Category Archives: The Film Stage

‘The Square’ star Claes Bang on Ruben Östlund’s intensity, winning the Palme d’Or, and condom fights

A late addition to this year’s Cannes competition, Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s satirical drama The Square ended up a surprise winner of the Palme d’Or. The follow-up to his well-received Force Majeure, the film’s cast includes Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West and Terry Notary, best known for his motion capture work in Kong: Skull Island and the recent Planet of the Apes films.

The main star of The Square, though, is Danish actor Claes Bang, who plays Christian, the respected curator of a contemporary art museum. His next exhibition is “The Square”, an installation that invites visitors to remember their role as responsible human beings, inviting them to be altruistic (“The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring, within it we all share equal rights and obligations”). Despite the thesis of his show, and his public commitment to good causes, Christian finds it difficult to live up to those same ideals in his personal life. Following a misguided response to the theft of his phone, he’s dragged into a series of strange and shameful situations; some of which are brought on by him, others by outside forces like a PR agency creating a disastrous viral campaign for “The Square.”

While he was in London for the film’s UK premiere, I spoke to the charismatic and entertaining Bang about Ruben Östlund’s intense directionhow he thinks he’d react in a Force Majeure situation, the feeling of being part of a Palme d’Or winner, having to share a scene with an intimidating ape, and filming a particularly funny sex scene with Elisabeth Moss…

Full interview for The Film Stage

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Zootropolis (Byron Howard/Rich Moore/Jared Bush, 2016)

Fair play to Walt Disney Animation Studios of late for not always venturing down the most obvious, tried and true path. Peppered in between their recent revivals of their musical formula (Tangled, Frozen) and recognizable properties (Winnie the Pooh), there’s been a full-blown foray into video game culture (Wreck-It-Ralph) and a superhero adaptation heavy on meshing together Asian and American cultures (Big Hero 6). And now, with Zootopia (or Zootropolis, as some of Europe is getting it), we have a police procedural/neo-noir that actually interrogates themes of racial stereotyping and classism, while satirizing matters like the War on Drugs. But, you know, with bunnies and buffalos…

Full review for The Film Stage

In the Room (Eric Khoo, 2015)

Love and lust across a century form the backbone of In the Room, the latest film from director Eric Khoo (TatsumiBe with Me). An anthology feature with five main vignettes (titled “Rubber,” Listen,” “Change,” “Search,” and “First Time” in the end credits) and a few recurring revisits to the exploits of characters who have come and gone, the entire film is set within the confines of one Singapore hotel room, bar the occasional meet-cute or tearful lament in the corridor right outside…

Full review for The Film Stage