The first weekend has finally hit at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, which means bigger crowds, longer lines, and more hub-bub about the star studded premieres on the red carpet. It also means that some of the more anticipated films of the festival have begun to premiere. The photo above shows the crowd of people waiting to get into the new Woody Allen film, as taken from the top of the red carpet stairs. Over the last 48 hours, I’ve screened new films from Oliver Stone, Woody Allen, Mike Leigh and Hideo Nakata. I wish I could rave about any of these films, but so far I’ve been unimpressed.
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I’ve always loved reading and hearing what great filmmakers think of other great films and directors. You may have noticed that we ask some directors about their favorite films, from time to time, and I’ve even featured other websites and books that delve into this subject on the site from time to time.
Geoffrey Macnab and the British Film Institute have put together a book titled Screen Epiphanies: Filmmakers on the Films that Inspired Them collecting the stories of thirty-five leading international filmmakers focusing on “the film moments that stayed with them long after they left the movie theater” which inspired them to pursue a career in the movie industry.
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Obviously, the staff at /Film collectively views Spike Jonze‘s Where the Wild Things Are with a certain reverence. The film is simply a win all around, tastefully exploring and modernizing the notions of imaginative nostalgia and vice versa that are so often exploited these days in the name of “geekdom” and “hipsterdom.” On a related note, I’ve always found it a bit profound that Ain’t It Cool and Vice magazine were started within two years of one another (’96 and ’94, respectively); both went on to make a positive, DIY impact on culture in the aughts unlike anything in new media this side of negative influencers like Matt Drudge and Rupert Murdoch. Back then, I remember thinking that Austin’s Harry Knowles was fat off movies (and ‘shrooms?) and the Brooklyn staff at Vice was lithe off drugs and deadlines, but there was something in common: they both ignored Old Media (now dying), didn’t give a damn about design trends, and did things the way they should be done, with knowledge, a cultivated attitude, and enthusiasm.
One the main and most important guys who has helped Vice see its way to 23 offices around the globe, millions of readers, and untold cultural influence is the mag’s long-term Editor-in-Chief Jesse Pearson. He also plays a role in the company’s video website, VBS.tv, where WTWTA director, Spike Jonze, serves as the creator director. On the eve of Vice‘s 15th anniversary and a coinciding $250K Halloween party in Brooklyn, we spoke with Pearson about the future of the company’s Vice Films (where Jonze is also involved) and regarding the mag’s recent, highly recommended Film Issue. He also shared a few of his favorite films and welcome ideas about the state of cinema, the ever-controversial fast-moving zombie, and the “Chaos Reigns” fox in Antichrist (not to mention the fetching photo shown above.)
Hunter Stephenson: Hi Jesse. Vice has released a film issue that arrives during a very interesting, chaotic time for cinema, especially in the States. And Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are is an important film that I think signifies a steamy unification between two of the aughts’ biggest influential youth movements; to the eye rolls of many on both sides: the geeks and the hipsters. And as such, it seems a great time for /Film and Vice to have a chat. Since Spike is the creative director at Vice‘s VBS.tv, what are your thoughts on his latest film in terms of its cultural relevance and do you agree with these notions?
Jesse Pearson: Right now, all I really feel qualified to gauge in terms of cultural relevance is the film’s trailer and all of the general advance expectations surrounding the movie. I know that I have rarely, maybe never, seen a trailer create so much visceral excitement in so many people. Friends have told me that they cried watching it. That seems a wee bit over the top to me. But, to partially answer your question, I think that the amount of drooling going on in advance of Where the Wild Things Are is very interesting and very telling. What it means to me is that people, lots of people, maybe people in the two much-maligned, very amorphous and perhaps not-really-existing-in-the-way-that-most-people-mean-it-when-they-say-it groups that you mentioned, geeks and hipsters… Wait, where was I going with this?
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Wednesday 26th August 2009 marked the first day of photography on Mike Leigh‘s latest picture. Taking roles include Michele Austin, David Bradley, Jim Broadbent, Phil Davis, Karina Fernandez, Oliver Maltman, Lesley Manville, Stuart McQuarrie, Martin Savage, Ruth Sheen, Imelda Staunton and Peter Wight and cinematographer Dick Pope is back again too. Of course, this being a Mike Leigh picture we don’t know which of those actors might be in a lead role or which of them could just pop up for a second in a single scene, we don’t know anything at all about the plot, and we definitely don’t have a title. Better than that even, none of the people making the film know any of this for sure either, including Leigh himself.
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They say that if you give out positive energy than you should receive positive energy in return. The person who coined that phrase never met Poppy. Dressed in bright colors and wearing big earrings, Poppy has a personality that is as obnoxiously perky as her wardrobe, if not more so.
Mike Leigh‘s latest film is a character study focusing on a 30-year-old primary school teacher with the attitude of a child, who has to deal with a series of problems ranging from her bicycle being stolen to a problem child at school, to her pregnant/married sister who lectures her about responsibility and settling down. She joins a dancing class with a co-worker and takes driving lessons from an angry racist.
If you’re looking for a story, there isn’t much of one. The film is purely about Poppy, and how the world reacts to her quirky upbeat attitude. Sally Hawkins delivers one hell of a performance, which you might only begin to realize late into the film when Poppy is forced to get serious. Happy-Go-Lucky is fun and endearing, but the character might be too in-your-face for easily annoyed viewers.
/Film Rating: 7 out of 10
Happy-Go-Lucky seems like one of those wonderfull indie films which will bring a smile to your face. Mike Leigh‘s (Vera Drake / Secrets & Lies / Topsy-Turvy) latest film stars Sally Hawkins as Poppy, “an irrepressibly free-spirited school teacher who brings an infectious laugh and an unsinkable sense of optimism to every situation she encounters.” But when things start to go wrong in Poppy’s world, her positive state of mind is put to the test.The film has played the film festival circiut and is currently getting a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Total Film calls it “Fresh, Funny, and uplifting” and BBC says that it “establishes Hawkins as a major talent to watch.”
[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/happy-go-lucky.flv 470 200]
Happy-Go-Lucky hits theaters on October 10th 2008.
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