CANNES — The movie with the Nazi martial-arts fight and drag queens dressed as clowns had just ended when Nicolas Winding Refn, looking giddy, or as giddy as droll Danes look, leaned forward in his seat and initiated a rousing round of applause.
The director he was cheering, auteur-of-the-absurd Alejandro Jodorowsky, was sitting in front of Refn at the Cannes premiere of Jodorowsky’s new film, titled “La Danza de la Realidad.” Refn soon bounded to his feet, hugged the octogenarian and kept the clapping going for nearly 10 minutes.
“Nobody else makes movies that is the closest thing to going to a museum,” Refn explained later. "Who’d have the [guts] to shoot someone and have canaries come out of their body? When Jodorowsky’s gone, that it. End of an era.”
PHOTOS: The scene at Cannes Film Festival 2013
That may only be partly true. With his recent work, Refn is trying to keep Jodorowsky’s legacy going. The Dane’s new film,...
Chris Pine, who plays the young Captain James T. Kirk in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” hails from a family of actors: mother Gwynne Gilford, father Robert Pine (Sgt. Joseph Getraer on “CHiPs”), sister Katherine Pine and his late grandmother, Anne Gwynne.
In fact, Anne Gwynne was a horror icon at Universal in the 1940s, appearing in such classics of the genre as “House of Frankenstein,” and also starring in sci-fi serials, westerns and even musical-comedies at the studio.
Born in 1918 in Waco, Texas, the former Marguerite Gwynne Trice became interested in acting while attending Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. A beauty queen — she was a Miss San Antonio — the vivacious redhead became a model for Catalina Swimwear in Los Angeles. While acting in small theatrical productions, Gwynne was spotted by a talent scout and signed in 1939 to Universal, where she would make over 40 films.
Gwynne became one of the studio's leading scream queens in 1940'...
CANNES, France -- In close to three decades of filmmaking, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have shared a lot of looks. But with "Inside Llewyn Davis," which had its premiere in Festival de Cannes competition Sunday, one particular glance said it all.
"At one point, we looked at each other," Joel recalled, sipping coffee in a joint early morning interview, "and said, ‘Have we written something which is essentially unmakable because it's uncastable?' "
The Coens' concern was legitimate. Set in the small and self-contained folk singing universe of New York's Greenwich Village in 1961, just before Bob Dylan's arrival turned everything upside down, "Inside Llewyn Davis" demanded something very particular of the actor playing the title role.
CHEAT SHEET: Cannes Film Festival 2013 trailers
"He had to be believable as a musician, because this is not the kind of movie where you hear a few bars of a song; they play out in their entirety," Joel continues. "But the character is in every scene, so...
"Star Trek Into Darkness" opened atop the U.S. box office, though its debut didn't quite make the jump to warp speed that Paramount Pictures executives expected.
"Into Darkness," the second J.J. Abrams-directed installment in the long-running science-fiction franchise, took in $70.55 million over the weekend, according to studio estimates, bringing its total take to $84 million. The movie launched Wednesday in 336 IMAX locations before opening wide Thursday.
The overall total, while healthy, was $16 million less than what Paramount, which co-financed the film with Skydance Productions, had forecast. The movie did receive a nice bump Saturday, indicating that audience word-of-mouth is strong. Moviegoers — 16% of whom saw the movie in the IMAX format since opening — assigned the picture an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
The "Star Trek" movie was the weekend's only major studio release....
Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98
Available on VOD beginning Tuesday
Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns don't really try to reinvent the psychological thriller with their film. Structurally, it's a conventionally twisty mystery, with Jude Law playing a psychiatrist who goes into investigative mode when one of his patients (Rooney Mara) commits a heinous crime. But Soderbergh and Burns do strike an appealingly low-key tone here, not even tipping their hands that the movie is a genre piece until the second half. They're more interested in the culture of pills and palliatives that Law inhabits, and how it's convinced everyone — doctors and patients and loved ones alike — that the right combination of medicine and therapies can fix anything. It's a pointed film but no less entertaining for the dose of social commentary. The DVD and Blu-ray tack on a tongue-in-cheek three-minute featurette, and several fake pharmaceutical commercials.
CANNES, France -- Few independent directors have won as many plaudits for their visual inventiveness as Ari Folman. Five years ago, the Israeli first-timer came to Cannes and caught the film world’s attention with his combat piece “Waltz With Bashir.” A largely autobiographical account of his experience in the first Israel-Lebanon war, “Bashir” subsumed real-life acting into a palette of painstaking hand-drawn animation. The film went on to be nominated for the foreign-language Oscar and win the Golden Globe in the category.
The filmmaker returned to the Croisette this week with his first film since “Bashir," a Director’s Fortnight selection called “The Congress.” The movie, in English, is one of the more audacious works to play on these shores in a while, not only because it blends animation and live action but also because it tackles subjects as far-flung as Big Brother, immortality and the viability of Hollywood actors in a CG...
It wouldn't be quite accurate to say that J.J. Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek" reboot boldly went where no man had gone before. After all, such familiar faces such as Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock and Uhura were along for the ride (though played by new actors), as was the venerable starship Enterprise (itself sporting a makeover). But thanks to some shrewd time-travel shenanigans, Abrams managed to branch off his own "Star Trek" timeline, allowing his version to draw on the franchise's mythos without having to carry all its baggage. The result was both well-reviewed and a box-office hit.
Now comes the sequel, "Star Trek Into Darkness." According to many film critics, it's another lively dose of sci-fi entertainment, even if it falls short of truly breaking new ground.
The Times' own Betsy Sharkey writesthat "Into Darkness" "wears its politics, its mettle, its moxie and its heart on its ginormous 3-D sleeve," although it "doesn't quite match 2009's blast from the past." She continues: "There are...
When director Alex Gibney began work on his documentary "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks," he thought he would be telling the story of a charismatic, silver-haired free speech advocate named Julian Assange, who had exposed dark corners of powerful governments and corporations using little more than his laptop.
Instead, as he began to investigate, Gibney found himself crafting a digital age Icarus tale, in which the WikiLeaks founder's idealism and ambition were metastasizing into hubris, and his organization's greatest achievements rested on the shoulders of a lonely young Army private named Bradley Manning.
In portraying the battle between WikiLeaks — Assange's group, which publishes classified information supplied by anonymous sources — and its chief adversary, the U.S. government, Gibney delivers a movie about...
CANNES, France -- The audiences at the Cannes Film Festival, if they are so moved, really know how to do things right when it comes to recognizing new film talent. This was the case in spades with the Saturday morning premier of Rebecca Zlotowski’s “Grand Central.”
The second film for the 33-year-old Paris-born co-writer and director, “Grand Central” debuted in the Un Certain Regard section before an audience that included French film luminaries like “A Prophet” director Jacques Audiard.
Starring “A Prophet” leading man Tahar Rahim, Lea Seydoux and Olivier Gourmet, “Grand Central” turned out to be a nifty neo-noir that expertly details an amour fou between Rahmin’s rootless worker and Seydoux’s Lana Turner lookalike, smartly set in the toxic ambiance surrounding one of France’s numerous nuclear power plants.
When the film ended, the festival’s...
Cannes, France--With award-season hits such as “The Silver Linings Playbook” and “Django Unchained,” the Weinstein Co. had a small but potent slate in the latter half of 2012.
On Friday evening at the Cannes Film Festival, the indie-film company unveiled its back-nine for 2013, showing footage from nearly a dozen upcoming releases it hopes will catch on with consumers and Oscar taste-makers. New material from John Wells’ adaptation of the Pulitzer-prizewinning play “August: Osage County,” Nicole Kidman’s royals drama “Grace of Monaco,” Shane Salerno’s anticipated literary doc “Salinger” and Justin Chadwick’s apartheid tale “Mandela” was all shown, along with some previously released material from films such as Lee Daniels' "The Butler."
CHEAT SHEET: Cannes Film Festival 2013 trailers
Weinstein Co. also showed trailers or scenes from Sundance darling “FruitvaleStation," the James Gray...
CANNES, France--Most of the attention at the Cannes Film Festival this week centers on the big names--Nicolas Refn, Alexander Payne, James Gray.
But the springtime cinema gathering can sometimes makes room for someone a little different. Someone, say, like Jeremy Saulnier, a little-known director who, at 36, has used a little pluck and plenty of Kickstarter to defy the stereotypes of the world's most prestigious (and expensive) festival.
Saulnier's new film, his follow-up to the modestly performing 2007 genre comedy “Murder Party,” premieres Saturday in the Director's Fortnight section, where it is expected to draw attention both for its unusual genesis and unlikely genre spin.
A revenge drama called "Blue Ruin," Saulnier’s film centers on a homeless man (Macon Blair) who sets out to kill the person who murdered his parents but winds up starting an unfortunate chain reaction instead. Unlike most revenge thrillers, the...
Not many of us will ever get to the fabulous Cannes Film Festival currently taking place in the glamorous French resort town. But there is a way to enjoy the Cannes experience vicariously via the films that have used the international festival as a backdrop for narrative features, TV movies and documentaries.
One example is “Seduced & Abandoned," Alec Baldwin and James Toback's documentary chronicling their attempts to raise financing for a project at the 2012 extravaganza. The duo has have returned to the French Riviera this year to screen the film, which has been acquired by HBO.
Definitely worth checking out is indie filmmaker Henry Jaglom's "Festival in Cannes," a well-received 2001 satire of the machinations of filmmakers and the art of the deal at Cannes at the 1999 festival. The stellar cast includes Anouk Aimee, Oscar-winner Maximilian Schell, Greta Scacchi, Zack Norman, Ron Silver and Peter Bogdanovich. Faye Dunaway, Jeff Goldblum, Holly Hunter and William Shatner appear...
CANNES -- An incident apparently involving a gun briefly interrupted a French television interview with actors Christoph Waltz and Daniel Auteuil at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday and sent nearby pedestrians scurrying for safety.
According to several news accounts and eyewitnesses near the city's Martinez Hotel, a man brandishing a gun and another suspicious object appeared near a booth where jury members Waltz and Auteuil were speaking to Le Grand Journal, a program that broadcasts nightly from a seaside location in front of the hotel.
Witnesses heard shots fired, and the actors were hustled off stage as pedestrians scattered. The French TV outlet Canal+ reported that the shots were blanks. No injuries were reported.
Police arrived within minutes of the incident and the man was taken away; there are no reports as yet of his background or motive, or what the other object was that he was holding.
The Martinez is on the eastern end of the...
NEW YORK — "Before Midnight," Richard Linklater's third film about the relationship between an American man (Ethan Hawke) and French woman (Julie Delpy), closes with what might be the series' piece de resistance: a 30-minute hotel-room argument between the couple. Brutal and witty, the power dynamic shifts back and forth between the pair, as one grabs the upper hand and the other snatches it back.
The scene is so credible that at least one woman who'd seen the movie walked up to Linklater recently and told him she had begun to use some of the lines when she came to a disagreement with her husband.
"Great," Linklater said drolly. "We're helping America argue."
Americans may be back to arguing about, or at least discussing, Linklater's trilogy — "Before Sunrise," "Before Sunset" and now "Before Midnight" — when the new film arrives in theaters May 24. "Before Midnight's" interest in the struggles of an everyday couple and universal...
The premise is familiar: Three young women on a camping trip find themselves under siege from three unhinged attackers and fight back. But what happens in “Black Rock” is unexpected, as rather than a more typical story of female empowerment and revenge, the film explores issues of friendship and the primal bonds that come to connect people to one another.
The film is directed by Katie Aselton, who also stars alongside Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth. The script for “Black Rock” was written by Aselton’s husband (and co-star on TV’s “The League”), actor and filmmaker Mark Duplass. The film is a change-up from Aselton’s 2010 comedy-drama “The Freebie,” an intimate, indie-scaled story about a couple, played by Aselton and Dax Shepard, struggling only to survive a rough patch in their relationship.
“Black Rock” debuted in the Midnight section of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and seemed to scramble the circuits of...
The American Cinematheque and the Visual Effects Society are joining forces next month to pay homage to the pioneering stop-motion special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, who died in London on May 7 at age 92.
“The King of Stop-Motion: Ray Harryhausen Remembered” opens June 6 at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica with 1958’s “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” directed by Nathan Juran and starring Kerwin Matthews and Kathryn Grant, who became Bing Crosby’s second wife. The fantasy features several of Harryhausen’s memorable creatures, including two-headed birds, a Cyclops, dragons and sword-fighting skeletons. The program concludes with the 40th-anniversary screening of “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,” with John Phillip Law.
The Aero presents a triple Harryhausen treat on June 7 with 1961’s “Mysterious Island,” based on Jules Verne’s classic tale, the infamous 1966 “One Million Years B.C.,” starring Raquel...
CANNES, France -- You’d expect a savvy pro such as Octavia Spencer to have dropped in on the Cannes Film Festival once or twice over the years.
But there she was on Thursday afternoon, taking it all in like a wide-eyed tourist.
“First time," said the 42-year-old Oscar winner. “First time. I guess I should go out and see some big movies,” she added with her usual irreverence as she sat at a beachside restaurant, gazing at tables of diners and the yachts docked in the Mediterranean beyond them. “But I’ve gotta talk about this movie.”
“This movie” is “Fruitvale Station,” Ryan Coogler's Sundance darling about real-life BART passenger Oscar Grant, killed by transit police on New Year’s Eve four years ago.
The 26-year-old-filmmaker focuses on the last day of Grant's life, on which he attempts to create more stability for his significant other and child, only to see all those efforts...
There may be potential juice in the story of "The Second Meeting," which involves two wartime enemies who later forge a peaceful trans-Atlantic friendship. But writer-producer-director Zeljko Mirkovic's clunker of a documentary demands a full narrative and editorial rethink.
In 1999, an American F-117A stealth bomber piloted by Lt. Col. Dale Zelko, was shot down over Serbia by Yugoslav missile officer Zoltan Dani. Zelko parachuted to safety and Dani became a national hero. Twelve years later, family men Zelko and Dani visit each other in their home countries (how this came about goes unexplained), proving that just because someone tried to kill you doesn't mean you can't be buddies.
Given how Zelko's and Dani's lives first intersected, it's shocking that the film proves so devoid of drama, conflict or tension. That might feel a tad less egregious if there was a more effective structure and focus, not to mention greater depth and emotion (Zelko's wife's frequent waterworks aside) to the...
"Java Heat" is a good-looking thriller made of rickshaws and machine guns, with Mickey Rourke as a French villain and "Twilight" actor Kellan Lutz a hyper-buff art student who isn't everything he seems. But the film's anthropological interest in Indonesia is the smartest thing in an otherwise familiar scramble of kidnapped babes, expensive jewelry and millions of bullets.
Indonesia, as the opening credits inform, is home to the largest Muslim population in the world. Writer-director-model Conor Allyn and his co-writer, dad Rob, live part time in Java and their intimacy with the country shows. Javanese characters, such as local star Ario Bayu, who plays a detective, offer us credible glimpses of the culture, detailing the proper way to kiss a hand, wear batik and put up with Lutz's Jake when he's forced to inquire about, for instance, what the Koran has to say about piercing female genitalia.
Jake, a handsome, heroic lunk, witnesses a terrorist...
Innocence meets experience, unconvincingly, in the strained redemption drama "33 Postcards." The movie's awkward mix of familiar setups finds a teenage orphan from China on the sorta-mean streets of Sydney, Australia, inspiring hope in a criminal who has long since repented for his sins. The involvement of Guy Pearce — one of the best, if most unsung, actors of his generation — is among the film's many bafflements.
Sixteen-year-old Mei Mei (Zhu Lin) has spent most of her life in a peaceful valley in Zhejiang province. The donations of an Aussie sponsor, Dean (Pearce), have enabled her to attend school and learn English, and his letters and cheery postcards have sparked a vision of a better life. But when her orphanage's choir travels to Australia to perform in a festival, Mei Mei learns that Dean has been writing to her from prison and not the shiny happy home he described.
Her insistent visits to the correctional facility, as Dean...
Two years, two states. In 2009, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad laid out a plan to end the decades-long territorial stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians. But by 2011, despite Fayyad's efforts, including a successful campaign to improve Palestinians' economic and institutional infrastructure — a kind of "if you build it, statehood will come" — the situation remained deadlocked.
This period of hope, progress, frustration and fracture is examined with equanimity and clarity by Israeli filmmaker Dan Setton in the absorbing documentary "State 194."
Setton focuses on the seemingly level-headed, optimistic Fayyad as he navigated the choppy waters of domestic politics and international diplomacy while pressing the United Nations for statehood and to make it its 194th member nation.
This globe-hopping film offers an easily digestible look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, past and present, while framing the roles...
South Korean provocateur Kim Ki-duk's new film "Pieta," about a cold, wraith-like loan-shark enforcer in a poverty-stricken village, is expectedly gruesome in some of its details. But it's the explicitness about capitalism's emotional wreckage that gives this micro-budgeted drama a gut-punch heft.
Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin, working a thousand-yard stare) slaps, breaks, tortures and cripples the desperate small-time machinists of cramped, industrial Cheonggyecheon who owe his boss money. But when a mysterious older woman (Cho Min-soo) shows up at his door, begging forgiveness for abandoning him as an infant, the possibility of redemption upends Kang-do, opening the door for a tale of grim vengeance.
Shot cheaply and obviously on digital video, Kim's economy of filmmaking helps ensure that the darkest corners of "Pieta" — including the claustrophobic shops, alleyways and living spaces — take center stage rather than the plot's inherent melodrama. The snapshot portraits of Kang-...
The doctor-patient relationship at the center of the striking debut feature "Augustine" is modern for its time, the late 19th century. Yet it feels primitive, and not merely because of what we know about the period's scientific limitations.
As told by filmmaker Alice Winocour, the story of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and the teenage kitchen maid Augustine who became one of his most celebrated cases alternates between impenetrable Gothic shadow and dreamy Baroque light. It's a story of women's "hysteria," the catch-all term for mysterious symptoms like Augustine's, and a story of primal female power — debased, dissected and displayed.
The film's dark beauty and the quiet intensity of the performances have a discomforting pull. Singer-actress Soko plays the 19-year-old title character, who arrives at Paris' Salpêtrière hospital after a seizure leaves her partly paralyzed. The ambitious Charcot (Vincent Lindon) is fascinated, and in short order she's the main attraction in his...
The last time Sofia Coppola brought a movie to the Cannes Film Festival, in 2006 with "Marie Antoinette," she might have preferred to stay home: The reviews were harsh, and the film was booed by audiences.
The reaction to her new movie, "The Bling Ring," has been far more favorable.
The film, which premiered at Cannes on Thursday and arrives in U.S. theaters on June 14, focuses on a group of real-life young people who break into celebrity homes to pinch jewelry, money and rugs.
As Times staff writer Amy Kaufman has reported, the movie's making has sparked a controversy within the LAPD.
But the early reception to the Cannes screening has been largely positive.
Peter Bradshaw, reviewing the movie in The Guardian, said, "'The Bling Ring' is a very distant, minor cousin to Robert Bresson's 'Pickpocket' or Christopher Nolan's 'Following.' The final notes of irony and repudiation may be laboured and obvious, but this is an intriguingly intuitive and...
The thriller "Erased" divides neatly by influence. When Brussels-based tech security expert Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) shows up for work one day, there's no trace of his company anymore, a la "Three Days of the Condor." Like the "Bourne" movies, he's then targeted for elimination, (when we learn he's actually ex-CIA and highly skilled at killing). He's also a single dad with a teenage daughter (Liana Liberato) in tow, and that creates its fair share of peril, "Taken" you very much.
As with many one-man-against-an-international-conspiracy movies, details like who did what, when, for which piece of information and why it's so important mean little once the chases, spy moves and fights hit cruise control.
As warmed-over as the material is, director Philipp Stölzl ("North Face") does show flair for the kind of cool action best achieved in European urban locales. But screenwriter Arash Amel's dialogue is simply the chunkiest mix tape of clichés ("It was an executive decision!" "I don't even...
In "Black Rock," a female-fueled thriller, Sarah (Kate Bosworth) wants to make amends with two childhood friends by pitching a tent with them on a small Maine island where the three women once camped as kids. "We are all dying," Sarah tells Lou (Lake Bell) and Abby (Katie Aselton), and she's right: Life is short, and it's about to get shorter.
After a trio of dishonorably discharged vets crashes the women's campfire and a drunken hookup goes deathly awry, it's girls-versus-boys to see which gender will survive. Under the circumstances, that makes Abby's refusal to forgive Lou for sleeping with her ex-boyfriend seem silly, though not as silly as the film's bluff that in 24 hours, these Star magazine-loving ladies will become angry, naked nymphs who whittle their own spears.
Writer-director-star Aselton (whose 2010 Sundance film "The Freebie" is a must-watch) faces a crucial and complicated rape scene head-on, and the violence is realistically clumsy....
There's something healing about simply watching "Free the Mind," Danish filmmaker Phie Ambo's gentle, compassionate documentary spotlighting the use of such drug-free options as meditation and mindfulness to treat anxiety and trauma.
Writer-director Ambo focuses on three main subjects: Will, an endearing 5-year-old with ADHD and a fear of elevators; Steve, an Afghanistan war veteran haunted by his stint as a military intelligence soldier and interrogator; and Rich, a former battalion leader in Iraq wracked by guilt and horrific memories of combat. Fueled by the subtle parallels between young Will and the adult Steve and Rich, the movie follows the trio through brief, life-changing experiments overseen by neuroscientist Richard Davidson.
Davidson, who founded the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, believes the brain can be physically altered by the power of thought. Thus he guides the veterans toward peace and happiness through meditation,...
There are times you wish writer-director-editor Terence Nance's hyper-eclectic dipsy doodle "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty" would be a bit, well, simpler. That said, this big-hearted film's many moving parts ultimately add up to a jaunty, highly unique look at romantic crossed wires and the push-pull of male-female relationships.
The movie toggles between the title work and its predecessor, a 2006 short called "How Would You Feel?" about the would-be romance between Nance and his friend-unrequited love, Namik Minter. (Both characters play themselves, or should we say "are" themselves?) The halves of "Beauty" are sewn together by a wry and grandly written narration (voiced by Nance and others) that wedges in words such as "exegesis" and "coefficient" without sounding a bit arch.
En route, there are vibrant chunks of hand-drawn and stop-motion animation, a purposeful repetition of events that somehow always feels new, recounts of Nance's other fleeting girlfriends, evocative shots...
Writer-director Michael Singh's documentary "Valentino's Ghost" connects the United States' Middle East foreign policy agenda to the American media's often negative portrayals of Arabs and Muslims. It's a provocative, absorbing — and at times dicey — study.
Using film and TV clips plus archival news footage, the India-born Singh ambitiously tracks the on-screen depiction of Arabs starting in the 1920s when Rudolph Valentino melted hearts as "The Sheik" and Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckled his way through "The Thief of Bagdad." But, he notes, those warm, fanciful portrayals shrank over the years as America's economic and political interests in the Middle East grew.
According to Singh, specific events accelerated the shift: The formation of Israel in 1948, the 1972 attack on the Munich Olympics by Palestinian terrorists, the launch of the Arab oil embargo in 1973 and, perhaps most indelibly, the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The filmmaker contends that the U.S. news media has failed to...
Effortless and effervescent, "Frances Ha" is a small miracle of a movie, honest and funny with an aim that's true. It's both a timeless story of the joys and sorrows of youth and a dead-on portrait of how things are right now for one particular New York woman who, try as she might, can't quite get her life together.
That would be the Frances of the title (the Ha isn't explained until the film's charming final frame), a joint creation of and career high point for both star Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach, who met on the director's "Greenberg" and co-wrote the script.
Together they have created an American independent film (shot in luminous black and white by Sam Levy) that feels off the cuff but is in fact exactly made by a filmmaker in total control of his resources. With a soundtrack that makes liberal use of music from Georges Delerue, a frequent Francois Truffaut collaborator, it's got the energy and verve of the French New Wave but remains unmistakably itself.
Regard the hands of Ricky Jay. Watch them making cards do things cards never have done before, things cards didn't even know they could do. And for this master of manipulation, cards are just the beginning.
Seeing is definitely not believing in the wonderfully titled "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay," directed by Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein. This documentary provides an elegant, enthralling peek behind the curtain and into the you-won't-trust-your-eyes world of this celebrated contemporary conjurer.
"Cards are like living breathing human beings because they give you real pleasure," is how Jay feels about the deck in his hands. "You sit in a room with them for 10 to 15 hours per day, and they become your friends."
Not that Ricky Jay gives away any secrets either about his trade or his life, but as David Mamet, his frequent collaborator and director of the stage show "Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants" puts it,...
Don't be fooled by its deceptively simple title or the hesitant, unassuming way it begins. Writer-director Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell" ends up an invigorating powerhouse of a personal documentary, adventurous and absolutely fascinating.
Unexpectedly moving in unanticipated ways, this unusual film is a look at the complexities of one specific family's story as well as a broad examination of the interlocking nature of truth, secrecy and memory, not to mention the endless intricacies of human relationships.
Five years in the making, "Stories We Tell" reveals its secrets slowly, like an onion being unpeeled layer by unexpected layer, not unlike the way Polley herself discovered what she did about her own background. It's not for nothing that "Stories We Tell" begins with a potent quote from Polley's fellow Canadian Margaret Atwood: "When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion," Atwood wrote in the novel "Alias Grace." "It's only afterwards that...
First is “Three Wicked Melodramas From Gainsborough Pictures,” released as part of Criterion’s Eclipse Series. This trio of films — “The Man in Grey,” “Madonna of the Seven Moons” and “The Wicked Lady,” with stars such as James Mason, Margaret Lockwood, Stewart Granger and Phyllis Calvert — are all zesty costume melodramas that thrilled audiences in wartime and postwar Britain.
Even larger is the five-disc collection put out by the intrepid folks at Flicker Alley. “French Masterworks: Russian Emigres in Paris 1923-1928.” These silent films from Film Albatros, a French studio founded by Russian artists, will be little known to most viewers.
But accompanied by newly...
It was nearly 40 years ago that martial arts actor Bruce Lee died suddenly at age 32 in Hong Kong of cerebral edema caused by an allergic reaction to pain medication.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Lee's legacy last month with the opening of its exhibit "Kick Ass! Kung Fu Posters from the Stephen Chin Collection" and a screening of his 1973 martial arts classic "Enter the Dragon," released shortly after his death on July 20. The newly restored film makes its digital bow on Blu-ray just in time for Father's Day.
But holy Hai Karate! Shout Factory! is delivering the mother lode on Aug. 6. "The Bruce Lee Legacy Collection" is an 11 disc Blu-ray and DVD box set that features the digital debut of his Hong Kong blockbusters 1971's "The Big Boss," 1972's "Fist of Fury," 1972's "The Way of the Dragon" and 1978's "Game of Death."
Also included are the documentary features "Bruce Lee: The Legend," "I Am Bruce Lee," and "The Grandmaster and the Dragon: William Cheung and...
Harvey Weinstein says he loved the martial arts blockbuster “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
So now he’s making its sequel — albeit without original director Ang Lee.
The Weinstein Co. announced Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival that it will commence filming on “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 — The Green Destiny” next March in Asia.
The sequel will be directed by Yuen Wo Ping (the celebrated fight choreographer in the first film) with a cast that includes “Crouching Tiger” alumnae Michelle Yeoh as Yu Shu Lien.
“I loved Ang Lee's film,” Weinstein said in a statement. “I thought it was a master class in directing, but I know we are in fantastic hands with Yuen Wo Ping directing the second installment.” John Fusco (“Hidalgo,” “Spirit”) will write the screenplay, adapted from the Wang Du Lu book “Iron Knight, Silver Vase.”
"The English Teacher" is a tragedy masquerading as a comedy and doing a disservice to both. The same could be said for the film's normally fine cast. Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Nathan Lane and Michael Angarano have all had better days.
The movie begins with a stereotype. Linda Sinclair (Moore) is the teacher of the title. Middle-aged, single with cats, she teaches high school English in a small Pennsylvania town. Her passion is saved for her students and the literary greats whose writing she loves most of all.
Only a taste of her classroom fire makes it into the movie, not nearly enough to put Linda in league with Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society" or Richard Dreyfuss in "Mr. Holland's Opus." Even so, Moore and the rest of the actors make the best of what they've got, turning in passable performances in this failing enterprise.
To some extent, director Craig Zisk does too, using a light touch, setting a brisk pace and wrapping things up in about an...
CANNES -- Few people can call watching reality TV a professional obligation. But Emma Watson found herself in just that position researching the role of a celebrity-obsessed thief in the fact-based "The Bling Ring."
“I had a lot of work to get into the character of Nikki,” the actress, 23, told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, referring to the member of the nihilist burglar team she plays in Sofia Coppola’s new film. “I watched a lot of ‘Kardashians’ and a lot of Paris [Hilton] and a lot of 'The Hills.'"
In the movie -- which premiered at Cannes on Thursday night and hits U.S. theaters June 14 -- Watson portrays one of a group of real-life young people, primarily four women and a man, who for nearly a year broke into the homes of celebrities including Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson and Orlando Bloom. There they pocketed jewelry, money and even ornamental rugs in a bid to live the celebrity high life....
It is night in an upscale Manhattan apartment. A child, tucked safely into bed, drifts toward sleep to the sounds of her parents tearing each other apart in the next room. Her eyes close, the fighting rumbles on, their words wielded with lethal precision at each other's most vulnerable spots.
We are in Maisie's world and about to find out in uncomfortable detail just "What Maisie Knew."
Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel have created a smart — and smarting — film based on the novel "What Maisie Knew," one of Henry James' lesser-known works. Without losing the 19th century author's sensibility, screenwriters Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne have brought into the modern age James' unforgiving examination of the effect of a messy divorce on a child.
For all the ugliness the topic suggests — and there is plenty provided by Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as vengeful exes — this is a beautifully rendered film. The many provocations of James' observations are...
CANNES, France -- Films dealing with societal corruption may be nothing new for Western audiences. But in China, where the government keeps a tight grip on what appears on movie screens, that is hardly the case.
Which is why “A Touch of Sin,” written and directed by the veteran Jia Zhang-Ke, created a major stir when it appeared here in the competition.
Officially debuting Friday but screened for the media Thursday, “A Touch of Sin” is a corrosive depiction of the New China, an everything-for-sale society still figuring out how to cope with the dehumanizing effects of unbridled capitalism.
In order to best portray an entire country growing faster than its socio-political structures can handle, a place where nothing speaks louder than money, filmmaker Jia has put together an omnibus film of four separate but linked stories, including one about a sex worker in a ultra-high-end brothel.
The kicker is that all of them are based...
CANNES, France — The Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky has made only seven features in his nearly half-century career, but his legendary midnight movie "El Topo," a wigged-out peyote western that played to New York audiences for months in 1970, sealed his place in the annals of cult cinema.
Jodorowsky last made a comeback in 1989 with the Oedipal melodrama "Santa Sangre," about a serial killer operating under the spell of his armless mother. When that project was announced at the Cannes Film Festival, a journalist wondered if a decade-long break from filmmaking had left Jodorowsky rusty. He responded: "A rusty knife is twice as deadly."
Deadlier than ever, presumably, after an even longer absence, Jodorowsky, 84, has returned to directing with "The Dance of Reality," his first movie since 1990's "The Rainbow Thief" (a work-for-hire with Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif that he has since disowned). Billed as a work of "imaginary...
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel has been all over the revival of the "Star Wars" franchise in the past month. First he cornered Harrison Ford, making the actor who played Han Solo confront his old pal Chewbacca over past grievances and transgressions involving the Wookie and Princess Leia.
Wednesday night Kimmel asked director J.J. Abrams, on the show to promote his "Star Trek Into Darkness," about the course he might take with the next "Star Wars" movie, which he's also set to helm. Abrams, playing along, cited a current state of writer's block, saying he and his team were just "trying to figure it out right now" so they "don't screw it up."
Kimmel asked Abrams if it might be helpful if he heard from some members of his studio audience who had some very specific ideas. After a couple of fanboys tentatively offered suggestions, Abrams heard from a couple of heavyweights.
We don't know if their pitches would work in...
Renowned sleight-of-hand magician, actor, author and historian Ricky Jay learned his craft from the best in the field, including Al Fosso, Slydini, Cardini, Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller.
These men never made a lot of money during their long careers, and in the case of Cardini, he didn't appear on television for fear of having his act exposed and copied. But to Jay, these master magicians were superstars.
"I think the thing about these people who are so good is that they are perpetual students, as well as masters," said Jay, 65, in a recent phone interview. "Vernon and Charlie were always trying to learn and refine and invent. I don't think they ever stopped thinking about it. I think when Charlie finally died, he had the most famous classic 19th century magic text on his night table."
Jay pays tributes to his role models in the new documentary "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay," which opens Friday.
Directed by Molly...
Film Independent at LACMA is holding a 1980s costume contest after the 30th anniversary screening of Martha Coolidge's endearing comedy "Valley Girl" on Thursday evening at the Leo S. Bing Theater.
The romantic comedy was inspired by Frank Zappa and his daughter Moon Unit's 1982 hit song spoofing the stereotypical "Valley Girl" who lived in bedroom communities in the San Fernando Valley in the early 1980s.
The film made a star out of a young Nicolas Cage as Randy, a young punk who falls for Valley Girl Julie (Deborah Foreman) after he and his best friend (Cameron Dye) crash a party in the San Fernando Valley.
Coolidge will be on hand to talk about the film.
The American Cinematheque kicks off its new "The Great Movies: A Tribute to Roger Ebert" on Monday at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica with Terrence Malick's 2011 drama "The Tree of Life."
Screening Friday at the Egyptian in Hollywood on Friday evening is a 70 mm print of Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 classic "Vertigo" with Jimmy Stewart...
CANNES, France -- The movie world feted an old friend Wednesday night, or at least an old sport.
Two weeks after celebrating Baz Luhrmann's big-budget adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel with a throwback party at the Plaza Hotel in New York, Warner Bros. did it all over again with a more modern gathering at the Cannes Film Festival.
The occasion, of course, was the festival's opening night and the film's impending opening in France and other European countries.
PHOTOS: Cannes Film Festival scene
In a theatrical touch Luhrmann himself might have appreciated (or even orchestrated), rain began to come down as stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan walked the open-air red carpet outside Cannes’ Palais des Festivals. But the festival's famous pinstripe-jacketed announcer and blaring pop music continued right on despite the inclement weather, proving the fortitude of a Cannes red carpet, and that one doesn't question Luhrmann theatrical touches.
After the screening, a...
Despite an online petition that garnered over 200,000 signatures protesting the re-imagining of Pixar's "Brave" heroine Merida, Disney has no intention of abandoning its sexier version of the Scottish archer.
The modified Merida was created specifically to welcome the character into the company's princess collection. And according to a Disney representative on Wednesday, the image of Merida that sparked this maelstrom is part of a limited run of products including backpacks and pajamas. But images of the original Merida will also be available on consumer products, the Disney representative said.
The version causing the outrage envisions the cartoon character with a much more tamed mane of red curls, a plunging neckline, a narrowed waistline and an angled face. She's also sporting eyeliner and not showing off her trademark bow and arrow.
The revised image was never featured on Disney's princess website, but could be found on Target's website,...
Angry Birds will be flying into movie theaters in July 2016 with Sony announcing Wednesday that it has acquired the worldwide rights to the ubiquitous game franchise.
The 3-D CG-animated movie will be developed and financed by Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish gaming company that created "Angry Birds." John Cohen, who most recently produced Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures' "Despicable Me," will produce.
Since its debut in December 2009, the "Angry Birds" game and its offshoots have been downloaded more than 1.7 billion times. There have been previous movie tie-ins, including "Angry Birds Rio" and "Angry Birds Star Wars," an app that went to the top of the U.S. iPhone charts two hours after its release last November. A 52-episode run of an animated series, "Angry Birds Toons," premiered in March, primarily through "Angry Birds" apps and video-on-demand platforms.
Given how quickly fads run their course, not to mention the sheer volume of...
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will resume its summer screening series on June 5 with the showing of Joss Whedon's 2012 adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing."
The screening will be one of 25 events scheduled from June to August at the organization's Hollywood campus at 1341 Vine Street, adjacent to the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study. (It's the site that was originally purchased to hold the academy's film museum.)
Whedon and his cast, including Amy Acker, Alexis Denisoff, Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Fran Krazn and Sean Maher, will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.
With the exception of the upcoming music documentary "Twenty Feet From Stardom," most of the screenings will be of classic films, a varied selection that includes Harold Lloyd's silent comedy "Safety Last" from 1923 and Disney's animated "Peter Pan" from 1953.
More recent movies include the 1995 Alicia Silverstone-starrer "Clueless," the 1988 Tom Hanks comedy "Big," and...
This is the time of year when the number of indie movies in theaters shrinks while the big, brassy ones beat the drum loudly, with little satisfaction to be found in all that noise. Unless you want to fight the first-weekend crowds for a "Star Trek Into Darkness" ticket, which is definitely worth your dime, consider going small and light with "Love Is All You Need." It's the latest from Danish director Susanne Bier, an Oscar-winning specialist in family dramas. So it's nice to see her go for frothy for a wedding weekend that explores all the ways romance can surprise you at any point in life. The most surprised — and the ones to watch — are Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm. As Philip and Ida, father of the groom and mother of the bride, all the worries they brought with them evaporate in the Italian sunshine. Watching this effervescent love story just might have the same effect on you.
Though “Star Trek” made them household names, the cast of the seminal 1966-69 NBC series had been acting on stage, film and TV for several years. One regular sang with Duke Ellington and another was a member the cast of the Canadian version of “Howdy Doody.” Several had worked with "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry before.
So with the blockbuster summer movie “Star Trek Into Darkness” opening Thursday, here's a look back at the lives and careers of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig before they signed on to the crew of the Starship Enterprise.
Before he commanded the Enterprise as Capt. James T. Kirk, the Canadian-born actor appeared in productions of Shakespeare at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada and made his Broadway debut in 1956 in Tyrone Guthrie’s production of Christopher Marlowe&...
Very much an equal opportunity host, the Carlton ingeniously finds different spaces for all its clients. “The Great Gatsby,” for instance, is represented by enormous vertical posters, each one focusing of one of the film’s six stars, hanging down the front of the building.
If you looked quickly at the end of the dock at the Carlton Beach, right across from the hotel, you might think you were seeing the celebrated spectacles of Gatsby’s Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, oculist. But no, these glasses represent the returning little people in the forthcoming sequel “Despicable Me 2.”
Also kid-friendly, and attracting nonstop camera attention, is the display for “...
Iron Man is already part of an elite crew of superheroes, but now he is set to join a rarefied group at the box office.
"Iron Man 3," the third film in the franchise starring Robert Downey Jr., will pass the $1-billion milestone, possibly by Wednesday night. As of Tuesday morning, Walt Disney Studios said the Shane Black-directed movie had collected $962.2 million worldwide and was still selling tickets in territories worldwide.
The well-reviewed picture will become only the 16th film to gross over $1 billion globally, and the first in Marvel Studios' Tony Stark trilogy to cross the impressive milestone. "Iron Man 2" ended up with $623.9 million in ticket sales globally in 2010, while the 2008 original took in $585.2 million.
Technically, Iron Man is already a member of the exclusive club, having taken part in "The Avengers," which collected $1.5 billion last year. The only other superhero picture to fly past the $1-billion mark is Batman, as both "The...
— It's been 42 years since I first covered the Cannes Film Festival. Arriving on the French Riviera this week, I was struck by how Cannes has remained the quintessential place for film, despite enormous changes in the cinema landscape.
Cannes was more casual back in 1971, of course. You could hang out with Italian director Luchino Visconti without much planning or go see Jack Nicholson in his hotel room and spend the afternoon discussing his first directorial effort, "Drive, He Said," with no more preamble than running into a friend of his on the street. There was no "French day," the interview period now set aside so French journalists can get their stories before everyone else.
And many things were simpler. Though it sounds paradoxical, even getting stories back to my newspaper — it was the Washington Post in those days — was less time-consuming in that pre-computer age. The festival headquarters had a room where telex operators — invariably burly cigar-...
— Invariably, the Cannes Film Festival chooses a striking image for its official annual poster. But the 2013 version can be seen as a particularly apt metaphor for the dual nature of the world's most essential cinema event.
Paris-based graphic designers have adroitly repurposed a black-and-white photo from 1963's "A New Kind of Love" featuring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in an embrace. As sinuously as they are entwined, that's how fluidly the American and international components of the film world come together at Cannes, which opens Wednesday night with the big Warner Bros. blockbuster "The Great Gatsby," directed by Baz Luhrmann, who happens to be Australian.
This cross-cultural cross-pollination is visible everywhere: The covers of French film magazines are featuring Americans like Steven Spielberg (the president of this year's jury), while advertising for Hollywood's forthcoming "Hunger Games" sequel, "Catching Fire," blankets the Hotel Majestic's prime real estate...
It's a quintessential only-in-L.A. story, one that combines sex, drugs, rock and roll, glamour, money, celebrity, hang gliding, health food and a homegrown spirituality. The new documentary "The Source Family" looks at the group of the same name, who for a brief moment in the early 1970s seemed to achieve their ideal of radical utopian experimental living.
The Source Family was led by Jim Baker, a successful Los Angeles restaurateur who came to be known as Father Yod. A judo expert, World War II hero and alleged bank robber (who was said to have twice killed men with his bare hands), Baker in 1969 opened a health food restaurant called the Source, with a menu "consciously prepared for the highest vibration."
The Source is featured in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" — it's where he orders "mashed yeast" — and the restaurant was also seen in the counterculture movies "Alex in Wonderland" and "Cisco Pike." Musicians, actors, spiritual seekers and general glitterati all ate at the...
Director Ziad Doueiri hoped his movie “The Attack” might start meaningful conversations about terrorism, especially in the Middle East, where the film is set. Instead, the Lebanese-born filmmaker has seen his drama banned in almost every Arab country, a consequence, he says, of filming in Israel.
Doueiri, whose film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last year, said “The Attack” was scheduled to roll out in nearly two dozen Arab countries in the weeks ahead of its U.S. premiere on June 21.
But last week he said the League of Arab States, also known as the Arab League, asked all of its 22 member nations to boycott the film.
The ban was not limited to commercial theaters, Doueiri said. He said his wife was warned that if she proceeded with a screening for friends in Beirut she would be arrested. “So we canceled it,” he said.
“The Attack,” adapted from Yasmina Khadra’s novel of the same name, is...
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