Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning gems like Hidden, Amour and The White Ribbon. So this French film may be as close as he'll get to making a comedy. Indeed, it's a witty exploration of family and societal dysfunction that sometimes borders on farcical. But it's also a story about people grappling with suicidal and murderous urges. And the wry performances of its superb cast make it jarringly unforgettable.
It's set in Calais, where Anne (Isabelle Huppert) runs the family construction business and lives with her forgetful father Georges (Jean-Louis Trintingnant), her doctor brother Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz and his shy wife Anais (Laura Verlinden). But Anne's slacker son Pierre (Franz Rogowski) is struggling in his role as company manager, especially in the wake of an accident on one of their building sites. And Thomas now needs to care for his 13-year-old daughter Eve (Fantine Harduin) from a previous marriage. Meanwhile, dark thoughts are swirling, as Eve is posting death-obsessed videos on social media, and George is planning a startling suicide attempt.
These are all complex, layered people who are so consumed by their own issues that they often fail to notice what's happening with the people around them. And this echoes the film's larger themes about the wealthy residents in this area who are trying to ignore the surging population of desperate immigrants amongst them. Haneke orchestrates all of this in his usual dryly involving way, but this time adds a playfulness amid the disturbing interaction. Huppert is particularly good at injecting a sardonic wit beneath Anne's glacial expressions. This is a woman who won't let anyone see how annoyed she is, weathering the bigger storm to proceed with both a company merger and her own engagement to her lawyer (Toby Jones).
Continue reading: Happy End Review
The nominations will be announced in January.
The shortlist for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film has been slimmed down to just nine films, with the final nominations set to be revealed early next year. The most prominent movies on the list include Russia's Leviathan, an anti-Putin movie directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev, and Ida, from Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski.
Amour was a famous winner of the award two years ago
The latter, about a nun who discovers she is Jewish, beat Leviathan to win best film at the European film awards earlier this month. Both have also been nominated in the same category for the Golden Globes and things are increasingly looking like a two-horse race for the Oscars.
Continue reading: Oscar For Best Foreign Language Film Will Go To One Of These Movies
Hejer Anane, Michael Haneke and Cynthia Hajjar - The Consul General Of France, Mr. Axel Cruau, Honours The French Nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards - Beverly Hills, California, United States - Monday 25th February 2013
Few could have been expecting Amour, directed by Michael Haneke, to be in the running for five Oscar awards before the shortlists were announced last month, but that’s exactly where the film finds itself with less than a week to go until the biggest awards ceremony of the film calendar.
Talking to Reuters, the director revealed his inspiration for the film, and admitted his surprise that a film with such a non-Hollywood ending was up for nods in so many categories, including the coveted best picture. "It's no walk in the park, but it's difficult and serious, and that makes it contemplative," Haneke said of the film’s ending and themes, which surround an elderly Parisian couple’s physical and mental challenges as they arrive at life’s end.
Haneke also revealed that the inspiration for the film came from somewhere close to home – an elderly aunt who was gravely ill and asked him to help her commit suicide. “I loved her very much and to watch her suffer was very difficult, but I certainly couldn't help her (kill herself) because I'd be thrown in jail," the director said. "Personally, I don't believe I could've done it anyway."
Continue reading: Amour Inspired By Death-Desiring Elderly Aunt, Says Michael Haneke
Despite being 85-years-old, it is not the flashbulbs and celebrity faces that French actress Emmanuelle Riva fears most about her forthcoming trip to the Oscars. Riva - nominated for Best Actress for her sparkling turn in Michael Haneke's Amour - says the plane journey from Europe to Hollywood is making her feel nervous.
It's likely that Riva never expected to be buying a ticket to Los Angeles - her latest movie, about age, friendship and love, won acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, though she was never considered for an Oscar before the nominations were announced. Speaking to The Wrap about hearing of her nod, Riva explained, "I found out in New York, I was there for the critics circle award. The 10th of January, early morning. My neighbors who help me when I travel shouted for joy. I was barely awake. They were screaming, 'You're nominated!' I stayed very calm. I got up and said, 'I'm not nominated.' Of course I was very happy." A couple of weeks back, the category of Best Actress at the Oscars was considered a two-horse race, between Silver Linings Playbook's Jennifer Lawrence and Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain. However, Riva won the same award at the BAFTAs on Sunday (February 10, 2013), adding an air of intrigue to the result on February 24, 2013. On how she plans to go about her business at the Academy Awards, Riva said, "I am very calm in the face of all of this. I am 85 years old. I am not going to flop about like a fish. What makes me nervous is these hours on the plane. Frankly, it seems like a hell of a journey to me. It's so long. But I will do things to the end. I will fall in someone's arms if I need to."
Previously, Riva was best known for her role in the 1959 French New Wave classic 'Hiroshima Mon Amour,' directed Alain Resnais. In 'Amour,' she plays a wife losing her physical and intellectual grasp on life.
Anne and Georges are a devoted, elderly couple who both used to be music teachers. One day, Anne has a stroke which leaves her partially paralysed and unable to look after herself. Georges, being old and not up to strength himself, does his best to take care of her but is placed under considerable strain given the amount of attention she needs and the fact that she isn't always compliant with him. However, he maintains his promise to her that he will not send her to a nursing home to be cared for. Their daughter Eva lives abroad and also has a career in music but tries to convince her father to let someone else care for her despite his promise. Just how far will this couple's love take them, and will their partnership survive?
Since its release in November 2012, this powerfully moving French drama has garnered much praise with five Oscar nominations and four BAFTA nominations. Director and writer Michael Haneke ('The White Ribbon', 'The Piano Teacher') also won the Palme d'Or award on its release at the Cannes Film Festival but, most recently, the movie bagged the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Golden Globes in January 2013.
Director: Michael Haneke
Continue: Amour Trailer
The big movie news this week, of course, was the announcement of this year's Oscar nominations, to which people reacted with the usual levels of surprise and anger. The biggest snub seems to be for previous winner Kathryn Bigelow, who was overlooked for a directing nomination even though her film Zero Dark Thirty earned five other nods, including Best Picture.
Despite Amour's Oscar nomination for Best Picture, it would be folly to suggest Michael Haneke's stark Austrian movie is finally getting the attention it deserves. The French-language film - which depicts the day-to-day struggles of an elderly Parisian couple - was awarded the prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes last year and was unanimously praised by critics upon its release.
Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com wrote, "This is an unforgettable love story set at the close of day, as tragic and beautiful in its way as "Tristan und Isolde," and a portrait of the impossible beauty and fragility of life that will yield new experiences to every viewer and every viewing." Mary Corliss of Time Magazine suggested, "In the history of movies about love, Amour shall last forever." The movie seized five Oscar nominations on Thursday, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress for the 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva. In a statement, the star - best known for her role in the 1959 classic Hiroshima, Mon Amour- said, "I never thought, while working throughout the years in Europe and France, that one day, I would cross the Atlantic Ocean, come to the United States and be nominated. It is quite surreal for me."
Amour is the overwhelming favourite to win Best Foreign Language movie, though it should be seriously considered for the evening's top prize too. Pete Hammond, awards columnist for Deadline.com, explained how Haneke may be the one celebrating come February 24, 2013. He suggests Amour could walk away with Best Picture if early favourites Lincoln and Life of Pi split votes. "Amour...has a very passionate following among people. They feel very emotional about that film," he said.
As awards season kicks off, today with the BAFTA nominations and tomorrow with the Golden Globe award ceremony, actors, actresses, directors and producers everywhere will be biting their nails and praying for a win from at least one of the big three coming up, the aforementioned two, of the Oscars, nominations for which will also be released tomorrow.
There are very few surprises in the BAFTA nominations as this year has some clear stand-out offerings to the trade, and as announced by Alice Eve and Jeremy Irvine, here's the low down on the biggest prizes.
Nominations for best film are the big five: Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. Despite BAFTA being a British institution, there's not a British film in sight (except Les Mis, but the majority of leads aren't from the fair isle). Luckily, however, there's a whole separate award for Brits. In that list, the contenders are Anna Karenina, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (that was 2012? it seems so long ago), Les Miserables, Seven Psychopaths and a much deserved Skyfall.
A striking look at a long-term relationship, this film is an antidote to those who are tired of shamelessly sweet depictions of retirees, such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or Hope Springs. Meanwhile, it's perhaps the most emotionally resonant film yet from Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, who specialises in crisp explorations of the darker side of humanity (see The White Ribbon or Cache). By contrast, this Cannes-winner is a clear-eyed drama about ageing that completely avoids manipulation and schmaltz, but is still deeply moving.
The story takes place largely in one apartment in Paris, where Georges and Anne (Trintignant and Riva) are enjoying their golden years. Then one night, after attending a concert by one of Anne's former piano students, she has a small seizure that's just the first step in a slide into partial paralysis. Georges is happy to care for her, and they still have moments of happiness. Even when their daughter (Huppert) barges in and tries to meddle with their decisions about the future. As Anne's condition deteriorates, Georges gets help from his neighbours (Agirre and Blanco) and a nurse (Franck). But he never feels that taking care of Anne is a burden.
Unsurprisingly, Haneke tells this story without even a hint of sentimentality. Even though the premise lends itself to big emotions, he keeps everything quietly authentic. The flat itself almost becomes a character in the story, with each outsider's arrival as a kind of invasion. Scenes are captured in his usual long, unbroken takes with no background music to tell us how to feel. Instead, we experience the situations along with Georges, and we understand why he takes such a practical approach, refusing to overdramatise even the most emotive events.
Continue reading: Amour Review
A record breaking 71 countries have submitted movies for the prize of Best Foreign-Language movie at February’s 85th’s annual Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences confirmed this week.
This year’s batch of submissions includes entries from Kenta (Nairobi Half Half) and Kyrgyzstan (The Empty House), helping to push the tally beyond the previous record of 67 countries. Though there’s a fine array of movies on offer this year, attention is understandably fixed on Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ (Austria) – winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Haneke’s story of love tested under severe circumstances is highlighted as one of the year’s finest movies – full stop – and will take all the beating come February. It’s likely that the film will receive nominations in the major categories too. The category’s 2011 winner ‘A Separation’ also received a nod for the original screenplay prize, though Iran announced it would not enter a movie for 2012 in protest against the U.S. anti-Islam video that has gained notoriety in recent months. Elsewhere, Australia’s ‘Lore’ and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ‘Children of Sarajevo’ receive submissions on the back of positive reviews.
The full list of submissions are as followed;
Afghanistan, "The Patience Stone," Atiq Rahimi
Albania, "Pharmakon," Joni Shanaj
Algeria, "Zabana!" Said Ould Khelifa
Argentina, "Clandestine Childhood," Benjamín Ávila
Armenia, "If Only Everyone," Natalia Belyauskene
Australia, "Lore," Cate Shortland
Austria, "Amour," Michael Haneke
Azerbaijan, "Buta," Ilgar Najaf
Bangladesh, "Pleasure Boy Komola," Humayun Ahmed
Belgium, "Our Children," Joachim Lafosse
Bosnia and Herzegovina, "Children of Sarajevo," Aida Begic
Brazil, "The Clown," Selton Mello
Bulgaria, "Sneakers," Valeri Yordanov and Ivan Vladimirovs
Cambodia, "Lost Loves," Chhay Bora
Canada, "War Witch," Kim Nguyen
Chile, "No," Pablo Larraín
China, "Caught in the Web," Chen Kaige
Colombia, "The Snitch Cartel," Carlos Moreno
Croatia, "Vegetarian Cannibal," Branko Schmidt
Czech Republic, "In the Shadow," David Ondrícek
Denmark, "A Royal Affair," Nikolaj Arcel
Dominican Republic, "Jaque Mate," José María Cabral
Estonia, "Mushrooming," Toomas Hussar
Finland, "Purge," Antti J. Jokinen
France, "The Intouchables," Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledanos
Georgia, "Keep Smiling," Rusudan Chkonia
Germany, "Barbara," Christian Petzold
Greece, "Unfair World," Filippos Tsitos
Greenland, "Inuk," Mike Magidson
Hong Kong, "Life without Principle," Johnnie To
Hungary, "Just the Wind," Bence Fliegauf
Iceland, "The Deep," Baltasar Kormákur
India, "Barfi!" Anurag Basu
Indonesia, "The Dancer," Ifa Isfansyah
Israel, "Fill the Void," Rama Burshtein
Italy, "Caesar Must Die," Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Tavianis
Japan, "Our Homeland," Yang Yonghi
Kazakhstan, "Myn Bala: Warriors of the Steppe," Akan Satayev
Kenya, "Nairobi Half Life," David 'Tosh' Gitonga
Kyrgyzstan, "The Empty Home," Nurbek Egen
Latvia, "Gulf Stream under the Iceberg," Yevgeny Pashkevich
Lithuania, "Ramin," Audrius Stonys
Macedonia, "The Third Half," Darko Mitrevski
Malaysia, "Bunohan," Dain Iskandar Said
Mexico, "After Lucia," Michel Franco
Morocco, "Death for Sale," Faouzi Bensaïdi
Netherlands, "Kauwboy," Boudewijn Koole
Norway, "Kon-Tiki," Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandbergs
Palestine, "When I Saw You," Annemarie Jacir
Peru, "The Bad Intentions," Rosario García-Montero
Philippines, "Bwakaw," Jun Robles Lana
Poland, "80 Million," Waldemar Krzystek
Portugal, "Blood of My Blood," João Canijo
Romania, "Beyond the Hills," Cristian Mungiu
Russia, "White Tiger," Karen Shakhnazarov
Serbia, "When Day Breaks," Goran Paskaljevic
Singapore, "Already Famous," Michelle Chong
Slovak Republic, "Made in Ash," Iveta Grofova
Slovenia, "A Trip," Nejc Gazvoda
South Africa, "Little One," Darrell James Roodt
South Korea, "Pieta," Kim Ki-duk
Spain, "Blancanieves," Pablo Berger
Sweden, "The Hypnotist," Lasse Hallström
Switzerland, "Sister," Ursula Meier
Taiwan, "Touch of the Light," Chang Jung-Chi
Thailand, "Headshot," Pen-ek Ratanaruang
Turkey, "Where the Fire Burns," Ismail Gunes
Ukraine, "The Firecrosser," Mykhailo Illienko
Uruguay, "The Delay," Rodrigo Plá
Venezuela, "Rock, Paper, Scissors," Hernán Jabes
Vietnam, "The Scent of Burning Grass," Nguyen Huu Muoi.
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