By Jessica Allen - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
27 frames from the most famous red carpet in the French Riviera
While it’s not unusual for celebrities to visit the French Riviera, the 2013 Cannes Film Festival has seen a particularly luminescent bunch. We’ve got our film critic Brian D. Johnson sending us dispatches from the ground and photographer George Pimentel sending us his shots from the red carpet. Here’s a selection of the best frames from the first five days of the festival:
The stars of The Great Gatsby: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan.
By Brian D. Johnson - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 5:52 AM - 0 Comments
I tend to approach a new Coen brothers movie with the wariness that comes from being a fan who’s been burned too often. In their lesser films, such as Burn After Reading, their wit can curdle into smugness. But when the brothers let their passion override their reflexive cynicism, they’re amazing. In No Country for Old Men and True Grit, they graduated to an epic scale with an emotional maturity and lyrical grandeur they’d never attempted before. Now with Inside Llewyn Davis, which premiered in Cannes yesterday, the Coens retreat to a smaller canvas. But without softening their signature edge of sardonic humour, they strike a chord of unprecedented tenderness. This is the Coen brothers unplugged, and it’s a slice of pure heaven. I didn’t want it to end, something you can’t say about many films in competition at Cannes. And I’m not alone. Inside Llewyn Davis arrived as an exhilarating tonic amid the visions of violence and angst that tend to be the red meat of a Cannes competition. Finding the sweet spot between droll humour and bittersweet emotion, it was universally embraced by critics as a rare treat—a Coen brothers comedy with a heart of gold.
Loosely drawn from The Mayor of MacDougal Street, a memoir by folksinger Dave Von Ronk, the movie features a breakout performance by Oscar Isaac, whose first name could be prophetic. He’s a riveting presence as both an actor and singer. A Julliard-trained musician, Isaac performs several of Van Ronk’s ballads under the musical direction of Coen brothers veteran T-Bone Burnett. The songs are sparsely measured out, but they play in their entirety as high points of the drama, making time stop with an uncanny intimacy. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
In an age when Hollywood has turned the movie biz into moneyball—an escalating numbers racket of sequels, franchises, reboots and spin—those of us who watch films for a living feel we’re caught in an endless loop, a Groundhog Day of déjà vu. As marketing and movie-making become indistinguishable, opening weekend is just another iteration of something we’ve seen before.
That’s why Cannes is a thrill. It’s a place of cinematic privilege where the usual rules don’t apply. Every year we make the pilgrimage to the French Riviera not knowing what to expect. Well, with one glaring exception. The festival’s May 15 opening night gala, The Great Gatsby, is by now old news. Weird. I’ve been coming to Cannes for 14 years, and it’s unheard of for the festival not to open with a world premiere. But almost a week after Gatsby’s North American debut, Warner Bros. will use Cannes for its European launch. One can only assume the festival was desperate to have the stars on its red carpet but didn’t have the clout to the force the studio to hold back its North American release. That’s an indication of how regimented global distribution has become. But it also doesn’t bode well for the regal status of the world’s most prestigious film festival.
On the other hand, opening night has always been largely ceremonial. More often than not, Cannes opens with Versailles-scale confections that turn out to be duds; and The Great Gatsby—which few critics have deemed good, never mind great— should at least serve as fodder for a lavish party. Besides, we don’t really come here to see Hollywood movies, but to get away from them. This, after all, is the Olympics of world cinema, and for those who like that sort of thing, nothing rivals the anticipation of watching the Cannes competition unfold from one day to the next. There tends to be refreshingly little advance hype about the films, so each time the lights go down it’s a journey into the dark on every level.
There are 20 features vying for the Palme D’Or this year. As we watch them, we’ll be second-guessing a heavyweight jury chaired by Steven Spielberg, whose eight cohorts includes Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Life of Pi), and Oscar-winning actors Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz. Continue…
By Emily Senger - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 12:02 PM - 0 Comments
After a five-year hiatus, Justin Timberlake released a new single Monday, “Shirt and Tie,”…
After a five-year hiatus, Justin Timberlake released a new single Monday, “Shirt and Tie,” which features a collaboration with Jay Z.
Timberlake dropped the single after toying with fans for a bit. On Thursday, he posted on Twitter:
— Justin Timberlake(@jtimberlake) January 10, 2013
And then, late Sunday:
— Justin Timberlake(@jtimberlake) January 14, 2013
Before posting a link to the actual single:
— Justin Timberlake(@jtimberlake) January 14, 2013
By Jaime Weinman, Emily Senger, Jonathon Gatehouse, Patricia Treble, Aaron Wherry, and Mika Rekai - Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:30 AM - 0 Comments
Danielle Smith’s offal tweet, Fidel Castro reappears (it seems), and Roberto Luongo a Leaf?
Let them eat steak
The Alberta Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith took a grilling this week when she suggested this week that recalled meat from Alberta’s XL food plant be fed to “the hungry.” Millions of kilograms of recalled XL meat is being destroyed due to an E. coli outbreak. “What a waste,” Smith tweeted. “We all know thorough cooking kills E. coli,” she added, endorsing another tweet suggesting that the meat instead be fed to those in need. When her comments sparked outrage, Smith was forced to backtrack: she did not mean that poor people should eat tainted meat, but if the meat could actually be salvaged, even she would buy it. Twitter had little sympathy—some suggested she feed it to members of Wildrose instead.
As the NHL lockout drags on into its second month, all hockey fans are hurting. But there might be some good news for the longest-suffering among them—the members of “Leafs Nation.” Reports surfaced last week that Toronto and the Vancouver Canucks have worked out a deal that will see mercurial goalie Roberto Luongo and his massive contract land in Hogtown when play ﬁnally resumes. Both sides deny that any agreement has been ﬁnalized (technically they can’t make a trade during the labour dispute), but there’s plenty of smoke. And at the very least it gives Leafs fans something else to obsess over: whether they’re getting the guy who backstopped Team Canada to gold in 2010, or the one who couldn’t stop a beach ball last season.
TV is so déclassé
“Stop this bourgeois priggishness!” cried Conrad Black, baron of Crossharbour and scourge of the bourgeoisie. The man who brought on Black’s outburst was BBC host Jeremy Paxman, who sat down with him for a TV interview. After Paxman called him a “criminal,” Black angrily dismissed his fraud conviction and prison sentence as a product of the U.S. justice system—“The whole system is a fraudulent, fascistic conveyor belt”—and commended himself for not “smashing your face in.” During the same round of interviews, Black appeared with Sky News host Adam Boulton, derided his questions and asked at one point, “What’s your name again?” Black has no time to learn the names of bourgeois prigs.
By Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 5:21 PM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – “Who am I to say I want you back? When you were never mine to give away.”
Those are the opening lines of a song that accompanies a “New Myspace” promotional video. The once-mighty social network is trying to stage yet another comeback with the help of Justin Timberlake.
The new site, for which people can request an invitation, looks a bit like an entertainment-focused version of Pinterest, with a dash of Twitter and Facebook thrown in.
But Myspace has tried redesigns before, to no avail. Will it work this time?
“If you break my heart a second time, I might never be the same,” continues the song, “Heartbeat,” by the group JJAMZ.
From the sound if it, Myspace wants to win the hearts and minds of tech-savvy hipsters. Founded in 2003 and initially a fast-rising star, Myspace attracted mostly teenagers and twentysomethings, offering them a place to express themselves online. It peaked in 2008 with some 76 million U.S. visitors in October.
The site lost its footing as the fun of customizing profile pages began to bore its users and the site’s heavy use of banner advertisements slowed the speed at which pages loaded.
At the same time, people were already migrating to Facebook, which counted users 35 and older among its fastest-growing demographic.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, October 28, 2011 at 9:28 AM - 2 Comments
Gotta love the zeitgeist. New Zealand-born filmmaker Andrew Niccol, who scripted The Truman Show and wrote and directed Gattica, crafts anti-totalitarian sci-fi thrillers with the high-concept flair of a TV commercial director, which is what he was before he made features . But when Niccol was shooting In Time, there’s no way he could have known that it would be so timely—a picture-perfect pamphlet for an Occupy Wall Street movement that hadn’t happened yet. And how sci-fi is that?
This meta-Marxist allegory about human capital takes place in an Orwellian future where time is literally money. For everyone, aging mysteriously stops at 25, freezing youth and beauty in a vampire-like stasis. From that moment on, people live only for as many years, months, days or minutes that they can earn. Time is the universal currency. The 99% scrape to stay alive for another week or two; the 1% have centuries to burn. Your net worth is written on your wrist, as a fluorescent clock that spins numbers on skin like a digital tattoo. It’s a kind of bar-code scanner. Everything you buy is priced in increments of time, from pay phones to sports cars. How does it all work? Don’t ask. This is the kind sleek sci-fi flick that doesn’t waste time explaining its premise. You just have to run with it. And there’s a lot of running. Not just because it’s an action movie, but because the characters are, well, racing against time. If your clock runs down to zero, you die, with a spastic electric jolt. It’s called “timing out.” No one can afford to be in debt. And there’s plenty of crime afoot, because you can steal someone’s time in an arm-wrestling transfer, or give it away. Needless to say, there are more word plays on time than sexual double entendres in a Bond movie. When a gangster tells his thugs to “clean their clocks,” it’s not just a metaphor. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, June 24, 2011 at 12:25 AM - 0 Comments
The photo above is not from Cars 2. This week a scheduling conflict forced me to choose between seeing an environmentally correct Pixar animation movie about talking cars or an R-rated comedy starring Cameron Diaz as a slutty teacher. Gee, tough call. I suspected Cars 2 would be the bigger movie, and maybe the better one. But how good could it be? And besides, what could I possibly learn from from a talking car sequel wired with a message about the evils of gasoline? (The critical consensus so far, by the way, brands Cars 2 a lemon.) Cameron Diaz playing a tramp teacher “who doesn’t give an F,” as the tagline says—at least that’s something we haven’t seen before. So in the interests of lower education, I signed up for Bad Teacher. I mean, with Diaz, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake and Lucy Punch in the cast, how bad could it be?
Well, it could be a lot better. Whenever Hollywood tries to push the envelope with a new high concept, there’s always a certain frisson. Bad Teacher‘s concept, succinctly contained in the title, is attractive: a jaded, foul-mouthed, gold-digging teacher keeps a stash of booze and pot in her desk, naps while her class watch a Stand and Deliver DVD the first day of school—and launches various scams to buy herself a boob job with the goal of seducing a wealthy but dorky colleague played by Justin Timberlake. Like Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher taps the under-served appetite for raunchy comedies about women behaving badly. And it, too, has a heroine locked in a nasty rivalry with a goody two-shoes—a sucky teacher played by Punch. There are some good laughs along the way, but the conceit wears thin. After Bridesmaids has raised the bar, Bad Teacher kicks it down a notch or two. The script (by Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg) leers at its skanky heroine from a distinctly male point of view. And director Jake Kasdan seems more focused on detonating the gags than developing the characters. Despite the likeable cheek of the premise, and a game performance from Diaz, Bad Teacher gets just a passing grade. Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
Winners – Justin Timberlake, The Cast of Glee, and Johanna Skibsrud
Always deeper than his image let on, the 29-year-old has officially completed the loop from tween heartthrob to serious acting talent, wowing critics this fall with his turn in the Facebook movie, The Social Network. Timberlake’s take on Napster inventor Sean Parker combined innocence and calculation, conveying evil beneath a sheen of effeminate whimsy. Not bad for a guy who got his start warbling country tunes on Star Search.
Serena Williams’s outfits might steal the show at most tennis tournaments, but these days Wozniacki supplies the substance. The 20-year-old Dane won an amazing six tour events in 2010, including the Rogers Cup in Montreal, to claim the No. 1 rank in the world. She’s no slouch in the looks department, either, but with her crashing serve and her relentless work ethic, her opponents had best keep their eyes on the ball.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, October 1, 2010 at 12:31 AM - 0 Comments
In the movies that dominate this opening weekend, the action is all talk. Topping the new releases is a trio of grown-up pictures driven by energetic dialogue—Social Network, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Trigger. Then, for a more visceral kick, there’s a choice between the horror movie remake Let Me In and the Canuck hoser farce Fubar 2, which are both a cut above their respective genres. Finally, for a trip inside the ultimate talking head, there’s Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie. Now, maybe someone has slipped a smiley pill into my critic cocktail, but believe it or not, I can happily recommend all six films to some degree, something I can’t remember ever doing for a such a large batch of new releases. Not all are must-see movies. (Woody Allen’s Tall Dark Stranger eminently skippable.) And for the moment, Trigger is playing only in Toronto. But this is a pretty fine crop, led by one of the smartest movies to come out of Hollywood in some time:
Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club) and scripted by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), The Social Network makes intelligence sexy and exciting, as if it’s the latest comic book super power. In the role of Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Jesse Eisenberg is scarily convincing as the Smartest Guy in the Room, a serious geek whose brain seems to be moving at warp speed. Sorkin is a past master at dramatizing complex information with dense, propulsive dialogue—remember all those walking-and-talking marathons in the White House corridors of The West Wing—and here he sets a new land-speed record for dialogue. It’s fun just trying to keep up. And under Fincher’s kinetic direction, The Social Network‘s verbal intrigue rips along like a house on fire.
The story charts Zuckerberg’s imperial destiny back to a drunken prank in his Harvard dorm room, where he hacks into Harvard’s databases to launch Facesmash, a site rating the hotness of co-eds. The narrative is framed by flash-forward scenes of a deposition room where history’s youngest billionaire is trying to fend off two lawsuits—one from his best friend and former Facebook CFO Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and the other from the stranger-than-fiction Winklvoss twins, blue-blood Olympic rowers who claim he stole their idea. Garfield (the next Spider-Man) proves immensely sympathetic as Eduardo, the loyal partner who gets stabbed in the back after Zuckerberg makes a devil-pact with Napster bad boy Sean Parker—played with sulfuric sleaze by Justin Timberlake, who’s proving to be quite the potent actor.
The movie’s genius is that it pulls the viewer in conflicting directions. On the one hand, we’re appalled by Zuckerberg’s cold-blooded calculations, and his betrayal of Saverin. On the other hand, Saverin seems hopelessly wedded to an old-school business model that Zuckerberg has no time for. And even though Eisenberg never tries to soften his character or court our affections, we find ourselves perversely rooting for him. He is, after all, the Citizen Kane of this saga; he’s the one living out the twisted version of the American Dream. And with rather generous psychological license, Sorkin’s script gives him a Rosebud—the film begins with Mark being dumped by his girlfriend (Rooney Mara, warming up for her role as the avenging heroine of Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). From there on, the movie hinges on the back-pocket whim that Zuckerberg’s quest for world domination is fueled by romantic rejection. Which reduces him to just another guy taking a really circuitous route to getting laid. But it still makes for a helluva story. It’s exhilarating to see a movie with this much verbal complexity succeed at being so entertaining. People will be talking about it all the way up to the Oscars.
For my story on The Social Network in this week’s magazine go to Aaron Sorkin, Facebook and the Devil. And to read the full transcript of my interview with Sorkin go to: Aaron Sorkin gives Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg a Poke. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 1, 2010 at 1:01 PM - 6 Comments
The Grammys are to pop music what the Super Bowl is to sports
It is perhaps possible to take the Grammy Awards seriously. But only if you stop worrying about them.
Consider, for a moment, the National Football League.
The NFL is presently the premier professional sports league in North America: a multi-billion-dollar cultural institution that can claim, in the Super Bowl, the biggest single sporting event on the planet. Its athletes are among the world’s most exceptional and most beloved. But success in the NFL is not the ultimate standard of sporting achievement. The NFL does not define the concept of sport. In fact, no league, tournament or event—not even the Olympics—does. And it is generally understood that it is impossible to compare athletes of different leagues and disciplines—any discussion of “the world’s greatest athlete” generally defined by he or she who dominates their particular competition most spectacularly. (Tiger Woods, for instance, wasn’t ever as fast or as strong as any number of Olympians, football players or basketball players. But he was, by virtue of his unique excellence in golf, in the conversation as the best athlete in the world.)
By John Geddes - Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 11:40 AM - 12 Comments
Yet another version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” this one sung by Matt Morris and Justin Timberlake on the U.S. Hope for Haiti TV telethon, is now one of the hottest singles on iTunes. This in blatant defiance of Cohen’s request, after countless covers, some of them pretty big hits, that everybody give “Hallelujah” a rest. Given the cause I figure he’ll be okay with the moratorium being broken. (Our Brian D. Johnson probed the lasting allure of “Hallelujah” last year.)
By John Intini - Friday, May 8, 2009 at 10:20 AM - 10 Comments
How an ex-boy band Britney survivor dodged all the punchlines and got the last laugh
Justin Timberlake was a global brand when he showed up on Saturday Night Live in December 2006 with a cheap suit, cheesy beard and a strategically placed cardboard box. But in two minutes and 37 seconds, the pop star reached a whole other level. In addition to an Emmy and more than 35 million downloads, the skit, a holiday music video parody, in which Timberlake advises dudes on the perfect gift to give your lady—a “d–k in a box”—was crude, but earned the former Mouseketeer a lot of cred. He also proved that night to be one of SNL’s best hosts in years by appearing in . . . no, by being the funniest part of nearly every skit. Fast-forward to November 2008: Timberlake shows up on SNL again, this time in heels and a leotard, dancing with Beyoncé to Single Ladies—another instant Web sensation. After that turn, some New York media types pleaded with Lorne Michaels, SNL’s producer, to hire the pop star full-time. Timberlake, who now has a standing invite whenever he’s in NYC, is hosting SNL on May 9. Chances are, by the time you read this, his latest skit has already gone viral.
The fact that anyone is even talking about Timberlake is remarkable. This is, after all, a guy who spent seven years with ’N Sync and dated Britney Spears, the kind of credentials that might guarantee someone a spot on the The Surreal Life. And yet, several years since his band broke up (and 14 since he and Mickey Mouse parted ways), Timberlake has positioned himself atop a respected pop culture empire that spans music, film, TV, even fashion (his latest collection earned industry nods at New York Fashion Week in February). He’s a boyfriend to beautiful women—the latest, Jessica Biel—and in crowning him America’s most stylish man, GQ credited him with single-handedly bringing back fedoras, sweater vests, three-piece suits and beards. He’s the modern-day equivalent of the Rat Pack, all rolled into one skinny-jean-wearing guy from Memphis who used to have frosted tips.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, June 20, 2008 at 10:39 AM - 0 Comments
This weekend marks a showdown between two goofy Hollywood comedies about mild-mannered bozos endowed with extravagantly fake professional lives: Get Smart and The Love Guru. Aside from offering a choice between a spy who uses a shoe phone and a self-help pundit who glides around on a motorized hassock, these two movies present two distinct options: smart or dumb.
For a film derived from a vintage TV series, Get Smart is more original than you might expect, with a deft script and an elegant performance by Steve Carell. Mike Myers is no dummy. But in The Love Guru, as if sending up hockey and self-help is not enough, he smothers his wit with the kind of crude puns, penis jokes and toilet humour that became a staple of the Austin Powers franchise. Maybe he’s got his audience figured out. Who knows? If it worked before, maybe it will work again. But I’m beginning to wonder if a special restricted rating should be created for movies like this—preventing anyone over the age of 14 from attending.
Meanwhile, if you’re willing to venture beyond Hollywood, there’s a third comedy option this weekend that offers a far superior brand of hyperbole. My Winnipeg, an extraordinary feat of documentary delirium by Guy Maddin, is smarter and funnier than both other films combined. It’s a brilliant work of stunning originality.
Long before Austin Powers spoofed James Bond, there was Get Smart. I’m old enough to have fond memories of the TV series, from its original broadcast, not syndication. Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry in 1965, it belonged to a wave of spy shows in the ’60s—along with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers—that either aped or mocked the James Bond fantasy, and gave TV viewers their first mainstream taste of quirky, post-modern style. Get Smart was a pure send-up. And despite a flimsy concept, what the series won our affection via the deadpan charm of the actors: Don Adams as the bumbling Maxwell Smart and Barbara Feldon as his foxy sidekick. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, May 5, 2008 at 3:58 PM - 880 Comments
Newsflash: Native Scarbarian Mike Myers has made another summer movie. Newsflash, part deux:… This
Newsflash: Native Scarbarian Mike Myers has made another summer movie. Newsflash, part deux: This time, he’s not playing a horny British spy with bad teeth, but a horny Indian self-help guru with bad hair extensions. There is no mistaking that ’The Love Guru’, set for a June release, is a Mike Myers vehicle; the preview alone showcases two of his half-dozen midget jokes, all aimed at poor little Verne “Mini Me” Troyer.
None of this would merit precious Deux Maudits Anglais real estate were it not for that dapper young Justin Timberlake. The former Mickey Mouse Clubber and boy band wünderkind, last seen grinding with his mother Madonna in her newest video, takes up the role of Jacques Grande, a Quebecois hockey player and romantic foil to Darren Roanoke, the film’s hapless protagonist. Timberlake wears a pinstripe mustache, feathered hair and a Speedo. Give him 20 years and 40 pounds and he’d look at home on a Florida beach in February.
It’s about damn time Hollywood recycles the overlooked and underused Quebec stereotype. It has me giddy for the days of Slap Shot, the 1977 on-ice romp starring Paul Newman. Quebec stage actor Yvon Barrette plays Denis Lemieux, a befuddled French goalie best known for his unwittingly sublime description of visiting the penalty box: “You go to the box, two minutes by yourself, you feel shame, and then you get free.”
You have very big shoes to fill, Justin.
Thanks to Fagstein for the news on ‘Guru’.
By Jeff Harris - Friday, September 23, 2005 at 3:35 PM - 0 Comments
Jeff Harris goes behind the scenes
Nova Scotia’s Trailer Park Boys can’t stop talking about “drinking, smoking” and Viggo Mortenson gets a little lesson on NHL regalia (hint: the “C” stands for Canadiens). Canadian actor / director Don McKeller had two mini-films in the festival which were both shot on a cell phone. The Toronto Film Festival celebrates it’s 30th year, and here are 30 “short films” that celebrate the festival!