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Sombre in tone
Adrian Shergold's adaptation of Persuasion was the last in the ITV Jane Austen Season, and it ended on a high note. Very different style from the previous two, and is rather sombre in tone, as befits the story and characters in the novel. There is a voice over so as to enable the audience to get closer to the character of Anne Elliot played very well by Sally Hawkins. Rupert Penry-Jones is very good as Captain Wentworth, whose interaction with Anne is concise and to the point. They are not strangers, but they are estranged. Adrian Shergold employs a lot of hand held camera, and uses a lot of close ups in order for the audience to recognise the relationships between characters and their feelings. Quite often Sally Hawkins looks at the camera, and I felt this worked very well. My only slight annoyance with this adaptation was the director's unwillingness to have two people who are talking in the shot at the same time. Preferring to move from a close up of one to a close up of the other (shot reverse shot as it were) continuously. This works well occasionally, but when it is as often as it is in this adaption you become very aware of the camera and its movements, which detracts from the story and the conversation itself. This is my only slight problem with this adaptation. The supporting cast was brilliant, with Amanda Hale brilliantly playing Anne moronic younger sister. Alice Krige was great as Lady Russell, and Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot. This is to mention only a few. To say that ITV's Austen Season did not start well would be an understatement. However, with last weeks brilliant Northanger Abbey and this weeks Persuasion they have finished on a high. Each had its own tone and style, and forgetting Mansfield Park, they worked rather well. I would recommend this film to both fans of the book and newcomers to Austen's work. I have deliberately refrained from comparisons between this and the 1995 version, both are very good and this one has some very inventive camera work.
Northanger Abbey (2007)
This adaptation of Northanger Abbey has gone a long way to redeeming ITV's Jane Austen Season after a severely poor start with Mansfield Park starring Billie Piper. Where as Mansfield Park was dull and lifeless, Northanger Abbey was lively and highly amusing. It was actually funny, and kept well to the spirit of the book. Newcomer Felicity Jones was brilliant as Catherine Morland, so too was JJ Field as Henry Tilney and Catherine Walker as Eleanor Tilney. In fact the whole cast did a great job of entertaining throughout. The script was brilliant, and you felt that Andrew Davies was really enjoying himself when adapting Austen's novel. When I see Davies' name attached to a period drama I feel safe that it will be done competently and in good taste, and Northanger Abbey was. My only criticism, which isn't so much a criticism more of my wanting it to continue, is that the ending was cut a little short. Of course this was due to time restraints. This is ITV's best period drama for a very long time. Not since Emma have they done one so good. This is certainly one I would recommend to both Austen enthusiasts and newcomers alike, it truly is accessible to all, and can be enjoyed by many!
Manon 70 (1968)
This is a very enjoyable film, and as another poster has said, it has a perfectly cast Catherine Deneuve in the role of Manon. The music becomes a focus of the film, with the sound and lack thereof almost a motif. The film sees Sami Frey's character, Francois, chasing and trying to keep Deneuve's Manon to himself, however she and her brother have been 'trapping' rich men, rather than working for themselves. This film sees Manon have to battle between her love of money and her first 'true love'. Though it is never sentimental drivel. It treats the subject fairly and is interesting throughout. Deneuve would have been about 25 at the time of making this film, and looks fresh and lively in it. Frey, likewise, though it is a Deneuve film. This film has finally become available in the Deneuve box set. It is fun, enjoyable, and never sentimental, has interesting music, and I would recommend it.
Mansfield Park (2007)
Although I believe that ITV don't make period dramas of the same calibre to the BBC, I was willing to give this adaptation a try. Afterall, it is an Austen novel which is always worthwhile. However I was sorely disappointed in it. From the very opening of the programme to the end, I struggled to stay with it - though I did. The opening has far too many close-ups and shot-reverse-shots to try and establish relationships between people. However it is not at all subtle. Though it is arguable that Mansfield Park is not Austen's best work, it still remained in the realms of greatness, however this adaptation certainly did not. Fanny Price, the main character, was hardly in it, all Billie Piper's lines could have fit onto a single page of A4. There was no conveying to the audience that this was a perceptive and bright girl. She had no charm or wit. All she seemed to do was run! And she runs everywhere!! It is all you see Billie Piper do. I'll just add here that I don't blame Piper for her portrayal of the character, after all the director didn't give her enough to do for me to judge her performance, though I must say she used up a lot of energy in the role.
Becoming Jane (2007)
I have to say that I enjoyed it. I think there were some problems with it, but overall a nice film. Hathaway's accent is very good apart from a couple of very minor slips that could almost go unnoticed. The film, the person I went with said, was a little too slow in places, but I did not find this so. I think that the director perhaps put a little too much emphasis on Austen's inspirations for her novels and in particular Pride and Prejudice, but I did not mind this too much as that is my favourite novel. The acting all round was very good. MaCavoy played it nicely, giving a lot of energy. I thought that the opening and closing were perhaps a little weak. I don't want to say too much in case others have not seen it yet (though of course most know the ending, they may not know the films interpretation of it). Perhaps the only few weaknesses to the film was the fact that perhaps Hathaway was too pretty to play Austen, though she did a very competent job indeed. I think that Anna Maxwell Martin may perhaps have been more suited?! The other is that I would have liked to have seen slightly more quick wittedness on the part of Jane. She was shown as competent, but not as cutting and quick as I and, I imagine, many believe she was. However, despite this I quite enjoyed the film, and wouldn't mind watching it again. It is better that Pride and Prejudice 2005 adaptation in my opinion. 8/10.
Au plus près du paradis (2002)
This film has grown on me with each repeat viewing. Deneuve is in every scene, so it helps if you are a fan, but then how can you not be? The film demonstrates on one level the connection that people can have with the cinema. How it turns a visual image into a feeling, and how also we can live vicariously through it. The director Tonie Marshall wanted Deneuve for this film, and if she had said no, the film would not have been made, it was Deneuve or nobody. This was because Marshal felt, as I have come to over the years, that Deneuve belongs to cinema. She is a legend. When you find a connection it should be kept, whether it is through an actor/actress, character particular film etc. Deneuve on screen represents film and everything about it, how she conveys feelings etc. The film sees Fannette try to find Phillipe, the love of her life from 30 years ago. She is recreating her own scene from An Affair to Remember, where they meet at the top of the Empire State Building. The film is sad at the same time as hopeful. The repeat viewings allow you to see the different layers of the film that are not apparently obvious at the 1st viewing. It can be seen as a romcom sort of film if you wish. But it is so much more. I hope you enjoy it, I am.
I am reviewing this film from memory, so forgive me if the details are fairly poor, but so too was the film, and it did not make me want to remember it. To be honest it was possibly the worst film I have ever seen, however it is a B horror movie, and so I perhaps should not have expected any more. However even this is no excuse for what is essentially the worst film ever. The main characters make all the clichéd mistakes, such as wanting to catch the murderer them selves...etc. The whole film is a cliché, but is not tongue in cheek, therefore it does not even have the humour value. The film is also so bad its not even funny. Quite often I find I can watch an awful film, as I can laugh at it, but this was just painful, avoid at all costs!!! Really, Don't even watch it to see if it really is this bad, you will die of boredom!
A fun film
This film is light and enjoyable, so don't expect to be stunned by it visually or in terms of depth or content. Demy as a director was brilliant, and it was one of four films he made with Catherine Deneuve, who is adding another comedy to her repertoire. It is about a man who apparently becomes pregnant with his wife's child rather than the other way around, and this first male pregnancy sparks an international trend.
The film is funny and light. Deneuve wanted to work with Mastroianni, who she was in a relationship with and had a child my him, and Demy gave them the opportunity.
The film does not showcase either Deneuve's or Mastroianni's acting ability, which for both is considerable. However, it does give laughs and light entertainment. It also allows for some interesting costumes and is essentially the predecessor to the film Junior.
A decent comedy with good laughs, but don't expect a classic French film. Accept it for what it is and you'll enjoy it. In this way it is more that successful.
Brilliant film illustrating power struggles
I don't want to talk too much about the style of the film, as other comments do this fairly well. However to briefly surmise them: there is no non-diegetic music, it is in colour but grainy (looks good, don't let this put you off), contains surrealist imagery as do all of Bunuel's films, and the lighting and the cinematography are sublime. I can rave about the brilliance of the technical aspects of the film, but to some it is the story content and themes that are the main focus, so I will talk about this.
The film sees a young orphan taken in by one of her mother's past lovers. Played by Fernando Rey, very well I might add - though this is an understatement. Catherine Deneuve plays the title character to perfection. The orphan becomes both the 'daughter' and lover of Don Lope, Rey's character, and it is the change in power from Don Lope to Tristana that is one of the central themes of the film. In order for Tristana to get freedom she must pay the price of losing her innocence.
Bunuel uses many scenes to show this, such as the balcony scene where Tristana reveals her naked self to her watchful deaf mute servant and childhood friend Saturno. Bunuel also edits this shot with an extended shot of the virgin Mary, and the comparisons are obvious.
The film is very enjoyable, yet still deals with issues such as sexual freedom, power, anti-clericism and anti-bourgeois values amongst others.
The film is not Bunuel's most surreal work, however it still contains the themes and images typical of him. The acting is brilliant, no more so than the leads of Deneuve and Rey. Tristana could be seen as the sister of Severine in Belle De Jour, also played by Deneuve.
Certainly worthy of being in the top ten films of all time. Brilliant!
Peau d'âne (1970)
Enjoyable and charming
This film is charming, the songs are adorable and catchy, even for those of us who are not perfect at french. The film is by Demy, one of the French New Wave film makers, who, as did the others, had his own distinct style. His joy at adding colour to his films is obvious in this film as it was in Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Each kingdom has its distinct colour, such as red, and as such all the horses, servants and outfits complement this. The colour and the music are not the only things this film has going for it. Another is that it is brilliantly acted bu Catherine Deneuve, who, though keeping the film light, absorbs you into her world. Though the film is suitable for children, the classic fairy tale story, there is an undercurrent and theme of incest between Deneuve's character and her father the King, whose wife on her death bed tells him to marry someone prettier than her. The Princess, the only one prettier, therefore becomes her father's choice of his next wife. It is a film that is first and foremost fun, and this can be seen no where more clearly than at the end when Deneuve's father and fairy godmother arrive. Very enjoyable!
La sirène du Mississipi (1969)
The film is a joy to watch, not just for the plot, which is gripping, but also for the superb performances of the actors, Deneuve and Belmondo. Though considered a 'flop' on its first release it has become a critical success, and it is clear to see why. Deneuve's acting style suited the film brilliantly. she constantly gives the impression that she is holding back or hiding something, and her character in this film is. I will not spoil it with saying what, though it is divulged fairly early on. Belmondo is lovable as the fairly naiive but in love tobacconist. I would recommend this film to all Truffaut or Deneuve fans. It is a brilliant Hitchcockian style thriller with exciting twists and interesting relationships and characters that develop as the film does. The film is approx 2 hrs, so you feel that you have not been sold short. Deneuve steals the show in this film, and it is clear that at the time of making the film Truffaut was very much smitten with her. A definite must see for any cineaste or moviefan. 10/10
Belle de jour (1967)
as close to perfect
"Belle de Jour" is perhaps the closest I have seen a film get to perfection. Its lack of music only makes it better. The close up of the legs and feet rather than looking showing a close up of Deneuve's face expresses so much emotion, the feet turning back shows Severine's hesitation. The film is a critique of bourgeois society. How the character is sexually repressed. The mise en scene including the costume is startling. the cut to severine's apartment to show how decadent and oppressive it is, and the release she can get at Mdm Annais's. Bunuel does not like wasting time with his story telling, so when we are given address, the next show shows that very address, no wasted narrative on how the character got there. In working this way time and temporal cohesion often become confusing, however this only adds to the beauty of belle de Jour. It is a truly remarkable film with an ending open to interpretation. the audience is allowed in the the mind of severine, by seeing her fantasies, however, they never truly understand her. Severine is played brilliantly by Catherine Deneuve, whereas many actress work by trying to make the audience understand and become one with the character, Deneuve works through distance, you can never get too close to her character and her feelings towards characters and her character itself remains in some ways and enigma. Bunuel, in place of non diegetic music uses noises such as a cattle belle, slay bells, and cat's meows. severine seems to find all of these erotic, however, it is never explained why, and the continual reference to the cats, and what is inside a box (bunuel loves boxes) has remained unknown and has become a much discussed topic. however, simply, what people find erotic, they often cant understand themselves. this film explores many different ideas, it has Freudian symbolism, but is above it. Women are seen in a more sympathetic light than men. This film is brilliant and further reading and viewing of it is essential. Brilliant!!
Best film of all time?!
Roman Polanski's 1965 film Repulsion is simply superb! The film documents the journey that the character Carol takes into madness, and I have never seen it done so well or with so much realism. Carol, played brilliantly by Catherine Deneuve, is the main character. The lack of dialogue is proof enough that camera technique and music, both diegetic and non-diegetic, is sometimes more effective than a full script, if done well (something that I feel Hitchcock would have agreed with) - and in this film it is! The innocence portrayed by Deneuve is contrasted with her violent outbursts to make what is ultimately a very uncomfortable feel. Deneuve's age, only 22 at the time, may well have been a contributing factor. The film is imperfect, there are shadows, even occasionally of the camera, that Carol walks through, though this should not be seen as a negative, the deliberate imperfect nature of the filming, makes the steady decline into madness more realistic and engrossing. The camera shots are frequently mesmerising, the reflection in the glass, to the framing of the apartment, and notice the ceiling on the apartment - rare for a set. The lighting is brilliant, the use of High key lighting to create shadow and further enhance Carol's madness is amazing. This is simply a brilliant film, and clearly I can't rave about it enough. Every possible element is here, from shocks, to realism, to artistic ability with the camera. I really felt for the character of Carol, her repulsion of sexuality and anything to do with Sex is shown in many ways, but more subtly with the use of the nunnery and her place of work - a beauty salon with only female work colleagues. I would encourage everybody to see this film, insisting it is a necessary viewing for any genuine film fan. If you like this work, then there are other films that you may enjoy, in terms of content I would suggest Vertigo or Marnie.
Faa yeung nin wa (2000)
I had not seen any of Wang Kar Wai's films, and was not much acquainted with his work, before watching Chungking Express. This film intrigued me enough to see other films by him. So, I watched In the mood for love. Since seeing it, I am sure I have been annoying everybody I know by talking endlessly about it.
The film is breath taking. The use of the slow motion to show how everybody experiences time differently, the music that accompanies it so well, and becomes almost synonymous with it. Not only is the music unforgettable, so too is the acting. Both Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung play the parts in such a believable way.
Since watching this film not only have I appreciated ChungKing express more, which I would also recommend, but I have also made it my mission to watch more of his work. It is possibly one of the best films I have ever seen, nothing compares to the beautiful shots that Wong kar wai and Christopher Doyle manage to achieve.