Liv Ullmann

Liv Ullmann

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Miss Julie - Trailer

Over the course of one night in an Irish country estate in the 1880s, a man and a woman engage in an illicit romantic relationship. The problem is, that Julie (Jessica Chastain) is the daughter of an Irish Count, and Jean (Colin Farrell) is the valet of her father. Despite his well-read and well-travelled nature, Jean is still a servant, and cannot indulge in the love with his boss' daughter. Julie, however, knows that Jean must do as he commands, and begins a game of forcing him more and more into the romantic confrontation they are both denied.

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Wynton Marsalis: A YoungArts MasterClass' New York Premiere

Liv Ullmann - Wynton Marsalis: A YoungArts MasterClass' New York Premiere at Museum of Modern Art - New York City, NY, United States - Tuesday 3rd September 2013

Liv Ullmann

A Bridge Too Far Review

There are star-studded projects, and then there's A Bridge Too Far, a World War II movie the likes of which would cost upwards of $300 million to make today. There are lots of bridges in the film, actually: The Allies aim to capture a series of them in German-occupied Holland as part of Operation Market-Garden, a byzantine plot that would theoretically cripple the German war machine in western Europe, where Germany is already on the run. However, Allied mistakes and an unexpected amount of German firepower nip the plan in the bud. The film is more a showcase for some searing acting -- and at three hours long, there's plenty of it -- than it is a classic war film. The battle scenes just don't come across as impressively as in other films of the era -- the fact that VW Beetles with plastic tank shells on them were used in lieu of some of the Panzers is just one sign that all the budget went to that exhaustive cast list.

Cries And Whispers Review

This 1972 feature by Ingmar Bergman follows the chill, tangled relationship between three sisters: Agnes (Harriett Anderson), Karin (Ingrid Thulin), and Marie (Liv Ullmann). The three have reunited in the manor they grew up in, but the circumstances are grim: Agnes is dying, and her slow decline exposes the long-hidden feelings of guilt and jealousy among them. Flashbacks reveal how intimidated Agnes felt by her mother (also played by Ullmann), Marie's self-destructive attempts to seduce the family doctor, and Karin's self-laceration within her loveless marriage.

The mood here is a mix of solemnity and sensuality -- the sisters' relationships are by turns abusive, loving, and tormented -- but Bergman's emphasis on deep reds and blacks throughout emphasizes the split between Marie and Karin much too formally. Moreover, the hushed, interior tone fails to generate much drama, and the tension never explodes as it does in a much better Bergman '70s drama, Autumn Sonata. But it has the benefit of some tremendous performances, particularly from Ullmann and Kari Sylwan, who plays the family's indomitable caretaker, Anna. And Sven Nykvist's cinematography, particularly in the exterior shots, have a pastoral, painterly grace.

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Dangerous Moves Review

The title may sound like soft-core porn, but it's actually a Best Foreign Film Oscar winner that you've never heard of.

Never before seen in the US, this Swiss production concerns a championship chess match between Soviet master Liebskind (Michel Piccoli) and his former student, a defector named Fromm (Alexandre Arbatt). The underlying political intrigue -- which we expect -- is quite understated as the film focuses on the mind games between the two players. Sure, there's a political agenda, but the insight into how these players try to outfox each other between matches is priceless. They plan strategies, only to watch them come undone during the actual game. When we learn that Liebskind is dying, the game becomes a metaphor for not just east vs. west, but life vs. life.

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Persona Review

One of Ingmar Bergman's most beloved films has Liv Ullmann as an actress who mysteriously clams up and stops speaking in the middle of a performance. She doesn't start again, so she's sequestered at home with a very young and chatty nurse, who does the talking for both of them. Her youth and sub-surface psychosis bring about strange conversation topics, until things (of course) come to a head. Despite some slow going, Persona is unlike any other film you're likely to see. Give it a whirl.

Autumn Sonata Review

At its core Autumn Sonata is little more than a movie about an argument. Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman, in her second-to-last role), a world-famous concert pianist, has arrived at the home of her daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann), who lives a modest life with her parish priest husband, Viktor (Halvar Bjork), and takes care of her terminally ill sister Helena (Lena Nyman). Despite everyone's efforts to be mannered and accepting - this is an Ingmar Bergman film, after all - Charlotte's arrival cracks Eva's long-standing resentments wide open.

Though Ingrid and Ingmar Bergman aren't related, their pairing on a movie set was a long-anticipated event -- each of their careers were marked by a certain Scandinavian iciness -- and it turned out to be a wholly successful one. Ingrid has a stubborn, indomitable attitude in the opening of the film that turns out to be only selfish shallowness - she resents being in the presence of Helena, and seems anxious to get away from Eva, who she always felt fell short of expectations. As each reveal the losses they've suffered and the slights they've felt, it slowly becomes clear that resentment has built up between them for years. But the brutality of Eva and Charlotte's final fight doesn't come from the noise they make - it's in the way their words cut. "You should be hidden away and kept from doing others harm," Eva tells her mother towards the end, and it seems to annihilate her.

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Hour of the Wolf Review

Hour of the Wolf is hardly Ingmar Bergman's best-known work nor his best, but it at least deserves a wider audience than history has granted it. One of his most surreal and simple tales, Wolf follows a couple who live on a desolate island (why do Bergman's characters always choose to live in the worst possible conditions?). He's a painter, she's a doting wife. Oh, and he's well on his way to going insane, with all manner of violent visions crashing through his mind.

Played by Bergman regulars Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann, the couple quickly -- inside an hour and a half -- comes completely apart as von Sydow's visions become indistinguishable from reality. Hour of the Wolf has been described as Bergman's only horror film and that's not far from the mark, with creepy characters and imagery pervading the entire second half of the movie.

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Kristin Lavransdatter Review

Liv Ullmann takes a 1000-page novel and turns it into a 187-minute movie, with predictable results.

Hardly known for her directorial abilities (though Faithless was passable), Ullmann's work here is pretty much rock bottom. Sigrid Undset's novel is a historical epic, following one Kristin Lavransdatter across a life in medieval Norway. Her dad is a wealthy landowner and wants to marry her off to the son of another local wealthy man. But Kristin has eyes on a lower-class man. These two tussle, Kristin ends up in a convent, then falls in love with a knight. The original fiancee tussles again with the new guy, and it all ends in hopeful despair. With elements of Moll Flanders and Romeo and Juliet (and not the good elements, mind you), Kristin tries to muddle a story together where one barely exists. How Undset got 1000 pages out of this is a mystery to me.

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Lumiere and Company Review

A documentary-ish experiment: Give 40 movie directors the world's first movie camera (the Lumiere cinematograph, 1895) and 52 seconds in which to shoot their own mini-film. Some of the directors go all out (David Lynch and some French people I've never heard of)... and some are pathetic, self-ego-massaging wastes of time (particularly Spike Lee, who uses his 52 seconds trying to get his baby to say "Dada"). Also curious is how many directors made movies about making movies (methinks that's all they know any more). But how often can you see 40 films, the making-of story, and an interview with the director, all in an hour and a half? Once in a lifetime is just about enough.

Saraband Review

Looking at Ingmar Bergman's revealing close-ups of actors, his deftness at drawing out powerful moments of humanity between two actors, and his use of space within the frame that lends depth to the living rooms and bedrooms his characters inhabit -- look at these things throughout his latest project, Saraband, and ask yourself, "What else is new?" Bergman has been perfecting his craft for over 50 years, and his latest offering is a sequel or epilogue to his Scenes from a Marriage (1974). Even as you're amazed at Bergman's commitment to his craft, you're also wondering whether he's truly offering anything new.

Watching Saraband, occasionally amazed by its power and beauty, I also grew frustrated because it's his same long, slow walk towards personal annihilation, this time simply reprising the characters of contemplative Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and crotchety Johan (Erland Josephson), an ex-married couple that may still have feelings for each other. Predictably, Ullmann and Josephson are brilliant, and suggest tremendous intimacy and depth, humor and hurt. Marianne shows up at Johan's cottage, not quite knowing why. He's still the same mouthy, sensitive, soul-constricted (and often funny) curmudgeon he was 30 years ago. She's still Liv Ullmann, Bergman's luminous object within the frame.

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