Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the gremlin-in-space drama “Life” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson, the reboot of “Power Rangers,” “CHIPs” with Dax Shepard and Michael Pena and Kristen Stewart’s ghostly “Personal Shopper.”
Ghostbusting is supposed to make you feel good. If that’s true, why does Personal Shopper’s Maureen (played by Kristen Stewart) appear so miserable all the time? Perhaps it’s because the spirit she is trying to bust is that of her brother Lewis, a twin who died of a heart attack in a rambling, old Paris house.
In her second film with French director Olivier Assayas, the Twilight star gives a career topping performance, brittle yet calm in the face of mounting terror. There is a detached feel to the performance that recalls the remove Hitchcock’s leading ladies often projected as she navigates through personal tragedy and supernatural mystery.
“Kristen is the great actress of her generation,” says Assayas. “I feel very privileged to have this connection with her. It is miraculous to work with a young actress who realizes there is no end to what she can do. You tell her, ‘You can fly,’ and she doesn’t believe it and then she does it.
“I have always loved to work with young actors and actresses. You catch them at a moment when they are transforming and opening up. I think it is always interesting to work with actors when you can give them something. When you work with great actors who have done it all, it is very difficult because you give them something that they have already done better in another movie ten years before. “
Their previous collaboration, Clouds of Sils Maria, earned Stewart a rare honour. She was the first American actress to be nominated for and win a best supporting actress César award, the French equivalent of an Oscar.
“She is obsessed with breaking anything that could feel like routine,” he says. “She gives herself this rule of not doing what she would instinctively do. When you do a scene there is an obvious starting place. She never takes it. That’s what I love. As a writer I don’t want to see what I imagined, I want to see an actor who takes it, who appropriates it and does something else with it. That’s when it becomes real and human.”
“Usually I work with actors once, twice and after a while I realize we’ve gone all the way. With Kristen I think I could go on and on.”
Personal Shopper is a ghost story, so things take a strange turn when Maureen’s phone lights up with mysterious texts while she’s on a quick Chunnel trip to London. “R U real? R U alive or dead?” she writes, replying to the Unknown texter. “Tell me something you find unsettling,” comes the response, opening the door for Maureen to begin exploring her fears, phobias, digging deeper than she ever has.
“I don’t believe in the supernatural but I believe there is more to life than the material world. Science kind of proves it. There is so much going on that we can’t see because it is too small or too big or whatever. We have our own relationship with some invisible world. Each of us has his own version of it. You end up living with the departed. Each of us has an inner world which is much more complex than the material world. It’s much more fascinating in terms of cinema. I don’t think it is bizarre to try and connect with that.”
Ghostbusting is supposed to make you feel good. If that’s true, why does Maureen (Kristen Stewart) appear so miserable all the time? Perhaps it’s because the spirit she is trying to bust is that of her brother Lewis, a twin who died of a heart attack in a rambling, old Paris house.
Maureen is an American in Paris working as a personal shopper for pampered jet setter Kyra Hellman (Nora Von Waltstätten). Her job is to pick up and deliver Kyra’s glamorous clothes and jewellery from fashion houses all over the city. When she isn’t choosing filmy Chanel dresses or weighty Cartier necklaces for her boss Maureen spends time trying to contact her dead sibling. They had a deal, whoever died first would send the other a sign. Lewis was a medium, a person able to contact the dead. “I’m not a medium,” she says. “I have to give his spirit, whatever you call it,” she says, “a chance to prove he was right.”
This is a ghost story, so things take a strange turn when Maureen’s phone lights up with mysterious texts while she’s on a quick Chunnel trip to London. “R U real? R U alive or dead?” she writes, replying to the Unknown texter. “Tell me something you find unsettling,” comes the response, opening the door for Maureen to begin exploring her fears, phobias, digging deeper than she ever has.
Spines will be tingled during “Personal Shopper.” The computerized ghostly spirit that visits Maureen from time to time isn’t spooky, but the atmosphere director Olivier Assayas cultivates throughout sure is. Tension and unease build slowly as Maureen’s life slowly takes a turn to the surreal.
Stewart gives a career topping performance, brittle yet calm in the face of mounting terror. This isn’t a showy performance. Instead Stewart opts for naturalism, at least as natural as possible given the subject matter that highlights the deep sense of loneliness she feels in the wake of her brother’s passing. There is a detached feel to the performance that recalls the remove Hitchcock’s leading ladies often projected as she navigates through personal tragedy and supernatural mystery.
“Personal Shopper” doesn’t feel like a horror film. Assayas has made a moody psychological thriller that is about the absence of a loved one as much as it is about thrills and chills.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. It’s a full house today. Dax Shepard and Michael Pena stop by to chat about doing the stunts in “CHIPS,” their wild and wooly update of 70s television nostalgia. Wyatt Russell talks about his famous parents, Goldie and Kurt, and how playing a professional hockey player in “Goon: Last of the Enforcers” took him back to when he was a real life professional goalie. Then to round out the visit, “Personal Shopper” director Olivier Assayas calls Kristen Stewart the “best actress of her generation.” It’s good stuff so c’mon in and sit a spell.
“The Clouds of Sils Maria” contains fine performances from its leads, Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz, some delicious irony, and some razor sharp commentary on the state of modern celebrity. What it’s missing is entertainment value.
French director Olivier Assayas has made an art house “Birdman,” with stunt casting but allows it to get weighed down by its ideas and melodrama.
Binoche is actress Maria Enders, an international star who got her start decades ago on stage playing the alluring Sigrid in “Maloja Snake,” a young woman who drove her boss Helena to suicide. When she is offered the role of the older woman in an all-star remounting of the play opposite Jo-Anne Ellis (Moretz), a scandal-prone Hollywood starlet, she retreats to the relative calm of Sils Maria, a rural town in the Alps, to rehearse with her assistant Val (Stewart) while contemplating aging, her past and her place in show business.
“The Clouds of Sils Maria” is as self absorbed as the people it portrays. The most interesting tangents, from a pop culture point of view, concern the character Val, who seems to be piercing the fourth wall by allowing Stewart to seemingly comment on her “Twilight” success and subsequent career. “I love her,” she says of Ellis, “she not completely antiseptic like the rest of Hollywood.” In fact, it’s more likely she’s referring to herself and her descent from Tween Queen to serious working actor.
“Clouds” is very much Binoche’s film—she’s in almost every scene and the action revolves around her—but thematically it’s not a stretch to see it as Stewart’s comment on her own career. “She’s brave enough to be herself,” Val says admiringly of Ellis, throwing down the gauntlet to critics who might questions her less than mainstream choices of late.
As interesting as that glimpse into Stewarts ID may be coupled with Maria’s fears of losing credibility, “The Clouds of Sils Maria’s” art vs. life premise takes pains to make the discovery of these points as obtuse as possible. Plot shards hang, interrupted by jarring scene transitions and needless narrative machinations. It’s the rare kind of movie that is undone by the very same cultural elitism it celebrates.