remake of Fritz Lang's 1931 masterpiece, faithful to the script scene by scene.
Losey said it was one of his most accomplished work visualy and cinematographicaly, and thanks to the performance of David Wayne.
personaly i dont see the point of this remake... it's too copycat-like to be an original interpretation. americanized, mostly in the dialogues, and few alterations on the locations. notably the ending, less powerful, takes place in a shopping mall, and a parking lot, while Lang filmed it underground in the caves.
ok, Losey proved he could make an excellent film (really, great cinematography all around), but unfortunately for him, he wasnt the first one to do it. as involved as David Wayne is in the role of this children serial killer, he never reaches the sublime of Peter Lorre. Losey even uses the tune gimmick (and the blind man, and the M mark), although with a flute recoder, and a different tune! it annoyed me because i love the famous whistling by Peter Lorre.
comparative analysis (full of spoilers, but everyone knows the story anyway)
Losey not only uses the very same script, but he almost copies the film with teh same sequence editing. he uses the same sets, reproduce them faithfuly, and place his camera the same way.
the main differences are in the americanization of the characters and the pace (which was more "silent movie" typical in Lang's). on each points Lang's decisions are much more powerful.
opening scene : introduction of the murderer (suggested) by the kidnapping of the little Elsie Beckmann.
Losey makes Elsie's mother appear less careless, she yells, she runs throught the streets, look for her everywhere, while in lang's she stays home and wait, and is never seen again in the film. this is a melodramatic effect.
same use of the empty stairwell shots. Losey skips the letter from the murderer sent to the press, after a first letter to the police was ignored. in his version the murderer remains silent, doesnt provoke the police and the press, which puts all the credits to track him down without evidence, to the police. did anybody noticed in Lang's film this quite impressive travelling plan sequence through a closed window frame? the camera starts outside, moves up to the window (the window is removed almost seamlessly), enters the room and moves a round from person to person. very audacious for 1931!
the murderer's profile : Losey's intent to make a psychological study of the serial killer early on, by exposing more of his whereabouts before the ultimate scene, is interesting. there is a plan where Franz Beckert (the murderer) is shown walking outside his home, while a woman enters, and he makes a side step in the flowerbed to avoid her. his fear of adult women, contrasting with his attraction of young girls gives a modern look (psychoanalysis) at serial killers.
but other than that, i think peter Lorre's performance, however very expressionist, exagerated stereotype, is unmatched! he looks like Orson Welles in many ways
many of the plans on his face are classic! in the mirror, in the window pane, during the chase, at the trial!
the dual investigation led by the police and the mafia : this is the most inventive idea of the film IMHO. it gives so much insights on society. the message is stronger to condemn kid murderers, even the baddies hate this kind of evildoing! while the film strives to proves the sickness of the helpless desperate man who doesnt kill for pleasure, but because an evil voice inside pushes him to do it. both films use the same alternate editing, showing the parallels efforts of the police and the mafia organisation to investigate.
the main characters : Losey's character development tend to dumb down everyone... the lawyer is a loser, alcoholic, who is manipulated by the mob kingpin to work for him, and later defend the murderer thanks to glasses of alcohol like a carrot to a donkey... Lang offers much more powerful figures! the mafia team is more developped, even if there is less dialogue. this feared thug, cop killer, who runs the investigation for the mafia, has disappeared in Losey's version, the white suit boss, is the man in charged.
the murder is identified in the street : Losey uses the same tune gimmick (as already mentionned), but with a different tune, and a recorder. the blind man sells the EXACT same balloons with the paper arms stuck on them. and the M mark is printed on the murder's back, and brushed off the very same way. the murder hides out in an office building that is changed into a shopping mall by Losey. but the set is almost similar in shape : stairs flights, rows of doors, security alarm, hole in the floor, and the guy left behind, later caught by the police...
the mafia trial : Lang takes all his criminals in their hideout, the basement of a derelict alcohol distillery. Losey organize a summary trial in an underground parking lot.
again Lang orchestrates a better balance of powers between the victim (the murderer) and his judges, and a smoother swing of opinions back and forth to empathize with the serial killer's sickness. all credits to Lorre, and the camerawork!
in Losey's film, this is the loser lawyer who defends the murderer with an endless parody speech half way between justice honor/integrity and his wish to get over with it to get his glass of alcohol...
although in Lang's version the guy who makes the shorter defense speech (Lorre makes most of his own defense), is not presented to us, and it's weird to hear one of these thugs talk so brilliantly, defending ideals of justice...
anyway both films are worth watching, for their own merits. but Lang's masterpiece is not even difficult enough to justify a popularized/modern remake. Lang's images are extremely powerful and the 1931 plot is totally identifyable today
Maborosi (1995/Kore-eda/Japan) ++++
Respectful and delicate portrait of a woman mourning her suicided husband. She wants to know why. The silence weights around her and inside her. She remarry and life carries on with a dangerous gap between her and the rest of the world. She is the one prisonner in Limbo. Passive cinematography filming daily life excerpts from the outside without narrative comments. A great double bill with Bresson's Une Femme Douce, or Bertolucci's Dernier Tango à Paris.
Madame de ... / The Earrings of Madame de ... (1953/Ophüls)
a somptuous costumed epic in the bourgeoise cast of the early 20th century in a Paris fond of fastuous balls and operas. with Danielle Darrieux (Louise, Madame de...), Charles Boyer (the General, André de ...), and Vittorio de Sica (Baron Donati). the story of a wealthy married couple will be shaken by the whereabouts of doomed heart-shaped earrings: initially offered by the husband as a wedding gift, but disliked by Louise, sold to pay her gambling depts, and she cry out loud to a loss at the Opera. the earrings will wind up in Constantinople and come back to Paris in the hands of an italian diplomat, Baron Donati, who seduces Louise in a platonic way. the earrings are given a new sentimental value and become a object of honor and rivalry between the husband and the lover.
The Maltese Falcon (1941) John Huston ****
a classic i've never seen before. a movie really built up around Bogart, only him seems to talk he tells people what to say and what to do, and tells us the several potential alternative scenarios that wil happen before the end. He truly dominates this movie from end to end, with self-confidence, reckless and astute, a daring behavior that impress the scarriest baddies. Panache and Grandeur. the mystery unfolding is also a tight tension.
The Man Without a Past Aki Kaurismaki ***
sinking in the dry universe of Kaurismaki's lowest class Helsinki. high profile feelings for desperate outsiders without a chance. a Kusturika of the north?
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992/Achbar/Wintonick)
terrifying compilation of untold truth about american medias manipulations throughout history. A Must See before u switch on your TV.
the cinematography is average, with some good shots where we see the documentary itself projected on wide screenwalls in shopping malls, in football arena, on Time Square, on Tokyo's "Time Square", the pitchblack shots when the camera where not allowed in the Times building... and the visit in the wellnamed town "Media".
but the content is the onyl interest.
hard facts, mostly unknown, that are unpleasant to swallow, but help understand the mechanism of politics, propaganda and international policies.
He defends the freedom of expression, promote alternative medias that bypass the autocensorship of major media corporations.
He brings up the examples of the activist fights he was involved in: Vietnam, Cambodia/East Timor, Feminist movements, anti-seggrregative rights struggle... and compare the coverage they got in the medias according to their timely convenience.
Maria Full of Grace (2004/Joshua Marston/Colombia/USA)
Powerful and delicate journey of a young emancipated girl aged 17, who becomes a drug-mule to carry in her stomach balls of heroin to NYC at her own risks. Humble storytelling, acute dailylife details, remarkable performances from a great ensemble cast! Especially Catalina Sandino Moreno the title actress, keen and confident.
Mar Adentro / The Sea Inside (2004/Alejandro Amenabar/Spain) +
Bardem gets a PRO. The original true story is powerful material, likeminded political incorrectness with The Life of David Gale.
Although I thought the narration focused on the wrong aspects, too often romanticized. He's always happy, never in doubt, he's got 4 chicks at his feet... not to mention major storyline edits to serve pointless surprise effect. Such a serious subject shouldn't be trivialized for melodramatic effects.
Well I didn't mean trivialized in a "Hollywood kind of way", it's
certainly superior overall. Maybe I'm too harsh, but the subject implies high
standards, and I kept on noting annoying issues all along. Let's say it's a
mixed+, or even a pro-, my point was it's not a MUST SEE of the year. Btw, I
correct my prediction it'll win an Oscar... too much of a non-P.C. non-happy
ending to please the Academy. Looks like Les Choristes faces no competition
Yes it does bring tears to the eyes, but this isn't a proof of integrity.
Mabel Rivera is great indeed, even her husband, the elder borther, is even better, but both underemployed and their key role in the film underplayed.
Although the acting direction is often very pertinent, in the smallest details : little anxious gesture before a line delivery, or during silent uncomfortable moments, I'm thinking of the pregnant girl in particular. btw when the films ends on the couple with a baby to open on a hopeful "life goes on", it might comfort the audience, but it drags the film back into entertainment, and kills the magesty of both main characters final decision with life! it's as offending as laughing at a funeral... It steals the thunder of Sampedro's life long fight with/against life. That's the kind of "mood faux-pas" that annoyed me.
Because what took the main attention of the narration was the many love affairs of a man who neer doubts he wants to die! That's why I mentionned his confidence, not to blame it on his character, but to blame it on the rest of the film that doesn't fit with this 28 years old determination... We are led to believe his struggle begins with the film.
The thematic comparison with The Life a David Gale involves core spoilers for both films so I wont get into it.
Spectacular sequence(s) indeed, but it's not enough to fill the entire film...
there is always the rest.
Btw didn't you think this trick was much more powerful in Oasis ?(and possibly ripped off from there)
Like I said the original story is full of moving material, and you can say many beautiful things about Sampedro (the real man), but I don't think the film lives up to the "legend". It's not properly disrespectful, and it's a rather successful directing overall, unfortunately the subject was extremely difficult because of the hot ethical issues, and demanded a much higher standard.
Gené's pregnancy is smart irony maybe (a pregnant woman who talks about
euthanasia on her way to the hospital? her husband who drives carefree with
his pregnant woman in the backseat? these aren't plot-driven right?), but not
a acceptable when used as a conclusion for THIS story.
You say Sempedro is never in doubt and his surrounding stoped questioning his reasoning. Yet Gené, who is the one who deals with euthanasia everyday, breaks down and wants to make sure Sempedro acts not under "pressure"??? after 30 years to make up his mind! Come on... melodrama or not? She was the last person who would say this, and out of respect for the peace of his mind, she wouldn't bother him with this petty pestering right before he goes! She had all time to convince him otherwise before, or not support his fight to beguin with!
Except for his catch line, the father is unfortunately abscent of the film altogether...
A key scene to explain Sempedro's hatred of his condition is when Julia fells in the stairs. But it's poorly treated : Fade to black. Few days later... with a letter read on voiceover. Ultra sentimentalism! zero sensibility.
I'm not even starting with Rosa...
How could you say euthanasia makes for an uplifting film? I mean whether you agree or not with his right to choose (like for abortion), the decision itself is not an easy decision. And even if you deem it ethically justified, it's still a failure on life, like a normal suicide.
If it was really uplifting, didn't it fail its purpose?
Now concerning the building of the case in the script (I don't know the real life case)
Were you convinced in the script by Sempedro's 28 years old decision? He never explains himself any further than "paralysis is a disgraceful life to me". If anything, we learn he's a poet and has a great capacity of imagination inside his body, everybody takes care of him in his family (they gave up their career), he invented some tools to improve his daily life (which is a sign of his will to make his stay in the world less unbearable)... not to mention all the women proposing around. Is that the depiction of a terminal life condition that anyone would prefer death over?
everything that should help him keep going on. He doesn't seem to be in physical pain (which is usually the reason argued by partisans of euthanasia)
Now let's admit he's got a good reason to want to die (which he never shares). What makes a man who wants nothing but to die, keep on going every day with a smile on his face, during 30 years???? I mean, good or bad reasons, if life was unbearable, he'd had sipped his cyanide long ago. Imagine how you would delay someone who wants to commit suicide during 30 years... this is absurd. On the long run, a new balance of values arise, if only to be able to live a day longer, day after day!
Or was his only justification to delay his death to make an historical case in Spain? Again we are left wondering by the film's shortage for these key elements at the core of this topic.
There are mediatic cases we hear about of quadriplegic people who want to survive. In France a man wrote a book with the help of someone while he could only move his eyelid and had to use Morse code with winks!!! And the guy wasn't asking for euthanasia.
Sempedro is a case of its own, ok, but aren't we supposed to understand what makes him different from other quadriplegics, why he chooses death, and why we should empathize with his mindset? Or there is no point to make the film.
I don't know I'd think euthanasia involved other concerns than romance, pregnancy of relatives, and looking through his pre-accident pictures/fiancée(s)... I'm probably too serious.
Mucedníci lásky / Martyrs of Love
A B&W surrealist triptych, inspired by dream work, a kafkaian universe and discontinuous montage. Funny and surprising.
Surrealist cinema Award 1966 - Special mention Locarno 1967
Part 1: Martyrs of Love
A young shy bureaucrat dressed up in black like a Magritte model, with a melon hat and an umbrella, dreams of women legs and spends the night with a girl he met in a jazz club. Surrealist visual poem about shyness/lust for erotism / Shots of woman's legs and breasts.
Homage to René Clair's Entr'Acte. Cameo of the girls from Daisies, and participation of Lindsay Anderson.
Part 2: The dreams of Anastasia. Erotic dream
A girl living on a train, daydreams about erotic fantasies in a castle with aristocrats, a military wedding and a gipsy. Social and religious critique to ridiculize ceremonious protocol and discipline, perverted by veiled libido. Sexual symbols against puritan education. Pursuits in uniforms in the streets and gardens of Prague.
Part 3: The adventures of an orphan Rudolf. A farce burelesque.
Rudolf is mistaken for Jacob by an eccentric family who celebrate his return with a champagne feast, undress him and dress him up. A girl falls in love and begs him to come back. But the house is not to be found again. Waste of money by eccentric aristocrats, house trashing, pursuit, absurd idleness of the wealthy.
C:++ W:++ M:++ I:+++ C:+++
The Master of the House / Thou shall honor your wife (1925/Dreyer/Denmark)
Exceptionaly modern silent film, developping self-explainatory visual codes, and a strong sense of visual humor. This film should really be titled The Mistress of the House due to Anna's outstanding performance, as the nanny who takes care of the business and reverse the situation, transforming a macho tyrant into a tamed housekeeper. The opening intertitle was pretty funny too : "this kind of tyrant doesn't exist anymore in our country but still exist abroad".
Me and you and everyone we know (Miranda July/USA)
Christine Jesperson, young artist experimenting the mystery of love in her video art occasionally helps for a living elders who feel too old to drive. Her life obsessed every step of the way with superstitious rituals struggles through major worries and minor accomplishments to get her work accepted at the gallery and her romance fullfilled. Richard learns awkwardly to be a single father of two inhibited sons, going about a new life in suburbia.
A charming ensemble of characters forms a complex mechanic which every little move influences the life of another person.
Mostly breaking the arbitrary frontiers between generations, this creative script essentially depicts a global self-concerned universe populated of hesistant adulescents, either racing naively into adulthood attracted by a fantasized sexuality or resistant to aging with puerile manners frustrated by insecurities. Children and elders equaly clueless before this identity crisis prompted by a very human desir to belong, be recognized and loved.
A feeling of lonely crowd, drifting on tangent trajectories, beautifuly symbolized in the "stranded goldfish" scene, where strangers drive their own private bubble on the highway, like a furtive funeral procession of aquariums on wheels. And Michael, who assists his dying wife, says "We are all together in this". A momentary laps of anonymous compassion in a world of indifference.
These lyrical metaphors seeded throughout trivial situations re-enacts relationship conflicts, more or less consciously, with shoes, photos, furnitures, kitchen appliances, video tapes, phone, computer graphics or a segment of pavement. Ironically, familiar objects personify best what people are unable to express. Our materialistic society has invested so much affectivity into properties that any missuse is perceived as a agression towards us. Would you imagine a shoe salesman providing therapy support to his clients? "You think you deserve that pain but you don't" is what Richard tells Christine who tortures herself walking in bad shoes.
Between the cynism of Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World (2000) and the poetry of Eric Mendelsohn's Judy Berlin (1999), this debut indie film is a beauty, a masterstroke, incarnation of the ravishing personality of multimedia artist Miranda July, on par with a quirky romantic contemplation like Punch Drunk Love (2002).
Cannes 2005: Camera d'Or. International Critic's Week Grand Prix. Le Regard de Jeanne Prize. The very young critics Award.
Sundance 2005: Special Jury Prize for Originality of vision.
C:++ W:+++ M:+++ I:++++ C:++
La Meglio Gioventu / Nos Meilleures Années / "The
Best Youth" (2003/Giordana) ****
400 min (358 min theatrical cut, in 2 parts)
directed by: Marco Tullio Giordana
written by: Sandro Petraglia & Stefano Rulli (during 5 years)
produced by: Angelo Barbagallo (Nanni Moretti's producer)
filming: 24 weeks, 240 places, up to 2000 people on screen.
editing: 1 year.
budget: 6,500,000 euros
Cannes 2003 - Un Certain Regard Award
this is truely an amazing epic, spanning over the key events of the past 4 decades that gives the feeling of the cultural revolution in europe since the hippies. and particularly in Italy, land of the social and political contrast, where 2 brothers, their family and their friends will go through tough times in their personal lives from the bachelor to the marriage of their own child.
Nicola and Matteo Carati are brilliant students studying for their exams in 1966, respectively in literature and medicine. they dont know which way to go and what to make of their lives from there...
Sexual revolution and cultural explosion in the universities are blooming. With 2 friends, one economist, Carlo, and one philosopher, they plan to travel across Europe during the summer, but the meeting with a schizophrenic girl, Giorgia, enclosed in an institution will change their plans, their mind and their lives for ever. Both fall in love, try to get her out to take her to her father, but it wont be simple at all. Nicola will become a psychiatrist and Matteo sign in the army.
the main actors are very good, and you feel like knowing them for ever after 6 hours of their intimacy (the aging is well dealt with btw). the characters study makes original people with ambiguous prospects and changing principles which show them fully human and sensible. their are tightly connected but decidedly independant so when one step aside, everyone is tacitly affected without knowing it consciously. not a minute wasted in this breathless saga full of tragic and beautiful occurances.
originaly shot for TV (Rai: italian channel owned by Berlusconi!) as 4 episodes describing a family over 40 years, was ultimately refused to be aired because not Politicaly-Correct. Along with the massive flood in Florence, the sicilian mafia assassination of the judge Falcone, the major soccer matches of the italian team... the film brings up the ideals of the extreme leftist youth (communist terrorist: the Red Brigades) the movement of liberation/opening of mental institution,
Metropolis (1927/Fritz Lang/Germany) **** PRO masterpiece
Digital print with original orchestration
the "special FX" used around the intertitles, like a cartoon fireworks are quite efficient. the set design, the light, the photography, the expressionist acting, the score, the screenplay, the choreograhy of the workers, everything is spectacular and like u said aged very well and puts to shame todays Sci-Fi.
it's painful to see all the blanks left by the lost scenes...
Mifune's last song - Dogme #3 (DEN/1993) Søren Kragh-Jacobsen****
a guy marries a woman to serve his carreer plans, but his new wife (and father-in-law) piss him off. he feels the need to move back to the family farm of his hometown, after his father's death, with his (hidden) brother, and meet again his teenage love... when his wife comes along troubles only begin. very similar in form and atmosphere to Thomas Vinterberg's Festen (The Celebration)
Mister Freedom (1969/FR) William Klein ***
Burlesque parody of TV comedy as well as the american society of the time (cold war, commies, and superheroes). so trash, so stupid, so illarious. again famous people ridiculing themselves: (french actors:Jean-Claude Drouot, Serge Gainsbourg, Philippe Noiret, Sami Frey; cameos of Yves Montand and Simone Signoret; politics: Daniel Cohn-Bendit)
Les Mistons (1958/François Truffaut/France) ++++
François Truffaut's first short film, when the critic from Les Cahier du Cinéma decided to act out and become a filmmaker himself, giving birth to La Nouvelle Vague with his friends Rivette, Rohmer, Godard, Chabrol...
Adaptated from Maurice Pons' eponymous short story, Truffaut tell us the simple story of romance between late teens from the naive perspective of young boys spying on them. These little brats keep on badgering this blooming couple who hides to kiss. This age when love is alien to children, a funny behavior, unexplainable, only worth mocking around, and their repressed jealousy becomes contempt. A serie of disconnected episodes when the gang first admires with fascination the beautiful young woman (Bernadette Lafond) playing tennis and ride her bicycle, then plot tricks against her lover (Gérard Blain) to break this exclusive relationship. Playful shots of the kids going to the movies (watching Rivette's first short film Le Coup de Berger, 1956), playing cowboys and faking slo-mo death scenes like in the westerns, a tender look at children games, like in the subsequent The 400 Blows (1959).
A delicate and humorous narrator commentary, by an adult voice, as if looking back on a childhood memory printed with affection and a retrospective remorse for being a joy-killer between the two lovers parted by a military service draft...
A screening introduced by Bernadette Lafond, telling us how her long standing career in independant french cinema had begun by chance. She was dating the "french James Dean", Gérard Blain, at the time when Truffaut was preparing his short film. Blain and Truffaut were good friends, and naturally offered a role to his non-actor girlfriend. Gérard Blain didn't think it would go anywhere, until the acclaim received by Les Mistons, a springboard for Bernadette's debuting career. Bernadette divorced Gérard later, but remained faithful to cinema.
Moby Dick (1956/John Huston/USA) ++/con
Looks like a hasty leaf through Herman Melville's novel, richer and darker than this light adaptation by Ray Bradbury. The special effects of the whale are impressive enough for the time. However it seems number of real whales were used for the hunt scene bloodbath... (I guess the whale hunt wasn't banned back then). Nothing really noteworthy in the film.
Modigliani (2004/Mick Davis/multinational) -/CON
Big fat shit! total blasphemy. Even Modigliani's famous paintings are bad fakes... Instead of portraying the golden years of 1920ies Paris' Montparnasse the hip quarter of art and lust, it ridicules Picasso, Auguste Renoir, Jean Cocteau (played by a wannabe Turturro), Utrillio (Hippolyte Girardot), Diego Riviera, Frida Kahlo, Soutine, Max Jacob... only Jeanne Hebuterne (Elsa Zylberstein) is almost credible. Andy Garcia doesn't do justice to Amedeo Modigliani, but it's not his fault but the lame script putting together absurd situations... Editing is stuttering and camera movements are ignorants (crane shots should require a driver license!) Why spend money recreating a period piece without the artistic legitimity? Even Girl with the Pearl Earring had a something of a plot however pathetic it was. Here Picasso and Modigliani ponders over 2h whether they will subscribe to a painting competition with their friends... No insight on the "romantique" despair of artist's life. And the painting process is a joke : a jumpy crosscutting of all aforementionned paintors painting on the same night with stupid shots of men with paint stains and euphoric grin...
Mon Idole (My Idol-Whatever you say) (France/2002) Guillaume
directing debut of this young french actor, full of film references, and an amazing understanding of the photography and editing. most accomplished than many old timers, offering even a very personal point of view and original images.
the story is funny as well. a TV show assistant wants to break through and push his own shows concept to the channel director, and end up spending the weekend in his somptuous villa, with him and his young and attractive wife, meeting their boring way of life. but he never knew he'd accept their deal to become their buffon and more... rich narration suspensful, cynical and illarious at times.
Mon Trèsor / Or (2004/Keren Yedaya/Israel)
Depressing jounrey into low class Israel where mother and daughter, living alone, are bound to prostitution to carry on... The 18 yold girl is materning her immature mother with courage and determination in an admirable performance
Le Monde Selon Bush / The World According to Bush (2004/Karel) ++ (mandatory
viewing for american electors though)
Made for TV doc based on Eric Laurent's investigation book "La Guerre des Bush / The Bush(s) war", premiered on French national TV last week, opened in theatre this week, joint DVD release on July 1st.
2 weeks before Fahrenheit 9/11, this french documentarist specialized in political/historical docs release his moderated, journalistic, serious version of this year's palme d'Or. Here we see no manipulation, no show off, no funky animation, no testimony deception... only the people, from both sides, who explains how and why everything happened since Bush 43 phony election until the controversial iraqui war, around 9/11, Patriot Act 1&2, Halliburton, Carlyle, Bin Laden Family, The Saoudi Connexion, Reagan, Wolfowitz, Ariel Sharon... Ooops did I mention it was french? Well the these explored is obviously leaning anti-Bush, but at least it's based on true facts and genuine interviews with : Michael Ledeen (Reagan advisor); Richard Perle (Bush advisor); Robert Byrd (Senator Dem); Dr. Hans Blix (UN inspector in Iraq); George Bush (clips); Frank Carlucci (Carlyle); David Frum (Bush speeches writer); Joseph Wilson (Bush Admin); David Kay (Bush Admin); Norman Mailer (Writer); Robert Steele (CIA); Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (UN secretary); Colin Powell; James Robison; Joseph Trento; James Woolsey; Jim Hoagland; Robert Baer; David Corn...
It's eye opening, thought-provokating and maybe less demagogue than Moore's provokation... but it's french! So I doubt it gets any popularity in the USA.
More (1969/Barbet Schroeder) *
what a bad TV-grade hippie movie...
a young german boy hitchhikes to Paris where he meets an american junkie girl, and a french crook, in a mix of german-french-english with bad accent they go to Ibiza (spanish island of drug freedom and rave), under the influence of Wolf a former nazi general who deals heroin and screw the girl secretly. the boy is pissed off! they split and make up a dozen times, they run around naked, hippie-style, they talk B.S., smoke and get fixed.
a strange pot-pourri of hippie soft drugs (memorable quote: "weed will be legal in 5 years"), and junkies' Horse (Heroin), 2 worlds that are usualy contradictory.
The Pink Floyd's music is only cited scarcely, and unfortunately not fully integrated as an ambiant soundtrack.
lots of full frontal nudity! the chick is a cute blond!!! (Mimsy Farmer) and menage à trois softporn scenes.
but it's hardly worth it. the whole hippie atmosphere is the worst portrayal of the late 60ies i've seen. ridiculous lines, stupid plot, and loads of editing discontinuities... does it qualifies for a cult movie?
Mor vran / La Mer des Corbeaux / The Sea of Crows (1931/Epstein/33')
Silent B&W ***
photo : Guichard/Brès/Rebière
a simple documentary on the smallest islands of the atlantic french coast. almost a guided tour. again gorgeous images.
Mother India (1957/Mehboob Khan/India) ++
It starts real good, but gets more and more melodramatic toward the end, and overtly moralistic. I guess all this belongs to the genre definition as it is an "institution" in Bollywood. But the character of the brat son (adult Birju) was overacted, ridicule and burlesque, while the other characters were strictly tragic. The clash fails the ensemble IMO... and the ending sequence is comical rather than respectable, after all this mother went thru... I had the feeling to see Sarah Connor coming back for revenge
Anyway I liked the dance numbers and the narrative flashback edit. The young Birju is an incredibly good actor/dancer for his age! I don't know much about indian cinema, so my judgment worth nothing. Although I could feel the common cultural background, both in historical inspiration and cinematic language, with Satyajit Ray (not qualitative comparison tho).
They say Mehboob Khan's Mother India is the longest lasting success in film history as it never retired from the screen since original release in 1957!
A Mother Should Be Loved /Haha o kowazuya / L'amour d'une mère
rare film, with a missing roll replaced by slates summary.
a touching story about a boy from a previous marriage who finds out his father's wife, who raised him to university is not his real mother, even tho his father died when he was a child. He was always the favored boy, and his younger (step) brother was the one punished and constrained. he violently reacts to this news and decide to leave the house...
a classic melodramatic narration with ever beautiful shots of japanese interiors, faces, and landscapes. special studies of stripes and light in the borthel.
movie 'name dropping' reference:
original german poster : Jacoby's Die Perle des Regiments (1926)
Los Muertos (2004/Lisandro Alonso/Argentina) +++/PRO
No score, no dialogue... the perfect recipe to let cinema express itself, for my pleasure. I love this kind of films. It's very similar to Tropical Malady, without the complex narration, the wild nature of a jungle is captivating.
It's truly amazing! The best cinema of today is emerging in these small countries who don't have the technology and the film history of the major cinema nations. Very personal and creative, yet minimalistic and balanced.
The plotless film which is basicaly a "river-trip movie" of a man coming out of jail after decades to go back to his daughter in the forest. Totally anti-narrative, we have to figure the motive and thoughts of this man just by carefuly observing his silent moves, sometimes mechanical/traditional sometimes reaching outside himself. I liked the powerful opening sequence too. I didn't know anything about the content of the film and these disturbing images gradualy make sense after small details come up along the way in a very subtle and discreet manner. The film starts directly without rolling credits and the Title only appears at the end of the film with the closing credits on the only music track of the film.
The lingering last shot, slightly panning down to the ground is the most powerful way to build suspensa and many suggestive endings in the most minimalist form! This ending is very frustrating but ultimately perfectly in tune with the film's message and the experience of this man.
The goat scene and the wild beehive scene are memorable achievements of naturalist improvisational cinema! That's how the non-actor cast becomes fully relevant, even if earlier scenes seem tedious and awkward because the protagonists are too much self-aware in front of the camera... But when the man obviously enacts his traditional gestures like to steal honey from a beehive hidden in a hollow trunk, or kills a live goat and tears her open (not for the weak stomach viewers) in uncut plan sequence the man reveals himself more naturaly than ever.
Mulholland Dr. (2001, David Lynch)
Diane is in love with Camilla. Camilla is missing. In a two-fold storyline, confronting a pair of dopplegangers in parallel worlds. Camilla comes back under the name of Rita, amnesiac, whereas Diane is now Betty. Lynch offers us a trip into a space-time discontinuum, where dopplegangers are not aware of being duplicated until...
Playing on names and repeating certain scenes or lines, same but different, show a complex structure connecting the lost characters seemingly driven by an inner force calling for identification. Beyond space and time, life and death, the dopplegangers correspond and mediate the conflicts that caused the ceisure. The new set of protagonists strangely walk in the steps of who came before them, yet feelings won't necessarily rebirth for the best, as if the past was erased. However... "It is an illusion".
Mulholland Dr. Support Group (2002/Barker/Gomolvilas/USA) **/pro
It's a really witty homemade short, the title says it all. Must check out! Simply hilarious.
Muriel ou Le temps d'un retour (1963/Resnais) ****
i cant believe Godard gets more notoriety from the Nouvelle Vague, than Resnais gets. His revolutionary editing, and power cut narration is excellent. it brings much more invention than any Godard film i've seen.
the background is largely developped around the french occupation of Algeria, opposing different attitutes and position in unconciliable characters.
exploration of the psychological trauma caused by war. a close yet different approach seen in German's 20 Days without War.
The Music Room / Jalsaghar (1958/Satyajit Ray/India) ++++/PRO
It's certainly a fine piece of cinema, but I'm not sure I admire it as much as the praise it gets. I found it rather straightforward and predictible, I mean the character study of this old proud owner on the decline, and the clash with low-caste new-rich capitalists is beautifuly expressed in the opening images... the rest expands into redundant description without insightful development. I wish the drama had been richer. Only a minor quibble.
I loved the music however, especialy the dance number!
Mystic River (2003/Eastwood) **
the narration is very slow and doest set itself free of the crime movie clichés... the multiple exposition of possibilities is interesting untill half way through, to leave many simultaneous judgement of characters and the crime answer: so we keep a suspectful look at the main potential murderers. for this it succeeds, we feel empathy and horror simultaneously.
unfortunately the ending is very dull, and underdeveloped.
i read someone saying that Tim Robbins is the only alien of the cast, and i agree, he fails to make us believe he's a lower class hood boy.
i think Clint 'Dirty Harry' Eastwood found Kevin Bacon to be his true successor on screen.
the scene when Tim Robbins and Sean Penn meet under the porch, embarrassed and speachless, was heavily reminiscent of the famous ultimate scene between Richard Farnsworth and Harry Dean Stanton in The Straight Story