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Empire Blogs

Cannes Film FestivalCannes 2011: The Line-Up

Posted on Thursday April 14, 2011, 13:14 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Cannes 2011: The Line-Up

Though several have yet to be confirmed, the core titles of the 64th Cannes film festival were announced today in Paris. After all the speculation of recent weeks, the list is missing a few buzz titles (David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, Walter Salles' On The Road, Bruce Robinson's The Rum Diary, Wong Kar-Wei's The Grandmasters, Alexander Payne's The Descendants), but it certainly feels like a more satisfying and thoughtful selection than last year's. Yet again, American cinema is keeping a low profile, competition-wise, but then so is Asian cinema, although that may change slightly in the weeks before the event's May 11 opening....

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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: Mr Nobody

Posted on Saturday September 12, 2009, 12:22 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: Mr Nobody

Two days have gone by since I saw Jaco Van Dormael's Mr Nobody, and I still don't quite know what to make of it. It's a sort-of-sci-fi European romance in which Sliding Doors meets The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, with a hefty dose of The Matrix thrown in at the end. On the one hand, it's a bit of a mess, because it's just so complex and busy, but, on the other hand, it does have a strange sort of poetry. The nominal star is Jared Leto, but he's only really in a third of it. He plays a character called Nemo Nobody, and at the start of the film Nemo is dying. He's the last mortal on earth and, aged 128, is waiting to die, but while he's on his deathbed he is approached by a journalist (Daniel Mays), who wants to know his life story. Nemo tells him, but the story contradicts itself in every possible way: he married this woman, he married that woman, he didn't marry that woman, etc, etc. All we know for certain is that when he was a little boy, Nemo had a choice to make: hi...

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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: A Single Man

Posted on Friday September 11, 2009, 13:33 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: A Single Man

Tom Ford's A Single Man was on my to-see list but I wasn't expecting much. Tom Ford, if you don't know, is a big noise in menswear and the man who saved Gucci, so I figured his directing debut would look like an aftershave commercial: lots of nude male buttocks and billowing drapes. Such things do appear in A Single Man, but I was surprised to see how good and involving the central drama was. All the performances are note-perfect, and although the film is not likely to cross over to the masses (it's not just lightly gay-themed, it's gaymungous), I can't help thinking that it might be the dark horse come awards time – perhaps not for Ford, but certainly for its two leads, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore – while the film is also a showcase for the talents of two more Brits, the excellent Matthew Goode and, more surprisingly, Nicolas Hoult, the grown-up child star of About A Boy. If the Brokeback Mountain audience supports it, it will surely have a distinguish...

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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: Survival Of The Dead

Posted on Wednesday September 9, 2009, 14:15 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: Survival Of The Dead

George A Romero's new film Survival Of The Dead crept up on me so fast, I didn't even know it was being made, let alone ready to be shown. In retrospect, that was probably a good thing, as it didn't give me much time to get too excited. To put things into perspective, I love Romero's first three Dead movies and I like Martin an awful lot. His studio work has been a bit hit and miss, and I really wasn't at all gone on Land Of The Dead, simply because it looked too slick and didn't have much to say (ultimately, it was just a gory satire on gated communities). There was also the fact that it had Dennis Hopper and Asia Argento in it; Romero's films have never needed stars, much less those of the knowing, genre kind. Diary Of the Dead, while not exactly a return to form, I enjoyed very much, partly because the killings were far out and effective but mostly because it seemed to be about th...

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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: The Men Who Stare At Goats

Posted on Tuesday September 8, 2009, 12:56 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: The Men Who Stare At Goats

The Men Who Stare At Goats didn't fill me enthusiasm when I first heard about it. No disrespect to the book, but I didn't see how a fiction feature could be woven out of Jon Ronson's largely anecdotal history of the American military's covert experiments with psychic warfare – to be frank, I'd have been more excited about a documentary. Having seen it, however, I must admit that it does work. There are some obvious pitfalls – there's really not much of a central story, so it doesn't feel quite as emotionally satisfying a good movie should – but there are some great performances, a lot of very deft comedy and writer Peter Straughan (aided by Grant Heslov's tight direction) captures the deadpan, ironic style of Ronson's writing despite making major changes to the framework.

Ronson is not a character in the movie but his role in the book is reflected in the film in the character of Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), a cuckolded, smalltown j...

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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: The Informant!

Posted on Monday September 7, 2009, 11:10 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: The Informant!

I first had my hopes raised about The Informant! when I spoke to Steven Soderbergh last year. “I think a lot of people think, based on the subject matter, that it's going to be a Michael Mann film,” he told me. “But it's more Alexander Payne than Michael Mann.” It is indeed, with a sparky, cocktail-jazzy score and a big dash of Petulia-era Richard Lester melancholy. Because though it's set in the 90s midwest, it could easily be the 70s, a time explicitly evoked in the music and the typefaces that pop up throughout. It's an odd style choice, but it's a handy one that stops the film simply becoming another true-crime story. However, these quirky elements have already divided audiences here; and while the film played very well with the public, some of the critics haven't been so nice, labelling the film “smug” and “really kind of smarty-pants” (I'm not naming names!).
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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: The Horde

Posted on Monday September 7, 2009, 09:48 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: The Horde

In amongst all this Venice talk I must now give a quick plug to the organisers of the excellent Frightfest, who alerted me to one of their bigger hits this year, which, being very cool people, they managed to snag ahead of its debut here. Called The Horde, it is a very bloody, very exciting and very, very entertaining French horror movie that plays as an extremely effective blend of Escape From New York and 28 Weeks Later (yes, the second, better one). It's a shame I knew a bit about it going in, since it's one of those cool pulp movies that switches tack midway through. It starts like a gritty policier, with four dirty cops attending the funeral of one of their undercover colleagues and vowing to wreak a terrible revenge on the man's gangland murderers. After a brutal interrogation scene, they trace the gang to a deserted housing estate in the north of Paris, where they don balaclavas and creep in, armed to the teeth with guns and knives. Their plan goes horribly, violently wrong, but just as the gang are about to turn the tables, something bizarre and horrific happens. Outside, there's a strange crowd gathering, and inside... well, things get gruesome.
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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: Oliver Stone's South Of The Border

Posted on Sunday September 6, 2009, 17:15 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: Oliver Stone's South Of The Border

Following hot on the heels of Michael Moore's latest came another politically charged documentary from a controversial American director – Oliver Stone, this time with a brisk look at the state of South America, with particular focus on Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. Called South Of The Border, it makes a neat companion piece to his Fidel Castro movie Commandante, but it's a much leaner and slightly more distanced work that raises some interesting points about the USA's nearest neighbours. There's a lot crammed in here, which makes it feel a bit overloaded with information, but Stone is a surprisingly low-key presence as he moves from country to country, interviewing their leaders in an informal but still somewhat deliberately arch Frost/Nixon style.
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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: Capitalism, A Love Story

Posted on Sunday September 6, 2009, 10:07 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: Capitalism, A Love Story

Michael Moore arrived in Venice fresh from the edit suite with a film so new, it features footage shot in early 2009. Pre-publicity for the film was sketchy, but the title alone – Capitalism, A Love Story – was a bit of a giveaway. Much more like his breakout hit Bowling For Columbine than the recent health-industry expose Sicko, it is arguably his best since Fahrenheit 911 and, although flawed, it's quite a worthy successor. It's highly possible that Moore may revisit the film after the reviews he reads in the next few days, so some of these flaws may not make the release version, but on the evidence of the festival cut, Moore may have another hit on his hands. Not on the scale of F911 but better than any documentary about the recent financial crisis could ever expect to be.
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Cannes Film FestivalVenice 09: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

Posted on Saturday September 5, 2009, 10:42 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

After the initial shock of The Bad Lieutenant (pictured) actually being good, there was a second turn-up for the books yesterday: the festival's first surprise film, one of four, was Werner Herzog's other new film, the heavily anticipated My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?. Produced by David Lynch, whose fingerprints are on every frame, it's an interesting companion piece for Bad Lieutenant, even though it's quite different, rather more experimental and, er, very much like a David Lynch movie. The style is American gothic but with a hyperreal glow, and it starts with a cop (Willem Dafoe) regaling his policing partner with an anecdote about a high-speed chase with a hayseed sheriff. “Sometimes I wonder who's worse,” he muses. “Us or the fuckin' criminals.” Almost instantly a call comes through, and the two are assigned to a homicide: the murder of a woman in San Diego. When they get to the crime scene, they unwittingly encounter the killer (Michael Shannon) straight away: he's the bearded guy outside with the big coffee cup who advises them to “razzle-dazzle 'em”.
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RECENT POSTS

Cannes 2011: The Line-Up
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: Mr Nobody
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: A Single Man
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: Survival Of The Dead
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: The Men Who Stare At Goats
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: The Informant!
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: The Horde
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: Oliver Stone's South Of The Border
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: Capitalism, A Love Story
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
By Damon Wise


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Cannes 2011: The Line-Up
"I advise everyone with dress problems to look (Www Voguebuybuy Com) It has the lat"  voguebuybuy
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Cannes 2011: The line-up
"Didn't even know Drive had been adapted. Been meaning to read it for ages. Yay"  jamesjewell1983
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Cannes 2011: The line-up
"Is there a reason why these articles cannot be shared on Facebook? Is it "  rgod
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Clint Eastwood's Changeling Is The Best Of The Festival So Far
"Test on IE"  DJH17
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Clint Eastwood's Changeling Is The Best Of The Festival So Far
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Venice 09: The Bad Lieutenant!
"Just watched the film and thought it was great. Did not expect that ending that made the film so muc"  Zimbo
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Venice 09: The Bad Lieutenant!
"ian happy to read that nicholas cage is back on track. he has always been one of my favourite actors"  bellaphoenix
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Venice 09: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
"sounds like david lynch has directed most of the film.......in which case it should be AMAZING....ho"  FincherFan27
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Venice 09: A Single Man
"A Single Man sounds great! Knew nothing of it until now really, aside from Tom Ford being director, "  Acho
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Venice 09: Survival Of The Dead
"Is the picture from the film, or journalists struggling to get the right festival pass in the buildi"  Acho
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