Italian screenwriter and director Vittorio Taviani, who made films with his brother Paolo, died on April 15 at age 88. Films that the two directed together include Padre Padrone (1977), which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982), which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Kaos (1984), and Caesar Must Die, which won the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Character actor R. Lee Ermey, best known for his supporting role as Gny. Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket, died on April 15 at age 74. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for that film. His first two roles were in other Vietnam War films: The Boys in Company C (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979). Other notable films include Mississippi Burning (1988), Fletch Lives (1989), Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers (1993), On Deadly Ground (1994), Se7en (1995), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Dead Man Walking (1995), The Frighteners (1996), Life (1999), and the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). Some of his voice work included Sarge in the Toy Story films (1995, 1999, 2010), Starship Troopers (1997), Recess: School’s Out (2001), and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).
Two-time Oscar winner Milos Forman died yesterday, April 13, at age 86. The Czech filmmaker was best known for directing the Best Picture Oscar winners One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984), for which he won Best Director. Other notable films include The Loves of a Blonde (1965) and The Firemen’s Ball (1967), both Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, the musical Hair, Ragtime, and the bio-pics The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon. His most recent film as a solo director, twelve years ago, was Goya’s Ghosts (2006), a film about painter Francisco Goya.
The line-up of films screening at the 71st Cannes Film Festival has just been announced. Some of the most intriguing films in competition for the Palme d’Or, the top prize of the festival, are BlacKkKlansman, directed, co-written, and produced by Spike Lee and produced by Jordan Peele and Jason Blum; 87-year-old Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film Le live d’image (The Picture Book); Burning, Chang-dong Lee’s first film since Poetry (2010), which was my favorite film released in the U.S. in 2011; and Three Faces, the fourth feature film directed by Iranian director Jafar Panahi since his government arrested him in 2010 and banned him from making films for twenty years. I was hoping to see Terrence Malick’s first foreign-language film Radegund and Lars von Trier’s serial killer film The House That Jack Built.
Two of the most respected French actress in cinema today are acting together for the first time in a new film by prolific Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (After Life; After the Storm). Binoche said in an interview that Kore-eda saw her in the 2014 film Clouds of Sils Maria and wrote a script where she plays a screenwriter and Denueve plays her mother, an actress. Ethan Hawke will also star.
Adam Sandler is one of the most infuriating actors and comedians out there in the world. The SNL-alum has starred in many painfully unfunny and lazy comedy films. He struck a deal with Netflix a few years ago to make original films. His newest offerings have bypassed theaters and gone straight to the streaming service. All of those films have received mixed to extremely negative reviews. However, Sandler can be a true talent and actor when he wants to be. His performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2002 romantic comedy Punch-Drunk Love is transcendent. He should have gotten an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He also showed his acting chops in Judd Apatow’s Funny People and, most recently, in Noah Baumbach’s Netflix film The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).
Two bits of recent news have provided hope for those of us who want to like Sandler, even when he makes it hard. First, Josh and Benny Safdie (Heaven Knows What; Good Time) have cast him in their next film, Uncut Gems, about criminal exploits in the diamond trade in New York City. He is replacing Jonah Hill. The film is currently in pre-production. To add to that, Sandler has reteamed with his Punch-Drunk Love director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights; There Will Be Blood; Phantom Thread) for a Netflix comedy special. Anderson, my favorite director under 50 and one of my five favorite living directors, has filmed a portion of Sandler’s comedy special which he performed earlier this week at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles. Sandler started as a stand-up comedian. Neither the film nor the Netflix special have a release date yet. Let’s all applaud Sandler for working with interesting directors and proving his talent.
The 71st Cannes Film Festival, which is scheduled from May 8 to 19 this year, will open with Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, a psychological thriller starring real-life couple and Oscar winners Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. Farhadi’s previous film The Salesman premiered in competition at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win the 2017 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film will open theatrically in France on May 9, a day after its Cannes premiere.