Of all of the terrible movies coming at you this summer this is the one I am personally most excited about. Where Planet of the Apes are concerned, the more the better. I can’t wait.
32 years ago, when Darren Aronofsky was 13, he wrote a poem about Noah that reinterpreted the Bible legend of God’s petulant antediluvian hissy-fit and he shaped it into verses that were better suited to his class assignment: write about peace. Rather than buy into the flat Genesis threat that God could flush Creation down the toilet and begin again, a fresh rain-clean scent with Captain Noah as the Tidy Bowl Man, young Darren was already exploring a deeper, more meaningful way to tell the story. Here’s teenage Aronofsky’s Noah:
He knew evil would not be kept away
For evil and war could not be destroyed
But neither was it possible to destroy peace
Evil is hard to end and peace is hard to begin
But the rainbow and the dove will always live
Within every man’s heart.
Ryan promises to write a longer piece about his own reaction to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah but I thought I’d put it out there what I did like about the movie.
For the most part, I sit on way on the opposite side of any kind of religious thought being taken literally – specifically, using Genesis to, in any way, talk about the birth of “man.” This I believe is fundamentally flawed view on life itself; mankind is not the center of the universe. Never has been, never will be, despite our desire to be so. We are one of many life forms battling life and death every day. The Buddhists, it seems to me, have it right in viewing religion but that’s another topic for another time. Therefore, it doesn’t matter to me if Aronofsky sought to explain evolution through Genesis (not necessary) or to talk about the creator this, the creator that – if you believe in God you’re probably going to dig Noah. But if you either don’t know what is behind all of this life that has been thriving for billions of years, or don’t need to know, you might find Noah suffocating in its sexism (women being necessary only to reproduce) and its heteronormative view of life (one male, one female).
But there are two things I really liked about the movie and that’s this:
1) Aronofsky’s disdain for mankind it palpable and true. His film makes no bones about what has led to the destruction of this planet. We are at fault. We are barbaric and disgusting in our disregard for the natural world and all of the life on it. I was right there with Noah all the way on that. I also felt his pain in not knowing what to do – there are so many beautiful things about humanity. It isn’t ALL bad. But there is so much bad. That struggle, to me, stuck with me after I saw the film in a way I never saw coming. I assumed it would not penetrate my psyche at all but it did for that reason. Now, when I read stories that depress the hell out of me, when I look at our very bleak future, I think about this tortured man. I’ll leave God out of it because you know, if he wanted to fix things he could. I don’t believe he “gave” us this planet to do with what we wanted. We are a very successful, dominant, intelligent species but we will destroy ourselves eventually – at which point the planet will shrug us off like old skin and rebuild itself. Nature doesn’t think we’re the center of the universe.
2) This is a bit of a spoiler because I do believe this isn’t in any of the original Noah stories so if you haven’t seen the film and you’d like to see how the story is told (Arofonsky take liberties with the Judao-Christian interpretation though this movie is still very much a religious epic that pays reverence to God) do not read any further.
Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home is the latest film “rumored” to be coming to Cannes, according to this site. Coming Home is based on “Yan Geling’s novel ‘The Criminal Lu Yanshi,’ which tells a story of an old man’s emotional return to his family after decades of separation,” the website reports.
Recently Yimou joined Ang Lee at an NYU’s sponsored talk on the future of Chinese cinema (which will likely dominate the world’s market in five to ten years). Both directors also talk about their upcoming projects. Reported by NY Times’ Arts Beat.
Predicting that within five years the world’s filmmakers and distributors will all be “leaning forward to the Chinese market,” Mr. Zhang cautioned that the Chinese industry needed to place less emphasis on profits and “popcorn movies” and noted a lack of current Chinese films that were “full of imagination,” as well as good novels and stories to use as sources.
“It’s easy to say we have good movies, but difficult to do it,” he said.
“I would love to see more women directors because they represent half of the population – and gave birth to the whole world. Without them writing and being directors, the rest of us are not going to know the whole story. – Jane Campion
In response to the protests last year that not a single female director was nominated for last year’s Palme d’Or, the Cannes Film Fest is bringing not one but two female filmmakers to prominent positions at the festival this year. You really can’t drop the ball if you are a female director – even where international cinema, far less male-centric than American cinema, is concerned.
Jane Campion heads the jury for the Cannes Film Festival this year. She has the distinction of being the only female to ever take home the Palme d’or. Campion is one of the most vivid and vital voices in film at all and simply does not get the attention she richly deserves. The last thing we saw from Campion was the exquisite series Top of the Lake, which starred mostly women, of course, and followed the story of a missing pregnant teen. Campion is a true visionary as a director, with a painterly eye – one who is not afraid to tell the naked truth about people. Her films tend to revolve around women – that includes their sexuality but not at the expense of the rest of who they are.
Campion’s only film to get near the vicinity of Oscar was The Piano. It is a masterpiece, to be sure. But her other films have been worth paying attention to – Sweetie, Holy Smoke, and Bright Star specifically.
Andrea Arnold has been appointed to head Critics Week. Arnold won the Jury Prize in 2006 and 2009. Critics Week is meant to focus on new and upcoming filmmakers and will run from May 15 through May 23, 2014. Arnold won the Oscar for Wasp, a short film, in 2003. She was recognized in Cannes for Fish Tank and Red Road.
Arnold is a British director, 52 years old. Jane Campion is from New Zealand and is 59 years old. As you can plainly see, world cinema has been more open to the female auteur than America will ever be. But hey, it’s a start.
Thanks to reader Bryce for point us to the news that Josh Brolin has let slip a few interesting tidbits from Anderson’s new film. The Film Stage got the story from Cigs & Red Vines, which got the story from The Independent. Here are a few choice quotes:
“I just did a movie for P T Anderson that I didn’t understand. The writing of Thomas Pynchon is so Shakespearean. It was crazy, chaotic but really, really gratifying.” He added, “We took it I think in a direction that the book doesn’t necessarily go, hoping it will work.” A hint at what direction that may be comes from a Cigs’ source, who notes that Jonny Greenwood, having completed the score, reveals that it’s “more romantic” than his last two collaborations with Anderson, There Will Be Blood and The Master.
That’s not all Brolin revealed regarding the production, as he goes on to tell Yahoo, “More than any woman I’ve ever worked with, I absolutely fell in love with Joaquin Phoenix. [He's] the most wonderful human being and actor.” Diving into an example, he says, “Joaquin and I would do these scenes together and Paul would say, ‘This time do it with the table upside down, and you guys get under the table and I’m going to put a blanket over you, and I want you to whisper your lines. And now this time, no lines and no dialogue at all, and I want you to just dance your dialogue. Whatever that next line is, I want you to create a movement that’s going to be what that line of dialogue was going to be if you spoke it.’ It was just craziness, you know, but really fun. After that, we’d go back to the scene and it would be fed by all those other things that you can create something magical. But you have to do some pretty weird things.”
Jeff Schneider got the scoop for The Wrap about a project on the horizon directed by Jonathan Demme, written by Diablo Cody, and starring Meryl Streep. Pic is about a rock n’ roll star who abandons her family to live her dream but then comes home and expects she can start parenting from scratch. Sounds great. I love that projects are developed and made because Streep is involved.
Reactions to the footage shown at CinemaCon for Gone Girl are all positive:
From the Hollywood Reporter:
Gone Girl’s dark trailer showed Ben Affleck’s character dealing with a media frenzy after his wife (Rosamund Pike) disappears. The trailer promises a haunting thriller, very much in line with Gillian Flynn’s book on which it is based. Affleck’s character can be seen creepily posing with his wife’s “Missing” poster and being harassed by media and police as the search continues for her. “I did not kill my wife. I am not a murderer,” says Affleck’s haunting voice-over towards the end of the trailer.
Okay now we just saw Gone Girl footage and it was amazing. Fincher going Zodiac again with some Tattoo undertones. Looks like a contender.
— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) March 27, 2014
Footage from GONE GIRL was intense and noir-y. Felt like a good fit for Fincher's style. #cinemacon
— The Maple Theater (@TheMapleTheater) March 27, 2014
Saw footage from Fincher's GONE GIRL. As you might expect looked great. He's one of the best directors on the planet. Can't wait for this.
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) March 27, 2014
This isn’t Oscar season, pure and simple. When is the last time a movie came out in the spring and won Best Picture? “The Silence of the Lambs” in 1991? The best thing I’ve seen this year -small or big screen- was HBO’s True Detective and I rather doubt these two impressive films I’m about to talk about will change that Oscar stat. But who cares, right? I’m just happy that we have two fantastic and original visions out there as we speak. One has already come out and the other one is slated for release in a week’s time. Both are expected to crack my top ten list by year’s end.
Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” comes out with a storm of expectations. The 9pm showing I went to on the weekend was packed with 800 people waiting to see what his next quirky vision would be like. Suffice it to say he didn’t disappoint the least bit with this new one. It’s not just the distinctive visual and narrative style that makes this an incredible achievement, it’s also the fact that he has infused his obsessive dollhouse-like world with real heart and passion for character, more so than usual, and something I haven’t seen from a Wes Anderson film since quite possibly “The Royal Tenenbaums” back in 2001. It helps that the film is anchored by a remarkable Ralph Fiennes performance, maybe the best of his career? He gives a theatrical yet compassionate performance that is filled with depth and persuasiveness. To mention Fiennes as a Best Actor contender this early in the game would be foolish and understandably irresponsible, but he is so good in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” that it would be a real shame if he gets forgotten amidst the October-December awards shuffle of contenders.
[Spoilers abound. Do not read if you haven't seen the first episode] “Some roads you shouldn’t go down. Because maps used to say ‘There be dragons here.’ Now they don’t… but that don’t mean the dragons aren’t there.” – Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo FX’s 10-episode limited series Fargo - inspired by Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 film of the same name but eventually striking out in its own interesting directions – begins at dus...
Even though last week fans were treated to Rupersized episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” only one queen went home in the two-part installment, so it was really only like one episode (a moment of silence for our fallen queen Laganja Estranja. . .mmmmk?). So now it’s down to seven queens. We’re getting very close to the end of season 6 when Ru will crown the next drag superstar (or superdud if she goes with Adore). I’m sure all season long you were thinking, “Wow…when is there ...
Million Dollar Baby takes down Sideways and The Aviator. Probably the only film that really resonates from this year was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which just gets better with each viewing, as does Sideways. Okay, fine, so do the Aviator and Million Dollar Baby. Ultimately it was not the best year for film but not bad overall. Have a listen....
We probably spend too much time talking about Lost in Translation and not enough time talking about Return of the King. But it was an important film, a beautiful film and the sum total of Peter Jackson’s vision to bring the books to the big screen. It was a pretty good year with Mystic River and Lost in Translation. Of all of them, the Coppola film has really grown in esteem as time has gone by and is as relevant and vital today as it was back in 2003. Have a listen....