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Poignant- if you have a daughter grab her and watch this!
Great film... Who knew Kevin Kline could speak French? This film reminded me a little of another one of my favorite films- namely "A Brief Vacation" because both films capture the loneliness of menial work and of not being understood by one's husband. In all fairness, in this movie, the husband tries, however.
The scenes of Corsica are intoxicating. The story addresses issues of class and gender. The story unfolds beautifully - even though some degree of willing suspension of disbelief is required. The film captures the chess world (male dominated, intimidating, turned inward) well although it is not credible that the protagonist could become so good playing against only one opponent and a mechanical chess set...
The film is ultimately quietly empowering. Bonnaire is a terrific actress. Watching her assimilate what she sees and make the chess moves of her life in an effort to achieve her dream is wonderful.
Thankfully, the film leaves many key questions for the viewer to contemplate after the final credits have rolled by. This film resonates and lingers.
Elle s'appelle Sabine (2007)
incredibly powerful film
I just recently watched Sandrine Bonnaires excellent film about chess- Queen to Play- and found the movie Sabine as a result of the discovery of the film about chess.
Sandrine Bonnaire makes a hauntingly lovely film about her impaired sister and manages to do so in a loving way which I thought was not exploitative. As someone who is familiar with individuals who have similar syndromes, I found the film very true to life but also wondered about the accuracy of the diagnosis of autism. I was also curious as regards the obvious decline in Sabine's disease- was this due to medication/damage (as the film suggests) or to the progression of the condition? It seems to me that Sandrine Bonnaire's portrayal of the title character in the Vagabonde may have been influenced by her exposure to Sabine.
The film makes the clear point that families- including those of the rich and powerful- must struggle mightily to provide humane decent care for their relatives- and that much of the struggle is left to each family to develop on their own.
The film is ultimately haunting, affecting and true-to-life. I agree with other reviewers that the individuals who patiently provide care to Sabine and her housemates and who in other settings are often poorly compensated for this difficult work- deserve recognition.
slowly grew on me- good but not great
I love French cinema and Paris - but did not have high hopes for this film. I rented it because I was missing Paris and could tell that the film would have great shots of Paris- and it did. I have never cared for Binoche. I found the beginning of the film to be hackneyed and trite. The character of the professor was off-putting and a bit creepy. Nevertheless- by the end of the film, I was won over and I think the film is good but not great. One of my favorite activities (shared by many visitors to Paris) in Paris is watching the life swirl around me on the streets and in the surrounding houses. This film captures this experience. We are brought into the interlocking worlds of a number of characters whose lives intersect in ways they do and do not perceive. Although there are some truly clunky aspects (the affair between student and prof was not credible, the young man's illness seemed to be conveyed in an unconvincing manner, the last-minute intersection of the professor and the dying man, the motorcycle accident, the fashionistas in the warehouse) of this conceit in the film, the melange is ultimately messy, unresolved, and poignant. One is left with a true appreciation for the people whose lives touch our own.
Some of the best scenes: the small-minded owner of a boulangerie the party scene (what great dancing) the father-to-be the cruelty of the young student the tenderness between the fruit seller and Elise Elise and her children
The last scene- where the (possibly) dying man looks upon his nieces and nephew, says good bye to this sister, and takes a cab to the hospital- was just like the film itself- hackneyed, trite,and clunky in places ---but ultimately true-to-life, messy, unresolved, poignant and somewhat magical.
588 rue Paradis (1992)
moving but slightly maudlin story of an Armenian immigrant family
SPOILERS possible I really loved this movie -depsite the fact that it was admittedly a little maudlin.
The acting was superb- esp **Omar Sharif, **Richard Berry, and Claudia Cardinale. Although some of the developments were predictable, Richard Berry (who reminds me a bit of Gabriel Byrne) has a wonderful kindness and deliberateness about him- that permits him to bring freshness to the role. Its an uplifting tale about discovering (in time) the importance of family and of the relationships built over a lifetime- that nourish one's soul.
The cinematography was wonderful. There was great poignancy to the scenes that detailed the daily humiliation of the immigrant (the "different ones" ) at the center of the story- and of rising above those indignities to reach a state of grace. I think that this film will not be seen much in the US which is a shame - given that immigration (and the tensions between assimilation and preservation) are themes that could resonate thoroughly with an American audience.
An undiscovered gem despite some flaws.
lush filming, plot falls short, some actors are superb
I am immensely pleased to have found this film. Many of the performances (Anthony Hopkins, Hiroyuki Sanada, Alexandra Lara, and Laura Linney) were inspired but some (Charlotte Gainsburg) were not. The story is engaging but there were many aspects of the plot that did not make real practical or emotional sense. The motion of the plot is a bit formulaic. The story drew me in in spite of the gaps, however. The cinematography is lush and beautiful. I particularly liked the warmth of the relationship between Hopkins' and Sanada's characters and the coldness at the heart of both Linney's and Lara's portrayal of their characters. When all is said and done, as E.M. Forster said: "only connect."
The Swimmer (1968)
Offbeat, quirky, unfolds in front of your eyes, a dark delight,
This review is from: The Swimmer (DVD) I think this film is fabulous. It starts with a seemingly wacky premise and grand vistas. Gradually the nature of the main character's life unfolds in front of your eyes as the film moves progressively from one location to the next. Burt Lancaster is well cast- both in regard to the impressive physique he has the age he was at the time but also as regards the obvious signs of aging that are present at the same time. Other actors are great as well (esp. Janice Rule) (many exuding a quirky quality). The cinematography and cinematic choices are first rate. The film works well on many levels (surrealistic, mythic). No review of the film is complete without recognizing the author of this wonderfully quirky premise- namely John Cheever- and this film explores themes of suburban angst, image, and the American dream with equal panache and skill.
Un conte de Noël (2008)
luminous, messy,enigmatic, true to life
ALERT- there are spoilers here: This film is maddening in that the characters on many levels are completely unsympathetic...and yet they manage to draw you in and elicit empathy.
The acting is superb. I loved the music and the jerky cinematic quality- making it look like a home movie at times. In this respect, the cinematography reminds me a bit of Cousin Cousine and the shots of the family in that film at the party.
The story was multi-layered. Many times I expected some violent incident but I was immensely relieved that the film never resorted to this type of a device.
Questions are posed, mysteries are revealed and the questions remain unanswered at the end of the movie. Nothing is neat. All is messy and unresolved in away that is true to life. The relationship between Junon and her husband is unusually tender and believable. I loved the hematologic subtext. Even more- I loved the ending with its reference to The Tempest.
Lost in Translation (2003)
dreamy atmospheric ambiguous cinematic thoughtful
This movie vividly captures the feeling of being depaysee (out of one's familiar surroundings). The main characters are both lost in Japan, unmoored and lonely, tired, unable to sleep, jet-lagged and confused. Coppola captures this ethos perfectly. The setting is magnificent- a luxurious but cold hotel in Tokyo and the lights/sounds/swirling/frenetic activity in the streets below. Bill Murray nails the jaded Bob and his midlife crisis perfectly. Scarlett Johansson's Charlotte is just realizing that her marriage is not all she expected it to be and that no marriage can provide her with the life direction she is seeking. Charlotte and Bob are both intelligent and highly attuned to the nonsense (e.g. Charlotte's husband's self-absorption, the inanity spewed by the actress Kelly, the artiness of the crew directing the commercial) that surrounds them. High above the Tokyo streets, both protagonists are trapped in their luxurious but cold setting and the two forge an ambiguous, tender bond. It is to Coppola's credit that the bond remains ambiguous to the end (what did they say to one another in the final scene?) and that the movie avoids the traps that could so easily have ensued had the two had allowed the obvious attraction between them to become explicitly sexual. Coppola allows Bob and Charlotte's story to unfold in its own messy,goofy, unclassifiable way. The scenes involving the filming of the whiskey commercial are hysterical. The scene where Murray sings "More than this" at the Karaoke bar perfectly captures the film's spirit: unpolished, ambiguous, heartfelt and ironic.
Five Days One Summer (1982)
Swiss mountain atmospherics and deftly revealed character twists
This is one of my favorite "undiscovered" movies. The Swiss mountains are rendered so perfectly that you will feel cold watching the film. This movie is constructed so as to slowly reveal character and relationships (both between people and relationships within an isolated Swiss community). The way in which the director leads one from ones initial perceptions regarding the two main characters (she's so much younger, some sadness lies between them) to the revelation of the details of their relationship is artful. I also found Lambert Wilson's portrayal of a solid Swiss man of the mountains to be excellent and the scene of the elderly widow is very powerful. The filming of the (almost) final scenes (when a figure runs across the snow but the director wont tell us who is running across the snow for the longest time) is beautifully done. Based on the short story by Kay Boyle- namely Maiden, Maiden.
elegant thriller with atmospheric touches and perfect casting
This ranks among my top five movies ever. The pairing of Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant is inspired- but the rest of the cast (Matthau, Coburn) is just marvelous as well. Hepburn is the perfect blend of elegant, smart, sassy and amorous. The way in which the director films the moment when the key characters make an important realization is masterful. Many scenes in the movie are indelible- one wants to jet to Paris to see them all. Unfortunately, much of the film takes places near Les Halles which has been extensively renovated since the movie was filmed. The director captures a slightly-seedy-but-still-elegant hotel perfectly. The characters (villains a-plenty) are beautifully acted and unforgettable. What was Reggie's husband really up to? Who was he? You will enjoy being taken along for the ride as the plot rushes forward.The plot is nearly perfect and the way in which the director/screenwriter expose the plot is pitch perfect.