Films watched in 2011

96-3= 93 first times so far in 2011

Here you will find the films I've seen so far this year. Some critics claim to see 800 films per year. I planned to see 200 films I've never seen before in 2010. For 2011, I wanted to keep this number and to see more films from the 1000 Greatest Films of All Time list.

However, I've only watched less than a hundred films. Excuses are my wedding in August, our two week honeymoon in Hawaii, and my new job. In 2012, there won't be any excuses!

* = Seen in Theater
// = Not my first time

1. (02-01) 35 rhums (Claire Denis, 2008) France
2. (02-01) The Crazies (Breck Eisner, 2010) USA
3. (02-01) / Mary Poppins / (Robert Stevenson, 1964) USA
4. (05-01) *Black Swan* (Darren Aronofsky, 2010) USA
5. (06-01) Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995) USA
6. (07-01) Boogie Nights (P.T. Anderson, 1997) USA
7. (08-01) The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995) USA
8. (11-01) Cannibal Holocaust (Ruggero Deodato, 1980) Italy
9. (18-01) Greenberg (Noah Baumbach, 2010) USA

10. (22-01) Green Zone (Paul Greengrass, 2010) USA
11. (22-01) *The Fighter* (David O. Russell, 2010) USA
12. (23-01) The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009) USA
13. (27-01) Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009) UK

14. (28-01) Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, 2010) USA
15. (28-01) The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010) USA
16. (29-01) The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010) USA
17. (30-01) Lightning Over Water (Werner Herzog & Nicholas Ray, 1980) USA
18. (16-02) The Hustler (Robert Rossen, 1961) USA
19. (17-02) The Naked Jungle (Byron Haskins, 1954) USA
20. (18-02) Sur mes lèvres (Jacques Audiard, 2001) France
21. (19-02) The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski, 2010) UK
22. (23-02) Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005) USA
23. (23-02) Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar, 2009) Spain

24. (27-02) Cassandra's Dream (Woody Allen, 2007) USA, UK
25. (28-02) A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009) USA
26. (01-03) Les Vampires (Louis Feuillade, 1915) France
27. (01-03) L'ami de mon amie (Eric Rohmer, 1987) France
28. (01-03) Allemagne 90 neuf zéro (Jean-Luc Godard, 1991) France, Allemagne
29. (01-03) The Long Voyage Home (John Ford, 1940) USA
30. (02-03) Histoire(s) du cinema: Une histoire seule (Jean-Luc Godard, 1989) France
31. (02-03) Histoire(s) du cinema: Fatale beauté (Jean-Luc Godard, 1997) France
32. (02-03) The Lodger (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927) UK
33. (02-03) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (David Hand, 1937) USA
34. (02-03) Che: Part One (Steven Soderbergh, 2008) USA
35. (02-03) Che: Part Two (Steven Soderbergh, 2008) USA
36. (07-03) Rescue Dawn (Werner Herzog, 2006) USA
37. (08-03) The Host (Joon-Ho Bong, 2006) Korea
38. (08-03) Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008) Israel, France, Germany
39. (09-03) Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater, 2009) USA
40. (20-03) The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam, 2009) Canada

41. (27-03) Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (Terry Jones, 1983) UK
42. (31-03) The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston, 1975) USA

43. (31-03) Airplane! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, 1980) USA
44. (02-04) Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) UK
45. (03-04) eXistenZ (David Cronenberg, 1999) Canada

46. (04-04) Top Secret! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, 1984) USA
47. (17-04) Crash (David Cronenberg, 1996) Canada
48. (24-04) /The Wedding Singer/ (Frank Coraci , 1998) USA

49. (01-05) /Easy Rider/ (Dennis Hopper, 1969) USA
50. (01-05) Made in U.S.A. (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966) France

51. (02-05) Une femme mariée (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) France
52. (03-05) To Be Or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1941) USA
53. (03-05) The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom, 2010) USA
54. (04-05) El secreto de sus ojos (2009) Brazil
55. (05-05) October (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1928) USSR
56. (07-06) Un prophète (Jacques Audiard, 2009) France
57. (08-06) Something Borrowed (2011) USA
58. (12-06) Definitely, Maybe (2008) USA
59. (13-06) The Hangover Part II (Todd Phillips, 2011) USA
60. (14-06) Easy A (Will Gluck, 2010) USA
61. (15-06) The Tree Of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) USA
62. (19-06) Julie & Julia (Nora Ephron, 2009) USA
63. (20-06) Going the Distance (Nanette Burstein, 2010) USA

64. (05-08) Duel (Steven Spielberg, 1971) USA
65. (25-09) Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011) USA

66. (29-09) The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971) USA
67. (02-10) Land of the Pharaohs (Howard Hawks, 1956) USA
68. (04-10) Madame de... (Max Ophüls, 1953) France

69. (04-10) Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955) USA
70. (13-10) Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954) USA
71. (14-10) Malice in Lalaland (Lex Factor, 2010) USA
72. (18-10) Partie de campagne (Jean Renoir, 1936) France
73. (18-10) To Have and Have Not (Howard Hawks, 1944) USA
74. (20-10) The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966) Italy
75. (24-10) Les mistons (François Truffaut, 1957) France
76. (24-10) Antoine et Colette (François Truffaut, 1962) France
77. (27-10) Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993) USA
78. (03-11) L'année dernière à Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961) France
79. (03-11) Nanook of the North (Robert J. Flaherty, 1922) USA
80. (08-11) Les yeux sans visage (Georges Franju, 1960) France
81. (09-11) Le samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) France
82. (09-11) L'argent (Robert Bresson, 1983) France
83. (10-11) Cléo de 5à 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962) France
84. (10-11) Mon oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958) France
85. (30-11) Pauline à la plage (Eric Rohmer, 1983) France
86. (02-12) Das Boot (Wolfgang Petersen, 1981) Germany 
87. (11-12) Rose Hobart (George Melford , 1936) USA
88. (12-12) The Last Detail (Hal Ashby, 1973) USA
89. (16-12) The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983) USA

90. (16-12) Anatomie de l'enfer (Catherine Breillat, 2004) France
91. (19-12) Rio Grande (John Ford, 1950) USA
92. (19-12) Friends With Benefits (Will Gluck, 2011) USA
93. (23-12) Crazy, Stupid Love. (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, 2011) USA

94. (28-12) *The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn* (Steven Spielberg, 2011) USA, Belgium
95. (29-12) Horrible Bosses (Seth Gordon, 2011) USA
96. (29-12) One Day (Lone Scherfig, 2011) USA

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, 2011)

Lately I've been catching up on films of 2011 and I recently reviewed Friends With Benefits claiming that it probably wasn't the best comedy of the year, well Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a great containder for this category at the time I am writing those lines. Well, someone could say that I haven't seen much of the 2011 released, one would be damn right about it. I am still advancing that so far Crazy, Stupid, Love. is the best comedy of the year I've seen so far.

Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is on the verge of a surprise divorce with his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) who just cheated on him with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). But, one night playboy Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) decides to take care of Cal and help him regain his pride, his image, and his wife. This simple story blends love, friendship, family, and lots of great comedy-filled moments with once again a superb cast of supporting actors; Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, John Carroll Lynch, Analeigh Tipton, and Jonah Bobo. This ensemble cast gives you the feelgood approach of a indie film without even being too sweet or too bitter. A perfect balance of comedy, drama, and human interest.

Everyone who knows me a little knows that I'm a sucker for a good comedy made with a keen script and capable actors. Put Julianne Moore in there and the stoic faced Steve Carell and you have this superb light hearted film full of subtility and wonderful performances. A must see.


Friends With Benefits

Friends With Benefits (Will Gluck, 2011)

From the director of the refreshing Easy A, Will Gluck directs a lesser but still entertaining film that revisits the clichés of the genre it fells into. Friends With Benefits, wants to dissect and remodel the romantic comedy in a way that wnats to be something like a When Harry Met Sally. Two adults (justin Timberlake and beautiful Mila Kunis) become friends and one day decide to have all the sex without strings attached and the complications that comes with relationships. Even if the story provokes some funny moments others are pretexts to situations of bedroom humour.

The plot wants to be fresh and original, like every movie should be, and in the first and second act it reaches the goal it needs to achieve to brings us somewhere a Hollywood film doesn't really goes. However, the third act goes directly into the cliché and into the path the story tried to avoid since its beginning. A stronger script and the extraction of some filler moments could have benefited (obvious, I know) the film and keep a better pace to the story.

The work of Gluck is interesting because of a regular cast that seems to be built around him; Patricia Clarkson, Emma Stone, etc. A thing that I really appreciated in Easy A was the supporting cast that was very efficient and the construction of an effective supporting characters that isn't written for a lone purpose. the presence of Woody Harrelson is also surprisingly funny.

Even if you are not into the best comedy of the year, Friends With Benefits assures you a good laugh and a nice time.  Worth a look for the synergy of the two leads and their general beauty.


The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Steven Spielberg, 2011)

Since 1981, the year the first Indiana Jones was released, Steven Spielberg's hero has been reference to the little Belgian journalist. Spielberg who did not knew Tintin at the time bought the albums and was immediatly a fan of Hergé's creation. However, the late Hergé died in 1983 and his widow, Fanny Remi, made the succession of the name and the use of it very difficult. At first she sold to anyone who wanted to buy it. Food, markets, stickers, cards, anything you could imagine has been marketed. It ended with her new marriage with one of Hergé's biggest fan: Nick Rodwell. Rodwell decided that Tintin will no longer be a sellout and that the use of its image and name was gonna be restricted. It is one of the reasons why an adaptation of the albums has been retarded for a while.

Spielberg's adaptation has been announced in 2007, but the motion capture, proposed by Peter Jackson, wasn't Spielberg's first choice of treatment. It took two years to decide to use this technology that identifies the characters without using real actors and widely known faces. Tintin kept his secret with him, a round face short red hair, and a baby face. There is a lot of mytery around Tintin, is it his real name? Who are his parents? What is his religion? etc. Hergé kept Tintin's privacy like he kept his: secret.

The Spielberg adaption mixes three albums of the great belgian drawer; The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Rakham the Red's Treasure. The story is well rounded and the mix of the three plots blends really well with great respect to its author and the kind of plots and humor he liked to play on the audience. As a great fan of Tintin myself, I could recite the lines of the albums during the projection. Needless to say that I was already conquered with the openning credits! The most important thing to understand is the fact that the essence of Tintin is unaltered by Spielberg's taste of grand spectacle.

The lesser aspect of the story is the final act that develops quickly and in a too spectacular action film oriented approach than the actual source material. The pace of the ending clashes with the setting of the beginning of the story and the meticulous adaptation of the intrigue. However, Spielberg proves that he is a true fan of the author and gives a great hommage to the great work of the Belgian comic book master.


Best albums of 2011

Even if this blog is film oriented I've decided this year to share a little more about my other interest: music. To me, genre doesn't matter as long as it is original and honest. However, like everybody I have favorite genres like Indie rock and Metal. Don't be surprised to see some opposites on this list. This is a Top 10 and I must admit I listened to way more new music in 2010. But still, 2011 was an interesting year in the indie scene. On the side of Metal I think it was decent but not exciting like last year with the late release of Enslaved's superb effort in Axioma Ethica Odini

Those are albums worth mentionning but that don't deserved to be on my personal list.

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committe Part Two

While being not so much a fan of Rap/Hip Hop I always go to the Beastie Boys wanting to renew with the Licensed To Ill, Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Paul's Boutique era that made me love them so much. Their latest effort is worth metionning because it has this return to their roots and to what I used to like about them. Even if they won't ever be like they were back then it is the kind of nostalgic album you have to listen here and there.

Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising

This established melodic Death Metal band never been my cup of tea. Amon Amarth's latest release sounds lie a return in form while being less melodic and a lot heavier. The themes of battles and Viking lifestyle are recurrent and even if it won't be the best Metal album of the year it is a honest yet strong effort from a band I would have passed if it wasn't from a friend of mine that pratically sold it to me.

Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
This special mention is for the lenght of the title that is ridicoulously long. Seriously, I'm not into Viking Metal at all, but this brilliant effort of the masters of the genre is sure worth a listen. While being a little catchy the aggressivity of this album is nearer to Black Metal in it construction and also in the ambiances thorough the entire opus.

The Strokes - Angles

Renewing with this nice Rock outfit was like candy to our ears. It hits the tenth place because Is This It is one of my favorite albums from the 2000's. With a more 80's revival sound than ever Angles might be for some fans a step apart from their original form but I still think that it is an album that has been overpassed pretty quickly and that we should revisit because it is more than worth it.

Primordial - Redemption At The Puritan's Hand

This Irish Black/Heavy Metal band that can't really be categorized because not being that Black or that Heavy sure brings you somewhere near Folk music without falling into the clichés the bands like Finntroll keep going to. Primordial is a superb band that masters its sound and keep every production at the top everytime. Redemption At The Puritan's Hand stands as strong as Primordial's music; an altar to excellence.

Septic Flesh - The Great Mass

This outfit of Extreme Symphonic Metal, explores the boundaries of beauty and savagery in their music. Another great hit form these masters in a band that has more than twenty years of music in its career. They managed to make their own niche and have their own flavour. A band that has always been overlooked in my opinion.

Demonaz - March Of The Norse

The return of the cofounding member of Immortal, Demonaz has been long awaited since his mandatory departure from the aforementioned band due to severe tendinitis problems that obliged him to stop playing guitar at the pace Immortal was playing. More on the Heavy Metal side of darkness, Demonaz is never that far from the Black Metal roots he grew up forging with fellow Norwegians musicians. A good album that has a little nostalgic frosting but not too oversentimental.

Opeth - Heritage

Mikael Akerfelt is a fan of 1970's music and this album is dedicated to the greats that influenced him without copying or redoing the music of his fathers. An Opeth album without any screams or heavy parts. This is a record for fans of music, musicians, and an album made without any commercial compromize. Akerfelt proves that he has complete control on the destiny of his band and that even if he is known for his Progessive Death/Heavy Metal he can play the guitar and sing cleanly. Get it on vinyl if you want the perfect sound. Listen to some Camel to get you into this.

Radiohead - The King Of Limbs
The great kings of Rock came back with this eight song album that separated critics and fans. Many thought that it was a lesser album that what we're used to. I just think that Radiohead wanted to try something here that hits sometimes and that it is not quite there other times. As a whole this is another Radiohead release that kind of grows on you as more a as you give it some listens.

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
I discovered M83 with the release of the snowboard movie The Art of Flight. This double album full of interesting textures mixing electro/pop/indie/rock doesn't really fall into the 80's revival wave but catches some of the 80's spirit in the depth of its music. This is my working music for a while now.
Foster The People - Torches

The success story of the year, Foster The People charms by its happy light-hearted music and its groving beats.An addictive record that I thought I'd get tired pretty quickly that instead stuck into my head for many listens to come. One of my favorite discovery of the year.
Mastodon - The Hunter
Mastodon has taken a more radio sounding attitude with The Hunter and the shorter songs and the ever growing exploration of styles without forgetting their roots makes this brilliant effort my second favorite album of the year. Probably the most inspiring Rock/Metal band of the last decade, since Remission, Mastodon managed to reinvent itself.

Bright Eyes - The People's Key

Without a doubt this album is far from being Oberst's best offering but I must admit that it was the album I listened the most in 2011. The blend of Indie/Pop/Melancholy charmed me and got me.

Albums I haven't listened that could have changed my mind: Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events, The Airbourne Toxic Event - All At Once, Blackfield - Welcome to my DNA, Cage The Elephant - Thank You Happy Birthday, etc.


Merry Christmas!

I wish you all a Happy Christmas full of joy and great times with your family and friends!

Let's hope Santa brought you many great presents (DVDs, books on Cinema, memorabilias, etc.) to pump you up!

I invite you to share in the comments what Santa has brought to you!

Merry Christmas!

- Michaël


Fanny and Alexander

Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
When Bergman announced this film he also said to whoever wanted to hear that it was gonna be his final directing job. History told us that he made some movies after this 1982 picture. However, Fanny and Alexander seems like the perfect testament from one of the greatest, if not the greatest filmmaker of all time. The rich colours, the wonderful mise en scène and the panoramic framing of every scene is just perfect. Plus, it begins with a warm celebration of christmas in Sweden of the early 20th Century.

A family that looks like a lot like Bergman's description of his, an actor father that dies too young. His mother getting married with a strict pastor who hates children, and the use of every trick in the bag of Bergman. Well, this is Bergman's autobiographical picture where Alexander portrays the little Ingmar in his childhood when he discovered the theater and the first cinema-lanterns. One of the most famous stills from this film is the Alexander picture watching his little theater in the night of Christmas.

The plot is an amalgam of Bergman's childhood memories but also his influences in films with subtle references to Hamlet, which is the play his family rehearse and one time his mother calls him Hamlet when he can't stand his stepfather. The many spectral apparitions and the construction of the story reminds the great plays of Strindberg, one of Bergman's favourite playwriter. The film has this classic approach to drama and narrative while being a fresh Bergman film, original and unique.

However, the most interesting aspect of this film is the warmth of the images and the atmosphere of joy and reverence from the entire cast. When you look at the Making Of from the wonderful Criterion set, there is a sense of happiness, joy from the shooting of the film and Bergman seems relieved to shot this film and tie the bow with this magnificent opus. He looks content at what he has done and the final film seems to make him proud of what he did not only as a director but as an artist.

As a Bergman enthusiast and a true lover of Christmas and the Holidays I think that the whole sequence depicting the night of Christmas, the meal, the music, the dancing, and the family fun that it represents reminded me of the memories of what this celebration used to be in my childhood. Like the celebration of Christmas depicted in the Claude Jutra film Mon oncle Antoine that represents how we celebrate Noël in my part of the world. Fanny and Alexander has been since the first time I saw it one of my Holiday favorite. A must see and a masterpiece.


Rio Grande

Rio Grande (John Ford, 1950)

Of the cavalry trilogy made by John Ford and John Wayne together, Rio Grande (the other two films being She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and Fort Apache) might be the deepest in meanings and one of Ford's most beautiful black and white pictures.

Rio Grande depicts family values, social effort, and the common all-American priciples that a good old John Ford film should bring on the screen.

I usually admire Ford's Westerns and I really enjoyed the two other installements of this trilogy. However, there was something that just didn't do it for me with Rio Grande. I was probably not in the mood for this kind of movie when I watched it. I should get back to this one some time later and do a triple bill of the whole cavalry concept and a good review of the film. I apologized for this lack of consistency here.


450th post!

New Milestone! 450th post on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque since August 2009. Since I started this blog it was going to be a place where I would discuss and rambled about Films, Cinema, directors, and everything related to it. Well, now it is mostly about movie reviews and a place where I can write some ideas on films I've been watching. It is also a growing passion in writing and disccusing films. Cinema has been my passion for more than a decade now but I've only started writing about it since two years or so. It brought me up to read more and more about the subject, directors, how to review a film, and how to make one also.

Now in December 2011 with more than 77 000 page views, almost 5000 page views per month lately I want to get more and more readers and especially more commenters. Because this is the comments, positive and negative, that motivates me to push myself and to try to write better reviews, watch films I've never seen and /or heard of.

This 450th post is just in time to almost conclude the year of 2011 a plenty one for me since I got married and that I now have a new job it lets me less time to watch and review films. I almost didn't went to the Theaters this year, and my movie watching time has been cut by half. But I don't want to spoil it because I have a post waiting to be published with my film diary of the year 2011.

Thank you all for reading my posts and for commenting rigorously!


The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal aka Det sjunde inseglet (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

Of the many great films directed by Ingmar Bergman The Seventh Seal is one of the most outstanding and celebrated. For those who don’t know please believe me or treat yourselves with Persona, The Virgin Spring, Wild Strawberries, Shame, Fanny and Alexander, Saraband, Winter Light, Cries and Whispers, The Magician, The Silence, Scenes From A Marriage, well I’m not gonna list them all here but just stand far from The Touch which you can read about in the Simply the Worst event at Reverse Shot where they celebrate the worst film of many notable directors.
I remember the first time I read about this film; in medieval Sweden a knight comes back to Scandinavia after a Crusade and meets Death. He proposes to play a game of chess with Death to postpone his eventual journey in the after world. Meanwhile, the knight travels with a showman and his wife. If, like me at the time you haven't seen the film, the poster, any still, and do not know the actors it inspires to an interesting picture.

First, this plot always intrigued me so it was natural that I’d do anything to watch it. It was in October 2002 at the University on a VHS player on a 14 inches TV and crappy earphones. This context gave to the film a special glow of a rare gem to finally been watched and experienced. It was the first Ingmar Bergman film I’ve ever watched. Needless is to say that it was a revelation. A revelation of Scandinavian Cinema, a great master, a great actor Max Von Sydow, and a riveting filmography.

The importance of The Seventh Seal is more than preeminent in the medium, ranked in the Top 250 of IMDb by regular users (a rating system I definitely don’t understand) listed as the 53rd spot of They Shoot Pictures Don’t They?’s 1000 Greatest Films, #35 by critics of the Sight & Sound 2002 poll and #31 on the Directors side. It can go on and on but it was one of the first films to open the door to classic films and foreign films in my early stages of cinephilia.

About the film, in the 1950’s Bergman was directing at the Stockholm Theater during winter and with the same cast he was directing films. During the summer of 1957 Bergman not only directed The Seventh Seal but also his masterpiece Wild Strawberries. It was a great year for Bergman and Cinema too. Interesting fact, despite his widely known pretention, Bergman was somewhat modest about how he liked his films. But his film he likes the most is The Seventh Seal, he said that it is the one that works the best. However, this false modesty isn’t palpable when you watch carefully Bergman’s films, the characters of his contemporary films represent the bourgeoisie and their problems. In The Seventh Seal, the knight represents some kind of bourgeoisie that stands above the showman and the band that follows him. It is interesting to see that it is the responsibility of the knight to protect the lower classes that will however one day meet its end no matter from which class or cast he is from.

There is something about this period in the films of Bergman that transpire something raw or crude and it is in part because of the kind of cinematography made with clear crude lighting and few effects. It is almost as if Bergman liked to show bare human feelings without any useless artifices in natural context and environment. A simplicity in the complexity of his plots and understanding of the storytelling that Cinema requires. By today’s standards The Seventh Seal looks much like a classic almost academic film made by a theatre director. However, the themes and reconstitution of the time is perfect and I wouldn’t trade this film for any contemporary one. Please note: I will defend this statement hardly: The Seventh Seal is a Masterpiece.


The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)

Presenting the American Space program in its debuts, the first astronauts from the novel of famous author Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff is the celebration of the race with the Soviets to conquer space. Called the star war in the 1960's the film was in competition with Return of the Jedi in 1983 at the Box Office and at the Oscars. However, it was the year of Terms of Endearnment and this movie got all the major awards.

In 1983, Kaufman was a capable director having directed The White Dawn and the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers but he was mostly known for his writing credits on The Outlaw Josey Wales and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The ambitions of The Right Stuff are pretty clear when you immerse yourself into this all-American vehicule made to earn Oscars. It displays the Cold War climate of the time and reflects true American values of commitment to the banner and the cocky seven astronauts. With lesser known actors; Sam Shepard, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Scott Glenn, Fred Ward, and Barbara Hershey.

However the lack of personal approach and the running time are the two main problems of the film. Even if it's the first Kaufman film I ever saw and that I guess that his directing style is probably sober and "classic" I found his work on The Right Stuff uninspired and outdated for a film directed in 1983. It looked like a made for TV movie although I really liked the use of original footage in the launches of the many spaceships.

But, I was probably expecting too much, I though that a film that runs for three hours and fifteen minutes should at least hold us on the tip of our seat. To me it doens't did it. Worth a look.


Anatomie de l'enfer

Anatomie de l'enfer aka Anatomy of Hell (Catherine Breillat, 2004)

A woman hires a homosexual to pass four nights with her and to watch her when and where no one can see her. This is the summary of this 77 minutes feature adaptation of Breillat's novel Pornocratie.

Shot like a short story, this unsettling at times disgusting film brings up the intercourses and antagonisms between men and women. While acting like the children in the flashback of childhood both characters have monologues about the differences and the antipodes of gender. While Breillat narrates the story, it is clear that her two leads are the representatives of her ideas and her conceptions of those gender.

I recently read somewhere, I think it was Marc Cassivi of La Presse, that it is almost impossible to fully adapt the graphic violence and sex of a written source into a television show or a movie. Well, in the case of Anatomie de l'enfer Breillat has crossed the boundaries and pushed them far away in the depiction of violence and pornographic images. I am fully behind the fact that censorship is a way to muzzle someone in the expression of himself. On the other hand, is it really helpful to the narrative and the storytelling of the film? In some cases maybe not but I think here and in Lars Von Trier's Antichrist for example I think that artist should be able to fully express themselves and use whatever images or ways to do it. Sure, someone will say that the line between pornography and art will become thinner and thinner but take the film Shortbus for example. I think it was a pretext to show nudity and sexual acts and call it Art. However, the plot was poor and the acting even worse. In Breillat's film, Siffredi plays a stoic character and he was probably cast because he can do nudity with his famous career in porn. Amira Casar is very good and her presence is almost hauting while being very human.

If you are to watch this film be sure to be mature and not easily disgusted by blood, erected penises, and lots of nudity.


Links: 2011 in movies

A friend of mine posted this on my Facebook wall. A great wrap up of the films of 2011. I think it influenced me, after I saw it I got out and rented some movies!

See ya tomorrow with regular reviews coming up!


AFI's Top ten movies of 2011

AFI (Amercian Film Institute) has release its Top 10 of the best films of 2011. In my opinion there are many doubtful choices but since they are the "reference" I will try to understand those choices... Well, it's probably the most grossing pictures and the few artistic ones they couldn't pass over. Since I've only seen two of the ten listed I can't really comment but I think that many films don't deserve to even be mentioned in this category. Here's the link.

Here's the list:


THE DESCENDANTS (Alexander Payne)
THE HELP (Tate Taylor)
HUGO (Martin Scorsese)
J. EDGAR (Clint Eastwood)
MONEYBALL (Benneth Miller)
THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick)
WAR HORSE (Steven Spielberg).

The Last Detail

The Last Detail (Hal Ashby, 1973)

The life and career of director Hal Ashby as been tainted by his temper and his much notorious drug addiction and his prematured death of a cancer in 1988. In the 1970's, the decade he did his strongest efforts Ashby wasn't recognized as one of the proeminent figure except for his modest but remarkable Harold and Maude. But almost a decade after his death film buffs dug back into his catalog of films to discover more than the aforementioned Harold and Maude but to find Coming Home, Being There, and The Last Detail. Mainly categoried as an actor's director he was far from the cinematic brilliance of Francis Ford Coppola or Terrence Malick in the 1970's. His cinematophy is natural and has more terra cota colours than the colourful films of this era. His technique is sober and the "mise en scène" reflects minimalism and efficiency. Maybe not as minimalist as John Cassavetes but in a more classic way. This is the plot that counts for a Hal Ashby picture, not the display of technique and experimentations. With The Last Detail, Ashby had a strong cast with a young Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, and Otis Young and the first appearance of Nancy Allen. Even if, I think Nicholson is like Johnny Depp, they always plays the same and the viewer never forgets he is in a film. Both have their mimics and just can't get out of them. However, I know this separates cinephiles some love them some hate them but I can stand Nicholson more than Depp.

Two sailors, Buddovsky "Bad-Ass" (Jack Nicholson) and Mulone "Mule" (Otis Young) are ordered to take a young marine named Meadows (Randy Quaid) in a prison from the naval base of Norfolk to Portsmouth. Meadows is charged for theft, being a cleptomane he steals everything from everyone. But he is a young man who has almost nothing in life and that brings up the mercy of  Buddovsky and Mulone. The two men also want to take some time to have some fun during the trip and they embark Meadows in their journey. At first, the guys are tough on Meadows but when they get to know him they befriend with him and feel the need to give him a little glimpse of the adult life before he enters into jail for seven years.

The setting of the film is simple but it is the development of the relationship between the three men and the humanity displayed by the guards of the prisoners that stands out and gives you this smile on your face. It is almost a feel good movie with strong consequences. The fact that the guys take care of the young man as if they initiate him to life before he is taken away from it is ironic at the same time. They present to him what life can offer to a honest man and then bring him to jail to think about his crime. The relationship and the interactions of the characters makes it interesting because Bad-Ass and Mule kind of life through Meadows their own relief and their own enjoyment of life.

Ashby's film delivers a deep humanist tale of justice and deed. The Last Detail represents a learning lesson to Meadows and also to the viewer who must understand the luck he has of being "free" from jail and/or the Army. It also wears the fights of its time by being a post-Vietnam flick where the Marines are considered as mobilized so they have to report to the Army and its administration just like Meadows who is sentenced to seven years of prison. It is a social critique and also an ironic tale from a capable director.


Scenes from a Marriage

Scenes from a Marriage aka Scener ur ett äktenskap (Ingmar Bergman, 1973)

In my quest of seing the 1000 Greatest Films of the website They Shoot Pictures Don't They? I had the oppportunity to watch many films listed on this reference list. While in the process, that isn't done yet I'm only at number 509, I forgot or omit to write my impression of these films. Like many Bergman movies, Scenes from a Marriage was released Theatrically and also as a Mini-series. It is something often done in Sweden they did the same thing with Fanny and Alexander and the Millenium trilogy. As I am a man of Cinema I often only watch the Theatrical release. However, with Bergman's work I like to watch both. And it worth the rewatch sometimes because it explains some elements that were cut shorter in the Theatrical release. Note: I don't own the Criterion DVD of this release so if someone has an extra 60$ for whatever reason he/she can be my secret Santa...

Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson, two Bergman regulars portray a couple married for ten years. They are cited as a example of succesful marriage and they are sharing their experiences of their married life. The many ups and downs and everything that a couple can encounter during its life together. We follow the next ten years of their marriage.

Scenes from a Marriage is an autobiographical portrayal of Bergman's five marriages and many relationships. He had many extra-marital affairs and his couples had some struggles. Well, the artist that he is reflects a lot the patterns that celebs tend to live in their love relationships. The strenght of Scenes from a Marriage is how close we feel we are with the two lead characters. This is an intimate approach in the life of a couple. Into this film we have a feeling of being like a voyeur into their lives but also like being a part of their lives. We feel for these characters and as relationships are universal and timeless everyone feels like he or she understands or have lived some parts or many of what it is exposed. This is a meticulous and precise detail work on how men and women interact and live their marriage. Even if this is a situation different than yours it still interacts with our lives. A great film. Bergman shot a sequel thirty years later titled Saraband that has been widely acclaimed at the time of its release in 2003.


Cries and Whispers

Cries and Whispers aka Viskningar och rop (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)

When someone thinks about the great Ingmar Bergman many will list his work from the mid-fifties to the late sixties (1957-1966) as his masterpiece period. This person couldn't be more wrong, this director's great work goes until Saraband in 2003. However true Bergman fans like Woody Allen list Cries and Whispers as his favorite film from the Swedish master. Allen is passionate about the man and he even tried successfully twice to do a Bergman film (Interiors and September). For a film lover Cries and Whispers isn't an easy film but such a deep and moving one. It is quite challenging for its viewer to immerse himself in Anna's vision of a dying woman she's taking care of.

On the turn of the 20th Century, Agnes is dying and her sisters come to visit her before her long journey into the other world. This familial reunion brings up many dormant situations between the sisters that are accentuated by the degrading state of Agnes. Her only devoted maid, Anna takes care for her and understands the woman more than her own family. The quarrels of the siblings and the heaviness of the situations is perfectly balanced with the outstanding cinematography of long time collaborator Sven Nykvist. The natural lighting and the crude almost fleshy colours give a superb look to the film. It is so beautiful that it doesn't even looks like the film was made forty years ago. Instead of being staged at perfection like a Dreyer film, Bergman's Cries and Whispers looks natural and classical at the same time. This is the work of artists, the frames are blissed like classical paintings displaying light, life, and beauty. While at the same time we struggle through Agnes' pain in her fight against cancer. However the beauty if the images and the originality of cinematographer Nykvist could have been the ultimate bravura of Cries and Whispers. Well it is not, it is the talented performances and the ensemble cast that surrounds Bergman that strikes the most. Harriet Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin, Kari Sylwan, and Erland Josephson are the great performers but it is Kari Sylwan as the maid Anna that demonstrates depth more than any other in this amazing work.

Finally, Cries and Whispers is one of the many gems that were made in the 1970's. A time where American movies gain in quality and that gave back to the directors the central place in moviemaking in Hollywood. Foreign films that used to be made by directors and controlled by themselves were less regarded when American directors made better films than they used to. However, Bergman, Herzog, and many more made wonderful films in these years. Cries and Whispers might not be as known as Persona or The Seventh Seal in the Bergman catalog it holds to the test of time and should be celebrated more than it is actually. At least it deserved a superb transfer on DVD by Criterion Collection.



Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)

Considering my eternal admiration towards the great master that is Ingmar Bergman, I've decided to treat myself with this review of his most experimental film: Persona. Frankly, my "fanophilia" isn't the main reason why I decided to review this extraordinary masterpiece, it is reaction to the entry of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Blog Club on December 22nd: The Seventh Seal. Don't worry, I'm not doing Persona instead of The Seventh Seal, the review is already written it is just waiting to be released on the day of the assignment. By the way, if anyone wants to join the club you are all welcome to! Follow the link aforementionned and write to my great friend Squish and he will be more than happy to include you into our active reviewers!

Most of Bergman's films don't feel contemporary, they have this unaged and unaltered by time touch. The Bergman touch, well few filmmakers had the gift to make such rich and strong films. But Bergman is one of the perfect examples, the settings and simple mise en scène lets the story and the emotions take all the space and the viewers' attention. What is more important is that the stories and feelings portrayed and displayed are more often than not universal even if it is a Swedish film about the bourgeoisie or medieval characters. Persona takes a step away from these patterns in many ways but it is this exception that's makes it a film even more interesting than most of the rest of his films. Clearly set in contemporary times, the 1960's with the news footage of the beginning of the film, we are set up in a world where everything is in complete change, mutation, morphosis, even in revolution. Bibi Anderson and Liv Ullman, two of the most beautiful women of the 1960's by the way, are in a cabin where Ullman portrays an actress who stopped talking on the stage and never did since. Bibi, is the nurse who's taknig care of Ullman, she represents innocence and the fact that she always talks about all and anything shows how shallow she is. On the contrary, Ullman who is pratically playing the mute watches and listens to her with contempt and severity while seing clearly through Bibi.

The film brings many questions on the modern society and the many perceptions we have of our world. The title of the film Persona, resumes the central scene of the film that is doubled when the two main characters trade their personalities with a split screen imagined by Bergman himself. It looks like a reflection on the fact that when two people are almost isolated together that they kind of begin to look alike. There is also the effect of the character mix where each one gets more and more intertwined with the other one. It is kind of a reaction of their relationship that feels like the younger sister who's taking care of the oldest which should be the other way around. Whatever someone finds as the meaning of the film it is a psychological and philosophical charged film.

The major deception I have with this film it is its release on DVD, done by MGM in a Bergman Boxset that doesn't really live up to the quality of the films. I hope someday Criterion will acquire the rights to make a proper release of this amazing masterpiece.


Das Boot

Das Boot aka The Boat (Wolfgan Petersen, 1981)

Before I start I want to make clear that this review is about the TV version of this feature that has been release in three different format: the Theatrical release, the Director's Cut aka TV version, and the mini-series. This viewing was a part of my quest to watch the entire list of the 1000 Greatest Films of the passionate folks at They Shoot Pictures Don't They? Das Boot being the 508th film I've seen from the list I am way ahead my goal to achieve my 500th film by the end of 2011. This adventure/War/Action/drama transgenre extravaganza from writer director Wolfgang Petersen a director who made more ordinary movies than he did great films managed to do an ok job with Das Boot. Since the film has its confortable spot on IMDb Top 250, a list I don't really give too much credit, still it gives the recognition of a popular film amongst film enthusiasts. I had more than one good reason to watch it. Anyway, it wasn't a film I wanted or had the urge to see. However, I recorded it on my DVR and it was time to give it a spin.

Introducing us to the crew of the u-boat by the exterior journalist as the witness of the inside of the litteral machine that is the works of this ship, was a classic yet efficient way to dip the audience into the core of the sets and society that represents the whole film. The kind of job that isn't related to mariners or army men makes it even more reliable to us while we enter this closed fauna. However, I think this technique is kind of bold and lacks in originality especially here, in a three hours film where anyway you get into the action and the suspense, no matter if you don't belong here no one belongs into a war!

At the same time I quite enjoyed lots of interesting aspects of the plot, the German side in the Second World War shot by Germans: I mean, how many German films were made about their side of the whole events and depicted their almost doomed ending in the last moments of the war? I can't relate to much either especially before 1981. Also I want to give credits to Petersen for having directed a very efficient film on the side of suspense, tension, and understanding of the moments of reclusion and bore these guys should have lived in the submarine. There's a claustrophobic kind of feeling when you are watching Das Boot as in the same time when the ship sinks into the depths of Ocean it almost feels like the comfort and safety of being inside the u-boat and not outside gives it a sense of maternal symbolism to the ship. Even if the whole crew is in the worst place it can possibly be I think that these are the greatest and most succesful moments depicted. The character development is at its best and the relationships between the men has this little thing that missed all along the rest of the film, urgency and enough time to let the moments fill the scene. It is almost as if the time stopped and the film took a step in quality.

After all the wait and the expectations about seing Das Boot I probably got my expectations too high or wasn't really interpelled by the story and its whole "dénouement", it kinda bored me and even if the aforementionned scenes were interesting I don't hink the entire movie is worth the time spent for the enjoyment or entertainment it brought to me. It reminded me of the Band of Brothers miniseries. It was all about entertainment, action, and few character developpment a piece of History brought back to life to fulfill the taste of distraction but no real approach or comment about war and the consequences of it all. It doesn't have to be moralist about it but at least present a coloured view and/or commentary. Worth a look.


Mea Culpa or the review that should have been

As the final day of the Seven Days of Nouvelle vague I was supposed to review Jacques Rivette’s Céline et Julie vont en bateau aka Celine and Julie go Boating. But time got me and I wasn’t able to watch the film in entirely and afterwards to review it. It might seems a little disorganize to postpone this review but I didn’t wanted to write something I wasn’t fully satisfied about and watch a film in fragments. However, I swear to watch it entirely soon and to fully review it. I was very excited about this film that has a cult or a special glow around it being regarded by many as Rivette’s better work. It was his first film I’d seen, one of the many directors I hears and read much about without ever seeing one film!

This list of directors I’ve read lots about but haven’t seen even one film is a thing that I wanted to make for a long time now. But since I’ve seen some of those this year (Peter Bogdanovich, Agnes Varda, Georges Franju, Claire Denis, Joon-Ho Bong, Michael Winterbottom, Gillo Pontecorvo, John Cassavetes, Jean-Pierre Melville) I think it is time to put it down on paper and give it a serious try in 2012 to discover those holes in my cinephile knowledge. It goes like that: (no particular order just my inspiration)

Jacques Rivette
Claude Chabrol
Bela Tarr
King Vidor
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Raoul Walsh
Joseph Losey
Theo Angelopoulos
Claude Autant-Lara
Jules Dassin
Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Chantal Akerman
Glauber Rocha
Edward Yang
Mikio Naruse
Victor Erice
Michael Snow
Ritwik Ghatak
Nagisa Oshima
Jean Eustache
Claude Lanzmann
Sam Wood
Ermanno Olmi
Franscesco Rosi
Robert Mulligan
Ousmane Sembene
Shohei Imamura
Emir Kusturica
Luis Garcia Berlanga
Manoel de Oliviera
Charles Burnett
Jacques Becker
Robert Hamer
Sergei Parajanov
Well, many foreign film directors! Each year my goal is to see more films from a multitude of different countries and languages. Do you have any recommandations?

Seven Days of French New Wave Day 7


Journal d'un curé de campagne

Journal d'un curé de campagne aka Diary of A Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)

A difficult film at first because of the thin thin story told and the lean and unappealing visual treatment of it all. However very influential to many spirituality tormented directors like Andrei Tarkovosky and Martin Scorsese. The lack of actual plot and the long silent reclusion of the almost anti-hero, the priest, his pain and arid living gives you this inspirationnal feeling that faith as to be a necessary suffering. Considered by critics and cinephiles as one of the quintessential films of the Art I personally don't feel like this is one of the greatest film of all time.
Even if I'm not very fond of Bresson's work I think that it is far from being his better contribution to the media. The spiritual depth talked about Journal is painful not only to the main character but also to the viewer who must endure and understand the emptiness of the life of this priest. The messianique figure that Bresson tries to paint here isn't quite up the act as he does with his way better Au hazard Balthazar displaying a donkey as the witness of the avidity and evil of humanity.
Compared to his spirituality tormented peers, Bresson lacks of technique and storytelling. Take Dreyer's Ordet for example, a blissfull masterpiece slow paced while being filled with tremendous technique and mastery. On the other hand, still within scandinavian cinema, Bergman displayed with his trilogy on the silence of God an outstanding comprehension of faith and spirituality. However, it might be Bresson's twisted and ambiguous approach to the whole that can not really be well discerned thorough the spiritual Cinema.

Last Year at Marienbad

L'année dernière à Marienbad aka Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

This post is a part of the Seven Days of the French New Wave going on this Blog. But since Resnais wasn't a "member" of the "vague" I have to categorize him as an outsider that often been mistaken as a French New Waver because he was French and the fact that his films were more written oriented. With Last Year at Marienbad, Alain Resnais made one of the greatest masterpieces of Cinema. See Mediafilm's list of masterpieces.

The plot is a little hard to follow since the story is divided in time, sometimes we are in the present other times in the past and sometimes in the future or what the characters imagine will be their future. This facet of the structure of the story reminded me of the surrealist writing of The Discret Charm of the Bourgeoisie or even the deconstruction of memory of Malick's The Tree of Life. Resnais' adaptation is audacious because even with today's standards this is a fresh film and it is way more thoughful than Nolan's Inception that plays with memory and time without the Sci-fi effects and the spectacular imagery.

The atmosphere of Last Year at Marienbad probably influenced Kubrick on his The Shining, with the reclusion of the characters in this castle turned into a luxurious Hotel where the characters are walking like ghosts with deadpan faces and looking like they are disconnected with time and space. The memory and the presence of the characters is like if they always were a part of the Hotel and they are trapped in a continuum of time.

The beauty of the cinematography juxtaposed with the eerie and omnipresent music gives a mysterious yet thrilling vibe to the film. It makes me want to see more films of Alain Resnais since I deeply loved his Night and Fog while been disgusted by the atrocities it displayed and I've bored by his Hiroshima mon amour. Of Resnais great career, he still makes movies today, many films a yet to be reviewed here. Last year at Marienbad might be a difficult film to get into but since you past the uncommon structure of the story it is a masterpiece every film buff should at least watch one time in his/her life.

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