American Directing Duo Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead Win Best Film at PIFFF 2014 for SPRING

by     Posted 26 days ago


The Paris International Fantastic Film Festival has come to an end, and the big winner of its Oeil d’Or (Golden Eye) for Best Film has been awarded to the American-Italian film Spring, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead.  Unlike most festivals, the audience is the jury in the feature films categories.  Benson later took to Twitter to thank the French audience for its support.

The closing ceremony ended with a screening of Kevin Smith’s rather disappointing Tusk, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. Justin Long stars as comedian-turned-podcaster targeted by a sadistic killer who wants to transform him into a walrus.  Not even Johnny Depp as the alcoholic ex-cop can save this horror of a film.


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This weekend, three out of the four films presented in the official competition at the Paris International Film Festival were directed by a duo, and each feature offers a unique look at the theme of love where the eerie protagonists are all female.  Oscillating between passion and obsession, their Delphic climax invite the spectator’s conclusion.  Or imagination.

Presented in the official selection of the Directors’ Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Franco-Belgian production Alleluia, directed by Fabrice Du Welz, takes on an odyssey of crime and passion in a psychological thriller based loosely on the story of the notorious Honeymoon Killers, Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez, a young nurse and confidence trickster who went on a rampage in the late 1940s.

Paris International Fantastic Film Festival Day 2: Tattoos, Hot Dogs and Butterflies in Our Stomachs

by     Posted 28 days ago


The second day at the Paris International Fantastic Film Festival was filled with a lot of — pardon my French — WTF moments. It leaves one wondering whether David Cronenberg had anything to do with today’s program.

It turns out the Canadian director was clearly an influence and thanked in the closing credits of Ink, the short film screened before the first competing film du jour and worth a mention. Written and directed by Glasgow-based horror journalist Andy Stewart, this sinister and horrific story features a young loser in Glasgow who is so desperate for some ink that he’s willing to go to extreme lengths to get tatted up and transform himself into an ambulatory work of art.  Instead of going to the local tattoo parlor like a normal person — well, the shop owner shoos him away — he has a more, um, unusual method.  He spots a tattoo he likes, he takes out his box cutter and cuts the patch of skin out of the person, before wrapping it in a newspaper and heading home. He then endures the agony of carving out his own skin in order to sew the stolen tattoo on his own body. No pain, no gain, right? 


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The first day of the Paris International Fantastic Film Festival kicked off with a cult classic and three first-time feature films that are a promising debut for their respective directors: Time Lapse, Housebound and Nightcrawler kept the audience on the edge of their seats, while Wes Craven‘s A Nightmare on Elm Street, programmed in the Retro category, still manages to scare us witless for 90 minutes some 30 years after its release.

Hit the jump for my reviews.

The Paris International Fantastic Film Festival 2014 Kicks Off with Takashi Miike’s THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI

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In a theater near the famous Opéra Garnier, the 4th annual Paris International Fantastic Film Festival opened Tuesday night with a screening of the Japanese yakuza film, The Mole Song: Undercover Agent ReijiTakashi Miike‘s psychedelic cinematic feast announced the many hues of this year’s selection – and in a rather explosive manner.

Miike has turned a classic infiltration plot into a top gear Technicolor action flick that borders on parody.  Reiji Kikukawa is basically a failed cop.  Maybe because he’s still a virgin.  Or simply because he’s not cut out for catching criminals.  He’s fired yet undergoes some bizarre tests to become a mole — an undercover agent.  After one of these tests where he rides naked on the hood of a car he is dropped off in the most dangerous Japanese yakuza clan, or Mafia.  No one in the force believes he’ll make it out alive, yet despite his clumsiness and lack of skills, he finds his niche … or is it luck?  And the result is a visual hyperbole.  Hit the jump for more.

Champs-Elysées Film Festival Honors Indie Genius Whit Stillman, Plus a Retrospective on His Films and More on His Upcoming Project THE COSMOPOLITANS

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The most famous avenue in the world was transformed into a mini Cannes for one week. The Champs-Elysées Franco-American Film Festival in Paris screened both indie and major studio films from both sides of the Atlantic in theaters up and down the Champs-Elysées. But it was worth braving the waves of tourists, who were more copious than ever, for the program’s third edition.

One of the highlights this year was the Whit Stillman retrospective. Sure, the indie filmmaker has only made four movies in about 24 years:  Metropolitan, nominated for an Oscar in 1990 for Best Original Screenplay; Barcelona (1994); The Last Days of Disco (1998); and Damsels in Distress (2011). But with his keen eye and ability to create poignant characters, Stillman is often compared to Eric Rohmer and Woody Allen.  Hit the jump for more on the Stillman retrospective from the Champs-Elysées Film Festival.

WINTER SLEEP Wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival; FOXCATCHER’s Bennett Miller Takes Best Director

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Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is the winner of the coveted Palme d’Or at the 64th XX Cannes Film Festival for his three-hour twenty-minute film Winter Sleep. The director had fierce competition… with better films – mainly Mr. Turner by Mike Leigh, Mommy by Xavier Dolan, Foxcatcher by Bennett Miller, The Homesman by Tommy Lee Jones and the critically-acclaimed Still the Water by Naomi Kawase.

Alice Rohrwacher‘s Le Meraviglie (The Wonders) won the Grand Prize, while Bennett Miller takes home the best direction Palme for another favorite amongst critics, Foxcatcher. Julianne Moore won the best actress award for her performance as a C-list actress in David Cronenberg‘s Maps to the Stars and Timothy Spall the best actor award for his unforgettable rendition in the title role in Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner.  Hit the jump for more, including the full list of winners.

Cannes 2014: SAINT LAURENT Review

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Yves Saint Laurent used to say that he was the last of the great couturiers.  He is also the only one who has been the subject of two biopics in less than six months. While Jalil Lespert’s insipid Yves Saint Laurent opened to fair reviews, critics at the Cannes Film Festival were less than enthused about Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent.  Were two biopics within a year really necessary?

A better film would have been a combination of both.  Except for one problem:  While Yves Saint Laurent was pre-approved by the late designer’s lover and business partner Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent was not.  The former is a sterile tribute, the latter depicts him as a recluse, meticulous in his work to the point of tyranny and focuses mostly on his self-destructive streak.  And it quickly becomes tedious as there seems to be only two scenes that keep alternating for two hours and thirty minutes.  Hit the jump for my Saint Laurent review.

Atom Egoyan’s THE CAPTIVE Fails to Captivate Cannes

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A perennial favorite at the Cannes Film Festival, Atom Egoyan returns this year to the official competition with The Captive, a psychological thriller starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Durand, Mireille Enos, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Greenwood in a cameo.  Despite the beauty of its atmospheric visuals, the movie failed to impress.  It was largely panned by the critics at its screening this week, leaving them with mixed feelings, some even booing as the end credits began to roll.

The synopsis sounded promising: Eight years after the disappearance of Cassandra, some disturbing indications pop up in the hotel rooms her mother cleans, indicating she may still be alive. Atom Egoyan was inspired by a real-life story, but stretched his imagination to include the “big brother is watching you” notion.  Hit the jump for more.

Over 35 Posters from Cannes 2014 Include EASTERN BOYS, BORGMAN, RIO I LOVE YOU, HORMONES: THE SERIES, and More

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The Croisette is a giant billboard for movies and I discover new ones each day. From blockbusters to indie flicks and genre movies, Cannes is the poster collectioner’s dream and I will fulfill it each day with more treasures live from Cannes and its Film Market.  Hit the jump to check out over 35 posters from the 2014 Cannes Film Festival including Eastern Boys, Rio I Love You, Borgman, 13 Sins, and a lot more.

The Cannes Film Festival Gets Underway: See Posters for TRANSFORMERS 4, THE EXPENDABLES 3, THE HOMESMAN, AWOL 72, and More

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transformers age of extinction cannes posters

The Croisette is abuzz with reporters, film critics, wannabes and tourists.  It is time for the annual event that puts all those attending in a cinematographic bubble for ten days.  The rest of the world is being attacked by aliens for all we know, but we would go on unawares. Or the reigning cinematic ambience would annihilate them.  This is, after all, the biggest film festival and market on the planet where imagination, movie stars and clever publicity abound.

Hit the jump for our first report from Cannes, including posters from Transformers: Age of Extinction, How to Train Your Dragon 2The Homesman, The Expendables 3, Awol 72, and more.

Marcello Mastroianni Peeks Behind His Shades in Posters for the 67th Cannes Film Festival

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The Cannes Film Festival unveiled this year’s poster today in Paris. Conceived by Hervé Chigioni and graphic designer Gilles Frappier of the Lagency creative studio, the poster features Marcello Mastroianni based on a photogram taken from Federico Fellini‘s 8 1/2, which starred Mastroianni and was presented in the festival’s Official Selection in 1963.

The Oscar-nominated Italian actor, who passed away in 1996, was cast in many of Fellini’s film, including La Dolce Vita. He was the perfect actor to play the director’s complex, tortured leading men. His final film, Manoel de Oliveira‘s Voyage to the Beginning of the World, was released in 1997.  Hit the jump for more.

ME, MYSELF AND MUM Wins Big at César Awards; Plus Full List of Winners and Recap of Ceremony

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French actor and director Guillaume Gallienne was the big winner at the 39th ceremony of the César Awards in Paris, where he took home a total of five trophies, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adaptation, Best First Film and Best Editing for Me, Myself and Mum. Michael Kohlhaas by Arnaud des Pallières and 9 Month Stretch by Albert Dupontel were also among the big winners, while Quentin Tarantino presented a lifetime achievement award to a young American actress.

Hosted by Cécile de France, who starred in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter in 2010 and whose own mantelpiece includes two Césars – she didn’t lose the opportunity to remind the audience in one of her many shameless self-elevating moments – this year’s edition of the French film awards was rather bland and short on humor. The jokes lacked edge, the writers had forgotten to include punch lines, and their delivery by Cécile de France amplified all of that. One sketch was meant to parody the alleged ill treatment that actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux suffered on the set of Blue Is The Warmest Color. It was sloppy and I’m not sure the ladies laughed. Except when the film won the first award of the evening.  More after the jump.

Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM to Open Cannes Film Festival

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Moonrise Kingdom will premiere in Cannes on May 16, opening the 65th annual edition of the world’s biggest film festival. Directed by Wes Anderson who co-wrote the screenplay with Roman Coppola, the film will be released in French cinemas on the same day as its screening in Cannes and on May 25 in the US. Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacobs commented:

“With Wes Anderson opening the 65th Festival de Cannes, young American cinema will be celebrated on the Croisette.”

Produced by Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson for Focus Features and Indian Paintbrush, Moonrise Kingdom stars Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman. More details and the trailer after the jump.

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