Show business is all about spectacle. For example, if you’re James Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and you want to dominate a press cycle, you throw a “Bond 25 live reveal” in Jamaica simulcast online.
No need to specify what will or will not be revealed; people will tune in, and then once you’ve got their attention, it won’t matter that the only thing you’ve got to unveil is tertiary casting announcements. This is, as it happens, precisely what took place today.
While 007 superfans eagerly tuned in this morning in anticipation of a title for the 25th film featuring the world’s greatest spy, they were somewhat underwhelmed to learn from Broccoli and Wilson that the project remains unnamed. No news of who might be taking over the tuxedo after current star Daniel Craig excuses himself following this film, either.
Today’s only new information concerns casting beyond the previously confirmed Rami Malek, who portrays the film’s villain. He’ll be joined in an unspecified capacity by Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, Lashana Lynch, and David Dencik. And, as previously reported, Phoebe Waller-Bridge will be on scripting duties, which suggests a welcome change of tone for the franchise.
The day’s biggest development was instead the posting of the sublimely unsettling video below, a recorded message from Malek, who couldn’t join the group due to prior obligations. There’s an ineffable creepiness to his lilting cadence of speech, though the guy’s playing a global megalomaniac of some sort, so that’s probably what he’s going for. Even so, haunting stuff.
French filmmaker Romain Gavras is best known for his various collaborations with MIA, directing some of her most well-known promos, and also making a feature film – 2010’s Our Day Will Come – that was inspired by the controversial video he made for her track ‘Born Free’, in which ginger-haired boys are hunted for sport.
Following nearly eight years away from the feature film game, he returns with the comic-hued gangster film The World is Yours, about a low-rent French-Arabic hood and his desire to do what it takes to become the exclusive North African distributor of Mister Freeze ice pops. His greatest champion – and also his greatest hindrance – is his mother, played by French grande dame Isabelle Adjani, whose overzealous assists are down to her desire to make sure her son succeeds. We met Gavras in Paris to discuss working with cinematic royalty, and also how you bring comedy to the time-worn gangster epic.
LWLies: Can you tell us how you got Isabelle Adjani on board, as she hasn’t made a film in quite some time?
I love mysterious people. Adjani dips in and out of the film world. She’s there one moment, and then she disappears. I absolutely adore her. But I didn’t know her before making The World Is Yours, so at the beginning she didn’t say yes straight away. She asked, ‘Why me and not someone else?’ And it’s weird because usually I’m quite articulate as a director, when it comes to justifying this type of thing, but I just couldn’t bullshit her. At that point, I didn’t have the answer to that question. For three weeks I was talking to her and she kept saying, ‘go back and do your homework and tell me why me and not someone else’. And I was like, ‘Isabelle, I don’t know what to tell you except I’m fucked if it’s not you because I don’t know who else. And that’s a genuine answer.’
Once she said yes it was amazing because, you know, you hear a lot of stuff about huge icons being difficult to work with, and it seems bullshit to say this, but she was an extreme pleasure. Really invested from the moment we started – you know how some of your crew, like your DoP, become your lieutenant on set, well she was like a that to me. Completely on it. We built the character from going out shopping at Versace and Gucci. We bought lots of head scarves and talked about the character, and I told her a lot about my own mother. She has an insane potential – it’s in there somewhere. When you see her she’s clever, funny and precise – and then when she turns it on it’s very interesting.
What was it like to direct her?
I hadn’t done a film in eight years and lots of the stuff I had done was more visual, so working with actors was the bit I was… not scared, but I knew it would be the biggest personal challenge because the tone is very specific. I had to find the music for the film, so we did a lot of rehearsing with the actors and I was writing a lot of side scenes. With her and Karim (Leklou) and Sofian (Khammes), we did a lot of rehearsing and she would bring stuff to the table. Sometimes she would go over the top and it would be amazing. But it was really collaborative – when we arrived on set, we knew what the voice was. And that was good because sometimes we would create surprises, or sometimes I would change stuff last minute, but everyone was in tune with their characters.
The lush visual style of this film draws on your work in music promos, but also mocks it a little.
Yeah a bit, but the film is quite light and has this sense of not fun-making but being endeared by a lot of stuff. If you like Daft Punk, you make a Daft Punk album. If you make a folk album, it would be fucking weird. So for me it was not so much, ‘I’m going to make a film that doesn’t look at all like a music video’, it was that I wanted to embrace it and sometimes play with it and make fun of it and go over the top with it.
It’s a hard film to describe. You want to call it a crime or gangster film, but that doesn’t quite cover it.
No, it’s a hard one. You know like when you have those sites where you have to put comedy or gangster – it is kind of all those things. And for me it’s the films that I like the most, like some Italian neorealism, or some of David O Russell’s movies, where you don’t know where the fuck you are, but you still enjoy it like you would some candy. So yeah it is a hard one to describe.
The title references a line from Brian de Palma’s film Scarface, which has become iconic in certain cultural circles. What is your relationship with that film?
I think it’s a great film that people maybe didn’t understand. Tony Montana dies at the end and he kind of wants to fuck his sister, he is not a role model and has never been to me. And so here it was interesting to play out almost the anti-Scarface. Tony Montana wants the world, but our guy just wants a little house with a little swimming pool. He is kind of like the anti gangster. So it was interesting to play on that, but it’s almost like the reference stopped there and it’s just I’m very bad at coming up with titles and so at some point this title came along really well, it felt good. Scarface is a good movie, but it has been misunderstood.
Did you speak to Vincent Cassel about La Haine, because there’s a whole thing in La Haine where they see a big billboard that says ‘The World is Ours’?
Yeah, yeah. And there are also many French songs that use the same catchphrase. And the idea of the character of Vincent was it was almost like his character from those days if he spent all of the 2000s in jail – he hasn’t seen internet and comes out into the world after taking too many pills in prison and then discovering the everything. That was the idea.
The film is centred around a mother-son relationship which is strange for a gangster film.
Yeah this is why it’s there, because we had all those different stories and I wanted to make a film in that world, but then I had the realisation that I need to make a film about my mum and cover it in a gangster movie. And I can say that because I know she wont see this, but in the french interviews I would never say it. But there are scenes in the film where it is literally my mother speaking. She is not a gangster, she’s a film producer, she produces my dad’s films (Costa-Gavras), but for such a small person, she is very, very tough.
So will you make a film about your dad secretly then?
Maybe one day but. It’s funny because my dad is obviously a very well known director, but my mother is the one who has the most power. He wouldn’t be my dad without my mum. She is really something.
The World Is Yours is released 26 April. Read the LWLies review.
The lengths one man will go to in order to secure the exclusive rights to sell Mister Freeze ice pops to the overheated denizens of north African is the driving force behind this chirpy gangster comedy from French promo man, Romain Gavras. It’s a film which skirts a fine line between depicting the inherent dangers of entering into the hard-bitten world of gangsterism, while also mocking the pettiness and stupidity of many of its key archetypes.
François (Karim Leklou) is a push-around guy, a lovable prank monkey who embraces the idea of legitimacy but does’t quite have the intellectual wiles to succeed on those terms. In order to drum up some seed capital for his ice pop dreams, he agrees to oversee a drug deal in a slick Spanish beach resort, convinced by maniac mobster Poutine (Sofian Khammes) that the whole thing will be an absolute cakewalk, a model of sedate professionalism and seriousness. And he’s very wrong about that. Fist fights, public humiliation, sly bargaining and a bungled kidnap are all part of this supposedly simple plan.
Though the film recalls the sun-bleached Floridian environs of Brian De Palma’s cult classic Scarface (of which the title is a direct reference), this perhaps has more in common with the mockney wideboy capers made by Guy Ritchie before he was subsumed as a franchise journeyman for the studios.
While the persistently naffed-off François doesn’t make for the most endearing central character, Gavras is generous when it comes to filling out the film with eccentric bit-parters and all bring their own combustible energy to the brew. There’s one scene in which a pair of diminutive French henchmen – both with their eyes on secretly toppling the boss and taking over the rackets – pull up their car while one films the other throwing punches at a group of bemused English tourists which is very funny in its total randomness.
The real treasure, though, is the return of the great Isabelle Adjani, who relishes the role of François’ annoyingly interventionist mother, Danny. With none of the airs and graces of your typical French grande dame, she still manages to steal every scene in which she appears. She lives in a dingy apartment block, but presents herself to the world as if she’s married to a Saudi prince.
Just the strange juxtaposition of this mob mama consorting with dim-witted hoods while kitted out in flamboyant haute couture would have been enough, but she brings a physical comic fire and careworn humanity to this mother who just wants to prevent her son from failing without having to tell him he’s a born fuck-up.
It’s fun, light and maybe a little empty, but the film is powered by some enjoyably daft caricatures and ends up saying that even when does pay, there are unseen costs a-plenty when the cash does finally roll in.
At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, our heroes were left in dire straights. The success of Thanos in eliminating half of all living creatures throughout the universe left but a handful of Earth’s mightiest heroes, including the OG Avengers, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Devastated not only by their losses but the idea that they have failed in their only objective, they more or less drift apart.
Five years later, the ravaged world seems no closer to its former glory. Grief is a black cloud which hangs over abandoned buildings, seas of rusted-out cars lingering in parking lots. In the aftermath of Thanos’ success, the world looks a lot like an episode of The Leftovers. Captain America chairs a support group for those grieving. Black Widow is de facto leader of what’s left of SHIELD. Hawkeye is enjoying an extended sojourn as a katana-wielding assassin.
Everyone is surviving, more or less, but the wounds of the past are still ugly and open rather than scars. With the surprise arrival of Scott “Ant-Man” Lang (Paul Rudd), previously assumed dead, comes a final chance for redemption, to right the wrongs of the past through a spot of time travel.
So follows an enjoyable trip down memory lane, covering 10 years of Marvel exploits, revisiting old territory, older and wiser and more equipped to confront the past. The three-hour runtime of Avengers: Endgame had many balking, but it zips along quickly – after so many films heavy on exposition and setting gears in motion, Anthony and Joe Russo have nothing to do but knock the dominos down. Much to their credit, they pull it off.
With the cast thinned out thanks to Thanos, there’s more time for individuals to shine. Not everyone’s favourite gets a moment, but there should be comfort in the fact they’ll probably be back in a year or so. We remember what a gifted comic actor Chris Hemsworth is, and how much Thor has come as a character since the figurative and literal Dark World. Downey Jr, Evans and Johansson are all given the opportunity to remind us that before they were part of this machine, they were telling stories with less flash and cash and more heart and soul.
As the body count stacks up, it’s a comfort to think that some of those who bow out from the MCU this year will hopefully go on to choose projects which challenge them as actors. Sometimes it’s easy to forget this talent – and often, the Marvel films forget it too. The stakes, which felt pleasingly real in Infinity War, feel real now too.
If only they could keep Alan Silvestri off those damn strings and learn that it’s okay to have silence in a big, expensive film. Some of the scenes really need a little more time to breathe. Similarly, bigger and bolder VFX doesn’t equal a more impressive spectacle: the best fight scenes in Endgame are ones shot at close range focusing on a single or few characters – Captains America and Marvel each get a pretty great one.
Endgame lacks the distinct identity of Marvel’s most interesting and successful projects, namely Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. There are no hallmarks to be had here, no real stylistic flair that doesn’t come down to things already established in past films. So it all falls to the narrative, and thankfully it’s a solid one: there’s plenty of levity as well as gravity in Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s script, and the pair certainly embrace the weird and wonderful essence of comic books. Some fun storylines ripped straight from the pages themselves seem to be coming into frame, which suggests they might be ready to take more risks with the next phase of the MCU.
For those that have grown up immersed in a world with heroes and villains doing constant battle it’s 10 years’ worth of paydirt, and the self-indulgence can be forgiven. Marvel finally seem to realise they have no need to convert the cynics, and Endgame is, at its heart, about all the things superhero films always are: being true to yourself, the power of sacrifice, and the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘evil’ (if it’s ever that simple in the first place). When you start to detangle the knotty politics of the film, it falters, but it’s still liable to ignite a spark about anthropological ethics and the science of time travel. Not bad for a popcorn movie.
But the shine is tempered by something. How can we reconcile Disney as a corporation with a film like Avengers: Endgame, which is so earnest and strident in its belief that people will work selflessly towards the greater good? While independent cinema seems to be under threat – not least from Disney’s historic acquisition of Fox – the cogs of the machine keep turning with relentless precision and regularity. Every six months or so, a superhero film will arrive.
It will make vast sums of money. To quote another Disney blockbuster: “No one’s ever really gone”. For three hours of pure escapism, Endgame pays dividends, and to those who have invested in these fantastical character arcs, closure feels pretty fucking great. But films do not exist in a vacuum – no movie is ever ‘just a movie’.
Why do we love movies? Why do we dedicate such time, effort and expense to them as an artform? If you’re reading this, presumably it’s out of interest in them, be it passing or deep-rooted in the very fibre of your being. The reasons are almost infinite: they tell us who we are, who we could be. Where we came from, where we are, where we’re going. They take us away, they bring us home. They are our connection to past, present and future, to almost every corner of the planet. The art of cinema, bluntly put, is the art of being alive.
As satisfying as all those callbacks and payoff moments are in Endgame, nothing beats the feeling of ownership and belonging than comes with finding something in films to truly call your own. Marvel movies provide that for many people, and we can impotently rage against, or rally to champion the voices in cinema that really need that ferocious energy behind them. Disney and Marvel are never the be-all and end-all, and we must do what we can to ensure that their films exist as they should: alongside movies from all over the world, about all of the world. We still have so far to go.
Much like Albanian singing sensation Dua Lipa, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has new rules; they count ’em.
The most notable among them regards requirements for eligibility, a sticking point for streaming platforms resentful of the obligation to screen for at least seven days in a brick-and-mortar Los Angeles theater in order to qualify for consideration. Earlier this year, traditionalist Steven Spielberg and new kids on the block Netflix were made into figureheads on opposing sides of this great crisis.
Now that the Academy has decided to uphold that original stance, however, Spielberg wants to clear the air. Speaking to the New York Times, he took a both-sides approach:
“I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them. Big screen, small screen – what really matters to me is a great story and everyone should have access to great stories… However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience – cry together, laugh together, be afraid together – so that when it’s over they might feel a little less like strangers.”
The other major announcement concerns the Best Foreign Language Film category, which will henceforth be renamed Best International Feature Film. Though the switch-up will not alter the guidelines for submission in any way, it reflects a growing consciousness from a maturing Academy body.
Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co-chairs of the International Feature Film Committee, released a statement addressing the passé ethnocentrism of the former title:
“We have noted that the reference to ‘Foreign’ is outdated within the global filmmaking community. We believe that International Feature Film better represents this category, and promotes a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience.”
In other news, the Makeup & Hairstyling category will expand from three nominees to five, and the archaic rule requiring eight animated feature films be released in a calendar year to “activate” the category has been done away with.
Aside from that, it’s business as usual – which is to say, a haywire ceremony in constant flux that may or may not dispose of the basic hosting concept when it rolls around next year. Like good ol’ Dua Lipa, we can see the pattern, but we can never really learn.
The Academy Awards will be held on 9 February, 2020.
Nowhere does Jean-Paul Sartre’s old adage “Hell is other people” feel more appropriate than when you’re a teenager. Terminal embarrassment, parental friction – chaos reigns when you’re at ‘that age’. In his directorial debut Eighth Grade, comedian Bo Burnham explores the anxieties of adolescence through the eyes of 14-year-old Kayla Day, played to perfection by breakout star Elsie Fisher.
LWLies: Could you describe your real-life eighth grade experience in one word?
Bo Burnham: I would say ‘forgetful’. With the movie, I wasn’t trying to exorcise my experience – I wanted to write about the internet, I wanted to write about right now, and it wasn’t until we were making the movie that I realised, ‘Okay, my past is embedded in this somehow.’
Elsie Fisher: ‘Lonely’. I think eighth graders – and I know I definitely did – work very hard to be cool and be friends with people, and that can be difficult sometimes. You become self-aware at that age. I was never bullied, it was just trying to get people’s attention, be it good or bad. Everyone is so disconnected now. It could be that bullying went out of style, or that everyone’s on their phone now, or a plethora of things. But I just felt lonely more than anything.
Was there a process of learning on set and bringing experience of the actual kids into the story?
BB: That was the hope. In pre-production and writing we spent so much time trying to nail these kids’ experiences, and then when we actually had the kids there. We had to listen. It wasn’t about getting everything right and telling them, ‘I have made this completely honest vision, bend yourself to my story!’ Kids are so open and chaotic – part of it was capturing that spontaneity, but also letting the kids feel like they were participating and they had ownership over their things. When they’re engaged in that way I think they just given better performances.
EF: Right before Eighth Grade I was ready to quit acting because I wasn’t enjoying it, and I didn’t think I was good at it because I was having struggles with my speech. It was definitely easier on Eighth Grade because the script felt truer to who I was as a teenager, and I appreciated that.
There are a lot of contemporary pop culture references within the film.
BB: Some of them I don’t get! When that one kid was shouting ‘LeBron James’, I didn’t understand that. Kayla saying ‘Gucci’ was down to Elsie – she would actually say it on set. I didn’t know what it meant.
EF: Gucci was a nervous tic I had on set. I hadn’t worked on a movie in a long time, and this was my very first lead role, so I was very nervous. ‘Gucci’ was something I’d say in place of ‘cool’ or ‘okay’. So someone would say, ‘Do you want a water?’ and I’d say ‘Gucci!’ and they’d be like, ‘What are you?’ [laughs] So Bo started doing it a lot to embarrass me, and then it became an inside joke on set, then it escalated and became part of the movie.
The film wrestles with adolescent social anxiety, which is something that’s quite hard to capture on camera.
BB: I wanted to try and simulate Kayla’s experience of anxiety for the viewers. VR was an influence on the movie, particularly the pool party scene – there are some short films, especially horror shorts, which do it really well. The thing with social anxiety, for people that may not su er from it, it’s a very surreal experience that grafts itself onto normal low-stakes experiences and makes them really intense.
EF: I knew I had anxiety before we made the film, but I didn’t think anyone else struggled with it, or that other people did but didn’t feel it as much as me. So I spent a lot of time being reclusive because I was dealing with those problems. The film was a perfect way to express how I felt. I’d gone through eighth grade and all those struggles, and then relived them like a week later on set, like a very odd form of therapy.
How did your own experience of being online inform the film?
BB: I was this kid that came from the internet, and I always felt that was a pejorative thing. I tried to run away from it until I realised, ‘No, this place is scary and strange, but our struggles with it are deep and interesting.’ So I felt a responsibility to myself, like I needed to represent this thing and have my experience represented on screen. I think there are some people out there who only see this generation of teenagers as material for satire. They think it’s so ridiculous to be on your phone all day. We wanted no judgement – just to observe these kids, and not moralise them, or try to teach them. I wanted the kids to feel seen, and recognise their experience.
EF: Y’know, your experience is kind of universal in eighth grade. Even if you personally never go through eighth grade, you’re going to feel at some point in your life the exact same way someone has felt, and I think that’s really sweet, how universal these feelings of wanting to crawl into a hole and die are. I think it’s cool that my 11-year-old brother and my 80-year-old grandfather can both relate to it. Everyone has their own personal eighth grade.
The enormous upheavals in Chinese society since the turn of the millennium have given filmmakers hugely rich subject matter, but undoubtedly presented a creative challenge in the process. As fortunes are made in the country’s new embrace of commerce, living standards are transformed, and in the meantime huge state infrastructure projects radically carve up the landscape. It’s the stuff of teeming Dickensian doorstopper novels, and for any filmmaker the task at hand is doing justice to the vast scale of everything while also keeping tabs on the daily realities of ordinary individuals.
Enter Jia Zhangke, whose own filmmaking progress has morphed in 20 years from low-budget, reportage-style docudrama shot outside the system to more grandiose narratives of social change funded by prestigious international co-production. All of which has made him world cinema’s go-to guy for an authentic take on China’s domestic upheavals, and his ninth feature is handily representative of what he does best.
Jia himself is from the less-than-fashionable Shanxi province in the north of the country, just before you hit Mongolia. Indeed, an outsider’s view shapes Ash Is Purest White, whose title is inspired by the notion that local volcanic soils are pure because they were formed in the heat of an eruption. Easy to see how that metaphor applies to contemporary lives, in a storyline which spans from 2001 to 2017, and, significantly, is centred among the low-level criminal fraternity. At the start of the new century, manly moustachioed Liao Fan lords it over a small-town gang of hoods, with no-nonsense moll Zhao Tao at his side.
The Village People’s ‘YMCA’ is rocking the dance floor, they’ve got ample booze, loadsa cash and confidence to burn. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the burgeoning economy, for one thing, intensifies underworld rivalries, and a vicious ambush is to change the destinies of the central couple on a permanent basis. Further segments of the story move things on to 2006 and then 2017, as emotional bonds ebb and flow, their home patch gets upgraded to flash metropolis, yet new prosperity seems to pass by these social outliers.
Melodrama isn’t Jia’s natural terrain, yet Zhao and Liao make the most potent couple in his entire filmography, creating an undemonstrative but compelling sense of connection which holds the film together. Zhao is Jia’s spouse and muse, and once again she commands the screen here, showing striking reserves of resilience in adversity. Liao too digs deep as the alpha male who has little to fall back on when his manly posturing loses its currency.
The tripartite narrative structure familiar from Jia’s previous feature, Mountains May Depart, and the geographic scale he delivered in A Touch of Sin and Still Life are also in evidence, bringing a genuine sense of aerial overview on how time and economic lift-off have altered the nation. Somehow though, there’s a deeper humanity and sense of loss this time. When everything’s being uprooted these characters try to remain grounded in their jianghu criminal codes of loyalty, but it’s movingly clear that not all ties can withstand the ferocity of change.
Nothing quite isolates the human condition like a vessel in the middle of a vast ocean. So it is that films like Kon Ichikawa’s Alone Across the Pacific, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and JC Chandor’s All Is Lost pit boatmen solo against the elements of an unforgiving universe, all as a test of the thesis that ‘no man is an island’. No woman either, for Helena Wittmann’s Drift, Baltasar Kormákur’s Adrift and now Wolfgang Fischer’s Styx send single-handed yachtswomen into a similar tempest of existential crisis.
Styx opens with images of Barbary macaques at first seen on the branch of a tree as though in the wild, but then revealed to be wandering the buildings and parking lots of Gibraltar’s urbanised coastline. It is from here that German emergency worker Rike (Susanne Wolff) will begin her voyage on her well-equipped 11-metre yacht Asa Grey to the middle of the Atlantic, where she hopes to see for herself Ascension Island’s “artificial jungle, designed by Charles Darwin”.
So, right from that initial glimpse of monkeys in a human environment, through to Rike’s intended destination of a paradise created by human planning, Styx promises the Darwinian themes of evolution and survival of the fittest. Indeed, Rike herself is not only efficient at providing for her own very comfortable survival, filling her boat with far more supplies than she will ever need; she also proves highly adaptable to circumstance, weathering a fierce storm alone with relative ease. Rike keeps everything perfectly shipshape, and thrives alone in this most hostile of environments, through careful planning, her own resourcefulness, and of course the economic means to surround herself with high-quality resources.
It’s only when, somewhere off the coast of Mauretania, she encounters an overladen refugee boat in distress and sinking, that Rike is confronted with a situation she cannot so easily handle. Unlike an earlier scene on her home turf of Cologne, where Rike swiftly attended the victim of a car accident with help from a carefully coordinated team of other emergency services operatives, now she is alone, with the coast guard on the radio simultaneously advising her to stay away from the flagging vessel while seemingly unwilling themselves to intervene in the unfolding disaster.
Accordingly what begins as a high-seas adventure in isolationism ends as a confronting portrait of the thin towline connecting us all as humans – but not connecting us all equally. It is a nautical yarn about the haves and the have-nots, using the microcosm of the Asa Grey to explore social, economic and political dilemmas that are the neglected responsibility of us all.
Though it is a very different film, the title of Fischer’s previous – and first – feature, What You Don’t See, might well have been used here too, given that Styx insistently puts before our eyes difficult, uncomfortable issues that we might prefer to stay invisible, out of sight and out of mind beneath the surface of our relatively comfortable Western voyage through life.
In fact, Fischer has named his film after the mythological river that leads the souls of the dead to the Underworld – at least for those who can afford to pay Charon for their passage. We are, it turns out, all islands only insofar as we are willing to keep off our plentiful shores those others in dire need of what we have.
After attempting the very first feature-length film shot at 120 frames per second with the buggy, hard-to-watch Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in 2016, Ang Lee swears he’s worked out all the kinks.
While his new picture Gemini Man was captured using the same unusually high framerate, Lee believes that the technology has caught up to the sophistication of his vision since the last go. And now, he’s unveiled a trailer for upcoming the sci-fi epic so that the public might judge for themselves.
Will Smith takes the lead in the film, supported by up-and-comer Will Smith. The artist formerly known as Big Willie Style plays Henry Brogen, an assassin tasked with eliminating an impossible target: himself. Through the digital wizardry of de-aging technology, Smith also portrays his own younger clone, who doesn’t intend on letting the original get the drop on him.
With some help from associates Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong, a confused Henry scrambles to uncover the truth about his own past while trying to sort out the Looper-ish situation he’s landed himself in.
It’s a big gamble on several fronts, both as another experiment in largely untested equipment for Lee and as a demanding showcase for Will Smith. (Whose last three movies, it bears mentioning, were Bright, Collateral Beauty, and Suicide Squad.) Despite having bagged a Best Director Oscar this decade, Lee needs this to work.
Gemini Man comes to theaters in the US on 4 October, and then the UK on 11 October.
Anyone who’s ever attended the Cannes Film Festival knows that the Quinzaine is where it’s at. Situated just a short walk along the Croisette from where the main action takes place, the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar is where discerning cinephiles go to check out new work from veteran auteurs and emerging talent.
Last year’s Quinzaine curtain raiser was Gaspar Noé’s controversial party film Climax, and the opening film for the festival’s 51st edition looks a comparatively safe – although no less wacky – choice: per its official synopsis, Deerskin, from French electronic musician and sometime director Quentin Dupieux, is the story of a man “whose obsession with his designer deerskin jacket causes him to blow his life savings and turn to crime.”
Elsewhere there’s a welcome return to Cannes for Japanese mainstay Takashi Miike and Filipino master Lav Diaz, while The Witch writer/director Robert Eggers will unveil his hotly-anticipated second feature, The Lighthouse, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. There’s also a spot for Bertrand Bonello, whose teenage terrorism thriller Nocturama was famously rejected from Cannes three years ago. Here’s the Quinzaine 2019 line-up in full:
Deerskin (Quentin Dupieux)
Alice and the Mayor (Nicolas Pariser)
And Then We Danced (Levan Akin)
The Halt (Lav Diaz)
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää)
First Love (Takashi Miike)
Give Me Liberty (Kirill Mikhanovsky)
Ghost Tropic (Bas Devos)
Song Without a Name (Melina León)
The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers)
Lillian (Andreas Horwath)
Les Particules (Blaise Harrison)
The Orphanage (Shahrbanoo Sadat)
Blow it to Bits (Lech Kowalski)
Oleg (Juris Kursietis)
An Easy Girl (Rebecca Zlotowski)
To Live to Sling (Johnny Ma)
Sick Sick Sick (Alice Furtado)
For the Money (Alejo Moguillansky)
Perdrix (Erwan Le Duc)
Tlames (Ala Eddine Slim)
Zombi Child (Bertrand Bonello)
Wounds (Babak Anvari)