Review: Clouds of Sils Maria

Clouds of Sils Maria is a reflection on youth and aging with outstanding performances from Juliette Binoche as actress Maria Enders and Kristen Stewart as her personal assistant Val. Continue reading “Review: Clouds of Sils Maria”

Watch This: Trailer for Certain Women

Certain Women tells the stories of women in a small Montana town. It stars Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, and Lily Gladstone. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for Certain Women”

Review: American Ultra

American Ultra stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg as a couple of CIA agents who were part of an experimental program run by a character played by Connie Britton. The actors were interesting enough that I gave it a try. I’m a little chagrined to admit how much I enjoyed it. Continue reading “Review: American Ultra”

Watch This: Trailer for The Huntsman Winters War

The Huntsman Winters War has Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain in a feminist fairy tale about the huntsman. Oh, yeah, Chris Hemsworth is in it – he’s the huntsman. In case you weren’t counting, that makes The Huntsman Winters War an action adventure tale with 3 women and 1 man in leading roles.

In a more perfect world, at least one of those faces would be a woman of color, but I’m happy to celebrate this bit of progress.

The wordy plot synopsis of this dark fantasy is,

The fantastical world of Snow White and the Huntsman expands to reveal how the fates of The Huntsman Eric and Queen Ravenna are deeply and dangerously intertwined. Chris Hemsworth and Oscar® winner Charlize Theron return to their roles in The Huntsman Winter’s War, an epic action-adventure in which they are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, as well as director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. Producer Joe Roth (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland) once again leads the team in a breathtaking new tale nested in the legendary saga.

Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White’s blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom. With Freya’s ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen—including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain)—only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love.

When Freya learns of her sister’s demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power. But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it’s ever seen. Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable…unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen’s cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another.

The film is a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman from 2012, which was an equally feminist turn on a fairy tale starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Hemsworth as The Huntsman. In the sequel, as in the first huntsman tale, the director, writer and most of the behind the scenes names are male. But in front of the camera it’s nothing but awesome.

The film is set to open in April of 2016.

Images © 2015 – Universal Pictures

Watch This: Clip from Still Alice

Still Alice stars Julianne Moore as Dr. Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words because of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film is based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestselling novel of the same name.

Still Alice will have a limited release in December, which means Julianne Moore will be in the running for an Oscar nomination for the film for 2014. The major release for the film will come in January 2015. There’s some talk that Moore might be nominated for an Oscar for Maps to the Stars for 2014. Two Oscar worthy performances this year! Those make for pretty good odds for Moore to win a long-deserved but illusive Oscar for 2014. She’s been nominated 4 times, but has no wins yet. I remember watching her back in 1999 in Cookie’s Fortune, thinking what an amazing performer she was. I think same thing every time I watch her in anything. She’s an enormous talent.

In Still Alice, the Howland family around Alice include her husband John (Alec Baldwin) and her 3 grown children: Lydia (Kristen Stewart), Anna (Kate Bosworth) and Tom (Hunter Parrish).

From mostly glowing reviews for Still Alice from TIFF, the film appears to be quiet and subdued, but honest and touching.

There isn’t an official trailer yet, but this brief clip was released. It shows something of the relationship between Alice and daughter Lydia.

I’ll be on the lookout for trailers and other information about this film as year’s end draws closer.

Watch This: Trailer for Clouds of Sils Maria

When Clouds of Sils Maria showed at the Cannes Film Festival, the Hollywood Reporter dismissed the film with,

Given its narrow range of concerns, Clouds of Sils Maria will be mostly of interest to aficionados of theater, acting and the notion of how real and fictional lives can blur to those involved.

Based on what I’m seeing in descriptions of the film and the fact that Kristen Stewart is huge, I’m thinking it may draw in more viewers than that. The film stars Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz. I suppose it’s easy for some to dismiss a film with three female names at the top of the cast, but this attracts me.

Poster for Clouds of Sils Maria

The themes in the film deal with acting and how real life and fictional life intersect, but they also deal with aging, with relationships, with hubris, and with power.

The basic plot: a 40ish actress played by Juliette Binoche is offered a part in a play that made her famous 20 years ago. Only this time, she will play the older woman in the story, with her former part going to a tabloid-feeding ingenue played by Chloe Grace Moretz. Kristen Stewart is Binoche’s assistant. Binoche and Stewart go to a remote location in Switzerland called Sils-Maria during the process of deciding whether or not to take the part.

Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria
Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria

As I mentioned, part of the dilemma the Binoche character faces is accepting her age, but there is also a strong parallel between the plot of the play wherein  “an older woman falls in love with a scheming girl who has her wrapped around her little finger” and the relationship between Binoche and her assistant.

Any story about the relationships among women should be given a look, in my opinion. Here’s a preview.

If you’ve seen it already, or go see it, please share your reactions.