Sometimes paranoia and reality are the same.
When you're so conditioned to the warzone, re-entering the 'real' world can be challenging, and often just as terrifying. Director Alice Winocour went to great depths to explore this idea of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in former soldiers with her gripping new thriller 'Disorder'.
Matthias Schoenaerts stars in 'Disorder'
It's no secret that men and women often return from military combat changed beyond recognition. The horrors of war leave scars that never fade, and often these troops are forced to live the rest of their lives in fear; looking over their shoulders every single day overwhelmingly paranoid, even in the comfort of their mundane home lives, they struggle to shake those ingrained thoughts of violence and brutality they once saw. In 'Disorder', a new thriller directed by Alice Winocour ('Augustine'), we follow the after-effects in one man who returns from Afghanistan and takes on a security job.
Continue reading: Alice Winocour Tackles Military Borne PTSD In 'Disorder'
Director Tom Hooper deploys the same style he used in The King's Speech for this much darker story about the first man to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. It's an odd mix of rather too-pretty visuals with an edgy series of events that perhaps demands a lot more raw honesty. But the story is fascinating, and the cast is excellent, delivering astute, introspective performances that reveal the much earthier narrative under the lovely surface.
It opens in 1926 Copenhagen, where husband and wife painters Einar and Gerda Wegener (Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander) are hoping to start a family as they develop their careers. One day, Gerda talks Einar into putting on a dress to pose for one of her paintings, and the experience triggers long-suppressed yearnings from his childhood. Gerda and their friend Ulla (Amber Heard) encourage him to attend a party in drag, and Lili Elbe is born, Einar's female alter ego who immediately attracts the attention of a lovelorn man (Ben Whishaw). After they move to Paris, they find another friend in Gerda's agent Hans (Matthias Schoenaerts), who was Einar's childhood pal. But while the French doctors think Einar is simply crazy, Gerda sticks by him as he decides to undergo a radical experimental surgery offered by a doctor (Sebastian Koch) in Germany.
Hooper's usual directorial flourishes include off-centre compositions, painterly sets and emotive close-ups, which bring out the internal struggles of the characters in beautiful ways. But this also has a tendency to simplify a story that is seriously complex. By emphasising the social conflicts and relational melodrama, the entire movie begins to feel rather thin, never quite grappling with the more provocative or disturbing aspects of the issues at hand. There are hints of what might have given the film an edgier kick, such as a moment of Hitchcockian obsession or the shifting of power between the male and female characters.
Continue reading: The Danish Girl Review
Even though it's made in a style that feels familiar, this World War II romantic drama takes a much more complex approach to the period, most notably in the way that it refuses to let anyone become a hero or villain. This is because author Irene Nemirovsky wrote the source novel at the time, not in retrospect, which gives it an unusual kick. And the film also benefits from an extraordinarily textured performance by Michelle Williams.
She plays Lucille, who in 1940 is living in the French country town of Bussy with her mother-in-law Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas). Since her husband is missing in action at the front, Lucille is feeling trapped in her life with the madame, who cruelly increases her poor-farmer tenants' rent even during these hard times. Then the Germans arrive to occupy the town, and officer Bruno (Matthias Schoenaerts) is billeted in their house. Initially a horrific presence, Bruno turns out to be a soulful young man who misses his family. As he composes music on Lucille's piano, she reaches out to him in friendship, surprised to find a spark of attraction. But things get more complicated when Lucille and the madame begin to help a neighbour (Sam Riley) who crosses the Germans and needs to be hidden from view.
Director Saul Dibb (The Duchess) shoots this in a fairly straightforward costume-drama style, with sun-dappled cinematography and lavish settings. But the film rises above the genre in the characters, who are never allowed to become the usual stereotypes. Both Lucille and Bruno are intelligent young people aware that they're in the wrong place at the wrong time, so it's hardly surprising that they are drawn to each other, and Williams and Schoenaerts spark vivid chemistry that never boils over into forbidden-love melodrama. Each of them is a bundle of contradictions, remaining sympathetic even when they make bad decisions. And Scott Thomas adds further texture as the harsh madame who reveals her own unexpected shadings.
Continue reading: Suite Francaise Review
During the Second World War, France was quickly and violently taken over by the German army. Now, under enemy occupation, the residents find themselves having to house and shelter their victorious enemies. Lucille Angellier (Michelle Williams) is one of these people, having to share her house with Commander Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts). Despite being on two different sides of the conflict, the two find a strange attraction to one-another, and a romance begins to blossom. But Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas), Lucille's mother-in-law, distrusts the German officer, leading to a series of events that will test the strength of love and trust, in a time of war.
Continue: Suite Francaise Trailer
The series also boasts an impressive list of executive producers including Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.
HBO has greenlit a new miniseries based on explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and starring Casey Affleck and Matthias Schoenaerts. The six part miniseries will begin filming in the summer and is due on our screens later this year.
Casey Affleck will star in 'Lewis and Clark'
"In Lewis and Clark, we can see American idealism and the breathtaking natural beauty of the continent, as well as the complexities and tragedies of what came to be known as America's 'manifest destiny,' " said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo.
In the palace of Versailles, a tremendous garden is maintained. One day, the builder and head gardener sees an ordinary woman arriving at the palace, and, throwing aside ideas of conformity, chooses to rearrange some of the garden into something that pleases her. He takes her on with the hopes of updating and adding some life to the traditional gardens, and steadily begins to fall for her. As she finds difficulty integrating into the high society that he is from, he ensures her that, in fact, she is envied by the upper classes for her newness. But when that envy turns into something more, the gardener will have to fight tooth and nail to maintain the garden, their love, and their lives.
Continue: A Little Chaos Trailer
Five married friends decide to buy a loft together, and each owned a key, but no one else did. The men use the loft as a place to have affairs with their various mistresses. But one day, one of the men goes to the loft, only to discover an unknown woman dead in the master bed. When all the members are assembles, they realise that they have to call the police - thus exposing their secret of their loft to their wives. But with their other halves now knowing about their dirty little secrets, the men are forced to look into their past to find out just who killed the mysterious woman.
Continue: The Loft Trailer
Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a beautiful young, yet poor woman. After saving the life of a young farmer, he falls utterly in love with her, yet she moves away after realising that she did not love him. When a fire destroys his farm, he goes in search of a new job - finding one as a farm hand, working for Everdene. But as she begins to earn the interest of a further two suitors, Everdene is caught up in a whirlwind of intrigue and controversy. Will Everdene discover true love? Or will she bring destruction to all those who fall under her spell?
A slow-burning intensity sets this crime thriller apart from the crowd, directed by Belgian filmmaker Michael Roskam with a sharp focus on flawed characters who continually surprise each other. It's also a strikingly involving screenplay by Dennis Lehane, an author known for flashier thrillers like Mystic River and Shutter Island (this is his first film script, based on his short story Animal Rescue). All of this pays off with terrific performances from an excellent cast and situations that genuinely shake up the audience, even if it remains moody and subdued right to the end.
It's set in Brooklyn, where bars take turns acting as the mafia drop point for the day's takings. And after Cousin Marv's Bar is robbed on a non-drop day, Chechen gangster Chovka (Michael Aronov) is furious. Even though he has assumed ownership of the bar from Marv (James Gandolfini), Chovka orders him to get the $5,000 back, implying that Marv knows the thieves. So Marv turns to his mild-mannered barman Bob (Tom Hardy) for help. Bob knows how to keep his head down, and as he works on finding the cash, he discovers an abused puppy abandoned in a trash can outside the home of Nadia (Noomi Rapace), who helps him nurse the dog back to health. But the puppy - and Nadia - were both cast aside by the thuggish Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts), who doesn't want to let anything go.
Viewers expecting an action-packed crime thriller might be disappointed by the muted tone of this film, but it's the kind of story that worms its way under the skin, creating complex characters who are constantly revealing new details about themselves as the situation inexorably escalates around them. Hardy is simply superb, layering all kinds of emotions into Bob's actions as he struggles to maintain his composure while everyone around him does something inexplicable. As a result, the film's final act is a sequence of heart-stopping moments that make the most of the witty, nervy and darkly gritty scenes that went before.
Continue reading: The Drop Review
While the story centres on twisted moral dilemmas, this 1970s-set thriller takes such a hesitant, internalised approach that if never lets viewers under the characters' skin. As a result, there's virtually no spark of real life here, despite the presence of several fine actors and a twisty plot that focusses on how decisions affect relationships. It's an oddly muted approach to events that really should have a much stronger emotional jolt.
It's 1974 Brooklyn, where Chris (Clive Owen) has just been released after 10 years in prison. His police detective brother Frank (Billy Crudup) offers help with finding a place to stay, getting a job and escaping his former life of crime, but the options are limited. While trying to reconnect with his junkie-prostitute ex Monica (Marion Cotillard), Chris also begins dating the younger Natalie (Mila Kunis). And he finds himself drifting back into his old gangster role. This causes a conflict of interest for Frank in his work as a cop, especially since he's further compromised by having an affair with Vanessa (Zoe Saldana), whose boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) he's just put in jail.
Filmmaker Guillaume Canet is remaking the 2008 French thriller Rivals (in which he played the Frank character), and he recreates the period beautifully, shooting the film in a grainy 1970s style that emphasises character over action. So it's odd that the characters feel so thinly written, with most of the ambiguity drained from each moral issue they face. Much of this is because everyone is pushing their emotions away and internalising their thought processes so no one else can see them. But this leaves the audience out in the cold. And as a result, everything feels obvious and inevitable, which makes it impossible to get involved as events escalate. It's as if these people are tragic losers, so no amount of sympathy will save them.
Continue reading: Blood Ties Review
Bob Saginowski works behind the bar at Cousin Marv's in Brooklyn - an establishment often referred to by local criminals as a 'drop bar'. It's where all the money in the town, acquired by illicit means, is dropped off and kept safe from rival gangs and authorities. However, Cousin Marv's turns out to be less safe than they thought when two masked armed robbers break in while Bob and Marv are cashing up and demand all the money. Despite Marv's warnings about who they are really stealing from, the thieves leave with their loot and Marv and Bob find themselves in a sticky situation when one mean crime boss wants it back. Getting involved in circumstances like this is the last thing these guys want and Marv starts to wish he was as well-respected as he used to be. After a vicious killing occurs, the stakes get higher. Will the duo manage to win back the mob's money? And what's the significance of a lost pitbull puppy?
Continue: The Drop Trailer
Frank is a remarkable cop with a lot to look forward to in his life, but as happy as he is, he still has major worries for the people around him. His brother Chris has just been released from prison after a gang-related murder several years ago. Frank wants to make sure Chris stays on the straight and narrow as he rebuilds his shattered life, and offers him shelter, a job and an opportunity to restore his relationships with his former wife Monica and his children. However, Chris also finds himself reconnecting with some old 'friends' and it soon becomes clear that he has no intention of living straight. All Frank wants is a happy and secure family, but if he keeps trying to save his wayward brother's back from the law, he could find himself facing an uncertain future in the force.
'Blood Ties' is the Hollywood re-make of Jacques Maillot's 2008 French film 'Les liens du sang' which is also adapted from the novel by Bruno and Michel Papet. It has been directed by Guillaume Canet ('Little White Lies', 'Tell No One', 'Whatever You Say') and co-written by James Gray ('Two Lovers', 'We Own the Night', 'The Yards') and is due to appear in theatres on March 21st 2014.
Dark and involving, this shocking Belgian drama not only earned an Oscar nomination but propelled its director and leading man into much bigger movies. And deservedly so. With a strikingly internalised approach to a shattering story, writer-director Roskam gets deep under the surface. He also somehow manages to address a seriously important issue without ever getting preachy about it. And while the film focusses on lead actor Schoenaerts, it's absolutely riveting.
Set in Belgium's cattle country, the story centres on Jacky (Schoenaerts), a beefy young guy who runs his family farm and seems to inject as many muscle-building hormones into himself as his cattle. But there's a secret reason for this, dating back two decades to a grisly incident he is suddenly forced to confront when his long-lost childhood friend Diederick (Perceval) turns up to negotiate with a rival gang leader (Louwyck). The doping gangs are nervous about two detectives (Vandenborre and Sarafian) who are investigating the murder of an undercover drug-enforcement agent. And with his memory sparked, Jacky looks up Lucia (Dandoy), a woman from his past.
When Jacky is on-screen we are completely engaged. Schoenaerts plays him as a likeable hulk, fiercely intelligent even though he's uneducated, with a gentle manner that's being undermined by too many hormones. So he sometimes loses his ability to cope, lashing out with horrific violence in ways that worry him as much as us. We could watch him all day, but Roskam has a bigger story to tell, cutting away from Jacky to explore the war between drug gangs, the authorities and the capitalists who insist that long-established farms increase their productivity regardless of whether this means breaking the law.
Continue reading: Bullhead [Rundskop] Review
French film Rust and Bone opens in the USA tomorrow (23rd Nov. 2012). Let's find out whether it's worth spending a couple of hours on this weekend.
'Rust' and 'bone' both have the implications of decay: rust is the result of neglected metal, while bare bones- without flesh- are definitely dead. With such despondency in the title it's a wonder that a film with this name could be so heart warming, but that's precisely what it is. And the essences of decay in the title point toward the broken protagonists, Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Stephanie (Marion Cotillard). Stephanie works at Seaworld and loses her legs just above the knee. Helping her cope with the traumatic loss of her limbs is Ali, an ex-boxer with a five year old son who is fleeing a vaguely known but very bad situation elsewhere.
They're both damaged people that come together to cure one another. Although romance, struggle and disability are all aspects of cinema that appear quite often, the combination in this sweet film seems to do it in a different way, because it's all of these things and more. It has a subtle backdrop of marginal poverty, and tense class relations give the entire production energy in its inherent tautness.
Continue reading: Marion Cotillard Shines In Rust And Bone
We're big fans of it here at Contact Music, so it was pleasing to see that Rust and Bone starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenarts received its fair share of attention at the annual American Film Institute Festival in Hollywood yesterday (November 5, 2012). Cotillard took center stage as she walked down the red carpet, her choice of outfit was odd - a white dress over a black skirt - but it just about worked. We think. Screenplay writer Thomas Bidegain and Schoenarts were also there, enjoying the attention that a film with links very much to the art-house way of making films was receiving.
Continue reading: Rust And Bone Takes The Spotlight At The AFI Festival
Marion Cotillard delivers another raw, devastating performance in this beautifully made drama about two badly damaged people who adapt to a new life together. After 2009's award-winning A Prophet, director-cowriter Audiard delivers an equally complex but strikingly different film, centring on complex, conflicting emotions and characters who are so messy that they feel jarringly real.
It starts in Belgium, as Alain (Schoenaerts) takes his 5-year-old son Sam (Verdure) and moves to the French Riviera to live with his sister (Masiero) and her husband (Correia). With his burly physique, he easily finds work as a nightclub bouncer, and one night he meets the sexy Stephanie (Cotillard), who trains orcas at a local aquarium. Then she has a terrible accident at work that leaves her disabled, and their unlikely friendship begins to develop in unexpected ways. He seems uniquely able to see past her physical issues, while she begins to understand his deep desire to be a bare-knuckle fighter. But neither has the skills to help heal each others' emotional scars.
In more obvious filmmakers' hands, this would be a heartwarming tale of two lost souls falling in love and giving each other hope. But Audiard resists sentimentality at every turn, never giving into romantic cliches while packing the story with scenes that catch us off guard simply because they are so startlingly unlike normal movie plot points. Alain and Stephanie don't so much help each other as provide a safe space in which to recover. And along the way, Audiard explores them like rust and bone, broken down by years of decay and injury. But of course, bone sometimes heals to be stronger than it was before.
Continue reading: Rust And Bone [De Rouille Et D'Os] Review
Alain is a 25-year-old bare-knuckle fighter with no home and no job, and a 5-year-old son to bring up. In a bid to start a new life for them, he hitchhikes from Belgium to Antibes with the intention of moving in with his sister and her husband. One day, he meets Stephanie - who works as a killer whale trainer - in a nightclub where a fight has taken place. It's not long before the pair find themselves falling for each other and their relationship becomes ever stronger when Stephanie has an accident at work which causes her to lose both her legs. Alain is determined to help her recover and assists her as she learns to walk again with prosthetics whilst pursuing his own deeper redemption within Stephanie as their love develops.
Continue: Rust And Bone Trailer
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Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky...
Director Tom Hooper deploys the same style he used in The King's Speech for this...
Marianne Lane is ready for a relaxing European vacation, re-energising after a particularly busy time...
Einar Wegener is a Danish artist, apparently happily married to wife of the same occupation...
This new take on the Thomas Hardy classic vividly captures the story's modern themes through...
Audiences looking for a French historical costume drama should look elsewhere, but those who enjoy...
Even though it's made in a style that feels familiar, this World War II romantic...
During the Second World War, France was quickly and violently taken over by the German...
In the palace of Versailles, a tremendous garden is maintained. One day, the builder and...
Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a beautiful young, yet poor woman. After saving the life...