The movie world's highest of high brow event is indubitably Festival de Cannes, the annual French film fest that handpicks the finest works of new cinema to unleash upon the world. From legendary auteurs to first time directors, Cannes is exalted by film buffs as the premiere stage for big screen debuts. If a movie gets into Cannes, it's already earned a level of respect.
That same respect extends to the stars, who flock to the chic festival to walk the red carpet and command audiences with their latest performances. Cannes imbues an actor or actress with immediate cred — especially helpful if for up-and-comers looking for respect. There's a theme of this year's line-up: the new and the old rubbing shoulders, a younger generation ready to step out the door and rise above their goofy franchise roots. Robert Pattinson has teamed with the highly-respected David Cronenberg for the absolutely bonkers-looking Cosmopolis; Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund help Walter Salles (Motorcycle Diaries) bring his long-gestating Kerouac adaptation On the Road to life; Shia LaBeouf drops alien robots for Depression era gangsters and Tom Hardy in Lawless; and Zac Efron stars opposite John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey and Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy, the latest from director Lee Daniels (Precious). The kids, as it seems, are all grown up.
But don't think Cannes has abandoned its A-Listers. Facing off against the Millennials are familiar faces like Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly), Clive Owen (Hemingway & Gelhorn) and the incredible ensemble assembled for Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, which opens the festival. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman…Hollywood friendly, but with the unique quirk that only an Anderson film could provide.
Check out the full list of titles, films ready to hook lucky attendees when the festival gets underway May 16.
Rust and Bone - dir. Jacques Audiard
Moonrise Kingdom - dir. Wes Anderson
Holy Motors - dir. Leos Carax
Cosmopolis - dir. David Cronenberg
The Paperboy - dir. Lee Daniels
Killing Them Softly - dir. Andrew Dominik
Reality - dir. Matteo Garrone
Love - dir. Michael Haneke
Lawless - dir. John Hillcoat
In Another Country - dir. Hong Sang So
The Taste of Money - dir. Im Sang So
Like Someone In Love - dir. Abbas Kiarostami
The Angels' Share - dir. Ken Loach
In The Fog - dir. Sergei Loznitsa
Beyond The Hills - dir. Cristian Mungiu
Baad el Mawkeaaa (Apres La Bataille) - dir. Yousry Nasrallah
Mud - dir. Jeff Nichols
You Haven't Seen Anything Yet - dir. Alan Resnais
Post Tenebras Lux - dir. Carlos Reygadas
On The Road - dir. Walter Salles
Paradise: Love - dir. Ulrich Seidl
The Hunt - dir. Thomas Winterberg
Un Certain Regard:
La Playa - dir. Juan Andres Arango
Miss Lovely - dir. Achim Ahluwalia
God's Horses - dir. Nabel Ayouch
Antiviral - dir. Brandon Cronenberg
Trois Mondes - dir. Catherine Corsini
Days In Havana - dir. Benicio Del Toro, Gaspar Noe, Laurence Cantat, et all
Laurence Anyways - dir. Xavier Dolan
Le Grand Soir - dir. Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern
Aimer A Perdre La Raison - dir. Joachim LaFosse
Después De Lucia - dir. Michel Franco
Mystery - dir. Lou Ye
Student - dir. Darezhan Omirbayev
La Pirogue - dir. Moussa Toure
Confession Of A Child Of The Century - dir. Sylvie Verheyde
The White Elephant - dir. Pablo Trapero
11:25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate - dir. Koje Wakamatsu
Beasts Of The Southern Wild - dir. Benh Zeitlin
Out of Competition:
Tess - restored by Polanski
Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir - dir. Laurent Bouzereau
Once Upon A Time In America - dir. Sergio Leone
The Central Park Five - dir. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon
Garbage In The Garden Of Eden - dir. Faith Akin
Les Invisbles - dir. Sebastien Lifschitz
Journal De France - dir. Claudine Nougaret and Raymond Depardon
Dracula 3D - dir. Dario Argento
Madagascar 3 - dir. Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
Me and You - dir. Bernardo Bertolucci
The Legend Of Love and Sincerity - dir. Takashi Milke
Mekong Hotel - dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Villegas - dir. Gonzalo Tobak
A Musica Segundo Tom Jobim - dir. Nelson Pereira Dos Santos
Hemingway & Gellhorn - dir. Philip Kaufman
[Festival de Cannes]
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
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.
First-time director Sarah Watt won the top honors at Saturday night's Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, taking home both the Best Direction and Best Film prizes for Look Both Ways.
Watt also picked up the Best Original Screenplay award for the low-budget movie, her first feature-length production, at the Melbourne ceremony.
Elsewhere, the Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress honors went to Little Fish co-stars Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett, respectively.
Russell Crowe, who hosted the event, picked up the International Award for Best Actor for his performance in Cinderella Man, while Emily Browning took home the International Award for Best Actress for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Rockers Nick Cave and Warren Ellis won Best Original Music Score for The Proposition.
The winners at the 2005 AFI Awards included:
Best Film--Look Both Ways
Best Lead Actor--Hugo Weaving for Little Fish
Best Lead Actress--Cate Blanchett for Little Fish
Best Direction--Sarah Watt for Look Both Ways
Best Original Screenplay--Sarah Watt for Look Both Ways
Best Adapted Screenplay--Robert Connolly, Elliot Perlman for Three Dollars
Best Supporting Actress--Noni Hazlehurst for Little Fish
Best Supporting Actor--Anthony Hayes for Look Both Ways
Best Editing--Alexandre De Franceschi, John Scott for Little Fish
Best Original Music Score--Nick Cave, Warren Ellis for The Proposition
Best Production Design--Chris Kennedy for The Proposition
Best Costume Design--Margot Wilson for The Proposition
Best Sound--Sam Petty, Peter Grace, Robert Sullivan, Yulia Akerholt for Little Fish
Best Cinematography--Benoit Delhomme for The Proposition
International Award for Best Actor--Russell Crowe for Cinderella Man
International Award for Best Actress--Emily Browning for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
International Award for Excellence in Filmmaking--Roger Savage for House of Flying Daggers
Byron Kennedy Award--Chris Kennedy
Longford Life Achievement Award--Ray Barrett
Readers' Choice Award--Cate Blanchett
Young Actor Award--Sophie Luck for Blue Water High
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The Los Angeles Film Critics Association on Wednesday named the quirky dramedy American Splendor best picture of 2003, and The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson was voted best director. Trophies will be handed out at an awards ceremony Jan. 26 at the St. Regis Hotel in Los Angeles.
With no picture winning more than two awards, however, there was no runaway victor. The three double-winners include American Splendor, which also took the screenplay award for writer/directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which was also honored for its production design; and the French-language cartoon Triplets of Belleville won prizes for animation and music/score.
Here is a complete list of winners and runner-ups:
Winner! American Splendor
Runner-up: Lost in Translation
Winner! Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Runner-up: Clint Eastwood, Mystic River
Winner! Naomi Watts, 21 Grams
Runner-up: Charlize Theron, Monster
Winner! Bill Murray, Lost in Translation
Runner-up: Sean Penn, 21 Grams and Mystic River
Winner! Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, American Splendor
Runner-up: Steve Knight, Dirty Pretty Things
Winner! Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog
Runner-up: Melissa Leo, 21 Grams
Winner! Bill Nighy, AKA,I Capture the Castle, The Lawless Heart,Love Actually
Runner-up: Benicio Del Toro, 21 Grams
Foreign Language Film:
Winner! Man on the Train
Runner-up: City of God
Winner! The Fog of War
Runner-up: Capturing the Friedmans
Winner! Grant Major, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Runner-up: William Sandell, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Winner! Sylvain Chomet, Triplets of Belleville
Special Citation to the Disney restoration of the Walt Disney/Salvador Dali short, Destino
Winner! Benoit Charest, Mathieu Chedid, Triplets of Belleville
Runner-up: Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine Hara, Annette Toole, Harry Shearer, Jeffrey C.J. Vanston, A Mighty Wind
Winner! Eduardo Serra, Girl With A Pearl Earring
Runner-up: Harris Savides, Elephant
Winner! Scarlett Johansson
Winner! Robert Altman
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.