This terrific chart appeared in The Guardian in August; copyright Adam Frost and Zhenia Vasilev.
The Natural History Museum in downtown Los Angeles will mark the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct by hosting a screening of the neo-noir masterpiece ”Chinatown,” directed by Roman Polanski and written by Robert Towne. Doors open at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27; the screening starts at 7 p.m.
David Ulin, book critic of the Los Angeles Times, will moderate a brief panel discussion with history professor William Deverell, cultural commentator Sandra Tsing Loh and Christine Mulholland. They will discuss the facts and fiction in Polanski and Towne’s iconic look at greed, power, lust and the rise of modern Los Angeles. This event is free, but space is limited. RSVP HERE. Use the Exposition entrance. You can bring a picnic or buy dinner from on-site food trucks.
Prisoners/2013/Warner Bros./153 min.
Tense and absorbing, “Prisoners” ranks as a solid three-star flick. When two 6-year-old girls go missing, one of the fathers – a carpenter and hunter named Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) – quickly reveals himself to be a brutal vigilante, intent on beating information out of a mentally disabled man brought in for questioning and then released (Paul Dano).
Jake Gyllenhaal, as the obsessive cop assigned to the case, pursues another suspect and eventually Jackman chases yet another – all of the suspects, we learn, share a shattering connection. Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Melissa Leo round out the cast. Aaron Guzikowski wrote the screenplay.
Québec-born director Denis Villeneuve thoughtfully tells a complex, Hitchcockian tale and elicits memorable performances from the cast, especially from Gyllenhaal (perhaps his best work since “Zodiac.”)
On the downside, there are some rather drafty plot holes, the pacing is slightly off and, while Jackman is very watchable, the script’s characterization of Keller Dover proves more facile than fascinating. Still, it’s engrossing enough that you might feel like watching it twice to catch all the clues. And the ending is superb.
On the big screen: Style doc ‘Mademoiselle C’ and three neo-noir titles: ‘A Single Shot,’ ‘Prisoners, ‘The Family’
In defense of full-on glamour, Joan Crawford once said, “If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.”
Fashion insider Carine Roitfeld, the subject of a new documentary called “Mademoiselle C,” echoes that view and takes it up a notch. Running French Vogue for 10 years, Roitfeld became known for her edgy “porno-chic” aesthetic.
After her Vogue gig ended, Roitfeld decided to launch her own mag in New York, CR Fashion Book, and the film chronicles this experience. Interestingly, unlike Crawford, Roitfeld has a tranquil home life, complete with adoring husband and two gorgeous, grown-up children.
Fashionistas will likely enjoy watching Roitfeld at work and seeing her rub elbows with celebs such as Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld and Diane Von Furstenberg. And Roitfeld exemplifies Parisian chic style, stateside. Director Fabien Constant’s touch is light and lively, though overall it feels quite superficial – a bit like browsing through Vogue, glancing at all the glossy pictures and skipping the stories.
“Mademoiselle C” opened Sept. 11 in New York and opens Sept. 20 in LA at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills.
John (Sam Rockwell) is backwoods/country guy trying to make ends meet and looking to patch things up with his estranged wife and son. It’s when he resorts to poaching that his troubles begin and he’s quickly caught in a noirish trap – there’s a big pile of cash, sleazy lowlifes aplenty and a dead body, natch.
Director David M. Rosenthal’s haunting visuals help create a moody atmosphere but the film is undercut by its draggy pace and characters who feel less than authentic, particularly John and his blasé reaction to his own pivotal act of violence. Matthew F. Jones wrote the novel and screenplay. William H. Macy, master of the unctuous interloper, wears a scary toupee and preposterous plaid to great effect. Opens Sept. 20 in New York and in LA at Laemmle’s NoHo 7 in North Hollywood.
“Prisoners” looks set to be one of the fall’s best offerings, especially with such a stellar cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello and Paul Dano. Québec-born Denis Villeneuve directs. Am seeing it this weekend and will come back soon to update. Opens Sept. 20.
The Family/111 min.
In case it’s not clear from the cloying ads and previews, “The Family,” should do everyone a favor and stay at home. Despite a strong cast (Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones) who manage to eke out good performances, the film is weighed down by a weak script and a story that is both illogical and predictable.
This is a crime comedy? Really? Sadly, it’s just not funny. Snazzy camerawork eventually became distracting as did the trying-too-hard-to-be-cool score. I expected more from director Luc Besson. Opened Sept. 13.
Here’s what we at FNB are especially looking forward to. Must pop copious quantities of corn. Yum!
“The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956)
“To Catch a Thief”
You can see the full schedule here.
Partly Fiction/2013/Adopt Films/77 min.
Perhaps that’s because the actor and veteran of neo noir has a look — like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones — that ages for sure but never really gets old, no matter how many decades pass. Classically handsome, not so much but Stanton’s rugged, weathered face is singularly expressive. Or as Sam Shepard puts it in a wonderful new documentary on Stanton: “His face is the story.”
Directed by Sophie Huber, “Partly Fiction,” is an of-the-moment glimpse into an iconic actor’s oeuvre and a mysterious man’s heart. Through interview footage, clips from some of his 250 films and his own renditions of American folk songs, we see a loner, an artist and a Hollywood survivor. Stanton is someone who has been steadily successful on his own terms in a cut-throat industry famous for using, abusing and discarding talent. Maybe his secret is he doesn’t seem to take Tinseltown or himself too seriously.
At least that was my impression as Stanton discussed his early days, working with his friends, acting greats Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. We see him at home and at a longtime hangout, Dan Tana’s in West Hollywood as he talks a bit about his roots in West Irvine, Ky., the craft of acting and a relationship that left him “broken-hearted.”
Offering their takes are on what makes Stanton tick along with Shepard are David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Kris Kristofferson and Debbie Harry. Seamus McGarvey provides luminous camerawork (black and white at Stanton’s home, color when he ventures out).
“Partly Fiction”’s story is rich, resonant and real.
“Partly Fiction” opened Wednesday in New York. It opens today in LA with select cities to follow. Director Sophie Huber and Harry Dean Stanton will be doing a Q&A tonight (Friday, Sept. 13) following the 7:30 p.m. show at Landmark’s The Nuart in West LA.
I have a soft spot for French family dramas – they are usually very well made, the stories often conceal a sharp edge within an elegant setting and, more often than not, the acting is excellent. So it’s pretty easy to overlook flaws – even glaring ones.
That’s the case with “You Will Be My Son,” a contemporary father-son saga, set in a Saint Emilion vineyard. The blustery, boisterous father, Paul, (Niels Arestrup) has dedicated his life to making wine and wants to groom his successor. One candidate is his weak-willed son Martin (Lorànt Deutsch), who wants the job but lacks true passion and talent.
On the other hand, family friend Philippe (Nicolas Bridet) is just the ticket. Philippe’s his ailing father François (Patrick Chesnais) is Paul’s right-hand man and charming Philippe also has the glitzy credential of being a star at the Coppola vineyard in California.
Directed and co-written by Gilles Legrand, “You Will Be My Son” is an engrossing melodrama (that sometimes veers into silliness) with elements of a good old-fashioned thriller – male rivalry, bromance, suspense, high stakes, deadly consequences.
Now the flaws: While the script probes the characters fairly deeply, the father-son relationship is extremely heavy-handed. It seems that when Baby Martin came bouncing into the world, it was hate at first sight for the not-so-proud papa. Everything the son does (even jogging) irritates Dad. Both actors are well cast and Arestrup gives a particularly great performance but the script could have used more subtlety in shading this fraught bond between the principal characters. Couldn’t we see at least one scene where they connect on some level?
Also, the final twist hits a false note, stemming more from expediency than from inevitability.
Still, this engaging flick is easy on the eyes with good dialogue and strong acting.
“You Will Be My Son” opens today in Los Angeles.
Sundays with Hitch this month on TCM is a gold mine of film-noir viewing opps. The master of suspense is celebrated with TCM’s most comprehensive Alfred Hitchcock festival yet, from premieres of several British silent films to Hollywood classics that defined the thriller genre.
Which ones will make your must-see list?
Neo-noir master Brian De Palma’s latest film, “Passion,” starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, was released today. It’s a reworking of a French film called “Love Crime,” which I reviewed last summer and thought was rather good. (“Love Crime” was directed by Alain Corneau and starred Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier).
I haven’t seen “Passion” and am wondering if it behooves me to see it, having not been contacted re: screenings arranged by the film’s publicity team. It’s bloody hot out, it’s a holiday weekend and I do have to live up to my nickname, Lazy Legs.
The NYT’s A. O. Scott said the film was “often sleek and enjoyable, dispensing titillation, suspense and a few laughs without taking itself too seriously.”
Justin Chang of Variety puts it this way: “By the time it reaches its overwrought final act, the picture has generated neither the tension of its forebears nor the audacity that would allow it to transcend its silliness.”
And the New York Daily News’ Joe Neumaier pretty much hated it. “With no heat at all and a woefully disjointed cast, De Palma’s danse macabre never catches fire,” Neumaier writes.
Anyone out there seen it? Let me know what you think. I’m going to ponder, while sipping a cool & refreshing cocktail, whether I can get fired up over “Passion.”