2015-02-27

First impressions of the new sitcom The Odd Couple


After being kicked out of their houses by their wives, two friends try to share an apartment, but their ideas of housekeeping and lifestyles are as different as night and day.

Based on the play of the same title, The Odd Couple popularized on the big screen by Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon is now rebooted with Matthew Perry as Oscar the divorced man living a bachelor life and Thomas Lennon as Felix the soon to be divorced high maintenance man.

This is a classic setup of comedy and it might even be a very tired one. Especially in the Pilot’s first scenes it feels out of timing and boldly acted. But it gets better as the episode advances. Being a huge fan of sitcoms and especially Friends and How I Met Your Mother, I was waiting with high hopes and a positive apprehension.

After the first two episodes, I’m still torn between continuing to see if it gets better or if like many sitcoms that were one season deals like Partners, which had some potential but was cancelled due to low scores, it will stall in common comedy places. Sure, I’m sold on Matthew Perry who brought many Friends elements and his particular delivery to his new show. But, his recent projects have had more miss than hits. With the behind the scenes of the famous 1990’s sitcom we kind of understand that he was responsible for some of Chandler’s lines. He is now older but still capable of comedy and in my opinion steals most of the scenes he is in.
His counterpart, Thomas Lennon who had a role in Friends as Joey’s hand twin in the episode in Las Vegas, a German character in How I Met Your Mother, and one of the detectives in Brooklyn Nine Nine, he is doing the job right and seems to have the right thing to be the right Felix.

As it is for now, I see The Odd Couple as a great Two and A Half Men. The show is still written very bold and the little sentimental endings are a bit forced and break the mood of episodes. This is something that can be easily corrected and I think the chemistry between Perry and Lennon can be good. I guess I’ll keep on watching and get back to you with the evolution of my appreciation of this new sitcom as it evolves.

What do you think of The Odd Couple? Hit or miss? Will you continue watching?

Chef


Chef (Jon Favreau, 2014)

A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

After a series of big budget blockbusters (Elf, Zathura, Iron Man, Cowboys Vs. Aliens) actor/director Jon Favreau did an attempt at the road movie/independent feature film all done with extensive budget and cast with Chef.

The story line is pretty obvious and there the old saying of nothing new under the sun could easily be used. It is more in the execution and cinematography that it makes a movie that gets you hungry with superb shots of food making. As a foodie myself I was salivating for the food and I must admit having an ever lasting crush on Scarlett Johansson who’s now a regular Favreau player. Along with John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, and Emjay Anthony Favreau makes an honest film about passion, family, redemption, and staying true to yourself as a person.

Just as Favreau said in interviews, he was very proud of his casting and it is one of the reasons that there are no real low points in Chef. Every scene as a more than capable actor in it. The young Emjay Anthony sure steals the show if you ask me, well if you are reading this you are in a way asking me my opinion, he is genuine, in control, and fits well with the rest of the veteran cast. Almost as a parallel to his father, portrayed by Favreau, he is the reason why his father won’t be a failure and as soon as they embark on their journey we know that something is going on. Again, nothing new under the sun but it is an honest attempt at a modest goal that he achieves with great means. Is it gonna be on my year end list? Probably not in the top ten but it was not a bad time to be with these characters and visit those places; Miami, Louisiana, California, etc.

Sure it is filmed with good sentiment and without a doubt it is a feel good movie. But it is a nicely executed feel good movie just like his grilled cheese. It is a high end grilled cheese, looking good and I would eat it but at the end it is still a grilled cheese but never pretends to be anything else either.

2015-02-25

Rafales


Rafales (André Melançon, 1990)

On Christmas eve a journalist (Denis Bouchard) witnesses a theft in a mall and later tracks one of the thieves (Marcel Leboeuf) and ends up being taken as his hostage at the radio station he works for.

Populated with the constant sound of the wind blowing during a snow storm on December 24th in Montréal, Rafales french for gusts is at first a powerful thriller that easily transcends borders of the french speaking Province of Québec.

With Marcel Leboeuf as Gérard Crépeau a garage employee involved in a theft that was orchestrated by his brother Normand (Guy Thauvette) and Pouliot (Claude Blanchard) the boss of the garage might feel like a standard robbery gone bad until Gérard shoots the mall’s Santa Claus and flies away with the money and meet Louis-Philippe Trépanier (Denis Bouchard). Normand is arrested and Pouliot does an act of treason.

Prior to the robbery, Trépanier sees Gérard and Normand argue about the crime they are about to commit, he is in a toy store and picks up toys for his kids. He sees Gérard’s gun and starts to follow him. There’s a strange fascination in the way that Trépanier watches Gérard, who is the most fragile character in the movie. Trépanier is an opportunist and sees a scoop in the tracking of the thief. While he has the chance to alert policemen he doesn’t do so at the first place.

In fact, with the conclusion of the film we understand that he was using Gérard for his own purpose and his career. In a way, it was Gérard who was the hostage in the radio station broadcasting live the negociation with the police. Rémy Girard, aka the Québec actor that is cast in every Québec film ever made, is the manager of the station and saw the potential in Trépanier’s actions taking advantage even in accepting to pass commercials during the aforementioned live broadcast.

One of the most human moments is when Gérard lifts an aging Russian woman (Kim Yaroshevskaya) and talks about her past and then moments of his childhood. It is one of those moments that can be a home run or a total pathetic pathos moment. In this case it is perfect and its purpose is also well used.

Dedicated to the late John Cassavetes who had just passed out months before the opening of Rafales, director André Melançon made a strong film with a mise en scène that demonstrates his great mastery at storytelling keeping lots of silences especially with nearly 20 minutes in the opening and almost no dialogues outside of the radio station.

Having watched more than 2000 films in my life and written about at least 500 of them it is now less often that I feel left being impressed or ecstatic. With Rafales, it is the case where I think I sat in front of something that was quite unique. This is a very good film and one of my favorite films from my part of the world; the Province of Québec.

2015-02-23

Top Films of David Cronenberg by LMdC


 
1. Videodrome
2. A History of Violence
3. Crash
4. Scanners
5. Naked Lunch
6. The Fly
7. Dead Ringers
8. Eastern Promises
9. eXistenZ
10. Spider


Films Unseen : Stereo, Crimes of the Future, Shivers, Rabids, Fast Company, The Brood, The Dead Zone, M. Butterfly, A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis, Maps to the Stars.

 

2015-02-20

Room 237

Room 237 (Rodney Ascher, 2012)

An exploration of various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining (1980).

Dedicated to the many possible meanings of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece The Shining, Room 237 is narrated by many fans, enthusiasts of the film and its director. At first, the most important fact about Room 237 is that it demonstrates how much people actually love and cherish this movie. Even I can’t hide my enthusiasm and cult towards The Shining. It is my favorite film from my favorite director of all time and each new viewing is an experience that is almost religious for the atheist that I am.

With this documentary I realized first that I am not the only one to vow such a cult to this movie, and that many people are interepreting films and analyzing so many elements that the movie itself gets forgotten. Sure, Kubrick was one heck of a wizard with his obsessive control over his films and perfectionism of every detail. When interpreting a movie, every theorie is as worth as the other. It is interesting to discover some of the most out of there and other more consensual visions of The Shining. It leads us to many things to think about : much like an artist less we know about the original meanings of its creator there is more to discover; it is impossible to have only one reading of a dense work of art; is the Calumet can there on purpose or not, is it true that Kubrick directed the landing on the moon, do we tend to give too much credit to Kubrick and his films and should watch them for their first level of reading.

Well, as aforementioned, every theory is as worth as the other and when a movie is celebratred by critics and the public it is recognized as worthy. But suppose that Citizen Kane was never revisited and completely forgotten maybe it wouldn’t be the masterpiece we know today just because it was at first hated and almost destroyed by the industry. Let’s think about this, for Kubrick’s The Shining its initial released was received with mixed reviews, except the fact that Kubrick was already established as a cult director, it could have been the death of the value of it. However, time and revisits, many revisits, led the film to be recognized as technically, esthetically, and thematically important in the history of films and in Kubrick’s filmography.

It is a playful documentary that has the merit to making its viewer wanting to watch again its subject. However, the exercice seems to loose its breath near its end and it probably would need a book to accompany this film essay. By the way, I would buy such a book.

2015-02-18

Jour de Fête


Jour de Fête (Jacques Tati, 1949)

Once a year the fair comes for one day to the little town 'Sainte-Severe-sur-Indre'. All inhabiters are scoffing at Francois (Jacques Tati), the postman, what he seems not to recognize.

The first feature length film by actor/director Jacques Tati is also the only film in which his character talks. Obviously inspired by Buster Keaton’s physical comedy and Charlie Chaplin’s observation of the common people, Jour de fête is set in Sainte-Severe the village where Tati was hiding during the Second World War.

Tati’s films excels in making the viewer the witness of the everyday life and little to no moments. His use of deep focus is important because in every frame there is something going on and it might or might not catch our eye at first. More than often, serious action is in the front of the image while comedic action is in the back. It is a visual work of camera settings and construction of every frame that Tati elaborated and later perfected with Play Time for instance.

The themes of the lunatic postman François doing his tour in the village delivering and taking post demonstrate the old Europe and especially France. Taking his time, talking here and there. Everything changes when he watches a short film about US’s postal service and their obsession with fast delivery and efficiency. It demonstrates the clash of the civilization between two world; the old and the new. With the liberation by Americans, France changed and allowed more American culture with a whole bunch of American films and products. The film of Tati is like an homage to the village that kept him away from the War but also how his country was never the same after the whole fair that represents War and the Vichy Regime. It was far from an happy event, but it brought turned up and down the whole country of France just like the installation of the fair would do.

Tati often meditated on the progress and the slow evolution of urban life. With his comedies he makes a portrait of a time of constant change but also contemplating the present moment of the characters. The story is almost the story of the cameraman who is there and gazes at moments and bits of life. While not being celebrated as much as Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, Mon oncle, and Play Time, Jour de Fête is a great first effort by Tati and I hope will be more highlighted by the recent release of Criterion’s Complete Tati boxset which is a great gift for cinephiles all over the world.

2015-02-12

A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy


A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (Woody Allen, 1982)

A wacky inventor and his wife invite two other couples for a weekend party at a romantic summer house in the 1900s countryside.

With a series of masterpieces like Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Stardust Memories in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, actor-director Woody Allen would go on and fell into a more serious state of mind in the themes and stories of his films. With A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy he went back on the more comedic side of his craft. Obviously inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of A Summer Night, the great Swede’s unique comedic success, Allen’s film doesn’t deliver at the level of his aforementioned films or of his inspiration.

Staring himself, Mia Farrow, Mary Steenburgen, José Ferrer, Julie Hagerty and Tony Roberts A Midsummer tells the story of ancient lovers, new love and missed opportunities. Well, some of Allen’s regular themes. Brilliantly shot by legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis we have in place many elements that could have made it a great movie but instead it fells flat and redundant at times. Allen seems to be forcing to get comedic elements into his already comic plot to justify the fact that he has the actual word comedy in the title of the film. However, with his aforementioned successes, he proved he can make intelligent comedy without the physical comedy of his earlier films. The line between romance, comedy, and drama is weirdly crossed in A Midsummer and it makes many awkward scenes and as the viewer I felt distant to those characters. Maybe the countryside is not favorable for Allen and he is more inspired by the city and urban settings.

As a genuine enthusiast of the films of the Woodman, it was the only directorial credit that I needed to watch from his prolific 1980’s decade of great films. My expectations were moderate but I was hoping to get a little gem but not a masterpiece. It is an average to good film but it never really gets on track and works for me. It is a difficult film to rate because its execution with the cinematography is faultless it is more on the content that it stumbles and drags. Although, later in his career, Woody Allen will direct a bunch of worst films that could help make this one feel like a nostalgic piece of the greatest era of his work.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...