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.
The Icarus Films July 24, 2018 DVD release of the 2015 political thriller "The Great Game" (a.k.a. "Le Grand Jeu"") indicates that corrupt power-brokers from every country utilize the same playbook. A similar universal truth exists regarding the bedfellows with whom our elected officials and their staff find themselves.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-HEAVY trailer for "Game" achieves its goal of accurately conveying the tone and the themes of the film.
"Game" fully gets afoot when one-book-wonder novelist Pierre Blum and self-proclaimed problem-solver Joseph Paskin meet at a casino. Pierre is attending the same wedding as his ex-wife with whom he has a much more successful divorce than marriage; Paskin is there to gamble.
The entertaining odd tone of the film begins with Paskin asking Blum whether he is an alcoholic and numerous equally personal questions within seconds of the start of their less-than-beautiful friendship. This conversation including Blum being the author of a well-received book several years earlier but not writing anything since leads to the proverbial seemingly innocent offer that turns out to be a Satanic bargain.
The deal is that Paskin pays Blum to ghost write a subversive book that advocates civil (and less-than-civil) disobedience in exchange for a large sum of money and total anonymity. The rest of the disclosed story is that the manifesto is part of a larger plan of Paskin to turn the hearts and minds of the French people against the current Minster of the Interior for the fun and profit of Paskin.
Paskin apparently making a great effort (and demonstrating tremendous skill) in tracking down Blum after their purportedly chance encounter is the first development that triggers the spidey sense of Blum. Learning the rest of the story provides more reason to run, not walk, away,
Like all good thrillers, the suspense escalates as the audience learns more about the horse that Paskin has in the race to pull off a coup. This coincides with being a ghost writer coming back to haunt Blum to the extent that he must hide at a farm to avoid buying one.,
Blum coming under attack from the left and the right understandably raises the stakes for him; loves past and present creating additional drama further leaves the audience guessing regarding the outcome.,
Writer-director Nicolas Pariser shows additional good basic instincts regarding an apt epilogue to this film that presents itself as a fiction or non-fiction book on its subject. A scene seconds before the end credits begin rolling provides an awesome final aha moment.
The bigger picture thus time is the verification of the depths to which government officials sink to manipulate those whom thee individuals are elected to serve. The lesson here is that turning 30 does not preclude trusting you but getting your paycheck from a political entity does.
The Film Movement June 19, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 French drama "In Syria" provides another reason to look beyond Hollywood (or New York) for quality films. This production with an incredibly strong live-stage vibe literally brings the conflict in Syria into the living room of a typical Damascus family.
Writer/director Philippe Van Leeuw scoring 12 festivals wins in numerous countries reflects the good job by all in this film that has mother of three Oum Yazan converting her apartment into a "barricaded shelter" for her children, her father, a young couple, and a horny teen boy from the building. This siege mentality results from the constant sniper fire right outside the front door.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Syria" showcases the tension and other drama related to being on the front line of a war.
The film opens with a distressed Oum using water from a large container in the kitchen; the action then shifts to the young couple with a baby dreaming of their flight to Beirut. The husband having an appointment to meet their reputable coyote that afternoon provides reasonable hope of that great escape.
The young boy is the fly on the wall as he plays with his grandfather, watches the aforementioned teen horndog demonstrate a complete lack of game, and witnesses an argument regarding a teen girl taking a shower that is much more serious than this running up the water bill or leaving the next person with tepid bathing.
The drama amps up when the "storm troopers" invade what essentially is equivalent to an "Anne Frank" existence. One member of the group taking the brutal brunt of this invasion further frays already strained nerves.
Other drama comes on learning that an absent resident is a casualty of the fighting; this leads to a harrowing mission, which leads to a few out-of-the-blue twists.
Much of the impact of "Syria" comes from seeing these ordinary people cope in these extraordinarily difficult circumstances. It also makes audience members think about how they would handle being in the shoes of these folks under house arrest.
The Movement bonus short film this time is the French film "Le Pain." This one centers on family, love, and loss regarding the impact of the man of the house disappearing after going out for the titular carb.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Syria" or "Pain" is encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
Indie film god Film Movement proves that the play is the awesome thing regarding the June 12, 2018 DVD of the 2015 film version of "Hamlet." This version of that classic tale of a dysfunctional family with an emo boy is a perfectly filmed production of a live-stage performance at the Manchester (England) Royal Exchange Theater.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Hamlet" highlights the artful staging, the intense trauma and drama, and the best-known scenes from this play.
The stark modern staging is perfect for the tone of the story. Androgynous tall thin blonde-haired blue-eyed actress Maxine Peake ("The Theory of Everything") portraying the titular Prince of Denmark follows the practice of the alternative casting in many modern Shakespearean productions. Her appearance also evokes the thoughts that Portia (rather than Ophelia) is the love interest of Hamlet and that the original Yorick soliloquy includes rambling about guessing that Hamlet did not know him very well and concludes that he did not know him at all.
Other fun comes regarding hearing the numerous Shakespearean quotes that originate in this work. Not only do "Hamlet" virgins learn of the roots of these still popular expressions, their frequent use provides the basis for a drinking game.
The best news is that the poetic Elizabethan prose is very understandable; it is equally cool that Peake expertly delivers the numerous soliloquies that provide the primary narrative. The only disappointment is the lack of musical numbers ala the "Gilligan's Island" take on "Hamlet."
Stage director Sarah Framkcom starts thing out right with a sight of the ghost of the father of Hamlet appearing in a manner that is more "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" than "A Christmas Carol." The action soon shifts to a dinner party at which Hamlet is still moping about the death of his father a few weeks ago and his mother Gertrude is reveling with former brother-in-law/new husband Claudius. The urging of Hamlet to get over it hilariously evokes thoughts of the episode of the '80scom "The Facts of Life" in which well-meaning teen Tootie tries to get a grieving Natalie to attend a Pat Benatar concert.
Hamlet learning that Claudius is guilty of regicide and fratricide sets our already excitable boy further on edge. The related revenge scheme further evokes thoughts of sitcoms by including a plan to present a play that is intended to unnerve Claudius.
Meanwhile, the impact of these events on Ophelia and Polonius (who is the mother of Ophelia) affects brother/son/Hamlet bud Laertes in a manner that strains his friendship with Hamlet. The pop culture analogy this time is to "The Princess Bride."
In true Shakespeare style, the final act consists of heavy emoting and bodies piling up like firewood. This leads to the curtain closing on the story.
The moral in this story that still rings true in the 21st century is to come for the culture and to stay for the relevance. Newly single parents often are are not very loyal regarding the former spouse and often quickly enter a second marriage with the wrong person; it is equally true that the kid is the one who suffers the most. It is equally relatable that the heir has mixed feelings regarding a leadership void in the family business.
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