Director: Wes Anderson

Actors: Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe,
Jude Law, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel

Another piece of gold from the Wes Anderson treasure chest is coming. Set between the wars in a fast changing Europe, The Grand  Budapest Hotel tells the story of Gustave, a Chef d’hotel played by a very untypical Ralph Fiennes. The picture looks like it has everything you expect from a Wes Anderson story: colorful, funny and a cast that keeps on getting more impressive every time. What’s great about Wes Anderson films is his ability to cast actors we all know pretty well to play certain roles, and make them surprise us. It looks like it’s not going to be any different this time. Grand Budapest Hotel is set to come out in March of next year.

Director: Richard Linklater

Actors: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

before-midnight-video-articleLarge-v3Before Midnight is the third part of a magnificent cinema-story that started almost 20 years ago, in 1994. Director Richard Linklater, known for his films taking place within a single day, continues the story of Jesse and Celine, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy. Jessy and Celine, both in their early twenties back then, met on the train to Vienna in 1994. They hit it off immediately and decided to get off the train in Vienna where they wander around and spent a romantic night together. The following morning their ways part, without exchanging phone numbers or addresses, but with the promise to meet each other again 6 months later. That’s where Before Sunrise, the first part of this trilogy, ends. Leaving us guessing about if they really met up again or not.

Nine years later, the answer to this question was finally given in Before Sunset (2003). Jesse returns to Europe to promote his first novel, a modest bestseller, based on a romantic night he once spent with a young parisienne in Vienna… On his book-tour Jesse also makes a stop in a small bookstore in Paris.  Where, of course, Celine shows up and they once again spend a few hours together before Jesse has to catch another plane home. Before Sunset ends on an ambiguous note with Jesse ending up in Celine’s apartment, postponing his ride back to the airport over and over again. Will he get back back to his unhappy family life in The States or will he choose to miss his plane this time?

We were made to wait another 9 years to know what happened. In Before Midnight (2013), Jesse and Celine are in their early forties and are finally living together. Better yet, they have 7 year old twin girls together.The romance and magic of meeting, missing and wondering about one another have been replaced by the every day life of any family and their struggles. Nevertheless, this 3rd part is my favorite.

Basically, all three movies consist of nothing else than these two talking. Talking about small things, big life events,…anything really, without ever getting boring. These movies aren’t part of some cheap romance franchise. To be honest, i could easily listen to these two talking for hours and hours. The conversations are natural, real and recognizable on every level.

Director: Jeff Nichols

Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard

Mud_300

It was somewhere during the end of the nineties that the seed of Mud was planted in the head of director Jeff Nichols. In 2008 he wrote down the script, and in 2011 he finally started making it, without any help from any big studios.

Ellis and Neckbone, two fourteen year olds boys who live on a remote town in the Mississippi delta in Arkansas, deep in the American south. Where people hold on to a way of life that is ceasing to exist, where all metal has rusted and all wood has rotten. Nevertheless , the two boys lead careless lives, in an adventurous scenery that the Mississippi brings with it. One day they decide to go look for an abandoned boat that ended up in a tree after the latest flood, on an island in the Mississippi delta. They find the boat, but they quickly find out it isn’t as abandoned as they thought.

A man called Mud (Matthew McConaughey) is living in it. The boys’ curiousness gradually takes over from their initial distrust over this strange man who seems to be hiding, waiting for something or someone. Especially Ellis (Tye Sheridan) grows closer to Mud and helps him out. First by getting him food, later by being a go-between for Mud and his supposed girlfriend on the main land. Ellis has a naive understanding over the concept of love, which, to him only exists in a pure and never ending form. When he finds out that Mud is sort of waiting for his girl, his alliance to him becomes almost dangerously unconditional.  But Ellis is about to find out, through different events in his life, that love doesn’t always come in a fairytale-version.

Mud is a movie that with striking acting performances: a sturdy Sam Shepard, as Mr. Blankenship.  Tye Sheridan is magnificent as young Ellis. But without any doubt it is (even-though he is once again wearing a white shirt) the melancholic Matthew McConaughey, who plays the part of his life and seems to keep getting better and better. Mud is beautiful storytelling, with a tinge of the adventurousness of Tom Sawyer, it inevitably will also remind you of Stand By Me, brought together in a shade of American tristesse.

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza

DON JON

“My body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn”. The directorial debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt has arrived and it looks quite punchy. Gordon-Levitt takes on the main part of Don Jon himself, a late twenties New Jersey-guy who thrives well in his own small kept world. But things are about to change of course, they would for you too if you bumped into Scarlett Johansson! And, it’s got Tony Danza in it!

Tarantino-birthdayToday’s the birthday of a man who changed the way our generation perceives cinema forever. I remember seeing ‘Pulp Fiction’ at the theater when I was 17 and being blown away. Ever since, every release of one of his movies has been eagerly awaited. Over the years, the man obviously mastered his craftsmanship close to perfection, although Pulp Fiction remains my personal favorite, with Inglorious Bastards as a close second. Anyways, Mr Tarantino, I hope you keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years, and so do many others with me.

Check out the legendary Tarantino-scene from the movie ‘Sleep With Me’ where the master himself exposes the true meaning of the movie ‘Top Gun’.

Director: Jacques Audiard

Actors: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb

Un prophète

After seeing ‘Rust and Bones’ a few weeks ago, I decided to dig a little deeper in the works of its director Jacques Audiard. It seems that the man is anything but a one hit wonder. The story of ‘Un prophète’ could be compared to that of ‘Scarface’, as it also revolves around the the life of a nobody-thug who works his way up on the crime ladder to become a mafia kingpin. I would even go so far to call it a better version of the eighties-cult-classic. I know that might be a bold statement to many film fans, but this film has a more raw and real feel to it. Maybe the fact that Scarface seems a bit outdated when watching it now has something to do with it.

Malik is a nineteen-year-old smalltime French-Algerian criminal who gets sentenced to six years after beating up a cop. On arrival in prison, somewhere near Paris, he knows no one there, has no money and no protection. He gets singled out by the Corsican prison-crew to kill a snitch who is temporary transferred to the same prison. He gets the job done (in what is in my opinion an epic killing scene) and gradually finds his place in their gang, winning the trust of their leader César Luciani. Half way through his sentence, Malik occasionally gets a day off to leave jail, perfect for Luciani to use him as his errand-boy to take care of his business on the outside. But Malik also has his own little business on the side, trafficking drugs from Paris to Marbella.

Things start looking up for Malik, his role within the Corsican crew becomes more substantial and his trafficking-scam is flourishing. That is until he runs into a conflict of interest between his two ‘jobs’. He has to outsmart all parties within the prison walls: the Corsicans who ‘adopted’ him and the Arabs to whom he still is connected through his roots, as well as people on the outside. That’s why this is such a great movie: not only is the plot very clever, the portrayal of Malik, from a scared, helpless kid to a smart and confident mobster who rules them all, is magnificent and very up close and personal. You feel for him at first and you too will want him to succeed on his quest when you’re watching.

‘A Prophet’ won the BAFTA award for best non-English film in 2010 as well as the ‘Grand Prize of the Jury’ at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona

Actors: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep

el_orfanato

Laura grew up in an orphanage, she and her doctor husband adopted a nine-year-old boy Simon. The presence of this sweet-natured, imaginative boy in their lives has awakened complex feelings in Laura, as she herself was adopted too. So, driven by a need for closure, she has persuaded her husband to buy the old orphanage where she spent the first years of her life, and to be foster-parents there to six new orphans with learning difficulties.

The orphanage itself is an impressive Gothic-styled mansion, close to a rocky beach and the sea. A perfect horror-tale setting. On the day Laura and her family welcome the first new orphan arrivals, Simon disappears. Months pass by without any trace of her son until Laura decides to call for the help of a parapsychologist. She discovers that the orphan kids she grew up with are all dead and that their spirits still roam around the house. Laura remembers her son playing a riddle game with what she thought was an imaginary friend at the time. She now realizes that Simon was playing with one of the dead children, and in order to find him, she will have to play the riddle game too.

Although this film soaks in an horror-atmosphere, it is much more than that. It is much more elaborate than your average horror-movie and it is also an intelligent and compassionate drama about loss and death, and about following the departed into the void so they can be made to live again.