Haunting. There’s perhaps no better word to describe the true story of DuPont chemicals heir John E. du Pont and his curious relationship with Olympic champion wrestlers, brothers Mark and David Schultz. In filmmaker Bennett Miller’s third feature, Steve Carell plays against type (superbly) to embody the eccentric—if not mildly psychopathic—du Pont in this 1980s-set true story. To call Foxcatchera “sports movie” is providing it a disservice. Yes, wrestling provides more than just a backdrop for the narrative, but the most compelling aspect of the two-hour-plus drama is the character study it provides, especially among the three leads. These include du Pont, a man who’s perhaps never heard the word no in his life, striving to gain his mother’s approval; Mark (Channing Tatum), a man, who despite his champion status, struggles to step out of his older brother’s shadow; and David (Mark Ruffalo), a family man who must balance what’s best for his wife and children with his brotherly duties.
Who would have thought the year’s greatest thriller would be a documentary? In the days following Citizenfour’s world premiere at the New York Film Festival last Friday, various news and entertainment outlets have been lauding filmmaker Laura Poitras’s achievement, and rightfully so. Of all the films this reviewer screened at the 52nd New York Film Festival, none has left an impact quite as deep as Citizenfour.
Set in the breathtaking Swiss Alps, veteran actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) prepares to star in the revival of a play that made her famous many years earlier. The role that catapulted her into stardom, that of Sigrid, a savvy vixen who engages in a power struggle with her older boss, Helena, will be played by troubled “it girl” Jo-Ann Ellis (a mesmerizing Chloë Grace Moretz). Enders will be taking on the role of Helena, one that she is not mentally prepared to play. With the help of her loyal assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart), Maria reluctantly faces the challenge head on, and in the process must come to grips with themes of aging—both in terms of the play and in her own life.
Series: Main Slate (World Premiere, Centerpiece Film)
Movies like this make me feel stupid. I should have known better. Paul Thomas Anderson has made a career on inaccessible, heady, and masturbatory films. No doubt, his work is nothing if not polarizing, but it’s always superbly crafted and will inevitably find its cheerleaders.Inherent Vice is no different. Mind you, it’s not that I don’t have a penchant for deeper, thought-provoking fare. I do. But Anderson has a tendency of dialing it up to eleven. (Before moving forward, I feel compelled to express that I usually make a point never to write reviews in the first person, but with this particular film, I find it difficult writing otherwise, simply because I admit to not understanding what this movie is about, so I’ll tell you how it made me feel.)
(Read about the entire process of making short film, “In-Kind,” by checking out the “Anatomy of a Short Film” section of this blog.)
Saturday, October 12, 2013
My film partner Stephanie and I attended the Hamptons International Film Festival this past weekend. I’ve been serving on the festival’s screening committee for the past few years and have been to the festival just once before. After waking up far earlier than I would ever wish to on a Saturday morning, I got together with Stephanie and we headed to Penn Station to catch our train to East Hampton. Along the way, we continued work on the shotlist for our short film, “In-Kind,” which we had begun several weeks earlier. Our progress has been slow, but fruitful. I’m excited about some creative shots we have planned, including one inspired by my filmmaking idol, Alfred Hitchcock (let’s hope we can execute it and do it justice).
The 51st New York Film Festival is upon us, bringing some of the world’s best film’s to New York from September 27 – October 13. And with that, the lineup for its annual NYFF Live panels has just been released. These talks are FREE and open to the public.
(Full schedule and more information after the jump.)
On August 24, 2009, LimitéMagazine.com originally posted my exclusive interview with Aaron Guzikowski, screenwriter of the upcoming film Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. At the time, the film was due for a release in late 2009, but after some delays, it will finally hit the big screen this September 20, following screenings at the Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals. In the meantime, Guzikowski’s first produced screenplay, Contraband, made waves at theatres last year with Mark Wahlberg’s and Kate Beckinsale’s names above the title.
This Throwback Thursday, I’m reposting this interview in the wake of Prisoners‘ September release.
(originally posted August 24, 2009)
In New York and LA, you couldn’t spit without hitting someone who’s writing a screenplay. Out of the thousands who try, only a handful might actually sell their scripts, and even fewer will have them produced. So what’s Aaron Guzikowski’s secret?
A short film that I wrote, “Shear Pratique,” has been accepted into the 2012 International Film Festival Manhattan. The festival runs from November 9 – 15 at the Quad Cinemas in Manhattan. Check out some great deals on tickets and swag by clicking here, and be sure to check out “Shear Pratique” on the big screen on November 14.
In The Gatekeepers, documentarian Dror Moreh does something unprecedented by interviewing six former heads of the Shin Bet, Israel’s Secret Service. Individually, the “gatekeepers” reflect on their successes and failures during the ongoing struggles between Israel and Palestine and the mission for peace. In what is surely considered a strong contender for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination, this film is among the most astonishing documentaries of the year. (Moreh sites 2004 Oscar-winning documentary The Fog of War as an inspiration.) The level of access Moreh achieves is remarkable, offering a point of view never previously heard in such a medium. The film is ripe with strong narratives as told by each of the six men, as well as varied “textures” that are achieved through sit-down interviews, revealing archival footage, well-composed graphics, and a score that underlines the visuals in a subtle-yet-impactful manner. The narrative can be a bit cumbersome to follow for those not familiar with the political and social struggles between Israel and Palestine, but even still one would be hard-pressed not to appreciate the film’s obvious achievements.
Limité Rating: 4/5
Director: Dror Moreh
Countries: Israel, France, Germany, Belgium
Language: Hebrew with English subtitles
Runtime: 97 min.
The 50th New York Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 14, 2012.
For the past two years, I’ve been a member of the Hamptons International Film Festival’s (HIFF) screening committee. I watch dozens of submitted films and write brief reviews for and rate each, helping the programmers to decide which films to accept into this prestigious festival. This year, HIFF turns 20 and I made sure to attend for the first time.
My friend Erin and I took the train from the western tip of Long Island to the eastern side, a three-hour ride. (There’s a reason it’s called “Long Island.”) This was my first trip to the Hamptons, home of New York’s well-to-do and known for some of the most pristine beaches on the East Coast.