Bernardo Bertolucci

seduced and abandoned 01

James Toback and Alec Baldwin‘s fascinating documentary Seduced and Abandoned opens with a quote from Orson Welles, which attests that 95% of the time and energy expended making a film is actually devoted to securing funds rather than, you know, actually making the film. Toback and Baldwin aim to put this to the test here in a film detailing their visit to last year’s Cannes Film Festival to try and sell a Last Tango in Paris-esque jaunt starring Baldwin (ostensibly, in the Brando role) and Neve Campbell. Toback and Baldwin both attest that what we’re watching is neither a full-out documentary or narrative feature, but rather a crude amalgam of the two. What is certain, however, is that it’s a downright hilarious subversion of the act of filmmaking itself. Toback was smart to choose Baldwin as his brother in arms, because the 30 Rock star consistently steals the show here, trading witticisms and razor-sharp, self-deprecating jibes with the acclaimed director.

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Me and You Bernardo Bertolucci Movie

Bernardo Bertolucci‘s latest, Me and You, is the director’s first Italian language film for 30 years, seeking to show that the Italian has never lost touch with his ability to translate adolescent concerns on screen after an enforced absence from the industry, and while the film is tonally quite impressive, it lacks engagement and feels like little more than an over-stretched short story concept, imbued with the kind of self-importance that dilutes any kind of enduring message. The spartan, surprisingly high-concept story focuses on Lorenzo (Jacopo Olmo Antinori), a troubled 14-year-old who lives on the outskirts of his school’s social cliques and prefers his own company, who spends a week living hidden in the basement of his home, having told his concerned mother (Sonia Bergamasco) that he is going on a school skiing trip. His holiday away from the horrors of normal life is spoiled somewhat when his half-sister Olivia (Tea Falco) turns up out of the blue, suffering withdrawal symptoms from her drug problem, and embittered by her family’s rejection of her. The two immediately strike up a difficult dynamic as Olivia struggles with her drug demons, and Lorenzo with his social awkwardness and some darker compulsions that are only briefly hinted at in a film which is surprisingly chaste considering its potential and Bertolucci’s track record.

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Holy Hollywood, the selections for this year’s Cannes Film Festival (both confirmed and mostly-confirmed) are a star-studded bunch so far, if the rumormongers are to be believed, anyway. The news is coming pretty quick-fire at the minute, so I’ll run down the latest… First off, yesterday French site Le Figaro announced that Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides will play on the Croisette out of competition on Saturday May 14th, before it opens to French cinemas on May 18th and in the US on the 20th. This is one I was half-expecting, given the coincidental release dates, and the fact that there are traditionally a couple of mainstream releases showing out of competition at the fest. The third out of competition (joining Pirates and Terrence Malick’s already announced Tree of Life) looks likely to be Kung Fu Panda 2, according to Thompson on Hollywood, who say the 3D Dreamworks sequel starring Jack Black will follow Jeff Katzenberg’s tradition of bringing a DreamWorks project to Cannes to take advantage of a “worldwide marketing blitz.”

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Sex is wonderful just as much as it is awkward. You can have a great night with both parties working together to make a cohesive, delicious moment. Skin sweat-slicked, passions flaring, limbs wrapped around each other until you feel so sated you just fall back as one exhausted and conjoined mass. On the other hand, body parts could just not fit right with each other, the participants flailing around like pool noodles unaware of their own surroundings. The couple trying so hard or not trying at all, whatever the case may be–too much pressure to perform or not enough emotion to care about the person under or over them. But what about the first time awkwardness? Think back; yes all the way back, to your first time. Maybe you were lucky enough to lose it to someone you loved, or maybe it was just with some person from the bar following a handful too many Lone Stars. Someone just as inexperienced as you or someone full of such prowess it was hard not to be caught up and bowled over by the moment. Sex as a virgin can seem terrifying, empowering, freeing, wrong, and myriad other conflicting emotions. And coming of age films have been banking on this range of feelings and experiences since the dawning of the medium.

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Thanks to Netflix, it has become easier to watch controversial movies at home, but it’s also harder to find the quality. Often times a movie’s description is more misleading than helpful and may lead a person to feel duped once the credits have rolled. Following the website-generated suggestions only takes you so far—or right into the awaiting arms of something too line-crossing for a newbie – and a quick Google search turns up pages and pages of porn. I think it’s time someone makes this search a little less difficult. Yes, there are tons of lists out there compiled by reputable sites detailing which sex-centric movies are the quintessential, the most titillating, and even the most disgusting, but what if you just want to put your toe into the sex movie pool? You can have a movie that’s all about sex but doesn’t have one hot sex scene or a drop of chemistry in it…hello Last Tango in Paris!

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Criterion Files

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence is a truly unique film by several definitions. Japanese master filmmaker Nagisa Oshima’s first English-language film (and it is worth noting here that much of it is in Japanese) embodies some dense discourses about Japanese identity, yet in many respects this is a film without a nation. But that’s exactly the point, for Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence embodies a host of contradictions in terms of how we’re used to experiencing films of its relative ilk: it is a film about war, yet it is never about patriotism or combat; it is a film about an intersection of cultures, yet it never seeks to deliver a message of sameness of common ground; and it is a film about sexual tensions between males, yet homosexuality is never explicitly addressed in a way that would place it fittingly in the canon of “queer cinema.”

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Attention film geeks: Angela Ismailos’s new documentary sits ten directing icons down and gets dirty with them, their inspirations and their processes.

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So Lars Von Trier isn’t forcing Martin Scorsese to remake Taxi Driver. Who cares? Here are ten directors that the madman should punish for being geniuses.

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