Everybody’s Chattin’ + Question of the Week: Favorite French Film(s)

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Glad it’s Thursday already, ya gotta love a short work week 🙂 Well it’s kinda an uneventful week in terms of movie screening. There’s the Bradley Cooper rom-com ALOHA which I’m really not interested in, and I also have zero interest in seeing San Andreas. But I am excited to see SPY next week. I’m not really a fan of Melissa McCarthy but the trailer is a hoot! Plus, there Jason Staham AND Jude Law? I’m SO there.

Ok, now let’s get to those linky dinky…

Mark and Tom have been hosting their Decades Blogathon series on their respective blogs. The reviews have been excellent, check ’em out if you haven’t already.

Jordan reviewed Gaspar NoĂ©‘s fantasy drama from 2009, Enter the Void. He apparently’s been causing quite a stir with his latest film Love [or should it be called lust??]

Josh reviewed Tomorrowland, and he’s one of the few who actually loved the movie

Stu reviewed a John Hughes’ classic The Breakfast Club

Andrew posted one of his 4-Ways Best Picture Bloggers Roundtable, this time focusing films from 2004

Margaret highlights the awesome soundtrack of Mad Max: Fury Road

A couple of notable lists: Katy shared a great find of favorite movie travel posters, whilst Nostra continued posting his Top 100 Films in batches, check out which ones made his list from 40-31.


Time for question of the week!

I’ve quickly become a Francophile now thanks to my current crush Stanley Weber ehm… I’ve been watching a ton of French movies, some even without subtitles! [yes I’m THAT obsessed], but seriously, there’s a whole array of French Cinema out there waiting for me to discover. It just so happens I have one French New Wave film on my Blindspot list, so Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless was the perfect pick for May.

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Well, in honor of Cannes that just wrapped this past week, I’m curious how you feel about French Cinema and which are some of your favorite French movies. In the spirit of recommendation, the two I just saw recently were ThĂ©rĂšse Desqueyroux, Violette – where Stanley have a supporting role, and Pour Une Femme (For A Woman) which was screened at MSPFF last year. All of the movies are on Netflix and I’d recommend all three. They so happen that all three are female-centric, which is always welcome in my book.

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So what are your favorite French film(s), both classic and contemporary ones?

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-ElysĂ©es and cafĂ© 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?

Weekend Roundup: Quick thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road + Cannes 2015

Memorial Weekend came a bit early this year, but hey, a three-day weekend is ALWAYS welcome. It’s been a nice, mellow weekend for me, giving me a chance to catch up with old friends I haven’t seen in a while.

I also got a chance to finally see Mad Max: Fury Road and well, here’s my initial reaction:

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So yeah I totally agree with Ted’s review and I personally would’ve given it a 4.5/5 reels. My hubby and I have decided we’ll see this again in a bigger screen with Dolby Atmos as the visuals are simply astounding!! What surprised me most was how emotionally-gratifying the film was… the visual spectacle did NOT smother the story that it became more style over substance [I’m looking at you Tomorrowland!]

Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy are simply superb here, both bringing their A-game in terms of physical and emotional performance. This film is more about Furiosa’s story than it is about Max, but that’s not to say that Max was just tagging along. I think the story of a partnership between the two lost souls is beautifully realized… nobody needed *saving* but their shared journey ended up bringing redemption to both of them. The supporting characters are wonderful as well.

I found this Tumblr post and I agree wholeheartedly with what’s being said below on the relationship between Capable (Riley Keough) & Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

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I’ve been following Cannes 2015 the past week and now that it’s wrapped, so in case you haven’t been reading about it, here are some of the big winners…

The Palme d’Or winner: Dheepan by Jacques Audiard – A Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris

Grand Prize runner up: Son of Saul by László Nemes – In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.

Jury Prize: The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos – In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days or are transformed into animals and released into the woods.

Best Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien for The Assassin – Based on a short story written during Tang dynasty, “Nie Ying Niang” is a story about assassin Nie’s mission to assassinate a political rival

Best Actor: Vincent Lindon for The Measure of a Man (La loi du marché)

Best Actress (tie): Rooney Mara for Carol and Emmanuelle Bercot for Mon Roi.

I can’t wait to see all of these movies, I sure hope all of them will get a decent release here. I’m surprised Macbeth or even Mad Max: Fury Road didn’t get any award, especially the latter. The reviews I’ve glanced through so far for Macbeth have been positive so I really can’t wait for that! Of course it’s never too early to talk about Oscar and this HitFix article talks about which movies are ready for Oscar close-ups.


Of course my weekend wouldn’t be complete without some Stanley Weber viewing 😉 Friday night was Movie Nite with my girlfriends and we watched Not Another Happy Ending… I lost count how many times I’ve seen it but I still love it!

I also watched The Hollow Crown: Henry V, which is the last of the four-part BBC miniseries I’ve mentioned here. I can’t believe I still haven’t seen this given how many amazing British actors are involved. I will watch all four miniseries at some point, but I couldn’t help watching this one because Stanley has a small role as the Duke of OrlĂ©ans.

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He barely got any screen time in this series, which is a pity. I wish one day I’d see him be the star of his own Shakespearean production! Judging from a dozen roles I’ve seen Stanley played so far, he’s definitely a versatile and dedicated actor who’s ready for his very own closeup any day now.

Well, since I’m currently obsessed with anything Parisian, it’s easy to decide what my May Blindspot movie pick would be:

Breathless
À bout de souffle (Breathless) – by Jean-Luc Godard

Can you believe it I’ve never seen a Godard film before? It’s also written by François Truffaut too, another French filmmaker whose work I’m not familiar with… yet. Review shall be up sometime Tuesday!


Well that’s my weekend roundup. How ’bout you, seen anything good?

Blogathon Relay: TEN Most Influential Directors Of All Time

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This Blog Relay idea is really getting around. I did a similar post a while back with the Most Iconic Movie Characters which generally has the same concept. This time around, the 10 Most Influential Directors relay is spearheaded by John at Hitchcock’s World. Here’s the gist in John’s own words:

I have compiled a list of ten directors I consider to be extremely influential. I will name another blogger to take over. That blogger, in their own article, will go through my list and choose one they feel doesn’t belong, make a case for why that director doesn’t fit, and then bring out a replacement. After making a case for why that director is a better choice, they will pass the baton onto another blogger. That third blogger will repeat the process before choosing another one to take over, and so on.

Thanks to Josh at Classicblanca for passing the baton to me! These nine remain on the list as it stands right now, scroll down below which director I have to let go and his replacement:

10DirectorsRelay_9RemainingClockwise from top left:
Jean-Luc Godard, Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino, Georges MéliÚs, Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrik.

Thanks to Two Dollar Cinema for the image idea 🙂

The last addition that Josh added was Ingmar Bergman. Here’s his reasoning: Ingmar Bergman’s films put the human condition in the forefront, combining striking imagery with raw emotion. Where would cinema be without his humanistic approach to storytelling? 

Boy, the list as it stands now makes it incredibly tough for me to remove a single one, but hey, rules are rules and so, even with a heavy hart, one has to make a decision.

Who’s Out?

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Francis Ford Coppola

It’s not so much that I’m removing Mr. Coppola, but I’m just moving him down to another spot in the top 15. How about that for diplomacy? 😉 In all seriousness though, I do think Mr. Coppola is indeed an influential director. But the point of this list is just how influential? I mean we’re talking about the most influential of ALL TIME here. Looking at the 10 directors, I feel that I can’t remove anyone else given the prominent contributions they’ve made, even if I haven’t seen any of their films [yet]. I feel that Coppola’s resume is pretty spotty after his glory days in the 70s. So sorry Mr. Coppola, but like I said, I do think you deserve to be in the Top 15!

Who’s In?

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Billy Wilder

I’m surprised he wasn’t on the list in the first place, to be honest. Now, even though I haven’t seen all his films, his talent is undeniable and he’s so well-loved by filmmakers and fans alike. He doesn’t just win numerous awards in his illustrious career (27 films, 6 Oscars), but he’s been an inspiration to other great directors. Michel Hazanavicius who won Best Director Oscar for The Artist thanked Wilder three times in his acceptance speech, “… I could thank him like a thousand times because I think he’s the perfect director, the perfect example. He’s the soul of Hollywood and I wanted to thank him and I love him.” [per The Wrap]. Even Ingmar Bergman who’s a legendary director himself has said that Wilder is his favorite Hollywood director [per IMDb]. Cameron Crowe also penned memoir of sort, called Conversations with Wilder, which was the first time Wilder agreed to talk extensively about his life and work. I wish there had been a documentary on him as well.

I’ve recently seen one of Wilder’s best, The Apartment, and I could see why his films are so beloved. He imbued such wit in his films, a dose of cynical humor. He also has a way with actors, having directed no less than 14 actors to Oscar-nominated performances. He’s also a versatile writer/director, as he excelled in numerous genres: drama, noir, comedy as well as war films. He’s one of those directors whose work I still need to see more of, but even from the few that I’ve seen, it’s easy to see how Mr. Wilder belongs in this list.


I’m passing the torch to Mark, one of my favorite bloggers over at Three Rows Back. He’s been doing great work in his Retrospective Series, like this one on A Hard Day’s Night.

Previous relay contributors:
Girl Meets Cinema
And So It Begins
Dell on Movies
Two Dollar Cinema
A Fistful of Films
Classicblanca


So folks, agree/disagree with my picks? Let’s hear it!

10 Favorite Directors’ Quotes Relay Race

Another relay race has been circulating around, similar to the Best Actors and Actress Relay Race I did a few months ago. This time it’s David from Taste of Cinema who started the relay race to share some of our favorite quotes from filmmakers. Thank you John @ John Likes Movies for tagging me!

Here’s David’s explanation of the relay race:
People love wisdom from great minds. As a cinephile, I prefer director quotes more than words from any other group of people in the world. Their thoughts on cinema not only provide insights into a deep understanding of cinema, but also open the window to their own films, their genres, and their filmmaking methods, thus the need to receive more exposure as their films did.

The rules have been altered, but basically the one rule is simple: Replace one director and their respective quote with one of your own.

Here’s who’s participated in the Relay Race so far:

Chris at Movies And Songs 365
Alex at And So It Begins…
Josh from The Cinematic Spectacle
Stephanie at On Page and Screen


And here are the quotes as it stands now…

“I steal from every single movie ever made. I love it – if my work has anything it’s that I’m taking this from this and that from that and mixing them together. If people don’t like that, then tough titty, don’t go and see it, all right? I steal from everything. Great artists steal; they don’t do homages.” – Quentin Tarantino

“Unlike all the other art forms, film is able to seize and render the passage of time, to stop it, almost to possess it in infinity. I’d say that film is the sculpting of time.” – Andrei Tarkovsky

“Why make a movie about something one understands completely? I make movies about things I do not understand, but wish to.” – Seijun Suzuki

“I don’t like the idea of ‘understanding’ a film. I don’t believe that rational understanding is an essential element in the reception of any work of art. Either a film has something to say to you or it hasn’t. If you are moved by it, you don’t need it explained to you. If not, no explanation can make you moved by it.” – Federico Fellini

“When I make a film, I never stop uncovering mysteries, making discoveries. When I’m writing, filming, editing, even doing promotional work, I discover new things about the film, about myself, and about others. That is what I’m subconsciously looking for when shooting a film: to glimpse the enigmas of life, even if I don’t resolve them, but at least to uncover them. Cinema is curiosity in the most intense meaning of the word.” – Pedro Almodovar

“All my movies are about strange worlds that you can’t go into unless you build them and film them. That’s what’s so important about film to me. I just like going into strange worlds.”David Lynch

“You make films to give people something, to transport them somewhere else, and it doesn’t matter if you transport them to a world of intuition or a world of intellect…The realm of superstitions, fortune-telling, presentiments, intuition, dreams, all this is the inner life of a human being, and all this is the hardest thing to film… I’ve been trying to get there from the beginning. I’m somebody who doesn’t know, somebody who’s searching.” – Krzysztof Kieslowski

“I wonder whether my bleak-o-meter is set differently from other people’s. I have such passion for what I do that I can’t see it as bleak. When people use that word, or “grim” or “gritty,” I just think, “Oh, come on, look a bit deeper.” My films don’t give you an easy ride. I can see that. The sense I get is that people have quite a physical experience with them. They feel afterwards that they’ve really been through something.”Andrea Arnold

“Truth is hard to tell! And you have to be willing to be criticized for it.”Lee Daniels

“A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end… but not necessarily in that order.” 
—Jean-Luc Godard

I’m removing…

There are some directors here I’m not familiar with, but I really like what they had to say so I wouldn’t remove their quotes simply because I haven’t seen any of their films. So I chose the quote that I don’t find as interesting as others, so it’s not a reflection of how I feel about said director. So that said, I bid adieu to…

Francis Ford Coppola 

“An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?”

My addition:

Christopher Nolan

“Every film should have its own world, a logic and feel to it that expands beyond the exact image that the audience is seeing.” 

I choose to go with a contemporary director whose complete feature films I have seen, including his first feature film shot on a shoe-string budget Following. He’s one of my personal favorites and I think the British auteurs is one of the greatest filmmakers working today. I like that quote because he lives up to that concept with his films, they’re cerebral, imaginative and has that sense of wonderment. There’s another quote of his I like where he said that film is first and foremost entertainment, but that it can be both serious and intellectually stimulating. His films definitely has those qualities.

Ok, now the easy part:

I’d like to tag my friend Keith @ Keith and the Movies whose phenomenal blog is one of my favorites. Take it away, Keith!


Well, what are your thoughts on these quotes and my pick in particular?