AFM

D A I LY
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NOVEMBER 05, 2015
THR.COM/AFM

AFM
WEATHER
AND HIGH
TEMPS

TODAY

69° F
21° C

TOMORROW

73° F
23° C

Trio Enlisted for
Bodyguard Duty
at Millennium

Will Blade Runner Rock AFM?

As the market buzzes about how international distribution rights to the Harrison Ford starrer could
come up for grabs, insiders say demand is high for old-school action pics — the bigger, the better

By Tatiana Siegel

By Scott Roxborough

yan Reynolds, Samuel
L. Jackson and Gary
Oldman have signed
on to star in Millennium
Films’ action movie Hitman’s
Bodyguard.
Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) is
directing from a script by Tom
O’Connor.
The film centers on the
world’s top protection agent
(Reynolds) who has a new
client: a hitman who has come
in from the cold. They’ve been
on opposite ends of a bullet for
years and hate one another.
Now they’re stuck together
and have 24 hours to get to The
Hague. Oldman
will play a villain.
The film will
start production
April 4 and shoot

select group of international indie distributors might still get a crack at bidding on Blade
Runner, the biggest and most hotly anticipated
of what has become a tsunami of reboots and sequels
to 1980s action franchises.
Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners) is helming
Alcon Entertainment’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s
ground-breaking sci-fi film, with Ryan Gosling to
star and Harrison Ford returning in a reprise of
his role as replicant-hunting cop Rick Deckard
from the 1982 original. The film is set to begin
shooting next year.
Most thought Warner Bros., which is releasing the
film stateside and has a first on international rights,
would take Blade Runner off the market and do the
film’s entire global day-and-date release in house.

R

Reynolds

A F M №2

A

Warners would not immediately comment, but
Alcon co-CEO Andrew Kosove told THR he is still open
to other models, including going with a different
studio for international release (he said he has offers
from two, unnamed majors) or a “hybrid” model in
which a studio takes the bulk of the world but
“two or three territories are carved out for some
of our loyal international partners.” Kosove
said a decision on Blade Runner will be made
Ford
“after AFM but before Berlin.”
That offers some hope for buyers hungry for a
tentpole action film — of the kind that traditionally
has driven business at AFM but that have been particularly scarce this year. If the opportunity on Blade
Runner presents itself, expect regional mini-majors
C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 2

Exclusive
First Look

C O N T I N U ED O N PA G E 2

Buyers Book
February
By Alex Ritman

A

fter premiering at
Toronto and finding a
U.S. home with A24 and
DirecTV, the horror-thriller
February has been snapped
up for a bevy of international
markets.
The film, which stars
emerging horror specialist
Emma Roberts (Scream Queens,
Scream 4, American Horror
Story) alongside Mad Men’s
Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton
(Miss Potter), is heading
to the U.K. (Paramount),
France (Synergy), Australia
and New Zealand (Village
Roadshow), Latin America

London Town

Jonathan Rhys Meyers rocks out as The Clash frontman Joe Strummer in London Town, the ‘70s-set drama about a teen who is introduced to
the iconic punk band by his estranged mother. Cargo Entertainment and Radiant Films International are selling the Derrick Borte-helmed film.

C O N T I N U ED O N PA G E 2

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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theREPORT

HEAT INDEX

ROONEY MARA
Mara isn’t returning to Sony’s Dragon
Tattoo sequel, The Girl in the Spider’s Web.
Her upcoming sci-fi romance The Discovery
with Nicholas Hoult, however, is among
AFM’s prestige titles.

KEANU REEVES
With a number of high-profile projects
in the pipeline, including John Wick 2
and Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon
Demon, the AFM regular scored another
coup when he joined the cast of Shane
Carruth’s adventure The Modern Ocean.

like Germany’s Concorde,
China’s DMG Entertainment
or France’s SND Films — all of
whom partnered with Alcon for its
upcoming Point Break reboot — to
be first in line.
Rebooting a dormant decades-old action franchise has
become a common troupe. In
addition to new Blade Runner and
Point Break films — the latter the
top seller at AFM in 2013 — recent
re-animated ’80s actioners include
Terminator: Genisys, Mad Max:
Fury Road, Transporter: Refueled
and reboots of Total Recall and
Robocop, which have bowed to
mixed success globally.
Mark Gill, president of production
at Nu Image/Millennium Films,
says the trend is being driven by
the need to satisfy an international
market hungry for “fewer, bigger,
better films. I keep hearing from
our international distributors:
‘Don’t make as many movies but
make them bigger.’ ” And when an
indie production company goes big

budget, says Gill, “it’s a little easier
if you have a brand people have
heard of.” Millennium is getting
into the action revival game with
Mechanic: Resurrection, a sequel to
the 2011 Jason Statham vehicle The
Mechanic, with the actor reprising
his role as elite assassin Arthur
Bishop and a cast — including
Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones and
Michelle Yeoh — aimed at boosting
the franchise’s profile and, considered key in today’s marketplace,
broadening its demographic appeal
to include women.
“You ignore woman at your
enormous peril,” says Gill. “A
hard R-rated action film, mega
bloody, is very hard to sell. Of
course, you can’t turn Terminator
into Cinderella, but you need real,
relatable characters with a character arc. You can’t have cardboard
cutouts killing people.”
Distributors point to the strong
female roles in the new Mad Max
and Terminator films as one of
key reasons those action sequels

performed, compared with the
more macho Transporter and
Robocop reboots.
“These big action films cost so
much, the films have to have broad
appeal. You can’t just appeal to the
male demographic or just to fans
of these movies,” says Benjamina
Mirnik-Voges, head of acquisitions
at Universum, which picked up
both Transporter: Refueled and
Mechanic: Resurrection for the
German market.
“The problem is the budgets are
so big, you have to presell them
internationally, and there aren’t
many young, sexy actors you can
presell on, the way you can a
Sylvester Stallone or an Arnold
Schwarzenegger.”
Alcon’s approach with Blade
Runner — combining Gosling
with grizzled global draw Ford
— seems designed for maximum
international impact, whether it
eventually lands worldwide with a
studio or with (grateful) independent distributors.

WANT TO SCORE A GLOBAL HIT? REBOOT AN ACTION FRANCHISE

KNOW YOUR DEALMAKER

TERMINATOR:
GENISYS
Domestic: $89.76 million
International: $350 million
Total: $439.8 million

DIRK SCHURHOFF

MANAGING DIRECTOR, BETA CINEMA

Despite some decidedly mixed reviews for
the Emma Watson starrer Colonia after its
bow in Toronto, Schurhoff helped close a
deal that saw the U.S. rights to the film go
to Screen Media Films.

MEANWHILE, IN THE REAL WORLD …
• NBC was facing mounting
pressure from advocacy groups
to cancel Donald Trump’s guesthost appearance on Saturday
Night Live this week.
• A rep for Blake Shelton confirmed
that the country singer is dating
Gwen Stefani, his Voice co-host.
• The Mexican Supreme Court ruled
to give a small group the right to
grow and distribute marijuana for
their personal use, perhaps opening the door to legalization.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Domestic: $153.6 million
International:
$221.1 million
Total: $374.7 million

TOTAL RECALL
Domestic: $58.88 million
International:
$139.5 million
Total: $198.4 million

THE TRANSPORTER
REFUELED
Domestic: $16 million
International: $17 million
Total: $33 million

Bodyguard

February

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

in the United Kingdom, Amsterdam
and Sofia.
Mark Gill, John Thompson, Matt O’Toole
and Les Weldon are producing. Avi Lerner,
Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, Christine Otal,
Jackson
Jason Bloom, Christa Campbell and Lati
Grobman are executive producing.
Millennium is presenting the project to international buyers at AFM.
Reynolds, whose recent credits include Mississippi
Grind and Woman in Gold, next will be seen in Fox’s
superhero pic Deadpool. He is repped by WME and
attorney David Weber.
Jackson, who is now shooting Kong: Skull Island,
has four movies in the can: Chi-Raq, Tarzan, Miss
Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Quentin
Tarantino’s much anticipated Christmas Day opener
The Hateful Eight. He is handled by ICM Partners
and Jackoway Tyerman.
Oldman recently wrapped Ariel Vromen’s Criminal.
He is represented by APA, manager Douglas Urbanski
and Loeb & Loeb.

(Alebrije), New Poland (Kino
Swiat), the Philippines (Pioneer),
Thailand (M Pictures), Indonesia
(Prima), Malaysia and Vietnam
(Sahamongkol) and the Middle
East (Falcon).
Highland Film Group has
been locking down the deals for
February, which was written and
directed by Osgood Perkins in his
feature debut. The story follows
two young students who get caught
up in hellacious happenings at
a prestigious prep school for
girls while holed up during the
winter break.
February is produced by
Rob Paris (Everly), Adrienne
Biddle (Lies & Alibis)
and Bryan Bertino (The
Strangers). Sales of the film
are continuing at AFM.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_news 1_2B.indd 2

ROBOCOP
Domestic: $58.6 million
International: $184 million
Total: $242.6 million

Roberts

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theREPORT

AFM
IN BRIEF

THE 2015 AFM POSTER AWARDS
THR PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE MOST AMUSING AND OVER-THE-TOP
PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS AT THE AMERICAN FILM MARKET

Hartnett Will
Act on Instinct
Josh Hartnett will star in
the police thriller Gut
Instinct, from Canadian
writer-director Daniel Roby.
Hartnett will play
Canadian investigative journalist
Victor Malarek,
who’s
forced to
Hartnett
change his maverick
methods after the birth of
his first child.
Maya the Bee Sequel
Takes Flight
Studio 100 Media has
closed multiple presales
on Maya the Bee 2 — The
Honey Games, the sequel
to its 2014 animated feature based on the classic
Maya
the Bee

MOST ADORABLE DEATH EVER

MOST IN NEED OF A TRANSLATOR

Panda-saurus
Fingers crossed that the terrifying Panda-saurus
is ultimately defeated by starvation when its tiny
arms fail to bring bamboo up to its mouth.

Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies
There have been a glut of Walking Dead rip-offs since
its debut, but something definitely got lost in
translation with this Teutonic take on the undead.

WORST INTERIOR DECORATING

BEST ELECTRONIC DANCE THRILLER

German children’s books.
Studio 100, which has
just begun production on
Maya the Bee 2, has presold the sequel to South
Korea, Turkey and the
Middle East.
Depardieu’s Reunion
Heads Stateside
Strand Releasing has
acquired domestic rights
to Guillaume Nicloux’s
Valley of Love starring
Gerard Depardieu and
Isabelle Huppert. The
family drama follows
an estranged couple
who receive a mysterious
message from their
dead son requesting that
they visit Death Valley
together with a promise
that he’ll appear.

Young for You
Sweetheart, we’re glad you brought that framed
photo of your sister, but we live in the middle of a
field and literally have nowhere for you to hang it.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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Little Mizz Innocent
The feminist revenge
picture all Daft Punk fans
have been waiting for.

4

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Astius repero molenientiis
aliquae deseque aut
porerferita doluptiis
essequi alis earione
mporum enet et ande la
volupid quatempere mil inti
ut dellore peribust

theREPORT

Chorus Grows for Hot
Music Documentaries

Following the success of Amy, musical biopics about everyone
from Oasis to Janice Joplin are in the pipeline, helped by demand
from streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon By Alex Ritman

A

sif Kapadia’s Amy has
undoubtedly been one
of the most talked about
documentaries of the year, hauling
in more than $8 million globally
following its midnight bow at
Cannes and sending late singer
Amy Winehouse back onto the music
charts. But its arrival has come at
what could be seen as the zenith
for music documentaries, possibly propelled by success stories
such as Oscar winner Searching for
Sugar Man. Indeed, Amy is one of
two in the final six features up for
this year’s main IDA award, along
with Liz Garbus’ Netflix hit What
Happened, Miss Simone?
And at AFM this year, Kapadia
has another music doc, about
Britpop icons Oasis (this time, he’s
a producer alongside Amy collaborator James Gay-Rees, with Mat
Whitecross directing). Elsewhere in
the market, there’s the Janis Joplin
doc Janis: Little Girl Blue, directed
by Amy Berg for Alex Gibney’s
Jigsaw Productions; it already has
been snapped up for the U.S. by

FilmRise from sales agent (and
Jigsaw partner) Content Media.
“We’ve sold it significantly,
everywhere around the world,”
says Content film division president James Carmichael, who adds
that it was the success of The
Doors doc When You’re Strange in
2009 that showed him what music
docs could achieve, especially
when there’s an air of mystery that
the film can unearth.
“When you have an in-built audience of superfans who are really
interested, and then the rest of us
who are also initially interested,
and then we’re revealing things
that people didn’t know before, it’s
fantastic and draws everyone in,”
he said.
Carmichael noted that the entry
of Netflix and Amazon into the doc
market has given people far easier
access.
“If you’d had this conversation
five years ago, where would you see
them? You’d catch them as they
went by, if you were lucky.”
U.K. startup Catalyst Global

Amy Winehouse

Janice Joplin

Oasis

Media looks likely to soon enter
the music film arena in a big way,
having signed a deal with Warner
Music in August to develop a slate
of features — both biopics and
docs — based on its huge roster of
artists, which includes the likes of
Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin and
Ella Fitzgerald.
Co-founder and CEO Charlotte
Walls — who says Amy arrived at
the perfect time, when it was “still
a deep tragedy” and from a master
theatrical director in Kapadia —
suggests that the new Oasis doc

Headey Sets Out for Woods

Gabriel Byrne Joins
Trippy Metanoia By Alex Ritman

By Rebecca Ford

G

ame of Thrones star Lena Headey will star
in The Woman of the Woods,, a thriller
that Myriad Pictures’ Scoundrel Media
label will finance and sell at AFM.
Written and to be directed by Russell
Friedenberg (Wind Walkers, Among Ravens),
Woods centers on Kelsey (Headey) and her
husband, who go on one last camping trip to tell
their young daughter that they are separating.
But after an evil presence begins to influence
their child, they return to Seattle, where a police
detective becomes convinced that the girl is
responsible for a series of murders.
Heather Rae (Frozen River) will produce.
Headey’s upcoming films include Pride and
Prejudice and Zombies,, hitting theaters on Feb. 5,
and the animated Reds and Grays.. She’s repped
by CAA, Troika and TMT Entertainment
Group. Audrey Delaney,, senior vp marketing &
acquisitions, and COO Kevin Forester negotiated
international sales rights to the film for Myriad
Pictures, with Heather Rae negotiating on behalf
of the filmmakers.

G

abriel Byrne is joining David Tennant, Elisabeth Moss
and Michael Gambon on Metanoia, which chronicles
noted Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing’s attempts
to create a safe haven for people diagnosed with psychosis
and schizophrenia.
Laing (Tennant) was known as the “acid Marxist” for
advocating the use of LSD and became a leading figure
in the “anti-psychiatry” movement. His 1960s treattreat
ment center Kingsley Hall in London aimed
to revolutionize mental illness treatment,
with no locks on the doors or antipsychotic
medicines. However, it became notorious for
drugs, parties and visits from mystics, and
Byrne
some of his inmates regressed to infancy.
Metanoia, a co-production between Londonbased Gizmo Films and Bad Penny Productions, is being
directed by Robert Mullan, who has written several books
on Laing, with Charlotte Arden and Harriet Hammond
producing.
Phin Glynn and Peter Dunphy are exec producing. The
project is due to start shooting in the U.K. in January.
DDI is handling international sales at AFM.

Headey

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_news4D.indd 6

could well be used as way to help
the band — rumored to be reforming — to finally crack the American
market.
“I think there’s definitely more
of a plan afoot with Oasis, probably more than there was with
Amy,” she said. “How far will they
go, that’s going to be the interesting question. It certainly presents
a unique challenge that [the
Gallagher brothers] are alive and
in action, versus dealing with an
estate and a story with a very finite
end.”

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Q&A

DIRECTOR

Peter Landesman

Football players are ‘hungry’ to see his new drama,
the writer-director of Concussion says, as he sheds light on
the ‘occupational hazard’ of America’s game By Rebecca Ford

W

I T H CONCUSSION, PET ER L A N DE SM A N PROF I L E S

forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian-born doctor who discovered a disease in the brains of NFL players.
“I’d followed the strange deaths of pro football players for
years, sensing something odd going on,” says Landesman, 50, who spent
most of his career as an investigative journalist and war correspondent.
The Sony film (the writer-director’s second after 2013’s Parkland), which
stars Will Smith, could gain attention both as an awards contender and
as a criticism of the NFL’s efforts to reduce injuries. Ahead of its Nov. 10
world premiere at AFI Fest, Landesman, a married father of two, spoke to
THR about watching autopsies with Smith, dealing (or not) with the NFL
and how being a journalist shapes his storytelling.

How much time did you spend with the
doctor when you were writing?
Bennet’s discovery of chronic
traumatic encephalopathy [CTE]
and its aftermath took place over
the course of a decade. So he and I
had several long interviews before
I sat down to write. The most
inspiring thing about him, to my
mind, was his deep and authentic
spirituality: his relationship to
the dead and dying, and commitment to telling the stories of what
happened to them, as a way to
usher them into the next world. I’d
never come across something that
profound in someone as sane and
seemingly normal as Bennet. And
then for him to forge ahead, as an
immigrant in hostile territory, to
tell America this story was to me
deeply courageous.
Is the way you write a screenplay
shaped by your work as a journalist?
I start each of my scripts by
going on a journey of painstaking

research and discovery, much as I
do a piece of long-lead journalism.
Once I’m inside the beast of the
truth, then I can find the shape and
architecture of the movie.
Did you have Smith in mind while you
were writing the script?
Will was much on my mind as I was
writing the screenplay. Not just
his voice but his physicality — the
grace and energy he brings to his
performance. And his inherent joy,
which matches Bennet’s. It wasn’t
more than a couple days after finishing the script that [former Sony
co-chairman] Amy Pascal gave it
to Will.
What did Will do to prepare?
Will designed his exposure to the
real Bennet with the same intention he brought to his performance:
Enough but not too much. I was
very wary of asking my cast to
interpret or impersonate. I wanted
Will, and everyone, to find his or
her own version of their character’s
journey, and their body, without

BY THE NUMBERS

2

Films directed

111

Concussions in games during the 2014
regular season, according to the NFL

$6.8

Total, in billions, grossed by movies
starring Will Smith worldwide.

"The long-term risks
in contact sports,
especially football,
are real and dire,"
says Landesman.

pressure to copy “reality.” Will and
I did watch a number of autopsies, including two performed by
Bennet. I insisted on it, mostly for
both of us to understand the physical dance of a man around a table,
cutting up a body — the choreography and rhythm of the hands and
the feet.
Since the trailer came out, have you
heard from former players or anyone
else involved in football about the film
that’s surprised you?
Nothing that’s surprised me, but
I’d be remiss not to mention the
overwhelming wave of support and
excitement we’ve received since the
trailer dropped. People are hungry
for this movie, players and former
players even more.
Are you frustrated that the conversation in some circles has become
Concussion vs. the NFL?
I expected some people to initially
see this film that way — until they
see the film itself. While it’s about
an important zeitgeist subject, the
film is wildly entertaining, moves
like a political thriller and is a profound emotional ride. It becomes
abundantly clear what it is really
about: One’s man’s pursuit of the

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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10

truth, in the face of a monstrous
headwind of deception, despite the
physical and material costs — a
classic American tale that happens
to be true.
Have you communicated with the
league since the trailer came out?
I’ve had absolutely no
communication with the NFL.
What kind of discussion do you hope
the movie sparks?
As a filmmaker, it’s not my intent
to trigger or shape national
discourse. My task is to make as
powerful and understandable a
film as I can. What happens next
is what happens next. That said,
as a father and as an American,
I want people to understand the
world around them and the real
consequences of their choices.
When parents send their kids out
to strap on a football helmet for
the first time, they need to know
everything that means. When we
watch football on TV, we need to
know what we’re really seeing. Life
is itself an occupational hazard.
Sometimes the things we love hurt
us. Embracing and navigating
around that contradiction is part of
what it is to be alive.

FRANCOIS DURAND/GETTY IMAGES

How did you first become aware of
Omalu’s work?
I only became aware of him when
Jeanne Marie-Laskas’ article
“Game Brain” showed up in GQ
in 2009. The power and depth of
Omalu’s story, and what it meant,
leaped off the page to me. The
reality was simply undeniable. The
conversation was no longer, “Is
this real?” Now the question was,
“What can we do about it and,
more to the point, what are we
actually willing to do about it?”

11/4/15 1:53 PM

COMPLETE
AN EXCEPTIONAL MOVIE / COMPLETE
CAST: Adil Hussain DIRECTOR: Rajan Kumar Patel
GENRE: Crime/ Thriller
ADIL
HUSSAIN

A visual feast and a gripping cat-and-mouse English-language contemporary
thriller set in the labyrinthine alleys of the ancient Hindu city of Varanasi on the
shores of the sacred Ganges River. A cerebral yet visceral thriller in a lush and
exotic setting with an international cast.

IN PRODUCTION

MISCHA
BARTON

PAZ DE LA
HUERTA

CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION (2015)
CAST: Mischa Barton
US DISTRIBUTOR: Alchemy
GENRE: Paranormal horror. "Sometimes Evil Has A Pretty Face"
CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION (2015)
CAST: Paz de la Huerta
US DISTRIBUTOR: Alchemy
GENRE: Thriller. "She’s Not Alone"

PREPRODUCTION

TARA REID

ANA COTO

NATASHA
HENSTRIDGE

CURRENTLY IN PRE-PRODUCTION (2016)
CAST: Tara Reid
DIRECTOR: Robert reed Altman
US DISTRIBUTOR: Alchemy
GENRE: Horror (Ghosts) "Hunger Is Not Solely For The Living"
CURRENTLY IN PRE-PRODUCTION (2016)
CAST: Ana Coto
US DISTRIBUTOR: Alchemy
GENRE: Thriller. "Down There, No One Can Hear You Scream"
CURRENTLY IN PRE-PRODUCTION (2016)
CAST: Rachel Leigh Cook , Natasha Henstridge
GENRE: Sci-Fi Erotic Drama
There Are No Limits To What We Can Experience

RACHEL LEIGH
COOK

REBEL MOVIES AFM Office #323 AFM Telephone: 310.458.6700 xt 323
rebelmovies@rebelmovies.eu - www.rebelmovies.eu
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SOUTH KOREA SPECIAL REPORT

case the other way around — I wanted
to change that. I also insist on doing local
period dramas because there is a certain jest
and spirit in Korean art traditions. Similar to
how jazz and hip-hop are rooted in angst, there
is something very lively in Korean art forms
that stem from pain. Pathos can yield a certain
cathartic release.
Critics have praised The Throne for raising universal
questions about the human condition in spite of the
fact it’s based on local history.
The Throne is set during the Joseon Dynasty
[1392-1910]. I wanted to focus on how terribly
two-sided human relationships can be.
King Yeongjo had to kill his own son
“Similar to jazz
and hip-hop,
to preserve the throne and pass it onto
there is
something lively
his grandson. He faithfully observed
in Korean art
the rules but at the cost of inflicting
forms that stem
from pain.”
extreme violence. Confucian theories
can be paradoxical when applied in
real-life situations. But at this point in time, as
we question the limits of capitalism and other
existing models, I think we can find meaning
and relevance in older Asian schools of thought.

A DARK
VISION FROM
SOUTH KOREA
Veteran auteur Lee Joon-ik discusses how his bleak AFM title (and
official foreign-language Oscar submission) The Throne became an
unexpected blockbuster: ‘It’s not a commercial film’ BY LEE HYO-WON

T

HE TRUE STORY OF CROW N PRINCE

Sado, who was sentenced to death
by his own father, is the bleak stuff
of Shakespearean tragedies. That
such a faithful screen adaptation, The Throne,
became one of South Korea’s top films of 2015
— and the country’s official foreign language
Oscar submission — is baffling even to its director, Lee Joon-ik. “[My stars], Song Kang-ho
and Yoo Ah-in, surely have star power, but The
Throne is like King Lear, Macbeth and Hamlet in
one. It’s not a commercial film,” Lee says of the
drama, which unflinchingly depicts the prince’s
descent into madness. Song attributes the film’s
box-office success ($43 million and counting) to

the “unique, non-mainstream taste of Koreans.”
The director himself became a star after his
2005 sleeper hit, King and the Clown, went on to
represent Korea at the Oscars. The 56-year-old
filmmaker talked to THR about his insistence
on telling age-old Korean stories — all the while
encouraging young filmmakers to experiment
with smart phones.
While you’ve directed films in diverse genres, you’re
best known as a veteran of traditional Korean
costume dramas.
I used to import a lot of foreign films [in the
early 2000s]. I realized Koreans were very
familiar with Western culture, but it wasn’t the
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_fea_korea.inddB.indd 12

The theme song, featuring rap-like shamanistic
chants and the “saenghwang” reed pipe set to
a rock rhythm, has become popular among younger
Korean fans.
The theme song is a ritual piece that male
shamans have actually performed for more than
a millennium, for appeasing vengeful spirits
during memorial services. It’s my fifth collaboration with music director Bang Jun-seok, and
it was meaningful to feature the saenghwang
because it is a rare East Asian instrument that
can create harmonies. It also was exciting to
work with Noreum Machi again. Their folk
music is heavily percussive, so they get invited
to rock festivals and the Edinburgh Fringe.
You majored in Asian art and have emphasized that
you’re not a classically trained filmmaker.
I never received formal education in filmmaking. While it’s important to learn from the
past and set disciplines, I always try not to
be trapped within a certain frame of learned
experiences. You are bound to become detached
from new mechanisms if you don’t make an
effort to be exposed to, and familiarize yourself
with, new technologies.
Speaking of new technologies, you are the director
of the Olleh International Smartphone Film Festival.
Spike Lee once predicted that people would be
making films with their phones, and you seem to be
encouraging this bottom-up approach.
The smart phone is like a new weapon. You can
shoot, edit and distribute films in one go. I also
believe it can restore the experimental spirit in
filmmaking, much of which has been sacrificed
in the name of commercialization. Hollywood,
for example, often resorts to tried-and-true
adaptations of comic books that have a solid
fan base. Because smart phones are compact
and mobile, you can readily shoot anything,
anywhere, and one of our most interesting

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“it’s like King Lear, Hamlet
and Macbeth in one,” says
Lee of The Throne, which
stars Yoo as a young prince
in a South Korean dynasty.

SOUTH KOREA SPECIAL FEATURE

submissions this year was a documentary shot
by a Syrian refugee. For this reason we have
partnered with the International Organization
for Migration to help migrants tell their stories.
The traditional method of filmmaking —
scriptwriting, preproduction, production
and postproduction — is becoming much too
passive. Smart phones, however, could allow
miracles to happen — just like how Spielberg
went on to create blockbusters after playing
with a video camera as a child.
So smart phones can democratize filmmaking?
Precisely. The consumer can become the
producer of audio-visual content and reach
viewers by releasing [content] online, thereby
skipping the traditional method of filmmaking
and established model of distribution. Even a
six-second Vine piece can turn into something
meaningful if it portrays an individual’s unique
perspective. The method of production and
consumption has truly changed.

me filmmaking is really a tool for capturing
my worldviews. The smart phone has forever
changed modern-day life, and this certainly
changes the way I can depict my ideas.

How has experimenting with smart phones affected
your own filmmaking?
I am a traditional feature filmmaker, but I
am trying my very best to constantly evolve
and learn about new things. I don’t stick to
one genre when it comes to storytelling, so for

Please tell us about your upcoming film Dongju: The
Portrait of a Poem?
It’s a beautiful story about the late poet Yun
Dong-ju, who died in a prison in Fukuoka,
Japan, in February 1945, right before [the liberation of Korea in August that year]. Unlike

I

Is Virtual Reality the Future
of South Korean Cinema?
N SEOUL’S FAMOUS

Gangnam area,
Samsung’s D’light
showroom has become
such a big tourist draw that
guides speaking in multiple
languages are now available.
Here, visitors line up for more
than an hour to check out
how interactive, virtual reality experiences turn a plain,
life-size kitchen model into an
intimate, engaging narrative about a family coming
together to cook dinner.
The rise of consumerfriendly local products
such as Gear VR, a smartphone-compatible headset
developed with Oculus, or
Project Beyond, a 360-degree
omniview camera for shooting 3D VR content, caters to
the growing demand in Asia
for immersive video games
— and, possibly, the future
direction of filmmaking in
South Korea.
In fact, in this highly

tech-savvy country, local filmmakers and cinema exhibitors
are looking beyond 3D and
4D into the “5D realm” of VR
— particularly as demand
for Korean VFX talent
and theater technologies
grows only stronger in neighboring China.
“We see virtual reality
as the next platform,” says
JK Shin, CEO and president
of Samsung Electronics’ IT &
mobile division.
Jeon Woo-yeol, who
directed Korea’s first VR
movie, the 2015 short Time

Paradox VR, also believes that
VR will kick off a paradigm
shift in the industry. “It could
take up to several years to
develop VR video games, but
films have an advantage in
that they require a shorter
production time,” says Jeon,
who is working on four new VR
projects. “I think VR movies
and audiovisual content will
spearhead the VR market.”
Indeed, VR is an increasingly hot topic among
industry insiders in South
Korea. CJ CGV, the country’s
largest exhibitor, has caught

An Australian student tries on Samsung’s Gear VR, a headset that’s
compatible with smart phones, at Samsung’s D’light showroom in Seoul.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_fea_korea.inddB.indd 14

my other period films, there is no jestful spirit
that pervades the storyline, but there is a
cathartic pathos inherent to colonial-era tales.
Yun was only 27 when he died, but his poetry
was powerful and full of conviction. I suppose
his work could be compared to that of Pablo
Neruda, for international audiences. The hot,
boiling blood of a revolutionary ran through
his veins, but there also was a boyishness that
endured inside him that I found
very endearing.

CJ CGV’s immersive
ScreenX theater

the trend and taken its first
steps toward VR as an exhibition format with ScreenX,
an immersive, three-screen
cinema technology that was
developed with the Korea
Advanced Institute of Science
& Technology.
There are now 77 ScreenX
theaters in 45 countries, and
the number is expected to rise
in the coming months through
a deal with China’s Wanda
Group, the world’s largest
owner of cinema chains,
including Wanda Cinema
Line in China, AMC
in North America and
Australia’s Hoyts.
Several films already
have been offered in the
ScreenX format in South
Korea, including the hit

thriller Coin Locker Girl.
Wanda Group, meanwhile,
has pledged not only to install
more of the multiple-screen
theaters at its locations
across the world, but also to
produce some of its own productions in ScreenX format,
beginning with the big-budget
adventure film The Ghouls.
Says a CGV spokesperson: “In an age where users
can easily download films
to watch anything on HD
screens, theaters are looking
for a way to keep audiences
coming with spectacle and
immersive experiences.
ScreenX is designed to give
audiences a more lively experience through a panoramic
view of what’s happening on
screen.” — L.H.

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AFM SCREENINGS

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AFM SCREENINGS

NOVEMBER 5 • 1.00PM
AMC SANTA MONICA 5

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AFM SCREENINGS

NOVEMBER 4 • 9.00AM • DOUBLETREE 1
NOVEMBER 8 • 1.00PM • BROADWAY CINEPLEX 3

AFM SCREENINGS

NOVEMBER 8 • 5.00PM
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Dutch Features D2 110515.indd 2

10/29/15 1:30 PM

AFM SCREENING GUIDE
2015
NOV. 5

Jinga FIlms’
Hellions

8:30 AM Sunset Song, Fortissimo Films,
135 Mins., Broadway 2
Barça Dreams, Filmax International, 90
Mins., Doubletree #2
9:00 AM All Three of Us, Gaumont, 107
Mins., AMC 3
Belle and Sebastian, the Adventure
Continues, Gaumont, Tunnel Post #1
Crossing Point, Bleiberg Entertainment
Llc, 90 Mins., Loews 3
Drive She Said, The Works International,
90 Mins., Broadway 1
Go With Me, Electric Entertainment, 90
Mins., AMC 4
Kill Command, Protagonist Pictures,
AMC 5
Summer of ’92, Hanway Films, AMC 7
Taj Mahal, Bac Films, 91 Mins.,
Doubletree #1
The Dead Room, Raven Banner
Entertainment, 80 Mins., Fairmont 3
The People vs. Fritz Bauer, Beta
Cinema, 105 Mins., Broadway 3
The Seven Five, Kaleidoscope Film
Distribution Ltd, 104 Mins., Fairmont 2
The Trust, Highland Film Group,
Broadway 4
You Will Kill, Egywood, Llc, 90 Mins.,
AMC 1
11:00 AM 2 Nights Till Morning, Wide,
88 Mins., Loews 2
Adderall Diaries, Kathy Morgan
International, 105 Mins., Fairmont 2
Anne of Green Gables, Breakthrough
Entertainment Inc., 90 Mins., Olympia 1
Beeba Boys, Mongrel International, 104
Mins., AMC 5
Big Dance Family, 4Square Films, 87
Mins., Broadway 4
Daughter of God, Fortitude
International, 101 Mins., Broadway 3
Excess Flesh, Acort International, 103
Mins., Loews 3
Fatal Intuition, Finecut Co. Ltd., 109
Mins., Doubletree #2
Gfm Promo Reel, Gfm Films, AMC 3
Heaven Sent, Mission Pictures
International, Fairmont 3
Lace Crater, Visit Films, 81 Mins.,
Doubletree #1
Mercury Plains, Carnaby International
Sales and Distribution, 102 Mins., AMC 6
The Call Up, Altitude Film Sales, 90
Mins., AMC 7
The Memory Of Water, Global Screen
Gmbh, 88 Mins., AMC 1
The Unspoken, Arclight Films, Tunnel
Post #1
Touched With Fire, Myriad Pictures,
AMC 2
1:00 PM Are You Here, Young Live

Entertainment (Hk) Co. Ltd, 90 Mins.,
AMC 6
Attack of the Lederhosenzombies,
Eastwest Filmdistribution Gmbh, 90
Mins., Broadway 3
Bikini Body Conscious Living With Just
Leo Pilot, Little Books Little Films, Llc, 95
Mins., Loews 3
Bite, Breakthrough Entertainment Inc.,
90 Mins., Loews 2
Hellions, Jinga Films, 82 Mins., Tunnel
Post #1
Jack, Picture Tree International Gmbh,
95 Mins., Doubletree #2
Most Likely to Die, MarVista
Entertainment, 80 Mins., AMC 4
Numb, Cinema Management Group Llc,
88 Mins., Ocean Scr #
Pathe International Promo Screening,
Pathe International (Fr), 90 Mins., AMC 7
Promo Screening, Pathe International
(Uk), 110 Mins., AMC 7
Quackerz, Planeta Inform Film
Distribution, 75 Mins., AMC 1
Rendez-Vous, Dutch Features Global
Entertainment, 100 Mins., AMC 5
Star Raiders, Uptown 6, 85 Mins.,
Fairmont 1
Stranded, Filmax International,
Doubletree #1
The Callback Queen, Princ Films, 89
Mins., Olympia 1
The Daughter, Mongrel Media Inc.,
AMC 3
The Hero Chi You, California Pictures,
104 Mins., Fairmont 2
The Masked Saint, Archstone
Distribution, 111 Mins., Fairmont 3

Yoga Hosers, Xyz Films, Broadway 1
Zoom, Wtfilms, AMC 2
3:00 PM After Eden, Wide, 80 Mins.,
Loews 2
Dxm, Terra Mater Film Studios, 97 Mins.,
AMC 3
Fack Ju Goehte 2, Picture Tree
International Gmbh, Doubletree #1
Fast Convoy, Indie Sales, Broadway 3
Larry Gaye, Renegade Male Flight
Attendant, Other Angle Pictures, 90
Mins., Tunnel Post #1
Man Down, The Solution Entertainment
Group, 92 Mins., Broadway 1
Monster Hunt, Edko Films Ltd, 117 Mins.,
AMC 6
Raven the Little Rascal, Sola Media
Gmbh, 72 Mins., Broadway 4
Red Billabong, Arclight Films,
Doubletree #2
River, Kaleidoscope Film Distribution
Ltd, 88 Mins., Fairmont 2
Sacrifice, The Little Film Company, 90
Mins., AMC 7
The Girl in the Book, Myriad Pictures,
Broadway 2
The Queens, Desen International Media
Group, 106 Mins., AMC 2
The Secret, Media Asia Film, 106 Mins.,
AMC 4
The Truth Commissioner, Carnaby
International Sales And Distribution,
Fairmont 1
5:00 PM By Way of Helena, Westend
Films, 110 Mins., AMC 2
Cardboard Boxer, Arclight Films,
Fairmont 2

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_SGB.indd 1

House Of Shadows, Mirovision Inc., 85
Mins., Loews 3
Hyena Road, Wtfilms, Broadway 4
I Am Wrath, Hannibal Classics, AMC 4
My Name Is Nobody, Little Books Little
Films, Llc, 115 Mins., Olympia 1
Office, Edko Films Ltd, 119 Mins.,
Broadway 2
Panama, Wide, 97 Mins., Loews 2
Saving Mr. Wu, Golden Network Asia
Ltd, 106 Mins., AMC 6
Sky, The Bureau Sales/Le Bureau, 100
Mins., Doubletree #1
The Childhood of a Leader, Protagonist
Pictures, Broadway 1
The Phoenix Incident, Odin’s Eye
Entertainment, 81 Mins., AMC 5
The Throne, Showbox, 125 Mins.,
Doubletree #2
Unchained: The True Story of Freestyle
Motocross, The Exchange, 100 Mins.,
Tunnel Post #1
Wolf Totem, Beijing Forbidden City Film
Co., 121 Mins., Fairmont 1
7:00 PM Call Me King, Vmi Worldwide,
90 Mins., Loews 3
Foreclosure, California Pictures, 86
Mins., Loews 2
Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden
Dragon, Art Pictures Studio, 60 Mins.,
Doubletree #1
Synchronicity, Magnolia Pictures &
Magnet Releasing, 101 Mins.,
Tunnel Post #1
Curse Of Sleeping Beauty,
Bleiberg Entertainment Llc, 90 Mins.,
Fairmont 1

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AFM SCREENING GUIDE
2015

Snd-Groupe M6’s
The Squad

NOV. 6

8:45 AM The King of Havana, Filmax
International, 120 Mins., Doubletree #2
Tikkun, Bleiberg Entertainment Llc, 120
Mins., Fairmont 2
9:00 AM American Hero, Protagonist
Pictures, 93 Mins., Broadway 3
Beta Cinema Promo Reel, Beta Cinema,
AMC 2
Black Rose, Lightning Entertainment,
Loews 3
Bolshoi Babylon, Altitude Film Sales, 83
Mins., AMC 4
Code M, Sola Media Gmbh, 90 Mins.,
Doubletree #1
House of Shadows, Mirovision Inc., 85
Mins., Loews 2
Isn’t It Delicious, Angel Grace
Worldwide, 104 Mins., Fairmont 1
Level Up, Independent, Broadway 4
My Big Night, Film Factory
Entertainment, 97 Mins., AMC 1
Plan Z, Carnaby International Sales and
Distribution, 0 Mins., Loewes 1
Scare Campaign, Films Distribution, 81
Mins., AMC 7
The Devil’s Candy, Hanway Films, 90
Mins., Broadway 2
The Phenom, Conquistador
Entertainment, Ocean Scr #
The Squad, Snd - Groupe M6, 90 Mins.,
AMC 6
The Wannabe, Electric Entertainment,
90 Mins., Tunnel Post #1
Trustnordisk Promo Reel, Trustnordisk,
90 Mins., AMC 5
11:00 AM Adderall Diaries, Kathy
Morgan International, 105 Mins.,
Fairmont 1

Baskin, Salt, 97 Mins., AMC 5
Cosmos, Alfama Films, 103 Mins.,
Doubletree #1
Courted, Gaumont, AMC 3
Families, Tf1 International, Broadway 1
Francis: Pray for Me, Filmsharks Int’l,
100 Mins., AMC 2
Frank V’s God, 4Square Films, 100
Mins., AMC 7
Hevn (Revenge), Beta Cinema, 104
Mins., Broadway 4
Jazbaa Aka Passion, Arclight Films,
Tunnel Post #1
Lazy Hazy Crazy, Bravos Pictures Ltd.,
99 Mins., Doubletree #2
Migration, Red Bull Media House, 90
Mins., Fairmont 2
Monkey King: The Hero (3D), Sc Films
International, 86 Mins., Broadway 3
Rise of the Footsoldier 2, Carnaby
International Sales And Distribution, 107
Mins., Loews 3
Some Kind of Hate, Devilworks, 82
Mins., Loews 2
Southbound, MPI Media Group, 85
Mins., AMC 6
Talion, Media Luna New Films Ug, 85
Mins., Loewes 1
The Fear of 13, Dogwoof, 96 Mins.,
Fairmont 3
Touched With Fire, Myriad Pictures,
AMC 4
Urge, Green-Light Int’l, Ocean Screening
1:00 PM London Heist, Cinema
Management Group Llc, 92 Mins., Ocean
Scr #
Caught, Marvista Entertainment, 90
Mins., Broadway 3
Chasing Niagara, Red Bull Media
House, 80 Mins., Fairmont 3

Emulsion, California Pictures, 90 Mins.,
Loewes 1
Excess Flesh, Acort International, 103
Mins., Loews 3
Fack Ju Goehte 2, Picture Tree
International Gmbh, Doubletree #1
Florida, Gaumont, 110 Mins., Broadway 4
God’s Not Dead 2, Pure Flix
Entertainment / Quality Fix, 110 Mins.,
Fairmont 1
Janis, Content Media Corporation, 107
Mins., AMC 4
Jian Bing Man, Wanda Media Co., Ltd,
113 Mins., Broadway 2
London Road, Protagonist Pictures,
AMC 1
Neon, Mongrel International, 83 Mins.,
Tunnel Post #1
Snowtime, Sola Media Gmbh, 82 Mins.,
AMC 3
The Crew, Snd - Groupe M6, AMC 5
The Phone, Contents Panda Next
Entertainment, Doubletree #2
Uncle Nick, MPI Media Group, 80 Mins.,
AMC 2
Urban Hymn, Metro International
Entertainment, AMC 6
Yoga Hosers, XYZ Films, Broadway 1
A Heavy Heart, Picture Tree
International Gmbh, 111 Mins., Tunnel
Post #1
Absolution, Media Luna New Films Ug,
92 Mins., Olympia 1
The Virgin Psychics, GAGA Corp., 114
Mins., Loewes 1
3:00 PM
Absolution, Medial Luna New Films, 92
Mins, Fairmont 3
Bikini Body Conscious Living With Just
Leo Pilot, Little Books Little Films, Llc, 95

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_SGB.indd 2

Mins., Loews 3
Bling, Celsius Entertainment, 82 Mins.,
AMC 6
Closet Monster, Fortissimo Films, 90
Mins., Broadway 3
Dummie the Mummie and the Sphinx
of Shakabah, Dutch Features Global
Entertainment, 80 Mins., Doubletree #1
Hangman, Myriad Pictures, Fairmont 1
Heavy Heart, Picture Tree Int’l., 109
Mins., Tunnel Post 1
Help, I Shrunk My Teacher, Arri Media
World Sales, 101 Mins., AMC 4
Ithaca, The Exchange, Ocean Scr #
Karma, Sahamongkolfilm International
Co. Ltd., 100 Mins., Doubletree #2
Last Girl Standing, Jinga Films, 90
Mins., Fairmont 3
My Men, Gaumont, 90 Mins., Broadway 1
She Remembers, He Forgets, Media
Asia Film, 100 Mins., AMC 2
The Family Fang, Covert Media, 106
Mins., Broadway 4
Up in the Wind, Beijing Itime Production
Co., Ltd., 100 Mins., Fairmont 2
5:00 PM
American Secrets, Gaslight
Productions, 115 Mins., Broadway
Cineplex 3
Bare, Myriad Pictures, Fairmont 1
Born to Dance, Cinema Management
Group Llc, 96 Mins., Ocean Scr #
Don’t Speak, Princ Films, 82 Mins.,
Loews 2
Elstree 1976, The Works International,
103 Mins., Broadway 2
Friend Request, The Exchange, 100
Mins., Tunnel Post 1
Gibby, Vmi Worldwide, 87 Mins., AMC 6
I Am a Hero, Toho Co., Ltd., 130 Mins.,
Fairmont 2
Murdered Memory, Dutch Features
Global Entertainment, 103 Mins.,
Doubletree #1
Port of Call, Mei Ah Entertainment
Group Limited, 120 Mins., Doubletree #2
Stonewall, Goldcrest Films
International, AMC 7
Summer Camp, Filmax International, 84
Mins., AMC 3
The Burning of Wildgoose Lodge,
Leomark Studios, 105 Mins., Loews 3
The Exclusive: Beat the Devil’s Tattoo,
Lotte Entertainment, 125 Mins., AMC 2
The Phoenix Incident, Odin’s Eye
Entertainment, 81 Mins., Fairmont 3
The Tenor Lirico Spinto, More In Group,
120 Mins., Olympia 1
Woodlawn, Pure Flix Entertainment /
Quality Fix, 120 Mins., AMC 4
7:00 PM Kikoriki: Legend
of the Golden Dragon, Art Pictures
Studio, 60 Mins., Doubletree #1

20

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R E V I E WS
AFI FEST

to rest their dead child, with the
meeting of the three witches. They
are a Scots-accented, generationspanning trio who gather in the mist
to discuss Macbeth’s fate with flat,
cackle-free voices, like housewives
sharing a recipe for cake.
The whole opening act is punchy
as hell, as Kurzel and crack editor Chris Dickens (Slumdog
Millionaire) deftly weave together
contracted versions of key scenes
and invented sequences that
usefully fill out the story — like
a battle that sees Macbeth, his
right-hand man Banquo (Paddy
Considine) and their men defeat
invading Norsemen and the traitor Macdonwald. Mostly, Kurzel
and the screenwriters’ add-ins are
felicitous, but some are perhaps a
All’s fair — or foul?
little too on the nose, like having
— in love and war
for Fassbender’s
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth literMacbeth and
ally humping on a tabletop for the
Cotillard’s Lady.
“screw your courage to the sticking
point” speech (though it can’t be
denied that the actors have rapturous, swooning chemistry).
Otherwise, a lot of the extraMichael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are magnetic as the Scottish general and textual
additions flesh out Lady
his scheming wife in Justin Kurzel’s bold, bruising adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth’s
character and make her
BY LESLIE FELPERIN
less than a stock scheming bitch
and more comprehensible as a woman driven by frustration, grief and, yes,
HOW PEOPL E M AY SU PER ST I T IOUSLY R EF USE TO CA L L
greed. Cotillard’s French accent effectively underscores her otherness, sugMacbeth anything other than “the Scottish play,” but the producgesting that she might be the equivalent, with her Medusa braids and outre
ers of this latest film version have lucked out by assembling cast
smear of blue eyeshadow, of a medieval mail-order bride who’d understandand crew elements that make for an intensely compelling work.
ably like a better life than the hardscrabble of survival in a shabby tent
Although tradition is upheld with a Dark Ages-Early Christian
watching her children die. Cotillard nails the character’s final, “out damn
period setting, actually shot in Scotland for once (unlike the 1971 Roman
spot” monologue with a display of cracked sanity and despair that will
Polanski version), in most other respects Australian director Justin Kurzel
surely reap this much admired actress further plaudits.
(Snowtown) filters Shakespeare’s tragic story of murderous ambition
Fassbender’s turn may be only fractionally less impressive because the
through a resolutely modern sensibility.
audience knows that English is already his first language. His Scottish
With its foregrounded class conflict, horror-movie spookiness and
accent is a bit wobbly in places, but that’s nitpicking when you consider
— most importantly — use of brutal violence, it’s an adaptation that
how much else he brings to the role — swagger, a credible military-man’s
has a much better chance than most Bard-based works of crossing over
mien and layers of self-doubt that rupture the cocky, tyrannical surface by
to audiences beyond the arthouses. The play’s evergreen popularity in
degrees once he’s grabbed the crown. But there’s also a sneering streak of
high-school syllabi should help that along, as will the growing box-office
cruelty that rubs out any nobility to his plight; he’s almost literally a man
draw of Michael Fassbender, sexy, charismatic and later poignant in the
possessed by a demonic ambition.
title role, opposite a surprisingly cast but completely persuasive Marion
DP Adam Arkapaw (Animal Kingdom) exploits the inherent pitilessCotillard as his manipulative wife.
ness of high-definition to enhance the immediacy, while the collaboration
The one constituency that probably won’t look kindly on this will be
between production designer Fiona Crombie and Brit costume designer
stringent Shakespeare purists. A well-trained stage actor should be able
Jacqueline Durran produces some breathtaking visual textures. Although
to find a way to make every word, however archaic, sound comprehensible
the outdoor locations are all Scotland, Crombie makes inspired use of
as well as audible. In this version, there’s an awful lot of mumbling, and a
Ely Cathedral and its soaring vaults and massive spaces for Macbeth’s
sense that while the emotion might be discernible in the performer’s face,
royal abode.
it’s like some kind of free-floating entity not tethered to what’s coming out
of his or her mouth. At times, some might as well be reciting names from
AFI (Special Screenings)
the phone book instead of the free verse.
Cast Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, David Thewlis,
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Macbeth’s cast pitches lines laconically, in almost conversational fashion. The style is established from the off, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor, Elizabeth Debicki, David Hayman
Director Justin Kurzel // 113 minutes
after a touching opener that observes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth laying

Macbeth

S

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_rev1_macbethC.indd 23

23

11/4/15 1:21 PM

REVIEWS

AFI FEST

The 33

The Chilean mine disaster gets
the Hollywood treatment,
with Antonio Banderas, Juliette
Binoche and Lou Diamond Phillips
heading an international cast

H

BY SHERI LINDEN

A R ROW I NG, SUSPENSEF U L , PI T T I NG

hope against despair and culminating
in a triumph of can-do spirit — the story
of the 2010 collapse of a century-old Chilean
mine is, for good and bad, the stuff of Hollywood
dreams. Director Patricia Riggen finds a rigorous and affecting visual language for The 33, but
she and her international cast are hampered by
a screenplay that too often gets in the way of a
powerful story.
As it counts down the trapped miners’ twomonth ordeal, the film sticks to the formulaic
surface, moving among an assemblage of neatly
summarized types rather than full-blooded
characters. In light of the increasing commercial
clout of Spanish-language films, the decision to
shoot the movie in English also is disappointing
— and highly distracting, with an international
cast juggling a collection of Spanish accents.
They include Antonio Banderas as Mario
Sepulveda, the men’s de facto leader, all action
and hope when shift supervisor Don Lucho
voices caution and fatalism. Lou Diamond
Phillips plays the latter as a man long caught
in the middle, determined to protect his men in
an ill-maintained mine but feeling powerless in
the face of negligent owners. The economic and
political aspects of the story are touched upon
only glancingly as the screenplay, credited to
Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club)
and Michael Thomas, puts emotions front and
center. The late James Horner’s score helps to
push the emotional buttons while leaning way
too heavily on Andean folk instrumentation.
The heart-tugging story strands unwind in
the depths of the mine and aboveground, where
the miners’ families set up a makeshift city and
Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro), Chile’s
young, green minister of mining, oversees the
rescue efforts of a team led by chief engineer
Andre Sougarret (Gabriel Byrne), with James
Brolin making a cameo appearance as an
American drilling expert.
Among the more distracting elements of the
film is Juliette Binoche’s turn as Maria Segovia,
a hawker of empanadas whose troubled brother
(Juan Pablo Raba) is one of the 33. Her character’s forthright defiance when Golborne shows
up feels as forced as the bond they finally forge,
not because the actors’ performances aren’t
heartfelt but because their interactions are such
transparent plot engines — one of which leads
to an utterly unpersuasive aha moment in the
rescue strategy.

Banderas (right)
plays the leader of
the Chilean miners
in the drama based
on 2010 events.

As for the title characters, most are sidelined,
as would be expected in such a narrative feature. Ten miners get “storylines,” such as they
are, some of them screen-written composites
like Raba’s angry alcoholic, who will undergo
the DTs, repentance and redemption. There’s a
young father-to-be (Mario Casas); an unlikely
and comical philanderer (Oscar Nunez of The
Office); an old-timer with rattling lungs (Gustavo
Angarita) who’s on his final shift before retirement; and an ostracized Bolivian newcomer
(Tenoch Huerta).
But mainly it’s “Super Mario and the 32” as
Banderas’ character, a natural leader, rations
meager food supplies among 33 starving men
trapped beneath 700 tons of rock. Mario’s role
in the men’s survival could not be more crucial;
more than doling out canned tuna, he quells any
violent or self-destructive impulses that arise.
But his selflessness takes up a lot of space. Made
with the cooperation of the miners and based on
the book that tells their authorized story, the film
somewhat surprisingly follows the news-media
template that turned Mario into a star. Phillips’
intriguing Don Lucho, in particular, could have
used more screen time, though the movie’s final,
potent image belongs to him.
At its best, the dialogue is gracefully pared
down, but frequently it lapses into awkward
exposition. To counteract this, Riggen smartly
uses actual TV news footage, from a wide array
of international sources, to explain the rescue
mission and to convey how closely a worldwide
audience was following the events in Chile.
The movie’s narrative letdowns are especially
unfortunate when Riggen, advancing her visual
style significantly from previous work (Under
the Same Moon, Girl in Progress), creates such
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_rev2_the33C.indd 24

a strong sense of place, both in the cramped
quarters of the mine and the expansive desert
where the families keep vigil. Shooting in two
working mines in Colombia, the director and her
DP, Checco Varese, deliver an immersive sense
of what it means to enter the tunnel on a road
that burrows 2,300 feet beneath the surface.
There’s an obvious but nonetheless deeply affecting spiritual cast to the play of light in the dark
cave, the miner’s helmet torches illuminating the
skyscraper-size rock that seemingly has sealed
their fate.
As for the mine collapse itself, Riggen and
Varese capture the enormity of the accident and
the ensuing chaos with dynamic work that entails
a strong, fluently integrated CGI assist. A shot
of the explosion breaking through the placid surface of Chile’s Atacama Desert — the filmmakers
used locations not far from where the disaster
took place — is exquisite in its terrible poignancy.
The superb sound design lends further dimension, not just during the collapse but in the
hope-stirring rumbling of the rescuers’ drills
trying to reach the men through the rock.
Riggen takes a chance with a fantasy sequence,
set to Bellini’s Norma, in which the men imagine that the women they love are serving them
delectable meals. Though it’s flagrantly overthe-top, it somehow feels just right. And it makes
you wish that Riggen had taken more such risks
rather than following the road-to-uplift formula
so dutifully.
AFI (Galas & Tribute)
Cast Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette
Binoche, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gabriel Byrne
Director Patricia Riggen
127 minutes

24

11/4/15 1:25 PM

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11/2/15 2:25 PM

REVIEWS

Beeba Boys

Randeep Hooda headlines a feather-light gangster farce
set in Vancouver’s Punjabi community BY DEBORAH YOUNG

A

CCLAIMED INDO-CANADIAN

filmmaker Deepa Mehta
takes a break from drama
to cast a humorous eye on the Sikh
gangs springing from the Punjabi
community in Vancouver. Beeba
Boys gives a farcical once-over to
these ruthless gangsters, who talk
like Tarantino mobsters, dress like
style-conscious Goodfellas and live
with their moms and dads. (The
title translates as “Good Boys”.)
Though Bollywood star Randeep
Hooda toplines as the gang lord,
the film’s main appeal may be to
Indians in Canada and the U.S.,
where the offbeat humor should
make the most sense.
There’s certainly a dose of ethnic
sociology here, but it feels like
Mehta just wanted to have some
fun with an unexplored genre.
Gangster films in general are not a
Canadian thing, so she is going out
on a double limb here, both as an
auteur director who’s “slumming
it,” and as a genre-busting maverick. The combo of crime drama
and comedy inevitably invites
comparisons with the masters like

Tarantino and Scorsese, but Beeba
Boys is far lighter fare. It has its
funny moments but isn’t very surefooted in this department, and
most of the jokes revolve around
Sikh traditions (“I think he tied his
turban on too tight this morning”).
It’s a far cry from films like Anurag
Kasyaps’ Gangs of Wasseypur,
which raised the bar in terms of
screen violence and outrageously
sophisticated gags.
The titular gang are the
30-something followers of the
carefully tailored, semi-psychotic
Jeet Johar (Hooda), as charismatic as he is ruthless. The Beeba
Boys signature is bespoke suits in
bright colors that contrast nicely
with their turbans. Jeet lives at
home with his parents and small
son (he’s a single father), while
he starts a gang war to take over
the Vancouver drug and arms
trade. His antagonist is the old
guard Sikh Robbie Grewal, just
as ruthless as he is. People get
kidnapped, blood is shed, bodies
are burned. None of it seems like
real violence, though.

Vancouver’s Sikh
gangsters have a
strict dress code.

Crossing the line between the
two gangsters is Nep (Ali Momen),
a small-time criminal who gets on
Jeet’s side in prison but is also seeing Grewal’s daughter, Choti. He
flits back and forth like a double
agent, playing a dangerous game.
Also on the margins is Katja
(Sarah Allen), a sexy Polish manicurist who Jeet notices when she
does jury duty at his trial. She’s a
well-drawn character; she’s also far
too naïve and sincere to survive as
a moll.
Hooda, whose credits range from
Monsoon Wedding to Jism 2, does

The Childhood of a Leader

A

Berenice Bejo stars in Brady Corbet’s desperately overheated
historical fantasy set at the end of World War I BY DEBORAH YOUNG

T T EM P T I NG TO DE SCR I BE T H E R ISE

of Fascism in Europe between the two
world wars as a parable about a wayward
little boy, the dark and dreamy The Childhood
of a Leader can only be called extraordinarily
over-ambitious. This first feature by 27-year-old
American Brady Corbet combines a fine Euro
cast, grandiose art direction and a thundering
score by Scott Walker, but the result is an embarrassing hodgepodge that’s very hard to follow.
It’s screamingly obvious that Corbet, who cowrote the film with Mona Fastvold, is a film buff
well-versed in classic and modern masters, but
this turns out to be a liability, given his inability
to choose one path to follow.
The opening sequence is meant to impress, as
archive footage of WWI battlefields gives way
to a racing train, all to an operatic soundtrack
that shakes the rafters. The important fact to
take away from these preliminaries is that U.S.
president Woodrow Wilson is in Paris to sign the
Treaty of Versailles, which is supposed to build

a lasting world peace. One of Wilson’s aides is a
wealthy American (Liam Cunningham), who is
happy to be back in Europe with his Germanborn wife (Berenice Bejo) and 7-year-old son.
They have moved into an enormous country
chateau outside Paris with a few servants, including an amiable housekeeper, played by Belgian
comedienne Yolande Moreau.
After a pointless scene in which the diplomat
discusses world politics with a visiting journalist, the story concentrates, for a time, on its
young hero, Prescott (Tom Sweet). The film is

Sweet looks
sweet but will
grow up to be a
fascist terror.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_rev3_bebba+childhoodB.indd 26

a good job navigating between
authoritative criminal leadership
and tongue-in-cheek antics, like
interrupting a business meeting to
tell his mother (played by a wonderfully deadpan Balinder Johal)
where to find his dirty underwear
(under the bed, of course).
AFM (Mongrel International)
Cast Randeep Hooda, Ali Momen,
Sarah Allen, Waris Ahluwalia,
Gulshan Grover, Balinder Johal, Gia
Sandhu, Ali Kazmi, Steve Dhillon
Director Deepa Mehta
103 minutes

divided into three chapters, which are named
after his “tantrums.”
Sweet gives a strikingly detached performance.
But how did his character turn into a monster
and megalomaniac dictator? It can’t be all mom
and dad’s fault. Maybe there’s a sexual trauma
behind it? He does overhear his attractive French
teacher (Stacy Martin) sharing intimate laughter
with his father. Where his childhood went wrong
will remain, for most viewers, a mystery.
The narrative never takes the shortest distance between two points if it can help it, and so
Prescott’s story alternates with his mother’s religious fanaticism and Dad’s diplomatic meetings,
which are redrawing national borders, planning
reconstruction and exacting retribution from
Germany. All of this would be a crashing bore
were there not cinematographer Lol Crawley’s
gorgeous painterly shots to look at, drenching
Jean-Vincent Puzos’ heavily draped interiors in
romantic lighting.
AFM (Protagonist Pictures)
Cast Berenice Bejo, Liam Cunningham,
Stacy Martin, Yolande Moreau, Tom Sweet,
Robert Pattinson
Director Brady Corbet

26

11/4/15 2:36 PM

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DIRECTOR OF
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DESIGNER PAULETTE GEORGES
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10/29/15 2:09 PM

REVIEWS

Bolshoi Babylon

Director Nick Read delves deftly into the case surrounding
the acid attack on the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director

F
From left: Reedus,
Kruger and Dunham
are adrift in the West.

Sky

F

Diane Kruger, Lena Dunham and Norman Reedus
star in Fabienne Berthaud’s shaky drama
about a French woman who strikes out on her own
in the American West BY JON FROSCH
OL L OW I NG BRU NO DU MON T (TWENTY NINE PALMS) A N D

Guillaume Nicloux (Valley of Love), Fabienne Berthaud is the
latest French director to venture into that cliché-prone cinematic territory known as the American West. Her new movie, Sky,
stars an unpersuasive Diane Kruger as Romy, a Parisian who ditches
her lout of a husband while on vacation, setting out alone across
Nevada and California, the wind in her hair and freedom on her mind
— until she meets another man, prompting her to forget all about
her plans for independence and self-actualization. The bizarre antifeminist subtext wouldn’t be troubling if the film made Romy’s need
for male company a compelling part of her character. But Sky is an
erratic and unsatisfying blend of road movie and “women’s picture”
in which Berthaud’s competent craftsmanship can’t make up for her
shakily conceived story.
The presence of performers like Kruger, The Walking Dead’s
Norman Reedus as her love interest and Lena Dunham in a tiny role
as a Daisy Duke-wearing, white-trashy mother of many may boost
distribution prospects.
Sky opens with Romy and Richard (Gilles Lellouche) cruising
around the desert in a convertible. It doesn’t take long to realize
Richard is bad news: As if snapping “No ice!” at a waitress who brings
him ice water wasn’t hint enough, soon he’s chatting up a couple
of blondes at a bar (in front of his wife), cracking cruel jokes about
Romy’s miscarriages and attempting to rape her as she sleeps in their
motel room. What a guy!
Romy gives Richard one good whack on the head and takes off
in the middle of the night. With her skinny jeans and chic brown
leather bag, she’s a conspicuous outsider — yet she also seems alive
to her surroundings, and you hold out hope, in these early scenes,
that Berthaud has some surprises in store for her. Alas, much of Sky
plays like a catalogue of Americana as filtered through the rather
hazy gaze of a half-awake protagonist. On a scene-to-scene basis, the
film (written by Berthaud with Pascal Arnold) isn’t bad, per se; it’s
just lacking in intensity, insight or — most fatally for a film about a
woman unmoored in a strange land — any real sense of discovery.
The settings, from road-stop diners to honky-tonk bars and sterile,
poorly lit police stations, while prototypical, feel far more authentic
than the emotional journey at the center of the film.
AFM (The Bureau Sales) // Director Fabienne Berthaud
Cast Diane Kruger, Norman Reedus, Lena Dunham // 100 minutes

BY LESLIE FELPERIN

was jealousy over the way Filin
played favorites.
Nevertheless, as new broom Urin
takes steps to clean up the mess,
cannily managing both his own and
the company’s image through his
cooperation with the filmmakers,
it becomes clear just how many
interested parties there are eager
to influence the company’s future,
going all the way up to President
Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister
Dmitri Medvedev.
Archive footage showing visiting heads of state attending
performances underscores that
propagandistic value that the
Bolshoi has always enjoyed as the
best ballet company in the world, a
status threatened by the scandals
surrounding the Filin affair. The
filmmakers splice this background
material in with lots of talkinghead footage, getting especially
good quotes from ballerinas like
Anastasia Meskova and Maria
Allash, both feisty
characters embittered
by the experiences and
worried about their
futures.
Although an obvious touchstone is the
observational, institution-focused work of
Frederick Wiseman,
who has himself made
Anastasia Meskiva,
several docs about
a Bolshoi soloist.
dance companies
(Paris-set
La
danse, for example),
true-crime-among-the-culturati
angle but also because it seemingly the style here is more TV-friendly
offered further proof of the corrup- than Wiseman’s work, so participants are actually identified with
tion and violence in contemporary
captions and the like. While this
Russian society.
Via interviews with various danc- will make it a more commercial
work, in some ways the tight runers, fans, the company’s chair of
trustees Alexander Budberg, ballet ning time almost rushes through
master Boris Akin and most impor- the story. At the very least, it would
have been a treat to see some more
tantly its new company director
of the dancing itself, so bewitchVladimir Urin, it emerges that
ing are the snippets shown of the
the Bolshoi is indeed a veritable
company rehearsing and then
hotbed of scheming, backstabperforming various shows from the
bing and favoritism. Filin himself
allegedly alienated many people. It repertoire.
emerges during the trial for Pavel
AFM (Altitude Film Sales)
Dmitrichenko, the soloist who
Director Nick Read
admitted to hiring his neighbor to
87 minutes
attack Filin, that the motivation
OR A N YON E W HO T HOUGH T

Darren Aronofsky’s Black
Swan was an implausibly
bloody portrait of the ballet world,
then the 2013 acid-attack on
Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic
director Sergei Filin, a hit ordered
by a dancer from his own company,
proved truth is often stranger
than fiction. British documentarymaker Nick Read’s Bolshoi Babylon
explores the bizarre case in more
detail, but it grows even more
interesting when it examines how
this storied cultural institution
struggles to survive tempestuous
politics both inside and outside the
theater walls. The film could easily
find a rich theatrical niche with
avid balletomanes in other territories, especially London and Paris.
Covered extensively in the press,
the attack on Filin left him with
third-degree burns and blind in one
eye. The story made for compelling
copy not just because of its lurid,

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

D2_rev4_sky+bolshoiC.indd 28

28

11/4/15 2:24 PM

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11/3/15 12:43 PM

REVIEWS

Reno (left) plays a
Gallic gunslinger in
this American-style
French thriller.

The Squad

Jean Reno and Caterina Murino star in this
action-packed French policier BY JORDAN MINTZER

W

E’RE IN FR A NCE , NOT

the United States,”
clamors one of the
trigger-happy cops in the new
Gallic action dramedy, The Squad
(Antigang). But this high-octane,
mildly entertaining policier is
about as American as it gets, from
the endless on-the-job banter to the
relentless pyrotechnics to the frenzied street shootouts straight out of
the mind of mid-’90s Michael Bay.

Whether director Benjamin
Rocher has set the bar high or
incredibly low is open to debate.
Yet he certainly delivers loads of
energy with his slickly helmed
third feature, about a wrecking
crew of Parisian detectives chasing
down a team of robbers with guns
blazing and one-liners to spare.
Although it’s never mentioned in
the press kit, the film is actually a
remake of the 2012 Ray Winstone

starrer The Sweeney, itself an adaptation of the popular British TV
series from the 1970’s. Taking the
basic plot from that movie, scribes
Tristan Schulman and Francois
Loubeyre transplant the setting to
present-day Paris, where seasoned
gunslinger Buren (Jean Reno) and
his wily sidekick, Cartier (Alban
Lenoir), lead a band of badgeholding roughnecks who like to
shoot first and ask questions later
(if at all).
But their unorthodox tactics
have fallen out of favor with new
boss, Becker (Thierry Neuvic),
who’s trying to instill a new level
of discipline within the battalion.
The fact that his wife — fellow cop
Margaux (Caterina Murino) — is
having an affair with Buren only
complicates matters, as does a
vicious robbery that leaves one
victim dead and the whole precinct
on the hunt for the killers.
It’s a fairly boilerplate narrative that serves as a backbone
for all the violent set-pieces and
comic sidepieces, which alternate
in quick succession as Buren and
his boys hone in on the baddies.
Rocher is hardly concerned with
reality — the film’s depiction of the
Paris police is totally absurd, if not
borderline fascistic — though he

Port of Call

I

Writer-director Philip Yung turns in his strongest effort to date
with this timely mystery starring Aaron Kwok BY ELIZABETH KERR
N T H E WA K E OF T H E R ISI NG N U M BER

of murders within Hong Kong’s sex trade,
Philip Yung’s Port of Call couldn’t be more
au courant if it tried. At a time when the safety
and rights of sex workers are increasingly being
called into question, the film, based on a gruesome, headline-grabbing story from five years
ago, takes a muted approach to the story of a
16-year-old Hunan prostitute living in Hong
Kong and the cop who investigates her murder.
Yung’s first feature, Glamorous Youth, was
an astute portrait of marginalized teens and
twentysomethings that suffered only from its
rambling, unfocused nature. His sophomore
effort, May We Chat, was incendiary and foulmouthed, but at roughly 100 minutes it seemed
more compact. Port of Call is a meandering,
meditative mystery that prefers contemplation
to action, but the combination of star Aaron
Kwok and the familiar subject matter should
give the film a solid life in Asia-Pacific.
Port of Call begins with high school student

Jiamei (Jessie Li in a strong debut) becoming
disillusioned with life in Hong Kong in 2009.
One year later, Det. Chong (Kwok) and his
partner Smoky (Patrick Tam) begin an investigation into the events surrounding the brutal
murder of a young woman in a tenement house.
Their prime suspect is moody meat deliveryman Ting Tsz-chung (Michael Ning), a lonely
outsider who relies on prostitutes for company.

D2_rev5_squad+portB.indd 30

AFM (SND Groupe M6)
Cast Jean Reno, Caterina Murino,
Alban Lenoir
Director Benjamin Rocher
90 minutes

It’s a simple story, and the whodunit element is
wrapped up by the midway point.
Port of Call is meticulously produced and is
technically Yung’s best, with cinematography
by Wong Kar-wai regular Christopher Doyle
giving the film a gauzy, opaque veneer that
perfectly visualizes the unfathomable, bottledup emotions and motivations of Jiamei, Ting
and Chong.
The film’s not perfect; it’s too long, whiplashes tonally on more than one occasion and
has a bizarre happy ending that feels out of
place. Yung could have delved deeper into the
peripheral issues the central murder raises
beyond the sex trade and displacement —
issues of apathy and hopelessness among the
city’s youth, as well as friction with Mainland
China. Nonetheless, it’s a worthwhile piece of
work from one of the few true Hong Kong filmmakers around.
AFM (Mei Ah Entertainment Group)
Cast Aaron Kwok, Elaine Jin, Patrick Tam,
Jessie Li, Michael Ning, Jackie Cai, Hatou Yeung,
Eddie Li, Don Li, Maggie Shiu, Eddie Chan
Director-Screenwriter Philip Yung
121 minutes

Kwok is a Hong
Kong detective
obsessed with a
dead prostitute.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

does want us to enjoy ourselves,
and some of the gags (especially
those involving Cartier’s pocketsized power) are cleverly staged.
Ditto for the shootouts, the most
impressive of which comes midway
through the movie when the cops
chase the crooks in broad daylight
around the massive wood, steel and
glass towers of the Bibliotheque
Nationale de France. Never have
so many bullets come so close to so
many books, as if Michael Mann
and Michel Foucault joined forces
to kick ass.
Such fun often comes at the
expense of plausibility, though,
and the film’s tonal shifts between
scenes of humor and despair are
not always well handled, especially
during the second half. Rocher
nonetheless keeps things moving along swiftly enough, and the
performances by veteran Reno and
newcomer Lenoir (French Blood)
are better than in your average
Gallic commercial flick, even if
the former indulges in some of his
usual heavy-handed pathos.

30

11/4/15 2:42 PM

Loews 660 - Uptown 6
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11/3/15 11:40 AM

REVIEWS

Three teenage
friends navigate
choppy waters of
love and desire.

Lazy Hazy Crazy

Screenwriter Luk Yee-sum makes her directing
debut with an uneven girls’ coming-of-age drama

I

HELLIONS

BY ELIZABETH KERR
N I T I A L LY SPIK ED W I T H A R ICH U N DERCU R R EN T OF

good old-fashioned ya-ya sisterhood that raises expectations,
Hong Kong screenwriter Luk Yee-sum’s feature directorial debut Lazy Hazy Crazy gives a feminine voice to themes
of fidelity and sex. Though the film’s accessibility is welcome,
it ultimately reveals itself to be a rote if fleetingly compelling
coming-of-age drama that coasts on a veneer of realism.
The movie dances on the border between baffling and brave in
light of some of the strangest representations of female friendship in recent memory, representations that flirt with male
gaze-type objectification. Lazy revels in its bubble baths and
experimental lesbianism yet ties the characters’ growth to how
they relate to men rather than to themselves or each other.
As the school year comes to an end, three friends in their late
teens — bookish and virginal Tracy (Kwok Yik-sum), worldly
part-time prostitute Chloe (Mak Tsz-yi) and Malaysian transplant and fellow prostitute Alice (Fish Liew) — spend the
summer rooming together. Tracy has a falling-out with her
strict grandmother, Alice is on her own after her father’s abandonment, and Chloe just wants freedom. Alice is technically
the third wheel, befriended by the two childhood mates after a
bullying incident at school. However, it’s Tracy who winds up the
outsider when Alice and Chloe quickly form a tight bond. Into
these roiling emotional waters come Andrew (Tse Sit-chun), the
school’s resident jock and object of desire for all three girls, and
Raymond (Gregory Wong), a bar patron with a heart of gold who
shows Tracy the sexual ropes. Tracy’s misguided hope is that her
newfound knowledge will help her reconnect with Chloe.
Despite its conflicting tones, the film nonetheless manages
some astute observations about the simultaneously fragile and
unshakable bonds among women. The trio of actresses has an
easy rapport, even if at times the performances tip over into
histrionics. The film’s biggest flaw may be a screenplay that’s too
ambitious for the modest character-driven story at its core. Jam
Yau’s intimate cinematography and an unobtrusive, evocative
score by Alan Wong and Janet Yung are positive points.

SCREENING TODAY

1:00PM - TUNNEL POST 1

LAST GIRL STANDING
SCREENING TOMORROW

FRIDAY 3:00PM - FAIRMONT 3

AFM (Bravos Pictures Ltd.)
Cast Kwok Yik-sum, Fish Liew, Mak Tsz-yi, Tse Sit-chun,
Gregory Wong, Susan Shaw
Director Luk Yee-sum // 100 minutes

JINGA FILMS LOEWS HOTEL - SUITE 725
TEL: 00 44 7765 398 742 INFO@JINGAFILMS.COM
WWW.JINGAFILMS.COM

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REVIEWS

Taj Mahal

Stacy Martin stars in a realistic but less than gripping
take on the Mumbai attacks of 2008 BY JORDAN MINTZER

DAY
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Martin is a
young European
woman coping
with unexpected
violence.

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DING:
ES ATTEN
E XECUTIV , PRESIDENT
M
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ANDRE RELIS@VMIWORLDWIDE.CO
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SALES EIWORLDWIDE.COM
,
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JD@VM
J.D. BE

VMI
1419 WILCOX AVENUE LOS ANGELES, CA 90028 USA
PHONE: 323.703.1115 FAX: 323.207.8024
SALES@VMIWORLDWIDE.COM
WWW.VMIWORLDWIDE.COM

U L L ETS F LY, BOM B S BU R ST A N D F IR E S BR E A K OU T,

but there’s very little that’s explosive about Taj Mahal, a
highly subjective retelling of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that
fails to deliver enough suspense to function as an outright thriller.
Inspired by real events that took place at the titular five-star
hotel, where guests found themselves under siege for several nights
by a heavily armed squad of Pakistani terrorists, this second directorial outing from Gallic critic-turned-filmmaker Nicolas Saada
eschews socio-political context to focus on the travails of one very
rich and beautiful Franco-British girl trapped inside the building.
Yet as much as Nyphomaniac star Stacy Martin is easy on the
eyes in the lead role, her character is not particularly hard on the
brain, and despite a few light scares, there isn’t much here worth
biting your nails over. The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, located in
downtown Mumbai, was one of several locations assaulted by a
team of 10 well-trained militants, who arrived at the city by inflatable raft on the night of Nov. 26 and wreaked havoc for the next
three days, killing 164 people. While the fact that Westerners were
targeted made this a newsworthy event abroad, the attacks were
unfortunately nothing new in Mumbai.
You wouldn’t know any of this from Saada’s screenplay, which
sticks almost entirely to the viewpoint of its passive waiflike heroine, Louise (Martin), who’s staying in the hotel with her French
dad (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) and British mom (Gina McKee)
until they move into an apartment for a two-year stint abroad.
The film kicks into gear when mom and dad head out for dinner and leave their daughter alone. It’s of course just then that
Louise hears noises outside, discovering that the usually packed
streets are empty. And wait, was that a gunshot down the hall?
Saada has clever ways of revealing information while never
leaving Louise’s side, using lots of sound effects and a very necessary cell phone to explain what’s happening. Yet while he sets up
expectations of an adrenaline-filled, harrowing re-creation of
actual events, what he winds up delivering is not quite up to par.
Saada deserves credit for avoiding the dubious heroism of the
Taken franchise. But with neither sufficient characterization nor
the realistic thrills of a Paul Greengrass movie, there’s just not
enough for a full-fledged feature, and despite an expedited running time, the film actually feels both thin and stretched out.
AFM (BAC Films Distribution)
Cast Stacy Martin, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Gina McKee
Director Nicolas Saada // 89 minutes
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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Meet us at the
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11/4/15 8:05 PM

8 Decades of The Hollywood Reporter
The most glamorous and memorable moments from a storied history
Stanton and date
at the sixth annual
AFM Awards on
Feb. 22, 1986.

ONSI DER I NG T H E

vast number of credits
Harry Dean Stanton has
in low-budget films, it
would be difficult to name another
actor who’s had as many movies
pass through the American Film
Market. The 89-year-old’s movie
credits begin with 1956’s The Wrong
Man (an almost forgotten Alfred
Hitchcock film that starred Henry
Fonda) and run all the way to his
latest project, the Brian McGuire
comedy Sick of It All, now in postproduction. Jerry Bruckheimer,
who has made three films with
Stanton (1975’s Rafferty and the
Gold Dust Twins and Farewell, My
Lovely and 1982’s Young Doctors in
Love) tells THR the reason Stanton

gets hired so frequently is because
“he has authenticity. He becomes
the role. He’s just the real thing.”
Some of that authenticity comes
from being born in rural East
Irvine, Ky., where his father was a
small-town tobacco farmer. During
World War II, Stanton served as
a ship’s cook during the Battle of
Okinawa when the Japanese were
using kamikaze suicide attacks (“I
was lucky not to have been blown
up or killed,” he once said). He
returned to Kentucky, where he
studied journalism, but also was
in a drama group that led to him
quitting school and coming to
the Pasadena Playhouse in 1949.
Stanton worked for 30 years as a
character actor before getting his

first lead role, in Wim Wenders’
Paris, Texas.. The film unanimously
won the Palme d’Or at the 1984
Cannes Film Festival. Stanton once
said: “If I never did another film
after Paris, Texas, I’d be happy.” If
he had quit acting, he’d have never
worked with John Hughes, playing
an underemployed dad to Molly
Ringwald’s Annie Walsh in the
1986 coming-of-age drama Pretty
in Pink (released six days after he
attended that year’s AFM Awards),
and he’d have missed making
1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ
with Martin Scorsese and 1990’s
Wild at Heart with David Lynch.
And audiences wouldn’t have seen
him as the Mormon polygamist and
self-proclaimed prophet Roman

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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36

Grant in HBO’s Big Love series
in 2010. Producer Steve Stabler,
who cast Stanton in his 1997 film
Midnight Blue, thinks of Stanton
as “the perfect actor for films that
were being sold at AFM in the ’90s.
Everyone knew who he was, but he
was relatively inexpensive to hire.
Having his name on the film and
picture on the one-sheet made Blue
stand out from the many, many
others that didn’t have recognizable talent.” — BILL HIGGINS

RON GALELLA/WIREIMAGE

C

In 1986, Harry Dean Stanton
Came Out for the AFM Prom

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