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59 reviews in total 
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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Rohmer's MacGuffin, 2 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is not my favourite of the 4 Season's tales - I prefer both Autumn and Summer to this one. And it is almost a master class in deficiencies in the British education system, when the main characters can (very convincingly) argue the differences between Kantian perception over lunch, and when Jeanne, the teacher, defends philosophy at secondary school as teaching you how to live. And indeed she seems to be fine with a rather strange situation, being essentially courted by a daughter on behalf of her father (and in fact Rohmer takes up this theme again in Autumn when a woman does date someone as a proxy for her friend). It is a film that requires slow contemplation and which doesn't open up its secrets easily - rather like the location of the necklace, the Hitchcockian MacGuffin which is but a pretext for the poisonous atmosphere between the two girls and whose eventual revelation changes nothing in the basic situation.

16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
A beautiful cinematic experience, 29 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is an extremely moving experience. Ozon takes an unsympathetic, egotistical, trendy 'media' photographer, whose relation to the image is as superficial as his relations with his family. This character, played by Melvin Poupaud, who also played the main role in Rohmer's Conte d'ete (A Summer's Tale), is brutally told he has metastasized cancer and that his death is imminent. The film follows his journey. It does so with a care and a beauty that is marked by particularly beautiful shots- I would mention in particular the shots of the pink roses wilting; the children in the playground reflected in the café windows; the interest in old faces; and of course, the devastating final scenes at the beach. The interplay between this film and Rohmer's work is fascinating (recalled also through the actress Marie Riviere, who stars in The Green Ray, which also finishes with a sunset over a beach). Whereas Rohmer's sunset suggests hope for the future, and the inherent ambiguity of the image, Ozon's functions to suggest finality and closure, and at the same time, the fixity of the image - a photo, once taken, records for ever. The final moments are incredible - and by these I mean when the credits are rolling, and we hear the sound of waves washing over the beach. The inevitability of death and the cycle of life are transmitted to us through sound rather than image. Ozon's oeuvre is developing in all sorts of interesting directions and this piece points again to his place not just in the contemporary French cinematic landscape but his important engagement with European cinematic heritage (here Truffaut, Fassbinder, Varda, Rohmer, Bergman, to name only the most obvious references).

11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Love and other disappointments, 29 January 2006

I'm going through a phase of catching up with Rohmer films I've missed, and this one was so good it's tempted me to post a comment again, something I haven't got round to for a while. It is perfect, typical Rohmer: location filming, very wordy script, indecisive characters...all in the service of Rohmer's film theory, that in cinema you use dialogue to tell (as in literature) and the camera to show. The interest and conflict come from the (inevitable?) mismatch between the two. Here, each of the characters needs desperately to believe that what they saw was the truth of the situation. At the end, Marion has learnt enough to know that her perception may be false. But she'll go on believing it anyway, because that is necessary to her sense of self. An excellent treatise on the way in which our perceptions are as important as the 'truth' of any situation. The colours in the film deliberately reference Matisse, and there is something of his style too: by showing the flat surface of the canvas, you both open up its beauty and reveal it to be a construction rather than a truth. The use of glimpses through windows adds a Hitchcockian dimension too. Another one to savour.

14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Has anyone ever told you you're beautiful?, 18 September 2005

There is SO much going on in this film, but it has rhythm, pace, a great soundtrack, and enjoyable, charismatic performances, that kept me engaged from the word go. The editing owes something to 60s Godard - lots of jump cuts in the dialogue scenes - and 80s Rohmer - anguished 30 somethings worrying about true love - and possibly, in its tour de force final sequence, a reference to La Jetee, which is also of course about memory, fate, and mortality. And then there is the rather bizarre Audrey reference which opens the film: as Nora steps out of a black car, clutching her morning coffee, clothed in black, her hair wound up on her head, the strains of Monn River sound. So far, so post-modern. This is is a film that is freighted with filmic, literary, theatrical (esp Shakespeare and the Tempest) and artistic allusions, but that uses these in service of a specific point: that these cultural references and allusions make the web of our being - that art is how we communicate to each other (notice that all the characters communicate through art - the gift Nora gives her father, the music Ismael dances to, the book the father writes - even the 'murder scene' is filmed through a highly stylised mise-en-scene): that 'artifice' can reveal the deepest and most moving of human emotions. It is a beautiful film that will move you and make you leave the cinema feeling transported. And Deneuve is just great! I love the bit where Ismael asks her if anyone has ever told her she's beautiful, and she gives a slight twist of her lips, sighs, and says, yes, she has heard that before. Just because something has become cliché, doesn't mean it's not true.

9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
a departure for Guediguian, 9 September 2005

This is not your usual biopic. It is more of a rumination on those big abstract topics the French love so much: what is a legacy? Where is French glory to be found? Does France even have any resonance or sense any more in the face of globalisation/EU? The meanings of Frenchness are clearly articulated here by Guediguian's camera which lovingly records fields of hay, Chartres cathedral, and the lined faces of the 'travailleurs': it is here that the documentary impulse of the film lies, rather than in its tracing of Mitterrand's past, and here that we can see the links to Guediguian's more usual style and themes of filming with their socio-political investment in "ordinary" people. What seems to fascinate the film is less the issue of whether Mitterrand joined the Resistance in 42 or 43 (we never learn the "true" answer) but what happens to a man when he is in power. Mitterrand is closed in by grey doors in the beautiful Elysee palace which becomes a living prison of coldness (interesting the moment where he praises the colour grey). We never get a sense of the man having a family, even though he talks lovingly of a daughter: we see him constantly surrounded by men in black, with him out of a sense of professional duty rather than because they care for him. Power cuts you off from those you are meant to serve...Mitterrand's closest relationship is to the petrified former rulers of France. A chilling portrait of what happens when a man turns himself into an icon. And a movingly brilliant performance from Bouquet, who perfectly captures the horror of the body that slowly falls apart...The film ends on a note of hope for the future, with the birth of a child and the forming of a new relationship: but it is noticeable that it is in the private sphere that Guediguian places hope for the future: the hope of a committed leftist project has perhaps died along with Mitterrand.

Some thoughts on the references, 25 August 2005

I enjoyed this a lot: it seems people who didn't had in mind the 1971 Gene Wilder version, and this is v different. It's been years since I read the book, so couldn't get too annoyed on the whole changing the book thing. What I really wanted to add my ha'penneth about was the sheer cinematic intelligence on display: from the moment the young Wonka steps out of the 'hall of flags', we have some v witty visual jokes about cinematic cliché. My favourite reference has to be to 2001: a Wonka chocolate bar as the mysterious glowing objects among the apes (after we've just heard the famous soundtrack). It could be simple a homage, but it's a thought-provoking reference too, with Wonka's amazing elevator able to take to the skies as well and also him seeming to be virtually ageless. There's a creepiness about his factory that mirrors some of the creepiness of outers-pace in 2001 and Solaris. Just a thought. (ooh, there's a funny Psycho reference too).

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Touch me touch me touch me, I wanna feel dirty, 8 May 2005

This is a film that escapes the aim of the serious "movie review". It just has to be seen and experienced! The news that a midnight showing is happening in your town should make your quiver with antici......pation. And dig out your fishnets, basques and high heels (and that's just the boys). The film experience, even with live action cast playing along, does not equal the brilliance of seeing it totally live (Jason Donovan as Frank 'N' Furter has to be one of the most surreal and heart warming sights in the world) BUT it is the next best thing and livens up a dull Saturday night no end. It is a totally different viewing experience from the usual - talking back at the screen is positively encouraged, and dancing in the aisles too. It does lose it a bit at the end BUT 1) Susan Sarandon - marvellous Janet (slut!) 2) Richard O'Brien - sets up that campy persona that also worked brilliantly on the long lamented Crystal Maze (Channel 4 TV show from the 80s) 3) Tim Curry! The close up on his heels as he comes down in the lift... 4) The opening number with the disembodied lips - an absolute classic and cinematic genius too

are enough reasons for even the shiest among you to give it a whirl.

9 Songs (2004)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
a cold snowy trip, 3 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, I've indicated a spoiler, but there's not really much to spoil - the couple break up at the end. I found the film rather clumsy to be honest - the Antartica metaphor was rather too tacked on. It wasn't clear that Matt's job is something to do with Antartica, and the comment that "in the open sea, icebergs melt" was a rather heavy way of expressing what is now practically a cliché: that relationships flounder when they have to deal with 'real life' and it's a lot easier when you create your own intimate space. And the film lets us into the couple's space, but in a very unadventurous way, which is disappointing when compared to Wonderland or Butterfly Kiss. The woman is narrated by the man and is primarily an object of his gaze (especially in the masturbation scene). It's the woman as the white continent: unexplored, and unknowable, even if we do get the odd up the vagina shot. Freud himself could have made this film!! The soundtrack is fantastic though, and the Primals really are just fab. Bobby Gillespie is a rock god. Shame that the film doesn't go as deep as the main character's member.

Bye-Child (2003)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Beautiful, haunting, bleak, 23 February 2005

This film starts with the sound of heavy breathing and the camera tracking backwards and forwards, keeping the bright white moon in sight. This opening sets up the key visual and aural themes of the film: heavy breathing, the inability to express oneself in articulate speech, the inadequacy of speech and then the moon - symbol of ancient pagan belief and the "miracle" of modernity, progress and science. In the midst of these philosophical motifs is a breathtakingly sad story of child abuse and sexual violence, handled with admirable restraint and sympathy. Wonderful poetic moments too - the close-up on the kettle reaching boiling point or the shock of the final revelation of the child's face. An amazing achievement by Mclaverty, and a film that speaks volumes in a very sparse, pared down, controlled use of sound and image.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Odd - saved by the end, 3 February 2005

This film left me rather cold to be honest. I found it incredibly difficult to keep track of who was who (maybe the glass of red wine I had before going in didn't help!)and as I kept forgetting who was Biscotte and who was Bachelotte and who was Machin-truc in Bingo-Crepescule it all got a bit too much. All those years of watching modernist master-pieces don't pay off when it comes to following plot! It was an easy film to sit back and admire the cinematography in, and the references to early cinema - the realism of Lumieres and Melies' fantastical journeys both play a role here - and on one level it works (Virilio's thesis on war and cinema comes to mind) but the whimsical aestheticisation of mass slaughter is a mite troubling at times. The ending is however WONDERFUL and very moving. It was hard to see how the film could avoid schmaltz or heartbreak, and the ending was judged perfectly. Mathilde comes to understand that what she was looking for, even if she finds it, won't be what she wanted, because the War has changed everything. Nothing can be the same again. And that message is delivered with a subtle finesse that makes the film.

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