Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria

Hollywood is a fickle business, and it’s no secret that it’s at its most treacherous when you’re attempting to navigate its murky waters as an aging actress, especially one who used to be a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young starlet. Roles that were once piling at your feet faster than you could say “is it really necessary for my character to wear this crop top?” are — not suddenly, but gradually enough to not notice their slide — drifting away and being handed to the next new cute thing. Even if  you’re still respected and revered and praised, you’re not going to be called an ingénue anytime soon. The tides have changed. With the new international trailer for Clouds of Sils Maria, Juliette Binoche is figuring this out all too well for herself when Chloe Moretz storms into her life. Binoche is Maria Enders, an actress who found great fame as a young woman playing Sigird in a play called “MalojaSnake.” Twenty years later, when the playwright who gave her this starmaking role dies, she’s compelled, albeit hesitantly, to join a new production of the play — this time playing the role of the emotionally fragile older woman. Jo-Ann Ellis (Moretz), Hollywood’s heavy-partying It Girl takes on her former role and challenges her as an actress and apparently her sanity as well.

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Words and Pictures Movie

From the opening frame to the closing credits it’s clear that Words and Pictures is not too concerned with either of its eponymous art forms. Insipid words and aesthetically unremarkable pictures occupy Fred Schepisi’s sluggish and slight romantic-comedy. Cast as the two potential love interests are Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, a pair high school professors at a private school in New England. Neither teachers by trade, both Jack (Owen) and Dina (Binoche) were similarly heralded as innovative artists in their respective mediums once upon a time: he a poet, she a painter. But their accomplishments seem to be a thing of the past now as they both are undergoing bouts of artistic stagnation. This stagnation is worsened by Jack’s alcoholism and Dina’s osteoporosis.

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Words and Pictures

It’s a tale often told before. The loveable, unconventional English teacher with a heart of gold has his following at his school — his devoted students who don’t quite understand why they have to read booooring books, but they sure as hell respect the heck out of him, and his fellow faculty who seems to adore him just as much. Never underestimate a pair of black rimmed glasses, fellas. But of course, there’s but one person who is apparently immune to his charms, a quirky and aloof art teacher who appears seemingly overnight with her paints and collection of chunky Chico’s jewelry to make him question everything. Isn’t that how it always works? Making Words and Pictures‘ entry in the romcom annals a little different from the rest is the inclusion of Juliette Binoche as the free-spirited but ever so grumpy foil to Clive Owen‘s hopeful, lovestruck professor.

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georges-st-pierre

What is Casting Couch? It’s obsessed with the future, and never dwells in the past. Who cares about what these actors have accomplished already, what are they going to be doing next? Today we have some real news along with some anonymous speculation about who could be the new Snake Plissken. Today’s big news concerns a major casting for Marvel’s upcoming star-spangled sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Latino Review is reporting that UFC Champion and French-Canadian fellow, Georges St-Pierre, is going to be stepping out of the octagon and onto a movie set to play one of Cap’s villains. The obvious joke here, since St-Pierre is pseudo-French and a fighter, is that he would be playing super-lame Cap villain, Batroc the Leaper, whose only real powers are that he likes to do jump kicks and he’s got a French accent so strong that it triggers his gag reflex, but obviously a film version of Captain America would never…wait…he actually is going to be playing Batroc the Leaper? Oh, man. He grows the pencil-thin mustache or we riot.

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Tom Hardy

What is Casting Couch? It’s feeling a little left out this week since casting agents seem to be focused on getting their clients pilots for the next TV season, but it’s got a couple pieces of big movie casting news anyway. Chances are, as much as Tom Hardy’s face shows up in these casting updates, you assumed that he already had enough jobs to last him for the next decade or so. Turns out this isn’t the case. Whether or not Hardy actually gets around to starring in all of the projects he has in development will remain to be seen, but for now he has another gig to add to the pile. Deadline is reporting that he’s developing a new film with first time feature director Greg Williams called Samarkand. Much like the short film that Williams and Hardy collaborated on, Sergeant Slaughter, My Big Brother, this one will be dealing with the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental disorder that often plagues post-war combat soldiers. Williams co-wrote the script with his brother Olly, who reportedly has some real-life experience dealing with the issue. It will see Hardy portraying an SAS soldier returning from a tour in the Middle East and having trouble reintegrating with society. This is good news, because Hardy is even dreamier when he gets to keep his English accent.

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Benedict Cumberbatch

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s a casting column that’s debunking a couple of rumors that will probably come true anyway. Absolutely Anything is a project that’s long been on comedy nerds’ radars, not only because it’s being directed by Monty Python member Terry Jones, but also because the film will see Jones re-teaming with the other members of his legendary comedy troupe to do voiceover work. According to The Wrap, filming is looking to get underway on this one soon, Gemma Arterton has joined the cast, and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) is currently negotiating to come on board, as well. The story is about a bumbling but magical school teacher, something that Cumberbatch would likely knock out of the park; which is one more positive that will help you forget Robin Williams is also going to be doing his voiceover thing here.

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Director George Clooney

What is Casting Couch? Proof that not everyone’s tracking Hurricane Sandy’s path on Twitter. Some are still out there casting movies. The big casting news over the weekend was all of the big names that were announced for George Clooney’s next project as a director, The Monuments Men. Deadline had the scoop that this period drama about a group of art historians and museum curators trying to recover important and historical works from the clutches of the Nazis is going to star names like Bill Murray, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban. As far as I know none of these people can even speak German, but you’ve still got to look at that list and be impressed. You could cast this crew as an office full of telemarketers and everyone would still watch the movie, making them heroes during the dying days of the Nazi regime is just icing on the cake.

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Paul Giamatti in Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis fits quite nicely in actor Paul Giamatti‘s wheelhouse. Like the over-the-top Shoot’Em Up, the ridiculously bloody Ironclad, and this year’s John Dies at the End, Giamatti is more than willing to jump into a world with no ceiling. Or, as Giamatti and the British say, to get “wet.” Wet is certainly what Giamatti gets in director David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis. Rarely does Giamatti speak a line which isn’t abstract or approaching any level of sanity in the film. Key point: Giamatti’s character’s towel and fungus. In the film, a sweaty and disgruntled Giamatti emotionally clings onto a dirty towel and speaks of a fungus between his toes urging him to kill. Countless interpretations could be applied to their actual meaning, but, clearly, Giamatti has his own explanations, explanations that even the actor wouldn’t fully discuss. Here’s what actor Paul Giamatti had to say about working with David Cronenberg, the film’s straight-faced wackiness, and why he won’t tell you what the towel means:

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Editor’s Note: This review originally ran as part of our Cannes 2012 coverage. Cosmopolis hits theaters this weekend, August 17th. Though it is faintly vulgar to talk of any actors in terms of only one project, who would have thought a couple of years ago that the two lead actors from Twilight would both feature In Competition at Cannes, starring in brave and bold adaptations of two iconic, but problematic American novels? Two days after Kristen Stewart’s next release – Walter Salles’ On The Road – screened in the Theatre Lumiere, the same screen played host to the Robert Pattinson-starring adaptation of Don DeLillo‘s Cosmopolis. The film follows Eric Packer (Pattinson), a young billionaire asset manager on a journey across a thronging New York City in his limousine, flanked by his head of security Torval (Kevin Durand) in order to get a hair cut. Along the way he encounters colleagues (Jay Baruchel, Samantha Morton, and Philip Nozuko), protesters (Mathieu Amalric), his wife (Sarah Gadon) and lovers (Juliette Binoche and Patricia McKenzie), all of whom contribute to unravel his cold, clinical world. It helps little that the New York he seeks to cross is in open revolt, with anti-corporation demonstrations making way for violence, and somewhere amongst it, an unknown killer stalks Eric.

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What’s always most exciting about film festivals is the range of different films available for watching and enjoying – all within the same period of time, and often in the same venues. That’s just as evident as ever in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival line-up, a festival that has kicked off with The Five-Year Engagement, will end with The Avengers, and will show over 200 films in between. Our first round of Tribeca reviews only highlights that variety of films, as it include a French actioner, an true American independent, and a dramedy about ladies of the night. After the break, check out mini reviews for Sleepless Night, Supporting Characters, and Elles – all very different Tribeca Film Festival films, and all films likely to find their own unique audiences in the Big Apple and beyond.

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Criterion Files

One major misconception about Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy is that the films were originally and uniquely conceived as French films, reflecting the color of the nation’s flag through the color scheme of each film and embodying themes which based upon the motto of the French Republic: liberty (Blue), equality (White), and fraternity (Red). But Kieslowski was insistent upon the fact that the stories would have remained the same no matter the national context. The framing of these films through thematics and aesthetics tied to the French flag, the director states, arose as a matter of the trilogy’s source of funding. Thus, the thread which defines the trilogy was a creative accommodation to the circumstances of the film’s production. Kieslowski’s vision for these films, then, was firm, but not rigid – the particular details of this trilogy were not predestined or set in stone. This fact frees the viewer from seeing the themes explored in the Three Colors trilogy as predominately or uniformly based within a national and cultural context. Yes, there are aspects of the brilliant Blue (1993) that are indisputably French, or at least Western European (it’s hard to imagine Americans mourning a contemporary classical composer as a national treasure), but the rather arbitrary circumstances in which the film’s production reflective in the trilogy’s connective framework allows for these themes to permeate well beyond the borders of France itself.

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Of many preferred professions, I find chefs to be on the right end of the hotness scale. Their passion for food translates into multiple areas of life and it’s hard not to get swept away into a blissful utopia where calories don’t count but your opinion of that chocolate mousse does. As you may have guessed, I have been suckered into this world once or twice, and unlike the obsessions of mine that turned sour, my chef love remains. I had high expectations for the Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart led kitchen romance No Reservations. Two hot-tempered executive chefs forced together to run one kitchen sounded almost as steamy as angry sex in the Grey’s Anatomy on-call room. The potential for secret glances over chopping boards and mutual arousal from yelling at their sous chef seemed inevitable. However, the movie wasn’t about the sexy times of these two hot chefs. Rather it was more about Zeta-Jones’ Kate and Eckhart’s Nick learning to put aside their ambition and realize what’s important in life. Sex and cooking go hand-in-hand, so thankfully the couple does partake in a few tingly make-out moments and fade-to-black sex scenes. But most of the movie’s heavy petting is left for the dough in the prep oven. Tough lady chefs like Zeta-Jones’ Kate are modeled after real chefs, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood has been quick to allow women to be tough and sexy on screen. On the contrary, many movies featuring female cooks have been just that—cooks.

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It has been a while since The Criterion Collection has graced our shelves, but this week they bring us two films on Blu-Ray. Both films are imports from France, and both star a beautiful actress. One film comes to us from Legendary director Jean-Luc Godard. The other is a more recent film starring Juliette Binoche. These two films, of course, are Vivre Sa Vie and Summer Hours.

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Tracy Morgan and Juliette Binoche

First Tracy Morgan saddles up with Bruce Willis and director Kevin Smith to make one of 2010′s early contenders for biggest disappointment of the year in Cop Out. Now he’s being cast in an ensemble cop drama alonside Juliette Binoche? From director Dito Montiel, of Fighting and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints fame? This is all very confusing.

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Dan in Real Life is simply a film that doesn’t live up to what its title and slogan promises. As far as the movie feeling like real life goes, this is far from it, despite a few honest and sincere moments. The slogan for the film is “plan to be surprised,” but I found most of it to be formulaic and predictable.

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This weekend British hottie Emily Blunt will share a few moments of screen time with the classic beauty of French starlet Juliette Binoche. And while it is Binoche who gets the most lines in Dan in Real Life as she plays the love interest to both Steve Carell and Dane Cook, it is Blunt who steals a bit of the show.

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dan-2.jpg

Actor Steve Carell and comedian Dane Cook have one distinct thing in common — in the year 2007, they have each made for which they were completely wrong. Thankfully they’ve both found a movie that was absolutely perfect for them — and it just happens to be the same film.

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