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Mad about Mad Max Fury Road

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The queue for MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (MAD MAX FURY ROAD)’s press conference this afternoon is LOOOONG and very very busy with conversation. Some people HATE the movie. But most are blown away. As blown away as the sand in the desert storms depicted in the film.

I was most blown away by George Miller’s wife. She’s South African. I interviewed him years ago for Babe – and he mentioned then – very proudly – that his wife was South African. And today I met her. And she is indeed South African. In fact – although she’s spent more years out of South African than Charlize she sounds a LOT more South African than the Hollywood star.

 George MILLER 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2012 Village Roadshow Films
George MILLER 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2012 Village Roadshow Films

So George’s wife was there today because she’s the brilliant film editor – who spent HOURS cutting and splicing and turning this film – that had no real plan – into a movie. George handed it over to her because he knew she would make it interesting.

 Film Still 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2012 Village Roadshow Films
Film Still 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2012 Village Roadshow Films

For over a year she had virtually no life as she sat in front of a screen with her team and turned this into a masterpiece.

It’s obvious from some of the comments made by Charlize that she wasn’t that enthralled with the whole experience. Even though it took her back home – filming was in Namibia – the sand seems to have been too much and too boring for Charlize. And she found George’s method a little different. At times the actors would ask him for direction – but mostly what he had was a comic strip of what he wanted rather than an actual script.

But in the end Charlize is AMAZING as Furiosa. A true hero – male or female.

The film is surely set for great things. Unlike Brad Pitt, Charlize gapped it at the end of the press conference, not stopping to smile, sign autographs or pose for anyone.

Mad Max Fury Road Review

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mad max fury road

This was so well done by George Miller. Interesting to hear Tom Hardy talk about George Miller’s style – no script just sketches – he felt completely lost at first but in the end found this style of filming quite inspiring.

This is one high octane movie from start to finish with a lot of human to the characters. I felt quite invested in their survival almost cheering them on when they came into contact with the Warlords marshals and his all his gangs who have been enlisted to track them down and kill them.

The war rig is driven by no other than Charlize Theron who plays Imperator Furiosa who is unwillingly joined by Max Rockatansky played by Tom hardy who believes the best way to survive is to go it alone. As much as he tries to go it alone events force him into the war rig where his skills come to great use.

Mad Max had me gripped from beginning to end and highly recommend you go see this epic picture by George Miller.

Welcome to the Coen Brothers’ Jury of the 68th Festival de Cannes

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Day One and we’re straight into it. The brilliant, formidable, dazzling Cannes Film Festival 2016!

The Jury of the 68th Festival de Cannes

And, as is usual on Day One – we get to meet the Jury – the men and women who will decide which films and actors are the best from this year’s offerings…and the selection is varied and wonderful and of course – I’m most excited for South African Charlize Theron’s ‘Mad Max’…

This year it’s headed by the dynamo brothers – Joel and Ethan Coen. Directors, screen writers, producers. Now presidents!!! Of the Jury of the 69th Festival de Cannes.

They announce their selection this year will be loose. It will be what they enjoy. They won’t be analysing. They’ll be sitting back and enjoying. The first time for many of the jury that they are able to enjoy movies without being stressed that they’re starring in them or somehow involved.

This year’s team comes from cinema around the world – Canada, Spain, the United States, France, Mali, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

They are Rossy de Palma (Actress – Spain), Sophie Marceau (Actress, Director – France), Sienna Miller (Actress – United Kingdom) – who is brilliant and funny and even more beautiful in reality, Rokia Traoré (Composer, Singer-songwriter – Mali), Guillermo del Toro (Director, Writer, Producer – Mexico), Xavier Dolan (Director, Writer, Producer, Actor – Canada) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Actor – United States).

Jake leaves the most lasting impression. When all the members are asked for their connection to Swedish icon Ingrid Bergman – featured on this year’s poster – everyone trots out the usual stuff about her being such an icon, an inspiration etc…but Jake, not Jake. He gives us details and humour and connection. He reveals that half his family is Swedish so he has always hoped in some way that he may be related to her. He also adds that his mother – who is not from the Swedish side of the family – begged him to return with just one thing for her – a poster of Ingrid Bergman.

And the 2014 Winners are…

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This year the Cannes Film Festival winners were announced tonight, Saturday…making it easier for everyone to travel back to their home countries for an early start on Monday! In the past the winners were always announced on Sunday night…meaning some had already left the Festival, or that they had to lounge next to the beautiful Hotel du Cap swimming pool for just a little longer…waiting in hope.

Timothy Spall

And the winners are…

Palme d’Or – WINTER SLEEP,  Directed by Nuri Bilge CEYLAN
Grand Prix – LE MERAVIGLIE (THE WONDERS), Directed by Alice ROHRWACHER
Award for Best Director – Bennett MILLER for FOXCATCHER
Award for Best Screenplay – Andrey ZVYAGINTSEV, Oleg NEGIN for LEVIATHAN
Award for Best Actress – Julianne MOORE in MAPS TO THE STARS Directed by David CRONENBERG
Award for Best Actor – Timothy SPALL in MR. TURNER Directed by Mike LEIGH
Jury Prize – MOMMY Directed by Xavier DOLAN
ADIEU AU LANGAGE (GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE) Directed by Jean-Luc GODARD

I could not be happier for Bennett Miller and Julianne Moore. Without a doubt, they were the most deserved for those awards. Bennett’s ‘Foxcatcher’ is just brilliant, and having sat through the press conference with the actors, it was obvious how much input Bennett had. He lived and breathed this film.

And Julianne Moore. She was incredible in ‘Maps to the Stars’. She always chooses roles that are challenging and that reveal more of her than most actresses would be willing to reveal…but this one pushes even Julianne further over the edge. She is surely one of the bravest and most versatile actresses of our time.

But it was for Timothy Spall that I found myself quietly sobbing with joy for him when he spoke to us after receiving his award. He was so visibly moved, so clearly the guy who is used to always coming second…or even last. Spall won Best Actor for his portrayal of the eccentric British painter JMW Turner (1775-1851) in ‘Mr Turner’, a role for which he learnt to paint with his left hand.

He walked into our press room afterwards and said “I am so proud, so touched, so deeply touched by this award. I’m a little overwhelmed,” he admitted.

He said when he received the award he got “very emotional. So sorry. There’s no fool like an old fool,” he said, wiping away tears. “I’ve got used to not expecting it. I’ve spent most of my career playing support roles.”

He said he was thrilled to have been the lead in this, and with a director that he has so much respect for – Mike Leigh. He stressed the movie was collaborative and the award was for all the team.

Spall said that he would be celebrating with a “paracetemol, biscuit and champagne.” He said that right now he feels like a “bewildered 16-year-old girl or boy, so astounded by this award.”

And so we come to the end of another fantastic Cannes Film Festival. We can’t wait for the next!

Jimmy’s Hall Not Quite a Dance and a Thrill

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Just two years ago Ken Loach was in Cannes (as he so often, thankfully, is) with a wonderful gift of a film called “The Angel’s Share”. So it was with great anticipation that I walked into the theatre to watch “Jimmy’s Hall”.

Jimmys Hall
Jimmys Hall – a rare scene of happiness in the film. Photo © Sixteen Films

But it’s just not the same. And nor, I suppose, should it be. Loach is entitled to make a variety of films, as he has. But after Angel’s, and the enchantment of it and it’s ability to make a soul sing, one expects a little of the same with a movie that is centred around a dance hall.

Instead one gets a film that is a lesson in Irish history and feels almost as restrictive and constrictive in its emotions as the etiquette and rules of the time were.

There are also at least three occasions during the unfolding of the film when it appears that it’s been either too sloppily or too sharply edited with chunks missing here and there, so one’s never too sure what happened in the interim. You have to fill in too many dots, remember too many facts that at times you feel you’re back at school rather than settled in to a movie theatre.

So your soul won’t skip but you may learn a little about how harsh life was for Irish people back in 1921. In fact there were many similarities to an apartheid South Africa, to a time when free thought and expression was not welcomed, even allowed…and when religion was used to influence people with fear rathe than love, and with motives that often seemed the opposite of the brotherhood of man they were meant to be espousing.

Jimmy Gralton (played by Barry Ward) returns from America to build a dance hall in rural Ireland. His dream is for young people to be able to come there to learn and to argue and to dream…and most importantly to dance and have fun. But the church will have none of it.

According to the movie’s synopsis the movie “celebrates the spirit of these free-thinkers”. Unfortunately the spirit of those who oppose the free-thinkers is even stronger, with incredibly grumpy faces and attitudes pervading the movie, and apart from some isolated scenes – like when Jimmy’s mother fiercely protects her son from the police – the spirit is missing. (In fact apart from that scene, Jimmy’s mother herself seemed to have not been well cast and most scenes with her in were awkward to watch.)

There are moments though of high-spiritness. But they are fleeting.

Mommy

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Xavier Dolan writes and directs Mommy this foreign film with sub titles.
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At 25 years old, writer/director Xavier Dolan has already made his 5th feature film with his newest movie Mommy, a story about a working class mother struggling to raise her violent, ADHD son. Starring Anne Dorval, Antoine Olivier Pilon and Suzanne Clement, the movie was shot with a strikingly narrow square frame which creates dynamic, unique visuals that illustrate this beautiful story about the strength of a bond between mother and son.
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His characters are flawed but at the same time also very complicated characters – he gives his characters realism and authenticity and will affect most people when it comes to the mom and son relationship with it’s rawness.
sapeople - cannes film festival  - mommy
A single mom finds herself burdened with the full time custody of her explosive 15 year ADHD son. As they try to make ends meet, the girl across the street, Kyla offers much needed support. Together they find a news sense of balance and hope is restored.
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This is really the story of motherly love and son love but she is the hero. Go see this.

Lost River Gets a Little Lost

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I so wanted to love Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut ‘Lost River’…but it gets a little lost along the way.

Ryan Gosling

The cinematography is incredible, soaked in colours that are so Ryan Gosling you can almost sense his presence in every frame. But, almost disappointingly, he never appears.

The film is definitely watchable. But somehow disappointing, and unlikely to become mainstream.

Perhaps the film would have been better if it hadn’t veered into being a fantasy feature (with a deep mystery hidden beneath a lake), and had remained rooted in reality where a real story of grit and family break-ups was being told. A story set in a town that itself was coming apart and that mirrors so many small towns around the world today…where young people no longer have a place and are forced to seek the bigger cities or an underworld to make ends meet.

Gosling’s long-term girlfriend (and the mother of his daughter) Eva Mendes stars in the film alongside Christina Hendricks (Billy) and Iain de Caestecker who plays Billy’s teenage son Bones. Billy and Bones are forced to (sometimes literally) ‘dive’ deeper and deeper into the town’s dark secret in order for their family to survive the hard times where bank managers, no matter how personal, care more about their profits than their clients.

As a director, Gosling passed with flying colours. He was also in charge of script and dialogue…and although it was good, it felt like it just wasn’t good enough for enough people to want to sit through the entire film…

The Search

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The Search is directed by Michael Hazanavicius and depicts the horror and inhuman violence in the second Chechen War in 1999. This is a remake of Fred Zinnemann’s 1948 wartime melodrama.
sapeople - cannes film festival - the search
The movie takes us through the story of four lives that are somehow connected and brought together by a twist of fate. It’s strangely put together, edited, major characters dropping off in big chunks of the film spoiling the flow and emotions Hazanavicius was hoping for.
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The film opens with Russian troops brutally executing a Muslim couple leaving behind 3 children. The 9 year old boy Hadji is afraid of the soldiers so takes his baby brother and flees, separated from his sister Raissa  – he doesn’t think he can look after his brother and leaves him on the door step of a local family and he ends up in a refugee camp.
He is found by Red Cross worker Helen played by Annette Bening but soon runs away at the sight of a soldier ending up in the reluctant care of Carole (Berenice Bejo), an EU worker compiling a human rights report in the hope of inspiring a European intervention in the region.
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Hazanavicius falls short in creating any tension and real emotion ultimately adding up to a movie that doesn’t have much to say that hasn’t be done better in other movies portraying similar war stories.

Maps to the Stars…and to Fame, Family and a Powerful Film

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Fans of movie stars can become dangerously obsessed. But when those fans are family…the obsession can become even more lethal.

Map to the Stars
Photo ©‎Daniel McFadden

‘Maps to the Stars’ is brilliantly and savagely executed. It’s raw and sophisticated. At times almost pornographic.

Julianne Moore is insanely awesome in the role of an actress who is past her prime and desperate to cling on. But just when you think this is a film about an ageing actress being afraid to let go her youth and face her mortality…it becomes about so much more.

Written by Bruce Wagner and directed by the unique ‘Crash’ director David Cronenberg, the actors are superbly cast and fill their roles incredibly. There’s a dark comic element mixed in with a cocktail of frivolous Hollywood and the pursuit of fame  (and desperation to never let it go) topped up with an unhealthy dose of fractured family relationships. So just when you think it’s about stardom…it becomes about the bonds of family and how running from the past will never ever leave it behind.

Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, Evan Bird and Sarah Gadon deliver perfect performances while John Cusack and Robert Pattinson are brilliant in their roles…Cusack as a controlling father and Pattinson as -ironically – a wanna-be.

Timbaktu

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I went to see this movie because it was in competition but I had no idea what this movie was about – no idea of the story, where it came from what it was about until now that I’ve seen it. And I still don’t really have a clear idea exactly what I saw. There are a lot intereststing stories that happen in this film but there is one main plot which doesn’t really surface until halfway through – there are many sub plots as we get to know the inhabitants of this community somewhere in the country. This community is thriving but they are being controlled by the fundamentalists in their Muslim community.
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We get to know the people who are breaking the rules by listening to outside music, not covering their faces or their hands especially the women.
The main plot revolves around this cow herder who one day one of his cows gets murdered – killed by a fisherman. He decides to take revenge so there’s this eye for an eye plot that leads to something really tragic in his families life.
There are many interesting and insightful ideas throughout the entire film – it makes one aware of this world that a lot of us are not aware of in a whole new light. The movie lets us understand it, sympathise with it at the same time be shocked and saddened by it but also relieved that it’s not part of my personal life.
It is a great film which needs time to grow on you, a film that is not for everyone even though it is PG13, might bore some people but it’s a movie that needs to be discussed afterwards to truly understand it all.
I think it’s worth watching if you have a spare 90 minutes.