Elle Fanning

Coppola returns to form with seductive Southern gothic drama 

Union soldier John (Colin Farrell) and Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) find a moment alone. 

In its 70-year history, the Cannes Film Festival has only awarded its Best Director prize to a female director twice; the first was in 1961 (to Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva for Chronicle of Flaming Years, a tale of Nazi resistance in the Soviet Union), and the second was this May, to writer/director Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled. While the Festival sadly took some 50 years before bestowing this honor on another woman, this year’s award hopefully signals a real shift toward providing opportunities for, and recognizing the accomplishments of, women in film. That said, the concern of this review, of course, is the film itself: are Coppola and her new film worthy of the prize? The answer, thankfully, is a resounding yes.
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Film Review: Live by Night

by Carrie Kahn on January 13, 2017

Affleck’s gangster pic falls flat

As gangster Joe Coughlin, Ben Affleck perfects the art of stoicism.

The best thing that can be said about Live by Night, Ben Affleck’s third writing/directing attempt (after the infinitely better Gone Baby Gone and The Town) is that Affleck definitely looks great in an overcoat and a fedora. Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, Affleck’s newest picture is a run-of-the-mill 1920s gangster piece that offers nothing new to the genre, and nothing worth watching on screen, save, of course, for that fedora, which sure suits Affleck’s square-jawed face well.
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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2016

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2016. Here is Carrie’s list, presented, unlike last year’s alphabetized list, in descending rank order. And you can check out Chad’s list here to see which one of us you agree with more!

10.) Nocturnal Animals

Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, middle) arrives at a possible crime scene with lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, r.).

Sometimes the story-within-the-story convention can be confusing or feel gimmicky, but in this visually stunning picture from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford, the technique works to terrific effect. Amy Adams, as a woman haunted by a decision she made years ago, reads a manuscript sent to her by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and that story comes alive on screen in the form of family man Tony (Gyllenhaal again) and his confrontation with some dangerous, deranged miscreants. Ford’s keen aesthetic vision and sharp performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon as a tenacious lawman combine to make this brutally poetic but utterly captivating film one of the year’s most definitively unusual. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

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What an amazing movie. Parts of it may repulse you. Go see it anyway.

Elle Fanning in Nicolas Winding Refn's Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refn doesn’t care what you think about his movies. He makes films without traditional plots, and with a fair measure of gruesome violence. He believes himself so important that he uses a little NRW monogram under the title card of his features. He doesn’t feel the need to explain anything to the audience; instead, he deals with metaphor and buried meaning. Regardless of whether or not his movies fall under any old fashioned idea of what’s “good,” he’s awesome at making them.

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I don’t know you, I may have walked with you once upon a dream…

Well.  Well.  What magnificent horns you have.

Well. Well. What magnificent horns you have.

…but honestly, who are you?

This is not the Maleficent from Disney’s 1959 animated classic, Sleeping Beauty.  There’s a physical resemblance, sure.  For about 10-15 minutes, the story and tone seems to reflect the Disney version as well.  But mostly this is a completely new retelling, including new environments, and  newly structured characters and motives.  Unfortunately, it’s the title character that suffers the most from the creative liberties taken.  Yet, it’s still Angelina Jolie, playing the title character of Maleficent, who ends up stealing the show from start to finish with her powerful features, dark silhouette, and devotion to her character — no matter how weakened the character is now.

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Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon in WE BOUGHT A ZOO

starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, John Michael Higgins, J.B. Smoove

written by: Cameron Crowe and Aline Brosh McKenna

directed by: Cameron Crowe

MPAA: Rated PG for language and some thematic elements.

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Film Review: “Super 8”

June 8, 2011

starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich, Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Ryan Griffiths, Gabriel Basso, AJ Michalka written and directed by: J.J. Abrams MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some drug use.

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