Cannes 2017. Caged In—Sofia Coppola's “The Beguiled”
What do we mean when we say that a filmmaker is “limited”? Is it that their talents are relatively confined? Or is it that because of their particular sensibilities, they choose to make films within a specific arena? Perhaps the better question is: How much does that matter? A filmmaker like Hong Sang-soo, for example—at Cannes this year with both The Day After and Claire's Camera—could certainly be described as “limited” in some respects; but he still produces some of the most consistent and interesting work in the contemporary cinematic landscape. It can't be denied, though, that it's always exciting when filmmakers push themselves and make films squarely outside their comfort zones, which could be said of Sofia Coppola who returns to Cannes this year with The Beguiled. Adapted from Thomas P. Cullinan’s gothic novel A Painted Devil as well as the original 1971 movie adaptation by Don Siegel, »
Critical Access: How Marketing, Interviews, and Relationships Can Affect Criticism
Do you know who’s reviewing your favorite TV show?
Of course not. Who pays attention to a critic? Just click on the review, skip down to the grade or rating (What? There’s no grade? Worthless!), leave a disparaging comment that will eat away at the author’s soul, and go about your life in blissful ignorance.
But what might be affecting that grade at the bottom of a painstakingly crafted 800-word review is how well the TV show’s marketing department is doing its job. Marketing is everywhere, and carefully honed messages constructed by a team of talented individuals trying to sell you on a TV show can seep through to everyone — even critics.
Those messages — filled with praise, targeted phrases, and Seo-friendly keywords like “Channing Tatum” — are even more lethal »
- Ben Travers
‘The Leftovers’ Longest Running Joke: A Timeline of Every Reference to Justin Theroux’s Penis
After working closely together for three years, you get to know someone pretty well. You get to know their likes, dislikes, fears, and dreams. As collaborators, you get to know what they’ll tolerate and what they won’t, to varying extremes.
Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta, and Justin Theroux, the co-creators and star of “The Leftovers,’ know each other pretty well. Well enough that they’ve been able to build one of television’s great characters together. Well enough that they goof around on set. Well enough that when Theroux received a script requiring him to sing karaoke, “I called Damon and said, ‘Fuck you’ right after I read [it].”
But after witnessing the second-to-last episode of the series, a question had to be posed to the creators; a question about their relationship with their star and if there was another lovingly vulgar phone call coming from the actor to his »
- Ben Travers
Memo to Distributors: Buy These Cannes Film Festival 2017 Titles
While the Cannes Film Festival lineup is consumed by thousands of audience members over the course of 10 days, much of the dealmaking takes place elsewhere. Buyers are less likely to dig through the official selections than they are to spend time in the market, watching clips and presentations for unfinished work. As a result, it’s rare for many big deals emerge from the world’s most glamorous film festival, and the 2017 edition was no exception. Though Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” sold to A24 after a fierce bidding war that lasted several days, it was in the minority. Still, there were plenty of first-rate movies from this year’s Cannes that have yet to land U.S. distribution. Here’s a look at some of the ones we think deserve audiences far beyond the Croisette.
“Gabriel and the Mountain”
Few outside of Brazil know about Gabriel Buchmann, the »
- Eric Kohn, David Ehrlich and Anne Thompson
‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 5 Review: A New Star Emerges In the Show’s Darkest Season Yet
[Editor’s note: This review contains spoilers for the final episodes of “Orange is the New Black” Season 4, which premiered in 2016. It does not contain spoilers for the new upcoming season.]
It’s official: “Orange is the New Black” is never allowed to call itself a comedy, ever again.
When it comes to awards consideration, the Netflix series about a women’s prison has yo-yoed between the drama and comedy categories since the beginning, and tonally the show has always existed in the realm we usually describe as “dramedy.” But while that has meant “Orange” was capable of offering up great moments of hilarity as well as tear-jerking pathos, it also means that the show’s tone has always been its biggest creative struggle, especially in later years, as it’s taken bigger and bigger swings.
Read More: ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Season 5 Trailer: Inmates Run the Prison After Rebellion at Litchfield Penitentiary
Season 4 was perhaps the most challenging in this respect, as the final two episodes pushed the show into new territory after Poussey (Samira Wiley) died at the hands of a guard. »
- Liz Shannon Miller
The National Review’s Memorial Day List of ‘Movies Liberals Will Hate’ Proves They Don’t Understand Politics or Filmmaking
To read The National Review’s “Politically Incorrect Guide Memorial Day Movies” is one of those moments where you seriously wonder if conservatism in the Trump Era isn’t just one big episode of “Punk’d.” Written by Arthur Herman, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, the list was an attempt to highlight war movies for conservatives to watch on Memorial Day – many of which are fantastic – but are bizarrely packaged and advertised as movies that will piss off liberals.
“These movies portray serving one’s country in uniform as something to be revered and respected, not dismissed,” boasts the Twitter promo for the piece. Its marketing is a straw-man argument, so it’s first important to establish a few matters of fact.
During the Vietnam War, there was liberal »
- Chris O'Falt
Cannes 2017. Through a Genre Darkly—Lynne Ramsay's "You Were Never Really Here"
Screening at the very end of the Cannes Film Festival's competition, and rumored to have been finished the very week of its premiere, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of Jonathan Ames’s novel You Were Never Really Here is a genre film so fiercely empathetic and brutally honed that its harsh impulse seems precariously mysterious. A bearded, dark-eyed Joaquin Phoenix plays a New York mercenary hired through shady means to retrieve lost girls and sex slaves, something he does with brute efficiently in baggy jeans and bulky hoody, armed only with a store-bought hammer and singular purpose. Quick flashes of traumatic memories—a technique so anarchronistic as to seem surprisingly lazy—detail the scars of the man’s psyche, damaged from abuse as a child and time both in the military and FBI—pain that rears itself in multiple flirtations with suicide throughout the picture. Utilizing his skillset for a dark but righteous purpose, »
‘Voldemort: Origins of the Heir’ Trailer: Fan-Made Harry Potter Prequel Looks Amazing
The big-screen Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” may have received a mixed reaction from Muggles, but a new fan film trailer showcases some amazing special effects and the spirit of J. K. Rowling’s original series. “Voldemort: Origins of the Heir” dropped its first footage on May 28, and this non-profit film has the professional feel of a Hollywood blockbuster. Directed, written and edited by Gianmaria Pezzato, “Origins” was spun off of the sixth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
According to the film’s official site, this prequel aims to answer several questions. “What made Tom Riddle become Voldemort? What happened in those years, and what really went down at Hogwarts when he came back? There are some »
- William Earl
Cannes 2017. Russia's Prison System—Sergei Loznitsa's "A Gentle Creature"
Deftly weaving between politically ambitious documentary projects and brooding, chunky dramas exploring the malignant side of Russian society, Ukraianian director Sergei Loznitsa follows Austerlitz, last year’s documentary on concentration camp tourism, with the fictional A Gentle Creature, an impressively morose, dense, and totalizing immersion into the dehumanizing absurdity of the Russian prison system. But in fact we don’t see anything of the inside of a prison in A Gentle Creature, for while the goal of the unnamed, middle-aged heroine (Vasilina Makovtseva) is to visit her incarcerated husband—a visit inspired mainly because a care package was sent back to her with no explanation as to its rejection—her fruitless journey to the prison town is a Hogarthian roundelay of indifferent, dismissive or abusive personnel and exploitative locals. Makovtseva’s maze-like path through a social microcosm (and ecosystem) of functionaries, leeches and profiteers is an ordeal that begins about »
Cannes 2017. Awards
The SquareIN Competition
Palme d'Or: The Square directed by Ruben Östlund (read our review)Grand Prix: 120 Beats Per Minute directed by Robin Campillo (read our review)Jury Prize: Loveless by Andrey Zvyagintsev (read our review)Best Director: Sofia Coppola (read our review)Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix for You Were Never Really HereBest Actress: Diane Kruger for In the FadeBest Scenario: Yorgos Lanthimos for The Killing of A Sacred Deer (read our review) and Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here70th Anniversary Prize: Nicole KidmanUN Certain REGARDLerd (A Man of Integrity) directed by Mohammad RassoulofPrix d'interpretation feminine: Jasmine Trinca for FortunataPrix de la Poésie du Cinéma: Barbara directed by Mathieu AmalricPrix de la mise en scène: Taylor Sheridan for Wind RiverJury Prize: April's Daughters directed by Michel FrancoCAMERA D'ORJeune Femme directed by Léonor SerrailleCRITICS' WEEKNespresso Grand Prize: Makala directed by Emmanuel GrasGan Foundation Prize and France 4 Visionary Award: Gabriel »
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Why Episode 7 Took On a Different Point of View to Reveal ‘The Other Side’
[Editor’s note: Spoilers for “The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 1 Episode 7, “The Other Side,” follow.]
It’s one of the biggest unanswered questions of Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” — what happened to the heroine’s husband, Luke, after their failed attempt to escape the religious dystopia in which she’s now imprisoned?
Read More: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Cast Reveals What It Feels Like to Destroy America and Become Gilead’s Power Couple (Spoilers)
For over 30 years, fans of the book have learned to cope with this uncertainty, but in the current Hulu adaptation executive produced by Bruce Miller, we get an answer in Episode 7: Luke (O-t Fagbenle) lives. Not only that, “The Other Side” chronicles exactly what happened to him after he and his wife (named June in the series, played by Elisabeth Moss) were separated. It’s a brutal story of survival that does have something resembling a happy ending — at least, as far as that term can be »
- Liz Shannon Miller
‘Twin Peaks’: Matthew Lillard on His Breakout Role and Joining David Lynch’s Dysfunctional Family
Last week’s premiere of “Twin Peaks” brought with it no shortage of surprises, but here’s probably the most unpredictable one we witnessed: a captivating performance by Matthew Lillard as William Hastings, a high school principal accused of murder, whose wife is tied up in the supernatural mystery surrounding Agent Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) evil doppleganger.
Read More: ‘Twin Peaks’ Guide to Returning Characters and How They’re Helping – or Hurting – Cooper: Parts 1 & 2 (An Ongoing List)
Lillard’s career began in the early ’90s with roles in “Serial Mom” and “Hackers,” and his reputation is definitely rooted in some variation of comedy, from horror comedies like “Scream” to the live-action “Scooby-Doo” films (and subsequent animated projects, for which Lillard still provides the voice of Shaggy).
“Twin Peaks,” while never lacking in funny moments, marks a bit of a departure for the character actor. That might be why, at the premiere last Friday, »
- Liz Shannon Miller
‘Silicon Valley’ Review: Everyone’s Ready for Life After Erlich, Even While He’s Still Around and Making Deals
Given the amount of turnover and plot machinations that go into the average season of “Silicon Valley,” more than a few episodes feel like the show hitting the reset button.
Last week’s “The Blood Boy” played out like a midseason finale, with Gavin Belson bidding farewell to his part in the Pied Piper-ssaince. Saying adieu to his part in Richard’s new internet, Gavin the enemy-turned-ally pulled his own version of the Terminator goodbye, ascending the steps of his private plane having just turned over his patent to Richard instead of lowering himself into a vat of sacrificial molten metal.
But earlier this week, news broke that another poster-worthy cast member would be leaving as well, with reports that T.J. Miller would not be returning for “Silicon Valley” Season 5. As a result, Sunday »
- Steve Greene
‘The Leftovers’: Justin Theroux and The Surprise Guest Stars of Episode 7 on Reuniting For the End of the World
[Editor’s note: The following interview contains spoilers for the “The Leftovers” Season 3, Episode 7, “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother).” Moreover, what follows likely won’t make a lick of sense unless you’ve seen the episode, which cannot be succinctly explained.]
On Sunday night, the President, Vice President, and Secretary of Defense secretly plotted to destroy the world — and succeeded.
No, this isn’t a breaking news story — not yet, anyway — and the world eviscerated by nuclear war luckily wasn’t even real in the fictional world of “The Leftovers.” In the most recent episode, aptly titled “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother),” the American political trio destroyed the afterlife as we know it in order to save Kevin’s soul, and playing the titular roles were Justin Theroux, as President Kevin Harvey, Ann Dowd, as Secretary of Defense Patti Levin, and Liv Tyler, as VP Meg Abbott.
While the well-hidden reunion was cherished by all three actors, both Theroux and Tyler made special declarations to their co-star. »
- Ben Travers
‘The Leftovers’ Review: President Justin Theroux Unveils the Purpose of Season 3 in an Inspired Penultimate Episode
[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “The Leftovers” through Season 3, Episode 7, “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother).”]
The only thing crazier than going back to the afterlife a second time is returning a third time, and “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” was plenty crazy.
But damn if it wasn’t also magnificent.
“International Assassin,” the eighth episode of Season 2, first took us to what’s been casually referred to as everything from purgatory to “the hotel”; a place not of this world but not quite of another, either. It was an ambitious, unprecedented piece of television that dared to show us a glimpse of what “The Leftovers” is all about: life, in whatever form, after death.
Mimi Leder and Damon Lindelof took us back to that place for a briefer stay in the Season 2 finale, when John Murphy shot Kevin. Again he died. Again he woke up in a bathtub. But rather than assassinate Patti by pushing her »
- Ben Travers
‘Twin Peaks’ Episode 4 is a Gift Filled with Answers — and A Warning About Wanting More
In the minds of its viewers, “Twin Peaks,” like many TV shows, is defined by its creator and its lead. There’s a magic combination of those two names when seen together: “The Sopranos” has David Chase and James Gandolfini. “Breaking Bad” has Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston. “The Leftovers” has Damon Lindelof and Carrie Coon. Ok, Ms. Coon ties with Justin Theroux, similar to how David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are co-leads (and requisite parts) in Chris Carter’s “The X-Files,” but the point remains: A creator and a lead are great signifiers for television fans, and their presence carries meaning.
[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for “Twin Peaks” Episode 4, “Part 4.”]
Turns out, it carries even more meaning when you see them together, on screen, in character, having a conversation. Thus was the case for David Lynch and Kyle MacLachlan at the end of “Twin Peaks” “Part 4,” the most recent episode of the new season. In the final scene, »
- Ben Travers
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