The Official Poster of the
75th Festival de Cannes

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The red carpet that leads up the steps to the hope of being in the limelight.


A poetic celebration of the insuperable quest for expression and freedom.


An upward journey to contemplate the past and move ahead towards the promise of a revival. From Tuesday, May 17 to Saturday, May 28, the Festival de Cannes will hold its 75th edition, and here is its poster.

Just as the unforgettable Truman embodied by the one-and-only Jim Carrey whose fingers brush his horizon, the Festival de Cannes takes the extreme nature of the world in its stride in order to grasp it again. The climate crisis, humanitarian disasters, and armed conflicts… the reasons for concerns are numerous. As in 1939 and in 1946, the Festival is once again asserting its strong conviction that art and cinema are where contemplation and the renewal of society unravel. And yet it remains faithful to its founding commitment enshrined in article 1 of its rules: “The purpose of the Festival International du Film, in a spirit of friendship and universal cooperation, is to reveal and showcase quality films in the interest of the evolution of the art of cinematography.”

Peter Weir and Andrew Niccol’s The Truman Show(1998) is a modern reflection of Plato’s cave and the decisive scene urges viewers to not only experience the border between reality and its representation but to ponder the power of fiction, between manipulation and catharsis. Just as Truman escapes falsehood as he rises, the Festival, with its famous ascending red carpet, offers viewers the truth of the artists when they enter the theater.

Festival de Cannes

TCM Classic Film Festival to Host The World Premiere Screening of 4K Restoration of Giant (1956)

Posted  by Larry Gleeson

2022 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL TO HOST WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING OF 4K RESTORATION OF GIANT (1956) WITH STEVEN SPIELBERG, MARGARET BODDE, AND GEORGE STEVENS, JR IN ATTENDANCE

 

Giant (1956)

 

Turner Classic Movies will be expanding its partnership with The Film Foundation with a multi-year financial commitment to fund the education and restoration of classic movies. As part of this partnership, the world premiere of the newly restored George Stevens production GIANT (1956) from Warner Bros. will be featured at the TCM Classic Film Festival. Prior to the screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz will host a conversation with The Film Foundation board member Steven Spielberg, executive director Margaret Bodde, and George Stevens Jr.

Since its founding by Martin Scorsese more than 30 years ago, The Film Foundation has restored more than 900 classic movies. Scorsese and fellow board member Spielberg hand-picked this title as one of the group’s latest restoration projects, working with the Warner Bros. archives team for a year to complete the process.

The new 4K restoration was completed by sourcing both the original camera negatives and protection RGB separation master positives for the best possible image, and color corrected in high dynamic range for the latest picture display technology. The audio was sourced primarily from a 1995 protection copy of the Original Magnetic Mono soundtrack. The picture and audio restoration were completed by Warner Bros. Post Production Creative Services: Motion Picture Imaging and Post Production Sound.

“Anything that presumes to call itself GIANT better have the goods to keep such a lofty promise,” said Steven Spielberg.  “Both Edna Ferber and George Stevens far exceeded the title to bring such an epic American story to the big screen and I’m proud to have been a small part of the restoration team of this classic motion picture.”

George Stevens, Sr. won his second Oscar® for directing the sweeping family saga set in Texas during the days of the oil boom. GIANT stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean. Based on Edna Ferber’s controversial novel, the movie’s release in 1956 was a massive box office hit and garnered 10 Academy Award® nominations.

“I was with my father during the writing of the GIANT screenplay and he measured films by how they stood ‘the test of time’,” said George Stevens, Jr. “GIANT has more than met that test and he would be grateful that Steven, Marty, The Film Foundation and Warner Bros. have achieved this brilliant restoration, so a new generation can see GIANT on the big screen, streaming and Blu-ray.”

Considered by critics as ahead of its time, GIANT is admired today for the breadth of its humanity more than its epic scale with its grand themes of generational conflict, racial tolerance, and social change. It exposed the marginalization and segregation of Mexican Americans for the first time on the big screen. At the center of the film, Elizabeth Taylor, as Leslie Benedict, portrays a strong and progressive woman who acts to stem the patterns of injustice

Festival passes, which include admission to GIANT (1956), and the full schedule of all festival events can be found here. Individual tickets will be sold as standby only at the event. This 4K restoration of GIANT (1956) will also be available on HBO Max later this year.

GIANT (1956)

Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean star in a sweeping saga of jealousy, racism, and the clash of cultures set in the vast Texas oilfields. Wealthy rancher Bick Benedict (Hudson) and dirt-poor cowboy Jett Rink (Dean) both woo Leslie Lynnton (Taylor) a beautiful young woman from Maryland who is new to Texas. She marries Benedict, but she is shocked by the racial bigotry of the White Texans against the local people of Mexican descent. Rink discovers oil on a small plot of land, and while he uses his vast, new wealth to buy all the land surrounding the Benedict ranch, the Benedict’s disagreement over prejudice fuels conflict that runs across generations.

 

 

About the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival

Movie lovers from around the globe will descend upon Hollywood for the 13th edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival. The 2022 Festival is set to take place Thursday, April 21 – Sunday, April 24, 2022. Over four packed days and nights, attendees will be treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events, and more.

TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz will serve as the official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. The Festival’s official hotel and central gathering point will be The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which has a longstanding role in movie history and was the site of the first Academy Awards® ceremony. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel will also offer special rates for Festival attendees. Screenings and events during the Festival will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX®, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, the Hollywood Legion Theater at Post 43, and the El Capitan Theatre. For the latest news and information, follow us on social at #TCMFF.

This year’s theme is “All Together Now: Back to the Big Screen.” In 2022, reunite with fellow fans, the movies, the memories, the stars, and the glamour. It’s all back live and in person, just as it should be and where it all began in Hollywood. From high school reunions to homecomings, TCM will celebrate milestones from the past as we look forward to making new memories together.

 

About The Film Foundation

The Film Foundation is a nonprofit organization created by Martin Scorsese in 1990 to protect and preserve motion picture history. By working in partnership with archives and studios, the foundation has helped to restore over 925 films, which are made accessible to the public through programming at festivals, museums, and educational institutions worldwide. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project has restored 47 films from 27 countries to date, representing the rich diversity of cinema from around the globe. The foundation’s free educational curriculum, The Story of Movies, teaches young people – over 10 million to date – about film language and history.

THE 37TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OPENS WITH THE U.S. PREMIERE OF THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN

Posted by Larry Gleeson

KRISTEN STEWART, WILL SMITH, NICOLE KIDMAN, JAVIER BARDEM, PENELOPE CRUZ, AUNJANUE ELLIS, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, CIARAN HINDS, CAITRIONA BALFE, ARIANA DEBOSE, ALANA HAIM, EMILIA JONES, TROY KOTSUR, SIMON REX, SANIYYA SIDNEY, AND MANY MORE TO BE HONORED THROUGHOUT THE 11-DAY FESTIVAL

PANEL DISCUSSIONS WILL INCLUDE STEVEN SPIELBERG, KENNETH BRANAGH, JANE CAMPION, MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA AND MANY MORE

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 02: Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse speaks onstage at the Opening Night Film “The Phantom of the Open” during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 2, 2022, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (March 2, 2022) – Last night the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG®, returned in person and opened with the world premiere of The Phantom of the Open.

 

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 02: Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse speaks onstage at the Opening Night Film “The Phantom of the Open” during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 2, 2022 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Moviegoers watched on as Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse took to the stage to welcome attendees from all over the world to Santa Barbara.

 

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 02: SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling speaks onstage at the Opening Night Film “The Phantom of the Open” during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 2, 2022 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

 

The festival’s Executive Director Roger Durling then introduced the film and said, “While tonight is a celebration, we’re at the same time holding a place in our hearts for the people of Ukraine…Art has the power to bring us together…It’s essential that we started the festival with something positive, a crowd-pleaser, and something uplifting.”

 

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN, a heartwarming British comedy starring Oscar winners Sally Hawkins and Mark Rylance. The film is based on the true story of Maurice Flitcroft, who entered the 1976 British Open despite never having played a round of golf before. He shot the worst round in Open history and drew the ire of the golfing elite, but he ultimately became a folk hero. More importantly, he showed his family the importance of pursuing your dreams.

This year’s festival will feature a full lineup of films including 48 world premieres and 95 US premieres from 54 countries – up 59 more films than last year! As a festival with such diverse leadership, and a particularly strong Latino presence, it was of utmost importance to the team to have films from all over the world be represented, including Nordic/Dutch, Eastern European, Middle Eastern/Israeli, and of course, Spanish and Latin American Cinema.

The funds raised through the festival and affiliated events are vital to the community, providing direct support for SBIFF’s plethora of free programs that serve over 14,000 people annually and reach some of the most vulnerable members of society – including at-risk and underserved youth, low-income families and their children, cancer patients, and transit-dependent senior citizens. SBIFF screens Academy fare in the Arthouse theater throughout the year, even throughout the pandemic, to encourage people to come back to the theater in a safe way.

Upcoming tributes will include live presentations to Kristen Stewart, Will Smith, Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Aunjanue Ellis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciarán Hinds, Caitriona Balfe, Ariana DeBose, Alana Haim, Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Simon Rex, Saniyya Sidney, and many more.

 

 

The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG®, will take place IN-PERSON on March 2 through March 12, 2022. 200+ films, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout Santa Barbara, including at the historic Arlington Theatre. This year’s lineup is available on SBIFF’s mobile app. For additional information or to buy passes, visit sbiff.org.

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 36 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film. In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

 

(*Featured photo credit: Trina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

(Press release courtesy of Sunshine Sachs, Michelle Tarangelo)

SBIFF Announces Outstanding Directors and all Panelists!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORS OF THE YEAR AWARD

 

 

Paul Thomas Anderson (LICORICE PIZZA), Kenneth Branagh (BELFAST), Jane Campion (THE POWER OF THE DOG), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (DRIVE MY CAR), and Steven Spielberg (WEST SIDE STORY) will receive the 2022 Outstanding Directors of the Year Award sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter at an in-person conversation about their respective films. Following one on one conversations, all the honorees will join in a panel discussion. The event will take place on Thursday, March 3rd at the historic Arlington Theatre, and will be moderated by Scott Feinberg.

 

SBIFF’s Executive Director Roger Durling (Cr, Clint Weisman Studio)

“The heart and soul of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has always been the camaraderie and conversation emanating from its panels. After two years of virtual dialogues, it will definitely be thrilling and exhilarating to be in a room listening live to all of this incredible talent,” remarked SBIFF’s Executive Director Roger Durling.

 

 

The Writers Panel will be in-person Saturday, March 5 @ 11:00 am, moderated by Anne Thompson. Panelists include:

 

Kenneth Branagh (BELFAST)
Siân Heder (CODA)
Adam McKay (DON’T LOOK UP)
Denis Villeneuve (DUNE)
Zach Baylin (KING RICHARD)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (THE LOST DAUGHTER)
Jane Campion (THE POWER OF THE DOG)
Eskil Vogt (THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD)

 

The Producers Panel will be in-person Saturday, March 5 @ 2:00 pm, moderated by Glenn Whipp. Panelists include all ten Best Picture Oscar-nominees:

 

Lauar Berwick (BELFAST)
Patrick Wachsberger (CODA)
Kevin Messick (DON’T LOOK UP)
Teruhisa Yamamoto (DRIVE MY CAR)
Mary Parent (DUNE)
Tim White (KING RICHARD)
Sara Murphy (LICORICE PIZZA)
J. Miles Dale (NIGHTMARE ALLEY)
Tanya Seghatchian (THE POWER OF THE DOG)
Rita Moreno (WEST SIDE STORY)

 

The inaugural Animation Panel will be an in-person Sunday, March 6 @ 11:00 am, moderated by Roger Durling and admission is FREE. Panelists include:

 

Charise Castro Smith – Co-Writer/Co-Director (ENCANTO)
Charlotte De Le Gournerie – Producer (FLEE)
Enrico Casarosa – Co-Writer/Director (LUCA)
Mike Rianda – Co-Writer/Co-Director (THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES)
Don Hall – Co-Director (RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON)

 

The Women’s Panel will be in-person Saturday, March 12 @ 11:00 am, moderated by Madelyn Hammond. Panelists include:

 

Jessica Kingdom – Director (ASCENSION)
Lynn Harris – Producer (KING RICHARD)
Diane Warren – Composer Oscar-Nominated Original Song “Somehow You Do”
Amber Richards – production design (THE POWER OF THE DOG)
Elizabeth Mirzaei – Director – Oscar-Nominated Short (THREE SONGS FOR BENAZIR)

 

 

The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG®, will take place in IN-PERSON from March 2 through March 12, 2022. 200+ films, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout Santa Barbara, including at the historic Arlington Theatre. This year’s lineup is available on SBIFF’s mobile app. For additional information or to buy passes, visit sbiff.org.

 

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 36 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films including 100+ premieres representing over 60 countries, tributes, and panel discussions, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

 

(Sourced from SBIFF News)

 

Sundance Film Festival Wrap – Fourth and Final

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival has come and gone leaving in its wake a plethora of films, music, conversation, and virtual space.

Acura continued on as the Official Vehicle and a Presenting Sponsor of the Sundance Film Festival for the 12th consecutive year offering the independent film community and fans gathering virtually for the 2022 Sundance Film Festival a unique experience at AcuraWatchParty.com. Virtual Sundance programming from Acura included important conversations and activations with like-minded entertainment and media partners focusing on supporting diversity in film, along with A-list filmmakers and talent.

Embracing the creative spirit of the Sundance film community, Acura debuted a new four-part anime series, Chiaki’s Journey, during the Festival. Chiaki’s Journey featured a young hero’s quest to overcome multiple challenges on her path toward victory while offering viewers a first look at Acura’s trio of all-new Type S performance models: 2022 TLX Type S sport sedan, 2022 MDX Type S 3-row SUV, and 2022 NSX Type S supercar.

In staying true to form the 2022 emergent Sundance Film Festival theme of ‘Fighting the System” rang true as eloquently stated by Festival Programming Director, Kim Yutani, with art “made against the odds, under challenging circumstances, (with filmmakers) being inventive in how they’re telling their stories, in the way they explore intimacy, just creating films in a way that is imaginative.” during an interview for Vanessa Zimmer’s  ‘Fighting the System’ Emerges as Major Theme in 2022 Lineup.

As the Delta and Omicron variants raged, Sundance bent on implementing updated  COVID protocols over the holidays. At last, with the risk factors too great for the filmgoing populace the well-thought and deeply discerned decision was made to go virtual. Fortunately, Shari Frilot, Chief Curator of New Frontier, and a Harvard grad, stepped up and went where no man had gone before and created a vast virtual entity adeptly called “The Spaceship” where art, film, and multimedia converged and sent the 2022 Sundance Film Festival into the stratosphere allowing for parties, mingling, conversation, and film and artistic viewings.

For those challenged by space and mobility, there is always next year. Yet, even without total access to all The Spaceship amenities, Sundance delivered 82 master feature-length films along with 6 Indie Episodics, and the aforementioned New Frontier (15) works.

Here were some of my top takeaways:

Navalny, Festival Favorite Award, Audience Award: U.S. Documentary Presented by Acura

A still from Navalny, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

In August 2020, a plane traveling from Siberia to Moscow made an emergency landing. One of its passengers, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was deathly ill. Taken to a local Siberian hospital and eventually evacuated to Berlin, doctors confirmed that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government. President Vladimir Putin immediately cast doubt on the findings and denied any involvement.

While recovering, Navalny and his team — already with a large social media following in tow — partnered with the data investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat as well as other international news organizations to investigate his attempted assassination and find proof of the Kremlin’s involvement. In NAVALNY, filmmaker Daniel Roher reveals a courageous and controversial would-be president at the precipice of sacrificing everything in order to bring reform to his homeland. —BT (Sundance.org)

 

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Director Sophie Hyde and Writer Katy Brand’s, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, stars Dame Emma Thompson, as a retired schoolteacher who has yet to experience the joy of sex. Enter Daryl McCormack as the young and debonnaire sex worker, Leo Grande. What starts out as a cold transactional relationship ends up as a deep, warm, caring transactional relationship opening hearts and minds to a retelling of modern love. Picked up by Searchlight Pictures and scheduled to stream exclusively on Hulu. Four stars.

 

Elizabeth Banks appears in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, set in the mid to late 1960’s follows the pursuit of women’s rights led by Elizabeth Banks, progressive suburbanite wife, and homemaker, Joy, who discovers a more engaging life in helping women get safe medical procedures for their unwanted or life-endangering pregnancies. Nagy wrote the 2015 Douglas Sirkian style melodrama, Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Jane has a similar look with a joyous, optimistic, and forward-looking narrative. Four stars.

 

Emily The Criminal (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Emily The Criminal from Director John Patton Ford addresses the fallout from the collateral damage of a young woman’s college experience and relationship troubles. Aubrey Plaza portrays Emily, a young woman who went to college on student loans, partied, got an education, then received an assault conviction for her role in a relationship fight. Unable to land suitable work with her criminal record, Emily becomes a “dummy shopper,” in an illegal, underworld enterprise. Fast-paced, this psychological, neo-thriller reverberates an age-old adage, “desperate people do desperate things.” Highly recommended. A top pick.

 

EMERGENCY

Emergency, the recipient of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic, harkens the impact racism can have on life-threatening, real-life situations and its ramifications on human potential. Told through a darkly comedic lens with moments of “throw it all at the kitchen sink” style of comedy. Guaranteed to “shock, enlighten, and infuriate.” From two-time Sundance alum Carey Williams (2021’s modern, social media retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,”  R#J), based on his 2018 Sundance short film of the same name. Excellent writing and strong acting. Four stars.

 

To The End (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Director Rachel Lears, whose Lears 2019 Sundance film Knock Down the House followed four women who ran insurgent congressional campaigns in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. The film won the Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award and was shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Emmy. Lears 2022 offering, To The End, is a visionary look behind the scenes of a philosophical movement, social and political, where young people have rejected the cynicism and complacency of a power structure that has failed to meaningfully address the existential threat faced by climate change. Told through the narratives of four instrumental leaders and women of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Varshini Prakash, Alexandra Rojas, and Rhiana Gunn-Wright. This is more than the Green New Deal. It’s planetary survival. Four stars.

 

Oscar de la Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez appear in La Guerra Civil by Eva Longoria Bastón, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

La Guerra Civil, directed and produced by Eva Longoria Bastón tells the story of two of Mexico’s greatest lightweight modern-era boxers, American-born Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez. More than a boxing story, Longoria Bastón shapes the narrative through the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural lens. What emerges is a very intimate look at both boxers and their impact on the dichotomy of what it means to be Mexican and what it means to be Mexican-American. Four stars.

 

The Worst Person In The World (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

The Worst Person in the World directed by Joachim Trier is the third part of his Oslo trilogy. A beautifully made film with a first-time film portrayal for the lead actress, Renate Reinsve. The film is told through Reinsve’s character and is about finding one’s place in the world. In the film’s introduction, Trier referred to the film as a Norwegian romantic comedy told in twelve separate chapters with an epilogue and a prologue. Originally premiered in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (with Renate Reinsve winning Best Actress for her performance).

 

Chiqui (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Chiqui, an indie episodic set in the 1980s was a romp. It’s 1987. Chiqui and Carlos emigrate from Colombia to New Jersey to find a better life for themselves and their unborn son. Upon their arrival, they quickly realize that the American dream is not as easy to achieve as they thought. The cast and crew – simply superb.

 

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. One of the most anticipated films of the festival from acclaimed director, Rory Kennedy. Kennedy’s films are well-researched and provide astute socio-cultural insights. Downfall’s production values were exceptional resulting in a very polished film revealing shifts in cultural norms undoubtedly contributing to the untimely and tragic Max 737 plane crashes. Scheduled for a February 13th Netflix release followed by a theatrical run. A Netflix and Moxie Films Production. Four stars.

 

Chloe Okuno

Watcher, Chloe Okuno’s, multi-layered suspenseful horror, drama, thriller features Maika Monroe as a young, blonde female coping with life in a foreign country. Monroe delivers a highly competent and strong performance. The non-diegetic soundtrack added immensely to the suspense and featured  Max Richter’s “Moment in Paris.” Undeniable Charade and Rear Window Hitchcockian influences Shot on location in Bucharest, Romania. Four stars.

Maika Monroe appears in Watcher by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance.

As the festival inched closer to its end, after nine days, 84 feature films and 59 short films, the juries deliberated and the audience voted. The 26 jury-awarded and six audience-awarded prizes recognized “achievement in global independent storytelling.” Bold, intimate, and culture-shifting stories prevailed across categories, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to Nanny (U.S. Dramatic), The Exiles (U.S. Documentary), Utama (World Cinema Dramatic), and All That Breathes (World Cinema Documentary). Audience Awards were presented to Navalny (U.S. Documentary), Cha Cha Real Smooth (U.S. Dramatic), Girl Picture (World Cinema Dramatic), The Territory (World Cinema Documentary), Framing Agnes (NEXT), with Navalny winning the Festival Favorite Award.

 

Joana Vicente

“Today’s awards represent the determination of visionary individuals, whose dynamic work will continue to change the culture and create discourse throughout the year,” said Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente. “This year’s entire program has proven that no matter the context, independent storytelling remains a pivotal tool in expanding critical dialogues, and these stories will and must be shared.”

 

Tabitha Jackson

“The 2022 Sundance Film Festival once again met our audience wherever they happened to be,” added Sundance Film Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, “Whether you watched from home or one of our seven satellite screens, this year’s Festival expressed a powerful convergence; we were present, together, as a community connected through the work. And it is work that has already changed those who experienced it.”

Kim Yutani

“We are so grateful for this year’s jurors who brought their expertise and passion to their decision-making process,” said the Festival’s Director of Programming Kim Yutani, “We congratulate the award winners and we’re so thankful to each and every film in the program that made the 2022 Sundance Film Festival such a huge success.”

The awards announcement marked a key point of the 2022 Festival, where 84 feature-length and 59 short films — selected from 14,849 submissions — were showcased online via the Festival’s online platform; a selection of the program played at 7 Satellite Screen locations across the United States.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival jurors were: Chelsea Barnard, Marielle Heller, and Payman Maadi for U.S. Dramatic Competition; Garrett Bradley, Joan Churchill, and Peter Nicks for U.S. Documentary Competition; Andrew Haigh, Mohamed Hefzy, and La Frances Hui for World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Emilie Bujès, Patrick Gaspard, and Dawn Porter for World Cinema Documentary Competition. Joey Soloway was the juror for the NEXT competition section. Penelope Bartlett, Kevin Jerome Everson, and Blackhorse Lowe juried the Short Film Program Competition.

Until next year, I’ll see you at the movies!

Larry Gleeson, left, with Hollywood starlet, Angie Dickinson. (Photo credit: HollywoodGlee)

TCM NEWS: TCM Classic Film Festival Reveals Fortieth Anniversary Screening of Blockbuster Hit – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Posted by Larry Gleeson

 

Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall To Attend Opening Night

 

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will kick off the 13th annual TCM Classic Film Festival on Thursday, April 21stwith a 40th-anniversary screening of the beloved family sci-fi film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, with Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg in attendance along with Academy Award®-nominated producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. The 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival, held in the heart of Hollywood April 21st-24th, will center around the theme “All Together Now: Back to the Big Screen.”

 

 

TCM Host, Ben Mankiewicz, at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Press Conference (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

“I was 15 years old when E.T. came out and what was true then remains so today; the film continues to speak to both children and adults. And it’s fair to say that this is the most influential family film since The Wizard of Oz,” said Ben Mankiewicz, TCM primetime anchor and official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. “When Steven Spielberg started work on E.T., he didn’t imagine he was making a movie with mass appeal. We don’t get to say this often, but boy was Spielberg wrong.”

 

Pola Changnon

“E.T. is the perfect example of a modern classic movie that combines both innovative direction and heartfelt performances,” said, Pola Changnon, general manager of TCM. “This film is beloved by millions around the world and we’re honored to have it open our festival.”

 

 

At the center of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is Elliott, is a young boy who befriends an extra-terrestrial who is accidentally left behind on Earth. As Elliott attempts to help his new friend contact his home planet, so that he might be rescued, they must elude scientists and government agents determined to apprehend the alien for their own purposes…which results in an adventure greater than any of them could have imagined. Premiering on June 11, 1982, the film was a box office hit that became the highest-grossing film at the time, beating out Star Wars. The beloved masterpiece was directed by Spielberg and produced by Kennedy and Marshall.

TCM has previously announced iconic actress and comedian Lily Tomlin will be honored with a hand and footprint ceremony in the courtyard of the world-famous TCL Chinese Theatre Imax® in Hollywood. In addition, the third Robert Osborne Award, recognizing an individual who has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic film alive for future generations, will be presented to one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians, Leonard Maltin.

About E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Journey back to the magic and adventure of “one of the great American films” (Leonard Maltin) with E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the beloved masterpiece from Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg. Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Robert MacNaughton star in the unforgettable story of a lost alien and the 10-year-old boy who helps him find his way home. Digitally remastered for optimal picture and sound, this astounding story is sure to thrill viewers of all ages again with its timeless message of trust, courage, and the overwhelming power of friendship.

About the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival

Movie lovers from around the globe will descend upon Hollywood for the 13th edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival. The 2022 festival is set to take place from Thursday, April 21 – to Sunday, April 24, 2022. Over four packed days and nights, attendees will be treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events, and more.

TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz will serve as the official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. The festival’s official hotel and central gathering point will be The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which has a longstanding role in movie history and was the site of the first Academy Awards® ceremony. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel will also offer special rates for festival attendees. Screenings and events during the festival will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX®, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, the Hollywood Legion Theater at Post 43, as well as other Hollywood venues.

 

Larry Gleeson poses in front of TCM Past exhibit at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo courtesy of HollywoodGlee)

(News release provided by Taryn Jacobs)

Sundance Wrap Part II: Pronounced Culture-Shifting Art

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival promised culture-shifting voices and none were more pronounced than Director Sophie Hyde and Writer Katy Brand’s, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, starring Dame Emma Thompson, as a retired schoolteacher who has yet to experience the joy of sex. Enter Daryl McCormack as the young and debonnaire sex worker, Leo Grande. What starts out as a cold transactional relationship ends up as a deep, warm, caring transactional relationship opening hearts and minds to a retelling of modern love. Picked up by Searchlight Pictures and scheduled to stream exclusively on Hulu. Four stars.

Good Luck To You Leo Grande (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

 

Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, set in the mid to late 1960’s follows the pursuit of women’s rights led by Elizabeth Banks, progressive suburbanite wife, and homemaker, Joy, who discovers a more engaging life in helping women get safe medical procedures for their unwanted or life-endangering pregnancies. Nagy wrote the 2015 Douglas Sirkian style melodrama, Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Jane has a similar look with a joyous, optimistic, and forward-looking narrative. Four stars.

Elizabeth Banks appears in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wilson Webb.

Emily The Criminal from Director John Patton Ford addresses the fallout from the collateral damage of a young woman’s college experience and relationship troubles. Aubrey Plaza portrays Emily, a young woman who went to college on student loans, partied, got an education, then received an assault conviction for her role in a relationship fight. Unable to land suitable work with her criminal record, Emily becomes a “dummy shopper,” in an illegal, underworld enterprise. Fast-paced, this psychological, neo-thriller reverberates an age-old adage, “desperate people do desperate things.” Highly recommended. A top pick.

Emily The Criminal (Photo courtesy of Sundance Film Festival).

 

Emergency, the recipient of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic, harkens the impact racism can have on life-threatening, real-life situations and its ramifications on human potential. Told through a darkly comedic lens with moments of “throw it all at the kitchen sink” style of comedy. Guaranteed to “shock, enlighten, and infuriate.” From two-time Sundance alum Carey Williams (2021’s modern, social media retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,”  R#J), based on his 2018 Sundance short film of the same name. Excellent writing and strong acting. Four stars.

Emergency (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

 

Director Rachel Lears, whose Lears 2019 Sundance film Knock Down the House followed four women who ran insurgent congressional campaigns in 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. The film won the Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award and was shortlisted for an Oscar and nominated for an Emmy. Lears 2022 offering, To The End, is a visionary look behind the scenes of a philosophical movement, social and political, where young people have rejected the cynicism and complacency of a power structure that has failed to meaningfully address the existential threat faced by climate change. Told through the narratives of four instrumental leaders and women of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Varshini Prakash, Alexandra Rojas, and Rhiana Gunn-Wright. This is more than the Green New Deal. It’s planetary survival. Four stars.

Sundance Wraps Another Year Virtually – Part I

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Sundance Film Festival has wrapped another successful year of showcasing the very best independent films from across the globe. Festival programmers, who this year painstakingly whittled down 3,762 feature-length submissions to the final 82 selections — not counting Shorts, Midnight, and other film categories; strove to create a balanced slate of films under Festival Programming Director Kim Yutani’s direction, “that were meaningful and inspiring, in addition to being simply entertaining.”

Here were some of my top takeaways:

Oscar de la Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez appear in La Guerra Civil by Eva Longoria Bastón, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

La Guerra Civil, directed and produced by Eva Longoria Bastón tells the story of two of Mexico’s greatest lightweight modern-era boxers, American-born Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez. More than a boxing story, Longoria Bastón shapes the narrative through the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural lens. What emerges is a very intimate look at both boxers and their impact on the dichotomy of what it means to be Mexican and what it means to be Mexican-American. Four stars.

 

The Worst Person In The World (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

The Worst Person in the World directed by Joachim Trier is the third part of his Oslo trilogy. A beautifully made film with a first-time film portrayal for the lead actress, Renate Reinsve. The film is told through Reinsve’s character and is about finding one’s place in the world. In the film’s introduction, Trier referred to the film as a Norwegian romantic comedy told in twelve separate chapters with an epilogue and a prologue. Originally premiered in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival (with Renate Reinsve winning Best Actress for her performance).

 

Chiqui (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Chiqui, an indie episodic set in the 1980s was a romp. It’s 1987. Chiqui and Carlos emigrate from Colombia to New Jersey to find a better life for themselves and their unborn son. Upon their arrival, they quickly realize that the American dream is not as easy to achieve as they thought. The cast and crew – simply superb.

 

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute).

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. One of the most anticipated films of the festival from acclaimed director, Rory Kennedy. Kennedy’s films are well-researched and provide astute socio-cultural insights. Downfall’s production values were exceptional resulting in a very polished film revealing shifts in cultural norms undoubtedly contributing to the untimely and tragic Max 737 plane crashes. Scheduled for a February 13th Netflix release followed by a theatrical run. A Netflix and Moxie Films Production. Four stars.

 

Chloe Okuno

Watcher, Chloe Okuno’s, multi-layered suspenseful horror, drama, thriller features Maika Monroe as a young, blonde female coping with life in a foreign country. Monroe delivers a highly competent and strong performance. The non-diegetic soundtrack added immensely to the suspense and featured  Max Richter’s “Moment in Paris.” Undeniable Charade and Rear Window Hitchcockian influences Shot on location in Bucharest, Romania. Four stars.

Maika Monroe appears in Watcher by Chloe Okuno, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

So many films, so little time….Stay tuned for Part II, III, and IV!

 

 

 

Sundance News: ‘Fighting the System’ Emerges as Major Theme in 2022 Lineup

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Having watched Adam McKay’s latest film, Don’t Look Up, I am pleased to report the emergent theme ‘Fighting the System’ for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, slated for January 20th to the 30th, 2022.

 

 

By Vanessa Zimmer

Two years of hunkering down in the face of a worldwide pandemic, battered almost daily by political divisiveness and racial strife, tends to make one rebellious.

It makes sense, then, to see that defiant spirit reflected in the 2022 Sundance Film Festival program lineup — as well as a tendency for filmmakers to experiment during the lockdown with different ways of telling their stories, often crossing genre lines in the process.

“The films we saw this year were really made against the odds, under challenging circumstances, (with filmmakers) being inventive in how they’re telling their stories, in the way they explore intimacy, just creating films in a way that is imaginative,” says Kim Yutani — the Festival’s director of programming since 2018 — in a Zoom interview. Yutani, who started out programming short films for the Sundance Institute 15 years ago, is quietly passionate about the 2022 lineup.

Festival programmers, who this year painstakingly whittled down 3,762 feature-length submissions to the final 82 selections — and that doesn’t count Shorts, Midnight, and other film categories; total submissions were 14,849 — strive to create a balanced slate of films each year. Under Yutani’s direction, this team seeks films that are meaningful and inspiring, in addition to being simply entertaining.

“We want films that entertain because it’s a festival,” Yutani stresses. “I go to festivals to be entertained, but also to have those very significant, meaningful moments… where the conversations are inspired by the films that we are seeing, the filmmakers we are discovering, the work that is launched at Sundance that we will continue to talk about throughout the year — through, hopefully, awards season.”

She adds that last part with a broad smile because she knows what she’s talking about. Yutani has seen Sundance-supported films like Judas and the Black Messiah, The Father, and Promising Young Woman, and their casts and crews, perform strongly in countless awards competitions, including the Oscars.

Below, dive into some of Yutani’s initial observations about the 2022 Sundance Film Festival lineup.

Fighting the System

Thandiwe Newton stars in God’s Country.

As the 2022 lineup came together: “One of the themes that we saw emerge this year was around fighting the system,” Yutani said. “And that felt very connected to the times we’ve been living through.”

From the pursuit of democracy to the battle over control of women’s bodies — “and also just calling into question institutions, corporations, these big establishments” — that theme surfaced time and again across the 82 feature films, both fictional and documentary, Yutani says.

Examples:

  • DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing (Premieres), a Rory Kennedy documentary that explores two deadly Boeing 737 crashes and looks at “the cost of human life through corporate greed,” says Yutani.
  • God’s Country (Premieres), which finds a Black college professor, played with intensity by Thandiwe Newton, consistently undermined and fought prejudice at every turn.
  • Master (U.S. Drama), also portraying racism in an academic setting, follows three Black women at an elite New England university. It enfolds a supernatural element, which leads us to the next theme Yutani observes in the 2022 films:

Genre-Blending

FINAL CUT imagines what could happen when real zombies infiltrate a zombie movie.

Typically, the Festival’s Midnight section showcases horror and psychological thrillers, and it will at the 2022 Festival as well, but some of those elements infiltrated other categories in lively fashion. “It seems to me that artists were experimenting and looking at how they were telling their stories by using genre tropes,” says Yutani.

Examples:

  • FINAL CUT (Premieres), a “delightful film about making a low-budget zombie movie,” as Yutani describes it. “It’s kind of a love letter/romp to filmmaking.” Bérénice Bejo is entertaining: “I have never seen her quite like this, giving roundhouse kicks, a very physical performance, very funny performance,” says Yutani.
  • Resurrection (Premieres), a suspenseful film starring Rebecca Hall as a single mother haunted by her past. “It goes off the rails in the best possible way,” quips Yutani.

First-Time Sundance Directors

First-time feature-film director Reid Davenport shot I Didn’t See You There from the seat of his wheelchair.

Thirty-nine of the 92 feature-film directors, or 42%, in the lineup are directing their very first feature film. “That really speaks to the nature of discovery at Sundance,” Yutani says, and offers proof that Festival programmers are always looking for new and provocative voices.

Examples:

  • Leonor Will Never Die (World Drama), by Filipina director (and screenwriter) Martika Ramirez Escobar, is a film hilariously described as the story of a retired filmmaker who falls into a coma after television land on her head and becomes the action hero of her unfinished screenplay. Essentially, this is also a “love letter to filmmaking,” says Yutani.
  • The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future (World Drama), by Chilean director (and co-screenwriter) Francisca Alegria, a film described by Yutani as an ambitious project that imagines a world where the dead come and go with the living — and which “speaks very meaningfully about the environment.”
  • Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul (Premieres), by director and screenwriter Adamma Ebo, a mockumentary that “takes a hilarious look at Black religious institutions,” with strong performances from Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall, according to Yutani.
  • I Didn’t See You There (U.S. Documentary), in which Reid Davenport tells a first-person story from his wheelchair; it is “powerful,” “emotional,” and “inventive,” says Yutani.
  • When You Finish Saving the World (Premieres), an “exciting debut film” by Jesse Eisenberg and starring Julianne Moore. Eisenberg has been at the Festival before as an actor, but never before as a director (and screenwriter).
  • Sharp Stick (Premieres), by Lena Dunham, the story of a naive 26-year-old woman living on the fringes of Hollywood. Dunham has been a producer and actor at the Festival, but she appears for the first time as a Sundance director (and screenwriter) at the Festival in 2022 . “It’s exciting to see (Dunham) come back as a major voice in independent cinema,” says Yutani, adding with a laugh: “She takes us into a gray area, challenging audiences — as is her way.”

Strong Biographical Documentaries

Fellow comedian Amy Poehler tells the story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in Lucy and Desi.

The Festival typically screens several films about real people, and 2022 brings in documentaries on some of today’s brightest and most controversial. “These characters who are part of the public consciousness, we want to have deeper dives, to understand them more,” says Yutani.

Examples:

  • jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (Premieres), a documentary, by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chize Ozah, with never-before-seen footage from 21 years in the life of musical icon Kanye West
  • The Princess (Premieres), a documentary, by Ed Perkins, on Princess Diana that challenges much of what we think we know about the people’s princess
  • La Guerra Civil (Premieres), Eva Longoria Bastón’s documentary on the legendary rivalry between boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez
  • Lucy and Desi (Premieres), a documentary directed by actor and comedian Amy Poehler that testifies not only to Lucille Ball’s influence on comedy but also to her acute business sense — as well as the position of power attained by the Cuban-born Desi Arnaz. The film is featured on opening night in Salt Lake City.
  • We Need to Talk About Cosby (Premieres), a documentary by comedian W. Kamau Bell that examines the public and private persona of comedian and actor Bill Cosby, who was abruptly released from prison this summer after his sexual assault conviction was overturned.

(Sourced from Sundance blog)

BEING THE RICARDOS Is Coming!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

As America’s funniest and most beloved TV couple, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo have been a constant presence on television around the world since the characters first appeared in the iconic sitcom “I Love Lucy,” which premiered on CBS in 1951.

 

JAVIER BARDEM and NICOLE KIDMAN star in BEING THE RICARDOS Photo: GLEN WILSON © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

 

As the quintessential dizzy redhead and the charismatic Cuban bandleader she married, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were among the brightest stars in the growing television universe, delighting their record-breaking audiences each week with Lucy’s hare-brained schemes and hilarious antics. But as America enjoyed the sitcom world of Lucy and Ricky, Ball and Arnaz were actually facing problems that could have brought an end to their newfound success and their marriage.

 

Director AARON SORKIN and NICOLE KIDMAN on the set of BEING THE RICARDOS Photo: GLEN WILSON © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

 

Despite her gift for scene-stealing physical comedy as Lucy Ricardo, Lucille Ball was a demanding and hard-nosed perfectionist behind the scenes. Desi Arnaz, in addition to being a multi-talented showman like his television character, was also a shrewd and innovative businessman who built a powerful and prolific Hollywood studio.

 

JAVIER BARDEM, J.K. SIMMONS, NINA ARIANDA, and NICOLE KDIMAN star in BEING THE RICARDOS Photo: GLEN WILSON © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

 

In addition, the Ricardos’ neighbors and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz were crucial to the show’s success. The constantly squabbling former vaudevillians appear in virtually every episode of the show and the actors who played them, William Frawley and Vivian Vance, became close friends of Ball and Arnaz.

 

NINA ARIANDA stars in BEING THE RICARDOS Photo: GLEN WILSON © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

 

Frawley, a heavy-drinking veteran of Hollywood and vaudeville, is played by J.K. Simmons, winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Whiplash. Sorkin wrote the role of the cantankerous but loyal Frawley with Simmons in mind. Tony-winning actress Nina Arianda was chosen to portray Vance. Arianda says she grew up watching “I Love Lucy” and was intimidated by the idea of playing an iconic television star.

 

After sifting through the historical documents, writer Aaron Sorkin proposed going back in time some 70 years to chronicle one one production week of “I Love Lucy” — from Monday table read through Friday audience taping — Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz face a series of personal and professional crises that threaten their show, their careers, and their marriage. Oscar® winners Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star as the power couple behind the beloved 1950s television sitcom “I Love Lucy” in Oscar-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama, Being the Ricardos.

I’ve always been a fan of I Love Lucy having watched it with growing up, and I can honestly say I had never laughed as hard as I did as I watched The Long, Long Trailer (1953) starring Lucille and Dezi Arnaz. So, with bated breath, I wait until December 21 to see Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos. 

Until then, I’ll see you at the movies!

FILM REVIEW: The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, 2021)

THE FRENCH DISPATCH. (Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Searchlight Pictures and Indian Paintbrush’s American Empirical Picture presents Wes Anderson’s, The French Dispatch, being hailed as Anderson’s love letter to a fading vocation and literary form – magazine journalism. The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of a widely circulated American magazine, The French Dispatch (the film’s title) published in a fictional 20th-century French city, Ennui-sur-Blasé.

 

(From L-R): Elisabeth Moss, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens and Griffin Dunne in the film THE FRENCH DISPATCH. (Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved)

 

On the occasion of the death of its beloved Kansas-born editor Arthur Howitzer, Jr., portrayed by Bill Murray, his hand-picked staff—including the Cartoonist (Jason Schwartzman), the Story Editor (Fisher Stevens), the Legal Advisor (Griffin Dunne), the Copy Editor (Elisabeth Moss), the Proofreader (Anjelica Bette Fellini) and a cheery Writer Wally Wolodarsky – who has haunted the French Dispatch offices for years but never written a single word – assembles over the body to collaborate on an obituary.

They are led by Howitzer’s beloved writers, who he coddled and encouraged, and dressed down and built up, earning him their devotion and their love: Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson), the intrepid Cycling Reporter, drawn to the most unsettling and unsavory aspects of the far-flung cities he visits…J.K.L. Berendsen (Tilda Swinton), the critic and chronicler on intimate terms with every side of the modern art world…Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand), the solitary essayist who guards her journalistic integrity as closely as her private passions…and Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright), the lonely expatriate polymath with a typographic memory, discovered and rescued by Howitzer under humiliating circumstances.

Memories of Howitzer flow into the creation of four stories: a travelogue of the seediest sections of the city itself from The Cycling Reporter; “The Concrete Masterpiece,” about a criminally insane painter, his guard and muse, and his ravenous dealers; “Revisions to a Manifesto,” a chronicle of love and death on the barricades at the height of student revolt; and “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner,” a suspenseful tale of drugs, kidnapping and fine dining.

 

Timothée Chalamet and Lyna Khoudri in the film THE FRENCH DISPATCH. (Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved)

 

The creative team behind The French Dispatch included Wes Anderson, executive producer Roman Coppola, director of photography Robert Yeoman A.S.C., production designer Adam Stockhausen, costume designer Milena Canonero, editor Andrew Weisblum, and composer Alexandre Desplat. The film also stars Liev Schreiber (Showtime’s Ray Donovan, SPOTLIGHT, ISLE OF DOGS), Edward Norton (BIRDMAN, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL), Willem Dafoe (THE LIGHTHOUSE, SPIDERMAN), Saoirse Ronan (LITTLE WOMEN, LADY BIRD), Christoph Waltz (DJANGO UNCHAINED), Henry Winkler (Arrested Development, Barry, Happy Days), and Anjelica Huston (ISLE OF DOGS, THE ADDAMS FAMILY) as the Narrator.

The French Dispatch is definitely Wes Anderson fare for his loyal followers. It’s strongly written with humor intricately woven into the artsy cinematography/production design. Anderson professed his love for the New Yorker Magazine and the influence shines brightly through in The French Dispatch’s witty dialogue. Anderson is credited with the screenplay as well as directing. And….oh, what a cast! The creme de la creme. It’s such a treat watching their characters interact delivering deadpan humor that’s sure to keep any literary mind off-balance. The French Dispatch is an avant-garde delicacy. Highly recommended!

 

FILM CAPSULE NEWS: Cyrano (Joe Wright, 2021)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

A Special Tribute at the 48th Telluride Film Festival to powerhouse actor, Peter Dinklage, generated massive buzz before the world premiere of the new film musical, Cyrano, directed by MGM’s Joe Wright and written by Erica Schmidt (based on her 2018 play of the same name). Both stage play and screenplay are based on Edmund Rostand’s 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, incidentally credited with introducing “panache” to the English language.

Peter Dinklage stars as Cyrano and Bashir Salahuddin as Le Bret in Joe Wright’s CYRANO – A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

The film is breathtakingly beautiful with lavish costuming, epic battles, and spirited musical numbers. The film garnered three nominations at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA): Best Original Song – Feature Film for “Every Letter”; Best Song – Onscreen for “Whenever I Fall”; and, Best Music Themed Film, Biopic or Musical.

 

Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne in Joe Wright’s CYRANO –  A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

 

Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne in Joe Wright’s CYRANO – A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

In Cyrano Dinklage strongly carries the weight of the lead with a remarkable melancholic voice, enhanced and embossed by Haley Bennett’s equally impressive performance as Roxanne. Both Bennett and Dinklage are reprising their roles from the 2018 Connecticut-based Goodspeed Musicals production of Cyrano.

Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne and Peter Dinklage as Cyrano in Joe Wright’s CYRANO – A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain
© 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Dinklage is a four-time Emmy Award-winner for his work as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones and has turned in several strong performances on the big screen in Station Agent, Elf, and I Care A Lot, and was recently Dinklage was recently announced as a Gotham Award Performer Recipient. Numerous pundits are mouthing Dinklage’s performance as Oscar-caliber – the question being is it enough for this record-setting Emmy recipient to become an Oscar recipient?

Peter Dinklage stars as Cyrano and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian in Joe Wright’s CYRANO – A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. (Photo credit: Peter Mountain
© 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Cyrano was coming out for the holidays…For most audiences, the date has been pushed back to January 21st, 2022, as the film recently positioned itself to take advantage of the upcoming Oscar nomination season by scheduling a one-week opening run in Los Angeles beginning December 17th, followed by a back-to-back platform release and national rollout in January. Oscar nomination voting begins January 27th and wraps up the first week of February.

House of Gucci Opening Next Week!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci has been making some noise! Premieres in London, November 9th,  Milan, November 13th,  New York, November 17th, 2021, and Los Angeles, November 19th, were held ahead of the nationwide theatrical release slated to begin November 24, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

House of Gucci, was fifteen years in the making and is based on the 2001 Sara Gay Forden novel,  The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed.

House of Gucci is a stylish dynastic saga exploring three decades in the tangled history of the multi-generational Gucci family, with a tale of ambition, greed, betrayal, and murder all set against the backdrop of high fashion and high finance.

Moreover, the film features a formidable ensemble cast headed by Oscar® nominees Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) and Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Oscar® winners Al Pacino (The Godfather, Scent of a Woman), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) and Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune). Oscar® nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) and Jack Huston (American Hustle) round out the star-studded cast.

From royal families and political lineage to media scions, the scandals and tribulations of rich and powerful dynasties have always exerted a fascination – fashion families are no different. The story begins in the late 1970s, at a critical juncture in the famed Italian fashion empire’s history. As the Gucci family’s global reach has broadened so too have hints of financial improprieties, stifled innovation and a cheapening of the brand. The Gucci business is overseen by Guccio Gucci’s two sons, the colorful and wily Aldo (Oscar®-winner Al Pacino) and his more conservative and detached sibling Rodolfo (Oscar®-winner Jeremy Irons).

House of Gucci was shot over forty-three days and in sequence, mostly in Rome, with additional locations in northern Italy and unlike many contemporary or near contemporary films, the fashions in HOUSE OF GUCCI are integral to the film’s story and verisimilitude. In particular, Director Ridley Scott was interested in the look of the film’s central female character, portrayed by the multi-talented artist and actor, Lady Gaga, Patrizia Reggiani Gucci, who in real-life was a major fashionista.

In the end, House of Gucci not only depicts the demise of the Gucci family’s control over its vast fashion empire but the waning days of privately-owned fashion labels and the onset of conglomerate control of the industry. Big, brash, and oozing with talent, House of Gucci is coming to a theatre near you on November 24th, 2021.

Gucci is a recognized and admired brand around the globe and was created by the fashion label’s founder Guccio Gucci, who opened his first quality leather goods store in Florence, Italy exactly one hundred years ago.

 

FILM REVIEW: Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast from Focus Features tells a humorous, tender, and intensely personal story of one boy’s childhood during the tumult of the late 1960s in the city of Branagh’s birth. Belfast is an impeccable work based on Branagh’s own upbringing in Belfast in the late 1960’s.

The soundtrack features a plethora of Van Morrison’s greatest hits, including a newly written song for the film, adding joy and optimism to the challenging circumstances a young couple is facing with their young children. Their nine-year-old boy must chart a path towards adulthood through a world that has suddenly turned upside down. His stable and loving community and everything he thought he understood about life have changed forever but joy, laughter, music, and the formative magic of the movies remain.

(L to R) Caitriona Balfe as “Ma”, Jamie Dornan as “Pa”, Judi Dench as “Granny”, Jude Hill as “Buddy”, and Lewis McAskie as “Will” in director Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST, a Focus Features release. (PHOTO Credit : Rob Youngson / Focus Features)

The cast includes Golden Globe nominee Caitríona Balfe, Academy Award® winner Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, and introduces the ten-year-old Jude Hill. Dornan and Balfe play a passionate working-class couple caught up in the mayhem, with Dench and Hinds as the quick-witted grandparents. The film is produced by Branagh, Laura Berwick, Becca Kovacik, and Tamar Thomas.

Caitriona Balfe (left) stars as “Ma” and Jamie Dornan (right) stars as “Pa” in director Sir Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST, a Focus Features release. Credit : Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Exquisitely executed cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos, Director of Photography, utilizes various camera angles reminiscent of Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and is simply a visual delight. Befitting the 1960’s the production design from Jim Clay hit the mark with a splattering of classic 1960’s vehicles, urban sidewalks, and building facades to match. The hair, make-up, and costuming donned by the handsome and vivacious actors are a feast for the eyes. Wakana Yoshihara and Charlotte Walker handled the respective departments.

Actor Jude Hill (left) on the set of BELFAST, a Focus Features release. ( PHOTO Credit: Rob Youngson/Focus Features)

The beautiful and talented Belfast actors were cast by Lucy Bevan and Emily Brockman. Úna Ní Dhonghaíle (The Crown) nailed the editing as she managed to draw the viewer into the 1960’s world and keep them there with seamless continuity. And, as mentioned, the music is from the Belfast-born legend, Van Morrison.

Said Kenneth Branagh:

Kenneth Branagh introduced his latest film, Belfast, at the Werner Herzog Theatre as part of the 48th Telluride Film Festival, Thursday, September 2nd, 2021. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

“Belfast is a city of stories and in the late 1960s it went through an incredibly tumultuous period of its history, very dramatic, sometimes violent, that my family and I were caught up in. It’s taken me fifty years to find the right way to write about it, to find the tone I wanted. It can take a very long time to understand just how simple things can be and finding that perspective, years on, provides    a great focus. The story of my childhood, which inspired the film, has become a story of the point in everyone’s life when the child crosses over into adulthood, where innocence is lost…”

 

Belfast, written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, has a perfectly directed runtime of 97 minutes,  a compelling storyline, and is so technically proficient that it appears to be an early favorite for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar Awards for best film and best director. Highly recommended!

***Belfast began its theatrical release on November 12th, 2021, and recently screened November 5th, at Landmark’s Tivoli Theatre in University City, Missouri, as part of the 30th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival, November 4 -21, 2021.

FILM REVIEW: Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog

Posted by Larry Gleeson

THE POWER OF THE DOG: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as PHIL BURBANK in THE POWER OF THE DOG. (Photo credit: KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021)

 

Jane Campion’s latest work, The Power of the Dog, screened as part of a Red Carpet Premiere at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood California, during the American Film Institute’s  AFI FEST 2021, on Thursday, November 11th. Campion is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. She is the second of seven women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the first female filmmaker to receive the Palme d’Or; both of these achievements came for The Piano (1993).

 

 

The Power of the Dog,  written and directed by Campion, is set in 1925 Montana and circles around two well-off brothers who own an influential ranching operation. The Burbank brothers, played by Jesse Plemons and Benedict Cumberbatch, come across as polar opposites. Phil Burbank, played by Cumberbatch, is an infamous Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University who prefers the daily grind of working the ranch with the hired hands. Cumberbatch brings a deep dark presence to the character in what might be his best performance to date. Plemmons plays Gordon Burbank,  the slower, mild-mannered younger brother, embodying a ranch gentleman with grace and style. Kirsten Dunst portrays Rose Gordon, a compelling love interest as a saloon-style restaurant owner who serves dinners to the locals with her son, Peter, portrayed by Kodi Smith-McPhee in a breakout performance.

While The Power of the Dog is set in Montana, the actual film location is New Zealand – adding a surreal quality. And, Campion’s writing matches it full force. The twists and turns in the dramatic, psychological, roller-coaster ride narrative combined with Cumberbatch’s powerful, dark character portrayal set the audience on the edge of their seats and their eyes fixed on the big screen. Undoubtedly, Campion is in the mix for her second Oscar for screenwriting and appears to be in the mix for a directorial nod as well.

 

Q & A, on November 11th, 2021, following the screening of The Power of the Dog, inside Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

 

Following the screening, a fun-filled Q & A unfolded as the film’s actors, editor, cinematographer, and director sparred, cajoled, and informed under the watchful eye of moderator Hahn as she effectively marshaled the energies of The Power of the Dog conversation. The Power of the Dog, set for a December 1st, 2021, release date,  is a magnificent and majestic work tantalizing and titillating – a bonafide Oscar contender for now – in multiple categories! Highly recommended. One of the year’s best films!

 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Gordon in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, set for a December 1st, 2021 release. (Photo Cr. KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021 Cross City Films Limited/Courtesy of Netflix)

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

FILM CAPSULE: Sean Baker’s RED ROCKET

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Sean Baker ( Tangerine, The Florida Project, Starlet) and A24’s Red Rocket, a dramedy, featuring Simon Rex, a standout media personality, Suzanna Son, and Bree Elrod, tells the tale of Mikey Saber, a washed up, 20 year veteran performer in the adult film industry who returns home for more of the same, screened last night at the 2021 AFI FEST.

Simon Rex as Mikey Saber in Sean Baker’s Red Rocket (Photo from fest.afi.com)

Red Rocket, follows Mikey Saber (played by a compelling Simon Rex), as he futilely careens in and out of harrowing situations in dark places never fully grasping the ramifications of his actions and choices. Bree Elrod as Lexi, and Suzanna Son as Strawberry, deliver riveting performances with exquisite line execution. Rex turns in a tour de force performance as Mikey Saber.

Red Rocket is Sean Baker at his best in this low, low-budget filmmaking. Providing a snapshot of Mikey and the socially marginalized characters that are in his orbit, Baker elevates Red Rocket with snappy dialogue, carefully executed camera work, and the trust he places in the audience. Captivating work from start to finish.

Interestingly,  the Q & A immediately following the screening led by AFI Programming Director Sarah Harris got a little saucy. Baker and Rex took exception when an audience member, who coincidentally works in the adult film industry and performs in Ninja Thyberg’s Pleasure, also screening at AFI FEST 2021, stated his displeasure hearing the audience guffawing loudly at a term thrown out by Lexi at Red Rocket’s end.

(Left to right) Sarah Harris, AFI Programming Director, Director Sean Baker, Actor Simon Rex, Actor Bree Elrod, and Actor Suzanna Son participate in a Q&A, on November 12, 2021, following the AFI FEST screening of RED ROCKET, at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGLee)

Baker shared the film had five consultants work over the script and scene work to make Red Rocket’s depiction of a former porn star as realistic as possible. Rex chimed in stating few people in the audience would recognize the industry term.

Red Rocket is Sean Baker’s strongest work to date. Not for the faint of heart. Earthy with frontal nudity. Coming to theatres December 10th. Very warmly recommended!

FILM REVIEW: KING RICHARD Serves Up An Ace @AFIFEST

Posted by Larry Gleeson

King Richard, the Will Smith-led, Warner Bros. biopic, served as the 2021 AFI FEST Closing Night Film at the historic Hollywood Chinese Theatre with a Red Carpet Premiere.

King Richard tells the story of Richard Williams, the father of women’s tennis superstar sisters, Venus and Serena Williams. With a run time of 144 minutes, King Richard seemed to reach its conclusion too quickly – a tribute to how mesmerizing the film is. Numerous times the audience erupted with applause and approval as the Williams family overcame obstacle after obstacle. Will Smith portrayed Richard Williams with fortitude and tenderness – qualities not always evident from Richard Williams’ public persona. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton portray Venus and Serena in very compelling performances. Aunjanue Ellis portrays Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams. Ellis and Smith play off each other remarkably well. The pair were recently announced as the recipients of the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s (SBIFF) Outstanding Performers of the Year. Kudos to Casting Directors Rich Delia and Avy Kaufman!

In life, Richard Williams often came across in the media as brash, touting with a braggadociousness how his daughters were coming to dominate women’s tennis, the likes of which had never been seen before, would never be seen again, and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. What he didn’t tell the public, and what King Richard tells so well, is he also wanted his daughters to have a real childhood, meaningful adolescence, and to be prepared to lead successful lives. Throughout King Richard, Richard Williams came across as a devoted husband, loving father, and dedicated coach delving into some of his formative life experiences growing up in a racist environment. Rearing his family in Compton, California, also had its challenges for Williams. But, Richard Williams had a plan – he wanted a better life for his family.

Technically speaking the film is very solid. The film’s cinematography is excellent. AFI Conservatory Alumnus, Robert Elswit utilizes some natural lighting with traditional lenses and frames for establishing shots juxtaposed with fast zoom lenses to capture the action with tight framing combined with extreme closeups of the Williams sisters, generating some major pace with their groundstrokes and capturing winning overhead smashes. Editor Pamela Martin made the shots and their complementary counterparts (returns) appear seamless with the continuity editing and helped create some riveting moments with the shots provided. In addition, non-diegetic sounds kept the film’s pace and helped match the film’s tone and the actors’ emotionality. Kris Bowers is credited with the music. Costuming, make-up, and production design are all complementary to the characters and the period covered in the film.

And, last but not least, Director Reinaldo Marcus Green, helming only his second feature film, steered King Richard to a beautiful conclusion culminating in Venus’s first professional matches and first tennis matches of any kind in three years. The excitement she (and Serena later) brought to the game of tennis encouraged an entire generation of young African-American girls that anything is possible if they are willing to put in the work. Credit to Zach Baylin for writing sharp dialogue and creating an engaging narrative.

King Richard is chock full of inspiration and hope. Ahhh…the power of film and the magic of AFI FEST – Hollywood. Talk about speaking truth to power in layers. Look for King Richard in theatres and on HBO Max Friday. Highly recommended!

Unti next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

AFI FEST 2021 Announces Award Winners

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI Announces Audience And Jury Award Winners

Congratulations to the AFI FEST 2021 award winners! This year’s hybrid festival heralded a return to theaters – and it was electric.

 

Sarah Harris, AFI FEST Programming Director (Photo courtesy of AFI)

“Bringing filmmakers and movie fans together to celebrate the moving image is at the heart of AFI FEST. The excitement of all festivalgoers to be together in the theaters, once again, was electric,” said Sarah Harris, Director of Programming, AFI Festivals. “This year’s festival has truly shown everyone the power of the art form to lift our spirits when it’s needed the most.” 

 Following are the Jury and Audience Award winners:

Audience Award – Narrative Feature

JOCKEY (DIR Clint Bentley)

An aging jockey hopes to win one last title for his longtime trainer who has acquired what appears to be a championship horse. But the years – and injuries – have taken a toll on his body, throwing into question his ability to continue his lifelong passion.

Audience Award – Documentary Feature

JUICE WRLD (DIR Tommy Oliver)

This intimate documentary explores the life and death of the young hip hop star Juice WRLD.

Audience Award – Short Film

ONLY THE MOON STANDS STILL (明月依旧) (DIR Johnson Cheng)

Three generations of Chinese women say goodbye to their family ballroom dance studio.

JURY AWARDS

The Grand Jury Award winners for Live Action and Animated Short will be eligible for the 2021 Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short Academy Awards®. The Jury was comprised of film curator and writer Kiva Reardon; Amanda Salazar, head of programming and acquisitions at Argo; and writer/director Angel Kristi Williams.

Grand Jury Prize – Animation

LOVE, DAD (MILÝ TATI) (DIR Diana Cam Van Nguyen)

Jury Statement: “For its melding of form and content that makes for a deeply vulnerable and personal viewing experience, the Jury would like to award LOVE, DAD as Best Animated Short.”

Grand Jury Prize – Live Action

AL-SIT (DIR Suzannah Mirghani)

Jury Statement: “For going beyond its central story to make a densely layered and truly cinematic experience, the Jury would like to honor AL-SIT the Best Narrative Short.”

Special Mention

BABYBANGZ ( DIR Juliana Kasumi)

Jury Statement: “The Jury would like to award BABYBANGZ with an Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Storytelling for its combination of stunning imagery, important conversations and compelling subjects.”

Special Mention

PLAY IT SAFE (DIR Mitch Kalisa)

Jury Statement: “For the bold formal choices made throughout the film, specifically in the final scene, the Jury would like to give an Honorable Mention for Direction to Mitch Kalisa, the director of PLAY IT SAFE.”

Special Mention

HER DANCE (RIKUD HASSIDI) (DIR Bar Cohen)

Jury Statement: “For a commanding performance that anchors the film, the Jury would like to give an Honorable Mention for Acting to Leeoz Levy for HER DANCE.”

The Grand Jury Award winners for Live Action and Animated Short will be eligible for the 2021 Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short Academy Awards®. The Jury was comprised of film curator and writer Kiva Reardon; Amanda Salazar, head of programming and acquisitions at Argo; and writer/director Angel Kristi Williams.

The complete AFI FEST 2021 program included 118 titles (51 features, 1 episodic, 49 shorts, including 19 Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST shorts and 17 AFI Conservatory Showcase shorts) of which 51% were directed by women, 39% were directed by BIPOC and 13% were directed by LGBTQ+. This year’s program represented 53 countries and included 7 World Premieres.

This year’s Red Carpet Premieres included the World Premieres of BRUISED (DIR Halle Berry), SING 2 (DIR Garth Jennings), SWAN SONG (DIR Benjamin Cleary) and tick, tick…BOOM! (DIR Lin-Manuel Miranda), in addition to KING RICHARD (DIR Reinaldo Marcus Green), PARALLEL MOTHERS (Pedro Almodóvar) and THE POWER OF THE DOG (DIR Jane Campion).

(Source: AFI Press Release)

Game On! KING RICHARD Team @AFIFEST Red Carpet Premiere With Serena And Venus Williams

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Last night the Will Smith-led, Warner Bros. Pictures, King Richard, had a Red Carpet Premiere at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., for the American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 –  elevating the best films in global cinema.

At 7:02 P.M. the house lights dimmed and an announcement for the audience to please take their seats came over the public address system. The anticipation was so thick, a butter knife was needed to slice through it. It wouldn’t be long now, I thought to myself as I took my seat up front and close.

King Richard had screened at the recent Telluride Film Festival and I had imagined it was a remake of a Shakespearean work. Now, I knew better. This was about Richard Williams, the unabashed father of the two greatest sisters and women tennis players to grace the game. Think Arthur Ashe with an uber-talented younger brother chomping at his heels.

American Film Institute President and CEO, Bob Gazzale was introduced. Gazzale spoke of the imperative of storytelling and the joy of witnessing it together then plugged the AFI Conservatory and the Cinematographer for King Richard, Robert Elswit, ASC, a graduate of the esteemed film school.

Without further adieu, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Director of King Richard, was introduced. Next came the cast led by Tony Goldwyn with the versatile Will Smith bringing up the rear. Smith is an entertainer through and through and never seems to be at a loss for words and this night was no exception.

The last two peeps to make their presence known, front and center, were the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. I felt the energy as the audience seemed to come out of their seats, not levitating, just giving a standing ovation. The tone was set. It was game on!

With a run time of 144 minutes, King Richard seemed to reached it’s conclusion too quickly. That’s a tribute to how mesmerizing King Richard is. Numerous times the audience erupted with applause and approval as the Williams family overcame obstacle after obstacle. Will Smith portrayed Richard Williams with fortitude and a tenderness – qualities not always evident from Richard Williams’ public persona.

Richard Williams was often seen as brash, touting with a braggadociousness how his daughters were coming to dominate women’s tennis, the likes of which had never been seen before, would never be seen again, and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. What he didn’t tell the public is he also wanted his daughters to have a real childhood and a meaningful adolescence and to be prepared to lead successful lives. And, above all, to always have fun!

Throughout King Richard, Richard Williams came across as a devoted husband, father, and coach delving into some of his formative life experiences growing up in a racist environment. Rearing his family in Compton, California, also had its challenges for Williams. But, Richard Williams had a plan – he wanted a better life for his family.

And, AFI Conservatory Alumnus, Cinematographer Robert Elswit’s work didn’t disappoint either. Utilizing natural lighting with some traditional lenses and frames for establishing shots juxtaposed with fast zoom lenses to capture action with tight framing and some extreme closeups of the Williams sisters, played by Sanitaya Sidney and Demi Singleton, generating some major pace with their ground strokes and capturing winning overhead smashes, Elswit created some riveting moments.

Editor Pamela Martin, Ace, made the shots and their complementary counterparts (returns) appear seamless with the utmost continuity. Non-diegetic sounds kept the film’s pace and helped match the film’s tone and the actors emotionality. Kris Bowers is credited with the music.

And, last but not least, Director Reinaldo Marcus Green, helming only his second feature film, steered King Richard to a beautiful conclusion culminating in Venus’s first professional matches and first tennis matches of any kind in three years. The excitement she (and Serena later) brought to the game of tennis encouraged an entire generation of young African-American girls that anything is possible if they are willing to put in the work.

King Richard served as the 2021 AFI FEST Closing Night Film – chock full of inspiration and hope. Ahhh…the power of film and the magic of AFI FEST – Hollywood. Talk about speaking truth to power.

Until next year, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

Will Smith, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Willow Smith and Jaden Smith, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Jada Pinkett Smith, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Daniele Lawson, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Mikayla Bartholomew, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Layla Crawford, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstoc
London Hughes, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Sarunas J. Jackson, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
LisaRaye McCoy, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Tony Goldwyn, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Serena Williams, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Demi Singleton, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith – AFI FEST 2021 Red Carpet Screening of KING RICHARD, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA – Nov. 14, 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
John Bernthal – AFI FEST 2021 Red Carpet Screening of KING RICHARD, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA – Nov. 14, 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Demi Singleton, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Saniyya Sidney, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Seniyya Sidney, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Serena Williams and Venus Williams, King Richard Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard, Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Venus Williams, King Richard, Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock
Serena Williams, King Richard, Red Carpet Premiere Screening, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 14 Nov 2021 – Photo Credit: John Salangsang/AFI/Shutterstock

 

Halle Berry BRUISED on the Red Carpet at #AFIFEST 2021

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Academy Award winner Halle Berry made her directorial with BRUISED, a triumphant story of a fighter who reclaims her power, in and out of the ring, when everyone has counted her out.

Berry, cast, and team walked the Red Carpet at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California!

Put up your dukes! Congratulations Halle!!!

 

Valentina Shevchenko – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021.
Bob Gazzale, Halle Berry and Ted Sarandos – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Brad Feinstein – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Ambre – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Stephan James – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Halle Berry and Van Hunt – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Danny Boyd, Jr. – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Terri Seymour – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Erica Banks – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Halle Berry – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Shamier Anderson – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Halle Berry – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Halle Berry – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Michelle Rosenfarb – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021

UPDATE: Saturday Afternoon Premiere at AFI FEST 2021 – Almodovar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Today at 2:00 P.M, Pedro Almodavar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS, starring Penelope Cruz, is making an afternoon Red Carpet Premiere at the historic Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, Calif. Visit fest.afi.com for more information including ticketing.

Pedro Almodovar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS, starring Penelope Cruz, is slated for an AFI FEST Red Carpet Premiere, today, November 13th, 2021, 2:00 P.M., at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo from fest.afi.com)

UPDATE: There will be a post-screening conversation with Pedro Almodóvar(Director) moderated by film critic Alonso Duralde.

PARALLEL MOTHERS, follows two women Janis and Ana – both single mothers – from the moment they give birth to two daughters. Janis is thrilled by her accidental pregnancy, seeing it as perhaps her last chance at motherhood, while the adolescent Ana is scared and traumatized by the ordeal.

According to AFI Movie Club, Almodovar has been percolating the idea since 1999, when he first pitched it to Penelope Cruz while she was working on Almodvar’s ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER. This is the eighth collaboration between the Spanish duo. In addition, PARALLEL MOTHERS marks the 13th collaboration between Sony Pictures Classics and the production company El Deseo, which Almodovar operates with his brother Augustin Almodovar.

The Power of a Dog Left Audience Members Howling for More @AFIFEST 2021

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Jane Campion’s latest film, The Power of the Dog, with Campion, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee present, lit up the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard last night with an AFI FEST 2021 Red Carpet Premiere.

Once inside the hallowed Hollywood landmark, AFI President Bob Gazzale welcomed the audience before eloquently introducing the film and Director Jane Campion to loud cheers and hearty rounds of applause. Following the film’s screening a conversation moderated by Hollywood’s delightful Kathryn Hahn entertained the house.

The Power of the Dog, a semi-dark psychological drama, is a magnificent and majestic work tantalizing and titillating – a bonafied Oscar contender in multiple categories.

The evening embodied a new peak for film festival entertainment as post-screening actors, editor, cinematographer, and director sparred, cajoled and informed under the watchful eye of moderator Hahn as she effectively marshaled the energies of The Power of the Dog conversation.

Kirsten Dunst, Red Carpet Premiere Screening of ‘The Power of the Dog’, Intro and Q and A, AFI FEST, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, USA – 11 Nov 2021
Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jane Campion, Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch – AFI FEST 2021 Red Carpet Premiere Screening of THE POWER OF THE DOG, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, Nov. 11, 2021

The AFI FEST continues through November 14th, offering the best in global cinema.

Tickets Are Still Available for Select In-person Screenings Tomorrow! Check out these selections for your viewing.

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Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

Opening Night Red Carpet AFI FEST 2021

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Last night, the AFI FEST audience at the TCL Chinese Theatre was treated to the World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM! Check out the exclusive photos from the red carpet, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, Robin de Jesus, Joshua Henry, Alexandra Shipp and more.

Check out the red carpet video tick, tick…BOOM!

Judith Light – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield and Alexandra Shipp – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield and Lin-Manuel Miranda – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Director Lin-Manuel Miranda – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Robin de Jesus, Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Julie Oh – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Robin de Jesus – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Isabella Gomez – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM
Julie Larson – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Alice Brooks, Cinematographer – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!

Tickets Still Available for Select In-person Screenings Tomorrow!

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AFI FEST 2021 Starts Tonight!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Final preparations were taking place bright and early this morning at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., as the American Film Institute’s (AFI) 2021 AFI FEST, Nov.10-14th, is slated to open tonight with the World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! starring Andrew Garfield.

The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 Production Crew begin preparations at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10th, 2021, for tonight’s Opening Night World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 Production Crew begin preparations at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10th, 2021, for tonight’s Opening Night World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 Production Crew begin preparations at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10th, 2021, for tonight’s Opening Night World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)