Venus in Fur

DONT BLINK discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Don’t Blink A group of friends head to a remote cabin for a vacation, but before they can even get settled inside they begin to notice things are not as they seem. The surrounding woods are devoid of birds and wildlife, the lake has frozen over catching a fishing boat in its center and all of the nearby cabins are empty of people as well. Food is on tables, cars are still running and they even find a bottle of warm baby milk. The situation intensifies as they start disappearing too, one by one, whenever one of them is out of sight of the rest. You’d be forgiven for thinking this direct to DVD thriller was a slight affair not worth your time — after all, the names above the title are Brian Austin Green and Mena Suvari — but I’m here to say it’s actually a well acted/shot and frequently suspenseful mystery. It’s smartly constructed too with believable characters and reactions. It wobbles a bit at the end with something of a cheat, but it remains a satisfying experience. To be clear, its selection as the Pick of the Week doesn’t make it the best release of the week (that would be X-Men: Days of Future Past), but I think it’s a cool little movie deserving of a few more eyeballs. [DVD extras: None]

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Roman Polanski in Two Men and a Wardrobe

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Today marks both the U.S. theatrical release of Venus and Fur and the 40th anniversary of the U.S. theatrical release of Chinatown. So, let’s just consider it Roman Polanski day. In honor of the occasion, we should just skip his latest (see our review for why) and hold off on watching his 1974 classic for the billionth time. How many of you have seen his early short films? They’re available in proper form on Criterion’s two-disc DVD set for Polanski’s first feature, Knife in the Water, and they can also be found on YouTube. For the latter, there are no English subtitles, but that only matters for one or two that have very minimal dialogue. For the most part, they’re all really “silent” films. Nine shorts are credited to the actor-turned-director through the start of his academic and professional career in the late 1950s and early 1960s. One of these, however, is Rower (aka Bicycle), which was a 1955 student work that went unfinished thanks to an error by the lab. That leaves eight survivors. From 1957 there’s Murder, which is a nice short scene of a man being murdered but there’s no story there, Let’s Break the Ball (aka Break Up the Dance), an exceptional work of editing that’s even more stunning when you learn that it’s partly documentary in that it was shot during an […]

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Tribeca Film Festival

Roman Polanski‘s Venus in Fur is a film haunted by an epigraph. It’s a quotation from the apocryphal Book of Judith, used first by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch in his similarly titled 1870 novel and later by David Ives in his play, from which this film is directly adapted. It goes something like this: “The Lord hath smitten him and delivered him into the hands of a woman.” The biblical context is the slaying of the Babylonian general Holofernes, whose unfortunate drunken stupor made him easy prey for the knife of the Jewish hero. Polanski’s film is somewhat more wordy, but not necessarily more complex.

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venus_in_fur_still

The first trailer for Roman Polanski‘s Venus in Fur actually debuted a few months ago. But alas, that trailer was in French, leaving all us non-Francophones out in the dust. We could look at the pictures. We could hoot when the pictures looked nice, scratch our heads in confusion when they didn’t. But anything above orangutan-level comprehension was a bit of a stretch. Well, now the English-speaking world has its own Venus in Fur trailer, with subtitles and narration and a full grasp of “who are these people and what are they doing.” That’s the good. The bad is that our English-language introduction to Venus in Fur has lost a certain something in translation.

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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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Ray Liotta

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting column that lives on because Kate Erbland was goodly enough to step in and keep it going for a couple days. Let’s all thank Kate. Thanks, Kate. Usually when movies are already filmed it means that their casting process has been completed. Not so for a Robert Rodriguez film, though. This guy does pretty much every job on his sets and relies on studio assistance for very little, which allows him to play by his own rules and march to the beat of his own drummer. Sometimes that opportunity for flexibility can result in movies that feel like they’ve been slapped together by a madman, but sometimes it leads to a movie being able to make amazing last minute additions, like how his in-production Sin City sequel just added Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, and Jeremy Piven to its already-stacked cast. Indiewire isn’t sure which characters they’re going to be playing, but probably that doesn’t matter much. Liotta and Piven always just play themselves, and Temple, well…she can do anything she wants.

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Here’s a story that’s likely to make you squeamish. Director Roman Polanski, who famously had to flee the United States after being caught violating a pubescent girl in the most thorough way a person can be violated, is all set to direct an “erotic black comedy” about a director who engages in sadomasochistic role play with the actresses who audition for him. Cute, right? The film in question is called Venus in Fur, and it’s an adaptation of the award-winning play of the same name, which was about a writer/director who was trying to put on an adaptation of the 1870 novella of the same name. The play was by David Ives, the original novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (which is where the term “masochism” comes from), and the film will come from an adapted screenplay by Polanski and Ives, acting as co-writers. Venus in Fur will be French-language, and actors Emmanuelle Seigner and Louis Garrel are set to star.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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