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|46 reviews in total|
The moody opening sequence promises so much, the deserted storm-lashed seaside location, the carefully staged bank 'blagging' and the clever escape all bode well, but it's all down hill from there. The rest of this movie stagnates with a lack of pace, a lack of dramatic effect and far to much screen time given over to dreary details : washing faces, tying shoe laces. To make matters worse the big set-piece features a truly dismal special-effects train robbery straight out of THUNDERBIRDS TV series. Instead of keeping this brief and maintaining some suspension of disbelief it goes on and on and on giving the viewer repeated chances to confirm how unconvincing the model vehicles really are. And this is not the only poor piece of studio work; poorly executed painted backdrops feature in several scenes at a time when on-the-streets reality was already the established way to go. The story is confused, several characters seem superfluous and as the lead character, Alan Delon sleepwalks though the movie. There is laconic and there is plain boring, and sadly he's the latter on this occasion. It's a performance that matches the tone of entire film.
Against a backdrop of the 1968 student riots in Paris Matthew, a young
American student obsessed with movies, hooks up with a brother and
sister,Theo and Isabelle, the twin offspring of a celebrated poet, who
share his passion. The friendship rapidly becomes deep and disturbing;
the twins seemingly enjoying an incestuous relationship and Theo a
bi-sexual disposition towards their new friend. But all is not quite as
it appears. These seemingly sophisticated intellectuals live in a
bizarre enclosed little world of their own, indulged by wealthy parents
and more child-like than the American first assumes. In a film that is
bursting with movie in-jokes and references,the trio join in protests
at the Cinemateque, replicate the 'Louvre record' from BANDE A PARTE in
a scene inter-cut with shots from the original movie and develop a
parlour game of "Name the film or pay the forfeit" ,that soon stretches
the bounds of taste and decency, once the parents have left for the
The trio spend most of their time in the large rambling apartment, which begins as charmingly shabby-chic and descends into student-squat squalor, indulging in ever more lurid sexually charged games. Nudity increases as they become insular and the world outside becomes more distant in a way that evokes a cult film of this era,PERFORMANCE. But THE DREAMERS, being a 21st century film,goes further and among several intimate and unsettling scenes that many might find offensive, the trio take a candle-lit bath in a haze of 'exotic cigarette' smoke which lulls them into unconsciousness, to find on awakening that Isabelle has started her menstruation while they have been asleep...and the bathwater has turned red.
If the subject matter is an acquired taste then without doubt the film looks wonderful. Paris in 1968 is lovingly recreated; the cars and backgrounds are right, the music includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan, there is much talk of Mao and revolution. The acting is very good, naturalistic and engaging. The leading trio all fit their rolls to perfection and Eva Green as the pretty, pouting, full-busted,long haired Isabelle is the perfect image (cliche?)of a freethinking 1960s femme fatale.
THE DREAMERS is a significant movie for me. Watching it for the first time I became intrigued by the homage it paid to Jean-Luc Godard's BANDE A PART, a film of which I previously knew nothing. I sought out the DVD, was entranced by this great movie(and Anna Karina in particular!)and have been hooked on French New Wave movies ever since. Re-watching it two years later I 'get' more of the filmic references, the haunting use of the theme from PIERROT LE FOU and the cameo of Jean-Pierre Leaud among others, but most of all I am struck by how intimate and graphic the relationships are portrayed. Not an easy film to like at times and not a film for all tastes but a brilliant one nonetheless.
I like the majority of Eric Rohmer's individual and thoughtful low- budget movies (The only one I have yet to watch being SIGN OF LEO)but PERCEVAL lacks any of the usual charm and engagingly endless chatter. It leaves me utterly cold I'm afraid. It's....well actually it's pretty awful to be frank! Some of the acting, despite the constraints of the stylised elements (intrusive madrigals, forced rhyming and so forth) is good but it's a 2+ hours journey through a cardboard landscape to absolutely nowhere. One sees the credits roll and cannot help asking "is that it?" Rohmer's strength was always to create engaging contemporary love triangles in which much amorous youthful angst was discussed at length in rambling but rather mesmerising dialogue , usually by at least one very attractive young actress. Sometimes the stories ended abruptly or just fizzled out to nothing but in all cases there was an element of reality in that. Rohmer's costume pieces are all far less successful than the contemporary fables. PERCEVAL is the nadir. Everyone is allowed a dud. This is the great Rohmer's.Thats a far better record than most directors.
As he grew older it seemed veteran screen-writer and director Eric
Rohmer grew a little more romantic and a little less cynical of life
and love. His most famous work, the "Six Moral Tales" of the late 60s
are expose's of human failings, pomposity and self obsession. Most of
the characters are deeply flawed and many, though fascinating in their
way, are distinctly hard to like or forgive. In the "Proverbs &
Comedies" series of the 80s , the tales of life are a little softer,
lighter, the characters more sympathetic and once the 1990's arrive and
Rohmer's new "Four Seasons" series finds it feet, that trend has
The FOUR SEASONS stories carry a little more plot and rely less on the fairly heavy philosophy and religious conviction one would have encountered in MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S for example. There is hope where there had been despair.
CONTE D'HIVER is a bitter sweet tale of pretty young hairdresser Felicie and the aftermath of a brief passionate affair with the charming Charles. The result is that she bears his daughter but accidentally loses contact with him before he is aware of this. Life for Filicie is then a matter of putting up with a string of second-best lovers in the vain hope that Charles will somehow re- establish contact.
The action flits between Paris and provincial Nevers and as always the people the dialogue and the direction are wonderfully natural. The cinematography and editing are spare and unobtrusive and the acting is superb. There is one sequence, a lengthy scene in which Felicie watches , and is moved by, a stage production of a Shakespeare play that drags on far to long but otherwise this films almost skips along compared to some of the directors previous works, where the pace is always very measured and very slow. In all, a delightful film with a good cast headed by the attractive Charlotte Very, one of several excellent young actresses Rohmer cast around this time (Amanda Langlet and Emanuelle Chaulet being the others that spring to mind). Recommended
Eric Rohmer's movies are, it seems almost without exception, slow- burners that reward those with the patience to sit through them, preferably more than once in some cases, and think about whats being said as much as whats being shown. This, his first feature in colour requires considerable thought on the part of the viewer, serving up nothing in the way of dramatic excitement and featuring three loathsome main characters who's morals are very in keeping with the era of late- 60s self satisfaction and hedonistic excess. Not that the hedonism is very wild. Jimi Hendrix does not blast from the simple record player that sits near a chair and provides the only music in the film. No one smokes anything illegal or pops any pills, talks of Indian mystics or goes in for meditation. But there is the very liberated (nowadays we'd say reckless) attitude to casual sex, although we don't see very much; the relaxed tangle of naked legs half glimpsed through one doorway, a brief an unrevealing shot of the main protagonist, the disturbingly young looking Haydee, quietly enjoying the intimate attention of another one-night-stand. Otherwise it's all hints and the more effective for that. Haydee is the very image of a swinging-sixties bed hopper. Young, slender, independent, cool and seemingly amoral she wrecks the plans of Adrian, an art dealer with time on his hands, when he finds her resident in a borrowed holiday villa at which he intends to devote himself to doing nothing at all for a few weeks while his girlfriend is in London. Haydee's noisy night-time frolics disturb his sleep and offend his self- declared sense of morality and the added presence in the house of his lazy, grumpy painter-friend Daniel sets up a spiralling tension between them all. But this is pure Rohmer and that tension manifests itself not in fist-fights, broken furniture, tearful confessions and blood-letting, but insults, low-key/nigh-brow arguments, teasing, sniping and political manoeuvring. In fact the more one thinks about the film, and it's one of those movies that does hang around long after the credits, the more one realises it's actually rather more like real-life, certainly as most of us endure it from time to time, than the over-dramatic offerings we are used to from mainstream movie-makers. Haydee maybe cute, Adrien describes himself as handsome and the setting is idyllic but you really wouldn't like to be on holiday with these unsympathetic characters. Observing their antics from without is one thing but to be part of it would be a nightmare! Oddly with it's morality so perfectly fixed in it's own time, this seems far more like a film from the 1970s. Something in it's look and after-the-party sense of deflation and disenchantment fits in with that later decade. Seeing it without knowing the release date you might well guess at 1972 or even later. If Godard's BANDE A PARTE is set in a Swinging-Sixties that hasn't yet arrived, Rohmer's film portrays one that has already left the building, although it's after-effects continue to create a problem. It all sounds somewhat depressing on paper and to some extent it is! It's not an easy film but if you give it time and maybe second look, you might well find there is more to this outwardly simple tale than you thought.
Some film review books claim Antonioni's best work was all shot in
monochrome and thereafter he was less effective, but this movie easily
dispels that argument. Colour gives him an extra tool with which to
elaborate his familiar themes of alienation and failing relationships.
It's the best work I've seen by this darling- director of the art-house
set. The use of colour, the eerie locations, the juxtaposition of
almost horrific industrial installations belching coloured smoke with
deserted ancient Italian streets and the electronic soundtrack (hard to
call it a score as such)is disturbing and arresting. The natural world
is grey and brown, the man-made elements are primary coloured, invasive
and overpowering. Within this landscape, fizzing and gurgling with
pollution and decay we find an unhinged engineers wife who's recovering
poorly from a car accident and struggling to cope the responsibility of
motherhood and being the wife of a man tied up with his career. Some
reviewers pour scorn on Monica Vitti's performance in this difficult
and complex lead role. Does she over act? Is she hamming it up? I'd
prefer to think that she's playing the part of a woman on the edge,
torn in different directions at a moment of emotional weakness, without
the mental strength to comprehend how odd her behaviour actually is -
in short, she's playing it right. Although it must me said her face is
unusually immobile in every role she plays so if her body language
might be considered over- the-top her facial expression certainly never
is. And she has a distinct air of fragility about her. Richard Harris
as the 'other man' in her life is an odd choice for the role. Clearly
speaking English dialogue but dubbed over by an Italian-speaking actor,
and thus lacking the familiar husky lilting tones one expects to hear.
He's rather gloomy,but then so is everyone in this film! His
character's presence seems only to push Vitti's closer to the abyss,
adding another element of unhappiness and uncertainty to her tormented
It's not, as you've no doubt deduced, a happy film, in any way, but it has a rhythm and style which will keep you watching and unlike Antonioni's previous films there is a certain structure which makes it more more accessible. Perhaps in being set among working people (although far from 'working class') as opposed to the 'idle rich' of films like L'AVENTTURA, gives it more gravitas? Frankly the navel-gazing of poor-me-life-is-such-a-bore characters of those films makes them much harder to care about than fragile frustrated Vitti in RED DESERT. For the immaculate visual style and striking use of colour alone, this film is well worth the effort (and it is sometimes an effort)of watching but the story line and Vitti's character also make it worth listening to. One curiosity - why the clearly intentional scenes shot out-of-focus? Bizarre and entirely pointless as far as I could see, but a minor quibble.
Gaspard, a glum loner, arrives at a seaside resort in Brittany and finds himself rather reluctantly entwined with three young women, all of whom want something different from him - at least different to what he wants from them, although exactly what that is keeps you guessing. The pretext is fairly simple and the pace is slow and measured. For much of the time the languid leading man, walks along the beach, across the cliffs and through the town talking at length with bright, brainy waitress Margot. She seems to be dragging him, with some effort, into a platonic friendship while her boyfriend is working overseas. Their relationship never catches fire, it never gets physical and his feeble efforts to change that are easily rebuffed. All the while he constantly moons over the awaited figure of Lena, who maybe his girlfriend, or just a friend-who's-a-girl(even when she arrives, very late in the day, it's hard to tell!) Along the way Margot encourages him to date the flirty Solene, who's almost as ambiguous in her view of relationships as him, although, for a while it seems as if they are making progress as a couple. Then Lena finally turns up,treats him like dirt and life gets increasingly complex. It takes a long time to develop to this point, but the four-way relationship that emerges is engrossingly handled and the ending is amusingly satisfying. It's all done in a minor key, filmed in a smooth and efficient way, scripted in a naturalistic and undramatic fashion and acted so matter-of-factly by all concerned that it's well worth sticking with. Much of the appeal of this movie comes from the performance and personality of Amanda Langlet as Margot. She's a delight and highlights the dismal dithering deficiencies of drippy Gaspard. As with all the Rohmer films I've seen this is not a movie that's filled with high drama or visual pyrotechnics but it does have an appealing reality. Not for all tastes but thoroughly charming in it's own way.
Labelling something 'the best ever' or even a more moderated 'one of
the best...' is surely asking for trouble? But in the case of TOKYO
STORY it would be difficult to imagine the film causing any kind of
trouble at all as this very measured, courteous movie is such an
inoffensive and charming offering. However it's not, in my view,
anything remotely like 'the best ever'. It's a nice little film, in
it's way, but I do wonder why on earth it has developed such a huge
reputation? It's sad, it's endearing, it's sometimes rather beautiful
and it's melancholic almost throughout, but it's also very
predictable;nothing remotely unexpected happens, one can see things
being flagged up well in advance. It's very slow and made in a very
tightly confined way which hasn't really influenced subsequent movies
half as much as some people would like to think.So what makes it
considered "one of the best"?
It's not the story which is spare and not very entertaining in itself,although the character development is good. We do get to know the people involved even if many a motive seems to remain mysterious at the end. It's not the camera work which is rigidly static, creating the impression of interlinked paintings through which the protagonists wander, rather carefully. The familiar Ozu stylisations; the low set camera, the unfamiliar looks almost straight-to-camera when speaking, make it a slightly unsettling film to watch initially, although one soon becomes used to them. Perhaps it's the location work, which is appealing,in a reserved and understated way? Japan in the mid 50s seems far more exotic and unfamiliar than it would today , but that's true of almost any developed country. Twenty first century England no longer resembles the country depicted in Ealing Comedies of the same era. And the acting is a conundrum. Cultural differences in speech patterns and body language make it hard to compare what we see here with what we are familiar with in the western world. Certainly the father-figure seems to move and speak in such a painfully slow and deliberate way (except when drunk!) that one really begins to wonder how naturalistic his acting is. Are we seeing something comparable to Brando's 'method' or to Olivier's Shakespearian style? I think one needs to be very familiar with Japanese language and culture to fully understand and appreciate that aspect. He's a nice old boy but he might well be a terrible actor.
It's certainly not the music that makes this film special as it's neither evocative nor memorable, so I'm at a loss. CITIZEN KANE, which often shares this most elevated of critical pedestals with TOKYO STORY, clearly has cast a much
longer shadow over the development of cinema and while it's chock-full of innovative moments and methods TOKYO STORY seems rather a stylistic cul- de-sac from which one can find very little in subsequent movies. It's not a bad movie, but it is one which I'd fine it hard to sit through a second time.
Complex and slow moving, this highly rated film now seems very much
of-it's-time although it was considered rather avant gard on release.
The story, mostly told in flashback, moves with the speed of a work by
Antonioni, exploring similar themes of moral decay, disaffection and
dissatisfaction among a privileged group (jn this case Oxford
academics.) Few of the characters are sympathetic and human weakness is
laid bare on all fronts. At the heart of everything is Dirk Bogarde's
Oxford Don, a dour man in the throws of a mid-life crisis. Seemingly
wearying of his pregnant wife and jealous of his boorish colleague
(Stanley Baker), the whole balance of a previously comfortable life is
finally thrown right off balance by the arrival into his social circle
of a young Italian woman, the exotic new girlfriend of an aristocratic
student (Michael York).
Jacqueline Sassard, as the object of the far reaching sexual obsession is a curious mix of beguiling beauty(those amazing eyes!) and very little personality while York is boyishly vacuous and we know his ultimate fate in the opening scene. Baker's character is perhaps the most unpleasant. He brags about his success as a resident expert on TV panel-shows and flaunts his sexual conquests and sporting prowess to an increasingly frustrated Bogarde who then goes in search of an old flame while attempting to secure a TV position of his own in order to keep pace on all fronts. Predictably the three male leads Bogarde, York and Baker) are instantly under Sassard's spell and jealousies which have so far largely rumbled along for many years, flare up, if rather slowly, and with a great many heavy silences and moments of extended tension. Screenwriter Harold Pinter's theatrical background does tend to show through in such sequences. One can easily envisage many of the scenes playing out on stage And while the acting is first rate there is sometimes an irritating element of theatricality about the whole thing. One long single-take involving the making of an omelet, which is clearly terribly significant, is a perfect example of how it often resembles a filmed- play. Beautifully filmed, it must be said, and directed with a firm hand at a very deliberate pace. But it does seem somewhat self-regarding and dated now. It's undoubtedly thought provoking, but exists in a world far removed from anything most of us will recognise and as such can be hard to relate to and a little tiresome to stay with. In the end the characters don't engender enough sympathy for us to care what transpires.
Very little in this film can honestly be said to grab the attention for long, unless perhaps, you are a Godard completest. An art historian might appreciate the messages hidden within the old master painting being turned into a movie by the director at the centre of the piece. For the rest of us it's hard to follow threads of the various partially connected stories in which largely unappealing characters bicker, berate and bed one another. Jerzy a Polish movie director, has literally 'lost the light' in his big budget production. His efforts are hamstrung by news of Solidarity's emergent uprising in his native land, the financial demands of his producers and his involvement with two women : the owner of the hotel in which most of his film company lodge, and a dowdy sacked worker at her husbands factory. That's pretty well it. There's not much more. The images of the old masters Jerzy is attempting to turn into a film, although he seems to have little concept of exactly how, are nicely lit but the films exteriors around the promising location of Lake Geneva are drab, the interiors even worse and despite some big names among the cast there is little charisma in evidence. I've watched it twice and sadly 'Passion', an oddly inappropriate title in itself, made no more impression on the second viewing. The Godard of 'Pierrot Le Fou' (a film I loved) seems a long way from the Godard of 'Passion'. Other reviewers have clearly found a meaning and beauty that I have missed. But hey! If it floats your boat then thats good.
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