‘La Belle et La Bête’ Trailer

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Ok, this may be far from Jean Cocteau classic, but something must explain its current opening success in Italy. There are things here that I like: Vincent Cassel cast as Beast/Prince, a very powerful soundtrack and seemingly great visuals. I hear the story does not live up to all the visuals, but it’s a rule, rather than an exception today. Apparently, there is another ‘Beauty and the Beast’ movie to be announced with Emma Watson in it, but we will see a number of Disney-themed films in the next couple of years. Joe Wright is directing ‘Pan’ (2015), ‘the origin’ story of the character Peter Pan staring Hugh Jackman. ‘Maleficent’ (2014) with Angelina Jolie is coming soon, and sure, we anticipate (for years now) “a darker version” of the fairytale ‘Pinocchio’ (an animated film with Guillermo del Toro as a director).

Best Films Never Made #12: Shane Carruth’s A Topiary

Originally posted on One Room With A View:

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In 2004, Shane Carruth stunned the film industry with his visionary debut, Primer. Taking a meticulous and realist approach to the ever-popular sci-fi theme of time travel, his singular vision earned him the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, instant cult status and legions of fans eagerly awaiting his next film.

But then? Nothing.

For nine years, little was known of Carruth’s film-making plans except for a mysterious two-word title, A Topiary, and whispers of something “epic” on its way. In 2013, fans were sated with the release of a new Carruth project, Upstream Colour, but what exactly happened to the film he spent almost a decade trying to make? And what even is A Topiary? A Topiary 1

To put it as bluntly as possible, A Topiary is the most mind-blowingly ambitious screenplay I have ever read. Working my way through its 245 pages I found myself shaking my head…

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‘Upstream Color’ Mini-Review

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Upstream Color (2013)

Most critics couldn’t stop talking about it.’ (Keith Kimbell, Metacritic)

The now Sundance Festival’s favourite, Shane Carruth, came in 2013 with his second major film titled ‘Upstream Color’, a film to rival his brain-wrecking ‘masterpiece’ – ‘Primer’ (2004). Revered by critics worldwide, Upstream Color’ starts off with a thief who kidnaps a woman and drugs her into the game of manipulation to relieve her of her possessions. From then on we see the unfolding of probably some of the most confusing and perplexing events on screen in years. The audience is confronted with such deep philosophical/psychological, biologically themed topics as the essence of nature, the cycle of life, free will/determinism, among others. This existential feel to the film is felt throughout its 96 minutes’ duration. However, the main weakness of the film is that the underlying idea of it, which remains hidden, is too complex and difficult for an average viewer to guess or workout, and even Sherlocks out there may find it hard to comprehend everything that is happening on screen, even when the film has ended. Little help is provided by a sporadic dialogue. It would have been nice to include some extraneous clues on the plot, as this would have made the film more engaging and interesting, and its narrative less messy and empty. The failure to do so is unfortunate as the film is very original; its aesthetic beauty of shots has been compared to the artwork of Terrence Malick, and it also contains very interesting camerawork. The sound design in the film is also remarkable, remindful of Aronofsky’s ingenuity in ‘Requiem for a Dream’ (2000).  This is why when you finally do disentangle the logic behind the film’s events, the film becomes a truly rewarding experience and you really start to ‘enjoy’ it then and there. Therefore, repeated viewing is advisable. Overall, although bound to confuse, ‘Upstream Color’ is also a brave, stylish, thought-provoking, emotive, strangely raw and honest piece of an American experimental cinema, and should really be considered as one of the best and certainly most admirable attempts in its genre. 7/10

The Academy Awards (Oscars) 2014

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Best Picture

Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Other nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Well, there are hardly any surprises here, with virtually every film commentator predicting ‘12 Years a Slave’s win. It is easy to see why there was hardly any competition at all in this category, too. With greatest respect and admiration for other nominated films, ‘12 Years a Slave’ just stands out in terms of its artistic merit and, most importantly, the impact it produces. I don’t mind if ‘Gravity’ sweeps every award out there, as long as the Best Picture goes to its most deserved contender. Arguably, ’12 Years a Slave’ is the only film in the category to which you can comfortably assign the word ‘masterpiece’. It is a great achievement for everyone involved in the production of this film, especially for its director, Steve McQueen.

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’12 Years a Slave’ Review

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12 Years a Slave (2013)

Coming from the director Steve McQueen, ‘12 Years a Slave’ can now be comfortably described as this year’s cinematic sensation. The film, which is based on a self-autobiographical novel by Solomon Northup, recounting true events, tells the story of a black free man, who, at the start, happily lives with his family in Saratoga, New York in 1841. After he is tricked, kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South, his life turns up-side-down and a once brilliant musician and an educated family man is now forced to endure an unjust and hard life of a slave in Louisiana. The film is very truthful to Northump’s novel, and filled with so much realism and outstanding acting/directing, that putting this into perspective, when Brad Pitt’s character, Bass, a Canadian carpenter, starts talking about freedom and rights for black people at the very end of the film, we may find it hard to believe him – so engrossed we have become in the ideology of that time and in black people’s lives on a plantation in Louisiana in 1840s. And this is not an exaggeration.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014)

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‘My passion to develop as an actor didn’t have anything to do with people knowing me. I had no idea that would happen. To become famous, to become a celebrity is something that I thought happened to other people’. (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

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‘Gravity’ Review

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Gravity (2013)

‘Tell you one thing—can’t beat the view’. (Matt Kowalski in ‘Gravity’)

 This latest, critically acclaimed film from Alfonso Cuarón comes as the culmination of a four years’ wait for technology to catch up with the director’s ideas, similarly to Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ (2009). The wait was surely worth it since in ‘Gravity’ we see mind-blowing visuals of outer-space, beautiful shots of the Earth, and exhilarating special effects, which all required hard work. The film itself depicts two astronauts, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who are left stranded in the open space trying to get back to the Earth while their supply of oxygen still lasts. Flying debris and meteors are just examples of dangers they have to face on their journey back to the Earth.

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