I haven't caught up with Sacha Baron Cohen's latest shenanigans in "The Dictator" yet but the wife thinks it looks funny so maybe we'll make it out this weekend. I do get the sense that things are running a bit thin and hope Cohen can jump into this Freddy Mercury thing ASAP for a nice shift (not that collaborations with Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese haven't been refreshing). Anyway, I imagine many of you will be seeing it, too, so when/if you do, head on back here with your thoughts.
Sacha Baron Cohen's latest hits theaters today
Could the esteemed cast garner awards consideration at year's end?
Focus Features has an interesting little slate of films to pitch this season. There's Wes Anderson's latest, "Moonrise Kingdom," which opened Cannes earlier this week to mostly favorable reviews. Indeed, I found it to be one of his best, a charming mark of maturation for the filmmaker. There's also Joe Wright's big adaptation "Anna Karenina," which looks to be the heavyweight in the stable.
Then there's "Hyde Park on Hudson," director Roger Michell's latest. From the official synopsis: "In June 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor host the King and Queen of England for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York – the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America. With Britain facing imminent war with Germany, the Royals are desperately looking to FDR for support.
"But international affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR’s domestic establishment, as wife, mother, and mistresses all conspire to make the royal weekend an unforgettable one. Seen through the eyes of Daisy, Franklin’s neighbor and intimate, the weekend will produce not only a special relationship between two great nations, but, for Daisy – and through her, for us all – a deeper understanding of the mysteries of love and friendship."
The event will be held in conjunction with the 2012 LA Film Festival
On the heels of the recent news that Dolby Laboratories has wrangled naming rights to the Hollywood & Highland theatre (formerly known as the Kodak) that has played host to concerts, performance events and, of course, the annual Academy Awards ceremony, Walt Disney Pictures has announced that the "grand opening" of the venue will coincide with the world premiere of Disney/Pixar's "Brave." The June 17 event will take place in conjunction with the Los Angeles Film Festival.
"This is the first of many exclusive and exciting events—from movie premieres to awards ceremonies—in which Dolby and our technologies will play a featured role," said Dolby executive VP of sales and marketing via press release.
As part of the naming rights announcement earlier this month, it was noted that Dolby "will continue to update the theatre with innovative, world-class technologies to ensure that the theatre remains state-of-the-art, beginning with the immediate installation of its recently released Dolby® Atmos™ sound technology." The "Brave" screening will be presented in Dolby 3D.
Audiard's latest an aggressively moving study of broken hearts and bodies
CANNES - As a general rule, it should be a bit further into Cannes, when the combination of punishing onscreen themes and depleted reserves of sleep have battered down all defences, that I have my first involuntary cry of the festival. And as a general rule, it should be several lifetimes before the instigator of such a reaction is Katy Perry's plastic empowerment anthem "Firework," with a wheelchair-bound young woman playing conductor to its ersatz emotional swell.
"Rust and Bone" (B+) a remarkable exercise in brute sentimentality and unwashed romance from French genre artisan Jacques Audiard, is not a film with much use for general rules: awash with aesthetic and narrative decisions that scratch at the boundaries of human empathy and simple good taste, it's the rare Croisette provocation that invites polarized responses by flirting with convention, even cliché, rather than transgression. In no other context could the Wonderbread pop stylings of Ms. Perry sound more subversive.
The actor finds himself working with a bevy of filmmaking talent this year
Are you ready for the year of Matthew McConaughey? And did you ever think you'd read that sentence?
Yes, the heartthrob best known over the last decade for turns in dubious actioners, countless rom-coms and a naked bongo drumming episode is set to have a pretty sensational 2012. And not to diminish the actor. Even in all that sludge there have been sparks of that natural flair. But few would argue that McConaughey hasn't been off on an irrelevant tangent since "Reign of Fire," at the very least.
But this year -- with two films set to bow next week at the Cannes Film Festival in Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" and Jeff Nichols' "Mud," another in theaters already and two more on the way -- the actor has saddled up to quality filmmakers for the first time in a while. Seemingly, he's ready for a new, more meaningful phase of his career.
Cannes opens with Wes Anderson on typically whimsical form
CANNES - It's not often that a filmmaker's cheerleaders and detractors alike can agree upon a single convenient adjective. But for better and for worse, "precious" has been a defining term for Wes Anderson's unapologetically affected filmography ever since "Rushmore" dressed up the grainy funk of "Bottle Rocket" into something a little more preppily composed.
From any perspective, "precious" covers the thematic and aesthetic delicacy of his films, their exactingly designed construction and perennially nostalgic gaze. Whether that degree of refinement is something cherishable or enervating, however, is in the eye of the beholder. To say, then, that "Moonrise Kingdom" -- a neurotically designed and almost exhaustingly cute return to the pre-adult concerns of 1998's "Rushmore" -- is Anderson's most precious film to date scarcely qualifies as a value judgment. But it is, and you can attach to it what value you will.
His latest, 'Moonrise Kingdom,' bows at Cannes today
Filmmaker Wes Anderson is back this year with his first live action film in five years, "Moonrise Kingdom," premiering today as the opening night film of the Cannes Film Festival. In typical Anderson fashion, it features an ensemble of actors, though many of them are working with him for the first time. Over the years, Anderson has established an impressive stable of acting talent, a dedicated troupe of personnel that can slip right into his singular world with ease. Will first-timers Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Frances McDormand and Harvey Keitel join the crew after "Moonrise Kingdom?" Time will tell, but for now, here's a look at the house that Anderson built. Click through the gallery below for a quick refresher.
Also: The director's early works set for fall Blu-ray release
It's been a while since I last saw Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon." It's a film that demands attention be paid, and I so rarely find that I can sit down and settle in with it. But it's a masterful piece of work that deserves a couple of looks over the years, to be sure.
The Academy is offering one such look as part of its "Member Selects" series on Monday, May 21 at the Lighthouse International in New York City. "Capote" and "Moneyball" director Bennett Miller will be on hand to introduce the film (as "Member Selects" is a series where Academy members introduce one of their favorite films).
"Barry Lyndon" landed at an interesting time in film history. It was part of a dying breed of film, done with a certain magnificence that was becoming rarer and rarer (and, indeed, is one of a kind for the way Kubrick approached the material). It landed seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Theatrical and extended cuts to be included
I'm not sure we could write much more about "Margaret" in this space. Last December, filling in the gaps with the rest of a press corps hammering out their top 10 lists for the year, I caught up to Kenneth Lonergan's embattled film at one of two screenings Fox Searchlight politely scheduled for those who had missed it during its fleeting September release.
I loved it. I loved it so much it became, for me, the best film of 2011. I talked at length with Lonergan, who was unable to do press due to necessary legal hand-tying regarding lawsuits involving the studio and financier. Roth (also a fan of the film) talked at length with star Anna Paquin, a surreal experience for the "True Blood" vixen, given that she had worked on the film so long ago. And Guy, too, fell in love with it and ranked it pretty high on his list of the year's best.
No, I don't think there's much more we could write…about the theatrical cut, anyway. But with a new extended assemblage finally coming to DVD/Blu-ray on July 10, you can bet we'll find something!
Rounding up some of the greatest competition entries not to win a single award
I can hardly believe it's snuck up on like this, but today I jet off to the south of France for the Cannes Film Festival, which officially kicks off tomorrow with the premiere of Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom." Currently, we're in the exciting night-before-Christmas stage of the festival. 22 Competition films (among a buffet of others in secondary strands) lie unseen ahead of us: all of them have serious artistic intentions and creditable names attached, and have been hand-picked for the programme by the powers that be.
Yet there will be successes and there will be failures: predicting the annual critical disaster as much a sport as handicapping the jury awards. We have no idea what the prizewinners and/or future classics from the lineup might prove to be -- and that "and/or" is crucial, since the two don't always overlap. Cannes juries are no less capable than the Academy of missing the boat with their choices, of passing over long-haul masterworks for short-lived sensations. Will future generations care about Palme d'Or winner "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" -- any more than people today care about "The Mission?"