Nearly three years after she began filming it, Mia Hansen-Løve’s seventh film, Bergman Island, finally arrives in Cannes to mark the Parisian director’s Competition debut. Filmed on location in Sweden, and starring Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth, it takes place on the island of Fårö, where the Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman lived and worked until his death in 2007. Surprisingly, it’s been a while since Hansen-Løve was on the Croisette, having appeared in Directors’ Fortnight with her first feature All is Forgiven (2007) and Un Certain Regard with 2009’s Father of My Children. “I feel very privileged to be back,” she says.
The promise of easy money brought Jim Russell to a bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Russell, a steel company executive from Las Vegas, had come to meet Zachary Horwitz, a low-level actor seeking investors for his film company.
Horwitz made it sound simple: He would use Russell’s money to buy the rights to cheap movies — “Slasher Party,” “Satanic Panic” and the like — and then resell them to HBO for distribution in Latin America. He’d pay Russell back in six months with a 15% profit.
Russell had already wired Horwitz more than half a million dollars after a friend vouched for the 30-year-old actor.
Now, Horwitz was offering a chance to invest much more.
On Wednesday, January 13, Randall Emmett presided over a crime scene near one of America’s few tropical rain forests in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. Robert De Niro, dressed as a small-town Georgia sheriff, emerged from a sun-faded mobile home and walked solemnly past a black van marked CORONER, looking like a man uneasy about the ordeal ahead of him. In Wash Me in the River, the feature film Emmett had just started shooting, that ordeal was to pursue a recovering opioid addict exacting revenge on the drug dealers he holds responsible for his fiancée’s death. Off-camera, De Niro’s ordeal was no less daunting — somehow, the great actor had to keep Hollywood’s worst filmmaker from ruining the movie they’d set out to make together.
EarwigEarwig and the Witch doesn’t look like a Studio Ghibli film.
It’s the famed studio’s first foray into CG animation, and it’s a big departure from lush, hand-drawn films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. It’s also Ghibli’s first animated film since 2014’s When Marnie Was There.
That’s a big task to take on, and leading the charge is director Goro Miyazaki, son of studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. After reluctantly following his father into animation — Goro originally spent years working as a landscape designer — this is his third film, following Tales from Earthsea, a controversial adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic novels, and the charming period piece From Up on Poppy Hill.
Earwig is based on the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, and it follows a precocious young girl who has been adopted by a witch who quickly puts her to work. It may not have the visual style of a classic Ghibli film, but it touches on many of the elements of whimsy and fantasy that have made the studio’s works so beloved.
Mauna Loa on Hawai‘i is perhaps best known for its weather observatory, where scientists have been tracking changes in the atmosphere, especially the progression of climate change and the advance of ozone and pollution, since the 1950s. More than a few have expressed surprise that this observatory cast its gaze over our planet and not the cosmos beyond, because the view of the celestial sea from these peaks is more spectral, haunting and dramatic than from most other places on Earth.
The cinematic possibilities were not lost on the filmmaker Lance Page, who was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, where he lives today. Over the course of 17 years, working across various media, Page ultimately came to specialise in dynamic time-lapse and motion control cinema, both techniques he could wield to capture sections of the sky continually or in bursts. Ultimately, he could condense images taken over the course of months or years into a few seconds, blending the natural movement of stars into short films where the trajectories were sped up so that months or years of choreography across the sky could be represented in seconds for us. ‘I like to blend the two into collages of deep dives into our vibrant reality,’ Page explains.
The results could not be more exquisite. For four years, from 2014-18, Page captured the eruptions at the Kilauea Volcano in a series of short takes. As a follow-up to the series, he filmed the movement of the cosmos from the same region, pioneering the use of time-lapse to track the rotation of the stars from Earth in his film Ride the Sky.
A man wakes up one morning to find himself slowly transforming into a living hybrid of meat and scrap metal; he dreams of being sodomised by a woman with a snakelike, strap-on phallus. Clandestine experiments of sensory depravation and mental torture unleash psychic powers in test subjects, prompting them to explode into showers of black pus or tear the flesh off each other’s bodies in a sexual frenzy. Meanwhile, a hysterical cyborg sex-slave runs amok through busy streets whilst electrically charged demi-gods battle for supremacy on the rooftops above. This is cyberpunk, Japanese style: a brief filmmaking movement that erupted from the Japanese underground to garner international attention in the late 1980s.
Space movies are usually about hope. Usually, if a character heads off into the harsh vacuum of space, it’s because they’re exploring, or learning, making contact with aliens, or transforming into StarBabies, or trying to create a far-flung future for humanity. Because of that, I find it fascinating that The Midnight Sky, an adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel, Good Morning, Midnight, becomes a rare example of a bleak space movie. It’s an interesting, and often moving, addition to the space movie canon that never quite figures out what it wants to be.