Blue is the Warmest Color

Love Is Strange

Love Is Strange is a movie about, well, love. It’s about the love shared by its central couple, George (Alfred Molina) and Ben (John Lithgow), but there’s more to it than that. It’s about all of its varieties and inflections, and the way that it’s expressed by husbands, nieces-in-law and friends. Beautifully lit spaces, subtly crafted dialogue and open, naturalistic performances from the whole cast help director Ira Sachs play with the manifestations of this title concept. The MPAA ratings board, meanwhile, didn’t pay attention to any of this. Love Is Strange was given an R rating. There’s no sex in the film, nor any notable violence. The reason this family drama wasn’t considered family-friendly was “language,” that ever-vague, often ironically meaningless word. What exactly does that mean? Sometimes it means too many “fucks,” or some similar breach of the arbitrary mathematics of swear-word policing. Here, though, it seems to be something else. An entire script in which the humanity of gay people is taken for granted may have been too linguistically salacious for the MPAA.

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Jared Leto in Mr Nobody

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Mr. Nobody Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) is 118 years old and on his death bed. He’s the last human doomed to die in a world where mankind has achieved a level of immortality and no longer faces an expiration date. Before he passes on, Nemo gives an interview to share the story of his life, but the tale he tales is an impossible one featuring multiple outcomes and events that simply couldn’t all be true. Or could they? This gorgeously shot and endlessly fascinating film is actually from 2009 and only now getting a release here in the U.S. for reasons unknown. It’s far from a traditional film, but if you like science fiction that explores humanity in surprising ways then you owe it to yourself to seek this one out. Leto does some incredible work here as a man shifting in and out of multiple threads of his own life, moving between different loves and events, and the supporting cast (Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh-dan Pham) is equally strong. This Blu also includes both the R-rated cut and the extended international cut that runs an additional 16 minutes. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurette, trailer]

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2013: A Year of Girls Behaving Badly

While YA girls have had their fun saving their families from constant supernatural and dystopian peril, a new sort of teenage girl has emerged in cinema, fueled by the age-old mantra of “live fast, die young, bad girls do it well.” 2013 was the year that young women found a different kind of representation in film through characters who took a different approach to life. Without the YA label, there was a decent crop of films centered upon teenage girls who not only lived in the real world, but also experienced real dilemmas (as for realistic, we can get into that later). Free from being the heroine that the people desperately needed and the love interest that some bland boy thought he deserved, these new teenage girls were free to be – and eagerly were – selfish, brutal and unapologetically uninterested in saving anyone but themselves. And why shouldn’t they be? After years of being relegated to the punch lines and stereotypes of the teen comedies that populated the 1990s and early 2000s, then taking up residence in the present day literary dramas, it was time for a change. 2013 was the year of girls behaving badly — and for being portrayed as real people on screen.

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Best Foreign Films of 2013

Cinema is a worldwide artform, and as such many of the year’s best and most exciting films often come from overseas. Quality is no guarantee of visibility though as subtitled films rarely get a wide reception in American theaters, and worse, many don’t even make it to our shores until a year or more after opening in their own country. That’s the kind of factor that makes ranking foreign language films a difficult and inconsistent process. I try and go by actual year of release when possible, but for obvious reasons I’m not adverse to including entries that made their U.S. debut this year, too. But these are details… let’s get to the movies! Genre films rarely make “best of” lists like this , but I make no apologies for their inclusion here. Best is best, and if my best happens to include a character named The Queen of Saliva so be it..

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Blue is the Warmest Color

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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blueiswarm

Ever since it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier this year, director Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color has been creating a ton of buzz in the film world, which should be pretty understandable—it did win the biggest award that Cannes gives out, after all. But the reason the film’s buzz has been a little bit annoying is that it’s not generally stemming from the quality of its performances or the raw emotion put on display by the young love it takes on as its focus, it’s stemming from the lengthy and explicit lesbian sex scenes that get peppered throughout its run time. It turns out lesbian sex is still the sort of thing that gets people’s attention. Not only has there been debate as to whether or not Kechiche exploited his two lead actresses and forced them into performing acts that they weren’t comfortable with, but there also seems to be a debate raging as to whether or not the love scenes shared by the two girls should be viewed as pornographic and labeled appropriately so more uptight consumers know for sure what to boycott. Those heady sorts of debates are the complex yet still subjective ones that could rage on for an eternity though, so probably we don’t need to add any verbal fuel to their fire here. Instead, let’s focus on a new debate that has sprung up around these controversial sex scenes—the one that questions whether they’re even realistic enough to be worthy of […]

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Blue is the Warmest Color

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Blue

Editor’s Note: Our review of Blue Is the Warmest Color originally ran during this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release. Lea Seydoux has been one of the toasts of the Cannes Film Festival this year, what with her stellar work opposite Tahir Rahim in Un Certain Regard entry Grand Central, and now, In Competition, she delivers the stronger of her two performances in the sweeping, epic, sexy romance Blue is the Warmest Color. The bigger story here, however, might just be the coming out party for newcomer Adele Exarchopoulos, who is sure to become an in-demand young actress overnight. Adapted from Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, Blue follows a young high school student, Adele (Exarchopolous), through the passage of adulthood as she attempts to come to terms with her sexuality. After a failed relationship with a classmate, Thomas (Jeremie Laheurte), Adele seems to find that which was missing in her heart with Emma (Seydoux), a blue-haired, older art student who she chances upon at a lesbian bar after an initial sighting.

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blue is 02

Cannes winner Blue Is the Warmest Color is not a film that necessarily appeals to everyone – explicit sex scenes and its three-hour runtime sort of automatically count out plenty of movie-goers – but Abdellatif Kechiche’s take on Julie Maroh’s graphic novel of the same name does have a certain amount of spectator draw that could cause some hilarious in-theater double takes when uninformed audiences turn out to see the film. “I heard people loved it at Cannes!” “There’s a lot of sex!” “It’s based on a graphic novel!” “Dudes, really, I heard there is a lot of sex.” The chance for shocked audience members to flee is markedly high on this one, though it remains to be seen if people will run because there’s too much sex or too much talking. It could really become its own sport, but we’re not here to take bets as to who will be most surprised by what they see in the Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux starrer, we’re here to help you figure out who will be least surprised by what they see, so that you can have a movie pal to accompany you to the (very, very good) film. Because so many of you are clearly wondering just who is an acceptable movie date when it comes to taking in the NC-17 rated Palme d’Or-winning three-hour French-language film about the romantic entanglements of two stunning lesbians that features some of the most realistic looking sex scenes to hit celluloid in decades, […]

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teaser counselor

We’ve got people behaving badly for Ridley Scott, two young ladies sharing a tempestuous romance, Johnny Knoxville doing some terrible things in old-age makeup, Al Pacino hunting down Oscar Wilde, and a dozen other films fighting for your love. It’s another big week for releases (and Javier Bardem’s hair) so here’s your trailer-ized guide to what’s coming out:

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her trailer

With Saturday night’s closing night premiere of Spike Jonze‘s very stirring Her, this year’s New York Film Festival (in its fifty-first outing) came to a rousing, romantic close. The end of the weeks-long festival also signaled the steady conclusion of the year’s big guns festivals in general (and thank goodness for that, we’re still not quite recovered from the joys of Toronto), finally allowing us time to consider and appreciate some of the truly wonderful stuff we’ve been treated to over the past few months. Of course, that also means we’re also able to consider the films that made up NYFF, including the program’s finest performances and special attributes. After attending screenings for nearly a month, there was plenty to review, but most of our best of honors came quickly – there were plenty of winners at NYFF, but there were also plenty of very clear winners. After the break, relive the glories of this year’s NYFF, complete with evaluations of best films, performances, food, cats, and hair, because we’re nothing if not totally professional.

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Gravity

It’s October, which means awards season has officially commenced. Last month gave us a taste with Ron Howard’s Rush, Hugh Jackman yelling in Prisoners, and, last but not least, Luc Besson’s The Family. Maybe not that last one so much, but the other two weren’t a shabby way to kick things off. This month has two movies in particular that should blow socks off while also causing a few tears to flow in the process. They’re the obvious suspects, but they both pack awfully heavy punches. There’s also a little talked about science-fiction-ish movie you may want to check out this weekend as well… But there’s more than three movies to see this month. So, without further ado, here are the ten must-see movies of October 2013:

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Blue is the Warmest Color

The official trailer for Abdellatif Kechiche‘s Blue is the Warmest Color does two things that the international trailer did not: it get rids of the dialogue altogether to eliminate the pesky English subtitle problem, and it seems to have bumped down the risque content to make it pretty decently suitable for work, an impressive feat for an NC-17 film. Blue is the adaptation of Julie Maroh’s graphic novel about a young woman (Adele Exarchopoulos) trying to navigate life and her sexuality after meeting a blue-haired art student (Lea Seydoux). Set to the tune of Beach House’s “Take Care,” the trailer is all meaningful glances and tear-brimmed eyes as it seems we look in on the intimate moments of their relationship. Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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large

Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color took home the Palme d’Or at Cannes this past May, riding a wave of critical praise given towards what is, by most accounts, an ambitious, immersive epic of a tumultuous young romance. Its sexuality is frank and transparent, and no punches are pulled – this, it seems, is the type of risky, visionary cinema speaks to the very rhyme and reason why Cannes exists in the first place, especially in the context of an ever-homogenizing global market. Recent news, however, has cast a different light on what would otherwise be a surefire arthouse darling. First, author Julie Maroh (who wrote the graphic novel upon which the film is based) all but disowned the film for framing a straight male gaze on a relationship between two women – a serious critique indeed, but not at all surprising considering past Cannes darlings. Things became considerably worse when news of Kechiche’s on-set antics entered the discussion. The film’s cast and crew have attested to exploitative labor practices and possible emotional abuse directed toward the two leads, particularly during extended takes of the film’s central lovemaking scene.

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Blue is the Warmest Color

It’s not safe for work, but there’s nothing in the new trailer for Blue is the Warmest Color that hints at its NC-17 rating. Some flirtation, romance, a little nude modeling and vicious fighting make it look like a typical mature story, but after it’s powerful debut at Cannes, it’s impossible to escape knowing that it’s a fairly explicit film. Naturally that’s earned the film from Abdellatif Kechiche starring Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos as star cross’d lovers the strongest slap possible from the MPAA. Granted, all it really takes to earn an NC-17 from that august body is to admit that gay people exist in the first place (let alone, gasp, showing them kissing or having sex). It’s a good thing the film and potential fans have found a champion in Jonathan Sehring because according to Variety, the president of Sundance Selects and IFC Films is refusing to recut the film for a cash-friendlier rating. “The film is first and foremost a film about love, coming of age and passion. We refuse to compromise Kechiche’s vision by trimming the film for an R rating, and we have every confidence that Blue Is the Warmest Color will play in theaters around the country regardless.” Hear, hear. That’s opposed to, say, The Weinsteins who are cutting movies just because we’re all too dumb to understand them (although I fully recognize that they’ve had their own NC-17 fights in the past). What matters most here is that audiences will get to see a movie that has […]

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Cannes 2013

The Cannes Film Festival is all wrapped up for another year; the awards have been given out, and pundits are busy working out what’s going to go the distance in the coming awards season, and what will fall by the wayside. In my first time at Cannes, I managed to watch 41 films, including all 20 films In Competition, and have arrived at the 10 films that I feel were the best of show. Put simply, these are ones to watch out for:

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inside llewyn davis 04

Three-hour lesbian drama Blue is the Warmest Color was announced the winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, a choice that many foresaw as likely but not a sure thing. The jury that awarded the honor was led by Steven Spielberg and also included Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee, Christoph Waltz and Lynne Ramsay. For the second place Grand Prix winner, they picked the latest from the Coen Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, while for Jury Prize (considered the third biggest deal) they chose Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s Like Father, Like Son. Like Father, Like Son was also recipient of an honorable mention from the Christian-based Ecumenical Jury, whose top prize went to The Past — the star of which, Bérénice Bejo, was named Best Actress by the main Cannes jury. Blue is the Warmest Color also earned multiple honors from the fest, taking the critic choice FIPRESCI Award for the In Competition category. The biggest surprise of today’s announcement seems to be Spielberg and Co.’s naming of Bruce Dern as Best Actor for the new film from Alexander Payne, Nebraska. After the jump, you can find a full list of main jury winners (from the festival website) and other honorees announced over the weekend accompanied by links to our review of the film where available.

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