Category: Sony Pictures Classics

The Past – Le Passé

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The Past - Le Passé Movie

Coming back to accomplish the divorce procedure, Ahmad an Iranian man, arrives in Paris after four years to meet his ex-wife and her daughters from her previous marriage. He notices his ex is in a relationship with an Arab named Samir who also has a son and a wife in a coma. The relationship of the older daughter and her mother is in deterioration because the daughter thinks her mother is the cause of Samir’s wife comatose state. The affairs get more complicated when the older daughter discloses something heinous she has done.

The Past (French: Le Passé) is a French drama film directed by the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and starring Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Bérénice Bejo also won the Best Actress Award. It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The film has been selected as the Iranian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

The Past - Le Passé Movie

Review for The Past – Le Passé

Like his previous film, A Separation, Asghar Farhadi’s The Past begins with a deceptively straightforward divorce. Returning to Paris from Tehran to legally terminate his marriage after a four-year absence, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) learns that his wife, Marie (Bérénice Bejo), has been living with another man, Samir (Tahar Rahim). Papers may be signed with minimal fuss but the past cannot be so easily buried, and once again the Iranian director creates an opportunity to showcase his striking ability to use multiple perspectives to tell an infinitely complex story.

Making little use of the suburban Parisian backdrop, Farhadi opts instead for a chamber drama that is as tightly packed as Marie’s rickety old house. In addition to two children from a previous relationship—petite Léa (Jeanne Jestin) and teenage Lucie (Pauline Burlet)—Samir’s young son Fouad (Elyes Aguis) also lives there, reluctantly. For better and worse, the presence of the even-tempered Ahmad sets the already precarious household off balance as he simultaneously mediates and instigates familial problems large and small.

The Past - Le Passé Movie - Berenice Bejo

Despite the obvious conflict of interest, Ahmad is able to assuage the furrow-browed Fouad when he throws his violent tantrums and to coax information from an increasingly moody Lucie. Vehemently disapproving of her mother’s latest relationship, Lucie explains that Samir’s wife is in a coma due to an attempted suicide—a suicide she believes to have been catalyzed by her mother’s affair with Samir. But as far as Marie is concerned, this tragic turn of events was merely the grim culmination of the woman’s long battle with depression, and she can furnish a witness to prove it: the illegal immigrant (Sabrina Ouazani), whom Samir employs at his dry cleaning business.

Much like A Separation, the story spirals, whodunit style, around the blame of the suicide—and around and around—propelled forward and nudged backward as details of past events are revealed and contradicted. As each character attempts to offload their sense of guilt onto someone else, Farhadi further elucidates the elusive nature of truth itself. Forcing his characters into moral gray zones, the director weakens the notion of objectivity, allowing the viewer’s allegiances to shift freely among the household’s denizens—even if as individuals, none of them is particularly sympathetic.

Dispensing with A Separation’s primarily handheld aesthetic, The Past demonstrates a thoroughgoing commitment to stillness. While its visual style mirrors the characters’ sometimes frustrating inability to move forward, the careful framing of bodies and faces—whether crammed into doorways or dim hallways—emphasizes private moments of interiority and noncommunication.

The Past - Le Passé Movie

Despite a number of melodramatic ingredients—comas, hidden pregnancies, torrential downpours, and secret missives, among others—the film remains subtly understated, thanks in large part to the impeccable cast. Shaking off the plucky flapper she played in The Artist, Bejo is particularly impressive as the hot-tempered Marie and is well paired here with the soft-spoken Mosaffa, who exudes a paternal calm. Rahim, as always, brings a quiet but subtly dangerous power to the screen as Samir, while Burlet demonstrates maturity beyond her young years as the emotionally fraught Lucie.

Though The Past may lack its predecessor’s gripping sense of urgency (the 130-minute running time does not go unnoticed), it is precisely its circuitous structure that imbues the film with a sense of unadorned reality. Never leaning on flashbacks or expository dialogue, Farhadi doesn’t pit the past against the present so much as he presents the two as inextricably—and rather bleakly—linked. If the past can only become clear in the present, what hope does that leave for the future?

The Past - Le Passé Movie Poster

The Past – Le Passé

Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani
Screenplay by: Asghar Farhadi
Production Design by: Claude Lenoir
Cinematography by: Mahmoud Kalari
Film Editing by: Juliette Welfling
Costume Design by: Jean-Daniel Vuillermoz
Music by: Evgueni Galperine, Youli Galperine
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material and brief strong language.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: December 20, 2013

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The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman Movie

In the 1850s, Ellen Ternan is a minimally talented actress who catches the eye of the hailed British author, Charles Dickens. Bored with his intellectually unstimulating wife, Dickens takes the educated Ellen has his mistress with the cooperation of her mother. What follows is a stormy relationship with this literary giant who provides her with a life few women of her time can enjoy. Yet, Ellen is equally revolted by Charles’ emotional cruelty and determination to keep her secret. In that conflict, Ellen must judge her own role in her life and decide if the price she pays is bearable.

The Invisible Woman is a drama film directed by Ralph Fiennes and based on Claire Tomalin’s book The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens. It had its premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9th, 2013.

Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this opulent period drama about the great novelist’s passionate, years-long secret affair with the young actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones; Like Crazy).

Actress Nelly Ternan was performing in London’s Haymarket Theatre when she was first spotted by Charles Dickens, who subsequently cast her in a production of The Frozen Deep. The year was 1857. Dickens was forty-five and had been married some twenty years. Ternan was seventeen. The two began an affair, which was kept a secret from the general public for the duration of their lives. Theirs has since become one of the great love stories in literary history, as alluring for the speculation it inspires as for the details on record as fact.

Based on Claire Tomalin’s biography of Ternan, scripted by Abi Morgan, (The Iron Lady, Shame), and directed by the great English actor Ralph Fiennes — whose directorial debut, Coriolanus, screened at the Festival in 2011 — The Invisible Woman is a rapturous chronicle of Ternan and Dickens’s relationship, which prompted the end of Dickens’s marriage, survived a train crash, inspired characters and scenarios in some of the author’s most beloved novels, and continued until his death in 1870.

Felicity Jones’s performance as Ternan brims with passion and intelligence — the latter quality being one of the things that drew Dickens to Ternan in the first place. Dickens himself is embodied by Fiennes as a complicated artist torn between his desires and ideals and his need to uphold tradition and avoid scandal. Enveloped in opulent period detail, The Invisible Woman brings us closer to this giant of nineteenth-century prose — and to the woman who sustained his lust for life in his final years.

The Invisible Woman Movie Poster

The Invisible Woman

Directed by: Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander, Charlotte Hope, Laurence Spellman, Jonathan Harden
Screenplay by: Abi Morgan
Production Design by: Maria Djurkovic
Cinematography by: Rob Hardy
Film Editing by: Nicolas Gaster
Costume Design by: Michael O’Connor
Set Decoration by: Tatiana Macdonald
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: December 25, 2013

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Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your Darlings is an American biographical drama film written by Austin Bunn and directed by John Krokidas in his feature film directorial debut. The film had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, garnering positive first reactions. It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and it had a limited theatrical North American release from October 16, 2013. Kill Your Darlings also became available on Blu-ray and DVD, March 18, 2014 in the US, followed by its UK release on April 21, 2014.

The story is about the college days of some of the earliest members of the Beat Generation, (Lucien Carr, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and David Kammerer) their interactions, and the killing in Riverside Park.

About the Story

As a young man in the 1940s, poet Allen Ginsberg wins a place at Columbia University in New York City. He arrives as a very inexperienced freshman, but soon runs into Lucien Carr, who is very anti-establishment and rowdy.

After a while, Ginsberg discovers that Carr only manages to stay at Columbia thanks to a somewhat older man, a professor, David Kammerer, who writes all of his term papers for him, and seems perhaps to have been an ex-lover of Carr’s. It appears that Kammerer is still in love with Carr, and is revealed to be pressuring Carr for sexual favors, in exchange for assuring that he cannot be expelled.

Kill Your Darlings

Ginsberg soon meets, through Carr, William S. Burroughs, already far into drug experimentation. The writer Jack Kerouac, who was a sailor at that time and expelled from Columbia, also meets and spends time with them. Ginsberg takes part in various extreme escapades with this extraordinary group of people.

Carr eventually tells Kammerer he is done with him, and recruits Ginsberg (who has a crush on him) to write his term papers instead. After a while, Kerouac and Carr attempt to run off and join the merchant marine together, hoping to go to Paris.

There is a confrontation between Carr and Kammerer, during which Kammerer is killed by stabbing (and perhaps also by drowning). Carr is arrested, and asks Ginsberg to write his deposition for him. Ginsberg is at first reluctant to help the unstable Carr, but after digging up more crucial evidence on Kammerer and his past relationship, he writes a piece entitled “The Night in Question”. The piece describes a more emotional event, in which Carr kills Kammerer who outright tells him to after being threatened with the knife, devastated by this final rejection. Carr rejects the ‘fictional’ story, and begs a determined Ginsberg to not reveal it to anybody, afraid that it will ruin him in the ensuing trial.

We learn from Carr’s mother that Kammerer was the first person to seduce Carr, when he was much younger and lived in Chicago. After the trial we find out that Carr testified that the attack took place only because Kammerer was a sexual predator, and that Carr killed him in self-defense. Carr is not convicted of murder and receives only a short sentence.

Ginsberg then submits “The Night in Question” as his final term paper. On the basis of that shocking piece of prose, Ginsberg is faced with possible expulsion from Columbia. Either he must be expelled or he must embrace establishment values. He chooses the former, but is forced to leave his typescript behind. A week or two later he receives the typescript in the mail with an encouraging letter from his professor telling him to pursue his writing.

Kill Your Darlings Movie Poster

Kill Your Darlings

Oirected by: John Krokidas
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C. Hall, Daniel Radcliffe, Jack Huston, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Foster. David Cross, Kyra Sedgwick
Screenplay by: John Krokidas, Austin Bunn
Production Design by: Stephen H. Carter
Cinematography by: Reed Morano
Film Editing by: Brian A. Kates
Costume Design by: Christopher Peterson
Set Decoration by: Sarah E. McMillan
Music by: Nico Muhly
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, language, drug use and brief violence.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: October 18, 2013

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Wadjda

Wadjda Movie

Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn’t be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda’s mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself.

At first, Wadjda’s mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what’s going on. And soon enough Wadjda’s plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school. Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to the memorization and recitation of Koranic verses, and her teachers begin to see Wadjda as a model pious girl. The competition isn‘t going to be easy, especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in. She is determined to continue fighting for her dreams.

Wadjda Movie Poster

Wadjda

Directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring: Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Ahd Kamel, Sultan Al Assaf
Screenplay by: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Production Design by: Thomas Molt
Cinematography by: Lutz Reitemeier
Film Editing by: Andreas Wodraschke
Costume Design by: Peter Pohl
Set Decoration by: Maram Algohani
Music by: Max Richter
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, brief mild language and smoking.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: September 13, 2013

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The Patience Stone

The Patience Stone

Taglines: She achieved her independence by telling stories filled with forbidden secrets.

Somewhere, in Afghanistan or elsewhere, in a country torn apart by a war… A beautiful woman in her thirties watches over her husband who has fallen into a coma. After ten years of living under his control, with no voice of her own, she finally has the upper hand. And with that, the safety to reveal to him her deepest desires, pains and secrets, stories she could never share with anyone for fear of retribution. And it is an extraordinary confession, without restraint, about love and her anger against a man who never understood her, who mistreated her, who never showed her any respect or kindness.

This paralyzed man unconsciously becomes syngué sabour (the patience stone), a magical black stone that, according to Persian mythology, absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. It is believed that the day it explodes, after having received too much hardship and pain, will be the day of the Apocalypse.

The Patience Stone Poster

Patience Stone

Directed by: Atiq Rahimi
Starring: Golshifteh Farahani, Hamid Djavadan, Hassina Burgan, Massi Mrowat, Mohamed Al Maghraoui
Screenplay by: Jean-Claude Carrière, Atiq Rahimi
Production Design by: Erwin Prib
Cinematography by: Thierry Arbogast
Film Editing by: Hervé de Luze
Costume Design by: Malek Jahan Khazai
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, some violence and language.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: August 16, 2013

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Austenland

Austenland Movie

A romantic comedy about 30-something, single Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), a seemingly normal young woman with a secret: her obsession with all things Jane Austen. But when she decides to spend her life savings on a trip to an English resort catering to Austen–crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency–era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined.

Austenland is a British-American romantic comedy film directed by Jerusha Hess. Based on Shannon Hale’s 2007 novel of the same name and produced by author Stephenie Meyer, it stars Keri Russell as a single thirty-something obsessed with Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice, who travels to a British resort called Austenland, in which the Austen era is recreated. JJ Feild, Jane Seymour, Bret McKenzie, and Jennifer Coolidge co-star.

About the Story

Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) is a single 30-something American woman obsessed with Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice who wishes for a nice Englishman of her own. After yet another failed relationship, Jane decides to blow her savings on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a Jane Austen–themed resort in England.

Austenland Movie

The resort seems like the perfect escape from 21st-century life. The guests at Austenland, which is run by the prickly Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour), are called by imaginary names, dress in period costume, and conduct themselves like ladies and gentlemen of the Regency era. They live without modern conveniences (though the plumbing is modern). Activities offered at the resort include needlepoint, riding, reading, shooting, and entertaining the other guests through musical performances or theatrics. At the conclusion of each guest’s stay, a ball is held… romance guaranteed!

Upon her arrival, Jane realizes that, while she could only afford the inexpensive “copper” package, the other guests — including Ms. “Elizabeth Charming” (Jennifer Coolidge) — have all purchased the most expensive “platinum” option. Although she quickly befriends Martin, the resort’s chauffeur, Jane is treated with disrespect and disdain by Mrs. Wattlesbrook, who prefers the resort’s wealthier guests. While the other guests are given a wide choice of costumes and shown to luxurious rooms, Jane is given a plain dress and a sparsely-decorated chamber in the “creepy tower” of the servants’ quarters.

At dinner on their first night, Jane and Elizabeth are introduced to the gentlemen of the house: Colonel Andrews (Callis), an eccentric man to whom Elizabeth takes an instant liking, and Mr. Henry Nobley (Feild), Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s handsome — albeit unenthusiastic — nephew. They are also introduced to another, exceedingly wealthy guest, who has been given the name Lady Amelia Hartwright (King). Amelia and Elizabeth flirt openly with Nobley throughout dinner, while Jane finds him rather disagreeable. Their argument ultimately mirrors the one had by Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy upon their first meeting in Pride and Prejudice. Ultimately, Jane is humiliated by Mrs. Wattlesbrook and leaves the table.

Austenland Movie

Jane again feels left out the following morning during a walk around the grounds. After leaving the group to seek solace with a book in the stables, she is discovered by Martin (McKenzie). Martin flirts with her, but the two are interrupted by Elizabeth, Nobley, and Colonel Andrews, who arrive with news of an upcoming hunt. Martin’s attentions to Jane during the pheasant shooting incites Nobley’s jealousy; Jane’s surprising skill in turn incites Amelia’s.

When Jane is forced to walk back to the house in the rain, she is rescued by Nobley. That evening, Jane becomes bored of the group’s card games and leaves the house for a walk around the grounds. She runs into Martin; after flirting and witnessing the birth of a foal in the stables, they kiss. The following afternoon, Jane convinces Martin to break the rules: they take a rowboat out on the canal and spend the afternoon together.

The following day, the party is disrupted by the sudden arrival of another actor, the handsome Captain East. Everyone except Nobley is impressed by the Captain, who in turn seems taken with Jane. Martin witnesses the Captain making a pass at Jane from a distance. When Jane comes to visit him in the stables, he rebuffs her for “parading around” with the actors. When she asks if he is breaking up with her, he replies that they were never “going steady.” Jane is left alone, angry and confused.

Austenland Movie Poster

Austenland

Directed by: Jerusha Hess
Starring: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie, Georgia King, Jane Seymour, Silvia Crastan
Screenplay by: Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale
Production Design by: James Merifield
Cinematography by: Larry Smith
Film Editing by: Nick Fenton
Costume Design by: Annie Hardinge
Set Decoration by: Jacqueline Abrahams
Art Direction by: Patrick Rolfe
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive content and innuendo.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: August 16, 2013

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Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine Movie - Cate Blanchett

“Blue Jasmine” is the story of the final stages of an acute crisis and a life of a fashionable New York housewife. After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal, elegant New York socialite Jasmine moves into her sister Ginger’s modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again.

Throughout his career, Woody Allen has created many indelible female characters portrayed by some of the world’s greatest actresses, including Diane Keaton, Geraldine Page, Mariel Hemingway, Charlotte Rampling, Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Gena Rowlands, Dianne Wiest, Mira Sorvino, Judy Davis, Samantha Morton, and Scarlett Johansson, to mention only a few. Whether they appear in light comedies, dark dramas or anything in between, these complex female characters resonate in our memories as the focal points of his movies. Certain to take her place in this gallery of multifaceted, complex, and richly observed women is Jasmine, the troubled heroine of Allen’s new drama BLUE JASMINE, portrayed by another one of the world’s most extraordinary actresses, Cate Blanchett.

We first meet New York socialite Jasmine shortly after she has suffered a breakdown, triggered by the cataclysmic collapse of her marriage to wealthy financier Hal (Alec Baldwin). Up until that point Jasmine’s entire identity was wrapped up in being an elegant, well dressed, culturally sophisticated woman living the Manhattan high life, but now that life is over, and her mental and emotional state is rapidly veering off course. “We know from the minute the movie opens that Jasmine is lost,” says Allen. “She’s already someone who has been found talking to herself and has had real problems.”

Blue Jasmine Movie

Hitting rock bottom both financially and psychologically, and having nowhere else to go, Jasmine turns to her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), a grocery store cashier in San Francisco. “Jasmine has really been through the mill,” says Allen. “In a fit of anger she did something that caused dire consequences she never anticipated, and she brought on herself an extremely potent series of traumas.” Says Blanchett: “Jasmine is in freefall and has to leave behind everything she knows and has expected. She’s entering the realm of absolute unknown, moving from one coast to the other, from one social set to the other, one class to another.”

Jasmine wasn’t born into wealth; she met and married Hal, a handsome, high-flying businessman, when she was a college student. Hal quickly transported her to a world of high fashion clothes, precious jewelry, elegant dinner parties, beach houses and private planes. “She was captivated,” says Allen. “Hal was good looking, charming, successful, dynamic and wealthy, and he swept her off her feet. She changed her direction and suddenly found herself leading the life of a wealthy wife — and she got used to it.”

Blanchett feels that marrying into money wasn’t a completely unexpected path for Jasmine to take in her life, as she might always have had a vision of a handsome prince who would come to take her away: “To get a job and forge your own way in life you have to be able to weather the knockbacks that life deals out to you, and I don’t know if Jasmine is like that. For her to have to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty by taking a job is probably not in her ideal picture of the universe.”

Hal, portrayed by Alec Baldwin, is a man whose fortune is as bountiful as the source of his income is questionable. “I think Hal is like a million guys out there, who have this big shot complex,” says Allen. “They make a lot of money and they’re charming and generous with people. They stay just within the law when they can, and when they have to stretch it a little, they stretch it.” Hal is also equally flexible in his attitudes towards fidelity. “I think Hal is like a lot of hard-charging, successful men who feel the need to take the edge off of a stressful life and expect their wives to understand,” says Baldwin. “In his case Jasmine isn’t able to accept that, but he is very adept at reassuring her that she has nothing to worry about.” Says Allen: “For Hal, Jasmine is elegant and knows how to keep up the social end of things, and yet he’s always playing around because he’s good looking and dynamic and that’s his style.”

Blue Jasmine Movie

Born with the name Jeanette, Jasmine took on her more poetic moniker around the time Hal came into her life. “It’s quite a theatrical choice,” says Blanchett, “and it’s very telling that she didn’t call herself Scarlett or something completely different — she always steps slightly sideways from the truth. Small fantasies like this are harmless in of themselves, but the more you do it, the further you get away from reality.” Blanchett continues: “This leads to the question: ‘Is Jasmine predisposed to being a fantasist or is she a fantasist through circumstance?’ I think there’s a certain type of person who has a more fragile makeup and a less tangible grip on reality and Jasmine probably is in that camp.”

Arriving in San Francisco, Jasmine is dismayed to see Ginger’s modest apartment and lifestyle, so completely different than what she is accustomed to. Adding to her discomfort is the fact that her relationship with her sister has always been complicated. Jasmine and Ginger were adopted children from different parents, and from the beginning, Jasmine was the favored child, bathed in love, of which Ginger received very little. “Jasmine had this golden aura around her,” says Sally Hawkins (HAPPY-GO-LUCKY), who plays Ginger. “She was brighter and prettier and more elegant from birth. Ginger saw herself as the lesser child and the one who wasn’t really liked — sort of the runt of the litter.” The impact of the different treatments they received as children created a degree of tension between the two of them early on as well as two very contrasting viewpoints of life.

Jasmine grew up with a sense of entitlement and found Hal to give her the life she felt she deserved whereas Ginger had very modest expectations, but developed the robust strength and skills to make it on her own. Her approach to life was always more hands-on. She bartended and waited tables, married a rough-hewn handyman named Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) with whom she had two boys. When Jasmine, on the other hand, was forced by circumstance to work in a fancy shoe store in New York, it was devastating for her to be seen by women she had previously socialized with. “Her focus on the outward appearance or what the neighbors will think has probably led her to the state that you find her in when she hits San Francisco,” says Blanchett. “She fled because she was feeling judged by others. She is very conscious of how she’s perceived and her desire to control that perception, the outward shell of who she is, trumps the discovery of who she actually is.”

Blue Jasmine Movie - Cate Blanchett

The sisters have lived in two completely different worlds for most of their adult lives, but now that Jasmine needs her help, Ginger willingly takes her in. “Ginger would never be close to her like she would a sister with a loving background,” says Allen, “but their situation isn’t so cold that when Jasmine’s in trouble she would turn a completely blind eye.” Says Hawkins: “I don’t think Ginger could ever turn Jasmine away. Ginger is really kind and even though there’s great tension there. As the younger sister she has always looked up to Jasmine and now sees the opportunity to have a real connection with her.”

Unfortunately, by the time of her arrival, Jasmine may be too far gone for Ginger to be able to reach. “Ginger does try, but she just doesn’t know where to begin to unlock Jasmine,” says Hawkins. “She’s so trapped in a different world that Ginger doesn’t really understand, that Ginger has no grasp of how to get to her.” Trying to be helpful, Ginger suggests that Jasmine pursue interior design, a profession which would allow for her to express her cultivation and taste. Jasmine is enthusiastic, but comes up with the highly impractical idea that she take an online course, even though she can’t use a computer. “Her ideas are ill thought through but she’ll throw everything at them,” says Blanchett. “I think the thing that’s relatable and humanizes her is the panic that underlies that.”

Jasmine does have enough lucidity to try to convince Ginger to break up with her mechanic boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale). “Jasmine thinks her sister’s first husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) was a loser,” says Allen. “As any good sister or friend would do, she’s advising her not to fall into the same trap again, picking another guy who has no refinement whatsoever.” Clay feels that Jasmine doesn’t give Augie a fair chance. “He may be an ordinary working class guy, but he really loved his wife. I think Jasmine doesn’t like Augie because she’s all about money and jewelry and how much money the guy she’s with has.”

Blanchett sees some truth in that appraisal: “Jasmine is someone who has pinned all of her ability to rise up in the world upon being connected to the right man, believing that it’s about who you attach yourself to, not through any of your own agency. How could you ever rise up if you’re connected to the wrong man? It’s very revealing about the way she sees her own ability to move and shake in the world.” Says Hawkins: “Ginger is very aware of Jasmine’s distaste for the men in her life. That pains her but she also feels that maybe she’s right. There’s a part of Ginger that wants to better herself. At the same time she’s confused and thinking that she should be looking for someone better just because she wants to make a better connection with Jasmine.”

Blue Jasmine Movie - Cate Blanchett

Chili recognizes very quickly the threat that Jasmine’s arrival poses for his relationship with Ginger. “As soon as Jasmine gets there, he can see that Ginger is changing,” says Cannavale. “He understands that she’s very susceptible to Jasmine and the stakes are high for him. It’s obviously very important for him to fight for Ginger because he’s very much in love with her.” Unfortunately Chili’s attempts to hold onto Ginger are expressed in explosive acts that only serve to confirm Jasmine’s low opinion of him. Says Allen: “Even though he makes a scene in the apartment and in the grocery store where she works, he’s not a villain, he feels he loves her and to the best of his ability, he’s trying. His heart’s in the right place but I don’t know what will happen in future years.” Cannavale believes Chili sees Ginger as someone who is very easily manipulated and he has taken it upon himself to look out for her. “He’s a very natural sort of protector,” he says. “He’s interested in giving her unadulterated love, a real physical kind of guy who’s vulnerable too. I think she needs that from him and he needs somebody to protect.”

To make money for her computer classes, Jasmine takes a stopgap job as a receptionist at the office of dentist Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg), work that she finds highly beneath her, and which she is ill-suited to do. To make matters worse, things quickly become awkward between Jasmine and her employer. “On the surface Dr. Flicker might appear to be generous to Jasmine, but he has an ulterior agenda,” says Stuhlbarg. “He wants something from her.” It soon becomes clear what that is, as he clumsily and inappropriately tries to come on to her, ignoring her highly distressed state. “He’s not really paying attention to what she’s going through,” says Stuhlbarg. “His desires blind him to what she’s going through.” No matter how much she resists, he only becomes more aggressive and insistent. “By the time Jasmine finds herself at the dentist’s office she’s really beginning to be in freefall because nothing is working out,” says Blanchett. “It’s like they’re speaking Swahili in these computer classes and if she can’t learn the computer then she can’t study interior design and then she’s got no other ideas. She has no money, no skills, and she’s clearly on the verge of outstaying her welcome at Ginger’s place.”

An unexpected potential lifeline turns up for Jasmine when she goes to a party and meets Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a genteel diplomat who takes an interest in her. “Dwight is very ambitious and wants to go into politics,” says Sarsgaard. “Based on how Jasmine looks and the way she’s dressed and acts, he sees her as the kind of woman who would really be an asset for his political plans. But what draws him to her is a certain nervousness and vulnerability that she has. She’s not comfortable with herself and that makes her easier for him to approach — I don’t know if he would have done it otherwise.”

Not wanting to fill Dwight in on the calamity of her recent months, she quickly invents a much more upbeat and elevated persona for herself. “She’s able to lie,” say Allen, “She’s saying I’m a decorator and my late husband was a surgeon. She has a certain built in elegance in her persona and from years of social activity and upper-class social interaction, she puts on a good show, and he’s not looking for or suspecting any lies.” Says Blanchett: “I think Jasmine has so little faith in her own abilities that she has to make herself more than what she is constantly. It’s an instinctual response; she doesn’t think things through. And once those words come out of her mouth, she can’t put them back in — she just has to keep going. The truth is often very terrifying, particularly when you’ve spent your entire life in a fiction.”

At the same party where Jasmine encounters Dwight, Ginger meets Al (Louis C.K.), who has a more upscale job and a sweeter manner than the men she’s used to going out with. Even though he is only modestly above the level of what she’s used to, she sees him as a step up. “Al is a guy living a kind of drab life where he’s fixing people’s audio systems,” says Louis C.K, “and he’s trying to trying to find some happiness by carving out a little romance with this very innocent and nice young woman. He’s got a very simple way of paying attention to her and showing that he likes her and it makes her feel really good.” Says Hawkins: “Ginger has aspirations for a better life and thinks that Al is the solution. It’s like she’s playing a role — she’s really liking this world that Al seems to offer. He’s showing her a life that could be better than what she sees her life to be.”

As is always the case, Allen assembled a stellar cast for BLUE JASMINE, toplined by Cate Blanchett, who was his first choice to play Jasmine. “Cate is one of the great actresses of the world,” says Allen. “She just has that thing. There’s a tremendous amount of depth there. There’s no way to quantify it. You can get other actresses who are very good and they’ll be playing frustration and despair and they’ll weep the way Cate does, but for some reason she projects on the screen a tremendous depth that sucks you in. You just feel how deep she’s going and that’s her gift.”

Blanchett was very enthusiastic about working with Allen and the screenplay, but she also found Jasmine to be a particularly daunting role to play. A lot of the challenge for her involved the way the script cuts back and forth between the San Francisco present and the New York past. The New York sections don’t just provide the backstory for the present, they mirror and parallel what is going on. For example, as Jasmine arrives at her sister’s cramped place, the film cuts to her in an enormous empty Fifth Avenue apartment.

“Because Jasmine is such an unreliable narrator, the flashbacks are there to find out what’s truly going on underneath the surface,” says Blanchett. “In a way I wish we’d shot the New York stuff first before we’d gone to San Francisco because it was in doing that that I sort of fully understood her character.” Blanchett continues: “I did go in every day and say to myself ‘Don’t screw this up!’ ‘Can you please not screw it up today?'” On the set she discovered that Allen was willing to give her an unusually large amount of freedom. I think he really doesn’t want to get in an actor’s way,” she says, “and that’s something I had to sort of deprogram myself from because I love the suggestions that come from directors. So I just kept asking him questions and he’d answer them. Most of my questions were about tone, because when you’re working with the director who made BANANAS and INTERIORS, you can read this script and think it’s terribly tragic and painful and there’s another way you can read it where it’s just absurd. I think he’s a master at that: people who are completely immersed in the seriousness of their own lives — which are utterly absurd.”

Having enjoyed working with Sally Hawkins on CASSANDRA’S DREAM, where she played Colin Farrell’s girlfriend, Allen thought she would be a great choice for the pivotal role of Jasmine’s sister Ginger. “She’s a fabulous actress,” he says. “She’s real all the time; she’s never actressy.” Hawkins has high praise for Allen’s no-nonsense directing style: “Woody doesn’t want to deal with chit chat. He just wants you to turn up and for your character to be fully formed and ready to work.” As a long-time admirer of Cate Blanchett’s work, Hawkins was thrilled at the opportunity to play her sister. “Cate has no ego,” she says. “She just wants to investigate life, create incredibly rich layers, and make the work as good as it possibly can be. I believed every single moment of her as Jasmine and being so close to it, just saw this woman completely trapped and lost and alone. It was a highly tuned performance — it’s like the strings on a guitar being tightened, tightened, tightened, until she snapped. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to take that character home with you at night.” Says Blanchett: “Sally’s got the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. I clung to her like a life raft.”

Alec Baldwin makes his third appearance in a Woody Allen film, after ALICE and TO ROME WITH LOVE portraying Jasmine’s well-heeled, entrepreneurial husband Hal. “Alec is the perfect guy to play Hal, because he’s got everything going for him,” says Allen. “He’s good looking, he’s a tremendously talented dramatic actor, and yet if you need somebody to be funny, he can be funny.”

Blue Jasmine Movie Poster

Blue Jasmine

Directed by: Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Joy Carlin, Richard Conti, Glen Caspillo, Alec Baldwin, Charlie Tahan, Sally Hawkins
Screenplay by: Woody Allen
Production Design by: Santo Loquasto
Cinematography by: Javier Aguirresarobe
Film Editing by: Alisa Lepselter
Costume Design by: Suzy Benzinger
Set Decoration by: Kris Boxell, Regina Graves
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, language and sexual content.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: July 26, 2013

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I’m So Excited

I'm So Excited Movie

A technical failure has endangered the lives of the people on board Peninsula Flight 2549. The pilots are striving, along with their colleagues in the Control Center, to find a solution. The flight attendants and the chief steward are atypical, baroque characters who, in the face of danger, try to forget their own personal problems and devote themselves body and soul to the task of making the flight as enjoyable as possible for the passengers, while they wait for a solution. Life in the clouds is as complicated as it is at ground level, and for the same reasons, which could be summarized in two: sex and death.

I’m So Excited! is a Spanish comedy film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, and starring Javier Cámara, Cecilia Roth, Lola Dueñas and Raúl Arévalo. The original Spanish title is Los amantes pasajeros, which has a double meaning of “The fleeting lovers” and “The passenger lovers”. The narrative is set almost entirely on an airplane. Almodóvar describes it as “a light, very light comedy”.

I'm So Excited Movie Poster

I’m So Excited

Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Antonio de la Torre, Hugo Silva, Laya Martí, Javier Cámara, Miguel Ángel Silvestre
Screenplay by: Pedro Almodóvar
Production Design by: Antxón Gómez
Cinematography by: José Luis Alcaine
Film Editing by: José Salcedo
Costume Design by: David Delfín, Tatiana Hernández
Set Decoration by: María Clara Notari
Art Direction by: Federico García Cambero
Music by: Alberto Iglesias
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content including crude references, and drug use.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: June 28, 2013

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Before Midnight

Before Midnight

Nine years after the conclusion of Before Sunset, Jesse (Hawke) and Céline (Delpy) are a couple and parents to twin girls conceived when they got together for the second time. Jesse is also struggling to maintain his relationship with his teenage son, Hank, who lives in Chicago with Jesse’s ex-wife and who, after spending the summer with Jesse and Céline on the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, is being dropped off at the airport to fly home. Jesse has continued to find success as a novelist, while Céline is at a career crossroads, considering a job in the government.

After dropping off Hank at the airport, the couple discuss their worries about Hank having a healthy childhood and Céline deciding what to do with her career, before returning to the house of their Greek friend, Patrick. Over dinner they discuss ideas about love and life, and the other people staying with them buy Jesse and Céline a hotel room for that night so they can have some time alone. While walking to the hotel, the couple reminisce about how they met and how their lives have changed since then. When they arrive at the hotel, however, the two have a vicious argument, as both of them pour out their fears about a present and future together.

Before Midnight

Céline eventually storms out of the hotel room, telling Jesse she doesn’t think she loves him anymore before sitting in the hotel’s outdoor restaurant alone. Jesse joins her and playfully tries to explain to her how things can be different from tonight. Céline initially finds his attempts childish, saying that their fantasies will never match the imperfect reality their relationship constantly goes through. Jesse then proclaims his love to her, saying that he loves her unconditionally and is not sure what else she could want from a relationship. Céline suddenly resumes Jesse’s joke and the two seem to reconcile.

Before Midnight is an American romantic drama film, the third in a trilogy featuring two characters, following Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004). It was directed by Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Co-written by Linklater, Hawke and Delpy, the film picks up the story nine years after the events of Before Sunset; Jesse (Hawke) and Céline (Delpy) spend a summer vacation together in Greece.

Following a limited opening in May, the film was released wide in June 2013 and grossed over $20 million worldwide. As with the previous films, Before Midnight received widespread acclaim and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Some elements were drawn from the screenplay for the first film.

Before Midnight Movie Poster

Before Midnight

Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Tety Kalafati
Screenplay by: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Kim Krizan
Cinematography by: Christos Voudouris
Film Editing by: Sandra Adair
Costume Design by: Vasileia Rozana
Music by: Graham Reynolds
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content / nudity and language.
Studio: Sony Pictrues Classics
Release Date: May 24, 2013

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Love Is All You Need

Love Is All You Need

Taglines: The thing started when everything was over.

Philip (Pierce Brosnan), an Englishman living in Denmark, is a lonely, middle-aged widower and estranged single father. Ida (Kim Dyrholm) is a Danish hairdresser, recuperating from a long bout of illness, who’s just been left by her husband for a younger woman, Thilde.

The fates of these two bruised souls are about to intertwine, as they embark for a trip to Italy to attend the wedding of Patrick and Astrid, Philip’s son and Ida’s daughter. With warmth, affection and confidence, Susanne Bier has shaken a cocktail of love, loss, absurdity, humor, and delicately drawn characters that will leave only the hardest heart untouched. It is a film about the simple yet profound pains and joys of moving on – and forward – with your life.

Love Is All You Need is a Danish romantic comedy film directed by Susanne Bier and starring Pierce Brosnan, Kim Bodnia, Trine Dyrholm, Paprika Steen, Sebastian Jessen.

Love Is All You Need

About the Story

Hairdresser Ida, who has recently ended a successful breast cancer treatment, returns home to find her husband Leif cheating on her. At the same time, her daughter is getting married in an Italian villa with a lemon orchard in a few days, and on the way there she runs into Philip, the groom’s father.

At the wedding, which is eventually called off when the putative bride and groom find that they are not, after all, right for one another, Ida and Philip develop an attraction. On their return to Denmark, Philip decides to reduce his workload and move permanently to Italy. He finds Ida at the hairdressing salon where she works, only to be rebuffed as she has returned to Leif. But Ida then has second thoughts and goes to Italy to be with Philip.

The southern Italian scenes were shot in Sorrento and on the Amalfi Coast. The film’s soundtrack features multiple versions of the song “That’s Amore”. In 2013, Love Is All You Need was selected as best comedy film at the 26th European Film Awards.

Love is All You Need Movie Poster

Love Is All You Need

Directed by: Susanne Bier
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Kim Bodnia, Trine Dyrholm, Paprika Steen, Sebastian Jessen
Screenplay by: Anders Thomas Jensen, Susanne Bier
Production Design by: Peter Grant
Cinematography by: Morten Søborg
Film Editing by: Pernille Bech Christensen, Morten Egholm
Costume Design by: Signe Sejlund
Art Direction by: Tamara Marini
Music by: Johan Söderqvist
MPAA Rating: R for brief sexuality, nudity and some language.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: May 3, 2013

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