2012-03-31

Saturday Morning Music Post

The idea of this series of Music post came to me with my other blogs where I discuss about music and that wasn't really visited and/or commented. I've decided to condense my thoughts on the presentation of the albums I discovered lately and let you know what is out there. Since this blog is movies oriented a post about music on a saturday once in a while just gets a little something else to talk about! Please note that I love recommendations!

The ShinsPort of Morrow New release!
Port of Morrow is the first album of The Shins I’ve ever listened to. With a new line-up, frontman James Mercer wanted to give to his band a more mature sound with experienced musicians. The songs Simple Song and Port of Morrow are quite interesting and the whole album as this kind of cohesion  and homogeneity I really appreciate for a record for multiple listens. The 1960’s sonorities and the simplicity of the music is a great quality of the album, that however seems at first sight to be seasoned with lots of sobriety.
Rating: *** on *****

Thy CatafalqueRengeteg Late 2011 early 2012 release
Avant-garde Metal from Hungary, well it starts pretty obscure and just looking at the mysterious artwork of the disc makes someone wonder. The fifth instalment of this also new to me band is very interesting and deeply black metal-inspired with lots of progressive elements, long passages that reminds me of the great period of Summoning but with real instruments and less samples. A band I will be watching closely in the next weeks.
Rating: ****1/2 on *****

We Are AugustinesRise Ye Sunken Ships 2011 release
This Indie-rock outfit blasts a superb debut album that is one of the most recurring record on my playlist lately. I discovered this band with the soundtrack of the Snowboarding hit movie The Art of Flight release in October 2011 with the song Chapel Song. Indie but not overbearing in the vein of and on the verge of being folk without falling into all the clichés of the genre. Listen to the songs Juarez and Chapel Song.
Rating: **** on *****


Next week: MeshuggahKoloss, John K. Samson - Provincial, M83Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

2012-03-29

New York City

As we are planning our trip to NYC, my wife and I, for Easter week-end I would like to ask you what are your recommendations for a cinephile like me. I’ve already been there three times and this time I will be Record hunting, wandering in the streets, Central Park, Cafés, restaurants, maybe going to a New York Rangers game, etc.

1 - Movie shooting locations Which ones should I have seen? I want to finally see the place they shot Ghostbusters (the old fire station).

2 - Record hunting. For those who know me well know that I am a decent music lover. Collecting vinyls is the pinnacle of my love for music. What are the stores I must visit to discover the best choice and also prices.

3 - Music venues. Which club or venue should I go to and try to get tickets for a show?

4 - SNL. Should I try to wait for a ticket of the recording of Saturday Night Live? Or even if I go there by six o’clock Saturday morning I won’t be able to be in the audience.

5 - Shopping. Where is the best place to shop for clothes and accessories? (this one is to please my wife and also me ‘cause I need new shoes).

- Anything worth mentioning!

Thank You very much and every suggestion will be appreciated!

2012-03-26

Top Films of Joel and Ethan Coen by LMdC


1. Fargo (1995)
2. No Country For Old Men (2007)
3. Barton Fink (1991)
4. Blood Simple (1984)
5. The Big Lebowski (1998)
6. Raising Arizona (1987)
7. Miller's Crossing (1990)
8. Burn After Reading (2008)
9. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
10. Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
11. A Serious Man (2009)

I still need to see: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) The Ladykillers (2004) True Grit (2010)

2012-03-23

A guide to discern Von Sternberg from Von Stroheim

Lately, I’ve been having some sort of growing interest towards Josef von Sternberg’s films. With my recent review of his 1930 masterpiece and cinematic cornerstone The Blue Angel, I’ve decided to take a trip into his oeuvre. However, around the same time in the 1920’s another “von” made his mark into Silent films with grandiose films like Greed, The Wedding March, and The Merry Widow. His name is Erich von Stroheim and coming from Vienna as well as von Sternberg was, in fact the later von was born in New York City but his life was split between Vienna and the Big Apple. Both directors made their mark into American films. With this concise list I will try to bring some light into the differences between both filmmakers for the benefit of every film buff out there who like me likes to know a little more about the creator of the films I like to discover.

Erich von Stroheim
First, Von Stroheim is one of those directors who wore a monocle and only did Silent films as a director. His audacious projects were tragically edited by the studios and his final cuts are for most, almost impossible to recover. His ultimate masterpiece, Greed was 239 minutes long (1999 restored version) when he finished editing. However, the studios cut it down to a 140 minutes into a decent version that only makes the film snob in us cry out loud that the director’s cut should be one of the greatest film ever made. The same thing happened to his Foolish Wives and his The Wedding March, guess who was asked to edit the film? Josef von Sternberg who decided to split the film in two without its director's approuval. 
His strong temper and over budget productions made him loose any credit with the head of the studios. You will recognize him from films like Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard for his acting credits. Not bad at all.

Josef von Sternberg
Von Sternberg was more of a low profile, physically speaking except for the sexy moustache. His birth name was Jonas Sternberg and he decided to add the "von" for his admiration towards, well you know, Erich von Stroheim. He also frequented Marlene Dietrich when he discovered her for the role of Lola Lola in The Blue Angel. She then became his muse and they collaborated on many films together. It made a huge controversy because when Dietrich came to America to shoot Morocco in 1930, she wasn't accompagned by her husband and her daughter. At the same time Von Sternberg divorced.
While Von Stroheim struggled to get his directorial efforts released the way he intended them to be, Von Sternberg had lots of success and quickly became one of the highest paid director of his time. However, after thirty years as a director he would have to return to assistant-director and take the humiliation of being supervised by studios. His career will be marked by many moments like this and his cocky personality will make him one of the "cinéastes maudits" for his attitude towards the cirtics, the public, and even his fans. His Baroque mise en scène and fluidly beautiful camera movements are two of his most distinctive trademarks.
Here is a comparison of each other’s films with titles, year of release, number by each director:

2012-03-22

The Blue Angel

The Blue Angel aka Der blaue Engel (Josef von Sternberg, 1930)

The first sound film of the Weimar Republic picture two of the most famous actors of their time Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich. This is the film that made Dietrich became the sex symbol she represented for years. It also was the last English spoken film of Jannings who had a too prominent German accent for the American audiences. Behind the camera was one of the most talented filmmaker of his time Josef von Sternberg who actually discovered Dietrich in a cabaret and eventually became her lover for a while. The explicit sexuality of Dietrich transcends the images and time, and I am sure von Sternberg felt this at first sight just like the Professor Immanuel Rath (Emil Jannings) when he saw Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich) singing Falling in love again.

2012-03-21

Hunger

Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)

The first film of director Steve McQueen, no not the actor who did action films in the 1970's, but the same director who made Shame in 2011, both films starring one of the most interesting actors of the moment, Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds, A Dangerous Method), Hunger is the kind of film that stays with you for a long time. This is a lesser known film that depicts the fight of the Irish republicans inmates in a prison of Northern Ireland.

Based on the true story of Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) who went on a hunger strike to stop the War in 1981. Before going to Sands, McQueen introduces us to a warder, Raymond Lohan, (Stuart Graham) living on the edge of his seat because he mistreats the republicans in the prison. The few moments passed with Lohan, washing his bloody knuckles, smoking a cigarette alone, are silent and full of implied guilt and discomfort towards his actions. Like every war everyone has to take a side and stick to it because the consequences are unpleasant. Then, we are introduced to the prison itself with the confinement of Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) who discovers the conditions of the prison, the walls covered with the inmates' excrement, being naked because refusing to conform to the code, and the many ways to protests against the oppressors. It is much later that we discover Sands amongst the many inmates and how he is some kind of "leader" into the walls of this prison. Another character that is briefly seen is the young Riot Prison Officer that breaks up and hides in the face of the violence done towards the prisoners that after all are humans. It is one of the many humanist symbolism used by McQueen to denounce the treatments and conditions of the inmates.

The central moment of the film, the key scene is a 16 minutes one take of Bobby Sands discussing with the Priest (Rory Mullen) that explains to the viewer Sands' point of view and motivations to begin his hunger strike. This dialog is superbly acted and the changes of emotions and directions are many and what could have been done with editing and action/reaction shots is done in only one take and one steady camera.

The last act of the film is probably the weakest because of the more contemplative work and the lack of dramatic turns. One could say that what is shown is dramatic enough and that the gaze of Sands becoming weaker and leaner is disturbing enough. With that said, the overall impact of Hunger isn't less alarming and eye opening to these events that happened less than thirty years before the film was made. The fact that it reflects recent history makes us consider how we as humans treat our peers and will do to fight for freedom and how Nationalism can be harmful to everyone involved.

2012-03-20

Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut

Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut aka A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)

Robert Bresson is the kind of director that not everyone gets and likes. Almost everyone of his films involves religion and faith in some manner. With Un condamné à mort s'est échappé, Bresson applied his "cinematographer" theory to film making. It involves a non-professional cast, few music except at the end, and a very minimalist mise en scène. One could say that it was a Dogme 95 of the 1950's. Adapted from the memoirs of André Devigny and scripted by Robert Bresson himself, Un condamné à mort s'est échappé is one of the most interesting if not the best jail movie.

Fontaine (François Leterrier) is a French resistant emprisoned during the Nazi occupation in France and he is condemned for a death sentence. Even before entering in the prison his thoughts are centered around a way to escape. During a long but untold lapse of time he concocts and study his plan to get out of jail. We follow the evolution of his plan and every thought and hesitation with a voice over by Fontaine himself. The minimalist locations of shooting, the cell, the prisoner yard, and the staircases are among the few places Bresson films. Everything is done with the fewer means possible. As the viewer is totally concerned with the dramatic escalation of the story and the climax. This is the most gripping film Bresson has ever made and the theory of the "cinematographer" is superbly executed and applies perfectly with the subject of the jail escape.
This is also a film about hope and expecting what you can do when you are determined to achieve and success. The whole idea of faith and belief is also mentioned in a conversation with the Priest of Leiris (Roland Monod) while in an argument that one must pray to the lord but also act to get he asks. An interesting fact about Fontaine and Bresson is the fact that the director himself has been in the French Resistance and that like Louis Malle who was a collaborator to the Nazis, made a film about a personal experience. His heroes, or as he liked to call them models, are often expressionless and antipathetic characters. It is one of the elements that makes it difficult to rely to when one wants to discover Bresson's work. However, Un condamné à mort s'est échappé was brought to me by Mediafilm's Masterpiece list and I must completely agree with this institution: this is a masterpiece and Robert Bresson's greatest film.

Doomed he was when he arrived. Fontaine however came with his hopes and determination. Even if the Nazis beat him with iron bars his will to escape was stronger than any kind of repression.

2012-03-19

Top Films of Orson Welles by LMdC


1. Citizen Kane (1941)
2. The Trial (1963)

3. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
4. Othello (1952)
5. Touch of Evil (1958)
6. Lady From Shanghai (1948)


7. Chimes at Midnight (1966)
8. Macbeth (1948)
9. The Stranger (1946)
10. Mr. Arkadin (1955)

I still need to see: Don Quixote (1955) The Fountain of Youth (1956) The Immortal Story (1968) F for Fake (1973) Filming Othello (1978)

2012-03-17

The 15 greatest Alter egos in the History of Cinema

John Ford and John Wayne
One of the most successful association in movie History. The two John made their trademarks as Western filmmakers and a few War films. This is one of the reasons why they are on this prestigious list. And a film list is not a real film list if there are no mention of John Ford or John Wayne. Come on!

Films together: Stagecoach (1939) The Long Voyage Home (1940) They Were Expendable (1945) Fort Apache (1948) 3 Godfathers (1948) She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) Rio Grande (1950) The Quiet Man (1952) The Searchers (1956) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)


Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune
Kurosawa and Mifune might have been the best ambassadors of their country in the world especially with the spread of the Samurai genre. Interesting fact: Kurosawa wanted to make Samurai films like John Ford did Westerns. If you ask me he made himself clear that he is the John Ford of Japan.

Films together: Drunken Angel (1948) Stray Dog (1949) Rashomon (1950) The Idiot (1951) The Seven Samurai (1954) Throne of Blood (1957) The Lower Depths (1957) The Hidden Fortress (1958) The Bad Sleep Well (1960) Yojimbo (1961) Sanjuro (1962) High and Low (1963) Red Beard (1965)


Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin
The most hip duo since the buzz around The Artist that began at the Cannes Film Festival last May and that culminated with the crowning of The Artist, Hazanavicius, and Dujardin at the Oscars. It is interesting to discover that it is far from being the first collaboration of the two Frenchmen.

Films together: OSS 117: Le Caire nid d'espions (2006) OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus (2009) The Artist (2011)


Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni
This might not the most popular choice here but with only 8 1/2 Mastroianni impersonated the great Fellini and give one of the greatest performances ever shot on film.

Films together: La Dolce vita (1960) 8 1/2 (1963) City of Women (1980)


Tim Burton and Johnny Depp
The most obvious choice for contemporary film buffs. Those two have made it clear that they like to work together with their upcoming The Dark Shadows.

Films together: Edward Scissorhands (1990) Ed Wood (1994) Sleepy Hollow (1999) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) Corpse Bride (2005) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)


Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender
I've just discovered Hunger lately and it is a revelation to me. Fassbender gives great performances one after another but his pairings with McQueen are tremendous.

Films together: Hunger (2008) Shame (2011)


Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart
Of the many leading man Hitchcock had in his films, Stewart is most common man and easy to relate to actor that worked with him. I could have gone with Cary Grant but Stewart stars in my favorite Hitchcocks.

Films togeter: Rope (1948) Rear Window (1954) The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) Vertigo (1958)


F.W. Murnau and Emil Jannings
German Cinema of the pre-Second World War would never have been the same without those two greats.

Films together: The Last Laugh (1924) Faust (1926) Tartuffe (1926)



Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro
Do I really need to explain myself here? There is no one single film they made together that I wouldn't watch right away. They embrace the definition of alter egos and I hope that some day they find some time to make another film together something like a last goodbye or even a documentary/interview with fragments of their films together, thoughts etc.

Films together: Mean Streets (1973) Taxi Driver (1976) New York, New York (1977) Raging Bull (1980) The King of Comedy (1983) Goodfellas (1990) Cape Fear (1991) Casino (1995)


John Huston and Humphrey Bogart
Bogie had such a presence in films that Huston exploited like no other director, except Howard Hawks and Nicholas Ray maybe, with his raw personality and created a kind of character just for Bogis with the creation of the Film Noir in The Maltese Falcon.

Films together: The Maltese Falcon (1941) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) Key Largo (1948) The African Queen (1951) Beat the Devil (1954)

David Fincher and Brad Pitt
Fincher is slowly becoming one of the most respected filmmakers today, their first two collaborations are already considered as classics for contemporary film enthusiasts.

Films together: Se7en (1995) Fight Club (1999) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)


Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski
The most destructive duo of this list, just watch Herzog's documentary My Best Fiend about Kinski to fully understand their insane relationaship. It is almost unbelivable that they made more than one film together.

Films together: Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) Stroszek (1977)  Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) Fitzcarraldo (1982) Cobra Verde (1987) My Best Fiend (1992)


Ingmar Bergman and Erland Josephson
With the recent lost of Josephson the World of Cinema lost one of the most talented actors. He worked on twelve films with Ingmar Bergman and always gave tremendous performances. Everytime I see Josephson on the screen I immediately connect him with Bergman. Especially with Scenes of A Marriage that contains many Bergman moments almost autobiographical.

Films together: It Rains on Our Love (1946) Brink of Life (1958) Hour of the Wolf (1968) The Passion of Anna (1969) Cries and Whispers (1972) Scenes of A Marriage (1973) Face to Face (1976) Autumn Sonata (1978) Fanny and Alexander (1982) After the Rehearsal (1984) In the Presence of A Clown (1997) Saraband (2003)


Jean Renoir and Jean Gabin
One of the greatest master of Cinema, Jean Renoir, collaborated with Jean Gabin on four films but they represented the Frenchmen for the World. La Grande Illusion and La Bête Humaine brought both to international recognition.

Films together: The Lower Depths (1936) La Grande Illusion (1937) La Bête Humaine (1938) French Cancan (1954)


Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale
Probably the most popular alter ego in the world of Cinema right now with The Dark Knight Rises coming in theatres this summer. All their films together have immense success at the Box Office as with the critics. Let,s hope they did as they usually do with the new Batman; a superb job.

Films together: Batman Begins (2005) The Prestige (2006) The Dark Knight (2008)

2012-03-16

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995)

Holding the spot of number 25 on IMDb's Top 250 voted by regular voters, this movie couldn't be more of an impostor than it actually is. Stealing from every cheap film noir that preceded it and using one of the most lazy plot twist of the mystery plot: the whodunnit. Lazy because almost anybody can make a whodunit. It is a film form that besides involving a main mystery doesn't really involve a character examination and more often than not uses stereotypes and worn out techniques of dissuasion and cover up. It is, for a younger audience a very entertaining film filled with many suspenseful elements and a detective oriented plot. When observed with a cinematic eye and appreciation this Bryan Singer picture looks pale and very 1990's television. Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie should have get some Agatha Christie novels beforehand and learn a little more about the whodunnit and its mastery.

I know I'm being rude about this and there are probably hundreds of its fans who'll disagree with my opinions but I would recommend another Noir inspired film like Rian Johnson's Brick ten times before I would recommend The Usual Suspects. One can compare this kind of film like a sweet bubble gum. It tastes good at first sight but after a little while it is tasteless more than anything else and you throw it away without really ever thinking about it.

2012-03-15

The Wind

The Wind (Victor Sjöström, 1928)

Only by being on Mediafilm's masterpiece list, this Silent film masterpiece was one of the film I deeply desired to watch since many years. Moreover, it is from one of the most notable Silent Film directors Victor Sjöström or as credited in the film Seastrom. Sjöström actually changed the spelling of his name for its phonetically sound and be more "Americanized". Since he is Swedish, it would be  more literal English to be called Seastrom instead of Sjöström even if it's the same pronunciation. He wasn't the only European director who came from Europe to work in America with the big stars and the big studios. Famous names like Josef von Sternberg, Erich von Stroheim, F.W. Murnau, were some of the biggest names to have ever worked into Silent films. Many of their movies are considered as masterpieces. It is the same case for Sjöström and his sumptuous The Wind.

Opening with a famous train sequence where Letty (Lillian Gish) from Virginia is going to live with her cousin in West Texas, a place where the wind blows all the time. While on the train, she meets an engaging gentleman name Roddy (Montagu Love) who tries to convince her that moving there is actually an error and that she should continue with him. The train opening strangely reminds the first scenes of Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man where a man from the East and the city goes to the West. Arriving at destination, Letty meets up with her cousin but his wife Cora (Dorothy Cumming) doesn't like Letty and clearly is jealous of her. Our protagonist have no choice but to marry Lige (Lars Hanson), a man that disgusts her and that she didn't love. However, a test will convince Letty to see her husband in a different way and she will rethink her life choices.

It is really not often that a pure talent of storytelling is right before your eyes. In the case of Sjöström it is more than pure talent: this is a case of artistry. The brilliant composition of the film and the directing of the structured plot make The Wind one of the major Silent films. Sjöström uses a simple and very sober mise en scène for his film and the special effect of superposition of images gives to Letty's visions a superbly unsettling effect that Lillian Gish performs with one of the greatest performances by any actor from her time.

Thorough her career and her long life, she died at 99 years, Lillian Gish received lots of praised first by her first director D.W. Griffith then by her peers, even François Truffaut in his tribute to her and her sister Dorothy with is dedicate in La nuit américaine. Just to name a few of her greatest performances: The Birth of A Nation, Broken Blossoms, and The Night of the Hunter, were all masterpieces and she managed to be as good with Silent films as with talkies. Nonetheless, in The Wind she was at the top of her game, the intensity of Sjöström's film needed all the fragility, ethereal beauty of the dame, her quick adaptation to the many changes in the attitude and state of mind of Letty and her fall into insanity until her complete recovery in almost one take and a continuous shot.

She was a prisoner of the desert and her containment was even worse she was obliged to marry a boorish man that only disgusts her. Until a great sand storm washed away the ghosts of her past and open her eyes to the man she never let herself appreciate. Then she found everything she was looking for in the hell she thought she was. Like a wild stallion she delivers herself from the holds that made her miserable.

2012-03-14

Fitzcarraldo

Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)

There is a popular admiration towards Fitzcarraldo in the world of film buffs, the film itself and the making of the film is almost unbelievable. Let's get to it already, the major aspect of the story and the real challenge for Herzog and his crew was to shoot in the Amazonian jungle for the second time, first time was in 1971 for Aguirre the Wrath of God, and to take a steamboat and to pull it over a mountain with indigenous and only human strength and will. Add to that the maniacal persona of Klaus Kinski one of the most gifted actor of all-time that only his own insanity was his worst self destructive enemy. Wait, there's more, let's say that Werner Herzog made some of the most epic films of their time and their director-actor relationship was one of the most intense and challenging. They almost killed each other and each had a bad temper and their clashes were insane. In a documentary Herzog directed later about Kinski he admitted that the natives offered to murder Kinski because of his hot-temper.

The shooting of a Herzog-Kinski picture was something physically and psychologycally engaging for the entire crew that worked with them. Of the five films they did together, Fitzcarraldo might be one of the most insane in its making. With the whole steamboat pulled over a mountain and after, the audacious descent into river rapids where the boat could have been crushed on rocks at any moment during the shooting. The filmmakers had no idea how it could have ended and the shooting of the film often shadows the film itself. As both are tight together it is almost impossible to actually review Fitzcarraldo without mentionning all the elements that happened during its production.

All this excessiveness is translated into the film itself and its main character portrayed by Klaus Kinski "Fitzcarraldo". It is also the achievement of the dream of a passionate about his art and the transmission of this passion that can transcends mountains and impossible obstacles. This is a strong story on how crazy you have to be to attain your goals as impossible as they might be. As the character and the film this is a real success. But it is never without struggles and problems. Like Jonathan Rosenbaum said about Herzog's work, he mixes artistry and insanity so much that sometimes it is almost impossible to discern which is which.

Even if it is far from being Herzog's masterpiece, Fitzcarraldo is one of his most challenging and depth films. This 1982 picture from the infamous German director most have been seen to be believed.

2012-03-13

Hatari!

Note: this review is a translation of my original review of the movie I've seen in 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.

Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962)

With an uneasy career thorough the many Hollywoodian studios, Howard Hawks was regarded has one of the difficult directors of its time. Regaining his shine of the old days with the French New Wave"rs" as the perfect epitome of the auteur theory, the French critics of Les Cahiers du Cinéma sacred Hawks as one of the greatest American cineaste. In the latest years one of the most hip directors working today, Quentin Tarantino, places Hawks right besides Leone as his favorite directors of all-time. The Hawksian influence on Tarantino is in the dialogues and the mastery of genre films.

The story of Hatari! is quite simple, we follow a group of men who must hunt wild animals during three months in Africa for a Swiss zoo. This already adventurous setting gets more challenging when Dallas (Elsa Martinelli), the beautiful photograph from Italy, joins their group. The strong nature of each member of the group will bring the challenges and interactions within the hunters. In the opening, every male member of the team is presented in a very classical way. They represent Man mastering Nature and the Woman that is symbolized by the female rhinoceros they must capture. One of the most difficult and fighting animal of the entire order. This scene has some succulent lines like: "I think it's a female; she doesn't know where to go and seems to turn on herself." This is a Hawks trademark to mock strong women while always populating all his films with them.
On the other hand, the paternal presence of John Wayne is well felt in the team of men. He looks upon every member of the group and he plays the moderator to keep the chemistry of the little civilization they have on the camp. It might be one of Wayne's most interesting roles, plenty of funny lines and he seems to be in his element even if witnesses of the shooting said that he was so afraid of shooting the scenes in the chair at the front of the jeep.
As of all the Howard Hawks pictures there are women characters displaying strong personalities wanting to valuate themselves amongst the men. Dallas who represents Wayne's character's love interest and Betty the daughter of the ex-boss who got killed by a rhinoceros. Betty is wanted by three men and finally when she decides who's the lucky winner the resting two other men solidarity meet up and reinforce their friendship. This particular relationship is very Hawks' typical and it is almost bold subtext that both men are sharing a somewhat homosexual relationship after their rejection by Betty. It was typical of Hawks to portray great friendships by the trade of objects and friendly mockery. These observations are particular for Hawks' entire oeuvre.

François Truffaut, once analyzed Hatari! as a demonstration of Hawks' directing: a little group supervised by a father figure, the director, who must capture the right animals, images, to populate a film, a zoo, and he must used every member of the group and his strenght to succeed in their way to goodwill together.

The scenes of action involving the many animals are riveting and breath taking all shot on location in the vein of many Hollywoodian films shot in Africa at this time Hatari! is the most interesting of all. The many scenes with elephants and the light hearted comedy makes this film one of this critique's favorite adventure films of all time. A coup de coeur!

Rating: Ratings

2012-03-12

Top films of F.W. Murnau by LMdC

Of the greats of Cinema, few filmmakers have influenced their peers as much as D.W. Griffith, Sergeï M. Eisenstein, and John Ford. Well, F.W. Murnau might be one of the most face changing figures of the seventh Art, he directly influenced Alfred Hitchcock while working in Germany. Later, in his way too short career, Murnau worked in Hollywood and mastered every film he ever crafted. Here's my own personal top of his films:

1. Nosferatu (1922)
2. Sunrise (1927)
3. The Last Laugh (1924)
4. Faust (1926)
5. Tartuffe (1926)


I still need to see: Phantom (1922) City Girl (1929) Tabu (1931)

2012-03-09

Les doigts croches

Les doigts croches (Ken Scott, 2009)

This is Ken Scott's first directorial effort after his work as a screenwriter for Maurice Richard and La grande séduction. With an all Québécois star cast of Roy Dupuis(Maurice Richard), Patrice Robitaille (Québec-Montréal), Claude Legault (Les 7 jours du Talion, 10 1/2), Jean-Pierre Bergeron, Paolo Noël, and Aure Atika, Les doigts croches is one of the most under appreciated comedies of 2009. Charles (Roy Dupuis) wants to do the robbery of the century with his old time chums. Their plan is perfect, but they must get caught the night of the robbery except one of them. When the rest gets out of jail to get their share, they have two conditions: first to walk the entire Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle road and to have changed. They must become honest citizens in the face of the law.

This off-beat film of low-key comedy gives a fresh breath to the genre that defines itself by pedestrian scatological and sometimes penises jokes only. Ken Scott writes his scripts with keen humor and a naive charm of innocence and down to earth characters. The fauna of robbers itself could have made a hilarious cast. However, Ken Scott uses every one of them with intelligence and respect of his own style of writing.

The main problem of Scott's script might be the lack of dramatic turn of events when the gang does its pilgrimage in Spain. To have tighten its script and the interactions between the characters could have helped to raise the bar and attain a higher level of acheivment. But overall, Les doigts croches remains one of the most successful comedies made in Québec with a superb cast of loveable losers.

2012-03-08

Borderline

Borderline (Lyne Charlebois, 2007)

Adapted from Marie-Sissi Labrèche's novel, Borderline is the story of a woman who suffers from the syndrome of being "borderline". This is a state of mind that makes these people emotionally fragile. They have a problem differencing their inside and outside emotions, they are extremely insecure and very impulsive persons. Not being a specialist in psychology stops me from defining this syndrome with much more depth. The movie can however be enjoyed without having to study psychology to fully understand the state of mind of the protagonist here.
 

Kiki (Isabelle Blais) is preparing her the dissertation of her Master and she is haunted by the ghosts of her past: her interned mother, the grand mother who raised here, her multiple lovers, and her absent father. We are the witness of her struggle since she was a child to accept and live her life with her condition. The work of many women on the film Blais, Charlebois, Labrèche is very palpable and they all had to uncover a part of their own to give to Borderline the raw and real feeling to it. Isabelle Blais' performance is more than extraordinary, she has all the depth and the subtlety that Kiki needed to be materialized on screen. Never overplaying or being vulgar, her presence is strong and confident in this fragile role.

The non-linear structure of the film places the life of Kiki like a well mounted puzzle that even if seen hundreds of times has its success. Lyne Charlebois' directing managed to be a reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman's understanding of women in masterpieces like The Silence or Cries and Whispers. The "mise en scène" is to the point and very unique. An unsettling film filled with amazing performances that opens minds and eyes on understanding and love.

2012-03-07

Elvis Gratton: Le king des kings

Elvis Gratton: Le king des kings (Pierre Falardeau & Julien Poulin, 1985)
This compilation of many short films directed by Pierre Falardeau and Julien Poulin sure made its way into the cultural references of every Québécois out there. You can't say "Yeah!" like Elvis Presley without having the people around you doing it in chorus afterward "à la" Gratton. For those who will watch this today will find it extremely outdated. Well it was even at the time it came out. Don't get me wrong here, it was made on purpose to look like a white thrash/redneck low-life joke. The title role, Robert "Elvis" Gratton (Julien Poulin) is a caricature of the middle to low-class Québécois of the time. On one side it is made as an ironic comedy whilst it strongly denounciates the bold irritations of its creators.
It is worth noticing that Poulin and Falardeau were notable nationalist or as we call them in Québec separatist who think that the nation of the province should have its own country and Independence. As I already stated before I won't analyze politics or either defend ideologies. However, I am exposing the creators' values and visions of their world at the time. The story is a series of sketches put together without any real narrative structure except the recurrent characters. Made prior to the release of the feature film the three sketches were shot between 1981 and 1985. The story is centered on the racist, vulgar swearer that Gratton represents. It is not a kind representation of the middle-class citizen and it involves a lot of contempt and maybe a little bit of self-derision to the audience to fully appreciate him in its whole.
Following Elvis Gratton, Falardeau made many political films some hits and some misses. We will be reviewing the better of his offerings eventually on this blog. They include Octobre (not an Eisenstein remake), Le party, and 15 février 1839. The popular phenomenon of Elvis Gratton may have become bigger than it really deserves to be but it is still a comedy institution in Québec's cinematic landscape.

Rating: Ratings

2012-03-06

Québec-Montréal

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".

Québec-Montréal (Ricardo Trogi, 2002)Being a part of what I call some kind of a "Québec Nouvelle Vague", Ricardo Trogi is a X generation director that directed three films that had a major success so far within the public and the critics: Québec-Montréal, Horloge biologique, and 1981. The first film by Ricardo Trogi is one of my favorite film from Québec, it depicts the story of different groups of people traveling from Québec City (my hometown by the way) to Montréal for different reasons. With a cast of young and unknown actors at the time with now respected names like: Patrice Robitaille (Horloge Biologique), Isabelle Blais (Borderline), Jean-Philippe Pearson, François Létourneau, Julie LeBreton, Stéphane Breton, Pierre-François Legendre, Tony Conte,. Benoit Gouin, and many others Québec-Montréal earned its respect of a low-budget, road-movie that works and that makes you believe in those characters.

The different stories are told simultaneously during the journey from Québec to Montréal. First, the young couple of Julie (Julie LeBreton) and Pierre-François (Pierre-François Legendre) that quarrels all the time about everything. You sure have a couple of friends like that in your entourage I'm pretty confident about that. Then you have the three guys or dudes that are going to take the plane in Montréal to head to the south for a all included resort. In that car you have Rob (Patrice Robitaille), J-P (Jean-Philippe Pearson), and Rivard (Stéphane Breton) discussing about a girl Rivard used to got out with and that J-P always secretly loves. In an other car you have Cossette (François Létourneau) who goes to Montréal for affairs with his collegue Katherine (Isabelle Blais) who he is madly in love with but is to shy to make a move. Finally, there's the hilarious Michel "Mike" Gauvin (Benoit Gouin) who goes to Montréal for his business. What is interesting here is the fact that not every story comes referenced in the other and the only thing that relate all these people is the trip they embark on.

The interprets of the many roles of this film are just right and since they are in the X generation category they portray their characters with reality. You d'ont have a fifty-something guy who plays a young man. Even the direct, Trogi himself is from this generation of young talent widely influenced by the works of Quentin Tarantino, the Coens, and their contemporaries. The subtle "mise en scène" let's to the viewer the time to connect and relate to the many characters. Just the journey of traveling between those two cities is a part of our cultural landscape but the location don't really influence it here, it could be any road: it's the human interactions that are exposed and exploited. The regional canvas identifies it for us Québécois.

In sum, this is one of the most interesting films from Québec not only to discover the talented cast but also because it represents a youth and a generation in the making of the film and also the portraying of the characters. A must see.

Rating: Ratings

2012-03-05

Top Films of Ingmar Bergman by LMdC


The most recognized Scandinavian filmmaker of all time, Ingmar Bergman, left a myriad of wonderful films. Many of his masterpieces are ranked amongst the greatests films of Cinema. Working as well into Theater and Films, Bergman was highly influenced by Shakespeare and Strindberg. Crafted with a regular crew of actors (Max Von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstand, Erland Josephson), actresses (Liv Ullman, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin)  and technicians (Sven Nykvist) he kept a tremendous pace in the late 1950's, 1960's, and in the 1970's. In 1982, he decided that Fanny and Alexander would be his ultimate oeuvre. However, he worked for television and saw these work released in Theaters ouside of Sweden.
Here's to one of the greatest directors:

1. Wild Strawberries (1957)
2. The Seventh Seal (1957)
3. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
4. Persona (1966)
5. The Magician (1958)
6. Cries and Whispers (1972)
7. Winter Light (1962)

8. The Virgin Spring (1959)
9. Scenes from a Marriage (1973)
10. The Silence (1963)
11. Shame (1968)
12. Saraband (2003)
13. Hour of the Wolf (1968)
14. Autumn Sonata (1978)

I still need to see: The Devil's Wanton (1949) To Joy (1950) Illicit Interlude (1951) Summer With Monika (1952) Sawdust and Tinsel (1953) Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) Brink of Life (1958) Through a Glass Darkly (1962) The Passion of Anna (1969) The Touch (1971) From the Life of the Marionettes (1980) After the Rehearsal (1984) In the Presence of a Clown (1997)

2012-03-03

Post February Early March (Madness)

Wow! February has been the biggest month ever on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Why? You should ask. You don't host any blog-a-thons, event or even a lot of new reviews. then what it is that made this month so incredible on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque?

Two words or one name: François Truffaut. Born on February the sixth eighty years ago. On that day, this year, lots of people were looking for him on Google. Well, even if the man's been dead for almost thrirty years (hearing aunt Bettany for Christmas Vacation while writing those lines), his films let so much to the posterity that thousands of people came crawling on my little but honest blog looking for my Top films post of his films. I hope that everyone who came looking for Truffaut got a little of comfort with my own tribute for the great director he was.

NumbersI know lots of you are here just to know which rating I gave to this or that film. Seriously, I always wanted to know if you prefer if I rate or not a movie. Sometimes it is hard to rate exactly on a scale which note I would give to a specific film especially since nobody, except Jonathan Rosenbaum or Kevyn Knox (it is a nod to you Kev, just kidding), can claim to have seen every film ever made each year or since ever. To rate or not to rate? That is the question.

Why Truffaut made the 100K possible in February?With the 19K+ visits just for this post it made it possible to dream about this milestone that with my normal pace I would have attained in April.



And one of the most important milestones, in my opinion, my 500th post coming this week! Well, a lot to celebrate here on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque and a lot of motivation and fuel in the tank of inspiration with my new series Je me souviens that targets the films from my part of the world: the Province of Québec.

Because a good blogger never rambles without linking its partners in crime here are my favorite blogs of the moment:

Chip Lary @ Tips from Chip presents contemporary Indian films in March!

Bonjour Tristesse continues on his event about the Czech New Wave and keeps us informed about the numerous festivals from around the World.

John from The Droid You're looking For! provides smiles, laughs, and editorials.

Kevyn Knox, the greatest film critic on the Web continues his amazing job at The Most Beautiful Fraud in The World.

Finally a blog I just discovered The Vern's Videovangaurd just earned the well convoited prize of LAMB Blog of the Month.

Thank you and keep on blogging!
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