Mommy (Xavier Dolan)
At 25, le Quebecois enfant terrible Xavier Dolan has shot five films- including Mommy- that have earned him more than twenty awards and recognitions. The auteur cinema child prodigy even shared the prize for his latest work with none other than the great Godard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014.
As usual, in his latest work Dolan again uses love affairs that conflict with sexuality as the backdrop, and adorns this with a painstakingly precise soundtrack and pop aesthetic.
The stories of his films are always authentic, partly because they have plenty of autobiographical content. And although it is common to see him playing the title role -he played the tormented Hubert in J’ai tué ma mère (2009), and the obsessive Francis in Les amours imaginaires (2010) and the publicist in Tom à la ferme (2013) – in this one his presence is reduced to a cameo, as in Lawrence Anyways (2012). But in Mommy he dares to replace the lead actor Antoine-Olivier Pilon, fooling the viewer. For a moment, Steve Dolan becomes a hyperactive and problematic youth who maintains a close relationship with his mother. Diane -played by Anne Dorval, the muse of the director- is an unemployed widow who does not know how to help her child after he is released from the detention facility. A new neighbor (Suzanne Clément), helps the two find balance in her presence.
A brave, anxious, intelligent and disconcerting proposal which will make many people interested in the director’s filmography.
Release date in Spain: December 5th
Get on up (Tate Taylor)
Tate Taylor, the director of the film The Help with four nominations at the 2012 Oscars, returns to portray the African American struggle for equal rights, again from the background.
His latest film, Get on up, narrates as a sweetened musical biopic the life of one of the most important singers of all time, known as the ‘Godfather of Soul’, Mr. James Brown, who also worked as a social activist.
Famous for his powerful voice and his footwork, the artist had a difficult childhood. Abandoned by his mother and a few years later welcomed by his aunt, owner of a brothel and gambling house, young Brown survived picking cotton, polishing shoes and stealing car parts. After spending three years in a reformatory for armed robbery, he created a band of Gospel that would end up becoming his soul band, The Flames.
Taylor manages to capture Brown’s struggle to make something of himself before achieving global fame with songs like I Got You (I Feel Good) or Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine -nº1 R & B in 1970-, making him a legend of funk.
Co-produced by Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), the film is aimed at mainstream audiences and attempts to repeat the success at the Oscars. It was generally well received after its release in the United States, with the critics highlighting the performance of Chadwick Boseman (The Express and 42) in the role of the charismatic protagonist, Mr. Dynamite.
Rounding out the cast are Dan Aykroyd as the manager, Nelsan Ellis in the role of Bobby Bird, Octavia Spencer as Aunt Honey and Viola Davis as the artist’s mother.
Release date in Spain: December 12th
Party Girl (Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq, Claire Burger, Samuel Theis)
The French drama Party Girl reaches the Spanish billboard, a film that opened the section ‘Un Certain Regard’ an the last Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Golden Camera Award for Best Opera Prima.
With a protagonist whose eyes can hypnotize, this film, poignant and wild, represents the debut of a trio of Gaul directors who have collaborated in the past in making two short films; Amachoukeli-Barsacq and Burger directed Forbach (2008) and C’est gratuit pour les filles(2009) together, while Theis starred in the first one with his mother, Angelique Litzenburger, who is also the protagonist of Party Girl, a hybrid between mockumentary and cinéma vérité, and which has been written primarily by her son, Samuel.
This is an interesting proposal with an indie edge that adapts the life of Litzenburger for the big screen. A former stripper that has worked at night all her life and now, being around 60, she plans to change her life by celebrating a wedding with a former client who is in love with her. Seeing it as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with her four children-from different fathers- and to have a quiet and safe old age, she accepts the marriage proposal though not without fear. However, immature and clinging to what she once was, she throws it all away not knowing how to adapt to the new role. Like the twenty-something she is at heart, she prefers to live in her memories and continue with parties, dances, men and seduction games.
Release date in Spain: December 12th
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
The British director Mike Leigh, nominated this year for the Palme d’Or at Cannes for the fifth time -his film Secrets & Lies won the award in 1996- dazzled the critics again in the festival with his newly released Mr. Turner, a sensational biopic about the last 25 years of the romantic painter JMW Turner (1775 to 1851). Master of landscape and academic painting at the Royal Academy of Arts, with about 20,000 paintings at the Tate Britain, he was the author of famous pioneering works of Impressionism such as Calais pier, Caligulas Palace and Flint Castle.
The film, set in Victorian times, failed to take home the prize of honour at Cannes – the drama Kis Uykusu by the Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Uzac, 2003) took its place- but it won the award for Best Male Performance. Its lead actor, the Briton Timothy Spall, a regular in Leigh films, left everyone speechless with his portrayal of the visionary artist. Famous for supporting roles in Hollywood -in Harry Potter he was the marauding rat Peter Pettigrew, ‘Wormtail’-, Spall credibly portrays the’ painter of light ‘, a character who is tender and sensitive inside but wild and rude to people; obsessive and excellent at his job but without social skills and always teased.
Leigh, along with his longtime collaborator the director of photography Dick Pope, offers a unique portrait that goes beyond mere biography to stand as a great masterpiece of unparalleled beauty, in which the painter is shown within the picture.
Release date in Spain: December 19th