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Thread: PARIS MOVIE REPORT (May 2011)

  1. #16
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    UPDATE: IN PARIS I FINALLY SEE ALL OF REVOLUCIÓN, THE MEXICAN ANTHOLOGY FILM FROM 2010.




    Revolución (2010) is the Mexican anthology of short films in the 2010 NYFF that I missed more than half of due to a projection problem during the first press screening. It is reviewed, with help from Leslie Felperin's coverage, in the NYFF 2010 section of Filmleaf here. It is an interesting collection to see, since it includes Mexican directors to a larger audience. Since it opened in limited theatrical release in Paris May 11, I got to see it in toto and add my observations on the parts I had not seen in October 2010.

    The Reygadas segment is a shocker, sort of an alegory of indulgence, violence, and chaos. It's just a very unruly, tacky party, with drinking and smoking, some chatter, destruction of a derelict car. The car is later set on fire. Reygadas' aim seems to be to create a sense of danger and disorder and ugliness. It's not pleasant to watch and isn't meant to be. I thought of Trash Humpers, though it lacks the fantasy.

    I was not very impressed by "The Estate Store," though it is significant in being by a woman director and presenting a woman's point of view. The main relationships don't seem quite credible, and the story-line isn't entirely clear. Maybe Mariana Chenillo is just trying to cram too much information into ten minutes. It's a basic principle that short films work better when they are simple (not that exceptions to this rule aren't possible in the right hands).

    In contrast in "R-100" Gerardo Naranjo creates a story that's vivid, visceral, and simple. There is no dialogue, no attempt to explain how the two men became covered with blood and one of the unable to walk. It's truly a slice of life.

    I would have to re-watch "30/30" by Rodrigo Plà to understand the irony Felperin refers to in its story of an exploited grandson of Pancho Villa brought in by politicians to attend revolutionary commemorative evennt. It took me the whole time to see what was being got at. I give the film credit for a convincing feel of authenticity.

    Diggo Luna's "Abel" seems very fragmentary. I missed something. I'm not so sure its tech credits are below par as Felperin says, but I'm not convinced either Luna or Garcia Bernal are going to be notable as directors. What they are notable for is encouraging cinema in Mexico and helping it to be recognized internationally through their own international recognition as actors, particularly Garcia Bernal's. [IY tu mama tambien ]I[/I] seems like some kind of classic to me, along with Amores Perros, a signal of something coming alive in Mexican filmmaking, at least for the foreign audience. Both put contemporary Mexican filmmaking on the map for American moviegoers.

    Rodrigo Garcia's "7th Street and Alvarado" indeed is a standout. Its images are haunting and beautiful and profoundly thought-provoking. It's quite amazing how the men or horseback costumed so realistically as Mexican revolutionaries of a hundred years ago seem etched in stone against the sunny sky, while the pedestrians wander below, seeming unreal, though unaware of the horseman. I'd have to see more by Rodrigo Garcia to know what he's like; apparently he has moved to the Anglo world, and his new feature for 2011, Albert Nobbs , is set in Ireland and features Jane Eyre star Mia Wasikowska -- so we may forget about his contributing to a new Mexican cinema.

    I would like to see more by Amat Escalante ("The Hanging Priest"), and of course by Reygadas and Naranjo. I know I like anything by Fernando Eimbcke, whose wistful, ironic black and white fim of the welcoming party whose guests (for a celebration of the revolution?) never show up at the tiny town, begins this anthology. Fernando Eimbcke's film, by the way, on the real film stock, is the best looking, along with Rodrigo Garcia's slo-mo color film at the end.

    Revolución dubet on Mexican TV last November Paris May 11, 2011 seems to be its first theatrical release anywhere. I'd expect to see it in a little West Village theater. Allociné gives this film a good critical rating, 3.2 with 10 reviews consulted. "Diversity" and "richness" were noted.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-01-2011 at 08:31 PM.

  2. #17
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    Finally last night (May 22, 2011) I saw Woody Allen's MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, in Paris, with two good friends, and it was wonderful to see it here. It helped one to grasp Woody's slightly naive (but not un-knowledgeable) love of this city.

    Today I saw Diego Lerman's INVISIBLE EYE, which I differ some on Oscar's opinion of. It's a low burner that's quite stylishly done, and "conventional" isn't fair, though it requires patience.

    I'll report on both of these when i have the time. But food and the boulevards and the incredibly pretty Paris weather in May call.

  3. #18
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    Oscar, I knew you had something to say about INVISIBLE EYE, but it's not accessible here, that link to the other website no longer works, so thank you for quoting yourself.
    You're welcome. Actually this excerpt is not from the 2010 report which was made available on-line for a while. It is from the 2011 report which has not been available on-line. If that changes, I'll link to it.

    What about the comparison to Pablo Laraíin; is there any? I guess I'll find that out for myself.
    Tony Manero and El Ojo Invisible are roughly set during the same period, when both Chile and Argentina where experiencing repression of the right-wing kind, right? I'll wait for your review before I say more about El Ojo Invisible. I already said a lot of nice things about it, though. I do believe it adheres rather closely to certain conventions of allegorical, closed-situation dramas that regard a school as a kind of "micro-cosmos". I think a lot of people, maybe most, would prefer El Ojo Invisible to Tony Manero. And that's ok, just not for me.

  4. #19
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    The title of the Diego Lerman film is apparently La mirada invisible, not ojo. I would agree with you in strongly preferring Larain. Obviously his two recent films and Lerman's are set at around the same time and during dictatorships. I dare say also people find Pablo Larain's films harder to watch, but I don't hesistate a minute to say they are more original and powerful than La mirada invisible or than much else; the more I think about them the more they amaze me for their originality and daring, especially the first one of the two.You are probably rightt that Lerman's film' it adheres rather closely to certain conventions, but we may differ otherwise; the Variety review says the same things you do, but I would differ from the latter in actually preferring the second half of the film to the first. I'll comment further ifI get a chance, but don't know yet if I'm going to get around to a full review. My Paris stay is nearly over, and I'll be in transit tomorrow. And La mirada invisible/The Invisible Eye doesn't entirely qualify as a "new" film seen in Paris like the current Cannes releases, being from Cannes 2009. Its theatrical release here is new, of course.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-24-2011 at 08:17 AM.

  5. #20
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    Woody Allen: Midnight in Paris (2011)


    MARION COTILLARD AND OWEN WILSON IN MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

    Wise and pleasant cliché and magic within magic

    In Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen focuses (after location-shooting experiments in England and Spain) on that one place abroad that’s most magical to Americans, not to mention most people. It’s also a place he himself reveres and by reports often visits for restorative escapes from Manhattan life. As his stand-in protagonist in this new movie Allen has chosen the shambling, casually handsome Owen Wilson. This is important because Wilson is a loose-limbed popular comedy star, as blond and WASP-American as apple pie, and miles from the image of the nervous, edgy little smart Jewish guy. He can fit in with the bragadoccio of the Twenties, the likes of Hemingway, Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, legends whom the movie’s fanciful plot puts him in celluloid contact with. He must defer to them. They’re beyond famous, and his character is only a Hollywood screenwriter and a wannabe novelist. But he’s got a certain laid-back panache. Wilson works just fine in this movie. His solid presence anchors the otherwise fragile framework of the story.

    Paris is perennially magical to Americans, but the Twenties was the time when a whole generation of American artists and writers actually lived and worked there. That was when Gertrude Stein held court for expatriate Yanks and Hemingway came and went to the “moveable feast,” getting advice from Gertrude and hanging out with Cocteau, Picasso, Dalí, Bunuel, and other artists, writers, theater people, ballet impressarios and syncophants. Matisse was competing with Picasso. Man Ray, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald partied all night. Mon dieu, what a moment to be in the City of Light!

    Woody Allen must have not just Paris but that special moment on the screen, and he creates a plot to make that possible. In the movie, Owen Wilson slips into a time warp every midnight, escaping from the posh hotel that houses his bitchy fiancée, her snotty, right-wing dad, and a tiresome pedant who monopolizes his fiancée, bores everybody, and lectures tour guides -- one of them played by Sarkozy’s wife Carla Bruni. Woody risks boring us himself by focusing so much on picture postcard views of the city, with a long sequence of them opening the movie. When does homage morph into cliché or lecture? That is the question. Anyway, Wilson’s magic pursuit becomes both compulsive and engrossing. The visits with Twenties personalities are fun, even though the accuracy of the imitations varies. Going to the same location every night at the witching hour, Wilson’s picked up in a chauffeured car and whisked away to places to meet the cream of ex-pat Twenties Paris – and soon to woo an enchanting young woman, Marion Cotillard. She is the mistress of Picasso and before that was with Modigliani. But Picasso can’t be trusted with women, and now Marion is drawn to Owen, and vice versa.

    It turns out Marion is drawn to the past too – and she and Owen drop into a Russian doll time-warp-within-time-warp, slipping from the Flapper era into the Belle Époque and visiting the Moulin Rouge to meet Toulouse Lautrec, Monet, and Manet. Monet and Manet aren’t happy to be in the Belle Époque, the Parisian’s logical idea of the best of times. They want to go back to the Renaissance! This discontent with the present has no end, and eventually Wilson’s character realizes it’s futile. He can’t go anywhere with Marion, because they’re from different times.

    This is fun, and we catch the addiction to escape to a better time that captures Wilson. It’s just an amplification of his belief that Paris in the present is so wonderful he ought to stay there to finish his novel (about a man who sells camp nostalgia pieces in LA) and leave his Hollywood job.

    All this reminded me of an old LP record from the Fifties called “This Is Paris” –- the more so because I saw Midnight in Paris in Paris, a week after it opened the Cannes Festival of May 2011, out of competition, and opened in Paris cinemas simultaneously ---- 16 of them! – with people lining up down the block to see the movie every night. On the old LP, a French cultural icon of the time speaks of an American whose fantasy of the city was “to read Madame Bovary while eating a croissant in the shadow of Notre Dame.” This, he declares, “was a wise and pleasant dream….” Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is almost as naïve and clichéd as that simple, if “wise and pleasant” dream, and just as sweet.

    Perhaps a mere recreation of this kind of fantasy would be enough for a movie, if it were done with sufficient purity and honesty. But Midnight in Paris also considers, if only lightly, the issue of creativity and imagination, the artist’s need to escape and dream, and cinema’s dangerously tempting ability to devise fantasies and recreate other places and times. Other places and times indeed are always fantasies, because we can only truly experience the present.

    Woody Allen’s making a movie set in Paris is also a loaded action. His American reputation has waned but he has seemed to remain a solid icon in France, a country crazy about cinema and more faithful to its film idols than we are as well as quirky in its American preferences – the famous case in point being its passion for the films of Jerry Lewis. We Americans may think of Woody more and more as a great director of the Seventies who just couldn’t stop making movies. He’s said he has to grind them out to ward off depression. Sometimes recently the despair has crept into them, in Whatever Works, for instance, which is dominated by meanness and negativity. But Woody gets good reviews and great promotion in France. He got them for Midnight in Paris. However, to the surprise of some Americans at Cannes, he got them in America too when his film opened there a week later.

    This is because in this movie Woody has caught the magic of another place and another time in ways that are charming – and glossy. Midnight in Paris is not a great movie. It has barely any of the wit and only a little of the intelligence the man is capable of. It has good moments, though. Marion Cotillard always brings magic to the screen, and she is the perfect Twenties enchantress. Hemingway giving advice on courage, writing, and women will bring smiles. Adrian Brody’s brief but dashing sendoff of Salvador Dalí is great fun. Owen Wiilson’s old-shoe ease in his unusually relaxed and hopeful version of the Woody-Allen-surrogate protagonist makes him easy to identify with.

    His character wises up and stops pursuing the phantasm of Mlle. Cotillard, in favor of a real, 21st-century French girl, Léa Seydoux (though this movie princess is the stuff of dreams too). He has learned a lesson. Or has he? The solution he finds is as much a thing of movie fantasy as his midnight escapes into the past. But maybe that’s the movie’s message: movies can only show us dreams, and dreams within dreams within dreams.

    Minuit à Paris was seen at the UGC Odéon, 24, bd Saint-Germain in Paris Sunday May 22, 2011.

    (Subsequently released in the US June 10; the UK, October 7. It has gotten the same Metacritic rating (81) as Lars Von Trier's Melancholia. )
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2015 at 03:18 PM.

  6. #21
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    Paris is over. Next should come my New York movie report, because I stopped over in NYC for four days on the way back to the West Coast. I hope to publish reviews of in the coming week of the following five films, just seen in New York:


    L'Amour Fou (Pierre Thoretton 2011)
    Documentary about the Paris couture partnership of Pierre Bergé and Yves St. Laurent and the sale of their collections after YSL's death

    Bridesmaids (Paul Feig 2011)
    Much-praised new female comedy produced by Judd Apatow and starring Kirsten Wiig

    City of Life and Death ( Lu Chuan 2009)
    Ambitious black and white narrative feature about the "rape of Nanking" in the Sino-Japanese war (1937), recently released in the US

    Hello Lonesome (Adam Reid 2010)
    American indie film about a trio of lonely-guy stories

    United Red Army (Koji Wakamatsu 2010)
    190-minute docu-drama about young Sixties Japanese radicals
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-31-2011 at 12:08 PM.

  7. #22
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    JIM JARMUSCH'S PERMANENT VACATION.

    Have just seen Criterion's DVD of Jim Jarmusch's 1980 Permanent Vacation, his first, short feature (around 75 min) starring the young Chris Parker. I can do no better than to cite Vincent Canby's very sensitive assessment in the NYTimes in 1990 when the film was exhibited in an enlarged print at Anthology Film Archives. Canby writes:

    It's a must-see for anyone who shares the belief that Mr. Jarmusch is the most arresting and original American film maker to come out of the 1980's.

    ''Permanent Vacation'' was made for something in the neighborhood of $12,000. It is not an unrecognized masterpiece, but it is clearly the forerunner of the eccentric comedies to come.

    In Mr. Jarmusch's work, Aloysious Christopher Parker occupies the place that Stephen Dedalus holds in the work of James Joyce. Allie represents something of the film maker's sensibility, or something of what Mr. Jarmusch may sometimes see as his sensibility. It's necessary to be vague about such things since Mr. Jarmusch, after making ''Permanent Vacation,'' has kept his distance from his characters
    .

    And:

    In later films Mr. Jarmusch demonstrates a singular gift for the kind of narrative that, without the audience's awareness, builds to an inevitable pay-off. There are no such surprises in ''Permanent Vacation.'' Instead, there is a quantity of raw material that would later be refined into three of the funniest, wisest comedies of the last decade.

    I love the "Stephen Daedalus" reference. Chris Parker, a tall, reedy, poetic young man, is indeed every inch the doomed wandering poet. Permanent Vacation indeed lacks the "surprises" and neat payoffs, but it has moments, many of which Canby lists. I highlight is when Parker puts on a disk and does a bebod dance as his dreamy girlfriend Leila (Leila Gastil) shits by, in a beautifully framed shot set in a loft or tenement with two big X-barred windows. The DVD has interesting ancillary material, including interviews done at the time of Stranger in Paradise, a silent Super 8 film by Tom Jarmusch made in Cleveland during Stranger's shoot, stills of location scouts for that film, and US and Japanese trailers.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-01-2011 at 02:45 PM.

  8. #23
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    The Frameline35 San Francisco annual LGBT film festival includes a showing of Céline Sciamma's Tomboy.

    Friday, June 24, 7:00 PM
    Castro Theatre

    They quote from the Berlinale blurb:

    Director Céline Sciamma is part of a new generation of filmmakers in France. In an interview with “Cineuropa” in August 2007, she comments, “I became a cinephile as a result of young French cinema of the 90s: Desplechin, Lvovsky, Rochant. But I like Gus Van Sant and Larry Clark a lot, too, for their work on adolescence, not to forget David Lynch.”
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-23-2011 at 12:16 PM.

  9. #24
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    I watched Midnight in Paris today. I am surprised by the almost universal praise for it. Metacritic 81! Howard gave it a C-minus, which is a minority view I find refreshing after so much adulation from critics. I like Allen's Barcelona picture better. Then again, I also prefer Barcelona (and Prague) to Paris.

    In my opinion, the major flaw in this film is the absolutely repellent character of Inez (McAdams). I didn't believe for one second that she and Gil ever had feelings for each other that would prompt them to get engaged to be married. Their break-up is imminent from the very beginning and, when it happens, there is no pathos involved. Not a very funny or witty film so the lack of emotional involvement (on my part) proved fatal to my enjoyment.

  10. #25
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    It's a very enjoyable film but certainly not a great one. That character is not meant to be attractive, nor are her parents. They seem to represent something obnoxious about rich, spoiled modern-day Americans. I think also that the Metacritic rating -- the general US critics' praise -- is pertty high. Of course your liking Prague better than Paris is quite irrelevant and does not strengthen your opinion. It looked pretty good in Paris. In the context of current American movie offerings, it's still kind of special, and it's entertaining to see the caricatures or recreations of those historical expatriate people. But not a great film, no.

    Try to see Tree of Life, Tomboy, others I'd rate a bit higher from these viewings.

  11. #26
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    Tree of Life and Anita are in my "to do" list this week.

    This classic scenario of a guy in love with a girl whose uppity parents find him unworthy works only when the girl possesses qualities that justify his genuine interest, qualities that make her qualitatively different (better) than her parents. The dramatic tension, the curiosity, and the ambiguity is generated by the girl being in-between, so to speak. All that is wasted here . Allen has never been a great dramatist but he's done better.One used to rely on his genius for writing gags but there is scant evidence of it here.

  12. #27
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    I hope you are not going to evaluate all movies in such a formulaic way now. "This classic scenario of blah blah blah works only when ". It sounds so dogmatic, and it's kind of irrelevant since the real purpose of Midnight in Paris is the scenes recreating the glory days of the Twenties when amazing American expatriates all hobnobbed with the greats of modernism. Woody may have set things up too simplistically in making sure that Owen Wilson would want to abandon bourgeois conventionality and Hollywood hack work to live the old-fashioned life of art in Paris with Lea Seydoux. However I take your point about Rachel McAdams' tiresome little wife. No, this is not full of gags, though there are some fun bits. He was not doing gags in Matchpoint either but it was quite good. I also like Vicki Christina Barcelona, but I think Matchpoint is better as a movie. If you went in holding a printout of Metacritic in your hands you were set up for disappointment. I went to it feeling almost certain that after it opened Cannes the French reaction was a bit over-enthusiastic (it celebrates their city) and it wouldn't be that great. But it's good fun. You appear to have been looking for the wrong thing here. I cannot explain the raves, except as I said before that this is a dry season and it's sophisticated (about the history -- not in other ways: its picture of Paris is cliched) and enjoyable.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-09-2011 at 11:35 PM.

  13. #28
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    I stand by my post. It makes perfect sense to me. It's your right to dismiss it as "blah blah blah" or characterize it as dogmatic or whatever. McAdams gets too much screen time to excuse Allen's failure of characterization as irrelevant. Not worth going over Matchpoint again.

  14. #29
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    Sorry about "blah blah blah," not meant to be pejorative, I should have said "etc." or used "______________" for fill in the blank.

    I also understand reacting against an overrated film. I often do. You must understand that seeing it in Paris it was hard not to like it, and I love the modernists and the Twenties Paris ex pats. That girl is obnoxious and many have said so. On the other hand many have found this an enjoyable movie. The character is meant to be obnoxious. She is pretty unsympathetic and one-note though.

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    Owen Wilson is just right for the role and the interactions with figures from the 1920s, and from the 1890s too, were enjoyable and amusing. I am happy Allen is having a domestic hit. Allen's biggest hits in the US are Hannah & her Sisters ($40 million), Manhattan ($39m) and Annie Hall ($38m). Of course, the 2 from the 70s had the biggest audience because ticket prices were lower then. I estimate Midnight will gross about $52 million at the US box-office. That is huge hit for him in this country.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 07-10-2011 at 08:23 PM.

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