Tonight the 2014 Athens International Film Festival, aka Opening Nights comes to an end. 11 Days with tons of films for all tastes! This year I managed to see 4 films: The Drop, Palo Alto, When Animals Dream and What If.
Before getting into the films, let me say that this year the festival seemed more alive than ever before, despite the 20 years that have passed. The selection of films was amazing, with many Greek productions, including Xenia by Panos Koutras, the crowd was amazing and the organization was almost impeccable, except from the problems in the Nick Cave screening (perhaps that was jinxed by all of us who did not find a ticket). The film ‘71 (Yann Demange’s tale of a British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit at the riots in Belfast in 1971) won the ultimate prize, the Golden Athena award.
Now, regarding the films that I did get to see.
Palo Alto, is the first film by Francis Ford Coppola’s granddaughter, Gia Coppola, based on the short stories by James Franco. Starring Emma Roberts and the man himself (James Franco), Palo Alto is the tale of April, a shy virgin teenager (Emma Roberts), who while trying to connect with a sweet classmate (Jack Kilmer) has to deal also with her soccer coach (James Franco) hitting on her. Through April and her friends’ tales, we get to see the anxiety and issues that teenagers deal with, the mistakes that they make and how they deal with it. Coppola’s exquisite cinematography showed us that it must be in the genes (seriously, can this family ever get it wrong?) and reminded me a bit of good old Auntie Sofia’s debut film “The Virgin Suicides”. Overall a great debut film!
When Animals Dream, is a Danish film by Jonas Alexander Arnby, about a 16 year old girl living in an isolated Danish town, with her sick mother and her father, who will discover that something weird is happening to her body, making her transform little by little to something not human… I will not reveal too much about this film as the element of surprise plays a very important part. What I can say, is that the direction and photography were amazing, adding to the whole mystery of the story and that the newcomer Sonia Suhl, is breathtaking in her film debut.
The final film that I saw was my favorite! What If, is a Canadian-Irish co-production, directed by Michael Dowse and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan (Elias Kazan’s granddaughter). The story is quite simple: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy, but girl has a boyfriend, boy decides to be friends with girl but of course falls for her. Despite that it is considered a romantic comedy, to my opinion it was an anti-romantic comedy that made fun in a way of many genre clichés. A fresh, well written comedy, with talented protagonists that share great chemistry! Daniel Radcliffe shows that his Harry Potter days are far behind him and the lovely Miss Kazan, who we had already noticed in the film Ruby Sparks that she had also written, proves that she has inherited her fair share of her grandfather’s talent.
Well, that was for this year’s festival! Let’s focus now, on the very busy cinema & TV Fall that has already started!!
This year, Athens International Film Festival turns 20! For 20 years (!), “Cinema” magazine, makes September a special month for us film lovers, by offering a wide selection of film screenings, including premieres, documentaries, short films, music films and many many more!
This year’s first film I saw was “The Drop”. Michaël R. Roskam’s English-Language directorial debut, the film is based on a short story by Dennis Lehane, the writer of “The Shutter Island” and “Mystic River”. Starring Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini (his last film) and Noomi Rapace, this crime drama, takes us to the world of illegal gambling, animal sheltering and a series of events that puts our not so innocent heroes on a pretty tough spot.
Not to spoil it too much for you, we follow the storyline from Bob Saginowski perspective (Tom Hardy’s character), who while being in the centre of a crime universe, insists on separating himself from the role of a gangster or a lackey, by calling himself “just the bartender” of the bar where all the bad deeds take place. While dealing with some trouble on the (illegal) job, he founds a beat up puppy, which he takes under his protection, developing a bond with it, along with the puppy’s “trainer” Nadia (Noomi Rapace). At the same time, cousin Marv, his cousin and employer (James Gandolfini) seems to have his own agenda and his motives in the series of events that occur, are seriously questioned.
Tom Hardy’s and James Gandolfini’s performances were to my opinion, the highlights of the film (and the cute puppy). Other than that, the director set a very convincing, mysterious atmosphere, but the way the story and the scenario were developing, I felt that it kinda stretched out. I mean, you could tell that it was a short story initially; it was missing something that would make the viewers more on edge. Not to be too critical, we did get a good “wow” moment at the end, but was that enough? I know that the critics and viewers were all enthusiastic about the film, but for me it was good in some parts but not everything came together as it should. Well, I guess the fact that this film's got everyone debating about it, means that at least it's a film worth noticing..
That's all folks! The exhibition halls are closed, the booths have been torn down and the panels have emptied. The 2014 San Diego Comic-Con came to an end... So, apart from what I've shared the past three days, here are some trailers and photos of this year's nerd paradise...
The trailer that was shown on the panel, might be still hard to find on line, so instead, here's the video from the actual panel, with the appearance of Quicksilver (the other one, not the one from XMen :-p) and Thanos! Enjoy!
Sin City new Trailer
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 trailer
Go Mad for the "Mad Max: Fury Road" trailer!
Gotham TV Series trailer
And the amazing Comic-Con fans...
This has been the last post for a while, as I will be going on summer holidays soon! I will do my best to update the FB page, so keep in touch there! Thank you very much for being loyal and increasing the pageviews :-) - I will try to keep up and return with more posts, news and archive material!
Have a lovely summer everybody!!
Day 3 in San Diego ComicCon, was definitelly a full day...
The Marvel panel
Of course the Marvel panel, with the cast from the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film, was once again highly anticipated. Although it did not match last year's Tom Hiddleston's appearance, this year's panel was equally exciting. The definite highlight though, was the first glimpse of footage from Age Of Ultron. The footage is not available on line yet, so stay connected to our FB page for daily updates on this and other projects.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The cast of the (again) highly anticipated The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies film, appeared yesterday and here are some of their interviews to make you feel as if you were there:
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Zack Snyder, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot joined the Warner Bros. Comic-Con panel and shared with the worldfrom , as well the first photo of Wonder Woman!
Sin City 2: A Dame to kill for
10 years ago, the first Sin City film, premiered its first footage at Comic-Con and now 10 years later, directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, joined the panel along with Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Josh Brolin who will take on the role of Dwight that Clive Owen played in the first movie.
Some facts that we picked up from the panel:
Trubies unite for one last season
HBO's True Blood fans, were more than excited to welcome their favorite characters who signed aurographs and shared some footage from the upcoming last five episodes of the final season... (SPOILER ALERT for those that have not caught up till episode 5!)
Family Guy vs. The Simpsons
Ever wondered what would happen if Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson hung out at a bar while Bart and Stewie made prank phone calls? Well, at yesterday's Family Guy Comic-Con panel, you got your wish! In the Sept. 28 season Family Guy premiere, “The Simpsons Guy,” the albino Griffins wind up by accident in Springfield, where they are greeted warmly by the hepatits-y Simpsons. But a fast friendship christened with delicious doughnuts may be forever destroyed by an argument over Pawtucket Patriot Ale and Duff Beer, which leads to an epic chicken fight.
Fans had the chance to see 5 minutes from this epic episode:
The Vampire Diaries & The Originals
The VD panel kicked off with a hilarious video on the death (?) of Bonnie & Damon; is this the end? Will they be getting their own spin off show? (Joseph Morgan thinks not).
Later on they discussed Alaric's return, Stefan's evolution and Elena's reactions to the loss of her boyfriend and her best friend.
So, what about The Originals?
While the first season focused on the fighting over power in New Orleans,the second season will be all about family. Both Esther and Mikael are back, due to the Other Side falling on The Vampire Diaries. "When we decided to get rid of the other side on The Vampire Diaries we knew this was our only shot," says creator Julie Plec. "This is the only chance we're gonna get to bring these characters back and then defined the course of the whole season's storytelling." Rebekah returns, baby Hope as well and the creators leave room for possible VD crossovers.
Once Upon A Time
The Once Upon A Time panel, shared a couple of clips from the new season.
The first clip showed Frozen's Elsa and Anna at their parents' grave and dropped a bombshell that Anna is preparing for her wedding!
The second clip showed recently-reformed villain Regina telling her old friend the Mirror that she needed help getting rid of an enemy. Some things never change...
Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White) greeted fans with a via video call from set that included a cameo by Michael Socha. Does this mean his Once Upon a Time in Wonderland character, Knave, will be heading to the Enchanted Forest soon? Only time will tell...
Many thanks to TheOneRing.net, TotalFilm.com, abcgo.com, IMDb and all the fans who were kind enough to fill in with information, all of us not able to be in San Diego!
So, here's what happened on Day 2, San Diego ComicCon 2014:
Game of Thrones panel
Tons of our favorite cast members, along with the man himself, George R.R. Martin, joined the panel and here are some things that we've learned:
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
The highly anticipated second teaser trailer of the Hunger Games franchise was shown to screaming fans who simply cannot wait until November to see their favorite characters fight the Capitol!
The Book of Life
The animated feature directed by Jorge Gutierrez, Book of Life, featuring the voices of Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ron Perlman, and Zoe Saldana was presented. The animation is inspired by the Dia de Muertos (The Day of the Dead), a holiday celebrated in Mexico which is a day for friends and family to remember the ones they have lost. This day has always been important to Gutierrez: he was married on this day because he wanted his best friend, who had died, to be his best man and this was the one day he could come back to do so. Much like an animated Moulin Rouge, some of the dialogue from the film is from modern songs including Radiohead’s “Creep,” Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day,” and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” Biz Markie made a surprise appearance at the panel and sang his classic hip-hop song.
Kevin Smith presented the first-look of his upcoming horror-comedy, which marked his return to moviemaking.
Daniel Radcliffe showed his devilish side when presenting his latest film, Horns, where he plays a young man who begins to grow a pair of horns after his girlfriend, played by Juno Temple, is found murdered.
The most appropriate place to watch a film such as "The Two Faces of January" is the heart of its filming locations, at the best cinema in the world (according to CNN).
"Cine Thision", is one of the oldest open air theatres in Athens (it opened in 1935) and offers not only great films to its fans but also an amazing view to Acropolis and other sights. Its unique environment, along with the old school bar (kilikio), offers a full cinematic experience to its guests.
As regards the film itself, "The Two Faces of January" is an adoptation of the 1964 novel by Patricia Highsmith and narrates the tale of an American couple vacationing in Greece at 1962. Viggo Mortensen plays Chester MacFarland, the rich husband and plays his wife Colette. They meet an American tour guide Rydal (played by ) who tends to deceive tourists to get by (a character that resembles in a way to Ripley). Rydal approaches the couple with ulterior motive Colette, but the unexpected turn of events make him connect with the couple in darker ways...
The scenery and photography helped a lot bring the atmosphere of Athens in the '60s and the sense of agony that the characters feel. Mortensen and Isaac give amazing performances that help develop he story but unfortunately that seems not to be enough. The ingredients were all there but the recipy failed. The story seemed to weeken in the end, especially the second part. Overall though, it was a good film to watch, but an even better cinema to watch it in...
For more information on the locations of the film, read The Telegraph's article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/culture/two-faces-january/10785636/two-faces-of-january-set.html
Guildford Four's Gerry Conlon, whose story was portrayed in the film "In the name of the Father", dies
Gerry Conlon, known for his wrong conviction in 1974 for the Guildford IRA pub bombing, has died aged 60. He was one of the Guildford Four, who spent 15 years in prison before their convictions were annulled in 1989. He was imprisoned along with his father. His father died in jail in 1980.
His story was better known to the younger public by the 1993 Oscar-nominated film In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
In 2005 the serving at the time Prime Minister Tony Blair, apologized for this tremendous injustice.
Powerful, emotional, heart-breaking, honest. HBO’s TV film adaptation of Larry Kramer’s Tony-winning play The Normal Heart, written by the play-author himself and directed by Ryan Murphy (Glee), is an emotional ride to the early days of the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus in New York as seen through the eyes of writer/activist Ned Weeks, the gay Jewish-American founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group.
The play is autobiographical, as like Ned (played by Marc Ruffalo), Larry Kramer himself helped founding several AIDS activism groups.
The film touches the issue of the virus, its spread and the ostracism of the gay community, but also the problems that the patients and activists faced when having to deal with health care and bureaucracy. Through the brilliant performances of the entire cast, we take a look into the gay society of the early 80s and how they dealt with the crisis and their relationships; but most of all we witness the fear and cruelty that an unknown decease can bring to an entire society.
Talking about great performances, of course Marc Ruffalo delivered a great Ned Weeks, but for me the performance of Jim Parsons (who had actually played the same part on the Broadway production) stole the spotlight; especially when it’s actually the first time that I get to see him in a role other than Sheldon Cooper. He was emotional, not too over-the-top, with great Southern attitude additions.
Other actors staring in the film are Matt Bomer, playing Ned’s lover Felix, Taylor Kitsch and Julia Roberts, who plays the role of Dr. Emma Brookner a clear reference to the Dr. Linda Laubenstein, who treated some of the first New York cases the unknown disease. Finally, I thought that Jonathan Groff (mostly known through Glee), although had a small part, was amazing in his performance, showing the way that all can change in a single second.
This film stands out the other films about the early days of AIDS, as it focuses more on the tale of the bureaucratic issues and the struggle of a generation of “time bombs” asking to be heard. It did remind me a bit of Dallas Buyers Club though, not only due to the similar bureaucratic and health care issues that both films addressed, but also due to a specific scene: the touching scene when dying Felix goes to Ned’s brother –gay disapproving- lawyer to have his will written and we see him at his worst state, reminded me (at least visually) of the scene that Jared Leto’s character in Dallas Buyers Club, faces his disapproving father, forced to ask him for help at his dying moments.
An emotional, educative film that serves as a tribute to all the victims of AIDS; and for those wishing to learn more about the beginning of the disease, watch also Angels in America, the award winning 2003 HBO mini-series.
This week marked the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. The great Bard gave us 16 comedies, 10 histories, 12 tragedies, 154 sonnets, and five longer poems. Many of his plays have been transferred to the big screen and many others have inspired films that might not share the exact same stories or titles, but were clearly inspired by Shakespeare’s plays.
Great adaptations have been filmed by great artists such as Kenneth Branagh, Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa and Laurence Olivier. But here are some of the films that might not seem at first sight Shakespearean and might surprise you:
10 Things I Hate About You (1999) inspired by Taming of the Shrew
In the late 90s flick, Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, star in the high school version of the Taming of the Shrew.
I think that anyone who was a teen in 90s, has seen this movie… At least us girls...
O (2001) inspired by Othello
Again starring Julia Stiles (those were her glory days); Othello set in a high school and centered on basketball player Odin.
She's the Man (2006) inspired by Twelfth Night
A more embarrassing, unnecessary, yet short of fun to watch “version” of the Twelfth Night, starring Amanda Bynes (remember her?); you can totally live without having seen this one…
The Lion King (1994) inspired by Hamlet
Yes. Lion King. The Disney animated film. It might not strike you at first, but Lion King is sooo the Hamlet story. Minus the Hakuna Matata song.
Much Ado About Nothing (2013) inspired by Much Ado About Nothing
This latest version of the same titled Shakespearean play, is a really good adaptation of the original text, but in the modern era with a modern touch.
Warm Bodies (2013) inspired by Romeo and Juliet
Yes, I mean the Zombie film. Even if it was not Romeo & Juliet inspired, I would still like this film; what’s not to like? Zombies & Shakespeare… amazing combo!
My Own Private Idaho (1991) inspired by Henry IV Part 1
One of Gus Van Sant’s best films that features the late River Phoenix, is indeed inspired by Henry IV and Henry V.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
This film is not so much inspired by a play of the Bard, rather than two characters that actually play a very small part in Hamlet. In this hilarious 1990 film starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, the characters seem to be unaware of the greater story that they are part of and try to deviate from it.
And then there are those films that were not inspired by Shakespeare’s plays, but rather from his own life: Shakespeare In Love (1998) was inspired by his life as we know it (with a small romantic twist), giving Gwyneth Paltrow her first (and hopefully last) Academy award and Anonymous (2011) was inspired by Shakespeare's life according to the Oxfordian Theory; saying that Shakespeare did not actually write his plays.
But, for me, the best non-traditional adaptation of a Shakespeare play will always be Baz Lurman’s: Romeo + Juliet. The cast, the direction, the music, the editing; the Lurman way to transfer the legendary play to the modern era...
A long time ago, we used to be friends. But I haven't thought of you lately at all.
That’s what the song says but that was not the case for the many Marshmallows (a.k.a. the Veronica Mars hardcore fans) who never stop thinking of their favorite TV show. Neither did the cast and the creator of the show.
Veronica Mars was a TV show that aired during 2004-2007 at UPN & CW. It lasted three seasons when suddenly it was taken off air, leaving fans with many cliffhangers. Despite the efforts of creator Rob Thomas to revive the show by pitching the studio a 4th season trailer with Veronica and her summer internship in the FBI, the show was never brought back to air.
Rob Thomas & Kristen Bell never stop believing in the project and kept thinking on making a Veronica Mars movie, but there was never enough (or at all) funding to move forward with the project. Until March 13, 2013 when they uploaded a video at Kickstarter.com (a crowd funding website that helps raise funds for all sorts of projects) starting a funding campaign.
So, there it was: the chance for all heartbroken fans to revive the favorite show. And boy, did they deliver! The campaign broke all kinds of records:
· Fastest project to reach $1 million.
· Fastest project to reach $2 million.
· All-time highest-funded project in FILM category ($5.702.153)
· Third highest-funded project in Kickstarter history.
· Most project backers of any project in Kickstarter history (91.585)
All that, thanks to the devoted Marshmallows! Of course they got their treats: according to the amount that they donated they got T-Shirts, tickets to the premiere, privileges to download the movie earlier, even to star as an extra alongside the favorite cast! That’s a pretty good deal, if you ask me!
So, filming started and on March the 14th, 2014, exactly one year after the campaign started, Veronica Mars the film, was released in selected theatres and was available on line for downloading.
The film takes place 9 years after the show ended, with Veronica having finished law school and being in NY starting her first big-shot lawyer job. She has Piz on her side and she seems to be finally in peace and having it all. Until a certain someone (Logan) calls her asking for her help as he is falsely (?) accused of murdering his girlfriend. So, once again Veronica is drowned back to the rabbit hole (Neptune that is), where she faces her former classmates in what can be described as the reunion from hell, her dad and a conspiracy.
Will Veronica return to her old ways? Will the safety of Piz overcome the magnetic pool hat Logan has on her? Will she throw away everything she’s worked for to return to being a PI?
I’m not going to spoil it for you; you are just going to have to see it for yourselves. As for what did I think of the movie: well, I was really looking forward to it (being a Marshmallow myself and all) so I might have had really high expectations. Of course it was awesome to see the old gang back together, of course I got the chills in hearing Veronica’s narration and witty lines but I was expecting it to be more of a film and less of a two hour Veronica Mars episode. There was a downside to not getting 100% of the cast back (Carrie Bishop’s part was re-casted as Leighton Meester was unavailable at the last minute), but still, if you have Dick Casablancas on board, you’re good to go!
What’s ahead for Veronica Mars now? Following the film, Rob Thomas had yet another treat for the fans: a book entitled “The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line” that continues the story where the film left off. And of course, rumors are buzzing over a sequel!
There you have it: a project that the fans of Firefly would envy; a devoted fan base that would do anything for their fictional characters; a success story that might open the way for many other similar projects...
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....