Once lines were learned, Mr. Sachs set the action in motion while his cameras roamed rooms, often lingering on faces of minor characters at, for example, a luncheon after the wedding. The approach creates an almost documentary, everyday feel, as does Mr. Sachs’s penchant for letting cameras roll after a scene’s final line.

“Ira has a deceptively offhand, shambling way of directing,” Mr. Lithgow said. “He’d take forever to call ‘Cut.’ ”

But surely the actors had to psych themselves up for intimate scenes, like the one in which, briefly reunited after nights apart, they cuddle in the twin-size bed of their teenage nephew, who has sullenly decamped to the living room couch. The two men kiss, hold each other’s faces in their hands and talk about the difficulty of falling asleep alone after nearly 40 years of bedtime pillow talk.

Not so, they say. “By that scene, we were already really close, tweaking each other all the time and laughing hysterically,” Mr. Molina said.

Mr. Lithgow agreed: “It’s rare to feel completely free with another actor. I felt an extraordinary chemical comfort with Fred. He was like a big, comfy teddy bear.”

“And you were a polar bear,” Mr. Molina countered. (They said that Mr. Jackson, their co-star, who is gay in real life, had schooled them in the nomenclature of gay body types like bears and twinks.)

Surely, also, the two men drew from their own longtime marriages to create this gently worn conjugal portrait. Mr. Lithgow has been married since 1981 to Mary Yeager, a U.C.L.A. history professor. “I’ve brought a recklessness to her life, and she’s brought an order to mine,” he said. “That’s what moved me so much about this film, how it shows how essential another human being can be to you if a relationship lasts that long.”

And had Mr. Molina brought insights from his 29-year marriage to the British actress and novelist Jill Gascoine?

“When you’re in a relationship that long, you’ve gone through several marriages,” he began tentatively. “All along, a knowledge and understanding is building up.”

But Mr. Molina seemed to be faltering. As he explained that his wife suffered from Alzheimer’s disease — she revealed her illness publicly at a fund-raiser last year — he began to cry. It was a moment that echoed the ending of “Love Is Strange,” which has left audience members at early screenings in tears.

And as Mr. Molina cried, Mr. Lithgow held his hand. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Alex Ross Perry's Listen Up Philip wins the Jury Prize at the 67th Locarno Film Festival>

Variety | 16 August 2014 | by Peter Debruge

"The Special Jury Prize went to a far more accessible American pic, Alex Ross Perry’s “Listen Up Philip,” starring Jason Schwartzman as a self-absorbed young novelist who risks becoming even more insufferable through the coaching of a mentor played by Jonathan Pryce. Written in the same squirm-inducing spirit as Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” the discomfiting dramedy will play the New York Film Fest before its U.S. release on Oct. 17 from Tribeca Film." Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Exclusive clip from Love is Strange>

In Love is Strange, Ira Sachs's "post-gay landmark in cinema," John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play Ben and George, a gay couple who decide to get legally married later in life. It throws their comfortable New York City existence into turmoil, and the rest of the film follows them as they deal with sorting out their families' issues as they deal with financial issues.

“All of our lives, particularly the drama of our lives, tend to be deeply affected by money and class,” Sachs told Out. “I think all of my films have been aware of that. It’s where drama comes from. In psychoanalysis, they say the only thing harder to talk about than sex is money, which sort of tells you its place.”

At one point, when Ben and George need a break from their families, they meet for a drink at Julius', New York City's oldest gay bar. Here's a sneak peek at this humorous scene, one of our favorites, from the movie. Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Interview - John Lithgow on Love is Strange> | 8 Aug 2014 | Alex Biese

As a student at Princeton High School, John Lithgow had dreams of being a painter.

But fate had other things in store for the son of Arthur Lithgow, artistic director of the university town's McCarter Theatre from 1963 to 1972.

"I had ambitions, I would say, intentions, of being a painter," recalled Lithgow, 68. "And, it was only going off to college and getting involved in theater gangs that I made a fatal mistake and decided to be an actor instead. I grew up in a theater family, and it wasn't that I didn't want to go into the family business, but I really was much more interested in art. And I still am. I just don't do it much anymore."

A Harvard graduate with two Tony Awards, five Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes and two Academy Award nominations, Lithgow got the opportunity to play a painter in his latest film, the Sony Pictures Classics drama "Love is Strange."

The film, which opens on Aug. 22, stars Lithgow as an artist who marries his longtime partner, a teacher played by Alfred Molina, and follows the economic and emotional hardships that befall the couple after Molina's character is fired from his job at a Catholic school.

Writer/director Ira Sachs and his co-writer, Mauricio Zacharias, give the pair played by Lithgow and Molina a lived-in sense of love and history through gentle grace notes, from their apartment (which includes one of Lithgow's actual paintings) to the way Lithgow's character refuses to run for a cab on his wedding day so as to not get sweaty before the ceremony.

"Objectively watching the film, I really do feel like you're watching two guys who have been together for 40 years," said Lithgow, who has been married to UCLA professor Mary Yeager since 1981.

"If you've been together with someone for 40 years, it almost liberates you to be cranky and petulant and childish and peevish, along with loving and really needing each other.

"Both Fred and I have had long marriages, and for both of us, that was the clearest reference point for playing this long relationship. If you're lucky enough to be that close to someone for that long, it just allows you to be so completely yourself that sometimes you're a real pain in the ass."

The film also offers a rare look at Lithgow sporting a hearty beard.

"I've had a beard a couple of times, but a long time ago and in not very good movies," he said.

Discussing what the facial hair added to his on screen work, Lithgow said: "I thought it was really authentic, somehow. Watching myself in the film, I really did look like an artist, a painter, an older painter whose head is a little bit in the clouds. He's one of these creative types who is charming, creative, but a little bit tedious, a little bit in the way and very unrealistic, letting everybody else do the heavy lifting in life. He seemed really authentic to me.

"I've always wanted to play a painter, and when I read the script, I only discovered it on about page 30, and I was elated, just elated."

'King' for a summer

Lithgow's beard is in full force for his starring role in the Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park series production of "King Lear," running through Sunday, Aug. 17, at the Delacorte Theater in New York City's Central Park.

"It's such a great role," Lithgow said of Lear. "And I think, over the years, I've figured it out. I've seen 11 productions of it, and it's just wonderful to do my take on it, because I really do have strong feelings about how the role might be played. It's a great cast. It's a great experience. We're in heaven. It's just one of those wonderful experiences."

That being said, Lithgow's big screen output isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Due for release in November, "The Dark Knight" auteur Christoper Nolan's latest, "Interstellar," is high on many fans' must-see lists, despite the fact that, in typical Nolan fashion, very little information on the film has been made public.

"You have to be so coy about what it's about and keep the secrets and all," Lithgow said of the film, in which he co-stars with Matthew McConaughey. "But, it's a very, very exciting project, this interesting blend of the cosmic and the very, very personal, with characters that you really care about. An extremely powerful, personal story."

Later this year, Lithgow will be reunited with a fellow Harvard graduate, Tommy Lee Jones, for Jones' upcoming period piece "The Homesman." Along with Lithgow and Jones, the film stars Hilary Swank, Meryl Streep and Streep's daughter, Grace Gummer.

"I finally got to be in a Western, although Tommy insists that it's not a Western, since it's about homesteaders in the Nebraska territory in the middle of the 19th century," Lithgow said. "A very interesting, unexplored world. It's sort of the world of 'Shane,' except it's far more authentic and realistic the way Tommy Lee approached it. He's a very, very good writer and director."

Lithgow will then return to Broadway this fall, co-starring with Glenn Close in Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" at the John Golden Theatre on West 45th Street. Previews for that production begin on Oct. 20, with opening night scheduled for Nov. 20.

After recently appearing in such big-budget fare as 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Interstellar," Lithgow returned to his stage roots.

"I always think it's good for an actor to be in a play in which you are in the same dressing room as about five other people," he said. "It just returns you to your roots in very basic ways. I do think that acting is a real communal endeavor, a very collaborative endeavor.

"Movies kind of fragment it, but theater concentrates it. When I do something like 'King Lear,' I feel like this is why I became an actor." Facebook Link

July 2014

STRATOS - Stratos wins the 20th edition of the MedFilm Festival>

The 20th MedFilm Festival in Rome drew to a close over the weekend.

Its rich and intense programme of feature films, documentaries and short films, was enhanced by the presence of guests enthusiastically participating in the cultural project, establishing deep face-to-face contact with the audience and bearing witness to the diverse cultural and political context of the Euro-Mediterranean area.

Condensed into eight days of screenings for budgetary reasons, the festival was held at the MAXXI museum and at the Casa del Cinema in Rome.

"We are extremely satisfied for having succeeded, under prohibitive economic conditions, to build a programme that is strongly tied to contemporary narrative, and at the same time extremely eclectic, in which many cinematic ideas coexisted, from fiction to documentary, from melodrama to film noir, comedy and experimental cinema," said MedFilm Festival Chairman Ginella Vocca.

"When you work under such extreme conditions, if you manage to continue, you understand the strength and the meaning of your work. The vision of the project is renewed: you beat new paths, illuminate complimentary routes, are a place of sharing and listening, trying to widen cultural horizons, lean over the narrow horizon of an Italy that is increasingly at the margins of international cultural circuits". "It is beautiful work. We have been pioneers, as the Undersecretary Barracciu called us, the first in Italy to give space to Mediterranean cinematography".

"Our ability to survive this painful blight on cultural events is perhaps the optimism that distinguishes us, the result of the quality of the product that year after year we are able to create, mixed with the hope that things have to change for the better".

The festival festival jury presided over by Dacia Maraini gave out a number of awards. The Psyche and Love award went to 'Stratos', directed by the Greek-Cypriot Yannis Economidis, "a film that recalls Camus for its ability to tell a man who would like peace but ends up always in war, who does not guide events but lets himself be guided, rebelling only at the end" said the motivation for the award. The Artistic Expression award went to 'In Grazia di Dio' (In Grace of God) directed by Edoardo Winspeare (Italy was this year's guest country of honour), while Special Mention was given to 'Le Challat de Tunis' directed by Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia). The Koine' award recognized the activism of Giovanni La Manna and the Astalli Centre for refugees, which he directs. There were many noteworthy moments, among them the career award given to Mario Martone and Paul Vecchiali, as well as the European preview screening of Factory Girl, directed by the Egyptian film master Mohamed Khan. Facebook Link

WHEN I SAW YOU - When I Saw You available on iTunes, BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema >

USA: Cue up the film on Netflix now. Also you can pre-order DVD from Amazon Middle East: Pre-Order your DVD now from Philistine Films and Rotana Switzerland, Austria and Lichtenstein Facebook Link

NORWAY - The premiere of Norway by Yiannis Veslemes, in the Karlovy Vary East of the West competition, on Monday, 7th of July at the Karlovy Vary Theatre>

screenings schedule:
July 6, 20:30, Cinema A, Press & Industry Screening
July 7, 18:30, Karlovy Vary Theatre Official Screening
July 8 , 16:30, Lazne III Official Screening Facebook Link

June 2014

LISTEN UP PHILIP - 'Listen Up Philip' set for Locarno Fest launch>

U.S. Indie Titles ‘Listen Up Philip’ and ‘Buzzard’ Set For Locarno Fest Launches

"U.S. indie helmers look set to play prominently at the upcoming 67th Locarno Film Festival where Alex Perry’s Jason Schwartzman-starrer “Listen Up Philip” and Joel Potrykus’ “Buzzard” will both have their international preems.

Both directors are regulars at the Swiss lakeside fest dedicated to indie and cutting edge cinema.

“Listen Up Philip,” a dark comedy in which Schwartzman stars as a young writer dealing with a creative crisis and an unsettled love life, will screen in Locarno’s main competish. Pic, which debuted at Sundance and also stars Jonathan Pryce and Elisabeth Moss, was picked up earlier this week by Tribeca Film for U.S. distribution.

Perry was last at Locarno in 2011 when his “The Color Wheel” screened in the fest’s Filmmakers Of The Present competish.

“Buzzard,” which stars Potrykeu’s regular collaborator Joshua Burge as a disaffected temp, bowed Stateside at SXSW and will screen at Locarno in Filmmakers Of The Present.

Potrykus won best new director at Locarno in 2012 for his film “Ape,” also starring Burge.

“We wanted to highlight the welcome return of two directors – not just to signal an obvious continuity with the recent past, but above all because for us the films of Alex Ross Perry and Joel Potrykus are among the most interesting of the recent crop of productions,” said Locarno artistic director Carlo Chatrian in a statement.

“I am sure Potrykus’ surreal comedy and Perry’s maturity of expression will fascinate the Locarno audience, continuing the festival’s long-standing relationship with the U.S.,” he added

Locarno’s full lineup will be announced on July 16."

Variety | JUNE 24, 2014 | Nick Vivarelli Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Watch the trailer of 'Love Is Strange' Starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina>

Variety | JUNE 20, 2014 | Jordyn Holman

“Love Is Strange,” which stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, doesn’t have the set up you’d expect for a film about a newlywed couple. Instead, the film is about a recently married same-sex couple adjusting to separate living situations.

The modern-day love story centers on Ben, a Catholic school teacher (Molina) who is fired after he and his partner George (Lithgow) are legally married in New York. The cash-strapped couple is forced to separate and live with neighbors and family members. The film’s trailer depicts how their long-distance love is tested in unconventional ways. It also highlights the changing dynamics between George and Ben and the people who welcome them into their homes.

The film debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Director Ira Sachs has also made “Lady” and “Keep the Lights On.”

“Love Is Strange” will hit theaters Aug. 22. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - ‘Listen Up Philip’ Gets North American Distribution>

The Wrap | June 23, 2014 | Linda Ge

Tribeca Film has set the Alex Ross Perry Sundance comedy for a fall 2014 release

Tribeca Film announced on Monday that it has picked up North American distribution rights to Alex Ross Perry's sophomore directorial vehicle “Listen Up Philip,” starring Jason Schwartzman and Elizabeth Moss. It's been set for an Oct. 17, 2014 release in the U.S., followed by a VOD premiere the following week.

The dark comedy, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, follows Schwartzman's novelist Philip as he awaits the release of his second novel, sure to be a success in his own mind. Driven to annoyance by the city and a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend (Moss), he jumps at the chance to seek refuge in an idyllic country house offered up by his idol Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), where he can focus on his favorite topic: Himself. Facebook Link

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - Only Lovers Left Alive at No.3 of the Criticwire Network's Top 10 Movies list of 2014 So Far>

With 122 critics voting in Indiewire's second annual mid-year poll of the Criticwire Network, Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" checked in with a strong showing in first place.

"Budapest" appeared on nearly 60% of the total ballots, while Jonathan Glazer's enigmatic, nightmarish "Under the Skin," Jim Jarmusch's modern nostalgia for the undead "Only Lovers Left Alive" and Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida," a lush black-and-white tale of discovering the past, all finished close behind.

SEE THE RESULTS: The Top Films of 2014 So Far

In order to qualify for the poll, films were required to have received at least a one-week run in North America or a release on video-on-demand platforms. (Those films that have played at festivals but have impending release dates will be fair game for our traditional end-of-year poll in December.)

One of the surprising results was a top-five finish for Phil Lord and Chris Miller's "The LEGO Movie," easily the highest-ranking studio film on the list. The directing combo also nabbed votes on a half-dozen ballots for the recent "22 Jump Street."

While we do keep a running tally of the top-ranked movies of the year, that particular tally is based on overall Criticwire averages. Sometimes a polarizing film doesn't quite have the overwhelming support to overcome its detractors. A few of those movies managed to crack our poll's upper tier. In the spectacle category, Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" and Paul W.S. Anderson's "Pompeii" both sit comfortably in the top fifty.

Documentaries took six of those top fifty slots, the highest of which being Pacho Velez and Stephanie Spray's "Manakamana." The hypnotic look at passengers on the way to and from the titular Nepalese temple is second such halfway-point hit for a film featuring the involvement of the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab ("Leviathan" was the top doc back in June 2013). Other highly regarded documentaries on the list include "The Missing Picture," Rithy Panh's look at the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, "The Unknown Known," Errol Morris' tête-à-tête with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and "Mistaken for Strangers," last year's Tribeca opener that captures the story of brotherhood at the center of the band The National.

On the notable distribution side, A24 Films went a perfect five-for-five on 2014 releases, with "Under the Skin," "Enemy," "Locke," "The Rover" and "Obvious Child" all claiming their own part of the top fifty. In another list-based trend, Cannes, Berlin and TIFF alums seem to feel right at home at this list. Of the 41 top films that played on the festival circuit, 28 did so either in France, Germany or Toronto.

But regardless of their distribution champions or festivals of origin, this list has plenty of variety to offer, with some of the biggest of mainstream filmmaking to the simplest of the indie world (and a few titles in between). Here's the top 10:

The Criticwire Network's Top 10 Movies of 2014 So Far

1. "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
2. "Under the Skin"
3. "Only Lovers Left Alive"
4. "Ida"
5. "The LEGO Movie"
6. "The Immigrant"
7. "Stranger by the Lake"
8. "Blue Ruin"
9. "The Raid 2: Berandal"
10. "Nymphomaniac: Vol. I"

And this is just the tip of the Best Films iceberg. In addition to the aforementioned Best Reviewed Films list, our friends at The Playlist have another list of 2014 favorites, the Thompson on Hollywood! staff members elaborate on their individual top tens, Indiewire's film critic Eric Kohn has an in-depth explanation of his mid-year ballot, and June's first Criticwire Survey listed some of the top films of the year as well (along with a healthy helping of the year's cultural cream of the crop). Facebook Link

NORWAY - Yiannis Veslemes’ ‘Norway’ to compete at Karlovy Vary>

After four short films (‘Tugo Tugo’, ‘Light Well’, ‘Goal’ and ‘Osiki’), Yiannis Veslemes’ first feature length film titled ‘Norway’ is ready and will be shown at the Karlovy Vary festival next month.

‘Norway’ takes place in 1984. Zano arrives in the city for the first time. He is light-sensitive, a vampire and a great dancer. He gets burnt, scattered, spending himself in an Athens that you won’t find on any map. The only thing he longs for is a ‘warm girl’. At Disco Zardoz, a dive bar and a den for folks of ill-repute, he will meet the prostitute Alice and the Norwegian dealer Peter. With them he will take on a dubious job, which will lead them to Mount Parnitha, to the depths of the Earth, to Methuselah’s kingdom. Norway wears shiny shoes, dances among colorful scoundrels and bites only when she wishes to.

Vangelis Mourikis (known from his roles in Athina Tsangari’s ‘Attenberg’ and Yiannis Economides’ ‘Stratos’) plays the blood-thirsty vampire Zano. The film also stars Alexia Kaltsiki, Daniel Bolda, Markos Lezes, Sofi Zanninou, Vasilis Kamitsis, and Yannis Bostantzoglou.

The screenplay was written by Yiannis Veslemes. ‘Norway’ was produced by Yorgos Tsourgiannis and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos and co-produced by Eleni Berde and Yiannis Veslemes. Cinematography is by Christos Karamanis, Yiannis Halkiadakis edited and costumes were designed by Alkisti Mamali. The director also composed the film’s soundtrack under his ‘Felizol’ moniker, while Dimitris Kanellopoulos, Persefoni Miliou, Valia Tserou and Kostas Varimpopiotis were the film’s sound engineers.

The film was produced by Horsefly Productions and co-produced by Faliro House Productions, Nerit, Marni Films, Logline, Deepgreensea, Tugo Tugo, 2|35, Kostas Varimpopiotis.

‘Norway’ will compete in ‘The East of the West’ program, which includes debut or sophomore films. The film previously participated in Karlovy Vary’s ‘Works In Progress’ program last year.

The 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will take place July 4-12. Facebook Link

MISS VIOLENCE - Miss Violence by Alexandros Avranas wins the BEST FEATURE ORPHEUS AWARD at the 8th annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival - LAGFF Honors Greek Cinema, Hollywood Producers >

VARIETY | 10 JUNE 2014 |

A dark tale that begins with the suicide of a girl who jumps off a balcony during her 11th birthday party earned the Orpheus Award for best feature at the 8th annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival on Sunday night. “Miss Violence,” the second outing for director Alexandros Avranas, also won multiple awards at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. Actress Tracy Spiridakos “(Revolution”) presented.

Actor Simon Kassianides (“Quantum of Solace”) handed the Orpheus for best documentary to Spyros Teskos’ “Crossed Lives,” a film that traces the complicated relationship between Greece and Germany from World War II to today’s economic crisis, asserting that Germany has finally had its victory. “Lives” also received the fest’s Audience Choice award.

“Red Hulk,” a character study of a man who gets involved with a gang of Greek thugs who target and immigrants for racial attacks, directed by Asimina Proedrou, won for best short. Actress Gia Carides (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) handed out the honor.

The jury also bestowed two special prizes: one went to Elina Psykou’s “The Eternal Return Of Antonis Paraskevas,” the story of a famous TV host who purposely slips into obscurity; the second to Natassa Xydi’s “Travel Express,” another – but more positive – look at the impact of immigrants on modern Greece.

LAGFF also recognized two producers of Greek heritage. Twentieth Century Fox CEO Jim Gianopulos (above, left) and director James Gray (second from left) presented the first honor to producer Anthony Katagas (center), who won an Oscar for “12 Years a Slave.” Similarly honored was producer Steve Nicolaides (“When Harry Met Sally”). (Photo: Maria Martin)

Members of the LAGFF jury included Variety features editor Peter Caranicas, writer/producer and Emerald Peak Entertainment CEO Larry Karaszewski, theatrical and film producer Christopher Kikis, Arclight Films sales and acquisitions coordinator Athena Nash, and Loyola Marymount U. professor Katerina Zacharia.

The five-day fest took place at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Festival co-founder Ersi Danou and director Aris Katopodis said that this year has been LAGFF’s most successful so far, with 28 films judged and a record 23 filmmakers attending. Facebook Link

MISS VIOLENCE - Metrodome Distribution have announced a UK release date of 20 June for the film and released a new trailer> Facebook Link

April 2014

WHEN I SAW YOU - When I Saw you wins the WORLD CINEMA BEST PICTURE at the Phoenix Film Festival> Facebook Link

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - NY Times : This Time, Jim Jarmusch Is Kissing Vampires>

NY Times | APRIL 3, 2014 | By MELENA RYZIK

"The filmmaker Jim Jarmusch is old school. He writes all his scripts out by hand and then dictates them to a typist. Ideas are jotted down in small, color-coordinated notebooks and, despite the presence of an iPad and iPhone in his life, he doesn’t have email. “I don’t have enough time as it is to read a book or make music, or see my friends,” he said. “People don’t believe me, too. They think I’m just saying that because I don’t want to give it to them. But no, I do not have email.”

So his interest in vampires, the subject of his latest movie, “Only Lovers Left Alive,” is hardly modish: He hasn’t seen “Twilight” or “True Blood” or read Anne Rice, but can recount the origin of one of the first English vampire stories, which dates to around 1816. His film, opening April 11, stars Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve, an ur-cool bloodsucking couple whose love spans centuries and continents — he lives in crumbling Detroit; she in seedy, tangled Tangier. They’re united as much by their creative and literary appetites — he’s a musician, she’s a reader — as by their darker urges. In some ways, Mr. Jarmusch said, it’s quite a personal film.

Mr. Jarmusch could be called vampiric, too, and not just for his predominantly black wardrobe and movie-villain-like nimbus of silver hair, which he has styled and cut himself since he was a boy. At 61, he still has an unquenched cultural thirst: old school but with a tremendous jones for new (or new-to-him) projects. His catholic tastes reflect the cross-pollinating downtown artistic life that flourished in tandem with his early career.

Through Thursday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center is offering a retrospective, “Permanent Vacation,” on his 11 feature films, several shorts and music videos, including some for repeat collaborators like Jack White and Tom Waits. More than three decades into filmmaking, Mr. Jarmusch remains the rare indie director who achieved critical success (and four prizes at Cannes) and enough prestige to cast bankable movie stars like Cate Blanchett and Johnny Depp, and yet never made a move toward Hollywood, never even leapt at directing a commercial. Instead he has maintained, in movies and music, his own wry, rad vision.

“For my generation of European film nerds, he was pretty much the first who showed us America through the eyes of an American alien,” said Ms. Swinton, who has made three films with him. As a student, she saw “Stranger Than Paradise,” his 1984 breakthrough, and ever since, “he has been a consistent North Star for me,” she wrote in an email, “a reliable idiosyncratic bass note under the anthem of generica sounding around him.”

The film is part of a productive swoop for Mr. Jarmusch. It’s the first in which his five-year-old band, Sqürl, provides much of the soundtrack, in collaboration with the composer and lutist Jozef van Wissem; alongside musicians like Zola Jesus and Yasmine Hamdan, they have played shows in Berlin, Paris and New York to promote the accompanying album, from ATP Recordings. Coming projects include a quasi-documentary about the Stooges (“a little poetic essay,” Mr. Jarmusch said); an opera about Nikola Tesla, in collaboration with his friend the composer Phil Kline and the international director Robert Wilson; and another feature, about a bus driver and poet in Paterson, N.J., that Mr. Jarmusch wrote in the years he waited for “Only Lovers” to come together.
Continue reading the main story

“I take on a lot more now,” he said, partly out of age, experience and desire, and partly out of professional gumption.

Hemmed in by financing, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is the first movie he’s shot digitally, a concession (he prefers film) but one he eventually liked. “The things I hate about digital are daylight depths of field and skin tones,” he said, neither of which were a problem in a movie about extra-pale creatures who wither in sun. After a long hiatus, he also started playing guitar again, because music making is more immediate than film, and also because he started to wonder, “Why don’t I use my left hand for anything?”

“I had this period where I would try shaving or brushing my teeth with my left hand,” he said. “It’s like, what the hell, it’s got to have something in your brain that helps it. So then I thought: O.K., I’ll pick up the guitar again. You use both hands.”

Mr. Jarmusch is nocturnal, which is why his films so often take place at night; sitting recently at B Bar, the ’80s-era haunt in the East Village, he seemed to waken as the midafternoon light faded. He has long had a loft on the Lower East Side, and a place in the Catskills, too — “that saves my sanity,” he said — with his longtime partner Sara Driver, also a filmmaker. He came to New York from Akron, Ohio, for college in the 1970s and never left, baking himself into a scene that produced DIY rock stars and idiosyncratic auteurs.

“What I loved when I came here from Ohio is that I realized, you could be the weirdest person in the world and then walk around, and in three blocks, you’re going to see someone way weirder than you,” he said.

Though he misses the wildness of those days (in the SoHo of the late ’70s, “I looked out my window at about 3:30 a.m., and I saw a man walking a llama down Prince Street”), “I’m not nostalgic,” he said. “Because New York’s only about change and conning everybody out of whatever they have. That’s just what New York is.”

If his work has eccentric tonal similarities — long, slow takes; a penchant for black-and-white; evocative, obscure music; tinder-dry humor — Mr. Jarmusch has applied them to familiar genres, like westerns (“Dead Man,” with Mr. Depp), martial arts-gangster flicks (“Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” with Forest Whitaker) and dark rom-coms (“Broken Flowers,” with Bill Murray, his highest-grossing film to date).

He conceived “Only Lovers Left Alive” as a tender romance. Vampires were, to him, a way to sneak in an overview of cultural history. John Hurt plays an undead Christopher Marlowe, now writing in Tangier; in Detroit, Adam and Eve point out Jack White’s childhood home. A wall of fame includes portraits of their illustrious friends like Mark Twain, Franz Schubert and Rodney Dangerfield — all Mr. Jarmusch’s suggestions. In under two minutes of conversation at B Bar, he moved seamlessly from Godard to a 1955 Droopy Dog cartoon to Beethoven’s productivity. Mr. Jarmusch quit smoking a few years ago, and we drank tea, not coffee. But otherwise, it could’ve been a scene in one of his movies.

In the new film, Adam is a reluctant virtuoso who shares Mr. Jarmusch’s affinity for avant drone rock (with lute). “He has a weakness that he wants to hear his own music echo back,” Mr. Jarmusch said. “That’s not a smart thing to do, if you’re trying to live undercover. Unlike Eve — she has no need for that, she’s full of wonder at things, and that’s enough for her.”

He thought a bit. As a filmmaker who has always played coy with popularity, “I have his weakness,” Mr. Jarmusch said. “I think she’s more enlightened somehow.”

Tom Waits had a different, more charitable take. “While Jim toils alone,” he said, “as all great men must, his films freely roam the world, like weather balloons that astound and awe those here on the ground.”

He also couldn’t resist pinging his friend. “I think Leavenworth was good for Jim,” he wrote, lying and deadpan even in an email. “It disciplined him and gave him a sense of containment and appreciation for the austere. In metal shop, he made a camera out of a Coke bottle and piece of pipe.” His color palette, gray tones and shadows, was “informed by the bits of rat hair and cobwebs that decorated his cinder-block cell.”

Mr. Jarmusch, who started in bands before movies, has always enjoyed communion with songwriters. He’s studying Arabic pop via Ms. Hamdan, a Lebanese singer who appears in the film, and he can as readily name-drop the rapper and producer El-P as the conductor Claudio Abbado.

“He’s definitely not just a director who does some music, he’s definitely a musician,” said Deborah Kee Higgins, the co-director with her husband, Barry Hogan, of ATP Recordings and the roving festival All Tomorrow’s Parties. Mr. Jarmusch was its curator in 2010. As part of the noise trio Sqürl, “he’s got his own sound,” Mr. Hogan said. “It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s really great.”

With film, Mr. Jarmusch likes to improvise, writing new pages, adding scenes when locations strike him and shooting as much as he can. He works “as the musician he is,” Ms. Swinton said, “assembling and tickling up a rhythm and a relaxedness in the scene by extended ‘jamming’ before eventually laying down tracks. I happen to love this free-fall way of working.”

He rehearses his actors, but only in scenes that will never be in the movie, a technique to keep their reactions fresh. In “Ghost Dog,” Mr. Whitaker plays a loner urban samurai. To prepare, they roamed the East Village, Mr. Whitaker in character. “He carried a practice wooden sword in his backpack, and he was dressed like Ghost Dog, right, and he hardly speaks — it’s super intense,” Mr. Jarmusch said, especially when he whipped out the weapon to practice martial arts in East River Park, to the delight of nearby schoolchildren. Ghost Dog even went to get a slice. (Mr. Jarmusch said he hopes to translate the film into a TV series, with Mr. Whitaker and the rapper RZA involved, and have someone else direct.)

Mr. Jarmusch’s real-life stories easily equal, or maybe surpass, the narrative leaps of his movies. “A lot of strange things happen, yeah, for sure,” he said. “It’s sort of been my way. I have a lot of weird experiences by not having a plan. I have that, too, while filmmaking. I have this motto of: It’s hard to get lost when you don’t know where you’re going.”

Which is not to say that Mr. Jarmusch wants to live forever, extending his self-proclaimed dilettanteness into the centuries, like his loving vampires. “I like that there’s an end,” he said, putting on his metal voice. “ ‘Because that’s the way I like it baby. I don’t want to live forever.’ That’s from a Motörhead song.”

But as an aficionado of decay, he has, of course, imagined his own demise. The Zoroastrians, an ancient Iranian religious group, “get eaten by vultures,” he said. “They put their dead bodies on a mountaintop, and they get eaten. I would love that.” Facebook Link

THE LOBSTER - John C. Reilly Joins Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘The Lobster’>

Variety | 31 March 2014

"John C. Reilly has joined the cast of love story “The Lobster,” the first English-language film by “Dogtooth” helmer Yorgos Lanthimos. Reilly joins the previously announced Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux and Olivia Colman.

Also added to the cast are Ashley Jensen, Michael Smiley and Jessica Barden. Other thesps in the pic include Ariane Labed and Angeliki Papoulia.

Film is set in the near future where single people, according to the rules of The City, are arrested and transferred to The Hotel. There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days. If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods. A desperate Man escapes from The Hotel to The Woods where The Loners live and falls in love, although it is against their rules.

Pic is co-written by Lanthimos and long-time collaborator Efthimis Filippou, who co-wrote the Oscar-nommed “Dogtooth.”

It is being produced by Element Pictures, Limp and Scarlet Films. Producers on the film are Lanthimos, Lee Magiday, Ed Guiney and Ceci Dempsey, with Element’s Andrew Lowe and Film4’s Tessa Ross and Sam Lavender acting as executive producers.

Isabel Davis is the lead executive for the BFI Film Fund, and Rory Gilmartin for the Irish Film Board.

Principal photography started last week. Shooting takes place over seven weeks on location in Ireland.

Partnering on the project are Christos V. Konstantakopoulos of Faliro House in Greece, Carole Scotta of Haut et Court (who will be both the French co-producer and distributor of the film), and Derk-Jan Warrink, Joost de Vries and Leontine Petit of Lemming Films in Holland.

“The Lobster” is being financed by Film4, Irish Film Board, the BFI Film Fund, Eurimages, Greek Film Centre, CNC, the Dutch Film Fund and Canal Plus.

Protagonist Pictures is handling world sales." Facebook Link

THE LOBSTER - Farrell begins shooting new film in Kerry >

RTE Ten | 31 March 2014

"Principal photography has begun on The Lobster, the "unconventional love story" starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, which is being filmed in Co Kerry.

The first English-language film from Oscar-nominated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps), The Lobster is set in the near future, where single people's lives depend on finding a partner.

The film also stars John C Reilly, Olivia Colman, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, Ashley Jensen, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia, Michael Smiley and Jessica Barden.

Irish company Element Pictures is among the producers on The Lobster." Facebook Link

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - Watch: Suck Blood With Clip From 'Only Lovers Left Alive' Plus New Pics>

Indiewire | 31 March 2014 | Kevin Jagernauth

"We've said a lot about Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive," but here's the only three things you need to know to see this: Tilda Swinton. Tom Hiddleston. Jim Jarmusch. The trio weave together some magic with the auteur's latest and another sampling has arrived.

Vulture has debuted a new clip from the vampire drama, about two eternal souls who drift through contemporary times trying to find meaning and value in a human race that has shown callous disregard to the arts, artists and their environment. Heavy? Nah, as you'll see below, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is deftly intelligent and slyly funny throughout, with Jarmusch bringing his trademark wit to the proceedings in a way that feels pretty vital in what is easily a career highlight movie for the director.

"Only Lovers Left Alive" opens on April 11th." Facebook Link

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - REVIEW : Jim Jarmusch Turns the Vampire Myth: Only Lovers Left Alive>

Huffington Post | 29 March 2014 | by Regina Weinreich

"Jim Jarmusch, the celebrated indie filmmaker gives the vampire genre a clever tweak in his new movie, Only Lovers Left Alive. If you've been around sucking blood for centuries, you've probably met history's most famous characters, Byron, Schubert, to mention a few. The movie pushes this conceit, name dropping with aplomb, or just cracking wise in vampire tropes. Roaming the Tangier medina, Eve (Tilda Swinton) follows the well-worn path of the midcentury dissolute and hip, looking for a fix in the manner of beat legendary figures. Arriving at the "1001 Nights" café, she finds none other than Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) who has a special "Type O," just what she needs. The café is named after one once owned by Brion Gysin, in the days when William Burroughs resided in the then seedy port hotel, the Muneria. Known as "El Hombre Invisible," he was a figure of unidentifiable age, seeming to exist on junk alone.

When asked, Tilda Swinton was not sure that Jim knew that, but that would be taking away the art of this send up of a movie. Jarmusch told me he was indeed evoking Gysin's restaurant, and doing one better, translating the place's name to French. "Of course it should be French," he said after a recent special screening, at a party in a new place, Chalk Point Kitchen and Handy Liquor Bar, chockablock with well-wishers including his wife Sara Driver, and friends Patti Smith, Steve Buscemi, David Byrne, Peter Sarsgaard, Duncan Hannah, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Paul Auster, and his wife Siri Hustvedt. Auster, a most beloved author, was pleased to announce the coming of Hustvedt's new novel, The Blazing World.

"You may be one of five people to get that café reference," Jarmusch says. Though they are not all so obscure, these humorous cultural moments add a sense of insider joy to the movie's appreciation, as when Adam (Tom Hiddleston), Eve's, eh, longtime lover who lives in Detroit mentions Motown. Eve slips in sotte voce, 'I'm a Stax woman myself." Motown! Stax! Okay. Music lovers will giggle at these riffs. But I hate to break it to Jarmusch: he may not be able to count on people knowing Christopher Marlowe!

Not that it matters, of course. Although posing as Dr. Faustus does then have special meaning. Jarmusch films are a genre unto themselves, and the coming retrospective of his work at Film Society of Lincoln Center: "Permanent Vacation: The Films of Jim Jarmusch," April 2-10, should satisfy any addiction most nicely." Facebook Link

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - Jim Jarmusch Retro to Include All 11 of His Features> | February 19, 2014 | by Brian Brooks

" Jim Jarmusch will be the subject of a comprehensive retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center: "Permanent Vacation: The Films of Jim Jarmusch" (April 2 - 10). The eight-day event includes all 11 of his features and a selection of short films and music videos, leading up to the theatrical release of his latest, Only Lovers Left Alive (NYFF51) on April 11. Jarmusch will be in person at select screenings (see schedule below).

Written as well as directed by Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive stars Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, and Mia Wasikowska in a "vampire romantic drama" that screened in Cannes and at the 51st New York Film Festival. It centers on Adam (Hiddleston), a reclusive vampire musician who is centuries old and is having trouble adjusting to the modern world. Adam survives on blood bank donations from an unscrupulous doctor where he lives in Detroit. His wife (Swinton), meanwhile, lives in Tangiers and senses Adam's depression. She heads to Detroit to be with him, but her younger sister shows up and disrupts their idyllic reunion. Then things continue to slide as they return to Tangiers.

Only Lovers Left Alive was the fifth of Jarmusch's features to play at NYFF following Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Jarmusch’s indie 80s classic that established his signature style as well as his Louisiana-set comedy and Down by Law (1986), starring John Lurie, Tom Waits, and Roberto Benigni. Also an NYFF debut, Mystery Train (1989), meanwhile, is his portrait of misfits and foreigners adrift in the land of Elvis and Night on Earth (1991) explores cross-cultural communication by way of five taxicab vignettes set in L.A., New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki. All four will screen as part of the upcoming retrospective.

"Over the course of his single-minded yet constantly surprising career, Jim Jarmusch has become a beloved, forever-cool icon of independent cinema," said Dennis Lim, the Film Society’s Director of Programming. "We’re proud to present a complete survey of his work timed to the release of Only Lovers Left Alive. Jim’s latest film is one of his very best, and like so many of his others, a celebration of love, art, friendship, and the things that make life worth living."

Tickets to Permanent Vacation: The Films of Jim Jarmusch go on sale Thursday, March 13." Facebook Link

March 2014

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - Watch: New Trailer For Jim Jarmusch's 'Only Lovers Left Alive' Is Out For Blood>

Indiewire | March 7, 2014 | by Kevin Jagernauth

"I start every movie thinking how heavy and purposeful it is. But as we film they just get funnier," director Jim Jarmusch told Time Out London. "In the editing room I ended up saying to myself, hey, it’s really just a comedy, Jim. I don’t seem to be able to remove that inclination to humour if I try." And thank God for that. While his latest "Only Lovers Left Alive" is a literate tale of vampire love spanning the centuries between a brooding Adam and his understanding Eve, it's also funny. Really, really funny.

And as the film heads into SXSW for its latest festival appearance, a new trailer has arrived giving us another look at the bloodsuckers. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, John Hurt and Jeffrey Wright, there's not much of a plot in this one, so much as a series of events that Jarmusch uses to explore philosophy, literature, music, culture and history with his trademark brand of sardonic cool. And indeed, if you're coming for blood, you're missing the point, with our Cannes review noting: "the real pleasure of the film is in its languid droll cool and its romantic portrayal of the central couple."

"Only Lovers Left Alive" opens in the U.S on April 11th. Facebook Link

February 2014

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - Only Lovers Left Alive out in the UK Today - REVIEW: The Guardian gives it 4 stars.>

The Guardian | 20 February 2014 | Peter Bradshaw

Only Lovers Left Alive – review

This retro-chic haute-hippy vampire flick gets its energy from the sulphurous chemistry between Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston

I have warmed up – or maybe rather cooled down – to Jim Jarmusch's beautifully made and exquisitely designed vampire movie since seeing it at Cannes last year. At first, it looked studenty and self-congratulatory. But if it is an exercise in style … well, what style. With its retro-chic connoisseurship and analogue era rock, this is a brilliant haute-hippy homage: a movie that could almost have been conceived at the same time as Performance or Zabriskie Point.

As the undead lovers, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston hang out together very elegantly, exchanging worldly badinage and wondering what's in the fridge, like Withnail and Withnail, or I and I. Hiddleston is Adam, a reclusive vampire rock star hiding out from his fans in Detroit and savouring the necrophiliac ruin-porn thereabouts. Swinton plays his paramour, Eve, with her habitual queenly hauteur: she is living in Tangiers for the time being, pondering her literary collection (worryingly, this includes Infinite Jest) and chatting with Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who appears to have been frozen in vampiredom in old age. Adam has a postcard of the Corpus portrait of Marlowe digitally tweaked to look like Hurt, so all that stuff about Marlowe being murdered at 29 must be untrue. (For people who love the dark, incidentally, neither has any interest in the seventh art.)

They get back together in Detroit, but when Eve's lairy rock-chick sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) shows up too, things go badly wrong. There is inexpressible languour to everything. I have had my crises of faith in the past about exactly how interesting or insightful vampirism is as a metaphor – that was part of my initial scepticism – and I still don't think this is in the same league as Abel Ferrara's The Addiction. Yet the sulphurous chemistry between Hiddleston and Swinton makes their 20-year age-difference irrelevant.

The damned have never looked so beautiful. Facebook Link

FALIRO HOUSE PRODUCTIONS - The Hollywood Reporter - Berlin: Greece's Faliro House Grows Footprint, Partners With FilmNation (Exclusive)>

The Hollywood Reporter | 11 February 2014 | by Pamela McClintock

Berlin -- Both auteur minded, Glen Basner's FilmNation and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos' Athens-based Faliro House Productions are partnering on a two-year fund that will pay for the development of four to eight projects a year.

The deal will allow FilmNation to further expand its strategy of acquiring high-profile development properties, while simultaneously broadening Faliro House’s slate with a number of marquee titles for the international marketplace.

Projects developed under the fund are intended to be financed with FilmNation's existing credit facility, allowing the production, sales and financing company to continue to build its pipeline.

“It’s an honor when a man like Glen Basner asks you to partner up,” said Konstantakopoulos, who is president of Faliiro. “This will greatly help our goals in Greece and abroad, and we very much look forward to working with Glen and all the wonderful citizens of FilmNation."

Founded in 2008, Faliro has been involved with a wide array of prestige projects, including Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter, Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive, Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, Richard Linklater's Before Midnight and Alex Ross Perry's critically acclaimed 2014 Sundance Film Festival entry Listen Up Philip.

Upcoming Faliro titles include Athina Rachel Tsangari's Cheavlier, Babis Makridis' Pity, Yannis Economides' Stratos and The Lobster, from Oscar-nominated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz (Protagonist Pictures is selling The Lobster at the Berlin Film Market).

Konstantakopoulos is the son of the late Vassilis C. Konstantakopoulos, a Greek sea captain, shipping magnate and entrepreneur who founded Costamare Shipping.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with such a well-respected producer and financier as Christos and his company Faliro House,” said Basner, CEO of FilmNation. “His exceptional taste in film aligns perfectly with FilmNation’s already existing slate and the support of this fund will greatly contribute to the success of future projects.”

The development fund was brought in and brokered by Victoria Cook of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC on behalf of Faliro House, and FilmNation’s COO Milan Popelka and EVP of Business & Legal Affairs Alison Cohen. The deal is effective immediately.

Aaron Ryder heads up FilmNation’s production arm, which made Nichols’ critically acclaimed box-office hit Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey. Coming out this year is Dan Beers' teen sex comedy Premature, which will world premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

FilmNation is in development on Denis Villeneuve’s Story of Your Life, The Rules of Inheritance, starring Jennifer Lawrence, and The Good House, starring Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro.

Basner's company is representing international rights to several high-profile titles in Berlin this year, including courtroom drama The Whole Truth, starring Daniel Craig, John Carney's next film Sing Street and The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Facebook Link

THINGS PEOPLE DO - indiewire - Exclusive: Wes Bentley Takes Target Practice In Clip From 'Things People Do' Premiering At The Berlin Film Festival>

indiewire | 6 February 2014 | by KEVIN JAGERNAUTH

You may not know the name Saar Klein, but you've undoubtedly seen his work. He's the Oscar nominated editor behind Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" and Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous," who has a notable filmography that also includes "The New World" and "The Bourne Identity." However, he's transitioning to the director's chair, and his debut feature film "Things People Do" will be premiering at the Berlin Film Festival.

Starring Wes Bentley, Vinessa Shaw, Haley Bennett and Jason Isaacs, and executive produced by (among others) Doug Liman, the film tells the story of a man who turns to crime after losing his job, and falls in with a detective who no longer believes in the value of upholding the law. Here's the full synopsis:

Things are worse for Scanlin than he admits. Unknown to his family, he has lost his job as an insurance broker because he wasn’t making it hard enough for clients to claim insurance compensation. The bank shows no understanding when he fails to keep up his mortgage payments and this brings him to the brink of financial ruin. Like so many Americans, he is under enormous financial pressure. Scanlin’s strictly moralistic world view crumbles and he begins to identify with the stray dog that slopes around his newly built home on the edge of the plains, eating rubbish and drinking from the pool. Propelled by his need to survive Scanlin turns to crime and before long he becomes a modern Robin Hood who carefully chooses his victims before giving them a lesson – and bringing home the bacon again at last. His new friend is a policeman who doesn’t exactly follow the law to the letter. A world of double standards soon reveals itself to Scanlin.

It's an intriguing premise and approach to the current financial crisis it seems, and in this exclusive clip we see the family man and the detective making target practice out of what were once someone's belongings.

After premiering in Berlin, "Things People Do" will hit the SXSW Film Festival. Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Variety - Berlin: Aussie Shingle Rialto Buys Three Titles>

variety | 5 February 2014 | by Patrick Frater

Australia’s Rialto Distribution made a trio of acquisitions on the eve of the European market.

It grabbed Australasian distribution rights to Ira Sachs’ “Love Is Strange,” the Roman Polanski-directed “Venus in Fur” and Michel Gondry’s “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?”

“Strange” which premiered last month in Sundance, stars Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as a gay couple, who finally get married, but are then forced to live apart. The picture was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for North America, Germany and Scandinavia.

“After the critical acclaim it received at Sundance, ahead of our theatrical release here in Australia and New Zealand, we are thrilled to be bringing local audiences another high-quality film,” said Rialto’s CEO Kelly Rogers.

The film is represented in multiple territories by Fortissimo.

“Venus in Fur,” based on the stage production, is repped by Lionsgate. “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?,” is Gondry’s documentary featuring a series of interviews with linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky.

Rialto plans to give theatrical releases to all three pictures in Australia and New Zealand through 2014. Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Focus Film - ‘Love is Strange’ Gets Picked by Sony from Sundance>

Focus Film | 5 February 2014 | by Jack Gattanella

Many films end up finding their distributor after screening at the Sundance Film Festival, and this year films across the spectrum found homes with companies, independent and connected with studios. Sony Pictures Classics, for example, picked up a new film starring Alfred Molina and John Lithgow called Love is Strange.

The film is directed by Ira Sachs (Married Life, Keep the Lights on his prior credits) and co-written with and Marucio Zacharias, and is about a middle-aged gay couple, played by Molina and Lithgow, who finally get married but when one of them loses his job they have to move in with other people to support themselves (a nephew and two gay cops, the setting in Brooklyn, New York). Rounding out the cast is Marisa Tomei, Cheyenne Jackson, Darren Burrows and Charlie Tahan.

The pic received some strong word of mouth at the festival, with Variety writer Peter Debruge starting his review with glowing praise: “Truth springs from the title and trickles down into every pore of “Love Is Strange,” an uncompromising yet accessible slice-of-life expression from Ira Sachs, one of the most perceptive and personal directors working in American cinema.”

Sachs expressed in a statement how pleased he is to be working again with Sony to release the film, praising Molina and Lithgow, and Sony shared the sentiment. “Filmmaker Ira Sachs, one of our most acute observers of humanity in modern times, has made his most accomplished film featuring two of the greatest actors in the English speaking world at the peak of their form. It is a privilege to collaborate with them on releasing LOVE IS STRANGE,” said Sony Pictures Classics.”

Sony will release the film in North America, Germany and Scandinavia; there are also plans through the Pretty Pictures company for a release in France. No word yet on any plans for the UK, however it is screening later this week at the Berlin International Film Festival, so more distribution deals may come after that.

At the festival, Lithgow noted about the subject matter: “Half the world is going to love this. The other half needs to see it.” Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - The Hollywood Reporter - 'Fruitvale Station,' Ira Sachs' 'Love Is Strange' Added to Altitude Film's Debut U.K. Release Slate>

The Hollywood Reporter | 5 February 2014 | by Stuart Kemp

The startup division of British company Altitude Film Entertainment builds debut theatrical release slate for 2014 and beyond.

Ira Sachs’ Love Is Strange, starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Marisa Tomei and Ryan Coogler’s Cannes prize winner Fruitvale Station are among the titles added to the debut release slate for Altitude Film Distribution (AFD).

The startup U.K. theatrical division of Altitude Film Entertainment, the U.K. film company launched last year by Will Clarke -- founder of British indie distributor Optimum Releasing, which was sold to StudioCanal -- now has eight movies ready to rollout.

Sony Pictures Classics has Love is Strange for North America and other territories.
Also slated for a jaunt to British movie houses courteously of Altitude is All Cheerleaders Die, written and directed by Lucky McKee (The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me), which opened the midnight madness section at the Toronto International Film Festival 2013 and The Nightmare, a non-fiction horror film about the terrifying visions experienced by the victims of the surprisingly common phenomenon of sleep paralysis. Rodney Ascher mixes existing footage with cinematic recreations.

Altitude has also take U.K. distribution rights to Nick Read's Bolshoi Babylon, a behind-the-scenes documentary about Russia's famous dance institution, a project Altitude’s sales division is touting to buyers at this year’s EFM.

The titles join three previously announced debut slate titles; documentary 20 Feet from Stardom from Morgan Neville (Crossfire Hurricane) about backup vocalists, the untitled Amy Winehouse documentary, directed by Asif Kapadia (Senna) and The Loch, a character-driven horror thriller co-produced by Altitude Film Production with James Watkins (The Woman in Black), co-written by Watkins with Simon Duric who will also direct.

Altitude Film Entertainment chairman and joint CEO Will Clarke said: “For Altitude to be working with such highly talented, original and award-winning filmmakers with our first release slate is a fantastic position to be in. Ira Sachs, Ryan Coogler, Rodney Ascher, Asif Kapadia and Nick Read, are very different filmmakers in their creative style, but their films are, in their own ways, important, insightful, original and in pure terms, entertaining, and this is what Altitude wants to bring to UK audiences.”

Altitude Film Production has taken four films into production in just over a year including Big Game directed by Jalmari Helander, starring Samuel L Jackson and is currently halfway through its shoot. In addition to James McAvoy starrer Filth, Altitude has also produced The Hooligan Factory from emerging British filmmakers Nick Nevern and Jason Maza and Outpost 37 directed by Jabbar Raisani. Facebook Link

THE LOBSTER - Variety - Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz to Star in Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘The Lobster’>

variety | 3 February 2014 | by Leo Barraclough

LONDON — Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz have come on board to play the lead roles in “The Lobster,” the first film in the English language by Oscar-nominated Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth,” “Alps”). Protagonist Pictures will be selling the pic at the European Film Market in Berlin.

The pic is set to start shooting on March 24 in Ireland.

Farrell and Weisz join the previously announced Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed and Aggeliki Papoulia. Several other roles in the ensemble are being finalized.

Co-written by Lanthimos and his long-time collaborator, Efthimis Filippou, the film is an unconventional love story set in a dystopian future where finding a partner is a matter of life or death.

It is being produced by Element Pictures, Limp and Scarlet Films. Producers are Lanthimos, Lee Magiday, Ed Guiney and Ceci Dempsey, with Element’s Andrew Lowe acting as executive producer.

Partnering on the project are Christos V. Konstantakopoulos of Faliro House in Greece, Carole Scotta of Haut et Court (who will be both the French co-producer and distributor of the film), and Derk-Jan Warrink, Joost de Vries and Leontine Petit of Lemming Films in Holland.

The film is being financed by the BFI Film Fund, the Irish Film Board, Eurimages, Greek Film Center, CNC and the Dutch Film Fund.

Lanthimos said, “I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to work with such great actors. Their contribution to our film will enrich and expand the world we are trying to create and explore. Furthermore our team of old and new collaborators makes me very confident and excited to start making this film.”

Farrell, a Golden Globe winner for “In Bruges,” was recently seen in Disney’s “Saving Mr Banks” and is the star of Akiva Goldsman’s upcoming “Winter’s Tale” for Warner Bros. In post-production are “Miss Julie,” in which he co-stars with Jessica Chastain for director Liv Ullmann, and “Solace,” Afonso Poyart’s supernatural thriller in which he stars with Anthony Hopkins.

Weisz won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for “The Constant Gardener.” Her credits also include box office blockbusters “The Mummy,” “The Bourne Legacy” and “Oz The Great and Powerful.” Facebook Link

January 2014

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Variety - ‘Before Midnight’ Trilogy Might Look Improvised, But Every Word is Scripted>

variety | 29 January 2014 | by Jenelle Riley

Chatting with the trio behind “Before Midnight” — writer-director Richard Linklater and writer-stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke — is a bit like being in one of their movies. The conversation flows freely and quickly, with a great deal of overlapping dialogue and finishing of one another’s sentences.

The three recently gathered at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel the day after winning the Critics’ Choice Movie Award’s Louis XIII Genius honor for their work on what has come to be known as the “Before” trilogy: 1995’s “Before Sunrise,” 2004’s “Before Sunset” and 2013’s “Before Midnight.” Or, as Hawke jokingly calls it, “the lowest-grossing trilogy in the history of motion pictures.”

While they may not be making blockbusters, they’re not losing money — “Midnight” has grossed $11.2 million worldwide against a budget of just $3 million. And the triumvirate has achieved something that’s perhaps even more difficult. Over the course of 20 years, they have created beloved characters with a passionate following. All three films have earned critical raves, and the last two earned Oscar nominations for adapted screenplay.

The premise of each movie is simple, centering on Celine (Delpy) and Jesse (Hawke), who meet cute on a train in “Sunrise” and are reunited for one day in “Sunset.” That film ended with the possibility of the two remaining together, and “Midnight” opens to show that they are indeed married, with twin daughters. On the surface, not much appears to happen: The couple talk, fight, make up, move forward.

The co-writers say the sequel scripts generally begin as jokes. “We have a six-year break or so between movies where we don’t talk about it except to toss around goofy ideas,” Linklater says. “Like, what if we jumped genres entirely and found Jesse and Celine working as international spies.”

In early 2012, Linklater said they would shoot “Midnight” that summer, in Greece. Weeks before the August shoot date, the collaborators met to finalize the script and rehearse. But achieving the spontaneous feel of the films takes a lot of work. “I know it seems naturalistic, but it’s really hard on us,” Delpy says. “That’s why we take nine years to recover between films!”

In fact, there is no improvisation. Every word is scripted, including the overlapping dialogue. Linklater admits he feels both flattered and frustrated that people believe the movies utilize improv. “That is the objective, to make it seem like that,” he notes. “I’ve had so many directors pull me aside and ask how we do the overlaps.”

Linklater says it would be technically impossible to improvise many of the scenes, citing, for instance, a 13-minute single-shot scene at the start of “Midnight” that takes place entirely in a car. “Think about the technical side of that,” he notes. “We had to shut down roads. We had lighting, moving cars, a focus puller. You can’t do all of that on the fly.”

Delpy and Hawke point to that scene as one of the most difficult, both as writers and actors. “Nobody wants to be the person who spoils the take in the last minute,” Delpy says. Hawke estimates that early drafts of the car scene were as long as 38 pages. During rehearsal, the trio would get in a car and drive around and read it out loud. “We would decide what was too long, what was too boring, then go back to the hotel and rewrite and cut,” he adds.

While another installment for Jesse and Celine is not in the cards, their creators will likely partner on future projects. Linklater and Hawke just premiered “Boyhood,” a film shot over the course of 12 years, at the recent Sundance Film Festival.

How does Delpy feel about being left out? “I’m a little pissed off,” she jokes. “And I feel a little guilty,” says Linklater. “But we started that film before we did ‘Sunset.’ ” Adds Hawke to Delpy: “You’re not in it, and that’s why it won’t work. It’s the one that might finally reveal Richard is untalented.”

Linklater is quick to disagree. “Every film threatens to do that,” he deadpans. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Vulture - Elisabeth Moss and Jason Schwartzman on Their Sundance Drama, Listen Up Philip, and Golden Globes Speeches>

vulture | 27 January 2014 | by Jada Yuan

This time last year, Elisabeth Moss was at Sundance debuting Top of the Lake, the Jane Campion miniseries that premiered in its seven-hour entirety at the festival and won Moss a Golden Globe earlier this month. The Mad Men star returned to the fest this year with two movies: the comedy-thriller The One I Love (co-starring Mark Duplass), and Listen Up Philip, in which she plays the long-suffering girlfriend of an increasingly self-absorbed Brooklyn novelist (Jason Schwartzman, who gets to say all kinds of fun lines like, “I hope this will be good for us, but especially for me”). Below, Moss and Schwartman talk Golden Globes experiences, playing an asshole, and updates on the Bored to Death movie and the end of Mad Men.
Moss: We met here last year!

Then we ran into each other in New Orleans, then you won the Golden Globe!

Moss: Then I won the Golden Globe. [Laughs.]
Schwartzman: Was it scary to sit up there and look at all those people in the audience, or were you not thinking about it?
Moss: So not thinking about it. It was like my words in front of my face trying to think of what to say and who to thank. And then the wrap-it-up thing.

And were you like, I’m going to be defiant about this and just keep going? Drag me off?

Moss: No, it was my first Golden Globe. I didn’t want to be that person. I was like, Yes, I will wrap it up. Thank you. Thank you so much, monitor. Wrapping it right up. Will do. On it. Watch me wrap this in a bow. Right there with ya. The thing is, you have a weird consciousness of how stupid it is to feel so thrown off. You just won an award, which, by the way, you dressed up for, you went all the way to the venue, you had all this time to think about the fact that you might [win]. It’s not like they just punked you.
Schwartzman: “Oh, I just thought this was dinner.”
Moss: You’re up there and you’re definitely like, “I can’t breathe, and my entire body is shaking and I feel like an idiot for being like that.”
Schwartzman: It’s funny, because it didn’t look like you were shaking. I wonder if you can’t really perceive shaking unless someone’s holding paper. Shaking maybe doesn’t translate.
Moss: But my legs were shaking and I was wearing a dress that showed my legs.
Schwartzman: You looked great, by the way. I loved that dress.
Moss: Thank you.

I will say, this rapport is very different from what I just saw ten minutes ago.

Schwartzman: Oh, you just saw the movie.
Yeah, I feel like I have to wash off some self-loathing.
Moss: We actually did get along really well. We’ve known each other for years. Pre-Rushmore, and pre-anything I ever did …

Where did you meet?

Moss: He was in a band [Phantom Planet], obviously, and I had a friend who dated a bass player in Maroon 5. And I just started becoming friends with those people before they were Maroon 5, and they would always play. It then became this big social group; everyone hung out together. And so [Jason and I] were friends and we got along really great and in rehearsal [for this movie], we would laugh in between takes and sometimes laugh during takes. But then we would have to fight and he had to be an asshole and I had to be super upset with him all the time.

Are we supposed to think that Philip becomes more of an asshole as he goes along? Because how did he get all of these women to fall in love with him and then hate him so much?

Schwartzman: About girls liking him, that’s not for me to answer.
Moss: We were talking about this last night, and I think [Jason’s] wife agreed. There were like four girls in the car, and all the girls were like, “Yep, totally would fall in love with that guy … totally get it.” I think girls understand it more than guys do. And he shows a lot of charm and he shows a lot of humor.
Schwartzman: I think Alex [Ross Perry, the director] said one time that this is a story about everyone who is in one of the worst times in their lives.
But it’s supposed to be the best part. He just published an acclaimed novel.
Schwartzman: There’s just something about this person … he’s not good right now.
Moss: And people handle success in different ways.
Schwartzman: At the end of the movie, Alex is like, “You’re not supposed to feel sympathy, really. You’re just supposed to feel like, Jesus." And that’s an experience that I’ve had in my life: It’s like you see people from a distance and you go, How is that person not getting it? How can that person act that way? They’re not aware of anything that they’re doing. That’s sort of what’s going on.

Jason, were you basing Philip on any assholes you know?

Schwartzman: I do believe all of us have every sort of basic instrument in us. We have a little violin, a little flute. He’s an extreme personality. I think Philip is really single-minded and just has extremely high standards. I just made him impossible to please. I was also thinking maybe he was just a curmudgeonly old man combined with a baby.

A baby?

Schwartzman: Stubborn, like, “No. No. No!” You can’t win with a baby. You can’t really begin to reason with a 2-year-old. You’ve got to take control of certain situations. Kind of like an old man baby, cornered bird situation.

Were you and Alex friends before this, Jason?

Schwartzman: No. I was in Phantom Planet, and Alex, when we started to shoot the movie, showed me a picture of me and him. I must have been 21? Or 20? And he was 16 or 17. In Philadelphia, when Phantom Planet came to play, we took a picture together. And so I met him then but I don’t really remember.
Moss: That’s so funny!
Schwartzman: [After I read the script], we sat down to have dinner together. We almost had a date in a weird way. We had a really long dinner and went and had drinks. I was like, “So, can I call you?” But here’s an example of a total Philip thing: We had this great night. It was, like, the best. I say to Alex, “I love the movie, and you, and if you would want to do this, I would love to do this.” He said, “Really? Oh, great. Wow, that’s just amazing. From where I’m standing, there’s really only two people who can play this and you’re one of them, so I’d be so happy.” And I was like, “Who’s the other person?” It was the weirdest sentence to me ever. It was exactly something Philip would say.
Moss: Who doesn’t say, “There’s only one person”? You just lie and say that there’s one.
Schwartzman: There are only two people that could possibly play this. Oh, okay. Thank you.

So you feel like Alex really gets the character?

Moss: The thing is, Alex is way funnier. He’s nicer. He’s not an actual asshole. He’s not a dick. He has that confidence, and he has a sense of humor, and he has that honesty. Like, no filter.

Jason, is the Bored to Death movie moving along?

Schwartzman: Apparently Jonathan Ames is writing it. If all goes well, it should be made.
Are you so excited?
Schwartzman: I’m trying to keep my hopes at an altitude of more like sea level. To do a Bored to Death movie, you know, eight things have to happen perfectly for it to happen. So I just hope that all eight do. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. But I’ve talked to Zach [Galifianakis] and Ted [Danson] and Jonathan ... and we're SO excited. I’ve even talked to them recently where I was like, God, I wish we were still doing it right now. My dream is that they would just pick us up for a fourth, fifth season.

You’ve just got to get TBS to do it.

Schwartzman: It was just so much fun. Maybe you could put in your article, that could we come back for more seasons? I’d like to go back to series.

Do you have residual detective skills?

Schwartzman: I do find that it sparked a thing in me that I want to get to the bottom of things in a way that I used to not want to. Like, How did this towel get here? Because you said you used it to dry off our dog … You know, that kind of stuff. More home stuff. I’m more of a domestic detective at this point. A domective.
So, Elisabeth: John Slattery is here. Christina Hendricks is here. Everybody is in movies from your show. Slattery said to a friend of mine at Rolling Stone that he’s ready for Mad Men to be over. So I’m curious what your feelings are on that.
Moss: It’s bittersweet. I keep saying that word, but it really is what it is. We all have done the show for nine years because we’ve taken such uneven breaks.
Schwartzman: Holy shit.
Moss: I know. We made the pilot when I was 23, but we didn’t start until a year later. And then we took a year off [owing to the writers' strike]. Nine. Years. So it will have been 23 to 32 that I will have done the show.
Schwartzman: You flip the numbers.
Moss: Yeah. I can’t believe we’re shooting the seventh season. We’ve been around longer than any other show right now. Boardwalk Empire’s ending. We were around before Breaking Bad and we’re still here. So I can’t complain. It’s going to be very weird and sad; it’s just going to be really weird not to play that character anymore. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - indiewire - Interview: Jason Schwartzman & Alex Ross Perry Discuss Misanthrophy Of 'Listen Up Philip'>

indiewire | 27 January 2014 | by KRISTIN MCCRACKEN

One of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance last week was Alex Ross Perry’s latest, “Listen Up Philip,” starring Jason Schwartzman as a misanthropic novelist without a filter in what’s being called “his best role since 'Rushmore' " (read our A-grade review here).The stellar cast is rounded out by Elisabeth Moss as Philip’s long-suffering girlfriend, Jonathan Pryce as his egotist-author role model (based, most likely, on Philip Roth), and a string of past and potential paramours (Dree Hemingway, Joséphine de La Baume, Kate Lyn Sheil). Even the peripheral acting by Krysten Ritter and Jess Weixler is first-rate, allowing Perry’s work to shine like it never has before.

Perry’s writing here is on fire too, with Schwartzman often delivering I-can’t-believe-he-said-that lines with a visceral and hilarious punch. (The story is moved along by Woody Allen-esque narration by dry wit Eric Bogosian.) At the same time, Pryce and Moss’s characters are given substantial screen time, allowing the audience to see both the (somewhat?) cause and effects, respectively, of Philip’s unhinged bile. Visually, audiences will recognize cinematographer Sean Price Williams and Perry ’shomage to the style, music and color palette of classic films by master directors, including John Cassavetes, Woody Allen and Wes Anderson, to name just a few.

We were lucky enough to connect with the quick-witted Perry and deadpan Schwartzman this week at Sundance, where we discussed the script’s inspiration, the actor’s glee at playing such a hateful person, and why Paul Schrader is “a king.” Interview below. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Movie City News - Sundance 2014 Review: Listen Up Philip>

Movie City News | 25 January 2014 | by Kim Voynar

I almost didn’t see Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip at Sundance this year. I wasn’t a huge fan of Perry’s previous film, The Color Wheel, and thus was on the fence about seeing this one. A friend encouraged me to catch it anyhow, thinking I might like it, so when I wandered into the P&I tent after a canceled lunch date to see what the TBA was and found it was this film, I shrugged and took a seat. I’m so glad I did, because this film shattered whatever preconceived notions I’d had going in. Which is an object lesson for me, I guess, in not holding prejudice against a particular film just because I didn’t connect with the director’s previous work. So noted.

The story here revolves around Philip (expertly portrayed by that master of brooding man-boys, Jason Schwartzman), a talented writer who’s decidedly lacking in “works and plays well with others” on the report card of life. When we meet Philip, he’s channeling some serious anxiety over the publication of his new novel, along with some equally serious rage at the world. You could maybe excuse him if he was just having a rough time of things, but the film makes it clear early on that this is who Philip is: a talented but tragically solipsistic man whose issues go far beyond the mere stereotype of the difficult, selfish artist. He’s mean, he’s arrogant, he lacks empathy for others, and he views everything that happens through a lens tinted sharply by his favorite subject: himself.

Schwartzman brings this egotistic, misanthropic writer to life on screen with what can only be described as absolute commitment. With every tic of facial expression, every glower of darkly brooding brow, he owns Philip unapologetically. If he was going to take on the part of this asshole, he was going to do it thoroughly, and boy, does he ever. But while Philip may be a completely unlikable, unlovable character, Schwartzman manages to make him real and very human in spite of – perhaps because of – his many flaws.

Philip develops a relationship with a mentor, Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), a older writer and fellow misanthrope who sees in Philip a younger version of himself (though, as he keeps reminding Philip, he himself had achieved far more in the literary world by the time he was Philip’s age). Philip connects with Ike in a way he doesn’t with anyone else, and yet he’s somehow unable to read his own future in the allegorical tea leaves of Ike’s isolation from others and his utterly dysfunctional relationship with his daughter Melanie (Krysten Ritter). Instead, Philip just goes plowing along as he has been, tearing through and discarding relationships with both his longtime photographer girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss) and Yvette (Josephine de La Baume), an attractive professor at the liberal arts college where he lands an adjunct teaching position. I found it interesting that both of these educated, otherwise intelligent women have extended relationships with this man who cares for no one more than he does himself, and I suspect for some viewers, this aspect of the film will feel like wishful projection.

But here’s a truism about men like Philip: smart women who tell themselves they would never put up with his particular brand of bullshit no matter what nonetheless can and do fall prey to the allure of the reclusive, temperamental, misunderstood genius, and will keep coming back for more. Men like Philip present a challenge to overcome, a puzzle to solve – until the women in their lives finally have enough and say “no more.” And then those men end up alone, feeling misused and mistreated, looking everywhere save within themselves for the answer to the riddle of their loneliness and isolation.

While both The Color Wheel and Listen Up Philip deal with inherently unlikeable and self-absorbed characters, in the sense of both story and technical skill, this film represents a huge leap in maturity, style and substance from Perry. Although he’s working again with cinematographer Sean Price Williams, who also shot The Color Wheel, there’s a completely different level of artistic sensibility going on with this film, in everything from the way shots are framed, to the use of music, to the overall color design, which lends a warm, golden tone to the film that serves to contrast starkly with the coldness of Philip’s behavior and personality in a way that works very well. The film looks absolutely gorgeous in every frame, evoking a beauty that’s absent from the soul of its subject.

I’d heard a lot of mixed reactions from press folks around this film, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Philip goes beyond the mere unlikable; he’s the kind of person many of us would go out of our way to actively avoid having in our lives. And yet, I found myself, if not exactly liking Philip, at least not hating him. As a character, Philip’s not unlike many artists I know, though many of us wouldn’t necessarily want to see ourselves reflected in the choices he makes. Being an artist, a person not only committed to creating, but who cannot imagine doing anything else, does require a certain degree of selfishness. Creating art requires time and solitude and mental space, and if the best art comes from within us, it also demands that we spend enough time in our own heads to be able to draw out our own truths and weave them into something we can share with the world.

Philip takes this to an extreme, yes, and his misanthropy certainly isn’t typical of every artist. But in his insularity, his willingness to put his work above all else, even his relationships, there’s a glimmer of recognition many of us who work in the creative realm can identify with, even as he makes us cringe in moments of self-awareness as his focus becomes more about himself and less about the work. How much Philip’s truth reflects Perry’s own truths as the film’s writer and director, I couldn’t say. But I can say, without reservation, that with Listen Up Philip he’s certainly speaking a truth, and doing so with a rare, unflinching honesty, even if it’s sometimes hard to watch Philip’s tragically miserable existence unfold. Facebook Link


Fandor | 25 January 2014 | by David Hudson

“The acerbically funny Listen Up Philip counts as a great leap forward for Alex Ross Perry after his generously received second feature, The Color Wheel,” writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. “Narrated by an anonymous man off screen (Eric Bogosian), a kind of authorial presence who bores into the characters’ thoughts and feelings, Mr. Perry’s latest is at once a riff on a Philip Roth novel and a sly gloss on some of the criticisms of the same. Its dyspeptic lead character, Philip Lewis Friedman (a very good Jason Schwartzman), is a 30-something New York writer who’s being rapidly devoured by his narcissism. On the eve of the publication of his second novel, he effects a scorched-earth policy—sometimes appallingly funny, sometimes just dreadful—toward almost everyone in his life…. Although the typeface used for the movie’s title self-consciously mimics the exaggerated one used for the original cover of Portnoy’s Complaint (among others), Mr. Perry’s story takes some of its cues from the fictional relationship between Mr. Roth’s famous alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, and E. I. Lonoff, a literary recluse first featured in Mr. Roth’s The Ghost Writer who has been long-viewed as a stand-in for Bernard Malamud.”

“Philip lives with his long-term girlfriend, Ashley, played by Elisabeth Moss in what may be the performance of her career to date, Peggy Olson notwithstanding,” writes Criticwire‘s Sam Adams. At one point, “as Philip reaches the heights of its protagonist’s misanthropy, Perry does something quite unexpected: He cuts away, for quite a while, to Ashley, a trick he repeats later with other characters, a structure supported by the film’s novelistic framing. Even when we’re riding shotgun with Philip, we’re not encouraged to see the world the way he does, or even, necessarily, to empathize with him.”

“Listen Up Philip is decidedly less weird, and more accessible, than The Color Wheel,” finds the AV Club‘s A.A. Dowd. Still, it “out-Baumbachs Noah Baumbach in its portrait of toxic narcissism.” And “Schwartzman, in one of his best performances since Rushmore, turns the character’s complete self-absorption into wickedly funny shtick. Was the part written for him or was he just the perfect choice to occupy it?” Grade: B+.

This is “a quantum leap forward from [Perry's] last feature,” finds Rodrigo Perez at the Playlist, “and it’s thanks in large part to great actors making the excellent script really sing.” As Philip’s mentor, novelist Ike Zimmerman, Jonathan Pryce delivers “what might be a career-best performance.” And with Krysten Ritter, Joséphine de La Baume, Dree Hemingway, Jess Weixler and Kate Lyn Sheil, “Philip has a first-rate, up-and-coming indie supporting cast.” Grade: A-.

“Cinematographer Sean Price Williams’s hand held camera does justice to both the characters and the stylized interiors they inhabit, whether swirling gracefully around rooms or staying tight on faces,” writes Emma Myers for Indiewire. “Although the film drags a bit in its second half, it nevertheless manages to articulate ephemeral notions of success, perception, and longing.” Grade: A-.

“If Perry’s savagely funny The Color Wheel was his Portnoy’s Complaint, then Listen Up Philip is his Letting Go,” writes Jordan Hoffman at “If you aren’t adequately versed in the poet laureate of Weequahic, what that means is Listen Up Philip is big, sprawling and tortured, if a little lacking in focus—while funny in parts, it isn’t really a comedy.” Grade: 8.9/10.

“I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this odd 16mm odyssey,” writes Ben Umstead at Twitch. Interviews with Perry: Filmmaker and Indiewire. Ioncinema‘s Sundance “Trading Cards”: Perry and producers Katie Stern (more from Danielle Lurie at Filmmaker) and James M. Johnston. BlackBook‘s Hillary Weston talks with composer Keegan DeWitt.

Viewing. The Hollywood Reporter talks with Perry and his cast (3’33″). And James Joiner meets Schwartzman for Esquire (5’02″). Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Film Experience - Sundance: Sophomore Directors Soar in 'Listen Up Philip' & 'I Origins'>

The Film Experience | 25 January 2014 | by Nathaniel R

Watching Alex Ross Perry’s mumblecore comedy The Color Wheel or Mike Cahill’s ambitious, but disappointing Another Earth in 2011 can’t really prepare you for their sophomore efforts, both of which premiered in Park City. Both Listen Up Philip and I Origins demonstrate a near stratospheric development for the pair in virtually every conceivable way. Cahill, especially, appears to have finally found a compelling way to conclude his high-concepts, which was one of the most frustrating elements of his debut. Perry on the other hand, has taken all of the promise found within his Indie Spirit-nominated gem and spun it into a literary tapestry that unfolds delicately and yet at breakneck speed.

You’d be forgiven for being taken entirely by surprise with Listen Up Philip thanks to its vivid, golden colourful strokes of 16mm beauty appearing in stark contrast to the minimalist aesthetic of his debut. Even more surprising is the structure that delightfully plays with audience expectations regarding the direction of certain characters. Just when you think Perry’s astute screenplay is teetering on the verge of monotony, it veers ever so delicately so that you may barely even notice. It’s a wonderful little game of bait and switch that helps make the film feel more intricate and less like two straight hours of people talking.

Thankfully, Perry has assembled a cast that is game for the dialogue-heavy responsibility of turning these arch characters into people worth investing time in. Schwartzman especially is somehow able to turn the prickly Philip, a likely cousin to Nicole Kidman and Noah Baumbach’s Margot, into more than just the insufferable bore that any real life version would surely be. Jonathan Price, Krysten Ritter, Jess Weixler and Eric Bogosian as the best disembodied narrator since John Hurt in Dogville, add ample support, but the real star of the show is Elisabeth Moss who has well and truly shed the idea that she’s nothing more than Mad Men’s Peggy. This is genuine awards-worthy work from Moss who is the emotional glue that keeps the film from truly descending into bitterness. One scene in particular even had me scribbling in my note pad “kidman in birth” in reference to a scene where it feels like every emotion under the sun is conveyed on her face. It’s a moment of rare human beauty in the film and shines like a beacon because of it. Frequently viciously cruel and hilarious, imbued by a cynical New York City, Listen Up Philip is a vital step forward for an exciting new talent.

Grade: B+ (although I have a feeling it will grow into an A- over time thanks to Moss)
Distribution: None yet, but if The Color Wheel can get even a minor release…

The direction that Mike Cahill has gone in isn’t as radically unexpected of a surprise, but is no less of a creative achievement. With I Origins, Cahill continues his collaboration with the curiously magnetic Brit Marling in another science fiction tale that goes more grandiose than the very lo-fi Another Earth, and yet remains thrillingly Earth-bound in its exploration of the scientific implications of God, reincarnation, and ethically dubious experimentation.

As if casting one actor that audiences seem cold on wasn’t enough, Cahill went and gave the lead role of romantically conflicted scientist (how about that for a wacky log line?) to Michael Pitt, and yet he is rewarded with what is likely Pitt’s finest work to date having thankfully shaken off the twitchy, affectedness that so often plagues his work (even if the science lab scenes are the shakiest and less thought out of the film). Marling, however continues to intrigue with her no-nonsense performances that remind me of early Jodie Foster in the way she seems determined to play characters in ways that could be easily come across as unlikeable, even when the role calls for sympathy.

As somebody who definitely believes in evolution, I was still able to find its very realistic and respectful take on the potential for a higher existence fascinating. It’s a can of worms type of situation regarding the science, even though much of it is invented it will likely incite debate, but sometimes that can be thrilling even if one doesn’t necessarily agree with the hypothesis that a film suggests. While the direction that I Origins goes into doesn’t necessarily surprise, it’s a tense thrill to watch Cahill gradually reveal his intentions and to realise that he’s not entirely playing the easy short game. A mid-credits stinger (which many audience members at my public screening missed due to their weird need to leave a film as soon as the credits begin) adds not only a striking denouement, but adds one last, chilling blow to the gut for viewers that may have calls for a sequel reaching fever pitch before mass audiences are even allowed to see it. Marvel’s post-credit tags look even more inconsequential and pointless in comparison.

I Origins is bigger, bolder, and altogether more intellectually ambitious than Cahill’s previous debut. The scale is improved to such a degree that one has to wonder what exactly happened in the three years since Another Earth. The relationships are more complex, the drama more three-dimensional. It asks big questions, but never tailspins into flights of fancy. It’s a marvel of restraint and perfectly judged for the material that will likely endear itself to audiences that found Upstream Color’s DNA dalliances too kooky as well as those who enjoy the more human-oriented sci-fi of Contact. The initial promise of Mike Cahill has finally been proven right.

Grade: B+ / A-
Distribution: Somebody has to buy it eventually. Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - - Love is Strange and Sony Pictures Classics Get Hitched> | January 24, 2014

Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all North American, German and Scandinavian rights to Ira Sachs' feature Love is Strange. Love is Strange made its world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where it has been one of the most well received films by critics and audiences alike.

Academy Award nominee John Lithgow and Alfred Molina star as a longtime couple who lose their New York City home shortly after getting married and as a result must live apart, relying on friends and family to make ends meet. The cast of Love is Strange also includes Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei, Darren Burrows, Charlie Tahan and Cheyenne Jackson.

Written by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, Love is Strange is produced by Sachs, Lucas Joaquin, Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy of Parts & Labor, and Jayne Baron Sherman.

In Love is Strange, Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina) finally wed in Manhattan after 39 years together. However, once the Catholic school where George has had a longtime job hears of the marriage, he is fired, and the couple is forced to move into two separate households as they can no longer afford their Manhattan apartment. George moves in with two gay cops who live downstairs, and Ben moves to Brooklyn with his nephew, his wife, and their teenage son. While trying to find a new place to live together, Ben and George feel the pain of living apart while testing the strength of their relationships, both with each other and with those who have taken them in.

This acquisition also marks a reunion between Ira Sachs and Sony Pictures Classics, as the company previously distributed Sachs' Married Life in 2007.

"I'm thrilled to be working with Michael, Tom and Dylan again," said Sachs, "What was clear from our meetings is that they understand the film as a New York love story anchored by two powerhouse performances by Lithgow and Molina.'

"Filmmaker Ira Sachs, one of our most acute observers of humanity in modern times, has made his most accomplished film featuring two of the greatest actors in the English speaking world at the peak of their form. It is a privilege to collaborate with them on releasing 'Love is Strange,'" said Sony Pictures Classics. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - L.A. Times - Sundance 2014: Schwartzman, Moss & tough loves of 'Listen Up Philip' (video)>

Los Angeles Times | 23 January 2014 | by Mark Olsen

In just its few short years as part of the festival’s program, The NEXT section has become the place where many of the freshest, boldest new voices appear at Sundance. That is certainly true with Alex Ross Perry and his film “Listen Up Philip,” which examines with sharp, literary insight and a blunt power love, ambition, the meaning of success and the ripple effects of bad behavior.
The story revolves around Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman), who is just having his second novel published. His selfish behavior has finally become too much for his girlfriend, Ashley Kane (Elisabeth Moss), and they break up. Philip reaches out to Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), an older, established writer he idolizes and who has recently befriended him, and goes to stay with him. The cast also features Jess Weixler, Krysten Ritter, Keith Poulson, Josephine de la Baume and Dree Hemingway.

The film is Perry’s third, after “Impolex” and the Spirit Award-nominated “The Color Wheel,” but it is his first to play at Sundance. Shooting on Super-16 film with cinematographer Sean Price Williams, the film has an anxious, sometimes slightly woozy feel to it as Philip spins out of control, a catalog of poor responses.
Perry, Schwartzman and Moss sat for a video interview this week at the L.A. Times’ studio on Main Street. Perry explained that rather than any sort of auto-biography, the film chronicles events, ideas and arguments he wishes to avoid.
“I put all the scenarios in the film in hopes that they would never actually happen to me,” said Perry. “I felt that if I lived them this way and spent two years with them, then I could avoid actually having that one argument with somebody. And I’ve found it to be cathartic. But unfortunately now I feel like they’re all going to happen.”
The film shifts away from Philip at times, spending time focused on Ashley or Ike, giving the film a structure more akin to a novel than many films. It also features a narration, read by Eric Bogosian, which adds to the film’s literary feel.

While shooting some of the scenes over which the narration would be heard, Perry would read it aloud on set, which allowed the actors to both get the timing right and also know exactly what to express.
“It was interesting because there are scenes that, as they are written, our characters would stare at each other for a long time, knowing there would be narration over it,” said Schwartzman. “And the narration in fact has a lot to do with what’s going on in our bodies, and Alex would read that narration on set and it was very helpful.”
“It was like an inner monologue and then you didn’t have to talk, someone else was talking and you’d just stand there and emote,” said Moss. “It was like a silent film in a way.”
“Emote control, we’d call it,” joked Schwartzman.
Perry noted how despite all of Philip’s bad decisions and bad behavior, he still wanted the audience to feel for him, although he draws a distinction between pity and sympathy.

“The last 10 minutes of the movie are when it’s time to lay all the cards on the table and see if anybody can see through him and forgive the preceding 90 minutes of misery that you’ve seen him cause people,” said Perry. “If the ending works, by the last scene people are just thinking, ‘I feel bad for that guy. He is not good at being a human being.’”
Schwartzman added, “I think you could also say, 'I don’t feel bad for him, but, wow, that guy has got it all wrong.'”
“I wanted it very clearly to be these are the worst times in all of these people’s lives,” said Perry. “Twenty years from now all of these people would say, ‘You know, probably the worst time in my life was this one period.’ And when the movie ends the worst period of their lives ends.”,0,450622.story#ixzz2rHOtBxWj Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Deadline - Sundance: Sony Pictures Classics Near Deal For ‘Love Is Strange’>

deadline | 23 January 2014 | by MIKE FLEMING JR

Sony Pictures Classics is acquiring Love Is Strange, the film scripted and directed by Ira Sachs that stars Alfred Molina, John Lithgow, Marisa Tomei, Cheyenne Jackson, Darren Burrows and Charlie Tahan. The timely film is about two longtime gay lovers who finally get married.

One of them then gets fired and is unable to pay the rent. The couple must move in, separately, with a nephew and his family in Brooklyn and the two gay cops next door. The film got a strong response when it premiered last Saturday at the Eccles Theater. The deal is being made by WME Global. The film also got a French distribution deal with Pretty Pictures right after its premiere. SPC previously acquired the opening-night film Whiplash, and then the comedy Land Ho! Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - The Wrap - Sundance Video: John Lithgow, Marisa Tomei, Ira Sachs Discuss Politics of Gay Marriage in Film >

The Wrap | 21 January 2014 | Wrap Staff

“The Love Is Strange” cast stops by TheWrap’s video lounge at Tao in Park City

Is America ready for a mainstream story about a middle-aged gay couple who face troubles once they finally marry? In “Love is Strange,” Ira Sachs’ new drama, Alfred Molina loses his job as a choir director in a school after he finally marries his longtime partner, played by John Lithgow.

The cast of the movie, including Lithgow, Molina, Sachs, Marisa Tomei and Darren E. Burrows came to TheWrap’s video lounge at Sundance to talk about the movie, which has been greeted high emotion along with several other films dealing with marriage equality. Facebook Link

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE - - Jarmusch is in the Sundance Spotlight with 'Only Lovers Left Alive'>

Park Record | 22 January 2014 | by Jay Meehan

The fact that a new film by American independent cinema icon Jim Jarmusch is screening in the Spotlight category at this year's Sundance Film Festival is certainly cause for much joy among the cognoscenti who have followed his every move since his "Stranger in Paradise" received a Special Jury prize at the Festival back in 1985.
Having premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival last May, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is, in the filmmaker's words, "an unconventional love story between a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. These two lovers are archetypal outsiders, classic bohemians, extremely intelligent and sophisticated—yet still in full possession of their animal instincts.

Did I mention it was a May-September relationship? Eve (Tilda Swinton), an obvious Cougar, has been around 3,000 years or so while Adam (Tom Hiddleston) only for only about 500.

"They have traveled the world and experienced many remarkable things," Jarmusch adds, "always inhabiting the shadowed margins of society. And, like their own love story, their particular perspective on human history spans centuries—because they happen to be vampires."

As they say, however, this isn't your father's vampire movie. "For our film, the vampire is a resonant metaphor—a way to frame the deeper intentions of the story. This is a love story, but also the story of two exceptional outsiders who, given their unusual circumstances, have a vast overview of human and natural history.

"Adam and Eve are themselves metaphors for the present state of human life—they are fragile and endangered, susceptible to natural forces, and to the shortsighted behavior of those in power."

To Jarmusch, who never met a film genre he couldn't tweak, there is always a back-story and a moral center to his work. And his range has always been remarkable.

From his prison comedy-crime-drama "Down Law" featuring Tom Waits , John Lurie , and Roberto Benigni to his post-modern western "Dead Man" with Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, and Crispin Glover and on to his rock-doc "Year of the Horse" with Neil Young and Crazy Horse and "Broken Flowers" with Bill Murray , Jessica Lange , and Sharon Stone , Jim Jarmusch, the poster child for "Idiosyncratic," has refused to repeat himself.

"Set in the very distinct cities of Detroit and Tangier, and taking place almost entirely at night, Adam and Eve must have human blood to survive." Did I mention the classic Jarmusch predilection to use place and mood as characters?

"But they now live in the world of the 21st century where biting the neck of a stranger would be reckless and regressive — for survival, they must be certain the blood that sustains them is pure and free of disease or contamination." Ah, there's the rub!

"It is the lovers who last the longest, who hold the most magical cards, who can shimmy through the gnarliest cracks and come up laughing," says Swinton of her character Eve's quest for survival with Adam. "It is the capacity to love that dies latest in a spirit. It is our capacity to love that we can rely upon right up until the final, rustiest wire — and beyond."

"Only Lovers Left Alive" contains the entire Jarmusch skill-set: perfect casting, sexuality, gorgeous cinematography, spellbinding music, off-center humor, drive-bys of the highest and lowest charkas, and reflections upon "art, science, memory, and the mysteries of everlasting love." And not only that, it never mentions the word "vampire," even once.

Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive" is one of the Spotlight films of the Sundance Film Festival. It will screen on Friday, Jan. 24, at the Broadway Centre Cinema 6, 9 p.m., Salt Lake City.

Saturday, Jan. 25, 8:45 p.m., Egyptian Theatre, Park City. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - indiewire - Sundance Review: Terrific & Remarkable ‘Listen Up Philip’ Starring Jason Schwartzman & Elisabeth Moss >

indiewire | 22 January 2014 | by RODRIGO PEREZ

Even the simplest melody can sound marvelous when played by a virtuoso, and in cinema, it’s amazing what well-trained, naturally gifted professional actors can do to with even basic material. Just look at the gigantic gulf between early Joe Swanberg movies featuring unrehearsed amateurs and his more recent, creatively successful films starring professionals: there’s a world of difference. Similarly, Alex Ross Perry’s terrific third feature, “Listen Up Philip,” is a quantum leap forward from his last feature, the micro-indie “The Color Wheel,” and it’s thanks in large part to great actors making the excellent script really sing.

Because aside from the terrific, attention-getting performances, it is a remarkable piece of work from this distinctive writer/director. A hilariously acidic look at the New York literary world and the complex and fragile egos within, “Listen Up Philip,” is a marvelously contoured picture and Perry’s most successful film to date by a wide margin. Jason Schwartzman in his best role since “Rushmore,” plays Philip, a bitter, narcissistic, up-and-coming novelist who is still consumed with anger despite his success. Normally internalizing his rage and saving it for his novels–as the affected literary narrator voiced by Eric Bogosnian informs the audience–on the rare occasion of meeting up with a pretty ex-girlfriend, Philip vomits up a backlogged torrent of abuse, recounting all the ways his ex-paramour was never supportive of his work. Emboldened by the feelings awakened from this change of heart, Philip even reconnects with an old friend from college to condemn him for not pursuing and securing his dreams of creative writing success (uproariously, this friend tells him to eat it and then shuffles on in his wheelchair).

Ostensibly proud of him for his excoriations, Philip's photographer girlfriend Ashley (a wonderfully nuanced Elisabeth Moss), is really just trying to mask the fact that their relationship is slowly deteriorating. And then, on the verge of the release of his second novel, “Obidant,” and convinced of its impending success, Philip is crushed by the news that the New York Times is going to give the book a negative review, and then heartened to hear that his literary idol, the Gore Vidal-like famed novelist Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce in what might be a career-best performance), loves the book and wants to meet him. Enamored of everything the elder statesman has to say, Philip soon accepts the generous offer to stay at Zimmerman’s upstate summer house so he can peacefully write, outside the noise of New York City (amusingly, Philip had no such issues before, but parroting his mentor, the young writer is soon incapable of spending time creatively in Manhattan).

While upstate, Philip’s strained relationship with Ashley falls apart further, as he starts to embrace the monstrously selfish qualities within himself that Ike is keen on encouraging and in general transforms into an even bigger asshole than the enormously self-absorbed one we first meet. Both a censure of and salute to the literary world, its neurotic creative types and the tiny/gigantic egos that need constant nourishment, “Listen Up Philip” is remarkably well-observed and rich. And the skewering of these appalling characters is often riotously funny.

Willfully difficult, arrogant, indifferent to promoting his novel and as self-centeredly assholish as possible, Philip is a piece of work, but also incredibly specific and well-drawn. This may be the most likable prick we’ve seen on screen since Steve Zissou in “The Life Aquatic.” Hewing close to a modern New York classic a la “Frances Ha,” the acerbic, witty, erudite echoes of Noah Baumbach and his belligerent characters are discernible. But Perry borrows from several influences to make something unique and idiosyncratic, so he's also a pricklier Woody Allen, a less fastidious Wes Anderson, and so on. In fact, one could facetiously call it "Philip Roth: The Movie" for all the similarities it bears his characters in its supercilious Jewish New York author incapable of meaningful connection with women; Roth's "Ghost Writer" even features a similar plot construct. Cassevetian in form, especially from his ‘70s period (though Perry also loves the close-ups of “Faces”), “Listen Up Philip” often features an aggressively roving camera not afraid of intruding into the face and never too concerned with focus. And shot on Super 16mm by Sean Price Williams (“Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo”), it looks great (unlike some other Super 16 Sundance films we won’t name) its grainy, instagrammy filters give it a timeless quality, even though it takes place in present day (you won’t see one cell phone though).

On top of how tremendously textured the writing and performances are, “Listen Up Philip” boasts an ambitious triptych structure shifting focus from Philip to Ashley and then to Ike (rounding back to Philip once again). And wisely the tone makes adjustments where necessary (Ashley’s section is far less neurotic, but lonelier as Philip's absence is deeply felt). At two hours length, Perry’s sprawling film (long for a comedy) does lose a little steam in its third act, but the tortured despair of the protagonist has to be fulfilled and it’s hardly a major blight on what is so effervescently creative till then. Featuring clever rapid-fire dialogue, ‘Philip’ has a wonderful vitality and scored by Keegan DeWitt ("This Is Martin Bonner," "ColdWeather"), it has a contrastingly languid, Miles Davis-esque jazz score that is further reminiscent of Woody Allen and sustains the idea of this refined and cultured milieu.

Co-starring Krysten Ritter, Joséphine de La Baume, Dree Hemingway, Jess Weixler and Kate Lyn Sheil, 'Philip' has a first-rate, up-and-coming indie supporting cast, but the troika of Schwartzman, Moss and Pryce, all at the top of their game, and their layered inter-dynamics are more than enough to suffice. Trenchantly reflecting on the mishandling of success, blind ambition, idolatry, hero worship and the complex and competitive nature of artists in romantic relationships, “Listen Up Philip” is brilliantly chock-a-block with resonant observations. And while Philip himself is unconditionally unpleasant, Schwartzman imbues his obnoxiousness with an undeniable charm that cuts the tart personality.

A deeply misanthropic portrait of narcissism, the brittle nature of artistic talent and the struggles of living in New York City, this toxic comedy pulls very few punches when it needs to get really nasty. Philip's unpleasant self-regard is such that he poisons every relationship with his insecurity, contempt for others and need to always circle every conversation back to his favorite topic: himself. ‘Philip’ also cuts deeply on the idea of being so selfishly obsessed with women that a healthy relationship with any single member of the opposite sex seems like an impossibility. To reuse the Baumbach parallel, if "The Color Wheel” was Alex Ross Perry’s “Kicking And Screaming,” then “Listen Up Phillip” fast-forwards straight to “The Squid & The Whale”; we don't have to wait a picture or two for the one where Perry has truly found his voice and fulfilled the promise of his enormous potential. He’s already made it. [A-] Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Esquire Magazine - We Talk to Jason Schwartzman About Listen Up Philip>

Esquire | 22 January 2014 | by James Joiner

The Sundance Film Festival is a week of what seems like hundreds of movie premieres, but there's always a few that stand out, be it because of the names attached, the PR blast, or an organic buzz. Listen Up Philip is a combination of all three, starring indie darling Jason Schwartzman and recently anointed Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss as a couple on the brink of implosion while Schwartzman's character, an unrepentant, as he puts it in the interview, "asshole," angrily awaits the publication of his second novel. He eventually goes to stay in a remote vacation home belonging to his favorite writer, played by Jonathan Pryce. We sat down with Schwartzman to talk to him about what drew him to a role that seems removed from his usual scope as well as the film itself. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - indiewire - Sundance Review: Jason Schwartzman Does Well Under The Literary Influence in Alex Ross Perry’s 'Listen Up Philip'>

indiewire | 22 January 2014 | by EMMA MYERS

“Hopefully by the end of this you’ll feel like you’ve just read a novel,” director Alex Ross Perry said before the premiere of his film, “Listen Up Philip.” Employing voice-over narration and an episodic structure that recalls the chapters of a book, Perry’s third directorial effort marries the best of showing and telling. Its titular character is a cantankerous novelist played by a hirsute and well-styled Jason Schwartzman. Petty, self-obsessed, and fixated on a very recognizable form of success, Philip’s increasing solipsism is defined by his relationships with those around him. Importantly, the protagonist disappears for a sizeable chunk of the film’s mid section (a device Perry borrowed from William Gaddis’ novel, “Recognitions”) and we learn as much about him in absentia as we do from being in his overwhelming presence. A languorous yet methodical comedy, “Listen Up Phillip” unfolds like a sociological proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

We first meet Philip en route to meet an ex-girlfriend for lunch in Manhattan. She’s late, and the interior perspective afforded to us by the deep voiced narrator (Eric Bogosian) explains the extent to which Philip takes her tardiness as a personal insult. By the time she sits down, he’s worked himself into a fury. Ego bruised, he gives into spite and decides not to give her the advanced copy of his new book that he’s already inscribed for her. “So, you don’t get this gift from me,” he tells her. The line is delivered with the spirit and intonation of “Rushmore’s” Max Fischer and indeed, Philip is exactly the kind of man Max might have grown up to become.

Philip’s growing distance from his girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss) stems from the fact that her career as a commercial photographer is much more fruitful than his own, which he views as a detraction from his sense of self-worth. Finding more validation in a newfound friendship with his literary hero, Ike (played by a note perfect Jonathan Pryce), Philip leaps at the invitation for a one-week writing getaway at Ike’s idyllic country house. A week turns into an entire summer and when summer bleeds into a fall teaching job upstate, Philip doesn’t discuss his decision to leave New York with Ashley so much as her informs her of it, packing his vintage suitcase and heading for the well-lettered hills.

Rather than dropping out on Ashley to immediately follow Philip, Perry wisely stays with her for a chapter, and as she revisits her memory of him the audience becomes privy to the qualities that attracted Ashley to such an unlikable man in the first place. It’s a crucial move which, coupled with Schwartzman’s charm in the role, saves his character from being totally alienating. For her part, Elisabeth Moss delivers a performance that is as subtly emotive as it is stoic, gradually revealing the extent to which Ashley and Philip’s differences perhaps stem from their similarities.

Philip is the kind of man who writes his life rather than living it. Playing the part of both the successful author and a character in one of his own books, he speaks in pre-scripted lines of dialogue and dresses in tweed even in the height of the summer heat. “Ever since high school I wanted to fall in love with a French girl,” he tells Ike one day, so when the opportunity for romance with a young French faculty member arises Philip pursues the idea of the relationship rather than the relationship itself.

An expert at self-curation, he similarly clings to a romanticized version of Ike that blinds him to the older man’s glaring faults. Ike is just as selfish as Philip, feeding off his sycophantic company more than anything else. The cynical spin on the traditional mentor-mentee relationship is played out to comedic avail and it’s only Ike’s daughter, Melanie (Krysten Ritter) who is able to shed real light on her father’s character, revealing the hurt beneath what Philip sees as the glamor of Ike’s literary success—namely the womanizing and egotism that destroyed her mother and left her neglected.

By creating a world with contemporary concerns and antiquated aesthetics (right down to the title font, which is a direct nod to the book covers of Philip Roth), Perry is complicit in the actualization of Philip’s idealized existence. It’s a world from which modern gadgetry has been wiped out: rotary phones replace cellulars and typewriters stand in for computers. Enhanced by Keegan DeWitt’s atmospheric jazz score, the film is steeped in a sense of nostalgia for the kind of literary life that no longer exists—and perhaps never really did—one of single malt scotch, doting female fans, and exclusively brown clothing.

Cinematographer Sean Price Williams’ hand held camera does justice to both the characters and the stylized interiors they inhabit, whether swirling gracefully around rooms or staying tight on faces. Although the film drags a bit in its second half, it nevertheless manages to articulate ephemeral notions of success, perception, and longing. Resembling the work of Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach and Woody Allen circa “Husbands and Wives” in style and tone, the script’s deadpan wit makes its appeal more cerebral than emotional. Like its central character, “Listen Up Philip” exudes a kind of highbrow affectation that charms more than it alienates.

GRADE: A- Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Hollywood Reporter - Fireside Chats: Jason Schwartzman on Almost Getting Arrested on the Set of 'Listen Up Philip'>

The Hollywood Reporter | 22 January 2014 | THR Staff

During a visit to THR's video lounge, Jason Schwartzman shares how he almost got arrested in New York while filming a scene in Alex Ross Perry's drama. The film, about a writer (Schwartzman) with anger issues, also stars Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce. "We describe it as the feel-bad movie of the year," jokes Schwartzman. Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - - Sundance Review: ‘Listen Up Phillip' > | 21 January 2014 | by Jordan Hoffman

"8.9 of 10" -> "I've never laughed so hard at a joke about allergy medication." -> "TOP PICK"

Writer/director Alex Ross Perry has some real Philip Roth affection going on – the credits of his films are in “that typeface” – so I’ll lay this out in appropriate language. If Perry’s savagely funny “The Color Wheel” was his “Portnoy’s Complaint,” then “Listen Up Philip” is his “Letting Go.”

If you aren’t adequately versed in the poet laureate of Weequahic, what that means is “Listen Up Philip” is big, sprawling and tortured, if a little lacking in focus – while funny in parts, it isn’t really a comedy. The plot of this 120 minute film (long for an indie these days) can be summed up in a sentence fragment, but the rich scene work and unpredictable storyline make for a probing inquiry into the film’s three main characters.

The titular Philip is Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman), an angry and arrogant novelist awaiting the publication of his second book. Will financial success follow? This isn’t a top concern, especially since the famed Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), a little bit modeled after Roth, claims to love the novel and wants to meet up. A mentor-pupil relationship begins, and Philip pulls up stakes from his Brooklyn apartment to tap away at his typewriter in Zimmerman’s country home. It’s just as well, as he and his live-in girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss, in a role miles from “Mad Men”‘s Peggy) have grown distant.

But growing distant is something Philip seems to be doing by design. The film begins with a series of blunt disconnections, as Philip lays into his few friends and basically tells them how horrible they are. It’s not an easy way to get to know a new character, but with Eric Bogosian reading pointed prose via narration, these acts (and all others) take on something of a larger, archetypal significance. Philip is a “type,” but Perry is unafraid to take the cliche of a prickly author head-on.

To his great aid, Schwartzman is absolute perfect casting. There’s a smidgen of his affable “Bored to Death” character in his snarky line readings, so when he’s being, let’s face it, a colossal douche, it’s impossible to fully dislike him. Even when he’s telling his publishers he refuses to do any press, even when he’s dismissing fans who didn’t read his first book, even when he’s cursing a colleague who dared to commit suicide, thus cementing his literary career.

There are rock-solid zings throughout the film. I tried jotting some down but the sheer number made this an impossibility. All I know is that I’ve laughed so hard at an allergy medication joke before.

As in “The Color Wheel,” Perry sticks with close-ups of faces with occasional prop inserts. The effect is a little claustrophobic, which works wonderfully for the uncomfortable party scenes and arguments in cramped apartments. “Listen Up Philip” also retains the earlier film’s joke-telling-through-editing, where unexpected cuts mid-sentence often reveal the direction of a full scene by showing you what you missed. (Kate Lyn Sheil gets one of the better exits in recent movies by just vanishing from the frame.)

“Listen Up Philip”‘s original and ubiquitous score reminds me of the Miles Davis-Gil Evans collaboration “Sketches of Spain,” just one of the movie’s many “classy” influences. Perry’s world is one without cell phones (hell, the film is shot on film!) and the absence of prevalent modernity eventually becomes a presence. (No talk of eBooks at the publishers’, either.)

Another interesting choice are the lengthy departures Philip takes from the center stage. Pryce’s Zimmerman and Moss’ successful photographer Ashley have their lives greatly changed by being near the black hole that is Philip, and the film takes its time to observe the ripple effect in their worlds.

If “Listen Up Philip” isn’t fun in the traditional sense, no doubt that is by design – “Philip” is a striking portrait of a guy you don’t really want to know, but the feeling is assuredly mutual.

SCORE: 8.9 / 10 Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Salt Lake Tribune - Sundance red carpet photos: "Listen Up Philip" with Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss premieres>

The Salt Lake Tribune | 21 January 2014 | by Rick Egan

Follow the link below to view the photo gallery ... Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Variety Review : John Lithgow and Alfred Molina steal our hearts as a gay couple forced to live apart shortly after taking their long-overdue marriage vows>

Variety | 20 Jan, 2014 | By Peter Debruge

"Truth springs from the title and trickles down into every pore of “Love Is Strange,” an uncompromising yet accessible slice-of-life expression from Ira Sachs, one of the most perceptive and personal directors working in American cinema. Here, the helmer branches out beyond his own lived experience to imagine a same-sex relationship 39 years strong as it is tested immediately following the couple’s long-overdue marriage. This beautifully observed ensembler shines on the strength of its two leads, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, who conjure four decades together as they enter the “for better, for worse” phase of their union.

Keenly aware that it is the “sexual” part of homosexuality that seems to offend the family-values crowd, Sachs has shrewdly focused on an example where hearts lead the way — so much so that the couple’s progressive New York family look to their old gay uncles as role models in romance. That’s not to say that painter Ben (Lithgow) and music teacher George (Molina) are an idealized pair. They still bicker and fuss, and in one of the film’s most moving scenes, an errant husband apologizes for his past indiscretions.

These two may as well be real people, which is precisely how Sachs and co-writer Mauricio Zacharias have conceived them, leaving room for the actors to breathe life into the roles. It takes a bit of time for audiences to acclimate, leaving the early scenes feeling somewhat stiff as Ben and George exchange vows, while characters we haven’t had a chance to meet clap and smile from the sidelines. Like a film by Altman or Cassavetes, Sachs’ movies can be overcrowded this way, as the director’s generosity makes it impossible to exclude anyone from the picture (apparent in the way the camera privileges virtual strangers with dedicated closeups in group scenes), though his gentle humanism recalls the more reflective empathy of “Tokyo Story” in particular this time around.

In short order, the key players emerge, courtesy of a family powwow in which the elderly newlyweds face the consequences of making their commitment public: Though the administrators at the Catholic school where George teaches music had long known he was gay, they’re forced to fire him after diocese officials gets wind of his marriage. Without George’s income, the couple can’t afford their mortgage and are forced to impose on their inner circle for a place to stay.

George crashes with “the policewomen,” as they affectionately refer to their butch gay-cop buddies (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez), while Ben lands with his workaholic nephew Elliot (Darren Burrows) and his write-from-home wife Kate (Marisa Tomei), where he shares a bunk bed with their teenage son, Joey (Charlie Tahan), who’s at just the age when privacy would be preferred. Though this makeshift arrangement could easily sustain a sitcom, Sachs and Zacharias confine the comedy to the realm of relatable human moments, such that laughs arise out of recognition rather than contrivance.

But isn’t the entire concept contrived? Maybe on paper, but in practice, “Love Is Strange” never feels anything less than authentic, like a true story shared by close friends. One can almost imagine the same thing happening to an evicted pair of grandparents (as it did in Leo McCarey’s “Make Way for Tomorrow”), though in that case, Kate probably wouldn’t be quite so uncomfortable with the idea of Ben asking Joey’s best friend (Eric Tabach) to pose for a painting. Although the couple’s friends and family are far from homophobic, living in such close quarters certainly strains their tolerance of one another. As Ben confides to George by phone one evening, “Sometimes when you live with people, you know them better than you care to.” Judging from Tomei’s delicately understated supporting turn, it can safely be assumed that the feeling is mutual.

More important than the challenges of living with others is the enormous difficulty of trying to live apart, however temporary the arrangement. In depicting that struggle — illustrated through lovesick evenings spent alone and unapologetically affectionate reunions — “Love Is Strange” poignantly makes the case for the validity of Ben and George’s relationship.

But theirs isn’t the only love that matters here. The script pays careful attention to the feelings of the other characters as well, especially young Joey, whose parents begin to suspect he might be gay, and his dad, who might be having an offscreen affair. Like the Eric Rohmer of modern Manhattan, Sachs opens his arms wide and embraces the emotional complexity of his entire ensemble, allowing the focus to shift organically between players. The film even shares a touch of the French director’s sun-dappled aesthetic, courtesy of “Before Midnight” d.p. Christos Boudoirs (not to mention his recurring seasonal motif).

Generally speaking, Sachs favors an unfussy style that privileges his characters over flashier aesthetic choices. The lone exception is the use of a rolling-piano score, composed primarily of Chopin numbers (a staple of George’s tutoring session), which invite yet another layer of reflection without hammering a specific emotional response. Ultimately, as embodied by the likes of Lithgow and Molina, love may be strange, though it could hardly be considered unnatural." Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - The Hollywood Reporter - Sundance: The Hollywood Reporter Fetes 'Listen Up Philip' Cast After Premiere>

The Hollywood Reporter | 20 January 2014 | by Rebecca Ford

PARK CITY – The Hollywood Reporter celebrated the premiere of Listen Up Philip -- Alex Ross Perry's comedy starring Jason Schwartzman as a self-involved writer -- with an intimate party at Cisero's downstairs bar on Main Street on Monday night.

The cast of the film -- including Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter and Joséphine de La Baume -- arrived with Perry at the exclusive event directly after the premiere, still riding high from the warm reception they received at the Library Theatre in Park City.

"I've never had a premiere of a movie of mine with more than a dozen people before," said Perry, whose 2011 film The Color Wheel was nominated for an Indie Spirit Award. "I felt very confident with what we had with this film."

Perry, who posed for photos with his cast before snacking on vegan hors d'oeuvres at the event, which was sponsored by American Airlines, told THR he had been in Park City for four days, which allowed him to see several films -- including Happy Christmas, The Guest and Wetlands -- before embarking on his own press tour for Listen Up Philip.

Moss told THR that the premiere was the first time she'd seen the film, and that she was very happy with the audience's reaction.
"That's always a bit scary," she said. "It seemed like they liked it. They laughed a lot, which is awesome."

Moss, who said she's about halfway through filming the next season of Mad Men, was still glowing from her recent Golden Globe win for Top of the Lake.

"I was so genuinely surprised," she said of her recent win.

She told THR that she was lucky that AMC's Mad Men was willing to give her a few days off to attend the festival, where she was promoting two films. Along with Listen Up Philip, Moss also starred in Charlie McDowell's directorial debut The One I Love opposite Sundance vet Mark Duplass.

"I just stand in one place and they switch movies around me," she joked. Facebook Link

LOVE IS STRANGE - Indiewire Review : Another winner from Ira Sachs at the Sundance Film Festival: Love is Strange, starring Alfred Molina and Officially John Lithgow>

indiewire | Jan 19, 2014 | By Eric Kohn

"Sundance Review: John Lithgow and Alfred Molina Give Their Best Performances In Years As Struggling Couple In Ira Sachs' Tender NYC Drama 'Love Is Strange'

New York filmmaker Ira Sachs' best work is steeped in understatement and introspective characters, from the disgruntled music producer played by Rip Torn in "Forty Shades of Blue" to the troubled gay couple in "Keep the Lights On." In between those two projects, Sachs took an uneasy step into more traditional big budget filmmaking with the quasi-Hitchcockian "Married Life." Like that movie, Sachs' new work "Love Is Strange" features name actors and a polished look, but it remains remarkably faithful to the strongest ingredients in his other work: Featuring extraordinarily sensitive turns by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as an aging married couple forced to vacate their Manhattan apartment, "Love Is Strange" is a sophisticated take on contemporary urbanity infused with romantic ideals and the tragedy of their dissolution.

The movie opens on the celebratory wedding day for Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina), who have been a couple for nearly 40 years and finally get to legally tie the knot. Surrounded by friends and family, including the 71-year-old Ben's grown nephew (Darren E. Burrows) and his wife Kate (Marisa Tomei, matching the movie's leads with a deeply believable mixture of delicacy and obstinance). Sachs lays out the prevalent happiness that defines the groups' lives: Ben, a painter, lives happily with his creativity while George maintains a steady job leading the choir at a local church. Seen charming their house guests after their marriage with a piano duet, their happy existence takes on utopian dimensions — an upbeat atmosphere that intensifies the gloominess to come.

Abruptly fired from the church where he's worked for years due to congregation members complaining about his sexual orientation, George is suddenly left without any resources to support their cozy world. This shift features Sachs' repeated means of skipping ahead to significance moments rather than weighing down his story with exposition: From George's tense exchange with his former employer about his faith, Sachs cuts to a scene in which George and Ben explain to their close friends that they've decided to sell their apartment. Suddenly forced into a nomadic state, the men have no choice but to split up — physically, anyway — by staying with different friends willing to squeeze them into their own tiny abodes.

George winds up in the living room of mutual acquaintance Ted (Cheyenne Jackson) — a uniform-clad, socially active gay man whose energetic lifestyle casts a significant contrast with George's settled ways — while Ben squeezes into his nephew's place, sharing a bedroom with his angst-riddled great-nephew, teenager Joey (Charlie Tahan). These ingredients don't lead to major twists so much as a series of observations about the ways that this imprecise arrangement impacts both men. Uneasy in their makeshift homes, they exchange doleful phone conversations while making awkward attempts to blend in. But with no professional hope on the horizon, their situation starts to feel more like a frozen state than any sort of limbo, which heightens the sense of unease about their prospects. While Ben struggles to remain invested in his freelance teaching gigs, George lies around feeling uninspired until he attempts to paint Joey's close teen friend, a decision that leads to consternation in his nephew's household.

Constantly uncertain of their next moves and always on the brink of hopelessness, the couple's quandary is written on the actors' faces: Molina, eyes routinely heavy as he gets lost in one train of thought after another, has a more complex screen presence than anything he's done on the big screen in years; Lithgow, playing a klutzy introvert on the verge of senility, emanates both depression and slapstick in his struggles to keep his mind going. This erratic quality gives "Love Is Strange" a fascinating perspective as it veers from a placid take on desperation to a galvanizing consideration of life's unpredictable ironies.

Sachs follows this conundrum with a patient rhythm while elaborating on the community of people surrounding the two men. The formidable supporting cast draw out the sense of great motion encircling the couple's increasingly static lives. Tahan, as George's angry, confused great-nephew, stands out as the film's great counter-point to the quieter struggles of the older men.
Filmmaker Ira Sachs.

Yet the environment of "Love Is Strange" is nearly as intrinsic to its appeal as the performances. Christos Voudouris' swooning urban cinematography, often set to a tranquil Chopin score, lends an air of elegance to the plot while pitting it against the main dilemma. Most scenes take place in the claustrophobia of middle class Manhattan apartments, an apt reflection of the couple's limited mobility as well as the shrinking personal space that typifies contemporary big city life.

But Sachs rarely overstates his themes. "Love Is Strange" is largely a restrained drama about the loss of comfort. "When you live with people, you know them better than you want to," George tells Ben, giving voice to their inability to make peace with any company except each other. It's a conceit expressed even better in visual terms, when George pays a late night visit to Ben and simply embraces him for seconds on end, weeping softly. Sachs' patient camera simply observes the couple, and for a moment the movie nearly freezes all semblance of narrative and transmutes it into sheer emotion. That "Love Is Strange" manages to squeeze in these tender asides while retaining a wholly straightforward narrative is indicative of the refined filmmaking capabilities on display.

Still, "Love Is Strange" gently pushes its story along by leaving major developments off-screen, making the texture of their ramifications especially pronounced. The result is a consistent look at the ceaseless passage of time that sometimes forces audiences to do too much guesswork and has a distancing effect. Nevertheless, the approach reaches a stirring outcome in the final, lyrical images that mark a generational transition from the older characters to the movie's youngest star. It's during this phenomenal ending, one of the best found in any recent American movie, that "Love Is Strange" progresses from a rumination on the past to celebrating the wonder of anticipating a sunnier future."

Criticwire Grade: A- Facebook Link

LISTEN UP PHILIP - Slash Film - ‘Listen Up Philip’ Teaser Trailer: Jason Schwartzman Does the Reclusive Writer Thing>

slashfilm | 17 January 2014 | by Germain Lussier

Jason Schwartzman‘s latest film will premiere Monday at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and a teaser trailer has been released to celebrate the occasion. The film is called Listen Up, Philip and it’s written and directed by Alex Ross Perry. Schwartzman plays a successful writer fed up with busy city life who goes into seclusion. Elizabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter and Jonathan Pryce are along for the ride. Facebook Link

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been announced. Before Midnight has been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.> Facebook Link

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Forest Whitaker and 'Before Midnight' team to receive BFCA honors at Critics' Choice Movie Awards> | 14 January 2014 | by Kristopher Tapley

""Before Midnight" scribes Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater have been tapped for the Louis XIII Genius Award, to be presented by actor Matthew McConaughey. Given inaugurally to Judd Apatow last year, the honor recognizes an unprecedented demonstration of excellence in the cinematic arts." Facebook Link

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Before Midnight wins best romance from the 15th Annual Golden Tomato Awards>

It also comes in First-Runner Up for all wide-release films in 2013. Facebook Link

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - Los Angeles Times - Bruce Dern and Judi Dench top AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards >

Los Angeles Times | 9 January 2014 | by Amy Kaufman

At the box office, young people still hold the buying power -- sending caped crusaders and archery-loving heroines to the top of the charts.

Iron Man and Katniss Everdeen don't mean much, however, to the editors at AARP's The Magazine -- the publication aimed at the 50-plus set. This week, the magazine released the winners of its 13th annual Movies for Grownups Awards, which -- no surprise here -- honor films for mature audiences.

Many of the winners on AARP's list have been staples on the award-season circuit over the last few months. The lead actress nod, for instance, went to 79-year-old Judi Dench for her performance in the British dramedy "Philomena," while 77-year-old Bruce Dern was recognized for his turn in "Nebraska." Meanwhile, Steve McQueen's critical darling "12 Years a Slave" -- considered a frontrunner for the best picture prize at the Oscars -- was named the ultimate movie for grownups.

There were, of course, some more, uh, interesting selections. Best buddy picture went to "Last Vegas," starring Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman as four friends celebrating a bachelor party in Sin City. Roughly 47% of the moviegoers who saw the film on its opening weekend in November were over the age of 50.

At 43, Ethan Hawke is the youngest nominee of the bunch, nominated alongside cowriters Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater for their "Before Midnight" screenplay.
AARP will host a gala to celebrate its honorees in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.

The full list of winners follows.
Best Movie for Grownups: "12 Years a Slave"
Best Actress: Judi Dench, "Philomena"
Best Actor: Bruce Dern, "Nebraska"
Best Supporting Actress: Oprah Winfrey, "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
Best Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper, "August: Osage County"
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity"
Best Screenwriter: Richard Linklater (with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke), "Before Midnight"
Best Grownup Love Story: Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini, "Enough Said"
Best Comedy: "The Way Way Back"
Best Intergenerational Movie: "Nebraska"
Best Documentary: "20 Feet From Stardom"
Breakthrough Accomplishment: Mary Steenburgen singing in "Last Vegas"
Best Foreign Film: "Renoir"
Best Buddy Picture: "Last Vegas"
Best Time Capsule: "American Hustle"
Best Movie for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up: "Saving Mr. Banks"
Judge's Award for Extraordinary Merit: "All Is Lost"
Reader’s Choice: "The Butler",0,3785146,full.story#axzz2pw6TNCiZ Facebook Link

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - HITFIX - Linklater, Hawke and Delpy discuss their 'Before' trilogy and why 'life is magic enough'> | 7 January 2014 | by Kristopher Tapley

For Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, the goal of three unique films — 1995's "Before Sunrise," 2004's "Before Sunset" and 2013's "Before Midnight" — that have followed the lives of Celine and Jesse, a pair of love-struck individuals, has been to make viewers feel like they know them. These are people trying to be understood, and the idea is "to get in on their communication," as Linklater puts it. The films have aimed to depict Celine and Jesse as fully as they can, and the result has been one of the most singular on-going cinematic experiences in the modern canon.
To that, Delpy adds that a desire for complexity has been at the forefront. "They're not melodramatic," she says. "It's kind of real and a very small window in the life of these people. It's very important not to make them flat characters."

Celine is unusual in that the opportunities to convey such a complex female character are so few and far between, particularly in the Hollywood sphere.

"The problem, probably, is very insidious," Hawke says, "which is that young women are told at a very young age that what's most interesting about them is being pretty. It's a kind of soul-gutting thing to do to our young women. Whereas men are never taught that. The man who overvalues his looks is really sneered at. If you just flip through the channels and how often you see a woman disrobing in some way or dead or in some state of violence being put upon her, it's shocking. It's rare to see a woman not in one of those positions. So that's what's so remarkable about Celine. And also she's a flawed person. It's not a glamorized portrait of a woman. It's a dimensionalized portrait."

It was obvious to everyone involved from the first film that Celine was heading in a direction that is not a simplified version of a human being. Linklater adds by way of caveat that it's rare that you get this sort of latitude to express a full like, but nevertheless, says Hawke, "I think one of the things Rick and Julie and I are most proud of is Celine, just what a fascinating figure she is."

The logic behind the first film certainly didn't necessarily make specific room for sequels. It was just an independent venture with three creatively motivated artists painting a portrait with passion. When the trio came back together for Linklater's animated feature "Waking Life" in 2001, which featured a brief interlude with Celine and Jesse, that got the gears turning on revisiting the story.

"That's when we looked at each other and said, 'Maybe we should do it,'" Linklater says. "That was the big leap, doing the second film. Committing to that in the vacuum of no one wanting it, except three people and maybe Martin Shafer at Castle Rock. It's the moment we realized Jesse and Celine are still alive that we have something to express through them at a new phase or where they are in life. And it's not that conscious. It just bubbles up amongst us and it's when we realize we're all on the same page, what the movie would be."

What's interesting is that each film has mirrored the film industry and where it has been with each release, Linklater says. "The first film, while only a $2.7 million film, was distributed by a major studio, Columbia Pictures, through Castle Rock," he says. "They had a deal there. Small release, but studios would release a small film, it's worth it to have in their library. The second film was Warner Independent, gone, but an indie release. And then this film, we had no industry financing whatsoever. It was like private equity money, then acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, thankfully. We've had similar results with the three films, but who financed it? Three very different things."

The collaboration since "Before Sunset" has been one that credits Delpy and Hawke as writers on the projects as well. The three were nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for that film and have just received a WGA notice for "Midnight."

Leading into the third film, Hawke sat down and watched the first two back-to-back. What it did for him, he says, is unlock the tone. "Those movies have a unique tone and they can withstand a certain kind of humor and not another kind, and a certain kind of cynicism but not another kind," he explains. "There's a unique world to those first two movies that the third one needed to fit into and then push beyond. So you can't break the tone or the spell dies. And what's funny is it changes who I thought Jesse was when I played him in 1995. It's different than how I look at him now. What I thought was confidence I now read as arrogance and insecure. Lots of things change."

On the writing recognition he and his partners have received over the years, he surmises that what people probably think is most unique is what they've done on the page. After all, "most of these movies would be kicked out of any decent screenwriting course in America," he says. "They don't follow any of the necessary rules. The idea of collaborating on a screenplay with your co-star would be rare, but to do it three times in 18 years, it's particularly rare. And it's become a great experience for us."

It feels a lot like getting a band back together every time, he says, and the bar is raised whenever they step back up to the plate. The fantasy and romance of "Before Sunrise" gave way to the added complexity of the tête-à-tête in "Before Sunset," and now, "Before Midnight" takes the stakes to a whole new level as a full-on battle of the sexes is waged.

With that in mind, it's interesting that "Midnight" is the first of the three that features any form of nudity, as Delpy launches into the argument that takes up the film's third act topless. She says it's funny, because no one in France ever asks about that, but it's nevertheless indicative of the spiked level of realistic intimacy the films have entered into.

"Here a lot of people ask me the question and say, 'Oh, don't you feel objectified,'" she says. "Little do they know I decided as much as those guys did! It's also there's a certain strength in a woman being naked starting an argument. I always remember that scene in 'Short Cuts' of Julianne Moore, the other way around, screaming at Matthew Modine. It's kind of like, 'Wait a minute. We're starting an argument but this person is naked.' It's kind of distracting and at the same time real and I think it does something to your brain, like, 'I'm in a real fight. This is not a Hollywood fight. This is not a movie. Those people are fighting.'"

Adds Linklater, "That scene starts out a love scene. People call it the fight scene but it certainly doesn't start that way. Like a lot of adult things, things swing kind of quickly. The moods, once you know someone, you can go from a great thing then one comment sends you down this alley and then it's hard getting back out of it. When you're falling in love with someone, it's different — confirmation bias. You're just looking for the connective tissue, what turns you on about someone, and everything's great. But longterm you can go the other direction. It was satisfying when people liked this one as much as the ones before because it's a less sexy era in your life. You're not falling in love. You're not breaking up. It's less dramatic."

But it's all part of the reality they're looking to forge. That's also why Linklater prefers to shoot so many of the films' scenes in long, extended takes, capturing all of the little nuances of performance and breaking the usual film language.

"It's to make it not seem constructed," he says. "Even though it couldn't be more elaborately a construct, scripted to the gesture."

"When I first saw 'Dazed and Confused,' I thought, 'You know what? Anton Chekov would love this movie,'" Hawke says. "What Rick is going for is exactly what Stanislowsky was trying to teach 100 years ago. It's getting rid of acting. Just getting rid of it. Why they would rehearse those plays for years was so they could stop performing."

On that note, the actor remarks that Linklater — with whom he has now collaborated on eight films, including the upcoming "Boyhood" — is developing into one of the great filmmakers of our generation.

"It's been one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional life, to watch that happen," he says. "When he first burst onto the scene in 'Slacker,' he was a really interesting voice. But a lot of times a voice rings out like that and never deepens or matures. Watching Rick grow and his compassion and his wisdom, he's evolving as a person and seeing things more deeply.

"And he's such an unflashy director. He's so simple and what he finds dramatic is so not in fashion today, you know? People want their movies to look like ads and they want everything to be glamorous, but he's kind of allergic to glamor. He's almost even allergic to drama. Whenever drama is highlighted and spruced up, it's almost saying that life isn't enough. It's not enough to be alive and spinning on this Earth. You have to be a CIA agent or involved in a helicopter crash. And Rick is the opposite of that. He sees daily life as infinitely fascinating and full of mystery. That's a wonderful viewpoint to be around. I love seeing life through his lens. It doesn't need any magic on it. Life is magic enough."

There are two upcoming opportunities to see the "Before" trilogy in all its glory. The series is currently screening at New York's Lincoln Center along with "Waking Life" (right next door to the theater where Hawke is currently performing in a production of "Macbeth," ironically enough). That series runs through Friday, Jan. 10. Additionally, the trilogy will be screening back-to-back on the closing day of the upcoming Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Feb. 9. Linklater, Hawke and Delpy will be on hand for a Q&A. Facebook Link

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - National Society of Film Critics - 2013 Awards>

The National Society of Film Critics on Saturday, January 4th, 2014, chose Inside Llewyn Davis as Best Picture of the Year 2013. See the following pages for all votes in Best Picture and other categories for outstanding film achievement.

The Society, made up of many of the country’s most distinguished movie critics, held its 48th annual awards voting meeting, using a weighted ballot system, at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Center as guests of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Scrolls will be sent to the winners.

Fifty-six members are eligible to vote, though a few disqualify themselves if they haven’t seen every film. Any film that opened in the U.S. during the year 2013 was eligible for consideration. There is no nomination process; members meet, vote (using a weighted ballot), and announce all on January 4th. There is no awards party; scrolls are sent to the winners.

Here is a list of the winners and runners-up, with vote counts from the final round.

*1. Inside Llewyn Davis – 23
2. American Hustle – 17
3. 12 Years a Slave – 16
3. her – 16

*1. Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis) – 25
2. Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) – 18
3. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) – 15

*1. Blue Is the Warmest Color – 27
2. A Touch of Sin – 21
3. The Great Beauty – 15

*1. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer) – 20
*1. At Berkeley (Frederick Wiseman) – 20
3. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel) – 18

*1. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke) – 29
2. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen) – 26
3. American Hustle (Eric Singer and David O. Russell) – 18

*1. Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel) -28
2.Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki) – 26
3. Nebraska (Phedon Papamichael) – 19

*1. Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) – 28
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) – 19
3. Robert Redford (All Is Lost) – 12

*1. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) – 57
2. Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color) – 36
3. Julie Delpy (Before Midnight) – 26

*1. James Franco (Spring Breakers) – 24
2. Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) – 20
3. Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) – 14

*1. Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) – 54
2. Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) – 38
3. Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) – 18
3. Léa Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Color) – 18

• Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel)

• To the Museum of Modern Art, for its wide-ranging retrospective of the films of Allan Dwan.
• “Too Much Johnson”: the surviving reels from Orson Welles’s first professional film. Discovered by Cinemazero (Pordenone) and Cineteca del Friuli; funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation; and restored by the George Eastman House.
• British Film Institute for restorations of Alfred Hitchcock’s nine silent features.
• To the DVD “American Treasures from the New Zealand Film Archive.”

• Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-liang)
• Hide Your Smiling Faces (Daniel Patrick Carbone)

DEDICATION: The meeting was dedicated to the memory of two distinguished members of the Society who died in 2013: Roger Ebert and Stanley Kauffmann. Facebook Link

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - DEADLINE - WGA Awards Film Nominations Announced>

Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have announced nominations for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen during 2013. Winners will be honored at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York City.


American Hustle, Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell; Columbia Pictures

Blue Jasmine, Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics

Dallas Buyers Club, Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack; Focus Features

Her, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.

Nebraska, Written by Bob Nelson; Paramount Pictures


August: Osage County, Screenplay by Tracy Letts; Based on his play; The Weinstein Company

Before Midnight, Written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Based on characters created by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan; Sony Classics

Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures

Lone Survivor, Written by Peter Berg; Based on the book by Marcus Lutrell with Patrick Robinson; Universal Pictures

The Wolf of Wall Street, Screenplay by Terence Winter; Based on the book by Jordan Belfort; Paramount Pictures


Dirty Wars, Written by Jeremy Scahill & David Riker; Sundance Selects

Herblock – The Black & The White, Written by Sara Lukinson & Michael Stevens; The Stevens Company

No Place on Earth, Written by Janet Tobias & Paul Laikin; Magnolia Pictures

Stories We Tell, Written by Sarah Polley; Roadside Attractions

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks; Written by Alex Gibney; Focus Features

Feature films eligible for a Writers Guild Award were exhibited theatrically for at least one week in Los Angeles during 2013 and were written under the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) or under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement of the Writers Guild of Canada, Writers Guild of Great Britain, Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild, or the New Zealand Writers Guild. Theatrical screenplays produced under the jurisdiction of the WGA or an affiliate Guild must have been submitted for WGA awards consideration.

Documentaries eligible for a Writers Guild Award featured an onscreen writing credit and were exhibited theatrically in Los Angeles or New York for one week during 2013. Theatrical documentaries must have been produced under the jurisdiction of the WGA or an affiliate Guild to be eligible for awards consideration.

The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, videogames, news, radio, promotional, and graphic animation categories. The awards will be presented jointly at simultaneous ceremonies on Saturday, February 1, 2014, in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE and in New York City at the Edison Ballroom. For more information about the 2014 Writers Guild Awards, please visit or Facebook Link

BEFORE MIDNIGHT - - 'Before Midnight' is easily one of the best films of last year> | 1 January 2014 | by David Voigt

It felt only fitting on this first day of the new year to revisit the love story that has enchanted movie going audiences for nearly a generation is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand for its third and easily its most compelling installment in "Before Midnight" which has resulted in quite simply one of the best films of the calendar year that we just finished.

Nearly two decades after their meeting on that train to Vienna and nine years after the events of "Before Sunset" we find Celine and Jesse (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) on vacation in Greece with their twin daughters and Jesse's 13 year old son from his previous marriage. Jesse is slightly melancholic as he sees his son depart for Chicago while in Greece and wanting to be closer to his son he suggests that they all move to America while Celine thinks it is a bit of a rash idea and Jesse will calm down once the initial shock of separation is over. As a departing gift, their Greek friends offer to take care of the kids for an evening and give them both a night in a luxurious seaside hotel, as Jesse and Celine wander through the idyllic countryside doing what couples do we also see the struggle to maintain that dying flame of romance and passion in the face of parenting, everyday responsibility and years of tiny resentments that eventually build up in every single relationship. The only questions remains is do Celine and Jesse push on together or does their story end, separately.

This third installment is both the sweetest, darkest, most realistic and very easily the best of the bunch. This ode to the imperfection of relationships and of life is such a grand sweeping narrative that even though the raw emotional nature of some moments are truly hard to watch, they are also incredibly rewarding all at the same time. Linklater who again co-wrote the film with his stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke gives us a firsthand tour as they navigate us through the complexities of the nature of not only their relationship, but relationships in general. Linklater shoots the stunning countryside in a near understated way that makes the audience not want to take our eyes off it even though it is so inconsequential to the crux of the narrative. With some very long camera takes, we are drawn into the relationship itself for better and for worse, feeling the ecstasy and the pain of it all in one fell swoop. Films like this have been done before, but they never work if the actors aren't up to the challenge and Delpy and Hawke do some of their best work to date in this stunning film.

As Celine and Jesse, both these actors bring this material to the next level making for some of the most griping and poignant entertainment that will be seen on screen this year. Mastering the second hand nuances of being in a couple comes through in such small yet powerful moments and through the uses of many long takes, we are placed directly in the awkward and painful ones as well. There was one particular use of nudity on Delpy's part that wasn't gratuitous, yet so powerful that was very reminiscent of a scene from the film "Short Cuts" where Julianne Moore was fighting with her spouse. Both Hawke (who is the midst of a bit of renaissance right now) and Delpy keep us engaged from minute one, we simply cannot look away.

Picture and sound on the Blu-Ray are top notch as expected, and the special features on the Blu-Ray include a feature length commentary track with writer/director Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, there's also a behind the scenes featurette and a Q&A session from a festival screening with the director and stars of the film.

"Before Midnight" transitions the characters and the audience away from some of the more idyllic elements of the story while grounding us in cold, hard reality of life, and it's not depressing in anyway shape or form but it is that moment where the relationship grows up and evolves into something more. That place where the imperfections that we all hold in various ways, shapes and forms are OK. Long after the credits roll and people leave the theater, will we all be talking about how this perfect film about the imperfections of us all, just might be the best film of 2013.

5 out of 5 stars. Facebook Link