BlackBook’s 20 Favorite Films of 2013

As I find myself sitting on my knees typing away and thinking of the year behind and year ahead, I can’t help but wonder where the time has gone. Has it really been an entire year since I lamented over my least favorite films of 2012, or did I just blink a little too hard?But as 2013 draws the curtain on 2014, and for all of the myriad life changes, pleasures, heartbreaks, existential quandaries, and obsessions endured, a great deal of my emotional memory is centered around cinema. I can pinpoint my own state of being in correlation to the films I loved and the work that truly moved me. I look back on my absolute favorite film of the year, Shane Carruth’s confounding and beautiful Upstream Color and can remember precisely the person I was at that time and just what compelled me to see the film 23 times in a span of two months.

But whether it was 2013’s highly anticipated heavy hitters like Steve McQueen’s fearless 12 Years a Slave or hidden gems recently to have their premiere such as Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, it’s safe to say that it’s been a pretty damn good year for film. From psychotropic teen nightmares and 90s dinner party-esque Shakespearean adaptations to transcontinental love stories and visceral documentaries, the films of 2013 surely offer a bit of something to please every cinematic appetite. So although I’ve  sadly yet to see some of the year end blockbusters—which I am sure they’re worth praising—I thought it still necessary to share my favorite films of the year, as well as a look back on our extensive interviews with the filmmakers behind the pictures. I’ve opted to not rank the films, as I believe they’re all vital and brilliant in their own right, but must  give away my personal Best Feature award to my favorite treasure of the year. Hope you enjoy.

***UPSTREAM COLOR, Shane Carruth***

With Upstream Color, Carruth has created a tactile film in which the sounds and textures engulf you in its layered and complex narrative that’s as much about the interdependence and madness of love as it is about our inescapable connection to nature and the world around us. There’s a poeticism to the film despite its rich sense of structure and science that allows it to possess a spiritual quality that hits the heart more so than the mind.

Upstream Color is a fractured story about broken people, shattering your notion of love’s conventions and what draws one person to another. It forces you to let go and immerse yourself in their world and the story Carruth has created in a way that you rarely feel compelled to with most contemporary cinema. You sink into the story and allow it to ripple over you with its subtle yet absolute approach, and although it may fall into the realm of the metaphysical, it remains emotionally tangible. And I will freely admit that this is not simply one of my favorite films of the year thus far, but perhaps one of the most incredible films I have ever seen. There are few things I cherish more than the physical act of watching a film, and the experience of sitting down for two hours and allowing myself to be overcome. From Upstream Color‘s first moment, something clicks inside of me and I’m hooked, mesmerized and embedded into the roots of its world.

Read out interview with Carruth HERE.

THE GREAT BEAUTY, Paolo Sorrentino 

Filled with striking cinematography and grandiose imagery that heightens everyday existence and existential quandaries into matters of personal faith, his work exposes a universal truth lying in his subjects. Whether he’s taking us on a perfectly scored journey through the vast open roads of the American landscape or through the hallowed halls and lamp lit streets of Rome, there’s a distinctly fantastic thrill, haunting charm, and absolute pleasure evoked from his sense of cinema.

And with his latest feature—both his personal best and one of my favorite films of the year—Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty is as ambitious as it is stunning. Starring the always captivating Toni Servillo—with a look that may be familiar but a freshness that enthralls—he and Sorrentino takes us into the world of Jep Gambardella (Servillo), a writer who has been drifting through a lavish lifestyle of parties and empty experiences since the success of his first and only novel. Examining the dichotomy between the history lingering in Rome’s landscape and psyche and the hollow artifice of modernity’s ephemeral charms, The Great Beauty studies Jep’s life as a “grand indictment of a man, and a society, that has lost its way.”

With an strange and oft grotesque hand—but one that’s always full of wonder—Sorrentino explores how we deal with love and loss, life and death, and the questions we must ask ourselves to give our existence meaning. “The great attraction of human beings, is that this beauty manifests itself in fleeting moments and thunders,” Sorrentino told me. “Exterior beauty is ephemeral, it comes and goes.” And it’s that sentiment which lingers throughout The Great Beauty,giving us a keen observation into the soul of both Jep and the Italy he strolls through night after night.

Read our interview with Sorrentino HERE.

FRANCES HA, Noah Baumbach

Frances Ha not only reflects what it means to simply exist at that time in life and in that universe, but shows the beauty in the mistakes made along the way, underscoring the idea that just because something isn’t working doesn’t mean it’s broken. Baumbach has crafted a film that feels refreshing and contemporary yet harkens back to to such European cinematic masters as Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, and Jean-Luc Godard in its casual essence, reminding us of what we love so much about the filmmaking of days past.

Co-written with the film’s brilliant and versatile star, Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha is infused with a unique magic that comes from a true meeting of minds. If you look back on Baumbach and Gerwig’s early work, it’s evident that the two are cut from the same cloth—both sharing an affinity for a particular kind of character’s journey, dealing with a sense of malaise as they meander through life, yet filled with a yearning for more. And whereas many of Baumbach’s film’s tend to err on the side of the misanthropic,Frances Ha is a film that makes you want to go out and engage in life. It’s an inspired and intelligent love letter to cinema that never stops moving while we follow the endearingly strange Frances as she dances from life to life.

At its core, Frances Ha is both a journey of self-discovery and a love story between best friends. With Gerwig’s frank yet tender touch, we see a realistic look at a fractured female friendship and the mourning that comes from feeling as though you’ve lost a part of yourself to someone else.

Read our interview with Baumbach HERE and our interview with Gerwig HERE.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Joss Whedon  

Playing out as a love letter to Shakespeare’s comedic tale of a merry war betwixt two lovers, Much Ado is brimming with charisma and sensual thrill. You don’t need to be a scholar of the bard to find yourself captivated by the story, with its silky smooth and velvety jazz-filled atmosphere, you’re eased into the film in a way that’s far from intimidating. Whedon infuses a conversational style to the story that makes it more accessible than any other Shakespearean re-workings in recent memory, adding to a charm that’s heightened by its phenomenal cast of characters.

Filmed in his own home in Los Angeles, for the director best known for hit shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, or Hollywood blockbusters like The Avengers, Much Ado was a welcome surprise. The comedy feels like a breath of fresh air, a respite from major studio pictures that allows Whedon the freedom to let loose with a rapturous mix of refinement and playfulness. Much Ado may seem minimalistic in its production style, but that speaks nothing of the beauty with which it was shot and the wonderfully nuanced performances by its sprawling cast.

Read our interview with Alexis Denisof HERE.

THE ACT OF KILLING, Joshua Oppenheimer

 The brilliant Texas-born director’s latest film, The Act of Killing, exposes its frightening subjects with a generosity and candor that you’re at once drawn to, yet viscerally unable to wrestle with. What you’re hearing and seeing on screen so unnerving that it almost feels like fiction. Executive produced by documentary film legends Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, Oppenheimer’s work focuses on the perpetrators behind the Indonesian genocide that occurred in the mid-1960s, a mass murdering of communists and Chinese by the death squad leaders who ushered in a regime of fear over the nation. But rather than simply tell the overarching story of these heinous acts, he worked with these now aged and troubled leaders to recreate their crimes in a highly theatrical and shocking way. Having murdered over a million people, one of the men to lead in the atrocity was Anwar Congo, whom Oppenheimer’s documentary focuses in on.

In a groundbreaking and uniquely evocative way to approach the subject, they reenact their crimes, playing out like homages to the American films that these gangsters idealized. Having spent years working in Indonesia, hearing these men’s stories and the plight of the survivors, he gives a raw and extremely personal look into the imagination and psyche of Anwar and his contemporaries. The film exists in the dichotomy of pure evil without remorse and the denial of that villainy in order to survive, and the result is a brilliantly executed exploration into a horrifying truth never before uncovered.

Read our interview with Oppenheimer HERE.

SUN DON’T SHINE, Amy Seimetz 

Bursting onto the screen with frantic gasp of air, Amy Seimetz’s Sun Don’t Shine grabs you by the neck and holds you captive. From its fierce and emotionally-charged opening scene—a rough and muddy lover’s quarrel—to the dreamy back road driving sequence that follows, you’re entranced in the film’s hot and sticky world straightaway, teeming with tension, anxiety, and fear. With swampy earthy tones of the Everglades and rosy hues of passion, Seimetz’s directorial debut is both visceral and expressionistic, playing out through feeling and texture, guiding you with potent emotion as you follow a young couple on the run.

A character study that picks up after the act of murder, Sun Don’t Shine exists in the balance of what comes after, the post-crime delirium and limbo before consequence. Hazy voiceovers that harken back to memories of hopeful intimacy are woven throughout the unraveling and unnerving narrative, shedding light on the paranoid couple that ventures into the seedy tourist trappings of southern Florida with a dead man in the trunk. Kate Lyn Sheil and Kentucker Audley bring a frightening sense of life into Crystal and Leo, playing them with every nerve exposed and emotions seeping out and fusing into the sweat on their skin.

Read our interview with Seimetz HERE.

12 YEARS A SLAVE, Steve McQueen 

With only a handful of features under his belt, director Steve McQueen stands out like a beacon for modern filmmakers. The fearless and outspoken filmmaker whose work is as brutally human as it is viciously beautiful, has given us the Michael Fassbinder-led Hunger and Shame, and now the absolutely visceral and exquisite 12 Years a Slave. And not only is McQueen talented, but it’s his self-possessed and outspoken nature and his refusal to pander to Hollywood or hide from challenge that sets him above his contemporaries. ‘Right now I couldn’t do a better film than Shame,’ he said back in 2012. “I couldn’t do better, but I hope the next one that I do will be better. It will be better.”

And although Shame was an masterpiece of emotionally gutting intimate psychology in its own right, McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave has proved to surpass everyone’s expectations, and apparently, even his. As an unflinching and astounding director whose brilliance is evident in everything he touches, McQueen has delivered, what is sure to be, the year’s most epic film. With a passion and talent for exposing brutality with an honest and emotional eye, McQueen’s film showcases the work of a man who harbors an unwavering vision and an incredible ability to pull performances from the marrow of his actors. Without pandering to an audience, without trying to dull down the absolute horror of Solomon Northup’s story or the atrocity of slavery, McQueen’s film unravels you emotionally from its very start and leaves you with the sensation that you have truly just watched a film—that feeling you cannot shake even hours leaving the theater, that’s what cinema is about.

It may not be the first film about slavery, but it feels like the first to treat it with no filter, no safety net, no redemptive catharsis , but as an American holocaust, told entirely from the black perspective. To watch it with an audience is to participate in an act of communal, immersive exorcism, and the element that makes it not just bearable, but transcendent, is the pure, jaw-dropping artistry at every level of its production. The true life tale of Solomon Northup’s Kafkaesque nightmare—kidnapped from his free life and sold into brutal slavery—feels like a major step in healing the wounds of slavery’s past, by allowing us to take collective responsibility as we watch horror turned to exquisite art, without lessening any of its impact.  In a perfect world, it would win every Oscar hands down, but given the Academy’s predilection for unchallenging feel-good entertainment, it doesn’t stand a chance.  Fuck ‘em. It’s not just the best film of the year, but one of the best films ever made. And here’s a few of those superlatives to underline my point: Unmissable. Essential. Fearless. Profound. Unforgettable.’

SPRING BREAKERS, Harmony Korine

Sure, Spring Breakers has an easy allure: sex, drugs, violence, and gun-toting saccharine-sweet Disney stars in bikinis. But there’s more to Harmony Korine’s neon-fueled rite of passage tale than meets the bloodshot eye. Like a candy-coated nightmare, Korine gives a raw portrayal of what at first appears to be a fun and breezy ride filled with sparkles and the promise of escape from life’s mundane ennui, but Spring Breakers cuts deep and goes dark and filthy into places that frighten, mystify, tantalize, and thrill with a mix of pure pleasure and pain.

Getting his hands dirty in just about every medium, the 40-year-old auteur has been working for nearly two decades now, creating work that’s unapologetic and uncompromising, filled with morally ambiguous and socially maligned characters that exist in a very specific world on the fringes. Although Korine’s work breathes with a mise-en-scene of the hyper-real, there’s an element to his films that holds up a rusty, all too familiar mirror for ourselves in the most unexpected way. And with Spring Breakers, this is a new side to the director who has been warping our minds ever since the premiere of the Korine-penned Kids eighteen years ago.

Like a scratched album stuck on repeat, Spring Breakers follows four college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, and Ashley Benson) who rob a diner a in order to fulfill their escapist fantasies of heading down to St. Petersburg, Florida for a debaucherous once-in-a-lifetime vacation. But when their beer-soaked and sexually charged trip goes sour, it’s rapper and drug and arms dealer Alien (Jams Franco) that comes to their rescue. And that’s when the nefarious story really kicks in as the world becomes much more rough and dark. With the tone of a haunted pop song, the film evokes something physical, leaving you in a trance that’s both erotic and dangerously chilling. It’s entertainment with a bullet, cinema with a bite of fantasy—it’s fizzing and bursting to the surface with color and entirely intoxicating.

Read our interview with Korine HERE.

STORIES WE TELL, Sarah Polley

When a film intersperses its usual narrative with super 8 home movie footage, my mind tends to wander to movies like Paris, Texas and the ways in which these reels of images presented to us are not simply reminders of the past, but the physical manifestation of memory—an artifact lost to time. There’s a quality to our personal bank of recollections that’s fallable and always subjective, pitting itself against reality. And with her fourth directorial feature and first documentary, actress and filmmaker Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell is by far her most stunning and human work to date.

As a personal essay about the hidden past of her family, the feature beautifully weaves together an incredibly well-constructed experiment in storytelling. In the film, there’s a line that reads: “When you’re in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all but only a confusion, a dark roaring, a blindness. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story when you’re telling it to yourself or anyone else.” And that sentiment plays out as the through-line for the feature, as Polley’s family and those close to it reveal familial secrets, shared truths, and show us the ways in which we create the own narrative of our lives.

Stories We Tell also confronts the challenges of love—be it romantic or maternal—while exposing the myriad ways our own memory can deceive us. There’s a delicacy and heartwarming touch in Polley’s style of filmmaking that shines through in all of her work but is never more present here. It’s absolutely enthralling and fascinating to watch but heartbreaking in its honesty—always leaving you hungry to discover more. The film works as a eulogy as much as it does a perfect vehicle for self-discovery, yet feels universal in its open-ended questions and speaks directly to your soul in way that’s both rare and tender.

BLUE JASMINE, WOODY ALLEN

With his latest summer film, Blue Jasmine, Allen delivers his weightiest film in years—putting to bed the shallow, slight nature of his previous work, To Rome With Love. Whereas my main argument with the latter rests heavily in his flimsy, two-dimensional portrayal of female characters, with Blue Jasmine, Allen has written a character ferocious and full of force, allowing Cate Blanchett to deliver one of the best performances of her career. From her opening line of dialogue spoken to a kind, elderly stranger on a flight to San Francisco, you see Blanchett has completely vaporized into the skin of Jasmine—tear-stained eyes, anxious cadence, and all—fully sunken into the character’s fractured psyche. In the way that you felt exhausted—both physically and emotionally—after seeing Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master—the actor’s stamina in the role a marvel to watch—I left my screening of Blue Jasmine feeling more shaky and distressed than when I entered, my own anxiety and emotions unraveled by Blanchett’s bewitching performance.

Like a destructive force of nature that waltzes in and sucks the air out of the room, Blue Jasmine tells the story of a woman completely in the throws of a nervous breakdown. After losing her husband, her fortune, and any sense of security, Jasmine goes out west to San Francisco to move in with her adopted sister, Ginger (played brilliantly by Sally Hawkins). As a broken-down New York socialite cast into a middle-class world populated with “losers” she doesn’t find worthy of her time, Jasmine attempts to assimilate to circumstances but finds herself trapped by her own fantasies. After changing her name from Jeanette to Jasmine in college, she re-imagined a life for herself, elevating her place in society and relying on the kindness of rich men to aide in her fantastical delusions.

With a supporting cast of Andrew Dice Clay (as the tough blue-collar ex-husband of Ginger), Louis CK (as the seemingly romantic side-jawn of Ginger), Bobby Cannavale (the brutish yet vulnerable boyfriend of Ginger), and Peter Sarasgaard (Jasmine’s unsuspecting and ambitious boyfriend), the film lacks Allen’s typical sense of romantic flair and swaps it for a substantial and darker sense of emotion. There’s no fourth wall breaking, no slapstick, no giddy romance—even the romances in the film seem slight and tragic in comparison to the greater weight of existential and psychological unrest. It’s a colder, bitterer pill of a film from Allen than we’ve seen in recent years, and as it cuts back and forth from Jasmine’s fruitful past to her desolate present, we see how one person’s life can spiral down into oblivion as the agent of her own disaster and that of those around her.

Read our interview with the Blanchett, CK, and Clay HERE.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT, Richard Linklater

At one point in Before Sunrise, Jesse begins to admit that in the months leading up to his wedding, he couldn’t stop thinking of Celine. He would see her everywhere, all the time, always in New York—especially once folding up an umbrella and entering a deli on 13th and Broadway. But she was off living in Europe somewhere, so he knew he was crazy. And of course, Celine then tells him that she was actually living in New York at that time—on 11th and Broadway.  It’s a small moment but an absolutely heartbreaking one—knowing that their lives could have been entirely different had he just glanced out of the car window again to see if it was her, knowing that this person whom he met once, yet possessed him so completely as an intangible longing inside him, was in fact right under his nose— and he never knew it. They never knew it.

But yes, that’s is just one of many painfully wonderful and sob-inducing moments in Richard Linklater’s transcontinental love trilogy. And since Before Sunrise‘s premiere in 1994, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke have been our Celine and Jesse, playing out the epitome of rare requited love thwarted by time and space. You watch these films, and for all the tears you cannot help but shed, you’re always left with the pangs of hopefulness. It excites something in you and tickles your heart to know that somewhere on a tram in Europe, your ideal soulmate could be pensively starring out a window wondering if there’s something he’s missing.

But in the words of Anne Sexton, “To love another is something like prayer and can’t be planned, you just fall into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.” When it comes to matters of the heart, we’re often powerless to our desires, consumed by emotion over our will and no matter the time or distance, feel inextricably linked to the soul of another. And almost two decades ago, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy first simultaneously ignited our hearts and ripped them apart with Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, only to do it all over again nine years later with Before Sunset.

But fast forward into the future with Before Midnight, we’re brought into the life shared between our Jesse and Celine—and it isn’t all romantic walks and silent longing that speaks to our hearts, but the way in which Linklater and his cast exposes what it truly means to love someone, and the struggles of a shared existence. Although still incomparably romantic, there’s a maturity and candidness about Before Midnight that’s mesmerizing and complex.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR, Olivier Assayas 

Opening with the Blaise Pascal quote: “Between us and heaven and hell there is only life which is the frailest thing in the world,” Olivier Assayas’ Something in the Air takes us into a world of youth committed to the present. Going back to the year 1971, which he first explored with the poetic Cold Water (1994)—a film about the emotions of being a teenager—Assayas draws direct parallels between the two, yet where the former dealt in the abstract, Something is a more direct autobiographical look at his own memory of coming of age in that time. Paying tribute to those who inspired his own sensibilities as an artist, the film merges the person with the political, exploring the identity of youth in the aftermath of the May ’68 and the choices that inform our maturation into adulthood.

It’s a film about the intersection of creative passion and ideological inclination, where self-discovery for the teenagers in the film, comes through their devouring of films, books, music, and art of the time—from the poetry of Gregory Corso to the music of Syd Barrett. As representation of his own youth, Something in the Air tells the story of Gilles (played by Clément Métayer), a high school student in Paris who finds himself swept up in the political fever of the times. However, his passion really lies in his art—painting, drawing, filmmaking—which becomes a struggle with the others around him. Heavily embedded in the countercultural movement, we follow Gilles through his various muses/love interests Laure and Christine (played by Carole Combes and Lola Créton), and the evolution of his maturity. And as Assayas is a believer that cinema is a place “where what’s lost may be found, where the world can be saved,” he recaptures his idealistic outlook on the world that he sought to be a part of.

Originally titled Après mai, or After May, the film exists in the echoes of chaos, yet feels idyllic and gorgeously cinematic—but without over-sentimentalization or nostalgia. Rather, Something in the Air exposes the “places and emotions that exist in the daylight,” showing an arcane world slowing unraveling as a youth countercultural rebellion take precedence.

Read our interview with Assayas HERE.

LAURENCE ANYWAYS, Xavier Dolan

Spanning the course of an entire decade, Laurence Anyways tells the story of two people passionately and deeply in love with one another who are forced to confront their own notions of love and acceptance when the fabric of their relationship turns inside out. For Fred and Laurence, played brilliantly by Suzanne Clément and Melvil Poupaud, their romance is forced to change when Laurence reveals to Fred that he is becoming a woman. Together, they’re forced to examine not only the prejudices and fears of those they know and the society around them, but that which they unconsciously harbor within themselves. For ten years, Fred and Laurence find themselves breaking apart and coming together, ripping out their own hearts and that of each other, and dealing with the ultimate expression of dedication to another person and what it means to truly love unconditionally. Whether they’re physically together or apart, Fred and Laurence share an inescapable connection that is as volatile and potent as it is beautifully delicate and tender.

With his first feature, I Killed My Mother, Dolan crafted an artful yet minimalistic feature that bared the mark of his youth aesthetically but emotionally held an incredible amount of weight. And in his second feature, Heartbeats, he opted for ambitious style and gorgeous mis-en-scene over narrative complexity. But with Laurence Anyways, Dolan has melded the best qualities from his previous work into a film that is both absolutely stunning and wholly fantastic, yet hits that psychological and emotional sweet spot we so long for in a cinematic experience. And as his films are all wont to be, Laurence is impeccably scored with music that echoes the period of the film (the 1990s), utilizing the songs to reflect the interior of its characters and entwine us that much deeper into Fred and Laurence’s story.

Read our interview with Dolan HERE.

LEVIATHAN,  Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel

 After watching Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s collaborative documentary, Leviathan, there was no question as to how I was feeling. There was no other way to experience their film, that leaves you bruised from its wholly immersive and visceral cinematic ride that feels more like you’re looking in through a keyhole on frightening and isolated world beyond our reality, than to feel both exhausted and absolutely in awe.

More easily comparable to the anxiety provoking and emotionally stimulating sensations of looking at the work of Francis Bacon or Edvard Munch while listening to a dark, metallic piece of music filled with pleasure and fright,Leviathan is almost inarticulate in its possession. As a sensory ethnographic investigation that leads you through the world of commercial fishing, the sum of the film is far more than one might expect. Having first premiered in competition at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival, Castaing-Taylor and Paravel‘s film has been entrancing audiences’ since with its entirely unique wordless wonder and gives the perspective of the fishermen but also echoes their own haunting experience out at sea through the interminable sense of unease. But this anxious perspective is matched by the most striking cinematography that’s shocking in its beauty as it casts a light on every perspective of the boat and blends colors like an impressionist painting being thrown against the waves.

Read our interview with Castaing-Taylor and Paravel HERE.

STOKER, Park Chan-wook 

As deliciously evil and thrilling as it is visually-rich and haunting, Park Chan-wook’s fantastical gothic thriller Stoker plays out like an erotic waltz with sinister intentions. As his first English-language film, the acclaimed Korean director has crafted a quiet kind of suspense that shows the graceful unraveling of an isolated American family.

Stoker tells the tale of a highly intelligent girl, India (played by Mia Wasikowska), after her father dies in an auto accident on her 18th birthday. Following his death, her mysterious yet absolutely charming Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) comes to stay with her and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman). India’s questions arise as to the nature of Charlie’s appearance in their lives and although sensing his dark ulterior motives, she becomes infatuated with him, inexplicably drawn to this dark figure who has crept his way into her world.

It’s a story about he inherent nature of evil, as well as the sexual awakening of a young girl when first tempted by the desirable. India’s coming-of-age is the undercurrent for this bone-chilling and stunning feature from Chan-wook and writer-actor Wentworth Miller. Staying true to Park’s strong affinity for character-driven tales and his arresting visual style, Stoker is also enhanced by its biting and beautiful soundtrack from Clint Mansell that acts as its own character in the film.

Read our interview with Park Chan-wook HERE.

SIMON KILLER, Antonio Campos

As one third of Borderline Films—alongside Sean Durkin and Josh Mond—Campos produced Durkin’s Martha Macy May Marelene, just as Durkin had his hand in producing Campos’s latest feature, the brooding and visceral Simon Killer. The film tells the story of a lonely, heartbroken, dangerous, and horny college grad who heads to Paris, where he becomes involved with a prostitute (played wonderfully by Mati Diop), Simon Killer is an entrancing waltz with destructive impulse led by star Brady Corbet. As interesting as he is talented, the 24-year-old gives a haunting performance, playing Simon with utmost complexity—vacillating between evil boldness and desperate vulnerability.

Simon Killer goes deeper into Campos’s affinity for the disturbed male psyche with a film that’s rich in texture, tone, and color. It’s a dance between passionate aggression and emotional isolation that’s primal and fiercely enjoyable in its discomfort. Filled with stunning visual interludes like psychological cues that bring you closer into Simon’s sociopathic, music-fueled, and violently sexual world, the film is an optically and emotionally stimulating character study that packs a punch. No stranger to portraying morally unsound characters that walk the line between tantalizing and creepy, Corbet carries out Campos’s vision with a frightening possession.

Read our interview with Campos HERE.

AFTER TILLER, Martha Shane and Lana Wilson

Abstaining from the harsh, political bent of most documentaries focused on the subject of abortion, Lana Wilson and Martha Shane’s After Tiller takes a tremendously emotional and controversial subject and endows it with warmth and humility. Providing an illuminating and wholly important look at the power of personal choice, the film leaves the floor open for discussion—both giving insight into the intricacies of late-term abortion and the incredibly challenging lives of those who provide them. Dr. George Tiller, the leading physician to provide third-trimester abortions, as well as a strongly religious and loving family man, was assassinated in his church in 2009 by a pro-life extremist. And it’s in the wake of the tragedy of his death, where After Tiller picks up.

Focusing on the four doctors across the country that still provide these services to women in crisis across the world—Susan Robinson, LeRoy Carhart, Warren Hern, and Shelley Sella—the film gives us personal look into the day-to-day lives of these doctors, allowing them a stage to voice their opinions and knowledge, while giving a compelling look at the exceptional challenges the women who seek their care must face. And after feeling both confused and shocked when learning about Dr. Tiller’s death, and seeing the way in which the news coverage of the tragedy failed to focus on who he was as a person, Wilson and Shane set out to make a feature that examined the intimate details of these physicians who are at the center of a debate that continues to rage on. And as an extremely moving portrait with unprecedented access into these clinics, through the lens of After Tiller, we bear witness to first-hand accounts of the women undergoing these abortions, the reasons why they’ve made their decision, and the immense weight of that on their lives.

Read our interview with Shane and Wilson HERE.

THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN, Felix Van Groeningen

With his latest film, the absolutely devastating and remarkably wonderful The Broken Circle Breakdown, he explores the complex ways in which we deal with loss, how grief can fracture even the most solid foundations, and the way in which love may never be enough. Telling the story of Elise (Veerle Baetens) a beautiful and full-of-life tattoo artist and Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) a strong and passionate blue grass musician, The Broken Circle Breakdown follows their relationship from the instantaneous bond and fiery romance of love’s first flames, to the disintegration of that connection and the despair that ravages their lives.

Adapted from the theatre play of the same title written by Heldenbergh, the film comes alive through its musical interludes that play like cue cards for our emotions, guiding us further into the story and allowing us to take a step back from the intensity of the narrative and slip into the visceral feeling living between the characters. And although the original stage play was a bare bones and simple expression construction—with only two characters narrating their tale between musical numbers—van Groeningen has managed to convey that same rawness and immediacy onto the screen. By telling the tragic and novel-esque drama with a non-linear structure, we’re forced to dive head first into the potent heart of the film, while Elise and Didier’s most sorrowful and blissful moments are presented side by side, giving even more weight to each unfolding moment. There’s a natural beauty and honestness to the film and in the performances of its brilliant cast that invites you in gently, entrances you, and then holds you in its tight grasp—digging itself down deep under your skin and into your veins.

Read our interview with  Van Groeningen HERE.

ONLY GOD FORGIVES, Nicolas Winding Refn

Set in the neon-lit back alleys and seedier parts of Bangkok, Only God Forgives is Refn’s penetrating and evocative take on the Western. It’s a film so dark—both aesthetically and tonally—that when I first arrived to see the film fifteen minutes late, I found myself sitting in the isles because there wasn’t a shred of light emanating from the screen with which to find a seat. The revenge story about the connection between mother and sons, the struggle for morality, and the fear of submission plays out like a psychotropic nightmare, aided by a brilliantly visceral score from Cliff Martinez.

Starring Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Vithaya Pansringarm, Only God Forgives is a shot to the arm of pure id Refn. He employs the close-fisted anxious aggression of his pre-Drive days while taking his visual cues from a post-Drive world, completely blanketing us in the violent underbelly of Bangkok and putting a sword to our throat. Although the film is riddled with silence and languidly glides through darkened moments, Refn manages to hold us captive with his always-present sense of ecstatic desire. He plays on the dichotomy of what’s in and out of frame as well as what we do and not know is stirring in the characters’ psyche. It’s a film that warrants multiple viewings, but only because there’s a real pleasure in the experience of disappearing into his neon dreams and bloody obsessions, and as he says: that’s where the fun is.

Read out interview with Refn HERE.

LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE, Abbas Kiarostami

…I think giving away too much information is being disrespectful to the viewerʼs intelligence and own personality. I think I’ve always believed that spectators are just as creative as filmmakers. Filmmakers happen to have been in touch with a camera and production and so they’ve made something, but it doesn’t mean that people who are there to see the film have nothing to think or nothing to say or donʼt have their own creativity. So I just pay tribute to this creativity, not giving too much information. I have my loyalty to real life and in real life we never say anything to the other and we let the other also bring their own information and their own experience of life in the relationship that have with us, so why should it be different in film because you are sitting in a theater in front of a screen? Do you have to leave your curiosity and your own thinking aside and be fed by the film? Whenever I have the opportunity to see the people who are sitting in a theater after seeing one of my films, I look at their faces and I look at the features of the faces and I suddenly feel responsible and say well, these people look intelligent and thoughtful, they have plenty of things to say and so thereʼs no reason why I should be the one who tells them, they have things to tell me. So I create but then I need their creation back.

…this again is only loyalty to the real complex nature of human beings. I think even painters in classic paintings, they tried to show the soul of the portrait, of the human beings that they were drawing or painting because they realized that human beings were not uni-dimensional. So there was no reason why they couldn’t try and give something to this complexity of this plain character, this fool character. So in cinema, we have moving images, we have three dimensional images and why should we show people just as blind characters. Of course they are complex, and this complexity and even this secretiveness is part of human nature. Your soul dictates you not to reveal yourself immediately and not to appear naked and to have your own complexity, your own intelligence. So this intelligence should be considered. It has been in art and paintings so it definitely should be in filmmaking too.

Read our interview with Kiarostami HERE.

Xavier Dolan Begins Production on His Next Film ‘Mommy’

"As much as I like combining drama and humor, because life is about the duality of both in all its absurdity, for the same reason I like to write a story with very realistic environments interwoven with more extravagant parentheses and segments," Xavier Dolan once told me. "It’s important for me to have these situations where things are bigger than nature, bigger than the characters themselves, where you feel overwhelmed by life and it makes us remember how small we are and life itself in the movie reminds the characters of that." And now that Tom at the Farm has had its Toronto premiere, of course cinema’s most prolific 24-year-old has begun production on his next feature.

It’s been reported that Dolan, whose Laurence Anyways swept us away back in June, has started his next feature, titled Mommy. Naturally, the name evokes his debut film I Killed My Mother—the harrowing portrait of a troubled relationship between mother and son. Back in March, Dolan also spoke about his first American film, which he’d said was to be called The Death and Life of John F. Donovan and tells the story of a "Dean or Brando"-esque movie star whom "America has been waiting for," who becomes pen-pals with an 11-year-old boy. But it looks like that will have to be the sixth film under his belt, with Mommy kicking off production this week and reuniting him with his frequent collaborators Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément and Antoine-Olivier Pilon.  

Set in Montreal, what we can glean from the brief description announced thus far is that the film will be a “hints at a darker story of mother-son relationship, featuring a custody battle and a child with a difficult past.” And after straying from his usual milieu with Tom at the Farm—a sparse psychological thriller—Mommy sounds much more of the Dolan world we’ve become accustomed to and love. The details are few but knowing Dolan, we’ll see a release for the film around the early 2014 festival circuit. In the meantime, checkout our in-depth interview with Dolan from back in early summer, as well as the trailer for Tom at the Farm, which will hopefully  received stateside distribution in the near future.  

Photo via Out

From Yohji Yamamoto to Neil de Grasse Tyson: This Morning’s Glance at Arts & Culture

Before you dive into your workday, here’s a healthy serving of what’s been floating around the world of arts & culture. Dig it.

Years of Sound & Design from Yohji Yamamoto
Get your hands on a series of CDs that provide the soundtrack to the iconic designer’s shows, alongside his latest collections and more.

Xavier Dolan Goes Dark  
Check out the first trailer for the young auteur’s latest feature, the psychological thriller Tom at the Farm.

Neil de Grasse Tyson Weighs in on Gravity  
The famed astrophysicist finds Alfonso Cuarón’s latest scientifically inaccurate, of course.

Visualizing Claire Denis’ Latest   
See the evocative new poster for Denis’ dark new drama, playing at NYFF this week, Bastards. 

Cut from Plastic Beach
Gorillaz premiere an unheard track featuring  Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra.

Iceland Snips Its Budget  
In their purposed budget for 2014, Iceland has decreased their alottment by a whopping 40%.

Ladies behind the Camera  
Rachel Cooke’s new book examines the British Film Industry and the women who pioneered it.

Is Her Spike Jonze’s Best Yet? 
A deeper look at the director’s anticipated and bizarre new romance starring Joaquin Phoenix before its NYFF premiere.

Quentin Tarantino’s Top 10  
The cinephile auteur shows us his strange look at what has been tickling his fancy for 2013.

Fresh Faces of Film  
A look at some of your favorite directors in their early days.  

Morrissey X Peanuts is A-okay
 
No need to worry, Morrissey is delighted and flattered by  This Charming Charlie.  

The Stunning World of Dante Ferretti
 
Go deeper into the stage and screen worlds of one Hollywood’s most prolific and talented designers.

The Best of Film Festival Early Reviews

 

With the Telluride and Venice Film Festivals premiering some of most highly-anticipated and acclaimed films of the coming season, and TIFF and NYFF on the horizon, we’ve been watching as the early reviews—both of excessive praise and harsh aversion—roll on in. But such examination can be treacherous territory. So many of the initial reactions appearing over the weekend related the impression and impact of the films seen, strictly in terms of how they thought the feature would fare come Award season.  

But is that really the mark of how great a film can be and lasting impact it will have? No. Personally, I rarely find myself reading a heavy bit of criticism until after I allowed myself to absorb the film fully and formulate an opinion for myself unfettered by the inflection of other’s words, no matter how compelling. The point isn’t to walk in the theater with an agenda or with a preconceived notion of its greatest or to exit the theater keeping a shame in absolutely falling in love with a film. But let’s be honest, it’s hard to resit seeing what some of our favorite writers had to say thus far.

When it comes to festivals, reviews can make or break a long-waited anticipation—squashing the thrill or hyping in into an unnecessary realm that will only lead to let down. And with the an impressive line-up of films having already debuted this past week, long-lead reviews may not have the ability to hinder your perception as powerfully as it might if you knew you were seeing the film tomorrow. So for those you not attending the festivals in the coming months, check out our collection of snippets from the early reviews coming in, featuring some of the most anticipated films from Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave to Xavier Dolan’s Tom A La Ferme

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave 

 

 

 

 

 

  • “The recent popular revenge fantasy Django Unchained notwithstanding, there have been so few good and strong films about slavery in America that, for this reason alone, 12 Years A Slave stands quite tall. With director Steve McQueen dedicating himself to detailing the “peculiar institution” with as many dreadful particulars as he can, Chiwetel Ejiofor leads a fine cast with a superior performance as the real-life Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into Southern slavery until being miraculously rescued. Perhaps the nature of the story is such that the film can’t help but be obvious and quite melodramatic at times, but it gets better as it goes along and builds to a moving finish. Despite the upsetting and vivid brutality, Fox Searchlight has a winner here that will generate copious media coverage, rivet the attention of the black public, stir much talk in political and educational circles and appeal to film audiences who crave something serious and different.

    …Ejiofor is terrific in a demanding character who’s put through the wringer physically, mentally and emotionally. One feels his determination to get back to his family virtually at all times even though he doesn’t talk about it, and toward the end there is an unusual extended close-up of him in which he looks out toward the unknown future as his eyes express a quicksilver array of emotions, from wonder to fear to hope.” THR

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  • “This radiant aesthetic, coupled with the rousing use of spiritual songs, provide a beacon of optimism amidst so much hate, once again proving cinema’s place as the ultimate human-rights medium. It’s a shame that such injustice was allowed to exist for so long — 12 years for Northrup and nearly 250 for those less fortunate — and an even bigger disgrace that it takes a British director to stare the issue in its face.” Variety

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  •  “Amistad,” meet the Marquis de Sade, in the form of slavemaster Michael Fassbender, who puts his victims through more tortures than Mel Gibson ever could have imagined for Jesus.

    …As for McQueen’s work, advance chatter had some wondering whether he had what it took to make a mainstream entertainment his third time around, but there won’t be much questioning of that after doubters see “12 Years a Slave.” It has the strokes you’d expect out of a studio picture but also some moments few other directors would have attempted, like an agonizingly beautiful sequence in which Solomon literally tip-toes his way through a near-hanging that goes on for several silent minutes. If McQueen could forge a career working arthouse moments into multiplex movies, that’d be a case of mistaken identity we’d be happy to live with.” The Playlist

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    Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem

     

     

     

     

  • “That’s the major bum note to the film, but if you can look past it, there’s much to like, from Waltz’s performance to the typically rich production and costume design. It might not be a return to the form of “Time Bandits,” “Brazil,” “The Fisher King” and “ Twelve Monkeys,” but it’s a lot better than what we’ve had from Gilliam in the last decade, and we sincerely hope there’s plenty more to come.”
    The Playlist

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  •  “Those who made it to the end of “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” or “Tideland” will be amazed to find Gilliam sinking even further here than those low-water marks. The production notes, as if trying to forestall inevitable criticism, make many mentions of the quickness with which the production was executed and the challenges of the low budget, all of which is all too apparent onscreen.” Variety
     
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  • Gilliam’s frequent DP Nicola Pecorini bring a strong sense of continuity with the look of the director’s previous work, though the choice to shoot on 35mm film in 2D rather than digital is counter-intuitive. Composer George Fenton, in contrast, creates a romantic-sounding score out of electronic music. The special effects have some high points too, like the rotating Rubik’s cubes that sail across the computer screen to complete a Tower of Babel construct.” THR

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  • “For all that, the film has a ragged charm, a Tiggerish bounce, and a certain sweet melancholy that bubbles up near the end. It is a wilfully iconoclastic film from a wilfully iconoclastic man. And it shows, for better or worse, that Gilliam is still in the game and eyeing the prize, despite his spectacularly ill-starred recent career. At the age of 72, Gilliam obviously retains an enormous capacity for hope. In this respect, he’s a little like Qohan, who sits waiting for a phone call that will definitively explain the meaning of life. Of course, there’s no phone call; it’s all a delusion. Yet still he sits, because there’s hope in the waiting and what else is the point?” The Guardian

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      Xavier Dolan’sTom a La Ferme

     

     

     

     

  • “And indeed, the film marks his growth in all kinds of ways. We’ve found him a little awkward as a performer in his own previous films, but he gives a strong and even likable turn here (matched blow for blow, often literally, by the excellent Cardinal). And it’s his most expansive and impressive work visually too, with the photography by "Incendies"’ Andre Turpin taking full advantage of the rural landscape and claustrophobic interiors.
    …We might not unreservedly love the film, as has been our experience with previous Dolan films (confirmed fans may well have a better time with it). But it’s certainly his best film, and if he keeps growing at this rate, it’s only going to be a matter of time before he comes up with something we really cherish. And in the meantime, it’s great to sit back and watch a fascinating filmmaker continue to find his voice.” The Playlist

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  • “It’s a short leap, of course, from Highsmith to Hitchcock — not that “Tom at the Farm” has anything in common with “Strangers on a Train,” barring the obvious homoerotic ancestry. Though he shows an unexpected knack in the film’s opening and closing stages for razor-cut suspense, Dolan fosters the Hitch connection mainly through the lush strings of Yared’s almost ever-present score, one so uncannily in thrall to Bernard Herrmann that viewers familiar with Dolan’s previous output — hitherto reliant on tastefully curated jukebox soundtracks — may initially assume he’s sampling extracts from lesser-known film scores from the Golden Age of noir. So overwhelming and insistent as to constitute a narrative voice in itself, Yared’s work constitutes a significant formal risk, but its sweeping intricacy stands in sufficiently stark contrast to the film’s otherwise contempo-chic construction to make it a thrilling one.” Variety

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  • “With his fourth feature completed at the tender age of just 24, Dolan has established a reputation for himself as a director of original and entertaining queer cinema. Tom at the Farm is confidently delivered, its shots composed with a careful eye, and its occasional stylistic flourish – ratios change in moments of danger, for instance – hint at someone pushing at the possibilities of cinema, if not quite breaking through.” CineVue

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    Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises

     

     

     

     

  • “But even beyond the love of planes, this feels like perhaps the director’s most personal film. He’s careful to portray the designers as artists rather than just engineers, and it’s easy to find parallels between Mitsubishi and Studio Ghibli at work. In many ways, Jiro’s obsessive attachment to his work feels like Miyazaki’s Kunstlerroman—his portrait of the artist as a young man.
    …It’s a touch disappointing that the film’s biopic structure proves as constraining as it does; most of the story beats play out as you’d expect them to in a film like this one. But if the story itself is conventional, the way it’s told is anything but. There’s a lot to unpack here, with debate likely to continue long past its eventual U.S. release (and it should be noted that it’s fairly surprising that Disney have picked up a film that features as much smoking as half a season of "Mad Men," even given the long association between the two studios). It might not be the director’s most immediately accessible films, but it’s among his most fascinating and beguiling.” The Playlist

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  • “Naturally the animation is a joy to behold. The film’s crisp colours and commanding lines summon up a ravishing portrait of pre-war Japan with its puffing steam-trains, huddled neighbourhoods and lulling nocturnal tram-rides through town. Some of the setpieces (most notably the apocalyptic earthquake that leads to the burning of Tokyo) are the equal of anything the director has produced in Spirited Away or My Neighbour Totoro. But the film itself is genteel to a fault. It’s too polite, it needs more bite. It lets enigmatic Horikoshi off the hook, bobbing out to the clouds, forever out of reach.” The Guardian 

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  • “Power-producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, friends of "Miyazaki-san" who have helped his films secure better North American distribution in recent years, introduced The Wind Rises. Kennedy said that a Horkioshi film has been on the director’s to-do list for years, and that he even considered making it as a live-action film. She also noted Miyazaki’s retirement announcement — which was met with gasps from many audience members who hadn’t heard the news — and Marshall added, "In our opinion, he saved his best for last.” THR

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    James Franco’s Child of God

    • “The whole thing feels sort of tossed off, like it was made by film students over a couple of weekends. And that’s the root of our problem with Franco’s directorial work. His restless and experimental nature is to be lauded to a degree, and you feel that if he were to focus his considerable energies on a single project, then he might be able to come up with something special. Because otherwise, if he can’t make a piece of material like "Child Of God" into something worth watching, we’d probably rather see him spend his time in other people’s movies.” The Playlist
       
    • “But as a character study of a figure said to be partly inspired by Wisconsin murderer and body snatcherEd Gein (also an influence on the killers in Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), the film succeeds on its own terms. That is in large part down to Haze’s unstinting commitment to the role. Looking wild-eyed or shifty, Lester twists his toothy mouth into sick grimaces or foams with vicious imprecations, barely audible grumblings, or the garbled stream-of-consciousness ravings of a diseased mind. (The film screened in Venice with English as well as Italian subtitles, no doubt due to the thickly accented dialogue.)
      …Shuffling around his wilderness domain with his rifle tucked under his arm, hunched over in pain, scratching and twitching, Lester is a memorably bizarre figure. He’s a monster but also a sad example of America’s dispossessed rural poor, who fittingly invites both disgust and sympathy.” THR
       
    • “Could it be that Franco has now become a victim of his own gadfly nature, his pesky reputation as a jack of all trades? He has now reached the point where everything he does, every move that he makes, risks being viewed as a gesture or a silly little game. But Child of God has merit and should be judged on its own terms. If this director were half as clever as he thinks he is, he would take his name off the credits and give his critics a taste test. Tell them the picture is the work of an unschooled, first-time film-maker, born and raised in Tennessee. Many, I’m betting, would be easily convinced. They’d lap it up, smack their lips and ask for more.” The Guardian

         

    Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity

     

     

     

     

  • “Much like any art form, great cinema is defined by its ability to transport those who experience it — to an invented place, to a bygone time, even into a stranger’s state of mind. The medium can take us where we could never otherwise go, and in the case of Alfonso Cuarón’s effortlessly riveting “Gravity,” it can introduce us to fears that we never knew we should have in the first place…Comparisons to this year’s Robert Redford survival drama, “All is Lost,” have been long in the making and entirely fair, though I was myself called back to the surprisingly life-affirming tenor of “The Grey” (my #1 of last year). The fact that Cuarón’s film strives to be something more than thoroughly harrowing — no small feat in and of itself — solidifies its existence as a marvel of not just technical craft but sheer imagination as well. The one imaginable caveat that keeps “Gravity” from embodying every reason I go to the movies is its lack of a musical sequence (though, in fairness, I didn’t stay after the credits). This is breathtaking, dizzying filmmaking. This is truly awesome.” Film.com

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  • “Maybe it’s fitting that a film about two lonely figures adrift in outer-space should itself be dominated by the cosmos. Clooney and Bullock give dogged, decent performances here, but they are inevitably shouting to be heard; utterly at the mercy of forces beyond their control. Cuaron takes the two stars and stitches them against a vast canvas of roaring sound design and terrifying 3D visuals. Ruined satellites pitch and yaw. Shrapnel zips through the darkness like shoals of silver fish. As the screening wraps up, the delegates are politely instructed to return their spectacles to an usher and not leave them on the seat. Gravity, after all, offers a stark warning of the dangers of debris, clutter and human waste. With a little good fortune, even the 3D glasses will eventually find their way back home.” The Guardian

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  • “All in all, it would be impossible to overestimate the difficulty of what Cuaron and his top-of-the-line crew have pulled off, or to guess at the staggering number of decisions that were made regarding specifics of camera placement and movement; the motion-control robots that were used on the actors to plausibly simulate zero-gravity conditions; the marvelous scope and detail of Andy Nicholson’s production design; and the meticulous integration of visual effects, all-digital backgrounds, traditional lighting schemes and other live-action lensing techniques. But perhaps the boldest risk of all was the decision to combine these elements in a manner that would hold up under the prolonged scrutiny of the camera, in single-shot sequences of such breathtaking duration and coherence. Somewhere, one imagines, the spirits of Stanley Kubrick and Max Ophuls are looking down in admiration. Variety 

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    Shane Salerno’s Salinger

     

     

     

     

  • "The film’s final revelation about Salinger’s unpublished work — if true — is certainly one of the most significant to ever hit the literary world. I won’t reveal anything more about it, though, because that would be unfair to the filmmakers — just as, I’m afraid, it was unfair to Salinger for the filmmakers to include some of the things that they did. Is that the sort of world we want to live in, where privacy is completely dead? Being a fiction writer — as opposed to, say, a politician — should not come with the prerequisite of being a public figure. And this was a man who, for a variety of reasons that the film addresses very well, never wanted to be one." THR

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  • "Nevertheless, even with its epic volume of details, "Salinger" ends just when the story gets started. Announcing "a second act unlike any writer has had," several dramatic title cards detail the contents of books scheduled for posthumous publication between 2015  and 2010: a WWII love story, a religious manual and — perhaps most significantly — dual histories of the two invented families already famous from his work, the Glasses and the Caulfields. It’s unclear whether it will be worth the wait or shift the public understanding of Salinger in any specific fashion. In any case, while the movie ends with a cliffhanger, the sequels are already on en route." Indiewire

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  • "Salinger’s unanchored rage, his deeply conflicted notions of innocence, are as central to his work as to his life. What makes “The Catcher in the Rye” a young-adult novel — which is to say, what limits it — is its implicit endorsement of Holden’s delusions: that children are pure, that a sweet little girl is wiser than any grown-up, that simply to grow up is to be diminished. Indeed, if anything gives that last notion the lie, it’s Salinger’s art. Holden Caulfield could never have written the story of Holden Caulfield. That could have been written only by the man who lived through Utah Beach and experienced the Holocaust firsthand. The man who spent his whole life trying to unsee what he saw." The Washington Post

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    Michael Faber’s Under the Skin

     

     

     

     

  • "Whether or not there’s much feeling to take away in the end is another story. Eerily scored throughout by Mica Levi, “Under the Skin” is a deliberately oblique piece of work that prizes rhythms and textures above hows and whys. If that very notion makes your skin crawl, then don’t bother, but more curious audiences may find that Glazer’s film does that well enough on its own." Film.com

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  • "In a perfect world, Glazer would win the top prize on Sunday and not have to wait another nine years before he makes his next film. But we do not live in a perfect world, and Under the Skin is perhaps best viewed as an icy parable of love, sex and loneliness. The director leads us between empty seashores and cacophonous nightclubs. He turns a hidden camera on the streets of Scotland and watches unnoticed as the people shop and smoke and tap out their texts. Increasingly, it seems, Johansson wants to find a place in this throng. But try as she might, she can’t quite fit. The TV set is a mystery, and the slice of chocolate cake only sticks in her throat. Driving on the road, she encounters a fellow pariah, a young man with a bone deformity, who shops by night and has no friends. A little later we shall see this figure again, wandering naked and bewildered on the outskirts of town, just another lost soul who’s in search of a home." The Guardian

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  • "Johansson is nothing short of iconic here; her character is a classic femme fatale in the film noir tradition, down to the plump red lips and deep fur coat, but with a refrigerated nothingness at her core. She looks at her fellow cast members as if they are from another planet – which is, of course, exactly as it should be. Even the Scottish landscape looks alien: dawn mist rolls across lochs like curls of space dust. Glazer’s astonishing film takes you to a place where the everyday becomes suddenly strange, and fear and seduction become one and the same. You stare at the screen, at once entranced and terrified, and step forward into the slick." The Telegraph      

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    Get an Extensive First Look at Xavier Dolan’s ‘Tom at the Farm’

    Xavier Dolan’s epic love story Laurence Anyways swept its way into theaters only last month, but as the precocious and prolific young director is wont to do, he’s already armed with his follow-up film ready to hit the festival circuit this year. And with an impressive slate of films announced to debut at the upcoming Venice Film Festival, this morning we learned that Dolan’s departure from a world of lovelorn romance and grand aesthetics, Tom at the Farm (Tom à la ferme), will officially be having it’s premiere in Venice. 

     “I’m not a thriller guy. Although I would love to direct one good thriller," said Dolan when I spoke to him two years ago for the release of Heartbeats. "Everybody dreams of directing something like Se7en or Silence of the Lambs. I want to try different things and test my limits.” And now, it certainly looks like he has with Tom at the Farm, a psychological thriller in which:
    Stockholm Syndrome, mourning and latent violence permeate a story of lies and imposters. A young ad executive travels to the country for a funeral and discovers that no one there knows his name or his relationship with the deceased.
    Set deep in the farmlands of Quebec, TOM AT THE FARM tells of the growing fissure separating city and country and the respective natures of the men that reside there.
    Xavier Dolan’s forth film is based on the eponymous play by Michel-Marc Bouchard.C
    Chatting again this past spring for Laurence Anyways, Dolan went on to tell me that: 
    I Killed My Mother, Heartbeats, and Laurence are unconsciously linked by a sort of trilogy. And Tom à la ferme  is the first time I could ever commit to embrace a new genre and approach. In terms of music, there’s no music at all—there’s a score but nothing else. And why should there be? He’s secluded on a farm sort of as a hostage, eventually a consenting hostage, so there’s no music and no clips as there have been in all of the films so far.
     
    To finally have that movie that is a psychological thriller, it’s dry and simply shot, not trying to go with the aesthetically ugly or overstate but just not going anywhere, shooting as is. It’s hard now to be sincere and honest about movie making because everybody’s done everything, but we really went minimal. The focus is on the eerie atmosphere and the film’s doing what it should be, it’s not getting lost in tentative stuff. I’m proud of it. 
    Take a look at the first image from the film below, as well as the official poster. Currently, release dates have not been set for the film, although Canadian distribution has been locked down. Here’s hoping we seen this one as soon as possible.
     
    tom
     
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    Exploring the Mind and Work of Xavier Dolan & the Beauty of His New Film ‘Laurence Anyways’

    If you look at the work of brilliant 23-year-old actor, director, and writer Xavier Dolan, there’s a strong through line that penetrates his films. It’s a powerful sentiment that can be echoed by the words of Andre Breton: If I place love above everything, it is because for me it is the most desperate, the most despairing state of affairs imaginable. And for the young auteur, all of his films thus far have dealt with the strains of love and the suffering that comes when you find your soul inextricably linked to that of another. Whether it be the love between a mother and son, unrequited triangles of desire, or the strength of unconditional devotion, Dolan’s films confront the psychologically ravaging effects of human connection.

    But for the precocious intelligence and great emotional complexity to his work, his films are always as visually and atmospherically engaging as they are dynamic. However, it’s not only for the shallow pleasure of pure aestheticism—Dolan uses surrealistic imagery or dramatically staged moments in his films to visually portray the heightened emotions one feels, to mirror the character’s interior with an exterior of grandiose proportions, whether they be writhing in the throws of happiness or completely desolate and broken. "It’s important for me to have these situations where things are bigger than nature, bigger than the characters themselves, where you feel overwhelmed by life," says Dolan, whose latest feature, Laurence Anyways shows us his most overwhelming and mature work yet, amalgamating his first two features to bring a truly epic romance to life.
     
    Spanning the course of an entire decade, Laurence Anyways tells the story of two people passionately and deeply in love with one another who are forced to confront their own notions of love and acceptance when the fabric of their relationship turns inside out. For Fred and Laurence, played brilliantly by Suzanne Clément and Melvil Poupaud, their romance is forced to change when Laurence reveals to Fred that he is becoming a woman. Together, they’re forced to examine not only the prejudices and fears of those they know and the society around them, but that which they unconsciously harbor within themselves. For ten years, Fred and Laurence find themselves breaking apart and coming together, ripping out their own hearts and that of each other, and dealing with the ultimate expression of dedication to another person and what it means to truly love unconditionally. Whether they’re physically together or apart, Fred and Laurence share an inescapable connection that is as volatile and potent as it is beautifully delicate and tender. 
     
    With his first feature, I Killed My Mother, Dolan crafted an artful yet minimalistic feature that bared the mark of his youth aesthetically but emotionally held an incredible amount of weight. And in his second feature, Heartbeats, he opted for ambitious style and gorgeous mis-en-scene over narrative complexity. But with Laurence Anyways, Dolan has melded the best qualities from his previous work into a film that is both absolutely stunning and wholly fantastic, yet hits that psychological and emotional sweet spot we so long for in a cinematic experience. And as his films are all wont to be, Laurence is impeccably scored with music that echoes the period of the film (the 1990s), utilizing the songs to reflect the interior of its characters and entwine us that much deeper into Fred and Laurence’s story.
     
    A few months ago, during MoMA’s retrospective of his work, I got the chance to sit down with Dolan for the second time. The first was two years prior for Heartbeats, both of us a ripe 21 years old, both of us still finding our footing in the world and thusly had a difficult time connecting with one another. But this time around, it was interesting to see how much we had both changed with the passing of time and as we began to dive deeper into his work, connected on a much greater level than before. And here is what he had to tell me about his incredible third feature, the masterpiece that is Titanic, and having the balls to love someone that deeply.
     
    I attended the talk you gave last night at MoMA. I loved seeing how surprised people were about the films that inspire you.
    Yeah, they assume Wong Kar-wai and Almadovar and then are surprised to hear that I’ve only seen three films by Almodovar and he is not at all a source of inspiration. Not that I don’t think he’s talented, but the only thing we have in common is that we’re homosexual and we love angry women—but that does not define anything. For the public and critics, it seems like a no brainer—gay, colors, stilettos.
     
    The sense of emotion is totally different. And you talked a lot about loving Titanic, which I can relate to. For a lot of people I seem to encounter, it’s a movie they saw when they were in college or when they were older and passed off as something inconsequential. But for us, we saw it when we were really young children and it became something you remember as the first time you were really moved by a film.
    Yes, I saw Titanic when I was at an age where it wasn’t uncool. Everybody saw Titanic in my class and we loved it and quoted it as much as we did The Matrix or Harry Potter. It was a huge deal for everybody and it was the first big, big movie that I ever saw—we’re talking about Hollywood’s quintessential blockbuster but also embracing the genre and the codes and embracing its own corny decisions and choices in a way that makes it a perfection. And that’s why it still is one of the best movies ever made. It’s made to entertain and to touch and Titanic and everything in that movie is so ambitious. It’s just splendid work of storytelling. Everything in that movie works and works so well.
     
    And like you said, it stays true to its genre completely.
    In this industry, you are surrounded by a lot of different people—from nerds to cinema students who are looking for that harsh, deep, and serious, serious cinema—the real cinema. All those addicts are looking for something so unsuitable, so vague that sometimes happen when a movie is true to itself, but most the time all of these endeavors are huge failures in terms of intention and are preposterous compositions and end up being fiascos—it’s a mess. And there are so many of these films out there trying so hard to be something and then amidst all these efforts, you have films that can be auteur films or commercial films that work so well because they know who they are and they’re following a very precise line, which is the script and they’re walking on that line and they have a precise ambition of what they should be doing. And they can be as sophisticated as it gets or as commercial as can be. Titanic is not to be categorized in any way, but L’enfant  or La prommise are also films that work so well because they’re honest, they’re not trying so hard to impress us, they’re just doing what they should be doing.
     
    When I watch a film, what I’m looking for is to get some kind of visceral reaction from it. It doesn’t matter the genre as long as it’s an experience.
    Yeah, because you’re probably not a snob. You’re not looking for some theoretical experience, you’re looking for emotion and a real experience.You can feel admiration or awe towards something that offers technically and visually audacious craft. When you watch The Cranes Are Flying, you definitely feel something because you feel the voice and the touch of a true artist,a  visionary and that is emotion as well. So I’m not saying that all that I like to watch is Home Alone and Katherine O’Hara yelling "Kevin" at the airport—even if I do enjoy it a lot—but the reason why I enjoy Beetlejuice as much as I enjoy L’collectioneur is that these movies are successful in a very specific way. They work.
     
    That grand sense of emotion translates into your films are well. I just saw I Killed My Mother for the first time. 
    It’s hard for me to watch that one now.
     
    I wish I’d seen it when I was younger. I felt really awful and embarrassed watching it, actually—it felt all too familiar. But having it released now, how was it looking back at your debut film?
    I’m proud of that film but it was hard to look at. I wish I would have shot that film on 35mm—I hate the colors, I hate the light, the whites. I enjoy some of the frames but I wish I’d known better. Yet if I could go back, I don’t assume I’d change it, because the goal of filmmaking is improvement and evolution. I don’t talk about evolution with a capital E, I mean personal evolution and when I watch it, I feel that I’ve evolved as a person and that I would make different choices now. But I understand the choices that were made and we had no money. Everybody was paid $100 a day and it was a walk away situation, and a lot of people were not familiar with movie sets, they came from stage or theater and they just wanted to make movies. So when I say it’s ugly, I don’t mean to be reductive but according to my sense of what ugly should look like, even then it still doesn’t work. It’s a collection of visual faux pas but again, there are moments I appreciate and I think people like that film a lot for what it provides emotionally. 
     
    Laurence was really a culmination of your past two films because it had the brutal emotion of I Killed My Mother and the grand aesthetics of Heartbeats.
    I’m glad you say that, because it’s what we wished for. When we pitched the film, we mostly said that Heartbeats was a case of style over substance and then for me, I Killed My Mother was a case for substance over style. 
     
    But you can’t really have that foresight going into it with the previous two.
    Of course, it’s normal. Laurence was the opportunity to try to combine both.
     
    You have your characters dealing with this idea of impossible, difficult, torturous love or inexplicable connection to someone in all of your work. Where does this obsession with love and wanting to explore it in your work come from?
    I’m young and love is one of life’s strongest experiences—aside from marriage, parenthood, disease, death, grief, all these themes and things you end up talking about when you actually live a little. So for me, love is the most accessible of these themes.
     
    And to be knowledgeable about love and to feel it is something that transcends age.
    Yeah, I feel that anyone can relate to that, so it’s a way for me to try and secure an audience to actually hear me out and maybe give a shit.
     
    Laurence could have been this very gritty, brutal story but there is surreal, fantastic quality to it. Did you know right away you wanted to mix those two elements? I mean, just the distinction between moments like the club scene with "The Funeral Party" and the alleyway compared to the moments when they’re fighting is something I really admire.
    Thank you. As much as I like combining drama and humor, because life is about the duality of both in all its absurdity, for the same reason I like to write a story with very realistic environments interwoven with more extravagant prenthasis and segments. It’s important for me to have these situations where things are bigger than nature, bigger than the characters themselves, where you feel overwhelmed by life and it makes us remember how small we are and life itself in the movie reminds the characters of that.
     
    And it allows us to become really engrained in their lives because we see so many different emotional periods over the course of their relationship.
    I do believe a relationship is a mix of the relationship you have with your parents and the relationship you have with your best friends. And for me, the way to have access to relatable truths is to base it on some of the closest relationships I had to my best girlfriends or best boyfriends, as well as the tenderness of a mother to her son. I think the goal of Laurence Anyways is to invite the audience in the story and because it’s so long and spans a decade, to make people feel like they’re part of that love story. So that’s why they’re introduced to so many things about these characters and their rituals and inside jokes. And then sometimes there are bigger cinematic manifestations of those rituals, as if it took such volume and importance and the life itself was acknowledging their love and granting them permission.
     
    You mention these emotional memories or things that repeat throughout that allow you to mark how long this journey for them has been. At one point when Laurence first tells Fred and she’s consulting with her mother and sister, she says she needs his forearms and her mother says, "Well, everyone has forearms." And then later when they reunite after being apart for years, the first thing she does is touch his forearms.
    Really? I never noticed.
     
    Oh yes. 
    Well see, you can make your own story.
     
    And obviously, this is a very specific love story because its about a man transitioning into becoming a woman but the politics of that was not something that you were interested in exploring? 
    It was never any interest at all—not that I disregard it or that transgender issues don’t interest me. But it was more interesting to use it as an ultimate expression of difference amongst the couple and society itself as a manifestation of desperate quest or desperate urge for authenticity. There’s a moment in a couple’s life when you tell the other, well, we’ve been together of a year and we’ve been on that high and on that high you know as well as I do, we’re someone else, we are lying to ourselves and acting and now comes a time when you want to be yourself because you’re tired and it takes a lot of energy and imagination to be someone else to please somebody. And at one point you slowly slide towards your original self and in that moment there’s a a confrontation when the other is like, this is who I am, can we stay together? And that’s the moment when couples stay together or break up. So for Laurence to say I’m a woman, this is who I’ve always been and this is who I want to be and who I will be, will you tag along and stick around and help me and support me in that transition, is basically like saying, this is who I am do you still love me? And that worked for me for society and for a couple.
     
    Was there a reason why you set it in this specific time period?
    I wanted people to ask themselves why it was located there and then. Maybe that’s expecting too much from people, but then asking themselves what it would be like today. My answer is: not any different.
     
    Yes, even now it would still take a tremendous amount of courage and confidence and extreme love.
    I would probably not be able to do it. It would be hard for me. I don’t know how I would deal with something like this. It’s easy to make a movie on it  but I don’t know if I would be up for the challenge. I don’t know if I’d have the balls to go out on a limb for someone and protect him and defend him. It basically means being free enough in your sexuality to just love someone in an unconditional way. That means a lot of a work on yourself too and that’s basically Fred’s problem in the film—but it’s not a problem, it’s a situation. She’s helpless. But in terms of the time, I’ve recently heard from friends that at a very Catholic school a teacher showed up like that dressed as a woman and he’s doing fine, the parents are all cool and the kids are okay and the board is fine with it and I find that surprising, especially in France when we’re having such issues with gay rights. 
     
    When I saw the film play at MoMA, the entire audience started clapping after Fred went off on the dinner waitress.
    Really?
     
    Yeah, which rarely happens in the middle of a film at a screening, no?
    It happened at Cannes for I Killed My Mother when —- gave a piece of her mind to the principal. I love these moments. You don’t do that in life. In life you just shut your mouth and you bare yourself within and you let people talk, and sometimes you dare a "please mind your own business." But you do’t stand up and make a scene, and then you wish you had, you regret it. But cinema is revenge. It’s the perfect opportunity to have these moments. And I hope it ends up being inspiring for people out there to actually stand and fight for their rights. 
     
    As a director, and someone who is also an actor, were you acting along with them while shooting? And was this more freeing for you as a director that you’re not carrying the weight of being on screen?
    Of course. I may not be credited as an actor in the credits, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t play a part in that film off camera. I love playing with actors and ad libbing with them and doing improv at the end of a scene with them and giving them notes. I’m editing the film, so when I see a scene I basically see where I’m going to cut, and it’s a matter of nanoseconds—you see the actor and you’re like, okay swallow, blink, laugh, and then leave. You know that that chain of physical and emotional reactions that will seal the deal.
     
    Is that something you came to find on set this time around?
    It got more precise with Laurence because I was in a position where I could not only act with actors, but watch them work, watch them prepare themselves, watch them get into the skin of a character. It was really in the alternate education of this and it was really inspiring and enriching. But I also got to define the approach that I like with the actors, which is constant communication. As actors, we try to leave most of the acting to coincidence, I try to live and feel the moment as spontaneously as I can but there’s always a fair amount of preparation. You see a scene and find a path of intention. If you’re thinking Mamet, you think: what is my character’s goal onto which I need to hold onto until the end of the scene? The only goal is to get away with that lie and the rest is what Mamet would call funny voices, ticks, and actors showcasing their talent and their creativity. 
     
    Did you always know you wanted Suzanne Clément to play Fred? I know she had read the script a while back when you first began writing it.
    Always. She read the first draft.
     
    How did you two meet?
    I met her at a Gala, at a ceremony, and she was dancing and she was beautiful. I had shot a short with her now ex-boyfriend and so it was through him that we were introduced and we had a lot of fun. Also, she respected me even though I was only sixteen, she was nice to me. We started seeing each other once in a while, hanging out and we’d go for coffee and end up spending the entire day together buying cameras and taking pictures and then going to movies and then having dinner. 
     
    Did she and Melvil they spend a lot of time together beforehand?
    Not at all. The scenes we started with were pretty intense.
     
    Stylistically, your films have a lot of similar elements throughout. Is that something you consicously seek to do or just what comes out of the creative process?
    I’m less interested in artists who make movies and see movies as a showcase for their signature. I really believe in process and script and what does that movie need. Of course there are things that I like to portray and situations, but variety of style is the same thing as variety of tone. A psychological thriller does not have the same tone as a romance flick and does not have the same style—if Silence of the Lambs was shot like Bridesmaids it wouldn’t make any sense. So I believe in a director serving the story and trying to put his ego aside and killing his instincts and darlings and true loves in order to serve the story well. I also believe that many people would not think I’m that person and that I favor of style over content or scripts, but it’s truly not my intention. I think my fourth film shows that.
     
    I was looking over my old interview with you and you were saying that everyone wants to make one good psychological thriller.
    Really?
     
    Yeah you said everyone wants to make their Silence of the Lambs or their Se7en
    That’s exactly what I tried to do. Well, you see, more of the same then.
     
    Self-fulfilling. So your next film, did that feel like a big departure for you or was it a natural progression to move into new territory.
    Well, I Killed My Mother, Heartbeats, and Laurence are unconsciously linked by a sort of trilogy. And Tom à la ferme  is the first time I could ever commit to embrace a new genre and approach. In terms of music, there’s no music at all—there’s a score but nothing else. And why should there be? He’s secluded on a farm sort of as a hostage, eventually a consenting hostage, so there’s no music and no clips as there have been in all of the films so far. To finally have that movie that is a psychological thriller, it’s dry and simply shot, not trying to go with the aesthetically ugly or overstate but just not going anywhere, shooting as is. It’s hard now to be sincere and honest about movie making because everybody’s done everything, but we really went minimal. The focus is on the eerie atmosphere and the film’s doing what it should be, it’s not getting lost in tentative stuff. I’m proud of it. 
     
    And then your next film after that will be your first proper American film. It’s interesting to hear a young filmmaker who is working outside of Hollywood—
    Trying to have a take on Hollywood.
     
    Yes but also embracing Hollywood, because so many young people try to rebel against it.
    I am definitely not rebelling against anything because I worship Hollywood.
     
    Yeah and you admit that and want to make something people will see.
    Yes, I’m not into the whole fuck Hollywood field. I worship it and I have so much fun those films. I’m not going to stick to one genre or one film my entire life. This something that I hope in ten years, when I’ll be dead, people will say about me, that I did make different things. That’s what I admire about Paul Thomas Anderson, that he can do Boogie Nights and then Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love—which is basically, staged and choreographed from the first second to the last and every shot in there is pure. It’s everything.
     
    He claimed it was his take on the conventional romantic comedy.
    Well what happened on set, Paul? I think whatever his initial goal was, the result is really, really a masterpiece. He’s so versatile, that’s what impressive, it’s his ability to do that movie and then There Will Be Blood
     
    Laurence Anyways opens tomorrow in NYC at the Angelika Film Center.

    Paul Schrader Talks Xavier Dolan’s Influence on ‘The Canyons’

    Paul Schrader is a hell of a character. As one the most iconic and notorious film folk to emerge out of the glory days of 1970s American cinema, whether it’s his screenwriting or directing, his work has always been something to devour. Of course, some work has been better than others—and in my mind nothing could quite beat Taxi Driver, but that’s a slightly unfair statement. However, after I ran into Paul two years ago and he urged me to look at his phone while a Facebook page for his new project, The Canyons loaded, I’ve been keeping a close and anxious eye on the smutty melodrama, penned by satirical writer of yuppie drama Bret Easton Ellis. 

    And with the film now premiering later this summer Schrader has been vocal about his experience working on the film and in a new interview with The Seventh Art, he spends some time expressing his inspirations, namely his love for the young and brilliant Xavier Dolan. As huge fans of Dolan, we’ve been covering his latest epic drama Laurence Anyways (extensive interview to come next week) for some time now, but it seems Schrader’s affinity lies in Dolan’s second film the highly-stylized Heartbeats.
     
    Speaking to the film, Dolan told us in an interview back in 2011 that: "The film is about the way we magnify people when we’re in love—walking down the street feeling like we’re floating, hence the slow motion, the music, the costumes, the colors. A lot of people said it was a case of style over substance, but being in love is often a case of style over substance." And as for Schrader, his inspiration came from his belief that:
    There is no style anymore. This guy from Montreal, this young kid, Xavier Dolan had made this film, Heartbeats. I liked the film and I looked at it again, and I realized, “He’s going from scene to scene, changing his style based on the scene. A Godard-ian thing, now he’s doing a Hollywood thing, now he’s doing kind of a Bertolucci thing … He keeps changing, and he doesn’t really care if one scene doesn’t match the scene before it. And I said, there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s where we are, that’s the new kind of style.”
    See the interview in its entirety below.

    Getting Excited for Our Most Anticipated Summer Films

    With Memorial Day sneaking upon us this weekend, summer is right on our heels. And as is traditional for the cinematic season, our theaters are about to be inundated with a slew of big-budget blockbusters, dominating the box office and luring in crazed audiences around the world. But if that’s doesn’t seem to tickle your film affinity, between the cracks of massive Hollywood studio pictures, are some of the year’s most-anticipated and brilliant features from Xavier Dolan and David Lowery, to Joss Whedon and Pedro Almodovar, to Sofia Coppola and David Gordon Green—to name a few. So as we get closer to June, July, and August’s wonderful releases, let’s get excited about what will be premiering this summer. Enjoy.

    Mucho Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon

    Laurence Anyways, Xavier Dolan

    I’m So Excited, Pedro Almodovar

    Dirty Wars, Ricky Rowley

    Violet and Daisy, Geoffrey Fletcher

    The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola

    Berberian Sound Studio, Peter Strickland

    The Way, Way Back, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

    Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler

    Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn

    Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, David Lowery

    Prince Avalance, David Gordon Green

    See Xavier Dolan’s Stunning and Controversial New Music Video for Indochine’s ‘College Boy’

    No stranger to controversial subject matter and evocative filmmaking, Canadian writer, director, and actor Xavier Dolan’s work is always fierce and distinguished. And with his new music video for Indochine’s "College Boy" he’s causing a stir in France

    The black-and-white video stars Montreal actor Antoine Pilon as a high-schooler bullied by his classmates. The video takes us from his tortured time in the classroom to his life at home where he acts out his more violent impulses in the comfort of his bedroom. Again we see him back in school where his peers continue to taunt him, beat him up, and urinate on his face—culminating in his being crucified and shot at in the school yard. It’s a well-crafted and evocative piece of filmmaking that speaks to the senseless violence we see in both cinema and in our everyday life.

    However, French TV has already censored the video and it’s caused an outcry amongst other channels as well. Speaking to Le Figaro, Dolan responded to the video saying, "It seems absurd to me that the clip is censored. Is it really more violent than all the movies that arrive on our screens every day? The question shouldn’t be – did I go too far? It should be – what’s stopping a group of teenagers from going this far, given how powerful the gun lobby is in the U.S."

    See the full, uncensored video for yourself HERE.