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Jeremy Irons (#110 of 7)

Red Sparrow Starring Jennifer Lawrence Gets New Trailer and Poster

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Francis Lawrence’s Spy Thriller Red Sparrow Starring Jennifer Lawrence Gets New Trailer and Poster
Francis Lawrence’s Spy Thriller Red Sparrow Starring Jennifer Lawrence Gets New Trailer and Poster

Last night during the Golden Globe Awards, 20th Century Fox premiered a new trailer for the spy thriller Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence. As far back as 2014, director David Fincher and actress Rooney Mara were circling the project, looking to re-team for the first time since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That, of course, did not come to fruition, though the new trailer for the film not only suggests the influence of Fincher, but also that of Darren Aronofsky, whose last film, the divisive Mother!, also starred Lawrence. Directed by Francis Lawrence, Red Sparrow also stars Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons.

Interview: Laila Robins

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Interview: Laila Robins
Interview: Laila Robins

New York’s fall theater season is the best in recent memory, primarily due to the high quality of its remarkably large number of repertory productions. Performing Twelfth Night in tandem with Richard III, Mark Rylance and his all-male company find fresh immediacy in the 400-year-old traditions of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Ian McKellen and Billy Crudup exhibit impressive versatility moving from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to Pinter’s No Man’s Land. And Bedlam Theater brings Hamlet and George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan to blazing life due to the energy of four young actors tossing characters around as if they were juggling balls. The greatest ensemble in town though, featured in The Apple Family Plays: Scenes from Life in the Country, performs the same roles in play after play after play after play.

Writer-director Richard Nelson’s intimate four-part work takes place around a dining room table. Writ small, it lands large by enmeshing us in the emotional lives and political beliefs of a Chekhovian family unit—the three Apple sisters and their brother—along with their uncle and a sister’s boyfriend. Emotionally epic, the unique project began as a one-off, with the Public Theater’s production of the 90-minute That Hopey Changey Thing. It opened the night of 2010’s midterm elections, which was also the night the play takes place. There was little expectation that this “disposable” work, as Nelson himself described it, would ever be produced again much less lead to any sequels. It proved such a success a new installment has appeared every year since—on the 10th anniversary of September 11 for Sweet and Sad, 2012’s election night in Sorry, and now, with Regular Singing, the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The works’ impact stems largely from the brilliant acting of the company, particularly the four who’ve been with the project from the beginning: Laila Robins and Maryann Plunkett as two of the sisters, Jay O. Sanders as the brother, and Jon De Vries as their uncle, whose amnesia from a stroke sparks the plot and theme of much of the project.

Watch the Trailer for BBC Two’s The Hollow Crown Series, Coming to iTunes, VOD, and DVD Aug. 27

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Watch the Trailer for BBC Two’s The Hollow Crown Series, Coming to iTunes, VOD, and DVD Aug. 27
Watch the Trailer for BBC Two’s The Hollow Crown Series, Coming to iTunes, VOD, and DVD Aug. 27

Like your buzzworthy British stars and venerable greats in the same place? Then you can’t do much better right now than The Hollow Crown, a Shakespearean miniseries first broadcast on BBC Two in 2012, and coming to iTunes, VOD, and DVD Aug. 27. Produced by Sam Mendes, the four-part epic includes adaptations of The Bard’s Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two, and Henry V, and features Ben Whishaw, Tom Hiddleston, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Irons, John Hurt, Patrick Sterwart, and Simon Russell Beale. The great Whishaw and Beale both won BAFTAs for their work in Richard II, which was also up for Best Single Drama. Focus World is releasing the complete, talent-packed series stateside. Check out the official trailer below.

Death by Art Andrew Cooper’s Dario Argento

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Death by Art: L. Andrew Cooper’s Dario Argento
Death by Art: L. Andrew Cooper’s Dario Argento

“What the fuck is this bullshit psychoanalysis?” are the wonderful words spoken by Jeremy Irons’s Beverly Mantle in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (1988), and if you follow the arguments of L. Andrew Cooper in his new book, the films of Dario Argento often share a similar opinion. Cooper claims Argento, though labeled early in his career as the “Italian Hitchcock,” spent his early, gialli-focused years lambasting and lampooning “Freudian proclivities,” most notably in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969), which positions itself as a Psycho (1960) homage, only to jest at Hitchcock’s insistence upon closure via psychological ends. In fact, Cooper argues that aesthetics, especially beginning with Deep Red (1975), become a replacement for both psychoanalysis and narrative in Argento’s films, leading him toward an interest in visual excess, which would culminate in Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), films that “in their combinations of wild visuals and storylines that challenge storytelling itself, were unlike anything the world had ever seen.” If the previous claim reads slightly clunky and definitely hyperbolic, it’s likely because Cooper’s book, on the whole, is torn between its academic and populist inclinations. Unlike Maitland McDonagh’s revelatory Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento, which strikes an invigorating balance of analysis, theory, and historicizing, Cooper states from the onset his desire to “eschew a traditional auteur approach.” Necessarily, this leads him down a rather predictable post-structuralist path, replete with deconstructionist close-reading after close-reading—all of them informative and knowledgeable, certainly, but few, if any, of them truly illuminating the depths of Argento’s oeuvre, beyond relatively fundamental distinctions between form and content and Argento’s non-normative subversions.

Oscar Prospects: Margin Call

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Oscar Prospects: Margin Call
Oscar Prospects: Margin Call

Margin Call is an awards season anomaly, an off-the-radar drama that, even after having performed well at festivals, never seemed to be a serious player, its tacky posters and mishmash cast of (mostly) B-Listers suggesting a gem bound for little more than a cult life on video. But after netting some very good ink from some top Gotham critics, one of whom dubbed it “the best Wall Street movie ever made,” the film became an unlikely buzz gainer, and went on to collect three Independent Spirit Awards citations (two nods and a Robert Altman Award win), a National Board of Review Spotlight Award for first-time writer/director J.C. Chandor, and a Best First Film award for Chandor from the New York Film Critics Circle. The artistic community’s general support of—or, at the very least, deep fascination with—the Occupy Wall Street movement has certainly helped this smart, well-acted, dawn-of-collapse thriller to gain attention beyond a Certified Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. But the perception of certain critics—and wannabe tastemakers who fancy themselves critics—that Margin Call is a bona fide Oscar candidate in multiple categories, including Best Picture, is the stuff of wishful delusion.

New Directors/New Films 2011: Margin Call

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New Directors/New Films 2011: <em>Margin Call</em>
New Directors/New Films 2011: <em>Margin Call</em>

Can’t we allow ourselves to blamelessly dehumanize one group of real-life boogeymen without the fear of some would-be humanist insisting that these monsters, like us, have souls? Margin Call says, “No,” refusing the viewer even the cathartic comfort of tsk-tsking the stock market traders that first discovered the recent collapse and were almost instantly forced to begin pulling out their assets.

According to the film, those investment bankers are human too, sharks that were turned into martyrs as soon as they realized just how bad thing had gotten. They had to fire each other, watch everything they worked for go up in flames, and as if that wasn’t enough, one character even loses his dog to liver cancer while all of this is going on. These Armani suit-wearing grunts lost their livelihoods, which in some cases was the one thing they wanted to do in life, thanks to circumstances beyond their control. And yet, at this point in time, when the wounds from the recent recession have still yet to heal and the job market is still insanely tight, one has to wonder: Who cares? Why make this plea for tolerance now and, more importantly, who wants to hear it?

Strange What Love Does: David Lynch’s Inland Empire

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Strange What Love Does: David Lynch’s <em>Inland Empire</em>
Strange What Love Does: David Lynch’s <em>Inland Empire</em>

“A little girl went out to play, lost in the marketplace as if half-born…” — Reflection of an old Polish folk tale

Reflections and rhymes abound in David Lynch’s Inland Empire. Consider its first image: the light of a film projector glaring (and blaring) outwards. For a brief moment, just before the beam angles sideways to illuminate the all-caps title card, the very screen we are watching is a perfectly aligned mirror—fact projecting fiction, fiction projecting fact. The extra-textual meaning is clear: this is Lynch’s first feature on Digital Video (shot entirely on the Sony PD-150 consumer camera) and so we must adjust our expectations accordingly. Fact the first: Inland Empire, with its muddy, grain-laden textures and sensuously bleeding hues, does not, as some have said, look ugly; it looks like it was shot on a camcorder, which is a crucial and necessary distinction. Fact the second, simply put: Lynch’s previous film, Mulholland Drive, was about a failed actress; Inland Empire is about a successful one. And even that’s too much of a reduction, a near-futile attempt at codification, which might very well inspire the writer/director to crinkle his nose and proffer, as he did with maximum sincerity to an explanation-obsessed audience member at a recent New York Film Festival press conference, that “the words coming out of your mouth are very beautiful.”