Latest Features

The Top 10 Films of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival

Written by TFS Staff, May 25, 2015 at 8:00 am 

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After nearly two weeks of viewing some of the best cinema will have to offer this year, the 68th Cannes Film Festival has concluded. With Jacques Audiard‘s Dheepan taking the top jury prize of Palme d’Or (full list of winners here), we’ve set out to wrap up our experience with our 10 favorite films from the festival, which extends to the Un Certain Regard and Directors’ Fortnight side bars.

It should be noted that Mad Max: Fury Road and Inside Out, which both screened out of competition, were among some of our favorites of the festival, but considering they’ll be getting enough attention thanks to their marketing campaigns and wide release, we’ve elected to give room to other titles. Check out our top 10 films below, followed by the rest of the reviews and all of our features. One can also return in the coming months as we learn of hopeful distribution news for all of the mentioned films.

Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes)

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Miguel GomesOur Beloved Month of August and its ecstatically received follow-up Tabu showcased the director’s love of storytelling as a means of contemplating reality. In these films, by whimsically intermingling and reinventing cinematic traditions as well as throwing in an abundance of personal innovations, Gomes wove tales that reflected on defining aspects of Portuguese culture with irresistible idiosyncrasy. The six-hour triptych Arabian Nights continues in the same vein, though with far greater ambition. Fascinating even in its misfires, this sprawling and fantastical document of the country’s plight in the wake of the global financial crisis confirms Gomes as one of the most exhilaratingly inventive filmmakers working today. – Giovanni C. (full review)

The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-Hsien)

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The Cannes Film Festival represents the pantheon of arthouse cinema, so it does raise eyebrows when a wuxia movie is included in its official selection. After all, this is a genre known for superhuman speed and loud, physical forms of expression, stuff that fantasies are made of but not exactly traits one associates with fine arts. That’s until Taiwanese maestro Hou Hsiao-Hsien came along to deliver his version of kung fu. The resulting The Assassin (translated from Nie Yinniang) turns out to be the quietest, most introspective and deliberately-paced film in competition, a feat so rare and radical it casually revolutionized decades of filmmaking tradition. – Zhuo-Ning S. (full review)

Carol (Todd Haynes)

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To be an actress and land a leading role in a Todd Haynes film must be a dream come true. With Safe, Far From Heaven, and his five-part miniseries Mildred Pierce, Haynes has proven himself to be one of the very few male directors not only interested in but capable of endowing women protagonists with genuine and far-reaching complexity. In doing so, the performances he’s drawn from his actresses – Julianne Moore in the first two titles and Kate Winslet in the lattermost – have been amongst the very finest of their careers. These virtues are again masterfully exhibited in Carol, his sublime adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)

The Chosen Ones (David Pablos)

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It is difficult to equitably handle and deal with particular subject matter in a film without feeling exploitative. Yet David Pablos has managed to walk this fine line with his new film The Chosen Ones, which sensitively deals with the issue of forced-prostitution and sexual slavery. The drama follows a young boy Ulises (Oscar Torres) who is from a family whose patriarch is heavily involved in human trafficking. His father and older brother both lure women into prostitution by seducing them and then threatening their families and loved ones if they don’t agree to “work” for them. Ulises’ first victim is a 14-year-old girl named Sofia (Nancy Talamantes) but he is still relatively innocent and thus, when it is too late, he attempts to help Sofia. His father offers him a proposition that if he can find another girl to replace Sofia with he will let her go. – Raphael D. (full review)

Dheepan (Jacques Audiard)

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Until losing its cool in the third act and ending on a relatively soft note, French veteran Jacques Audiard‘s Dheepan is a muscularly directed dramatic thriller about the difficulties of starting over and the inevitability of violence. Clear-eyed, tightly wound, and cinematically and psychologically immersive, it’s a furious ride of a movie that actually has something to say.- Zhuo-Ning S. (full review)

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Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Justin Kurzel Discuss Making ‘Macbeth’ at Cannes

Written by Raphael Deutsch, May 24, 2015 at 6:25 am 

Cast members Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender pose during a photocall for the film "Macbeth" in competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes

The second feature film from Snowtown director Justin Kurzel, an adaptation of a work from the world’s most famous playwright, Shakespeare, Macbeth, arrived to great praise at Cannes Film Festival this weekend. We said in our review, “The director approaches the classic tale of murder and moral decline with the same level of visceral stylization that distinguished his debut, pulling off perhaps the fiercest cinematic translation of Shakespeare to date.”

The film stars Michael Fassbender as Macbeth and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, both of whom attended the press conference at the festival, alongside Kurzel and producer Ian Canning. We learned some fairly interesting things as the actors as well as the director revealed some intriguing insights into the way they approached their characters and their motivations. Check out the highlights below, along with the full press conference.

On the most challenging aspect of making the movie

Justin Kurzel started by saying, “Doing an intimate play, like this, outside in Scotland in the middle of winter was extremely difficult, but important. And I just think that dance between this beautiful, tragic love story and these incredible words with trying to find a cinema that felt as though it was natural to the story we were telling. That was quite challenging.”

Michael Fassbender, for his part, offered up this: “I guess dealing with the language first. It’s a bit rich, me saying, seeing as though Marion tackled it but it starts with the language. That was the sort of puzzle to break the rhythm of that and find the rhythm. And then to explore the avenues in the day were explored. I think I said it before that the very uplifting thing about Shakespeare is the fact that there are so many different ways you can do it; there are a thousand different choices in the language and the language can be interpreted in different ways. So it was kind of depressing at the end of the day to explore but also uplifting and, I think, a testament to Shakespeare. It`s why we are still doing the play today because the language is so extraordinary and the tale is so extraordinary.”

Marion Cotillard talked about the language problem as well, saying, “It’s a very intimidating play. The characters are intimidating too. I’d never felt so much pressure when trying to embody a character. Then we had time to do our work, technically speaking, the text was difficult for me; first of all it is English with a specific accent and I am always afraid of not managing to pay tribute to a given text, particularly when we are talking about Shakespeare. So that was perhaps for me what intimidated me the most.”

On whether there is a psychological toll playing a character with so much blood on their hands

macbeth_1Cotillard began by talking about the nature of acting as a profession: “It’s true that when you are an actor, it is a job, it’s a profession. When you are on a set you spend all day embodying someone, a character, so part of us is obviously going to be affected by that character. For me, this is the first time in a film that I have found it difficult to slip into the character. I’ve often played dramatic characters but never perhaps to this extent. All the characters I played so far were full of light or held up some hope but in this case all is gloom. Also the character loses control of the situation. I found it difficult in any event to prepare for the film and let myself be swept away by the character.”

Fassbender talked about his approach to the character and his psychology, adding, “I came across this play twice before I took this on. I came across it when I was 15 as part of the curriculum at school and then once again when I was in drama school. But never did it occur to me that this character is suffering from PTSD. It was Justin that said that to me in one of our first conversations and that changed everything for me. It’s not only the killing of many people, or you have a soldier that is engaged in battle month-in-month-out day after day, but the fact that the battle takes place in his bare hands. The sword is a weapon of choice and what it takes to pierce someone’s skin, drive the sword through somebodies muscle, break through their bone and then take the sword out of them. If the sword fails pick up a rock and smash it over someone’s skull.”

“Those kinds of images,” he added, “I definitely tried to dig up and explore to try and find that fractured character right at the beginning. And the idea that he is seeing hallucinations – we know from soldiers today coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan – that describe post-traumatic stress disorder and the fact that they have these hallucinations and they can be walking down the Croisette here and next thing it’s Basra, and it’s real time Basra. And so that made so much sense at the beginning with that character the fact that: is he seeing the witches? Are they there or not? And his sort of unhinged behavior. Do I carry some of that home with me at the end of the day? It’s inevitable that some residue is there but I’ve worked hard to try and leave everything on the floor on the day so a lot of times I spend in preparation so when I come to the day’s filming I can really sort of leave everything there and explore everything, but I try and sort of meet friends at the end of the day and I wouldn’t have many left if….but inevitably there is a residue.”

On whether Macbeth is an anti-hero

Fassbender agreed with the evaluation to a degree, saying, “I think he is…I think it’s the classic tale in terms of: Duncan is the king and enjoys the spoils of that title and position, and Macbeth is his general who sort of basically keeps the borders safe and continues his battle campaigns and keeps his kingship alive without the spoils of being a king. I think we have seen that sort of tale in real life and history, in drama stories quite a lot, so that was a knowing place to start from. What sort of anti-hero is he? I think he’s somebody that, as you said, is very fractured, from the beginning, because of his job, because he is a soldier and because he hasn’t been allowed to mourn with his wife the death of at least one of their children. We know that Lady Macbeth has lost one child and probably many more but all these things sort of culminate together to sort of a story of loss. People always talk about this as being as story about ambition — yes, that’s true and where your ambition can lead you and what you hope for and what the reality of that hope is, but I think it’s a story of loss: the loss of a relationship between a couple, the loss of their child, and the loss of their sanity. That’s how I see it.”

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Gaspar Noé and Cast Discuss Making ‘Love,’ the Use of 3D, and More at Cannes

Written by Raphael Deutsch, May 22, 2015 at 2:01 pm 

Director Gaspar Noe, cast members Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman and Klara Kristin pose during a photocall for the film "Love" out of competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes

The newest film from the Argentinian-born French director Gaspar Noé, the 3D melodrama Lovepremiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival to quite a divisive response. Following a love story involving three individuals, it was thought to garner attention for its explicit sex scenes in the film, but we said in our review it “doesn’t say nor show anything new.”

Regardless of what audiences think of it when it arrives,tThis is not the director’s first rodeo with controversy as almost every one of his films has, in some way or another, shocked certain sections. Attending the Cannes press conference for the film was producers Vincent Maraval and Edouard Weil, actors Karl Glusman, Klara Kristin and Aomi Muyock and, of course, the director. We’ve highlight the best sections and they can be seen below, following by the full press conference.

On the explicit nature of the film and presenting it in Cannes

Noe began by expressing his joy at being at the festival: “Being in Cannes is a lot of fun. I spent twenty hours a day shooting the film and the fact that it’s in Cannes scared me. I thought I better do six months worth of work in one month.” On the explicit nature of the film he began by talking about the financial reality of the “porn” label and how it differs from it, saying, “We sold the project as a mellow pornographic film and I thought it would sell like hotcakes. But Vincent told me as soon as you say pornographic people get scared. I read lots of pornographic books and watched lots of films when I was young, but the film talks about being in love, from a sexual stance.” He further explained: “And of course to represent sex it’s hard to not do a film with genitalia, with what is real, what is fake. We have seen Lars Von Trier‘s film in which things loom larger than life. There are all sorts of things in my film, things that are real, that are artificial. Basically what is riveting is what you see in the images. We wanted to make sure the love scenes and the feeling of being in love were well represented. I wanted to show feelings. I have never been raped, I have never suffered from incest like some of my characters and being in love is kind of an amazing thing to portray — this has happened to me.”

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On utilizing 3D

Noe explained his reasoning behind why exactly he shot the film in 3D: “There is something childish about 3D. It’s like a game. It’s hard to beat Enter the Void in terms of filming but I thought, what is the next game that might be fun? The idea of making a film showing these very erotic scenes, that didn’t excite me; I’ve done movies that show that kind of image, but I thought, ‘what can I do that will amuse me? What new language can I find?’ I took lots of photos with 3D cameras, and standard cameras and even video cameras, which you see in the film – it cost 500 euros – and this camera produces really troubling images when you see it in 3D because it looks more real than real life. I even saw pictures of my mother using this technique and I find it difficult to look at them because they are so moving.”

On whether the film is transgressive

Noe explained that, to him, the film was not really transgressive in any way: “I don’t have the feeling there is any transgression in the film. I don’t see any transgression in terms of my life and what I love in cinema; Pasolini, Buñuel and many have gone this way. All I did was use a small 3D camera. There is nothing in the film that hasn’t been seen elsewhere. Perhaps, however, it is the way I went about it. The film was shot with a tiny little budget. We used 3D cameras and maybe the fact that it is filmed in 3D makes it look like it’s a film from Hollywood, and it’s in English to boot, like a major production. But that’s not the case: we shot it really fast and I don’t think it is a form of transgression in any way. In fact everything is very joyful.” To a certain degree, his point is valid. Considering the proliferation of sexually explicit images, the fact that it is not talked about is more a reflection on societal expectations or norms than the film being transgressive. However it is understandable why it could be perceived otherwise as explicit sex is still somehow taboo in certain markets.

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New to Streaming: ‘Inglourious Basterds,’ ‘Leviathan,’ ‘The Double Life of Veronique,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, May 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm 

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With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.

The Blue Room (Mathieu Amalric)

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Clocking in at a brisk 75 minutes, the film wastes little time in propelling forward its whodunit? narrative. It begins with two lovers, Julien and Esther (Amalric and Stéphanie Cléau), in a hotel room, their faces often cut out of the frame, their body parts fragmented, their beings usually depicted in isolation. When they both find their way into focus, they barely have enough room for the “classic” 1.33:1 ratio, suggesting isolation and an impending sense of the walls closing in. Heightening this is that, despite the narrower sight, shots nonetheless almost feel as if they may have been composed for 1.85:1 — people are cut-off and closed-in, eye lines are hidden from us, surroundings are short-sighted, and details are easy to miss. – Forrest C. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieślowski)

On the surface, it’s the story of Weronika and Véronique (both played by Irène Jacob). Just beneath that, it’s about the connection music creates between two unrelated people. By extension, Double Life becomes an operatic ode to life and art, perhaps the greatest achievement of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s longtime DP, Sławomir Idziak, who shamelessly uses a number of filters, and of Zbigniew Preisner, who composed the score. Less concerned with hermeneutics than utilizing sound and image to create cinematic poems and draw us into the mindset of two inexplicably but undeniably connected women. Weronika and Véronique meet only briefly, but that only emphasizes the film’s lyrical aims, concerned far more with the inner workings of thought and feeling than with narrative drama and suspense. One could talk at length on a number of gorgeous images, but, to modify an oft-used quote (with no clear attribution), “talking about The Double Life of Véronique is like dancing about architecture.” It’s better to let it wash over you, fall into its spell, and stay there, hypnotized, until the end credits roll. – Forrest C.

Where to Stream: Hulu+

Girlhood (Céline Sciamma)

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With Girlhood, writer-director Céline Sciamma (Tomboy, Water Lilies) deepens her preoccupation with coming-of-age stories focusing on strong, young female leads. Her characters are always outsiders looking to fit in, and each have intense love interests. In her latest, she explores a poor, minority community in France through a drama that could easily prove maudlin and over-the-top. Instead, she used non-actors to perform a script and complement direction that are always restrained and thoughtful. – Will M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

Good Kill (Andrew Niccol)

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Andrew Niccol made a name for himself with a particular brand of topical filmmaking (Gattaca, The Truman Show, S1mone, Lord of War, In Time) keen on capturing a particular phenomenon and crystallizing it as a concept in mainstream culture. Some of his films have been more successful at this than others, but they all attempted to find a specific angle on the subject to at least ensure some original interpretation. This is unfortunately not the case with Good Kill, just unveiled as part of the Venice competition. It’s difficult to find an original angle when the issue you’re exploring is drone warfare, which hits closer to home in terms of time and space — or, as Bruce Greenwood‘s chatty Lt. Colonel likes to put it, “the here and fucking now” — as well as cultural and media exposure. Niccol’s aim is single-minded and relentless: to pound away at the sense of alienation and disconnect that drone pilots experience by killing people from the (relative) comfort of an air base in Nevada. – Tommaso T. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Hard to Be a God (Aleksei German)

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It is, without a doubt, a stunningly radical work: a three-hour journey into the heart of darkness that doesn’t just grab you, but envelops, haunted by a moral bleakness that leaves nothing beyond the images of terror it creates. While German remains simply a curiosity in the United States (he is as beloved as Tarkovsky in Russia), Hard to Be a God is the perfection of the director’s long-take approach, likely to remain unmatched for years to come. – Peter L. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)

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A movie so audacious in concept and execution, it should get the blood pumping within the first ten minutes, and by the last ten, you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief while cheering with such fervor your head will spin. Like the best of Tarantino‘s work, it sends a love of cinema coursing through your veins. Christoph Waltz gives the best performance of its respective year, and what will likely be his career. It has a brain behind the brashness that is uncommon in today’s multiplexes, and will sadly continue to be. – Nick N.

Where to Stream: Netflix

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Denis Villeneuve and Cast Talk the Inspirations and Ideology of ‘Sicario’ at Cannes

Written by Raphael Deutsch, May 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm 

"Sicario" Photocall - The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival

With Prisoners, Enemy and more, Denis Villeneuve has been churning out visceral thrillers and his latest is no exception. In our review, we said Sicario, which recently premiered in Cannes, “delivers a constant, exhilarating stream of elaborate and exquisitely photographed thrills that ends up largely compensating for the would-be profundity.”

The story follows a police officer (Emily Blunt) who goes down to Mexico with two mercenaries to capture a drug lord. Also starring Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Joe Bernthal, the majority of the top cast as well as Villeneuve, illustrious cinematographer Roger Deakins, and producers Basil Iwanyk and Molly Smith gathered for a press conference at Cannes.

As far as these things go, overall the press conference was a relative success, with a compelling discussion about the process behind the production of the film but, of course, had some delightfully awkward moments, particularly when a journalist mistook Del Toro for Javier Bardem. We’ve highlighted the best moments below, so check them out and watch the full conference as well.

On how the project came to be

The director began by stating, “I’m a very, very slow screenwriter and my appetite for cinema is huge right now. And I’m surrounded by strong scripts but some of them … you know it’s like falling in love.” He continued by saying, “I read a lot of scripts in the past years. And this one… I was traumatized when I read it, because I felt, first of all, that I was doomed because when you fall in love you don’t have a choice, you have to jump.” He further elaborated his interest in the geo-politics of this specific region of the world. “It came from my agent at CAA that sent me that script overnight who said this is exactly what you are looking for because I was really interested, for a few years, about that specific place in the Americas — the border between the United States and Mexico — and when I read Taylor Sheridan’s work I knew this would be my next movie.” He adds, “There have been a few movies dealing with this topic coming out of Hollywood but nowhere near as many as those dealing with other violence hotspots, even though this particular one is right near America. Unlike the Iraq and Afghan wars, which were indeed sparked by American intervention, but are nevertheless across the world, the violence fueled by the drug trade is in the North America backyard.”

"Sicario" Photocall - The 68th Annual Cannes Film FestivalOn shooting the action scenes in the film and whether there were any sources of inspiration

Roger Deakins was first to respond to this question, downplaying any direct influence from films, saying, “I think we looked at some action films but only to see what we didn’t want to do, really.” However he does mention a source of inspiration in terms of approach. “Frankly, the person I had in mind was Jean-Pierre Melville. I’m in France, but he has always been my hero as a filmmaker. And for me somehow, I know this subject is very different from gangster films, but there is still the mood to me, that sort of take he had on character building and action sequences.” He continued by saying, “We shot most of the action with a single camera. We had story-boarded quite a bit, but in film you sort of talk about things and work it out as you scout locations and on the day you kind of just react to what’s there, what the actors want to do.” The director jokingly added, “Basically we storyboard a lot and on the day of we just tear away the storyboard and improvise a lot. It’s all about point of views at the end of the day. “

On Emily Blunt’s character

Villeneuve described the pressure that was put on the screenplay before he came aboard, saying, “It was a screenplay people were afraid of, in part because the lead was a female character. And I know that the screenwriter was asked several times to rewrite the part. When I got on board I embraced the screenplay as it was and it was the same for [the producers] and Lionsgate. But the pressure came before those guys had the guts – I can’t believe I have to say this, it’s crazy that I am saying this right now – but we embraced the screenplay as it was.” It is rather absurd and quite illuminating to hear that the lead being a woman was a problem for those who were interested in producing the screenplay.

Blunt added what she knew about the toying with the sex of the character, saying “I just heard about it from the director once I signed on.” On the subject of “tough women” she added, “I get asked a lot — ‘you play a lot of tough female roles’ — but I don’t really see them as tough. There are plenty of strong women out there; I don’t think they can be compartmentalized as one thing. ‘You’re tough,’ what, because I have a gun?” She further elaborated on details about her character, adding, “I found this character, strangely, quite damaged, vulnerable and she is struggling within this realm of being a female cop. Certainly with the morally questionable things she is having to experience with these guys and it’s not safe. You see this girl going through pretty much the worst three days in her life. So she is trying to maintain face for most of it. So I didn’t really think about adjusting to make it more masculine. I think she is trying to survive in a predominantly male industry, or profession.”

She also touched upon real law enforcement officials she interacted with, saying, “The FBI agents I spoke to, they sound just like me. They sound like normal girls and they go home and watch Gosford Park and Downton Abbey and they are definitely great girls. You want to have a beer with them. I found that interesting; to get under the skin of what it is to be a female cop and what that costs you: how it affects your marriage, how you sleep at night, how you cope with the men working alongside you. It was really interesting hearing their point of view and quite humbling.”

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Recommended Discs & Deals of the Week: ‘Leviathan,’ ‘Limelight,’ ‘Girlhood,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, May 19, 2015 at 11:00 am 

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Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best (or most interesting) films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.

Girlhood (Céline Sciamma)

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With Girlhood, writer-director Céline Sciamma (Tomboy, Water Lilies) deepens her preoccupation with coming-of-age stories focusing on strong, young female leads. Her characters are always outsiders looking to fit in, and each have intense love interests. In her latest, she explores a poor, minority community in France through a drama that could easily prove maudlin and over-the-top. Instead, she used non-actors to perform a script and complement direction that are always restrained and thoughtful. – Will M. (full review)

Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev)

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If there is a very loose thread connecting contemporary Russian cinema to its artistic heritage, it is that its best filmmakers still exude a desire to produce art on the grandest of scales. The great Czarist-then-Soviet-then-Thaw State has amalgamated a collection of artists known, in some circles, solely for their grand scale: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Bulgakov, with their intense emotional overtures that turn simple stories into mass-size tragedies; the overtures of Tchaikovsky, with their use of bellowing brass and percussion; and Kadinsky’s extreme use of space in his abstractness. Of course, there is its cinema: Eisenstein’s lightning-like editing, Tarkovsky’s profound stillness, Sokurov’s investigation of power — and, now, Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s intensely operatic examination of a land dispute escalated to epic proportions in Leviathan. – Peter L. (full review)

Limelight (Charles Chaplin)

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Charlie Chaplin’s masterful drama about the twilight of a former vaudeville star is among the writer-director’s most touching films. Chaplin plays Calvero, a once beloved musical-comedy performer, now a washed-up alcoholic who lives in a small London flat. A glimmer of hope arrives when he meets a beautiful but melancholy ballerina (Claire Bloom) who lives downstairs. An elegant mix of the comic and the tragic, this poignant movie also features Buster Keaton in an extended cameo, marking the only time the two silent comedy icons appeared in a film together. Made at a time when Chaplin was under attack by the American press and far right, Limelight was scarcely distributed in the United States upon its initial release, but it is now considered one of his essential and most personal works. – Criterion.com

Also Arriving This Week

American Sniper (review)
Cymbeline (review)
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (review)
The Rose

Recommended Deals of the Week

(Note: new additions are in red)

The American (Blu-ray) – $6.75

Amelie (Blu-ray) - $6.69

Anna Karenina (Blu-ray) – $12.02

Before Midnight (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Beginners (Blu-ray) – $9.10

Black Swan (Blu-ray) - $7.00

The Bling Ring (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Bronson (Blu-ray) – $10.91

The Brothers Bloom (Blu-ray) – $7.67

Burn After Reading (Blu-ray) – $8.47

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) - $7.88

Casino (Blu-ray) – $8.92

Captain Phillips (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Cloverfield (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Collateral (Blu-ray) – $5.99

Do the Right Thing (Blu-ray) – $9.46

Drive (Blu-ray) – $7.88

The Fly (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Gangs of New York (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Goodfellas (Blu-ray) – $8.35

Good Will Hunting (Blu-ray) – $7.50

The Grandmaster (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Grey (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Haywire (Blu-ray) – $7.64

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) – $8.73

The Illusionist (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Immigrant (Blu-ray) – $14.99

Inglorious Basterds (Blu-ray) – $8.73

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) – $5.00

Jane Eyre (Blu-ray) – $7.95

Killing Them Softly (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Kingdom of Heaven (Blu-ray) – $9.96

L.A. Confidential (Blu-ray) – $8.54

The Lady From Shanghai (Blu-ray) – $8.49

Looper (Blu-ray) - $9.09

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $8.73

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Blu-ray) – $6.49

Margaret (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Blu-ray) – $7.40

Michael Clayton (Blu-ray) – $5.00

Never Let Me Go (Blu-ray) – $6.20

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray) – $4.96

Observe & Report (Blu-ray) – $7.49

Office Space (Blu-ray) – $6.96

Pariah (Blu-ray) – $6.13

Persepolis (Blu-ray) – $6.39

Prisoners (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Public Enemies (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) – $7.00

Reality Bites (Blu-ray) – $8.49

The Secret In Their Eyes (Blu-ray) – $6.70

A Serious Man (Blu-ray) – $9.94

Seven (Blu-ray) – $7.00

Seven Psychopaths (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $6.93

A Single Man (Blu-ray) – $6.99

The Social Network (Blu-ray) – $9.96

The Spectacular Now (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Spring Breakers (Blu-ray) - $9.96

Synecdoche, NY (Blu-ray) – $6.43

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $7.88

The Tree of Life (Blu-ray) – $6.81

The Truman Show (Blu-ray) – $7.99

True Grit (Blu-ray) – $7.88

This is the End (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (Blu-ray) – $74.99

Vanilla Sky (Blu-ray pre-order) – $8.34

Waltz with Bashir (Blu-ray) – $9.10

We Own the Night (Blu-ray) – $9.13

Where the Wild Things Are (Blu-ray) – $6.94

Whiplash (Blu-ray) – $14.99

The Wrestler (Blu-ray) – $6.73

Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray) - $9.09

What are you picking up this week?

Todd Haynes, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara Discuss Creating ‘Carol’ at Cannes

Written by Raphael Deutsch, May 18, 2015 at 2:12 pm 

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Perhaps the most well-received film at Cannes thus far, Todd Haynes’ Carol premiered over the weekend to strong praise and acclaim for almost every aspect of the period drama, including the acting, the cinematography and overall direction. Written by Phyllis Nagy based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, it stars Cate Blanchett as the titular Carol and Rooney Mara as  Therese Belivet, two New York women who form a relationship in the 1950′s.

We said in our review, “Over the course of their blossoming relationship, the balance doesn’t so much shift as grow more elaborate, and the nuances in their characters remain the film’s primary focus. In portraying a homosexual relationship in the 1950s, Haynes isn’t interested in overt commentary. The specificities of the era in this regard are incorporated but always as a means of fleshing out the protagonists.”

Gathering for the press conference at Cannes was director Haynes, Blanchett, Mara, Nagy, cinematographer Edward Lachman, and producer Elizabeth Karlsen, and we’ve parsed through some specific highlights. As one might expect, the questions were mostly directed towards Blanchett and Haynes. As with most press conferences, there were some awkward moments, some misunderstood questions and some bizarre exchanges, but there were also a fair amount of interesting observations on the making of Carol — specifically the aesthetic choices, sources of inspiration and the subject of homosexuality today compared to the 1950s. Below one can find the highlights of the press conference as well as the video of the whole thing. The quotes have been slightly edited for legibility reasons.

On the sources of inspiration for the film

carol_1Blanchett began by praising the director, saying, “In this instance working with Todd — and I really relished this on I’m Not There – Todd comes into the process and you don’t have long to rehearse — we certainly didn’t have much time to rehearse on this. He comes with these incredible mood boards. In the lead-up, the pre-production, he is so generous allowing the actors to completely immerse themselves in the way the film is going to be shot and the atmosphere that is going to be created on set.” She added, “So you have a sense of what you don’t have to do, what will be done around you and that is unbelievably helpful. Particularly being a theatre actor when you know what the mise-en-scene is, what the frame is, it’s much easier to know what energy to bring.” For a specific source of inspiration she said, “So the female photographers, many of whom I didn’t know there were, Vivian Maier, for instance, was one of them, her self becoming a reflection in her own photography or cinematography; obviously her work not being known in her own lifetime, that was a complete revelation to me. So the visual references Todd gave me were a huge source of inspiration in this particular instance.

Cinematographer Edward Lachman touched upon his aesthetic sources of inspiration for the film saying, “Todd didn’t want to do a Sirkian world, with heightened reality, of a world with artifice. He wanted to explore further what we had done in Mildred Pierce. There was a kind of soiled naturalistic look to the world, documenting the world not through cinema, but life. And so he gave me those touchstones too of mid-century photographers like Vivian Maier and also that he changed the part of the character where she was a set designer and now she became a photographer. What became a beautiful metaphor for me to explore her world as she develops as a person and through her love of a person. “

Haynes, added, “Cate and Ed have talked about the sources we were looking at and I did look at film. I always start by looking at other films or ideas and points of entry into how the story might be told — and in this piece I think it was more because of the Patricia Highsmith original novel and how Phyllis had opened it up, but how we began our conversations together talking about POV and how sometimes the most affecting experiences in film when you are talking about stories of love, are rooted in a character’s point of view.” He also began to expand one of the ideas he explored in the film involving point of view, saying, “The film begins rooted in Therese’s view but there is a movement that happens throughout the course of the story and you come full circle to the point of view of Carol. So you are always in the point-of-view of the more amorous party. And the one who sort of is disempowered on some level and the more powerful figure in every conceivable way is certainly Carol through the story. But because of the events that occur, and because of the battery life inflicts on all of us, Therese changes a lot and so the two women at the end of the film are very different from the women at the beginning. And so that POV shift, for those of you who know and love the film Brief Encounter, it was sort of an interesting way to mark that POV change from the beginning of the film to the end. “

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On the difference between acting in blockbuster films versus smaller independent films

Blanchett and Mara both have some experience shooting bigger studio films, Blanchett with The Lord of the Rings and most recently, Cinderella, and Mara with David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film. Both were asked if there approach to acting was any different from when they were shooting those films than when they are working on smaller budget independent films like Carol. The question asked to the actors specifically pertained to whether they enjoyed the quiet scenes that are not often found in larger films. Mara started by saying, “I don’t know if I can really make a distinction between the two. I feel like I always, in anything I do, try to look for the more quiet moments. I feel like that’s where a lot of the story is told…is when there is just silence or space between the words. I mean certainly this film had a lot more of that, but I try to find that in anything that I do. Blanchett, added “it’s a very complicated neuro-linguistic process to make someone else’s lines your own, so I am always very happy not to talk on film. But I think the challenge of playing a character that is derived from a Patricia Highsmith novel is that they are so mysterious and ambiguous.” Continuing on, she praised the writer of the film for her skill in wonderfully adapting the novel’s world. “What was wonderful about what Phyllis did about making this into a film is that Carol is almost a construct of Therese’s imagination. It’s all seen through the prism of Therese’s own personal turmoil. Phyllis has really invented a whole world for Carol, so that was a gift. I sort of had the elusive atmosphere of the novel and I had the beautifully chosen, almost haiku, that Phyllis had created.”

On shooting the sex scene

One of the last questions asked was about Blanchett’s feeling towards nudity in films and whether she was comfortable or experienced any discomfort. Blanchett started by saying with a laugh, “Certainly since giving birth. I mean a lot of strangers see you naked in that experience.” And with regards to the lesbian sex scene required for this film and whether there was discomfort she added, “No more so than it was a love scene with a man. I mean I have such respect and admiration for Rooney and it was quite hilarious in a lot of ways.” In explaining her attitude towards these scenes in general she expanded, “I think it’s always great when it’s not for titillating reasons. [It's] a really really importance scene in the structure of the film and the telling of the story. Todd was fantastic. He really explained how it was going to be shot. It was going to be a scene like any other scene. But, yes, there was some apprehension going in but not because it was between two women.” Mara quickly, and humorously, added, “I’m nude quite often so it wasn’t a big deal or anything. It was nice….I don’t know.”

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New to Streaming: ‘Slow West,’ ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service,’ ‘Rabbit Hole,’ ‘Focus,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, May 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm 

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With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.

Area 51 (Oren Peli)

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Following the wild, unexpected success of Paranormal Activity, director Oren Peli set out on his next project, another low-budget horror feature titled Area 51. Beginning production in 2009, there was word of reshoots but it’s mostly been radio silence on the project for the last half-decade. Following a group of friends on a weekend trip to Vegas who then stupidly try and break into Area 51, where they find terrifying proof of alien presence, it’s now finally available to stream. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Every Secret Thing (Amy Berg)

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Every Secret Thing effectively melds the sensibilities of its director Amy Berg (best known for her feature documentaries Deliver Us From Evil and West of Memphis, both complex films involving children and tragedy) and screenwriter Nicole Holofcener (who pushes the complex, triangular mother-daughter-daughter’s friend of her film Enough Said to thriller territory here). Adapted from a novel by Luara Lippman,  the film opens seven years in the past when two girls from different sides of the track attend a birthday party. Alice, whose mother Helen (Diane Lane) is an art teacher and Ronnie, who lives in poverty, are expelled and find a baby left unattended. They decide to take the child in and we learn from the headlines in the film’s title sequence the baby does not survive. – John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Focus (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa)

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You know that moment in a con movie where you’re shown an elaborate sequence full of subtle background action without knowing exactly what’s happening until the mastermind explains it all to a colleague—and us—who’s unaware? It’s my favorite trope of the genre because it either provides a sense of awe in the trick’s success or allows me to pat myself on the back for noticing the ruse. Sadly, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa forget the first part and keep us in complete darkness assuming their revelation will prove more intense as a result. The truth, however, is that it comes off as lazy or worse: insecure. If your game doesn’t play subliminally enough to get past us, showing it later only enhances our belief it would never have worked in the real world. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)

What could have been an exploitative look at an instance of police brutality and the unfathomable outcome wrought from fear and abuse of authority in an incident more complex than simple racial undertones might describe, writer/director Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station decides instead to show how integral each life on this earth is to those he/she loves. It isn’t about vilifying the white murderer or turning the black victim into a hero; it’s about showing the life of a complicated man with faults and a checkered past finally understanding what matters above selfish wants and desires. And with some of the year’s best performances—Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz—we’re made to understand both the good and bad results of our actions and that things are never as cut and dry as we’d like to believe.

Where to Stream: Netflix

Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughn)

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Kingsman: The Secret Service, the latest pairing of comic scribe Mark Millar and director Matthew Vaughn, wants to sell itself as a fresh and irreverent take on British spy antics, a silly shot-in-the-arm that harkens back to the campier days of James Bond. With the genre favoring more stoic and gritty explorations as of late, it’s an initial thrill to see Colin Firth decked out in a bespoke suit, umbrella in hand, dispatching bad-guys as if we lived in a world where the most commonly know Avengers were still Emma Peel and John Steed. – Nathan B. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

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NYC Weekend Watch: ‘After Hours,’ Japanese Classics, Maya Deren, and More

Written by TFS Staff, May 15, 2015 at 12:00 pm 

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Since any New York City cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.

Film Forum

The glorious restoration of Satyajit Ray‘s The Apu Trilogy continues screening this weekend.

On Sunday, the The Goonies screens in 35mm.

meshes_of_the_afternoonAnthology Film Archives

A Philip Yordan series kicks off this weekend with screenings of Edge of Doom, Johnny Guitar, and more.

Sunday brings a Maya Deren series with her classic shorts Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land, and more.

BAMcinématek

The last batch of “3D in the 21st Century” showings include Paul W.S. Anderson films on Friday, Jackass 3D and Piranha on Saturday, while Pina and Charlie Victor Romeo screen on Sunday.

IFC Center

Princess Monoke, Repulsion (in 35mm), After Hours (in 35mm), and the original Mad Max screen throughout the weekend.

Museum of the Moving Image

repulsionThe Films of Masaki Kobayashi and Tatsuya Nakadai brings Samurai Rebellion, The Human Condition, and more.

Nitehawk Cinema

A 35mm print of The Sentinel screens as part of a Jeff Goldblum series, while The Hunt For Red October is screened during Saturday and Sunday brunches.

Film Society of Lincoln Center

The films of Martín Rejtman continue to screen over the weekend.

MoMA

Early Japanese talkies screen throughout the weekend, including films from Mikio Naruse, Yasujiro Shimazu, and more.

Landmark Sunshine

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie has midnight screenings on Saturday and Sunday.

What are you watching this weekend?

The Path to ‘Fury Road’: Revisiting George Miller’s Original ‘Mad Max’ Trilogy

Written by Jared Mobarak, May 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm 

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Returning to both the Mad Max franchise and action cinema in general this Friday after a 30-year absence, today we are taking a look at the films that launched George Miller’s career. Before our review of Mad Max: Fury Road, Jared Mobarak has explored each film in the Mel Gibson-led original trilogy, so check out his thoughts below and let us know your take on the films in the comments.

Mad Max (1979)

You couldn’t turn on the television without seeing Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome when I was growing up. I couldn’t tell you anything about it besides the fact Tina Turner co-starred, but I remember the whole terminally crazed aesthetic of George Miller‘s post-apocalyptic world. So much so that I always assumed I had seen the two previous entries. While I’m pretty sure memories of The Road Warrior lie somewhere dormant in the back of my mind, I cannot say the same about the original. The yellow “Pursuit” vehicles? Rockatansky domestic life of love and smiles? Baby-faced Mel Gibson trying his damnedest to not become one of the riff raff his badge affords him the power to take down? Nope. None of it rung a bell. So maybe I entered my first viewing with too high of expectations.

I knew Mad Max was a low budget independent that somehow struck a chord with international audiences to make it the most profitable film in history before getting unseated by The Blair Witch Project in 1999, but I underestimated exactly how dated its low-fi sensibilities had become. The product of a former medical doctor in Sydney (director Miller) and a burgeoning filmmaker (co-creator Byron Kennedy) who met at a summer film class almost a decade prior, this unlikely hit debuted in Australia on the heels of a sub-$500,000 production. Scribed by Miller and James McCausland, the hyper-violent look at a dystopian future where crude oil is scarce and the roads riddled with outlaws sold for $1.8 million on its way to grossing $100 million worldwide. Talk about a dream come true.

I can’t speak to how it would have been received upon release, but today its hard-R is tamed by its cheesiness and lack of meaningful plot. Not only does the camera refuse to show any of the carnage besides a severed arm and shot-out knee-cap (oh, I shouldn’t forget the odd frames of buggy bloodshot eyes right before two key deaths by car crash explosion), the filmmakers’ attempt at romance comes courtesy of Max’s (Gibson) wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel) playing the saxophone and him bopping her nose with greasy hands while fixing their wagon’s fan belt. The action is almost completely filmed in close-up montages of static car fixtures, cars and motorcycles alternate possessing superior speed of the other depending on what currently suits the script, and Max doesn’t even get “mad” until Act Three.

Hell, there isn’t really a story until Max hits that breaking point—the other two-thirds is merely prolonged exposition. And even that’s shared in as obtuse a way as possible considering we don’t know about anything besides the fact crazy people are crazy and the police officers meant to stop them are barely one notch lower on the insanity scale. This provides some great comic relief, especially at the beginning with an overly enthusiastic dolt in Officer Roop (Steve Millichamp) and his green partner Charlie (John Ley). Between the comedy of errors these two undergo, the maniacal fit of laughter via the criminal they’re pursuing (Vincent Gil‘s Nightrider), and the abstract shots of Max stoically waiting to intercept the chase, I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at the sheer goofiness of everything juxtaposed together.

And what was it all for besides giving audiences a couple of annihilating car collisions? To make sure Max is put firmly in Nightrider’s boss Toecutter’s (Hugh Keays-Byrne) crosshairs of course. At least that’s the original motive despite this psychopath going after Max’s best friend and partner Goose (Steve Bisley) instead. In fact, I’m not even sure Toecutter knows Max is Max when they finally do confront one another. I was surprised Max knew he was Toecutter when asking a shady mechanic for information considering he was only looking for the guy who threatened his wife and child. Yes, even though Miller and company makes a huge deal about Toecutter moving hell and high water for vengeance on Rockatansky, the reason they find themselves in the same frame at the climax is sheer dumb luck.

Story contrivances aside, at least the characters are memorable. If anything, Max Rockatansky proves the most boring of the bunch if not for his tragic circumstances setting him up to be much more interesting (and mad) in the sequel. Police Chief Fifi (Roger Ward) is a hoot, Bisley’s Goose is a raw nerve ready to wield a baton and go on his own rampage, and how can you not love the simpleton Benno (Max Fairchild) ambling about? Tim Burns‘ Johnny is schizophrenia incarnate, Geoff Parry‘s Bubba is a stone-cold killer, and Keays-Byrne a charismatic villain whose demise is sadly anti-climatic enough to forget it happened. The rest are Keystone Cops and hillbilly rednecks guffawing their way to early graves. Good guys wear shiny leather and the bad are shrouded in weatherworn hide.

I wish I could have watched it through the eyes of a 1980s kid not already desensitized to on-screen violence let alone the off-screen variety utilized here because Mad Max does read as special on paper. A handful of nobodies behind the camera and an anonymous Mel Gibson in front (American trailers focused solely on the action) took Australia and the US by storm before spawning two follow-ups in five years and a fourth coming after thirty more. I can see the potential it would bring to fruition because potential is this film’s sole commodity. Since the fierce anger behind Max’s eyes that sold tickets in the first place is absent until the final frame, the rest plays as though Part Two was inevitable. Presently it appears that sequel is exactly what makes it worthwhile. [C]

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