Call Me By Your Name

What a lovely, near-perfect film this is. Director Luca Guadagnino and writer James Ivory have crafted a heartbreaking tale of first love set against the backdrop of the 1980s, “somewhere in Northern Italy.” Almost every moment, every beat, every scene in this film works magnificently, loaded with emotion, humor, and pathos. It’s a remarkable feat, and Ivory’s recent Oscar win for screenplay was highly deserved.

As I said in my write-up of Call Me By Your Name from TIFF:

“Luca Guadagnino is the king of summer. Few directors are able to capture the thick, heavy air and hot, humid nights rich with whirring insects that are prevalent during summertime as well as the Bigger Splash director. Here he crafts another lush summer experience, set in Italy during the 1980s. Timothée Chalamet, in a break-out role, is Elio, a young man who finds himself enamored with his father’s new assistant (Armie Hammer, once again reminding us he’s an excellent actor who deserves better parts than The Lone Ranger). Romantic, hypnotic, and ultimately a touch melancholy, Call Me By Your Name is one of the year’s best films. A speech near the end by Michael Stuhlbarg, playing Chalamet’s father, will take your breath away.”

2017 was a surprisingly strong year for film, and Call Me By Your Name was among the best of the bunch. Now it’s available to take home, and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to own it. Do yourself a favor and pick this up.

Special Features To Note:

“Snapshots of Italy: The Making of Call Me By Your Name” takes you into the production, featuring interviews with Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg and Luca Guadagnino.

Guadagnino talks about how, over a period of 9 years, the film kept going through different versions with different directors until he finally decided to direct it himself, and what drew him to it was the actors.

Armie Hammer reveals he read up on the ’80s and “the rest of it was being present.”

“Everything about the project was delectable,” says Stuhlbarg, because of course that’s something he’d say.

A particularly interesting reveal about the project: virtually the entire film was shot with one lens, rather than changing lenses for different shots. The result was less scene setups, and less coverage than a typical film. This is described as “the least-intrusive” way to possibly make a film.

Beyond this feature, there’s a 25-minute on-stage interview with Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg and Luca Guadagnino. There’s also a commentary track featuring Chalamet and Stuhlbarg. The actors are laid-back and amusing, but there are also long stretches of silence that make for a less-than-thrilling commentary.

Most maddening of all: Chalamet and Stuhlbarg are completely silent silent during the famous ending speech that Stuhlbarg delivers. Perhaps they were just too caught-up in the moment to speak, but I would’ve loved some insight here – particularly from Stuhlbarg, who is incredible in the scene. The only real comment made comes from Chalamet, who reveals that when Stuhlbarg’s character says he “doesn’t think” Elio’s mom knows about the relationship with Oliver, you’re not supposed to know if he’s telling the truth or not.

Special Features Include:

  • Two Featurettes:
  • “Snapshots of Italy: The Making of Call Me By Your Name”
  • “In Conversation With Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg & Luca Guadagnino”
  • Commentary with Timothée Chalamet & Michael Stuhlbarg
  • Music Video for “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens

 

The Disaster Artist

James Franco takes the story of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room and turns it into comedy gold. Franco’s version of events is definitely idealizing for mass consumption, and its portrayal of Wiseau as a tragic artist who dared to dream, even if his dreams were dumb, probably gives Wiseau more credit than he deserves.

Still, it’s hard to deny how fun this film is. While Franco’s direction is a bit point-and-shoot, The Disaster Artist is cut from the same cloth as Tim Burton’s Ed Wood – a film about an inept artist who refuses to give up, even when he probably should.

Wiseau’s story is told from the point-of-view of Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), a would-be actor who hitched himself to Wiseau’s insane vision. As played by James Franco, Tommy Wiseau is a mystery; an enigma; a weirdo who constantly lies about himself, and wants nothing more than to be an actor. When his impenetrable accent and gonzo acting style keeps him from landing roles, Wiseau decides to take matters into his own hands and make his own movie. That movie is The Room, which would go on to find its place in the hallowed “so bad it’s good” halls.

The Disaster Artist is a fun, often hilarious film. I have issues with some of its choices – the opening scene, with a parade of famous people talking about The Room – is a huge misstep and should’ve been cut completely, for instance. But issues aside, The Disaster Artist is a hoot.

Special Features To Note:

Special features on The Disaster Artist take you behind-the-scenes of the film in a very light-hearted, easy-going fashion. If you’re looking for depth, you won’t find it. What you will find are fun little interviews with the cast and crew discussing both the film at hand and The Room.

The Room has heart and passion,” James Franco says, explaining what drew him to The Disaster Artist, and describes it as “a strange, ironic success story.”

“[The Room] constantly reinvites how it was bad and why it was bad,” says producer and co-star Seth Rogen.

Behind-the-scenes footage shows that producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg worked a lot behind the scenes on the film, and that James Franco directed pretty much every scene in character.

“Just a Guy Leaning on a Wall: Getting to Know Tommy” attempts to decode the real Tommy Wiseau with an actual interview, but the filmmaker is his usual enigmatic self. When asked if he read The Disaster Artist book, Wiseau replies:  “No comment, next question.” The bulk of this segment is focused on interviews with other people talking about how damn strange and mysterious Wiseau is.

Beyond that, there’s a quick, fun gag reel.

Special Features Include:

  • Gag Reel
  • Audio Commentary with James Franco, Dave Franco, Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero, and More
  • “Oh, Hi Mark!: Making a Disaster” Featurette
  • “Directing a Disaster” Featurette
  • “Just a Guy Leaning on a Wall: Getting to Know Tommy” Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer

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