As one of the students protesting outside the American embassy during the Iran hostage crisis, Roya Hakakian writes about her unique perspective on Ben Affleck’s film Argo. But she says the film misses the essential point that the hostages were merely a sideshow to the Ayatollah’s seizing tighter control of Iran.
You have to watch Argo in the South as I did, in Burke County, N.C. to be exact, to feel that revisiting the hostage crisis between Iran and the United States still touches a raw nerve. Here, people came to let an old, still-nagging wound soak in cinematic brine. The film’s sharp and witty lines landed in this theatre like hail on plush carpeting. There was no sound of laughter. My fellow matinee viewers had hardly recovered from the humiliation of Vietnam when the assault on the U.S. embassy, and the parade of the helpless blindfolded American diplomats, had come. Thirty-some years later, the takeover is still a trauma of very high and personal order.
But you have to have been a witness to that history to appreciate the farcical beat at the heart of it all. Even as John Goodman and Alan Arkin’s bubbling comedic chemistry offered plenty of opportunities for guiltless laughs—those originating from cynical, self-deprecating insights—the truth, the actual history as it had occurred, was far more outrageous. A former hostage had once recalled to me that the Kalashnikov-wielding, radical Islamist teenager in charge of guarding him in solitary confinement had nearly begged him, “When you get out of here, can you help me get a visa to the US?”
I had been among the angry fist-throwing mob in front of the embassy enough times to know that the answer to the question Goodman and Arkin contemplated as they watched the footage of the demonstrations—“Is this all for the cameras?”—was, for the most part, yes. Feverish dramas of such magnitude and intensity are impossible to sustain for long. People eventually sweated and deserted the embassy gates. The crowds who showed up long after the excitement had ebbed were not driven there by ideology. For school-averse fledgling teenagers such as myself demonstrating before the US embassy was a legitimate excuse to miss math or skip an exam—the greatest snow day in the history of elementary education.
Ben Affleck’s new movie boasts great photography and acting, but runs the risk of leaving viewers with an incomplete and at times inaccurate impression, says the American hiker who was held hostage in Iran for 410 days.
Anyone who’s ever been captured knows the punishing fantasy of rescue. During the 410 days that I was held hostage in Iran, the most common escape scenario I played in my head involved the door of my cell bursting open in the dead of night to reveal a group of heavily armed men who, with my now-husband Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal in tow, would lead us to a helicopter waiting nearby to fly us to safety.
I went to see Ben Affleck’s new film Argo as soon as it hit the theaters last week. I was eager to learn more about the most outlandish, and perhaps least known, rescue of Americans in history—and see it play out on the silver screen. I was curious to note the similarities and differences to my own situation and, perhaps most important, to tease out the perspective that, in portraying the historic events that set the stage for U.S.-Iranian relations for the next 30-plus years, Affleck could not help but present.
The film tells the little-known story of six U.S. diplomats who escaped the American Embassy in Tehran immediately after it was stormed by a crowd of angry Iranians during the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The 66 other diplomats were subsequently held hostage for 444 days, while these lucky six made it to the residence of the Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, where they secretly lived for 79 days before they were effectively rescued with the help of the CIA, using the most unlikely cover story of being in Iran to scout out the location for a Canadian film project.
Argo’s stunning cinematography and incredibly realistic acting impressed and entertained me. The story itself, even if it is only loosely based on history (as Affleck took pains to point out), is fantastic and timely. Still, when I left Argo, I found myself worried about the incomplete, and at times inaccurate, impression that many viewers would walk away with.
From Nicole Kidman peeing on former Disney kid Zac Efron in ‘The Paperboy,’ which opens Friday, to that scene with Amy Adams in ‘The Master,’ many of this year’s awards-bait films are upping the kink factor. (SPOILER ALERT!)
During a pivotal scene in The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s engrossing psychological drama based (in part) on the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the charismatic mystic Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is gazing at himself in the mirror. His cunning wife, Peggy (played by the oft-bubbly Amy Adams), has been sensing an animal-like attraction between her husband and an unstable drifter, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). In order to mitigate his urges, she unzips his trousers, locks eyes with his reflection, and gives him a furious hand-job. “Cum for me,” she says.
And this masochistic sex act, delivered by none other than the princess from Enchanted, is just the tip of the … iceberg.
Whereas last year, amid all the priggish costume dramas, the only film during awards season that got movie-going audiences all hot and bothered was the NC-17-rated Shame, which featured its star Michael Fassbender urinating on camera and engaged in a raunchy three-way sex scene that included a rare “tossed salad,” this year’s batch of Oscar hopefuls boasts a plethora of sex acts ranging from the impressive to the downright bizarre. Call it the Fifty Shades of Grey effect.
Over the summer, audiences gagged at the sight of Gina Gershon forcibly fellating a chicken leg situated in the crotch of a psycho killer, played by Matthew McConaughey, in William Friedkin’s impressive dark comedy, Killer Joe. And in another McConaughey film, the male-stripping extravaganza Magic Mike, randy viewers were treated to a close-up shot of Big Dick Richie (True Blood hunk Joe Manganiello) inflating his gigantic penis in a pump.
'Brokeback Mountain' director Ang Lee’s 3D epic made its premiere at the New York Film Festival.
In February 2010, author Yann Martel received an envelope from the White House. Inside, there was a two-paragraph note: “My daughter and I just finished reading Life of Pi together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals. It is a lovely book—an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling. Thank you."
The letter was signed by President Barack Obama.
After ten years in Hollywood development hell, that saw directors M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón and Jean-Pierre Jeunet come onboard only to jump ship, Martel’s 2001 bestselling novel Life of Pi has finally completed its journey to the big screen—with Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee at the helm.
Like another highly anticipated fall film, the centuries-spanning saga Cloud Atlas, Martel’s novel would have been unfilmable a decade ago. However, thanks to the rapid evolution of 3D technology, Lee’s silver screen adaptation made its world premiere as the opening-night film of the 50th New York Film Festival (it opens on Nov. 21 nationwide).
The two-time Oscar nominee’s bizarre fake documentary made him persona non grata in Hollywood—but today he’s being hailed for his finest film performance to date in ‘The Master.’ Chris Lee on Phoenix’s rise out of movie exile and into presumed Oscar glory.
In Paul Thomas Anderson’s searing spiritual drama The Master, Joaquin Phoenix delivers the performance of his career as Freddie Quell, a volatile World War II veteran trying to readjust to civilian life after the horrors of battle. He’s a shell-shocked dipsomaniac prone to fits of ultra-violence who falls under the sway of charismatic cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman), functioning as the so-called Master’s factotum and default enforcer-bodyguard. And in one scene, when Dodd, who leads a religious movement that writer-director Anderson based on the Church of Scientology, is jailed, Freddie gets thrown into an adjoining cell where he is shown delivering the mother of all film freak-outs.
Still shackled, with his trousers in shreds and radiating off-kilter aggression, Phoenix immediately begins wilding out. He rams his head and back repeatedly into a bunk bed and kicks at the metal bars, sputtering and shaking and uttering F-bomb after F-bomb. Then he turns his wrath on the cell’s toilet, hate-stomping it off of the wall in a frenzy of porcelain-smashing rage.
The actor reportedly studied online videos of animals in captivity to inform this out of control behavior but didn’t set out to kill the commode. “I didn’t intend to break the thing,” Phoenix told The New York Times. “I didn’t know that was possible.”
With his vivid portrayal of a wild, unhinged basket case, Phoenix has managed a singular feat: remedying the public perception of himself as a wild, unhinged basket case after spending more than a year pretending to be a wild, unhinged basket case for his last movie I’m Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin. In The Master, the actor basically goes what the movie Tropic Thunder called “full retard” to resurrect his career.
It’s the best-reviewed movie of the year. But does it live up to all the hype? Yes, says Marlow Stern. Hell no, says Ramin Setoodeh. Here, they duke it out. (NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD)
The fall movie season kicks off this weekend with the limited release of The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s drama possibly inspired by the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Distributed by Oscar guru Harvey Weinstein, the film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, a mystic figure who imposes his obscure teachings—dubbed The Cause—to a disillusioned World War II Navy veteran prone to fits of rage, played by Joaquin Phoenix.
The Master is not only being hailed as one of the finest works of Anderson’s career, which includes Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, but also as an Oscar frontrunner. But is all the critical hype overblown? Ramin Setoodeh hated The Master. Marlow Stern loved it. Here, they debate the merits of the film.
Ramin: The critics are salivating over The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s new allegedly-inspired-by-Scientology drama (that has little to do with Scientology), already crowning it as the greatest film of the year. But I’ll tell you what: The Master is a disaster. It’s a long, boring, emotionally grueling movie that will leave most audiences cold, with no payoff. It’s difficult to really describe the film, but the best I can do is to say it’s like a mashup of Tree of Life with The Iron Lady. Doesn’t that sound entertaining?! Go buy your tickets now! Throughout the showing I attended, I was less interested in what was going on on-screen—I was more fixated on the audience. Were they as underwhelmed as I was? I wanted to take a nap.
Marlow: While I’m pretty sure filmmaker Irwin Allen (The Poseidon Adventure) would take issue with your label, since it comes dangerously close to infringing on his “Master of Disaster” moniker, I’d have to respectfully disagree with your assessment. Firstly, PTA’s film seems to have a heck of a lot to do with Scientology. Let’s tackle this. The life of Lancaster Dodd, the mystic leader played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a virtual carbon copy of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, as Scientologist Marc Headley, who was counseled by Tom Cruise himself, wrote for us, and his “processing” sessions—where a subject travels back in time through their memories to recount past traumas—parallels the concept of “auditing” in Scientology. But the thing that struck me as most similar to Scientology is how the film deals with the not-so-latent homosexuality in Dodd. Hubbard posited that homosexuality was a “perversion” and that Scientology could help raise people out of the “low emotion” that “produces it.” There are numerous scenes in The Master that examine this, in particular Dodd’s relationship with Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). Dodd seems to be sexually attracted to Quell’s animalistic nature, e.g. that scene where they’re wrestling with each other on the front lawn after Quell is released from prison, or the scene where Dodd’s wife, played by Amy Adams, gives him a handjob, along with a spiel about “cumming for her” and eradicating himself of negative (read: homosexual) thoughts. Oh, and doesn’t the husband of Dodd’s daughter seem rather… effete? Which explains why she, too, is attracted to Quell, who is pure testosterone.
The Toronto International Film Festival’s first four days offered many of 2012’s biggest movies and most outsize performances, from ‘Argo’ to ‘Looper’ and Bill Murray to Marion Cotillard. Chris Lee on Hollywood’s invasion of the Great White North.
Since opening its doors to the world four days ago, the Toronto International Film Festival has lived up to reputation as North America’s most glamorous, most grown-up, and most highly polished cinematic showcase, delivering an abundance of top-tier movies with some of Hollywood’s highest-wattage stars turning in career-defining—if not career-redirecting—performances that should keep Oscar prognosticators talking through the awards derby’s end in February.
The festival kicked off Thursday with the splashy opening-night premiere of Looper, a sci-fi thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, a hit man facing unique professional vagaries: he works for mob enforcers from the near future who send intended victims back via time machine. But when Joe’s older self (Bruce Willis) turns up and the younger version fails to pull the trigger, he sets off a chain of violent and spectacular action set pieces.
Looper director Rian Johnson is no stranger in Toronto, having premiered his 2008 indie crime caper, The Brothers Bloom, at the fest. But to hear him tell it, that was nothing compared with this time, when he arred with a $30 million multiplex movie costarring Bruce Willis and full studio distribution. “We had a great time being here with Bloom, but this was just a totally different experience,” Johnson told The Daily Beast. “Just the scope of it, feeling the energy from the crowd. You can probably see the thousand-yard stare in my eyes. I’m still trying to take all this in and process it.”
In terms of social-media bounce, however, Looper was upstaged on opening night by Kristen Stewart’s appearance on the red carpet in support of her sexy turn in director Walter Salles’s adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Posing and preening for paparazzi—for the first time since her cheating scandal erupted into a global Twi-hard furor—in a form-hugging sequined dress and looking generally smokin’ hot, Stewart sent an implicit message: she’s unfazed by the controversy and takes her movie-star responsibilities seriously. Oh, and Robert Pattinson? This is what you’re missing out on.
Ryan Gosling, Paul Thomas Anderson, Brian DePalma, Selena Gomez, the Wachowskis, and Ben Affleck all have movies at the star-heavy Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday. The Daily Beast’s Chris Lee runs down the most Oscar-worthy of the bunch.
With Labor Day gone and summer a quickly fading memory, the city of Toronto braces itself for Canada’s annual invasion by A-list Hollywood star power, tabloid ingénues, ebullient auteurs, and the freewheeling hive of buzz that envelopes them all for 10 white-hot days every September—the Toronto International Film Festival, kicking off Thursday.
Even if the relatively tiny Telluride Film Festival provides a starter’s pistol for awards season, arriving less than a week before Toronto and showcasing the North American premieres of a number of the same movies—early breakouts Argo, Frances Ha, and Hyde Park on Hudson among them—what Toronto indisputably provides is a clearinghouse for the fall’s biggest films. It’s a singular collision of studio-released prestige titles, big-budget genre fare, hot acquisitions entries and, lamentably, more than a few exquisite indie gems that will somehow fail to land distribution deals, never to pop up on the cultural radar again.
Moreover, the festival offers a canary-in-a-coal-mine warning about what will be awards season’s heavyweight contenders. In recent years, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, and Crash bowed in Toronto, picking up film-biz momentum at the festival before going on to Oscar acclaim. And as always, a constellation of Hollywood’s best and brightest arrive in the Canadian metropolis to hype their films, with expected attendees this year to include Ben Affleck, Nicole Kidman, Ewan MacGregor, Ice-T, Noomi Rapace, Tom Hanks, Marion Cotillard, Ryan Gosling, Selena Gomez, Joaquin Phoenix, and Snoop Lion (né Snoop Dogg).
Without further ado, The Daily Beast provides you this rundown of the Toronto International Film Festival’s hottest films:
The ever-evolving actor-director’s riveting CIA thriller ‘Argo’ wowed the Telluride Film Festival. Marlow Stern speaks to Affleck about his most ambitious effort yet.
“This story is so crazy,” Ben Affleck tells The Daily Beast. “If it weren’t true, you just couldn’t make this movie, because it would be too ridiculous.”
Argo, the latest action-thriller from Affleck the director, is based on the 2007 Wired article “Escape From Tehran: How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans From Iran.” The film chronicles the “Canadian Caper”—a joint covert mission executed by the CIA and the Canadian government to rescue six American diplomats who had evaded capture during the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran and subsequent hostage crisis.
With time running out, the CIA enlists Tony Mendez (Affleck), its exfiltration guru, to spearhead the “best bad idea” they have: convince the Iranian government that the six hostages are members of a film crew scouting locations in Tehran for a Flash Gordon-esque sci-fi movie called Argo. To create a convincing backstory, Mendez enlists the aid of Hollywood makeup expert John Chambers (John Goodman) and over-the-hill executive Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to shepherd the screenplay, create comic-strip storyboards, and even take out ads in the Hollywood trades announcing the project. Mendez, meanwhile, provided the cover story, documents—including Canadian passports and forged Iranian visas—and disguises for the hostages and led the mission. The truth about the operation didn’t emerge until 1997, when President Clinton declassified it.
The film received unanimous praise at the 39th annual Telluride Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, with many awards pundits considering it a lock for at least a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
With fall already in the air and popcorn movie season ending next week, we look back at the season’s surprise hits, biggest flops, and career-killing screw-ups, from ‘The Avengers’ to ‘Ted’ to ‘Abraham Lincoln.’
The summer of 2012 will forever be remembered as a point of no return. It’s when Hollywood’s ugliest fears were made manifest, and the rules of movie-going were rewritten in much the same way 9/11 forever changed commercial air travel. In a season usually associated with bombastic blockbusters and that singular summer cocktail for sweet relief—Dr. Pibb and Red Vines in an air-conditioned auditorium on a blazing hot day—a deranged gunman burst into a packed screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12, injuring 58 others, and forever shattering any sense of security that multiplex-goers had felt.
But even while that off-screen tragedy has managed to overshadow everything in its wake, each year the hottest season comes packed with moviedom’s most expensive titles and Hollywood’s highest-stakes rolls of the dice. In spite of the senseless bloodshed in Aurora, 2012 has been a banner year for both surprise winners and total fiascos.
With a tinge of fall in the air and popcorn movie season officially ending on Labor Day, The Daily Beast looks back at the biggest movie hits, worst flops and career-killing screw-ups from summer 2012.
Inside director P.T. Anderson’s ‘Scientology movie.’
Scene for scene, shot for shot, Paul Thomas Anderson may be the most exciting American writer-director of his generation. He’s a kind of cinematic chemist who works with unstable, dangerously flammable human particles. At any moment his characters—and his movies—are capable of exploding, and there’s no telling which way the shards will fly, or, as in Magnolia, the frogs will drop. Think of the seething ambition of Daniel Day-Lewis’s power-hungry oil magnate in There Will Be Blood; the powder keg of anger underneath the shy Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love; the cold, narcissistic fury behind the cocky surface of Tom Cruise’s sex-guru in Magnolia; the coke-fueled desperation of the porn-world denizens in his exhilarating Boogie Nights. There are rarely conventional heroes and villains in Anderson’s emotionally charged sagas, and that’s one of the reasons his movies feel so alive; he keeps us out of the comfort zone of predictable Hollywood formulas.
The protagonist of the magnificently unsettling The Master, Freddie Quell, may be the most volatile compound yet in the Anderson canon. Played by Joaquin Phoenix, he’s a wild, damaged World War II vet who, at war’s end, returns to California after his stint in the Pacific. An alcoholic who concocts his own bootleg hooch, a puss-hound with sex on the brain, Freddie has a violent streak that can be set off by the slightest provocation.
As the all-powerful spiritual leader, Hoffman often snaps to attack mode. (Phil Bray)
He’s a man who’s spent his life running away, even from the girl he professes to be the love of his life. And then Freddie meets and falls under the sway of “the Master,” Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the founder and leader of a spiritual movement called the Cause. Anderson freely acknowledges that this flamboyant character—a self-described author, sea captain, physicist, and philosopher—was inspired by L. Ron Hubbard. Once word of this leaked out, The Master immediately got tagged as Anderson’s “Scientology movie.” “I was naive,” the director says, somewhat ruefully. “I should have known that’s what people would latch onto.” But if you’re expecting to see an exposé of that controversial “religion,” you’ve come to the wrong movie. This is not to say Scientologists are going to like what they see. But Anderson, who gets a bit stressed when the subject comes up, finds himself “much more defensive and protective of [Scientology] than I would have thought.”
Director Paul Thomas Anderson won’t say what inspired his new film. So a former member of the church’s Sea Org took a look at the screenplay and gives The Daily Beast his verdict.
With all of the recent news regarding the Church of Scientology, it seems it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about it. When it was first reported that Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, was filming a movie that took place during the 1950s and was about a curious figure who starts a faith-based organization that catches on in America, a lot of folks in Hollywood assumed this was about L. Ron Hubbard and the church he founded.
No one has officially stated that the movie is based on Hubbard or Scientology. But it has been reported that Anderson screened the movie for Tom Cruise, one of Scientology’s most fervent and devout followers. For a movie that is officially not about Scientology, having Cruise screen it, if he indeed did, sure would seem like a curious move.
People want to know: is the film about Scientology and Hubbard or not?
No one from Anderson’s camp will give a definitive answer. And as for Scientology, “No one in the church has seen the film, and we have no comment,” a spokesman told The Daily Beast recently.
The darling of the festival circuit just arrived in theaters—and the Bayou drama seems destined for Academy Award glory. A primer on this year’s buzziest, best-reviewed film.
If you’ve never heard of Quvenzhané Wallis, odds are by the time Oscars are being handed out next February, you’ll be more than passingly acquainted with indie moviedom’s newest, littlest supernova. Given her searing performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild—hands down, 2012’s most acclaimed film to date—it’s just a matter of time before multiplex America gains a working familiarity with the precocious 8-year-old actress and masters the pronunciation of her tongue-twister of a name.
Quvenzhane Wallis, left, and Dwight Henry in Beasts of the Southern Wild. (Jess Pinkham / Fox Searchlight)
That’s because with the theatrical release of Beasts of the Southern Wild this week, awards season has just kicked off in earnest. Although Serious Movies about Socially Redemptive Subjects, featuring Important Performances and showcasing Heartrending Drama usually start tromping onto movie screens with the onset of autumn and keep on coming through year’s end, the awards-season race this year has gotten off to a gallop during 2012’s hottest months.
Critics have been falling all over themselves to conjure original ways to gush over Beasts—the Bayou drama that grabbed a grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, an audience prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and a Camera d’Or at Cannes—praising its magical realism, folkloric rootsiness, and organic performances by non-professional actors. “The movie, a passionate and unruly explosion of Americana, directed by Benh Zeitlin, winks at skepticism, laughs at sober analysis, and stares down criticism,” Manhola Dargis thrilled in The New York Times. “…let’s all agree: This movie is a blast of sheer, improbable joy.”
One of the year’s best movies is ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ a fantastical tale of a Louisiana girl in search of her mother. Marlow Stern talked to the director and young star of the film, which won prizes at Sundance and Cannes, and is out June 27.
Benh Zeitlin, the 29-year-old director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s most talked-about movie—and winner of the coveted Grand Jury Prize and FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes—is running late. So Quvenzhane Wallis, star of Zeitlin’s film, does what any other 8-year-old girl would do to pass the time—eats a couple of oranges, guzzles a can of Sprite, extols the virtues of Wizards of Waverly Place, and parks herself in front of my laptop computer for a rousing game of Ninja Painter. It’s a far cry from Hushpuppy, her crawfish-eating, vodka-swilling, cardbox box-cave painting character in the film.
And for Zeitlin, tardiness, it seems, has been a blessing in disguise.
After a stint in New York City teaching film at the Grace Church School, followed by a brief sojourn in the Czech Republic working for animator Jan Svankmajer, Zeitlin made his way down to post-Katrina southern Louisiana to shoot the short film "Glory at Sea." The seven-minute, $7,000 film was supposed to take a month but, due to various work stoppages, shooting lasted eight months and the film ended up clocking in at almost 26 minutes.
“By the time I was done with it I knew I was going to stay in Louisiana,” said Zeitlin in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Probably the reason I wanted to do Beasts so much was because I wanted to know why I felt so compelled to stay.”
The Austrian director’s movies often are criticized as difficult or confrontational, but his new film, ‘Amour,’ has enthralled Cannes critics with its powerful treatment of love and euthanasia. Richard Porton talks with Haneke, and the film’s legendary star, Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Rather surprisingly, the Austrian director Michael Haneke’s Amour, which premiered Sunday at Cannes, has proved to be among the most popular films to screen so far in the festival’s official competition. It’s surprising because many of Haneke’s earlier films have been labeled “difficult,” “confrontational,” or even “endurance tests.” Films like Funny Games (1997), in which thugs torture a middle-class family (Haneke directed a shot-for-shot U.S. remake with Naomi Watts in 2008) or The Piano Teacher (2001), which features Isabelle Huppert in the title role as a masochist enamored of sexual self-mutilation, were deliberately designed to make audiences uncomfortable.
As Haneke told The Daily Beast when I sat down with him and Amour’s star, the veteran French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, “Art deals with daily life and life is difficult; it’s our duty as artists to step on people’s toes.”
Although Amour deals with unquestionably somber topics—the shock of seeing a loved one’s body and mind deteriorate, the validity of choosing euthanasia as a respite for suffering— the film is accessible to anyone who has ever coped with a partner or parent’s terminal illness. “Like almost everyone I know, I’ve been confronted with the illness of someone I loved deeply. It’s a very painful experience to look on helplessly,” explained Haneke.”
The plot couldn’t be simpler. Georges (Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired classical-music teachers who still relish each other’s company and the daily pleasures of meals and attending concerts. When Anne falls victim to a stroke, their world is turned upside down. Their middle-aged daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), returns from London to Paris with her English husband but is appalled by her once vibrant and lucid mother’s sad transformation. At one point she remarks to her father, “She’s speaking gibberish … what’s next?” He replies that her condition “will go steadily downhill until it’s worse.” While there’s no facile sentimentalism in Haneke’s portrait of old age, the critics in attendance at Cannes, many of whom could not stomach his earlier films, are apparently responding to the purity of the love shared by a couple who appear totally devoted to each other.
Whether you found him hilarious or lame, it's undeniable that the Academy Awards host gave a provocative performance. Watch MacFarlane's most controversial comments, as he ripped on everything from Clooney's pedophilia to Lincoln's assassination.
All the surprises and snubs from this morning’s Academy Award nominations honoring the best in cinema.
Marlow Stern talks to Michael Haneke about his heartrending ‘Amour’—which deserves an Oscar nod.
The actor-director dishes on his riveting CIA thriller, a virtual Oscar-nomination lock.
It's Hollywood to the rescue in actor/director Ben Affleck's new film, 'Argo,' based on the true story of when the U.S. staged a movie shoot to rescue hostages from Iran. Ramin Setoodeh and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers dissect the film.
Sundance darling ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ out June 27, is one of the year’s best, says Marlow Stern.
How he’s shattering a genre with ‘Django Unchained’.
Quentin Tarantino is at it again, directing another star-studded cast in a monumental slave story meets spaghetti western. But is it his best work? Ramin Setoodeh and Peter Travers debate.
Marlow Stern on why the film adaptation of the celebrated musical is the frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar.
Does 'Les Miz' justify all the Oscar buzz? Ramin Setoodeh and Peter Travers review the epic big screen adaptation of the celebrated musical.
Was Ang Lee’s film adaptation of ‘Life of Pi’ true to the novel? Mike Munoz explores the differences.
Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, a consultant on the movie, says in the end it’s not the details that matter.
The actress tells Ramin Setoodeh about ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and how ‘Hunger Games’ changed her life.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-bait film is being falsely accused of promoting torture, says Marlow Stern.
We missed you, Kathryn Bigelow! In this edition of Flick Picks, Ramin Setoodeh and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers review her not-quite-a-follow-up to The Hurt Locker.