Tag Archives: Ethan Hawke

Tesla (Michael Almereyda, 2020)

Since breaking through as a writer-director in the 1990s, with oddities such as 1994’s post-modern vampire tale Nadja, Michael Almereyda has remained one of American independent cinema’s most unpredictable creative forces. What is consistent among his recent fiction efforts – he also dabbles in documentary – is playfulness when it comes to genre or adaptation, such as in housebound sci-fi Marjorie Prime or his 2000 take on Hamlet. The latter saw Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark become the son of the newly dead CEO of Denmark Corporation in New York City, with Ethan Hawke delivering the key “to be or not to be” speech in a Blockbuster Video store.

Hamlet leads Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan reunite with Almereyda for Tesla, a freewheeling biopic of inventor Nikola Tesla (Hawke) that focuses on his antagonistic interactions with Thomas Edison (MacLachlan); his scientific developments concerning the transmission of electrical power and light; his business matters with entrepreneur George Westinghouse (Jim Gaffigan); and his relationship of sorts with philanthropist Anne (Eve Hewson), daughter of dominant American financier JP Morgan (Donnie Keshawarz). Some of this narrative territory was also explored in Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s recent The Current War, in which Nicholas Hoult, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon and Matthew Macfadyen played Tesla, Edison, Westinghouse and Morgan, respectively. But two more different takes on ostensibly similar material you are unlikely to find…

Full review for VODzilla.co

The Truth (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2019)

Following his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, prolific Japanese writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda heads to France for both his first French- and English-language film, The Truth. While the locations and social milieus have dramatically changed, the filmmaker’s skill with powerful and tender portraits of family conflicts has not been lost in translation…

Full review for The Skinny

The 10 best films from the 2018 Locarno Film Festival

As an indication of its ever-growing stature on the international film festival circuit, the current artistic director of Switzerland’s Locarno Festival for many years, Carlo Chatrian, has been snapped up to help programme the bigger Berlin Film Festival from 2020. As such, the 71st edition of Locarno seemed to have a bittersweet quality for the talkative festival veterans, as things might be very different next year. Even so, 2018 lived up to expectations of the event as an exciting space for new arthouse fare and as a celebration of older cinema that takes more offbeat choices in terms of paying tribute. We were particularly touched by the inspired choice to give the honorary Vision Award to title sequence designer Kyle Cooper (Se7en, among many credits), and not just because it gave programmers an excuse to screen Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film from a 35mm print.

Our personal highlight was the wealth of delights in the festival’s extensive retrospective of American filmmaker Leo McCarey, particularly a screening of The Awful Truth (1937) that had a packed audience in hysterics. That said, the new films on offer were hardly lacking in quality. In an unranked order, here are nine premiering feature highlights, plus one short. We should mention we were sadly unable to catch Mariano Llinás’ 14-hour La Flor, perhaps the most publicised title in competition this year…

Full feature for Little White Lies

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny (Louis Black/Karen Bernstein, 2016)

A couple of years back, critic-turned-director Gabe Klinger made a film called Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater. Instead of a traditional documentary tour of the respective filmographies of his director subjects, Klinger instead presented a series of extended chats between Linklater and his (perhaps unexpected) friend Benning, the latter being an older filmmaker better known to fans of the experimental and avant-garde. It allowed you to get a sense of Linklater’s ideas as an artist through more laidback means, rather befitting of the nature of his films, as he goes about doing various activities with Benning, such as hiking or playing catch, offering anecdotes to the other artist, instead of delivering filmmaking mantras to camera in an interview set-up.

Flash forward to 2016 and now we have Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny, a biographical portrait of Linklater alone that’s certainly much less innovative in terms of form, and ultimately feels less insightful. The personal connection isn’t lost, though. Dream Is Destiny is co-directed by Louis Black, a founder of the South By Southwest festival that has played host to many of Linklater’s films across his career. Occasional actor Black can also be found in Linklater’s breakthrough film Slacker, credited as Paranoid Paper Reader…

Full review for VODzilla.co