Movies by Mills (December 2013)

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Issue 8

December 2013 Merry Christmas. Joyeux Noel. Buone Feste Natalizie. Feliz Navidad. Happy Holidays. Froehliche Weihnachten.


EDITORIAL As the end of the year approaches and another awaits its beginning, it is a fitting time to remember and reflect on past times and wonderful moments, and for MbM contemplating some of the greatest films of all time. It is therefore fitting that this eighth issue celebrates the re-release of Cinema Paradiso, a love letter to cinema, which Arrow Films have released to commemorate its 25th anniversary. You are invited to revisit a spectacular movie and read a review that will hopefully encourage you to see the film again on the big screen and take someone along who has never seen this cinematic gem. Our cover this month is of Salvatore Cascio as Toto who jokingly is trying to show Alfredo his friend how to read as he sits as the only adult in a class of children; one of the numerous magical scenes from the film. There are reviews of two French films which were recently screened at London’s French Film Festival: Jappaloup and Love is in the Air, plus a review of the documentary Seduced and Abandoned made in Cannes and starring Alec Baldwin with a host of cameos of stars and directors. Look back to 2013 as MbM chooses its favourite films and see if you agree. Look forward to 2014 and see what is in store for you. Enjoy a sneak preview of images of the January issue and its major feature Spike Jonze’s Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Scarlett Johansson and Olivia Wilde. There are the regular features: Film Fest Follower and Extras. MbM would like to acknowledge the following for their help in getting this issue out and up online: Marc Foley Comer and Lisa Richards of Arrow Films for images of Cinema Paradiso. To film distributors Pathe, Swipe Films, Soda Pictures, and all the dedicated staff at and as always, a big thanks to those of you who took the trouble to share MbM on your websites, Facebook and Twitter. Word of mouth is still the greatest way of networking your enthusiasm. So thank you! And to Paul Ridler who designs the look of the magazine which brings compliments from around the world. Thanks, Paul. And for those of you who would love to own a printed copy of MbM? Details will be published in the next issue on how you can obtain one. Until then....enjoy the read.

Brian Mills 3


Alfredo swings the anamorphic lens around so that the villagers who could get into the cinema could see the film as its images floated out across the crowded square and onto the wall of a building. Toto, wide-eyed and wondrous, is ecstatic. ‘It is magic! He exclaims. Cinema Paradiso unfolds in flashbacks from the point of view of a successful film director who recalls his life and adolescence in a Sicilian village. As a boy Toto was taught to be a cinema projectionist by his surrogate father Alfredo. Though emotionally enriched by the experience the boy is still living in a provincial neighbourhood and Alfredo tells him he must leave to gain a better life. He finds that life in Rome as a filmmaker is rewarding but at the expense of loneliness. He gets a phone-call that will take him back to his childhood and to treasured memories as he attends his old friend Alfredo’s funeral and the warm hearted community that he left 30 years ago, and like on rushing waves he feels the emotion washing over him; his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and when he returns, he sees how everything has changed in his long absence, his friends who are now old and grey or no longer alive and the hugs and greetings are just a little 4

sadder and the ghost of his mentor who taught him everything about life. Alfredo. As for the old village cinema it is derelict and Salvatore joins the crowd to watch the demolition of the old building that was home to him and his surrogate father: Cinema Paradiso, a house of dreams. Giuseppe Tornatore, the director of Cinema Paradiso, was inspired by his hometown cinema which he frequented as a child watching the westerns of John Wayne, the Samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, the comedies of Charlie Chaplin. Perfectly observed is a small town where the village priest appears every week for a screening of the latest film from Hollywood and acting as its censor as he rings his small church bell whenever he sees a scene where a couple kiss, signalling Alfredo to mark the offending scene and cut it out. But despite the priest’s censorship, there was still plenty for the regular cinemagoers to enjoy or voice their opinions by shouting at the villains, cheering their heroes, or just frustratingly stamping their feet. Everybody will have their favourite movie moment or moments from this magical film which is why it is still so popular and its 25th anniversary is being celebrated so grandly. Some of the best films are films about films and Paradiso heads the list but joins others of its ilk: The Purple Rose of Cairo, Day for Night, The Artist. Singin in the Rain, The Smallest Show on Earth, Splendor, Dopo Mezzanotte, 8 ½, The Majestic, The Player. They huddled together in the darkness to watch scenes which had been snipped from the films they had seen. At last here were the moments that they had been denied from seeing.It was a reel of kissing and they cheered and laughed. All had been restored. 5



JAPPELOUP Spoiler Alert

*Why, think of everything you’ve got. For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams maybe not. Pierre Durand abandons a lucrative career as a lawyer to follow his passion of show jumping. His father, Serge, goes along with Pierre’s dreams, supporting him in every way but like the courses he races at, the fences are sometimes set a little too high and falls are inevitable. His initial meeting with the small but gutsy horse Jappeloup does not inspire his confidence in its future as a jumper. He saddles the horse with a string of negative observations which in reality reflect his own doubts about his ability as a rider. A couple of years pass and horse and rider meet again. Pierre decides to train him and begins the escalating journey of jumping events leading to Olympic standards. Jappeloup and Pierre make an interesting pair but not an easy one: the horse is the master and the rider as he suspects an inadequate equestrian caught up in his own arrogance, as he is reminded by his loving father. The narrative offers few surprises and when one does come along it is at the expense of Pierre’s father, superbly played by Daniel Auteuil. The loss is felt deeply not only by the family but also story-wise; it never quite redresses the balance. The attraction of the story to Guilaume Canet who plays Pierre is obvious: in real life he is a skilled rider coming from a family of horse breeders and only switched to acting in his early twenties. 8

Films about horses are few and far between and when they do ride into view it is the animal that always wins the day with audiences. National Velvet, Seabiscuit, Dreamer. to name only three horses in the frame. Canet besides being one of France’s favourite actors and appearing in many popular films, Joyeux Noel particularly, Academy Award Nominated for Best Foreign film in 2006, about a truce held on Christmas Eve on the battlefield in 1914 when soldiers emerged from their muddy trenches to exchange presents and play football in No Man’s Land.. A memorable moment which was based on a true story has become a memorable film with Canet starring alongside Daniel Bruhl, Benno Fürmann and Diane Kruger. But Canet’s success as an actor is almost superseded by his outstanding achievements as a writer director. The tense-packed thriller and love story of Tell No One, starring Francois Cluzet as Dr Alex Beck who starts a deadly chase to find the truth behind his wife’s murder and the face of the woman he has seen that is his wife. The pace never lets up and ranks as one of the best French thrillers ever made. Then there came Little White Lies which was MbM’s Film of the Year in 2010. An emotive, episodic, engaging drama about a successful restaurant owner and his wife who invites a group of friends to their beach house to celebrate Antoine’s birthday, but before they leave Paris, their friend Ludo is seriously injured in a road accident. They must then decide whether to stay with Ludo or continue with their holiday plans. Deciding on the latter they leave but take all their frustrations and vulnerabilities and the lies they tell each other and themselves until the truth finally reveals itself. Since then Guilaume Canet has directed Blood Ties about two brothers on opposite sides of the law who are forced to join each in a fight for justice. The equestrian world’s sad loss has been the cinema world’s gain. *Pierre’s father’s advise to him. 9



LOVE IS IN THE AIR *Spoiler Alert

Julie is rushing around making sure that she has taken care of everything, thinking she is ready and has tidied up all bits and pieces when she spies something else that is not right. Finally she is satisfied that all is so and she can leave for Paris to get married. Antoine awakens handcuffed to a bed and surrounded by empty bottles and ladies sprawled around the place. He gazes at the scene; it must have been quite a night. He arrives late at the airport and just manages to catch the flight, while Julie has had her ticket upgraded to first class. But there is a bumpy ride ahead for both of them when they discover that they are sitting next to each other. Three years earlier Antoine had broken her heart and they haven’t spoken since. Over the next seven hours they verbally battle and confront each other with their side of the relationship, punctuated by painful silences, observed and commented upon by a senior couple across the aisle from the ex lovers, not only overhearing their conversation but advising them where they went wrong, while interspersed with flashbacks of Julie and Antoine’s love affair. Many will be able to relate or imagine what it is like to meet-up with an ex lover and try to rekindle or extinguish the fire that that relationship sparked, so the premise of this film is very apt and appealing to a mass audience even though it has been distributed to 12

attract arthouse patrons. The major key to the success of this film are the leading players: Ludivine Segnier and Nicolas Bedos. Thirty four year old Segnier has already attracted a large following in France. She began her film career at the age of ten in Les maris, les femmes, les amants In 2000 she started a collaboration with Francois Ozon in Water Drops on Burning Rocks, which continued with 8 Women, which won her a Cesar award nomination, (the French equivalent of the Oscar) and the Romy Schneider award for the most promising young French actress. In 8 Women she co-starred with Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Beart and Fanny Adant, her performance won her the Siver Bear award at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival. In Toothache, another film directed by Ozon, Segnier played her first English speaking role. The comedy became one of the biggest-grossing foreign movies in America during 2003. Lucrative offers have been made to her to appear in American films but she has turned them down and remains loyal to French cinema. Of her part in Swimming Pool, she said:“It was a very important moment for me because the character was written for me. I had done two other movies with the director (Ozon). He wanted to offer me a great part. I think why the movie did well is that it’s a very good movie, and because American love crime fiction. Also it’s quite charming - the locations, the South of France – and of course, because there was a lot of sensuality and nudity in the movie, it’s true. It did quite well. I really like the memory of this movie because it also bought me international exposure”. Ludivine can also be seen as Clare in the omnibus film Paris, je t’aime and as Sylvia Jeanjacquot in Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy #1. Nicolas Bedos has made only seven films but came to prominence as Gilbert Japy in the delightful Populaire. 13



NEBRASKA Spoiler Alert

An old man walking along a road is stopped by a patrol car. The cop asks him where he is going. He replies by gesturing in front of him: “Up there” And to the question “Where have you come from?” He says “Back there”. Woody Grant’s ‘up there’ is Nebraska and his mission is to get there to pick up his sweepstakes winnings of a million dollars. Veteran actor Bruce Dern didn’t have to walk so far to pick up an Oscar for Best Actor in Cannes this year, but he still staggered a little when called up to be presented with the award, but waiting seventy seven years for a role like this was definitely worth it and Dern milks it like a cow’s teat. The journey from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska becomes an affectionate one as Woody and his son David (Will Forte) meet up with old friends and family en route and by now Woody has told just about everyone that he’s rich and people start to come out from their flaky painted homes to see him and to claim some of his winnings from past debts. Why old Woody is getting a little less grouchy as the journey progresses helped by the fact that David finally relented and drove him there despite knowing that the winnings was a hoax.“What else you got going on”? Woody asks dampening David’s initial protest to the drive. 16

Soon David realizes that his old man doesn’t have many dreams left to follow and whether the whole thing is a scam or not isn’t really the point. The film is directed by Alexander Payne, a Nebraskan to his roots and it is filmed in magnificent monochrome by Payne’s regular cinematographer Phedon Papamichael. Nebraska carries the same personalised charm as Payne’s earlier work Sideways. But the movie really works because of Dern, an actor’s actor whose performance goes down the gullet like a vintage beer. Old Woody may appear to be suffering from Alzheimer’s but as David tells a woman at the sweepstakes office he just believes everything everyone tells him, which in this case is a notice he received in the mail that he has won a million bucks. If he had read the small print it would have stated that you have only won if your numbers match. When everything has gone out of your life, the materialistic pursuit of money is often the only thing left, sad, but for many Americans, true. Woody faces that emptiness because he can’t think of a good reason why he married his mother or had kids. “Your mother was a catholic so you figure it out. If we screwed enough you’re bound to come along”. Bruce Dern was the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s last movie Family Plot. They both got on very well together and Dern stated that he sat next to him every day for the 11 week shoot because he did not want to miss the opportunity of being with the master of suspense. Audiences were always asked not to reveal the ending of his films to anyone so as not to spoil them for others. Though Nebraska is not Hitchcockian in any way I would definitely advise patrons of Nebraska to not reveal the ending because it is just too good to spoil it for anyone planning to see it. 17



SEDUCED AND ABANDONED Spoiler Alert They come to Cannes to sell ideas, dreams that may become nightmares but they still can’t stop dreaming that they will make a deal that they will get their movie made. Intoxicated idiocy is contagious in this marketplace of mammon. Alec Baldwin and James Toback descended upon the world’s most famous film festival to make a film about making a film about trying to get backers for making a film. Crazy. Crazier, the film they are trying to pitch to wouldbe financiers is called Last Tango in Tikrit, inspired by Last Tango in Paris, an erotic sex drama set against the backdrop of the Iraq war. The double act of Baldwin and Toback arrive at Nice airport, the former instantly recognised with reporters crowding him. “I’m here to make a movie” he happily tells them”. Toback is envisioning a budget of $30 million with actress Neve Campbell as the lead. It soon becomes apparent through the endless meetings and lunches with producers and company moguls that $5 million is the going rate for a nowhere story with an unbankable star. But the day is early and there are many more parties and parleys and the sun is still smiling at them, though the forecast is rain. There is no shortage of people who will meet with them and give their opinions. Frances Ford Coppola dreams of still making the film that is 20

in his heart and he hasn’t done it yet, though the almost forgotten One from the Heart came close. Despite directing two of the greatest films of all-time The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, he still has to pitch to get meetings with the ‘money people’ to get his films made. In Hollywood the saying is true: you are only as good as your last film, and Twixt was a vampire movie that failed to leave its mark on anyone no matter how far they stuck their neck out to back it. Jessica Chastain and Bérenice Béjo were stars they offered their idea too; though the latter was dismissed by one producer as a name not big enough to sell a movie...’I would need someone Natalie Portman’ he said. As it was, when Toback asked how much he would give them to make their movie, he answered emphatically...’nothing’. With each successive meeting, Toback began to adapt the story to suit the needs of the prospective money men that he was trying to seduce. One of the most entertaining snippets was provided by Ryan Gosling who highlighted the heartlessness of the business when he was starting. At one audition he got into character and was ready to go, when a phone call interrupted him and he was told to go outside while they took the call and then called him in again, while he had to recreate the mood he was in before the business call. One thing that Baldwin and Toback had was endurance. They would not give up in their quest for money and eventually all the meetings, all the talking, paid off. Film buffs will love this movie, but also those that want to see what it’s like to be at Cannes, to hobnob with the rich and glamorous at the Vanity Fair party, stroll along the Boulevard de la Croisette, or just inhale the perfume that infuses the air – money. 21



LOOKING BACK—2013 Favourite Films MbM’s Film of the Year POPULAIRE

Directed by Regis Roinsard. Roman Duris. Deborah François. Bérénice Bejo The following favourite films are listed in alphabetical order. ABOUT TIME Directed by Richard Curtis. Rachel McAdams. Domhnall L Gleeson. BERTOLUCCI ON BERTOLUCCI Directed by Walter Fasano. Loca Guadagino. Bernardo Bertolucci BLUE JASMINE Directed by Woody Allen. Cate Blanchett. Alec Baldwin. Sally Hawkins. BREATHE IN Directed by Drake Doremus. Felicity Jones. Guy Pearce. CHINESE PUZZLE Directed by Cedric Klapisch. Roman Duris. Audrey Tautou. Cécile de France. Kelly Reilly. GRAVITY Directed by Alfonso Carón. George Clooney. Sandra Bullock. *HARRY DEAN STANTON – PARTLY FICTION Directed by Sophie Huber. Harry Dean Stanton. David Lynch. Kris Kristofferson. LABOR DAY Directed by Jason Reitman. Kate Winslet. Josh Brolin. LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE Directed by Abbas Kiarostami. Rin Takanashi. Tadashi Okuno. MUD Directed by Jeff Nichols. Matthew McConaughey. Tye Sheridan. THE PAST Directed by Asghar Farhadi. Bérénice Bejo.Tahar Rahim. Ali Mosaffa. PHILOMENA Directed by Stephen Frears. Judi Dench. Steve Coogan. SALVO Directed by Fabio Grassadonia. Antonio Piazza. Salah Bakri.Luigi Lo Cascio. Sara Serraiocco. SAVING MR BANKS Directed by John Lee Hancock. Tom Hanks. Emma Thompson. Colin Farrell. SEDUCED AND ABANDONED Directed by James Toback Alec Baldwin. James Toback. Jessica Chastain. Ryan Gosling. THE SPECTACULAR NOW Directed by James Ponsoldt. Miles Teller. Shailene Woodley. TO THE WONDER Directed by Terrence Malick. Ben Affleck. Olga Kurylenko. Rachel McAdams. TWO JACKS Directed by Bernard Rose. Danny Huston. Sienna Miller. Jack Huston. WHAT MAISIE KNEW Directed by Scott McGehee & David Siegel. Julianne Moore. Steve Coogan. Alexander Skarsgård. *Favourite Documentary of the Year



LOOKING FORWARD 2014 August - Orange County MERYL STREEP, JULIA ROBERTS. January 17th

Wolf of Wall Street LEONARDO DI CAPRIO, P.J.BYRNE. January 17



Out of the Furnace CHRISTIAN BALE, CASEY AFFLECK. January 31





Jupiter Ascending MILA KUNIS, CHANNING TATUM. July 25



*Spike Jonze’s film has set a high standard with “Her” and it will take a great one to beat it. 26


FILMFEST FOLLOWER MbM RECOMMENDS 6th December-14th December at

*Dubai TENDERNESS Directed by Marion Hanset. Starring: Marilyn Canto. Olivier Gourmet. Adrien Jolivet. Jack has injured his leg in a snowboarding accident with girlfriend in the French Alps and needs his long divorced parents Frans & Lisato drive from Belgium to collect him and his son. They irritate each other but still love each other, and have the interests of their son to bind them.

THE PAST Directed by Asghar Farhadi. Starring: Ali Mosaffa, Bernice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Pauline Burlet. Ahmad returns from Tehran to finalise the end of his marriage and in so doing begins to investigate the events of the previous four years.


Directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka Starring:Mothusi Magano, Petronella Tshuma. An introverted high school teacher in rural South Africa starts an affair with a pupil, with tragic consequences. A South African homage to film noir.


Directed by Hark Tsui Starring: Angela baby, Mark Chau. Dee arrves in the capital of Imperial China to be enlisted as part of the cities special police force.


Directed by Paolo Zucca Starring: Stefano Accorsi. A monochrome homage to football, intertwining the eternal feud between two teams.

ON MY WAY Diredted by Emmanuelle Bercot Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Nema Schiffman. Facing a failed relationship and a struggling restaurant, Bettie (Deneuve) hits the road for a trip with her grandson.


*Dubai is the last major film festival of the year.


CINEMA PARADISO(25TH) Anniversary Remastered Edition on Blu-Ray FILM **** A celebration of youth, friendship, and the everlasting magic of movies.


2 disc special edition features: *Newly restored from the original camera negative and presented in two versions the 124 minute Cannes Festival theatrical version and the 174 minute Director’s cut. *Uncompressed original stereo 2.0 Audio and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options. *Optional English subtitles. *Audio commentary with director Giuseppe Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus. *A dream of Sicily. A 52 minute documentary profile of Giuseppe Tornatore featuring interviews with director Francesco Rosi and painter Peppino Ducato, set to music by Ennio Morricone. *A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise, the characters of Toto and Alfredo, featuring interviews with the actors who play them, Phillipe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio, as well as Guiseppe Tornatore. 29