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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Kenneth Turan

Cannes 2012: Next up for Jacques Audiard, a drug cartel musical?

May 18, 2012 |  2:37 pm

Jacques audiard

CANNES, France -- With “Rust & Bone” stirring major buzz at the Cannes Film Festival, just now opening in theaters in the rest of France and months away from cinemas in the United States, director Jacques Audiard is far from ready to decide on his next project. One unexpected notion, however, has crossed his mind.

“I really feel like making a musical comedy about weapons and the drug traffic,” he said in an interview Friday on a Cannes rooftop with a gorgeous view of pleasure boats at anchor. “I was very struck by hearing that each of the drug cartels in Colombia has their own band and their own song writers to write music about them."

In a similar vein, Audiard expressed admiration for Brazilian director Glauber Rocha’s little-seen 1964 bandit classic “Black God, White Devil.”

As the director of "A Prophet" has proved repeatedly, business as usual is not on his mind.

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Cannes 2012: An Osama bin Laden battle brews by the beach

– Kenneth Turan

Photo: Jacques Audiard in Cannes on Friday. Credit: Stephanie Cornfield / For The Times


Cannes Film Festival 2012: A star is born

May 17, 2012 | 10:09 am

Mattias schoenaerts

CANNES, France -- “Last week, they called me to star in ‘Rambo 34,’ ” said actor Matthias Schoenaerts with an admirably straight face. “I told them I wouldn’t do it unless I could get ‘35’ and ‘36’ as well.”

The 34-year-old Belgian was speaking Thursday at the packed Cannes Film Festival press conference  for “Rust & Bone,” the new movie by French director Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet”). "Rust" features performances so strong by both Schoenaerts and costar Marion Cotillard -- and the actor's command of English is so good-- that the question of him joining her as a European star of Hollywood films is clearly only a matter of time.

INTERACTIVE: Cannes 2012 cheat sheet

"Rust & Bone" is an edgy, fearlessly emotional romance between a physically damaged trainer of killer whales (Cotillard) and a violent, emotionally stunted security guard (Schoenaerts). "Rust & Bone" will be released in the United States by Sony Pictures Classics, which also distributed "A Prophet."

Schoenaerts appeared in last year's Belgian film "Bullhead," which was a nominee for the best foreign-language Oscar. The actor made a huge impression in the movie, though it was little-seen in the United States.

Schoenaerts said he had been nervous about appearing with his Oscar-winning costar.

“I was intimidated,” he said. “I thought ‘I’m never going to manage, I’m going to be useless, helpless.’ ”

As it turned out, he didn’t have to worry a bit.

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Cannes 2012: Claude Miller's last film will close festival

Cannes 2012: Can any film reproduce "The Artist" magic?

Cannes 2012: Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" to open fest

-– Kenneth Turan  

Photo: Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard at the press conference for "Rust & Bone." Credit: Ian Langsdon / EPA
 


LACMA film series celebrates California noir

May 17, 2012 |  5:00 am

Kiss me deadly lacma noir california

Los Angeles is the city of sunshine and light, the city that's like a day at the beach, the city that ... you get my drift. That line of chat may work with the suckers, the tourists and the rubes, but if you live here, you know there's a corrosive darkness lurking below the surface in perpetually sunlit L.A., a spiritual malaise that makes this town rotten to the core.

Hardly the City of Angels, this is a place where bad people come to do worse things and live to tell the tale. Or so the crackerjack films featured in “The Sun Sets in the West: Mid-Century California Noir” would have you believe.

Starting Friday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theater, in conjunction will the museum’s “California Design, 1930-1965” exhibition, “California Noir” features a superb selection of 10 little-seen films that benefit greatly from the widescreen, 35mm treatment. Though the films are squeezed into four packed nights, it’s genuinely exciting to have a classic repertory series back at LACMA, especially one of such first-rate quality from beginning to end.

Continue reading »

UCLA tribute to Universal films: Kenneth Turan's pick of the week

May 10, 2012 |  6:11 pm

Traffic in Souls
The UCLA Film and Television Archive tribute to the 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures goes into high gear this weekend, with programs changing daily at the Hammer Museum's Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood. Top films include the antiwar gem "All Quiet on the Western Front" at 7:30 p.m. Friday and "Three Smart Girls Grow Up," starring the irrepressible Deanna Durbin, at 7 p.m. Sunday. 

My personal favorites, however, would be split between 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday afternoon. Playing Thursday is an outstanding silent-film double bill of the anti-slavery "Traffic in Souls" and Lois Weber's "Where Are My Children," a pioneering, socially conscious film that was simultaneously pro-birth control and anti-abortion. 

More delirious than anything else is the wild and crazy "Cobra Woman," playing at 4 p.m. Saturday. This gaudy Technicolor extravaganza stars Maria Montez as a cheerful bride-to-be whose twin sister just happens to be, no kidding, the evil priestess of the dread cobra cult. You won't believe your eyes.

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L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival expands to Long Beach

Around Town: The Beatles' 'Yellow Submarine' gets a makeover

Turan's picks: 'Untamed' Joan Crawford, 'Dangerous' Bette Davis on DVD

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: A scene from "Traffic in Souls." Credit: UCLA Film and Television Archive


Turan's picks: 'Untamed' Joan Crawford, 'Dangerous' Bette Davis

May 9, 2012 |  3:50 pm

The busy folks at the Warner Archives Collection have focused recently on the female stars of the 1930s (and even a bit earlier), and several new releases fill out their slate nicely.

The oldest film in the group is the home video premiere of 1929's "Untamed," Joan Crawford's first significant role in a talking picture. Crawford -- playing Bingo, described as a "jungle-raised oil heiress" (you don't see many of those anymore) -- gets to sing a duet of "That Wonderful Something Is Love" with co-star Robert Montgomery.

Also prominent is Bette Davis, represented here with her 1935 "Dangerous," in which she plays a driven actress eager for a comeback. Her work was good enough to win her that year's Oscar for best actress.

More of a group effort is 1932's "Thirteen Women," a melodrama starring Myrna Loy and Irene Dunne that sounds like a wild time all around. No Oscars for anyone here.

Most interesting of the Warner DVDs are two devoted to actress Dorothy Mackaill, who retired early from films and was subsequently long forgotten. Warners is offering two Mackaill films on one disc -- "Bright Lights" and "The Reckless Hour" -- and is putting her most famous film, "Safe in Hell," on another.

Warner Archive Collection DVDs are manufactured on demand. To order, visit www.WarnerArchive.com.

RELATED:

Swashbucklers from the '30s, '40s

Universal's 100th anniversary: classic films

'Casablanca' and 'A Trip to the Moon' on DVD

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic


Universal Pictures salute showcases century of crowd-pleasing fare

May 3, 2012 |  8:00 am

AbbottCostello

Hollywood's golden age saw MGM celebrated for its glamour, Warner Bros. for its grit and social conscience and Paramount for its easy sophistication, but Universal was known for ... what exactly? The studio that today is synonymous with tours and theme parks did not have a signature house style or genre (unless you count horror films like “Dracula” and “Frankenstein,” which are more of a presence in retrospect than they were at the time).

Those looking for an answer, or just looking for a good time, are directed toward “Universal Pictures: Celebrating 100 Years,” a fascinating UCLA Film & Television Archive series starting Friday at the Hammer Museum's Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood that offers a glimpse into that crowd-pleasing catalog.

Universal, unlike entities like MGM and Paramount, did not own a nationwide theater chain. Without guaranteed screens, the studio had to concentrate on making each film as accessible as possible and not worry about prestige or awards. Seen in that light, the studio's move to theme parks was perhaps inevitable.

As its title indicates, this massive 36-film series, scheduled to run through the end of June, is being put on to celebrate what UCLA describes as “the oldest continuously operating film producer and distributor in the United States.”

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'What Becomes a Legend' at the Getty: Kenneth Turan's film pick

April 26, 2012 |  3:00 pm

Pandora's Box
To accompany its comprehensive look at photographer Herb Ritts, who did superb glamour and fashion work, the J. Paul Getty Museum is presenting a film series, "What Becomes a Legend," that showcases great screen icons.

On Saturday at 3 p.m., Heartthrob No. 1 Rudolph Valentino stars in "The Sheik," while at 7 p.m. Louise Brooks is at her most iconic in "Pandora's Box," with live piano accompaniment
by Michael Mortilla.

Sunday is devoted to sound-era sirens: "Morocco," an early collaboration between Marlene Dietrich and director Joseph von Sternberg, plays at noon, with Rita Hayworth singing "Put the Blame on Mame" in the memorable "Gilda" screening at 3 p.m.

All will be shown in the Getty's splendid Harold M. Williams Auditorium. The screenings are free, but reservations are required at www.getty.edu.

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On DVD: Universal's classic films at 100

'The Island President,' a nail-biting documentary

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Louise Brooks in "Pandora's Box." Credit: UCLA Film and Television Archive


Swashbuckling good films from '30s, '40s: Kenneth Turan's DVD pick

April 26, 2012 | 10:00 am

Who doesn't love a good swashbuckler, complete with flashing swords, romantic couples and all manner of derring-do? Hen's Tooth Video, which specializes in the hard to find, has brought back a trio of classics, all based on the works of Alexandre Dumas.

The most familiar title is the 1934 "The Count of Monte Cristo," directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring the elegant Robert Donat as the unfortunate Edmond Dantes and Elissa Landi as the woman in his life. If revenge is a dish best served cold, this story takes the cake.

Almost as well known is 1939's "The Man in the Iron Mask," directed by James Whale, best known for "Frankenstein." Louis Hayward plays both the French King Louis XIV and his separated-at-birth twin, with Joan Bennett taking on Princess Maria Theresa.

The most recent of the trio is 1941's "The Corsican Brothers," starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in another tale involving twins. Veteran players Ruth Warrick, Akim Tamiroff, J. Carrol Naish, H.B. Warner and Henry Wilcoxon round out the cast, with Gregory Ratoff directing.

If you like action not of the swashbuckling variety, Hen's Tooth is also bringing out the 1936 adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's classic "The Last of the Mohicans" with Randolph Scott doing the honors as the intrepid Hawkeye.

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Universal's classic films at 100

'Casablanca,' 'A Trip to the Moon' on DVD

Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead and more on film

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic


'The Island President,' a nail-biting doc: Kenneth Turan's pick

April 12, 2012 |  5:00 pm

Mohamed Nasheed in "The Island President"

"The Island President" is a powerful documentary focusing on Mohamed Nasheed, who until recently was the president of the Maldives, a nation of 1,200 coral islands in the Indian Ocean so low-lying that global warming is a clear and present danger.

Articulate, charismatic and heroic, Nasheed is an ideal documentary subject. Not only does he always say what's on his mind, but he granted the filmmakers access to the kinds of insider meetings and conversations that are usually strictly off-limits to the media.

Nasheed's efforts at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit are the heart of the film. Will the conference end with a crucial deal? The back and forth of late-night diplomatic meetings turns out to be as much of a nail-biter as a top-tier sporting event.

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Woody Allen’s 'To Rome with Love' to open L.A. Film Festival

UCLA Iran film festival opens Friday with family drama 'Mourning'

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Mohamed Nasheed in the movie "The Island President." Credit: Lincoln Else / Samuel Goldwyn Films


'Casablanca,' 'A Trip to the Moon': Kenneth Turan's DVD picks

April 11, 2012 |  7:14 pm

"A Trip to the Moon" and "Casablanca," two films beloved of movie fans everywhere, are now available in striking new DVD packaging.

Easily the oldest of the two is Georges Melies' 1902 "A Trip to the Moon." Perhaps the most popular of the early black-and-white silent films, it also existed in a rare and little-known hand-colorized version that only heroic restoration efforts have brought back to life. It's available through Flicker Alley in a nifty SteelBook Edition.

Few sound films are as beloved as the Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman "Casablanca," and in honor of its 70th anniversary, Warner Bros. has pulled out all the stops with a new boxed edition that includes 14 hours of bonus content and some drink coasters that enable you to turn your own house into a replica of Rick's.

RELATED:

Universal's classic films at 100

Buster Keaton's classic films return

Pola Negri, Jean Harlow, Jean Arthur on DVD

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic


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