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Elle Fanning (#110 of 6)

Toronto Film Review Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley

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Toronto Film Review: Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley

TIFF

Toronto Film Review: Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Mary Shelley

Casting attractive young stars Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth, respectively, as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley makes Mary Shelley, director Haifaa al-Mansour’s biopic of the mother of Gothic fiction, a kind of grandfather’s paradox of the modern wave of eroticized young-adult romantic fantasy, reconfiguring the ancestor to match its descendant. The film’s cleverest trick, foregrounded from the moment that a teenaged Mary meets Percy as a radical with scandalous notions of free love, is to suggest that, in YA terms, Percy himself is the monster with whom the bright, ambitious woman falls hopelessly in love. As such, Mary is only able to see his most intoxicating properties and none of his numerous dangers.

Jerusalem Film Festival 2017 Siege, Redoubtable, The Beguiled, On the Beach at Night Alone, & More

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Jerusalem Film Festival 2017: Siege, Redoubtable, The Beguiled, On the Beach at Night Alone, & More

Jerusalem Film Festival

Jerusalem Film Festival 2017: Siege, Redoubtable, The Beguiled, On the Beach at Night Alone, & More

Jerusalem is a city of beige and tan, a vast barren sprawl that is, despite the brutal heat and muted colors, quite beautiful. Its odd mix of orthodoxy and modernity pair like sand and cement to create something singular and undeterrable. There’s a kind of delirious, heat stroke-induced grandeur to its aesthetic uniformity, the caramel-colored homes enclosing you and the occasional swaths of trees providing much sought-after shelter from the sun, the tan and green recalling the colors of Israeli military uniforms. All of the buildings are finished with Jerusalem Stone (which is mostly made up of limestone) to marry the new to the old, to transcend date and age. A parched and pale sky settles over sun-baked façades stacked upon sandy expanses. Feet wrapped in leather sandals slap against the sidewalk and air conditioners spittle from above. “Drink water,” everyone advises. At its apogee, the sun abuses unrepentantly, with cruel omnipotence, yet people persist and keep going where they’re going, water bottles in hand. They are stubborn.

Cannes Film Review: The Neon Demon

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Cannes Film Review: The Neon Demon

Wild Bunch

Cannes Film Review: The Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refn is such a manicured stylist that a horror thriller set in the fashion world seems like the perfect project for the Danish director. And The Neon Demon, a propulsive vehicle for lavish Eurotrash-y images, like the prismatic one of Elle Fanning feigning a make-out session with two of her diamond-refracted reflections, at first plays like a slicker version of Darren Aranofsky’s frenetic Black Swan—a formidable piece of cool, giallo-inspired genre work. Refn isn’t interested in pretensions of psychological depth, nor does the filmmaker adapt self-conscious art-film tropes like Black Swan’s Dardennes-esque tracking shots. In fact, discounting a few painfully awkward dialogue scenes, The Neon Demon’s first half makes the film seem like Refn’s most surface-level-satisfying work since Drive.

Poster and Trailer Drop for Disney’s Maleficent, Starring Angelina Jolie

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Poster and Trailer Drop for Disney’s <em>Maleficent</em>, Starring Angelina Jolie
Poster and Trailer Drop for Disney’s <em>Maleficent</em>, Starring Angelina Jolie

Red flags should fly with the relaunch of anything as notable—and bankable—as a Disney brand, but the anomaly of Maleficent seems to lie in its spot-on casting, as Angelina Jolie, beyond being one of our few bona fide female headliners, looks wickedly appropriate as Sleeping Beauty’s horned villainess. Aside from the usual handful of leaked set photos, the world got its first peek at Jolie in character last June, and attendees of Disney’s D23 Expo caught a glimpse of the film, and Jolie in person, this past August. Yesterday, an official poster was finally released, showing Jolie in full, dark-magic regalia, and proving once again that, when it comes to modernized costumes, you can’t go wrong with black leather. The ad also features Jolie rocking green peepers, enhanced cheekbones a la Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” phase, and “lips red as the rose,” to quote the Mistress of All Evil herself. Jolie’s aesthetic impact alone boded well for this pseudo-prequel even before its teaser trailer premiered this morning.

New York Film Festival 2012: Ginger & Rosa

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New York Film Festival 2012: Ginger & Rosa
New York Film Festival 2012: Ginger & Rosa

Though Ginger & Rosa is arguably Sally Potter’s best work to date, it’s certainly the English filmmaker’s most accessible. But that’s not to diminish her past experimental, more iconoclastic movies. Her previous work has clearly enriched this finely observed and affecting tale about two teenage girls coming of age in early-1960s Britain. Like Orlando, her adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s centuries-spanning novel which established her name internationally 20 years ago, there’s a strong female protagonist through whose POV the movie unfolds. We sense a deep personal involvement in the narrative, though not to the autobiographical extent of Potter’s The Tango Lesson, in which the director played herself. The formalist challenges she took on in the fashionista thriller Rage—comprised almost entirely of confessional close-ups—seem to have resulted in the huge emotional payoffs in the intimate scenes in the current film.

On Rich Girl Cinema: Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture and Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere

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On Rich Girl Cinema: Lena Dunham’s <em>Tiny Furniture</em> and Sofia Coppola’s <em>Somewhere</em>
On Rich Girl Cinema: Lena Dunham’s <em>Tiny Furniture</em> and Sofia Coppola’s <em>Somewhere</em>

I first became aware of Lena Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture when Glenn Kenny posted about how, during an interview, Dunham thoughtlessly knocked James Mason in Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life (1956). Consequently, I was not exactly in a receptive state of mind for Tiny Furniture, especially following in the wake of a consistent little avalanche of press coverage on the film culminating in a New Yorker profile on Dunham and a round of “special” screenings all over town before the movie landed at the IFC Center. No film or filmmaker needs this type of overexposure; the overdone publicity will help Tiny Furniture get known and seen, but it is also going to alienate a lot of people in advance, and I would have to include myself among the preemptively alienated. So when I finally watched Dunham’s movie, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s a fairly sharp comedy about a certain artsy social group that leaves a lot of things open to individual interpretation. The day before I saw Tiny Furniture, I watched Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, a movie that also comes from a place of privilege, as Dunham’s film does, but of a very different kind.