Name James Schamus

Born 7 September 1959. Detroit. Michigan. US.

Background Almost uniquely in American filmmaking. Schamus is both an Oscar-nominated writer/producer and a movie executive. In 1991 he co-founded the production outfit Good Machine (which became Focus Features when Universal bought it) and has financed upwards of AO indie gems including In the Soup. The Brothers McMul/en. Safe. Walking and Talking. Happiness and Buffalo Soldiers. By far Schamus' most creatively and commercially successful ventures. however, are the ten films he‘s made wuth Ang Lee. which have seen Schamus himself securing Oscar nominations for producing Brokeback Mountain and writing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. What’s he up to now? With his tenth collaboration with Lee the erotic Chinese film noir and winner of the Venice Film Festival top prize Lust. Caution Schamus is already back home in New York writing and producing their next project. a rom-com titled A Little Game. Meanwhile. his company will be releasing Fernando Meirelles‘ Blindness. Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind and the next-but-one Coen brothers film Burn After Reading.

What he says about Lust, Caution ‘lt's a tough movie for Chinese culture. This film opens up a lot of raw wounds. It's very present stuff in terms of politics and sexual politics. the whole emotional. psychic. cultural stew. But it has broken every box office record in China. And it's two and a half hours of sexual self- immolation. I think it‘s the most important film in the histOry of Chinese cinema. but Ang was convinced people were going to kill him. And the Venice thing was insane. because we believed it was impossible for a film like this to win. given that we'd won in 2005 with Brokeback. But the jury voted unanimously for it. in the first five minutes of what turned out to be a 12-hour deliberation.‘ Interesting tact Schamus is Associate Professor at Columbia University. New York’s School of the Arts. And he likes to wear spotted bow ties. (Miles Fielder)

I Lust, Caution is on selected release from Fri 4 Jan.

40 THE LIST 4-17 Jar" $038

[ A 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (15) 113min 0000

The winner of last year’s Palme d‘Or at Cannes, writer- director Cristian Mungiu’s impressively acted 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days explores a long, dark night of the soul in late 19805 Romania, unfolding towards the end of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship. We first meet university students Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) and Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) in drab dormitory accommodation.

While packing an overnight bag, Otilia pops out to barter for cigarettes and soap, before telling her boyfriend that she may be late for his mother's birthday dinner that evening. It emerges that Otilia is helping the terrified Gabita to get ready for an illegal termination, which will be carried out by the abortionist Bebe (Vlad lvanov) in a hotel room. But when the latter discovers that the women do not have enough money for the procedure, and that Gabita has lied about exactly how long she's been pregnant hence the title Bebe demands that he is paid in both cash and sexual favours.

The word ‘communism’ is never mentioned in this film and yet it grippingly portrays the everyday challenges for ‘ordinary’ people of surviving under a totalitarian regime. Shooting in muted tones on unprepossessing|m

DA'N l'N'n'E‘A'L‘LIFE (PG) 98min .0

real locations, Mungiu proves himself to be a masterly visual storyteller. Eschewing music and close-ups, he combines long, fixed takes with handhelds shots that follow the movements of the actors, and these techniques force us to witness the ordeals endured by the characters.

In one stunning sequence, the camera is fixed on Otilia during a dinner party, whilst off-screen we can hear the chatter of the other guests and the sound of a telephone ringing. Rather than cutting back to Gabita’s plight, Mungiu keeps his gaze on Otilia, who is silently attempting to keep her emotions in check. The tension, in other words, derives not from montage, but from mise-en-scene and our capacity to imagine what might be happening to somebody else.

Comparisons have already been drawn to Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr Lazarescu, and both these Romanian films share a dark and ironic humour. With the horror of the day’s events still fresh in their mind, the two women are served up a platter of meat, whilst a wedding reception which hindered their booking has degenerated into violence. Like the Dardenne brothers and Robert Bresson before him, Cristian Mungiu imbues rigour and compassion to the tensest of dramas. (Tom Dawson)

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