In the history of fairy tales, there is a lot of prominent female villains from Cruella de Ville to Ursula up to The Queen and Lady Tremaine. But there’s one name that probably tops them all: Maleficent. This year, Robert Stromberg brings the biggest of them all into the big screen in Disney’s film title of the same name.
Forced to act the way she did, Maleficent’s back story was tackled way back from she was once a sweet naïve girl up to the moment where she started to cause havoc and cast a spell on a young Aurora. It is then when she discovered that maybe there’s more than casting a spell to regain back what is hers.
At first, I find the approach quite refreshing. The past few years we’ve seen darker versions of other prominent fairy tale stories via Jack the Giant Slayer, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Oz: The Great and Powerful. So seeing that they went the other way around is an exciting take on this tale…
…or so I thought.What potential they could have amassed with this approach suddenly went awry when the film decided not only to tone things a bit, but to tone it AT ALL. This is as sugary sweet as one can get. But I think Maleficent is not the character to use for that type of total sweetness. I want my Maleficent to be flat out cruel and live up to her villainess image. I prefer her to be portrayed as how she was accustomed and not to be a sweetheart. I appreciate that there were some feminist undertones in it, but I think they were applying too much of the Frozen meets Wickedpackage for it to totally work.
Pacing seems to be an issue as well. I’m surprised to know that the film runs only at 97 minutes and it seems like the rumor of them cutting 38 minutes from the actual cut hurt the film’s ability to be smooth flowing. The third act in particular seems to be so rushed and everything just happens so quickly. It also did not help that the earlier acts weren’t on the same beat as the last one.
But leave it to the magnificent Angelina Jolie to be the film’s saving grace. She perfectly captured Maleficent’s coldness and her performance fits like a glove. Those protruding cheekbones – which could slice some apples – were so on point and her lines were deliciously delivered that I could have watched two hours of her just speaking random lines in Maleficent tone. If only she was asked to be more villainous, I think I’d love her performance even more. Elle Fanning was alright, and her accent did not bother me even a bit.
The film used a narration style which is reminiscent of when children were read with fairytales. Janet McTeer’s narration, albeit a bit unnecessary, was captivating, and James Newton Howard’s score was quite good as well, if not a tad late to be appreciated.
Some fairy tales are meant to be portrayed the way they originally were, and Maleficent belongs to that camp. It was too toned down for me to gush about and it left me wanting for an altogether different tone to it. One thing I’d take from this film though is Angelina Jolie and her cheekbones which will definitely reach classic status in the future.
Photo from redriff.com
And we have finally reached the end of the season. The end of the 67th Cannes Film Fest a.k.a the world’s biggest film festival is upon us in a few hours. Now that all films in the In Competition have screened, it’s time to predict on which films and performances will garner prizes from our jury headed by Jane Campion. As the whole season progressed, there have been lots of talks about the films in contention this year. From Still the Water‘s Naomi Kawase’s claim that she’s going Palme or nothing, to Xavier Dolan’s dedicating his possible win to the filmmakers of his generation, Cannes has never been louder – and more competitive – than ever. This year we have no solid frontrunner like that of Amour in 2012 or Blue is the Warmest Color like last year so predicting things is much trickier this time around. With that said, here’s how I foresee Campion and company’s decisions in all seven categories.
PREDICTION: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, “Two Days One Night”
The Dardenne brothers have always ended up with something during their last five participation in the main competition of the Cannes Film Fest. So as expected, they’re bound to end up winning one for this latest film which is a hit from the critics and watchers alike. While the possibility of them receiving a third Palme d’or is very much possible, the reward can also happen to lead actress Marion Cotillard whose third time is probably the charm for these voters. That said, I think they’re ending up with the Screenplay award instead which will continue their impressive record of winning in competition.
ALTERNATE: Andrey Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin, “Leviathan”
If not the pair of brothers, then maybe this pair of writing pals will end up winning n this category instead. There seems to be a level of disconnect in terms of the reception between critics with Leviathan, but if the jury is sold, this can be the most fitting place for them to reward it.
PREDICTION: Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner”
Mike Leigh’s lead acting roles have a tendency to attract awards and recognition, and Mr. Turner seems to be no exception. Timothy Spall’s transformation as the British painter J.M.W. Turner is one that screams acting, and this seems to be the most fitting place to reward the film. Make no mistake though, as there are lots of other contenders in this category as well.
ALTERNATE: the male ensemble of Foxcatcher (Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo)
I know what you’re thinking. Cannes winner Channing Tatum? Well yeah that’s indeed close to happening. If the jury can’t decide on which Foxcatcher actor to reward, then they might give a share to all three actors instead for their contribution in this well received Bennett Miller’s cold drama. Ensemble wins are pretty regular at festivals, so it’s not as if this is the first time that it will happen. That said, watch out for Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent or Haluk Bilginer of Winter Sleep to be competitive for the win as well.
PREDICTION: Juliette Binoche, “Clouds of Sils Maria”
Sure, Binoche has won just four years ago with Certified Copy, but never underestimate this jury’s love for Juliette Binoche. A lot of them are vocal huge fans of the actress, and that alone might put her instantly to the top. Besides, Sils Maria is such an actressing role. It’s about an actress reclaiming a position that was hers before. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they give a joint prize to Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart who’s been receiving career best reviews here. For now, I’ll stick with solely Binoche, but I wouldn’t count out that possibility.
ALTERNATE: Anne Dorval, “Mommy”
Xavier Dolan is a great actor’s director, as he surely brings out the best of his actors in the screen (sadly, the same can’t be said for his performances in his films). From what I’ve read tho, Dorval’s too much of a showy, too much in your face, cold role that might turn some members of the jury off. There’s also the possibility of Mommy winning the Palme which will easily eliminate Dorval from the conversation. Also take note of Marion Cotillard’s great ink for the Dardennes’ Two Days, One Night. Girl has been waiting for her Actress prize for the third year now (after losing for Rust and Bone and The Immigrant) and this might be her time. There’s also Julianne Moore who’ll be the second actress (after Binoche) to win the trifecta of Actress wins in all three big festivals for Maps to the Stars. But I’m not really counting on that to happen.
PREDICTION: Xavier Dolan, “Mommy”
Dolan is a co-frontrunner for the Palme, there’s no doubt about that one. And if anything, his is the type of experimental approach that this jury could possibly appreciate. With that said, if a consensus has to be played out in the jury, I think they’ll give him the Directing award instead. For all the style approaches that Dolan used in Mommy including the type of screen he used in the final output, i think it’s pretty obvious that this is the place where they’ll reward the film instead.
ALTERNATE: Naomi Kawase, “Still the Water”
Kawase came to Cannes prepared with the Palme in her sight. But seems like a lot of films upstaged hers though. Never mind that since Jane Campion is a vocal Kawase fan, and unless she pulls an Isabelle Adjani and demands the rest of them to give the Palme to this, then this directorial effort might be her best shot for a win this year. After all, there have been so many talks with only one female director winner in Cannes history, so this will some sort of a passing the torch style if she wins this one. Plus with the divisiveness of Still the Water, this fits the bill of other underwhelming or critically panned films that still ended up winning Director the last few years (Brillante Mendoza for Kinatay in 2009, Carlos Reygadas for Post Tenebras Lux in 2012, and last year’s Aman Escalante for Heli). The other female director Alice Rohrwacher is also a contender here.
PREDICTION: Alice Rohrwacher, “Le Meraviglie”
Rohrwacher’s case is very interesting this year. While the rest of the critics are raving about this film, the French one seemed to be so adamant about it even ranking it as the lowest in their polls. But except for that, it has been performing greatly among all the other ones. I think in this case, the French are clearly the outliers, and this Italian director can score a Jury Prize from the panel of voters.
ALTERNATE: Naomi Kawase, “Still the Water”
If not, then maybe the other woman in the festival, Naomi Kawase, can end up winning this. Seems like Still the Water, for all its divisiveness, is the type of of film that gains really passionate fans and those fans might be the ones making up the decision this year. If they can’t come up with a consensus of this one winning the Palme, then the Jury Prize might be good enough as the palce to reward it.
PREDICTION: Abderrhamane Sissako, “Timbuktu”
Despite premiering at the earlier part of the festival, Sissako’s Timbuktu not only managed to raise the bar for competition this year, but they also were able to maintain this momentum all throughout the festival. With a riveting “OMG important” political topic tackled in the film, I’m quite confident that this will be getting home with an award. It’s one of the year’s most lauded films and this might give him another win after his Un Certain Regard victory 21 years ago.
ALTERNATE: Jean-Luc Godard, “Goodbye to Language 3D”
Going into the competition, Godard is another one who’s a common denominator of influence and inspiration among the members of this year’s Cannes jury. But despite strong polarizing reactions with this one, and with reports of the jury not giving a care about it, who knows if they’ll give this an award or if they will leave it to the dust?
PREDICTION: Nuri Blige Ceylan, “Winter Sleep”
And as for the biggest prize, I think that it is Ceylan’s time to win the Palme for this year. Not only did he manage to sustain the high expectations given to him after Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, he was able to translate that with near consensus critical appraisal for this one. Winter Sleep is the type of film that I think can avoid the polarizing reaction from the jury and one that can be on the middle ground when the other polarizing films bring down each other. Also, the technical achievement of this film is outstanding that it might certainly put it on top of the jury’s preference list for this year.
ALTERNATE: Xavier Dolan, “Mommy”
When Dolan vocally mentioned his frustration of Laurence Anyways not getting a Main Competition slot two years ago, it seemed as if his ego’s feeding him with that statement. And for his first foray into the big leagues, he certainly did not disappoint with the raves his film is getting. I admit, even I was surprised with this reception to Dolan’s film, since he’s usually polarizing and divisive that his film getting a favorable consensus is new to me. I can envision a scenario of him winning the Palme actually, and being the youngest director to pull that off. But is the jury ready for that? Let’s see.
As for the annual snubbed film of the year that will join the ranks of Mike Leigh’s Another Year, Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre, Leos Carax’ Holy Motors, and Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, my bet is on Godard’s “Goodbye to Language 3D.” Seems like it will be too divisive for the jury to have a consensus on where to award it, regardless of its great reviews.
There you have it. Another year at Cannes has ended and this year seemed more competitive than the previous one. Sure we don’t have the totally groundbreaking ones, but we don’t have total clunkers this year (though the closest would have been Michel Hazanavicius’ The Search and Atom Egoyan’s Captives). I’m excited the most for Dolan, Ceylan, Assayas, Dardennes, and Cronenberg, so I hope we’d get to see them sooner. For the Un Certain Regard, Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja, Pascale Ferran’s Bird People, and Ryan Gosling’s Lost River (bad reviews be damned) are on the top of my list. Who do you think will end up winnign this year? Can Dolan be the youngest Palme director winner? is third time the charm for Marion Cotillard? Can Channing Tatum and Kristen Stewart add Cannes winner on their names? And can Naomi Kawase shift careers as the next Nostradamus now? I bet you’re excited to find out.
You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl
May used to be the awards season here in the Philippines, but that tradition has been long since gone. But not for me. This is when I reveal my top picks for the best in Philippine cinema. 2013 is a very difficult one, not because there are only few films to choose from, but because of the many selections the year gave us. Granted I still missed some few films here and there, I’ll share to you my picks in 20 different categories (including my three top choices per film component.) And without further ado, here’s my 2013 Tit for Tat Local Film Awards:
GOLD: BLUE BUSTAMANTE (Miko Livelo)
SILVER: TRANSIT (Hannah Espia)
BRONZE: PUROK 7 (Carlo Obispo)
GOLD: the cast of Iskalawags
SILVER: the cast of Norte
BRONZE: the cast of Transit
GOLD: KUNG FU DIVAS
GOLD: RIDDLES OF MY HOMECOMING (Arnel Barbarona)
SILVER: ON THE JOB (Corrine de San Jose, Mikko Quizon)
BRONZE: NORTE (Corrine de San Jose)
GOLD: INDAK (Sana Dati)
SILVER: SCARED TO DEATH (Tuhog)
BRONZE: SEA OF TREES (Shift)
GOLD: DEBOSYON (Teresa Barrozo)
SILVER: SANA DATI (Jerrold Tarog)
BRONZE: RIDDLES OF MY HOMECOMING (Gauss Obenza)
GOLD: Quick Change
SILVER: Kung Fu Divas
BRONZE: Boy Golden
GOLD: ON THE JOB (Jay Halili)
SILVER: BADIL (Carlo Francisco Manatad)
BRONZE: TRANSIT (Hannah Espia, Benjamin Tolentino)
GOLD: Boy Golden
SILVER: Kung Fu Divas
GOLD: NORTE (Lauro Rene Manda)
SILVER: ON THE JOB (Ricardo Buhay III)
BRONZE: DEBOSYON (Dexter dela Pena)
GOLD: ON THE JOB (Richard Somes)
SILVER: BLUE BUSTAMANTE (Marielle Hizon)
BRONZE: PAGPAG (Luis Custodio IV)
GOLD: MIMI JUAREZA, Quick Change
SILVER: JUNJUN QUINTANA, Philippino Story
BRONZE: VINCE TANADA, Otso
GOLD: KRYSTLE VALENTINO, Purok 7
SILVER: JASMINE CURTIS, Transit
BRONZE: YENG CONSTANTINO, Shift
GOLD: NORTE (Lav Diaz, Rody Vera)
SILVER: SANA DATI (Jerrold Tarog)
BRONZE: BABAGWA (Jason Paul Laxamana)
GOLD: ANGELI BAYANI, Norte
SILVER: BING PIMENTEL, Kabisera
BRONZE: IRMA ADLAWAN, Transit
GOLD: DICK ISRAEL, Badil
SILVER: JOEY MARQUEZ, On the Job
BRONZE: JOEY PARAS, Babagwa
GOLD: KRYSTLE VALENTINO, Purok 7
SILVER: LOVI POE, Sana Dati
BRONZE: VILMA SANTOS, Ekstra
GOLD: SID LUCERO, Norte
SILVER: JHONG HILARIO, Badil
BRONZE: JOEL TORRE, Kabisera
GOLD: LAV DIAZ, Norte
SILVER: CHITO RONO, Badil
BRONZE: ERIK MATTI, On the Job
GOLD: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BRONZE: Sana Dati
Whew, there you have it! 🙂 As a recap, here’s the complete list of my 2013 winners:
BEST PICTURE: Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST DIRECTOR: Lav Diaz, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST ACTOR: Sid Lucero, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST ACTRESS: Krystle Valentino, Purok 7
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Dick Israel, Badil
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Angeli Bayani, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST SCREENPLAY: Lav Diaz, Rody Vera, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR: Mimi Juareza, Quick Change
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTRESS: Krystle Valentino, Purok 7
BEST ART DIRECTION: Richard Somes, On the Job
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Lauro Rene Manda, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Boy Golden
BEST EDITING: Jay Halili, On the Job
BEST HAIR AND MAKE UP: Quick Change
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Teresa Barrozo, Debosyon
BEST SONG: “Indak” from Sana Dati
BEST SOUND: Arnel Barbarona, Riddles of my Homecoming
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Kung Fu Divas
BEST ENSEMBLE: the cast of Iskalawags
BEST FIRST FEATURE: “Blue Bustamante” by Miko Livelo
Until next year! 🙂
Also, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl