A visually gifted director, Christophe Gans' deep abiding love for genre fare and pop-culture imbued each of his film endeavors with a patina of authenticity and passion. A graduate of France's respec...
Fine Line Features
Enchanté. Bonbons. Toilette. Maison. Those are the only French words that I know, and unfortunately, none of them came in handy when watching the first trailer for writer and director Christophe Gans' version of Beauty and the Beast.
This time around, Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf and Silent Hill) has opted to adapt the story of the well-known Belle and Beast from the original 1740 version by Madame de Villeneuve instead of the more popular condensed children's version, which was the inspiration for both Jean Cocteau and Walt Disney's films. According to Gans via IndieWire, it is a story "of a family going through a crisis, having lost all of its possessions when the father was ruined" and how the "mythical Beast provides [the] characters with an opportunity to get back on their feet."
The trailer, which is entirely in French, shows the titular Belle, played by Léa Seydoux (Blue Is the Warmest Color), and the Beast, played by Vincent Cassel (Black Swan), in an extremely gray and grim collection of scenes. Yes, there's definitely still the iconic red rose, a castle, and a heartwarming dance scene between Belle and the Beast, but there is also a dramatic overtone of fear, passion, and excitement. From the trailer, the film looks like it might surprise a few naysayers, but as of right now, it doesn't look like it's as "modern" as Seydoux promises it will be. If the plot and script are anything like the costumes, makeup, and scenery in the trailer, then things aren't looking exactly as modern as they could be.
Now excuse me while I watch the trailer again in the hopes of adding a few more words to my French vocabulary:
Beauty and the Beast opens in France on Feb. 12, 2014. There is no U.S. release date as of yet.
Before you blurt out, "Not another Disney remake," pause and take a peek at these new stills from the latest live action remix of Beauty of the Beast.
The new images from Silent Hill director Christophe Gans' film shows that this latest adaption of the French fairy tale has all the enchantment of its beloved animated incarnation, and a whole lot more flare. Midnight in Paris star Lea Seydoux will headline the story as Belle, and Vincent Cassel will hold his glass-encased rose close to his heart as he recreates the role of the Beast.
From the looks of these images, the flick will capture all the essence of the olden days of small town France. However, these stills do portray that the live-action version will delve into a darker tone than its animated predecessor. As inviting as these visuals are, we do wish we got a bit more of a glimpse of the Beast from these shots. I guess he's just a bit shy...
Beauty And The Beast will enchant French audiences on February 12, 2014, before it launches into theatres later on in the U.S.. In the meantime, Take a look below at the pictures from the upcoming fantasy drama.
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Silent Hill: Revelation 3D has a lot of things working against it from the get go. It's based on a video game franchise that debuted in 1999 has been milked for sequels ever since (the current total of Silent Hill games is nine) and the movie itself is a sequel to the disappointingly dumb 2006 film directed by Christophe Gans. What's more the bitter aftertaste of Resident Evil: Retribution is still lingering in the mouths of survival horror movie/gamers and although they have entirely different plots and take place in totally different universes that's not necessarily enough to take the edge off for weary viewers.
It would take a dazzling director with a stellar cast and a first-rate script to overcome those sorts of obstacles and Silent Hill doesn't have any of those things. Writer/director Michael J. Bassett is obviously fond of both video games and horror (his previous movies include Solomon Kane and Deathwatch) the cast is decent with some exceptions and the script… well it's better than Resident Evil. If anything we can give Bassett credit for his enthusiasm. You really can't win when you try and make a video game movie no matter how many hours you spent playing Doom as a teen. Whether that's at the hands of the studios or the creative teams themselves isn't clear; it's simply a nut that hasn't been cracked yet.
The good news is that you don't really need a grasp on the video game or previous movie's narrative to follow the Revelation's plot. Harry (Sean Bean) has been lying to his daughter Heather (Adelaide Clemens) for a very long time. He's convinced her that her dreams about a terrible place called Silent Hill are the longstanding effects of a car crash that killed her mother and that they have to move around and take on new identities all the time because he killed a prowler in self-defense. Heather has other problems like the occasional hallucinations about a terrible alternate universe that's populated by monsters and industrial junk and flickering lights. One minute she'll be doing something normal and then suddenly the walls are burning down to the rafters and something with a butt for a face is shambling towards her. It's a raw deal.
Heather's first day at her new school is not that great; she meets a cute guy named Vincent (Kit Harington) who wants to be buddies but she makes it clear she's pretty bad ass and not one to pal around since she'll just be leaving town again anyway. When she comes home from school her dad has disappeared and the living room is a huge mess. If she wasn't clear on what to do next someone used his blood to write "COME TO SILENT HILL" on the wall with a funky sigil next to it which matches this weird object she's had since she was little. Luckily Vincent has a car and more than a few troubling secrets of his own underneath those glossy brown curls. He offers to drive her and off they go. Typical chitchat between them is about the nature of reality and dreams and Vincent's batty grandfather who's locked up in an insane asylum.
This is where things get really convoluted. Silent Hill is indeed a terrible place where ash falls from the sky during the day and horrible things come out to menace any townsperson dumb enough to be out at night. It's an eerie world that comes close to the truly terrifying Silent Hill games on occasion. After a while though it's mostly just Heather and occasionally Vincent running around in what seems like mazes of rusty bloody walls with the occasional gruesome monster popping out to halfheartedly menace them.
There's a dash of The Wicker Man here with the requisite creepy sacrificial cult and some Hellraiser-esque torture thrown in but it stops short of being a full-blown Clive Barker nightmare. There is some gore and disturbing images but the choice to use practical effects for almost all of the monsters is far more impressive in theory. Those monsters look okay from afar but rubbery up close whereas the only CGI monster is an impressive spidery thing made up of doll parts. The use of strobe lights and other effects is absolutely maddening especially in conjunction with the 3D which is mostly used for cheap gimmicks like splashing blood at the viewer.
There's something oddly satisfying about the way that the movie follows the trajectory of a video game; it's even laid out like a video game universe with different goals and bosses at each location. The problem is that what is believable or acceptable in a video game doesn't necessarily translate to a movie — in a game you're busy solving puzzles and killing monsters and it's easier to overlook kitchen-sink plots. Even though the movie doesn't completely hew to the game's story it's got the same mentality that more is better when it's really just more. And the more that's piled on the more ridiculous it gets. When everything is at a fever pitch that kind of weirdness becomes a baseline and nothing is shocking. Unlike in the games there's just one ending no matter how you play it.
Shhh. If you make too much noise you might wake up the freakishly satanic beings inhabiting the creepy ash-filled town of Silent Hill. And you don’t want to do that. That’s what Rose (Radha Mitchell) finds out anyway when she ends up there searching for her missing daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland). Seems Sharon is somehow intricately connected to this town which has a rather nasty history and has attracted all manner of nightmarish creatures. And poor Rose has to fight them all to get to her daughter. Also thrown in for good measure is the subplot about religiously fanatic witch-hunters who are secretly the cause of all Silent Hill’s mayhem. So to speak. Mitchell (Melinda and Melinda) does a fine job as our hapless heroine spurred on by a motherly determination to find her child. She’s thrown around outmaneuvers monsters left and right gets bathed in other people’s blood--and her hair still manages to look good. That takes talent. As her wayward daughter Ferland (TV’s Kingdom Hospital) is yet another young actress who has fallen into that “creepy little girl” syndrome. You know what I mean--the wide-eyes pale complexion long stringy hair--and she draws dark sinister pictures too. A total prerequisite. How do these kids sleep at night? There are others in the film but they do little in ways of contributing save for Laurie Holden as a doomed motorcycle cop who somehow gets mixed in Rose’s hellish adventure and Alice Krige as the leader of the fanatical witch-burning wackos. Really I have only one question: how do those video game creators come up with this stuff? Kudos go out to director Christophe Gans though for capturing Silent Hill’s spirit. You can see the game being played in front of you. Level one: Rose goes into the deserted town and thwarts dwarfish demons with no faces. Level two: she goes to the school and fights a monster with a triangle for a head a big-ass knife and bugs at his feet. And so on. By level five in which Rose confronts the main demon in the bombed-out hospital you’re spent and ready to put down the game controller to watch Late Night with Conan O’Brien. It’s the rest of the filler which bogs Silent Hill down. Of course there has to be some semblance of a plot--just finding the kid and getting the hell out of Dodge would have been enough. Instead the film veers off into the totally ridiculous and then drags on for another 30 minutes.
When the mutilated corpses of women and children begin appearing across the French countryside the Royal Court sends Knight Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel le Bihan) a renowned scientist to find and capture the wolf they believe is responsible for the vicious killings. With the help of his blood brother Mani (Mark Dacascos) a Mohawk Indian from Canada skilled in spiritual shaman techniques de Fronsac sets out to hunt the beast down. The two men leave Paris to stay at the country home of the Marquis d'Apcher whose grandson Thomas serves as their guide but are met with a strangely chilly reception from the locals. During the course of their investigation de Fronsac falls in love with Marianne de Morangias (Emilie Duquenne) the daughter of an extremely influential family in the region. But de Fronsac finds out the locals and Marianne's family are hiding a sinister secret and soon discovers that this beast is far more dangerous than any wolf or myth.
Samuel le Bihan (Total Western) is perfect as Gregoire de Fronsac. His portrayal of the character doesn't come across as pompous or superior but as an experienced worldly scientist driven by a sense of curiosity and interest. His brother Mani is played by Mark Dacascos (The Island of Dr. Moreau) and though he doesn't say much throughout the film because of the language barrier he uses physical means to express his character's wisdom and spirituality. As de Fronsac's love interest Emilie Duquenne (Rosetta) with her pale skin and flushed cheeks portrays Marianne as an intelligent and headstrong woman who doesn't put up with games and deceit. Her one-armed brother is played by Vincent Cassel (Jeanne D'Arc) who has this eerie way of portraying the character's ambivalence. There is always the underlying impression that something is not right with him but it is impossible to pin down what exactly it is.
Brotherhood of the Wolf is the subtitled version of the French film Le Pacte des Loups which was released in France in January of 2001. The director Christophe Gans (Crying Freedom) creates an elaborate period piece with the tension and gore of a fantasy horror film. The story of the Beast of Gevaudan alone is mesmerizing but Gans takes suspense to a whole new level by never actually revealing the beast to the viewer until the very end of the picture. But it is the carnage the beast leaves behind and the terror it strikes in people that instills fear and anxiety rather than special effects (the actual animatronic beast which was created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop is not all that spectacular). The film also contains many stunning fight scenes involving Mani choreographed by Philipe Kwok (Tomorrow Never Dies). The film however is bit on the long side at 140 minutes and a few story lines are definitely expendable.
A visually gifted director, Christophe Gans' deep abiding love for genre fare and pop-culture imbued each of his film endeavors with a patina of authenticity and passion. A graduate of France's respected film school, Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematopraphiques, he made his directorial debut with a gruesome vignette in the horror anthology "Necronomicon: Book of the Dead" (1993). His work on the direct-to-video release led to an ongoing relationship with producer Samuel Hadida, for whom he helmed the martial arts action-adventure "Crying Freeman" (1995). Gans achieved international recognition with his extremely successful 18th-century horror tale, "Brotherhood of the Wolf" (2001). He returned four years later with the video game adaptation "Silent Hill" (2006), a horror story that, while acknowledged for its impressive phantasmagoric imagery, was criticized for its aggravatingly vague and ambiguous narrative. Although by no means a prolific filmmaker, Gans' commitment to his material earned him the respect of genre fans everywhere who eagerly awaited the writer-director's next idiosyncratic offering.<p>Born on March 11, 1960, Christophe Gans grew up in the Mediterranean resort town of Antibes, France. His early love of science-fiction, genre films, and Japanese culture all proved to be accurate barometers for the young man's future endeavors. As a boy, he and his friends made several samurai and kung fu movies on a Super-8 camera; by his teens, he was self-publishing the fanzine <i>Rhesus Zero</i> as a platform through which he could share his niche interests. Gans went on to attend France's prestigious film school, the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematopraphiques, where his graduate project - a horror short titled "Silver Slime" (1981) - was well-received by audiences, but garnered little interest from the genre-averse French film industry. In a return to his fanzine days, he founded and edited <i>Starfix</i>, a magazine devoted to espousing the virtues of movies by filmmakers like Sam Raimi, Dario Argento, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg.<p>Gans' association with producer Samuel Hadida, with whom Gans would work throughout his career, eventually led to his being asked to direct one segment of the horror anthology, "Necronomicon: Book of the Dead" (1993). Comprised of three tales inspired by the works of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, Gans also wrote the screenplay for his macabre offering, entitled "The Drowned," in which a distraught widower (Bruce Payne) inadvisably attempts to revive his dead wife with the help of the titular cursed tome. Noticed for his work on the film and informed by his love of Asian pop-culture, Gans was hired to direct his first feature film, a live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese manga "Crying Freeman" (1995). Co-scripted by Gans, the action-adventure told the story of a highly-skilled assassin (Mark Dacascos) who sheds tears of regret over each of his victims. Despite its failure to gain a theatrical release in the U.S., Gans' visual flare and adept handling of the martial arts action further elevated his growing reputation as an emerging genre filmmaker.<p>Gans' next project as a writer-director was the historical-horror-martial arts hybrid "Brotherhood of the Wolf" (2001). Based in part on a French legend, it followed the exploits of two 18th-Century adventurers (Samuel Le Bihan and Dacascos) as they attempt to capture or kill a monstrous wolf, supposedly responsible for the deaths of dozens of local villagers. Highly stylized and featuring a multi-national cast that included Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, "Brotherhood of the Wolf" became a substantial international hit, as well as the second-highest grossing French-language film in more than two decades. Widely praised by critics and genre fans, the movie earned several nominations, as well as a win for Best Fantasy Film for Gans at the Sitges International Film Festival that year. As an established filmmaker, Gans was now in a position to assist other aspiring directors, such as Pascal Laugier, whose gothic horror film "Saint Ange" (2004) he produced.<p>Gans next tackled his most ambitious project to date, a big-budget adaptation of the video game series "Silent Hill" (2006). It was a labor of love for Gans, a self-described devoted fan of the game franchise, who lobbied extensively to land the director's job. A visually enthralling gothic-horror story about a mother (Radha Mitchell) desperately searching for her missing daughter (Jodelle Ferland) amidst the nightmarish dreamscape of the eponymous town, it was praised for its mind-boggling imagery, although most reviewers found the story to be nearly incomprehensible and needlessly drawn out. Nonetheless, "Silent Hill" performed relatively well in theaters and plans were underway for Gans to direct a sequel, until various delays and scheduling conflicts caused him to leave the project. Unfortunately, this scenario would become a near constant refrain in Gans' career over the next several years, as project after project was begun, put on hold and, ultimately, abandoned.<p>In 2008, Gans was set to film yet another high-profile video game adaptation, the samurai-horror mash-up "Onimusha," until scheduling conflicts created delays that forced Gans to leave the project. The director then shifted his attentions to helming an adaptation of "Fantômas," an iconic French pulp novel series about a devilish master thief who will stop at nothing to win his prize or have his revenge. However, as had happened so frequently in the recent past, Gans was forced to suspend production once again in 2011 after his previously committed star, Vincent Cassel, departed due to scheduling conflicts. Five years after he had directed his last film, it began to appear as if Gans' notably deliberate working pace and admirable quest for perfection were beginning to work against him.<p><i>By Bryce Coleman</i>