Lita On Film

Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Gainsbourg’

Von Trier’s Company Issues Apology

In Film News on May 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Varietyis reporting that Lars Von Trier’s production company, Zentropa (of which he shares 25% ownership with current CEO Peter Aalbaek Jensen) has issued an apology regarding Von Trier’s incendiary comments at a Cannes press conference Wednesday.  Jensen reportedly tried to explain the incident as a “joke that had gone too far,” but the consequences of Von Trier’s Nazi-sympathizing logorrhea have already stretched halfway around the globe.

Argentina has reportedly cancelled its distribution plans for Von Trier’s new film, Melancholia, which is still up for the Palme D’Or at Cannes.  The CEO of TrustNordisk, the company distributing Melancholia internationally, tried to steer the conversation away from Von Trier, saying to Variety that “the film itself has nothing to do with Lars’ comments.”  We’ll see  how that plays out in the days and weeks to come.  Danish Film Institute CEO Henrik Bo Nielsen, after learning of the incident, reportedly quipped “…there’s nothing new in the fact that great artists make stupid remarks.”

Palme D'Or hopeful Melancholia

One hopes that Von Trier’s remarks won’t affect the reputation of his fellow Danish filmmakers.  Susanne Bier (director of the 2010 Oscar winner “In A Better World,” which was produced by Zentropa), who  was also personally disparaged by Von Trier in his bizarre diatribe this week, hasn’t released a statement herself, though a rep for her Italian distributor Teodora Films condemned the remarks and promised “never [to] release a Von Trier movie in Italy.”

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The City of Your Final Destination (2010)

In Film Reviews on May 13, 2010 at 11:35 am

Find this review on ScreenComment.com!

James Ivory’s latest film harkens back to Merchant-Ivory’s greatest triumphs, particularly A Room With A View (1985).  But instead of a sheltered ingénue, City tells the story of a restless young academic, Omar, who is forced to question his own feelings towards his career, his relationship, and ultimately his view of the world.  If this sounds like a heavy-handed premise, don’t despair; City’s tone is surprisingly light, and the film moves along snappily.

Omar (Omar Metwally) has just received a grant to write the biography of a famous novelist named Jules Gund, a project that will cement his career as a professor of literature.  However, the executors of the late Gund’s estate—his wife Caroline (Laura Linney), brother Adam (Anthony Hopkins) and mistress Arden (Charlotte Gainsbourg)—do not want the biography to be written.  At the urging of his overbearing girlfriend Deirdre (Alexandra Maria Lara) Omar flies to Gund’s estate in Uruguay and, after arriving unannounced, sets about changing everybody’s mind.

What follows is part comedy of manners and part romance, but also something more: a gently existential exploration of Omar’s changing concept of his purpose in life.  The longer he stays at the Gund estate and the more he acquaints himself with the tangled web of the author’s life, the more Omar realizes that his clear-cut ideas about literature, career, and love are not really his ideas, but what he feels is expected of him.  As he begins to be accepted into Gund’s family circle, he feels drawn to a life of pleasure and contemplation, and begins to dread his return to the snowy, drab university he works at.  As if to illustrate this dichotomy, the scenes in Uruguay (which were actually shot on location in Buenos Aires) are sumptuous, classic Merchant-Ivory.  The lighting is meticulous, the colors are rich and yet muted enough to look real, and each shot is framed so carefully that it feels more like watching a moving painting than a regular film.

The film’s star-studded cast manages to function well together.  No one gets overpowered, although it’s hard for Sir Anthony, even in this relatively subtle role, not to outshine his co-stars at every opportunity (since I last saw him in The Wolfman, this was something of a relief).  Laura Linney is tasked with the somewhat caustic role of the scorned widow, but she manages to bring off her character’s spite without making her unrelatable.  Alexandra Maria Lara (Downfall) does a fine job as Omar’s insufferable girlfriend—like Linney, she folds her character’s obnoxious traits into a developed, believable personality.

Overall, City feels like a breath of fresh air from Mr. Ivory, who sadly has been operating without his legendary producer Ismail Merchant since the latter’s death in 2005.  The fact that this film is set in the present day—as well as its brisk narrative pace—definitely works in its favor.  This is no sprawling, three-hour historical epic; it’s a quirky, beautiful little film that even non-Merchant-Ivory devotees will be able to enjoy.