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Ornella Muti - 66th Cannes Film Festival - amfAR's 20th Annual Cinema Against AIDS 2013 - Arrivals - Cannes, France - Thursday 23rd May 2013

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Ornella Muti - 66th Cannes Film Festival - de Grisogono Party - Arrivals - Cannes, France - Tuesday 21st May 2013

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Ornella Muti - Tuesday 18th May 2010 at Cannes Film Festival Cannes, France

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Ornella Muti - Wednesday 14th May 2008 at Cannes Film Festival Cannes, France

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The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things Review


Good
Only a month after acclaimed author J.T. LeRoy was exposed by The New York Times as a fictional persona concocted by writer Laura Albert - a revelation that all but demolished the credibility of the scribe's supposedly semi-autobiographical books - cultish actress/diva-turned-director Asia Argento arrives with her adaptation of LeRoy's The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, the tumultuous road-tripping saga of young Jeremiah and the psycho birth mother who introduces him to a world of whoring, pill-popping and delusional paranoia. Having proven herself more than slightly familiar with society's seedy underbelly with 2000's skuzzy Scarlet Diva, Argento attacks LeRoy's (untrue, but still affecting) tale of corrosively corrupted childhood with nasty relish, employing severe close-ups, nightmarishly surreal stop-motion animation, curdled primary colors and a dissonant Billy Corgan score for this descent into degenerate nomad hell. Yet despite such avant-garde showmanship, Argento's second effort behind the camera is significantly more polished than her debut, lacking the truly gonzo verve that might have overcome her film's more pressing, primary failure to capture the boy's-eye-view of LeRoy's tome. Closed off from her protagonist's internal turmoil, Argento's Heart is Deceitful gets the horrific literal facts straight but, disappointingly, captures only a trace of the mental anguish and manipulation that bestowed her source material with its coal-black tragedy.

Taken from the loving arms of his foster parents by unstable mom Sarah (Argento), Jeremiah (Jimmy Bennett for the first half; Dylan and Cole Sprouse for the latter section) finds himself unwillingly thrust into an itinerant life of substance abuse and sex-for-sale, a babe cast into the big bad woods of Middle American tract house communities and interstate truck stops. An odyssey of innocence parentally defiled, Argento's film strives, from the opening shot of a stuffed animal being waved in Jeremiah's face, to assume the perspective of her pint-sized protagonist, both through straightforward knee-high point-of-view shots as well as by grotesquely distorting her carnival-esque compositions to create a mood of terrified awe and dread. The result is a funhouse-mirror vibe rooted in squalor, from the decrepit apartments that Sarah and Jeremiah temporarily occupy with her assortment of boyfriends, to the parking lots where she plies her trade as a prostitute, to a combustible crack kitchen where the filth is so tangible that it can almost be felt creeping under one's fingernails. Still, working with cinematographer Eric Alan Edwards, Argento carefully balances these more out-there inclinations - felt most strikingly in Jeremiah's visions of cawing, flesh-eating red crows - with conventional setups and chronology, thereby deftly maintaining a tremulous sense of coherence even as her narrative begins spiraling into madness.

Continue reading: The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things Review

The Count Of Monte Cristo (1998) Review


Very Good
The often filmed Count of Monte Cristo is a filmmaker's dream come true. The plot is elegant, the characters beautiful. It would take a lot to screw up a film version of the story.

While Kevin Reynolds' (Waterworld) recent adaptation was warmly received by both audiences and critics (myself included), his was a truncated version. It made up for graceless transitions with gorgeously shot action sequences and American melodrama. Reynolds focused on the story's conflict but lost all the subtlety of the inner narrative, the character growth, and the true turning of the worm. While not as breathtakingly visual, Josée Dayan's earlier television production is superior to Reynolds' film because it assumes that the audience is familiar not just with the story but the novel.

Continue reading: The Count Of Monte Cristo (1998) Review

Somewhere In The City Review


Weak
No race is more egomaniacal than the New Yorker, the only group of people who would have the gall to call a film Somewhere in the City and have people assume they could only be talking about New York. It's otherdwelling types that get the last laugh, because this film is one boring dog from start to finish, a self-centered tale about a random assortment of self-absorbed New Yawkers, headlined by the most self-absorbed of them all -- Sandra Bernhard -- and redeemed only by a surprise appearance by one honorable former mayor.

Continue reading: Somewhere In The City Review

Flash Gordon Review


Good
In the grand heirarchy of high camp, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is at the top. Flash Gordon is directly beneath it. In many ways, Flash is both as good and as bad as moviemaking gets. The battle between Jones and Dalton on the deadly, spike-ridden, tilting platform hovering over a 50-mile drop is as tense as fight scenes get. The football-inspired fight in Ming's throne room is otherwise. A must-see on DVD for purists and superhero freaks. He will save every one of us!

Swann In Love Review


Good
It wasn't until 1984 that someone tried to make a movie out of a Marcel Proust novel, and for good reason: Proust isn't exactly known for brevity, simplicity, or reader friendliness.

So leave it to Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) to adapt Swann in Love, a continuation of part one (Swann's Way) of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, series of seven volumes that span some 3,000 pages. (I'm hardly a Proust expert, so if I've got the exact ID of the original text wrong, forgive me.)

Continue reading: Swann In Love Review

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