Movie news digest Sept 16 2011- by Regan Payne - As ushered in by the Toronto and Vancouver film festivals, fall marks the shift away from mindless summer pap to the gritty, indie, award-seeking films. As the cavalcade begins, theatres this weekend get their first taste as the gritty, indie, award-winning Drive takes center stage. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn took the directing honours at Cannes this past May, and the film itself was largely considered the most exciting prospect (perhaps outside of The Tree of Life) in the line-up. The film, which stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver mixed up in the wrong end of a failed heist, indeed looks like a hell of a lot of fun. And with Oscar expanding to 10 nominees the past few years, great films that are also big entertainments are finally getting their due. Prediction: Drive will be among them, as Eddie Murphy chortles his way through next year’s ceremony. Read our Drive review. Trailer - Drive: - From the possibly sublime to the probably ridiculous: Sam Pekinpah’s legendary 1971 movie Straw Dogs has been remade, and will be competing with Drive this weekend at the box office. Moved from the English countryside to the U.S. backwaters, the premise remains the same: a bookish type and his beautiful wife find themselves at odds with locals of a small town, culminating in a brutal confrontation. Pekinpah’s original starred Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, and was a tense, unrelenting tale of the ugly truths bubbling just under the surface of civilized society. The remake stars James Marsden and Kate Bosworth. Trailer - Straw Dogs (1971): Trailer - Straw Dogs (2011): - Early word out of TIFF is that Alexander Payne’s long-awaited return, The Descendents, is well worth our aforementioned wait. George Clooney stars as a distant father attempting to reconnect with his two daughters. Your Sister’s Sister, starring Emily Blunt, whose distribution rights were just snapped up by IFC, is also getting great reviews. The film, directed by Lynn Shelton (who made the fantastic Humpday a couple years back), sees Blunt delicately maneuvering her passions for multiple members of the same family, while mourning another. Trailer - The Descendents: - And for those of you who can’t wait for the American awards season to kick-start, the EFA (European Film Academy) announced its 45-film shortlist of those movies eligible for votes. An absolute who’s-who of European cinema, the list includes, among others, Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse, and cinema’s latest Hitler sympathizer, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. The final nominees, broken down by category, are announced in early November at the Seville European Film Festival, while the trinkets are handed out in Berlin, Dec. 3. Trailer - Melancholia: http://youtu.be/e6OsQg1wehk
- I can't decide if Roman Polanski is the bravest or most cowardly man in film history. After willfully abusing a minor back in the '70s, he hit the road at his earliest convenience - even if the wonderful documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired displayed how he was manipulated by the U.S. judicial system, he was still guilty of heinous crimes. And now, two years after authorities bum-rushed him at the Zurich Film Festival, Polanski, unfazed, is returning to the scene, to accept a lifetime achievement award. Director of such classics as Chinatown and The Pianist, as well as hugely overlooked gems such as The Tenant and The Ghost Writer, Roman trudges on almost flaunting his prodigious talents in the face of law and order.
- Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, the man behind such indie gems as The Man Without A Past and The Match Factory Girl, seems to be mellowing as he gracefully slides into the autumn of his film career. Kaurismäki has graciously accepted the Finnish Film Chamber's decision to have his latest, Le Havre, be Finland's official selection for Best Foreign Language Film for this year's Oscars - a tribute he would have rebuked with extreme prejudice only a few years back. In 2002, Kaurismäki received the same honour for The Man Without A Past, only to refuse any participation in the ceremony after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.