Friday, September 17, 2021

Guillermo del Toro Launches the Teaser of “Nightmare Alley” and Twitter Goes Nuts

 By José Alberto Hermosillo

Academy Award-winning Mexican director Guillermo del Toro presented the teaser of his latest film, “Nightmare Alley,” on Twitter yesterday, with over 3 million views - the trailer went viral in a matter of hours. The Hollywood “A” cast of this, his most recent production includes Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe (“My Hindu Friend”), Bradley Cooper, Toni Collette, Ron Perlman, Clifton Collins Jr., and Richard Jenkins, among other renowned performers. This film is bound to be a winter hit.

According to the laureate filmmaker, “Nightmare Alley” is not a remake. It is a new adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s novel and has nothing to do with the 1947 version featuring Tyrone Power in the lead. The screenplay is co-written by Guillermo del Toro himself and young writer Kim Morgan.

The story was introduced to Guillermo by his longtime collaborator Ron Perlman (“Cronos,” “Hellboy,” “Pacific Rim”) in the 1990s. At that time, it was challenging to secure the rights of the novel. This Mexican, Canadian, American production was filmed in Ontario, Canada. The post-production got interrupted right in the middle due to the pandemic's shutdown elevating the budget considerably. In the end, it is worth the effort to have such a magnificent work finished and ready to hit the movie theaters. 

This is the first “Noir Thriller” film Guillermo del Toro ever made. His body of work fluctuates from fantasy to horror. The maker of “The Shape of Water” mentioned that his latest film has no monsters, yet, those have to be discovered by the public, because the real monsters are within the characters of this fascinating story. 

Guillermo del Toro's accomplished films, The Shape of Water, Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak
 
The poster and first images revealed yesterday have critics and fans raving about the auteur’s mastery, naming the suspenseful venture a strong candidate for the Academy Awards in most categories. The teaser looks so intense and beautiful that it has people commenting they are planning to go back to the theaters for the first time since the pandemic started.  

“Nightmare Alley” will be released in theaters by Searchlight Pictures on December 17th, and we cannot wait any longer to witness the work of the genius Mexican director.

Nightmare Alley official teaser trailer

Film critic José Alberto Hermosillo and director Guillermo del Toro
Film critic José A. Hermosillo and director Guillermo del Toro. Egyptian Theater, Hollywood 2003.

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

WOMEN RULED AT VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2021

By José Alberto Hermosillo

With a landslide of awards, women auteurs took the hefty prizes of Venice Film Festival 2021. 

Jury’s President Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite”) announced that by unanimous decision, the Golden Lion award went to the French woman director Andrey Diwan for her well-crafted and controversial film “Happening/L'événement.” The film is set in 1963, tackles the story of a woman going through an abortion experience in France while the procedure was still illegal. 

Golden Lion winner film “Happening/ L'événement.

Best Director award went to Jane Campion, the first female director who won Best Picture or Palme d’Or in Cannes for “The Piano,” in 1992. In her speech, Campion mentioned her gratitude to the people of New Zealand for helping under challenging times during the pandemic in the making of the highly praised “The Power of the Dog.” The modern Western is a strong candidate to be nominated for Best Picture for the Oscars, 2022.

The Copa Volpi for Best Actress went to Penélope Crúz for “Parallel Mothers/Madres paralelas.” This film marks Crúz's most recent collaboration with Pedro Almodovar. The story of two single mothers giving birth ignites the dialogue on motherhood, women’s repression during the Spanish dictatorship, and above all, survival.

Another big revelation of the night was the distinction to the American actress/writer/director Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Crazy Heart,” “The Dark Knight,”), who won for Best Screenplay for her film “The Lost Daughter.”


In the parallel section, Orizzonti Awards, women took center stage, winning the top prize Laurvnas Bareisa for the film “Pilgrims.” The suspenseful movie made in Lithuania talks about two women witnessing a gruesome crime. 

Roberto Benigni wins the Lifetime Achievement at Venice 2021

The Lifetime Achievement went to the legendary Italian performer, writer, and director Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for “Life is Beautiful.” He also worked in both of the live-action Italian versions of "Pinocchio." In 2002, he directed and played Pinocchio, and in 2019, directed by Matteo Garrone, Benigni is Geppetto.

Many of these award-winning films can capitalize their prizes in an early campaign running for the Oscars 2022 .

THE VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2021 AWARDS:


Golden Lion for Best Film: “Happening,” Audrey Diwan

Grand Jury Prize: “The Hand of God,” Paolo Sorrentino

Best Director: “The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion

Best Actress: “Parallel Mothers,” Penélope Cruz

Best Actor: “On the Job: The Missing 8,” John Arcilla

Best Screenplay: “The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal

Special Jury Prize: “Il Buco,” Michelangelo Frammartino

 

Marcello Mastroianni Award, Best Young Actor: “The Hand of God,” Filippo Scotti.


ORIZZONTI AWARDS

 


Best Film: “Pilgrims/Il paradiso del pavone,” Laurynas Bareisa

Best Director: “Full Time,” Eric Gravel

Special Jury Prize: “El Gran Movimiento,” Kiro Russo

Best Actress: “Full Time,” Laure Calamy

Best Actor: “White Building,” Piseth Chhun

Best Screenplay: “107 Mothers,” Ivan Ostrochovský, Peter Kerekes

Best Short Film: “Los Huesos,” Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña

 

Best actor, Piseth Chhun, "White Building," Cambodia

LUIGI DE LAURENTIIS AWARD

Best First Feature: “Imaculat,” Monica Stan, George Chiper-Lillemark

 

VENICE VR EXPANDED AWARDS

Grand Jury Prize for Best VR Work: “Goliath: Playing With Reality,” Barry Gene Murphy, May Abdalla

Best VR Experience: “Le Bal de Paris de Blanca Li,” Blanca Li
Best VR Story: 
“End of Night,” David Adler

 

Armani Beauty Audience Award: “The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic,” by Teemu Nikki.

Penelope Cruz winning Best Actress at Venice 2021

Paolo Sorrentino Jury Prize winner, Venice Film Festival, THE HAND OF GOD/È stata la mano di Dio. Film critic Jose Alberto Hermosillo www.FestivalinLA.com.
 
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Friday, August 20, 2021

Annette: Swings Between “La La Land” and “Moulin Rouge!” Beautifully

By José Alberto Hermosillo


Sublime, and evocative, “Annette” is an artistic avant-garde representation of love and misadventure. 

The opening piece and Best Director winner of this year’s Cannes Film Festival is operatic, original, something we have never seen before!

The spellbinding journey of love, betrayal, and reckoning hold a plethora of symbolism – its splashy and elaborate musical numbers combined with fast-paced editing denote a clear style of maturity in directing and, at the same time, experimental filmmaking.

The narrative becomes existentialist when the main characters’ quest for love and self-realization takes off. They try desperately to find the true meaning to their mundane lives.

The musical kicks off with an emblematic and continuous take from the interior of the recording studio to the busy exterior of the streets of Santa Monica, California. In that magnificent and minimalist overture, we can start recognizing some familiar faces. Along with the main characters is the fancy chorus, and the visionary director Leos Carax (“Holy Motors,”“Mister Lonely”), who introduces the film by playing himself, the music producer. "Annette" is Carax's best work so far.


The romance between the notorious comedian Henry McHenry (Adam Driver) and the acclaimed opera singer Ann Defrasnoux (Marion Cotillard) starts as casual dating in Los Angeles, where they lay their love story.

From then on, the attention centers on Henry. In his one-man show, he announces his engagement with Ann.

After Ann’s opera performance, the paparazzi and journalists wait outside the theater. They sing and huddle around the famous couple. Henry and Ann choose to hide their identities under the motorcycle helmets. 

The Hollywood life bring us to a red carpet where they profess their vows, symbolizing their union in matrimony. Ann, the bride, throws out the bouquet to the hungry media, as they exit the scene to continue expressing their love for each other musically in a more secluded location.

The good taste prevails in all musical numbers, even with “We love each other so much” singing while having sex and not in the shower, precisely, like normal people do. Nevertheless, the arrival of theie first baby will change their lives forever.

As their marriage life lingers, the dramatic music elevates the crescendo - suggesting an extramarital affair.

As we mentioned before, the story centers on the distortion and deconstruction of Henry, the infamous and irreverent comedian with low self-esteem and plenty of addictions. Henry’s stand-up shows are worth our full attention because he foreshadows his following steps in his intimate and outrageous monologues.

Ann feels trapped in a toxic relationship. She and her innocent baby named Annette will try to move out, once and for all.


French-born Oscar winner Marion Cotillard is exquisite, delicate, gentle, as her character turns haunting.

Adam Driver’s interpretation is mature in what seems to be the most challenging performance of his career. He exceeds his accomplishments reached in “Marriage Story.”

The music turns obscure as everyone falls into the abysmal series of unfortunate events.

The American pop and rock duo Sparks wrote the complex lyrics and seductive music. The band previously recorded “The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman” to tour, but the logistics to travel with an enormous cast were challenging. Previously, Leos Carax used a Sparks’ song in “Holy Motors.” After they met in Cannes, a few years back, they had decided to work together in this fabulous musical. 

"Annette's" sumptuous cinematography is responsibility of Caroline Champetier. In France, she has done other luminous works such as “Of Gods and Men” and “The Innocents.”


“Annette” is either complacent or disappointing. Set in Los Angeles, the romance has nothing to do with "La La Land," and its musical numbers have no comparison with the frenetic speed of "Moulin Rouge!" Because "Annette" is sober and unique in all senses.

“Annette's” ravishing visuals and originality keep our attention while we are wondering, "what in the world are we watching?"

"Annette" is open to interpretation, and mostly when we reach its shocking, overwhelming, and beautiful grand finale, it is really stunning, and make us think about the importance of karma - because what goes around comes around.

After all, our lives are a lavish musical, where we meet fascinating people, fall in love, marry, have children, watch them grow, make mistakes, and learn from those wrong decisions. - While we regain control of our souls, we may find time to meditate about how our actions affect others profoundly. 

As I finished watching “Annette,” I wanted so desperately to rewind the tape and enjoy it again and again, hoping my faithful readers will dare to do the same.

"Annette" Official trailer


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