Venice update: Ethan Hawke's Good Kill is an intimate war on terror drama

Categories: Film and TV

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Photo by Lorey Sebastian
Ethan Hawke in Good Kill.
Today is my last day in Venice, which always makes me blue. Yesterday morning, on the way to my final screening, a tourist with an Eastern European accent I couldn't quite identify stopped me a block or so from the sad and shuttered Hotel des Bains and asked me if it was open. "I have seen it in the Visconti film," he said, referring to the 1971 adaptation of Death in Venice, "and was hoping to go inside." When I told him that the hotel had been closed for several years now, and that the proposed construction to turn this grand old building into luxury condominiums had stalled out, he looked as forlorn as the building itself does. "I had hoped they'd turned it into a museum," he said.


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Bill Hader can make you cry: The SNL star on digging deep in The Skeleton Twins

Categories: Film and TV

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Four years ago, comedian Bill Hader told his agent he wanted to do a drama. It took a while. "I used to think typecasting wasn't a thing, and it totally is," Hader admits. "That's an industry feeling: 'How can I take that person seriously when I know they're capable of such weird insanity?'" But Hader doesn't look insane. For a comic, he looks almost perversely normal, with the flexible, borderline-forgettable looks of an actor who could play anything -- a handsome mortician, a strict dad, a socially awkward CEO. He just needed a shot.


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Venice Film Festival: Michael Almereyda makes magic with Cymbeline

Categories: Film and TV

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Cymbeline is the misunderstood schoolchild of Shakespeare's plays, the misfit who speaks up at odd times and sometimes says the wrong thing, awkward in all kinds of obvious ways. It's a special-needs play, but the beauty of it is right there in its bones, not least because in it we can see the great playwright's life -- that is to say, his career -- flashing before his eyes. A scheming queen, a heroine who disguises herself as a boy, a pair of semi-star-crossed lovers, a potion that gives the illusion of sleep -- it's all there in Cymbeline, a kind of greatest-hits scrapbook, and the play that even those who claim to love Shakespeare are least likely to defend.


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Venice Film Festival: Al Pacino re-discovers his inside voice

Categories: Film and TV

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Millennium Films
Most of us would agree that there's only one Al Pacino. But this year in Venice, there are actually two: Pacino appears in two films at the festival this year, David Gordon Green's Manglehorn, about a lonely Texas locksmith stuck in a romantic dream, and, playing out of competition, Barry Levinson's The Humbling, the story of an actor who, after being struck with crippling anxiety, gets his mojo restored - some of it, anyway - by a manipulative muse (played by Greta Gerwig). In some ways, they're two versions of the same character, grizzled romantics who reach out toward love just one more time. But in only one of these films does Pacino utter the line "I was thinking of going to the pancake jamboree down at the Legion."

See also:
Venice Film Fest: Joshua Oppenheimer's
The Look of Silence is more honest than The Act of Killing

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Venice Film Fest: Joshua Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence is more honest than The Act of Killing

Categories: Film and TV

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In 2012, documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer made a splash with The Act of Killing, in which he sought out members of Indonesian killing squads, individuals who murdered thousands of innocent citizens accused of being communists after a military takeover in 1965, and invited them to re-enact their crimes in the style of Hollywood movies.


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Venice Film Fest: In Birdman, Michael Keaton is haunted by his superhero past

Categories: Film and TV

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Fox Searchlight
The gent at the Delta check-in counter back in New York sighed when he saw where I was headed. "Romantic Venezia!" he said, and the comment stopped me short, because film festivals located in the most beautiful settings in the world have a way of making you forget - almost - that you're in one of the most beautiful settings in the world. The Venice Film Festival - this is the 71st edition - is held not in Venice proper, but on Lido, a summertime island where winter seems impossible, resplendent with dusty pink and ochre stucco villas. It is also the home of the formerly grand Hotel des Bains, where Thomas Mann wrote Death in Venice, and which, sadly, closed in 2010, destined to become a luxury apartment complex that has not yet materialized. I haven't yet walked by the Hotel des Bains on this trip, but I hope it's looking more cheerful than it did last year, when it sat dejected behind its majestic iron grillwork gate, a sad relic of past glory that even a Venetian Miss Havisham might find hard to love.


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Podcast: Why did so few people see Sin City 2?

Categories: Film and TV

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Very few people saw this movie.
Why did so few people see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For over the weekend? That and other topics are discussed in this week's edition of the Voice Film Club podcast with the Village Voice's Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek, joined as always by Amy Nicholson of the L.A. Weekly via the magic of the Internet.

The trio also discusses the latest YA adaptation If I Stay, the BDSM doc Kink, and they wrap with Alan and Amy split on relationship movie The One I Love, starring Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass.


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Ya, you betcha Fargo won some Emmys

Categories: Film and TV

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Chris Large/FX
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in Fargo
Last night at the 66th annual prime time Emmy Awards, this season's breakout Coen brothers-inspired hit, Fargo, took home some of the evening's top honors.

See also:
Fargo renewed for a second season, don't cha know


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Places in Minnesota that should have TV shows

Categories: Film and TV
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This week it was announced that the town of Stillwater is getting the HBO treatment. According to Deadline, True Blood producer Howie Deutch has landed a two-year development deal with the premium cable channel to develop potential dramas and comedies. One of the upcoming projects is titled Stillwater, and will follow a New York cop as he relocates to Bachmann country after his life spirals out of control in the Big Apple. Colin Farrell is also attached to the project as executive producer.

In light of this news, we thought it would be fun to consider other landmarks, businesses, and cities in Minnesota that would make for good television, be they a hilarious comedy a train wreck reality show, or a gritty drama.

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Podcast: Which Expendables stars surprised us? And we watch the New Yorkiest movie

Categories: Film and TV

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Photo by Phil Bray - © 2014 - Lionsgate
Well, who was it? Find out in this week's pod.
On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice and Amy Nicholson of L.A. Weekly sift through the smoldering pile of action movie that is the Expendables 3 and discuss which star has the most surprising scenes. Amy and Stephanie talk about Love is Strange, which might be one of the most New York movies out in a very long time, and not just because of the rent plot point.


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