PARIS (AFP) - France is to award US filmmaker David Lynch with the Legion of Honour -- its top civilian honour -- and induct British band The Police into the Order of Arts and Letters, officials said here Saturday.
Lynch, the man behind Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive and the cult television show Twin Peaks, will become an officer of the legion in a ceremony Monday, said presidential palace spokesman David Martinon.
President Nicolas Sarkozy will "pay homage to the immense talent of this great creator and filmmaker, but also to the artist who is accomplished in several disciplines", Martinon said in a statement.
"The president will recall the demanding approach of David Lynch, a creator who changes not only the style and form of filmmaking but also the cinematic genre itself," he said.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
2. The Kingdom - $17,694,000
3. Resident Evil: Extinction - $8,000,000
4. Good Luck Chuck - $6,300,000
5. 3:10 to Yuma - $4,160,000
6. The Brave One - $3,760,000
7. Mr. Woodcock - $3,000,000
8. Eastern Promises - $2,892,000
9. Sydney White - $2,685,000
10. Across the Universe - $2,050,000
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Instead, the film opts to squander any potential it had to explore the grand international themes that were set up in the film's excellent title sequence, and descends into a rote, predicable shoot-em-up.
Jamie Foxx stars as Ronald Fleury, an FBI agent who leads a team of investigators (played by Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, and Jason Bateman) into Saudi Arabia against the government's wishes to investigate a terrorist bombing that killed two of their agents. Once there, they face an unfamiliar culture that becomes increasingly hostile as they get closer and closer to catching the terrorist mastermind who plotted the attack.
It's a plot that's just begging to be connected to foreign policy and the history of the region. But it isn't. Berg manages to whittle down years of turmoil and political unrest into hyperkinetic gun battles with faceless Muslim extremists.
Why are these people the way they are? Why are they trying to kill us? Are they crazy, or did we help make them this way? Berg never tells us, nor does he even attempt to even ask those questions.
"Why does it matter?" You may ask. "Not every movie has to have any deeper meaning."
That's true. But I believe that it is an artist's responsibility to interpret the world around them, to process it and make sense of it. There are much bigger things at work in the world of The Kingdom, but we never see any of it. It's what separates this film from something like Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah, a film that takes a single event and ties it in to current events with beautiful subtlety. With so much relevance to today's world, The Kingdom the film should resonate more than it does. But it doesn't.
Berg does try in the final moments of the film to make a statement about the endless cycle of violence, but the moment is so hamfisted and forced that it comes out of nowhere, and doesn't mesh with the personalities of the characters as they have been developed up until then. It's a sad waste of a subject rife with possibility - a dumbing down of complex themes into violent action fodder for the masses - kind of like our own current foreign policy.
Hmmm...maybe The Kingdom has a message after all.
GRADE - **
THE KINGDOM; Directed by Peter Berg; Stars Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Ashraf Barhom, Ali Suliman, Jeremy Piven; Rated R for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language
Friday, September 28, 2007
Such was the case with Away From Her, actress Sarah Polley's tender and charming feature directorial debut, in which Gordon Pinsent plays a man coping with his wife's (Julie Christie) illness and deterioration from Alzheimers, as he watches her forge a deep connection with another man in her nursing home.
It is a unique and unexpected premise, and through the earnest performances of its two leads (especially Christie, who is simply luminous), it works perfectly. They are aided by a crisply written screenplay by the director herself, adapted from the short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alice Munro.What makes the film such an unexpected knockout, however, is its refusal to go for the obvious. This is not the best film to deal with Alzheimer's I have seen (that title goes to Richard Eyre's Iris, with Judi Dench giving the most stunningly accurate portrayal of the disease ever put to film), but it earns many of its points for taking the road less traveled. It does not wallow in the sadness of its story, but focuses on the positive. And it does not end it tragedy and death, it ends on a positive note, in a moment of recognition, a bittersweet glimmer of what once was. We know were the story will inevitably lead after the last frame has faded away, but we are sent away with hope, a poignant reminder of the power and pain of love.
Polley displays a keen understanding of the sense of confusion and loss that goes along with Alzheimer's, and she handles it well, guiding the film with a warmth, humor, and heart that takes a fresh approach to a very serious subject. Away From Her is a film that earns its tears honestly - and by presenting hope in the midst of despair, light in the midst of darkness, she has painted a portrait of Alzheimer's that rings painfully and beautifully true.
GRADE - ***½
AWAY FROM HER; Directed by Sarah Polley; Stars Julie Christie, Gordon Pinset, Olympia Dukakis, Wendy Crewson; Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Thanks to Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood-Elsewhere for linking to this video:
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Unlike many westerns of its time (it was released in 1949), it features a mix of character-driven drama and gunslinging action. It's a B-movie with a brain, and an exceptionally suspenseful and entertaining one at that.
The film is available on Criterion's excellent Eclipse collection - The First Films of Samuel Fuller, a series that releases overlooked films films from specific directors or themes. The people at Criterion have done a typically excellent job of restoring the film and transferring it to DVD. The set also comes with The Baron of Arizona (1950) and The Steel Helment (1951).
Set in Ireland in 1920, The Wind that Shakes the Barley is, on the surface, a tale of the Irish rebellion against the British, and the radicalization of a young doctor (Cillian Murphy) as he joins the IRA to drive the British from their homeland and establish a free Irish state. But what Loach creates here is not a mere historical document; instead he draws very clear parallels between the Irish rebellion and the current Iraq war - a band of guerrilla fighters fighting against an occupying force who labels them terrorists. It's a disturbing and thought provoking parallel, and it gives the film an immediacy that, even though it takes place 87 years ago, makes it urgently and vibrantly current.
It's one of the many points to ponder in The Wind that Shakes the Barley, one of the richest cinematic feasts I have seen in a while. It is a powerful, haunting work, and a dire warning of history repeating itself.
THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY; Directed by Ken Loach; Stars Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, Gerard Kearney, William Ruane; Not Rated
Black Book is a slickly produced historical melodrama set in occupied Holland near the end of WWII. Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten), a young Jewish woman in hiding from the Nazis, who after the death of her family, joins the Dutch resistance and dyes her hair blonde to infiltrate the Gestapo headquarters, where she falls in love with the German commander of the SS.
Oh yes, it's every bit as lurid and pulpy as one would expect from Verhoeven, with its classic Hollywood production values and lush cinematography with reds that pop off the screen like the Technicolor epics of yore. And of course sex. Lots and lots of sex. But Verhoeven never cheapens his subject. Its got Hollywood sensibilities up one side and down the other (despite being a Dutch production), but he uses those to his advantage. Black Book is a thrilling, old fashioned nail-biter, filled with intrigue, suspense, and romance.
Unlike many other films on this subject, however, Black Book is an unabashed movie-movie. It's not on the level of the granddaddy of all Resistance films, Jean-Pierre Melville's mesmerizing 1969 masterpiece, Army of Shadows, but it holds its own. Realism is not Verhoeven's first concern here, entertainment value is. But he never sacrifices credibility for it. He earns his suspense honestly, through our genuine empathy for his characters. It is not as immediate or as grim as Army of Shadows, but it paints an intense portrait of the near-impossible challenge faced by the underground Resisance fighters.
It all makes for a fantastic espionage thriller, and van Houten makes an appealing lead. It is her character we feel the most for, and she provides the backbone for the film, while Verhoeven almost single handedly redeems himself for Showgirls. The film manages to turn German occupied Holland circa 1944 into a fast-paced thrill ride without sacrificing the emotional core and very real human toll. He takes the material of throw-away beach reads and turns it into a sharply crafted, lushly filmed nailbiter with wonderfully old fashioned sensibilities. One could almost imagine Black Book being made in the late 40s sometime. It's a Hollywood throwback that out-Hollywoods Hollywood.
And in this day and age, isn't that saying something?
GRADE - ***½
BLACK BOOK; Directed by Paul Verhoeven; Stars Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Halina Reijn, Thom Hoffman, Waldemar Kobus; Rated R for some strong violence, graphic nudity, sexuality and language
In Dutch, German, and English w/English subtitles
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
LONDON, England (AP) -- A special effects technician has been killed in a crash during production of the latest Batman film, Warner Bros. said Tuesday.
The studio said the man, who was not identified, died when a truck carrying a camera platform crashed into a tree while following a stunt vehicle on Monday.
Filming on the movie, "The Dark Knight," was not taking place at the time, and no actors were involved in the accident.
The accident took place during a test run at a racetrack near Chertsey, south of London.
The studio said producers, cast and crew "are deeply saddened by this tragedy and their hearts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased."
Britain's Health and Safety Executive said it was investigating the accident.
September 25, 2007 -- A BIG-mouthed extra working on the new "Indiana Jones" flick has blown his fledgling movie career to smithereens by spilling the film's major plot points. Director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas made the entire cast and crew of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" sign nondisclosure agreements. But Tyler Nelson - cast as a "dancing Russian soldier" - gave an interview to his hometown newspaper, the Edmond Sun in Oklahoma, in which he revealed that...
Spielberg's spokesman, Marvin Levy, wouldn't say whether any of Nelson's spoilers are accurate, but noted: "Who knows whether that particular person will ever work in this town again?"
Monday, September 24, 2007
Who are these men? The film never tells us. The poster bears the tagline: "we are not who we appear to be." But we are never told who these men are outside their shadow world of bestiality. The dead man, known only as Mr. Hands, is shown to be a family man with a wife and child, but we are told nothing about his outside life, or the lives of the other men. They are defined solely by their affinity for sex with animals. As such, the movie loses its chance to explore deeper themes of lonliness and alienation that it only hints it.
To his credit, Devor handles the subject well. The film was nicknamed the "horse-fucking movie" after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, which is unfair. It is not a graphic film at all, despite the "MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY" warning emblazoned across the DVD cover. It is delicate and haunting, an eerie mood piece that displays a keen stylistic eye on the part of Devor. But it left me ultimately unsatisfied. At only 76 minutes long, it feels slight and unfulfilling, leaving vast oceans of material unexplored. We really know no more about these men than we did before. They have sex with horses - but where's the why, where's the debate? Zoo raises all kinds of interesting questions - the kind that make you examine and question beliefs of right and wrong. But it never explores them. It asks us to examine why we believe what we believe, but it never asks the same of its subjects. What we are left with is a beautiful and quietly unnerving film about a forbidden subject...that leaves us wishing there was more to it.
GRADE - **½
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Here is the trailer:
Monday, September 17, 2007
His last film, Cache, was one of the creepiest films in recent years...and this looks just as disturbing. Haneke is shaping up to be the modern Hitchcock.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
For a complete list of winners, click here.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 11 — The Academy Awards haven’t exactly turned into a yearly show with Jon Stewart. But Mr. Stewart, the political satirist and star of “The Daily Show,” is getting another shot at the Oscar podium.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which bestows the Oscars, is expected to bring back Mr. Stewart, who was host of the ceremony in 2006. An is scheduled for Wednesday, according to two people involved with the plan who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the news media.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Sounds a little hokey to me...but we'll see. In the hands of Spielberg it still has great potential.
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Jane Wyman, an Academy Award winner for her performance as the deaf rape victim in "Johnny Belinda," star of the long-running TV series "Falcon Crest" and Ronald Reagan's first wife, died Monday morning at 93.
Wyman died at her Palm Springs home, said Richard Adney of Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Cathedral City. No other details were immediately available.
Wyman's film career spanned from the 1930s, including "Gold Diggers of 1937," to 1969's "How to Commit Marriage," co-starring Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason. From 1981 to 1990 she played Angela Channing, a Napa Valley winery owner who maintained her power with a steely will on CBS' "Falcon Crest."
Her marriage in 1940 to fellow Warner Bros. contract player Reagan was celebrated in the fan magazines as one of Hollywood's ideal unions. While he was in uniform during World War II, her career ascended, signaled by her 1946 Oscar nomination for "The Yearling."
1. 3:10 to Yuma - $14,100,000
2. Halloween - $10,034,000
3. Superbad - $8,000,000
4. Balls of Fury - $5,693,000
5. The Bourne Ultimatum - $5,478,000
6. Shoot 'Em Up - $5,450,000
7. Rush Hour 3 - $5,330,000
8. Mr. Bean's Holiday - $3,387,000
9. The Nanny Diaries - $3,321,000
10. Hairspray - $1,950,000
Source: Box Office Mojo
James Mangold's excellent Western, 3:10 to Yuma, took the top spot at the weekend box office with a relatively weak $14.1 million, especially considering last weekend's record setting Halloween victory with $30.5 million. The only other new release on the charts, Shoot 'Em Up, barely made a splash with $5.5 million.
As for older films, Superbad, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Hairspray are all holding on just fine, reaching totals of $103,668,000, $210,099,000, and $114,881,000 respectively.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
SILVER LION for Best Director to:
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE to (ex aequo):
COPPA VOLPI for Best Actor:
COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress:
MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD for Best Young Actor or Actress:
OSELLA for Best Cinematography to:
OSELLA for Best Screenplay to:
SPECIAL LION for Overall Work to:
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Candy corn's not the only thing giving Rob Zombie a sweet tooth these days. His remake of Halloween has spooked up more than $30 million, the biggest Labor Day weekend opening ever. And with his newly cemented two-picture contract with Dimension Films, one might assume that Zombie, who directed 1000 Corpses and its sequel, The Devil's Rejects, now considers horror his foolproof way to the top.
Not the case, it turns out. Though Dimension may try to terrorize Zombie into more of the Michael Myers franchise, the director has higher aspirations. ''I'm not going to do any more Halloween movies, or any more remakes of any kind. I signed up for two more pictures, but not two more Halloween pictures,'' he says. ''They're going to be original stuff — and I don't necessarily know that they're going to be related to the horror genre either.''
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Monday, September 03, 2007
1. Halloween - $26,503,000
2. Superbad - $12,200,000
3. Balls of Fury - $11,605,000
4. The Bourne Ultimatum - $10,183,000
5. Rush Hour 3 - $8,560,000
6. Mr. Bean's Holiday - $5,930,000
7. The Nanny Diaries - $5,108,000
8. Death Sentence - $4,180,000
9. WAR - $3,610,000
10. Stardust - $3,008,000
Source: Box Office Mojo
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Rarely has a book sprung so vividly to life, but also worked so enthrallingly in pure movie terms, as with “Atonement,” Brit helmer Joe Wright’s smart, dazzlingly upholstered adaptation of Ian McEwan’s celebrated 2001 novel. Period yarn, largely set in 1930s and ‘40s England, about an adolescent outburst of spite that destroys two lives and crumples a third, preserves much of the tome’s metaphysical depth and all of its emotional power. And as in Wright’s “Pride & Prejudice,” Keira Knightley -- echoed by co-thesp James McAvoy --proves every bit as magnetic as the divas of those classic mellers pic consciously references.
"Atonement," Ian McEwan's best-selling novel of love thwarted by juvenile fantasy, has been rendered on screen so well by director Joe Wright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton that it ranks with the best novel adaptations of recent times... With compelling and charismatic performances by Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as the lovers, and a stunning contribution from Romola Garai as their remorseful nemesis, the film goes directly to "The English Patient" territory and might also expect rapturous audiences and major awards.
It also happens to be the first comedy. Enjoy this piece of cinematic history:
Saturday, September 01, 2007
There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless. Jean-Luc Godard burst onto the film scene in 1960 with this jazzy, free-form, and sexy homage to the American film genres that inspired him as a writer for Cahiers du cinéma. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, anything-goes crime narrative, and effervescent young stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, Breathless helped launch the French new wave and ensured cinema would never be the same.