Jodie Foster

Travis Bickle

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they compare Travis Bickle to Don Quixote and try to understand the many contradictions of Martin Scorsese’s angry masterpiece. In the #31 (tied with The Godfather: Part II) movie on the list, Robert De Niro shaves his head, fights with a mirror and tries to rights society’s wrongs with a bullet. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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elysium02

Not everyone can have Isaac Asimov collaborate on their film’s screenplay, but if you’re going to go for an original work of science fiction it has to be solid. Otherwise, there are plenty of smartly written novels out there to be adapted. There’s something very appealing about not having any source material, though, at least in theory. And at least if you’ve previously shown a knack for being a fresh visionary, like Neill Blomkamp has. Yet Blomkamp’s strong suit is in his visuals, particularly his juxtapositions of effects-driven alien and tech stuff over Third World backdrops. Also, weapons that make people graphically explode into pieces. Maybe that all will get old eventually, but it doesn’t in Elysium. What does get old fast is the suspension of disbelief we try to hold onto during the movie’s many convoluted plot points and its overcooked political themes. As Rob wrote in his review, there’s some good world-building in the look of the film, but sadly the script tears it all down by failing to properly explain how and why that world works exactly. And the movie as  a whole leaves us with other big questions we just can’t shake or fill in ourselves. Find these below and add any you’re asking in the comments. (WARNING: SPOILERS ENSUE)

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Robert Redford Be Natural

If you don’t know who Alice Guy-Blache was, don’t worry. Not even most film studies graduates have heard of her. But they and you and everyone else should learn about this pioneering filmmaker, who is too often left out of the film history books, and fortunately now there’s a documentary in the works to help educate us. This feature film is titled Be Natural, and it already has some major support in the form of executive producer Robert Redford, narrator Jodie Foster and a whole ton of famous faces recruited to talk about what they know (and don’t know) about the first female motion picture director, including Redford, Diablo Cody, Catherine Hardwicke, Julie Taymor, Julie Delpy, Peter Billingsley, Jon Chu, Kevin Macdonald, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Ben Kingsley. But the doc, which is being helmed by Pamela B. Green and Jarik Van Sluijs (title credits producers/designers for numerous movies, including three of Redford’s own — see their reel here), is in need of additional funding. So it’s up on Kickstarter with a goal of $200K. The money will go to many things, including further research around the world and the discovery and accumulation of old film clips, much of which requires preservation, plus special effects. Yes, special effects, to achieve this: “The film will boast 2D and 3D CGI recreations of the locations, technologies, objects, and settings of Alice’s story.” How awesome will it be for computer animations that put us back at the turn of the 20th century virtually watching […]

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blom

Neill Blomkamp became kind of a big deal after District 9. That film was the surprise hit of 2009, and it showed why Blomkamp was initially tapped to helm Halo. After a debut film makes that much coin, a director is fielding offers left and right, and Blomkamp was no different except that instead of jumping into bed with a big studio franchise-starter he took another risk with Elysium: an original 98 million dollar R-rated action movie. The movie plays with a relevant allegory, but for writer/director Blomkamp that’s just the sprinkles on top of his sci-fi actioner. The movie doesn’t dwell too much on its allegory or exposition, and for Blomkamp, it was important to give the audience just enough information to throw them into the deep end. Blomkamp had to plenty more to say in a roundtable interview about his specific approach to Elysium.

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Elysium

Expectations are a dangerous thing, and right now few people realize that as well as Neill Blomkamp. Four years after his debut film District 9 wowed audiences and critics alike he’s finally ready to unleash his follow-up, Elysium. Audiences looking to see if he can avoid a sophomore slump may also be hoping to be rescued from a fairly underwhelming summer for sci-fi/action films, so expectations are doubled. Well, at least they’re already familiar with disappointment. Max De Costa (Matt Damon) is an ex-con trying to keep out of trouble and stay employed, but the reality of Los Angeles in 2154 isn’t making things easy. The city’s population, much like the rest of Earth’s, consists entirely of the poor and oppressed who can barely afford basic health care and clean living conditions. Luckily they’re all pure of heart. Floating high above them, teasingly just out of reach, is the space station Elysium. Home to the wealthy and the healthy, life up there is little more than a dream for those below. When an on the job injury leaves Max with five days to live he reluctantly returns to his criminal ways to facilitate a quick trip to Elysium and a life-saving visit to one of the station’s all powerful med beds. Standing in his way are Elysium’s Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her black-op henchman Kruger (Sharlto Copley). Complicating things further is the reappearance of Max’s childhood love, Frey (Alice Braga), whose leukemia-riddled daughter is also in need of medical […]

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trailer elysium full

It’s 2154, and the Occupy movement has essentially taken over the entire planet. Before you go thinking that’s a good thing though realize that it only happened because the 1% has left Earth to live in luxury aboard a space station designed solely for the elite. One man (Matt Damon) with nothing to lose has something to say about the arrangement. Writer/director Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene with District 9 four years ago, and it’s finally time to unveil his follow-up. Elysium treads initially familiar ground with it’s mix of science fiction, action and heavy social commentary, but any worries that Blomkamp is being lazy with his second film are about to be smashed. The new trailer below shows all you need to know about the story alongside some spectacular effects, thrilling set-pieces and glimpses of the bad guys (Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley). Enjoy.

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Elysium

Director Neill Blomkamp has, thankfully enough, not kicked any of his thematic interests while making the transition to his sophomore effort. The District 9 helmer returns to theaters later this summer with his Matt Damon-starring Elysium, another sci-fi epic that deals with the inherent evils of rigid class division and the true measure of a man modified by technology far beyond his control. Put simply – if you were into District 9, you’re going to be into Elysium.

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argo_29

One of the big surprises of the 2013 Golden Globe Awards involved a sort of “Argo-f**kyourself” to the Academy Awards, as Oscar-snubbed Ben Affleck was named Best Director of the year. His film, Argo, also ended up winning Best Picture in the drama category. Early in the night, in a brilliantly hilarious monologue by co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the ceremony offered some foreshadowing with subtle jabs at the Oscars with immediate shout outs to Affleck and fellow Academy snubs in the director category, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. They even fit in a joke directed at Anne Hathaway about her 2011 Academy Awards ceremony co-hosting gig with James Franco. Hathaway expectantly wound up winning for Best Supporting Actress, though, and her film, Les Miserables won Best Picture – Comedy or Musical. Co-star Hugh Jackman was a bit of s surprise as Best Actor – Comedy or Musical. More than who won and what didn’t, people will be talking about the somewhat cryptic speech by Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Jodie Foster and the appearance by Bill Clinton to present Best Picture nominee Lincoln. Speaking of Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis surprised nobody by winning Best Actor – Drama. But at least I ended up surprised that he did a comedy 25 years ago called Stars and Bars, which I need to see immediately. My Golden Globes live-blog co-host, Daniel Walber, alerted me to that. And if you didn’t follow us during the ceremony, which we found far more enjoyable than […]

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image_elysium sharlto copley

One of the more anticipated films hitting theaters next year is Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium. The sci-fi epic is the director’s long-awaited (well, since 2009 anyway) follow-up to his breakout hit District 9, and it follows a similar path melding action, science fiction and social commentary. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, Diego Luna, Talisa Soto and Sharlto Copley. He played the hero in District 9, but Copley’s turn here is of a far darker flavor. Empire Online has just debuted the first glimpse above of Copley in full bad guy gear, and he’s nigh unrecognizable. Elysium is set in the year 2159, and pits the oppressed people of the ruined planet Earth against the privileged elite aboard the Elysium space station. Matt Damon is ex-convict man-on-a-mission Max, fighting with the Terrans for equality, and Jodie Foster is the dastardly government official intent on enforcing anti-immigration laws and keeping Elysium for the Elysians; Kruger is her relentless attack dog.” Elysium invades theaters August 9th, 2013.

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The upcoming remake of Carrie is a continual tale of good news and bad news. The bad news is that they’re once again remaking a movie that still holds up perfectly well. But the good news is that they’ve hired director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) to take on the project, and if there’s anyone who can do something interesting with the material, it’s probably her. So far, this pattern holds true for the casting as well. The good news is that Megan Fox is not being mentioned as a possibility for taking on the title role. Carrie is supposed to be homely and awkward, and picturing Megan Fox trying to play the weird girl that everyone picks on was enough to make one lose their marbles. The bad news comes from a Vulture report that the casting of the role has come down to one of two names, and, once again, the actresses being looked at seem way too conventionally attractive and charming to be good choices. Their sources have the decision being made between either Let Me In star Chloë Moretz or Marley & Me actress Haley Bennett.

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I spoke with John C. Reilly a few months ago for Terri, and now the seemingly always-working actor has two drastically different films coming out for the holiday season. While Terri was a humanistic and empathetic portrayal of naturally flawed people, Roman Polanski‘s Carnage is a cynical and full-blown satire of pretentious, childish adults. It is 79 minutes of characters slowly revealing their dark, immature, and somewhat understandable views. Reilly’s other film, We Need to Talk About Kevin, a mostly liked but slightly divisive film, is probably one of the most misunderstood movies of the year. Lynne Ramsay‘s film, as Reilly perfectly puts it, is meant to be taken almost as a dream. Very few scenes should be taken literally. I recently had the chance to discuss both films with Reilly, along with Roman Polanski’s specificity, the responsibilities of an actor, and when tools become human beings.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes rogue and infiltrates his local IMAX theater. First, he scales the wall of the plus-sized building and slides in undetected through the air vents. He slowly lowers himself into a theater seat to enjoy an early screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Unfortunately, he finds himself in the middle of a wild crowd of six-year-old kids for the early screening of the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. To deal with the psychological damage, Kevin then stumbles into the Sherlock Holmes sequel and later finds an extra seat in Young Adult, where he can imagine that his chubby caboose could land a hottie like Charlize Theron.

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Being a parent is no easy task – when your child acts out or does something wrong, it’s hard not to take it as a personal reflection on yourself. In Carnage, after a playground altercation turns violent, the parents of the two boys involved decide to come together to try and come to a reasonable agreement on how to rectify the situation. What starts out as a civil conversation between the two parties quickly devolves into an honest and bitterly funny examination of not only each others’ parenting skills, but their marriages and even themselves as people. Based on Yasmina Reza‘s play, God of Carnage, director Roman Polanski takes the story to the big screen with four powerhouse performers who make being trapped in an apartment an engaging look at human nature you want to run away from, but at the same time are unable to tear your eyes from. After Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan’s (Christoph Waltz) son hits Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet’s (John C. Reilly) son in the face with a stick, the parents decide to try and settle things like adults, but how they each think that should happen differs from person to person and those differences are eventually revealed when the Cowan’s (despite repeated efforts) find themselves unable to simply leave the Longstreet’s apartment.

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Translating a limited-setting play to the screen can be tricky business – it’s not often that stage plays that take place in just one or two locations are suited for a cinematic interpretation. To put it simply – how can people sitting around in a room be compelling to a movie-going audience? Well, when the people sitting around that room are Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly, and they’re directed by Roman Polanski, it’s pretty compelling. Based on Yasmina Reza’s play “God of Carnage,” Polanski’s latest focuses on two couples, the Longstreets (as played by Foster and Reilly) and the Bowens (Winslet and Waltz), tossed together after the Bowens’ son gives a good face-wacking to the Longstreets’ boy. Attempting a cordial meeting to hash out the results of the brawl, the Bowens and the Longstreets end up making their kids look tame, as they all end up going positively bonkers. Check out just how bonkers in the second trailer for Carnage, after the break.

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Yasmina Reza’s Tony-winning play “God of Carnage” doesn’t inherently lend itself to cinema. With four characters interacting in a single setting, and a narrative centered on a thin symbolic conceit, it’s the sort of dialogue-heavy project that could easily be captured with a tedious cut-and-dry, shot-reverse-shot filmic approach. It’s fortunate, then, that Roman Polanski has taken it on in Carnage, and filled the roles with some of the most interesting actors around. Say what you will about Polanski the man, but Polanski the filmmaker has demonstrated an almost limitless aptitude for creative technique. Similarly, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz (four Oscar wins among them) have a preternatural gift for imbuing even the quietest moments with extraordinary, unconventional feeling. After young Zachary Cowan hits Ethan Longstreet with a stick during a playground brawl, knocking out two of Ethan’s teeth, the latter’s parents invite the former’s to their Brooklyn apartment to discuss the incident. Over the course of a tumultuous morning, Penelope and Michael Longstreet (Foster and Reilly) and Nancy and Alan Cowan (Winslet and Waltz) will spar, commiserate and touch on the essence of parenthood, manhood and the art of confronting modernity with a social conscience.

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Farce is not easy to do, which is why it’s a good thing that Roman Polanski got four formidable actors to take on the challenge of Carnage. Based on the play “God of Carnage” from Yasmina Reza, the film version features Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz as two couples (respectively) whose children have been in a schoolyard scrape. They meet for a conversation and all end up losing their minds over the situation. The wine probably helps, but watching everyone succumb to the outrage is hysterical – especially Reilly who pulls off layered, impotent rage like no man on this planet. What’s so great about this first look is that it isn’t funny in the way that, say, The Office is. There’s no passive aggressive awkwardness fueling the cringing feeling for the audience; the comedy comes straight from the breakdown. Bask in the glory of this fantastic trailer for yourself:

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Roman Polanski. Christoph Waltz. Jodie Foster. John C. Reilly. Kate Winslet. That list is solid enough to pique any interest, but the premise for Carnage is just as enticing, especially with its insinuation of heavy drama in a tight space. The catalyst is a playground fight between two children, and the story focuses on the parents of one combatant inviting the parents of the other over to have a discussion. Hopefully (and promisingly) it will go as poorly as possible. The acting talent here is unbelievable, which is good, because Polanski has never exactly been an actor’s director. Here, he’s got the talent teed up, and all he needs to do is give them a small house, plenty to fight about, and enough temperature to keep things going for the full run time. Courtesy of Twitch Film, a few shots have been released prior to the film’s showing at Venice, and the images look stark and severe. Great portraits of some of the best actors working today:

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The opening shot of The Beaver is of a pool on a sunny day. A body drifts through the frame, slowly, on a raft. It’s Mel Gibson doing his best impression of a starship and The Beaver doing its best impression of Star Wars. It’s kind of a foreboding image. Walter Black isn’t doing so well. He’s depressed. But, more than that, he’s depressed to the point where he has completely checked out on his job and family. He has somehow reached such a hopeless state that he has sat passively and watched his once great toy company fall into financial straits, and his once loving family become isolated from one another. We are never explicitly told what has led to Walter’s current state, but The Beaver is mostly a film that focuses on the present moment. The past exists here as a ghost, haunting the characters and coloring their actions, but only half remembered and never spoken of. The big gimmick of the film, if you haven’t seen any of the advertising, is that Gibson’s character begins to deal with his inner turmoil by speaking through a plush beaver puppet and using a voice that sounds like Michael Caine in a bar fight. Much of the film details the phases of Walter’s beaver experiment; the initial shock, the turnaround when The Beaver starts helping Walter get his life back together, and then the darker stuff that comes as his mental state degrades again. If you saw only the ads, […]

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Summit Entertainment has passed along to us an exclusive look at the first TV spot for Jodie Foster’s The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson. As is the case with the film, it’s not all fun and games — there’s a somber, bittersweet tone to the story of Walter Black (Gibson), a man who must use a hand-puppet that talks like Ray Winstone in order to communicate with the people he loves. As I mentioned in my review from SXSW, the film finds laughs in the situation, but balances it perfectly with the drama of a family in turmoil. The performances from Mel Gibson and Anton Yelchin, who plays his son, are worth the price of admission alone. You can see a bit of it all in the 30-second spot found after the jump.

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As the first question points out from the Jodie Foster roundtable at SXSW, the trailer for The Beaver is truly a disservice to the film. While a decent piece of marketing material, it really does showcase the film as a fluffy drama, and The Beaver isn’t that. Foster’s film is a dark, sad, witty, and poignant — factors that Neil’s review perfectly captured — story about depression and isolation, and how there’s no such thing as quick fix for that. Summit can’t be having an easy time selling trying to sell this film. Not only for the obvious reason that I’ll refrain from mentioning, but for the simply reason that it’s difficult to accurately pitch a film like this in a two-minute time frame. Tonally, Foster goes for odd and not-so-commercial plays. Here’s what Director and star Jodie Foster had to say about marketing, commercialism, symbolism, and more:

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