FlixChatter Review: DEERSKIN (2020)

If you look at the review quotes all over this poster, calling it ‘demented,’ ‘bat-shit crazy’ ‘unhinged’ … well in many ways this French film lives up to those descriptions. I was curious to see this because I had heard of Quentin Dupieux‘s 2010 film Rubber, which is about a homicidal car tire. This time, it’s another inanimate object that seemingly has supernatural power to wreak havoc on those who came into contact with it.

This horror comedy stars Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin, who most people know in The Artist, as a middle-aged, recently-divorced man. Right from the start when he frantically got rid of his corduroy jacket at a gas station–in a wholly stupid & irresponsible manner–we know Georges is suffering from a mental breakdown. He then visits a friend where he impulsively buys a vintage fringed deerskin jacket, and after paying a huge sum of money (too much I’d say for a used jacket that isn’t even in style anymore), he was given a digital video recorder as a bonus. He then drove to a sleepy French alpine village and took residence in a motel.

And so it begins… Georges’ descend into madness. He starts talking to the jacket, taking endless videos of it, and displaying all kinds of weird, obsessive behavior. It made me think of how actors often say that once they put on a costume for a role, that’s when they feel like can inhabit their character fully, and perhaps they’d even feel invincible, like they found a new purpose in life. In the case of Georges, this aimless man is possessed by the jacket in a truly bizarre way. There’s definitely a streak of toxic masculinity, as he walks around feeling like he’s the bee’s knees with his new killer style. He came up with with a crazy mission that he wants to be the only person in the world to wear a jacket, which gets more and more extreme as the film progresses.

I’ve seen Dujardin only in half a dozen projects, and he usually portrayed a slick, charming gentleman with a gregarious personality. Interesting to see him in a much more subdued, even deadpan performance, barely flashing his mega-toothed smile. The film didn’t really kicked into gear until he meets Denise, played Adèle Haenel (recently seen in Portrait of a Lady on Fire), a waitress with great aspiration as an editor. Somehow Georges managed to convince Denise that he’s an indie filmmaker who’s being abandoned by his producers in Siberia. Not only that, he even got to make her feel sorry for him that she’s willing to fund his film AND also edit it!

The whole filmmaking aspect of the story is quite amusing and surreal. There’s one memorable scene where Denise grills Georges about his film and what it’s about. He can’t come up with a real concrete idea (naturally, as he just makes stuff up as he goes along), and it’s Denise who plants a brilliant idea in his head.

Amidst all the absurdities however, the performances of the two leads, managed to hold my attention. Their relationship surprisingly isn’t salacious, but it’s definitely unsettling. I find it intriguing to see a constant shift between them as to who is actually in control. At first I thought Denise has fallen prey to Georges, but as she continues to remain committed to his film project, I wonder if she knows more than she let on. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but trying to figure out her character and whether she has her own agenda proves to be increasingly more suspenseful to me as Georges’ deranged behavior gets more and more gruesome.

I’m not a horror movie fan, but I’m sure fans of the genre notice some nods to serial killer movies like Halloween or Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the way some of the violent scenes were filmed. Yet there’s an alarming nonchalant, devil-may-care attitude that Georges displays that makes it absurdly comical. He might as well has his whole face covered up like those famous horror characters as he barely displays any emotion.

Deerskin is certainly a weird movie, but reading about some of Dupieux’s previous work, this one seems to be the most accessible. The ending still manages to surprise me, despite the fact that it followed a horror genre trope. I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend this movie to casual moviegoers, I feel like Dupieux’s movies are an acquired taste. I’m glad I saw this one and it was entertaining enough for reasons I’ve mentioned above, yet I don’t know that I’d be clamoring to see his other movies.


DEERSKIN OFFICIAL WEBSITE


Have you seen DEERSKIN or Dupieux’s other films? I’d love to hear what you think!

MSPIFF 2015 Review: The Connection (La French)

MSPIFF15reviewsTheConnectionBnrIncluding many homages to past crime films, The Connection is an interesting procedural with too few surprises until its final act. At the film’s beginning, Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin, excellent) is a hard-working cop investigating youth drug-related crimes. His effectiveness gets him promoted to magistrate, where he is tasked with investigating France’s organized crime network, led by Gaetan Zampa (Gilles Lellouche, also excellent). Upon his promotion, Michel proves skilled, not least because he’s willing to bend the rules, sometimes even to break the law, all in the name of justice. That Michel is unreasonably obsessive about catching Zampa is of no concern to him, but is still a source of severe worry for his family.

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Dujardin & Lellouche

Which brings us to The Connection’s greatest merit: its characters. Writer/director Cédric Jimenez and co-writer Audrey Diwan layer both Zampa and Michel, crafting each man as complex human beings with merits and flaws aplenty. Here Zampa being on the “wrong” side of the law does not mean we dislike him. And, though we can certainly root for Michel, we do not necessarily approve of everything he does. By making both men complex, Jimenez and Diwan hold our attention. That they develop several secondary characters well also helps.

The Connection’s second greatest merit: some of it’s filmmaking technique. Its production design mirrors 1970s era crime films. And it’s costuming is genius. As the plot’s era shifts from ‘70s to ‘80s, so too does the style of characters’ outfits.

TheConnectionStill2The film’s biggest weakness? The plot. For much of the picture’s run-time it is borderline boiler plate, including many seemingly obligatory scenes.

Yet, this flaw is of relatively minor consequence, partially because the actors and characters are so good we accept predictable developments. For example, we always know Pierre’s wife Jacqueline (Celine Sallette) will eventually express unhappiness with her husband’s choices, but Dujardin and Sallette sell the conflict so convincingly that we don’t mind the moment’s predictability.

TheConnectionDujardinSalletteThen comes the finale, about which I will say very little, except this: it is at least a little surprising. And also terrific, in all regards. Yes, at times The Connection is too procedural, but it is quite good all the same.

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What are your thoughts on The Connection?

MSPIFF 2015 is here once again! April 9-25: 17 days, 250+ films!

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The Film Society kicked off the 2015 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival last Thursday with the Opening Presentation, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (actor Cory Peterson attending). This hilarious Swedish comedy, the highest grossing film in the country’s history, launches 17 days of more than 250 remarkable films, visiting filmmakers, exciting parties, and enlightening panel discussions.

I’ve said this before but really, I’m fortunate to live in a city that has TWO film festivals, one in Spring and the other (TCFF) in Autumn, two of my favorite seasons! Founded in 1962, The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul is Minnesota’s foremost film exhibition organization, and a 501(c)(3) non-profit. We bring the best of international and independent film to Minnesota audiences through the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, numerous niche film festivals and series, and nightly programming 365-days a year.

Check out the awesome MSPIFF official trailer:

One of the exciting 2015 programs of MSPIFF is that the Women and Film program, featuring 40+ films under that category/genre.

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is dedicated to representing the work of women filmmakers as a critical part of its programming. Look for the Women and Film tag as you decide what to see at the 2015 Festival. It identifies the outstanding films by women directors and related events that are part of the Festival’s program this year.


Check out the full MSPIFF 2015 Schedule

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Photo courtesy of mspfilm.org

Last year’s opening night film, Amma Asante‘s period drama Belle, ended up being one of my top 10 films of 2014, and it’ll likely be one of my fave films of all time! I wonder which other films I’ll be seeing this year will also make my top 10 of the year. Unfortunately, this year I won’t have time to see as many films as I did last year, but I have Josh from JJames Reviews to help me out again like last year. So hopefully between the two of us, we’ll get to about a couple dozen films.

Here are a sampling of films we hope to catch in the next three weeks:

FEATURE FILMS

Clouds of Sils Maria
At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years ago, only this time she will take the role of the older woman. Seeking refuge in Sils Maria, a remote region of the Alps, to rehearse the play, she takes stock in her career and her unknown future with her young assistant. Director Olivier Assayas takes pleasure in being coy by with his two stars—Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart—as he knowingly layers references to their own lives and roller coaster careers.

USA | 124 min | English
Directed by: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz

The Center
Produced by Jonathan Demme and shot locally in St Paul, Charlie Griak’s atmospheric debut focuses on a vulnerable young man who falls into the trap of a cult-like group. Ryan is a recent college grad searching not only for a job but also for a meaning in life. When he comes across a self-help organization, simply known as The Center, with a charismatic leader, Ryan seems to have found what he has been looking for.

USA | 72 min | English
Directed by: Céline Sciamma
Starring: Matt Cici, Judd Einan, Ramon Pabon

The Connection
Inspired by true events, The Connection tells the story of real-life Marseilles magistrate Pierre Michel (played by Jean Dujardin from The Artist) and his relentless crusade to dismantle the most notorious drug smuggling operation in history: the French Connection. In his crosshairs is charismatic and wealthy kingpin, Gatean “Tany” Zampa (aka La French), who runs the largest underground heroin trade into the States. Shot entirely on 35mm, Cédric Jimenez’s The Connection is a throwback to a time when 70s Italian and American crime dramas reigned supreme.

France | 135 min | French
Directed by: Cédric Jimenez
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Ce´line Sallette

Girlhood (Bande de filles)
Oppressed by her family setting, dead-end school prospects and the boys law in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of 3 free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted in the gang, hoping that this will be a way to a new life. Director Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies,Tomboy) cements her cinematic expertise in exploring the many facets of young female identity with her most powerful film yet.

France | 112 min | French
Directed by: Charlie Griak
Starring: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamouh

El Critico
A playful yet heartfelt take on the rom-com genre, El Critico follows Victor Tellez, a world-weary Buenos Aires film critic who prefers to think in French and eschews romantic clichés…until he finds himself living one. Tellez drifts from screening to screening in search of cinematic perfection, casting judgment on filmmakers and their films with scathing incisiveness. But when a chance meeting throws him into the jarring world of gorgeous thrill-seeker Sofia, he starts to question his meticulous, intellectual routine and realizes there’s more to his story than he ever dreamed.

Argentina| 98 min | Spanish/French
Directed by: Hernán Guerschuny
Starring: Rafael Spregelburd, Dolores, Blanca Lewin

….

Marshland
True Detective, Spainsh-style! A series of brutal murders of adolescent girls in a remote and forgotten town bring together two disparate characters—both detectives in the homicide division—to investigate the cases. With deep divisions in their ideology, detectives Juan and Pedro must put aside their differences if they are to successfully hunt down a killer who for years has terrorized a community in the shadow of a general disregard for women rooted in a misogynistic past. Alberto Rodríguez paints a gritty noir portrait of rural Spain circa 1980, rich with style, ambience and character.

Spain | 105 min | Spanish
Directed by: Alberto Rodríguez
Starring: José Antonio Félez, Mercedes Gamero, Ricardo García Arrojo

Labyrinthus
Discovering a backpack containing a USB key and a strange old camera, 14 year-old Frikke unknowingly starts a computer game that uploads real children, animals, and objects from his world into a gigantic labyrinth in the gaming world. Ordinarily, Frikke is expert at computer games; but this one is real! Frikke’s avatar must help his friends, Nora and Marco, through the labyrinth, escape from the game’s evil creator, and break the code that will release them. At least one third of the action takes place in a CGI animated alternate reality; the rest in Ghent, Belgium. Frikke must find the connection between these two worlds, before its too late!

Netherlands | 95 min | Dutch
Directed by: Douglas Boswell
Starring: Spencer Bogaert, Emma Verlinden, Felix Maesschalck

Chagall-Mallevich
A story of love and passion, hatred and egotism, and the clash of huge creative personalities, Chagall – Malevich is based on real events that occurred during the time of Marc Chagall’s short-lived Vitebsk period (1917-18), a time in which he created an Academy of Modern Art inspired by dreams of a bright and beautiful future. More than 140 copies of paintings by Chagall and his brilliant colleague Kazimir Malevich were made for the film. Here, too, is the story of Chagall’s wife Bella and her selfless love for her husband. It’s a story further complicated by her former childhood friend and one-time suitor Naum, a bitter man who is now a Soviet Commissar.

Russia | 120 min | Russian
Directed by: Aleksandr Mitta
Starring: Leonid Bichevin, Anatoliy Belyy

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The Golden Era
Hong Kong master Ann Hui vividly brings the life of pioneering 20th century female novelist and poet Xiao Hong to the screen. Hui’s lavishly shot period piece shifts perspective, narrators, and time periods freely as it chronicles Xiao Hong’s struggles—an oppressive family, an arranged marriage, a fiery affair with fellow writer Xiao Jun, and her passion, compulsion and talent for writing—until her death at age 30 in 1942.

China/Hong Kong | 178min | Chinese (Mandarin)
Directed by: Ann Hui
Starring: Tang Wei, Feng Shao Feng

To Life! (Auf Das Leben!)
Fate has taken its toll on the aging cabaret singer Ruth and the young but terminally-ill Jonas. Yet despite their great age difference and their entirely opposite experiences in life, they form an intense bond and give each other a reason and purpose to live.

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Germany | 90 min | German
Directed by: Uwe Janson
Starring: Hannelore Elsner, Max Riemelt, Sharon Brauner

Gods
Riveting, fast paced, compelling and filled with humor, Gods is the story of the rebel cardiac surgeon, Zbigniew Religa, who performed the first successful heart transplant in Soviet controlled Poland in 1984. With the support of his renegade medical team, he battled everyone including fellow doctors, the communist bureaucracy and a shocked religious community, Religa, to make history and become a national hero.

Poland | 120 min | Polish
Directed by: Lukasz Palkowski

Secrets of War
In a Nazi-occupied Dutch village that’s slowly changing, 12 year-olds Tuur and Lambert initially incorporate the war into their childhood games. Until the boys begin to question what they see: a toy appearing out of a passing train; traces of people’s belongings in the underground caves; secretive parents. Befriending Maartje, a new girl in town, the boys’ friendship is tested when they learn a powerful secret of their own and the reality of war changes their childhoods forever.

Netherlands | 95 min | Dutch
Directed by: Dennis Bots
Starring: Maas Bronkhuyzen, Joes Brauers, Pippa Allen

… 

DOCUMENTARIES

The Dinkytown Uprising
The year is 1970 and the disastrous Vietnam War keeps escalating. Protests are erupting all over U.S. campuses. But in Minneapolis, word that the national Red Barn Restaurant chain wants to erect a new fast-food franchise in old, venerable Dinkytown, the “war at home”  takes a different turn. This stunning documentary chronicles the unprecedented 40-day, 40-night continuous Dinkytown “Occupation” to prevent construction of an unwanted hamburger joint.

https://vimeo.com/121387504

Directed by: All Milgrom

The Look of Silence

Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence focuses on a family of survivors who discovers how their son was murdered in the 1965 Indonesian genocide, as well as the identities of the killers. The youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, decides to break the suffocating silence by confronting the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions.

Directed by: Joshua Oppenheimer

 

Every Face Has a Name

In Every Face Has A Name, a sequel of sorts to Harbor of Hope (MSPIFF 2012), director Magnus Gertten tracks down and interviews survivors from German concentration camps seen in a 35mm archival film reel showing their arrival at the harbour of Malmo, Sweden on April 28, 1945.

The group includes Jews from all over Europe, Norwegian prisoners of war, Polish mothers and children, members of the French resistance, British spies, as well as a young Italian-American accused of being a spy—with personal reactions that are both powerful and moving.

Directed by: Magnus Gertten

All the Time in the World

Concerned with the fundamental disconnect of living in the city, a family of five leaves the comforts of home behind for a remote cabin in the Yukon wilderness camera in tow. Without running water, electricity, phone or even direct road access, Suzanne Crocker, her husband and three children (ages 10, 8 and 4) embark on a nine month experiment. Making do with no crew and limited equipment, Crocker skillfully chronicles her family’s unique personal discovers and turns them into a universal story on life, family, and everyday struggles.

Directed by: Suzanne Crocker

… 


Get your tickets and MSPIFF passes before they sell out!

MSPIFFgraphic

Regular Screenings
General Admission: $12.00
Film Society Members: $10.00
Students w/ID: $6.00

NEW! Beginning this year, tickets can be purchased online at mspfilm.org.

DOWNLOAD THE OFFICIAL GUIDE & FULL SCHEDULE 

 


What do you think folks, does any of these films interest you?

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FlixChatter Double Reviews: The Monuments Men

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Happy Friday everyone! Today we’ve got another double review of a film which release has been delayed for a couple of months. Originally, this was to be released last December during awards/holiday season, but director/star George Clooney actually asked the studio for more time for post-production due to the special effects weren’t ready. Sarah and I went to the screening last Wednesday, here’s our take on it:

Sarah’s Review

When I was visiting Germany last year and killing time waiting for my train back to Dusseldorf from Cologne, I was struck by a postcard in one of the gift shops with a Google earth type of photo of Cologne in post-World War II Europe. The entire town was decimated by repeated bombings but somehow the 13th century Cologne cathedral still stood tall amidst all the destruction- as if saved only by the grace of God. “The Monuments Men,” the new movie co-written and directed by George Clooney, tells the story of curators, archivists and art historians from thirteen countries whose mission it was to save some of the most culturally significant works of art from Nazi destruction near the end of World War II. In a Napoleonic-like move, Adolf Hitler often ordered his armies to claim some of Europe’s greatest art treasures for his planned “Fuhrer Museum” to be built near his boyhood home in Austria. (Did you know Hitler was a failed art student? Neither did I. When George Stout, an American art conservationist played by George Clooney in the movie, shows one of his paintings to the newly assembled group, one of them remarks, “Hitler did that? It’s not bad.” However, James Granger, played by Matt Damon and based on Metropolitan Museum of Art Director James Rorimer, says, “Well, it’s not good.”) When the fall of the Third Reich became a reality, Hitler commanded his men to destroy everything and the group that has become known as the Monuments Men swung into action, embarking on “the greatest treasure hunt in history.”

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As a self-proclaimed history buff who has studied and visited many of the places in the film, I really wanted to like this movie but it felt like this great story got lost in a mishmash of a film trying to be a combination of Hogan’s Heroes, Saving Private Ryan and The Da Vinci Code. Call it a movie with an identity crisis- it was like it couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a comedy or a drama. SPOILER ALERT! (Without giving too much away, one example is a scene where one of the Monuments Men gets shot and it’s obvious he’s going to die. However, in the next scene he is cracking jokes. Umm, hello? It’s wartime and you’re dying.) The cast, which also includes Bill Murray and John Goodman, do what they can but ultimately can’t save this one. About the only person who seems to understand the gravity of the situation is Claire Simone, the museum curator turned spy played by Cate Blanchett. When showing Matt Damon’s character some of the Nazi’s re-possessed goods, he asks incredulously, “What is all this?” “People’s lives,” she solemnly replies. Her scenes were a breath of fresh air.
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This movie does do a couple of things well. It helps put you in the moment where these men unearth thousands of stolen, priceless artifacts. What must it have been like to gaze upon these famous artworks and know that you had a major role in securing them for future generations to enjoy? And it also provides a powerful reminder of what we were fighting for- not just art, but our culture, history and way of life. Two scenes brought this home to me: the first near the beginning of the film where you see the beautiful landscape of Paris decorated with Nazi swastikas and the second toward the end of the film where you see Nazi soldiers indiscriminately torching some of what they had stolen. Maybe it was these ideals that frustrated me the most about this movie- it was okay, but it could have been so much better.
The movie is based on a 2010 book of the same name by Robert Edsel and it did make me want to learn more about this fascinating point in history. Also, in a local connection, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts has put together a self-guided tour identifying items from its own collection saved by the Monuments Men or with other World War II related stories. As our temperature doesn’t want to rise above zero lately and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is free, this seems like a great idea! As for the movie, it piques your interest but doesn’t quite hold you in its grasp.

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2.5 out of 5 reels

Ruth’s Review

When I first heard about this film, the subject matter intrigued me more than even the ensemble cast. Truthfully, seeing Matt Damon and George Clooney with their megastar smiles in the trailer, it felt like an Ocean’s Eleven heist type of flick, but with Nazis. Hmmm, it turns out that first impression wasn’t that off-base after all.

Seems that the film has everything going for it to be a truly great WWII drama. Clooney is after all a reputable Oscar-nominated director/writer/actor, a triple threat on top of being one of the biggest movie stars in the universe. He’s got the clout to assemble a bunch of Oscar-caliber International cast and crew, who are more than up for the task to bring this amazing wartime tale to life. But yet, even halfway through the film, it just left me wanting. For something so monumental in history, the film just doesn’t do the story justice.

To call this film uneven would be putting it mildly. There’s a tonal hodgepodge that makes it quite hard to really grasp the weight of the mission of the men (and women) involved. Art historian Frank Stokes, played by Clooney himself, preaches to the audience the significance of this art-rescue mission and how noble the cause was for humanity that it was worth a person’s life. Yet the way the film’s played-out lacks the gravitas of that sentiment. At times it’s just too lighthearted for its own good that it loses its impact. I’m not saying that mixing drama with comedy can’t work, I mean there are great films that finely tread the line between drama and comedy, but I’m not sure it works well here.

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There’s a scenario where one character accidentally stepped on a land mine, but it’s treated like a humorous scene. I guess there ought to be an SNL skit where the Monuments Men don’t know which foot to stand on. Seems that Clooney himself realizes the challenge of getting the tone right, as this article from The Wrap points out  “If we get the tone right it will be a really fun film …” he said. Well, the film is not without its shares of fun, but I think if the tone were right, it would’ve been a great film.

Performance-wise, seems that the cast are having a good time making this which is fun to watch. Clooney and Damon are pretty good but I’ve seen much better work from both of them. It’s amusing to see Bill Murray being Bill Murray, Bob Balaban with his deadpan humor and Jean Dujardin being his irresistible charming French guy that he is. Now, as much as I got a kick watching them, I barely knew about any of them nor any of the other characters in the film. Why did they sacrifice their lives for this mission? Is it simply their love for art, or was there something more? As a result, I couldn’t connect with any of them no matter how hard I tried. Even during the most dire circumstances, it didn’t incite lump-in-my-throat kind of emotion, and this coming from someone who cry easily at movies. I think Cate Blanchett‘s character, the only female cast who’s the most solemn of the whole bunch, is the only one who lends credibility to the story. But still her character’s not explored as well as I would like, either.

This is Clooney’s fifth directorial effort and he also co-wrote it with his screenwriting partner Grant Heslov.  Seems that the filmmakers’ heart are in the right place and the film is not without its poignant moments. I just wish those moments are more consistent instead of just in few and far between. I don’t think that even if this were released just in time for Oscar season that it would’ve been in the running. It’s not a terrible film however, I’d recommend it as a rental if you love the cast. But if you want to really know who the Monuments Men are and their mission, I’d think there are documentaries on them that’s more satisfying and compelling. As it stands, it’s quite entertaining with a tinge of poignancy, though it lacks a certain level of artistry that’d give us a lasting impression.

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3 out of 5 reels


What do you think folks, agree/disagree with our review? Well let’s hear it!

Music Break: The Artist’s Waltz for Peppy

Happy Friday everybody. Hope y’all had a nice Valentine’s Day yesterday.

I listen to Classical MPR radio on my commute to work and yesterday morning there were a lot of Valentine dedications and they’re playing some beautiful, sweeping waltzes. One of them is Waltz for Peppy from the gorgeous soundtrack of The Artist. Oh I just love that music so much I wish I could play it on repeat!

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Somehow I missed including George Valentin & Peppy Miller in my list of 14 favorite movie couples! So this is my way to make it up for them. I love this scene when Peppy auditions as a dancer and George spots her, and he then insists that she gets a part in Kinograph Studios’ next production, despite the studio boss’ objections.


Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo are simply sublime. Apparently director Michel Hazanavicius played music from classic Hollywood films throughout the shoot while the actors performed.

The soundtrack is composed by French composer Ludovic Bource and was recorded in Belgium by the Brussels Philharmonic. It has won pretty much every single film award that year, including BAFTA, César, Golden Globes, and the Oscar for Best original Score. The music is even more crucial and affecting the fact that it’s a silent film, and it fits the playful yet sweet tone of the film so perfectly.

I remember being absolutely enchanted by this film when I first saw it two years ago (I gave it a 5 star review). I haven’t seen it since. Listening to this makes me want to watch it again real soon.


Hope you enjoy today’s music. What do you think of The Artist?

FlixChatter Review: The Artist

Every once in a while a film comes along that ends up becoming the ‘talk of the town’ so to speak. This year, that film is this The Artist. I’ve been waiting to see this since I saw the trailer last May. A silent black and white film in this day and age is obviously a novelty, but fortunately, that format alone isn’t simply a gimmick, French director Michel Hazanavicius offers us something more.

The story centers on a 1920s Hollywood silent film era star George Valentin, he started on as being at the top of his game, being adored by his fans the world over and Valentin loves every minute of it. Jean Dujardin plays Valentin with a sly smile and a twinkle in his eye, the quintessential debonair movie star with the world on his feet… little did he know.

Valentin encounters an up-and-coming starlet Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) in one of those ‘meet cute’ moment, and later Valentin ends up helping Miller catch a small break in one of his films. Sparks fly and it’s obvious they had a thing for each other, but circumstances drive them to go their separate ways. Before Valentin realizes — as he choose to ignore the obvious — a change is coming as talking pictures (talkies) is taking over. Pretty soon, Miller’s career in gaining ground whilst Valentin’s crumbling right from under him.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about the plot, in fact it’s quite predictable, but the inventive way it’s told is what makes this film so remarkable. Oh the joy of silent film, where the tiniest body movement and every little facial gesture like a raised eyebrow means everything. The right expressions can be as powerful as any dialogue and all the actors here did an outstanding job in conveying their intention and emotion without overdoing it.

The entire time I was watching this I was truly enthralled by everything happening on the screen. I was in awe of the gorgeous visuals which was unlike any other film I’ve seen in years, but on top of that, I also connected with the characters, with their joy, their despair. You’d think a film this stylish would be a victim of style over substance, but that’s not at all the case here, and for that reason alone this film is a triumph.

If this is playing in a cinema near you, I highly recommend you seeing this its big screen glory… the set pieces, the costumes, the cars, all the vintage ambiance will transport you to a bygone era that’s long departed but hopefully not forgotten. There’s also a few wonderful dance sequences by the two leads that were done in a long, uninterrupted take… it’d make even Gene Kelly stand up and cheer.

As for the performances, I thought this would be more of Dujardin’s vehicle, but I was pleasantly surprised that Bejo’s role is equally substantial. In fact, it’s nice to see that the female character isn’t the one that needed saving. I’d definitely be rooting for Dujardin and Bejo come Golden Globes and Oscar time, they are both electrifying! Dujardin has the panache and whimsy to carry off the charming movie star role, as well as the ability to evoke real pathos when things aren’t so rosy in Valentin’s world. Bejo is radiantly beautiful yet affable, you can’t help but like her character straight away. She really imbues so much heart into this film… her affection towards Valentin appears genuine and sincere.

I have to give props to the supporting cast as well. John Goodman is excellent as a Hollywood studio mogul, and James Cromwell is sympathetic as Valentin’s chauffeur. Penelope Ann Miller seems a rather odd choice as Valentin’s unhappy wife but I think she acquits herself well in the role.

Major kudos to Hazanavicius for creating a film that’s not only enchanting and delightful but something so refreshingly different from anything we’ve seen lately. This is the first 5 out of 5 rating I’ve given this year, and I really can’t find a single darn thing wrong with this film. One review I read said he didn’t want the film to end, and that when the lights came up, he didn’t feel like facing the world outside. I can certainly relate to that… The Artist is an exquisite blend of artistic visual style and engaging storytelling, a truly a magical time at the movies!

5 out of 5 reels


Have you seen this film? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Musings on Golden Globes Nominations 2012

Hello all, I must be quite out of it this week that I didn’t realize the Golden Globes is today! Thanks to Anna from Defiant Success for pointing out to me via Twitter that Gerry Butler was one of the announcers for this year’s nominees. You can check out the video below the complete list.

FULL LIST OF NOMINEES – MOVIES

(now updated with winners, highlighted in dark teal)

Drama 

The Descendants

The Help

Hugo

The Ides of March

Moneyball

War Horse

Comedy/Musical 

50/50

The Artist

Bridesmaids

Midnight in Paris

My Week With Marilyn

Actor, drama 

George Clooney, The Descendants

Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar

Michael Fassbender, Shame

Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March

Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Actress, drama

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis, The Help

Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Actor, comedy or musical Jean Dujardin, The Artist Brendan Gleeson, The Guard

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50

Ryan Gosling, Crazy Stupid Love

Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris

Actress, comedy or musical Jodie Foster, Carnage Charlize Theron, Young Adult

Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids

Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Kate Winslet, Carnage

Supporting actor 

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn

Albert Brooks, Drive

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Supporting actress

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Octavia Spencer, The Help

Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Animated film

Rango

The Adventures of Tintin

Puss in Boots

Winnie the Pooh

Arthur Christmas

Foreign-language film 

The Flowers of War

In the Land of Blood and Honey

The Kid with a Bike

A Separation

The Skin I Live In

Director

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

George Clooney, The Ides of March

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Screenplay

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxwon, Jim Rash, The Descendants

Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball

Original song

Hello Hello (music by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin), Gnomeo & Juliet

The Keeper (music and lyrics by Chris Cornell), Machine Gun Preacher

Lay Your Head Down (music by Brian Byrne, lyrics by Glenn Close), Albert Nobbs

The Living Proof (music by Mary J. Blige, Thomas Newman, Harvey Mason Jr., lyrics by Mary J. Blige, Harvey Mason Jr., Damon Thomas),
The Help

Masterpiece (music and lyrics by Madonna, Julie Frost, Jimmy Harry), W.E.

Original score

Ludovic Bource, The Artist

Abel Korzeniowski, W.E.

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Howard Shore, Hugo

John Williams, War Horse

I feel like this year I haven’t seen enough movies that are nominated here, which is a bummer! But hey, it won’t stop me from opining on the nominees… after all, these are simply my opinion, no science whatsoever in my predictions obviously.

Well, well, well, there aren’t a lot of surprises this year. I knew somehow The Artist would sweep a bunch of nominations and they do indeed with six. Lots of usual suspects again… Clooney, Pitt, DiCaprio, etc. Clooney is forever the GG King, seems like he’s never NOT nominated. He’s got TWO of his movies under the Dramatic category alone (The Descendants & The Ides of March)! Wow, he sure has a lot of clout in this business! Maybe one day I’ll get just what the fuss about him is [shrug]

The Artist

Even without having seen it, The Artist seems to be a shoo-in in the Comedy/Musical category, which translates to Jean Dujardin a highly likely winner for his performance in that category.

For the Dramatic Actor category,  I haven’t seen The Descendants yet but I heard George Clooney‘s performance was good, so I give him the benefit of the doubt. Somehow my gut says that Fassbender will perhaps walk away with the statue, though the other ‘it’ boy of the moment Gosling (I kind of think of Fassbender as the European version of Gosling for some reason) might also steal Clooney’s thunder. He’s got TWO nominations this year but none for Drive, which I thought is rather odd. So was his abs in Crazy, Stupid, Love really THAT spectacular??

Ok, I’m not gonna lie that I sort of wish Gerry Butler would pick up at least a nomination for his turn in Machine Gun Preacher, I really think he was good in it, but no, I’m not gonna say he’s snubbed as I haven’t seen the others’ performances.

In the Dramatic Actress category, I’d like to see Viola Davis win but with Meryl and Tilda, wow the competition is steep!! I can’t really say much on the Supporting Actor category as I have not seen a single one of those performances nominated [sigh] Just from seniority standpoint, I’d probably be cheering for Christopher Plummer as playing against type in Beginners (as a gay dad coming out in his later years) usually is popular with the voters.

Williams as Marilyn Monroe

The Supporting Actress category seems to be more up for grabs. I like Chastain in The Debt and Tree of Life, and I heard she was excellent in The Help so I’d love to see her win. But then again, if The Artist were to sweep most of the awards, there is a highly likely chance Bejo would walk away w/ the Globe along with Dujardin.

So Jodie Foster will battle it out w/ Kate Winslet in the Comedy/Musical Actress category for Carnage? That’s interesting, though I personally would rather see one of the noms go to Marion Cotillard instead for Midnight in Paris, anybody else feel that way too? In any case, if I were a betting woman, I’d probably put my money on the talented Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn.

As for Best Director, well I like both Hugo and Midnight in Paris, the latter much more so, but despite both Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen being such celebrated auteurs, French director Michel Hazanavicius is likely to nab this award along with Best Picture in Musical/Comedy.

MORGAN FREEMAN TO RECEIVE CECIL B. DE MILLE AWARD

Just what is a Cecil B. DeMille award given every year by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association? Well, the award is given every year by the HFPA for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.

Here’s what the HFPA website says about the marvelous 74-year-old actor:

After more than 20 years as a working actor he was finally catapulted into national prominence with the role of the volatile pimp Fast Black in 1987’s Street Smart, that earned him Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.

He won a best actor Golden Globe in 1990 for Driving Miss Daisy and was nominated three more times, for The Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby, for which he won an Oscar, and Invictus.

Woot woot, I’d say he deserves it!! Who doesn’t love Mr. Freeman? He’s got a smile that lights up a room, and a booming voice that matches his regal charisma. Whether he’s in a serious roles like in Shawshank Redemption or comedic ones like in Maiden Heist or RED, he’s always so wonderful to watch! Plus, his brief role as Lucius Fox in Nolan’s Batman flicks are such great scene-stealers, I really think Lucius had the best lines!! So congrats Mr. Freeman, can’t wait to see you in The Dark Knight Rises next year!

Speaking of Cecil B. DeMille Award, my beloved Gregory Peck (you know I’m gonna slip him in somehow right? :D) was one of the recipient of the award in 1969, along with other Hollywood legends like James Stewart, Charlton Heston, Joan Crawford, among others. Oh, his co-star in Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn, was also one of the prestigious award recipient. Mr. Peck has won three Golden Globes in his career, and was nominated for more than a half dozen times.

Gregory Peck with Barbra Streisand at the 1969 Golden Globes Award

Well, that’s my thoughts on this year’s Golden Globes. Now what do YOU think?