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Thread: Winter doldrums FILM JOURNAL Jan.-Feb. 2019

  1. #16
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    COLD PURSUIT (Hans Petter Moland 2019)

    Cold Pursuit is a remake of Fupz Aakeson's In Order of Disappearance, the Norwegian tale of a vengeful father at a wintry outpost, moved to Colorado and with Native Americans as the outcast rivals instead of Serbians. It's been rewritten, with Hans Petter MOlland back as director aiming only, he says, at "a second chance at making scenes even better." Many little details are copied and very little besides the settings changed. I can't complain; I loved the original. Liam Neeson (who else?) replaces Stellan Skarsgard as the snow-plow operator dad who sets out to kill off a whole drug gang to avenge the wrongful death of his son and touches off a gang war that leads to a massacre. Probably in the foreign setting and with a bigger budget Moland has lost some of the lightheartedness and briskness of the original. Going by Metascores (74 vs. 59) the critics liked the first version quite a lot better. The two aren't all that different. It must just be that violence seems more elegant and less crude displaced to another language, I guess. This is good Winter Movie Doldrums relief. It's wintry to an extreme, and nasty fun. But the astonishment of the original is hard to repeat. Watched 8 Feb. 2019 at Hilltop Century.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-16-2019 at 09:53 AM.

  2. #17
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    ARCTIC (Joe Penna 2018)

    Want to chase your Winter Doldrums with somebody else's winter horrors? Joe Penna is a Brazilian musician who became famous on YouTube, and this, his first feature film, debuted as a midnight showing at Cannes. It's a rigorous, sparsely told, grueling-to-watch survival story with few audience satisfactions other than to make you glad you're not spending winter stranded at the North Pole. Actually shot in Iceland, it stars the handsomely weathered-looking Danish veteran actor Mads Mikkelsen as the lone survivor of a small plane crash. A grimly ironic event leaves him with somebody else to save. The monotonous and repetitive action has been compared to Bresson's A Man Escaped. It's Beckettian too, also Sisyphean; sometimes just plain boring, but overall, agonizing. Like Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Overgård (Mikkelsen) is stranded, dogged, competent and methodical. But where Crusoe is endlessly chatty, Overgård rarely speaks. Cinematography and digital effects, including an awesome giant polar bear, are great; the score, though overbearing, is at times welcome for filling the void. The storytelling is stingy. No intro crash; a final rescue barely hinted at. Its mere 97 minutes will not be time you'll get back. Cannes May 10, 2018 debut (Out of Competition). Metacritic 70. Watched at Albany Twin (Landmark) Feb. 15, 2019.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-17-2019 at 05:11 PM.

  3. #18
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    In New York. Feb.-Mar.-Apr. 2019.
    The Rendez-Vous with French Cinema and New Directors/New Films - the two Lincoln Center film series in February and March (ND/NF runs till April 7 this year - are a dramatic escape from the Winter Movie Doldrums I've been getting since 2006. The press screenings have been curtailed, making it more complicated. Not much time nevertheless to watch any commercial releases so far since I got here Feb. 26th.

    Only:



    SORRY ANGEL (Christophe Honoré 2018) - rewatched.

    in my NYFF review I called it "a lot to take in." (Plaire, aimer et courir vite ("Pleasing, Loving and Running Fast") is the French title. First thing in this NY sojourn I saw it again in its US theatrical release. I'm more comfortable with it now. Thought the ending a bit "sentimental" but was impressed in the wake of two Vincent Lacoste performances in the Rendez-Vous (in The Frenchman and Amanda at the brave, virtuoso scenes he turns in here. Also Armond White's appreciative new review - "Sorry Angel, a Near-Masterpiece, Complicates Gay Politics" - underlines what a significant contribution to gay cinema it is. Honoré takes on three challenging stages of a gay man's life, youth, adulthood, and middle age, as well as the "horrible" AIDS years of the early Nineties, when he came to Paris and became HIV-positive, when it was still a death sentence and ACTUP was still crucial to survival. If this is a lot, Honoré is up to it. Not everybody necessarily sees that. The AlloCiné press rating is 4.2 but the Metascore is only 76%. Watched at Quad Cinema 27 Feb. 2019.



    EVERYBODY KNOWS/TODOS LO SABEN (Asghar Farhadi 2018)

    As many have said, not satisfying and not up to Farhadi's best work at all. His best have been made at home, in Farsi. This is in Spain and stars Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz and Ricardo Darin. There are first-rate actors all thorough. The opening segments are appealing but feel fake; they're like a TV commercial of full-of-life Latin types and adorable chaos. The kidnapped girl story parallels his earlier About Elly but is more conventional. The resolution seems irrelevant and is unsatisfying and these weaknesses undercut the potentially interesting moral and social issues for which the mystery is a pretext. Farhadi's other foreign-made one (à la Woody Allen?), the France-set The Past, was more specific. It had one foot in Iran. Nobody will hate this film. It's enjoyable and beautifully made. If you love these actors or this filmmaker, you'll probably want to see Everybody Knows at some point, but you won't walk out of the theater delighted. Metascore 68%. Watched at Village East 16 Mar. 2019.



    GIANT LITTLE ONES (Keith Behrman 2018)

    Dialogue that's alternatively sketchy or obvious and a grating score (an annoying loud tune every five minutes) unfortunately made this hard to take for me. It is original in its plot line, in leaving its high school protagonist's sexual identity undecided. Josh Wiggins' character Franky balks when his best friend Ballas (Darren Mann) performs oral sex on him when they're drunk, then, scared, Dallas blabs about it and claims Franky, not he, was the perpetrator. This leads to lots of problems - fights, Franky's gf leaving, bullying. At least he grows to accept his father leaving to live with a man, but hanging out with his friend's promiscuous sister leaves things up in the air. I miss the Eighties youth pictures! Maria Bello and Kyle MacLachlan as his parents help give the movie visibility. Set in the director's native Canada. Metascore 66%. Watched at Village East 17 Mar. 2019.



    MÉNAGE/TENUE DE SOIRÉE (Bertrand Blier 1986).

    A mousy couple squabbling at a club (Michel Blanc and Miou Miou) is adopted by a flamboyant bisexual ex-con burglar (Depardieu)who takes over their lives and their sexuality with outrageous and hilarious results. Blier seems to turn Parisian boulevard comedy on its head making it far more vulgar and crazy. I didn't know French movies were this raw and obscene in the Eighties. It is funny, especially in French, but makes no logical sense, indeed some note Biier doesn't know how to end and it just goes wacko. The heady, exciting opening scenes where Bob takes Antoine and Monique burglarizing and enjoying rich people's houses seem the best. I was a total novice at Blier, and if I can spend more time at the renovated Quad Cinema, which is currently presenting a series of his relatively small oeuvre in original 35mm film prints, his famous 1978 Get Out Your Handkerchiefs/Préparez vos mouchirs presented daily all day, other films once a night at nine, this wrong can be set right. Watched at Quad Cinema 17 Mar. 2019 at 9 p.m.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-18-2019 at 11:01 AM.

  4. #19
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    I'm looking up Jonathan Rosenbaum on Bertrand Blier, knowing he was around then. He plainly is not a fan and sees this as a defining line separating him from Pauline Kael at the time, who he represents as ecstatic in her admiration as shown at a NYFf press screening of Get Out Your Handkerchiefs in 1978. He thought Blier was like Roger Corman onl French. I have a feeling though that the "only French" part is what makes all the difference. I'm not saying I'm going to be a huge belated fan. Only I can see the special charm and amazement right away.

  5. #20
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    BEAU-PÈRE (Bertrand Blier 1981)

    The wife divorces, and from age eight, the new younger husband helps raise the daughter, Marion. Then the wife dies in an accident, and the real dad and step-dad vie for custody of the girl, now fourteen. But she wants the young (29-year-old) in-law dad who raised her. And not just as a dad. She wants him as her first lover. Blier takes on a serious plot this time. Notable for being the last time he could use Patrick Dewaere, who plays René, the lead father-in-law, an attractive, indecisive loser. Also with Nathalie Baye. Once again I was struck that Blier's seems really good at openers and not good at endings. He's got a dazzler opening section when the Lolita-esque daughter puts the make on step-dad and his resistance slowly melts. Then it drags on way too long.. Nonetheless, this a quite subtle and fascinating film. One can't help being moved by Dewaere's convincing performance as a sad sack musician who hates himself, knowing that the actor committed suicide at 35 the following year. The whole thing reminds me of Ozon, but seems more sincere. Watched at Quad Cinema in their "Blier Buffet" series 9 p.m. 18 Mar. 2019.



    MERCI LA VIE (Bertrand Blier 1991).

    In this one, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Anouk Grinberg, Michel Blanc and others, A young girl studying to pass her "bac" (high school graduation exam) meets Anouk Grinberg, a much more experienced somewhat worse for wear young woman and latches onto her for experience of life, especially sex. What follows is a series of elaborate self-reflexive vignettes, at the end so grand they somehow combine the horrors of AIDS (still then a scourge and death-sentence) and the Nazis, makiing a mélange of periods and horrors. He seems to think he's Fellini making 8 1/2. He's not. This left me coldest of the Blier films so far, but one regular walked out exclaiming "Wow!" Watched at 9:15 p.m. in the Quad Cinema "Bier Buffet" series 19 Mar. 2019.



    GET OUT YOUR HANDKERCHIEFS/PRÉPAREZ VOS MOUCHOIRS (Bertrand Blier 1978).

    Raoul (a very young Gérard Depardieu) calls in Stéphane (Patrick Dewaere) because his wife Solange (Carole Laure) just knits and cleans the house, has fainting fits, is not turned on by him sexually and can't get pregnant. Stéphane is happy to be called in, beds her for a while, and introduces her to Mozart. But the same problems soon arise and it's left to Christian Beleul (Riton Liebman), a wealthy and brilliant 13-year-old boy they encounter working in a summer camp, to turn her on and get her pregnant. The same madcap energy prevails here as in the other Blier films. Still I'm not impressed by the narrative structure, which always seems to be lacking in economy and thrust. As with Beau-père and in a similar vein, Blier plays with taboos, but here the seduction isn't so deliciously drawn out. This is shown all day at the Quad during the "Bier Buffet" run, setting the way for a wider rerelease of this best known of his films and his Best Foreign Oscar winner. Not as interesting to me as Beau-père, but no doubt essential Blier. 21 Mar. 2019.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; Today at 09:57 AM.

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