Tag Archives: Blood Ties

Stream This: Aimes-tu Marion Cotillard? Then “Little White Lies” is Worth Watching


(Please excuse my likely incorrect French.)

How many times have you searched an actor, actress, or director’s name on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video and been stunned to find … nothing available? If you are a longtime member of either, chances are that is a frequent occurrence.

Case in point, one of my favorite actresses, the stunning French powerhouse Marion Cotillard. There is a strong argument to be made for Cotillard as the greatest working actress in cinema, and I think “Rust and Bone” is exhibit A. She has a starring role in James Gray’s “The Immigrant,” which screened at Cannes, which should put her in this year’s Oscar conversation. She was absurdly ignored last year.

Of course, Netflix offers her biggies … on disc only. There is the great “Rust and Bone,” her Oscar-winning performance in “La Vie en Rose,” the hits (“Dark Knight Rises,” “Inception,” “Midnight in Paris”), the quasi-hits (“Public Enemies,” “Contagion”), the flops (the underrated “A Good Year,” “Nine”), and a few other more obscure Marion films for rental, including Abel Ferrara’s “Mary,” “Toi et Moi,” and “Innocence”; I must admit, I know little about the latter two.

But one of my early faves, “Love Me if You Dare,” is not available. I have fond memories of seeing that strange romantic-comedy at the Dipson Amherst upon release, and it won me over with its heart-on-its-sleeve insanity. It was the first time I noticed Cotillard, as well as Guillaume Canet, her real-life boyfriend and frequent costar.

Amazon? For Prime Instant Video members, there are no free streaming options, but there are some nice rental choices, including “Love Me if You Dare.”

What about free streaming choice starring the great Marion C? There are two choices, both from Netflix: “Big Fish” and “Love Me if You Dare.” You already know “Big Fish”; it’s the Tim Burton comedy-drama that starred Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, and, in a small role as Billy Crudup’s bride-to-be, Marion Cotillard.

“Little White Lies,” though, is a must-watch … If you love Marion Cottilard, that is. Is it a great film? No, certainly not. It is self-indulgent, overlong, and often falls very flat. But if you are a Cotillard fan, you will find it a worthy drama whose successes are chiefly due to casting. This is really a Gallic “Big Chill” — a group of longtime friends come together for a summer holiday — with a cast of attractive French heavyweights, and the melodrama is a tad overwhelming, but it mostly works.

Part of the reason is that the cast really is believable as a group of friends. As Canet told ScreenDaily around the film’s Toronto International Film Fest premiere:

“We shot the movie in the summer, but in May I asked them to come to the house where we were shooting the film. I wanted them to spend three days in this house, feeling the place and using the boat, using the kitchen. I wanted them to remember the place when they were coming back to shoot — they would feel they had already spent years of vacation in that house.”

But what really stands out is the casting itself, chiefly the big three stars: François Cluzet “The Intouchables,” Canet’s “Tell No One”), Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), and Marion Cottilard. It is a treat to see Cotillard here, playing a relatively “normal” character, and doing it well.

Perhaps we will see more streaming Marion soon, and we can look for her soon onscreen in Canet’s “Blood Ties.” If that’s not enough for you, have you watched the video for her lovely song with Franz Ferdinand?

(Incidentally, “Lies” famously suffered a disastrous first screening at TIFF 2010 — the subtitles did not work.)

Photo from the NY Observer

Wednesday Round-Up: Coppola, Cannes, Tarkovsky, and More


I feel like Wednesday is a good day for another round-up, and we start with some very cool news involving the man I like to call FFC:

  • The Hollywood Reporter says Francis Ford Coppola is working on “an untitled film that will chronicle an Italian-American family and span from the 1930s to the 1960s,” and that, my friends, is intriguing. In recent years, Coppola has made mention of mounting an epic drama (not his abandoned “Megalopolis”) and it sounds as if this could be it. Coppola’s most recent film, “Twixt,” was a fascinating mess. My colleague Jared and I saw it at TIFF 2011, and as I put it way back when, “while it was a joy hearing Francis Ford Coppola discuss his horror film ‘Twixt’ at a post world-premiere Q-and-A, he has made what is probably the worst film of his career. (‘Jack’ was scarier.)” Completists and the curious will be pleased to know that the Val Kilmer-starrer is coming to Blu-ray and DVD sometime in 2013.
  • Another interesting bit of FFC, also from The Hollywood Reporter, finds him discussing his role writing the screenplay for Robert Redford’s 1974 “Great Gatsby.”
  • Speaking of Robert Redford, the Cannes consensus seems to be that he gives an Oscar-worthy performance in J.C. Chandor’s “All is Lost,” the “Margin Call” director’s almost-dialogue-free survival story.
  • The last two films from director Claire Denis rank among my favorites in their respective years of release — “35 Shots of Rum” in 2008, and “White Material” in 2009 and that excites me for her latest, the controversial “Bastards.” As Mike D’Angelo put it for The AV Club, “Word from the first screening of Claire Denis’ ‘Bastards,’ inexplicably playing in Un Certain Regard rather than in Competition, was that it was nigh-well incomprehensible.” D’Angelo gave the film a B, comparing it with Olivier Assayas’s “Demonlover” (a film that’s sure to come up on this site sooner or later); it has already drawn a very, very mixed response, and I can’t wait to see it for myself.
  • Film Comment talks “Behind the Candelabra,” which premieres Sunday night on HBO and screened at Cannes to strong reviews.
  • I’m a bit crestfallen at the negative reactions to Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives” — yep, it got booed — although, quite honestly, I’m not shocked, either. Interestingly, Peter Bradshaw raves in The Guardian, but … That’s about the only truly positive review I’ve read so far.
  • Since I wrote about it a few days ago, “Blood Ties” has been picked up for American distribution by Lionsgate.
  • Manohla Dargis talks Cannes 2013, specifically the Coens’ “comedy in a melancholic key.”
  • Did you know that all seven of the late Andrei Tarkovsky’s films can be watched online, free?
  • And last, but certainly not least, it’s never too early for some Toronto Film Festival news: Deadline reports the Godfrey Reggio-directed “Visitors,” featuring music by Philip Glass and presented by Steven Soderbergh, will have its world premiere on September 8 at the suitably ornate VISA Screening Room at the Elgin Theatre. Reggio is the director of the much-loved “Koyaanisqatsi.”


Photo from The AV Club

Cotillard, Owen, Kunis, Schoenaerts, Saldana, Crudup, and Caan: “Blood Ties” Might Have the Year’s Coolest Cast


I’m not entirely sure how it fell under my radar, but racing onto my list of most anticipated 2013 films is certainly Guillaume Canet’s “Blood Ties,” a crime saga co-written by James Gray. It just made its out-of-competition premiere at Cannes with a cast that is, quite simply, impeccable: Marion Cotillard, Clive Owen, Mila Kunis, Matthias Schoenaerts, Zoe Saldana, Billy Crudup, and James Caan.

Think about that group. Cotillard and Schoenaerts are fresh off the success of “Rust and Bone,” one of my 2012 favorites. Kunis and Saldana are two of the hottest young actresses in Hollywood. Owen and Crudup are two solid actors who are too often stuck in lackluster projects, and seem ready for something meaty. And who better to round out the cast of an epic cops-and-crooks tale than Jimmy Caan? Plus, there is Canet. The actor-director who helmed the international hit “Tell No One,” based “Blood Ties” on a remake of the 2008 French release Les Liens du Sang (Rivals), which he co-starred in.

But … the response at Cannes has not been strong. In fact, it has been pretty bad. There are a number of films that have drawn negative reactions in Cannes and garnered praise elsewhere — neither “Marie Antoinette” or “Enter the Void” could be labeled as hits, but both drew stronger responses in North American than they did following their Cannes debuts — and as The Playlist points out, the film is not set to open until the fall (and has no American distributor) yet, so reediting is possible.

The Hollywood Reporter called it “overstuffed” and “lethargic,” Variety said it is “sluggish” and “dramatically undernourished,” and The Playlist said the film is not a disaster, but “certainly a mess” that “never quite lives up to its epic scope.” Xan Brooks in The Guardian did come down quite so hard, describing it as something of a guilty pleasure: “‘Blood Ties’ is Cannes’ equivalent of a hamburger — pink in the middle with French dressing on the side. Inside the screening room, the delegates wolfed it down and then belched their approval.”

Still, the trailer is phenomenal (looking very James Gray-meets-“American Gangster”), and I recall the response to the similarly sprawling “Place Beyond the Pines” was a tad mixed coming out of TIFF, so who knows?

It’s exciting to see Clive Owen in a truly interesting project again. Last week, while driving home from downtown Buffalo, I noticed a cool-as-f*** Owen on a billboard hawking some kind of booze, and it got me to thinking about his career. He has not made a great feature since 2006, the year of “Children of Men” and “Inside Man,” and his recent output has been stunningly bland: “Killer Elite,” “The Boys Are Back,” “Duplicity.” Perhaps “Blood Ties” and the upcoming “Sin City” sequel will put the “Croupier” star back on track.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for more “Blood Ties” news; TIFF certainly seems a possibility.

(Speaking of James Gray and Marion Cotillard, Gray is the director and Cotillard is the star of another buzzed Cannes film, “The Immigrant,” co-starring Joaquin Phoenix.)

Poster from The Playlist