Biopics are a double-edged sword. On one hand, carving out a larger-than-life persona on the big screen drives iconography and extends a legacy. On the other, the inherent trap of the "greatest hits" approach, a structure often leaned on just because of the sheer amount of information you can carry across, can lead to a lack of dimension, sapping the humanity out of a subject. Bill Pohlad was aware of those pitfalls when he set out to make "Love & Mercy," a cinematic portrait of Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson, and he avoided them expertly.
[This review contains descriptions of graphic sexual acts.]
CANNES — The first shot of Gaspar Noé’s new drama “Love” lets you know exactly what you’ve gotten yourself into. Murphy (Karl Glusman) and Electra (Aomi Muyock) are naked on a bed. She is giving him a hand job while he fingers her. The camera does not move. There is no cut to another shot. There is no music. And then, in what will be a common occurrence, Murphy ejaculates in Electra’s hand. Noé has given you ample warning of what’s ahead. This film will not simulate sex. The intercourse will be real and it will dominate the proceedings.
Oh wow. So cinematographer Roger Deakins has signed on to shoot Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner" sequel. I'm paying attention now, folks.
As I begin writing this I'm watching David Letterman, in one of his final appearances as host of "The Late Show," walk out to greet the audience as he's done thousands of times. He's talking about the weather in New York, again, as he's done countless times. After Wednesday, he'll never walk out onto that Ed Sullivan Theater stage and shoot the breeze about the weather again. He'll never again throw it to Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra to kick off the show. The misfits, alas, will have lost their shepherd.
Industrial Light & Magic, the San Francisco-based visual effects house that has changed the course of cinema history countless times over the years, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015. Wired Magazine has rounded up a who's who to discuss its impact and how the advances made there — first in a sweaty Van Nuys warehouse, and now in a swank Presidio complex — have morphed the film industry into what it is today. It's well worth your time.
CANNES — In 2001 Benicio Del Toro won an Oscar for his portrayal of a Mexican police officer attempting to take down the drug cartels in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.” Fourteen years later he’s starring in another film about North America’s “drug war,” Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicario,” and the picture makes the disheartening argument that things may have actually gotten worse.
CANNES — Stop and think about it for a just a minute. Imagine a movie almost completely centered on individual emotions living in a young girl's head. Not a short, but a feature length film. It sounds like some sort of nightmare screenwriting assignment, doesn’t it? How do you explain how the emotions work? Do they control her every action? Do they grow and mature alongside her? How do you make a coherent, entertaining and moving experience out of that concept? Pete Docter, who previously directed one of Pixar's best films, "Up," doesn't make things easy on himself taking on that challenge and it makes the success of "Inside Out" more admirable than it initially might seem.
It seems pretty obvious given what's on paper that, if you're interested in the annual film awards derby at year's end, you should be keeping a pretty close eye on "Steve Jobs." Produced by Oscar winners Scott Rudin ("No Country Old Men") and Christian Colson ("Slumdog Millionaire") along with nominee Mark Gordon ("Saving Private Ryan"), written by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin ("The Social Network"), directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") starring Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender ("12 Years a Slave") and winner Kate Winslet ("The Reader") — yeah, this is that "sight unseen" territory.
CANNES — There's nothing like a Cannes Film Festival press conference to stir things up a bit. This year we've already had Tom Hardy publicly apologize to director George Miller for his behavior during the filming of "Mad Max: Fury Road" and on Sunday none other than Cate Blanchett stoked the flames. Something tells us she's been waiting for the opportunity.