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sandover

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202 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Watch it just for Wiest's cadences, 26 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cameron Mitchell is a bit too artfully respectful for such a project, but then again Kidman is her own producer. These two things despite the however problematic or not quiet nature of the film, have their own jarring effect. By this I mean we do not dwell enough in the alienation of the characters loss has in store for them, so that we could appreciate their disoriented efforts at pulling it back together, after the loss of their four year old boy. We see Kidman's natural strain making her some kind of sea-urchin for all around her and this is good though not enough; we do not root, something is a bit too tidy in the rhythm and the way the characters reach out to make amends.

The best thing in the film is Diane Wiest's cadences in the basement scene: listen how her phrases go up and down, whispering, then shrill and shriveling a bit, accepting a quiet stance, reminding one of James Merrill's verses: [...] And look, the stars have wound in filigree / the ancient, ageless woman of the world. / She's seen us. She is not particular - / Everyone gets her injured, musical / "Why do you no longer come to me?" / To which there's no reply. For here we are.

If only the film would stick to that kind of stance and not just in the end, instead of allowing the sentimental musing on parallel universes as an alibi for connecting, or for our being thrown in or out of the world.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Offbeat, wonderful!, 24 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

April is the cruelest month the poet says? Wrong. He should check out this film. April is the month of our faith, brotherly dunes, low-keyed dudes and a wonderful, wonderful nun coated in heartfelt charm. Sophie Quinton is a find. Since our director employs her for some films in the row she becomes something more than a muse. She rightfully tunes the muse theme into offbeat religiosity.

A nun just before christening has to pass through meditative isolation, but an elder nun announces to her that when she was found at the nunnery's threshold she was not alone; she was with a brother, whom she sets out to find. And she does, with the aid of the wonderful male case of Duvauchelle. This is a road movie by the sea and we see it broadly moving.

Such endearing, off-key sensibility in a film it is some time I have not encountered, and I am pleased by the discovery of it. So many themes wonderfully approached: faith with social life, hesitation before the symbolic life in the name of God, how God's names change into love, perception, color, sympathy and the difference between it and empathy, the senses and the sensations, the discovery and the revelation which coincides with the discovery and revelation of love. One is surely tempted to become rhapsodic.

Apart from Sophie Quinton's incarnation, if I may say so, what really bound for me the film together was that it opted for some reanimation of faith in truly contemporary, even avant-guard mode, and this is something that still exists, even if rarely, and exemplifying it into true french tradition. In movie terms, it combines Bresson's spiritual clarity with early Almodovar's irreverent coalitions. From Marguerite Navarre's "Heptameron" to Duras, and that always pervading sense of the troubadours, the film also restores into faith also Yves Klein's abstract, color-specific leap.

Mouchette and Rosette are proud of you, Sophie.

Watch how the church blank fresco restores it all, imbibing us. A miracle for breakfast.

Family values bend time, stupid!, 23 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The strong charm of the science-fiction genre lies in its time paradoxes, which, may seem allegorical but are takes on moral issues: what if I did or did not do that? How can one restore an error? etc, hence our fascination. Of course, this can take a comical spin, as the "Back to the Future" classic did, and, well, for the better, because I have come to consider that comedy on such matters is more enjoyable and actually insightful.

No such thing is taken into account when one bumps into this film: no big issues confrontation, no Almanac exploitation for comic relief from Fortune (Back to the Future), no cultural commentary; the film affords itself in the pathetic scale of two people supposedly in love and then their small family.

But this is enough proemium; disaster is spelled right from the start. Young Henry takes a ride with his mom and they have a car accident. As they see it coming (road is slippery) Henry snaps into another time and place only to find himself back seconds after his mom's dramatic death. THEN an older version of himself visits him and explains it all, adding wonderful phrases like "It may sound mad, but you will understand later," and best of all "It's all gonna be alright, I promise." This is a variant of a phrase popping out through the rest of the film. Time travel is out-witted by promises and righteous feelings, it seems. But anyway, why this first scene in the film is disastrous? Because the film begins with a dead end; a film cannot go on after such an explication has taken place. Even Henry himself says so later: "Knowing too much makes you crazy." So why, dude, did you tell your younger self? The film is truly a crazy mess, and could have been a study of a sick mind (see Lynch's "Lost Highway" for the time paradox superbly employed), but the makers of this film take themselves as seriously as the conservative middle-class view of family values imposes itself. Big, bigger issues? No. "I cannot change things," Henry says early on. This is just impotency with the alibi of time-travel, and is morally inane.

The makers of this film cleverly avoided the book's controversy, where Henry knows that 9/11 will happen, and instead of doing something, when the day arrives, he gets up early "to listen to the world being normal for a little while longer". You must be some kind of a citizen in order to buy or sell such thing.

Makers of films and books who try to obfuscate the real world or the moral insights and fun of good time-travel stories and films, no matter how quickly you exit the round table of deciding and launching a crappy film, or try to time-travel to the cash, your farts will stay in the room an the smell will find you!

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Yes, both predictable and surprising, 22 January 2011

as the other viewer says. What the other viewers say pretty much covers the film, I only want to draw attention to two things.

First, it is said that the harassment issue is not new, and it is not, yet it sounds as a nothing-new-under-the-sun drawback for the documentary; the fact that the boy's case is exemplary in his not being at all effeminate - exemplary, that is in vivifying the way we should think again what we see.

What I mean is this: take whatever film you will with man to man love, and tell me no matter how male the male element acts, to put it that way, homosexuality is usually depicted as a right to be admonished or not. But what CJ's case exemplifies is that all the babbling against homosexuality as sin boils down to reproduction: if you publicly act like like a, well, truly male male, who, literally, cares what you do between the sheets? What is missing from the covering of the facts is why CJ came out in the first place. Was it the usual "what bitch do you f**k" harassment, or like things one listens at high school? For the sake of privacy we won't know, but we can ponder upon it, that is what truly are the reasons of spelling out "who we are," that is our sexual identity.

That contrasts well with the female couple, that is their sexual identity as debate is irrelevant in terms of renovating a culturally important location, since that is what they do, significantly, for most of the film. Who we are is also what we offer to the community.

But of course this is something you know. Some pray for it, some pray against it.

I liked the nerve CJ brought to the film, I liked, well kind of, the chill that whatshername zealous woman allowed us to witness in the workings of gooood Christians, but the documentary relied a bit too much on them, I'd like to see some nerve from the makers, that is some accent on the emerging friendship between the pastor and the director as a true redeeming factor. That would sustain the tension and the care between leaving your hometown and staying there, as the director himself says towards the end.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Imagine, 14 January 2011

Bresson and Almodovar having a baby together: it would look like this film I venture.

I admit I came to watch this after having watched the director's first long feature, "Avril", where he further develops his themes and obsessions, again with the admirable vehicle of grace called Sophie Quinton. But let's first see what the film is about.

A young nun who changes the prices of honey jars she sells in a local market has the curious habit of buying condoms and having a big library of Yves Klein blue dildos. To reveal why this happens would be to spoil the charm and the grace of this little film. Sophie Quinton gives one the intimate conviction that her performance is of a hallucinating precision, something that transcends acting and becomes incarnation, a theme more fully developed in "Avril". It's like one of those Bresson heroines, but not gloomy at all, borrowing from Almodovar's sense of upside down, but without the kitch (except in one scene maybe, and mostly with the somewhat one-dimensional soundtrack, being the rather kitchy element).

Matters of faith, sexuality, love and following one's path without condemnation but with a wonderful, calm and gracious acceptance are the themes tenderly explored in and by the film with a touching sense of humor; just to give an example, at one instance mother superior asks our nun where she is going with her bike, presumably at an odd time, to which she responds "Out to pray, I love praying on bike," to which mother superior retorts "Don't pray too far!" All this is updated by Sophie Quinton's presence who has a quirky grace akin to Bjork's.

I also found charming the film's use of artistic vocabulary and the almost constant use of paintings and artifacts on screen, as something that showed the film's kinship with conceptual video art.

Gerald Hustache-Mathieu is definitely someone to watch. And one hopes his collaboration with his unique muse will go on for a long time.

An Unusual Affair (2002) (TV)
A strange affair, indeed, 1 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A new male colleague is introduced in a party an heterosexual married couple throws, and the husband starts growing an unseemly attraction that leads to an honest moving out, leaving wife and kids, openly admitting (after an unfortunate, careless incident exposing the two men in school - and in the eyes of a student) to his whole family his love towards another man.

All this is noble enough and anchored in believable, more or less honest performances. But the point of view of the direction and the lengths the script wants to go in portraying the crisis this may bring into a family, has a curious effect. Make the following mental experiment: place in the place of the male colleague's a woman, and see if the structure of the narrative changes significantly. The answer is no. And ask yourself if what happens between the two men appears passionate and convincing enough when he is repeatedly asked on the seriousness of the affair. The answer is again no, so what we have is a film that falls flat on its face by seemingly touching a touchy social affair, while not giving and guarantying its specific structure, if it has one that actually and truly differentiates it from heterosexual love. To put it plainly, we feel more involved with the familial crisis rather than the blossoming (it feels rather stilted) love affair.

So, when in the end we have mom and kids talking about going to California and Hollywood, this comes off as a high-pitched bad irony (intended, actually towards whom?) that strikes a stringent note. It is so self-assured an attack, but the problematic structure of the film turns it into an inane ending.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Nice fur, hon'. Is that all you've got?, 30 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Interesting, having a racial mix of four brothers, lame, not developing it at all, as if it would function by itself; and from there, the film crashes down the hill. For example, Mark Wahlberg has the vocal CV to convince he can stand on par with an Afro-American cast. But Garrett Hedlund? Although he was the reason I watched this film, the young actor seemed more like an intern with a fraught mind, rather than a brother. Those wide-eyed looks when in front of the Christmas turkey the ghost of their mother appeared! What was that? Such bad acting from Ms. Mom! A ghost in a film rarely looked cheesier. They even had the nerve to end the film with her.

Detroit looked good. Looked excellently haunting in fact. Like the opening in Peter Sellars's "Don Giovanni," a proper fatherless place, a place proper for exploitation. Movie? Not so sure. That kind of film has a let-go quality, while this one surely relied on many a twist and self-satisfaction for old codes sake. The inane, really inane soundtrack proves it. Charles, what have they done to you?

The car chase in the snow looked good too. Conchita constantly yelling was an hysterical, not funny device. If they wanted to either convince us a criminal mind can fall for p***y so easily, or that that was intended for comic relief, they should go check their ears: they're tone deaf. Too bad then when Wahlberg imitates her and other voices, it sounds fun and totally misplaced, as if the best parts of the film were some last minute integrated improvisation on set.

Mr. Sweet's fur in the snow looked good too, but could not actually divert me from the fact that the film was retail. Now that I come to think of it, it's the kind of retail piece that goes nicely with a wig, a big, elaborate, synthetic wig. But I don't do wigs, man.

Nice device, 27 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Though the script runs for an improbable encounter and possible affair between collar-and-tie office employee Pete and post office delivery punk boy Adrian, the device of split split screen is fun and telling.

Pete on the left and Adrian on the right, instead of clouds in comic strips, have fruit machines above their heads that make their thoughts and reactions to the outer world readable to us. They run into each other once and think of each other among other random data. Then they meet again and...they both hit the same jackpot image. The split screen level one nicely merges with the elevator door which opens and closes upon their kiss.

That's it and it is a nice little diversion. I just wonder, given what they both seem to think in the end about their meeting whether one calls it fate or the other chance, if the idea of fruit machines is not a whimsical pun on them.

8 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
Children of Sitcom, 25 December 2010

I am not aware how strong is the state of repression and bigotry that governs or not Caribbean societies, but the director and writer of this film is a Bahamian; it is then a shame that the way he addresses these issues derives from a sitcom approach. This is enough to stall matters into a regressive political state.

The boys share a nice dance, and dancing the way they do it, popping out of bed instead of doing the sex routine, and do "how they feel like", as one of the two admonishes, is something we do not come to expect from gay themed movies. This much is true. It is also true that the soundtrack is good, but it is like it does all the work that should be put into a more cinematic approach.

The stories do not interconnect, they are left on the device of some sort of nebulous plea that should run by itself. And then, at the film's final spin, the script abandons its spine for an unabashed melodramatic, quasi-metaphysical last seal that brings the house down.

We then gather lines spoken before that foreground that sentimentalized last installment that comes out of and into the blue. This is bad, and it is a pity because the two leads are good, though Jonny Ferro is better by far.

And then the summer-drenched cinematography proves that colors only are God's children in this film, and humans fail to connect with them, unless it is at the moment of their death. This does not sing the blues, it is just irrelevant.

Le weekend (2007)
1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Le pee-weekend, 25 December 2010

Poor little puppy student wants to teach his class a lesson; instead of filming high philosophic sophomore crap, he just wants to film his journey to London. And by doing that almost kills us with ennui. Crap shots one after the other. A student really must have done this. A student with no idea whatsoever of what filming is. A random face enters the scene and remains mute for the rest of this overlong short, stupefying us with the same smile over and over again. Now, the voice-over becomes really stupid. Hello? Entering some voice for a better dramatic effect? This stranger is attracted by our boy who is straight but something...Oh well, you know what comes next. Regrets for having seen this. I am amazed that the BBC has it for view on its site.


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