Preview Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac in The Two Faces of January

two-faces-of-january-poster

The stylish novels of Patricia Highsmith lend themselves particularly well to cinematic adaptation, becoming equally stylish thrillers like Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train and Rene Clement’s Purple Noon as well as Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, both based on the novel of that name. Now comes Hossein Amini’s The Two Faces of January.
Amini, the talented writer of Drive and Snow White and The Huntsman, among many others, makes his directorial debut with this film, a passion project he’s been trying to get made for more than fifteen years. He and producer Tom Sternberg finally secured the participation of Studio Canal and Working Title, with the help of the box office appeal of their leading players, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and the suddenly white-hot Oscar Isaac, and the cameras rolled in August 2012.

1962. A glamorous American couple, the charismatic Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) and his alluring younger wife Colette (Dunst), arrive in Athens by boat via the Corinth Canal. While sightseeing at the Acropolis they encounter Rydal (Isaac), a young, Greek-speaking American who is working as a tour guide, scamming tourists on the side. Drawn to Colette’s beauty and impressed by Chester’s wealth and sophistication, Rydal gladly accepts their invitation to dinner. However, all is not as it seems with the MacFarlands and Chester’s affable exterior hides darker secrets. When Rydal visits the couple at their exclusive hotel, Chester presses him to help move the body of a seemingly unconscious man who he claims attacked him. In the moment, Rydal agrees but as events take a more sinister turn he finds himself compromised and unable to pull himself free. His increasing infatuation with the vulnerable and responsive Colette gives rise to Chester’s jealousy and paranoia, leading to a tense and dangerous battle of wits between the two men.

Glamor, style, intrigue, sun-soaked locations, beautiful people… As Viggo Mortensen says in one of the featurettes below, The Two Faces of January looks the way movies used to look. I’m in.
If the ingénue looks familiar, it’s because she looks exactly like her mother, Joely Richardson. Daisy Bevan, whose father is producer Tim Bevan of Working Title, third generation acting royalty (Grandma is Vanessa Redgrave), doesn’t quite make her debut with this film, since she had bit parts as a child in both Elizabeth and The Affair of the Necklace, but it is her first  film role as an adult.
The Two Faces of January also features a cast of international actors as well as the gorgeous locations in Greece and Turkey where it was shot.
Starting with its gala premiere at the 2014 Berlinale in February, the film has played festivals all over the world and opened in the UK on May 16. If it makes sense that The November Man opens in August, I guess it makes sense that The Two Faces of January will open in theaters in the US on October 3. (Also On Demand August 28)

If you’re still on the fence, take a look at these clips and featurettes. They verge on spoilers, but they also reinforce the idea that Amini has given us a neo-noir worthy of our time and attention.
Featurette #1

Featurette #2

Featurette #3

Clip #1

Clip #2

Clip #3

What?? There’s footage??

Trailer Addict has a clip of a press conference held during the Berlin International Film Festival for Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus. The film made an impressive debut at the Berlinale and there’s been strong buzz about it since.  The clip includes footage from the film. The Berlinale was in February. FEBRUARY!  So how am I just now finding out about this footage?!

For anyone who does not know, Coriolanus is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play of the same name. With a screenplay by John Logan (The Last Samurai, The Hurt Locker) it marks Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut and has a cast that would make angels weep including Fiennes himself, the luminous Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain, James Nesbit and some guy named Gerard Butler.

Lord knows I’ve been chomping at the bit, foaming at the mouth and twitching on the sidewalk  waiting for news on this film for months, at least since it was announced that The Weinstein Company had picked it up for US distribution, and in particular when we could expect a trailer. In response to a direct question from someone on Twitter, another of the film’s distributor’s, D Films, yesterday said that a trailer would be arriving "any day now". 

It would seem a little coincidental that I discover this clip the same day I see that tweet, until I saw that it was posted on Trailer Addict’s site in February! I didn’t even discover it! It was sent to me in a Google alert. Today! What. The. Hell.  Am I just that late to the party? (I find that difficult to believe.)  Have I, in my excitement and thirst for something new, forgotten that I already saw this footage? While that is entirely possible, given my misspent youth, I don’t think so.

At this point, I don’t care. I’ll take it. I’m going to gorge on it until we get that trailer. C’mon Harvey!  *taps vein* I neeeeeed it!




My Daily Moment of Zen



*these get bigger with a flick of the finger*

November. Nine months. Long enough to gestate a human. That’s how long we have to wait for the US release of Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus.

On the one hand, I believe that the wait indicates a desire to position the film for awards contention. On the other, I would hate to see it lose the positive buzz from its premiere at the Berlinale that surrounds it right now. (I’m on tenterhooks awaiting Saturday’s results of the competition for the Golden Bear.) I hope the rumor that Fiennes is taking it to Cannes is true. (Somehow, I think the involvement of The Weinstein Company improves the odds. Harvey likes a good party.) I think this would be a good fit for the Venice Film Festival (31 Aug – 10 Sep) as well but, Cannes is the biggest and most prestigious film festival in the world (11-22 May), so keep your digits crossed.

I pledge to do my part by talking this up at every opportunity. Never fear, gentle reader, I won’t let you forget.

Could ‘Coriolanus’ Be the Next ‘The King’s Speech’?

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On Monday February 14, Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut, Coriolanus, a modern day interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragedy, will have its world premiere at the prestigious Berlinale (the Berlin Int’l Film Festival.)

There has already been considerable industry buzz for this film. The expectations for the first turn behind the lens of an actor of Fiennes’ caliber are high, even if it is Shakespeare, and indeed it is the only British film in competition for a coveted Golden Bear.

It is also scheduled to open the 39th Annual Belgrade Film Fest at the end of February. (The movie was filmed in Belgrade and the surrounding area in April and May of 2010.) There are rumors circulating that Fiennes also plans to bring it to Cannes in May 2011.

In addition, there has now been a report that the Weinstein Company is interested in distributing the film.  I can’t help but think that, if true, this is not just very good news, but another vote of confidence in the film. 

The Weinstein name on a movie is something of a stamp of approval or legitimacy. It has a certain cachet within the industry. Weinstein backed films tend to be of a certain class or caliber and historically, they tend to be the types of films that garner awards attention. 

Just look at a partial list from the last two years (with a smattering of their awards & nominations:)

 

·  The Reader (2008) *Best Actress Kate Winslet* (co-starring Ralph Fiennes)

·  Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)*multiple Guild and Critics Association awards nominations*

 ·  Inglourious Basterds (2009, co production with Universal Pictures and A Band Apart) *Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz*

·  A Single Man (2009) *Best Actor nomination Colin Firth*

·  Nine (2009)*nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Supporting Actress Penelope Cruz*

·  Le Concert (2010) *nominated for Golden Globe Best Foreign Language Film, nominated for 6 Cesar Awards incl. wins for Music & Sound*

·  The Tillman Story (2010)*won Sundance Film Festival Jury Prize*

·  Nowhere Boy (2010)*nominated for 4 BAFTAs and 5 British Independent Film Awards incl. a win for Best Supporting Actress*

·  The King’s Speech (2010) *most nominated film of this year’s Academy Awards*

·  Blue Valentine (2010)*Best Actress nomination Michelle Williams*

·  The Company Men (2011)
 
Not only have all of the films listed been nominated for awards, but most are small little art-house movies that without the backing of a distributor with the clout of the Weinsteins, or perhaps even Sony Pictures Classics, behind them, they probably could have gone straight to dvd without a theatrical release.

Whatever else can be said of the Weinsteins, Harvey in particular, they do know how to market a film.  This year’s current top contender for the Oscar for Best Picture of the year, The King’s Speech, is a case in point. While it helps that the movie is just that good, without the backing of a company that knew what to do with it, it could easily have languished under the radar. Instead, with an aggressive campaign that created a demand for the film before it was widely released, including a media blitz that embraced the burgeoning bloggisphere and made good use of new social media outlets (ironic given its chief competition for the year’s big awards), it is on track to become one of the most successful independent films in history and has made back its modest budget many times over. Now, of course, they have all of those awards and nominations to use to keep it in the public eye until the big dance on February 27th.

This is what I want for Coriolanus. 

While Mr. Fiennes is accustomed to attracting attention for his acting prowess, as is a majority of the rest of the ensemble that comprises his cast, it would certainly be a grand achievement if he were to earn it for a film he directed as well.  He has earned the respect of his peers and the industry in which he toils (and they appear poised to embrace his next efforts as well.)

This is what I want it for Gerard Butler.

Some really impressive promo shots from this film have just been released and I wanted both an excuse to post them and to use them as an excuse to talk about the film.

I’ve read the play (although it has been many years since I have done so.) It is a story filled with passion and violence and politics and themes like ambition and familial devotion, friendship, and betrayal. While some may instantly grimace at the idea of sitting through a filmed version of a Shakespearian tragedy (and I fear some of those people will never be able to open their minds to the possibility,) there are parallels to be found in current world politics and if done right, will resonate with a modern viewer.

Judging from the stills alone, this film will showcase the gravitas that Ralph Fiennes possesses in spades. I was hoping Mr. Fiennes would be able to impart some of that to his co-star, an actor he hand-picked based on the qualities he exhibited in a little movie called ‘300.’  Gerard Butler as King Leonidas delivered a performance with a stillness that suggested power and strength beyond the 8-pack abs, qualities that Fiennes wanted for Coriolanus’ arch enemy, Tullus Aufidius.  Judging from the stills alone, he seems to have gotten what he asked for.

It is my hope that this film will not only serve to prove that Ralph Fiennes has successfully joined the ranks of a mere handful of actors who have transitioned from in front of the camera to behind it and back again, but also to prove what a small but vociferous bunch of us have known for a long time, that Gerard Butler is a very talented actor.  More talented than his recent foray into romantic comedy and action adventure would have indicated; the talent that seemed evident in much of his earliest work and seemed to want to break out of the constraints of a caged serial killer.

It is my hope that Coriolanus will be Butler’s entrée to the real A-list, the small list of actors like the Colin Firths and the Ralph Fiennes of the world who are offered the meaty dramatic parts that showcase and challenge their talents, not just their abs or their gorgeous mugs.

It is my hope that filmgoers will be able to get past their prejudices against watching Shakespeare on film, let alone a film by an actor who thinks he can direct and yes, even get beyond their prejudices against Gerard Butler as a serious and talented actor long enough to just watch the damn movie.





Forget it’s Shakespeare, forget it’s Gerard Butler, forget everything you think you know… and let his face tell you the story

*Immeasurable thanks, as always, to my editor, Connie!