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The Kids Are All Right – A Film Far Better Than All Right!!!

14 Aug

So far this year, it has become the year I have seen the least number of films since I started going to the movies—age 14.  Nevertheless, I don’t give up completely, as there are those little movies that from time to time pop-up, as it’s the case of the following films: The Kids Are All Right, The Disappearance of Alice Creed and Life During Wartime.  Each of these films have released over the last several weeks, but even those I am being a bit cautious about seeing.  I have heard great things about all three of them and Todd Solondz is the director of Life During Wartime, whose films I enjoy very much.

So, I went to the local theater to check out one of these films to end my curiosity, and I got tickets for Lisa Cholodenko’s new film The Kids Are Alright“. Not to be confused with the 1979 musical documentary by The Who, also called: The Kids Are Allright or their single by the same name.  Interestingly enough I don’t recall noticing this song being played during or after the film, which would have been perfect.  I did hear a couple of David Bowie songs however, which I enjoyed very much.

To my delight I ended up liking the film very much!  The film was poignant and felt very personal to the director, as Lisa herself had gone through something very similar herself, as she became pregnant in 2006 by the way of an anonymous sperm donor.

The film officially released to the general public following the LA Film Festival on July 31st, where it premiered locally.  The story centers around a lesbian couple, Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening), who each give birth to a girl and a boy respectively using the same anonymous sperm, donated by Paul (Mark Ruffalo), as we find out in the film.

Nic and Jules are in committed relationship until Paul comes back into the picture via the kids (Joni and Laser) desire to find out who their biological father was.  Their relationship is put to test indeed, as Jules—who is very insecure and dependent on Nic—realizes that something is missing in her life and that she’s bored, so she decides to just let go.  Nic on the other hand is a doctor who believes in rules and controlling the family, the breadwinner in the house.  Nic’s “exhaustingly controlling” behavior as Joni calls it becomes overbearing and begins pushing everyone away from her.  Jules’ stay-at-home mom life changes as she decides to begin her own landscape design business to start being more independent from Nic, and follow a new passion, as her children are all grown-up.  Joni is turning 18 and will be leaving for college and her little brother Laser isn’t so little anymore, as he is finishing high school soon, and will follow her shortly after.

Although Nic and Jules don’t want Paul to come into the picture, they are influenced by the kids to eventually all meet and make friends.  Little does Nic know of how much trouble this would really bring to her life?  Paul, a late 30s co-op farmer and restaurant owner comes into the picture, and the kids and Jules become very fond of him.  Nic and Jules’ relationship come to a to a point where it is fully compromised and they realize how much pain is causing one to the other once everything comes to light.  The climactic scene at the dinner table just when Nic was just beginning to feel comfortable with Paul is masterful.

Cholodenko’s subtlety is stirring, as one expects an all-out war at the dinner table, Nic just sits there in slow motion and just watches.  What the director is able to do here with this script is pure magic.  Her story is very compelling and the actors beautifully tell the story to the audience in a very organic way.  Annette Bening’s performance is a knockout!  She becomes Joni very convincingly, and mark my words; if there is any justice in Hollywood this performance should at least guarantee her a place on the Best Actress Academy Awards short list.  Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo were also very strong and delivered very solid performances.  And the kids were better than all right; they were perfectly casted, as at one moment—at the beginning of the film—they made the entire family feel like the perfect family.

The film is without doubt one of the few best films I’ve seen this year and highly recommended to anyone.  The film was released to universal acclaim since it premiered on January 25, 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival and at the 60th Berlinale festival, where the film was awarded with a Teddy award.  The nation’s top critics rate the film 96 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes, which says a lot about the film.  I rated 90% on my Icine book and highly recommend it to anyone to go see it!

I am also going to set away some time this summer to go see Solondz film: Life During Wartime and The Disappearance of Alice Creed, so stay tuned for reviews for those films to follow soon…

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The Action on Film Festival Returns to Pasadena – July 23-30

12 Jul

For those film lovers in the Pasadena area searching for something different with a bit more action and substance then big Hollywood summer blockbusters, there is a new film festival I have recently discovered and recommend, called: Action on Film International Film Festival.

This year’s edition will bring nearly 400 low-budget films that promise to be for everyone’s liking, and will attract well-known actors who will be rewarded for their bodies of work, such as: Talia Shire (from the Godfather and Rocky) and Deborah Kara Unger (from White Noise and Silent Hill). I love independent films and going to see them in my city–the crown city–and just hope that the festival is a big success in town, so that the city can attract and host more events like this promoting smaller niche films.  I hope to catch a few worthwhile films at this year’s festival, as Movie Maker Magazine suggests: “It’s one of the top 25 film festivals worth the fees…”

The festival kicks-off Friday, July 23 and will play for a week.

From AOF’s official website:

“The AOF Fest is one of these most progressive film festivals on the scene today. With writers, producers, directors and filmmakers from all over the globe, we are truly an International affair. We have assisted a number of filmmakers in starting their careers; Stan Harrington, Mark Mahon, Justin Owensby, and many others. We have helped people sell their films and projects and helped others gain the recognition and representation they deserved.

Celebrities like Costas Mandylor, Michael Madsen, John Savage, Maria Conchita Alonso, George Takei, Bill Duke, John Saxon, Frances Bay, David Carradine, Steven Williams and many others have found a home at the AOF Festival. And now, people behind the scenes like super producer Karen Kramer, the people from SONY, The Will Rogers Foundation, Independent Distribution Companies, and Industry Insiders etc., now mix and mingle with our independent filmmakers and writers to guide them along the path to success in their careers.

With our move to the beautiful city of Pasadena in 2008, the AOF Festival proved itself to be one of the top events in the world with beautiful theaters, star studded Black Tie Dinner and Award Shows, Writer’s Award Events and hundreds of screenings of the most provocative films, videos, documentaries and works of the written word being showcased today.

The Action on Film Festival is dedicated to filmmakers and to film making. We have developed a program that supports artists and creators and allows them a voice via their work. We have showcased and will continue to showcase, talent, innovation, edge, new voices and YOU.

Action On Film is more than just a film festival, it is a community with members from all over the globe. We extend to you, the filmmaker the opportunity to show your work and to share your dreams with an audience that is ready to stand up and put their hands together, for you.

Don’t forget the Free Events like the Sunday Symposium with Studio Executive Alan Bailey, the new Free Actor’s and Writer’s Symposium and a new event, the Anthony De Longis Making Action Count Seminar which is brought to you by the R.I.O.T. Act and sponsored by In Magazine and the Sheraton Hotel. Order Making Action Count Tickets Here.

Join the Executive Producer of Criminal Minds Ed Bernero when he hosts a very special evening, SWAN, to benefit the Lung Cancer Foundation of America and to honor the work of Andy Swan. Click Here to Learn More“.

For complete scheduling of the movies, visit the website.

And the Award Goes To…?

29 May

Here is the List of Films that made a mark at this year’s Festival de Cannes!

And, if any of these films play in your city, please go see them…It looks like Lars von Trier film: Antichrist, received at least one award for Best Actress!

Cannes Palm D'Or

The official Jury of this 62nd Festival de Cannes, presided by Isabelle Huppert, revealed the Prize winners during the Closing Ceremonies on the evening of May 24th.

WINNING FILMS & PERFORMANCES

Palme d’Or
DAS WEISSE BAND (The White Ribbon) directed by Michael HANEKE

Grand Prix
UN PROPHÈTE (A Prophet) directed by Jacques AUDIARD

Lifetime achievement award for his work and his exceptional contribution to the history of cinema

Alain RESNAIS

Best Director
Brillante MENDOZA for KINATAY

Jury Prize

FISH TANK directed by Andrea ARNOLD

BAK-JWI (Thirst) directed by PARK Chan-Wook

Best Performance for an Actor
Christoph WALTZ in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS directed by Quentin TARANTINO

Best Performance by an Actress

Charlotte GAINSBOURG in ANTICHRIST directed by Lars von TRIER

charlotte gainsbourgBest Screenplay

MEI Feng for CHUN FENG CHEN ZUI DE YE WAN (Spring Fever) directed by LOU Ye

CAMERA D’OR
SAMSON AND DELILAH directed by Warwick THORNTON (presented at Un Certain Regard)

Caméra d’Or – Special Distinction
AJAMI directed by Scandar COPTI, Yaron SHANI (presented at Quinzaine des Réalisateurs)


UN CERTAIN REGARD


Prix Un Certain Regard – Fondation Groupama Gan pour le Cinéma

KYNODONTAS (Dogtooth) by Yorgos LANTHIMOS

Jury Prize

POLITIST, ADJECTIV (Police, Adjective) by Corneliu PORUMBOIU.

Special Prize Un Certain Regard 2009

KASI AZ GORBEHAYE IRANI KHABAR NADAREH (No One Knows About Persian Cats) by Bahman GHOBADI

LE PÈRE DE MES ENFANTS (Father of My Children) by Mia HANSEN-LØVE

For a complete list visit: http://www.festival-cannes.fr/

THE RETURN OF THE AUTEURS AT THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL DE CANNES!

19 May

cannes-logo

Lars von Trier Film “Antichrist” makes some BIG waves at Cannes!

As the Reuters reports: “Danish director Lars von Trier elicited derisive laughter, gasps of disbelief, a smattering of applause and loud boos on Sunday as the credits rolled on his drama “Antichrist” at the Cannes film festival.”

AntichristThe film, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a couple seeking to overcome the grief of losing their only child, has quickly become the most talked-about at this year’s festival, which ends on May 24.

Lars von TrierLars von Trier is no newbie to Cannes spotlight, controversy and final imprint, as he has won the top prize, the Palme d’Or in 2000 for “Dancer in the Dark”, the Grand Prix Award for “Breaking the Waves” in 1996, a Technical Award for his 1984 film “Element of a Crime” and “Antichrist” could certainly trail behind with some accolades this year!

3464903427_3a92f8991e“Antichrist” brief synopsis:

A grieving couple retreat to ’Eden’, their isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse…Check out the surreal trailer below:

3485496081_90e471f21d

Cannes-Logo1Lars von Trier is not the only GREAT filmmaker appearing this year with some new work generating a lot of buzz, others include: Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, Jane Campion’s Bright Star, Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric, Pedro Almodovar’s Los Abrazos Rotos, Michel Gondry’s The Thorn in the Heart, Terry Gelliam’s follow-up to the Brother’s Grim, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and legendary French director Alan Resnais’ Wild Grass to name a few!

IT’S AN IMPRESSIVE YEAR and here is the impressive line-up of films showcasing at the Festival de Cannes:

2009 FESTIVAL DE CANNES FILMS