(Photo by Fox Searchlight/courtesy Everett Collection)
What makes a movie truly sexy, enough to to grant it entrance to our guide of the sexiest movies ever? Variety is the spice: For some movies, it’s about the animal chemistry between its stars (Body Heat, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) or the building passion of its characters (Brokeback Mountain, Titanic). With others, the turn-on is the illicit thrill of being bad (Unfaithful, Secretary) or the purity of self-awakening and discovery (Gloria, Moonlight). Sometimes it’s about the mood a movie evokes, intoxicating and overwhelming, like with In the Mood For Love or Y Tu Mama Tambien. And, yeah, sometimes it’s all about the sex scenes: Mulholland Drive, Lust, Caution, In the Realm of the Senses have got your number. Recently, we’ve added 365 Days, Malcolm & Marie, The Newness, Deep Water, and The Voyeurs.
With two more sequels to Fifty Shades of Grey on their way (and Marlon Wayans’ parody Fifty Shades of Black now in theaters), we thought it only proper to shine a light on a whole bevy of films that explored the sensual side of cinema and the actors that went along for the ride.
With the sale of independent-minded ThinkFilm last week, can indie film distributors survive without big studio backing?
Author: Juliana Tringali
ThinkFilm, best known for releasing 2004’s "Born Into Brothels," was recently purchased by the Capco group for $25 million. Group head David Bergstein plans to merge ThinkFilm with Capitol Films (another formerly fledgling distribution company), creating a "formidable new force in the independent marketplace."
For five years, ThinkFilm has built a reputation for distributing daring films that many others wouldn’t touch. Its current theatrical releases include John Cameron Mitchell‘s sexually explicit "Shortbus" and "Half Nelson," the story of a drug addicted inner city teacher. Meanwhile, Capital Films has helped to sell such fare as "A Prairie Home Companion" to international markets.
Before the purchase, ThinkFilm was the one Canadian company distributing movies in the states. Their game plan was generally to acquire documentaries or daring low budget films and subsequently attempt to sell them to more mainstream audiences.
The strategy won an Oscar for "Brothels" (which scored a 96 percent on the Tomatometer), and garnered further nominations for other releases ("The Story of the Weeping Camel," "Murderball"). But despite some critical and moderate commercial successes (including "Spellbound"), none of the ThinkFilm’s offerings broke through to widespread box office popularity. Capco says the merger will allow ThinkFilm to be a bigger player in the global film market.
"Murderball": Better than "Rollerball!"
In the expensive world of film production, perhaps the acquisition of smaller companies has always been an uncomfortable but irrevocable truth. After all, when indie first went boom in 1994, its most powerful mainstays had already been snatched up.
Miramax was purchased by Walt Disney Co. in 1993 (just before releasing "Pulp Fiction," the shot that sounded out the new era in film). In 1994, Turner Broadcasting System purchased New Line Cinema, which had dared to produce movies from unknown filmmakers since 1967.
But 1994 was a time of optimism. Making films outside the studio system was not only possible, it was hot, and bright-eyed believers were standing up to be counted. Among them were Newmarket Films, then a new privately-owned production and distribution company (purchased by New Line/HBO in 2005), and the Independent Film Channel (IFC). Palm Pictures was started in 1998, and ThinkFilm began in 2001.
Studios had their finger on the pulse as well. In 1994, Fox Searchlight was introduced as the indie wing of 20th Century Fox and it went on to produce some of the most successful "independent" films of the 1990s. NBC Universal followed suit in 2002 with Focus Features. Not surprisingly, these smaller sectors of major studios have had more staying power than their more authentic counterparts.
Top Reviewed Limiteds
Opening last week in limited release: "Shut Up & Sing," a rockumentary about the Dixie Chicks, is at 93 percent with 30 reviews; "Exit: The Right to Die," a documentary about assisted suicide, is at 88 percent (8 reviews); "Absolute Wilson," a documentary about avant-gardist Robert Wilson, is at 82 percent (11 reviews); "Cocaine Cowboys," a documentary about drug smuggling in Miami in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is at 78 percent (23 reviews); "Babel," Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s globetrotting film about despair and interconnectivity, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, is at 74 percent (61 reviews); and "The Bridge," a doc about suicides on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, is at 64 percent (28 reviews).
Top Performing Limiteds
"Babel" was the biggest indie winner this week, grossing $366,000 for a big per-screen average of $52,258, despite playing in only seven theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Stephen Frears‘ "The Queen," starring Helen Mirren, continued its strong performance, grossing $1.9 million, with a $12,638 per-screen average (it’s made $6.3 million during its theatrical run). "Shut Up & Sing" made $51,000 in four theaters, for an average of $12,750. But something of a disappointment was "Death of a President" which, despite the hum of controversy, made only $167,000 with a per-screen average of $1,835.
Martin Scorsese scored the best opening of his career, and his first number one film in fifteen years, with the star-studded gangster thriller "The Departed," which led the North American box office over the Columbus Day holiday weekend.
Moviegoers also showed interest in the horror prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning which debuted in second place, as well as the new comedy Employee of the Month which bowed in fourth with respectable results. The new releases helped to boost attendance at multiplexes as the top ten set a new record for the holiday frame selling just a bit less than $100M worth of tickets.
Starpower ruled the box office this weekend as the ultraviolent pic The Departed starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson opened convincingly at number one grossing an estimated $27M in its first outing. The Warner Bros. release averaged a vicious $8,954 from 3,017 theaters and set a new opening weekend record for acclaimed director Scorsese beating the $10.3M bow of his 1991 Robert De Niro thriller Cape Fear, which also happened to be the filmmaker’s last top spot opener. The 63-year-old director usually sees more narrow releases for his films. His last picture The Aviator took off in limited release before expanding nationally over Christmas weekend in 2004 with 1,796 theaters while his previous pic Gangs of New York bowed in 1,504 locations. Both were set in the past, starred DiCaprio, and released by Miramax. The Departed marked Scorsese’s first film ever to debut in more than 2,000 theaters.
A remake of 2002’s award-winning Hong Kong blockbuster Infernal Affairs, The Departed finds Nicholson as a crime boss who sends a mole (Damon) into the Boston police force. DiCaprio plays an undercover cop infiltrating the crime syndicate. Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg co-star in the R-rated feast. Critics drenched the pic with praise giving it some of the best reviews of the year. Starpower combined with strong reviews and a solid marketing push from Warner Bros. contributed to a powerful turnout from movie fans. Departed brought badly-needed good news to the distributor which is struggling through a year full of costly misfires. It ranks dead last among Hollywood’s big six studios in 2006 market share and has only generated two other number one debuts this year – V for Vendetta and Superman Returns.
Produced for a hefty $90M, The Departed does seem to have a promising road ahead of it. Not only have critics been giving it high marks, but so have ticket buyers. The gangster film has earned an encouraging A- grade from over 2,000 users on Yahoo Movies. Plus it has given DiCaprio only the third number one opener of his career and his first since Titanic set sail on its record-shattering voyage in 1997. Damon has enjoyed several top spots debuts in recent years most notably with his Bourne and Ocean’s flicks. Meanwhile, Nicholson proved once again why he remains the biggest box office draw of his generation.
Opening with strength in second place was another violent R-rated film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which bowed to an estimated $19.2M. Scaring audiences in 2,820 theaters, the New Line franchise pic averaged a strong $6,791 per venue. The opening was below the $28.1M debut of the 2003 remake of Chainsaw Massacre which went on to gross a terrific $80.1M. However, Beginning was never expected to reach the same neighborhood and with its relatively low $16M production cost, it should easily be yet another profitable horror film.
The new film benefited from a lack of scary movies in the current marketplace, but the road ahead should be tough with a pair of horror sequels set to attack the box office in the coming weeks. The Grudge 2 launches this Friday the 13th while Saw III will be unleashed on the weekend before Halloween. The new Leatherface frightfest performed just like another of New Line’s horror franchise pics from this year, Final Destination 3, which debuted to $19.2M in February on its way to a $54.1M final. The two scary movies have delivered the best openings for its distributor over the past year.
Sony’s hit toon Open Season fell from first to third place but managed to show good legs easing only 32% to an estimated $16M in its second hunt. Enjoying the smallest decline in the top ten, the PG-rated pic has upped its ten-day cume to a solid $44.1M and could continue to post impressive holds in the weeks ahead as there is little competition for its family audience until November. Look for Open Season to reach $80-85M from North America. Though impressive, Sony Pictures Animation’s debut venture still does not seem like it will reach the heights of other non-sequel non-summer digital toons like Ice Age ($176.4M), Shark Tale ($160.8M), Robots ($128.2M), or even 1998’s Antz ($90.7M).
The new Lionsgate comedy Employee of the Month opened in fourth place with an estimated $11.8M from 2,579 theaters. Averaging a respectable $4,575 per venue, the PG-13 film stars Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, and Dax Shephard and tells of a love triangle among workers at a superstore. Reviews, not surprisingly, were mostly negative.
Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner dropped three spots with their Coast Guard actioner The Guardian which collected an estimated $9.6M in its second mission. Down 46%, the Buena Vista release has collected $32.4M in ten days and should find its way to $50-55M domestically.
The fall season’s top-grossing hit Jackass: Number Two dropped 56% in its third weekend to an estimated $6.4M pushing its stellar total to $62.7M in 17 days. Later this week, the Paramount sequel will fly past the $64.3M of its 2002 predecessor. The MGM comedy School for Scoundrels tumbled 60% to an estimated $3.4M in its sophomore frame. With $14M in ten days, the Billy Bob Thornton–Jon Heder pic should wind up with around $20M.
The Rock‘s football flick Gridiron Gang followed with an estimated $2.3M, down 50%, for a $36.6M total to date for Sony. Jet Li was close behind in ninth place with Fearless which fell 56% to an estimated $2.2M putting its sum at $21.7M for Focus. Rounding out the top ten was the durable period mystery The Illusionist which slipped only 33% and took in an estimated $1.8M. Yari Film Group has taken in a respectable $34.1M after its eighth weekend, the last six of which were spent in the top ten.
In limited release, ThinkFilm launched its unrated sex romp Shortbus in only six arthouses but grossed an estimated $121,000 for a potent $20,108 average. Playing in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver, the John Cameron Mitchell-directed film will expand to ten more markets next weekend.
New Line premiered its Kate Winslet–Jennifer Connelly pic Little Children in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles and grossed an estimated $108,400. The suburban drama averaged a sturdy $21,680 and will expand over the weeks ahead.
Among holdovers expanding in limited release, Miramax’s The Queen reigned supreme taking in an estimated $401,000 from eleven theaters for a stunning $36,455 second weekend average. The acclaimed Helen Mirren drama widened from its three-theater debut in New York and has grossed $634,000 to date with a promising road ahead.
Fox Searchlight’s Idi Amin tale The Last King of Scotland expanded from four theaters in two markets to 30 sites in 14 markets and grossed an estimated $300,000. With a solid $10,000 average this weekend, the Forest Whitaker pic will invade 20 new markets on Friday expanding its dictatorship into more of North America. Cume to date is $541,000 after 12 days.
The Michel Gondry flick The Science of Sleep held steady in 221 theaters but dropped 39% to an estimated $680,000 in its third dream. Warner Independent averaged a mild $3,077 and pushed the cume to just $2.7M.
Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Fox Searchlight’s word-of-mouth hit Little Miss Sunshine grossed an estimated $1.3M in its eleventh weekend, down 36%, and pushed its total to a stellar $55M. Acquired at the Sundance Film Festival in January for a hefty $10.5M, the dysfunctional family comedy has become the second biggest grosser ever for the distributor and looks to end its run close to the $60M mark. That would also make it the second highest grossing R-rated film of the summer after the $63.4M of Miami Vice which cost tons more to produce and market.
MGM’s World War I adventure Flyboys crashed 56% in its third flight and took in an estimated $1M. With only $11.8M in 17 days, the James Franco flop should finish up with under $14M. The Black Dahlia, another of this fall’s historical dramas to be rejected by moviegoers, has collected just over $22M to date. Budgeted at $60M, the Universal release should close its case with a mere $24M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $99.7M which was up 23% from last year when Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit debuted at number one with $16M; and up 5% from 2004 when Shark Tale remained in the top spot for a second time with $31.3M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
It’s a good week for the small picture. While Scorsese‘s "The Departed" is garnering critical acclaim as the best reviewed wide release of the year, it’s in sparse company — "Jackass: Number Two" was one of two wide releases in the past few weeks to even make the fresh margin. Thank goodness for Helen Mirren, Michael Apted, art-house sex and stop-motion mice!
"Independent" and "art-house" are nowadays fairly interchangeable labels pointing to a loose confederation of films made not just for profit, not for the sake of making movies, but made as cinema. That’s not to say a big-budget studio effort can’t be good — Peter Jackson made that much obvious with his gazillion-dollar, CGI-heavy "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Plus, the man hasn’t made a rotten movie yet.
But seriously, with the recent dearth of worthwhile offerings in multiplexes across the country, it’s nice to know that the "indie" world is still doing its part, even if you have to wait to see some of these pics on DVD.
Leading the pack this week from across the pond is British royalty drama "The Queen," about Windsor matriarch Queen Elizabeth II and the royal reaction to Princess Diana’s death. Critics praise Helen Mirren‘s powerhouse performance in the title role — a star turn that’s garnering her plenty of Oscar-buzz as a near-certain Best Actress nominee. What’s more impressive is the film’s Tomatometer of 98 percent, drawn from 51 fresh reviews and one lone rotten rating (from the BBC, incidentally). After a tiny three-theater U.S. debut last week, "The Queen," now Certified Fresh, expands next week in limited release.
Another little picture with star wattage out this week is "Little Children," a tale of sordid suburban happenings from "In The Bedroom" director Todd Field. Four-time Oscar nominee Kate Winslet may once again win a nom for her performance as an adulterous housewife, as rumblings from the film’s festival run have generated strong kudos. The flick is also now Certified Fresh to boot, and stands at a strong 83 percent on the Tomatometer.
Director’s Guild of America President Michael Apted has had a long and varied career in feature films ("Coal Miner’s Daughter," "Gorky Park," "The World is Not Enough," to name a few) but he’s also well-known for the astounding "Up" documentary series, which followed a group of British school kids every seven years of their lives. The latest installment, "49 Up," is in limited release this week and, by the look of its 97 percent Tomatometer rating, measures up to the strong critical acclaim of the previous chapters in the series.
New York film aficionados can catch a true indie, "Blood Tea and Red String," during its one-theater run this week. Director Christine Cagavske reportedly put in 13 years to make this stop-motion fantasy for adults, set solely to an original, lyrical musical score. Even with no dialogue, this tale of aristocratic mice, subordinate woodland creatures, and a coveted doll is beautifully unsettling, with riveting stop-motion animation and ornate details that critics have loved so far, to the tune of a 100 percent Tomatometer.
Christine Cegavske’s "Blood Tea and Red String" — watch the trailer!
Fans of filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell know from his 2001 cult hit "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" that he is a director who pushes boundaries, and his latest, the ensemble sex dramedy "Shortbus," more than meets that expectation. Despite more graphic sex than you’ve probably ever seen before in one place (and all of it actually performed by the film’s daring cast), the film’s examination of relationships, sex, and personal happiness has won over most critics. That’s not to say the sex isn’t shocking, at least by mainstream standards; but Mitchell’s cast members live in their roles (they should, having spent two years honing their characters together) and adventurous moviegoers should buy tickets to satisfy their curiosity. "Shortbus" now has a Tomatometer of 67 percent.
Needless to say, there are scores more indie films currently in release to choose from as your alternatives to the Big Studio Movie. Go out and watch one now!
This week at the movies, we’ve got cops and robbers in Boston ("The Departed," starring Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon), chainsaw massacres in Texas ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," starring Jordana Brewster), and retail employees in New Mexico ("Employee of the Month," starring Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook). What do the critics have to say?
Is Martin Scorsese America’s greatest living filmmaker? He’s certainly bolstering his case with "The Departed." The film, which is a loose remake of the Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs," tells the story of two moles, one of whom (DiCaprio) a cop undercover within a Boston crime family led by Jack Nicholson, and the other (Damon) a hood who has infiltrated the police department. Critics say Scorsese has created a crime drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality that infused such past triumphs as "GoodFellas," with outstanding work from an excellent cast. At 96 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Departed" may signify a new arrival for the master director; Scorsese’s best reviewed wide release since "GoodFellas." And it’s not only Certified Fresh, but it’s also the best reviewed wide release of the year.
The lives of wage slaves are often grist for the cinema’s mill, whether comic ("Clerks"), dramatic ("One Hour Photo") or both ("The Good Girl"). Now comes "Employee of the Month," starring Cook as a slacker at a Costco-like box store who whips himself into shape when attractive new hire (Simpson) comes on board. Critics say the movie has a few good laughs, but Cook and Simpson lack chemistry, and the film doesn’t do much beyond showing employee antics. At 25 percent on the Tomatometer, audiences may want to hire a different "Employee."
For horror fans who are interested in the origin of Leatherface, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" provides some back story on the Lone Star State’s scariest resident. It also provides oodles of gore, and a style reminiscent of the original. Unfortunately, the critics say it doesn’t provide enough scares to make the experience worthwhile. The plot involves a group of young adults headed to Mexico for a good time before two brothers go to fight in Vietnam; naturally, Leatherface curtails their enjoyment in a hurry. The scribes say the film is a little too rote, and at 14 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Chainsaw" doesn’t cut very deep. (Read RT’s interview with director Jonathan Liebesman here.)
Also opening this week in limited release: "Blood Tea and Red String," a handmade stop-motion fairy tale 13 years in the making, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; "So Goes the Nation," a documentary about the 2004 election season in Ohio, is at 100 percent; "49 Up," the latest in Michael Apted‘s remarkable documentary series about growing and changing in England, is at 94 percent; "Black Gold," a documentary about the global effects of the coffee trade, is at 88 percent; "Little Children," a tale of suburban angst starring Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson and Jennifer Connelly, is at 79 percent; "Shortbus," John Cameron Mitchell‘s warmhearted exploration of unconventional sexuality, is at 68 percent; and "Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner," a documentary about the eponymous Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning scribe, is at 55 percent. And "The Queen," which is expanding this week, is at 98 percent, making it the third best reviewed limited release of the year.
Recent Martin Scorsese Movies:
92% — No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)
89% — The Aviator (2004)
77% — Gangs of New York (2002)
100% — My Voyage to Italy (2001)
72% — Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
Texas Chainsaw Massacres:
86% — The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
50% — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
23% — Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1989)
16% — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
37% — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Best Reviewed Wide Releases Of 2006
(Releases with at least 40 reviews)
96% — The Departed
93% — Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
93% — Little Miss Sunshine
90% — United 93
88% — Inside Man
84% — Akeelah and the Bee
83% — Slither
83% — The Descent
80% — A Prairie Home Companion
78% — The Devil Wears Prada
Best Reviewed Limited Releases Of 2006
(Releases with at least 40 reviews)
98% — Kekexeli: Mountain Patrol
98% — The War Tapes
98% — The Queen
96% — Army of Shadows
95% — Wordplay
93% — Fateless
93% — Little Miss Sunshine
92% — The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
92% — An Inconvenient Truth
92% — Lassie
We saw some great movies, some of them big ("Babel") and some tiny ("The Patterns Trilogy"). We saw some interesting failures ("The Banquet") and some outright bombs ("All The King’s Men"). We caught glimpses of big stars (Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, and Sean Penn, among others) and important directors (Brian De Palma, Paul Verhoeven, Darren Aronofsky, and John Waters). (Check the photo gallery for more.)
It’s been eight days since we returned from the Toronto International Film Festival, but the films we saw are still fresh in our minds. North America’s biggest film fest definitely lived up to its reputation, and we thought we’d cap our coverage with the movies that kept us talking.
Here are the movies that struck a chord with us, both positively and negatively. (Click on the highlighted quotes for full reviews.)
Senh’s Top Five:
1. "Still Life" – Set around the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam in China, this is the most beautiful film I’ve seen this year. It’s also realistically acted and filmed and charmingly edited.
2. "Exiled" – Johnny To‘s film about a group of hitmen is well written, hip, cool, and just plain fun.
3. "Election" – Thrills with efficient plotting and pacing. One of the better Triad films in recent years from Hong Kong. It’s also directed by Johnny To. I’m a fan now.
4. "Pan’s Labyrinth" – I’ve never seen a more gory film starring a kid. The character designs are very unique.
5. "The Fall" – Tarsem‘s ("The Cell") film has narrative problems, but it probably has the most realistic and best acting by a little girl (Catinca Untaru) ever.
Senh’s Least Favorite:
1. "Dong" – This is a companion piece to Jia Zhang-Ke‘s "Still Life," but it’s probably the most boring and pointless documentary I’ve ever seen.
2. "Election 2" – What the original would have been if everything went wrong. I’m still a fan of Johnny To, but let’s hope he doesn’t make "Exiled 2."
3. "The Fountain" – Don’t listen to Tim.
Jen’s Top 5 From Toronto (overall somewhat disappointing):
1. "Deliver Us From Evil:" Gripping, emotional and devastating; a documentary on clergy abuse, with intimate access to victims and the offender himself.
2. "The Patterns Trilogy:" It’s visually rich, impeccably cute, and wholly mesmerizing. Jamie Travis’ stop motion-musical duet-pop meditation on obsessive love is surreal and stylish and wonderful.
3. "Catch A Fire:" Derek Luke is amazing, Tim Robbins is a little less psycho than he was in "War of the Worlds"…overall a great anti-Apartheid, anti-government paranoia story.
4. "The Dog Problem:" Scott Caan’s second directorial effort is a comic gem about social estrangement and loneliness and pets.
5. "This Filthy World:" Any John Waters fan must see this feature-length stand-up style show, if not for his hilarious anectodes, then for his insights into sex, politics, and filmmaking.
"Bobby" — A monumental divide between my hopes and the (admittedly unfinished) product, excepting the last 10 minutes. But you can’t fix too many thinly drawn characters and virtually no attempt at period detail in post.
"For Your Consideration" — Considering the cast and their past films, this should have/could have been so much better. The Fred Willard–Jane Lynch infotainment send-up is by far the best part, most everything else is composed of easy insider jokes.
Best Toronto Film Festival Party — The "Shortbus" Queer Lounge 11pm-4am live music extravaganza!! Burlesque dancers? Great. Awesome bands like Kids on TV and The Hidden Cameras? Great. JCM singing "Hedwig" songs? Priceless.
Tim’s Top Five:
1. "Babel:" A work of remarkable craft, a masterpiece of sensorial and emotional intensity.
2. "Pan’s Labyrinth:" This awe-inspiring mix of fantasy, horror and drama achieves something rare: it’s equally resonant visually and emotionally.
3. "Rescue Dawn:" A thrilling movie, an old-fashioned tale of survival that may be the closest Werner Herzog has come to fashioning his obsession with the struggle between man and nature into a mainstream film.
4. "Little Children:" An adult film in the best sense; it creates three-dimensional characters, sets them loose to do what they will, and trusts that we will understand.
5. "The Page Turner:" A remarkable tale of shattered dreams and revenge, this French thriller in a minor key is tense and absorbing all the way through.
A movie that I really wanted to like but just couldn’t: "Bobby"
Best Avant Garde/Black Comedy/Romance/Musical/Short: "The Patterns Trilogy"
We’d like to extend greetings to some of the folks with whom we partied, conversed, and screened films: James Berardinelli, Erik Childress, James Rocchi, Kim Voynar, Scott Weinberg, and Paul Zimmerman. We’d also like to extend props to the many critics and bloggers we met in Toronto: Erica Abeel, Peter Debruge, Robert Denerstein, Michael Dwyer, Greg Elwood, Martha Fischer, Phoebe Flowers, Jonathan Hickman, Stephen Holt, Peter Howell, Geoff Pevere, David Poland, Alexia Prichard, Rene Rodriguez, Anne Thompson, Lawrence Toppman, and Sameer Vasta. We’d also like to acknowlge some of the filmmakers we met, including "Stormbreaker" writer Anthony Horowitz and the film’s star Alex Pettyfer (Check out Jen’s interview), Malcolm Ingram, Ash Christian, and Michael Tucker.
Wheeeee! A whirlwind of belated blog entries from over the action-packed weekend here at the Toronto International Film Festival, with pics from the red carpet (Zach Braff! Kate Winslet! Lance Bass!), the insane "Shortbus" party-concert, and of course, movies!
We’ve passed the halfway point here in Toronto, and already the streets are thinning out. Most of the big films have come and gone — "Babel," "All the King’s Men," "Catch A Fire," "For Your Consideration" — with mixed results (a big fat ouch for Zallian and the "ATKM" crew, whose big Toronto debut was by far the biggest critical disappointment yet). "The Fountain," screening tonight, is getting similarly mixed-to-negative reviews.
Movies on the tips of festival goers’ tongues are skewing towards comedy — "Borat" owned the first few days of the fest, despite a projector malfunction that left audiences hissing for more. The crowd at the Press and Industry screening of "For Your Consideration" loved the Christopher Guest flick – and rightfully so, since the ensemble riot was tailor made for Hollywood-savvy insiders. Korean satire-creature feature "The Host" is another Midnight Madness entry that critics have latched onto.
But on to the good stuff…the parties! After attending the arctic-themed Opening Night Gala, we thought nothing could top it. And nothing did, until Sunday night’s "Shortbus" Party and Concert — a night that I shall remember for a loooong time to come…
Click here to read the full Blog entry for more buzz on the festival films, more celeb red carpet pics, and more details from the "Shortbus" party — and check out the amazing pics from the night’s performances by John Cameron Mitchell, The Hidden Cameras, burlesque showgirls, drag queens and more!
Even though it officially ended last week, we’re still catching our breath from RT’s visit to the French Riviera! Read on for Jen, Senh and Tim’s last tango in Cannes — plus our top-ranked movies, parties, and highlights of the trip — or flip through our photo gallery for a visual tour of the Cannes Film Festival!
Next year we’re definitely staying longer in Cannes — 8 days hardly seemed enough, even though every one of them was action-packed with screenings, parties, and sightings. Click here to read the blog entry for our last day at the festival, when we wandered the cobbled streets of Cannes, sipped champagne aboard another yacht, partied with Roger Ebert at the Dubai party, Jen met a camel, and watched the hilarious "Borat" with The Rock.
And since we’ve all had enough time to reflect upon our journey to the star-studded Cote d’Azur for the most fabulous film festival in the world, here are our Cannes favorites lists, in descending order:
Senh’s Top Flicks:
Tim’s Top Flicks:
Jen’s Top Flicks:
Yes, you read that right — "Borat" made all of our top lists, incredibly enough. What? It’s funny! And outrageous and frightening, when you realize how many people Sacha Cohen captured on film were probably unaware of his charade.
"Borat": funnier than you might think…
But on to the important stuff, the real reason we went to Cannes — the parties! You can’t possibly grasp the craziness of the nightlife there during the festival unless you’ve seen it yourself — impossible-to-get-into events, sly gatecrashers in tuxedos, celebs everywhere, free-flowing champagne! It takes a lot of research, word of mouth, and hustle to get invites at Cannes…and even then, the parties all start to blend together…
In any case, we’re all agreed that the DreamWorks party for "Over The Hedge" was fabulous — though a bit low on star wattage, since Avril Levigne, Nick Nolte, and my picture pal Bruce Willis made their short appearances and left — but it definitely had great food, nice people (non-industry and the CGI-crowd, of course), and some pretty awesome decoration. Plus the pc tablet caricature artists walking around drew us, so that pretty much won us over…
Also pretty sweet was the party on the Majestic Hotel’s beach for "The Banquet," where celebs showed up and actually hung out like regular party people! Who knew A-listers actually sat down, ate hors’deuvres, and talked to people?? We definitely saw the most stars there, including Oliver Stone, Willem Dafoe, Samuel L. Jackson, Zhang Ziyi, Dan Wu, and (coming out of the bathrooms on our way out) Tim Roth.
The Majestic turned out to be a hotspot for huge parties, as another memorable event was held there on our last night: the Dubai party. Do I know where Dubai is? No! Do I like their party-throwing ways? Heck yes! One guest-greeting camel is really all it takes to delight me, but if I’d had a chance to hit up the hookahs I’d have been in heaven. Another reason the Dubai party rocked? Roger and Chaz Ebert. Always a delight…
But what is a Cannes Film Festival without a visit to a yacht? We boarded the Budweiser Big Eagle Yacht (infamously owned years ago by the King of Beers) not once, but twice, and each time the mandatory house slippers were as comfy as the oysters were yummy…plus, I had perhaps my most memorable celeb photo op of the festival, if not my entire life, with Bai "But Can They Sing?" Ling at the "Southland Tales" party.
More Cannes 2006 Lists:
Celebs We Met: Jury President Wong Kar-Wai, who wears sunglasses at night; Donnie Yen; the lovely Rachael Leigh Cook; RT bud Daniel Wu; Bai Ling; John Cameron Mitchell; the entire, wonderful cast of "Shortbus."
Celebs We Met, Kinda/Breathed the Same Air As: Bruce Willis; Willem Dafoe; Oliver Stone; Avril Levigne; Samuel L. Jackson; Zhang Ziyi; Monica Bellucci; Tim Roth; The Rock; Tom Beringer; Charlie Sheen; D.B. Sweeney; Cheri Oteri.
And lest we forget the friends we made during the festival, here’s our shout-out to the illustrious fellow press buddies we kept time with at Cannes: Roger Ebert; James Rocchi; Geoff Pevere; Joblo; Emanuel Levy; Gene Seymour; Cole Smithey; Gregory and Dan from EW; Sylvia Toh Paik Choo and J F Susbielle!
For our full coverage of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, check out our news, reviews, photos and more!
Senh, Tim, and Jen are over in France covering the biggest and most glamorous film festival in the world, the Cannes Film Festival. Staying true to the theme "Rotten Tomatoes Eat France," our intrepid trio is eating (and drinking) up the sights and the sounds of what the festival has to offer.
Day Three finds Jen pledging her eternal devotion to Pedro Almodovar after catching a screening of his new movie, "Volver." Tim and Senh manage to secure tickets to "Fast Food Nation" by pulling strings and calling in favors. Read Tim’s review here.
What is a film festival without celebrity encounters? Why it’s none other than former Vice President Al Gore and Julie Delpy! Our trio even manages to catch a sight of a real life princess.
What does Day Four have in store?
Jen reveals her penchant for adult cinema, or at least for John Cameron Mitchell’s new film, "Shortbus"; Tim reviews "An Inconvenient Truth," former VP Al Gore’s documentary about global warming; and Senh finds himself on a yacht.
Read up on their adventures here.