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.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 drama "Longing" once again shows the talent of Breaking regarding separating the wheat from the chaff. Facially, this tale of 40-something businessman Ariel Bloch learning that he knocked up his college girlfriend back in the day is about coming to terms with not raising your child, This film being so much more makes it special.
The strong indie vibe, the quirky characters, and the increasingly bizarre situations evoke thoughts of the hit art-house film "Little Miss Sunshine." That movie has a dysfunctional family taking a hurried cross-country road trip.
The Israeli Film Academy and the Jerusalem Film Festival both bestowing best screenplay awards on "Longing" reinforces the praise for it,
Our story begins with baby momma Ronit ambushing Ariel with the big news at what he thinks is a casual reunion; Ronit becoming hysterical in both senses of the word makes the audience wonder what Ariel saw in her in the first place, Ronit naming their son Adam is very apt in the context of how well his birth father knows him.
The next big bombshell is that Adam is dead; this prompts Ariel to travel to see the grave of this teen.
This visit really sets the film in motion; the almost constant reveals should be relatable to even parents who discover that they really do not know even their kids in the hall, Watching Ariel increasingly getting involved in the former life of Adam and becoming protective of him is even more fascinating. This clearly extends well beyond guilt related to not being there and empty gestures that try to compensate for that failure. Ariel feels very strongly about fighting for his boy.
Writer/director Savi Gabizon artfully builds this part of the story on micro and macro levels. This begins with the partner-in-crime of Adam tracking down Ariel and telling him more and more things that he does not want to hear. This climaxes with that boy making unreasonable demands on Ariel.
We then meet the object of the obsession of Adam and get to know his live-in booty call. This is not to mention seeing a grand declaration of love that is not perceived well.
Things really get weird when Ariel bonds with the father of a teen suicide victim. The men develop an unorthodox plan that they hope provides their offspring eternal peace. The execution of this scheme leads to a very bizarre confrontation regarding an assertion that Adam is not good enough for the daughter.
The"wait there's more" aspect of "Longing" is that we learn of a like father like son side of Adam; this only contributes to the sense that the boy is haunting his parents from the grave.
Gabizon wraps all this up with a scene that concludes many more conventional films.
This review wraps up with the observation that "Longing" has so many twists and wry humor that lovers of indie films and/or character studies are sure to love it.
Icarus Films shows good timing regarding releasing the 2014 mockudramedy "Hippocratres Diary of a French Doctor" on January 15, 2019. This roughly coinciding with medical students returning to their studies provides a good chance to ease back into the rigors of these programs by watching this generally mockumentary-style story of newbie medical intern/legacy 23 year-old Benjamin Barois. Much of the sense of authenticity relates to director Thomas Lilti having trained to be a doctor.
The following YouTube clip of the "Diary" trailer provides a good sense of the drama and the humor about this look a life in a busy Parisian hospital.
Lilti sets the perfect tone for "Diary" right from the opening scenes. We see a solitary Benjamin dodging large laundry carts as he wanders the halls in the basement of the public hospital on his first day of work. His projecting an image of a lost sheep on his way to be slaughtered extends beyond the unruly mop of black hair that seems required of every male French medical intern.
Limited success in obtaining a lab coat introduces Benjamin to hospital bureaucracy and his status at that institution; this is despite his father being a senior doctor there.
The next rapid succession of wake-up calls begins with Benjamin learning about the number of patients in the ward to which he is assigned; his "its complicated" relationship with more experienced intern Abdel begins with that older man arguably being unduly assertive in how he steps in when Benjamin has difficulty with a medical procedure.
The first real doctor's life lesson comes on Benjamin losing a patient. The circumstances of that death lead to that kid throwing Abdel under le bus and giving viewers a few more reasons to avoid hospitals.
Benjamin survives to fight another day until facing his next major challenge, which also involves Abdel. The general consensus that an elderly cancer patient should be allowed to continue circling the drain becomes a bone of contention when the ICU team is called in to perform arguably heroic measures; Benjamin and Abdel stepping in to pull the plug on those efforts leads to a disciplinary proceeding with negative consequences for both men. Part of this involves Benjamin showing that he does not feel like working and playing well with others. This leads to a confrontation with even more dire consequences.
We additionally get several looks at the daily lives of the interns; this includes enthusiastic meting out of punishment for talking shop during meal times, watching reel doctors, arguing about who should work on holidays, and a New Year's dance party at which hospital staffers rock out with their docs out. A message here is that guilty feet have got no rhythm.
As mentioned above, the camera being an unobtrusive fly on the wall as all the action transpires greatly contributes to the realistic sense of "Diary." This makes this film one from which both medical students and producers of reality TV shows can learn.
Icarus Films marks Oscar season by releasing the aptly hybrid film "Good Manners" on DVD on November 13, 2018. "Manners" is weirdly wonderful with top-notch twists.
"Manners" DESERVEDLY winning 24 awards and having an additional 18 nominations speaks to the quality of the film. These accolades include a "Fantastic Features" honor at the 2017 Austin Fantastic Fest and "Best Picture" at the Buenos Aires International Festival of Latin America Cinema and the 2017 Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Manners" provides a glimpse of the successfully eclectic style of this future cult classic.
"Manners" begins on a tone that reflects one aspect of the titular phrase. Clara is at the home of disgraced party-girl Ana to apply to be the nanny of the baby of this heiress when she delivers that illegitimate bundle of joy.
This portion of the film is laden with social commentary; Ana shamelessly exploiting Clara, who must grin and bear it, and Clara becoming the caregiver of flighty Anna reflects the system in most of the "civilized" world. We also get a strong sense of the feeling of entitlement on the part of Ana.
The first twist comes via Ana and Clara crossing way over employer/employee (and racial) lines. This is not to mention another relatively unusual aspect of their relationship. Ana sleepwalking and having odd dreams is the icing on the cake in this portion of "Manners."
Ana telling Clara the story of her not-so-immaculate conception is a highlight for two reasons; this tale is told via very stylized animation and sets the stage for the rest of the film.
All this leads to Ana giving birth to Joel, who clearly is not like other boys; a complication leads to Clara taking custody of the new-born and moving him to her apartment. The cover story that she subsequently tells him is straight out of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
A montage covers the early years of Joel up to his seventh birthday. With the exception of literally and figuratively having a vegetarian diet, this cute and charming lad mostly is like his peers with the exception of several days a month. The days during this period are just fine, but he must spend the nights shackled in "the little bedroom" for the mutual safety of himself and the general populace. Part of the challenge for Clara is making her son understand why there are times that he cannot play reindeer games with the other kids.
Things come to a head when our excitable boy and his buddy run off to a mall for an overnight mission. This causes Clara even more angst than is typical in such situations; subsequent events show that she has good reason for concern,
This leads to a scene that is well known to horror fans; the resulting confrontation creates terrific ambiguity that ends this perfect movie on an ideal note.
As this posts and many other reviews discuss, the magic of "Manners" relates to the perfect blending of numerous themes and tones. We get the aforementioned social commentary, the drama of a single mother contending with a special-needs child, a fairy tale, and the overall theme of society being hostile toward people who are different. As "Frankenstein" address, the monster is not always the "freak."
The holiday engagement season openly including same-sex couples makes November 13, 2018 an apt release date for the Breaking Glass Pictures DVD of the 2018 comedy "My Big Gay Italian Wedding." The truth bombs and overall fun of this one make it a good gift for the boys in your life who either have tied the knot or who plan to go to the Chapel of Love where they're gonna get married,
This neo-modern rom-com begins with dreamy 20-something actor/Berliner Antonio narrating how he meets live-in boyfriend Paolo. This recap quickly leads to Antonio popping the question and an excited Paolo saying yes. The ritual of putting a ring on it is one of the first of many highly amusing moments.
The honeymoon period ends on Antonio discussing he and Bohemian landlady/roommate/fag hag Benedetta taking an Easter vacation to the small mountaintop Italian village where his parents live. This also is when Antonio learns that resistance is futile regarding not wanting Paolo to tag along. This relates to Antonio never actually telling that his parents that he is gay or that Paolo even exists.
Many gay men can relate to Antonia not being ashamed of his sexuality but not being particularly "proud" in that he does not have a rainbow flag outside his house or march in a pride parade. His comfort zone encompasses being out among gay and straight friends but not being ready to bring Mr. Right home to meet the parents.
Textbook comic relief enters the picture on middle-aged cross-dressing suicidal bus-driver Donato moving in with Benedetta and the boys. He soon becomes a pity addition to the trip.
Roberto the dad being the liberal mayor of the small community introduces an interesting twist. He is battling his council over his advocacy of 15 refugees who are living there. However, the tolerance of Roberto does not encompass his son being gay.
Momma Anna is much more supportive; her acceptance of Paolo and pushing him to invite his estranged mother to the ceremony reflects the brand of love of mothers-in-laws across the entire Kinsey Scale. This also makes those of us whose mothers have passed away happy about that in this particular context.
Anna asserts her motherly love to the extent of drawing a line in the sand regarding Roberto; suffice it it to say that he does not step up. Surprisingly stronger support by the local clergy is much nicer.
This leads to the typical hilarity that occurs in any film that centers around planning any wedding. We get the crazy ex booty call, a problem occurring with the venue, the whole party-planning going out of bounds, etc. Gay-themed obstacles include affirmative efforts to prevent the boys from walking down the aisle.
All of this (of course) climaxes with the big gay day. Genuine hilarity in these final few moments include a psychotic "I object" moment and Paolo attempting a "Three's Company" caliber ruse. All of this concludes with a scene that triggers PTSD memories of Katherine Heigl movies.
Breaking continues its solid track record by supplementing this comedy for our times with good extras. We see the actress who portrays Benedetta steal the show from her co-star who plays Antonio at a Q&A session following an opening-night screening at the 2018 Out Shine Film Festival in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.
We also get an "making-of" feature that shows the actual filming of scenes interspersed with comments by cast and crew.
The Film Movement November 13, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2017 Japanese courtroom drama "The Third Murder" provides particularly strong proof that the best modern films come from overseas. This is not to mention that New York Times Critic's Pick "Murder" meets the Movement standard of being a film that can be remade word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the U.S. and still make perfect sense.
Movement is giving American audiences another treat by theatrically releasing "Shoplifters" by "Murder" director Hirokazu Koreeda in the not-too-distant future. IMDb describes that one as "a family of small-time crooks take in a child they find in the cold." That story makes that film more representative of the family dramas for which Koreeda is best known.
The six Japanese Academy Award wins for "Murder" further reflect the quality of the film. These versions of Oscars are for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Murder" provides a good sense of the compelling drama and the stellar performances that warrant the hype for the film. This promo. additionally provides a sense of the exceptional cinematography of the movie that REQUIRES buying the Blu-ray version.
The mastery of "Murder" begins at the outset. Although the opening scenes seem to leave no doubt that ex-con/factory worker Misumi is guilty of the slaying for which he is awaiting trial, the facts that emerge throughout the film show that things are not as they seem.
High-powered criminal-defense attorney Shigemori soon figuratively and literally enters the picture to help prepare for the trial of Misumi. The defendant has already pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery-murder related to killing the victim in the course of stealing his wallet. The frustration of the defense counsel relates to Misumi changing his story a few times in the course of the proceedings against him.
The rest of the backstory is that the father of Shigemori is the son of the judge who makes Misumi a guest of the state regarding a 30 year-old murder. The nature of that crime is increasingly shown to have relevance regarding the current charges.
The direct and indirect evidence that emerges in the weeks before the trial gives Shigemori increasing reasons to have reasonable doubt regarding the nature of the killing and the culpability of his client. These new facts including indications of collusion to an undetermined extent between Misumi and the wife of the factory owner. Even then, the proverbial smoking guns may lack the believed importance.
Things are further kept in the family when the teen daughter of the factory owner states that she has relevant information. This ties into the relationship between Misumi and his largely estranged adult daughter and the impact of the career of Shigemori on his 14 year-old daughter.
Doubt further relates to "Kung Fu" style wisdom that Misumi shares with his dream team. This includes his statement that some people never should have been born; that declaration not having the assumed importance is very consistent with the spirit of "Murder."
All of this builds to the climax of the trial, which provides plenty of courtroom drama. The pragmatic outcome validates the impression of traditional court system that is presented throughout "Murder." The impact of this includes providing good reason to not trust what even seems to be an entirely voluntary confession.
The literally bigger picture relates to "Murder" presenting a variation of arguably the most famous Japanese movie other than "Godzilla." "Rashomon" centers around four conflicting accounts of an incident. Just as is the case in "Murder," each of these tales has an element of truth.
All of this amounts to "Murder" being a compelling film with strong doses of social commentary and thought-provoking philosophy.
As is the case with every selection in the Movement Film of the Month Club (which are available to the general public), "Murder" is well paired with a short film. Movement aptly describes "A Gentle Night," which as the Best Short Film winner at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, as follows. "In a nameless Chinese city, a mother with he daughter missing refuses to go gentle into this good night."
The extras are a making-of "Murder" feature and "Messages From the Cast" of that film.
The Icarus Films DVD release of the 2015 French drama "In the Shadow of Women" proves that this home-video distributor with a strong history of releasing compelling documentaries looks for "innovative and provocative" titles regarding its fictional titles as well. The strong documentary elements of "Woman" make it a particularly apt addition to the Icarus catalog.
The festival love for this future art-house classic include the Best Film honor at the 2015 Athens Panorama of European Cinema and the Best Actress win at the 2015 Seville European Film Festival.
The most overt documentary element in "Women" is central character Pierre being a documentarian whose spouse Manon fills several roles that include researcher and film editor. Additionally, filmmaker Philippe Garrel regularly provides exposition via voice-over narration. Having the camera largely follow the characters around and simply record their conversations and reactions to events further contributes to the cinema verite vibe of the film.
The film being in black-and-white enhances the French New Wave aspects of "Women."
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Women" nicely highlights the artistry and overall Frenchness of the film.
The early scenes establish that Mannon working with Pierre is a holdover sacrifice from his days of struggling to establish his career. One reason that the couple still works together is that Mannon sees this as an opportunity to spend time with her husband.
The proverbial fateful encounter that jeopardizes many reel (and real) couples occurs when Pierre stops to help intern/grad. student Elisabeth carry several film canisters. This leads to an affair that soon leads to indifference and boredom by Pierre, who believes that being a man entitles him to have an affair.
The response of Manon to the changes in Pierre include her starting an affair. The response of Pierre to learning about that extra-marital activity is resentment and rage despite knowing that Manon knows of his relationship with Elisabeth.
The "B Story" in the film revolves around Pierre and Manon interviewing a man about his experiences with the WWII French resistance for a film that Pierre is making on that topic. The drama related to that extends well beyond the subject being particularly personal to Pierre.
All of this leads to a somewhat surprise ending that shows the need for reflection and the related value of deciding what you will sacrifice for something that you think will more than offset that consideration,
The Film Movement October 2, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 drama "La Familia" provides a twofer regarding the always excellent foreign movies in the Movement catalog. This winner of two "Best Film" awards at the 2018 Miami Film Festival both presents a globally related story and provides American audiences a look at a world about which they know very little if anything.
The following YouTube clip of the official U.S. trailer for "Familia" illustrates the aforementioned aspects of the movie.
The early scenes center around the shockingly brutal life of 12 year-old Pedro in the slums of Caracas. The interactions between him and his fellow almost feral friends are brutal and shockingly crude.. A sadly relatable aspect of this is that it mirrors the life of inner-city kids in the United States. This is down to young kids recklessly playing with guns.
An especially violent and emotionally disturbing confrontation ends in the accidental death of the malfeasor. Pedro catches a break in the form of his single father Andres discovering the fatally injured boy.
Immediately realizing that the incident puts an almost literal target on the back of Pedro prompts Andres to rush home and to just as quickly get his son to grab a few things and run. Typically of 12 year-olds everywhere, Pedro does not grasp the gravity of the situation. He properly notes that the victim is the aggressor but does not understand that that is irrelevant.
Most of the rest of "Familia" introduces Pedro to the life of his father. The real wake-up call comes when the the boy learns about the daily life of this man. The first stop is at the abode of a woman who seems to be a regular booty call., The not-so-warm welcome shows Pedro that adults have it rough,
The next stop is the home of the wealthy woman who is having Andres doing painting. This lady of the house is perfectly represents the stereotype of the rich and/or famous. She and Andres discuss the work, and they haggle over his compensation.
Our pair then literally gets down to work. It is clear that Pedro dislikes this taste of the real world. The boy makes matters worse by generally whining and by nagging Andres about bringing him home. The dual frustration related to the haranguing involves Pedro creating the situation that requires staying on the run and his not understanding why he must be nomadic.
The subsequent events that further establish how hard Andres works to support Pedro also shows the rough life of working-class people in Venezuela. This involves working multiple service-industry jobs for little pay and less stability.
Filmmaker Gustavo Rondon Cordova literally and figuratively brings things home when Pedro returns to the scene of the crime. The news of the events since the unfortunate incident equally shock Pedro and the audience.
Movement supplement "Familia" with the always well-paired bonus short that accompanies Film Club selections. The connection between "Les Miserables" and author Victor Hugo extends well beyond sharing the name of his arguably best-known novel.
The common elements between"Familia" and "Miserables" begin with a street altercation in a rough part of town quickly going south. The 21st-century aspects of this tale of a rogue cop who exceeds the limits of his not-so-ethical partners include a drone capturing the incident.
The strong dystopian notes of both films reflect modern poverty and the street justice that prevails. Th additional message in "Miserables" is the well-known 21st-century truth that a policeman no longer is your friend.
The Olive Films November 6, 2018 separate Blu-ray and DVD releases of the 2004 "based on a true story" Spanish film "The 7th Day" perfectly illustrates the art-house spirit of Olive; a gift from the catalog of this global film god is sure to delight the cinephile on your shopping list. It is worth mentioning as well that the beautiful cinematography of "Day" REQUIRES buying it in BD.
A related plug for Olive before discussing the many merits of "Day" is that this release coincides with a (soon-to-be-reviewed) Blu-ray release of WWII-era documentaries by Frank Capra. This one also is available on DVD.
The distinctiveness of multi-award-winning "Day" that earns a place in the Olive Films Hall of Fame begins with this art-house classic having relatable depth. It uses a highly symbolic narrative to chronicle a decades-long feud between the Fuentes and Jimenez families. The quirky edge of the film further illustrates that Olive values art over commerce.
The root of the difficulties around which "Day" centers is Amadeo Jimenez abruptly breaking off his relationship with Luciana Fuentes. This triggers Luciaana going fully Havisham with consequences that include her brother responding to the break-up with extreme prejudice. This in turn, leads to the Fuentes family home burning while the matriarch is inside.
The action then shifts forward several years to focus on the next generation of Jimenezs. The specific focus is on the three daughters of Jose the butcher. All of this is in the wake of an exodus resulting from shame and guilt. We additionally witness the ongoing impact of Amadeo determining decades earlier that he just is not that into Luciana.
A combination of the past returning and history threatening to repeat itself leads to a climax that puts the title of the film in PERFECT context; the cynical nature of the message regarding the nature of humankind is a notable twist.
The moderate-sized picture this time is that the shock value of "Day" includes the aforementioned aspect of being based on a true story. The bigger picture is that micro and macro events sadly demonstrate that this is not an isolated incident; the sins of the father (and of the mother) truly have enormous half-lives.
The Icarus Films October 23, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 French drama "A Kid" reminds us both that toxic family relationships are not limited to the United States and that the benefits of family being Hell include engrossing movies such as this one. Throwing in the titular 30 year-old man being an illegitimate child whose personality does not reflect the label attached to such individuals further enhances this film with an awesome third-act twist.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Kid" outlines the premise of the film; this promo. including a reference to "hunting a corpse I do not know with two psychos" reflects the wonderful comic edge that reminds us that this is a French film.
33 year-old Parisian pet-food sales rep. Matthieu gets the shock of his life when a call at wok informs him of the identity of his father; the rest of the story is that he has a gift from his previously unidentified father Jean, who is residing in the fresh water equivalent of Davy Jones' locker. This prompts Matthieu to travel to Montreal to attend the funeral and to meet his two brothers and the other woman whom those siblings call Mom. Those three individuals having no idea of the bundle du joie that is a dividend of a business trip to France.
Long-time Jean friend Pierre is the one who tracked down the not-so-prodigal son. He also provides Uber service from the airport and lodging during the stay. Matthieu defying a request to not upset the descendants during the weekend before the funeral transforms Pierre into his shadow.
Pierre next accompanies a determined Matthiieu on his mission to accompany his unsuspecting brother Ben the motorcycle shop owner and Sam the successful corporate attorney on a trip to the aforementioned body of water. It soon becomes known that the reasons for wanting to find the drowned body extend beyond a desire for a proper burial.
The impact of this section of "Kid" extends beyond Sam and Ben being unaware that their guest is their baby brother. Their relative (no pun intended) status in life reflects that the oldest sibling typically gets the most attention growing up and consequently just as frequently achieves the most career success among his siblings. The "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"caliber drinking, sniping, and dredging up past resentments and sins validate the theory that death brings out the worst in families.
Things become particularly incestuous on Pierre and Matthieu returning to Montreal after an overnight corpse hunt. The latter increasingly bonds with Pierre's daughter Bettina to the extent of representing the other gender of fowl at her hen party at a rowdy bar with friends, A run-in with Sam prompts speculation regarding his past with Bettina and a prediction regarding future conflict between the newly connected brothers.
An innocent off-hand comment provides the aforementioned twist that results in the rest of the film changing course. Anyone who has ever attended a family gathering knows that these remarks inevitably occur and just as definitely ruin the already tense mood.
This leads to the unpacking of copious emotional baggage before the family brings Matthieu to the airport for his flight home. This resolution equally satisfies the characters and the viewers. The rest of the story is that what some people do not know does not hurt them.
The Film Movement October 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 Austrian biopic "Egon Schiele: Death and The Maiden" is particularly special for many reasons. The first accolade relates to this DVD being released a couple of weeks before the centennial of a notable date in the life of early 20th-century Viennese artist/Bohemian Schiele.
Another basis for praise is that Film of the Month Club selection "Egon" represents two elements that make Movement spectacular. It is right at home with the other biopics of European figures in the Movement catalog; the bigger picture is that it is one of the compelling foreign films that makes Movement a leader in releasing such films in North America. The ongoing copying of reviews of Movement releases from Unreal TV 1.0 and new posts such as the one to the Movement section of this site illustrate this grand tradition.
The several 2017 Austrian Roma Gala awards generally speak to the quality of "Egon." The two Best Actress awards that Valerie Pachner wins for portraying Wally Neuzil, who is a muse/lover of Egon and is the model for the titular painting, reflects the quality of the performances by the entire cast.
The well-executed contrasting time shifts are another element that makes "Egon" effective. The narrative begins on a gray and dreary 1918 day in Vienna. Gerti finds her brother Egon and his wife Edith extraordinarily ill in his stereotypical run-down artist's garret. A doctor is sent for just ahead of the action moving back eight years.
The incredible contrast between the appearance and circumstances between Egon in 1910 and 1918 makes one want to find out what occurs in the intervening 8 years; writer/director Dieter Berner does an excellent job filling in that gap. We meet younger Egon shockingly painting a gleeful nude 16 year-old Gerti. The bad touching that this sibling revelry includes is completely playful.
The circumstances of the conversation introduce an odd element to Egon that she is too young to join him and his artist friends for an evening at a club at which naked performers stage tableaus. This outing introduces the audience to exotic (and erotic) Moa Mandu, who the first in the string of models that Eqon seduces into his studio and his bed.
The strongest sense of the Bohemian lifestyle soon follows as Egon, Gerti, Moa, and the artists with whom Egon has formed a cooperative go on an extended vacation at a rented home. Folks who have tried a comparable social experiment can relate to the jealousies and other resentments that ensue. This is not to mention the additional elements of siblings testing the limits of their modern relationship and Egon not realizing that being a kept man is a privilege, rather than a right.
The ongoing pattern of shifting between the 1918 present of the film and the past continues with the narrative returning to badly bed-ridden Egon. The audience learning the tragic news garners tremendous sympathy.
The story advances to Egon meeting the very independent and modern Wally, who truly is his match. This coincides with the rising fame of the latter, It also is the beginning of the end in many ways as The Great War becomes an increasing strong presence in the lives of our characters.
Seeing how the war affects Egon both provides fascinating insight into his character in both senses of that term and highlights the contrasts of the impact of the war among those with some form of elite status and ordinary boys who become cannon fodder. One aspect of this is the degree to which a man who can avoid many of the horrors of war decides to do his duty.
The war years also are among the most interesting in the personal life of Egon. By this time, the audience knows how the relationship between him and the sisters who obtain great entertainment from living across the street from his studio. This also puts a seemingly harsh attitude in 1918 in perspective,
The roughly final 15-minutes of "Schiele" occurs in 1918; the excellent instincts regarding this extend beyond allowing the audience to see how the principals get there and the bases for their principles. This alone makes the film particularly powerful; the epilogue really drive the point home.
The broadest perspective regarding all this that makes Egon a perfect subject for a film set in the 1910s is that those eight years of his life perfectly reflects the times. This includes seeing how a radical move by his father shapes his psyche for better and for worse.
Movement enhances the "Schiele" experience by choosing particularly wisely regarding the short film that accompanies every Club selection. The artistic sketches that comprise the animation in the 2017 "Nothing Happens" tell the tale of townfolks who gather for no apparent reason other than a desire to go along with the crowd.
Film Movement aptly chooses the beginning of the academic year to take us back to school; art school that is. The September 11, 2018 release of the documentary "Revolution: New Art for a New World" by BAFTA winning filmmaker Margy Kinmonth puts the century-long Russian Avant-Garde movement in the perspective of the Russian Revolution. The first aside is that the incredible cinematography of the grand Russian buildings and of the copious bright paintings SCREAMS for a Blu-ray release. The second aside is that the wonderful art that indirectly comes from the revolution includes the awesome full-length "Anastasia" cartoon that is worthy of its Blu-ray edition.
The final aside is that the "Revolution" release coincides with the Movement DVD of the reviewed "Between Land and Sea." That one documents the year in the life of an Irish surf town.
Kinmonth opens "Revolution" with archival footage of the coup accompanied by narration that explains the basis for the regime change. She soon combines her themes with an image of a famous photo of a literal corpse-lined street, Graphic images of equally literal skin-and-bones corpses is far more disturbing. An equally symbolic look at the black square paintings of Kazimir Malevich accompanied by exposition on them is a less distressing look at the art of the era,.
The copious talking heads who put all this is in perspective include the usual suspects in the form of art experts; we also hear from the descendants of the artists who create the studied work. The story of Chagall is especially interesting in that the revolution literally and figuratively allows this Jewish man previously denied broad freedom.
The underlying aspect of propaganda equally contributes to the entertainment and educational aspects of "Revolution." The aforementioned colorful works depict the new Utopia that the Bolsheviks assert as the new reality of the Russian people. Thus ultimately evolves to the better known blatantly propaganda posters that Kinmonth gives equal time.
A particularly fascinating aspect of this is the sculptures that Lenin commissions to honor revolutionary heroes. Special fun comes via learning both how Lenin adapts to a limitation and why these works literally fail the test of time.
We get an equally rare look at the master works that surprisingly pass the test of time thanks to archivists who recognize their value. The interesting broader perspective is that this shows that the Soviet Union shares the Nazi view that preserving art is a priority.
We also learn about the game changing aspect of Stalin coming to power. A spoiler is that last year's national hero is this year's Gulag resident; the overall theme is that the average Ivan is the new ideal. The special perspective this time comes from an elderly woman with a personal memory of an artist becoming a guest of the state.
The roughly 20 minutes of bonus footage consists of segments from the editing-room floor. These include separate coverage of women artists and avant-garde architecture.
The biggest picture (no pun intended) is that the subject of "Revolution" illustrates (pun intended) how the art of an era reflect the politics of the day. Kinmonth deserves thanks both for valuing art over commerce in presenting this and for succeeding so well in doing so.
The Icarus Films October 2, 2018 DVD release of the 2014 French dark comedy "Number One Fan" PERFECTLY combines the spirit of the current Icarus focus on releasing movies by "independent producers worldwide" with the earlier Icarus raison d'etre of bringing "innovative and provocative documentaries" to North American audiences.
The only misery associated with this tale of manipulative singer Vincent Lacroix getting unsuspecting admirer beautician Muriel Bayen to do his dirty work is that it does not seem that any Hollywood producer plans an American version that ONLY would require geographical adjustments. A related note is that this story is far more apt for the title "The Beautician and the Beast" than the unwatchable 1997 comedy of that name starring Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Fan" nicely introduces the two main characters and accurately conveys the tone of this MUST-SEE film.
Much of the magic of "Fan" relates to the skill of actress Sandrine Kiberlain bringing the pathetic (and not-so-bright) Bayen to life. This middle-aged woman is not a total loser but definitely has her quirks. As indicated above, she has a long-term obsession with Lacroix. She also is a compulsive liar prone to absurd tall tales. This first comes out in a fascinating scene in which she tells her teen children an increasingly bizarre story about a conversation with a man on the Metro. The unexpected turns makes on wonder if Kiberlain or Bayen have improv. training.
The events that lead to when Vincent met Muriel begin with the former telephoning bitter half psychotic live-in girlfriend Julie. He calls her while she is in the middle of what seem to be frequent hysterics. He then goes home to poker night only to have Julie first disrupt the festivities and then storm upstairs for the next stage of her rampage.
The game then breaks up early, and Lacroix goes upstairs in time to witness one of the most hilarious accidental cinematic deaths ever. This leads to a not-so-fatal flaw in "Fan." One does not understand why he simply does not call the police to report the incident. The "CSI" series alone indicate that the forensics support the truth.
Fortunately for viewers,, Lacroix devises the not-so-devious plan around which "Fan" revolves. He fully reflects the nature of celebrity by paying Muriel a non-booty call and further thrilling her with a request for a no-questions-asked favor. His fatal flaw is not realizing that she is an emotionally unstable dimwit. A relatable aspect of this is most people in any personal or professional relationship not showing his or her crazy until after the "sane" one puts that person in position of trust.
Writer-director Jeanne Henry adds the final element of fun in the form of nymphomaniac police detective Coline and her reluctant male partner-in-crime-solving. Their equally quirky colleagues are additional sources of amusement.
in true Coen brothers style, the investigation commences fairly well with a not-so-distraught Lacroix coming in to report the disappearance of Julie, The subsequent discovery of the corpse alters the tone of the investigation and alerts Lacroiix to the fact both that things did not go according to plan and that he should not have sent a moron to do the job of his personal assistant/nephew.
Insightful and amusing flashbacks show how the plan goes south as Bayen travels east. Watching how this ties into her amending her story as the police identify her as a person of increasing interest further shows that Henry has exceptional talent.
Meanwhile, Lacroix resorts to relatively desperate measures to avoid becoming a soloist in the prison choir; this includes throwing Bayen under the bus after taking her for a ride,
Much of genius of this is keeping the audience intrigued and entertained while maintaining an awesome balance between comedy and drama. We barely see Lacroix sweat, and Bayen puts her fertile imagination to good use in her efforts to keep herself and the French idol out of the modern version of the Bastille.
The conclusion of "Fan" shows both the extent to which someone can get away with covering up an accidental death and the truth of the well-known Chinese proverb regarding being careful when wishing upon a star.
'Scarlet Diva' Blu-ray: 2000 Autobiopic of Bourdain Girlfriend Asia Argento Includes Attempted Rape by Harvey Weinstein
The Film Movement Classics division of global cinema god Film Movement releasing the 2000 Italian autobiopic "Scarlet Diva" on Blu-ray on September 25, 2018 proves that movies with a strong message never get stale. This film by writer/director/producer/daughter of famed horror director Dario Argento/girlfriend of late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain Asia Argento aptly is right on the money regarding both the experience of women in the film industry and victims of Harvey Weinstein. The Blu-ray by Movement awesomely captures the bright lights, big city, and surreal aspects of this at times gritty masterwork.
This very meta movie has Argento playing highly sexed rising young actress Anna Battista. Anna both wants to expand her work to behind the camera and dislikes the exploitation of women in film that she considers to especially prevalent in her native land.
The opening scenes perfectly set the tone of "Diva;" Anna literally is getting royally fucked in her trailer on a movie set when a prod. ass. comes a knockin' despite that van a rockin'. The shock value of the film continues as the interruptus of the coitus prompts a frustrated Anna to try to hastily take things in her own hands.
This effort to finish herself off prompts the first of a few flashbacks to the childhood of Anna. In this case, it revolves around her mother essentially catching Anna with her hand in the cookie jar. We get additionally scenes of the disturbingly close relationship between Anna and her older brother. Freud literally enters the picture in the form of the real-life mother of Argento portraying her screen mama as a version of Asia.
The aforementioned Weinstein scene is upsetting independent of the well-publicized despicable acts of that lowlife. The two converge in the form of the depicted interaction in 2000 being very close to the reported tactics of Weinstein. It is equally fascinating that producer Barry Paar portrayor Joe Coleman (who videotapes an interview for the Classics release) looks and acts very much like Weinstein. Although this scene alone fully illustrates the spirit of the #MeToo Movement, Paar aggressively and shamefully trying for a second round on seeing Anna a few months after their first encounter truly drives home the point.
We also get "absolutely fabulous" interaction between Anna and her hard-partying good friend. Our introduction to this Patsy aptly comes when Anna discovers her hogtied naked and deserted for two days by her drug-dealer boyfriend. One spoiler is that it does not seem that any man is positively portrayed in the film; this includes the rock star boyfriend of Anna who leaves her in a bad state.
Even considering the Weinstein element, the brutal honesty is the most striking aspect of "Diva." Few of us who would get the chance to tell our life story on the silver screen would include the time that we did Special K during a photo shoot or our disastrous audition for a film that is destined for the bargain DVD bin at WalMart.
The copious extras extend beyond the twist-ending interview with Coleman. We get a candid 2000 interview with Argento and her 2000 and 2008 audio commentaries, We further get a "Making-of" feature. An insightful in-depth written essay on Argento and "Diva" rounds out this bounty. There is not doubt that all this will prompt declaring "show me the argento."
Best friend of edgy indie filmmakers Breaking Glass Pictures continues demonstrating compassionate good instincts regarding sensitive coming-of-age Euro films. The August 7, 2018 DVD release of the 2014 Danish drama "Speed Walking" roughly coincides with the reviewed MUST-SEE Breaking release of the 2017 French dramedy "My Life With James Dean." "Dean" tells the overlapping stories of an independent filmmaker having a comically horrific experience screening his first feature and a gayby experiencing his first true love.
The international and timeless appeal of "Walking" stems from modern audiences from all over the world being able to relate to at least portions of the experiences of 14 year-old Martin in 1976 small-town Denmark. This credibility also reflects director Niels Arden Oplev stating in an interview on the DVD that the film is based on the real-life of the author of the memoir on which "Walking" is based. The strong acting by the main cast further helps sell the story.
An alternative context is that the coming-of-age, the large number of quirky characters, the role of death, and the moderate element of assorted forms of sexuality make "Walking" seem like a John Irving novel.
The following YouTube video of the SPOILER-LADEN Breaking trailer for "Walking" provides a storng sense of the above elements.
We aptly first meet Martin engaged in the titular sport with best friend (with benefits?) Kim. Raucous horseplay in the locker room subsequently ensues, and the boys then go on to have a typical school day. This all occurs in the period in which Martin is in the final stages of preparing for his confirmation.
Everything changes on a completely unprepared Martin arriving home; Family friend Lizzi tearfully tells the boy that his mother is dead. This leads to Martin facing his bereaved father and his 16 year-old brother Jens, who is almost completely out of his mind.
The rites of passage in the form of losing a parent and formally declaring himself to God while also having a range of sexual urges combine to prompt Marin in transitioning from a boy to a man. Anyone of either sex who fully shares a life with an adult male knows that the truth is that the inner boy always asserts himself.
The female object of the affection of Martin is classmate Kristine. Our grieving horn dog uses his recent loss to his advantage regarding his pursuit of this girl. Further, Kim is following a bros before hos attitude in giving Martin first crack at Kristine.
The numerous memorable moments in"Walking " further make it notable. We get Martin showing his lack of game (but not necessarily lack of success) in trying to get some on multiple fronts, losing it in an unexpected (but very symbolic) manner at the funeral of his mother, and having a cute and loving intimate encounter with a terrific humorous element. Another highlight involves Martin and his crew trying to catch his father in the act.
Oplev provides an especially good payoff in having the mayhem lead to the Confirmation;; young blonde Martin wearing an ascot and an open shirt makes one think that he has a mystery to solve.
More fun, tears, and recriminations come in the wake of the Confirmation. A jealousy-fueled heartbreaking betrayal equally affects Martin and viewers, we get a moment in which we see Jens living one fantasy of teen boys, and Martin finds that he has one last rite of passage to endure.
The central theme regarding this eventful 108 minutes is that every male of every age needs a mother. This role often falls to someone other than the person who gives birth to you. She is who listens to your problems, supports you regardless of whom you love, and cleans you up without judgment when drinking too much results in covering yourself in a soup of every possible bodily fluid except blood.
The Icarus Films September 4, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 French political drama "This Is Our Land" is a perfect way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this company that literally prides itself on distributing movies from "independent producers worldwide." This fictional account of a visiting nurse/single mere of two being recruited to run for mayor of her native town in Northern France is an ideal blend of the "provocative" documentaries that are the focus of earlier years in the life of Icarus and the non-fiction fare that that company increasingly distributes.
"Land" follow the (reviewed ) July 2018 Icarus release of the French film "The Great Game." That one has a political veteran ensnaring an unwitting former radical into a coup attempt,
The election of Emmanuel Macron in a campaign centered around the flood of immigrants into France provides the general context for "Land." The "liner notes" on the back cover of the DVD state that this film about the local conservative party recruiting football (my people call it soccer) mom Pauline Duhez to run for mayor is the follow-up of filmmaker Lucas Belvaux to his political thriller "Rapt" about the kidnapping of a French politician.
"Land" exceeds the standard for a good foreign film. It not only can be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the U.S. and still make sense, this one is particularly relevant to our state of affairs. We have the same political divide that involves equivalently strong views about immigrants.
We meet Pauline conducting her visits to her elderly clients; an unexpected situation at one home greatly throws off her schedule. Many American single moms can relate to the largely absent ex-husband of Pauline refusing to help with their offspring.
The day continues with Pauline dealing with difficult patients and equally challenging spouses. This typical day ends with this angel of mercy going to the home of her father to pick up her children Tom and Lili. The tension there relates to the father of Pauline refusing to eat the healthy foods that his medical problems require.
The aforementioned aspects of the life of Pauline put her on the political radar of former fascist/long-term family friend/professional mentor Dr. Philipe Berthier (prolific French actor Andre Dussollier). A side note regarding this relationship is that the father of Pauline being a communist seems to have little impact on the relationship between his family and Berthier.
The pitch of Berthier to Pauline includes good humor related (pun intended) to the importance of not letting the politics of the "fathers" being "sins" that tarnish the "sons." He assures her both that her lack of political experience makes her a strong candidate and that her moderate views are in line with the folks who are promoting her campaign.
Other good humor comes via the pros quickly trying to physically and otherwise mold Pauline into their image; this extends well beyond the extreme makeover.
The other piece of the puzzle is Pauline renewing her relationship with former high school boyfriend/current soccer coach of Tom Stephane "Stanko" Stankowiak. The violent past/string political views/current militia activity making this beau an increasingly strong political liability ultimately prompt Berthier to step up his political game regarding getting this man out of the picture. This aspect of the film reinforces the concept that no politic animals have clean paws.
Things fully come to a head when all the worlds collide while Pauline is campaigning, The proportional fallout causes her to push back in a manner that jeopardizes everything. The large theme this time goes back centuries; an "innocent" is thrust from his or her world (a.k.a. comfort zone) into a brave new world that initially seems better than the one that is left behind. This ultimately leads to circumstances that typically require either fully getting with the program to returning to the old life. The associated concept that you cannot fight city hall is particularly ironic in this case,
The conclusion is the icing on the cake; we think that it is a case of little Pauline happy at last when Belvaux throws one last curve that is not so far-fetched in concept and is very believable in execution.
Along the lines of a final twist, Americans truly will see their own political system in this film. One need only watch a scene in which an offhand remark at a neighborhood barbecue leads to tears and recriminations to see that modern politics make ex bedfellows.
The Indiepix Films July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 2013 scifi existentialist drama "Blue Desert" shows that the spirit of the LSD-influenced cinema of the late '60s and early '70s is not entirely dead. The surreal images and heavily philosophical dialogue make it no surprise that the Yoko One art book Grapefruit inspires Brazilian filmmaker Eder Santos. The rest of the story that the press materials share that "Grapefruit" inspires the John Lennon song "Imagine."
The stunning futuristic images looks so good when put in a 4K player and watched on a 4K set that one can only image the incredibly beauty of a Blu-ray version of this winner of a Golden Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival.
The following YouTube video of the Indiepix trailer for "Desert" provides a strong sense of every aforementioend attribute of the film.
"Desert" completely revolves around 20-something everyman/narrator Ele. The first sense that we are not in Kansas anymore comes on this Millennial discussing earth now having two moons. We quickly learn that the second moon is a gift that Ele compares to the Statue of Liberty.
Much of the rest of the film evokes strong thoughts of the Steven Spielberg film "Ready Player One" in that the populace often wears VR glasses while going about their business in this (mostly blue) heavily neon world. Much of the fun of the film relates to trying to figure out whether something is real or merely virtual. Ele meeting the girl of his dreams relates to the best of both worlds.
The title of the film refers to the activity of a spirit guide of Ele; An insightful observation regarding the nature of reality that this man shares with Ele is one of the most trippy scenes in the film.
The overall theme is Ele frantically seeking enlightenment; this quest involves a great deal of introspection and affirmative efforts to transcend.
The almost equally surreal Terry Gilliam film "Brazil" makes setting desert in that country very apt. It is a very techno-future world in which it seems that not every form of public transportation actually moves you from Point A to Point B.
The takeaways from "Desert" are that the future is not necessarily completely bleak and that the path to enlightenment is paved with good intentions.
'My Life With James Dean' DVD: Charming MUST-SEE French Film on Indie Flicks and Gay Boy Coming-of-Age
Breaking Glass Pictures impressively outdoes itself regarding the August 28, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 French dramedy "My Life as James Dean." The only criticism is that Breaking does not make this beautifully shot film with a solid soundtrack available on Blu-ray.
The best way to think about this one is that it retains all the style and humor of a classic French film while adding a splash of a Michael Chabon or John Irving novel. We get outrageously comical characters going to extremes to pursue overlapping passions.
The mention regarding accolades this time is that the lack of them is astonishing; one cannot imagine festivals passing this one over.
It is not surprising that relatively new indie filmmaker Dominque Choisy knows of what she speaks regarding the film screening aspects of "Life." It is surprising that a woman has the depicted insight regarding regarding young gay love.
The metaness of "Life" begins with this film having the same name as the fictional film of 20-something first-time director Geraud Champreux around whom the Choisy film is centered. Personal metaness relates to frustrating efforts to arrange screenings of an exceptional indie film of a 20-something righteous dude.
The opening scenes are of Champreux riding a bus to a small Normandy town to host a screening of his film about a man who believes that he is Dean. The comic misadventures begin with losing a modern lifeline when he arrives at his destination.
The audience next gets a glimpse at the life of a first-time indie filmmaker when no one is there to greet Geraud. His subsequent encounter with locals at a bar is the first of many "Northern Exposure" style incidents that reflect the personalities of quirky small-town folk.
Our man temporarily without a country manages to find the theater where his film is to be shown only to be told that his appearance is a surprise and that no screening is scheduled. This discussion includes commentary on the overall sad state of modern cinema in which commerce typically trumps art.
The next stop it the hotel that is the best guess regarding where the woman behind the invitation is putting up Geraud. This brings him in contact with disaffected Jill-of-all-trades hotel employee Gladys,. Her amusing lazy dismissive approach to her job is very familiar to frequent travelers.
The penultimate piece of the puzzle comes when Geraud meets box-office worker/projectionist Balthazar. This canard odd can be considered the very late-in-life brother of mop-topped tall and lanky slacker-type character actor Hamish Linklater.
Another meta moment occurs when the first moments of the fictional film mesmerize Balthazar to the extent that transference results in his falling in love with an unresponsive Geraud. This innocent small-town boy also most likely never having felt the touch of another man is another factor.
The final piece of the puzzle comes when booker Sylvia van den Rood belatedly shows up and subsequently ensnares Geraud in her personal drama that is responsible for neglecting him. This coincides with a sweet declaration of love by Balthazar.
Balthazar outdoes himself in putting himself on the line by showing up uninvited for a booty call. Being given the boot not deterring him is another notably sweet moment in the film. This is relatable to the perk of being a gay man in the form of sometimes being the pursued one in a relationship. We all desire to feel wanted and loved.
The subsequent screenings set the stage as our core group of three and various hangers-on travel through the area.
The biggest surprise comes when casual conversation with the parents of Balthazar leads to a surprise reveal that is a potential game changer. The subsequent developments reinforce that the French are amazingly much more casual about sex and nudity than Americans.
Choisy keeps the fun going to the end as Geraud helps two fugitives as he figuratively rides off into the sunset. The final scenes fully seal the deal regarding the quirky charm of "Dean."
The awesomeness of the Film Movement July 24, 2018 DVD release of the 2009 French drama "You Will Be Mine" extends beyond this tale of a med. student being obsessed with her single white female roommate leaving expectations deeply in the dust. "Mine" further is notable regarding Movement pairing it with the (reviewed) French sex comedy "Three-Way Wedding"
"Mine" additionally passes the same acid test as virtually every Movement film. It could have been made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in America and still made perfect sense and had the same impact..
The following YouTube clip of a "Mine" trailer provides a sense of the cinematography and the performances that make the movie much more than a Lifetime-style film about one post-adolescent woman becoming manic over the girl who shares the expenses.
This almost literal year-in-the-life opens with a gleefully Marie Dandin and her entire family piling into the family station wagon to drive this piano prodigy to the gorgeous apartment that she is going to share with childhood friend Emma while Marie studies at the prestigious Lyons National Conservatory. The rest of the story is that M. et Mme. Dandin virtually idolize Emma for reasons that include her now-absent mother being an artist whom Mme. Dandin particularly admires.
Writer-director Sophie Leloy channels the best of the '80s obsessed psycho films in having the drama start subtly before the excitable boy (or girl) of the film goes completely cra cra. In this case, Emma begins her reign of terror by seemingly innocently suggesting to Marie that they restrict their socializing to the apartment and never have visitors.
The next portent comes when Marie convinces Emma to go to a restaurant; Emma subsequently is very uncool when cute Jewish boy Sami (who later shows one way in which he is one of the chosen people) and other classmatess of Marie run into the roommates and invite them to join them at a bar. Marie not properly interpreting the reaction of Emma ultimately makes a bad situation worse.
Emma soon making a very aggressive mood on a not entirely unreceptive Marie amounts to a rookie mistake that shows that the latter is unfamiliar with films such as "Fatal Attraction" and ""Single White Female." An increasingly aggressive Emma, mixed emotions regarding Sami, intense pressure at school, and having the limited financial resources of her parents limiting her options make Marie a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown by the time of her Christmas break, Her clueless parents inviting Emma, who charms the family, to come along does not help matters.
Spring semester drama includes Emma promising to behave and going so far as to invite Sami to move in with Marie providing a very short respite, A particularly creepy breakfast table conversation among the three roommates is a highlight. However, one of the best moments come via Marie trapping Emma in a major lie.
Leloy wraps all this up in a believable manner in which feelings get hurt much more than bodies.
The bigger picture this time is that Leloy touches on many overlapping themes that are relatable to large portions of the populations of many countries. The first is the extent to which people who lack close ties with blood relatives seek bonds with friends; the second is the gray area between a close platonic relationship and a sexual desire (particularly one involving a same-sex pair). Even more dangerous territory exists regarding someone who is closer to the homosexual end of the Kinsey Scale engaging in physically intimate activity with someone who is close to the heterosexual end. What is a combination of curiosity, horniness, and fun and games to one can mean more than that to the other person.
Film Movement celebrates Bastille Day Month with separate but equal July 24, 2018 DVD releases of French films with modern sensibilities. An upcoming post on "You Will Be Mine" discusses that film about a lesbian love affair between reunited childhood friends.
Our subject du jour is the more comedic 2010 film "The Three-Way Wedding." The attributes of this one include a strong live-stage vibe.
The following YouTube clip of a PG-13 trailer for "Wedding" showcases the midsummer-style comedy and eroticism of the film.
This homage to Woody Allen and all the greats whom he honors in his "Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" and numerous other adult comedies occurs during an eventful day at the country estate of blocked playwright Auguste. His day commences with an intimate moment with young law student Fanny, who is his assistant/confidante. The real fun begins with the arrival of visitors from Paris who are there to replenish the well of creative juices.
The source of much of the trouble is leading lady/Auguste ex Harriet being the current object of affection of leading man Theo, who accompanies her. Discovering this French connection enrages Auguste and prompts le fit hissy by the much younger Theo. Harriet taking off after her current beau does not help matters much.
Meanwhile, Fanny is the young innocent caught up in all this. These developments stir up feelings of ardor by all concerned, This is turn triggers thoughts of various unconventional options that reflect the title of the film. Fanny also is the center of a plan to literally upstage Harriet.
The absurdity of all this is that the plans to make Fanny a woman will rob her of the innocence that makes her appealing. It further seems that she is becoming "New Harriet."
Theo portrayor Louis Garrel steals the show as he pursues Fanny with varying degrees of enthusiasm, plays young stud moving in on the territory of aging lion August, and regularly displays his emo side. Highlight includes his role in a reverse shotgun wedding and his clumsy attempt to seduce Fanny in her car.
Writer-director Jacques Doillon wraps things up in an apt but surprising manner that creates tantalizing ambiguity regarding which combination (if any) of our characters will walk down the aisle and how that will work out. Either way, it seems sure that the finished play will reflect the outcome.
The fun of "Wedding" for Americans is the incredibly strong French feel of the film. Everyone is sophisticated regarding the sexual tensions and related overlapping relationships. We also get heavy emoting that seems par for the course for the affected folks.