Jehovah's Witness Movie for the Oscars + François Ozon Non-Traditional 'Angel'

Angel Charlotte Rampling Romola GaraiCharlotte Rampling, Sam Neill, Romola Garai, Michael Fassbender in Angel.

François Ozon's 'Angel': Not traditional at all

François Ozon is interviewed by The Times' Kevin Maher, who wonders what attracted the director of the unusual 8 Women and Swimming Pool to Angel, an English-set period drama that opens in the UK on Aug. 29.

“He's one of France's hottest film-makers,” writes Maher about Ozon. “He makes award-winning movies filled with knockout French femmes (including Catherine Deneuve and Ludivine Sagnier), bursting with transgressive sexual subtext and topped by occasional musical numbers. So what made the 40-year-old provocateur François Ozon shoot a traditional English period drama about a fictional Edwardian novelist?"

Ozon replies: “Did you think it was traditional?” adding that he “tried not to make it traditional at all, but to make it about dreams and fantasies, and the effects of fame, and how artists reinvent themselves and their lives.”

Angel is based on the 1957 novel The Real Life of Angel Deverell by Elizabeth Taylor (no connection to the Hollywood star), itself inspired by the life of 19th-century British Gothic writer Marie Corelli (née Mary Mackay). François Ozon and playwright Martin Crimp co-wrote the screenplay.

The Angel cast includes Ozon muse Charlotte Rampling, in addition to Romola Garai in the title role, Michael Fassbender, Lucy Russell, and Sam Neill.

'Trifling Women' and 'Sunset Blvd.'

I first heard of Marie Corelli (1855–1924) while doing research for my Ramon Novarro bio. Corelli wrote the novel Vendetta, which top silent era director Rex Ingram filmed twice: in 1917, as Black Orchids, and in 1922, with Novarro as one of the leads, as Trifling Women.

The now-lost Trifling Women, in which the heroine-cum-villainess (silent film vamp Barbara La Marr) destroys the lives of men (Novarro and Lewis Stone among them), may have inspired elements found in Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd. Those include the Norma Desmond's dead chimp (Trifling Women featured an orangutan who reportedly fell madly in love with La Marr), Desmond's black-widowish look and persona (what Barbara La Marr's vamps would have looked like in 1950), and Sunset Blvd.'s Gothic feel – not coincidentally, John F. Seitz shot both Trifling Women and Sunset Blvd.

Charlotte Rampling, Sam Neill, Romola Garai, Michael Fassbender Angel photo: Fidélité Productions.

Denmark submits Oscar 2009 movie

Denmark has submitted its 2009 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entry: Niels Arden Oplev's religious drama Worlds Apart / To verdener, which reportedly sold more than 300,000 admissions in that country.

Based on a true story, Worlds Apart  tells the story of the youthful Jehovah's Witness Sara (Rosalinde Mynster), who falls in love with a non-believer (Pilou Asbaek).

From Alissa Simon's Variety review: “…this provocative, well-turned drama … raises universally pertinent questions about fundamentalist thinking without portraying Witnesses' beliefs as inherently crazy or evil.”

Niels Arden Oplev also co-wrote the screenplay with Steen Bille. Also in the Worlds Apart cast: Jens Jorn Spottag, Sarah Boberg, and Anders W. Berthelsen.

The Oscar 2009 nominations will be announced on Jan. 22. The awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 22.

Sarasota GLBT Film Festival

The Sarasota Film Society's GLBT Film Festival is taking place this weekend.

Shelter, screening this evening, has received much praise at various gay film festival across the US. Based on a record-breaking bestseller, The Yacoubian Building, which screens tomorrow, was a major box-office hit in Egypt upon its release a couple of years ago. Using Cairo's landmark Yacoubian Building (though the film was shot elsewhere) as a microcosm representing the decaying country in which the structure is located, director Marwan Hamed succeeded in creating a vast and intricate — and hardly flattering — tapestry of modern Egyptian society.

Schedule and synopses from the Sarasota Film Society's site.

AFFINITY (120 min.)
Directed by Tim Fywell
A grieving upper-class woman, Margaret (Anna Madeley) becomes a “Lady Visitor” at Millbank prison, hoping to escape her troubles and be a guiding figure in the lives of the female prisoners. Of all her friendships with prisoners, she is most fascinated by Selina (Zoe Tapper) — a medium. Set in the 1870s.
Friday 08/15, 5:00 PM

Florida Premiere!
Directed by Todd Stephens
Andy (Jake Mosser), Nico (Jonah Blechman), Jarod (Jimmy Clabots) and Griff (Aaron Michael Davies) reunite in Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break and participate in a contest called “Gays Gone Wild.”
Friday 08/15, 7:45 PM

Directed by Tom Murray
This light-hearted documentary celebrates the lives of Gay men, their bonding, sense of brotherhood and quest to explore non-urban adventures.
Saturday 08/16, 1:00 PM

Florida Premiere!
Directed by Casper Andreas
A modern gay drama involving Kyle (Simon Miller) and Marcel (Justin Tensen) who are falling in love at first sight, and the rocky road they travel leading them to fall out of love.
Sunday 08/17, 3:15 PM

Directed by Stu Maddux
(Playing with MOMMY MOMMY)
The story about two men who met in the service, confronted the troops in their unit 52 years ago and went on to live the rest of their lives together.
Friday 08/15, 2:30 PM

FREEHELD (40 min.)
Florida Premiere!
Academy Award Winner!
Directed by Cynthia Wade
Closing Night Event with reception at Esca
Screening followed by panel discussion on the Marriage Amendment
Lieutenant Laurel Hester is dying. All she wants to do is leave her pension benefits to her life partner — Stacie.
Sunday 08/17, 5:30

LOVE MY LIFE (96 min.)
Directed by Kôji Kawano, in Japanese w/Eng. subtitles
This story, based on a manga, relates the intense relationship between two young women, Ichiko (Rei Yoshii) and Eri (Asami Imajuku), both university students.
Sunday 08/17, 1:00 PM

MOMMY MOMMY (42 min.)
Florida Premiere!
Directed by Sylvie Rosenthal
This documentary explores the trials and tribulations of Linda and Mona in their attempts to start a family in Quebec. Even though Quebec is one of the few places in the world having legalized gay marriage and adoption, things are harder than they seem.
Friday 08/15, 2:30 PM

READY? OK! (93 min.)
Florida Premiere!
Directed by James Vasquez
Opening Night Film followed by a party at Burns Court Cinemas
In this comedy, a single Mom (Carrie Preston) struggles to understand and accept her young son's (Lurie Poston) obsession with dresses, dolls and girls' cheer-leading.
Saturday 08/16, 6:15 PM

SHELTER (88 min.)
Directed by Jonah Markowitz
Followed by a Karaoke party at 5ONE6 BURNS
Forced to give up his dreams of art school, Zach (Trevor Wright) works dead-end jobs to support his sister and her son. Questioning his life, he paints and surfs. When his best friend Gabe's older brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), returns home for the summer, Zach suddenly finds himself drawn into a relationship he did not expect.
Saturday 08/16, 8:15 PM

Florida Premiere!
Directed by Marwan Hamed, in Arabic w/Eng. subtitles
The Yacoubian Building in Cairo was long regarded as the last word in comfort and elegance. Nowadays the veneer has cracked and the shine has dulled to reveal the truth underneath the façade. Through interwoven stories of a number of the residents, the film paints a portrait of corruption, fundamentalism, prostitution, homosexuality, and drugs in central Cairo and creates a vibrant but socially critical picture of contemporary Egypt.
Saturday 08/16, 3:00 PM

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1 Comment to Jehovah's Witness Movie for the Oscars + François Ozon Non-Traditional 'Angel'

  1. Joao Soares

    Unexpected as it may be, it is a film to look forward to (this month's “Monocle” has an article on the movie, haven't been able to read it yet); I've recently re-watched some of M. Ozon's short films and found them stunning. “Action Vérité” and “La Petite Mort” would be good candidates for pre-dinner watches until “Angel” opens.