Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 45

Thread: PARIS MOVIE REPORT (May 2012)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277

    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (May 2012)

    I'm just getting started. Last night I saw Julie Delpy's new one 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK. It's half in French and half in English.

    This time I'm a week ahead of Cannes. It doesn't start till May 16, so I'll only ve here for six days of it. However Jacques Audiard's RUST AND BONE, a Cannes competition film, opens in Paris May 17 so I should be able to offer a preview of this film which is certain to have US distribution. I'll give more information on Cannes in a Cannes 2012 thread.

    Possibly interesting local prospects:

    SISTER/L'ENFANT D'EN HAUT (Ursula Meier)
    TWIXT (Francis Ford Coppola)
    VIVA RIVA (2010m Djo Munga.)
    WALK AWAY RENEE (Jonathan Caouette)
    AVE' (Konstantin Bojanov 2012)


    Others that may be of interest:

    BABYCALL (Pål Sletaune) Norwegian scare flick starring Noomi Rapce of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    NANA (Valérie Massadian 2012) French
    QUERELLES/MOURNING (Monteza Farshbaf 2011) Iranian



    And there are thesre popular French comedies:

    THE VACATIONS OF DOCUBU (Philippe de Chauveron )
    LA CERISE SUR LE GATEAU (Laura Morante)
    DEPRESSION ET DES POTES (Arnaud Lemort)
    LE PRENON (Alexandre de La Patellière, Matthieu Delaporte )


    And more. We'll see what I can find.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-16-2012 at 02:37 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    Just saw Ursula Meier's L'ENFANT EN HAUT/SISTER. It's good. I will post comments on it and 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK shortly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,667
    Viva Riva had a theatrical run in the US almost a year ago.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    5,499
    Keep those reviews a-comin'...

    :)
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    Thanks J and O for the encouragement and tips. Viva Riva is gone now anyway but I never heard of it and might have gone; not sure. Schedules change on Wednesdays. Those were just what I saw offered at cinemas i go to, when I arrived.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-11-2012 at 04:43 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    Ursula Meier: SISTER/L'ENFANT D'EN HAUT (2011)


    KACEY MOTTET KLEIN, LÉA SEYDOUX IN SISTER/L'ENFANT D'EN HAUT

    High and low: life as a hustle

    Ursula Meier is a new Swiss director who rejects the glamorous picture of her country as a place of heroic mountain climbers and perfectly functioning watches and rock solid banks. In her world, nothing is particularly certain. In her debut film, ironically called Home, a family (headed by Isabelle Huppert and Olivier Gourmet) lived along an unfinished highway and must make extraordinary accomodations when it's built. In her strong and absorbing second film, Sister, or L’Enfant d’en haut, a skinny blond boy called Simon (Kacey Moette Klein, also in Home), who claims to be 15 but is really 12, squats in an anonymous flat located in an ugly industrial plain with his shapely older sister (Léa Seydoux). They have a roof over their heads, but their lives are catch-as-catch can. Her boyfriends last no longer then her odd jobs. Simon is more the breadwinner, because he has skills. He knows a lot about skis and ski equipment. Saving up enough cash for a pass to get there, can weave his way among rich alpine ski vacationers up above on the snow-covered mountains. There, he steals any of their stuff he can get his hands on, starting with flashy new skies and pricey sunglasses. He sells them to pals or workers. With the money he buys such luxuries as pasta, so they can eat. Nothing finally is stable in their lives, or their relationship either. Or really in the world as we experience it through them. As some said of Home, this may be a prophetic vision with wider implications. But it has a tonic freedom from generalization. Everything is precipitous, kinetic, and compulsively involving. One is dropped into a new world and stays till the last heartstopping moment, which offers a haunting hint of the end of René Clément's Forbidden Games.

    Meier is well served in young Klein, who was also in Home and has been said to have learned from Olivier Gourmet, during that shoot, how to embody rather than merely enact his role: when he is on screen, which is most of the time, he is totally absorbed in what he is doing and so are we. He’s slippery as a eel, and you’ll certainly never catch him "acting," a fact that underlines the director's commitment as well as his. His face is both impassive and expressive. Simon hides his feelings. In one astonishing and appalling scene toward the film's end, he e literally buys affection. Earlier, he gloms onto a rich, long-haired blond vacationer (Gillian Anderson), to whom he pretends that his parents are super-busy running a "very big hotel." He wishes she were his mother. He wishes he had one. He grabs her the way Thomas Doret, the orphaned and abandoned boy in the Dardennes’ The Kid with the Bike, grabs Cécile de France and won’t let go. But rejection is something Simon gets a lot of, and from all directions.

    L’Enfant d’en haut captures a picaresque life of survival and denied lostness whose specifics we’ve never quite seen before. Like any good film of this kind this one’s spaces and shots stay with you. Simon is always getting dirty or wet and stripping and running his clothes through the washer. Only later you may realize he doesn’t’ have many clothes. Things are always coming and going. There is a row of snappy looking skis along one wall, but soon they’ll be gone. This is almost a world of barter. Simon is a good player of a game he has himself invented. But he hasn’t fully learned the rules of the world’s -- the real world's -- games. His affective life is missing and so is a moral compass. Léa Seydoux, who despite her privileged background keeps taking challenging roles, can just almost keep up with the mercurial Klein. She is cold, distant, childish, and helpless here.

    The Swiss don’t often come up with a great director but Meier looks like becoming one. Her debut was the Swiss nominee for the 2009 foreign-language Oscar. Sister/L’Enfant d’en haut won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale. Meier has something social and psychological to say, and they're both related, but when you're watching the film you are in the moment. Sister, which is in French with some English dialogue, achieves something quite fresh. This is the best film I've seen in Paris this time. It debuted at the Berlinale in February, then opened in Paris April 18, 2012. I hope Meier gets the wider international audience she deserves.

    Screened for this review at MK2 Hautefeuille, Paris, May 8, 2012.

    Released Oct. 6, 2012 in NYC. This has 16 reviews listed on Metacritic and a collective rating of 81.

    The official US trailer of SISTER is on YouTube here.

    Make every effort to see this great film.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2015 at 03:33 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    Julie Delpy: 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK (2012)



    Delpy's family problems, from another angle

    Julie Delpy has made a companion piece to her 2007 2 Days in Paris, which depicted a couple traveling in the City of Light, and meeting family. The walk-and-talk style owed something obvious to Linklater's two films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, which constitute Delpy's claim to fame for US viewers, despite the many other films she's been in. Her 2010 directorial and acting excursion into costume drama, The Countess got only a Video on Demand US release. After that her Skylab, a very chatty busy all-French study of a big family on vacation several decades ago, had no US market value.

    This time the couple is Julie plus Chris Rock, well established in Manhattan, which the film has some nice, if cursory, tribute shots of. Her character Marion is, as in the Paris episode, an art photographer, now having an opening showing a new series. She's raising the kid she had with her ex-, Adam Goldberg. Mingus (Rock) is a writer for the Village Voice who also has a radio talk show, during which he occasionally comments on what's going on in his life. Her father, sister, and (unexpectedly) her sister's boyfriend with whom she had a brief tumble once, arrive for a visit, and the jokes begin, playing upon surprisingly stereotypical images of French people as gross overeaters with an imperfect notion of privacy or decency.

    There are lots of good little details, and Chris Rock adds a helpful detached point of view, a sharpness to contrast with the sloppy edges of the French relatives, but there is none of the ironic bite the Paris entry provided. Delpy as actress has provided an essential element in Richard Linklater's classic pair of decade-apart romantic conversations, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Why she has preferred a tone of sub-Apatow grossierté for her own work as a filmmaker remains a mystery. Of course 2 Days in New York, which picks up the same female protagonist played by Delpy in a different situation (she has broken up with Jack, of the Paris trip, father of her kid), is a kind of sequel, as Before Sunset was to Before Sunrise, but not as consistently pursued and without the same control of tone.

    2 Days in New York debuted at Sundance and played at Tribeca and other festivals, opening in French theaters the end of March and in some other countries in May. It has a limited US release from August 10, 2012. Viewed for this review at a public screening in Paris at the UGC Odéon, May 7, 2012. Delpy is working fast: her documentary look at the life of musician Joe Strummer, The Right Profile is coming shortly.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2015 at 03:33 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    Dorothée Sebbagh: CHERCHER LE GARÇON (2012)


    CHRISTOPHE CAROTENUTO AND SOPHIE CATTANI IN CHERCHER LE GARÇON

    Meet Me, Meet Me, Meet Me...

    Chercher le garçon is the feature debut of Dorothée Sebbagh, who has collaborated and co-written with other French directors, Emmanuel Mouret, Serge Bozon, Jean-Claude Brisseau, Valérie Donzelli, the latter on her auspicious, but unseen in America, Queen of Hearts, whose structure into short scenes resembles this one. Chercher le garçon focuses exclusively on the quest of Emilie (Sophie Cattani), a thirty-something designer in Marseille who becomes so obsessed with seeking a boyfriend (the generic "garçon" of the title) via an apparently compulsive Internet dating site called Meet Me that her life is disrupted: she can barely eat, sleep, or work. achieves a certain unexpected depth in spite of, perhaps also through, its seemingly repetious structure. The film is a succession of mostly online-arranged encounters, in which Sebbach narrowly but pretty successfully sidesteps the danger of sinking into the purely novel, cute, or anecdotal. She is neutral toward Internet mate-hunting, neither defending nor attacking it. In the succession of miscellaneous men the director isn't out to create a facile, entertaining arc of contrasts or jokey missteps. The sequence is unexpected and uncalculated. Actors were allowed to improvise freely, and what happens has a casual documentary quality, without seeking extremes. The main thing is, Emilie is a good sport, and keeps on hoping every time, but things keep on not turning out. The brevity of most of the encounters is a limiting factor, but they way the scenes play gives them particularity and depth, while avoiding over-cuteness or sentimentality.

    The first guy just smiles after a little conversation and says thanks but no thanks. The next one, without a moment of hesitation, jumps immediately into a romantic, poetic, sexual affair, which the game and flexible Emilie initially accepts, till she is forced to declare that while he may be in love with her, she is not in love with him, and it's over. After that there is a succession of personalities that at the same time are examples of varying male dating-game strategies or syndromes. The "dancing man" who, well, dances. Such initial gambits may be attractive, origial come-ons for some, but not for others. Emilie lets it stop there. She's game and cooperative -- however far-fetched this may seem -- with the kinky but harmless weirdo who poses Emilie semi-nude out of doors with tiny dolls. This is hardly the prelude to a relationship. Then there are the guys who don't show up, or fail to turn up for the second date, or who, like Hicham (Aïssa Bussetta) are so shy they initially send a substitute. Emilie loves Christophe (Christophe Carotenuto), the substitute, and begs him to consider her. Alas, he declines, but she does get to meet Hicham (Aïssa Bussetta).

    Importantly, because it changes pace and resets the assumptions, Emilie follows the hint of her girlfriend Audrey (Aurélie Vaneck) that according to "an Arabic proverb" the real rendezvous are those that happen purely by chance. And so what does Emilie do? She sets herself up for a "chance" encounter, of course, by planting herself on a park banch. Finally an overweight jogger collapses in front of her, coughing and choking for air. Well, it's a chance meeting, all right. He turns out to be a very nice married man just abandoned by his wife. They start a friendship, that centers on jogging. Being ouside the online matchmaking loop, it's a relationship that can continue, for a while anyway.

    More significantly, someone sees her by chance and takes an interest. A guy called Amir (Moussa Maaskri) runs into her down by the harbor when she's been stood up, holding two ice cream cones. He's mature, lonely, no doubt, seems solid and sincere, and better still, owns a boat. She says no. He will turn up again though, and his lack of connection to any dating game makes him seem authentic to us, and perhaps to Emilie.

    Cattani, debuting here in a major role and in a romantic comedy, was previously seen in the late Claude Miller's I'm Glad My Mother Is Alive, Tomboy and Polisse, She has a rubbery quality, a good humor and flexibility that make the rapid sequence of encounters seem possible, even fun, till she confesses to Audrey that Meet Me has taken over her life. . Her many expressions mix hope, determination, innocence and disillusion. Chercher le garçon's postcard landscapes and conventional musical backgrounds don't add much, but the raw material of the encounters and dialogue functions well enough to explain why in a dry season, this film, which emerges is not as lightweight as it seems, has been well received by French critics.

    A graduate of the prestigous Paris film school la Femis, Sebbagh reports having been deeply disappointed after repeated efforts to begin features were thwarted at the outset. This first film was the product of a subsequent mood of desperation when she had virtually lost all interest in writing and filming -- Emilie's trying and trying but not giving up may be a metaphor for Sebbagh's efforts to start her career. The film was shot ultra-simply, with a digital still camera. She admits to a great admiration for Eric Rohmer. Screened for this review in Paris at MK2 Hautefeuille May 10, 2012. It opened on a few French screens May 9 to generally favorable reviews (Allociné 3.5). No other information available; further prospects are highly doubtful, though this would not be unworthy of foreign DVD release, at least.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2015 at 03:34 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    John Madden: INDIAN PALACE (2012)


    JUDI DENCH IN INDIAN PALACE

    Old Brits, new place

    John (Shakespeare in Love)Madden's Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has an English-language title for its French release, but it's been simplified to Indian Palace. For once a proven director with a good budget and a cast to die for caters to the large over-fifty audiene that buys so many movie tickets, especially for daytime showings. And this is an easy movie for that audience to like, fun, "exotic," touching, but unthreateningly predictable, with strings neatly and satisfyingly tied at the end. Best Exotic is capable of amusing and bemusing most anyone and contains genuinely toucing moments. If you're bent on something edgy and cool, you'd best stay far away; but Madden doesn't let his conventionality stifle his story's rich possibilities. Though this is hardly as subtle and deep, you might even momentarily think of E.M. Forster's Passage to India. Only the Raj is long gone and this is an example of elder Brits being 'outsourced' like services to a place where their savings will go further.

    The premise, touching on late life rebirth, living one's dreams, and settling of accounts both literal and figurative, is a simple but resonant one -- a group of senior Brits move to Jaipur. Instead of the usual Italy or Costa Brava they ship off to India, to a large, roomy hotel whose actually pretty shaky condition (the phones don't work, some rooms are missing doors) has been concealed in the hotel's Photoshoped brochure by its compulsively optimistic self-appointed manager, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), whose family owns the place. Sonny is one of Dev Patel's jokey, hyperactive performances. He's charming and deftly articulate in speaking his ornate lines, but quite silly. He was calmed down for Slumdog Millionaire, but observe his goofy mugging in the BBC teen series "Skins" and you'll get an idea of what's in store here. Sonny's family is wealthy but he takes after his late, ineffectual father. His mother wants him to turn the place over to his brothers and let it be sold. He wants to marry a pretty but unsuitable young woman (Tena Desae), not chosen by his Delhi family, who works at an outsourced call service.

    But it's what is to happen in the lives of Tom Wilkenson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nihy, and Judi Dench -- which is quite a lot -- that will really matter here. The movie avoids cliches about India by presenting it impressionistically, as a whirlwind of bustle and craziness, bright colors, smiles, and wonderful light. These are the things that Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson), a newly retired judge, remarks upon, has long known, and still appreciates. He grew up here, but left forty years ago. It turns out he's gay and has come back to find the love of his life, a task in which he touchingly succeeds. Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) is a new widow, who let her husband lead in all things and has now learned his mismanagement of finances has forced her to sell their posh house to pay off debts and move elsewhere. Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nihy) is trapped in a combative marriage with the crabby Penelope Wilton, which he has politely accepted these many years. Moreover they too have become poor by investing all their money in their daughter's startup, which hasn't paid off. Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) is a long-time domestic who never had money. She has no use for the exotic, or any food she can't say the name of, but has come along for a quick, low- cost hip replacement. The trick is to juggle all these events and resortings of relationships that the group arrival enables. The hotel holds them together and the acting makes them sing. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has few longeurs, though it's not the script that's to thank for our amusement so much as the brilliant cast and deft editor Chris Gill, who together achieve a rhythm that makes things go by seamlessly. It may not be till later that the predictability of the script (based on the novel These Foolish Thinkg by Deborah Moggach) begins to sink in.

    Wilkinson's character's story, a sort of Brokeback Mountain for the Raj set, is unquestionably sentimental. But it's balanced by an unsentimental English acceptance of aging, handled so well by other cast members, and by the dry, realistic outlooks of their characters. Judi Dench has a different tole here, less feisty and aggressive, more simply honest. Bill Nihy projects a dry, English irony that's not without a willingness to start something new It's Nihy most of all who keeps things light, just as Maggie Smith, with her equally dry negativity, prevents the Indian setting from ever seeming sentimentalized.

    Let's not give this movie too easy a pass, though. Too much is crammed into too short a time, and everything is much too easily resolved. As the Variety critic notes, it's one of many examples of how chances are not taken that the one gay character gets killed off before he can do anything to offend the target audience, and the way Maggie Smith "converts from total racist to wise, kindly old dear by the end stretches credibility too far." But did you expect entertainment for a large middlebrow senior audience to be biting and intense?

    Indian Palace, AKA Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, out in the UK Feb. 24, went into limited US release May 4, 2012, in France May 9. It was screened for this review at UGC Odéon, Paris, May 9, 2012.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2015 at 03:35 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    Konstantin Bojanov: AVÉ (2011)


    Angela Nedialkova and Ovanes Torosian in Avé

    Bulgarian road movie

    This first film from Bulgaria, seen late in the evening in Paris, is a lovely surprise. Why did both Variety and Hollywood Reporter dismiss it with faint praise at Cannes last year? They have seen too many "road movies," and think this is just another one without enough of a new angle. But angle or not, there is a soft, subtle, mysterious edge here that makes this an adventure and an experience not like any other. The dark-eyed art student Kamen (Ovanes Torosian), putting on a wrist watch without hands, starts hitchhiking his way across the country for the funeral of a classmate who has committed suicide. The beautiful Avé (Angela Nedialkova) steps in front of him and a car stops, so as they travel, they become a de facto couple that eventually becomes a real one, but she remains a mystery to him, a siren, and a provocation. Her compulsive lying maddens and angers him. And yet while it causes trouble, it also gives comfort when she pretends to be his late classmate's girlfriend, who in fact doesn't show up. Begin with Torosian and Nedialkova's faces: they illuminate the screen. Till they get to the dead mate's obsequies, it's not so important what other people do or say, though there's a driver who gets violently angry at being lied to and a kinky truck driver who chases them. What matters is the evolving relationship, and a muted nihilism felt by both youths that's echoed in the stark landscapes. Be patient, let this flow at its own speed, and you will experience a gem featuring a handful of budding talents, young stars, writer, and director all included.

    Avé debuted at Cannes in 2011 and afterward was shown in many lesser international film festivals throughout the rest of 2011 and the beginning of 201. It opened theatrically in France April 25, 2012 following a Bulgarian opening six weeks earlier. Screened for this review at MK2 Beaubourg, Paris, May 12, 2012.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2015 at 03:36 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    Pål Sletaune: BABYCALL/THE MONITOR (2011)


    NOOMI RAPACE IN BABYCALL/THE MONITOR

    The Dragon Tattoo girl quietly shines in a scary movie from Norway

    Terrible psychological and physical suffering lie behind the vision and experience depicted in this quiet horror film that provides proof that Noomi Rapace of the Dragon Tattoo movies is just as remarkable in any project she takes on. Some may find the material slight, and it is. But within its limitations Sletaune's film carries a load of discomfort and a deep sense of how traumatic history can be a prison from which its victims can't escape. Actually done before Rapace's unflattering Sherlock Holmes appearance, this one shows how she can take charge of a screen. Instead of the feisty lesbian-bi computer hacker genius this time she's Anna, a mother who's got somewhat shaky custody of Anders (Vetle Qvenild Werring), her little boy, and moved to a big anonymous block of flats where she hopes to hide away from her abusive husband. Of course, that proves less easy than she hoped.

    The social services folks don't appear on her side. They want Anders sent to school, not home schooled, and insist he not sleep in Anna's bedroom. This is why she gets the baby monitor, AKA babycall, to keep close track of her son in the other bedroom. It's when screams and cries for help come mysteriously into the monitor, but not from Anders, that she and the audience, if they'r following along, will get thoroughly weirded out. She appears totally isolated. Her only ally is Helge (Kristoffer Joner), the guy who sold her the gadget. He's a lonely guy too, and starts trying to date her, though she turns out to be a handful. Not so helpful is Ole (Stig Amdam), the male social servie person, who shows predatory tendencies.

    I'd not disagree too strongly with Variety critic Jay Weissberg's assessment that this film "needs more time in script kindergarten." This indeed is the film's Achilles heel -- that some of the plot devices are too slapdash and arbitrary, and the Shutter Island analogy is not too far off. But it doesn't matter very much, because there is much reliance on closeups of Rapace's face, which by itself modulates the mood from nervous to frantic so subtly that it creeps right up on us. A minor effort from most points of view, this is nonetheless both an excellent little film for fans of claustrophobic psychological horror and a showcase of Noomi Rapace's mastery of character. it's really nice to see a thriller that doesn't rely at all on loud noises or special effects, that keeps us aware that the trouble is inside its protagonist's head.

    Babycall debuted at the Rome Film Festival in November 2011, when Rapace understandably received the acting award, and was shown at some other festivals, then opened theatrically in the UK March 30, 2012 and France May 2. It is scheduled for US release July 24. Millennium and psych thriller fans should be very pleased. Others need not apply.

    Screened for this review at MK2 Hautefeuille, Paris, May 11, 2012.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2015 at 03:37 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    Matthieu Delaporte, Alexandre De La Patellière: LE PRÉNOM (2012)


    PATRICK BRUEL AND GUILLAUME DE TOQUEDEC IN LE PRÉNOM

    It's all just talk, but such good talk

    In What’s in a Name?/Le Prénom, an adept entertainment that’s all talk in a French drawing room, four people gather to talk and eat and later are joined by a fifth. What happens is that they are provoked, first by a discussion of the naming of a child, then by revelations about a love affair several key players did not know of, involving someone very close. Though feelings get pretty intense, none of this really matters very much. But the reason why you’d want to watch this movie is to enjoy, with close-ups, a really well-written, acted, and directed example of Gallic theater. It’s all in the dialogue, the adeptness of the acting (four out of the five are the original stage cast), the deft sense of pacing both in the writing and the performances. These people really are at the top of their game. And that includes the film (and original play) directors, Mathieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière.

    This is much the same kind of job Roman Polanski was doing in Carnage, his accomplished filmed version of Yasmina Reza's Le Dieu du carnage, except these are people who have known each other since childhood, or thought they did. That presumably explains the extent of the leg-pulling about the baby-naming, though the mistake about someone’s sexuality and involvement with someone near and dear may seem a bit far fetched. Remember, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about twists and turns and surprises and well-delivered speeches.

    The film begins energetically with a Jeunet-esque set of thumbnail intros with short scenes, accompanied by tongue-in-cheek voiceover, showing who the people are. From then on we are in the comfy Paris flat of a popular Sorbonne professor, Pierre (Charles Berling, not in the stage cast), as he and his schoolteacher wife Elisabeth (Valérie Benguigui) get ready for two guests. These are Elisabeth’s highly successful (and right wing) real estate agent brother Vincent (the great actor singer-songwriter Patrick Bruel) and their friend Charles (Guillaume de Toquedec), a classical trombonist who plays with a French radio orchestra.

    Vincent’s wife, who’s to arrive later, is expecting. It’s to be a boy. And the name Vincent proposes is a long, long, wry, provocative joke. The discussion of names this occasions is lively and funny, then violent and incredulous, rich in teasing references to history, politics, and culture. It’s not an accident that Vincent’s sister and in-law are on the left, and it’s relevant that some family members (and one of the key actors) have Jewish blood, i.e. Patrick Bruel (an Algerian Jew) and the character of Elizabeth’s mother Françoise (Françoise Fabian), who is designated as Jewish. More than that we can’t reveal. What one can definitely say is that it’s all because this is pure contrivance and so over-the-top that it’s so enjoyable to watch worked out. The arrival of Vincent’s significant other Anna (Judith El Zein) comes when everyone is on edge, and brings things to a head.

    And after Vincent has attempted with limited success to apologize, attention turns to Charles, who despite being everybody’s but Anna’s friend since childhood, they seem not to have known much about. He has been agreeable to everyone, and understood my no one. This second story line seems less engaging than the first. It relies too much on information brought in from nowhere, and on a sixth character who never actually appears till a tacked-on final sequence of the childbirth, which offers another cute surprise.

    In a way this is better than Polanski’s (or Reza’s) filmed drawing-room drama. It doesn’t strive so simplistically for significance. It’s about things that matter – child-naming, love, friendship, conventions, prejudices – but it never forgets that it’s playing a dramatic game. Its object is to make the time pass both provocatively and enjoyably. The filmmakers, of course, don’t attampt to “open up” the play (Polanski didn’t either). Neither play goes really deep. For a similar structure that really does, you’ll want to go back to Edward Albee’s classic nightmare evening, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

    What’s in a Name?/Le Prénom came out in Paris around the same time as the Marvel Avengers film in France, as did The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in America. Both are examples that there’s more to life than tights and superpowers. And Le Prénom has done pretty well with both the public and the critics (Allociné: press 3.2, public 4.0) coming in second for box office returns that week. But Avengers did better (Allociné: press 4.0, public 4.3). In the US according to Metacritic Avengers rated a 69, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel a 62.

    Screened for this review at UGC Danton, Paris, May 13, 2012.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2015 at 03:39 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    Jonathan Caouette: WALK AWAY RENÉE (2012)


    JONATHAN CAOUETTE AS SEEN IN POSTER FOR WALK AWAY RENEE

    Burdens cheerfully assumed

    Jonathan Caouette caused a sensation with his 2004 debut film, Tarnation. It was a documentary of his life, strewn with disasters and composed by a collage of snapshots and old videos. He had been shooting himself and his family from the age of eight. You may say he is as natural born a filmmaker as they get. Whether he will move on from his life to other topics is hard to say.* What we can say of Caouette's life is that he has survived it. Renée Leblanc, his beautiful young mother, fell off a roof, and as a result was given a lengthy series of electric shock treatments (don't ask). Apparently due to the damage these caused, she began having psychotic episodes. A Hollywood Reporter review describes her diagnosis as " acute bipolar and schizoaffective disorder." Her uncertain mental condition continues to this day and requires care and medication, neither of which has ever been adequate, at least for long. Young Jonathan was turned over to his grandparents, Rosemary and Adolph Davism who by his own report, knew "nothing about raising a child," and the treatment he got, from them directly and when placed in a succession of foster homes, was both neglectful and cruel. I called Tarnation "a distasteful and distressing experience." I didnùt like being subjected to this painful and sordid life. But I could not forget it, or deny that Caouette accomplished his purpose. This was one of the best documentaries of the year, and there were some good ones.

    Caouette is a survivor. Now he emerges, nancy boy poses in the past, as a really nice guy, and maybe a bit of a saint. Though this new film, despite more professional cinematography and editing facilities, is not as interesting artistically as Tarnation, or as much of a surprise, it is a portrait of love and kindness. Details are still missing -- the reliance on cryptic intertitles remains a limitation when life changes are indicated -- but there is enough to show Jonathan's extraordinary patience in caring for his mother, their affection for each other (in her lucid moments), and the warm home he has made in New York with his longtime boyfriend David Paz.

    If you've seen Tarnation, Walk Away Renée provides no new information. It outlines the information in the earlier film, with less about Jonathan's youthful rebellion -- referred to only in passing when he talks to his 15-year-old son Joshua -- or his growing up gay -- and more about the struggle to find a comfortable living situation for his mother and doctors who will give her the best meds. Despite fantasmagoric interludes designed to illustrate the world of Renée's intermittent madness, which are more hi-tech but no better or more necessary than the eye-popping Mac tricks built into Tarnation, this is a simple road movie, with explanatory interruptions. And -- again partly because of the reliance on telegraphic intertitles -- the time sequence is not always very clear. The focus is on a time in 2010 when things had gone wrone with Renée's meds in Texas and he decided to set her up at an assisted living facility for mental patients in Rhinebeck, NY, closer to Jonathan's home.

    Only along the way -- and this happened once in the years recounted in Tarnation -- all the meds needed to care for Renée and keep her stable during the weeks before she can enter Rhinebeck, disappear. Some of the most intense moments involve Jonathan's calls to doctors or other medical personnel trying in vain to persuade them to prescribe new meds. And as the trip progresses, we see Renée's mental state deteriorate.

    It never ends, because once his mother is installed at Rhinebeck, it emerges that she's been taken off lithium and put on a succession of anti-psychotic drugs (also nothing new) that are making her agitated and incapacitating her physically.

    Both Jonathan and Renée, however, remain mostly loving and good humored. It is not as an innovative documentary but a portrait of family loyalty and affection that this film is memorable. Efforts to add sci-fi elements and link madness to the fourth dimension or some cosmologists' (such as Michyo Kaku, seen in a brief TV excerpt) theory that our cosmos may be a bubble linked to others, are not organic with the vérité doc elements, and don't add anything much. Similar divagations marred Tarnation, but their handmade quality, plus their tie-in with the young Jonathan's experiments with sexual identity and explorations of filmmaking, made them fit in better with the earlier film.

    Adoph, the grandfather, is also woven in and out of the story. He too was taken to Jonathan and David's place in New York for a while, having become confused and senile; he eventually dies. At one point Renée and Adolph are sleeping in the same room. They don't get along very well. Later, at 15, Joshua has come to live with Jonathan and David, and pronounces himself happy there. The sequence of all this is not entirely clear to me. Renée is allowed to go back intermittently on lithium, which Jonathan thinks the only thing that stabilizes her, but doctors have declared that it is causing major liver damage and will kill her. The film ends with all this up in the air. And what has Jonathan been doing in between films? Walk Away Renée, though less innovative technically, less comprehensive, and less surprising, is almost as claustrophobic as the previous film. But though we couldn't imagine living his life, we emerge feeling that he has lived it with a surprising amount of grace and kindness. I hope Caouette makes more films, perhaps about totally different aspects of his life, such as what he was doing between 2003 and 2010, left a black hole here.

    Walk Away Renée was produced with a number of French film aid grants, and debuted at Cannes 2011, showing also at Moscow and some other festivals. It entered Paris cinemas May 2, 2012. It has gotten respectful reviews (Allociné press rating: 3.4), which tend to agree as I would that Caouette and his mother are "engaging," and that this film is uneven but still shows undeniable talent.

    _______________________

    *Caouette has made one 82-minute feature documentary between his two autobiographical ones: the 2009 All Tomorrow's Parties, "A kaleidoscopic journey into the parallel musical universe of cult music festival" of that name. His musical sense is also shown in appropriate songs at certain key moments of Walk Away Renée.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-16-2012 at 01:00 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    PARIS MOVIE REPORT (MAY 2012)

    Wang Xiaoshuai: 11 FLOWERS (2011)


    Zhang Kexuan, Zhong Guo Liuxing, Liu Wenqing and Lou Yihao in 11 Flowers

    Growing up at the end of the Cultural Revolution

    This conventional and somewhat predictable film about China in 1975, a year before the deaths of Mao Tsedung and Zhou Enlai signaled the end of the Cultural Revolution, made with French funding, has a delicacy and subtlety due to its crabwise approach. Rather than dealing with crowds rushing around, it follows Wang Han (Liu Wenqing) an 11-year-old boy living up in a mountainous region alongside a river in Guizhou province with his mother (Yan Ni), younger sister (Zhao Shiqi), and his actor father (Wang Jingchun). It achieves some genuinely touching moments. Needless to say, director Wang Xioshuai is very good with children, which isn't easy, though he's obviously helped by the youthful professionalism of the boys playing the main character's pals, Zhang Kexuan, Zhong Guo Liuxing and Lou Yihao. The effect of the film is to represent how events might look on the periphery, and to people a little too young to fully understand them. There are times when Wang approaches greatness here, and he is apparently basing the story on his own rural upbringing as a Sixth Generation director. This is a very absorbing watch whose sedate pace doesn't keep it from achieving a quiet intensity.

    The first episode establishes the family's poverty, and that leads into the main episode, which underlines the unrest and underlying violence, even in this rural area. Trouble comes when Wang Han (Liu Wenqing) is chosen to be the gym leader, the boy who does the exercises everyone follows up on a platform, and he needs a new shirt. but his mother can't seem to manage: it would take a year's worth of fabric coupons. His father works in the local factory, though he inspires Wang Han with dreams of being a member of the intelligentsia, encouraging him to learn to be a painter, and speaking of his former identity as a theater person.

    We can see what's coming when Wang Han nonetheless gets a new shirt but passes out at the river. When he's revived, it's disappeared, and it turns out to be grabbed by Jueqiang (Wang Ziyi), a young man on the run from police, wounded, after trying to set fire to the factory. He is hiding in the forest, and Wang Han is the one who knows the secret. This bond somehow ties in the central experiences of the boy with the travails of his father and another man, who feels he is a non-person because his intellectual status has been destroyed and he has been exiled here. The relationship between Juegiang and Wang Han, though established only in a fleeting scene. changes everything, and the director's handling of every scene shows a sure touch.

    In an enthusiastic review for Variety, Justin Chang describes how the film develops a dreamlike quality visually and otherwise from the moment when Wang Han passes out in the water, and the unfolding of events shows "a rich sense of time." The actual Chinese title, Chang points out, means "I am 11," but the "Flowers" in the English and French titles refer to a still life Wang Han's father sets up for him to draw and paint. A particularly nice scene is of his father showing him cherished reproductions of Impressionist paintings and sharing his love of them, thus conveying that the Cultural Revolution has not destroyed awareness of western culture.

    Derek Elley, who provides more details in his Film Business Asia review, makes a goos point when he concludes that the film is primarily about the experiences of childhood rather than "some kind of oblique commentary on the period." And the story "is basically about a family living in a town where the children feel at home but their parents feel displaced. " This is best shown, as Elley notes, in the scene where "Wang Han and his father meet Wang Han's female schoolmate Juehong and her father in the countryside: while the men are bemoaning their relocation to the countryside, the boy is transfixed by being so physically close for the first time to a girl he's admired from afar."

    11 Flowers, French title 11 fleurs, Chinese title 我11 (Wo 11), was screened for this review at MK2 Beaubourg, Paris, May 14, 2012. The film , which is in Mandarin, with French subtitles in the print shown here, debuted at Toronto September 2011 and was shown at a number of other festivals including Pusan, Tokyo, and Deauville. It opened theatrically in Paris May 9, 2012, to generally positive reviews (Allociné 3.4). It is scheduled to open in the Netherlands June 21, 2012.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-16-2012 at 01:14 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,277
    Francis Ford Coppola: TWIXT (2012)


    VAL KILMER AND BEN CHAPLIN IN TWIXT

    Dreaming horror, finding a story

    A beautiful, if slight, pastiche on the horror and vampire film is Coppola's latest experiment, following Youth Without Youth and Tetro, this features Val Kilmer as Hall Baltimore, a failed and drunken detective story writer who has grumpy Skype conversations on the road with his impatient wife (Joanne Whalley) and his editor (David Paymer). The wife wants a $25,000 advance, and the editor, who won't go over $10,000, wants "a great twist ending, with tons of heart." Baltimore fumbles and goes in and out of drunken reveries and dreams, but comes out with a cracking good tale that his editor likes.

    At a humiliating book signing in a hardware in a little town, our author is approached by the local sheriff Bobby LaGrange (a typically hammy and wild-haired Bruce Dern), with the proposal of a story idea of a prosecution of young girl vampires linked to a long-ago series of local murders. If this sounds like a rehash of a rehash, with some elements from the recent middling British costume horror piece The Woman in Black , it certainly is. Except that an autobiographical element is added, that of the blocked or no longer high-functioning artist. Along with that, Baltimore has frequent imaginary consultations with the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin). Another personal element is Baltimore's weighty and guilty memories of the tragic loss of a child in a boating accident. He lost his daughter, and Coppola lost his son Gio this way in 1986. The daughter is played by Elle Fanning, who played the daughter in his daughter's film, Somewhere.

    This weighty material aside, this is nonetheless a playful and at times willfully silly divagation, though one whose slightness does not mean a loss of quality in tech elements. What makes this film worth watching and shows a master's hand are the beautiful images. D.p. Milhai Malaimare Jr.'s cinematography includes colors in the dull waking passages that evoke early Seventies detective movies, while Baltimore's dreams come in sharp black and white with dashes of color, à la Coppola's Rumble Fish. Some of the treatment of young girls is disturbing. But Kilmer keeps things light, yet dignified. One goofy bit is his immitation of Brando in Apocalypse Now, and a closing citation of "The End" sung by Jim Morrison, whom Kilmer played in The Doors. And Bruce Dern is an in-joke in himself, with many creepy self-references, some serious and some silly.

    Twixt debuted at Toronto September 2011 and was included in the San Francisco International Film Festival in Coppola's home turf of the Bay Area. It was released in France April 11, 2012 where it received a fairly good Allocine 3.0 rating. This involves mixed reviews, high from Cahiers du Cinema and Les Inrockuptibles, low from Telerama, generally good from some of the more "sophisticated" publications. Screened for this review May 16, 2012 at MK2 Hautefeuille, Paris.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 11-29-2012 at 05:24 PM.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •