Film Review: FINAL PORTRAIT (USA/UK 2017) ***

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Final Portrait Poster
Trailer

The story of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

Director:

Stanley Tucci

Writer:

Stanley Tucci

Actor Stanley Tucci has stepped into the director’s chair only a few times.  As in his previous features, whether as an actor or director, he is recognizable for his dead seriousness in he treats his subjects though his seriousness is often tainted with a wry sense of humour.  FINAL PORTRAIT is the story of the touching and offbeat friendship between American writer and art-lover James Lord (Armie Hammer) and Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) with humour emancipating from the subtle relationship as well as Rush’s comical portrayal of the questionable genius.

The story unfolds through Lord’s eyes and revealing unique insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity and sometimes the chaos of the artistic process.   Set in 1964, while on a short trip to Paris, Lord is asked by his friend, Giacometti, to sit for a portrait.  Lord is promised that the sitting will be a short one, maybe two hours or maybe an afternoon.  9 days later….

Lord finally wonders “how much longer can it go on like this?”, as he keeps having to postpone his flight many times back to New York.  The funny thing is that when the portrait is almost finished, Giacimetti will take his large brush with grey paint and paint over the portrait therefore starting again, almost as if from scratch.  This process has been repeated so many times that Lord can predict when the process will occur again.  He finally finishes up the portrait by stopping Giacimetti from restarting again with the big brush and the grey paint.

Tucci is more interested1 in Giancimetti than in Lord.  Nothing is much known of Lord, of his living in New York or his family.  One scene in a cafe establishes that he is gay and that is about it.  Giacimetti’s life is outlined, however, in greater detail.  The audience sees the troubled relationship with him and his wife, as well as his relationship, a much happier one with his putain, Carolyn.

FINAL PORTRAIT will unfortunately be inevitably compared to the minor masterpiece, the 4-hour long LE BELLE NOISEUSE directed by Jacques Rivette about the relationship between a painter and his model.  FINAL PORTRAIT can nowhere be compared to this film – in fact nor can any film for that matter, so one can understand director Tucci going the easier comedic route.

Rush is pretty good as the temperamental artist while Hammer reprises another gay role after CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.  The film has some nice shots of Hammer in his skimpy swimming trunks.  Rush is an Academy Award Best Actor Winner for his role in the film SHINE.  But he is currently the latest victim under scrutiny for inappropriate (sexual) behaviour.

FINAL PORTRAIT was filmed entirely in France.  The American speaks both English and French while Rush gets away of being totally believable as a Frenchman fluent in French.  The film is shot in both English and French with English subtitles.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3iFt_lOxIw\

 

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CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (France/Italy 2017) ***

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Call Me by Your Name Poster
Trailer

In Northern Italy in 1983, seventeen year-old Elio begins a relationship with visiting Oliver, his father’s research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape.

Director:

Luca Guadagnino

Writers:

James Ivory (screenplay by), André Aciman (based on the novel by)

Luca Guadagnino’s (I AM LOVE, A BIGGER SPALSH) CALL ME BY YOUR NAME arrives with all the accolades after playing major festivals around the world after premiering at Sundance and Cannes.  I did not think too much of it when I first saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival, so I had to view it a second time to see what I could have missed.  The second viewing proved no different in the way I felt about the film, so I had to analyze the reason so many fellow critics loved this film while I just barely enjoyed it.

It should be noted firstly, that 2017 saw the release of three excellent but different gay films.  BPM from France, is a documentary felt drama dealing with AIDS activists that is both moving, real and riveting.  Britain’s GOD’S OWN COUNTRY showed  that gay life is as tough as fucking against a wall, as experienced by the gay farmhand who finally gains acceptance of his lifestyle and finds love.  CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, however is fantasy gay life as if bathed in sunlight and swimming in clear waters in the country and eating peaches.  It is the gay kind of movie that straight people want to see – all pretty and non-troubling with no rough sex in the toilet.  

The two lead stars are straight.  Armie Hammer (THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE LONE RANGER) plays Oliver, a summer guest at Professor Perlman’s (Michael Stuhlbarg) summer house in Italy.  Every year, the professor invites a student to assist in his research, which incidentally is hardly shown in the film.  The other straight lead is Timothée Chalamet who plays the 17-year old Elio Perlman, the professor’s son, who falls for Oliver.  Both are American actors though Chalamet practised his Italian prior to acting in the movie.  His father is French and mother Jewish which is  suitable for his role as an Italian Jew in the movie.  You call me by your name, and I yours.  It all sounds so romantic.  The gay couple hardly encounter any obstacles, except a few minor ones.  Elio’s father (Michae Stuhlbarg) opens his heart out to his son in one of the film’s best segments, but that is about all the obstacles so far in this gay fantasy.

Guadagnino’s film is undoubtedly stunning, with sunlight lighting up many scenes.  The luscious eating of a peach and the sexual seduction (who seduces whom in the film?) is very erotic.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is adapted into the script by James Ivory from André Aciman’s coming-out and coming-of-age novel.  Still, together with films such as PHILADELPHIA, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME even made by a gay director (Guadagnino is openly gay) is a worthwhile straight gay film to watch it, but don’t expect life to unfold the way life does in this film.  Disgustingly beautiful – the film is all good-looking on the outside and feeling like a fairy tale, neglecting the downers of coming-out gay.   Things never turn out this perfect in any gay coming-out story.  The film feels even more awkward as Elio looks way under below the age of 17.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AMgliTBFKU

 

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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (France/Italy 2017) **1/2

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.jpgSummer of 1983, Northern Italy. An American-Italian is enamored by an American student who comes to study and live with his family. Together they share an unforgettable summer full of music, food, and romance that will forever change them.

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writers: James Ivory (screenplay), André Aciman (based on the novel by)
Stars: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg

Review by Gilbert Seah

The gay coming-out story CALL ME BY YOUR NAME arrives at TIFF after rave reviews from its Sundance and Cannes premieres.

It boasts the direction of Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino ( I AM LOVE and A BIGGER SPLASH) and a script by James Ivory. The film explores the tender, tentative relationship that blooms over the course of one summer between a 17-year-old boy on the cusp of adulthood, Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his father’s research assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer).

The father is American professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and each summer, the professor invites a doctoral student to visit and help with his research. While Elio has a beautiful girlfriend who takes up most of his emotional time, he also finds a growing physical attraction to the visitor.

The film is a major disappointment being all good-looking on the outside and feeling like a fairy tale, neglecting the downers of coming-out gay. Things never turn out this perfect in any gay coming-out story. The film feels even more awkward as Elio looks way under below the age of 18.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AMgliTBFKU

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME1.jpg

Film Review: CARS 3 (USA 2017)

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cars 3Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world.

Director: Brian Fee

Stars: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Armie Hammer

Review by Gilbert Seah

CARS 3 is the debut animated feature by Brian Fee, the storyboard artist of the other two CARS films and a few other Disney features. As this is a film that Fee has something to prove, the animation is as expected top-notch, as in all the Disney/Pixar films.

The trailer of CARS 3 which shows racing car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) wiping out on a banked racetrack with a fade to black and voiceover promising that things will be different, many will be expecting a blacker sequel and one that would prove more interesting than the other two trivial CARS films. Not so. The terrible crash is just the catalyst for McQueen to want to race again to prove himself. So, there is the usual predictable stuff such as: “You have it in you.” You can prove yourself.” etc. etc. So, all hopes for a blacker CARS film are torn to bits.

The film features a next generation of race cars that includes Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). The cars in the film begin questioning if the famous Lightning McQueen will throw in the towel after he endured a terrible crash. McQueen’s sponsor, Rust-eze, is bought by Sterling (Nathan Fillion), a car who thinks McQueen cannot maintain his image by racing. Lightning asks for a chance to race in the Florida 500 and begins to train with race technician Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), who’s always had her own racing dreams. That pretty sums up a plot that not many can get excited with.

The same problem of animation of cars till exists in all the CARS franchise. Cars are inanimate objects with no limbs nor faces. So it is more difficult to animate cars – to give them expressions and make them distinguishable one from another. A tactic is of course, as used by the animators, is to make the colours bright and different or have different car types on display such as tow trucks.

It is also difficult to get excited over one cartoon car wining a race against another cartoon car. Or for one cartoon car to fall in love with another or feel anything towards a jealous car.

CARS undoubtedly has good animation. The audience can feel the thunder of the race as the audience is given a drivers-look of a race. But the film lacks the humour (goofy or otherwise) and inventiveness that help films like the recent CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS and BOSS BABY become memorable.
THE CARS films have not made the Studios that much money compared to the other animated features. But more than a fair income comes from the share of the toy franchise. So, do not expect much from CARS 3. For it is he same old stuff. Unless one is interested in the animation process, CARS 3 is nothing more than one dull drag of a race.

But wait! There is a short animated feature called LOU preceding CARS. It involves a schoolyard bully who learns that being nice conquers all. The largely silent LOU is smart, well animated, inventive and funny. It subtly teaches kids that bullying is just not cool. Rating for LOU: ****

****
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4K7JgPJ8-s

 

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Happy Birthday: Armie Hammer

armiehammer.jpgArmie Hammer

Born: August 28, 1986 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Married to:
Elizabeth Chambers (20 May 2010 – present) (1 child)

[on filming The Lone Ranger (2013)] I learned to ride a horse through a moving train while firing two pistols, simultaneously. I’m not sure if that’s a very applicable skill that I’ll be able to use in Los Angeles traffic, but it was fun to get to do it in the movie.

J EDGAR
dir. Clint Eastwood
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Stars:
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dir. Tarsem Singh
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MOVIE POSTERTHE LONE RANGER
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dir. Gore Verbinski
Stars:
Johnny Depp
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actorARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Season 2
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