15 items from 2010
Recently premiering at Telluride Film Festival, Oka Amerikee is a film based on the life of “ethno-musicologist” Louis Sarno who, for 25 years, lived among the Bayakan Pygmies in the African rain forest recording sounds. His book, Last Thoughts Before Vanishing from the Face of the Earth, was the model for the project.
Currently, the film is making rounds on the festival circuit. Below is the trailer for the film.
Chicago – Can dedication overcome all odds? Film has taught us for years that it is the truly justified, righteous, and committed that will prevail. Of course, life is not that simple. And the films of the masterful French director Claire Denis often brilliantly portray the true complexity of life. Her newest film, “White Material,” completes an amazing 2010 one-two punch with the excellent “35 Shots of Rum” released earlier this year. She’s one of our best international filmmakers.
The dedication I speak of belongs to Maria, perfectly played by one of our best living actresses, Isabelle Huppert. One could call Maria dedicated or merely stubborn but as “White Material” progresses it becomes clear that whatever you call her, her story is unlikely to end happily. Maria runs a coffee plantation in an unnamed African country in tumultuous times. As the film opens, she is traveling back to her plantation and »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Claire Denis (Trouble Everyday, Beau Travail) goes back to the colonial Africa and tells a story of a coffee plantation owned by a white family caught in a civil war. Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert), a matron of the family is perhaps a clueless, arrogant white woman, as she tries to hire fleeing locals to finish coffee harvest, oblivious to total chaos around her. But we are definitely not watching some helpless puzzle piece in an overwrought, meticulously planned Haneke movie. Maria is not quite the white devil. It's her ingrained sense of entitlement that makes her a curio as she refuses to leave and calling other whites undeserving of the beautiful land.
We are firmly in the Denis territory and there are some amazingly blissful sequences- Maria riding a motorcycle on the dirt road, piles of child soldiers all doped up with pills and junk food spread out in the Vial house. »
We finally get our first trailer for Claire Denis’ White Material, a film I saw last year at the New York Film Festival, and appreciated, but is only now getting a stateside theatrical release; specifically, it’ll see a limited release beginning November 19th.
It was shot entirely in Cameroon, West Africa, set on coffee plantations, and stars Isabelle Huppert, Isaach De Bankolé, William Nadylam, and Christopher Lambert, in a story scripted by Senegalese novelist Marie N’diaye. On paper, all that talent alone working together on any project will certainly get my attention.
Like most Denis films, it’s a laconically narrated, visually accomplished film. Not her best work, but worth a look if it opens in your city. I reviewed it last October, and you can read my thoughts on it Here (although, my view of it has changed a bit since then, but I won’t say »
Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.
With a title like "I Am Slave," one can reasonably expect neither subtlety or uplift from this true-life drama about the plight of one young Sudanese girl who is taken from her village in and sold into serving a family of Arabs in contemporary England. And for about two-thirds of "I Am Slave" that presumption would seem accurate, as "Last King of Scotland" screenwriter Jeremy Brock has no objection to leaving the caps lock on at times when depicting the particularly brutal treatment that befalls the village princess-turned-urban slave Malia (Wunmi Mosaku). Nor does director Gabriel Range, who last caused a stir in Toronto in 2006 with the premiere of the faux assassination of President Bush drama "Death of a President," have any qualms about pushing buttons.
But patience is a virtue, for both the audience and Malia, as much of the heavyhandedness serves a »
- Stephen Saito
From the producer of The Last King Of Scotland, Andrea Calderwood, comes I Am Slave, directed by Gabriel Range, whose last film, Death of a President, from 2006, caused quite a bit of controversy thanks to its fictional account of an assassination of then president, George W. Bush.
I Am Slave, said to be inspired by real life events, is a thriller centered on London’s present-day slave trade, and stars Isaach de Bankolé, as a Sudanese father, whose young daughter is captured and sold to a wealthy Arab family, sent to London to work, unseen, trapped, without money, and no passport, behind the gates of their home, as her father desperately searches for her.
It screens at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival. And, while I tend to be weary of films like these, that show what I feel is a limited Pov of Africa and its people (see »
From one of the very first shots of Maria Vial, it's clear she is clinging on for dear life. She's played with sinewy determination by Isabelle Huppert, an actress at her formidable best when making her audience sympathise with a morally conflicted character, and at the start of White Material, she hitches a ride on one of those overloaded African taxi vans by hanging on to the ladder at the back, the veins in her arms throbbing, her face set boldly against the onrushing wind.
We discover later that this scene actually comes near the end of the film's narrative. Maria goes into a flashback, one that fills us in on the chaos of the opening which has seen her, in a pink summer dress, crouching in burnt fields, »
- Jason Solomons
(Mike Mitchell, 2010, Us)
Like us, Shrek yearns for the good old days here, and – somewhat tellingly – the premise finds the green ogre trying to regain his former fearsome edge. Instead, he gets tricked into an alternate reality where he basically has to re-enact the first film all over again. In some ways, such familiarity is a strength as much as a weakness, and it's nice to see these characters again. Compared to the Toy Story trilogy, though, Shrek is merely The Flintstones to Pixar's Simpsons; fun enough, but really no match.
White Material (15)
(Claire Denis, 2009, Fra/Cam)
After the touchy-feely 35 Shots Of Rum, Denis switches to stronger medicine with a sparse evocation of wartorn west Africa. Huppert is a defiant colonial matriarch striving to keep her family and plantation together.
(Miles Watts, »
- Steve Rose, Damon Wise
Claire Denis has always been a poet of mood and moment, and here succeeds in linking these skills to the creation of a story with oppressive tension and atmosphere. White Material could be her best film since Beau Travail: a disturbing piece of work whose power and grip increase, almost imperceptibly, as the film progresses to its awful and inevitable conclusion. Isabelle Huppert plays Maria Vial, a coffee farmer in an unnamed African state – Francophone, and presumably a former French colony – which is in meltdown. There is lawlessness on the streets and, as in Rwanda, radio DJs pour out inflammatory broadcasts. The colonial whites are being blamed. Every day is more dangerous for Maria, but she stubbornly refuses to leave, perhaps because she cannot imagine a life back in France, perhaps »
- Peter Bradshaw
Her first project back in 1988, Chocolat, was nominated for the Golden Palm Award at Cannes and marks the beginning of her long running working relationship with Isaach De Bankolé. Here she follows up the success of the highly praised 35 Shots of Rum, by reuniting with De Bankolé and teaming up for the first time with stalwart actress Isabelle Huppert for the socio-political drama, White Material.
LOVEFiLM: Can you give us a brief overview of the film?
Claire Denis: The film is about a French woman who stands alone in Africa and she owns a coffee plantation. During the Civil War, the French army try to tell her to leave because the political situation means it is not safe for her and her family to stay. She decides to stay and take the risk, because she does not want to surrender.
Lf: Where did you and Marie N’Diaye get your ideas from? »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Jennifer Trevorrow)
I’d love to be there for this; alas, I won’t be anywhere near Paris, France, this weekend. But maybe You will. It’s the France Noire, or Black France Film Festival, and it’ll be debuting this weekend, in Paris, running from Friday, May 21st through Sunday May 23rd, with a mixture of film screenings (both old and new) and panel discussions planned.
Luminaries expected to be present for screenings of their films, and/or to speak include Euzhan Palcy, Eriq Ebouaney, Isaach de Bankolé, & Alex Descas – all names you should be familiar with if you’ve been reading this blog!
In addition, the late Ousmane Sembene’s seminal 1966 film La Noire de (aka Black Girl), will screen, along with one of my favorite Claire Denis films, 1990’s S’en fout la mort (No Fear, No Die), which starred Isaach de Bankole and Ale Descas, and Aliker, a »
There are moments in Jim Jamursch’s 2009 film, The Limits of Control (out in the UK on DVD today) which hynoptise and others which haunt; this is Jarmusch at his best – offering us something unique and insightful, conveying much with an almost effortless ease.
The Limits of Control continues Jarmusch’s oblique and intriguing body of work, and with the help of some stunning cinematography and an impressive central performance it is a rewarding watch. With a dreamlike, almost surreal landscape in which we are travelling to an unknown destination, this is the antithesis of the numerous cliche strewn crime thrillers which pollute the late night TV schedules.
Isaach De Bankolé is a mysterious presence as our mercurial protagonist (Lone Man is his name as given in the credits) and, though he is given little dialogue, Jarmusch’s camera is an unmoving eye watching his leading man go about his »
- Jon Lyus
Very simply, Claire Denis is one of the dozen greatest living filmmakers in the world. When I was drawing up my personal list of the best movies of the decade, Denis was among the top contenders, but with so many films I couldn't decide which to pick. There was Beau Travail, which I eliminated simply because it officially counts as a 1999 film. There was the gorgeous, delicate Friday Night, and the baffling, transcendent The Intruder and the small, touching 35 Shots of Rum, and if you lived someplace where you could see it before December, the new White Material. (And, for braver souls than I, there was also the vicious, depressing 2001 "vampire" movie Trouble Every Day.)
- Jeffrey M. Anderson
I saw this last year at the New York Film Film Festival, and reviewed it afterward. You can read my full review Here. Suffice it to say that I dug it! At the time, a trailer wasn’t available, but one has finally surfaced. It’s officially a 2010 release, as it opens theatrically in France next month, and the rest of the world will have to wait until further notice. But I think this will show up on a few best of 2010 lists by the end of this year.
Shot entirely in Cameroon, West Africa. The film, set on coffee plantations, stars Isabelle Huppert, Isaach De Bankolé, William Nadylam, and Christopher Lambert, in a story scripted by Senegalese novelist Marie N’diaye.
The trailer is in French, sans subtitles, but, if you’ve read all my previous posts on the film, including my review, I think you’ll get the idea. »
Wunmi Mosaku, Isaach De Bankole, Lubna Azabal, Igal Naor, Hiam Abbass, Nonso Anozie and Nasser Memarzia are all cast in the project inspired by extraordinary real-life events currently shooting in Kenya.
Billed as a controversial thriller about London's slave trade it details the story of one woman's fight for freedom.
Produced by Calderwood and exec produced by Gail Egan, Liza Marshall, Katherine Butler and Range, the picture is bankrolled by the U.K. Film Council, Channel 4, Film Agency for Wales, Limelight and Molinare.
U.K.- and U.S.-based sales and finance house ContentFilm has taken worldwide sales duties on the »
- By Stuart Kemp
15 items from 2010
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