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Two of 2014's best art films focus on disabilities - Blind, directed by Eskil Vogt, an exceptional film about a woman going blind that I reviewed from Berlinale; and The Tribe, directed by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, a brutal but incredible Ukrainian film about a group of deaf students. The Tribe first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Critic's Week sidebar, winning multiple awards at the end of that fest. I caught the film at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland - it is disturbing but powerful. The film is presented entirely in sign language, without any subtitles or translation or dialogue. It's the beginning of sign language cinema.
"Fight!" Yep, you read that right - this film is from 2010. This film opened in China/Taiwan/Hong Kong way back in 2010, and was released on DVD in 2011, but never made it to the US. In fact, it's just now getting released in the US under the title 14 Blades, even though the original title was akin to The Brocaded Robe Guards. Martial arts star Donnie Yen plays General Qinlong in this "kung fu thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and centered on a secret service agent (Yen) in the emperor's court who is betrayed and then hunted by his colleagues." If you're into kung fu or martial arts thrillers, it's worth taking a look at - though I fear many fans may have already seen this film over the last few years. This also features Sammo Hung.
Toho has unveiled the full-length feature trailer for the latest Studio Ghibli film, titled When Marnie Was There, hitting theaters in Japan later this month (it won't arrive in the US until next year). We recently featured the first teaser trailer for Marnie, which was short and made up mostly of the theme song from the film. In this full trailer we get a better sense of the story, about a young girl who befriends a ghost named Marnie, even though she doesn't release it's a ghost. There are a few playful scenes and fun moments, but as always it just looks absolutely beautiful. I'm curious to check this out, something a bit different from Ghibli, yet still made with the same passion and detail that goes into every single frame of their movies. Have fun!
Yes! The first trailer for my favorite film of the Cannes Film Festival this year has finally debuted. Xavier Dolan is a 25-year-old filmmaker from Quebec who has already made five films, and his latest is one titled Mommy. Starring Anne Dorval and Antoine Olivier Pilon as mother/son, the story is about her trying to raise her wild and violent ADHD child. The film is mostly presented in 1:1 format (as in the trailer) which is used as a storytelling device, but I won't ruin the important moments. Instead, I will say - this is our first glimpse at an innovative film that uses the big screen medium in fresh, exciting, unforgettable ways. Enjoy.
As much as I love Studio Ghibli, I'm not the biggest fan of these kind of casting updates. I prefer the original Japanese voice cast with subtitles, but as always it's hard to sell the film here in the US without dubbed English voices. GKids has unveiled the cast for the English language version of Ghibli's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata, his first film in fourteen years. Providing the lead voice will be Chloë Grace Moretz, who is already everywhere and in every movie from Cannes to The Equalizer. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya adapts a classic story about a tiny girl found inside a shining stalk of bamboo.
Following World Cup fever, Brazil is poised to get even more attention, at least internationally, with the romantic anthology Rio, I Love You, inspired by the previous projects Paris, je t'aime and New York, I Love You. As one would expect, two trailers showcase a charming collection of short stories, all set in some gorgeous and interesting locales in the South American setting, and it looks much better than the animated film which shares its title with the city as well. Directors like Fernando Meirelles (City of God), John Turturro (Fading Gigolo) and Jose Padilha (RoboCop) all directed segments, and it looks wonderful.
Fans of foreign films may have already seen Lea Seydoux get passionate in the acclaimed French romance Blue is the Warmest Color (now available on Netflix Instant), and now the actress is finding love again in Grand Central, the second film from director Rebecca Zlotowski (Dear Prudence). The film follows the maintenance team working at a nuclear power plant, where new employee Gary (Tahar Rahim) is taken under the wing of Toni (Denis Ménochet). But complications arise when Toni's wife Karole (Seydoux) begins an affair with Gary, and we see how that begins to play out in the UK trailer for the film. Watch it!
Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi "bravely defies his 20-year ban on filmmaking yet again" to bring us his latest film, titled Closed Curtain, a follow-up to his last creation, This Is Not a Film from 2011. This new film plays with another meta concept: In a secluded house by the sea with the curtains shut, a screenwriter hides from the world with only his dog as company. The tranquility is abruptly broken one night by the arrival of a young woman fleeing from the authorities. Refusing to leave, she takes refuge in the house. But come dawn, another unexpected presence will change everything... The cast includes Kambuzia Partovi, Maryam Moqadam and Jafar Panahi. I'm intrigued, there's something about this. Maybe it's that dog.
Another interesting project on the slate in 2015. The next project from filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai has been confirmed and kinda/sorta announced, with some actual specific information about what it is. The Chinese filmmaker last brought us the beautiful martial arts epic The Grandmaster, but he hasn't made much else since My Blueberry Nights in 2007. Now he's getting ready to direct another romance, to follow up many in his career (like 2046, In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express). This one is an adaptation of Zhang Jiajia's short story Ferryman, as this will be titled, from the collection I Belonged to You sold in China. Read on.
If the American summer blockbuster explosion of Transformers: Age of Extinction or any of the other big action movies that arrived this season aren't your thing, maybe you'll find something to like in the foreign action adventure Ragnarok. It's got some Steven Spielberg flair in it as it follows an archaeologist obsessed with an old Viking ship where they find clues that lead to "No Man's Land," a region between Norway and Russia where a giant beast lays hiding beneath the sea. You might recognize Pål Sverre Hagen from Kon-Tiki in the film, and this looks like some cool alternate programming this summer. We just hate the cheesy voiceover used to hide the fact that this isn't an English-language film. Watch below!
The more classics on the big screen the better. Rialto Pictures, a specialty distributor who has re-released other films like Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless and Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad, has announced that the next classic they will be re-releasing this year is Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour starring Emmanuelle Riva (who was Oscar nominated for Amour) and Eiji Okada. First released in 1959, Rialto will be re-releasing the restored 4K version of the film, which originally debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and Locarno Film Festival last year. So while it has been showing, it's getting a theatrical release in October.
"We are all sons of America." Cohen Media Group has debuted the trailer for Alberto Arvelo's Libertador, also known as The Liberator, starring Edgar Ramirez as Simon Bolivar, the Latin American revolutionary from the late 1700s and early 1800s. This sweeping and majestic biopic tells the story of how he liberated and helped Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia gain independence from the Spanish Empire. In addition to Ramirez, Libertador also stars Maria Valverde, Danny Huston, Imanol Arias, and Gary Lewis. The performances look powerful, but the cinematography looks exceptional. This might be worth watching.
Following a trailer for the release of Roman Polanski's latest film in the United States, a new trailer for Venus in Fur has arrived as the film hits theaters in the United Kingdom this coming weekend. The trailer shows off a bit more of the erotic audition that takes some strange turns as a play's writer and director (Mathieu Almaric) finds a woman (Emmanuelle Seigner) who seems to be a perfect fit for the role he's trying to fill. This gets more than a little saucy when the sexual escapades end up with Almaric getting tied up. This is undoubtedly an odd little film, but at the very least, it's got some flair. Watch the trailer below!
From the wild and imaginative mind of director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind) comes a new romance called Mood Indigo. The first US trailer has arrived for the French film, and this looks just as whimsical as Gondry's previous foreign entry Science of Sleep as Colin (Romain Duris) falls in love with Chloe (Audrey Tautou). There's some strange stair-climbing cars, a floating cloud vehicle and more strangeness as these two people fall in love in the most peculiar way. This truly looks original and charming, and we wouldn't expect anything less from a visionary director like Gondry. Watch!