Fiction - Commercial - Corporate - Animation - Documentary
Dear friends, colleagues and clients,
We wish you an amazing 2023. This past year saw us reuniting with our partners at the World Economic Forum for their first in-person event since the pandemic, experiment with animation styles for the Chamber of Commerce, explore the snow-bound wonders of Schloss Elmau, and more. We look forward to the many great adventures the coming year holds, and wish you all good health, happiness and success!
There are times when, against all odds, a work in the very early stages of its medium manages to come close to being the definitive word on the subject it explores. Such a case can be made for 1931’s M and the thriller. One is tempted to make the same case for Western Front and the war film. Released near the dawn of sound-synched filmmaking, and with a devastating world war on the horizon, Lewis Milestone’s epic is notable not just for its technical achievements but for its sheer empathy. The naive enthusiasm with which our cast of schoolboys volunteer is treated with as much sympathy and honesty as the utter emotional devastation with which the survivors return… There have been more spectacular war films made in the near-century since its release, but few have had as meaningful and as lasting an impact.
Imagine if all the stories Disney had regaled you with as a child were adapted again by master-filmmakers, given extremely personal treatments, and treated with genuine care and affection… You guessed it. Our title is not the soulless live-action remake of 2022, but Guillermo Del Toro’s stop-motion marvel of a picture. Like his best work, it mixes his signature visual flair with childlike wonder and fears of totalitarianism. If you watch one a single animated film this year, make it this one.
We open with a shocker. During confession, an unseen parishioner warns Father James (Brendan Gleeson) that he intends to kill him within a week. What follows is James’ attempts to untangle the web of resentment in his small Irish village, and put his affairs in order before the sentence falls. You might think you’d know what to expect given the synopsis. but nothing can prepare you for how touching, unexpectedly funny, and resoundingly true the resulting piece feels. Gleeson is a generous performer, even at the worst of times, but this is the peak of a marvelous career, and every part shines. One of the very best films of this young century.
This wartime tale of a French village succumbing to an epidemic of gossip, paranoia and revenge is a savage and compelling indictment of community life. Master filmmaker Henri-George Clouzot (check out his masterful thrillers Diaboliques and Wages of Fear) dials the pressure up with the steadiness of a drip feed until it becomes unbearable, leading to a climax that is as devastating as it is inevitable.
And now for something more recent. In this age of soulless reboots and sequels, any encounter with a true original is to be treasured. Daniels, the duo behind Swiss Army Man, return with a bigger budget, their creativity in overdrive, for a mad tale of multiverses, galactic tyranny, and the complicated relationship between a mother and her daughter. It is every bit as joyfully bonkers as the trailers and word-of-mouth suggested, but it is the touching relationships at its core that really make it work, as well as the fantastic performances that convey them. Michele Yeoh is truly a legend, as is the ubiquitous James Hong, and we look forward to seeing more of Ke Huy Qan and Stephanie Hsu in the future.
This just might be the coolest American gangster film of all time. Not just « cool » as in « hip », but for the stone-cold bloodymindedness of its characters and their actions. Abel Ferrera, somewhat of an institution in grungy New York filmmaking, had his moment of grace when he combined the dream cast for this thriller: Christopher Walken firing on all cylinders, Lawrence Fishburn finding his start mojo, Wesley Snipes, Giancarlo Esposito, Steve Buscemi… While featuring career-best turns from the likes of David Caruso and Victor Argo.
What are the bear minimum requirements to make a film in the broadly accepted sense? Characters? A location? Louis Malle gives us little more, by combining beloved collaborators Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn (whose performance is a masterclass in that most crucial of acting tools: listening) and a restaurent, and just goes on a riff. Two old friends reconnect, but one has significantly changed. He opens a massive rabbit hole before his bemused counterpart, daring him to enter. Watching 3 masters make so much with so little is truly a mesmerizing experience.
Oh, the wonderful things that happen when madmen are given a blank check. Robert Altman followed his breakthrough hit MASH with this mad caper featuring murder by bird-shit, and while the result is a bit bloated, it also oozes with creativity and a destructive relish that is hard to find in today’s big-budget cinema. It almost did his career in, but the man learned his lesson. He gave us only too few films like this one, but at least it now exists for all time, and that is something to be treasured.
In what many expected to be an embarrassing vanity project, Warren Beatty translates the life and passion of American vanguard socialist John Reed – as seen mostly through the eyes of his partner and lover Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) – to the screen as an energetic epic. Sometimes grand in scope, often grippingly intimate, this 3-hour beauty lensed by Italian master Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, 1900, The Last Emperor) also acts as a playground for some of the greatest stars of the era, with Beatty generously front-lining Keaton and giving the likes of Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman and Paul Sorvino room to shine. It is a beautiful story masterfully told, and a fascinating look at an obscure chapter of American and world history.