2010-02-28

Salo: or the 120 Days of Sodom

Salo: or the 120 days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975)


Notorious communist, atheist and homosexual the poet/director Pier Paolo Pasolini couldn't finish his career with a more provocative film than Salo. Assassinated few time after he completed Salo, Pasolini made his final masterpiece unforgettable.

Based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade, the film is a kick in the face of Nazism, the Italian bourgeoisie, christianism, and the institutions of all the governments. It depicts how the Nazi regime used to manipulate and humiliate humanity.

He presents his arguments without any compromise and goes far beyond the tolerable for the viewer. Many scenes are just disgusting and the characters are all repulsive. As a cinephile I had to see this, it is a cornerstone of filmmaking. The final film from one of the best Italian director of all time.

After seing this, even Adolf Hitler would hate Nazism and its excesses. But did Pasolini had to go that far? Unappealing sex scenes, shit eating scenes and the many torture scenes? It's like Lars von Trier's Antichrist; yes they have to go that far to respect their visions and express their points of view (anti-feminism in Antichrist and Communism in Salo) even if I don't share them. True artist go all the way and they don't need to censor themself!

A must see for all the true cinephiles! Be warned this is not for the faint hearts!

2010-02-27

Inland Empire un film de David Lynch - Retrospective

Since Eraserhead I've always like Lynch's films even his Dune, that have been criticized a lot. I think in Dune there are many Lynch-like characters and I feel that even with the big budget and big studio system backing him he managed to do his own interpretation of the Sci-fi novel from Herbert. With Mulholland Dr. he brought one of the most avant-garde film to this day. David Lynch is more than a filmmaker; he is a visual artist who paints, produce music and makes his own special effects (read on Eraserhead).

He is deeply inspired by films like Tod Browning's Freaks, Fellini's Roma, Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, and the experimental films of Maya Deren. I also suspects that he is very influenced by Ingmar Bergman's Persona. By influenced I must say that he doesn't try to copy or redo them he's reinterpreting them with his unique style and approach to visual.

Inland Empire is a very interesting film that like all of the Lynch films I've seen (his only film I haven't seen is The Straight Story) is rich and dense in symbolism. This is the story of Nikki played by Laura Dern, an actress who got a role in a remake of an unfinished Polish film. With the production going by she begins to fall for her co-star (Justin Theroux). Then, Nikki is so much into the film that she no longer knows what is reality and what is the film. We follow her path throught the many levels of her descent into the film/her life/her head/ her subconscient.

I must warn that it is only for people advised and initiated to David Lynch's work, the images are unappealing on purpose and they are shot with numeric cameras that give an amateurish yet real feeling to them. The narrative is confusing and the film is so rich in symbolism that we could dissert every ten minutes of it with a 100 pages memoir. Lynch likes to trick your mind and Ingmar Bergman's Persona is never far from his stories. In Mulholland Dr. the two women projects and interchange their personalities. In Inland Empire it's Nikki who interchange her personality with her character in the movie and she can no longer know if she's in reality or not.

With Mulholland Dr. David Lynch elevated himself among the greatest filmmakers of all time. But with Inland Empire he elevated himself among the greatest visual artists of all time.

I must say that in the first half of it I did not liked the film very much but with the second half and the end I must say that he got me and I think it is one of the best films I've seen and probably one of Lynch's best, if not the best.

A Film Retrospective by Michaël Parent

2010-02-23

Second edition of Oscars Predictions - Deuxième édition de prédictions aux Oscars

Nominees My Take & Results
Best Picture
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up in the Air
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Avatar
    My Vote: Inglorious Basterds

    Best Actor
  • Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
  • George Clooney, Up in the Air
  • Colin Firth, A Single Man
  • Morgan Freeman, Invictus
  • Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Jeff Bridges
    My Vote: Jeremy Renner

    Best Actress
  • Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
  • Helen Mirren, The Last Station
  • Carey Mulligan, An Education
  • Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
  • Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Sandra Bullock
    My Vote: Meryl Streep

    Best Supporting Actor
  • Matt Damon, Invictus
  • Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
  • Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
  • Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
  • Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Christoph Waltz
    My Vote: Christoph Waltz

    Best Supporting Actress
  • Penelope Cruz, Nine
  • Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
  • Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
  • Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Mo'Nique
    My Vote: Penelope Cruz

    Best Director
  • Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
  • James Cameron, Avatar
  • Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
  • Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
  • Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Kathryn Bigelow
    My Vote: Kathryn Bigelow tie Quentin Tarantino

    Original Screenplay
  • Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
  • Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
  • Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman, The Messenger
  • Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
  • Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy, Up
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Quentin Tarantino, Inglorious Basterds
    My Vote:
    Quentin Tarantino, Inglorious Basterds

    Adapted Screenplay
  • Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell, District 9
  • Nick Hornby, An Education
  • Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, In the Loop
  • Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
  • Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
    My Vote:
    Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell, District 9

    Cinematography
  • Mauro Fiore, Avatar
  • Christian Berger, The White Ribbon
  • Bruno Delbonnel, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker
  • Robert Richardson, Inglourious Basterds
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Mauro Fiore, Avatar
    My Vote:
    Christian Berger, The White Ribbon

    Film Editing
  • Avatar
  • District 9
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    The Hurt Locker
    My Vote: The Hurt Locker

    Art Direction
  • Avatar
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Young Victoria
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Avatar
    My Vote:
    The Young Victoria

    Costume
  • Bright Star
  • Coco Before Chanel
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • The Young Victoria
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Nine
    My Vote:
    The Young Victoria

    Makeup
  • Il Divo
  • Star Trek
  • The Young Victoria
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    The Young Victoria
    My Vote:
    The Young Victoria

    Original Score
  • James Horner, Avatar
  • Alexandre Desplat, Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders, The Hurt Locker
  • Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes
  • Michael Giacchino, Up
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders, The Hurt Locker
    My Vote:
    Michael Giacchino, Up

    Original Song
  • "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart, T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham
  • "Loin de Paname" from Paris 36, Reinhardt Wagner, Frank Thomas
  • "Take It All" from Nine, Maury Yeston
  • "Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
  • "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart, T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham
    My Vote:
    "Take It All" from Nine, Maury Yeston

    Sound Mixing
  • Avatar
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Star Trek
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Avatar
    My Vote:
    The Hurt Locker

    Sound Editing
  • Avatar
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Star Trek
  • Up
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Avatar
    My Vote:
    Up

    Visual Effects
  • Avatar
  • District 9
  • Star Trek
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Avatar
    My Vote:
    Avatar

    Animated Feature Film
  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Up
    My Vote:
    Up

    Foreign Language Film
  • Ajami (Israel)
  • The Milk of Sorrow (Peru)
  • A Prophet (France)
  • The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina)
  • The White Ribbon (Germany)
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    The White Ribbon (Germany)
    My Vote:
    The White Ribbon (Germany)

    Documentary Feature
  • Burma VJ
  • The Cove
  • Food, Inc.
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America
  • Which Way Home
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Food, Inc.
    My Vote:
    Food, Inc.

    Documentary Short
  • China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
  • The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
  • The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
  • Music by Prudence
  • Rabbit à la Berlin
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
    My Vote:
    The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

    Animated Short
  • French Roast
  • Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
  • The Lady and the Reaper
  • Logorama
  • Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death'
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death'
    My Vote:
    Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death'

    Live Action Short
  • The Door
  • Instead of Abracadabra
  • Kavi
  • Miracle Fish
  • The New Tenants
  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    The Door
    My Vote:
    The New Tenants

    2010-02-22

    White Dog un film de Samuel Fuller - Retrospective


    One of the most underrated movies of all-time; Samuel Fuller's White Dog.

    This is the story of a young Hollywood actress who hits a dog on the road a rescue him from his injuries. One day she discovers he is an attack dog and instead of taking all the advices she got she decides to take the dog to rehabilitate him from attacking people. They discover that the dog is not only trained to attack human beings but mainly to attack black people.

    Many themes treated in White Dog are interesting because Fuller didn't wanted to censure himself on all the racist elements the plot contains. I must say that this film does not vehicule or encourage racism. This is one of the greatest affronts to racism. The main message to me is that even when a dog is brainwashed to death with racism you can throw the racist out of him! This is a great lesson from a great american filmmaker.

    I must say this review is pretty concise but I refer you to Joseph Campanella with his Toerific Febuary at CINEMA FIST with a great essay on Samuel Fuller's White Dog.

    A Film Retrospective by Michaël Parent

    2010-02-21

    The Virgin Spring

    TSPDT Greatest Films #707 The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 1960)


    Bergman's films are pieces of pure Cinema. For some contemporary viewers his style may tend to be too theatrical and dramatic. The acting is, in fact, too much and that's a thing I really had troubles to get into his films. The Virgin Spring is the tenth film from Ingmar Bergman I've seen and one of the good ones. In my opinion, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Persona, Cries and Whispers and even Fanny and Alexander are far better works.

    Bergman's filmography is far too dense to name my favorite (maybe Fanny and Alexander... tomorrow it would be another one...). I didn't even seen half of the films he has done.

    The Virgin Spring is the story of a farmer's family in Medieval time. His daughter is his pride and he loves her very much. But on her way to a distant church she is raped and killed by goat herders. Those goat herders ask for a roof and food for the night to the peasant parents of their victim.

    The themes of The Virgin Spring are universal; virginity, rape, murder, revenge, good vs. bad. The story is set in Medieval time but could happen in any time period. It reminded me the film currently in theaters by Daniel Grou a.k.a. Podz Les 7 jours du talion.

    I liked The Virgin Spring as a piece of the history of Cinema but I would go back to The Seventh Seal or Wild Strawberries way before watching again The Virgin Spring if I want to go back to rewatch Bergman's films...

    A Film Retrospective by Michaël Parent

    2010-02-20

    La Ronde un film de Max Ophüls - Retrospective

    TSPDT Greatest Films #636 La Ronde (Max Ophüls, 1950)

    Max Ophüls is considered by many as one of the best directors of all time, I am ashamed to say I have only seen Letter From an Unknown Woman and Lola Montès. Both are exquisite masterpieces, especially Lola Montès, his last film, praised as maybe the best film of all time.

    La Ronde is a story told by Anton Walbrook who plays a debut XXth century "cupid"/ "metteur en scène" of love or as he says a lover of the art of love. He is the element that makes La Ronde go round. Told in ten sketches Walbrook's character joins the sketches together. At some point there's an allusion to a well known french expression; to live of love and fresh water: many characters ask for a glass of water only. And they are always more thirsty than hungry. As many of Ophüls films he likes to finish his films at the place they started. He is an amazing storyteller and all his films took us on unforgettable journeys.

    The photography is sublime and the black and white is somtimes over lighted or low lighted which makes pretty contrasts to the images. One of the most Ophülsians aspects is the movement of camera that are fluids and sincere all over the film. It's a very haunting film very well scored by Oscar Strauss that transports us into 1900's Vienna.

    A beautiful masterpiece that I wish I could have seen in a theater instead of my computer screen (damn you Region 6 DVDs). I will put more films from Max Ophüls on my Most Wanted film list because he was an important filmmaker.

    2010-02-18

    The Scarlet Empress

    The Scarlet Empress (Josef von Sternberg, 1934)
    I impose to myself many obligations or discipline; I want ot see the entire list of Masterpiece of Mediafilm, They Shoot Pictures Don't They? 1000 Greatest films, AFI's 100, Bfi polls, etc. The Scarlet Empress is one of the films that was initially on the first list of films I ever read; Mediafilm's Masterpieces! To me it was like finding the klondike, I had only seen three or four films of this list and I was dreaming of the hundred and thirty others.

    With great expectations I sat in front of my television to discover my first von Sternberg film and my third Marlene Dietrich movie. An interesting story about how Catherine II got the power in Russia in the XVIIIth century. Populated with gothic statues and overacting The Scarlet Empress has an unique touch of madness and movement. Madness for the first sequences where Russia is described as near as hell with some female breasts on the screen (remember that you are reading about a 1934 film!) and many scenes of simulated torture. Movement, because all along the film the editing is very fast and there is always something moving on the screen. I was surprised by the freshness the film had, von Sternberg has a vibrant approach. I'm looking forward to see more of his work very soon because I know he is an important filmmaker of the early days of Cinema.

    The Scarlet Empress was probably a big spectacle for its time like a Cecil B. De Mille or a David W. Griffith film, not like a James Cameron one... Instead of Cameron; De Mille, Griffith, and von Sternberg have spirit and deepness and it's reflected into their films.

    2010-02-17

    Fantasia un film de Ben Sharpsteen - Retrospective

    TSPDT Greatest Films #264 Fantasia (Ben Sharpsteen, 1940)


    Considered by many as the greatest animated film of all time Walt Disney's Fantasia is more than a regular cartoon picture. First of all, I think it's not an animated film especially for children not because of inappropriate material but because a child needs more of a story to hold up to and maybe more action to it. The many parts with juxtaposition of music and animated images is sublime and I must say as a Disney aficianado; I really liked it! Especially, for all the work behind the film of the many many artists shadowed by the prestance of Walt Disney. The film did not do good at its release and it's long time after it got the recognition it deserved.

    With the exception of the narration of Deems Taylor there ain't no links between the musical parts. I easily understand why the public didn't rushed into the theaters when it was released. Disney wanted to show to the moviegoers an other side of classic music. But, the classic music fan base wasn't the same crown that got to the Cinema. Without interest in the music the images may be as beautiful as they are they could not hold the audience as he did with Snow White.

    Many songs used in Fantasia are common classic songs we often hear in Cinema. Having a different vision of them is refereshing and also sometimes it's not the image we have in mind that is on the screen so it changes the meaning of the song. I compare the entertainment value of Fantasia to a great fireworks show. The music fits the image and they compement each other. But, would you sit through two hours of a fireworks show? I would answer yes! If you ask yourself to watch it or not you can ask yourself this question. I can say to you that this fireworks show is pretty damn good!

    2010-02-15

    Drag Me to Hell un film de Sam Raimi

    Sam Raimi has made cult horror films for my generation of film buffs with The Evil Dead trilogy, landmark comic book adaptations Darkman, Spider-Man I-II-III (I wish I could erase this last one from my memory). He has done an excellent western "à la Leone" The Quick and the Dead and after maybe his only disaster, Spider-Man 3 (yes I say it again), he goes back to his beginning genre; Horror.

    Drag Me to Hell is the story of Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) who works at a bank and attempts to earn an advancement for her career but also to impress the parents of her 1 year boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long). One day an old woman ask for a loan and to impress her boss Brown refuses to the woman who turns out to be a gypsie... The crazy gypsie curse Christine and now begind the madness of Drag me to Hell. I'm not a big fan of horror films and I don't like to be surprised by jumping creatures in calm moments but Drag Me to Hell is a very efficient movie. The directing is top notch and the horror parts are very creepy and mad. There's not much of blood or gore effects but some disgusting parts make this one a PG-13.

    Even if horror isn't my cup of tea I think Drag me to Hell is a very good film and Sam Raimi sure is still one of the best filmmaker of horror films! He doesn't loose his touch at all, I think he even got better even if The Evil Dead had this juvenile urge to create and churn out something new and uncommon...

    8.2/10

    A Film Review by Michaël Parent

    Zombieland un film de Ruben Fleischer

    I must say that zombie movies is my favorite subgenre in Horror. From Night of the Living Dead to Shaun of the Dead I always enjoy a zombie brain being smashed. It's like they are not people getting kill; they're already dead! From Romero's films that denounced racism, consumerism and all the XXth century "diseases" to the zombie/romantic comedy of Shaun of the Dead I think that zombie flick are great. I excuse myself now of being enthusiastic. With that done we'll get to the review.

    Zombieland doesn't start progressively to how the earth became dead, it's already done. We follow a small group of four that will try to live as normal as they can in a world surrounded by zombies. It's not a film where you try to figure out the meaning of life or how to save the planet from being devastated. We don't learn a lesson from the story either but we embark on a ride of fun. From the opening credits which are the best I've seen in years til the end I've laugh myself out loud and I was clapping my lap all along. The many allusions to the film of my childhood (which I'm not gonna spoil for you here) was a big pleasure for me.

    It is far from the many nihilistic zombie films we are accostumed. I found this film to be fresh, appealing, and a big load of fun!

    8.8/10

    A Film Review by Michaël Parent

    2010-02-14

    The LAMB Devours the Oscars - Best Documentary Short Subject

    Editor's note: Welcome to the thirteenth of a 33-part series dissecting the 82st Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read any other posts regarding this event, please click the tag following the post. Thank you, and enjoy!










    By Michaël Parent of Le Mot du Cinephiliaque.

    The category that will be discussed here is not the one that take us in the living room making bets and polls on the winner of the praise of the Academy and which one we thought that should deserve the grand prize and/or have been robbed in public (see here an allusion to the great robbery of Avatar at the Globe). This is a category presented generally in the first half of the ceremony and more often than not they are films with little coverage and sometimes only available on YouTube for a wider diffusion. However, they treat of important subjects that regular films and the mass media would not discourse in times of wide audience. This is one of the categories that is directly connected to reality and humanity. This category is the Best documentary short subject.

    The Best documentary short subject category was introduced the same year the Academy started to use the famous confidential envelope system, in 1941. That year, nine films were nominated for the award. As subject matters, from 1941 to 1945 most of the films nominated were about the war effort. In 1942, twenty-five films were nominated and four special awards were given to recognize the war effort on the Allied side in World War II. In these cases, the producers were generally the US Air Force, the US State Marine Corps, the US Navy, the US Department of War, the US Army, etc. Since the early years of the category, a producer well known for his cartoons has often been nominated; Walt Disney, a man preoccupied by entertainment but also by human values. Disney won this award two times as a producer. But the Producer with the most brilliant presence is the National Film Board of Canada with four wins and eleven nominations. The NFB won the first ever documentary award given by the Academy with Churchill's Island in 1941.

    The number of nominations is irregular and some years it goes from three to five nominations. The documentaries nominated present realities that are important and generally not presented in the mass media. They show the struggles of human beings fighting for their lives, their rights, and also their fights against diseases, injustice, etc. These filmmakers are witness of the human condition. With their works they attempt to inform the world and help the causes of their subject of films. Their job is more than filming human beings, they participate in the life and they become likethe front man of these causes.

    The Film business is celebrated each year with the Academy Awards that congratulate the best films of the year on all their aspects (editing, sound mixing, director, actors, etc.). This contributes to spread the audience and the interest of future viewers of these celebrated films. The Academy Awards is a celebration of excellence in filmmaking but we have to remember that the films winning awards and having success in the box office/rentals are made to entertain, to make us think, to make art, to reflect the world, etc. But in big part the films of the main categories are made to make money. In this specific category, the Best documentary short subject, is probably not the one that makes the most money at the box office or in rentals but these films should be celebrated for their quality of being true and by being made by real passionate people.

    For the Ceremony held on March 2010 the Nominees are: (Links on the title of each film is its IMDb.com page)

    - China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province by Jon Alpert & Matthew O'Neill

    "On May 12, 2008, a catastrophic earthquake hit Sichuan Province in rural China, killing nearly 70,000 people, including 10,000 children. In town after town, poorly constructed school buildings crumbled, wiping out classrooms filled with students, most of them their parents' only child. But when grieving mothers and fathers sought explanations and justice, they found their path blocked by incompetence, corruption and empty promises."

    With Haiti strocked by recent earthquakes it makes this documentary on top of the topic. But also, what happened in Haiti was even more disastrous and murderous than what sadly happened in the Sichuan Province and it could have desensibilized from the gravity of the catastrophe. So because of its subject and the recent events, I think this film won't be the winner. It's all about timing.

    - The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner by Daniel Junge & Henry Ansbacher

    "Documentary following assisted suicide ballot initiative in Washington State."

    The controversy of the subject of this documentary may by itself exclude this one from the winning envelope. In this case we often hear from observers that this is already great to be nominated. On the other hand, this is the kind of category that the Academy can be more progressive and vote for controversy. A little controversy can't hurt anyone with new point of views.

    - The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant by Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert

    "The inside story of the last days of a General Motors plant in Moraine, Ohio, as lived by the people who worked the line."

    Go to: My Prediction on the category for more explanations.

    - Krolik po berlinsku by Bartosz Konopka & Anna Wydra

    "The untold story about wild rabbits which lived between the Berlin Walls. For 28 years Death Zone was their safest home. Full of grass, no predators, guards protecting them from human disturbance. They were closed but happy. When their population grew up to thousands, guards started to remove them. But rabbits survived and stayed there. Unfortunately one day the wall fell down. Rabbits had to abandon comfortable system. They moved to West Berlin and have been living there in a few colonies since then. They are still learning how to live in the free world, same as we - the citizens of Eastern Europe." Written by Bartek Konopka & Piotr Rosolowski

    An interesting and funny true story about rabbits, the Berlin Walls, and Eastern Europe!?! It's like National Geographic meets the History Channel! This is, maybe on the surface, the easiest documentary of the category, but its broad subject is still Cold War which was not an easy subject even twenty years after the fall of the Walls. It changed the life of so many people (and so many rabbits) that still feels the repercussions of these physical borders.

    - Music by Prudence by Roger Ross Williams & Elinor Burkett
    "This is the story about the most unlikely voice of hope, singer songwriter Prudence Mabhena. Her country is bankrupt, her body is broken. Neighbors and family consider her cursed. But in music, Prudence and her seven young disabled Zimbabweans may have found a way out." Written by Roger Ross Williams

    The subject of this film is pretty universal; music can help you get out of all the things that obscure your mind. But the subject is Prudence, life is harder on some places on the planet and even with all the misery of it some people are so strong they get over it and hold onto life with music. A lesson to all of us who are more lucky of being born in rich countries with the only matter of buying a better computer and/or choosing which restaurant we are going to eat tonight.

    "" All plotlines of the nominees are from the IMDb.com pages of each film.

    My Prediction on the category

    Since there is no returning champion this year (sometimes it helps to predict a winner) the winning pick is pretty hard to tell. Last year it was Smile Pinki by Megan Mylan that earned the Oscar and in 2007 it was Cynthia Wade's Freeheld. Well, it was dominated by women for the last two years so based on this thin aspect I would say The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant. This argument may seem funny but I deeply think that this is the film that will win the Oscar. I'm not speculating this because it's a female director; Julia Reichert who by the way co-directs with Steven Bognar, but mainly because I think the issues of this film are truly American, GM one of the biggest companies in the U.S.A., employing so much people, being a symbol of the country, made so much money, made so much careers so this feature has reached American people and, I think, the voters of the Academy. If the American car industry goes down, everything in America fell apart with it which would include the American film industry.

    A Serious Man un film de Joel & Ethan Coen

    Nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, written by the winners of best Screenplay for Fargo and directed by those same guys that won for Best achievement in Directing and Best Picture in 2007 for No Country for Old Men, one of the best films of the last decade. The Coen brothers are making uncommon genre films since their first film; Blood Simple (1984). They have their lots of success Fargo, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, O' Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, and they have their share of flaws too The Hudsucker Proxy, Intolerable Cruelty (for the audience), The Ladykillers, The Man Who Wasn't There, and maybe Burn After Reading. In the case of A Serious Man to me it felt in the second category. I didn't had any expectations because I haven't read any reviews of it and I wanted to have my own idea on this one.

    This is the story of a Jewish family in the 1960's where a teacher of mathematics, Larry Gopnik has his life splatting everywhere, his wife wants a divorce, his daughter his stealing from him, his son is gonna have his Bar Mitzvah but he only thinks of being stone, his brother is sick physically and mentally... Well, the events surpasses him and he doesn't know how to handle them. Anyway, even with all these misfortunes the Coen brothers couldn't made me care for poor Larry.

    Visually its nothing like what the Coens presented to us before, it's all about grey and dull colors everywhere. It illustrate well how the story feels. On the other hand, the editing is very dynamic and helps the scenes to the wonderful script. A Serious Man is not a complete failure, the story has rich lines and the events fell in the right place. I just think that the story could have been more structured on supporting characters that are more accessories to the story than involved in it. It would have made the film more viewable, 'cause it's a very cold film.

    I really enjoy the best of what the Coens have offered but I think A Serious Man is a personnal film for them and it doesn't has the deep inspiration they often bring to their better films with their dark humour and violent turnovers...

    5/10

    A Film Review by Michaël Parent

    2010-02-13

    The White Ribbon

    The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)

    Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.

    Nominated for Best Foreign film at the Oscars, winner of the Palme d'or at the Festival de Cannes in 2009, winner of the Best Foreign film at the Golden Globe Das Weisse Band (The White Ribbon) is the obvious choice for the predictions of the winner of its category at the Academy Awards. Praise by international critic, mostly european, because Haneke is better apreciated in the old World. Known for Caché, The Piano Teacher, Funny Games and Time of the Wolf Haneke is always near horror, thriller, psychological drama and always on the dark side of humans. I really like his films even if I haven't seen enough of them, Funny Games is an experience in itself.

    Das Weisse Band depicts a story narrated by the school teacher of a small village in Germany at the dawn of the Great War. Many crimes are committed in the village and the hypocrite villagers are too afraid to denounce anyone. We follow the school teacher, the reverend's family, the baron's family and the family of a servant. In all these families there are hidden shame, inner problems, and the presence of teenagers. While the story takes place and goes on we suspect everyone of the crimes committed. The story is very dense and reminded me of the great films of Ingmar Bergman especially his Fanny och Alexander.

    On the directing side, the images are shot in a classy and pure black and white. The images even felt too pure and it was probably done intentionally to disturb the viewer. The camera doesn't move a lot and when it does it goes slowly as Dreyer's Ordet. The composition of the images are as amazing as Ordet too. Haneke directs here with the hand of a master. He let the scenes flow and he's not afraid of long scenes where the caracters go out of the camera and come back later in the same shot. At some point it reminded me of Andrei Tarkovsky's style of contemplative cinema without being too distant.

    All these elements with an amazing ensemble cast that offers righteous performances gives us one of the best film of 2009. It took third place in my Top 10 of the year! This is the kind of film that is not gonna feel old in 30 years like the films of Dreyer, Tarkovsky, and Bergman because they all bring something unique, intense, grand, and immortal to films.

    2010-02-10

    Aguirre: The Wrath of God un film de Werner Herzog - Retrospective

    TSPDT Greatest Films #85 Aguirre, des Zorn Gottes (Werner Herzog, 1972)

    Probably one of the most intense film of all time, Aguirre The Wrath of God is the first and the best of the five collaborations between Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog. In general I find Herzog's films very heavy and hard to approach but also deep spiritual and intense experiences. He is one of the best filmmakers of the 70's if not the best, to have been a non-Holllywood director is like being a B-Movie filmmaker, but that's another topic...

    The atmosphere of Aguirre The Wrath of God is very involving and disturbing. First, with the constant use of keyboards reminding me bands like Burzum or Summoning that like to create spiritual ambiances to the harsh and "heavy" black metal they are playing.

    Kinsky's acting is very intense and his approach in playing Aguirre may seem in the first place overacted but I think that's one of the best performances ever filmed in the history in Cinema. Well, I like characters bigger than life and the look he has in his eyes while looking everywhere is so intense that we feel he is pure evil. Aguirre is depicted has an egocentered, melomaniacal, and prophetic figure, it put a cornerstone into period films.

    Nothing can be compared to Aguirre, and I think no one was as crazy to work with Kinski as Herzog did and no one was as arrogant to take a crew into so much wilderness and danger to shoot a film. He even did it twice with Kinski and in South America with his other 1981 masterpiece Fitzcarraldo.

    I highly recommend this film because it represents truly what is an extraordinary achievement in filmmaking. Aguirre is far more ambitious than an achievement like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (don't get me wrong I loved it too but both are so different)...

    A film retrospective by Michaël Parent

    2010-02-09

    The Hurt Locker


    The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)

    In my attempt to watch the entire selection of movies nominated for the Oscars I will review here, in my opinion, probably the nearest to be the best film of the year (to me it was Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds who got the pole); Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker.

    Well, now you're thinking this review will be tainted with optimism... This is about right, you'll see! First of all, I read yesterday on IMDb.com that an Iraq vet wrote that this movie "sucked" because "all the critics said it was realism but they didn't even got onto the battleground, etc." Well, to be honest I've never been on the battleground either. But, to respond to "that movie sucked" the treatment of the film was all about realism and it would have been a sci-fi flick filmed this way and I would have said that it was realistic. The Hurt Locker is a fiction and it shows us the vision of the writer and Bigelow's mise en scène of Iraq, not what is exactly Iraq. We (I speak for the lucky persons (civils) who lives in North America) can't understand or know what is realistic or not about the war in Iraq or in any place in the world.

    The Hurt Locker diserves all the praise it receives because it keeps us on the top of our seats from the beginning to the end. As it is written in the first image of the film it is a drug and the viewer understands exactly how the adrenaline the Privates need from their jobs/lives can keep them alive. This urge is translated to the spectator in the urge that we need to see the film and how the action goes.

    The plot may seem confusing because it is obstructed by the amazing performances of the actors and the intensity of the many action scenes. This is different of the regular war movie, don't expect Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket here. I not saying they are lesser movies but The Hurt Locker is one of his kind. I think the shaky camera and some unfocussed takes are great for that kind of story and I think that they fit perfectly well here. The few slow-motion inserts give strenght and depth to some fast paced action moments.

    As a conclusion, The Hurt Locker is filled with strong moments and intense action scenes which are not common in an Independent author film. But they are handed amazingly. Highly recommended.

    2010-02-06

    Record of a Tenement Gentleman un film de Yasujiro Ozu - Retrospective


    As Ozu's films this one is a domestic drama/comedy. The story begins when a little child (Kohei) is brought to a widow, Tane, that didn't had children. The kid was lost and his father loose him on his way to Tokyo. The lady don't want the child and does a long trip to find his father. They don't find him and she agrees to keep him at her home. She is angry of the events and she is mean and bitter against the little boy. She thinks a child is a nuisance to her life. Until the day he got away and she looses him, he misses her so much that when he comes back she changes completely her beings with him. Tane even wants to adopt the little Kohei... But events won't let her.

    This is another amazingly deep and poignant film from Yasujiro Ozu. Without huge technical manoeuvres and a very sober directing style that caracterizes his most known films Ozu can tell a moving story in his own purged technique. Every Ozu film I've seen has something particular even if they have similar visual signature. They feel light and tender on the outside but they treat of heavy domestic issues. In this case it's a woman's discovery of her maternal instinct and need.

    A Film Retrospective by Michaël Parent

    2010-02-04

    Jonathan Rosenbaum on Taxi Driver



    This is a link to a text by Jonathan Rosenbaum discussing about Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (My all-time #1 film).

    This review is a must read for its quality.

    Here @ Jonathan Rosenbaum.com

    Voici un lien vers un essai du critique Jonathan Rosenbaum sur le film de Martin Scorsese; Taxi Driver. Mon film #1 de tous les temps.

    Une lecture incontournable par l'un des meilleurs critiques.

    Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols, 1966)

    Mike Nichols' first film happened to be very popular at the time it came out. The plot of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is about a couple in their 40s (Elizabeth talyor & Richard Burton) receving a younger couple at their home in the night. The older couple is always arguying and bitter against each other. They never had a child, the spouse is always critisizing the career of her husband (a professor who wants to become the head of the History department). He himself is very bitter and negative about life in general and he thinks he can give a lesson to the younger couple about relationships since his marriage is falling apart. The more the story goes ahead the meaner they go to each other and we the viewers are like the young couple that follows them into their madness. We could leave but we want to know want happens to them, we get involved in their hysterical relationship.

    The popularity of the film maybe explained in the first place, by the presence of the couple Taylor-Burton that made so many times the top of the tabloids of the time. They were married two times together and their relationship was very tormented so has their characters in this film. Their performances are amazing and especially Taylor with her manic/depressive interpretation of Martha.

    On the directing side the use of black and white tend to detach the viewer from the gravity and the weight of the situations and the languages used in the film. The camera is well used from panoramic takes to close-ups to destabilize the spectator and to keep him aware of the many dialogues that carry the action. One of the best scene in the film is when Burton points a hunting gun on the head of taylor and we feel the tension and we know he's going to shoot so does George (the husband of the younger couple).

    Who's Afraid of Viginia Woolf? is a good film but all its action and tension is related to the dialogues and the characters. It's mostly a film of actor performances. Indeed, it's great performances but I think it's not enough to categorize it as a great film.

    A Film Retrospective by Michaël Parent

    2010-02-02

    Yasujiro Ozu tofu maker @ Sight & Sound Magazine


    A really good essay on the Japanese Filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu at the Sight & Sound Magazine.

    Ozu who you could have read my review of The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice on this Blog precedently. I'll be posting more Retrospectives of this great director that inspires me deep respect.

    Retrospectives reviews to come from Ozu's films at Le Mot du Cinephiliaque:

    Passing Fancy (1933)
    The Only Son (1936)
    The Record of A Tenement Gentleman (1947)

    2010-02-01

    The Simpsons by John Ortved (Unauthorized History)

    This uncensored and unauthorized history of the famous cartoon The Simpsons is a must read to all the fans of this sitcom. When I was 6 the show began on television and the definition of cartoon completly changed for me. Everyday after school I was watching The Simpsons in French at 4:30 and in English at 5:00. It has been a part of my life for twenty years even with the lack of quality the show has showned us I consider myself a fan! It changed the face of television, of comedy, and of the American culture by being incorprated in it.

    From the first works of its creator, Matt Groening to the more recent episodes, you have here an analysis of how they managed to create the show, and how they manage to present a new episode each week for more than 20 years now! Made with interviews and opinions of the people who worked on the show, John Ortved delivers a clear and funny view of behind the scenes of the most popular family in television.
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