Reviews written by registered user
|8 reviews in total|
HoC's descent into the bizarre began in season 4. Sure, there were plenty of far-fetched developments in earlier seasons, but season 4 took the proverbial cake. Season 5 opened with more of the same. I'm about to bail on this once-engrossing tale of psychopathic political chicanery, just as I bailed on "24" a season or two before it was put out of its misery. Should I stick around until the end, just because I've already watched 4 seasons? Sunk costs are sunk. And there's a high opportunity cost attached to HoC, given the large number of good shows that are in my Netflix and Amazon Video queues.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is set at Christmastime in a remote village in Quebec, the
main adornment of which is the mountainous pile of dirt at an asbestos
The story starts with Jos Poulin at the mine. Jos doesn't like the job, so he quits and goes to work at a logging camp. Jos doesn't like that job either, so he wanders home.
In the meantime there's Benoit, a 15 year old who lives with his Uncle Antoine and Aunt Cecile. Antoine and Cecile own the general store, and Antoine is also the local undertaker. Antoine and Cecile employ a clerk named Fernand, who is also the undertaker's assistant. They also employ a girl of about 15 named Carmen, who lives with them. Her father drops by on payday to collect Carmen's pay. Carmen seem to be an unhappy person. She and Benoit lust after each other, but nothing comes of it.
Benoit is an altar boy. He drinks from the bottle of communion wine, then he watches the priest do the same thing, so that's okay.
On Christmas Eve, Jos's oldest son, Marcel, dies. Jos doesn't know this because he's still slogging home from the logging camp. Antoine goes to fetch the body, but he takes Benoit instead of Fernand with him for no discernible reason other than to allow Cecile to play Cougar to Fernand. So she does. And they do.
Antoine and Benoit set out by horse-drawn sleigh to collect Marcel's body. Although it's the late 1940s (or the late 1960s, judging by the shortness of Carmen's dress), Antoine doesn't seem to have an automobile. But if he had one the main even of the film wouldn't have happened, and the film would be more pointless than it is.
The main event is this: After arriving at the Poulin house with the pine box for Marcel's body, Marcel's mother offers Antoine and Benoit a meal, of which Antoine partakes in a rather crude fashion -- grunting and belching all the while. Oh, he's also drinking from the 1.5 litre bottle of grappa (or something more lethal) that he brought along for the trip.
Antoine and Benoit get Marcel's body into the pine box and onto the back of the sleigh. And off they go, as Antoine continues to chug the bottle of grappa. When Antoine falls asleep (or into a semi-comatose state), Benoit decides to liven things up by stirring the horse into action. Now the thing that I expected to happen does happen. The pine box containing Marcel's body slides off the back of the sleigh.
Benoit brings the sleigh to a halt about 100 feet from the box. After pounding on Antoine to bring him to half-awakeness, they trudge to the box, which Antoine is unable to budge because his muscles have turned to mush after so many oral doses of grappa. He cries about his wasted life.
Antoine and Benoit return to the store -- which, cozily, is also where Antoine, Cecile, Benoit, Carmen, and Fernand live. Benoit, of course, opens the door to Cecile's boudoir to find Fernand there. Some muttering (but no violence) ensues before Fernand and Benoit set off to retrieve the box. Benoit, amazingly and despite the remarkable event that has just befallen him, can't remember which of two possible routes to follow back to the box.
Well, it doesn't matter. Because they eventually arrive back at the Poulin house, sans box, which has somehow transported itself into the Poulin's parlor. There, the wandering Jos and his family are kneeling around the open box, staring at the dead Marcel. And wondering, no doubt, why the hell they agreed to act in such a pointless film.
But maybe they knew that it would someday be voted the best Canadian film of all time. I'd hate to see the second-best one.
Woody Allen used to make funny films. Blue Jasmine is billed as a comedy, but if there was anything funny in it, I didn't stick around long enough to find out. After 5 minutes of neurotic whining, I pulled the plug. Maybe Allen believes that kvetching is amusing. And maybe it is to a certain subset of viewers, but probably not to viewers with roots in the vast, non-neurotic hinterland that lies between San Francisco and Manhattan. I'm one of those viewers, and despite the "sophistication" that I acquired in many decades of big-city living, I still fail to find humor in kvetching. I have given Woody Allen one chance too many. Never again.
My hopes for this film were high. I wished for the Juliette Binoche of 1988-2000, who chose some excellent films in which to act, beginning with The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and ranging forward in time to The Widow of St. Pierre (underrated, I think). Alas, Certified Copy is of a piece with 2005's Caché, but worse. Caché led me by the nose until the very end, when it turned out to be about nothing. It was evident about 15 minutes into Certified Copy that it was nothing -- nothing but pretentious, meaningless chit-chat. I know when to cut my losses, so I did. My evening was not a total loss because my early termination of Certified Copy left me time in which to listen to the never-boring 1952 recording of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, with Jan Peerce as tenor soloist. It was (as always) an electrifying experience, quite the opposite of the stultifying experience imparted by Certified Copy.
There are two ways to view a film. One is to accept and endorse the conventional wisdom about the film, and to endorse it because "they" must be right. The other is to judge the film on its merits. "Mysteries of Lisbon" has the following "merits": a simple-minded plot, glacier-like plot development, insipid dialog, wooden acting, murky cinematography, and half-baked attempts to inject surrealist touches (as if these could redeem the film's other failings). I went along with the gag for quite a while before ejecting disc 1 of "Mysteries of Lisbon" and finding something better to do -- which was easy, in the circumstances.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a waste of a great cast. Well, "great" certainly describes Gerard Depardieu, who has "grown" as an actor -- from hulking menace to parade float. Depardieu's appearance is the funniest thing about this lame paean to women's lib. The film's fleeting moments of humor and barbed dialogue led me to watch the whole thing, in the vain hope that it would amount to something. (Thus my "2" rating; I reserve "1" for films that are so bad, so early, that I can't finish them.) As for Catherine Deneuve, the best that one can say about her performance is that she looks only as old as her character, a woman of about 50, even though she was 66 when the film was shot. Anyway, when it was time for a dramatic or funny climax, building on some aspect of the film's almost non-existent plot, Deneuve puts an end to the misery by singing (badly) a feminist anthem that celebrates the "soft" qualities that women bring to politics -- or some such tripe.
I have now seen four film versions of Jane Austen's Pride and
Prejudice. Last night I had the extreme pleasure of viewing for the
first time the earliest and best of the four: the 117-minute, 1940
release starring Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Olivier
as Mr. Darcy. The 1940 version shows Hollywood at its finest. Great
actors delivering great lines with panache and wit in a lavish, tightly
orchestrated, and fast-paced production that demands -- and deserves --
your full attention.
Garson and Olivier, in particular (but not exclusively), outshine their counterparts in the other productions that I have seen. Garson may have been "too old" (36 at the time the film was released) but who cares? She is now my image of Elizabeth Bennet: witty, cunning, cutting, forthright -- and beautiful as well. Olivier (33 at the time of release) simply exudes Darcy: stubborn, prideful, haughty -- and yet vulnerable and kind behind the facade.
The other three versions that I have seen all are commendable for various reasons. They are: 1995 (300-minute mini-series), starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth -- excellent performances delivered at a more thoughtful pace than that afforded by a feature film, and in realistic settings (as opposed to the gaudy faux-rusticism of the 1940 version) 1980 (265-minute mini-series), starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul -- somewhat stiff performances in a production clearly (and successfully) aimed at recreating the time and place of which Austen wrote 2005 (127-minute feature film), starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen -- a mixed bag of performances (e.g., Knightley is good, if too juvenile; Macfadyen is a nothing) in a feature film that achieves more "realism" than the 1940 version.
Hero's wife and heroine's husband have an affair. Hero and heroine commiserate. Hero and heroine may (or may not) have had an affair themselves. This takes 2 hours? Only because the story is told s-o-o-o slowly, with many opportunities for the leads to look soulful. Best part of the movie: the soundtrack.