Watch the whole thing HERE!
Posts Tagged ‘Robert Altman’
Watch the whole thing HERE!
Hollywood loves pointing the camera on itself but not since The Player has the selfie provided such a wonderfully sadistic portrait of Tinsel Town. At the centre of David Cronenberg’s film is a Hollywood family — played by John Cusack, Olivia Williams and Evan Bird. Orbiting them are a former big name actress (Julianne Moore) and a burn victim (Mia Wasikowska), whose presence threatens to expose closely guarded secrets. The terrific performances and decidedly un-Hollywood feel of this, the most Hollywood of Cronenberg’s films, make Maps a compelling psychological thriller.
Hollywood — self-obsessed child that it is — enjoys turning the camera on itself, but with Maps to the Stars, director David Cronenberg uses the city as a palette to paint a picture of the stupid, venal and stratospherically self-involved behaviour that goes on behind the scenes in Beverly Hills’s gated communities and back lots.
At the centre of the film are the Weisses, a Hollywood family (John Cusack, Olivia Williams and Evan Bird) with more secrets than TMZ’s too-hot-to-handle file, Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), a former big name actress who is now as messed up as she is washed up and Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a burn victim with schizophrenia whose presence threatens to expose closely guarded secrets.
This may be the most sun-dappled film Cronenberg has ever made, but don’t let the light fool you; it’s also one of his darkest. I say one of his darkest because the 71-year-old director has frequently visited what Victor Hugo called “night within us,” provoking Village Voice to call him, “the most audacious and challenging narrative director in the English-speaking world.”
Spider, a trip into the mind of a severely mentally disturbed man starring Ralph Fiennes, is a case in point. Called “Cronenberg’s most depressingly bleak film,” by critic Ken Hanke, the 2002 film sees Fiennes deliver a virtually dialogue-free performance as the title character. But it is Miranda Richardson as several characters — all the women in Spider’s life — who really steals the show. It’s a spooky, cerebral thriller.
The Brood is probably Cronenberg’s most traditional horror film. Featuring murderous psychoplasmic kids, experimental psychotherapist Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar as a fetus-licking mother, it is the very stuff that nightmares are made of. It’s lesser seen than The Fly or Dead Zone and way more down-and-dirty, but for sheer scares it’s hard to beat.
A Dangerous Mind, the tautly told story of two psychoanalysts you’ve heard of, Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), plus one you’ve probably never heard of, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), sees Cronenberg combine a love story and birth of modern analysis.
The almost total lack of physical action means the focus is on the words. Some will see a film rich with dialogue, others will see it as verbose. But that’s the kind of duality the movie explores.
Finally, in Cosmopolis, Cronenberg takes us along for an existential road trip through the breakdown of modern society. Based on a novel by Don DeLillo and starring Robert Pattinson as a controlling and self-destructive billionaire money manager, the movie covers the gamut of human experience, from haircuts, money and infidelity to asymmetrical prostates and mortality.
David Cronenberg has spent his entire career working on the fringes of Hollywood. An auteur with a singular vision, his big hits and art house flicks all live outside the The Entertainment Capital of the World. With the release of “Maps to the Stars,” the first film he ever shot in Los Angeles, he almost ensures he’ll never do business in that town again.
Hollywood enjoys turning the camera on itself, but not since Robert Altman’s “The Player” has the selfie provided such a wonderfully sadistic portrait of Tinsel Town and its citizens. Cronenberg takes a bite out of Hollywood and finds a cookie full of arsenic.
At the center of Bruce Wagner’s script are the Weiss’s, a Hollywood family with more secrets than TMZ’s too-hot-to-handle file. Father Stafford (John Cusack) is a self-help guru who uses new age jargon— “If we name it, we can tame it.”— and massage to heal his wealthy clients. One of his regulars is Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), a former big name actress who is now as messed up as she is washed up. Stafford’s wife Cristina (Olivia Williams) is the momager of Benjie (Evan Bird) a teen superstar fresh out of rehab. Into this toxic mix comes Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a burn victim with schizophrenia whose presence threatens to expose closely guarded secrets.
This may be the most sun-dappled film Cronenberg has ever made, but don’t let the light fool you, it’s also one of his darkest. The glee Havana feels when she wins a coveted role in a movie because the original actress’s son has died is a nastier indictment of Hollywood than anything in “Sunset Boulevard.” Ditto Benjie’s disappointment when he learns that the young girl he visits in the hospital has non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “I mean non-Hodgkin’s, what’s that?” he says. “Either you are or you aren’t.”
Cronenberg uses the notion of Hollywood mythology as a palette to paint a picture of the stupid, venal and stratospherically self-involved behavior that goes on behind the scenes in Beverly Hills’s gated communities.
Moore presents Havana as a bundle of exposed ego and neurosis. Cusack is a career-minded Zen master, a cruel man whose world is starting to unwind while his son Benjie is a foul-mouthed child with a squeaky clean image. Rona Barrett would have had a heyday with this bunch.
Wasikowska is the outsider, the fly in the ointment that connects and tears apart each of the characters. She’s a strange, ghostly character, almost as ghostly as the poltergeists that haunt Benjie and Havana. In a world where flickering images are often more potent than the people who make them, the appearance of specters isn’t otherworldly, it’s an expected offshoot for a world that believes in the make-believe.
“Maps to the Stars” will divide people. Some will find its sadomasochistic glee in the travails of its characters unsettling; others will revel in the terrific performances and the decidedly un-Hollywood feel of this, the most Hollywood of Cronenberg’s films.
The image of a sandcastle kicks off “Altman,” director Ron Mann’s look at the life and work of Robert Altman. The filmmaker behind movies like “M*A*S*H,” “Nashville” and “The Long Goodbye” once compared making movies to building sand castles, a metaphor he found so powerful he even named his production company Sandcastle 5.
Then later, just before the end credits, the sandcastle disappears. It’s a simple but effective visual summation of Altman’s ethos, build it, watch it go and start all over again.
Mann worked with Altman’s family and colleagues to piece together the personal and professional life of one of the mavericks of American film. The result is a comprehensive documentary that traces Altman’s work back to his roots in industrial filmmaking in Kansas City, to becoming one of television’s most in-demand directors to his iconoclastic work for the big screen. Woven into that narrative is the personal story of the director’s relationship with his wife and business partner of four decades Kathryn and their children.
The story is told in their words—Altman’s reminiscences are culled from 400 hours of footage from his public talks and interviews—accompanied by film clips and unseen until now home movies and stills.
Additional colour comes from the famous faces of Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, the late Robin Williams and Elliott Gould, who each answer one question, “What does the word Altman-esque mean to you?” The wide range of answers, which often are pared down to one word or a short phrase, provide a curt but effective glimpse at the unique multiverse Altman created in his life and work.
The result of all these elements is “Altman,” a beautiful and naturalistic portrait of a man, not just his work. It would have been impossible to go in-depth on each of Altman’s 39 films in just ninety minutes, so Mann concentrates on capturing the spirit of a man who built sandcastles over and over again.
Thanks to Thom Ernst, Karen Gilmour, Ann Echlin and The National Club for inviting Richard to sit in on their Cinephile Society screening of Robert Altman’s “Nashville” last night. They had a full house and a very lively discussion afterwards. A great night in a really beautiful place to see a movie!
A Prairie Home Companion’s story is very simple. A large company has bought the theatre and radio station that has been home to A Prairie Home Companion, a thirty-year-old homespun Mid-Western radio variety show, hosted by the eccentric GK. Week after week the tightly knit cast has told corny jokes and sung songs that range from old hat to heartfelt for a faithful audience. It is the end of an era but GK refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the night. “Every show is your last show,” he says. “That’s my philosophy.” Luckily director Robert Altman does imbue the proceedings with some weight.
The eighty-plus Altman has been making films for more than fifty years and is still one of the most distinctive filmmakers going. His style, with its long uninterrupted tracking shots with lots of over-lapping dialogue perfectly captures the chaotic goings-on backstage and the loping rhythms of the performers onstage. In a summer filled with slick action pictures Altman’s film feels old fashioned, handmade almost, and that’s a good thing. The movie is so easy going and so enjoyable that it doesn’t draw attention to how beautifully it is made.
Altman has populated the cast with eccentric characters—Guy Noir, the bumbling security guard who seems to have read one too many Raymond Chandler novels; Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson, the two surviving members of what was once a family singing act and the Dangerous Woman, an angel who appears on earth in the form of a woman who died while listening to the show—but somehow manages to balance the real human drama with the more ephemeral aspects of the story.
A Prairie Home Companion is so much more than a radio variety show on film. Altman turns the simple story into an allegory about death –with jokes. It’s a touching portrait of the end of a simpler era made by an 81 year-old man who understands the past and is astute enough to look into the future.