Showing posts from August, 2021

Dune opens at 78th Venice Film Festival

By Moira Jean Sullivan The opening moments of DUNE are about a planet whose spices have been mined for a greedy mercenary foreign power. The invaders of Arrakis or Dune can't help but evoke the might of the present Russian territorial invasion. The spices allow people to see into the future with their deep blue eyes and communicate with their mind. Humans have extraordinary powers of slow motion and the patriarchal tribe Fremens learn to survive in the desert full of huge sandworms. Dune directed and co-written by French-Canadian helmer Denis Villeneuve premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Villeneuve's films are mythic, bold and cathartic. He made Sicario (2015) and Arrival (2016) and brought his production designer Patrice Vermette, to Dune . Dune is set in the future of 10,191 AG with gargantuan halls and mammoth spacecraft and water craft, made of impenetrable materials with legions of soldiers. The architectural landscape looks part Blade Runner Tyrell C


When was the last time you experienced something truly strange ? Take a hero's story arc, delivered with amazing artwork, and throw in a touch of tarot card wisdom and you have the recipe for one of the most mind altering films of the year. Cryptozoo a film that opens Friday at Landmarks Embarcadero and Berkeley cinemas, unlocks some fresh wonderful weirdness that opens your inner heart like the mental triple bypass we all need. Cryptozoo is an adult tale of a hero trying to protect and rescue the magical beasts of the world. An open mind and some patience pays off with a wild and refreshingly different story that shakes up your senses.  And while I appreciate that we live in a time when full on animation armies deliver big budget entertainment at a fevered pace, it also feels good to set all that corporate polish aside and enjoy something that takes you out of the mainstream into bold new creative territories the bigger studios aren't ever likely to explore.  Cryptozoo is the

James Garner - Tribute

By Monica Sullivan What is it about James Garner that everyone loved so much?  He was good-looking, sure, but so are a lot of other actors who come and go without eliciting a fraction of the affection everyone felt for Garner.   Early in his career at Warner Brothers, executives would complain because Garner wasn’t in every single episode of “Maverick”.  The producers explained that Brett and Bart were brothers, so James Garner would turn up some weeks and Jack Kelly would appear in the other episodes.  The executives seemed to feel it was okay if Jack Kelly was around, but why couldn’t Brett be front and center all the time?  In every frame, even? I felt (and still feel) the same way.  Whenever I see a Bart only episode listing, I wince and watch something else.  But if James Garner is listed, there’s no way I’m switching the channel.  In “Support Your Local Sheriff” and “Support Your Local Gunfighter”, Garner plays a guy who’s on his way to some other place, Australia or something.

Drive My Car at 74th Cannes Film Festival

Moira Jean Sullivan Drive my Car is a Japanese film directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi based on a short story by Haruki Murakami "Men Without Women", which won the best screenplay award at Cannes in July.  Yûsuke Kafuku plays Hidetoshi Nishijima, a stage director asked to put up a play outside Hiroshima in a theater company  - Anton Chekhov's  Uncle Vanya .  Yûsuke Kafuku takes the assignment in Hiroshima although he is in grief.  Misaki played by Tôko Miura is commissioned by the theatre company as his driver as he is not allowed to drive his car due to  insurance regulations. Yûsuke Kafuku is meticulous in his direction and the actors hardworking. But although Murakami's short story  is about  "Men without Women"   Drive My Car   is about a husband who learns to tolerate his sexually permissive who suddenly dies and then, he is never without women. I saw the film in one of the Cannes theatres outside of the city in a spacious brand new cinema - Cineum th

Awards to women at 74th Festival de Cannes

By Moira Jean Sullivan This year the 74th film festival seemed to move Cannes in the direction that has been discussed since 2015. That year Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, presented a seminar on "50/50" – achieving gender parity in the film industry with 50% men and women. It certainly is not going to happen in the US but it did happen in Sweden that achieved this 50-50 gender parity quite quickly and also in the UK. There was a resounding applause when Jodie Foster lifetime achievement award came out and said you really missed this – watching films in public in front of a large screen such as the venues at this years festival with a wide variety of high quality films from all over the world that will not be coming soon to a theater near you. Cannes was really special this year. Awards night at the 74th Cannes Film Festival was special with so many of the top prizes going to women. Women constituted the majority of the feature film competition jury -

Udo Kier going strong in "Swan Song"

Swan Song directed by Todd Stephens debuted at the 45th Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco that ran from June 17-27. Stephens has made several films about gay relationships that have been presented at LGBTQ film festivals through the years, such as Gypsy 83 about two young Goths from Ohio that travel to an annual festival that honors Stevie Nicks. Swan Song is Stephens latest and stars German actor Udo Kier as Pat Pitzenbarger, a retired hairdresser now living in assisted living. As Gypsy 83 , Swan Song is set in Todd Stephens home state Ohio. His first Ohio tale directed by David Moreton and written by Moreton and Stephens is a coming out story of young closeted gay men - Edge of Seventeen made in 1998. Pat learns from the lawyer of his former client at his beauty salon, Rita Parker Sloan, that her final wish was to have him do her hair up after her death. For this role, Stephens brings to the screen veteran actor Linda Evans from the 1960’s Tv series smash hit Big Val

Cannes Film Festival Report 4

Moira Jean Sullivan © Photo Moira Jean Sullivan The Cannes Film Festival ran from July 6 – 17. On of the sections is the Cannes Classic series. Friendship's Death (UK 1987) directed by Peter Wollen and produced by the BFI was restored and screened in a 4K print. It stars Tilda Swinton as an alien named "Friendship" who was on hand to introduce the film and sad she hadn't seen it on a big screen since 1986 and "can't wait". Everytime she has seen it since then , Swinton conveyed that it feels "so modern and so fresh" even though there are "anachronisms in it like finding a sushi bar in Gaza but in terms of its political clarity is right on the moment". She said it was her second film made six months after making Derek Jarman's Caravaggio (1986). Producer Rebecca O'Brien (shown above with Tilda Swinton) explained that it was incredibly fun to make this science fiction cult film with Swinton and Bill Paterson, the acto