MAY Viewing Recap, Top 3 MSPIFF 2015 + Movie of the Month

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Well May turns out to be quite a busy movie watching month! Surprising since I only went to one press screening all month (Tomorrowland). I am looking forward to quite a few screenings in June: Spy (this Tuesday!), Inside Out, Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys. I REALLY want to see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl but that’ll be three screenings back-to-back in a week so not sure I can fit that one in.

Posts You Might’ve Missed

Highlights from Wizard World 2015

Spotlight on Character Actors of Twilight Zone Series

Movie Roulette Blogathon

Music Break: Not Another Happy Ending

Rental Pick: Time Lapse

May Blind Spot Pick:

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Breathless – À Bout de Souffle (1960)

New-to-me Movies:

Paddington

Felony

The Rewrite

Far From The Madding Crowd

Tomorrowland

Mad Max: Fury Road

Thérèse Desqueyroux (2012)

Populaire (2012)

Violette (2013)

Pour Une Femme (2013)

Cheba Louisa (2013)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

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After seeing the stellar Mad Max: Fury Road, my hubby and I saw The Road Warrior (1981) this weekend and we loved it! I think I’ve seen it years ago when I was a wee kid but I could remember much of the plot so it felt like new to me. Clearly the Mad Max franchise is George Miller‘s magnum opus and even though it was made over 3 decades ago, it still has a certain timeless quality about it and the action set pieces are fantastic despite the limited budget compared to this latest one. I’d rank Road Warrior as high as Fury Road, though certainly the Furiosa story adds a great deal of emotional depth to the film. But hey, 25-year-old Mel Gibson was pretty damn hot in his prime 😉

Rewatches:

Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

Sabrina (1995)

Last Night (2010)

Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

[Belated] Top 3 Picks from MSPIFF 2015

It’s a month late but I thought I’d still post my friend Josh’s and my top 3 picks from MSPIFF as some of the films are now available to rent on VOD.

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Josh’s Top 3

3: The Secrets of War
A rushed ending notwithstanding, The Secrets of War is quite good. All three child actors are solid to excellent; the thematic and dramatic heft of the narrative carry the film; and the picture’s sense of period is terrific. That there are some deeply moving moments interspersed throughout helps, as well.

2: The Keeping Room
Powered by strong performances from Brit Marling, Sam Worthington, and Muna Otaru, The Keeping Room fuses multiple genres well. At times, director Daniel Barber and writer Julia Hart make this dark civil war film suspenseful; at other times frightening; and at other times emotionally rife. Of course, it also helps that Barber’s visual aesthetics are a feast for viewers’ eyes.

1: The Connection
The Connection overcomes a predictable plot by depicting complex characters. It also capitalizes on a perfect ending that captures proper thematic heft at the same time it fittingly ends the characters’ paths. Terrific performances from Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lelouche, and Celine Sallette make this a film worth seeing, as well.

Ruth’s Top 3

3: El Critico
I enjoyed this one immensely! Being a film blogger, I definitely identified with the protagonist, and I totally share his scorn for most Hollywood rom-coms. Definitely worth your time when this movie is available to rent.

2: Clouds of Sils Maria
Seems tradition that I see a Juliette Binoche movie at MSPIFF and this is the best one yet! She came up with the premise of the film and director Olivier Assayas did a wonderful job penning the script and made the story come to life. Both miss Binoche and Kristen Stewart are tremendous here and the film work largely due to their performances.

1: Girlhood
I rewatched parts of this French drama now that it’s on Netflix and I absolutely adore this film. Thanks to this film I discovered the lovely Karidja Touré in her mesmerizing acting debut. No doubt one of the best and emotionally-compelling coming-of-age film I’ve seen in some time.

Movie of the Month

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I’ve been wanting to see What We Do in the Shadows ever since I saw the hilarious trailer months ago. Well this New Zealand mockumentary had me in stitches, it’s as hysterical as I had hoped and then some. If you’re a fan of vampire/werewolf movies, or just great comedies in general, I can’t recommend this enough. It pokes fun of the classic horror genre, but in a way it’s an homage to it at the same time. I sure wish they’re making a sequel of this as I would watch it in a heartbeat!


So that’s my May recap. What’s YOUR fave movie(s) you saw this month?

May 2015 Blindspot: Breathless – À bout de souffle (1960)

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One of the fun things about participating in this Blindspot series is to familiarize myself with certain genre or film movement. I actually picked this one rather randomly, not realizing this was part of the French New Wave, which happens to be the renowned French auteur Jean-Luc Godard‘s first feature film.

Films set in the City of Lights are always welcome in my book, and this one looks absolutely spectacular in black and white. I find myself paying more attention to the gorgeous city than reading the subtitles, but it seems the filmmaker seems deliberately more concerned more about the presentation than its narrative. Breathless is unabashedly stylish and cool – chock full of gorgeous scenery, good looking people and chic Parisian fashion.

Jean Seberg is simply adorable in her pixie cut and cat-like eyeliner whilst Jean-Paul Belmondo is all rebellious swagger. As the film’s antihero Michel Poiccard, he’s unscrupulous through and through, but definitely not without charm.

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A small time thief who nonchalantly kills a cop who pursues him, he just as casually hits a man and hides him in a bathroom stall without blinking an eyelid. Michel is one smooth bastard, yet somehow she gains the affection of Patricia Franchini, an American journalism student he’d met up in Nice a few weeks earlier. Their first meeting as she’s selling newspaper is infused with so much style. C’est magnifique!

There’s such a relaxed, leisurely tone to the movie that fits the message that celebrates freedom and independence. It’s apparent in their conversation and action of the leads how much they value their liberty. Some people might find this movie boring, especially the scene in Patricia’s flat where they spend 20+ minutes simply talking, and Michel trying to get under her skirt, but not much happens. Yet I’m quite enthralled by it all, there’s a certain charm in the forthright conversation between them despite its unabashed crudeness. Michel’s vulgarity and persistence in getting her to bed is contrasted by Patricia’s almost childlike innocence. She somehow remains unaffected by his mercurial mood and she has such a sweet way of rebuffing his advances.

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I find Michel’s utter ignorance and lack of culture quite hilarious.

Patricia: Do you know William Faulkner?
Michel: No. Who’s he? Have you slept with him?

I read later how this film became the quintessential film of the French New Wave, which is described in Wiki as having a documentary-style format, feature existential theme laden with irony and sarcasm. It’s clearly a risky move back then to create a film like this. Per IMDb trivia, its star “[Belmondo] was very surprised by the warm reception the film received. Immediately after production he was convinced it was so bad that he thought the film would never be released.” I don’t think even Godard or Truffaut would be so well-received, nor would they predict the film would become such a pop culture icon. I’ve been reading some articles on this that cite how influential Godard’s debut is even to this day.

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Visually the film is truly a work of art. Nearly every frame is like a postcard of Paris. It’s an amazing feat given the low budget. Apparently Godard couldn’t afford a dolly at the time, so he pushed cinematographer Raoul Coutard around in a wheelchair through many scenes of the film. I love how in many scenes I felt like I’m viewing the city through the eyes of the characters, strolling pass Paris landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysées and café terraces. I especially love the scenes as they’re driving, whether with the top down in a Cabriolet or inside a Taxi like this scene below:

I found this photo of Coutard filming on a rooftop and clearly that’s how we get the sweeping view of the magnificent city. There are also the intriguing hand-held shots roaming a room, street, elevator, etc. that gives us a sense of realism.

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I really enjoyed this one and even re-watched parts of it just before I published this review, the scene of the two leads in bed and the finale. Yes it’s perhaps simplistic narratively but Godard more than made up for it in style. This is one of those films I can see myself revisiting again later in the future and it’ll always make me reminisce about Paris. The jazzy music by Martial Solal complements it perfectly, sometimes the music even takes center stage, some scenes play out like a fashionable music video. It’s no surprise this movie’s been remade and Hollywoodized in 1983. I have no desire in seeing that one however, surely it could barely hold a candle to this original version.

Well, it’s been over a half a century since the film’s release and it’s only just my first intro into Godard’s work. I suppose better late than never, right? I’m curious to check out his other films, so if you have recommendations as to which ones I should watch next, do let me know!

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The Blind Spot series was originally spearheaded by Ryan at The Matinee, and I was also inspired by Dan’s list at Public Transportation Snob.

2015BlindSpotCheck out my list of 2015 Blind Spot Films


Have you seen Breathless? Well, what did YOU think?