Saturday, April 22, 2017


Considered now to be one of the biggest festivals in the world dedicated to French cinema, the 2017 COLCOA Fest will be coming to Los Angeles for a week of new French films, documentaries, shorts, web series and television programming from April 24 - May 2. This will be the twenty-first year of the fest and will feature an exclusive program with 75 films with many North American and world premieres with all films being screened at the Directors Guild Theater.

Th opening film will be "Chacun sa vie (Everyone's Life)", the latest from legendary filmmaker, Claude Lelouch. He has assembled some big names in French cinema (Johnny Hallyday, Béatrice Dalle, Christopher Lambert and Oscar-winner,Jean Dujardin) and created a multi-storyline romantic-dramedy about several people attending a jazz festival for a variety of different reasons beyond hearing music.

The closing night film selected is "L’Embarras du choix (You Choose!)". Alexandra Lamy stars in this romantic-comedy about a forty year old woman still dependent on his father and friends to take care of everything and make all decisions in her life. After being dumped by her fiancé, her friends set her up with Étienne (Arnaud Ducret), a handsome chef. Then she meets a wealthy Scotsman (Jamie Bamber) and likes them equally but is unable to decide when both men propose to her.

Recent Oscar-winner for his musical, "La La Land", Damien Chazelle was asked to select a French film that inspired him and one was Léos Carax's 1991 surreal drama, "Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (The Lovers on The Bridge)". Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant star as two homeless people who find love and tragedy on the tough streets of Paris.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Jean-Pierre Melville, a filmmaker who transformed the crime thriller into high art, one of his most acclaimed films, "Le Cercle Rouge" will be screened. This classic film noir stars Alain Delon and Yves Montand in the story of a cat-loving detective (Bourvil) attempting to foil a plot to rob a jewelry store by an ex-con, a former cop and a criminal mastermind.

And to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Playtime", Jacques Tati’s most inventive and ambitious film, a newly restored version will be presented.

For the complete list of programming, tickets and additional information, please click below:

2017 COLCOA French Film Festival

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


The 2017 TriBeCa Film Festival begins today and if you plan on attending (or simply just curious, like myself), with so many films, documentaries, short films and television programming, it would be difficult to decide what to actually see.  The Hollywood Reporter has offered to lend a hand by listing twenty-three intriguing films, with some making their world premieres, that you might want to check out.

Click below to read:

23 Must See Movies at 2017 TriBeCa Film Festivals

Friday, April 14, 2017


After seeing her latest mesmerizing turn as an abused wife in the HBO limited series, "Little Big Lies", people once again seem to be appreciating the intensely fierce and impressively brave work of Nicole Kidman. It's not like the Oscar-winning actress has ever went away. It is just the fact that not too many have actually seen any of her recent films. Some of these movies (like "Grace of Monaco", "The Family Fang" and "Queen of The Desert", to name a few), I must say, are not really worth checking out but what they all do offer are compelling and authoritative performances by the dazzling Ms Kidman to elevate them ever so slightly.

I have to admit, I was not particularly enchanted by the Aussie actress when she first appeared on the scene. But let's be real; her early Hollywood film roles in "Days of Thunder", "Billy Bathgate" and "Batman Forever" hardly displayed any discernible screen presence and she only seemed to be getting work because she was the recent Mrs. Tom Cruise.

However, it was her appearance in Gus Van Sant's 1995 black comedy, "To Die For" that made me finally take the actress seriously. Loosely based on a true-life incident, Kidman plays Suzanne Stone, a small-town woman driven to becoming a famous news reporter but her husband (Matt Damon) is interfering by wanting her to start a family. She plots to kill him with the help of a high school student (Joaquin Phoenix) she has seduced. This role finally gave the actress the proper opportunity to display her dramatic range and comedic chops all within the same film. I fell in love with Nicole Kidman here and I have anxiously awaited to see what she would do next ever since.

For the most part throughout her career, Ms Kidman has actively pursued challenging roles in unconventional films. That also means that the audience for this work is definitely limited. Vulture has decided to look back and rank her best performances in little-seen and underrated films.

Click below to read:

The 10 Most Underrated Nicole Kidman Roles

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


New York has many film festivals throughout the year and one of the first major events will be the 2017 Tribeca Fest. On April 19th, the sixteenth annual festival will open with the world premiere of the documentary, "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives". Based on his 2013 autobiography, the film examines the life of the long time music executive who launched and nurtured some of the biggest musical acts in history. Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Aerosmith, Earth Wind & Fire, Alicia Keys, Simon & Garfunkel and Whitney Houston are just a small number of the artists that he discovered and helped guide to success. The screening will take place at Radio City Music Hall and a concert will follow with performances by many of the musicians that he first put a spotlight on.

There are ten feature films, international narratives and world documentaries selected to compete for the Founders Awards and will be screened over the twelve day festival.  The Spotlight Narrative section will focus on some of 2017's exciting new independent features. Some of these include Michael Winterbottom's latest Steve Coogan - Rob Brydon road trip series, "The Trip To Spain", "Rock 'n Roll", a comedy written and directed by Guillaume Canet and stars him along with his Oscar-winning wife, Marion Cotillard and "Manifesto", a film by artist Julian Rosefeldt and features only Cate Blanchett playing multiple characters.

Two gala screenings will be held with the world premieres of "The Circle", a timely drama starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson about a powerful tech and social media company that engages in an experiment that dangerously pushes the boundaries on our privacy and "Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: The Bad Boy Story" a documentary that looks behind the making of Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records and his recent attempt to reunite many of the artists from the label for a concert in Brooklyn.

There will be several Special Screenings which will include "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story", a doc on the Hollywood beauty who also happened to be a genius, "House of Z", a documentary on fashion designer, Zac Posen, "Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait", which examines the artist at work and play and "Paris Can Wait", the first feature written and directed by Eleanor Coppola (yes, wife of that Coppola) and stars Diane Lane and Alec Baldwin.

Other highlights include several anniversary celebrations. "Reservoir Dogs", Quentin Tarantino's cult, brutal crime thriller, celebrates it's 25th anniversary and the writer/director and some of the cast will participate in a discussion after the screening. Michael Moore will be on hand for the 15th anniversary screening of his Oscar-winning documentary, "Bowling For Columbine". And the closing night will feature back-to-back screenings of the 45th anniversary of "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II" which will be shown at Radio City Music Hall on April 29th. The director, Francis Ford Coppola and much of the cast which includes Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall and Talia Shire will make appearances for a sure to be lively discussion of these classic films.

In addition, there will be a New Online Work section, Tribeca TV which will premiere fifteen television programs including a sneak peek at Ken Burns' upcoming docu-series, "The Vietnam War" and Tribeca Talks that will look in to the creative process through conversations with important figures in the arts and will feature a diverse group such as Scarlett Johansson, director Alejandro González Iñárritu, Dustin Hoffman, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, Lena Dunham, Bruce Springsteen (talking with Tom Hanks) and Barbra Streisand in discussion with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez.

If you are a film lover, this is one massive festival you do not want to miss. For the complete list of films, events and additional information, please click below:

The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

LIFE (2017)

Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick

Directed by Daniel Espinosa

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. March 28, 2017 4:45PM

A space crew goes out in search of life on a seemingly lifeless planet. They retrieve samples and during an experiment with the organism something goes terribly wrong, with it becoming a powerful, deadly force that threatens the entire crew. If this plot sounds somewhat familiar, it should. It is a slight variation of "Alien", Ridley Scott's groundbreaking 1979 sci-fi horror film that brought respectability and big box-office to the genre.

With "Life", director Daniel Espinosa delivers a solid, effective thriller and takes full advantage of the incredible advances in visual effects. The only obstacle is that this filmmaker is not entirely successful in putting enough distance between his contemporary space drama and Ridley Scott's masterpiece.

The six-man crew on an international space station includes Katerina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya), the Russian commander, Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), an American medic, Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), a British quarantine officer and Sho (Hiroyuki Sanada), the systems engineer from Japan. And no crew is complete without a smart-ass jokester with Ryan Reynolds filling that role as Roy, the pilot of the station.

The biologist on the team, Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) has success in reviving a dormant organism from Mars by adjusting atmospheric conditions in a lab. Given the name "Calvin" by school children back on Earth, it is a complex multi-celled life-form that responds to stimuli and needs a certain amount of oxygen to thrive. An accident in the lab which shifted the atmosphere causes Calvin to return to being non-responsive. Desperate to revive it, Derry attempts a mild electric shock to re-stimulate the organism.

This proves to be effective yet Calvin becomes aggressive, wrapping itself around Derry's hand and squeezing tightly with no immediate plan of letting go. Eventually releasing the mangled hand, Calvin manages to escape it's secure enclosure, making the crew realize they are dealing with an intuitive and resourceful being. After devouring a lab rat, Calvin rapidly increases in size, further complicating this situation.

If you are at all familiar with this genre, then you know that once this highly evolved alien begins raging against the crew in a desperate fight for survival, it will become stronger, smarter and more lethal, setting the stage for an uneven fight between man against creature.

Mr. Espinosa first came to Hollywood's attention with his Swedish action-thriller hit, "Easy Money" (which has spawned two sequels and is being primed for an American remake) and made his first U.S. based feature, "Safe House" with Mr. Reynolds and Denzel Washington in 2012. There is an European sensibility to the pacing and performances but with a serviceable script by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, the team that brought us the wickedly profane and brutally violent super-hero flick, "Deadpool", the terrifying action and gore has been ramped-up American-style and emphasized for maximum effect. "Life" looks sensational with impressive camera-work from Seamus McGarvey and a top-notch special effects team together deliver some amazing, believable visuals.

With all this lavish attention paid to the technical side of the film, character development becomes more of an afterthought. These strong, appealing actors do the best the can with very little but ultimately most of them end up being developed just enough before simply falling in to the standard horror-movie victim pile.

Though the film features some intriguing science, astonishing realistic imagery, intense scary thrills and a clever ending, "Life" just can't shake the feeling of familiarity and predictability. That's not necessarily a bad thing yet it also doesn't offer much incentive to encourage someone to see the film either.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


I had delayed seeing "Toni Erdmann", the hit German comedy that was nominated this year for Best Foreign-Language Film, for only one reason. It was the film's 162 minute running time. I eventually went to the theater to see it and while I found it fairly entertaining, I still felt there was absolutely no reason for the overextended period of time to tell this story. I hope the American remake that's in the works will reconsider having their version anywhere near this length.

Now I understand that sometimes more time is required to properly tell the whole story but sometimes a bloated running time can make a movie feel unnecessarily padded and excessive. Vulture has decided to give a rundown of fifty perfect examples of movies that managed to efficiently tell a complete and well-done story in just under ninety minutes.

Click below to read:

50 Best Movies Under 90 Minutes

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Written & Directed by Terrence Malick

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. March 21, 2017  4:45 PM

Terrence Malick began making films in the early 1970's, a time when major American movie studios were much more open to independent minded, experimental cinema. In 1973, he wrote and directed, "Badlands", a very low-budget, crime drama of two young lovers on a murder spree which featured early film appearances from Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. The film was met with rapturous critical praise and his follow-up, "Days of Heaven" came five years later. It was not a great commercial success but with a magnificent score by Ennio Morricone, influential camerawork by Nestor Almendros (which would win an Oscar) and a star-making turn from Richard Gere, this love triangle set in the early twentieth century Texas panhandle is still considered a cinematic masterpiece.

After all this initial acclaim of his work, you would think it wouldn't be long before we had more intriguing films coming from Malick. But nothing quickly materialized. It would be twenty years later before the reclusive filmmaker would reemerge with a star-filled, WWII drama, "The Thin Red Line". The film received seven Oscar nominations and followed this with a Captain John Smith and Pocahontas romance, "The New World" in 2005. Following "Tree of Life", Malick's 2011 polarizing, semi-autobiographical family drama set in 1950's Texas, the director has become almost prolific, releasing five films since including his latest, "Song to Song", a meditative, disjointed love story.

Malick has returned with another Texan romantic triangle but this time it's a modern tale set in the Austin music scene. Rooney Mara plays Faye, an up-and-coming musician who catches the eye of Cook (Michael Fassbender), a successful record executive and a handsome musician, BV (Ryan Gosling). Faye tends to drift emotionally between the two men, enjoying each of their company and unable to make a clear commitment to either. At first, the guys don't seem to mind, even all going on a trip to Mexico together to have drunken, hedonistic fun in the sun.

But soon they all become restless or disillusioned or bored and move on to other relationships. Cook meets a pretty waitress (Natalie Portman) and impulsively marries her. But his wild and sexually-free lifestyle eventually makes her uneasy. BV becomes involved with a wealthy, older woman (Cate Blanchett) much to his mother's (Linda Emond) disapproval. And Faye finds herself infatuated with a stunning French woman (Bérénice Marlohe).

Structurally, "Song to Song" follows the same tepid set-up as Malick's other recent films. We have a paper-thin plot with even thinner characterizations. With minimal, improvised dialogue spoken, he relies too heavily on poetic voice-over narration to fill in the blanks. Much like the director's last feature, "Knight of Cups" which was focused on Christian Bale's depressed Hollywood writer, this film's music world setting is purely incidental. I am surprised by how little music there is here and how little music really motivates the narrative despite plenty of cameo appearances from a diverse group of real-life musicians like Iggy Pop, Anthony Kiedis and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Big Freedia, Lykke Li and the legendary, Patti Smith.

But what really seems to motivate Malick is the moving image and with solid support from Oscar-winning cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, the film is enhanced by beautifully stylish, dream-like visuals shot in natural light. This respected filmmaker has easily been able to draw big-name talent (similarly like another temperamental director, Woody Allen) eager to want to work with him and Malick uses their recognized star-wattage to assist in fleshing out his films. But despite all their best efforts, some of these actors can simply disappear on the cutting room floor or find their performances reduced down to a rapid succession of fragmented emotional bits.

I heard that Malick's initial cut of "Song to Song" was an exorbitant eight hours long. Common sense prevailed with the running time reduced more reasonably to a little over two hours yet this slight film's length still feels excessive. There is no denying the masterful artistry and singular vision of this gifted filmmaker but "Song to Song" lacks a substantial, satisfying rhythm.