Irish film Vivarium receives critical acclaim

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Screen Ireland announces a new co-development fund with Luxembourg

Film Fund Luxembourg and Screen Ireland have announced a new co-development fund for female directors. The formalization of the initiative was celebrated with the award of the “Order of the Oak Crown” by Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel to James Hickey, outgoing CEO of Screen Ireland.

The fund, which will focus on the crucial phase of development, aims to encourage a range of new feature films directed and written by women. There is also a broader ambition to reduce gender disparities in the film industry. James Hickey commented: “This new development partnership with Luxembourg is part of a wide range of programs which reflect our commitment to address the issue of gender inequality in Irish cinema and screen content, in particular films. roles of screenwriters and directors. Luxembourg is a long term co-production partner of Ireland and we are very happy to launch a new co-development fund with them.

This fund will provide € 40,000 per project. Projects must have attached producers from Ireland and Luxembourg. The announcement came as Screen Ireland hosted its annual reception by the Mediterranean. This will be the last such event with Mr. Hickey at the helm. Désirée Finnegan takes over the role in August.

Vivarium obtains the good opinions of the trades

The first reviews of Lorcan Finnegan Vivarium, the first Irish film to premiere at Critics’ Week in 52 years, were positive. Writing on Screen International, Tim Grierson comments, “Audiences can quickly guess which societal conventions are being satirized, but Finnegan’s precision of pacing – and the uncertainty about what’s going on – keeps the viewer spellbound. Equally important, Vivarium evolves over its short span, creating surprises and revealing new layers to its commentary.

To the Hollywood Reporter, Stephen Dalton was equally enthusiastic. “Vivarium remains a nervous and finely crafted thriller,” he writes. “Darker fairy tale than pure science fiction puzzle, it never reveals all its secrets but always ends on a satisfying note of symmetry. On the crafts side, great credit goes to production designer Philip Murphy for creating such a striking suburban hellish landscape, and to composer and sound designer Kristian Eidnes Andersen for maximizing the aural malaise. Jesse Eisenberg, who stars alongside Imogen Poots, was among those who were applauded at the first screening on Saturday morning.

Refn agrees with streaming

Nicholas Winding Refn, the Danish director of Drive and Only God Forgives, is in Cannes with the first episodes of his new television series Too Old to Die Young. Netflix is ​​making its only Directors’ Fortnight appearance this year, but the Amazon-produced series has made its way into the official selection. Refn, as in his own way, has been immersed in continuous controversy and has taken no prisoners.

“It’s a 13 hour movie, and it’s streaming,” he said. “It’s the future.” You could almost hear the bourgeois of Cannes shuddering in their celluloid boots. “Streaming is an ocean of possibilities,” he continued. “It’s so interesting to come to work every day and paint, until I run out of money. I think the studios are finally gearing up for streaming, it’s common knowledge. The difference between streaming and more traditional theater is that streaming is a flow of energy around us that works 24/7, and we can tap and consume it whenever we want. It’s a whole new ideology of how to exist.

Maybe we should just pack our things, go home and watch some TV then.

Pain and Gain takes the lead

Learn more about the fight for the Palme d’Or. Pain and Glory by Pedro Almodóvar has risen to the top of Screen International’s critics grid. The table that lists the critics, rated out of four (with zero optional), places the Spanish director’s film in the lead with 3.4. Mati Diop’s Atlantic is far behind with 2.8. The rest of the peloton is just behind. We noted a few days ago that Jigsaw Lounge tipster Neil Young has Pain and Glory as an ante-post favorite. Looks good odds.

And today’s reviews of Cannes 2019 …

Pain and Glory
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Directed by Pedro Almodovar. With Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Penélope Cruz, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano, César Vicente. In competition. 112 minutes

Penélope Cruz in Pain and Glory

Penélope Cruz in Pain and Glory

It is vulgar to start a Cannes criticism with an award tip, but Antonio Banderas claims the award for best actor in this touching meditation admirably judged by his old pal Pedro Almodóvar. More than a few directors have ventured into this kind of self-reflective project. Federico Fellini did better in 8 1/2. Woody Allen nodded to this movie in Stardust Memories.

An incarnation of Almodóvar owes a lot to Fellini, but this project shows him in his most calm and thoughtful aspect. There are lots of fun interludes. Anyone who’s ever attended a post-film Q&A will appreciate the scene in which a director and his star ask questions over the phone while chasing the dragon at home. Pain and Glory is, however, mostly in a minor key.

Convincingly gray and tired, Banderas plays an aging – though still stunning – director who, as one beautiful early animation explains, currently suffers from all the nagging pains known to medicine. An imprudent remedy is announced when he reconciles with an actor friend whom he is distant (Asier Etxeandia) to facilitate the resumption of their greater collaboration. This is where the heroine comes from.

This story is interspersed with scenes from her impoverished youth starring Penélope Cruz as her beloved mother.

Every element of the film is beautifully judged. Alberto Iglesias’ music is more beautiful than ever. The José Luis Alcaine camera brings out the rustic beauty of the director’s childhood and the bold colors of contemporary hipster Madrid. But it’s Banderas who makes the film fly. He has, like many beautiful actors and actresses, been underestimated at times, but his performance here swells with vulnerability and regret. Give him a gong, Cannes.

The wild goose lake
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Directed by Diao Yinan. With Hu Ge, Liao Fan, Gwei Lun-mei, Wan Qian. 113 minutes

Diao Yinan’s sequel to the excellent Black Coal Thin Ice, which won first prize in Berlin five years ago, has an implicit question: Can a film be satisfied with stunning settings? Just about. May be. It would be nice, however, if the superstructure here was a bit safer.

We start in very dark territory with a scoffed thug meeting a mysterious woman in the twilight of a neon light. The man is He is Zhou Zenong (Hu Ge) and, as we will soon learn, he is on the run from former colleagues and the busy police. The woman is Liu Aiai (Gwei Lun-mei) and her objective is initially obscure, but she appears to either save the protagonist or lead him to massacre.

We get further explanation with a flashback to the events of just two days ago. It’s a turbulent story that involves an argument between two gangs, a competition to steal the most motorcycles, and a sudden, semi-comical beheading. To say more would be to claim that there is more order in history than it seems.

This thread is everywhere. Luckily, it’s peppered with brilliant action sequences, atmospheric cinematography, and scenes of such willful strangeness that only they warrant entry. The Umbrella Murder is wonderfully bloody. The sight of the mass motorcycle chase at night is singularly disturbing. The female characters simmer like Stanwyck.

Too bad it’s such a mess.


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