I bet you’d never think a raunchcom would ever dare to cite Einstein as inspiration? Think again! Woohoo! Continue ReadingRead More »
Written and Directed by: Xavier Dolan
Starring: Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clément, Patrick Huard
Once every few years comes a film that literally takes my breath away, where it feels as if all the air has been sucked out of my lungs and I’m gasping for breath. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a scary feeling, but rather an incredibly blissful and peaceful one. If this is how I’m gonna go, it’ll be watching something beautiful take place. In my professional career thus far, this has happened twice – in 2011 with director Nicolas Winding-Refn’s DRIVE and now with writer-director Xavier Dolan’s MOMMY. The French-Canadian wunderkind has created an incredibly entrancing work of art that’s both minimalist and lavish, especially when the indelible imagery takes over. MOMMY isn’t just a film one watches – it’s one we collectively experience.
It’s 2015 in an alternate universe Canada when we first meet recent widow Diane “Die” Després. She’s been called to a boarding facility where her ADHD son, Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) has been caught setting a fellow student on fire. He must either face jail time or be released into her care. Since Die whole-heartedly believes loving Steve can save him from himself, she’s gung-ho to take on the challenge. Naturally this starts out great, though it quickly goes to pot when the first days back at home trigger Steve’s erratic violent outbursts. But a savior appears in the form of next door neighbor Kyla (Suzanne Clément), who’s suffering from a great loss of her own. As the trio form a new relationship, Steve’s temper subsides. However, we know the fix is temporary – as if they slapped a band-aid over a bullet hole.
Dolan returns to some familiar ground with MOMMY, not only in his I KILLED MY MOTHER reunion with actresses Dorval and Clement, but also in the narrative exploration of motherhood and all its facets. However, the mother-son dynamic almost represents a complete 180 from I KILLED MY MOTHER, a film where Dolan spends most of his time screaming at and crucifying his mother. Here, Dolan approaches the role of a mother with wise understanding and compassion. The aching hurt MOMMY leaves viewers with is superficially the same and yet totally different than what we experienced with I KILLED MY MOTHER.
Connection is one of the key narrative themes of the picture. Dolan’s brilliant storytelling techniques definitely bring that to light in a non-obtuse manner. Music plays a large part, with the nostalgia of songs like Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” Counting Crows’ “Colorblind,” Celine Dion’s “On Ne Change Pas,” and Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die” connecting with striking images of these colorful characters in Dolan’s new world order. The film weaves in and out of music video territory a handful of times, emphasizing the character’s hyper-reality. Shooting primarily in a cramped, squeezed in frame also helps hammer home the claustrophobia of Steve and Die’s world. I don’t want to give anything away, but pay attention to the aspect ratio, as it augments the narrative in the grandest and subtlest of ways. André Turpin’s cinematography sidesteps all cinematic tropes to deliver something immediate. He and Dolan exercise an understanding that the dark storyline can also be saturated with color and emotion – that it doesn’t have to be all grit, grime and greys.
MOMMY would be nowhere if not for the precise performances of its lead actors – although it’s not as if Dorval, Pilon and Clément are making them flashy. Choices feel intrinsic and genuine to their characters. Die’s trying to be her son’s best friend and learns that’s not always the best course of action – she’s on the brink of seeing her highly made-up facade crumble, yet still manages to claw her way through life. Kyla blossoms, going from extremely shy and stuttering to fully realized. Even through some misguided behavior, Steve is trying to remain the man of the house. Patrick Huard (STARBUCK) also gives a strong supporting turn as Die’s wannabe paramour, Paul. When Paul and Steve have a showdown at the karaoke bar, it’s the cinematic equivalent of fireworks. Dolan also adds another layer to character depth and dimension in the way he clothes Steve’s two motherly forces – Kyla is conservative and classy, whereas Die dresses loud and like she’s scrappily fighting to hang onto to her youth.
There’s so much more to write about MOMMY, but honestly, it’s something best left uncovered by audiences. If cinephiles are looking for something meaty to chew on, let MOMMY take care of you.
5 out of 5
MOMMY opens in limited release January 23.Read More »
As the excitement revs up in Park City, Submarine announced today that Julia Roberts is attached to the remake rights to the new documentary BATKID BEGINS: THE WISH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD – A DANA NACHMAN FILM on the eve of its world premiere at Slamdance Film Festival.
Roberts, who will produce with partners Lisa Gillan and Marisa Yeres Gill through their Red Om Films banner, is attached to star in the feature remake of the real life story about how a Make-A-Wish event for Miles – a 5 year old boy diagnosed with leukemia – wanting to be Batman for a day turned into not only a citywide spectacle with over 25,000 San Francisco residents coming out to participate, but a worldwide phenomenon on social media with nearly 2 billion participants thanks to Mashable, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others.
The documentary’s director, Dana Nachman, will serve as Executive Producer along with Josh and Dan Braun of Submarine under Submarine’s new remake label Sub/Version that is launching at Sundance. BATKID BEGINS is Sub/Version’s first project.
“It’s thrilling to me that Ms. Roberts and her team watched our film and were so moved by it that they want to dedicate their time and creative capital to make sure the widest audience possible will know and love Miles’ story and the spirit of this intimate special event that went global, as much as we do,” says filmmaker Nachman.Read More »
BATKID BEGINS: THE WISH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD will have its world premiere this Saturday, January 24 at noon in Park City at Slamdance Film Festival 2015, and all distribution rights for the documentary are currently available worldwide. For more info: www.batkidbegins.com
Tugg, Inc. (“Tugg”), which allows individuals to choose films that play in local theaters across the United States, announced today that it has partnered with New Balloon, a cross-platform media company focused on advancing innovative storytelling technologies, to form a multi-million dollar Event Cinema Fund. Through the fund, both companies will provide high-impact investment capital, expertise, and other resources toward marketing and distributing culturally significant films.
What does this mean to you and why you should care? Here are the reasons below, courtesy of the press release:
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Specifically, the fund will seek to promote films that engage and inspire audiences to cultivate healthy discussion, strengthen community, and strive towards positive change. Each film should demonstrate a direct relationship with its audience through some of the following: crowdfunding campaigns, regional and national organizational support, and corporate partners. Furthermore, each film should show a willingness to innovate through original means of storytelling, hybrid distribution models, and an understanding of the importance of community-driven screenings toward their overall campaign goals.
The fund will collaborate with studios, mini-majors, entrepreneurial independent filmmakers, and distributors to enhance traditional release strategies. It will capitalize on the proven capabilities of the Tugg platform, which includes theatrical, non-theatrical, educational, and new product offerings to be announced in 2015. The Event Cinema fund will partner with seasoned service providers and Impact Producers to build the infrastructure necessary for filmmakers to succeed within the current marketplace. Partnerships will be announced in the coming months.
“We’re thrilled to announce this partnership with New Balloon. The goal of the Event Cinema Fund is to match selected filmmakers – whether a studio or independent – with premium marketing resources and strategic partners custom-tailored to each campaign’s specific goals and opportunities,” said Tugg Co-founder and CEO Nicolas Gonda. “The Event Cinema Fund launch is a significant milestone in the movement to re-establish the collective movie-going experience,” added Co-founder and COO Pablo Gonzalez.
“New Balloon is dedicated to supporting innovative content and technologies that have the potential to bring about positive social change and our partnership with Tugg fits well with these objectives,” said Kristi Kendall, New Balloon Executive Vice-President. “We’re also looking forward to forming highly-productive and impactful, long-term working relationships with the innovative storytellers and entrepreneurs who will benefit from working with Tugg and the Event Cinema Fund.”
THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY
Written and Directed by: Peter Strickland
Starring: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Monica Swinn, Chiara D’Anna
A mysterious brunette sits facing a babbling brook, looking reflective of nature’s beauty. She holds that position for a while, the calming sounds surrounding her, along with idyllic shots of warmth in full bloom. Only our protagonist appears yearning for something more, perhaps haunted. This is the opening scene and a clue to what’s in store for viewers of writer-director Peter Strickland’s THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY, a genre picture with immense universal appeal beyond art-house walls. Continue ReadingRead More »
Director: David Koepp
Written by: Eric Aronson (screenplay), Kyril Bonfiglioli (novel)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, with Jeff Goldblum, Paul Bettany, Johnny Pasvolsky
Comedic capers are inherently a lot of fun. Add a dash of 60’s zippy zing and you’d think it would be a total success. That’s where you’d be wrong – well, maybe half wrong. Case in point: director David Koepp’s MORTDECAI. Continue ReadingRead More »
Directed by: Gary Rydstrom
Written by: George Lucas (story), Gary Rydstrom, Irene Mechi and David Berebaum (screenplay)
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Meredith Anne Bull, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Elijah Kelly, Sam Palladino, Maya Rudolph
“From the mind that brought you Jar Jar Binks…” is what the honest advertising campaign should read for executive producer George Lucas’ animated musical fantasy STRANGE MAGIC. But then people would avoid it like the plague. As it turns out, they really should. Continue ReadingRead More »