‘Blue Night’ Review: Sarah Jessica Parker Shines In a Dour Homage to Agnès Varda — Tribeca

A terrific Sarah Jessica Parker sings the blues in this sensitive but shallow homage to Agnès Varda’s “Cléo from 5 to 7.”

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Fabien Constant’s “Blue Night,” a sensitive but shallow homage to 1962’s “Cléo from 5 to 7,” is that it convincingly validates the idea of updating the Agnès Varda classic. The worst thing that can be said about it is that it peaks with a Sarah Jessica Parker cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now” during the closing credits, but we’ll get to that later.

The story of a beautiful young woman’s brush with mortality, Varda’s film used the timelessness of its premise as an opportunity to contextualize the topical despairs of the day, which ranged from the ongoing Algerian War to Édith Piaf’s recent stomach ulcer surgeries. Seen through the eyes of a potentially dying chanteuse — the film’s title refers to the anxious hours that its heroine spends waiting for the results of a biopsy — everything became equally small, and the narcissistic Cléo was liberated from the limits of her own self-image. In 2018, when the promise of interconnectivity has prioritized self-image above all else, and communication has become so diffuse that we can no longer tell who’s even listening, Varda’s New Wave fable is ripe for reinterpretation.

Read More: ‘Nico, 1988’ Review: Trine Dyrholm Brings the Chelsea Girl Back to Life in a Singular Biopic — Tribeca

And “Blue Night” is definitely a reinterpretation, not a remake. Screenwriter Laura Eason (“House of Cards”) borrows Varda’s basic structure, but flips it sideways with a deceptively major twist in the very first scene: Whereas Cléo Victoire was afraid that she might be terminal, Vivienne Carala (Parker) is shell-shocked by the news that she is. Sitting alone in a Manhattan doctor’s office, the famous jazz singer is told that she has an aggressive brain tumor, and that the average life expectancy for someone with her diagnosis is 14 months.

“Blue Night”

At first, this might seem like a radical change to the story, but it turns out there’s only a tiny sliver of light between the fear of a diagnosis and the reality of a death sentence. Everybody dies, and everybody knows it. What separates Cléo and Vivienne from the rest of the people rushing around their respective cities — what detaches them from their own lives, and connects them to each other — is their newfound inability to ignore that. It’s like they’ve been shown the sailboat hiding in a Magic-Eye illusion, and may never be able to unsee it.

Nevertheless, there’s real danger in immediately answering the dramatic question that drives the original. If we know Vivienne’s fate from the start, where do we go from there? Eason’s gentle script finds another source of suspense: Vivienne is scheduled to return to the doctor for tests the following morning, and she’s required to bring someone for support. Who’s she going to pick?

At 25, Cléo saw every passing stranger as a possible soul mate. At 53, Vivienne only has so many options (that has more to do with the narrowing of her life than it does the aging of her body — dressed in a Parisian blue that brings out her eyes, Parker radiates the crisp appeal of a snow princess, her character highly visible to all of the various men she encounters). Most of the movie is spent running through the roster of possible plus-ones, as a long summer afternoon stretches into an open-ended downtown night.

Does Vivienne feel closest to the hot drummer she makes out with after a rehearsal session for her upcoming tour? How about her manager (Common)? There seems to be some history there. Her teen daughter (Gus Birney) probably isn’t at the top of the list, but maybe her loaded ex-fiancée (Simon Baker) has a better shot. At the very least, it seems obvious that she won’t pick her overbearing mother (a very French Jacqueline Bisset); even the agitated Lyft driver she keeps running into (Waleed Zuaiter) seems like a more solid choice.

Shifting the focus towards Vivienne’s personal relationships is a clever decision, though a limp and drifting mood-piece like this would have been wise to present the stakes in more explicit terms. Constant opts for a hazier approach, allowing Vivienne to sink into an understandably catatonic state. Parker commits to the part with a profound sense of feeling, hinting at Vivienne’s numb inner life as she runs the full gamut of emotions and even warbles through an original Rufus Wainwright song in close-up. She hasn’t been this soft or sympathetic in years.

And yet, “Blue Night” is strangely disinterested in Vivienne’s specifics. More often than not, the movie uses her grim situation as a prompt to illustrate some more general sensations, like the obliviousness of a big city, and how — even on the hottest day of the year — it can still be cold to your personal concerns. In its unsubtle way, the film is sharply observant of the modern dynamic between private lives and public living, the terse scenes between Vivienne and her Lyft driver making hay of the old saying that “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Constant, here making his first non-documentary feature, calms his erratic camera down in these moments, as though he’s finally found the heart of the story.

Elsewhere, he seems as unmoored as his protagonist, as though he shares our growing confusion as to why Vivienne is shouldering her burden alone. It’s a valid question, and it can be interesting to watch her suss out the support (or lack thereof) that she’s earned from the people around her, but it isn’t long before the most urgent day of Vivienne’s life begins to lose its shape. None of her relationships reveal very much about her, and her random encounters reveal even less.

A chance run-in with an estranged friend (Renée Zellweger, in a very welcome cameo) leaves all sorts of meat on the table, minutes of screen time wasted on the vague understanding that growing older requires people to tighten their emotional bandwidth. Given the value this story places on time, these wasted moments are almost as distressing for us as they must be for Vivienne. We don’t get to the root of her loneliness — we don’t even know how deep it runs until she covers Tommy James & the Shondells over the credits (for what it’s worth, Parker’s breathy style is a beautiful fit for the song).

For an homage boasting a far more fatal outlook than Varda’s original, it’s frustrating and kind of perverse that “Blue Night” should be so gentle. “I’m not done yet,” Vivienne declares. But we never even see her get started.

Grade: C

“Blue Night” premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

NoRA: Amy Schumer, Michael Moore, Jimmy Kimmel, and More Announce New Initiative to Combat the NRA

“Your time signing checks in our blood is up,” wrote members of the just-launched No Rifle Association in an open letter to the NRA’s executive vice president.

Famous gun-control advocates commemorated the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting Friday by launching the No Rifle Association [NoRA] Initiative. The undertaking became public when TIME Magazine published an open letter from 100-plus NoRA members — including Amy Schumer, Michael Moore, Jill Soloway, Jimmy Kimmel, Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Debra Messing, Jon Favreau, Amber Tamblyn, Bradley Whitford, Minnie Driver, Michael Ian Black, Constance Wu, Patton Oswalt, Alyssa Milano, and Annabella Sciorra — to National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

“Your time signing checks in our blood is up,” reads the letter, whose authors are planning boycotts, demonstrations, voter registration drives, and cross-country art campaigns. “We'[r]e a diverse, non-partisan coalition of activists, artists, celebrities, writers, gun violence survivors, and policy experts. We’re going to shine a bright light on what you and your organization to do America…We’re coming for your money. We’re coming for your puppets. And we’re going to win.”

The letter references victims of mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut; Orlando and Parkland, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; and elsewhere, as well as the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. Survivors of Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre also led a National School Walkout today, comprised of an estimated 2,600 individual walkouts.

IndieWire has reached out to the NRA for comment.

Multiple NoRA pledges have deep personal connections to gun violence.  Two women died and nine more people were injured during a showing of Schumer’s screenwriting debut, “Trainwreck,” in Lafayette, Louisiana. In her subsequent memoir, Schumer included a list of Congressional members who have accepted NRA dollars; she also paid tribute to the Lafayette victims on her recent wedding day, via Instagram:

No gifts but consider a donation to @everytown

A post shared by @ amyschumer on

Moore won the 2003 Best Documentary Oscar for “Bowling for Columbine,” a project galvanized by the Littleton, Colorado shooting (the NoRA letter criticizes the NRA for holding its annual convention 10 miles from the site, just two weeks later). Las Vegas native Kimmel cried during the first taping of his talk show after 59 people died last year while attending a concert at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, imploring President Trump to “Do something!”

NoRA member Milano told TIME that the initiative is funded by private donations, and $25,000 worth have been raised since February 2018. She also said that her cohorts will host events early tied to the NRA’s May 3-6 convention in Dallas, Texas.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

‘Frankenstein AI: A Monster Made by Many’ Is Here to Assuage Your Fears of Artificial Intelligence — Watch

The interactive experience premiered at Sundance earlier this year.

Mere months after blowing minds at Sundance, the interactive “Frankenstein AI: A Monster Made by Many” may now be experienced from the comfort of your own home. Not unlike Mary Shelley’s classic novel, the exploration of artificial-intelligence explores what happens when humans create something that gets away from them — but, in this case, it’s meant to assuage our fears rather than stoke them.

The project, which will continue for several years, aims to upend the dystopian view of artificial intelligence as well as “provoke and broaden conversation around the trajectory of this rapidly emerging technology.” That journey began in Park City and is meant to continue with help from the public. The creators envision it as “an evolving series of activations and experiences both online and off, that will traverse immersive theatre, browser-based interactions, community design, and other performative and experiential media.”

Lance Weiler is the Executive Creative Director & Experience Designer of “Frankenstein AI: A Monster Made by Many.” Read more about the project here, and watch it below.

MoviePass’ Parent Company Lost $150.8 Million in 2017, Raising ‘Substantial Doubt’ It Can Continue

Nevertheless, the company still expects to be profitable by next year.

There may be a reason why MoviePass seems too good to be true. The company has seen its user base grow exponentially since drastically lowering prices last summer, but allowing subscribers to see one movie per day for the princely sum of $9.95/month has never made economic sense to many observers.

According to Variety, an independent audit of parent company Helios & Matheson appears to have confirmed those fears. Its findings revealed “substantial doubt” that MoviePass can continue is “a going concern.”

“MoviePass currently spends more to retain a subscriber than the revenue derived from that subscriber and MoviePass other sources of revenue are currently inadequate to offset or exceed the costs of subscriber retention,” the audit reads. “This results in a negative gross profit margin. MoviePass expects its negative gross profit margin to remain significant until MoviePass can sufficiently increase its other sources of revenues to offset the losses or achieve substantial economies of scale.”

Jim Carrey Shares New Portrait of Rudy Giuliani: ‘A Face We Can Trust!’

The comedian turned activist continues to add to his art portfolio.

The current political administration has been a big influence on the art world. Just ask Jim Carrey, the comedian and actor turned activist and artist. The “Ace Ventura” star continues to create searing caricatures of the officials involved in multiple ongoing investigations against President Donald Trump and his administration.

His latest creation, shared on Twitter, is an eerie and menacing portrait of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Styling his name as “Ghouliani,” Carrey captioned the painting: “Finally, a face we can trust!” He’s not wrong; nothing makes a politician look more trustworthy than painting him like he came out of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.”

The Twitter portrait surfaced mere hours after news broke on Friday that Giuliani would be representing Trump in the current probe into Russian election interference. Interestingly enough, Giuliani himself was already tied to the investigation following some remarks he made during and after the presidential election that suggested his knowledge of it.

Carrey’s older creations include “Sean Manatee,” an unflattering manatee-human hybrid painting of Fox News host Sean Hannity, and a portrait of the president that speaks for itself. With another few years left before reelection, at least we can count on plenty more political art.

Beyond the art world, Carrey will next be seen in the upcoming Showtime series “Kidding,” to be directed by his old “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” collaborator Michel Gondry.

Cannes Versus the World: How Will the Festival Contend With Politically Correct Times? — IndieWire’s Movie Podcast

Plus: Are film producers wary of taking movies to the world’s greatest film festival?

As the Cannes Film Festival completed its lineup this week, a number of issues came up. With Lars von Trier back at the festival, is the festival opening itself up to criticism? And how will its women-dominated jury impact discussions about the dearth of women directors in competition? Cannes may remain one of the greatest festivals in the world, but rumors suggest many film producers are wary of the sensitive environment. What happens if Cannes loses its clout?

In this week’s episode of Screen Talk, co-hosts Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson wrestle with these questions. They also delve into more issues with Netflix, as well as a very awkward film festival Q&A session.

Listen to the full episode below.

Screen Talk is available on iTunes. 

You can subscribe here or via RSS. Share your feedback with Thompson and Kohn on Twitter or sound off in the comments. Browse previous installments here, review the show on  and be sure to let us know if you’d like to hear the hosts address specific issues in upcoming editions of Screen Talk. Check out the rest of IndieWire’s podcasts on iTunes right here.

Rachel Weisz Edited ‘Disobedience’ Sex Scene With Rachel McAdams to Ensure It Empowered Their Characters

Weisz’s authority as one of the film’s producers is one of the reasons the explicit scene is earning acclaim for not featuring the male gaze.

When Sebastián Lelio’s “Disobedience” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, everyone couldn’t stop talking about the film’s sex scene between stars Rachael Weisz and Rachel McAdams. The scene earned comparisons to “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” but many felt that Lelio succeeded where Abdellatif Kechiche failed in terms of filming his female stars without a male gaze. It turns out Weisz deserves as much praise as Lelio for making the explicit scene so tasteful.

In a new interview with The New York Times, Weisz reveals that her role as producer on the film allowed her to help Lelio edit the sex scene. She revealed that originally the scene was to feature shots of both characters having orgasms, but that Weisz made the final decision to remove the shot of herself so the scene would exclusively focus on and empower McAdams’ Esti.

“It was too many orgasms,” Weisz says. “Esti’s was more important, and it robbed her of that.”

Part of the reason Weisz felt so comfortable with acting in her first lesbian sex scene was because of how important the explicit moment is to the film’s narrative. The scene is fundamental in showing Esti being freed from the repression she feels on a day-to-day basis as a member of a Jewish Orthodox community. The sex acts as a moment of empowerment for the characters.

“I think we both felt very vulnerable and there was a real sweetness,” Weisz said of the scene. “I don’t know if male actors ask this question but I know women normally think, ‘Is this sex scene really necessary?’ And in this case, it’s essential. The whole story of repression leads up to this moment. I think, particularly for Esti, the release of this big orgasm that she had was also a spiritual moment. It’s about freedom.”

“Disobedience” stars Weisz as a New York photographer named Ronit, who travels back to her Orthodox hometown in London after her rabbi father passes away. Her short time home reawakens a former romance with Esti, who is married to Ronit’s father’s protégé, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola). The film is based on the novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman.

Bleecker Street will release “Disobedience” in select theaters April 27. Click here to read Weisz’s full interview with The New York Times.