The Past

Two of the brightest foreign stars of 2011 have joined forces for a new movie in 2013. The Past teams Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director behind the brilliant domestic drama A Separation, with Bérénice Bejo, best known in the U.S. as the sweet-faced ingenue from The Artist. Given that pedigree, it’s not surprising that there’s Oscar buzz surrounding the project already; Iran has submitted The Past as its foreign-language entry in this year’s Oscar race.

At the center of the drama is Marie (Bejo), a French woman who asks her estranged Iranian husband Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) for a divorce so that she can marry her new boyfriend Samir (A Prophet‘s Tahar Rahim). Once Ahmad arrives in Paris, however, secrets about the family come to light. See the new trailer from Sony Classics after the jump.

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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we try and pair everything with a nice chablis, take a walk in Rome, remember VHS’ heydays, hit up the French for some comedy, and then get serious about a father who leaves his kids only to come back and find another rooster in the hen house.

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The last film from Asghar Farhadi, A Separation, was a powerful drama that swept awards around the world and was one of the most impressive films of 2011. His new film, The Past, is premiering In Competition at Cannes next month, and now we’ve for the first English-subbed trailer. Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Tahar Rahim (A Prophet) and Ali Mosaffa (The Last Step) feature in the story that follows a different bit of domestic strife, as an Iranian man (Mossaffa) deals with the fallout of divorcing his French wife (Bejo) in order to return to Iran.

Like A Separation, this looks like serious stuff, but well-acted and written and directed with an eye for the sort of details that make the story powerful without feeling artificial. Check out the footage below. Read More »

Perhaps the most worthy film to take home an Oscar this year was the Iranian movie A Separation, which won the Best Foreign Language Film statuette. A Separation is truly a wonderful movie: acted with grace and depth, and written and directed with a pitch-perfect attention to broad social ideas (justice, gender equality, economic distress) and personal issues such as grief, guilt, and responsibility. It is a provocative and stimulating film on every front. (It is also possessed of a few moments of deadpan humor, some of which might be lost in the subtitles, according to the Farsi-fluent friend with whom I watched it.)

A Separation has been rapturously received all over the world, with Iranian audiences showing great support for the film. But Iranian officials aren’t yet ready to warm up to the movie. The film features too much implicit criticism of the current social and political order of the country for official approval, it seems.

Director Asghar Farhadi, officially restrained from public celebration of his Oscar win in Iran, is unbowed, but there is a bit of fallout from the official Iranian reception to A Separation. Farhadi’s next film will shoot in France, and will be his first movie to shoot outside Iran. Read More »

The sixty-three films eligible for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Oscars have been culled down to nine movies, and the resulting list is a bit surprising. Not making the cut is The Flowers of War, with Christian Bale, or Miss Bala, the Mexican film that did well at festivals last year.

Meanwhile the Belgian film Bullhead, which got a good reception at Fantastic Fest, did make the list, as did likely favorite to win A Separation, which took home a Golden Globe this past weekend.

Get the full list after the break. Read More »

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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The Telluride Film Festival, a presentation of the National Film Preserve which takes place beginning tomorrow, Friday Sept 2 and runs through Monday Sept 5, is an unusual beast as far as film festivals go. The core film lineup is not announced until the day before the festival begins, so attendees have to commit to the fest without knowing any of the movies that will definitely play.

Now the first list of films is out, and it has some expected inclusions such as David Cronenberg‘s A Dangerous Method (trailer) and the Cannes fave The Artist (trailer). In addition there are some good surprises, such as Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender‘s reunion, Shame (pics), and the Dardenne BrothersThe Kid With a Bike.

More films will be announced at the last minute over the next couple days. One addition, for example, according to Kris Tapley, is Butter. Peter is arriving in Telluride later today so he’ll have coverage of the festival during the holiday weekend. Check out the announced lineup below. Read More »

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