Breaking Glass Pictures timely gave the viewing public a New Year's gift by releasing the 2017 Israeli drama "Scaffolding" on January 1, 2019. The delay in sharing thoughts about this coming-of-age film is attributable to Breaking Glass and other indie-film studios keeping this site very busy with the regular awesome additions to their catalogs.
The numerous accolades for "Scaffolding" include a well-deserved Israeli Film Academy Best Supporting Actor award for the man who portrays high-school literature teacher Rami. He represents the cultured side of the art versus commerce conflict with which excitable boy Asher is dealing. Tough and gruff dad Milo represents the other side.
The following YouTube clip of a "Scaffolding" trailer introduces the theme of the film and provides a strong sense of the characters.
Seventeen year-old Asher is the good son when "Scaffolding" opens; he is a strong and obedient offspring who happily is devoted to the titular company of his self-made man father, High school is a mutual nuisance regarding this highly disruptive presence and that educational institution.
The scales begin to tip in favor of book learning when Rami reaches Asher at a time that the boy also is facing his final finals. The conflict that is at the center of all films of this nature relates to Milo literally needing the help of his son more than ever. Milo directly stating that school is not very important creates more emotional turmoil.
The plot thickens on Asher experiencing the type of angst related to Rami that many of us feel when we view a high-school teacher as a parental figure. A blow to that relationship always hurts, and it is worse when we do not fully understand the cause.
The search for answers causes Asher to fully go out of bounds; of course, this merely worsens his situation.
The artistry of the "Scaffolding" relates to the understated manner in which this universal story unfolds. The actors who portray the three sides of the triangle all play their roles well. We are spared violently frenetic dancing in an empty warehouse and any other excessive demonstrations of teen angst.
We also do not get any extreme displays of adult frustration or other strong feelings. This makes the pivotal act of desperation by Rami especially surprising.
The international vibe of "Scaffolding" continues with the special features. A 20-minute making-of short is in Hebrew without subtitles; the five-minute version has subtitles.
The striking images and related spectacular cinematography in the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 drama "Holiday" alone justify adding this film to your home-video collection. It also makes one wonder why Breaking does not spring for a Blu-ray release.
The festival love for this entertaining tale of the trophy girlfriend of an abusive drug lord includes numerous top honors. These accolades include Best Picture at the 2018 Austin Fantastic Fest and Best Director at the 2018 Nordic International Film Festival,
The following YouTube clip of a "Holiday" trailer does not do the style of the film justice but does provide a strong sense of the misogynistic elements and the counter-balancing theme of material girls with blonde ambition considering the boy with the cold hard cash to always be Mr. Right despite the cost of the relationship.
Early scenes have our heroine (pun intended) Sascha getting called out on a damsel-in-distress routine on the cusp of the extended titular vacation with aforementioned pusher Michael, This trip is to pimped-out villa in Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera, Their travel companions are the business associates of Michael and the significant others and children of those legitimate businessmen.
Although lounging in the sun, playing games at the arcade, and clubbing is fun, Sascha soon learns the same lesson as her "sisters" that anyone who "marries" for money pays a high price for enjoying the lifestyles of the rich and loathsome. This includes having to put out on demand and dealing with a man whose temper (and temperament) essentially precludes finding someone to stick around out of love.
One of the best and most telling "Holiday" scenes has a bored Michael sitting in the bitch husband chair at a jewelry store while Sascha shops. This kept woman selecting emerald earrings aptly provides her a sense that she is not in Kansas anymore. Another way of looking at this is that it shows the intersection of her grasping greed and the combination of the lust of Michael and his desire to have a status symbol other than a tattoo on his arm.
More drama enters the picture when Sascha strikes up an unsanctioned relationship with a yachting type. Handsome and kind sailor Thomas shares an intimate moment with Sascha, and both of them want more than a one evening stand. This prompts a jealous Michael to lure Thomas to the villa under false pretenses. The feral aspects of that evening show the true natures of both men.
The climax follows when Sascha plays a booty call gone wrong on Thomas; this leads to her becoming a girl interrupted who truly is dazed and confused. This adds to the morality tale aspect of this beautiful and compelling film.
The Film Movement Classics division of indie-film god Film Movement March 10, 2020 BD double-feature release of "Whiskey Galore" (1949) and "The Maggie" (1954) (aka "High and Dry") once again proves both that funny always is funny and that the Brits kick the arses of Yanks when it comes to comedy. This release also is the third Classics BD of Ealing Studios releases. This site has already covered the Blu-ray of "The Titfield Thunderbolt" (1953) and reviewed the Blu-ray of the 1949 farce "Passport to Pimlico."
These four never-a-dull-moment films make a wonderful home-based classic film festival. The copious in-depth special features that accompany these UK gems aptly give them the royal treatment and are well worth watching.
One of the many common elements of "Whiskey" and "Maggie" is that the are both from Ealing director Alexander Mackendrick, who is better known for "The Ladykillers" and "The Man in the White Suit."
The following SPOILER-LADEN Classics trailer for "Galore" highlights the award-worthy restoration. This promo also provides a strong sense of the so-near and yet-so-far aspect of a small Scottish island that has its supply of the titular libation go dry at the same time that a ship with a large supply of that nectar rounds aground just off shore. Hilarity galore ensues.
Classics does "Maggie" equally proud as to the trailer for that film. The primary "sit" that provides the "com" this time is that wily boat captain McTaggart responds to desperate times by undertaking the desperate measure of deceptively getting the job of transporting cargo that is very precious to American businessman Calvin B. Marshall. Once more, there is copious hilarity.
"Whiskey" is well-acted movie about eccentric antics of quirky residents of a small Scottish island that evokes strong thoughts of similar fare of days of yore such as "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down A Mountain" and "Waking Ned Devine." This is a nice contrast to the modern formula of placing the matinee or teen-boy idol of the week in a film that relies on crude and/or slapstick humor.
The quaint old world setting this time is the small community of Todday. Although the year is 1943, the only impact of the war is the local pub running out of whisky and not having any hope of replenishing its supply any time soon. The lack of a more serious threat is not stopping the "Dad's Army" style local Home Guard officer from maintaining road blocks and otherwise exercising undue diligence. This textbook self-righteous fool is easily frustrated by the "incompetence" of subordinates and the absurd manner in which the military operates.
The daily life of the Sam Druckeresque postmaster/shop keeper is being complicated by his youngest daughter and earnest school teacher George Campbell wanting to get married despite the strong opposition of Mrs. Campbell, who is the mother of all mothers. The engagement of the older daughter to a soldier on leave is free of similar drama.
The conflict between the cold warring factions heats up when a ship that is transporting 50,000 cases of whisky runs aground off the shore of Todday. The locals want to salvage the titular beverage for their own use, and the Home Guard wet blanket wants to obey the letter of the law. This results in highly entertaining mad dashes on the land and on the sea, as well as hilarious scenes of concealing whisky bottles.
The humor and the action in "Whisky" is so well presented throughout that the film does not climax so much as it winds down. Some characters are a little wiser, others emboldened, and most quite a bit drunker.
An especially awesome of "Whiskey" is that it is funny because it is (somewhat) true.
"The Maggie" follows a similar figurative path; McTaggart encounters numerous obstacles in trying to deliver the goods, which is needed to literally keep his business afloat. This involves literal and figurative rocky moments; the real fun commences with Marshall literally (but not figuratively) comes on board after McTaggart evades earlier attempts to get things on the right course. The ending this time literally and figuratively is far from Hollywood.
Film Movement fully celebrates the independent spirit of art-house films with the DVD release of the 2017 drama "I Am Not a Witch." Folks who prefer to download this tale of nine year-old Shula being sent to witch camp can do so through the Movement streaming service.
The sweet 16 accolades for "Witch" begin with the 2018 BAFTA award for "Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer." Many of the other 15 wins similarly honor the film itself and writer/director Rungano Nyoni.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement trailer for "Witch" casts a spell that compels you to want to see more of the guilty-pleasure absurdity and themes that earn the film so much critical love.
The fun begins with wonderful dual commentary on the nature of tourism and the treatment of the disenfranchised in any society. We see tourons (a.ka. tourists + morons) in Zambia traveling to a witch camp. Of course, a group member balks at the price of the experience.
On arriving at their destination, the visitors treat the not-so-beloved sorceresses like zoo animals. For their part, the women who endure that humiliation do so with supernatural stoicism. The education of the day trippers includes the explanation that tethering the women to white ribbons is intended to prevent them from flying away to go on a killing spree. One spoiler is that at least one witch reaches the end of her rope.
The primary commentary then commences in the village where unaccompanied minor Shula resides; our introduction to her shows the incident that leads to her being accused of witchcraft. That judicial proceeding provides a strong sense of the comparable Salem witch trials.
This leads to government official Mr. Banda bringing the girl to the aforementioned camp. A form of tiger repellent logic is used in convincing Shula that she either can consent to be tethered to a white ribbon or be turned into a goat.
Banda subsequently exploits the perception of an unenthusiastic Shula for fun and profit. This includes making her use her alleged power to catch a thief. We also see her sit quietly by as Banta and his partner-in-crime try to get her to play along with a scheme to show that she can literally be a rainmaker.
Meanwhile, the witches also profit from the perception of Shula. They additionally amusingly go about their lives as the bicker and do what is required of them. We additionally get further proof that people from "civilized" nations are clueless.
All of this shows both that every society has the same basic flaws and that all of us should be ashamed, very ashamed.
Movement supplements "Witch" with the Nyoni short-film "Mwansa the Great." We further get an interview in which Nyoni discusses visiting an actual witch camp.
'The Miracle of the Little Prince' DVD: Classic Children's Book Gives Dying Cultures Royal Treatment
The Film Movement December 3, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 documentary "The Miracle of the Littlel Prince" serves the noble purpose of reminding us that so many world cultures have been lost as more dominate entities have moved in and taken over, The bonus is a multi-lingual reading of a WWII-era classic.
A benign relatable example in the United States is the massive numbers of children, especially from Asia, who come here with their families and speak their native tongues at home only to struggle with having to speak English at school even in this age of ESL and overall greater cultural sensitivity. Of course, a big difference is that the US powers that be are not trying to kill off any other cultures.
The following Movement trailer for "Miracle" expertly conveys the theme and the tone of the film. We see that the translations are as much of a labor of love as the movie itself.
Movement does just as well describing "Miracle" in writing as it does in the trailer. A passage from the text on DVD back cover states: "There are now versions of the beloved children' story in over 300 different languages. In this emotionally rich, globetrotting documentary director Marjoleine Boonstra travels to Morocco, Scandinavia, El Salvador, and Tibet to find people from diverse backgrounds and linguistic regions who have all chosen this cherished book to help keep their endangered languages and cultures alive."
The above also reflects the meta element of "Miracle." Making a film that highlights all but dead languages and their cultures helps prevent those things from entirely dying out.
Although every segment in "Miracle" is strong and unique, the El Salvador story is the most interesting in that it centers around a ground of older woman helping keep the translation in in their traditional language as accurate as possible. An example of that it that language being able to describe a red flower but lacking a word for rose. The horticulture history lesson as to that is that the Spanish explorers introduce roses to the Americas.
The engaging man who is heading up the effort to translate "Prince" in Tibet also achieves the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational. We also get a strong sense of the level of oppression in that country.
The true legacy of these efforts go back to when man first adequately evolved to communicate in a manner that helps keep early culture alive, We may have come a long way, Baby, but the folks featured in "Miracle" show the value of going old school.
The IndiePix Films DVD release of the 2016 drama "Agony" is a perfect example of a neo-modern psychological drama; the social commentary on the dystopian existence of Millennials is icing on the cake.
This fact-based tale of two Millennials centers around the quarter-life crises of law student/aspiring judge Christian and recent Army vet./rapper/boxer Alex. The actual collateral damage of the post-teen angst of one of these "we need to talk about" boys is a 20-something woman whose remains get spread all over Vienna.
Alex divides much of his time between training at his gym and hanging out with his best friend with whom he not-so-secretly would like to obtain benefits. Christian studies hard, frequents the local club, and has a girlfriend/chum.
Rookie writer/director David Clay Diaz fairly evenly divides the screen time between these fine young cannibals. The few seconds of blackness between the segments devoted to them provide segues.
Being boomerang kids who essentially have trouble paying the 'rent is a common characteristic of our subjects. The lord and the lady of their respective manors express frustration regarding failing to pull their weight,
Alex has it worse; his father is a cop, who is increasingly frustrated both regarding keeping his son in protein powder and this Peter Pan lacking a viable career path. The former having to literally bail out the latter does not help matters.
For his part, Christian generally is angsty and is contending with an important test. A tense "meet the parents" aspect and his girlfriend being clingy does not help matters.
The dual climaxes of "Agony" revolves around both boys succumbing to the pressures in their lives. One takes a stab at relieving that pressure; the other decides to bag it. Both endings show that the kids are not alright.
The numerous merits of the film begin with the strong relatability regarding this movie about two 20-something guys having difficulty transitioning from being boys to fully manning up. This extends to showing that even Millennials who seem to have their lives together face the same challenges as apparent slackers. This is not to mention the ills associated with being on both sides in a relationship with unrequited love.
The underlying social commentary that includes the concept of "if it bleeds, it leads" and the fact that any similarities between our excitable boys and any persons living or dead is not purely coincidental adds good depth. These elements, along with the production quality of "Agony," elevate the movie above being an "After School Special" or a Lifetime Movie,
Icarus Films continues a long history of making (mostly foreign) "provocative" films available in North America with the release of the 2017 Chinese film "Angels Wear White." The 26 wins and additional 41 nominations for this film about a public official sexually assaulting two middle-school girls verify that this is a special addition to the incredible Icarus catalog.
The aforementioned accolades include Best Film and other top honors at the 2018 Asian Film Awards. Closer to home, "Angels" receives similar love at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival and the RiverRun International Film Festival.
Our story begins with middle-school girls Wen and Xin arriving late at school; their positive and less-than-positive interactions with classmates indicates that things are the same everywhere.
The plot thickens on school authorities and the 'rents getting involved. It quickly is learned that the girls are the victim of a sexual assault at the motel where they spent the night. The perpetrator being a local government official complicates matters.
Director/writer Vivian Qu divides the action between the investigation and the two older teen girls who live and work at the scene of the crime. Similar to the dynamic between Wen and Xin, Lily is a lazy party girl who spends a great deal of time with smooth criminal boyfriend Jian; Mia is the country mouse who wants to do the right thing but is vulnerable because she lacks the documentation that legal status requires.
Attorney Hao is the conduit between the two narratives. She wants to protect the victims against police coercion and also is persuading Mia to tell the truth,
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Commissioner is using every weapon in his arsenal in an effort to try to protect his freedom and his reputation. This includes exerting pressure on a man with unclean hands regarding the attack.
We also get a highly cynical negotiating session; this harsh scene includes the highly symbolic message that an iPhone should be of adequately high value to serve as payment for allowing sexual assaults to go unpunished. The significance is that the average Chinese person cannot afford this luxury item that Chinese workers are paid very little to produce.
The conclusion of "Angels" is surprising and provides the last bit of commentary on modern Chinese culture. We see the extent to which the government will go to maintain a facade of an orderly society and to protect the men in power.
The numerous themes in the movie show that it is one to watch; it provides a relatable dilemma and paints what seems to be a realistic picture of China. We additionally get reminded of the perils of hanging out with a bad influence.
Icarus Films once more shows the immense value of world cinema as to the DVD release of the 2017 Indonesian feminist drama "Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts." This compelling movie with a strong live-stage vibe shows that Quentin Tarantino does not have the monopoly on Amazon warrior revenge films.
The 17 wins and 25 additional nominations for "Marlina" show that director Mouly Surya has all the right stuff; these accolades include numerous honors at the 2018 Film Festival Indonesia and Best Cinematography at the 2018 Asia-Pacific Film Festival.
The following Icarus trailer for "Marlina" clearly shows the Tarantino and classic Western influences on this must-see film.
The titular felon is a relatively recent widow living in relative isolation on her farm; as is typical for good storytelling, the extent of her woes is revealed throughout the film.
The nightmare begins within the first moments of "Marlina." Bad hombre Markus shows at her door and immediately plays cat-and-mouse. The horrible truth is soon shared when the interloper matter-of-factly tells his hostess that his gang is on their way to steal all of her livestock and to rape her if they have time after that theft. He adds insult to those imminent injuries by ordering her to start cooking dinner for the group.
As the film title indicates, things do not go as planned. This leads to the second act that centers around Marlina taking the long journey to the nearest town to report the crimes and her response with extreme prejudice. This trip involves both "persuading" a bus driver to co-operate and an overdue pregnant woman with her own man troubles to join the crusade.
The response of the police is true to factual and fictional patterns; any viewer with a soul will want to smash the typewriter of the cop who takes the statement of Marlina over his head.
The long arm of the law coming up short leads to showing that you sometimes must send a woman to do the job of a man. The even more sad truth as to this is that it demonstrates the limited extent to which the phrase "you've come a long way, Baby" applies.
All of this leads to a climax that brings the action back full circle to the beginning of the film; the sad messages as to this are that things never change and that you often much take matters into your own hands.
The bonus features include behind-the-scenes coverage and an interview with Surya.
The Blu-ray quality Film Movement DVD of the 2018 drama "Styx" proves that some do make 'em like they used to; aspects of this are showing that art and commerce are not mutually exclusive and that even a simple low-budget concept can be exceptional in the right hands, such as those of writer/director Wolfgang Fischer.
The well-deserved 29 wins and 18 additional nominations for "Styx" circumventing the globe shows apt love for this film about a solo sailing trip turned horrific ethical and moral dilemma. These accolades include Fischer getting the "New Auteurs" honor at the 2018 AFI Fest and several wins at the 2019 German Film Awards.
The following Movement trailer for "Styx" offers a strong sense of the multi-award-wininng perfect performance by Susanne Wolff in this essentially one-woman show, the aforementioned cinematography, and the compelling dilemma around which much of the action is centered.
The opening on-the-job scenes establish emergency-room doctor Rike (Wolff) as a compassionate and fierce medical professional; subsequently embarking on the aforementioned journey to what can be considered a Charles in charge natural paradise shows that her strong will and independence are not limited to her work.
The first real obstacle on this trip is the most physically daunting; a warning of an impending storm does not deter Rike from literally and figuratively changing course. The ensuing tempest may not be perfect but does throw very rough weather at this fearless crew of one. Her tiny ship is tossed but not lost; nor does she run aground.
The calm after the storm is disrupted when Rike encounters a ship in distress that is filled with people who do have to live like refugees. Rike wisely initially follows maritime protocol in alerting the authorities; conflict arises when the powers-that-be express less-than-hoped-for concern while strongly directing Rike to not come to the rescue. Part of this relates to not attempting a rescue that endangers the rescuer.
The next round of ensuing chaos relates to the passengers on the sinking ship seeing the sailboat of Rike as a sanctuary that prompts a literal swim for the figurative border. However, Rike does bring one of these passengers on board; the ensuing events epically proves that no good deed goes unpunished.
Fischer and Wolff expertly convey the mounting tension as the situation on the other ship becomes increasingly dire, the still-absent authorities amp up the intensity of their insistence that Rike not jump ship, and the now unwelcome passenger exerts strong pressure to come to the aid of his group.
It is predictable that everything comes to a head (no pun intended) near the end of the film as all act according to his or her nature; the surprising manner in which this occurs reflects the 29 wins for the film.
Movement supplements this with the food-for-thought short film "Ashmina." The excellent pairing of this movella with "Styx" relates to the young girl at the center of it is like Rike in that she is caught between two clashing worlds and faces intense pressure to be a good girl and do as she is told. This is not to mention the girl having a similar third-world existence and aspirations as the refugees on the the "Styx" ship.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 Buenos Aires-based drama "We Are Thr3e" aptly can be considered the non-missing link between the Breaking tradition of releasing (often artfully arousing) gay-themed films and more mainstream world cinema fare. "Thr3e" sensitively (and mildly arousingly) explores the theme of a long-term loving male-male-female relationship. Minimally, it will give anyone near the middle of the Kinsey Scale something about which to think.
One spoiler is that any guy with an interest in having a broamce include benefits is encouraged to show his buddy this film and proceed according to his reaction.
Breaking does an especially good job communicating the theme and the tone of the film in the following trailer. It clearly shows that the cast is well selected and that writer/director Marcelo Briem Stamm is a good spokesperson for relationships that further expand boundaries in an era in which gay couples receive widespread acceptance in much of the US and beyond.
The depicted genesis of the relationship between Russian-born bartender/free-spirit Sebastian, conformist Argentinian Nacho, and divorced girl-next-door Ana reflects the truism that no one can predict when any form of relationship will develop while engaged any form of activity. The rest of this story is that love more often stems from when you are not seeking it than from when you are searching for Mr. or Ms. Right (or Right Now).
Nacho and Ana meet cute at a party; Sebastian literally and figuratively enters the picture when the other two go in search of the bar. Sebastian soon subtly seduces (but does not abandon) the latest objects of his affection. Although Sebastian calls many of the shots and largely directs the course of the relationship, a morning after scene makes it clear that he is not one of the chosen people.
A pivotal (and particularly well-played) scene is a variation of a situation that is very relatable to any dude who has been on either side of this interaction. Sebastian takes an unauthorized break to catch up with a bonding Nacho and Ana. The sense of relatability continues with Sebastian orchestrating things so that Nacho faces the test of (presumably) having his first mano a mano kiss. The hesitancy of Nacho to take this step provides an early in a series of looks at the skill of Sebastian to proceed things at the pace that Nacho and Ana can handle.
Thing fairly quickly proceed to Sebastian presenting logical arguments for the trois to form a long-term loving menage. The point of reference this time is feeling love for someone who is unable to fulfill all of your physical and/or emotional needs. All of this being out in the open at least as to the three willing participants arguably is worth trying.
One thing on which Stamm does not directly touch is the desire for male intimacy that virtually every man directly or indirectly feels as evidenced by previously largely straight Nacho not displaying much resistance as to the advances of Sebastian. This often manifests itself in the form of at least curiosity as to sex with another man regarding whom there is adequate attraction and trust to deal with the physical and emotional aspect of crossing the final frontier. Some acts are enjoyable for some of us only when you love the one with whom you are with.
The theme of love conquering all continues with Nacho especially becoming emboldened as to sharing the nature of his current relationship. The analogy here from the early days of the campaign for equal rights for gay men essentially is that the friends and family of Nacho must process not only that he now likes men but also has someone special in his life.
Stamm and his cast do a good job keeping things seemingly realistic as to the early sense of Nacho and Ana that the absence of Sebastian creates a hole. The same is true regarding Nacho and Ana inadvertently making Sebastian jealous.
We further see the complications as to our trio already contending with the practical issues that arise in any romantic relationship that further are complicated as to the nature of their arrangement. Accountant Nacho raises many of the transactional considerations, such as the law and business institutions only recognizing one spouse in a relationship.
The bigger picture (no pun intended) is to the extent to which the vision of Stamm is prophetic, The next stage as to gay relationships may be the "straight" guys who traditionally use the anonymous cruising methods of the era to be more open by getting everything that he needs at home, including a willing "beard," who actively participates in her two men mutually enjoying intimacy.
Sebastian addresses the female perspective by offering Ana husband material in the form of Nacho and boyfriend material in the form of himself. Many modern women likely would enjoy having her cake and the hunky baker as well.
The DVD bonuses include what must be an insightful interview with the cast and crew. A time constraint when watching "Thr3e" requires delayed gratification as to that feature.
The Film Movement November 19, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 coming-of-age drama "Geneses" (aka "Genesis") proves that adolescent growing pains are both timeless and universal. Movement pairing this release with that of a DVD of (reviewed) "The Demons" (2015) by "Geneses" filmmaker Philippe Lesage further shows that Movement does right by lovers of art-house cinema.
"Demons" focuses on the preadolescence of filmmaker Philippe Lesage in the form of adventures of quirky Felix, who shows moderate gay tendencies. This leads to the "Genese" all-boys private school life of quirky teen Guillaume during a time that he and his half-sister Charlotte are learning the facts of life.
The numerous festival wins for "Genese" include "Best Film" honors at the 2018 Montreal Festival of New Cinema and Locarno International Film Festival.
The following Movement trailer for "Genese" expertly conveys the agony and the ecstasy of adolescence behind the aforementioned impact of this highly notable film. The audio commentary by Lesage most likely shares the extent to which this is live and is Memorex.
As Movement observes in DVD liner notes, "Genese" starts strong with Guillaume on top of his desk leading his classmates in a rousing sing-a-long., His ensuing interactions with classmates, including a stereotypical jock, are equally relatable to anyone who has attended high school around the globe.
Guillaume seems overall average in that he mostly is well-liked and can work and play well with others; he further clearly is the class clown. The only real animosity that he inspires is as to a teacher.
All is going reasonably well with close friend Nicolas until Guillaume acts on a love that dares not speak its name. Most adolescents can relate to having romantic feelings toward a friend and struggling with repressing it, The hope that expressing love will be well received is a major aspect of this.
Nicolas is more sensitive than the average teen boy in rejecting the unwanted advance, Not knowing better than to quit when he is ahead, Guillaume expresses his love for Nicolas in a witty and charming class presentation. The aforementioned reputation for being a joker is a factor regarding the response of the peers of Guillaume.
The auto-biographical relationship between Felix and his older brother plays a role as to a deepening friendship between Guillaume and a younger student/dormmate.
Particularly guys who attend a boarding school can relate to being on both sides of a younger brother/older brother style relationship, The younger guy largely is on his own likely for the first time in his life and is surrounded by bigger and more physically mature male classmates. The older guy can remember his early days and also feels protective toward the sweet and sensitive kid who is not quite in his element.
The sad truth that Lesage shares (and likely has lived) is that ignorant societal attitudes that include homophobia often lead to hasty incorrect judgments that can punish folks for kindness and PROPER love. Suffice it to say that things do not end well for Guillaume.
Lasage repeatedly shifts the narrative between the growing pains of Guillaume with the angst of Charlotte. Her relationship with Maxime is derailed when he suggests out of the blue that they start seeing other people. The confusion as to that includes the assertion of Maxime that he is not presently interested in anyone else.
A highly memorable scene involves Charlotte, who has started dating someone else, rejecting the lustful advances of Maxime. This leads to one of them weeping on the floor only wearing briefs and the other trying to console that person.
Part of the rest of this story is that Charlotte gets her first lesson regarding the universal truth that most men are alike.
The voice of experience for all the Charlottes (and Charles) out reflects the wisdom of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes." The "from the mouths of babes and tigers" wisdom is that you are lucky if you can find someone whom you can tolerate and they can stand you in return. The bonus advice is to ask yourself if you would be happier without the other person than you are with him or her.
Similar to "Demons," Lesage ends "Genese" with a vignette that centers around love and a big brother-little brother relationship at a summer camp. This inarguably is the most endearing tale that Lesage tells.
Movement supplements all this with the aptly titled short film "The Lesson." That one has a young woman become enamored with an outwardly desirable male motorcyclist only to learn the awful truth. A hilarious scene has the guy mansplaining only to get massively showed up. The man literally ending up in the bitch seat at the end is highly symbolic.
Film Movement provides perfect double-feature fodder by separately releasing DVDs of teen-angst movie "Genese" (2018) and coming-of-age topic du jour "The Demons" (2015) on November 19, 2019, Both movies are semi-auto-biographical as to writer/director Philippe Lesage.
The accolades for "Demons" include a well-deserved "New Director" award for Lesage at the 2016 San Francisco International Film Festival.
The figurative titular malevolent entities plague 10 year-old suburban boy Felix. The experiences of this pre-adolescent provide the perfect context for the quirky teen boy around whom "Genese" revolves. Other numerous parallels as to this film include both opening with classroom scenes of shiny happy students. Additionally, both boys have close friends whose mothers have serious embarrassing issues.
Much of the angst in the life of Felix revolves around his parents having violent fights only to calm down and hug it out with him and his older brother and older sister. This is a factor as to the older brother being loving and protective of Felix. This relationship symbolically plays itself out in "Genese."
Felix having a sensitive nature that manifests itself in aggressive behavior makes his school days challenging. The aforementioned opening moments include a teacher outwardly being cruel by strictly enforcing a rule against lending Felix a pencil; a similar bias plays out in "Genese."
Felix spending much of his time hanging out with his older brother and the teen friends of that sibling puts a boy in the world of a man. This includes playing on his fears as to a rash of local kidnappings and killings of boys of his age. The older guys also speaking critically about one of their peers being gay also causes Felix, who is displaying blatant homosexual tendencies, equally intense angst.
Some gay men and their childhood friends will relate to a play date in which Felix literally has his buddy play the female role. Scenes that revolve around the snatching and the killing of boys will strike a stronger chord with every viewer.
The skill of Lesage as to portraying a boy nearing the cusp of adolescence and another approaching the end of that awkward period is what makes his films Movement worthy and SCREAM for watching them as a double feature. Lesage expertly straddles the line between sensitive and saccharine.
You will feel the agony and the ecstasy of the subjects but never will feel that you are watching either an "After-School Special" or a Greg Berlanti or Ryan Murphy tale of the adolescence of those Millennial gay men idols.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2013 Italian Gothic psychological thriller "Ritual: A Psychomagic Story" awesomely takes the concept of "50 Shades of Gray" to an exceptional level and celebrates the true spirit of feminism.
Vulnerable Lia is catnip to controlling manipulative Viktor from the moment that they meet; one spoiler is that both display their crazy long before there are any thoughts of putting a ring on it.
Viktor supplementing his compliment of the self-designed dress that Lia is wearing by suggesting that she complement it with the shackle-like bling that he apparently carries around for such chance meetings is the first of many warning signs.
Things "progress" to insanely jealous Viktor exerting increasing control over Lia to the point that she literally drops her panties as his command. Further kink comes courtesy of Viktor blindfolding his willing victim.
Lia finding herself with bastard introduces further drama in the relationship. Viktor insisting that Lia terminate the pregnancy does not help matters.
The audience being a fly on the wall during therapy sessions that earn Lia portrayor Desiree Giorgetti at least a festival award provides further context for the dynamics of her relationship with Viktor. This relates to her premature introduction to womanhood being horrific for her.
A rude awakening convinces Viktor to reverse his denial of a request by Lia for a therapeutic visit with her aunt Agata, who lovingly raised Lia after the death of her mother. The icing on the cake is that Agata lives in the beautiful old family villa, The fly in the ointment is Viktor crashing the family reunion.
The rest of this portion of the story is that Agata is either a new-age healer or a witch depending on the mindset of the beholder, No one can dispute that she gets wonderful results for those who consult her.
The Shakespearean magic of this idyllic locale includes the nicest kids in town taking Lia under their wings. This offsets an highly psychological haunting.
All of this culminates in a titular rite that reinforces the girl power theme of the film.
The appeal of this character study is that Lia is a character well worth studying.
The Icarus Films DVD of the 2017 Chinese drama "The Widowed Witch" helps bring one of the most stylized and bizarre (not to mention honestly cynical) films in the past few years to North American audiences. Whether "Witch" casts its spell on you partially depends on whether you believe in magic (i.e., whether you believe that you believe that you do.) A related note is that if your mission is magic,your love will shine through.
The accolades for this bizarre comically tragic mash-up of the '60scoms "Bewitched" and "The Andy Griffith Show" include director/writer Cai Chengjie winning the coveted Tiger Award at the 2018 Rotterdam International Film Festival. Star Tian Tian equally deserves the Best New Actress trophy that she brings home from the 2018 Chinese Young Generation Film Forum.
The visually artistic elements of "Witch" extend beyond the very sharp cinematography to the shifts between color and black-and-white with some scenes having elements of both. The symbolical use of this technique expands on the use of it in the 1998 Tobey Maguire film "Pleasantville," which also has a strong connection with "TV Land" series.
The real action begins after a prologue. The camera is from the POV of the titular sorceress Er Hao, who newly is a three-time loser regarding husbands. She is paralyzed and initially silently witnesses the conclusion of the ritual that is credited with saving her life.
Er Hao soon learns of Husband Number Three dying in an explosion at his fireworks factory that also is the home of the couple. The ensuing violation is almost as sickening to the viewer as it is to Er Hao.
The rest of the story is that young Er Hao having buried three husbands is a major factor regarding the superstitious rubes in her rural village both believing that she is a witch and shunning her based on that conclusion.
A homeless Er Hao soon discovers that her only options for shelter involve requiring that she allow men who hold the keys to have their way with her, This is the first of many instances in "Witch" in which someone with something to gain does not mind consorting with a bride of Satan if that association involves a benefit.
These desperate times drive (pun intended) Er Hao and her deaf 10 year-old brother-in-law to take up residence in a panel van. It soon becomes clear that that downfall does not satisfy some angry villagers. An early confrontation indicates that Cai Chenjie is a fan of "Back to the Future III."
The interpretation of the results of a hilarious oversight by Er Hao in this portion of the film further establishes her cred, as a magical being; other humor relates to the aforementioned shifting sentiments regarding whether our lead is a good witch or a bad witch.
Er Hao fully plays the survival game when charged with ridding a home of a spirit; the rubes readily accept her statement that that ghost busting requires an extended stay in the house,
The best flip-flopping is saved for last; we really see that an irate mob has no shame when the locals come looking for help after inflicting a humiliating punishment on Er Hao related to the same manner in which they essentially asking that she twitch her nose and put right what once went wrong at the hands of the supplicants.
The nature of this film that is made far from California makes it just as likely that it lacks a Hollywood ending as it is that Er Hao marries a loving advertising executive and raises a family with him in the suburbs.
As indicated early in this post and as shown throughout, the primary appeal of "Witch" beyond the exceptional surface elements is the mirror that reflects every society. "Respectable" people are very quick to spit on outcasts until they almost inevitable require assistance from that undesirable.
The Cinema Libre separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the aptly titled 2018 highly realistic French drama "At War" once again proves that Euro cinema surpasses Hollywood in both substance and style. This timely and relevant portrayal of an white-hot labor dispute at a French auto plant hits close to home in both Europe and North America. Candor requires 'fessing up to thinking the film is "live," rather than "Memorex," on watching it.
The accolades for this clever mockumentary include the Best Screenplay award at the 2018 Chicago International Film Festival and the Best Film honor at the 2018 Palic Film Festival.
This "ripped from international headlines" fictional tale centers around Perrin Industries closing down its auto plant in a small French community two years after agreeing with the 1,100 workers to not close down the plant for five years in exchange for major concessions that include working some hours without pay and for forgoing traditional hours. The stated justifications for the closure include that the minimally profitable plant does not allow Perrin to remain competitive.
The ensuing battle in which plant union official Laurent Amedeo leads the campaign to get the attention (and the support) of the French government and of German CEO Martin Hauser is reminiscent of the Michael Moore documentary "Roger and Me" about the closure of a Michigan auto plant.
The similarities between "War" and "Roger" extend to footage of the "hero" effectively staging a sit-in after stonewalled efforts to meet with the big boss. We also get the ensuing strong-arm tactics to oust the interloper.
The comparisons extend to truths that relate to life in general. The first one is that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda. The other is that there is your story, the story of the other guy, and the truth.
Both Moore and "War" filmmaker Stephane Brize are highly biased as to portraying the workers as the good guy victims; no reasonable person can deny that they are sympathetic and face a tough immediate future.
The presentation of Brize (possibly purposefully) provides some sympathy for the devil; this compassion is inadequate.
The hypothetical "reasonable man" (or woman) should realize that no rational company disregards the impact of a plant closure on the employees. Further, very few could argue that any manufacturing industry in Europe or North America is thriving. Perrin additionally deserves the benefit of the doubt as to having good faith when entering the underlying bargain two years earlier.
Our hypothetical analytical thinker also should feel the pain of management when labor fails to grasp that more than 10 million Euros in concessions by the workers during the past two years did not go in the pockets of the executives; those saving went toward keeping prices competitive for the buyers of the goods that the plant produced.
The same figuratively blind anger behind the waived income prevents the workers from understanding the duty of the management to the shareholders. The bottom line is that poor profits and reduced stock prices harm management and labor alike by lowering the amount of invested capital in the corporation.
The workers have a slightly stronger case as to the high salaries of executives and those chats grosse getting raises while the workers are on the brink of poverty. Although one must understand that the demand for a world-class CEO keeps salaries in the stratosphere, it is hard to grasp that the expertise and the management skills of any individual are worth compensation that translates to $100s (if not $1,000s) an hour.
An extreme (but relatable) example of obscene CEO compensation is a Google search while writing this post revealing that Jeff Bezos earns $1.5 billion a WEEK while subjecting the customers who foot that bill to horrific overseas customer-service centers and arguably underpaying his warehouse staff. This is not to mention indirectly shaking down taxpayers by demanding major concessions to open new Amazon facilities in communities.
Another aspect of "War" is the striking workers not comprehending the role of the national government as to their plight. The sincere statements of a high-level official that the president of France feels their pain and is their advocate largely falls on deaf ears. The same is true as to that civil servant trying to get Team Laurent to understand that even the guy sitting in the French equivalent of the Oval Office cannot force Perrin to keep the plant open, a French court to reverse a decision for the corporation, or Hauser to meet with them.
All of this occurs among confrontations with outside groups, the "suits," and among the union officials.
All of the above shows that documentary vibe of "War" includes provoking as much thought and debate as well-produced films from the non-fiction genre. One can argue that artificially high labor costs and the related expense of complying with possibly undue government regulation is at the root of the problem; on the other hand, no one can deny that maximizing profits is a high priority for most businesses.
The most important point to consider regarding the Film Movement DVD release of the 2018 documentary (which plays like a docudrama) "Over the Limit" is that the appeal of this telling of the tale of Olympic Gold medalist Margarita Mamun extends well beyond sports fans. Pointing out that Variety aptly compares "Limit" to "Black Swan" does not help this case much but illustrates that this is another overcoming adversity story in the same style as "Rocky."
"Limit" being a New York Times Critic's Pick and figuratively earning the Gold at the 2018 Krakow Film Festival further documents the quality of this film for the masses.
The following Movement clip of the official US trailer for "Limit" highlights the intensity of the film and of the central relationship between Magmun and coach Irina Viner. There is NO doubt that a docudrama of this story would NEED to be titled "The Devil Wore Talbots."
Much of "Limit" centers around Magmun either training for competitions leading up to the main event or actually competing. Viner literally is there every step of the way mercilessly berating the gymnast and almost as diligently ensuring that this athlete always stays on her toes. This aspect of "Limit" should make it mandatory reviewing for any parent or "participant" who thinks that a recreation league or school coach is too hard on the kids.
One interesting dynamic is watching the mother of Magmum be good cop to bad cop Viner. This plays out in one of the most notable scenes in "Limit." The two parental figures argue about the allowable level of support that actual Mom can show her little girl.
We also see a friendly rivalry between Magmun and a fellow gymnast; the conflict here is that only one can be the best. This kinder and gentler version of the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan dynamic warrants kneecapping jokes.
Although folks who already are familiar with the tale of Magmun know the end of "Limit" before it begins, seeing how she gets there truly is all the fun. Everyone will cheer for her and feel her agony and her ecstasy.
Movement supplements "Limit" with the bonus 11-minute short "Iron Hands." This "Rocky" story tells the tale of a plucky 12 year-old girl bonding with a groundskeeper with a "history" while the girl does her final training for her tryout for the prestigious traditionally all-boys Chinese youth Olympic weightlifting team. The twice-told moral here is to not judge a book by its cover.
The final commentary regarding this sports-oriented double-feature is that they make particularly good viewing for a quiet weekend afternoon.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2013 drama "An Afghan Love Story" is one of the more thought-provoking titles in the extensive Movement catalog of foreign and domestic art-house movies. "Story" being based on actual events enhances this tale of modern woman Wajma running afoul of the old-school standards in her country.
The accolades for "Story" include a 2103 Sundance award for screenwriting and Best Film honors at the 2013 Amazonas Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN Movement trailer for "Story" provides a synopsis of this movie about a wedding hook-up gone terribly wrong.
Wajma and Mustafa know from the outset that they experience the lust that dare not speak its name; this newly accepted law student and her waiter lover literally and figuratively go to great lengths to avoid her being seen entering his apartment for their afternoon delight.
The skyrockets take flight when Wajma learns that she has a nan in the oven; Mustafa informing her that he will not put a ring on it or otherwise do the right thing by that cow who has given away the milk for free because she is damaged goods enhances the drama. Abortion being illegal in Afghanistan is another complication. Presenting India as a liberal country in the context of abortion being legal there provides further context.
The zinc lining in all this is that mother and the grandmother of Wajma are sympathetic and compassionate; the bad news is that the "wait 'til your father comes home" element of the story makes things far worse.
Father Haji constantly is away because of his job detecting and removing landmines; no pun is intended in stating that he goes ballistic in learning of what he considers a major disgrace to his family. The manner is which he takes Wajma to the woodshed is horrific.
Filmmaker Barmak Aktam does an excellent job first introducing the characters, and then presenting the flirting and the resulting "courtship" of Wajma and Mustafa. This leads to the pregnancy that results in the aforementioned building drama and the trauma for the mother-to-be. Akram next provides a perfect payoff regarding the desperate measures that the desperate circumstances require. This climax shows that things are not so different in traditional and "civilized" countries.
The good acting, the drama rarely straying in "melo" territory, and this somewhat true story being relatable to many make "Story" one to add to your collection and for parents to rewatch when even adult offspring commit a blunder that prompts thoughts of wanting to make them drop trou and bend themselves over your knee.
The Icarus Films August 6, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 mystery thriller "The Girl in the Fog" adds to the mountain of proof that Euro cinema greatly outshines Hollywood fare. This tale of a 16 year-old gone girl is based on the novel of the same name by Donato Carrisi, who writes the screenplay and directs the film.
The formal accolades for "Girl" include a 2018 Italian Golden Globe for Carrisi for his screenplay and an even more deserved Best Actor Golden Globe for Toni Servillo for his perfect portrayal of police Detective Vogel.
Carrisi achieves an ideal balance of action, exposition, and tone by having the opening scene portray the title of the film. We see a shadowy village teen walk out of her Avechot home in the Italian ALps and disappear into the night. This little wander is outwardly good-girl Anna Lou Kastner, who never makes it to her stated destination of her fundamentalist church.
The quality of this film with frequent narrative time shifts is reinforced by following a variation of the modern movie staple of immediately moving us to the beginning of the end of the story without insulting our intelligence by including an intertitle that explains that jump,
This leap begins with a literal rude awakening for town shrink Dr. Augusto Flores (Jean Reno). He is called into his hospital office in the middle of the night due to an emergency related to a car accident.
On arriving, Flores is dually (and duly) surprised to see that his patient is unscathed physically (and seemingly mentally intact) and is Vogel, who is a local celebrity due to both the Kastner case and an earlier (and even more bizarre) crime spree known as "The Mutilator Case." The latter involves a mad bomber hiding explosives in containers for everyday items and putting them on grocery-store shelves.
This discussion between these two weary veterans of their professions provides exposition for the rest of the film, which mostly shifts among the events following the disappearance and the "whodunit" scene at the end of "Girl." These men further talk about the theme of connectivity that is a major element of the film.
All of this relates to Vogel being more interested in media relations and providing a resolution that satisfies the masses, rather than bringing the actual killer to justice. Ambiguity exists regarding the extent to which Vogel will go to achieve his objective. This is not to mention a television reporter showing that she can play the game as well as the boys.
New high-school teacher Prof. Loris Martini is at the center of much of the primary action. One lesson here is that just because you find yourself in a Kafkaesque nightmare does not necessarily mean that your are innocent; the second-part of this moral is that the guilty and the innocent alike face intense media persecution.
An "incident" has prompted Loris to move his (now unemployed) attorney wife and his (now sullen) teen daughter to the village. A media-whore girl does not help matters when she first persuades Loris to give her acting lessons and then distorts the nature of their extra-curricular relationship when he becomes the prime suspect in the Kastner case.
Circumstantial evidence of varying degrees of credibility creates a strong possibility that Loris will spend the rest of his life as a guest of the state regardless of his guilt. The important thing for some with a horse in the race is that Loris is an attractive suspect.
This initially culminates in revealing the full story behind the"accident" of Vogel and then what becomes of Anna Lou, who is a pet with her own secret life.
All of this amounts to "Girl" proving that quality intelligent thrillers still are out there and just require a little investigating to find,
The Film Movement Classics division of foreign-film god Film Movement fully embraces the spirit of summer action-adventure films with the spectacular June 25, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1986 John Woo film "Heroes Shed No Tears." It is the precursor to the Woo film "A Better Tomorrow," which likely will be a future Classics Blu-ray release.
Although Woo reasonably considers this 90-minute big-screen video game a gangster film, it bears comparison to the literally banned-in-Boston cult-classic film "The Warriors" (1979) about members of a New York street gang spending a night battling several other gangs to make it back to their home turf.
This fully shot in the natural beauty of rural Thailand looks incredible in Blu-ray; choosing the well-dubbed (but still amusing) English audio version over the subtitled Cantonese and Mandarin options is part of the fun of this Asian bloodbath.
The following YouTube clip of the Movement restored original trailer for "Heroes" includes some of the best ultra-violent moments in this never a dull moment film.
The opening narration provides the exposition that the Thai government war on drugs includes hiring the Chinese commando team of Chan Chung (Eddy Ko) to capture Golden Triangle drug lord General Samton. The payment includes a new life in America for Samton and his immediate family. This aspect is at the center of a highly notable scene in which an American soldier-of-little-fortune offers his perspective on American life only to have Chung put him in his place.
The aforementioned mayhem commences with the aforementioned attack. Team Chung disrupts the operation and gets their man. However, Team Samton takes off in hot pursuit as our titular good guy makes a run for the Thai border.
The mission becomes a family affair when Chung comes home to find his baby momma and his son under attack from his new enemy. An agrarian buying the farm provides unintentional humor. This requires an impromptu bring your son to work day.
The plot fully thickens on Team Chung further running afoul of another power broker when they interrupt an attack on a pair of French journalists. Suffice it to say that the colonel whom Chung bests fully embraces the philosophy of an eye for an eye. This dynamic also plays a role in a pivotal scene that adds a dimension to the title of the film.
An essay by highly humorous screenwriter Grady Hendrix states that hands-down the funniest scene in "Heroes" likely is the work of a director who steps in after Woo finishes his work. A gambler literally cannot lose despite facing a heavy price for his winnings; the twist at the end is a highlight.
All of this culminates in a variation of classic epic style, a heavily bruised and bloodied Chung reaches the end of his mission but is not quite home free. The added insult to the multiple injuries is discovering that all might have been for naught.
The additional social commentary of this film includes the related truism that the real golden rule is that the guy with the gold makes the rules and that "waste" rolls downhill.
Classics supplements this bloody good film with a video interview with Ko. A time constraint required having to postponing hearing what must be his entertaining insights until a better tomorrow.
The Icarus Films May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 period-piece comedy "Return of the Hero" fills the void left by Hollywood no longer producing amusing and clever (or at least adequately creative) summer movies. Subtitles aside, "Hero" is so good that you will not even want to look at your phone or other devices while watching it.
Another awesome aspect of "Hero" is that it shows that writer/director Laurent Tirard is more than a un trick cheval regarding the even more delightful (reviewed) "Nicholas on Holiday" (nee "Petit Nicholas") about the family summer vacation of the titular French school boy. Other "Hero" cred. relates to Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin delivering another award-worthy performance as the titular soldier who is not at Waterloo when Napoleon did surrender.
This presumably shot-on-location beautiful film begins in 1809 Burgundy. Captaine Charles-Gregoire Neuville seemingly employs his entire personal staff in preparation for froggy goin' a courtin'. The object of his affection is sweet and innocent girl next door Pauline. She lives on a lavish estate with her adoring parents and her less sweet and innocent older sister Elisabeth (Melanie Laurent).
Neuville seals a chaste deal with Pauline just ahead of being called on to defend emperor and country. Like many soldiers before and since, Neuville makes an empty promise to faithfully correspond with Pauline.
A combination of motives prompt Elisabeth to forge letters from Neuville to Pauline; the responses to that correspondence shows Elisabeth that her little sister is all grown up.
In true farce/classic sitcom style, the scheme of Elisabeth gets out of hand. Circumstances and her creativity result in increasing elaborate and contrived fictional adventures of Neuville that enrapture both Pauline and the rest of the local elite.
All goes well until the inevitable titular appearance of a filthy and disgraced Neuville in 1812; Elisabeth being the only one to initially know that that boy is back in town helps move the story forward; this plot thickens on Neuville returning after a brief absence and presenting himself as the man in the aforementioned letters. His objectives include wooing a now-married with children Pauline.
Dujardin and Laurent wonderfully play off each other as she must watch him make fools out of those nearest and dearest to her. Neuville further shows that he is no gentleman in using the vulnerability of Elisabeth for his own fun and profit,
One of many notable moments involves Elisabeth seeming to get the upper-hand on her frienemy. The manner in which Neuville turns that tactic around to his advantage proves that you cannot con a con man.
The aptly surprising climax that begins with a desperate act leads to a final scene that is very true to the spirit of the film and that is one of the best endings in any film ever. This lesson this time is that we all remain true to our nature.
The Icarus Films June 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 musical dramedy "Guy" provides so much wonderful fodder for a post that it truly is difficult to know where to begin. One spoiler is that this film is just as good as the copious Gallic films in the Icarus catalog but strays from the pattern of revolving around the emotional fallout from a hit-and-run. However, the audience is treated to the disco scene that another reviewer states is ubiquitous in French movies.
The central theme of the film is the comeback tour on which the titular French idol who enjoyed commercial success from the '60s through the '80s is engaged to promote a new greatest hits album. The handful of videos and concert footage provide great nostalgia for folks who "were there" and give Millennials a music-history lesson. An '80s video that evokes strong feelings of the "Sandcastles in the Sand" video (complete with appearances by Alan Thicke and James Van Der Beek) by faux '80s pop princess Robin Sparkles of the 2000s sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" is true fun for all ages.
Writer/director/star Alex Lutz EARNS a well-deserved 2019 Cesar Award for his portrayal of Guy Jamet. He receives the same recognition at the 2019 Lumiere Awards. Watching this 40 year-old play Guy at various stages of his life is incredible
The rest of the story is that Guy knowingly allows young filmmaker Gauthier to document his tour and other aspects of his current life. The pop star does not know that his constant companion has reason to believe that his subject also is his biological father. This element adds an extra-credit aspect to this A+ film.
Lutz stays very true to the mockumentary style both by having follow the camera follow Guy everywhere. We see him interviewed at a cafe, performing for an audience of adoring aging fans, at home with actress Sophie Ravel (who is promoting her hilarious spot-on procedural), jamming with his band and back-up singers on the tour bus, and (of course) pulling the plug on the film project only to come around. This, also of course, is not to mention the incident that threatens to derail the tour.
All of this culminates in the mother-of-all film finales. Documentarian and subject are still feeling the effects of a night of hard drinking when they emulate Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Their conversation and a documentary-staple reveal a few minutes earlier indicate that Guy finally is starting to get the picture.
The best news is that "Guy" shows that they still can make 'em like that. The story stands on its own without either being an ego project for the star or relying on pyrotechnics. Further, the characters are among the most real and relatable reel-life folks to come along in quite awhile. Any resemblance to persons living or dead clearly is not coincidental.
The Film Movement May 14, 2019 DVD release of the 2016 documentary "Bosch The Garden of Dreams" provides a well-produced equally entertaining and educational art-history lesson before many of us turn off our brains for the summer on Memorial Day weekend. As often is the case, the life story of Early Netherlandish painter Hieronymous Bosch is as interesting as the tale of his work "The Garden of Earthly Delights,"
The following YouTube clip of a "Bosch" trailer illustrates (pun intended) the complexity of the man, and the work. You also get a sense of the art world notables, including author Salman Rushdie, who participate in making the film.
The titular artwork is a massive three-panel painting that presents an intentionally strong "And there was light" vibe when the two side panels are opened to reveal the work. The Prado Museum in Madrid opens its doors to allow "Bosch" to be made.
Many of the seemingly countless aforementioned talking heads use the life of Bosch to provide context for their comments on one of the seeming countless scenes in the painting. The larger context is that Bosch, if that is his real name, belongs to a religious order for which he creates "Garden." This aspect of the art reflecting the artist includes a scene in which a film participant points out that a "Garden" image of Jesus speaking with Adam and Eve has the son of God looking at the painting viewer.
The copious (often terrifying) surreal images in "Garden" prompt discussing dreams in the context of the psyche of Bosch, The even more fascinating element of this is the theory of the nature of dreams. Under this theory, Bosch has a very disturbed mind,
The path of "Garden" in its early years seals the deal regarding the story of Bosch being worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. A regime change leads to a purist undergoing extreme torture to avoid having the painting fall in the wrong hands. The spoiler is that resistance proves to be futile, but "Garden" ends up in arguably a greater place of honor than one would expect.
We further get a sense of the arguably sloppy technique of Bosch. It is surprising to learn that this pro essentially does not color within the lines. However, this helps explain why this art so closely reflects the artist.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that "Bosch" addresses visiting and thinking about a painting and its artist in an era in which they vast majority of the very few of us who still look at great art only spend a few minutes looking at a reproduction of it online or in a coffee-table book. Even fewer of this small minority take the time to really study and appreciate the result of an artist pouring his or her soul into a project.
The Film Movement DVD release of the 2014 Italian dramedy "Cam Girl" is an entertaining fable for our dystopian times. It also follows the pattern of Movement films presenting universal themes.
The relatability begins with 20-something aspiring Madwoman Alice successfully pitching an idea at the marketing firm where she is a freelancer with what she thinks is a reasonable dream of full-time employment. This reflects both many Millennials not wanting to pay the dues that the the job that they want requires and formerly gainfully employed Gen Xers now being white-collar day laborers.
Alice gets her reality check at the same time that friend Rossella is tiring of being exploited at her cam girl job, other friend Martina is working hard to make a women's basketball team, and waitress Gilda wants to help grease-monkey boyfriend with a personal financial crisis. This leads to Alice organizing the group into starting a cam girl site that pays above the going rate and otherwise offers a desirable work environment.
The aforementioned entertainment stems from the trauma and drama associated with the new normal. Alice has great difficulty managing her intertwined professional and personal lives. This largely comes down to the basic capitalist challenge of both having enough money to keep the business viable and paying labor fair compensation for his or her services. This is not to mention Alice not telling her Cinderella-caliber evil sister and mother how she pays her rent.
Meanwhile pretty woman "Ross" is dating a trust fund baby whom she meets on the job. The obstacles to happily ever after extend beyond whether Ross being a working girl precludes bringing her home to meet the family and the reception that she will receive if that occurs. The happy couple must decide their comfort level regarding bringing things to the next level.
The drama for Gilda revolves around the jealousy of her man. The initial suspicions of Mateo are bad enough; his reaction on learning how his girlfriend earns his money is very typical of reel and real-life ingratitude,
Of course all this comes to a head as the wolves of varying degrees of figurativeness come to the door. The spoiler is that human nature wins out over loyalty.
The overall message is that women can succeed in business so long as they are willing to pay the heavy prices for playing with the boys.
The Film Movement release of the 2018 docudrama "un Traductor" (a.k.a. The Translator) provides further proof that truth is stranger than fiction. Fellow recent Movement release "An Afghan Love Story" is another "based on actual events" movie that reinforces the above statement.
"Traductor" also is notable as a simple movie that greatly defies expectations. Our story centers around 30ish college professor Malin, whom Rodrigo Santoro of the HBO "Westworld" series perfectly portrays. This Cuban native is a Russian literature professor at the University of Havana when the film opens; he also is happily married to an artist and has an adored young son.
Everything changes when Malin arrives at work to discover that his department is disbanded, He learns on regrouping with his colleagues that they are reassigned to the local hospital to serve as translators for Chernobyl victims and their families,
Malin initially understandably balks at being stationed in the ward that treats children; his 'tude softens on helping with a "lost in translation" problem between the Russian mother of a sick girl and a Cuban nurse.
The heart (in both senses) of "Tradacutor" centers around Malin bonding with an especially sick boy and the father of the nino; the bonding and the angst include the father being a teacher whose Chernobyl assignment was a reward.
The schedule of Malin and his becoming more involved with his work creates additional friction at home as his wife gets a good opportunity and providing child care becomes increasingly challenging. A "home alone" situation developing greatly escalates the tension.
The larger context is that the Cold War is ending in ways that include the Berlin Wall coming down; also, Cuba is experiencing an economic downturn. Needless to say, this is not a good time for Malin.
Typical hospital insensitivity and a combination of bureaucracy at that institution and the Cuban government further complicate things on the micro and macro levels. In other words, the personal and professional worlds of Malin are experiencing tremendous stress at a time that his country also is enduring game-changing struggles.
All of this leads to inevitable fish-or-cut-bait moments; Malin must choose wisely regarding the next stage in his life. The fact that the audience connects with him from the start invests in the outcome.
As indicated above, the power and the appeal of this film is the same as all good docudramas. A sympathetic personal face is put on world events about which we learn much more than we absorbed through media accounts. In this case, it includes the new knowledge about Russian patients going to Cuba.
Movement provides icing on the cake in the form of the well-paired short that accompanies every selection in the Film of the Month Club of this purveyor of global films. The selection this time is "For Dorian." This film takes a sensitive approach to a man struggling with his teen son with Down's Syndrome demanding more freedom and generally experiencing the same symptoms of adolescent as every lad his age.
The Icarus Films February 5, 2019 DVD release of the 2017 Iranian drama "No Date, No Signature" adds more proof to the pile of evidence that world cinema eclipses even indie productions in the United States.
This release comes a few weeks after the announcement of the eight "Best Picture" nominees for the 2019 Oscars. Of this octet. having only seen "Black Panther" and solely doing so to keep up with the "Avengers" franchise reinforces that something is rotten in the state of California (and Wakanda).
On a lighter note, fans of the many (oft-reviewed) Icarus films will recognize the theme of a car striking a pedestrian that is an element of several movies in that catalog. It seems that a filmmaker who wants to increase the odds of Icarus releasing his or her production should have a character take one for the team.
Many of the 13 wins and additional 15 nominations being for rookie writer/director Vahid Jalilvand reinforces that that artist has excellent instincts. The fests that bestow that accolade range from the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival to the Fajr Film Festival the same year.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Date" further illustrate the merits of the film. It is a quality production of a compelling story. There is no reliance on the star power of the lead, and the story (mostly) avoids melodrama.
The opening scenes reflect Jalilvand striking a good balance between exposition and getting down to business. We see forensic pathologist Dr. Kaveh Nariman going about his business before getting in his car for the drive that changes everything.
Many of us can relate to the circumstances that lead to to Kaveh striking the motorcycle that Moosa is driving, These events also establish the theme of shared (and arguably ambiguous) culpability that runs throughout "Date."
Kaveh immediately does the right thing by offering medical care and monetary compensation; he also repeatedly urges Moosa to bring his injured young son to a nearby medical clinic. Moosa refuses the offered care and cash but indicates an intent to take his son to the clinic.
Anyone (i.e., all of us) who has experienced thinking that an unpleasant incident is resolved only to have it resurface can relate to Kaveh learning soon after the accident that the injured boy is DOA on arriving at the hospital where that medical professional works. The autopsy form listing the cause of death as unknown does not help matters.
The mystery for the co-workers of our Iranian version of Quincy is why he is so upset regarding the treatment of a boy that he merely identifies as the son of an acquaintance. The first part of the puzzle for Kaveh is whether the injuries from the hit without a run or the diagnosed botulism is the cause of the death of the deceased. A related issue is whether the boy would have fatally succumbed to the disease in a few days regardless of whether the accident occurred.
The survivor's guilt of Moosa manifests itself in his probable role in his child getting botulism. This prompts the distraught parent to confront a man with a role in those events. Suffice it to say that that exchange takes a heavy toll on both men.
All of this leads to resolutions that provide one-and-all realistic but not happy endings. The lessons are that many people can contribute to bad outcomes and that karma is the mother of all bitches.