Having now refined and concentrated his self-styled directorial design to the nth detail, Wes Anderson's films have become formalist delights, for those who are amenable to those delights therein. If it's a thoroughly manufactured design, at least it feels true to Anderson's desires and intentions, and he is thrillingly aware of its artificiality. He has here devised a most wonderful, whimsical fantasy, in which the whimsy has been attended to with such reverence and such precision that it has developed genuine substance, and that is the substance of Anderson's films these days. Appreciative of the sensory and narrative restrictions that his rigorous mise-en-scene and poetic affectations have, he fills his film with colour, humour, motion and a number of winningly crude touches. He may present those rare moments of disorder, or flashes of unexpectedly racy content (we're talking Wes-Anderson-racy, now) as, themselves, strictly controlled elements of a larger cinematic arrangement, but there remains a certain glee in occasionally witnessing these flashes of relative abandon - they break up the somewhat stifling sense of scrupulousness in Anderson's style, as charming and as idiosyncratic as that might often be. And it is that idiosyncrasy that permits The Grand Budapest Hotel to flourish as its own artistic entity. Anderson is knowingly constructing a cinematic discipline unique to himself, and who cares if that's nauseatingly obnoxious of him? At the least, he knows what he's good at, and is producing works of art that are likely to be recalled for years to come as examples of contemporary auteurism in American cinema.
Saturday, 8 March 2014
Friday, 7 March 2014
A few miles west of Monaco, Grace of Monaco will open the Cannes Film Festival in May. That, ofc, doesn't mnean it'll be any good, and nor does this trailer, which isn't any good itself. Not my lovely Nicole Kidman. She doesn't need this. She needs another Rabbit Hole. But the costumes!! A UK release is slated for the 6th of june atm; no word yet on a US release.
This is the trailer for Frank, which it seems, Maggie, people already love! The director is Lenny Abrahamson, who made a film called What Richard Did that I didn't see because it looked awful. Has that ever stopped me before? I will see Frank, though, because it doesn't look awful, and who knows, I might not love it, Maggie! A British and Irish release is scheduled for the 2nd of May.
I know it's the 'cool' thing to do, and thus probably not 'cool' at all any more, but I do think Sin City's a terrific film, and I'm looking forward to seeing this sequel, so long in transition to cinema screens. I've already braced myself for Eva Green. The biggest sin of all in the above trailer is that horrible music. I'd rather watch Elijah Wood suck the meat off of my fingers than hear that again. Out in the US on the 22nd of August and in the UK on the 29th. Has nobody told the studios that we're actually several hours ahead of you Yanks?
To everyone who thought it was just the influence of Benh Zeitlin that drew such a good performance out of Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, check out what she does in the trailer for Annie, and then check out what director Will Gluck gets out of Cameron Diaz... kk, so she's Cameron Diaz, but still. So Lil' Q can act! Whether or not she can sing is kinda up for debate though. Oscar-nominated child star gets big role in musical? All she needs to do next is come out as gay in 40 years and our Quvenzhane is the new Jodie Foster! Hell yeh I can get on board with that.
Thursday, 6 March 2014
Arnaud des Pallieres takes a low-spirited approach to his film adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist's novella, instead diverting the film's energies toward its technical and artistic qualities. He thus creates a dichotomy between the subdued, respectful contribution of the script and the acting and the relative flamboyance (as far as that term could apply to anything in Michael Kohlhaas) of elements such as the score, the sound mix and the cinematography. It renders the film, as a whole, somewhat uninvolving, yet individual aspects or scenes do frequently possess a distinct beauty in their presentation. des Pallieres' approach may be tinged with hints of pretension, but even the most pretentious directorial devices can have their uses, and he is surprisingly benevolent at finding them here, considering the restraint he seems to coax out of his performers. But von Kleist's story being over 200 years old, there's plainly too much going on in the most basic narrative framework of Michael Kohlhaas that a strictly minimalist technique wouldn't have fit, so des Pallieres' propensity for embellishment, however subtle or brief, doesn't feel as out of place as it could have. von Kleist's (posthumous) input is perhaps of the greatest worth: this is a story of an ilk we don't have the privilege of seeing much of any more, wherein the obvious dramatic marks are not all necessarily hit, and the easy options not all taken. He, like so many novelists of bygone times and so few of contemporary, had conviction in the content of his prose to buoy interest in his story, and possibly also in the value of devising a plot that follows more a realistic trajectory than a crudely satisfying, melodramatic one might have had. It is a positive attribute of this film, then, that des Pallieres has taken such a low-spirited approach. He resists any modern urges to sensationalise a tale that undeniably would have suffered under anything of that sort.
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
They don't want you to know Mickey Rourke and Powers Boothe are in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. They want you to know Joseph Gordon-Levitt's in it. And Jessica Alba. In her underwear! Out in the US on the 22nd of August and in the UK on the 29th.
One of this Christmas' rivalling musicals, the other being Rob Marshall's Into the Woods, Sony are clearly confident at present about the prospects of Will Gluck's (Easy A) Annie. They plan to release it in the US on the 19th of December, right in time for the holidays, and then in the UK curiously late - the 6th of February. An indication that they're hoping for major awards attention? Could this finally be the year of the musicals that the Academy has been craving for years now?
It really is about the little things. I never actually believed that it was, but In Fear is proof that it is. Little things such as a little bit of character shading, a little bit of explanation, a little bit of reason for why Amy, Tom and the rest of us are being tormented like this. A filmmaker can take those little things and let their film run its course, comfortable in the knowledge that every action and reaction, every move and motive now means something more than mere provocation. Without those little things, a film like In Fear is just that, sensory stimulation, all scare and nothing there. One wonders if the horror genre became the default for low-budget filmmaking less because it doesn't tend to suffer from limited resurces (it usually does, though) and more because it's plain old low-art as well as low-budget. It doesn't need to be, though, not with those little things, you know? Jeremy Lovering has a firm handle on our heart rates, and is proficient in inducing a palpable sense of dread, as long as you can ignore the more blatant techniques he employs in so doing. But he has nowhere to go with his directorial craft, since he's just embellishing a screenplay that would otherwise have crashed the entire film within minutes. What could any debut director on meagre means do with so pedestrian a premise, or so restrictive a space, or such a silly excuse for a villain - psychotic and reckless to the point of inviting death upon himself, wide-eyed and grinning and giggling as we're just groaning. Such insufferable posing. One regard in which the film excels is its thrilling edit, aided by more varied camera set-ups than usual in similar films. One regard in which it could have excelled but does not is in its soundscape. Sound design is perfunctory, and score is crude and callous (much like the film's upsetting climax). It's only in the film a little, but then, it really is about the little things.
That was the look on old Jesus' face when Co. Antrim's very own God Almighty beat him to the top of the U.S. box office over the weekend. Liam Neeson's Non-Stop bagged an impressive $28.9 million Friday-Sunday, which is a marked improvement over recent Neeson vehicles Unknown and The Grey. Christian TV-movie repurposed as cinema spectacle Son of God was the second-highest new entry, and even looked like stealing first place away from Non-Stop had Sunday grosses been stronger - $25.6 million was good for second, though. This means that The LEGO Movie, hurtling past $200 million domestic, finally fell off No. 1, dropping to third with $20.8 million; its weekend-on-weekend declines have thus far never exceeded 37%. Such strong holds were not in evidence for last weekend's two newcomers, 3 Days to Kill ($5 million, -59.6% to fourth) and Pompeii ($4.3 million, -58.1% to seventh), though an even more popular animation than LEGO fared best of all within the Top 10: Frozen now looks set for over $400 million from the U.S. alone, holding in eighth place in its 15th weekend. An R-rated extended cut of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues couldn't attract much interest, charting in 14th, though an expansion for the English-language dub of The Wind Rises made it one place higher, with $1.5 million. Oscar nominees (and now, in some cases, winners) mostly received boosts to theatre counts - only Captain Phillips, Gravity and Her did not - and all received boosts to grosses on last weekend, save Nebraska. Indian film The Lunchbox and John Cusack thriller The Bag Man both averaged over $14.5k per-theatre in very limited openings, Russian IMAX release Stalingrad flopped with just over $500k, and animated film Ernest & Celestine opened in just the one cinema, and placed 63rd overall.
- Non-Stop ($28,875,635)
- Son of God ($25,601,865)
- The LEGO Movie ($20,828,356)
- 3 Days to Kill ($4,950,813)
- The Monuments Men ($4,940,198)
- RoboCop ($4,508,609)
- Pompeii ($4,331,431)
- Frozen ($3,631,640)
- About Last Night ($3,383,253)
- Ride Along ($3,037,680)