Archive for April, 2012

Indie roundup interview: ‘The Sound of My Voice’ director Zal Batmanglij talks cults, indie movies and eating earthworms

The Sound of My Voice” is a movie made for next to nothing, but it still manages to be more taut and suspenseful than most studio thrillers with 10 times its budget. A pair of Silver Lake documentary filmmakers, Peter and Lorna, who infiltrate a cult located in the basement of a suburban split level. The cult leader is Maggie, an ethereal, charismatic woman who wears a long flowing gown and who trundles around an oxygen tank. Though she claims to be from the year 2054, she’s remarkably vague about the future. Peter and Lorna initially intend of exposing her as a fraud, they get more and more swayed by this magnetic, mysterious woman. Continue reading ‘Indie roundup interview: ‘The Sound of My Voice’ director Zal Batmanglij talks cults, indie movies and eating earthworms’

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson face off this year at the Cannes Film Festival

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson might be soul mates in the “Twilight” series and may or may not be dating in real life, but in the just-released lineup of this year’s Cannes film festival, they are competitors.

Kristen Stewart stars in Walter Salles’s adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic “On the Road,” alongside Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, and Kirsten Dunst, who was named best actress at last year’s Cannes for her role in “Melancholia.” Salles is probably best known in this country for directing “The Motorcycle Diaries,” which depicted Che Guevara’s formative road trip through the hinterland of South America. “On the Road” shows Kerouac as he travels through America in the 1940s, hanging out with barely fictionalized versions of his Beat movement buddies Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Clearly, road trips are Salles’s auteurist thing. Continue reading ‘Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson face off this year at the Cannes Film Festival’

Indie Roundup: ‘Monsieur Lazhar’

French Canadian director Phillippe Falardeau’s wintry (literally) drama, which was nominated for a best foreign-language Oscar earlier this year, is an admirably restrained movie that sucker-punches you at the end with a strong emotional wallop.

Monsieur Lazhar” opens in a snow-covered Montreal schoolyard. Simon (Emilien Neron), a smart aleck with a shaggy haircut, enters his school ahead of his classmates and discovers his teacher dangling from a heating duct, an apparent suicide. In the chaos that follows, Simon’s friend Alice (Sophie Nelisse) also manages to sneak a peek. Their shared trauma brings the two together and then, for reasons we learn later, tears them apart. Alice talks out the suicide with startling precociousness, much to the consternation of the adults around her, while Simon folds in on himself, eaten up by guilt. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Monsieur Lazhar’’

‘Damsels in Distress’ Director Whit Stillman talks about the MPAA and America’s next dance craze

It’s been 13 years since a Whit Stillman movie graced the silver screen. His explanation for his cinematic hiatus was tersely self-deprecating. “It was failure.”

Stillman got an Oscar nomination for best screenplay for his 1991 debut feature “Metropolitan.” The film is a witty, frequently hilarious, look at New York’s upper crust that was more influenced by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jane Austen than by the contemporary icons of indie cool like Martin Scorsese or Jim Jarmusch. But, being cool never seemed much of a priority for Stillman. His characters are, by and large, hyper-articulate preppies concerned with vice, virtue and beauty and who lace their conversations with references to people like 19th French philosopher Charles Fourier. Continue reading ‘‘Damsels in Distress’ Director Whit Stillman talks about the MPAA and America’s next dance craze’

‘Chinatown’ screenwriter Robert Towne talks about movies, history and Los Angeles

From the plaintive trumpet that opens the movie to that final killer line — “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown” — Roman Polanski’s 1974 noir is regarded by film geeks, movie critics and academics everywhere as one of the best American movies ever made. It’s one of those rare movies where every scene feels iconic. A fictionalized of some real-life shenanigans pulled by William Mulholland and others who bought the water rights of the Owens rivers out from under the local farmers to feed the burgeoning city of Los Angeles, the movie’s depiction of venality and corruption at the highest levels of power struck a nerve with when it came out in post-Watergate America and it’s been the template for virtually every noir and thriller to come out since. Continue reading ‘‘Chinatown’ screenwriter Robert Towne talks about movies, history and Los Angeles’


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