2012-02-29

Je me souviens



Never forget where you come from. This is the subject of this new feature on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Having already begun with Denys Arcand's most respected work Le déclin de l'empire américain and another little gem he has directed in the 1970's Gina. This series of reviews will highlight and present the films that represent our part of the world. Some films aren't masterpieces and sometimes they even might be cultural phenomenon more than great works of art. However, they represent what we are as a society and what reflects of this population. This is far from being a separatist or political post. Politics is the last thing I want to discuss here and I prefer if morale or philosophy is dialogued more than opinions and editorials about nationalism. This is a blog about Cinema and it will always stay like this.

The Films:

Ti-Coq (Gratien Gélinas & René Delacroix, 1953)

Pour la suite du monde (Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault et Marcel Carrière, 1963)

À tout prendre (Claude Jutra, 1963)

Le chat dans le sac (Gilles Groulx, 1964)

Deux femmes en or (Claude Fournier, 1970)


 Mon oncle Antoine (Claude Jutra, 1971)

La vraie nature de Bernadette (Gilles Carle, 1972)

La mort d'un bûcheron (Gilles Carle, 1973)

Les ordres (Michel Brault, 1974)


 Gina aka Stone Cold Revenge (Denys Arcand, 1975)

J.A. Martin, photographe (Jean Beaudin, 1976)

L'eau chaude, l'eau frette (André Forcier, 1976)

Les bons débarras
(Francis Mankiewicz, 1980)

Crac (Frédéric Back, 1980)

Les Plouffe (Gilles Carle, 1981)

Au clair de la Lune (André Forcier, 1982)

Bonheur d'occasion (Claude Fournier, 1983)

Le crime d'Ovide Plouffe (Denys Arcand, 1984)

 Elvis Gratton (Pierre Falardeau & Julien Poulin, 1985)
 
Le déclin de l'empire américain aka The Decline of the American Empire (Denys Arcand, 1986)

L'homme qui plantait des arbres (Frédéric Back, 1987)


Un zoo la nuit (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1987)

Dans le ventre du dragon (Yves Simoneau, 1989)

Jésus de Montréal (Denys Arcand, 1989)

Being at home with Claude (Jean Beaudin, 1991)

Léolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1992)

Octobre (Pierre Falardeau, 1994)

La liste noire (Jean-Marc Vallée, 1995)

Les Boys aka The Boys (Louis Saïa, 1997)

Emporte-moi
(Léa Pool, 1999)

Le Nèg' (Robert Morin, 2002)

 Québec-Montréal (Ricardo Trogi, 2002)

Séraphin: Un homme et son péché
(Charles Binamé, 2002)

 Les invasions barbares aka The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand, 2003)

La grande séduction (Jean-François Pouliot, 2003)

Sur le seuil (Éric Tessier, 2003)

Les Aimants (Yves P. Pelletier, 2004)

C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005)

Horloge biologique (Ricardo Trogi, 2005)

Maurice Richard (Charles Binamé, 2005)

Bon Cop, Bad Cop (Érik Canuel, 2006)

Cheech (Patrick Sauvé, 2006)

Congorama (Philippe Falardeau, 2006)

L'âge des ténêbres (Denys Arcand, 2007)

Bluff (Simon-Olivier Fecteau & Marc-André Lavoie, 2007)

Continental, un film sans fusil (Stéphane Lafleur, 2007)

À l'ouest de Pluton (Henry Bernadet & Myriam Verreault, 2008)

 Borderline (Lyne Charlebois, 2008)

1981
(Ricardo Trogi, 2009)

J'ai tué ma mère (Xavier Dolan, 2009)

Polytechnique (Denis Villeneuve, 2009)

De père en flic (Émile Gaudreault, 2009)

 Les doigts croches (Ken Scott, 2009)


 Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, 2010)

Les 7 jours du Talion (Podz, 2010)

Les amours imaginaires (Xavier Dolan, 2010)

Café de Flore (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2011)

Monsieur Lazhar (Philippe Falardeau, 2011)

Nuit#1 (Anne Émond, 2011)

Starbuck (Ken Scott, 2011)


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Any suggestions, comments, questions, complaints... Please give me a feedback!

2012-02-28

Gina

Note: this a new series of reviews I'm installing on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Since I was born and raised in the Province of Québec I've decided to present and review some of the films that populate my culture and that represents the Cinema of here. The feature will be called after our license plate motto: "Je me souviens" for "I remember".
Gina aka Stone Cold Revenge (Denys Arcand, 1975)

Following the review of one of Denys Arcand most celebrated films, comes this very 1970's revenge film that is so much more than just a I Spit On Your Grave film. It might have been influenced in some ways by Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs without stealing anything out of it. But the strenght of storytelling might be of the same kind.
Well, Arcand's setting is directly taken from his background of documentary feature directing. There's actually a documentary shooting crew visiting the manufacture of the little town. The actual images are from Arcand's censored documentary Au cotton. His direct camera slowly sets the story in place where the inhabitants of the little town of Mauricie county are enjoying a typical winter of the 1970's. They ride their snowmobiles, play in the snow, and go to work. Until the arriving of cabaret dancer Gina, a woman from the city with lots of sex appeal. Shortly after her arrival a band of bikers in snowmobile molest Gina and humiliate her. Then begins the revenge of Gina upon her aggressors.

Even if the vengeance story has been exploited nomerous number of times, the setting of the Quebecois winter and the approach of Arcand's direct camera and multilayered script give it a fresh lecture here. It is also very interesting to see Denys Arcand's work prior to his major success of Le déclin de l'empire américain. It is a raw film depicting many elements strucured in a uneven way. However, the naive charm of this transition between documentary and fiction film is quite interesting in the career of Arcand here. One must consider this as a learning project. Personnally, it is my favorite film by Denys Arcand, even if I'm not that fond of documentary or revenge flicks the charm of the exercise and the actual unperfectness of this film makes it a very interesting piece.

Rating: Ratings

2012-02-27

2012 Oscars Results/My score

Nominees My Take & Results


Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

The Winner: The Artist



My Prediction: The Artist
My Vote: The Tree of Life
Best Actor
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

The Winner: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
My Prediction: Jean Dujardin
My Vote: Gary Oldman

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

The Winner: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
My Prediction: Viola Davis, The Help
My Vote: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marylin
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Winner: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
My Prediction: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
My Vote: Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet Mcteer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

The Winner: Octavia Spencer, The Help
My Prediction: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
My Vote: Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

The Winner: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
My Prediction: Martin Scorsese
My Vote: Terrence Malick

Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

The Winner: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
My Prediction: Woody Allen
My Vote: Woody Allen

Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball
Birdget O'Connor & Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Winner: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants
My Prediction: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
My Vote: George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon

Cinematography
Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist
Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Robert Richardson, Hugo
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Janusz Kaminski, War Horse

The Winner: Robert Richardson, Hugo
My Prediction: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
My Vote: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life

Film Editing
The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Moneyball

The Winner:The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
My Prediction: The Artist
My Vote: The Artist

Art Direction
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

The Winner: Hugo
My Prediction: Hugo
My vote: Midnight in Paris

Costume
Anonymous
The Artist
Hugo
Jane Eyre
W.E.

The Winner: The Artist


My Prediction: Jane Eyre
My Vote: The Artist

Makeup
Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Iron Lady

The Winner: The Iron Lady


My Prediction: Albert Nobbs
My Vote: Albert Nobbs

Original Score
John Williams, The Adventures of Tintin
Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Howard Shore, Hugo
Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
John Williams, War Horse

The Winner: Ludovic Bource, The Artist


My Prediction: Ludovic Bource, The Artist
My Vote: Ludovic Bource, The Artist

Original Song
"Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, Bret Mckenzie
"Real in RIO" from Rio, Sergio Mendes, Carlinos Brown, Siedah Garrett

The Winner: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, Bret Mckenzie
My Prediction: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, Bret Mckenzie
My Vote: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, Bret Mckenzie

Sound Mixing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Moneyball
War Horse
Transformers: Drak of the Moon

The Winner: Hugo


My Prediction: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
My Vote: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Sound Editing
Drive
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

The Winner: Hugo
My Prediction: War Horse
My Vote: Drive

Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The Winner: Hugo

My Prediction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
My Vote: Hugo

Animated Feature Film
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Rango

The Winner: Rango


My Prediction: Kung Fu Panda 2
My Vote: Rango

Foreign Language Film
Bullhead (Belgium)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)

The Winner: A Separation (Iran)
My Prediction: A Separation (Iran)
My Vote: Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)

Documentary Feature
Hell and Back Again
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Pina
Undefeated

The Winner: Undefeated


My Prediction: Pina
My Vote: Pina

Documentary Short
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

The Winner: Saving Face


My Prediction: Saving Face
My Vote: God is the Bigger Elvis

Animated Short
Dimanche/Sunday
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

The Winner: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore


My Prediction: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
My Vote: La Luna

Live Action Short
Pentecost
Raju
The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

The Winner: The Shore


My Prediction: Raju
My Vote: The Shore

11/24

Top films of Andrei Tarkovsky by LMdC


This master of contemplative Cinema, divide film lovers in his admirers and haters. The naysayers will rightly say that his films are dull and slow paced even more than Carl Th. Dreyer. However, he is knowed for his Science-fiction masterpieces Solaris (1972) and Stalker. His style is a perfect fit for this genre that greatly is influence by his superb framing and long shots. Influencing from Bela Tarr to Lars Von Trier up until Steven Soderbergh and his ok remake the mark of the Soviet filmmaker is palpable in many films.
Here is my personal top of his oeuvre:

1. Nostalghia (1983)
2. Solaris (1972)

3. Stalker (1979)
4. The Mirror (1976)
5. Andrei Rublev (1966)
6. The Sacrifice (1986)
7. Ivan’s Childhood (1962)

2012-02-25

Le déclin de l'empire américain

Note: this a new series of reviews I'm installing on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Since I was born and raised in the Province of Québec I've decided to present and review some of the films that populate my culture and that represents the Cinema of here. The feature will be called after our license plate motto: "Je me souviens" for "I remember".

Le déclin de l'empire américain aka The Decline of the American Empire (Denys Arcand, 1986)


Nominated for the Oscar for Best foreign film in 1987, Le déclin(...) is one of the few films that Quebecois are truly proud. Even if it didn't aged really well, this "auteur" film is the first part of the sequel to Les invasions barbares aka The Barbarians Invasions that won the Oscar for Best foreign film in 2004. Both films written and directed by respected director Denys Arcand who came into filmmaking by the documentary feature first, like many Quebecois directors Pierre Perreault and Michel Brault just to name a few. Early in his career he was a committed documentary filmmaker but with the coming of the referendum of 1980 he decided to emancipate himself and make films for the US market. Letting aside his personal aesthetic and the long monologues that characterized his direct Cinema, Arcand didn't succeed with his two English langage films. However, success came with the release of Le déclin(...), a very personal film made with a bunch of very talented and well known actors of the Province like Dominique Michel, Dorothée Berryman, Louise Portal, Pierre Curzy, Rémi Girard (Incendies), and Yves Jacques amongst others.

A synopsis of the film isn't necessary, it reprensents well educated adults who discuss about life, sex, relationships, and the preoccupations of our society. It fells like a nice mix of Eric Rohmer, Woody Allen (Hannah and Her Sisters), late 1960's Jean-Luc Godard but everything with a little bit of Maple syrup just to keep it Québécois enough. The monologues and the storytelling is quite unique and the modern day viewer may find some characters annoying, it is indeed done in purpose. Lots of characters are more than despicable, the represent they bourgeois Baby boomers of the Quebecois society. The plot is thin and this is clearly an observation by Arcand on his peers and probably on his life. He depicts how the men and women are in a battle of sex and how social success and accomplishment is only available by the number of partners or how your sexual life makes you happier than the next person. It is filled with sardonic and cynical commentaries with an erudit sense of rightness and an immersing society study. The documentary eye of the director is never far and the way he lets the scenes flow and take place without editing uselessly feels like he puts a microscope on the group of people he choose to observe.

In his country, Denys Arcand is a celebrated director and of the living director he is regarded as the most brilliant. However, in the Province of Québec people tend to have a short memory when it comes to Art or Culture and they easily forgot Claude Jutra, Gilles Carle, Frédéric Back, Michel Brault, Pierre Perreault, Gilles Groulx, Jean-Claude Lauzon, Jean-Claude Lord just to name a few.
Arcand's film might not please everyone's tastes but it is a Classic and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know just a little more about my part of the world.

Rating:

2012-02-23

2012 LMdC Oscars predictions

Nominees My Take & Results
Best Picture

  • The Artist 



  • The Descendants



  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 



  • The Help



  • Hugo 



  • Midnight in Paris 



  • Moneyball 



  • The Tree of Life 



  • War Horse 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: The ArtistMy Vote: The Tree of Life

    Best Actor

  • Demian Bichir, A Better Life 



  • George Clooney, The Descendants



  • Jean Dujardin, The Artist



  • Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 



  • Brad Pitt, Moneyball

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Jean Dujardin
    My Vote: Gary Oldman
    Best Actress

  • Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs 



  • Viola Davis, The Help



  • Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 



  • Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady



  • Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Viola Davis, The Help
    My Vote: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo





    Best Supporting Actor

  • Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marylin 



  • Jonah Hill, Moneyball



  • Nick Nolte, Warrior



  • Christopher Plummer, Beginners



  • Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

    My Vote: Jonah Hill, Moneyball



    Best Supporting Actress

  • Bérénice Bejo, The Artist 



  • Jessica Chastain, The Help 



  • Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids



  • Janet Mcteer, Albert Nobbs 



  • Olivia Spencer, The Help 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

    My Vote: Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
    Best Director

  • Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist-



  • Alexander Payne, The Descendants 



  • Martin Scorsese, Hugo



  • Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris 



  • Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Martin Scorsese
    My Vote: Terrence Malick
    Original Screenplay

  • Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist



  • Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids



  • J.C. Chandor, Margin Call 



  • Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris 



  • Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Woody Allen

    My Vote: Woody Allen
    Adapted Screenplay

  • Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants 



  • John Logan, Hugo



  • George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon, The Ides of March 



  • Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball



  • Birdget O'Connor & Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
    My Vote: George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon
    Cinematography

  • Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist 



  • Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 



  • Robert Richardson, Hugo



  • Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life 



  • Janusz Kaminski, War Horse 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
    My Vote: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
    Film Editing

  • The Artist 



  • The Descendants



  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 



  • Hugo 



  • Moneyball

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    The Artist
    My Vote: The Artist
    Art Direction

  • The Artist



  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 



  • Hugo



  • Midnight in Paris 



  • War Horse

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Hugo

    My vote: Midnight in Paris
    Costume

  • Anonymous 



  • The Artist



  • Hugo 



  • Jane Eyre 



  • W.E. 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Jane Eyre

    My Vote: The Artist




    Makeup

  • Albert Nobbs 



  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 



  • The Iron Lady 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Albert Nobbs

    My Vote: Albert Nobbs


    Original Score

  • John Williams, The Adventures of Tintin 



  • Ludovic Bourse, The Artist 



  • Howard Shore, Hugo



  • Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 



  • John Williams, War Horse 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Ludovic Bourse, The Artist
    My Vote: Ludovic Bourse, The Artist 


    Original Song

  • "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, Bret Mckenzie 



  • "Real in RIO" from Rio, Sergio Mendes, Carlinos Brown, Siedah Garrett

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, Bret Mckenzie My Vote: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, Bret Mckenzie





    Sound Mixing

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 



  • Hugo



  • Moneyball 



  • War Horse 



  • Transformers: Drak of the Moon 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    My Vote: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Sound Editing

  • Drive 



  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 



  • Hugo 



  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon



  • War Horse 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: War Horse

    My Vote: Drive
    Visual Effects

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 



  • Hugo 



  • Real Steel



  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes



  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
    My Vote: Hugo
    Animated Feature Film

  • A Cat in Paris



  • Chico & Rita



  • Kung Fu Panda 2



  • Puss in Boots



  • Rango

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Kung Fu Panda 2My Vote: Rango





    Foreign Language Film

  • Bullhead (Belgium)



  • Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)



  • A Separation (Iran)



  • Footnote (Israel)



  • In Darkness (Poland)

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    A Separation (Iran)
    My Vote: Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
    Documentary Feature

  • Hell and Back Again 



  • If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front 



  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory 



  • Pina 



  • Undefeated 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Pina My Vote: Pina




    Documentary Short

  • The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement



  • God is the Bigger Elvis



  • Incident in New Baghdad 



  • Saving Face



  • The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    Saving FaceMy Vote: God is the Bigger Elvis



    Animated Short

  • Dimanche/Sunday 



  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore 



  • La Luna



  • A Morning Stroll 



  • Wild Life

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction:
    The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore My Vote: La Luna
    Live Action Short

  • Pentecost



  • Raju 



  • The Shore



  • Time Freak 



  • Tuba Atlantic 

  • The Winner:
    My Prediction: Raju

    My Vote: The Shore

    2012-02-22

    Antichrist

    Note: this review is a translation of my original review of the movie I've seen in Theaters in late 2009. Since it was one of my first long reviews I've decided to translate it for everyone's benefit. I will do series of re-edits for the films that actually were reviewed in French in the first moments of this blog.

    Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, 2009)

    Expectations towards this film were high and the mixed reviews following its release made me very curious about what did Lars Von Trier in his latest concoction. Having only seen his most famous films; Dancer in the Dark and Dogville my opinion was that he is talented master. Dancer in the Dark is a near-masterpiece while Dogville is an interesting experiment "à la" Bertold Brecht that tires itself after a moment.

    To make my wait even longer, Antichrist was preceded by Pedro Pires' short Danse Macabre. Evenmore, the clerk that sold me my ticket asked me if I was mentally ready for the film. Well, everything to make me even more feverish for this cinematic junket that is Antichrist. There was at least twenty people into the theater where the projection of the film was about to begin. The air was thin with apprehension, fear, excitation, and probably innocence.

    The film opens with a magnificent slow motion prologue shot in a clean black and white depicting the couple during the act of love at the same moment that their only son accidentally dies by jumping out of the window of his room. This sequence puts the viewer right into the core of the film. The guilt of the mother and the mourning of the lost of a child. The mother (Charlotte Gainsbourg) falls into a major depression and her path through the mourning of her son is very difficult. To cure his wife, the man (Willem Dafoe) brings her into their cabin in the woods and starts her therapy. There, everything will degenerate and their illness will be even greater. The idea behind the story is very interesting and it gives to Von Trier excellent material to work with but also something very heavy. Von Trier isn't known for falling for the easiest road.

    The opening and the final sequences are linked together by the same visuals. However, the rest of the film is shot in numeric format with handheld cameras "à la" Dogme 95. These techniques give to the images a bold grain and an amateurist touch to the movements of the camera as well as a sense of reality.

    However, provocation is his thing and he chooses every way he can to achieve his status of grand provocateur; explicit sex scenes, sadic violence, and a outrageous symbolism. Von Trier likes to shock is audience to demonstrate his ego-maniacal persona. Nevertheless, he leads a path where no other filmmaker has ever been and he has his own style. Like Quentin Tarantino, pretension can be a crutch but I think that in both cases those two are masters conscious of their talent and using it advisely. The final homage to Andreï Tarkovsky, one of the greatest visual poets of the seventh art, might seem very pompous, but related to Tarkovsky, Antichrist which has many religious symbolism may be linked easily with the Soviet director. Nonetheless, both filmmakers are from two different worlds, Tarkovsky made contemplative religious films gently and meticulously crafted while Von Trier has this raw and almost vulgar attitude. The director of Antichrist tortures his characters and at the same time his audience that was reduced in half during the projection of the film.

    This widely discussed film, mostly because of the shocking violence and heaviness, might attain the cult status of Pasolini's Salo: or the 120 days of Sodom. Just for the sequences of the three beggars and the fall into the madness of humanity the religious fable slowly transcends into a very efficient Horror film. As seen as a genre film, Antichrist convinces and accomplishes more than many torture porn films that we are used to see these days. It indulges fear, loath, disgust and a lot of nebulous symbolism that can scare the hell out of the viewer that has enough courage and oddity to watch Antichrist.

    Rating:

    2012-02-20

    Top films of Akira Kurosawa by LMdC


    1. Ran (1985)

    2. The Seven Samurai (1954)
    3. Red Beard (1965)
    4. Rashomon (1950)
    5. Ikiru (1952)
    6. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
    7. High and Low (1963)
    8. Drunken Angel (1948)
    9. Sanjuro (1962)
    10. Yojimbo (1961)
    11. Kagemusha (1980)
    12. Stray Dog (1949)
    13. Throne of Blood (1957)
    14. The Hidden Fortress (1958)
    15. The Idiot (1951)
    16. The Lower Depths (1957)
    17. One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
    I still need to see: The Most Beautiful (1944) No Regrets For Our Youth (1946) The Quiet Duel (1948) Scandal (1950) I Live In Fear (1955) Dodes’ka den (1970) Dersu Uzala (1975) Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990) Rhapsody In August (1990) Madadayo (1993)

    2012-02-19

    Vertigo

    Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

    The definition of vertigo is a sensation of dizziness or abnormal motion resulting from a disorder of the sense of balance. In Alfred Hitchcock's picture, Vertigo is translated as John "Scottie" Ferguson's (James Stewart) fear of heights. Scottie was a police detective and is now retired. A wealthy man asks him to follow his wife (Kim Novak) and check on her because he thinks that she is contemplating suicide. Sadly, Madeleine (the wife) commits the irreparable even with Scottie's close surveillance. While following this woman, Ferguson falls obsessively in love with her. Shortly after her tragic death he meets a woman who practically looks exactly like Madeleine. This is where Scottie's "disorder" comes in action, he is still madly obsessed with Madeleine and he will try to "recreate" her with Judy.

    This relationship is already doomed at day one. It smells bad if you prefer and we clearly sense that Scottie is intoxicated by Madeleine's persona. Their love story is unwholesome and the way Scottie acts when trying to convert Judy into Madeleine is desperately sad and exposes how childish he reacts to this lost. He does whatever he can to get what he can't have anymore. Evenmore, he doesn't get it, he obviously doesn't need it. It just accentuates his sickness and dooms him.


    Just like the somewhat outdated flashes, Scottie seems to keep falling from the first scene of the film until the final moments. One of the most interesting aspect of this story is how the obsession of the main character becomes our own obsession as the viewer. We really want to watch Scottie getting over his fear and his state of depression by making up with Judy's presence. Hitchcock accomplishes he most subtle tricks of metaphorical meanings by placing common objects and right framing in his movie. Many scenes involve mirrors and depending on what he wants to tell with his images. Hitch makes some claustrophobic effects or double reflection of the characters in the mirror. Few Hitchcock films have been so abstemious in their visual but few have been mastered has well either.

    The plot of Vertigo is a free adaptation of Boileau-Narcejac's Entre les morts. It was in direct reaction to Hitchock's lost of the rights of the novel Les diaboliques to Henri-Georges Clouzot written by the same duet of authors. Hitchcock said later in interviews that Clouzot's film was the only picture he wish he had made. To be honest, I think Hitchcock surpassed Clouzot but the later's near-masterpiece is one heck of a movie. It is one of the films, Les diaboliques (1955), I always highly recommend to anyone who likes French Horror films of the 1950's along with Eyes Without A Face by Georges Franju. However, Hitchcock never literally adapted a novel to the screen he was a very literate man and he added many elements of fellow Englishman Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray to the plot of Vertigo. Added to his successful storytelling techniques and the culmination of his Art, Vertigo is one of the many pinnacles of Hitchcock's 1950's work.

    In Vertigo we found many classic Hitchcock elements: the doppelganger played by Kim Novak in the two women Madeleine and Judy, the icy blond "à la" Grace Kelly, James Stewart's acting almost child-like, the bay-area locations and the landmark signature settings. For many reasons Vertigo is considered as Hitch's masterpiece and it is always into the top 5s of the greatest films of all time. However, I don't think it is the "master of suspense"'s greatest achievement, even if it is one of his most contemplative and deep films I think it is surpassed by Rear Window, Psycho and North by Northwest just by the fact that those films are more personal entertainment for Hitch. The themes of those films connect more with his storytelling techniques and they feel more like his major work. Vertigo is still a masterpiece but just a bit under the trio aforementioned.

    Rating:

    2012-02-15

    Daisies


    Daisies aka Sedmikráski (Vera Chytilová, 1966)
    This Czech film, banished by the government when it came out, might be one of the most interesting experimental feminist farce I've ever seen. It is about two girls, Marie I and Marie II and they decided that in this world of conventions, routine, work, they will destroy everything that stands in their way and do everything the way they want it. Breaking up conventions, etiquette, and the whole way the society works. They choose to be "bad" and to only listen to themselves. At one point, it does a certain critique to the teenage girls that want to do nothing and that only live for empty things like clothing, food, getting everything they want from elder men, etc. However, after a while the message of the film unravels slowly and demonstrate how this is a critique towards the things that are regulate but rules or morals. The duo might look like if those two girls were little brats, in many ways they are, but they also represents a wind of freshness and social satire.

    This is also a movie about excesses, so much food is wasted and so much alcohol is drank it is almost intoxicating for the viewer. Personal note, if you are a sweet tooth like I am, be sure to watch this after a nice meal otherwise you'll be having a hard time not to get hungry... Daisies is also a direct punch to the Social Republic of Czechoslovakia by displaying two women being individual and doing their own things out of the social conventions. One of them is not even registered, so she is living clandestinely and she doesn't work either.

    Chytilová's film is about freedom of speech in the characters she presents in her film but also in the way she makes her film. By breaking barriers and the rules she accomplishes a film reminiscent of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up released the same year that exploited the period of the 1960's. Both films reflect the essence of the decade and their creators denounced different problems. Nevertheless, the core of their films cries out loud 1960's and the climate of revolutions of the ending of this decade.

    Finally, Daisies is a cute little (72 minutes) film of weirdness and in your face provocation to the government of its country of origin. Far from being a masterpiece it sure has a potential at being a cult classic. Not for everyone but worth the look.

    2012-02-14

    Classic Film Meme

    Originally authored by Rianna over at Frankly, My Dear, I've decided to take the time to make this meme. It gives me a break from trying to figure how to watch all the Oscar nominated picture of the year...

    1. Favorite Disney.
    This is a tricky question, because I really love classic Disney films. But my personal favorite one is without a doubt The Jungle Book. It reminds me of many childhood  memories not just of the film but because my mother used to make us watch all those National Geographic documentaries on rainy days.

    2. Favorite film from 1939.

    La règle du jeu aka The Rules of the Game. Jean Renoir's greatest masterpiece depicts what it is that makes filmmaking an Art. Just like his father, he masters wonderful tricks of "mise en scène". Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich agreed on many things during their great friendship but the thing they agreed the most their favorite filmmaker: Jean Renoir.

    3. Favorite Carole Lombard Screwball role
    Since I have only seen To Be or Not To Be so it will be my answer. However, I 've been meaning to watch Hawks' Twentieth Century for some time now. Based on the only movie I've seen of Lombard she is a potential favorite Classic actress and a very handsome lady.

    4. Favorite off screen couple? (It's ok if it ended in divorce)
    No idea.

    5. Favorite pair of best friends? (i.e - Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck, etc.)

    John Wayne and Howard Hawks. They were making films as pretext to pass some time with each other. They also contributed to the Cinema with great westerns (Rio Bravo, Red River, El Dorado) and one of my favorite film: Hatari!

    6. Favorite actor with a mustache? (i.e: Charlie Chaplin, William Powell)
    Since Chaplin is a given and Tom Selleck is outside of the time frame I would have to say Clark Gable. Just for his Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

    7. Favorite blonde actress?

    Marylin Monroe. Obvious choice but her presence in many of my favorite director's pictures; Hawks (Monkey Business), Wilder (Some Like It Hot), Huston (The Asphalt Jungle, The Misfits), etc.

    8. Favorite pre-code?
    Design For Living. Ernst Lubitsch and his touch always works on me. This a picture where a love triangle is displayed and sex is overtly discussed. A must see for sure!

    9. Which studio would you have liked to join?
    The first moments of United Artists but definitely RKO just to have the chance to work with Orson Welles and to save The Magnificent Ambersons from being butchered by the studio...

    10. Favorite common on screen pairing that SHOULD have gotten married?
    Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. Their relationship in Rear Window makes you believe that those two actually felt in love with each other.

    11. Favorite I Love Lucy episode?
    Let's pass. I've never seen one episode of this show.

    12. Lucille Ball, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, and Greer Garson - which one do you like the best?

    Grace Kelly, just for her role in Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief. Man is she hot. But also because I think she had a great talent.

    13. Shadowy film noir from the 1940's or splashy colorful musicals from the 1950's?
    It's like asking me if I want cake or pie. I want both I love both! Yes I confess I am such a sweet tooth. But I think I'll have to surpringly answer splashy musicals from the 1950's. The first movies that comes in mind is An American in Paris, The Red Shoes (1948, is a cheat but it is a masterpiece), and Singin' In the Rain.

    14. Actor or actress with the best autograph (photo preferred)?
    Seriously, who cares? But I know I would have loved to ask Charlie Chaplin's autograph just to meet him.


    15. A baby (or childhood or teenage) photo of either your favorite actress or actor (or both, if you'd like)?It would have to be Chaplin but I couldn't put my hand on a childhood picture...

    2012-02-13

    Top films of Alfred Hitchcock by LMdC

    1. Rear Window (1954)
    2. North by Northwest (1959)
    3. Psycho (1960)
    4. Vertigo (1958)
    5. Shadow of A Doubt (1943)
    6. The Birds (1963)
    7. Notorious (1946)
    8. The 39 Steps (1935)
    9. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
    10. Rebecca (1940)
    11. Rope (1948)
    12. Suspicion (1941)
    13. Saboteur (1942)
    14. Strangers On A Train (1951)
    15. To Catch A Thief (1955)
    16. The Trouble With Harry (1955)
    17. Marnie (1964)
    18. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)
    19. Dial M for Murder (1954)
    20. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
    21. Stage Fright (1950)
    22. The Wrong Man (1956)
    23. Spellbound (1945)
    24. Sabotage (1936)
    25. Lifeboat (1944)
    26. I Confess (1953)
    27. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
    28. Under Capricorn (1949)
    29. Jamaica Inn (1939)
    30. Blackmail (1929)
    31. Foreign Correspondent (1940)
    32. Family Plot (1976)
    33. Topaz (1969)
    34. Torn Curtain (1966)
    35. Secret Agent (1936)
    36. Murder ! (1930)
    37. Young and Innocent (1937)
    38. Frenzy (1972)
    39. Rich and Strange (1932)
    40. The Lodger (1926)
    41. The Paradine Case (1948)

    I still need to see: The Pleasure Garden (1925) Downhill (1927) Easy Virtue (1927) The Ring (1927) Champagne (1928) The Farmer’s Wife (1928) The Manxman (1929) Juno and the Paycock (1930) The Skin Game (1931) Number Seventeen (1932) Aventure Malgache (1944) Bon Voyage (1944)

    2012-02-12

    The LAMB Devours the Oscars: The Artist

    Best Motion Picture nominee The Artist

    Presented for the first time at Cannes' film festival, many observers noticed that this uncompromised Silent Film would have a long reach within the movie goers of this world. Shot in the aspect ratio of the time it represents, 1.33:1 also known as the "Academy ratio", and in a beautiful black and white that revives the era of silent films, Michel Hazanavicius wanted to craft a film that reminded him of the classic musicals of the 1930's. He explains that using this ratio gives the actors "a presence, a power, a strength".

    With such a work of revival it cries nostalgia all over the place and sometimes, we cinephiles, love to be reminded of the good "ol' tymes". The fact that they used Mary Pickford's house and bed, Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly's studio for the filming of the dancing scenes, the location shooting at the Warner Bros studios and Paramount, and even the controversial use of Bernard Herrmann's love theme of Vertigo just confirms how much admiration Hazanavicius demonstrates to his predecessors. It is also as many other observers have said, a vibrant homage to the pioneers of the Art, the media, and the industry.

    But does the public responded to the echo of the past? The numbers of the Box Office can't lie on what the public is willing to watch: in France it grossed more than 9,5 millions Euros and in the USA, on the date of February 5th 2012, it actually grossed more than 20 millions US$. Let's project that the nominations announcement may help the gross total of this release in North America. These numbers, put in the perspective that it is a black and white silent film concurring with many 3D releases and full Dolby Surround Digital with top of the art visual effects, makes this achievement even more impressive.

    On the critics' side of things, The Artist scores at 89/100 on Metascore and holds a solid 97% rating by the critics and 91% by the audience on Rotten Tomatoes. The regular voters at IMDb gave it a strong 8.4 which places it at the 125th spot on the Top 250 of all-time on IMDb. Obviously, the success story of The Artist made the film a strong contender for the Academy Awards. Don't forget that the Academy loves to vote for success stories. Moreover, the best indicators and the most accurate preview for the award season are the previous ceremonies held before the Oscars:

    - 12 nominations at the BAFTA Awards (Cinematography, Costume Design, Director, Editing, Film, Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Make Up & Air, Original Music, Original Screenplay, Sound)

    - Won the Best lead for Jean Dujardin at Cannes Film Festival and nominated for the Palme d'Or (Best Film)

    - Winner of 3 Golden Globes for Best Musical or Comedy, Best Original Score - Motion Picture, Best Performance by an Actor - Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Jean Dujardin

    - ...and many other serious Associations and Guilds.

    It makes The Artist a serious contender for the ten nominations it received. And, if you ask me, it will probably reach the podium and win the most desired statuette of the night.

    Speaking of the film let's discuss and review or critique if you prefer the motion picture.

    George Valentin was the biggest star of films in 1927; his ego is bigger than life and his success is oversized. But like technology, he soon gets outdated by the appearance of talkies. Just like Charlie Chaplin, Valentin refuses to believe that the public wants to see talking people on the screen. He considers himself as an artist and what he strongly believes to be Art is Silent films. Valentin will listen to no one when it comes to advice or opinion about his work. His own pride will defeat him. On the Chaplin comparisons some elements of this character are direct references to the interpret of the Tramp: no other actor ever had such a triumph, he was the first actor to be paid a million dollars, etc. For those who know: the painting of Valentin that we recurrently see in the film is a bit to Chaplin's portrait of the same nature and style. There are also references in the roles of Valentin towards Douglas Fairbanks. Especially for the adventure genre roles he used to be famous for. Add in a girl, a gun and you complete Jean-Luc Godard's famous saying that all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun. Well, this is almost true in this case, but I would add a dog. Uggy the dog gives superb moments in the film.

    However, the audaciousness of making a Silent film, in black and white, depicting the Classic Hollywood of the late 1920's and 1930's doesn't stand up to fully support the body of the script. The opening and the ending are extremely well executed and they are moments of pure cinematic bliss. What tarnishes the gloss is that the movie is too conscious of being a Silent film. Also, the script should have been reworked to lesser the emphasize on the fall of George Valentin and broaden the interactions of the supporting cast. On the other hand, Jean Dujardin as Valentin gives a superbly subtle performance of perfect restraint. As for Berenice Bejo who plays Peppy Miller, it is more a hit or miss case: her comedic moments are perfect but the dramatic ones lack of depth.

    It is hard to fully love or dislike The Artist. The weak and almost bland story stops me from calling it a great film. However, the many Classic film references tickles the cinephile that I am. And there are many and some are pretty obvious and boldly present: Citizen Kane, Hitchcock, A Star Is Born, Singin' In the Rain, Battleship Potemkin, Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Tod Browning, Jean-Luc Godard (carefully watch some specific scenes and I bet you'll find them), and many other films. On one side I really liked noticing those references to classic films and it was a delight to see that I'm not alone to dig those pictures. Nevertheless, as I read lately a director named Quentin Tarantino does this kind of cross references into his films to amuse himself and pay tribute to his idols. But QT uses those references with keen purposes. It also helps the flow of the story of his films. Tarantino injects his references and homages like a mad scientist trying to foul everyone and makes it look like if he invented the tricks himself. Just have a look at his Inglourious Basterds: he used Lubitsch's To Be Or Not To Be, Robert Aldrich's The Dirty Dozen, the original version of Inglorious Bastards, lots of Sergio Leone elements, and many other references that aren't relevant here. The fact is, that all the winks in The Artist don't keep the flow of the story up enough and sometimes feel more like crutches to the script than actual feeding elements.

    In sum, this cute attempt at a Silent film has this innocent charm that makes the movie work. I just hope it will get more people interested in the discovery of the Silent film era and the masterpieces that the Golden Age of films has given to the posterity.

    Rating:

    2012-02-10

    Super 8

    Super 8 (J.J. Abrams, 2011)

    Of the many blockbusters released year after year, many have a great debt towards Steven Spielberg's summer classics of Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Jurassic Park, etc. Spielberg, being the producer of the latest J.J. Abrams fil, it is no surprise to claim that it revives the whole spirit the good old Spielbergian touch to the summer blockbuster. Actually, since a couple of years, Spielberg kinda lost his approach into filmmaking and his formulaic craft of movies that reminds of the cinematic fun of those delights.

    Many recurring Spielberg themes are depicted in Abrams' interesting film that surprise by the influence of the old master but also the mastery of the delivering Abrams strong from his Star Trek and the superb Lost series. Abrams is a very talented storyteller and what needs a gifted storyteller? A great story. Super 8 has a very strong script and the pace of action is pitch perfect. Without being completely overbearing, the rhythm of the story and the interactions between the characters is well handled. The depth of the characters could have been uplifted in some ways but also we talk about fourteen or fifteen years old teenagers...

    However, many elements gets the child cinephile in me dreaming. The young team of amateur filmmakers shooting a zombie flick with posters of Dawn of the Dead and Halloween, the young teenage romance, the Jurassic Parkest shots of the possible thing. Well, it makes my cinephile heart happily giggle and the blend of genres without being overwhelming while capturing the fascination that new discoveries and the sheer innocence that only can get me into the film.

    Finally, the strong effort of Super 8 makes this film a nice contender in my personal top films of 2011. It's been a while since I actually enjoyed a good old blockbuster and this one was a pure pleasure from start to finish. A very efficient film that I recommend to everyone who has been amazed by the classic era of Steven Spielberg.

    2012-02-06

    Liebster Blog Award Nominee

    Peer recognition in blogging is one thing everyone secretly digs. The great fellow Barry P. from the amazing blog Cinematic Catharsis just nominated Le Mot du Cinephiliaque for a Liebster Blog award. As I am accepting this great honor I list five other blogs that deserve much more praise, even more than me, just kidding here but I like your blogs!

    Here are the few rules I have to accept before I earn this highly valued award: Thank the blogger who nominated you, nominate five other bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, and copy paste the superb icon of Liebster Blog. Here are five extraordinary Blogs:

    - Filmsquish
    - Jeffrey M. Anderson
    - RoJo's Film Reviews
    - Film Master Journal
    - Cinema Gonzo
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