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.
Joel Edgerton (#1–10 of 9)
Four years ago, The Loving Story shed light on a part of the civil rights movement that often gets overlooked. It painted a candid portrait of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple from the South whose marriage in 1958 became the catalyst for the landmark civil rights case Loving v. Virginia. Now it’s the subject of Jeff Nichols’s new film, Loving, which premiered two months ago at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, which celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of the Lovings, stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. From Cannes, Sam C. Mac praised the film’s performances: “Both performances believably progress us through years of a marriage, and if the film never really allows any serious tension between Richard and Negga, the actors stake out scenes to show how their characters’ differences in opinion could have caused some distance between them over a long period of time.”
Cannes Film Festival
Jeff Nichols’s Loving establishes the director as a reliable purveyor of sturdy, if unremarkable, dramas. Still, the film is probably his strongest since his little-seen Shotgun Stories, getting closer to his debut’s firm bedrock of tensions in rural community life than the sci-fi road movie Midnight Special, the Stand by Me riff Mud, or the psychological drama Take Shelter, all of which took certain gambles of narrative or style that weren’t quite carried off. Loving is instead content to stick to a kind of prestige-film template—the social-realist melodrama—and find little grooves of humanity to explore in its characters and its milieu in between the expected story beats.
Felony kicks off with an opening that misleadingly primes you for a bit of traditional cops-and-robbers moral relativism. Driving home drunk from an all-night party, police officer Malcolm Toohey (screenwriter Joel Edgerton) accidentally side-swipes a child with his car and desperately covers it up with a story that’s obviously problematic, though Detective Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson) is just as clearly and pointedly disinterested in implicating a colleague in a crime that could eventually become manslaughter. Interfering with the cover-up, though, is Detective Jim Melick (Jai Courtney), a metaphoric boy scout who believes in the ideals of the system, though his rigorous sense of decorum doesn’t extend to not hitting on the boy’s mother (Sarah Roberts) while she’s standing over her comatose child’s hospitalized body.
One can reasonably assume, then, that Felony is going to be a procedural that examines the cost of honoring the democratic riddles of law enforcement in the tradition of Insomnia (either version), or many of Sidney Lumet’s films—and it’s at this point that Edgerton and director Matthew Saville spring their one legitimate surprise. Obviously the quasi-bad guy, Summer is a dangerous man intelligent enough to rationalize and commit any act he deems necessary for self-preservation, and the filmmakers accept his privileged bullshit at face value. In the film’s best and retrospectively most troubling moment, Summer utters a line that’s a real masterpiece of fascism disguised as empathetic ambiguity: “Prison is for pricks that don’t have their punishment here.” Summer’s pointing a finger to his head, of course.
Even more than Foreign Language Film, the category of Original Song is Oscar’s most fickle, rewarding Three 6 Mafia over Dolly Parton one year (2005), crowning a track from a documentary the next (2006), and, just two years ago, screwing over songs from every film save Rio and The Muppets. Last year, Adele’s titular, crossover ballad from Skyfall scored a somewhat sanity-restoring win, becoming the first James Bond theme to ever claim the trophy, and standing as the most popular victor in the field since Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” from 2002’s 8 Mile. While no one will ever be able to explain away the stupidity of 2011’s two-tune lineup, one of the things that makes this category so tricky, particularly in the guessing-game stages, are the many stringent nuances of song eligibility. Does the track start early enough during its movie’s closing credits? Does it have a sliver of previously released material that might taint its “originality?” So layered are these oft-excessive provisos that many Oscar pundits won’t even bother making their predictions until the Academy announces its official list of potential candidates (you’ll notice Original Song is one of the few categories not yet accounted for over at tracker site Gold Derby). But if there’s a single song that stands out with anything close to the in-the-bag ubiquity of Adele’s triumph, it’s Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful,” the wistful love theme from Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
- Academy Awards
- baz luhrmann
- carey mulligan
- catherine martin
- dolly parton
- elizabeth debicki
- f. scott fitzgerald
- florence and the machine
- james bond
- joel edgerton
- Lana Del Rey
- leonardo dicaprio
- oscar prospects
- over the love
- ralph fiennes
- rick nowels
- the great gatsby
- the invisible woman
- three 6 mafia
- young and beautiful
If there’s a single scene that speaks volumes in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, it’s the one that unfolds just before Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) finally reunites with Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) at the home of Daisy’s cousin, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, the prep for this reunion, which has been five years coming, is as modest as Nick’s digs, with Gatsby, the man next door with the castle-like manse, simply insisting that Nick cut his unkempt grass. In Luhrmann’s incarnation, Gatsby pulls out all the stops, not just having his neighbor’s lawn mowed, but planting gardens, installing fountains, and packing Nick’s parlor with so many flowers and pastries there’s barely room to sit down. On a comedic level, the scene works beautifully, reflecting the lovestruck unease that’s as outsized as everything else in Gatsby’s life, and it’s followed by a wistful glance between Daisy and Gatsby that hits you just as it should—like a firm, shocking punch of yearning and rehashed memories. But it’s also plainly indicative of Luhrmann’s bombastic technique, which involves taking Gatsby’s famed grandiloquence and spinning it into a stylistic hurricane. Surely everyone knew that Luhrmann would go all carnivalesque in playing up Fitzgerald’s decadent party scenes, but not even those glitzy trailers can prepare you for just how loud and large this vision is—a frantic spectacle that tosses off restraint as heedlessly as Gatsby hurls his shirts over a balcony at Daisy, showering her with an expensive cascade of pastels.
Baz Luhrmann really dropped the boomerang with 2008’s Australia, an ill-fated attempt to resurrect and pay homage to sweeping Hollywood epics of old. Yet, the maestro’s latest effort, a glistening, 3D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby, looks plenty poised to right Luhrmann’s wrongs.
The movie seems to be both class act and sensory smorgasbord, given the early stills, which depict a more-handsome-then-ever Leo DiCaprio as the lead, and the latest champagne soiree of a trailer, which, beyond glamor and intrigue, teases three exclusive new tracks from Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, and Florence and the Machine. (Even the initial news of Carey Mulligan’s casting as Daisy Buchanan, as reported three years ago by Deadline.com, was deliriously chic and enticing: “Mulligan was on the reception line for The Fashion Council Awards in New York when she got the call on her cellphone from Luhrmann. She burst into tears on the red carpet in front of Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour.”) Yes, everything about the project emits pizazz and panache—everything, that is, except its movie poster campaign.
From the opening montage alone, it’s clear that Australian director Kieran Darcy-Smith plans to play his cards close to the vest in this maddeningly underwritten thriller/domestic-drama hybrid. Cutting from neon-streaked sequences of the four principals holidaying in Cambodia to cryptic shots of the protagonist, Dave Flannery (Joel Edgerton), staggering shirtless and bloodstained through a pre-dawn landscape, the prologue is pregnant with portents and possibilities. Unfortunately, the initial promise isn’t quite carried through to the end.
Director David Michôd wrote about movies before he made them, working as an editor on Australia’s Inside Film magazine. He must have studied his subject well, because Animal Kingdom, which opens next Friday (I saw it at a press screening), feels nothing like a rookie feature. Michôd didn’t base his characters on real people (“I felt reluctant to engage in what now seems to be a whole culture of turning criminals into celebrities,” he says in the press kit), but his fictional crime family feels chillingly real. More importantly, his film mixes documentary-style realism with fictional techniques to create a gripping story with an operatic sense of danger and dread.