The Playlist

Interview: Mélanie Laurent On Advice From Luc Besson, Gerard Depardieu, 'Night Train To Lisbon' & Her Singing Career

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 23, 2013 4:37 PM
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It can be hard to remember that Mélanie Laurent had actually been acting for a decade, albeit largely in French-language productions, before breaking out internationally by killing Hitler in “Inglourious Basterds.” Of course the one-two punch of the Quentin Tarantino movie and Mike Mills’ well-received “Beginners” is a relatively recent phenomenon for the actress, but in person, too, Laurent has an engaging freshness about her and a genuine excitement about where she is and what she’s is doing that makes her seem more like an ingenue than a seasoned pro. Or so we found when we got to meet her at the Berlin Film Festival where her latest film, Bille August’s “Night Train to Lisbon."

Berlin Interview: Jeremy Irons Talks 'Night Train To Lisbon,' 'Beautiful Creatures' And The Rationale Behind His Roles

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 22, 2013 10:58 AM
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A quick look through his back catalogue or a few minutes in his company will tell you that Jeremy Irons, despite his Best Actor Oscar (for his creepy, ambiguous Claus von Bulow in 1990’s “Reversal of Fortune”) and despite the many auteurs he has worked with in the past (David Cronenberg, Steven Soderbergh, Louis Malle, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch etc), regards himself, first and foremost, as a jobbing actor. It’s not every esteemed and awarded star, after all, who boasts a U.S. indie, two lavish TV dramas, a small role in a would-be YA blockbuster, a lead in a European co-production and the voice of a bar rag in an episode of the “The Simpsons” as his credits in just the last 14 months or so.

Berlin Interview: Ken Loach Says Critics Missed "Bias" Of 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Talks 'Spirit Of 45,' Sexiness Of Socialism & More

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 22, 2013 9:56 AM
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  • 8 Comments
One of the quieter debuts at the Berlin International Film Festival last week was of a small talking-heads-and-archive-footage documentary about postwar Britain’s socialist reconstruction called “The Spirit of ‘45” (you can read our review here). But while it feels destined for a life on the small screen, the name above the title alone meant a festival bow was appropriate; it's the latest from British director Ken Loach, recipient of the Palme D’or at Cannes in 2006 for “The Wind that Shakes the Barley,” and one of the most well-respected and consistent proponents of the school of social realist filmmaking.

Berlin Interview: Richard Linklater Talks Making ‘Before Midnight’ & The 14-Minute-Long Shot

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 21, 2013 1:01 PM
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With “Before Midnight” being readily clasped to the bosoms of audiences and critics alike at the Berlin International Film Festival, and having missed the talent when on their promotional rounds at Sundance last month (where the film was similarly well-received, our review is here), we jumped at the chance to sit down with the film’s co-creators last week. We ran our Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy interview earlier, but up next we have director Richard Linklater -- a filmmaker we’re quite the fan of and of whom we ran a retrospective last year -- talking about bottling the lightning of the beloved “Before Sunrise” not once, not twice, but now three times over.

Berlin Interview: Juliette Binoche On 'Camille Claudel' & Working With Haneke, Minghella, Carax & Kiarostami

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 20, 2013 4:47 PM
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Like most of director Bruno Dumont’s films, “Camille Claudel 1915” has proven divisive (you can read our take here), but one thing that critics on both sides of the fence are in unanimous agreement about is the quality of the central performance from Juliette Binoche. Economically contained and internalised, even when her Claudel is displaying some rare histrionics, Binoche invests the role with oceanic depths and undercurrents of conflicting emotion in a turn that in some ways can almost be seen as the stripped-away template for the kind of melancholic, tragic, tortured heroine with which she has made her name.

Berlin Interview: Nicolas Cage Explains Why 'Wicker Man' Is Misunderstood, His Career Choices & More

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 20, 2013 12:23 PM
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  • 14 Comments
With “The Croods,” an animated family film from DreamWorks (our review here), premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival, lead voice actor Nicolas Cage was in town over the weekend, and we got to speak with him in a small group of journalists. About the experience of working on the film itself (“It’s like ‘Avatar’ meets ‘Yellow Submarine’ with these people who look like Neanderthals” he summed up) he had nothing but good things to say: “I feel like this is the best chance I’ve had to perform in an animated movie.” But he was also frank and forthcoming about other areas of his working life.

Berlin Review: With 'Paradise: Hope' Director Ulrich Seidl Closes Out His Trilogy On A Softer Note

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 17, 2013 2:55 PM
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The final instalment in his 'Paradise' trilogy (here are our reviews of parts 1 and 2, "Paradise: Love" and "Paradise: Faith"), "Paradise: Hope" sees Austrian director Ulrich Seidl in gentler, less provocative form, delivering what most found to be certainly the most approachable film of the three when it played at the Berlin Film Festival this week. And it seems that has been the trajectory of these films overall, from an excoriating and difficult-to-watch opener with 'Love,' through the similarly controversial but more blackly comic 'Faith,' and now to 'Hope,' in which Seidl turns in his least thematically challenging movie, giving free reign to his talent for absurdly humorous visuals and strays dangerously close to a territory that, for him at least, could be called "sweet."

Berlin Review: 'Night Train To Lisbon' Chugs And Clanks Along In Old-Fashioned, Uninspired Style

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 17, 2013 10:43 AM
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In the very finest tradition of europudding, director Bille August's "Night Train To Lisbon" adapts an international bestselling book, takes place against the picturesque backdrop of a European capital, is half-told in flashback through a turbulent and dramatic period of history, and stacks the cast with notable European thesps. These include, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Charlotte Rampling, Christopher Lee, Tom Courtenay representing the U.K.; from Germany, Martina Gedeck and August Diehl; Bruno Ganz of Switzerland; Lena Olin of Sweden; and representing France is Mélanie Laurent. However, bar Irons, this Babel tower of actors all play Portuguese nationals, and so while the films is told through English, they all speak with Portuguese accents.

'Child's Pose' Wins Golden Bear, David Gordon Green & Richard Linklater Take Awards At Berlin Film Festival

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 17, 2013 9:20 AM
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Ten days went by like a flash....and just like that, another year has closed on the Berlin International Film Festival. But before jury president Wong Kar-Wai packed his bags, there were some awards to hand out, so get out a pen and paper because these are some films you're going to want to keep on your radar over the coming year.

Berlin Review: The Trials Of 'Camille Claudel 1915' Make For Trying Watching, Even With Juliette Binoche In Peerless Form

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 16, 2013 12:02 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Director Bruno Dumont ("The Life of Jesus," "Outside Satan") has made a name for himself with challenging, sometimes controversial films that often feature non-professional actors and considered, not to say glacial, pacing interrupted with scenes of violence. But with "Camille Claudel 1915" he abandons some aspects of that approach while ever more fully indulging others. So for the first time he has a name star in Juliette Binoche, who turns in a reliably committed and remarkably naked performance as the titular Claudel, but here Dumont slows the pace of the action to almost nil, and punctuates it only with long talky tracts until the film becomes either a masterpiece of the "slow and boring" school of cinema, or an occasionally excruciating form of Chinese water torture, depending on your point of view.

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