Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #10- The Man from Oceania

Oceania is a continent with 15 countries; Australia is the largest country. The last directors check is about a new director, a filmmaker on the rise, a diamond in the rough, a man born in Australia.

Justin Kurzel

My spontaneous feeling is that we are entering the realm of violence, the kind you see in the big screen presented so cold and disturbing that makes a grim story even more depressing. I'm saying this thinking about Kurzel's debut feature film, VERY-HARD to watch Snowtown and his second feature film that tells about Shakespeare's most darkest tale.

Can't help but ask: who dared to give a Shakespeare tale to a novice director that excels in portraying violence in the screen? Then I believe that we don't need another Macbeth film adaptation as there are too many versions, including the versions by Akira Kurosawa, Orson Wells and Roman Polanski. So, why another version? Let's see if I can find the answers.

Born on August 3, 1974 in Gawler, South Australia. He learned the trade in the theater. After a diploma from the National School of Dramatic Art in Sydney, he worked as a stage designer at Sydney Theatre and Melbourne Theatre Company. He also developed a taste for cinema in Melbourne University, from which he gets a diploma in 2004 with his film, Blue Tongue. Since then, Kurzel, entered into the spirit of the game of music clip (signing videos of groups such as The Vines or Sleepy Jackson). From his stage designer experience, he evidently kept a true capacity to set the scene and to fit in the body of atypical actors. He combines the musical pulse of editing with a moderate temptation for aesthetics, to build an unexpected style, a mix of outward lightness of the filming with the sly seriousness of the topic.

The “uneven” account of Snowtown, based on a true story, often works like the altered remembrance of a sick brain (or at the least a hurt memory). Together abrupt and subtle, Snowtown, through its genius for locations and trash photo, signs the birth of a great filmmaker. His capacity to film the violence of a declining world where the young are at the mercy of evil with faces hollowed by melancholy has remained intact.

Most of the above comes from la Semaine de la Critique official site as Kurzel has been at the parallel section twice. First with his 2005 award winning short film, Blue Tonge and second with his debut feature film Snowtown that won two special mentions, Grand Prize Special Mention and FIPRESCI Special Mention. Yes, la Semaine launched a director that with his first film conquered several international honors and became well-known among international cinema circles.

So he arrives to Macbeth. Most pre-Cannes articles I have been reading talk more about Michael Fassbender than about the director. But here are a couple of excerpts for reference.

Kurzel's take on the beloved play will take place in the 11th century, and "features the original Shakespearean dialogue, but doing an ambitious job of visually framing Macbeth's plight, as his ambitious wife coaxes him into taking underhanded means to grab power from the reigning king Duncan."

You watch Snowtown and your days are dark for a while after... as soon as I heard that Justin was doing it, I thought "That's the guy!" ... if anyone's is going to make a really dark, intense version of it, it's him.

Think was not able to answer my questions and in the quest I just confirmed what I imagined, Macbeth had to be dark and violent; but learned that actors will have "not-easy-to-understand" Scottish accent plus film will have "not-easy-to-understand" original Shakespeare dialogues. On top film will recreate several battles that many net writers relate to TV show Game of Thrones (WHAT???).  Sigh.

You will be right if up to this moment you think that I have very dark perspectives for this film; BUT then we have to talk about what makes a director great.  A director is as great as what he can do with his actors and what his actors are capable of. This changes EVERYTHING for me.

Two of my most admired actors play the leads, Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender; consequently film HAS to be extraordinary and hope Kurzel won't ruin the impeccable track of outstanding performances these two actors have. No matter how violent, how difficult to understand accent and/or original dialogues, how much darkeness could have, how many unpleasant battles will have, film is must be seen for me as I watch everything with Marion Cotillard or Michael Fassbender.

For now what really excites me is the opportunity we will have to see Marion Cotillard walking the Cannes red carpet once again.

Basic info about Macbeth
Director: Justin Kurzel
Scriptwriters: Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie and Todd Louiso
Language:  English
Runtime: 113 mins
Production countries: UK, France and USA
Production Companies: Sew-Saw Films (Iain Canning and Emile Sherman), DMC Film (Michael Fassbender production company), Anton Capital Entertainment, Creative Scotland, Film4,
Distribution: TWC (USA and Canada), StudioCanal for International Sales

Cast: Marion Cotillard, Michael Fassbender

Plot Summary
Macbeth is the story of a fearless warrior and inspiring leader brought low by ambition and desire. A thrilling interpretation of the dramatic realities of the times and a truthful re-imagining of what wartime must have really been like for one of Shakespeare’s most famous and compelling characters, a story of all-consuming passion and ambition set in war-torn 11th Century Scotland.

Film Stills - a selection

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