Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Ten of 2011

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1. Midnight in Paris
2. Tomboy
3. We Need to Talk About Kevin
4. Hadewijch
5. Le gamin au vélo/The Kid With a Bike
6. La princesse de Montpensier
7. Ma part du gâteau/My Piece of the Pie
8. Hanna
9. Melancholia
10. La piel que habito/The Skin I Live In

Honorable Mentions:
Jane Eyre
Café de flore
Bobby Fischer Against the World (documentary)
Unknown
Beginners

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Top Six Films of November, 2011

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I Love Melvin (1953)
Debbie Reynolds co-stars with Donald O'Connor, the supporting actor in Singin' in the Rain. The songs and the dance routines are pretty amazing, however this film is practically unknown. Why? O'Connor's lack of star power? He tap dances on roller skates for crying out loud! Melvin is fun and emotionally touching. More people should give it a chance.

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We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

See blog post.

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Hopscotch (1980)
Finally, a funny thriller about a CIA agent. Ronald Neame directs Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson and Sam Waterston and they have never been better!

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Sweet November (1968)
I love everything I see Sandy Dennis in! At first, I thought Up the Down Staircase could be a fluke, but no! She's always amazing. In 2001, this film was remade. It was so bad, that I could never imagine the original would be so good. It's funny, quirky, charming, and heartbreaking.

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Heat and Dust (1983)
James Ivory has too many good films that are unknown. In fact, I almost overlooked this film, but I'm glad I didn't. In order for Anne (Julie Christie) to understand herself better, she looks into the life of her grand-aunt Olivia (Greta Scacchi). Anne is a free-spirit who loves living in India and embraces life to the fullest. Definitely recommended for those who love other cultures and who love films about the search for greater meaning.

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Höstsonaten/Autumn Sonata (1978)
Eva (Liv Ullmann) and Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman) duke it out emotionally in Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece. I've decided that it's probably my second favorite Bergman film next to Persona. Perhaps Mike Leigh is the only other director I've known that explores family issues so deeply. Bergman definitely digs up the dirt, yet does not give us any easy answers nor an ending that is wrapped up neatly with a bow. Definitely recommended.

Honorable mention:
Vie privée/A Very Private Affair (1962) Louis Malle certainly knew what to do with Brigitte Bardot here and in Viva Maria! (1965).
The Story of Three Loves (1953) The first segment is great, but not for those who can't handle unhappy endings. The third segment seems like A Girl on the Bridge's predecessor. There are several things different about it. However, both films feature a girl who joins a dangerous act after a suicide attempt.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lynne Ramsey's We Need to Talk about Kevin

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The best movie I saw at AFI Fest this year was Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011), which incidentally happened to be the last screening I attended. With dialog such as "Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah" and great performances from Tilda Swinton and company, tough issues were dealt with splendidly. The movie even had some great, happy moments, despite the fact that a lot of people wouldn't want to see a movie about a massacre at a school through the eyes of the killer's mother.

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Though not specified, the setting was supposed to be Colorado. Since the Scottish director wanted to make this film, she almost had to set it in America. If violent outbursts in schools occur in Europe, they are extremely rare. Europeans have more limited access to guns. However, Kevin's weapon of choice isn't a gun.

His parents aren't indifferent. His upbringing could be called privileged. Despite the family friction, his mother always makes an effort to be there for him. But even though there are tell-tale signs, his parents never threaten him with punishment or military school or things that might steer him away from what he is about to do.

The main problem is that his father is completely oblivious to his son's problems; Kevin always smiles around him and acts like a perfect son. The father's trust is his undoing, as Kevin doesn't care for anyone but himself. A great character study, with no cliches. Definitely recommended. 8.5/10

Monday, October 31, 2011

Top Five Horror Films of October, 2011

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[ Let's Kill Uncle ]

In October, I embarked on a quest to see as many horror films as possible. Here are my top finds:

  • The Amityville Horror (1979) Stanley Kubrick must have seen this film, because at least two things were lifted and put into The Shining just a few years later (including the father hacking his way into the bathroom with an axe). With an upside down cross and a priest who is attacked by physical pains whenever he tries to go near the house, it's interesting and well thought out. The fact that it's based on a true story adds to the mystique.
  • The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976) Jodie Foster was a young teenager when she acted in this film. Her character is smart and her potential assailant is Martin Sheen, who is naturally creepy.
  • House of Wax (1953) I've never been that impressed by Andre de Toth before, but this film is truly scary and features a great chase scene that I was sure to watch twice.
  • Let’s Kill Uncle (1966) So bad that it’s great! The premise is this kid discovers his uncle wants to kill him to inherit his millions. So he decides to kill him first. The movie is directed and produced by William Castle and is in color.
  • I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) A woman marries a man and he acts completely different once they're married. It's hysterical and true to life at the same time... except for the fact that people in town are being taken over by space aliens. Their exteriors remain the same, but they are possessed by something that leaves them cold and soulless.
For a complete list of recommendations, see my complete list.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top Five Films of September, 2011

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Up the Down Staircase (1967, Robert Mulligan)
Sandy Dennis is amazing as a teacher who tries to get through to her students. I was surprised at the quality of this film, directed by Robert Mulligan, although I probably shouldn't have been. It's just that no one really talks about this film, even though it is an "iconic" teacher movie in the same way that To Sir With Love, Stand and Deliver, or Dangerous Minds are.

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Changement d'adresse/Change of Address (2006)
Emmanuel Mouret is really a top comedy director in France. This film is perhaps not as well-known as Shall We Kiss? (which received distribution in the United States), but is perhaps even more funny and charming. Truly a gem. If you wish that Woody Allen was French and young again, perhaps you'll find what you're seeking in Changement d'adresse.

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Les belles de nuit/Beauties of the Night (1952, René Clair)
This film reminded me of three films: It Happened Tomorrow (1948), Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), and Midnight in Paris (2011). It Happened Tomorrow was also directed by René Clair and seems to explore themes of time travel. The ensemble of historical characters featured reminded me a lot of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. And last, but not least, Midnight in Paris' characters wished they were a part of another time and place, much like the characters in Les belles de nuit. So, this film had elements from a bunch of different films that I liked. I couldn't dislike it at all.


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Ça commence aujourd'hui/It All Starts Today (1999, Bertrand Tavernier)
The plot may seem tired or boring: A schoolteacher doesn't have enough resources for his students. But Bertrand Tavernier is a master, so never underestimate him. This movie was phenomenal. I was surprised to find it on DVD at my local library. Definitely check around for this movie. It exists and it worth tracking it down.

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The Bostonians (1984, James Ivory)
TCM cast the spotlight on director James Ivory in September. I had enjoyed the films I had seen from him before (which are typically produced by Ismail Merchant and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala). However, I thought I had seen all his best films. I, of course, was wrong. Based on the novel by Henry James, The Bostonians explores a world of liberal New Englanders who vie for truth, friendship, and love. At first, Christopher Reeve seems out of place as a Southern lawyer. Strangely enough, his melds into his character with the disguise of his mustache and Southern accent. You almost forget for a minute that at one time he played Superman. Almost. Finally, there's Vanessa Redgrave, who was nominated for an Oscar for this film. She did not win (she lost to Sally Field who won for Places in the Heart). Her subtlety is amazing. Her character is Olive Chancellor, who is stronger than Verena Tarrant, who the movie almost seems to be more about. Olive is Verena's mentor and takes over her life in a Svengalian fashion. So, above all, I'd recommend this film for the great characters.

Honorable mention:

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Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob/The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob (1973) What can I say? Just a very, very funny French film.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Top Five Film Noirs of August, 2011

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[Vicki, 1953]

I love the shadows. The snappy dialogue. The femme fatales. The handsome detective with no past who wanders in over his head.

In August, I decided to concentrate watching movies in the film noir genre. It was great to catch up on several I hadn't seen and to have completed 90% of TSPDT's 250 Quintessential Noir Films List.

I'd love to share the top 5(+) films I saw last month:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

La piel que habito/The Skin I Live In

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The most interesting thing about Almodóvar's new film is how polarizing the reviews I read on IMDB are. It's his best film. His worst film. It's horror. It's definitely not horror. The only thing most people can agree on is the fluidity of the camerawork by Jose Luis Alcaine. In one scene, Marilia (Marisa Paredes) runs through the room at a sideways angle that confirms the urgency of the scene, in addition to being innovative and beautiful.

Perhaps this is Almodóvar's most unusual film. Oddly enough, the film takes place in the not so distant future (2012) and the not so far off past (six years ago). The comparisons to Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face are not unjustified. Both girls, La piel's Vera and Eyes' Christiane, both wear strange and practically identical masks. Also, each film features a father that over obsesses about the well-being of his daughter who has been damaged.

However, never once did I feel that this was a horror film. It has tension and suspense; at times it is hard to watch because of the subject matter. I wouldn't be perplexed if someone thought this was a horror film, but I would describe it more along the lines of thriller and drama. The music set the mood, which wasn't as scary or kitschy as something you would expect from a horror film. It also did not go for cheap thrills.

Similarities to Almodóvar's other work pervade his film. Like in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Talk to Her, Broken Embraces, Bad Education, and Volver, there is rape. There are so many rape scenes and replayings of the rape of Norma in La piel, that one almost loses count. Yet it is strange how Vicente's rape of Norma (Blanca Suárez) could be interpreted. Her faulty last-minute "no" almost leaves you wondering if the audience is meant to sympathize with the rapist and if the victim should have protested sooner. All of this is very delicate subject matter that Almodóvar tears wide open.

The movie will be discussed in detail and there might be spoilers below:

Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) plays a scientist that decides to take revenge on Vicente. He abducts him and with the help of his associates (who are none the wiser), Ledgard performs a sex-change operation on Vicente, who becomes Vera.

Vera defies her captors and tries to escape at the first chance she gets. Eventually, she becomes domiciled, almost tame. Perhaps the audience might believe she has been struck with Stockholm Syndrome when she begs to share Dr. Ledgard's room with him. But perhaps this is the reverse of Stockholm Syndrome: Dr. Ledgard hated Vicente for what he did to his daughter and kept him in a locked room. Instead of Vicente now Vera, falling in love with him, the actual captor, Dr. Ledgard, seems to be the one falling for his captive.

By the end of the film, we are faced once again with sympathizing with Vicente, the rapist, the original offender. His life has been unjustifiably transformed and he is now Vera. The audience might be left feeling uncomfortable. Dr. Ledgard took irreversible measures and now Vicente must regain his life back as Vera. Can she? Will she? Vera was as emotionally strong as Norma was not. It seems as if Vera will make a new start and move on with her life, because she has the survival instinct and refuses to let this traumatic stint in her life keep her from living.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Top Five Films of July, 2011

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Secrets (1933)
Frank Borzage has done it again. It starts out with John (Leslie Howard) and Mary (Mary Pickford), a young couple in love. John comes from nothing and Mary's snotty rich parents do not approve. Over time and hardship, they prove their love. They escape their snooty home back east and head for the west and face off with outlaws. Many years pass and John is back in the east running for governor. Unfortunately, he had a fling and the other woman threatens to ruin his reputation. However, Mary stands by him and they are stronger than ever. Then, like they barricaded themselves from the outlaws, they barricade themselves from their children about 50 years later. They are about to retire and want to spend more time with just each other, but the children do not approve. A charming and heart-warming tale, it really got to me. Frank Borzage gives us an incredibly skilled and mature story of love (he was around 40 when this film was released). You won't find a movie like this in today's theaters, so thank goodness for Turner Classic Movies.

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Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926)
This feature-length animated film by Lotte Reiniger was a revelation. Again, despite the fact that technology wasn't as advanced in the twenties as it is today and that this film was produced during the silent film period, it is an astounding feat. You can watch the video HERE.

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Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray (1962)
This is definitely a wonderful, but creepy film which words almost cannot describe. It is about an abandoned girl who takes solace in the friendship of an adult man. Their relationship is extremely inappropriate, and it is judged so by people who encounter them. Like the film below, we almost do not see enough evidence to make an educated decision on what happened at the end. I would have liked to believe that the people responsible for the final decision were wrong. However, the man in question was seriously disturbed. It's possible that despite the fact he was pretending to be her father and that they were able to provide for each other the kind of social connection that was missing from their lives, that the relationship was still very wrong and they should have never ever met more than once.

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They Won't Forget (1937)
TCM showed this film right after the Casey Anthony verdict, a choice that I found interesting. In the movie, the viewer is never shown who the actual killer is and yet, everyone seems to "know" who it is. (SPOILER) Eventually, even a lynch mob demands satisfaction.

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Mon oncle d'Amérique (1980)
Despite Alain Resnais having so many masterworks, this film is extremely important and groundbreaking. I'll admit that the first time I tried watching this, the intro seemed very slow and I couldn't take it. But the second time, the film was mesmerizing. It takes into account the modern dilemma of having to behave human and civilized in a world that chips away at our souls every day. The film gave an intricate profile of all three of the main characters (played by Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, and Roger Pierre). It was beautiful to see how they all related to one another. The movie probably requires two or more viewings to get all out of it that Resnais intended. It is layered and carefully constructed. Definitely recommended for those who might be interested in a psychological study of humans trapped in the confines of modernity.

Honorable Mention (two additional shorts that are worth watching):
Kurt Kren's 31/75: Asyl (1975)
Marie Menken's Go! Go! Go! (1964)



Sunday, August 7, 2011

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Top Four Films of June, 2011

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Validation (2007)
I give top scores to very few films, but this is definitely a 10/10. The short is available to watch on Youtube, so no one really has any excuses not to watch it. After checking out other worth by the director, I discovered that he also directed Dear Zachary, another essential film. Definitely check both films out if you can.

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Tomboy (2011)
See my blog post.

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The Unbelievable Truth (1989)
I had pretty much given up on Hal Hartley. However, I did not know about this spectacular early film of his. It was one of those moments: "Oh, so this is why everyone likes Hal Hartley."

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Slums of Beverly Hills (1998)
When Tamara Jenkins was promoting her film The Savages, she kept mentioning her first feature-length film, Slums. More than a few years later, I finally checked it out. There was a realness to it, as well as an other-worldly feel that really made a close-to-perfect movie. The cousins (played by Natasha Lyonne and Marisa Tomei) have their own language and their fathers have this incredible dynamic. Everything is paced wonderfully, it made sense, and also had an emotional impact. I had no expectations for this film, but if I had, they would have been exceeded.

Two honorable mentions:

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Girl with Green Eyes (1964)
A friend recommended this awhile back and it just happened to be playing on TCM. I was glad to catch it. It was a remarkable coming-of-age story. While we've seen it all before practically, the story is incredibly fresh. And the film is from 1964! It's almost if nothing has changed. That being said, it reminded me of An Education a few times (the English setting, older man/younger student dynamic, the ending). However, Girl with Green Eyes is definitely a different story and is to be recommend.

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Partir/Leaving (2009)
Director Catherine Corsini is a favorite of mine, however she has two problems: she hasn't made enough films and her endings are typically abrupt. Partir (or Leaving as it is known in English language markets) pretty much solves both of those problems. Kristin Scott Thomas is great in this film and I believed Yvan Attal when he got angry. The characters felt so real that it was scary. Of course, Corsini's characters always do. That's why I recommend Partir, La nouvelle Ève, and La répétition.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks, 2011)

as posted on Examiner.com


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Tom Hanks directed, produced, and co-wrote the Larry Crowne script with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Hanks is not really accomplished as a screenwriter. The rule in Hollywood is that you either place normal people in an extraordinary situation or extraordinary people in normal situations. The film is about an adult man who works at U-Mart (the equivalent of Wal-Mart in this film's universe) and decides to go to college for the first time after being laid off for his lack of education. A normal person in a normal situation doesn't usually thrill moviegoers.

Let's take a look at Tom Hanks' earnings for three of his recent films:

  • -$15 million for Toy Story 3
  • -$50 million for Angels & Demons
  • -$18 million (plus profit participation) for The DaVinci Code

It's funny how his divorced character that works at U-Mart can afford such a big house. Perhaps Hanks wrote this movie as an attempt to connect with Americans who are in the midst of an ongoing recession. That's nice. So he trades in his SUV for a scooter and joins a scooter gang. So a friend sets him up with a job that will work around his schedule for the most part. There are other concessions he has to make. Overall, Larry Crowne seems rather constructed in terms of character and plot. It doesn't flow naturally or uniquely.

Despite the limitations of the film, a definite effort was made in the creation of the Larry Crowne: he is upbeat, has a positive attitude and an optimistic outlook. At times he is a little over-the-top, but at least his antics save us from what would be a boring movie otherwise.

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Tom Hanks must have been a really nice guy to bounce dialogue off of in Charlie Wilson's War, because Julia Roberts is working with him again. Maybe her die-hard fans will appreciate her in this film. Those who never cared for her much in the first place might be able to handle her character as a woman with top qualifications who is stuck teaching at "East Valley College" and drinks to alleviate her pain. She also has a deadbeat husband who watches porn. It's funny. Since the movie is rated PG-13, the imagery that pops up on her husband's computer is nothing more than women in bikinis. If it was supposed to have been actual porn, the audience might have benefited by not being able to see what the husband was regarding in order to keep in line with the rating while leaving the worst to the audience's imagination.

Still, Larry Crowne is a completely harmless film. Even if it is not that brilliant, it might be relevant and moderately entertaining.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Love Crime at the L.A. Film Festival

as published on Examiner.com

When director Alain Corneau passed away August 29, 2010, his final film, Love Crime, was still showing in theaters in France. It is perhaps one of his finest works to date, holding its own against his classics: All the Mornings of the World and Fear and Trembling.

In the beginning of the film, Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier) seems quite enamored with her boss, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas). Perhaps there is even a bit of sexual tension that leaves the viewer thinking that Isabelle might be a lesbian. Yet as the film unravels, we find out that Isabelle and Christine have had an affair with the same co-worker.

In the story, Christine not only takes credit for Isabelle's work, but is bent on humiliating her. Despite Isabelle's admiration for the woman, she can only take so much before she enacts her quite brilliant revenge. There is perhaps an unbelievable moment or two, but the film remains buoyant and succeeds in pleasing the audience without pandering to it.

It is too bad that Alain Corneau is not here to promote the film in Los Angeles. May 30, 2009, Corneau spoke at LACMA after a showing of Police Python 357, an older film of his that starred Yves Montand. In his discussion, he spoke tenderly about the late Patrick Dewaere, who starred in his film, Série noire.

Love Crime will be showing at the L.A. Film Festival on Friday, June 24th, 2011 (7:10 PM) and Sunday, June 26th, 2011 (1:10 PM). The Consulate General of France in Los Angeles has announced that Ludivine Sagnier will attend both screenings. You may buy your tickets here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top Three Films of May, 2011

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Days of Wine and Roses (1962, Blake Edwards)
Just jaw-droppingly amazing. I mean, come on, where was I this whole time! Over the past several years I've come close to watching this movie, yet I haven't. Then I did and it was an EXPERIENCE.


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Midnight in Paris (2011, Woody Allen)
See my blog posting for this one.

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Slogan (1969, Pierre Grimblat)
Perhaps this film should be recommended to Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg fans only. It was the film where they met, fell in love, and two years later Jane would give birth to their only daughter together, Charlotte Gainsbourg. The film has a very sixties feel and not everything is sunshine and roses. But I enjoyed every second of this film nonetheless.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Midnight in Paris (2011, Woody Allen)

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The film starts out with Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) playing an engaged couple visiting Paris. Alas, just because they are getting married doesn't automatically mean they are happy. In fact, Inez spends most of her time with her friends visiting from out of town: Carol (played by Nina Arianda, a Carol Kane look-alike) and Paul (who reminds me of Lester from Crimes and Misdemeanors). Of course, Gil cannot stand Paul and finds any excuse not to be around him.

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So one drunken night when Gil is left to his own devices, he takes a walk down a street that must have been Rue du Cardinal Lemoine (the movie does not advertise this fact). The only reason it is worth mentioning is because Ernest Hemingway used to live on this street at #74.

In Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, a character played by Jeff Daniels jumps out of a movie screen into reality, entering an entirely new world. Ironically, the name of the actor of this character is named Gil as well. In Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson's Gil is transported by an old-fashioned automobile into 1920s Paris. We don't ask how or why he got there and neither does he. However, his reactions (pictured above) are priceless, as he cannot quite believe what he is encountering.

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He meets a number of historical characters, in addition to the lovely Adriana (Marion Cotillard) who by all means must be fictitious (although in the film she plays mistress to Picasso and Modigliani among others). The more conflict Gil has with Inez, he begins to wonder if Adriana might be the perfect woman for him. He notes how the French balance their wives and mistresses with ease, but being an American and hopeless romantic, he knows he is going to have to choose.

As the movie unfolds and we find out more about Adriana, the movie goes in a completely unexpected direction. Yet the movie never disappoints. The ending is lovely and the audience should be satisfied unless they wanted a more devastating Annie Hall ending.

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Each character is adorably crafted and there are some stand-out performances:

Corey Stoll, who plays Ernest Hemingway, is absolutely amazing.

Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald is over-the-top, but in an incredibly wonderful way.

Carla Bruni is a museum guide at the Rodin Museum. The role is short and sweet. I am not sure that she necessarily has an acting career ahead of her or if she is as talented as her sister/actress Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. However, she was a familiar face and her character was fun.

Kathy Bates plays Gertrude Stein like it is second nature for her. Seriously, she acts like she was born for the part.

Léa Seydoux has already wowed audiences with La Belle Personne and had a bit part in Inglourious Basterds. Her role in this movie is small, but charming as Gabrielle, a girl who sells old records and memorabilia in the street market.

In closing, I thought I was obsessed with Hemingway, but Woody Allen takes the level of fandom about five notches further. He cast Ernest Hemingway's granddaughter (Mariel Hemingway) in his 1979 film, Manhattan. It is also quite possible that Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a reference to Hemingway's The Garden of Eden. Vicky and Cristina are vacationing in Barcelona when Cristina decides to stay behind with her lover and embarks on a romantic journey with him and his ex-wife. While, in The Garden of Eden, a man and woman who are on their European honeymoon fall in love with the same woman. The comparison could be a stretch, but it is worth mentioning.

Overall, Woody Allen's love of Hemingway and Paris shine through in this absolutely beautiful eye-opening masterpiece. It is for hopeless romantics who also don't mind a dose of reality or a bit of time-traveling.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Female Directors

Since 2008, I have dedicated every March to discovering films directed by women. I have made some great discoveries, as you can see in my related post: Favorite Films Directed By Women.

However, I have created a list of films directed by women to bring attention to their films. Feel free to suggest any female filmmakers. In time, this page will have more links and information on each individual's films. For now, I have the links for the women whose work is on UBUWeb, a great online resource.

Jennifer Abbott
Perry Miller Adato
Anne Aghion
Chantal Akerman (MUBI List)
Karin Albou
Natalia Almada
Suzana Amaral
Allison Anders
Jane Anderson
Laurie Anderson
Madeline Anderson
Louise Archambault
Gillian Armstrong
Andrea Arnold
Jacqueline Audry
Florence Ayisi
Saphia Azzedine
Josiane Balasko
Mirra Bank
Laurence Ferreira Barbosa (MUBI List)
Aida Begic
María Luisa Bemberg
Sadie Benning
Julie Bertucelli
Susanne Bier
Icíar Bollaín
Catherine Breillat (MUBI List)
Zabou Breitman
Margaret Brown
Sophie Calle
Jane Campion (MUBI List)
Celeste Carrasco
Raymonde Carasco
Zoe Cassavetes
Liliana Cavani
Sylvia Chang
Mabel Cheung
Clara Chichin
Lisa Cholodenko
Joyce Chopra
Vera Chytilová
Michelle Citron
Shirley Clarke
Claire Clouzot
Isabel Coixet (MUBI List)
Laetitia Colombani
Catherine Corsini (MUBI List)
Emma-Kate Croghan
Gemma Cubero del Barrio
Cherien Dabis
Jocelyne Lemaire Darnaud
Julie Davis
Josée Dayan
Donna Deitch
Claire Denis (MUBI List)
Anne Depetrini
Maya Deren (UBUWeb)
Saba Dewan
Leticia Dolera
Sara Driver
Yolanda DuLuart
Marguerite Duras
Ildikó Enyedi
Heidi Ewing
Safi Faye
Anne Fontaine* (MUBI List)
Andrea Fraser
Su Friedrich
Nicole Garcia
Julie Gavras
Gwyneth Gibby
Sandra Goldbacher
Lisa Gottlieb
Marleen Gorris*
Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Barbara Hammer
Mia Hansen-Løve
Mona Hatoum
Jessica Hausner
Joanna Hogg (Films: Archipelago, Unrelated)
Agnieszka Holland (MUBI List)
Nicole Holofcener
Ann Hui
Danièle Huillet
Sarah Jacobson
Agnès Jaoui
Tamara Jenkins
Astrid Henning-Jensen
Mary Jordan
Wanuri Kahiu
Nelly Kaplan
Naomi Kawase
Sarah Kernochan
Barbara Kopple (MUBI List)
Ester Krumbachová
Diane Kurys* (MUBI List)
Sophie Laloy
Evelyn Lambart
Clara Law
Lauren Lazin
Caroline Leaf
Isild Le Besco
Julia Leigh
Frieda Liappa
Caroline Link
Claudia Llosa* (MUBI List)
Barbara Loden
Kim Longinotto
Julie Lopes-Curval
Angela Ricci Lucchi
Alison Maclean
Maria Maggenti

Hana Makhmalbaf
Sarah Maldoror
Tonia Marketaki
Lucrecia Martel
Laetitia Masson
Diana Matuzevičienė
Elaine May (MUBI List)
Nana Mchedlidze
Nancy Meckler
Nina Menkes
Agnès Merlet
Márta Mészáros
Karen Moncrieff
Meredith Monk
Jocelyn Moorhouse
Laura Mulvey
Kira Muratova
Jehane Noujaim
Annette K. Olesen
Jenni Olson
Fatima Jebli Ouazzani
Suzan Pitt
Maria Procházková
Lynne Ramsay
Kelly Reichardt
Lotte Reiniger
Leni Riefenstahl
Marta Rodríguez
Françoise Romand
Mariana Rondon
Jenna Rosher
Katarzyna Roslaniec
Patricia Rozema
Barbara Rubin
Angela Schanelec
Lone Scherfig
Céline Sciamma (MUBI List)
Aparna Sen (Wiki)
Coline Serreau
Jana Sevciková
Larisa Shepitko
Mina Shum
Floria Sigismondi
Claire Simon
Barbra Streisand
Susan Streitfeld
Julie Taymor
Suzie Templeton
Stella Theodoraki
Daniela Thomas
Helena Trestikova
Nadine Trintignant
Ann Turner
Agnès Varda (UBUWeb/MUBI List)
Margarethe von Trotta
Susan F. Walker
Claudia Weill
Lina Wertmüller (MUBI List)
Jessica Yu
Jasmila Zbanic
Marina Zenovich

Silent Film Directors:
Dorothy Arzner (MUBI List)
Germaine Dulac
Alice Guy-Blaché (MUBI List)
Ida May Park
Lois Weber

“Hollywood” directors:
Kathryn Bigelow*
Martha Coolidge
Sofia Coppola (MUBI List)
Nora Ephron
Catherine Hardwicke
Mary Harron
Amy Heckerling
Callie Khouri
Mimi Leder
Penny Marshall (MUBI List)
Nancy Meyers
Mira Nair
Kimberly Peirce
Sally Potter
Penelope Spheeris

Actresses who have tried their hand at directing:
Anne Bancroft
Drew Barrymore
Sandrine Bonnaire
Julie Delpy
Jodie Foster
Lillian Gish
Anne Heche
Diane Keaton
Ida Lupino (MUBI List)
Jeanne Moreau
Samantha Morton
Sarah Polley
Adrienne Shelly

UBU Web (female directors that are mainly underground or experimental):
Peggy Ahwesh
Beth B
Zoe Beloff
Valie Export
Suzanne Lemaître
Marie Menken
Tracey Moffatt
Sarah Morris
Vanessa Place
Yvonne Rainer
Martha Rosier
Cindy Sherman

Monday, May 2, 2011

Top Five Films of April, 2011



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White Dog (1982)
Considered to be an essential film by Jonathan Rosenbaum, I figured that this film couldn't be too bad. Directed by Samuel Fuller and based on a story by Romain Gary, this movie was excellent. Definitely check out the extra features on the Criterion disc. Curtis Hanson talks about co-writing the script and there is also an interview with Fuller's widow.

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This Property Is Condemned (1966)
This is definitely the best film I have seen this month. Natalie Wood and Robert Redford also co-starred in
Inside Daisy Clover, which happens to be one of my favorite films, as well as a forgotten classic.

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Species (1995)

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Un poison violent/Love Like Poison (2010)
Katell Quillévéré's feature film was an unexpected, but welcome surprise at this year's COLCOA fest in L.A. It's a coming of age story with a vengeance and manages to avoid being cliched.

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Les petits ruisseaux/Wandering Streams (2010)
This was another COLCOA favorite. It's about an older man who learns to live after his friend's death.


A couple of honorable mentions from the COLCOA fest include:
-Ces amours-là/What Love May Bring (2010)
-La tête en friche/My Afternoons with Margueritte (2010)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Juliette Binoche's Top 10 Films

I watched Copie Conforme with a friend and we were trying to figure out how it ranked out of all her performances. Now that I think about it, it could be her very best. But so could Blue or The English Patient – or Summer Hours.

In effort to actually take a stand and not be wishy-washy, I made a top 10 list. There are probably a couple more films worth mentioning like Breaking and Entering or the version of Wuthering Heights that she did with Ralph Fiennes. Okay, so I’ve mentioned them too!

Now let’s get this party started…and watch the top 10 best films that Juliette Binoche has done according to me!

  • L’heure d’été/Summer Hours (2008)
  • Copie conforme/Certified Copy (2010)
  • La veuve de Saint-Pierre/The Widow of Saint-Pierre (2000)
  • The English Patient (1996)
  • Chocolat (2000)
  • Caché (2005)
  • Paris (2008)
  • Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993)
  • Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages/Code Unknown (2000)
  • Damage (1992)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Top Five Films of March, 2011

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Copie conforme (2010) (Saw in the theater: IFC Center, New York, New York)
Abbas Kiarostami has been on my radar for awhile, but this is by far the best film I've seen by him. I have been traveling lately, so I saw this film in New York. After I saw a preview for it in Pittsburgh, which made it seem like a quaint and almost dull romantic comedy. That is kind of dangerous, because the movie really plays with and distorts reality, and never reveals whether Juliette Binoche is psychotic or deranged (although we strongly suspect it). If you're interested in subversive films, perhaps you should check out this quiet masterpiece. While it was at Cannes, it still might go under a lot of people's radar.

Here is also a clip of new actor William Shimell singing opera (his background):



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The Scenic Route (1978) (Saw in theater: Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY)
Part Mulholland Dr. , this film has an air of pending doom. As Darryl James describes in his blog, there is a "Dr. Love" dance sequence. It reminded me of Ozon's Water Drops on Burning Rocks - and of course The Scenic Route came first. It's quite unique and a fun experience as well.

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California Suite (1978)
Great dialogue and several funny situations.

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"Carlos" (2010)
Really an epic movie.

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Crush (1992) Alison Maclean
Every March since 2008, I dedicate the month to watching films directed by women. The surprise was this film. I didn't have any expectations and it features a wild insane performance by Marcia Gay Harden. If you are in the U.S.A., you can watch this movie for free on HULU.