Xavier Dolan To Adapt Michel Marc Bouchard’s Tom À La Ferme

Xavier Dolan, the multi-faceted Québécois filmmaker behind critical successes I Killed My Mother and Heartbeats, has announced details of his fourth directorial effort, Twitch has reported.

Dolan will co-write and direct an adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard’s famous play Tom À La Ferme. Apparently, he saw a version of the play in Montreal last year and instantly fell in love, to the point where he approached Bouchard about Continue reading “Xavier Dolan To Adapt Michel Marc Bouchard’s Tom À La Ferme”

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DVD Releases: September 12, 2011

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Review)

Director: Rob Marshall

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz and Geoffrey Rush Continue reading “DVD Releases: September 12, 2011”

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

Review: Heartbeats (2010)

Synopsis: Heartbeats centers on two close friends, Francis (Xavier Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri), who find themselves fighting for the affections of the same striking young man (Neils Schneider). The more intimate the trio becomes, the more unattainable the object of their infatuation seems, sending the friends’ obsession into overdrive.

Heartbeats’ narrative may be a simple one, but it’s matched cleverly by the overindulgence in hyper-stylised aesthetic. This achieves Dolan’s overall purpose through the use of tricks and gimmicks – such as slow-motion, an intense pallet and musical motifs – controlling the viewer’s experience and capturing the superficiality of Marie and Francis’ banal obsession with Nicolas.

His self-asserting directing style is a lot like that of Pedro Almodóvar, Gus Van Sant and Wong Kar-wai – idolising both the vivacity of woman as well as the inherent beauty of men, blurring the boundaries of sexuality in the process. He does this with laid-back, lingering cinematography and striking set designs, making use of vivid colours to represent many of the themes explored within the context of the narrative. Some may think of it as style over substance, but the way in which Dolan shapes his characters and their reactions to one another shows that this is simply isn’t the case.

Through his emphatic writing, Dolan fashions a classic ménage à trois tale about the trials and tribulations of love, obsession and jealousy, often exquisitely echoing two fairly recent examples: Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También and John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus. Heartbeats is a simple story about how, due to our exceedingly high expectations, we let ourselves down by making brash, off the cuff decisions that never work out. Dolan’s understanding of such a complex and indefinable subject shows him as a talent with a belief and knowledge of worldly ideals miles beyond his tender age.

Performance wise, the three leads are near flawless. Chokri brings a welcome level of wit and comprehension to Maria, which is beautifully undercut by her obvious flaws, most noteworthy her naivety towards romance. Dolan, as expected, plays Francis as a straight up pretty boy with a severe lack of self-confidence and an inability to read people’s emotions. Schneider, to his merit, keeps Nicolas undeniably enchanting throughout. He may be the foil to Maria and Francis’ life-long friendship, and the object of both their obsessions, but he’s oblivious to the pain and destruction he’s causing. To some degree, this makes up for his deplorable carelessness.

This is all supported by a particularly brilliant and ecclectic soundtrack, featuring songs such as Dalida’s Bang Bang, Fever Ray’s Keep the Streets Empty for Me and The Kills’ Pass This On. Not only do these songs work incredibly well together, but they also add a new level of depth to the film, speaking louder than words themselves at times when dialogue isn’t possible.

Heartbeats is a remarkable, joyous, captivating, intricately stylised and extraordinarily well pieced together piece of cinema from a budding multi-faceted talent.

Cinema Releases: May 27, 2011

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Director: David Bowers

Starring: Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick and Robert Capron

Heartbeats

Director: Xavier Dolan

Starring: Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri and Niels Schneider

Life, Above All

Director: Oliver Schmitz

Starring: Khomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane and Harriet Lenabe

Apocalypse Now

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall