Director Abel Ferrara is facing legal action from former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn after basing his new film Welcome To New York on the disgraced businessman's 2011 sex scandal. The Frenchman was forced to step down as the head of the IMF in 2011 after he was caught up in a hotel rape scandal in the Big Apple. The charges against him were dropped, but the fall-out cost him his job and his marriage.
Ferrara decided to use the headline-grabbing controversy as the inspiration for his latest project, which was screened over the weekend (17-18May14) during the Cannes International Film Festival in France.
For legal reasons, Strauss-Kahn is not mentioned by name in the movie, a fictionalised account of his downfall, but the story of Gerard Depardieu's lead character Mr. Devereaux bears strong similarities to the real-life details of the former politician's case, and now he is planning to sue Ferrara for defamation - even though the picture opens with a disclaimer, insisting, "The characters portrayed in the film and all sequences depicting their private lives remain entirely fictional".
The 65 year old's lawyer, Jean Veil, reveals his client is "disgusted and frightened" by the film, and is determined to take the director to court for "defamation over the accusations of rape and the insinuations made throughout the movie".
Speaking to French radio station Europe 1 on Monday (19May14), Veil said, "The prosecutor in New York cleared him of all charges (and) he has a right to be forgotten like everyone else."
However, the threat of legal action has not fazed Ferrara, who claims his work is the result of "freedom of expression".
The defiant filmmaker adds, "(Strauss-Kahn) is not the only guy who got caught in a situation like this. Let my lawyer talk to his lawyer."
Actor Gerard Depardieu jumped at the chance to portray disgraced former International Monetary Fund boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn in new movie Welcome To New York, because the story featured "incredible elements" of classic Shakespearean tragedies. The French businessman was forced to step down as the IMF's chief in 2011 after he was caught up in a hotel rape scandal in New York.
The charges against him were dropped, but the fall-out cost him his job and his marriage, and now the headline-grabbing drama has inspired a fictionalised account of the controversy in director Abel Ferrara's new film.
Welcome To New York premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival on Saturday (17May14) and Depardieu reveals he was immediately drawn to the project - in which his character is renamed Mr. Devereaux due to legal reasons - upon reading the script.
Comparing Welcome to New York to "a Shakespearean tragedy" after its screening at the French film event, he added, "It's about power and sex and money. You have all these incredible elements of the great tragedies that we know from the stage."
The movie, which is not in competition at Cannes, received warm reviews from the press, with Variety critic Scott Foundas praising Depardieu for "a powerhouse performance", while The Hollywood Reporter's Jordan Mintzer branded the film "scandalous" and "hilarious", although declared it was a "somewhat tedious account of the DSK affair".
The French businessman was forced to step down as the IMF's chief last year (11) after he was caught up in a hotel rape scandal. Charges against him were dropped, but the fall-out cost him his job and his marriage.
Adjani recently told French publication Journal de Dimanche the film, to be directed by Abel Ferrara, will be hard hitting, revealing, "It should be fascinating because we have a director who isn't French in charge and he's going to go where it hurts... With him, there's no risk of being politically correct."
And newswoman Sinclair is delighted with the casting.
She tells local paper Le Parisien she's a big fan of Adjani's 1988 movie Camille Claudel, in which the actress starred opposite Depardieu.
Sinclair tells the newspaper, "I like that woman a lot."
And Depardieu insists he won't be holding back anything as the disgraced businessman Strauss-Kahn - because he found him to be "arrogant" throughout the rape scandal.
Announcing the casting earlier this year (12), the actor said, "Because I don't like him I'm going to do it."
The Green Card star is to play the lead role in the biopic of France's disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been accused of sexually assaulting a chambermaid and was questioned by police over an alleged prostitution ring.
Depardieu knows exactly how to play the scandal-hit Frenchman, because Strauss-Kahn displays traits he abhors in his countrymen.
The actor tells Swiss chat show RTS, "He's not loveable. I think he's a bit like all the French, a bit arrogant. I don't much like the French in any case. And he's very French - arrogant, smug.
"He's playable. I will do it because I don't like him... We can all have filthy thoughts, and it's well known these guys with huge power can be like that. But I will not try to inhabit the role too deeply as I have never been moved by people who have no dignity."
The film will be directed by Abel Ferrara.
Overshadowed by the mighty NYCC this past weekend was another New York celebration of movies: the Hamptons International Film Festival. In recent years, HIFF has been an early step in the rise to notoriety of films like the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and Golden Globe-winning The Wrestler. This year's HIFF offered a slew of promising films, winning a variety of awards. Below is a complete list of HIFF's award-winning films for 2011.
AUDIENCE AWARD NARRATIVE
The Artist, directed by Michael Hazanavicius
AUDIENCE AWARD DOCUMENTARY
Hard Times: Lost on Long Island, directed by Marc Levin
AUDIENCE AWARD WINNER FOR BEST SHORT
Two's a Crowd, directed by Jim Isler and Tom Isler
NARRATIVE JURY WINNER
The Fairy, directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy
DOCUMENTARY JURY WINNER
Laura, directed by Fellipe Barbosa
SHORT DOCUMENTARY JURY WINNER
The Strange Ones, directed by Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein
THE KODAK AWARD FOR BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Without, directed by Mark Jackson
THE WOUTER BARENDRECHT PIONEERING VISION AWARD
Without, directed by Mark Jackson
THE VICTOR RABINOWITZ AND JOANNE GRANT AWARD FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
You've Been Trumped, directed by Anthony Baxter
THE ALFRED P. SLOAN FOUNDATION FEATURE FILM PRIZE
Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, directed by Anne Howell and Lisa Robinson
THE BRIZZOLARA FAMILY FOUNDATION AWARD FOR A FILM OF CONFLICT AND RESOLUTION
The Bully Project, directed by Lee Hirsch
In addition to the outstanding films, the Hamptons International Film Festival also recognizes actors and actresses in a category called Breakthrough Performance Recipients. 2011's winners include:
Emily Browning for her performance in Sleeping Beauty
Alexander Skarsgard for his performance in Melancholia
Stine Fischer Christiansen for her performance in Cracks in the Shell
Ezra Miller for his performance in Another Happy Day
Shailene Woodley for her performance in The Descendants
Anton Yelchin for his performance in Like Crazy
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.