Juliette Binoche (#110 of 17)

Cannes Film Review: Let the Sunshine In

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Cannes Film Review: Let the Sunshine In

Sundance Selects

Cannes Film Review: Let the Sunshine In

Claire Denis’s Let the Sunshine In is an exquisite romantic comedy whose laughs are sad and whose sadness is funny. Denis isn’t a filmmaker who lets the complexity of the human emotions that she either captures physically or insinuates psychologically settle into easy interpretation and understanding, and Let the Sunshine In, her lightest film to date, shades its relationship dynamics with existential panic, insecurities, unabashed biases of class, and, of course, an intimate understanding of the sexual politic.

Juliette Binoche provides the perfect gateway drug for Denis into the realm of the rom-com. In both body and mind, the actress’s Isabelle—a divorced Parisian artist who flits rather fickly from one romantic partner to the next—always commands the audience’s attention and curiosity. And Denis meets her star’s quixotic, swooning screen presence with subtle adaptations of her filmmaking to this new genre form. A scene of escalating banter between Isabelle and the rude, married business man that she’s been hate-fucking offers a variation of the shot-reverse-shot grammar that the actors’ blocking would typically call for, as Denis opts for a single take that floats back and forth in dreamy fashion but also with a sense of needling anxiety.

Cannes Film Review: Slack Bay

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Cannes Film Review: Slack Bay

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Review: Slack Bay

Bruno Dumont’s filmography has found unity through a prevailing belief in the existence of opposing good and evil forces—and in the transcendence that a genuinely provocative conflation of the two can bring. His mode of expression is usually noncommittal with regard to any particular moral stance, only superficially based in matters of faith, and yet entirely humanist.

The run of films from Dumont’s 1997 debut, The Life of Jesus, to the minimalist two-hander Hors Satan, from 2013, represents a kind of closed circuit: Each film adjusted its social and philosophical points of focus to probe the polarizing natures that shape human behavior, all conducted in a style of austere, distinctly European arthouse filmmaking. Dumont’s 2014 murder-mystery miniseries Li’l Quinquin largely exhausted that form (with it, he expanded his tonal vocabulary with broad comedic strokes), but the end game turned out to be much the same, as the unforced rhythms and pastoral visions of the French countryside and its cattle lulled us into a false sense of serenity to conceal an undertow of primal, unaccountable human darkness.

Scenes from the Elemental Antigone at BAM

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Scenes from the Elemental: Antigone at BAM

Jan Versweyveld

Scenes from the Elemental: Antigone at BAM

Sitting through a production of Antigone can be agony—especially when it’s good. There’s a tale of fratricide at the top, and news of suicide after suicide after suicide for the finale. The events in between—dominated by grieving, geschrei-ing, and debating—can also be grueling, which is entirely on point. From Aristotle and straight through the ages, extreme emotions on stage have been described as a purgative, overwhelming an audience member’s psyche and then rebooting it to a long-lost balance.

At BAM, high prospects for catharsis are tied to the pedigree of both the Sophocles play and the new production’s director, international phenom Ivo Van Hove. His version of Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, seen off-Broadway last season, moved the audience from living room to bedroom to surreal head space to get us up close and personal with the truth that no one can hate like a life-long love. His Angels in America made a scarifying void of the near-empty BAM Harvey Theater stage, spurring the characters to cling to and repel each other in an exultant dance of death and life. And his West End revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from a Bridge, which transfers to Broadway this month, proves the play, more than maybe any other in the modern era, deserves comparison to Greek tragedies like Antigone.

Cannes Film Festival 2012: Like Someone In Love

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Cannes Film Festival 2012: <em>Like Someone In Love</em>
Cannes Film Festival 2012: <em>Like Someone In Love</em>

Continuing the international road show he began with Certified Copy, Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami transplants his customary techniques to the soil of Japanese culture with unquestionable success. Kiarostami's latest plays polyphonies on the twin themes of simulation and dissimulation. Named after an Ella Fitzgerald torch song heard on the soundtrack, an equally appropriate alternative title would have been It's Only Make Believe. Characters in Like Someone In Love step into various roles as whim and necessity dictate. What at first seems ingenuous, and even playful, grows progressively darker and more ominous, until the shattering finale reveals exactly what the stakes have been in this particular game. Like Someone In Love may bear some of the superficial markings of a comedy, even a romantic comedy Kiarostami-style, but make no mistake, by its final moments the film becomes a startling dissection of masculine jealousy and the capacity for violence.

Poster Lab: Cosmopolis

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Poster Lab: <em>Cosmopolis</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Cosmopolis</em>

Compared to the film's teaser, the poster for David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis is markedly demure, a tame puppy to the preview's rabid dog. What it first exudes is the high-society life that's lived by Robert Pattinson's finance superstar, Eric Packer, a 28-year-old billionaire created by novelist Don DeLillo. The movie, like the book, sees Packer trek across Manhattan for a haircut, and on the way damage his fortune and encounter all sorts of crazy, Cronenbergian shit. By all evidence (material, maestro, and frantic first glimpse), this chic one-sheet is your invitation to jump off the cliff, to leave crisp and shiny decorum behind and tumble down the hole at which Pattinson seems to be staring. Like the poster for Eastern Promises, it presents crossed hands as the ultimate depiction of a man at a crossroads, where the tick of time (hence the watch) is decibels louder. Whereas the cover of DeLillo's book shows the pivotal limo from an external distance, this poster brings you inside, promising a ride that's as intimate as it is untamed.

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Actress

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Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Actress
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Actress

If you want a good cross-section of Oscar habits, look no further than this year's top five candidates for Best Actress. In Michelle Williams, you have the eternally baity case of star playing star, and this time the star being played just might be history's brightest. In Tilda Swinton, you have a classic case of Academy catch-up, wherein voters nominate a brilliant talent for minor work as a means to remedy past snubs. Category fraud is exemplified by Viola Davis, whose push as a leading star is, admittedly, a falsity of the filmmakers and not of any voting body, but who should nevertheless be considered as supporting. In Glenn Close, there's you're wholly undeserving knee-jerk nominee, armed with a shameless checklist of Oscar-y draws like gender-bending, homosexuality, uglification, makeup effects, period details, decades-long commitment, and “past-due” desperation. And as for Meryl Streep, well, she's an Oscar habit in and of herself, isn't she?