House Logo
Explore categories +

Vincent Cassel (#110 of 7)

Cannes Film Review: It’s Only the End of the World

Comments Comments (...)

Cannes Film Review: It’s Only the End of the World

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Review: It’s Only the End of the World

Xavier Dolan’s films are either about the families we take refuge in or the ones we take refuge from. But It’s Only the End of the World might be the first that’s about both. Based on a play by the late Jean-Luc Lagarce, this fever-pitch melodrama stars Gaspard Ulliel as Louis, a gay writer suffering through an unnamed illness, who returns to his family home after a 12-year absence to try and break the news of his impending death to his mother (Nathalie Baye) and siblings (Léa Seydoux, Vincent Cassel, and Marion Cotillard).

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2016 My King and Three Sisters

Comments Comments (...)

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2016: My King and Three Sisters

Film Movement

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2016: My King and Three Sisters

Maïwenn’s My King aims to be a searing modern-day relationship drama along the lines of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage and Maurice Pialat’s We Won’t Grow Old Together, focusing as it does on a couple—Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot) and Georgio (Vincent Cassel)—who fall in and out of love with each other over the span of many years. And certainly, the acting and direction in the film are strong enough that its grand ambitions come close to being realized. Bercot and Cassel have a convincing romantic chemistry on screen in the early stages of their characters’ relationship—and Maïwenn, encouraging a generous amount of improvisation from her performers, often allows scenes to run longer than expected to allow us to hang out with these characters and observe their behavior in detail.

Cannes Film Festival 2015 Tale of Tales

Comments Comments (...)

Cannes Film Festival 2015: Tale of Tales
Cannes Film Festival 2015: Tale of Tales

The most telling revelation in Tale of Tales has little to do with ugly sisters, transmogrified monsters, or angry ogres. It’s only once the end titles reveal that the film is dedicated to director Matteo Garrone’s children that the idea behind this lavishly mounted, fairy-tale triptych begins to make sense: a rambling, big budget, Sunday-afternoon adaptation of a 17th-century Italian classic, albeit one with a brace of bared breasts and well-mannered naughtiness thrown in for good measure. One of the first films to premiere in competition, it would also have ticked most of the boxes for an opening film: a gaggle of stars, a certain commercial potential, and the warm glow of largely unwarranted self-satisfaction.

New York Film Festival 2011: A Dangerous Method

Comments Comments (...)

New York Film Festival 2011: <em>A Dangerous Method</em>
New York Film Festival 2011: <em>A Dangerous Method</em>

The teasing sense of humor that David Cronenberg has infected A Dangerous Method, his adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s play The Talking Cure, with is a big part of why the film is unmistakably Cronenberg’s finest since 2002’s Spider. Because A Dangerous Method follows Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung as they butt heads over their respective theories of psychoanalysis, it stands to reason that the smallest gesture in the film is full of meaning. Repeated tics, like the placement of hands on hips, or even when one character suffers a sudden, seizure-like paroxysm right after Jung discusses the symbolic death of one of his patients’ fathers, are rather funny. But these actions also connote so much without really saying anything at all. Leave it to Cronenberg to make a nip slip a telling sign of the schizoid nature of Sabina Spielrein, one of Jung’s most infamous patients. Cronenberg constantly uses overloaded images, including, yes, a cigar, to intrude on and indirectly raise the stakes of his film’s central drama. These absurdly loaded images serve to subversively heighten the pathos inherent in Hampton’s source drama.

The Conversations: Darren Aronofsky Part II: Black Swan

Comments Comments (...)

The Conversations: Darren Aronofsky Part II: Black Swan
The Conversations: Darren Aronofsky Part II: Black Swan

Ed Howard: Jason, you ended the first half of our conversation about Darren Aronofsky by wondering both where the director would go next after his first four films and which Aronofsky would be represented in Black Swan, his fifth feature. Throughout that exchange, we mostly divided Aronofsky’s career in half, considering Pi and Requiem for a Dream as blunt, bleak rehearsals for the more fully realized explorations of thematically similar territory in The Fountain and The Wrestler. So I suppose it’s appropriate that for the first half of Black Swan, I found myself thinking I was watching another Requiem for a Dream, while the second half ventured into the richer, deeper territory of Aronofsky’s more recent career. It’s appropriate, too, that the film itself is so concerned with halving and doubling, with mirrors and doppelgangers, built as it is around a production of the ballet Swan Lake in which the dancer Nina (Natalie Portman) is asked to play the dual role of the Swan Queen and her dark rival, the titular Black Swan.

It’s a fascinating film, and especially so in the context of Aronofsky’s career, because it feels like such a consolidation of everything he’s been exploring and dealing with in his other work. I haven’t read any reviews of Black Swan yet, but I feel pretty confident predicting that at least a few of them will call it “The Wrestler in ballet slippers,” or something similar, and they will be more or less accurate. As in The Wrestler and his other films, Aronofsky is exploring his protagonist’s singleminded pursuit of her obsession, in this case Nina’s pursuit of dancing perfection. As in The Wrestler, Aronofsky is recycling familiar cinematic clichés, drawing on the backstage movie’s tropes of domineering mothers, neurotic stars, ambitious rivals, aging hasbeens, and predatory/sexual relationships between male directors and female performers. In working with these clichés, however, Aronofsky reinvests them with vitality and freshness through the raw intensity of his filmmaking.

Nina wants, desperately and obsessively, to be “perfect,” though the film itself eschews this purity for grime, chaos and fragmentation, mocking Nina’s desire to be perfect by running her through an increasingly harrowing gauntlet of real and imagined trials and terrors. Black Swan begins in methodical, observational realism and slowly morphs, like a woman becoming a swan, into a psychological horror film, a dizzying fever dream that haunts the audience and the central character alike. I’m still wrestling with this dense film, and I’m sure we’ll delve more into its substance and its connections to Aronofsky’s oeuvre throughout this conversation. But one thing I’m already sure of is that I can’t forget this film; it’s provocative and viscerally exciting and visually compelling. I haven’t totally resolved my feelings about this film or its effect on me, but I’m already sure that it has affected me.

A Movie a Day, Day 95: Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1

Comments Comments (...)

A Movie a Day, Day 95: <em>Mesrine: Killer Instinct</em> and <em>Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1</em>
A Movie a Day, Day 95: <em>Mesrine: Killer Instinct</em> and <em>Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1</em>

Gangster movies usually come in one of three flavors. In the first kind, the filmmakers identify with their glamorized protagonists (think Coppola’s Corleones or Michael Mann’s Dillinger in Public Enemies), portraying them as admirable, even honorable men who abide by a strict moral code in an immoral world. The second show no love to their gangsters, thugs without remorse like the ugly brutes in last year’s Gomorrah. The third—and probably most common—play it both ways, making their gangsters charismatic enough to appeal to our love of rebels without a cause (think Tony Soprano) while showing enough of the damage they inflict to remind us that bad-boy infatuations work best as fantasy.

Blood Ties: Eastern Promises

Comments Comments (...)

Blood Ties: <em>Eastern Promises</em>
Blood Ties: <em>Eastern Promises</em>

That Eastern Promises is steeped in bodily fluids should come as no surprise; for almost four decades, director David Cronenberg’s great theme has been the malleability and fragility of flesh. What is surprising, however, is the grace with which Cronenberg integrates these notions into an outwardly unremarkable crime thriller. Eastern Promises is about a tough chauffeur (Viggo Mortensen) for a Russian mob family in London who gets caught between his employers and a half-Russian midwife (Naomi Watts), who has come into the possession of an incriminating diary and an orphaned newborn. The film is comprised of moments you’ve seen countless times, but in Cronenberg’s hands, they bloom like orchids.

The opening barber shop throat-slitting; the follow-up scene where a pregnant 14-year old prostitute named Tatiana staggers into Trafalgar hospital, utters a strangled “Ch-help me,” expels a pint of innards on the floor and collapses; cinematographer Peter Suschitzky’s tracking shots through the restaurant owned by mob boss Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl)—a fecund dreamspace whose black, brown and dark red color scheme complements Semyon’s footsoldiers’ dark suits and sunglasses and his granddaughters’ dark red dresses; the corpse-disposal sequence, with Nikolai using shears to snip off frozen fingertips; the bathhouse fight, in which a naked Nikolai pulps two thugs’ bodies, blow-by-blow: described on the page, these touches threaten a genre movie that offers cruelty and opulence in place of metaphoric intricacy and feeling. Luckily, Eastern Promises is as affecting as it is savage, and it violates as many expectations as it satisfies. That’s the director’s blood onscreen. Every shot pulses with life.