1. Posted on 23 April, 2014

    22,621 notes | Permalink

    Reblogged from nevver

    Remember film? View in High-Res

    Remember film?

  2. film

    photography

  1. Fresh Air producer Ann Marie Baldonado checks in from the TriBeCa Film Festival: 

     


    Last night was a “Wait.  Who wrote this movie again?” evening at the TriBeCa film festival, with some well known names writing outside the genres for which they are known.

    Every Secret Thing is directed by Amy Berg, the Oscar nominated documentary film director (West of Memphis) who makes her fictional feature film debut here. More surprising though is the film’s writer— Nicole Holofcener, director of Please Give, Friends with Money,  and last year’s excellent movie Enough Said.  There aren’t struggles about privileged New Yorkers, rich Los Angelenos, or romantic love after divorce in this one.  Every Little Thing follows the story of two teenage girls who are convicted of kidnapping and murdering a baby when they were children themselves.  Now out of prison, they are again under suspicion when another girl goes missing in their town.  The film has a great cast, including Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Elisabeth Banks, and relative new comer Danielle Macdonald.



    Also premiering last night was In Your Eyes, a small supernatural-y romantic film written by big name Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers.  It stars the lovely Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David as two lost people living across the country from each other who have an unexplained, psychic and psychological connection that disrupts their very different lives.  Whedon didn’t direct this one, but it was put out by the small production company he started with his wife; it’s the same company that produced last year’s Joss directed Much Ado About Nothing, which starred almost everyone who has been in his other TV shows and movies. Okay, not really.  

    Whedon wasn’t physically present at last night’s premiere and Q & A, but they did play a video he recorded, in which he announced that the film that just premiered, In Your Eyes, was now available via VOD at inyoureyes.com.  5 bucks gets you a 72 hour rental.  It will be interesting to see how this unconventional way of distributing a small independent film will pan out. 

     

    (Stills from Every Secret Thing and In Your Eyes, via TriBeCa)

  2. TriBeCa film festival

    every secret thing

    in your eyes

    joss whedon

    film

    fresh air

  1. Ryan Gosling directed his first film, Lost River. It was just announced that it will be premiering at the Cannes Film Festival next month.  
(Hear Fresh Air’s interview with Gosling, while you’re at it)

    Ryan Gosling directed his first film, Lost River. It was just announced that it will be premiering at the Cannes Film Festival next month.  

    (Hear Fresh Air’s interview with Gosling, while you’re at it)

  2. ryan gosling

    cannes film festival

    fresh air

    interview

    film

  1. Posted on 28 March, 2014

    2,665 notes | Permalink

    Reblogged from kateoplis

    kateoplis:

    Goodnight MGM

    Have a nice weekend, 

    Fresh Air 

  2. mgm

    film

    film history

  1. Lars von Trier’s latest provocation is an episodic sexual epic called Nymphomaniac, which comes in two two-hour parts, or “volumes,” though it’s basically one movie sliced in half. The thinking must have been,  ”Who wants four hours of hardcore sex and philosophizing?,” and if you say, “Me, me!,” I suggest seeing both back to back: It’s an art-house orgy!
Should you see it at all? I recommend it guardedly. It’s dumb, but in a bold, ambitious way movies mostly aren’t these days, especially when there’s sex in the equation. And it’s funny, sometimes intentionally.
David Edelstein reviews Lars von Trier’s Nymph()maniac

photo by Christian Geisnaes/Magnolia Pictures View in High-Res

    Lars von Trier’s latest provocation is an episodic sexual epic called Nymphomaniac, which comes in two two-hour parts, or “volumes,” though it’s basically one movie sliced in half. The thinking must have been,  ”Who wants four hours of hardcore sex and philosophizing?,” and if you say, “Me, me!,” I suggest seeing both back to back: It’s an art-house orgy!

    Should you see it at all? I recommend it guardedly. It’s dumb, but in a bold, ambitious way movies mostly aren’t these days, especially when there’s sex in the equation. And it’s funny, sometimes intentionally.

    David Edelstein reviews Lars von Trier’s Nymph()maniac

    photo by Christian Geisnaes/Magnolia Pictures

  2. lars von trier

    nymphomaniac

    film

    review

    david edelstein

  1. In a conversation with director Wes Anderson Terry asked why he often has his characters look at the camera/audience head-on. Here’s what he says:

    "I have my own way of blocking things and framing things that’s built into me. I compare it to handwriting. I don’t fully understand it — why my handwriting is like this — but in a way there’s some sort of tonal thing with the kind of stories I do. They tend to have some fable element and I think my visual predilections are somehow related to trying to make that tone and make my own writing work with performers."

    Photos of The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, The Darjeeling Limited, and The Grand Budapest Hotel

  2. wes anderson

    film

    director

    the grand budapest hotel

    royal tenenbaums

    interview

  1. Posted on 11 March, 2014

    3,536 notes | Permalink

    Reblogged from kateoplis

    Tomorrow we talk to Director Wes Anderson about his newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

    (And he tells us why he loves using miniatures)

    kateoplis:

    It’s a small world after all.

  2. wes anderson

    the grand budapest hotel

    film

  1. Photo break:
'Bruce' the shark with Steven Spielberg in 1975 on the set of Jaws.
via Retronaut View in High-Res

    Photo break:

    'Bruce' the shark with Steven Spielberg in 1975 on the set of Jaws.

    via Retronaut

  2. jaws

    steven spielberg

    shark

    1975

    film

  1. The 73-year-old Japanese animation titan Hayao Miyazaki says The Wind Rises is his final film, and if that’s true—and I hope it’s not but fear it is, since he’s not the type to make rash declarations—if that’s true, he’s going out on a high. The movie won’t, I’m afraid, appeal to kids the way Ponyo or Spirited Away does. It’s monster-, ghost-, and mermaid-free. It centers on grown-ups and is gently paced—maybe 15 minutes too long, I’d say, but you can forgive those longueurs when the work is this exquisite. It’s romantic, tragic, and inexorably strange, a portrait of a young Japanese man who dreams of creating flying machines and the Imperial Empire that funds his research. His country will take those machines and send them off to rain death and destruction on its enemies—but that’s not something to which the young designer gives too much thought. It’s not part of the dream of flight.

    — David Edelstein on Miyazaki’s newest—and perhaps last—film The Wind Rises

  2. hayao miyazaki

    the wind rises

    review

    david edelstein

    film

    animation

    ponyo

    spirited away

  1. Director Alexander Payne’s film Nebraska is nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. In his recent conversation with Terry Gross they discussed his short in the 2006 anthology film Paris Je t’aime. Terry asks the director about actress Margo Martindale’s emotional scene:     


"You see in that clip that she has very ready access to emotion, and that’s what the great actors have and that’s why life is often so difficult for them because they can’t keep their emotions tamped down as you and I can. So then if you can put an oil pump on the spurting oil well of emotion, then you can be a professional actor.
And so I think we did 4 or 5 takes and she was equally good in all of them and it was just a matter of making sure the camera was right and the timing with the voiceover and so forth. But I clearly remember having 3 or 4 great takes to deal with. The good ones keep it going, it’s not just like oh, one take where they really hit that emotion—well, maybe, but let’s try it again. The cameraman missed it. The assistant cameraman made your eyes out of focus. We need to do it again.
Or, I remember telling Paul Giamatti in Sideways, he was really in a deep place and I had to say, “Okay, stop Paul. Could you please rotate your head 12 degrees to the left?” I mean, we all have to understand that film is technical as well as emotional.”


Fun extra: Here’s Payne on the Colbert Report 

photo via salon credit: Merie W. Wallace View in High-Res

    Director Alexander Payne’s film Nebraska is nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. In his recent conversation with Terry Gross they discussed his short in the 2006 anthology film Paris Je t’aime. Terry asks the director about actress Margo Martindale’s emotional scene:     

    "You see in that clip that she has very ready access to emotion, and that’s what the great actors have and that’s why life is often so difficult for them because they can’t keep their emotions tamped down as you and I can. So then if you can put an oil pump on the spurting oil well of emotion, then you can be a professional actor.

    And so I think we did 4 or 5 takes and she was equally good in all of them and it was just a matter of making sure the camera was right and the timing with the voiceover and so forth. But I clearly remember having 3 or 4 great takes to deal with. The good ones keep it going, it’s not just like oh, one take where they really hit that emotion—well, maybe, but let’s try it again. The cameraman missed it. The assistant cameraman made your eyes out of focus. We need to do it again.

    Or, I remember telling Paul Giamatti in Sideways, he was really in a deep place and I had to say, “Okay, stop Paul. Could you please rotate your head 12 degrees to the left?” I mean, we all have to understand that film is technical as well as emotional.”

    Fun extra: Here’s Payne on the Colbert Report 

    photo via salon credit: Merie W. Wallace

  2. fresh air

    alexander payne

    directing

    acting

    nebraska

    paris je t'aime

    film

  1. In his Fresh Air interview director David O. Russell explains how Christian Bale’s “noticeable” comb-over in American Hustle relates to the larger themes of the film:

It’s his own hair, he combs his own hair, it’s a comb-over … they have like some kind of wool that people can put in there, on their head, they can glue it to the top of their head. I mean, I watched many people — my dad’s friends and even my dad construct themselves. To me, what that scene is about really … it’s not just his hair, it’s really what the whole movie is about — which is about the fragility of identity. I think identity is fragile. … I think love is also fragile and is living and shifting, like shifting ground under your feet.
View in High-Res

    In his Fresh Air interview director David O. Russell explains how Christian Bale’s “noticeable” comb-over in American Hustle relates to the larger themes of the film:

    It’s his own hair, he combs his own hair, it’s a comb-over … they have like some kind of wool that people can put in there, on their head, they can glue it to the top of their head. I mean, I watched many people — my dad’s friends and even my dad construct themselves. To me, what that scene is about really … it’s not just his hair, it’s really what the whole movie is about — which is about the fragility of identity. I think identity is fragile. … I think love is also fragile and is living and shifting, like shifting ground under your feet.

  2. fresh air

    interview

    david o. russell

    christian bale

    american hustle

    film

    comb-over

  1. Greetings from Sundance!


    The last time Fresh Air had staff at the Sundance Film Festival was 1999.  This year both Associate Producer Heidi Saman (left) and Producer Ann Marie Baldonado are at the festival, now in full swing.  Heidi, who is also an accomplished filmmaker, is there as a Sundance Knight Fellow.  Ann Marie is there to check out films for future guests and will give her thoughts on films premiering here.

    Stay tuned for more updates!

  2. sundance

    film festival

    fresh air

    film

  1. Fresh Air’s tech contributor Alexis Madrigal discusses his research on the many “micro-genres” of Netflix. Here’s an excerpt of his piece:

Now it’s become one of the company’s big selling points. Netflix doesn’t just provide streaming movies and TV shows; it knows you.
Thinking about how specific Netflix could get, I started to wonder, “Just how many micro-genres does Netflix really have?”
A friend pointed out that the web addresses for the categories in the Netflix database were sequentially numbered, and that I could type through each URL, one by one, and figure out all the micro-genres.
The first brought up African-American Crime Documentaries. The second pulled up Scary Cult Movies From The 1980s. The next was Tearjerkers From The 1970s. After a couple more minutes, I tried entry 10,000, just to see if the database was really that big. Japanese Horror Movies From The 1960s was in that slot.
There was no way I could copy and paste tens of thousands of genre titles by hand, so I wrote a simple script, a little piece of code, that would copy the names to a list. I set it up to run and then I waited, as the script kept copying-and-pasting for more than 20 hours.
I found that Netflix has 76,897 separate categories. To my knowledge, no one outside Netflix has ever compiled this mass of data before. And now we can really understand how the system works.
View in High-Res

    Fresh Air’s tech contributor Alexis Madrigal discusses his research on the many “micro-genres” of Netflix. Here’s an excerpt of his piece:

    Now it’s become one of the company’s big selling points. Netflix doesn’t just provide streaming movies and TV shows; it knows you.

    Thinking about how specific Netflix could get, I started to wonder, “Just how many micro-genres does Netflix really have?”

    A friend pointed out that the web addresses for the categories in the Netflix database were sequentially numbered, and that I could type through each URL, one by one, and figure out all the micro-genres.

    The first brought up African-American Crime Documentaries. The second pulled up Scary Cult Movies From The 1980s. The next was Tearjerkers From The 1970s. After a couple more minutes, I tried entry 10,000, just to see if the database was really that big. Japanese Horror Movies From The 1960s was in that slot.

    There was no way I could copy and paste tens of thousands of genre titles by hand, so I wrote a simple script, a little piece of code, that would copy the names to a list. I set it up to run and then I waited, as the script kept copying-and-pasting for more than 20 hours.

    I found that Netflix has 76,897 separate categories. To my knowledge, no one outside Netflix has ever compiled this mass of data before. And now we can really understand how the system works.

  2. fresh air

    netflix

    film

    alexis madrigal

    the atlantic

  1. Director Alexander Payne speaks to Terry Gross today about how he mixed non-professional, professional, and non-actors on the set of Nebraska, trying to create a believable, real life feel:

All of my films, and [Nebraska] even more so, are a combination of highly seasoned, professional actors who typically live in Los Angeles or New York; local, non-professional actors … [who do] community theater, local commercials, that sort of thing; … and then non-actors, people really off the street or, in this case, off the farm whom John Jackson, my casting director, and I make a point of finding.
For this film, it took over a year of casting to find, for example, those retired farmers who play some of Bruce Dern’s character’s brothers and their wives. And it was a long process of putting out casting notices on, for example, rural radio after the farm report or in small town newspapers. …
That’s how we began to assemble the cast. So there are many people in the film who have never even been in a high school play. … At the same time we’re trying to find non-actors who can reliably present an unselfconscious version of themselves when the camera is running, I also have to ensure that the professionals coming from the coasts are believable in that setting.



image via LA Times 
From left, Dennis McCoig as Uncle Verne, June Squibb as Kate Grant and Bruce Dern as Woody Grant in a scene from the film “Nebraska, ” 
View in High-Res

    Director Alexander Payne speaks to Terry Gross today about how he mixed non-professional, professional, and non-actors on the set of Nebraska, trying to create a believable, real life feel:

    All of my films, and [Nebraska] even more so, are a combination of highly seasoned, professional actors who typically live in Los Angeles or New York; local, non-professional actors … [who do] community theater, local commercials, that sort of thing; … and then non-actors, people really off the street or, in this case, off the farm whom John Jackson, my casting director, and I make a point of finding.

    For this film, it took over a year of casting to find, for example, those retired farmers who play some of Bruce Dern’s character’s brothers and their wives. And it was a long process of putting out casting notices on, for example, rural radio after the farm report or in small town newspapers. …

    That’s how we began to assemble the cast. So there are many people in the film who have never even been in a high school play. … At the same time we’re trying to find non-actors who can reliably present an unselfconscious version of themselves when the camera is running, I also have to ensure that the professionals coming from the coasts are believable in that setting.

    image via LA Times

    From left, Dennis McCoig as Uncle Verne, June Squibb as Kate Grant and Bruce Dern as Woody Grant in a scene from the film “Nebraska, ”

  2. fresh air

    interview

    alexander payne

    nebraska

    casting

    film

    bruce dern

    directing

  1. Sure the Toronto International Film Festival closed a few weeks ago with 12 Years A Slave winning the Audience Award (FYI, that Audience Award isn’t always an indication that a film will do well, but recent recipients include Best Picture Oscar winners The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire and last year’s Silver Linings Playbook).  But the films that showed there are slowly but surely making their way to theaters near you and will continue to do so well into 2014.  Fresh Air Producers Ann Marie Baldonado and Lauren Krenzel have some final thoughts on some films you may want to look out for.

12 Years a Slave (pictured above)I say believe the hype. This film about a free black man (Chiwetel Eijofor) who gets kidnapped and forced into slavery is incredibly difficult to watch, but is so incredibly worth it.  You see families callously separated, slaves beaten to death or near death, and the quiet, outrageous indignities slaves had to endure on Southern plantations in the 1840s and 50s.  During the official TIFF press conference for the film, director Steve McQueen said he wanted to make a movie about slavery because he “wanted to see images from that particular past, (he) wanted to experience it through images.”  This visual artist turned feature film director expertly takes us through scenes that are long, in a way too long, forcing viewers to deal with the brutality of what they are watching.  At times you are floored, you flinch or shut your eyes, you may cry, but you have to deal with the images.  McQueen’s choices are careful, deliberate, political.  Yes, it’s a difficult 2 plus hours to sit through, but if 12 Years a Slave is a film that is trying to honestly address slavery, shouldn’t it be?  (Also stars Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sara Paulson and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o.  Release date: October 18th) –  Ann Marie Baldonado
Enough Said
As Nicole Holofcener said during the Q & A after the premiere of Enough Said, this is the film of hers that “actually has a plot.”  Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as a divorced masseuse who starts to date a middle-aged man, only to find out she’s also unknowingly befriended his ex-wife who begins listing all of his irritating faults.  It’s a comedy of manners and the performances sparkle.  Louis-Dreyfus uses her considerable comedic skills to portray a flawed woman you can enjoy.  The rest of the cast is also great—-with Toni Collette as a refreshingly honest friend and Catherine Keener as the poetess ex-wife.  But it’s bittersweet to see James Gandolfini here in one of his last roles.  His presence is so keen and natural and intelligent, you’re left feeling slightly bereft at the end of this adult comedy. (In theaters now) –Lauren Krenzel
Dallas Buyers Club
This is the movie Matthew McConaughey lost all of that weight for.  Sure, dramatically transforming your physical appearance for an acting role is the equivalent of donning a sandwich board that says “Reward me with an Oscar nomination”, but I say you have to hand it to McConaughey; in this film he also managed to strap on the acting chops we all kind of knew that he had ( right?).  The film is based on the true story of Ron Woodroff, a straight electrician/rodeo cowboy who contracted HIV in 1986.  He denies that he has the “gay disease” for as long as he can, then finally starts looking for treatment.  After getting frustrated with the lack of drugs available to treat HIV/AIDS patients, he starts smuggling cutting edge treatments into the US from all over the world.  At first, he treats himself, but then begins selling the drugs out of a motel room.  He consequently becomes a lifeline for the mostly gay population suffering with the disease, giving his clients the treatments the FDA is too slow to approve.  Also looking completely skeletal is  Jared Leto, who plays a pre-op transsexual who becomes Woodroff’s unlikely business partner and friend.   Leto may also be getting some Oscar attention for his work.  The film loses a little narrative steam as it goes on, but it’s matter-of-fact style and extremely strong performances can’t be denied. (Release date: November 1st)- AMB
Only Lovers Left Alive
This latest film by veteran filmmaker Jim Jarmusch could easily be dismissed as just another vampire project. But this one lingers in the mind long after, with great visuals, grinding, dark music and the luminous Tilda Swinton—who could very well be an actual vampire.  Here, she is centuries-old and lives in present-day Tangiers but travels to Detroit to help her depressed, underground musician, vampire husband, played by Tom Hiddleston.  Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin and John Hurt show up to complicate the plot and in the end, the film becomes an oddly humorous and poetic meditation on eternal life and a very long marriage.  (Release date: TBA)- LK
The Lunchbox
A few years ago, Mumbai and New York City based director Ritesh Batra was working on a short documentary about the century-old practice of delivering homemade lunches to the offices of Mumbai; couriers pick up lunch containers from homes in surrounding towns and through an elaborate system that utilizes bicycles, trains, color coding, and symbols, those boxes somehow find their way to the right desks in the right office buildings, then find their way back to the right homes after lunch.  That exposure inspired Batra to write the screenplay for The Lunchbox, a film that charmed film festival audiences in Cannes before doing so in Toronto (I think this film could have been a serious contender for the Audience Prize, had its second public screening not been upended by print problems).  A stay-at-home mother (Nimrat Kaur) fears she is losing touch with her husband who is working longer hours.  In attempt to get him to notice her again, she pours a lot of love and effort into the lunches she prepares for him (try not to see this film on an empty stomach).  The usually fool proof lunch delivery system fails when her culinary masterpieces are wrongfully delivered to a grumpy widower who is about to retire, played by Irrfan Khan.  The lonely wife and lonely office worker start writing notes to each other, delivered in the lunchbox, and begin to find the connection they have both been longing for.  This is a great first feature by Batra.  He finds beauty and interest in Mumbai’s cramped train cars and non descript office buildings— not an easy feat— though perhaps his best directorial move was casting Kahn as his leading man.  Here again Kahn displays his ability to impart all of his characters, no matter how taciturn, with an interior life.  Inevitably, you can see it in his eyes, a certain longing and regret that is always compelling.  Hopefully the news this week that India did not chose The Lunchbox as its Oscar submission this year (and Batra’s vocal reaction against it) won’t stop people from finding this film.   (Release date: TBA)- AMBBad Words Here is a piece of trivia.  Jason Bateman became the Directors Guild of America’s youngest-ever director when he helmed a few episodes of his show The Hogan Family when he was eighteen.  Now over 20 years later, he has finally directed a feature film.  Why did he choose Bad Words to be his first feature?  He says it was partly due to the fact that the dark, “Blacklist” screenplay was close to his own sense of humor, and partly because “the size and the scope of the film” was something he felt he could take on.  He is right that there is something to be said for not biting off more than you can chew, and he does just that.  This great, tight little comedy kept me laughing throughout, with lines and bits that were just. plain. wrong.  Bateman plays 40-year-old Guy Trilby, a misanthrope who after finding a loophole in the national spelling bee guidelines, decides he is going to compete and take every pre-pubescent kid down.  He verbally abuses the children.  He uses their insecurities— about their bodies, their nerdiness, their parents—against them, shaking  their confidence, disrupting the careful way they attack each word they need to spell.  He does befriend one competitor, Chaitanya, a naive Indian-American boy played by relative newcomer Rohan Chand (who at 9 is about the age Bateman was when he started acting).  One sequence where Guy takes Chaitanya out for a night on the town, complete with ice cream, car chases, pranks on cops, drinking, and an interaction with a prostitute, left the Toronto crowd howling.  Sounds wrong, right?  That’s what makes it funny.  I say with Bad Words, our love affair with Bateman’s portrayal of morally questionable men continues.  Focus features just announced this week that the film will make it to theaters early next year. (Also stars Allison Janney, Kathryn Hahn, and Phillip Baker Hall.  Release date: March 21st, 2014)

Even though we saw 15 movies each, we still managed to miss a few that caused lots of excitement and bidding wars at the festival:  The F Word, starring soon-to-be Fresh Air guest Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver;  Can a Song Save Your Life, starring Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo, directed by John Carney who directed Once, and All is By My Side, directed by John Ridley, starring Andre Benjamin aka Andre 3000 of Outkast as a young Jimmy Hendrix.  Ann Marie saw sections of this film and found Benjamin’s turn as Hendrix to be kind of extraordinary. (Release dates to be announced) View in High-Res

    Sure the Toronto International Film Festival closed a few weeks ago with 12 Years A Slave winning the Audience Award (FYI, that Audience Award isn’t always an indication that a film will do well, but recent recipients include Best Picture Oscar winners The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire and last year’s Silver Linings Playbook).  But the films that showed there are slowly but surely making their way to theaters near you and will continue to do so well into 2014.  Fresh Air Producers Ann Marie Baldonado and Lauren Krenzel have some final thoughts on some films you may want to look out for.



    12 Years a Slave (pictured above)

    I say believe the hype. This film about a free black man (Chiwetel Eijofor) who gets kidnapped and forced into slavery is incredibly difficult to watch, but is so incredibly worth it.  You see families callously separated, slaves beaten to death or near death, and the quiet, outrageous indignities slaves had to endure on Southern plantations in the 1840s and 50s.  During the official TIFF press conference for the film, director Steve McQueen said he wanted to make a movie about slavery because he “wanted to see images from that particular past, (he) wanted to experience it through images.”  This visual artist turned feature film director expertly takes us through scenes that are long, in a way too long, forcing viewers to deal with the brutality of what they are watching.  At times you are floored, you flinch or shut your eyes, you may cry, but you have to deal with the images.  McQueen’s choices are careful, deliberate, political.  Yes, it’s a difficult 2 plus hours to sit through, but if 12 Years a Slave is a film that is trying to honestly address slavery, shouldn’t it be?  (Also stars Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sara Paulson and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o.  Release date: October 18th) – Ann Marie Baldonado


    Enough Said


    As Nicole Holofcener said during the Q & A after the premiere of Enough Said, this is the film of hers that “actually has a plot.”  Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as a divorced masseuse who starts to date a middle-aged man, only to find out she’s also unknowingly befriended his ex-wife who begins listing all of his irritating faults.  It’s a comedy of manners and the performances sparkle.  Louis-Dreyfus uses her considerable comedic skills to portray a flawed woman you can enjoy.  The rest of the cast is also great—-with Toni Collette as a refreshingly honest friend and Catherine Keener as the poetess ex-wife.  But it’s bittersweet to see James Gandolfini here in one of his last roles.  His presence is so keen and natural and intelligent, you’re left feeling slightly bereft at the end of this adult comedy. (In theaters now) –Lauren Krenzel


    Dallas Buyers Club


    This is the movie Matthew McConaughey lost all of that weight for.  Sure, dramatically transforming your physical appearance for an acting role is the equivalent of donning a sandwich board that says “Reward me with an Oscar nomination”, but I say you have to hand it to McConaughey; in this film he also managed to strap on the acting chops we all kind of knew that he had ( right?).  The film is based on the true story of Ron Woodroff, a straight electrician/rodeo cowboy who contracted HIV in 1986.  He denies that he has the “gay disease” for as long as he can, then finally starts looking for treatment.  After getting frustrated with the lack of drugs available to treat HIV/AIDS patients, he starts smuggling cutting edge treatments into the US from all over the world.  At first, he treats himself, but then begins selling the drugs out of a motel room.  He consequently becomes a lifeline for the mostly gay population suffering with the disease, giving his clients the treatments the FDA is too slow to approve.  Also looking completely skeletal is  Jared Leto, who plays a pre-op transsexual who becomes Woodroff’s unlikely business partner and friend.   Leto may also be getting some Oscar attention for his work.  The film loses a little narrative steam as it goes on, but it’s matter-of-fact style and extremely strong performances can’t be denied. (Release date: November 1st)- AMB


    Only Lovers Left Alive


    This latest film by veteran filmmaker Jim Jarmusch could easily be dismissed as just another vampire project. But this one lingers in the mind long after, with great visuals, grinding, dark music and the luminous Tilda Swinton—who could very well be an actual vampire.  Here, she is centuries-old and lives in present-day Tangiers but travels to Detroit to help her depressed, underground musician, vampire husband, played by Tom Hiddleston.  Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin and John Hurt show up to complicate the plot and in the end, the film becomes an oddly humorous and poetic meditation on eternal life and a very long marriage.  (Release date: TBA)- LK


    The Lunchbox

    A few years ago, Mumbai and New York City based director Ritesh Batra was working on a short documentary about the century-old practice of delivering homemade lunches to the offices of Mumbai; couriers pick up lunch containers from homes in surrounding towns and through an elaborate system that utilizes bicycles, trains, color coding, and symbols, those boxes somehow find their way to the right desks in the right office buildings, then find their way back to the right homes after lunch.  That exposure inspired Batra to write the screenplay for The Lunchbox, a film that charmed film festival audiences in Cannes before doing so in Toronto (I think this film could have been a serious contender for the Audience Prize, had its second public screening not been upended by print problems).  A stay-at-home mother (Nimrat Kaur) fears she is losing touch with her husband who is working longer hours.  In attempt to get him to notice her again, she pours a lot of love and effort into the lunches she prepares for him (try not to see this film on an empty stomach).  The usually fool proof lunch delivery system fails when her culinary masterpieces are wrongfully delivered to a grumpy widower who is about to retire, played by Irrfan Khan.  The lonely wife and lonely office worker start writing notes to each other, delivered in the lunchbox, and begin to find the connection they have both been longing for.  This is a great first feature by Batra.  He finds beauty and interest in Mumbai’s cramped train cars and non descript office buildings— not an easy feat— though perhaps his best directorial move was casting Kahn as his leading man.  Here again Kahn displays his ability to impart all of his characters, no matter how taciturn, with an interior life.  Inevitably, you can see it in his eyes, a certain longing and regret that is always compelling.  Hopefully the news this week that India did not chose The Lunchbox as its Oscar submission this year (and Batra’s vocal reaction against it) won’t stop people from finding this film.   (Release date: TBA)- AMB


    Bad Words

    Here is a piece of trivia.  Jason Bateman became the Directors Guild of America’s youngest-ever director when he helmed a few episodes of his show The Hogan Family when he was eighteen.  Now over 20 years later, he has finally directed a feature film.  Why did he choose Bad Words to be his first feature?  He says it was partly due to the fact that the dark, “Blacklist” screenplay was close to his own sense of humor, and partly because “the size and the scope of the film” was something he felt he could take on.  He is right that there is something to be said for not biting off more than you can chew, and he does just that.  This great, tight little comedy kept me laughing throughout, with lines and bits that were just. plain. wrong.  Bateman plays 40-year-old Guy Trilby, a misanthrope who after finding a loophole in the national spelling bee guidelines, decides he is going to compete and take every pre-pubescent kid down.  He verbally abuses the children.  He uses their insecurities— about their bodies, their nerdiness, their parents—against them, shaking  their confidence, disrupting the careful way they attack each word they need to spell.  He does befriend one competitor, Chaitanya, a naive Indian-American boy played by relative newcomer Rohan Chand (who at 9 is about the age Bateman was when he started acting).  One sequence where Guy takes Chaitanya out for a night on the town, complete with ice cream, car chases, pranks on cops, drinking, and an interaction with a prostitute, left the Toronto crowd howling.  Sounds wrong, right?  That’s what makes it funny.  I say with Bad Words, our love affair with Bateman’s portrayal of morally questionable men continues.  Focus features just announced this week that the film will make it to theaters early next year. (Also stars Allison Janney, Kathryn Hahn, and Phillip Baker Hall.  Release date: March 21st, 2014)



    Even though we saw 15 movies each, we still managed to miss a few that caused lots of excitement and bidding wars at the festival:  The F Word, starring soon-to-be Fresh Air guest Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver;  Can a Song Save Your Life, starring Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo, directed by John Carney who directed Once, and All is By My Side, directed by John Ridley, starring Andre Benjamin aka Andre 3000 of Outkast as a young Jimmy Hendrix.  Ann Marie saw sections of this film and found Benjamin’s turn as Hendrix to be kind of extraordinary. (Release dates to be announced)

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