Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Emir Kusturica, Arizona Dream, 1991

Roger: "Here is a movie containing wonderful sights. Ambulances to the moon. Unsuccessful suicide by bungee cord. Johnny Depp. A dog saving a man from death in the Arctic. Faye Dunaway. Turtles crawling through meatballs. Jerry Lewis. A man who counts fish. Paulina Porizkova. Airplanes that look like they were borrowed from Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Michael J. Pollard. Thunderstorms. Arizona Dream is one of those movies that slips through the cracks. Hollywood bureaucracy has been established precisely to prevent films like this from being made. And yet it was made, and it is goofier than hell - you can't stop watching because nobody in the audience, and possibly nobody on the screen, has any idea what's going to happen next." You're right there - and not surprisingly it bombed spectacularly at the box office when Warners finally sheepishly released it. Ebert's review hints that he found it too long, but I found it sustained its 140' running time quite well. Depp is complete wanker these days, but it's nice to be reminded of the fact that he really could act back then. I love Vincent Gallo rapping along with De Niro and Pacino, and especially his indoor reenactment of the crop duster plane scene from North by Northwest ("I fucking hate that film!"). Lili Taylor's twitching, chainsmoking, accordion-squeezing turtle lover is fun, but Dunaway's performance as her batty stepmother is overshadowed by a permanent sense of horror every time you see her upper lip. Plastic surgery disasters, indeed. https://demotix.com/famous-beauty-faye- ... ognizable/ Anyway, bet you'll have Iggy Pop's "Death Car" stuck in yr head for hours after. Wild stuff.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 11:26 am
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Jean Chérasse, Dreyfus, ou l'Intolérable Vérité, 1975

Well I've finished The Sopranos but Proust is going to take a looong time - and the cloud cast over the books by the Dreyfus affair is intriguing. Maybe this outstanding documentary on L'Affaire - whose repercussions are, arguably, still being felt to this day - is available in a decently restored HD version somewhere, but if it is I haven't been able to find it. An old DVDR rip on Karagarga is all I could come up with. No subs either, which is a shame, as some of the invited participants (which include Michel Debré and François Mitterrand) have much to say of interest. An outstanding piece of research, right up there with Ophüls fils' Le chagrin et la pitié as one of the finest historical documentaries I've come across. Reissue it properly, someone.
apropos, i saw the polanski film some months ago (or did i fall asleep before the end, i can't remember), which is some truly ponderous stuff. nothing very specific to that film, which looks good with a proper patina of the past, but, as historical films tend to these days, it has no ideas about history, so everybody runs around fully aware of their responsibility being part of some momentous plotline. a few days ago, i revisited

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the moderns by alan rudolph, and that doesn't even pretend to be interested in a historical moment. actually it felt about as involved as a woody allen period film, or more interested in being a film than being about something. hemingway makes spaced-out half-aphorisms all the time, stein is positively maligned as she spoils the jolly old boy fun, there's some mild criticism of the budding art market ... so that's modernism? also the faces are too large (except genevieve bujold's, of course) ... i don't dislike carradine, but he's not good enough for that much of a close-up. the i don't care if i give you a happy ending but here's one anyway attitude is pretty annoying too. interestingly for me, i had felt the same way 30+ years ago leaving the cinema but somehow had come to suspect the film would have grown on me. not so. it's still mildly entertaining, though. about as entertaing as

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terminator 2 by james cameron. strictly for educational purposes, to show my boy where all the memes come from. and myself, i also hadn't seen this. hard to imagine why it's supposed be cult. hasta la vista baby isn't even final. arnold's "character" is all over the place, data from star trek next generation is a much better realized android from that time. also there's no "concept" (as in matrix or so), it's just an action flick. such a happy coincidence the showdown ends up in a steel mill, the only place where one can kill the evil new terminator. i think total recall was better? is there a good arnie film?

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 5:57 am
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Edgar Wright, Hot Fuzz, 2007

"Lethal Weapon in Somerset", indeed. Thanks as ever to my pal Henrik for pointing me in the direction of this one. Great fun, with a stellar cast and an average shot length of what must 0.001 seconds, it makes Snatch look like Satantango in comparison, is nearly as much fun as the former and a hell of a sight more fun than the latter :)
I was just about to ask what you thought of it! Yes, great. fun, and perfect for a bit of a breakfast watch, when I can't get bothered to get into Seinfeld for the fourth time this pandemic.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Ingmar Bergman - From the Life of the Marionettes ("Aus dem leben der marionetten") - 1980

This is intriguing, and I have a lot to say about why. Let’s situate the film, and Bergman, let’s draw the picture. In the forties and fifties when the man rose to prominence, he had to toe the line, work within established genres, such as comedy (Smiles of a Summer Night, for instance). But with growing clout and stature, the sixties rolled around and with them the mature filmmaker. Let’s say that Through a Glass Darkly is an interesting pivot: the cosy family setting of a cluttered country house veering into emptiness, madness and pain. Emptiness, yes, and the point I wish to make about my fellow Swede. For a man so obsessed with the theatre, with the room, there is remarkably little attention paid to interiors in his films. The point, of course: as soon as he could leave studio and genre dictates behind, he did, shedding all that unwanted poundage. With the mature Bergman, the face becomes his interior. (Deleuze makes some excellent points here). And herein lies the rub: working with a fixed troupe of actors as he did, this aesthetic becomes tedious. Not a spot on the actors, of course, they’re great, but manners and cliché intrude when the same set of questions and answers are worked through in film after film. (Interesting how Fassbinder could work at triple the pace, with a more or less fixed troupe, and consistency of theme and exposition, and yet arrive at something so infinitely more rewarding and rich.) Bergman is, in his way, as proscribed and imperious as Kubrick. Anyway, the tension in his films expressed in this way would equal a cluttered space with something fond and cosy, familial and familiar, but whenever pain or truth is approached, the scene and image empties out. Fanny and Alexander as a summation of a life’s work certainly carries this out: the magnificent Ekdahl family residence with the Christmas party at the opening, the family run theatre, the summer house; then the white of the father’s deathbed and lit de parade, and the naked terror and oppressive sternness of the bishop’s mansion. This is some length to go towards talking about the present film, but I wanted to set the scene. A lot of things happened around Marionetten, as we know: a highly public and publicised arrest for tax evasion, hospitalised as suicidal, tearing out the tubes to leave Sweden for the Residenztheater in Munich, and finding the energy and actors for this film. And something certainly did happen in this period, because this is the one film where the interior is worked through like an integral part of the aesthetic vision. If you want to, you can see all of Haneke in this movie. There is a queasy oppressiveness to the spaces Bergman sculpts. Tim’s apartment: settees, chairs, cushions and screens throughout, but lined up weirdly, centred but still off, uncomfortable. Or just something as basic as the kitchen table at the Egermann residence, the way it’s arranged and framed by Sven Nykvist: it really insists upon its presence, a piece of domestic technology rendered dense and visible. And, of course, the peep show where the prostitute Ka meets her end: nothing short of sublime, the way they flip into colour, just like the way that entire space is captured and rendered not only dull and unerotic, but tense and oppressive. A brilliant piece of cinema. And there are a few scenes and concepts in here that are just breathtaking. A paranoid Peter Egermann goes to visit his psychiatrist and friend; appointment over, he sets about to leave, but in a fit of jealous suspicion opens and closes the door, and remains in the apartment. Privy and spy to the wife’s visit and the unfolding infidelity with the friend, as is the camera. Or Tim extemporising to himself in the mirror! Or the dictating of the corporate letter in Peter Egermann’s office. Call me contrarian, but this, Riten, Vargtimmen and En passion are my favourite Bergmans, precisely in their haunted, against type strangeness.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Cedric Kahn - L'ennui (1998)

Quite good, but a bit unsatisfactory. Charles Berling plays a philosophy professor in his late thirties, beset by angst and ennui, who meets a seventeen year old girl, played by Sophie Guillemin. They start fucking, obsessively, and that’s the film, basically. Many good things with it. Charles Berling is great, and in great shape - all that running! - and Sophie Guillemin is a revelation. She plays her role perfectly: flinty obtuse and vulnerable waif at the same time. And thematically it’s interesting, in that the affair doesn’t afford Berling, or the viewer, any kind of release. Quite the opposite: ennui and angst is exacerbated, rendered jealous and violent. And, at the same time, the sex is rendered physical and untitillating. Meeting-fucking-separating-fucking some more-separating-jealousy-rage-reconciliation-separation-infidelity-suspicion-spying - it all makes for a very consistent rhythm, up and down Ménilmontant, fascinating in its way. And then, one spot of jarringly trite psychoanalysis, and then the film stops. I suspect this has a lot to do with the Moravia novel it’s based on, it probably stops on a dime as well. But as always, you glance on other things. Compare this - or don’t, maybe - to Chéreau’s Intimacy. Similarly themed, based on literary sources, but a lot richer and more complex. But this is still worth a look.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Yep, thanks for reminding me yet again that those marionettes are still waiting for me :)

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David Lynch & James Signorelli, Hotel Room, 1993

Wiki: "Hotel Room (also called David Lynch's Hotel Room) is an American drama anthology series that aired for three half-hour episodes on HBO on January 8, 1993, with a repeat the next night. Created by Monty Montgomery and David Lynch (who directed two episodes), each drama stars a different cast and takes place in hotel room number 603 of the New York City-based "Railroad Hotel", in the years 1969, 1992, and 1936, respectively. The three episodes were created to be shown together in the form of a feature-length pilot, with the hope that if they were well received, a series of episodes following the same stand-alone half-hour format would be produced later. Following a lukewarm reception, HBO chose to not produce more episodes."
Of the second episode, directed by James Signorelli (no me neither), the less said the better (go google if you want). But bookending this sub-Sex and the City drivel are two Lynch / Gifford shorts, fascinating glimpses into the world of Twin Peaks to come. Tricks is a tense standoff between Harry Dean Stanton and Freddie Jones (the hooker Darlene - Glenne Headly - has the good sense to escape), and, as one IMDb punter notes, Blackout is as close Lynch ever came to Bergman, a 40-minute huis clos shot in near-total darkness, with Crispin Glover (for once playing the saner of the two characters) and Alicia Witt delivering fine performances. The austere cinematography (no budget? or no imagination?) forces us to pay more attention to Barry Gifford's words, and very fine they are. Draw a line from Tennessee Williams through Sam Shepard and keep going. (Just in case you were wondering, Monty Montgomery plays the creepy Cowboy in Mulholland Dr.)
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Adrian Lyne, Jacob's Ladder, 1990

Quite a trip for sure - but putting aside questions of what's dreamt and what's "reality" (hoho, not spoiling for anyone who's seen it), this is one the all-round best films I've seen all year (only discovered it recently thanks to our man Henrik, again). Fantastic filming- no CGI shortcuts either, all done the old fashioned way - terrific editing, but above all solid, no bullshit dialogue delivered to perfection by Tim Robbins, Danny Aiello and Elizabeth Peña (so sad she drank herself to death, apparently). And, though I'm not normally a big fan of Maurice Jarre, this has to be one of his best soundtracks. Can't find much to complain about, really: even seeing that brat Macauley Culkin pop up didn't bother me. Some fun trivia here https://screenrant.com/behind-scenes-fa ... dder-1990/
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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henriq wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 8:02 am
Call me contrarian, but this, Riten, Vargtimmen and En passion are my favourite Bergmans
for me this has always been true so maybe not as contrarian as you thought. i like some of the obvious famous ones too (and some of the more underrated ones like The Magic Flute), but keep me far away from stuff like Jungfrukällan, Cries and Whispers and Fanny Och Alexander. i will never understand how the mainstream "Foreign Art House" canon when i was growing up wasn't City Of Women, The Mystery Of Oberwald, The Last Metro, From The Life Of The Marionettes, Lola, Toute Une Nuit, Une Chambre En Ville, Nostalghia, L'Argent, The Book Of Mary, Hail Mary and Offret instead of the more endlessly lauded earlier movies by those directors
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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You'll have to convince me on Une chambre en ville, but point taken. Nice to see you're still lurking

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Michael Powell, Age of Consent, 1968

Yes, and that's probably the only reason anyone might want to seek out Powell's charming but clunky Barrier Reef romcom - to see future Queen Helen Mirren in the buff playing wild Aussie girl living with ginsoaked granny on idyllic island where jaded painter James Mason comes to recharge his batteries (as it were), accompanied only by a hyperintelligent dog and a visiting pest of a "friend" who nicks his money and paintings. Wild, hardly. Both Mirren and Mason have real difficulty with those Aussie accents - makes you wonder why they bothered in the first place - and if Cora is really underage let's just say she's a fast developer. Jack MacGowran hams it up awfully as Nat (not Ned) Kelly, and the other two women in the cast - the hysterical gran and the sex-starved widow next door - are something straight out of a Benny Hill show. Despite asking Mirren to get her kit off at every available opportunity, Mason shows no real sign of any concupiscence coming to the boil until the final shot of the film. Maybe the Norman Lindsay novel it was based on was more salacious, dunno. Not interested in reading to find out. Nice exterior shots of the Great Barrier Reef and la Mirren snorkelling among the giant clams, pretty score by Peter Sculthorpe, but that's about all folks
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dominik Moll, Lemming, 2005

"Alain Getty (Laurent Lucas) and his wife, Bénédicte (Charlotte Gainsbourg), are happily married and enjoying the luxuries afforded them by Alain's successful career. Alain invites his boss, Richard (André Dussollier), and Richard's wife, Alice (Charlotte Rampling), for dinner one night, but things quickly turn sour when Alice becomes rude and erratic. The discovery of a rare lemming in the kitchen sink -- and Bénédicte's strange behavior -- is just the beginning of Alain's confusion." The lemming, fwiw, isn't even a Macguffin, more a rather limp symbol of.. well, dunno really. Alienation? Suicide? Whatever, Hitchcock and Lynch are two names that seem to pop up in reviews of this film, but even the most batshit crazy moments in Lynch's oeuvre are underpinned by dialogue that sounds real - in fact they're disturbing and memorable precisely because the words spoken are so normal - but Gilles Marchand's dialogue is so way off the mark (we were throwing imaginary popcorn at the screen all the way through: "WTF? No way she'd say that under the circumstances!") that whatever sympathy we have for the characters soon evaporates. The only character that connects is Rampling's distressing Alice; Gainsbourg and Dussollier's talents are woefully underused, and Lucas's lead character is underwhelming. It's probably not his fault that he looks like a young Martin Landau trapped in the headlights of an oncoming car. Blame it on Marchand.
http://www.frenchfilms.org/review/lemming-2005.html
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Jean Grémillon, Dainah la métisse, 1932

This is what the French like to call an "OVNI" (that's UFO in English), meaning totally unforeseen and utterly original one-off. Dainah, played by Laurence Clavius (about whom you won't find any information, other than she popped up in the Script and Continuity department of Clouzot's Quai des Orfèvres 15 years later) disappears from the deck of a cruise ship (presumably thrown overboard by the quietly menacing mechanic Charles Vanel after an attempted rape) , leading to a tense confrontation between her husband (Habib Benglia, the first black actor to grace French stage and screen https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habib_Benglia), Charles Vanel and the ship's captain. Simmering racial tension, intercut with surprisingly modern shots of walls, corridors and machinery and set against the backdrop of a masked ball in which Dainah lets herself go Josephine Baker-style in front of a crowd looking like something from Cocteau, it fills its 51 minutes to the brim. Fascinating. As is this resurrected period review: https://www.la-belle-equipe.fr/2018/03/ ... llon-1931/
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Nanni Moretti, La messa è finita, 1985

Oddly enough, I tend to associate Moretti with Marco Ferreri, if only because both directors can tackle deadly serious issues (you name it: incest, abortion, cannibalism, self-harm, suicide etc etc) through comedy. There the comparison ends, I guess; while with Ferreri the prevailing feeling is of corrosive cynicism, Nanni Moretti manages to keep a lightness of tone that belies the underlying gravity of the situations his characters (usually Moretti himself) have to grapple with: here a former leftist turned priest grappling with his faith and a community, including his own family members, turning their backs on organised religion.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Robert Altman, Fool for Love, 1985

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/fool-for-love-1985 makes some good points. Altman adds his own touches - some work (the silent premonitionary other family in the adjacent motel cabin), others don't (the Countess? what's the point?) - but Shepard's words carry the day. Fine cast, excellent performances.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Philippe Fourastié, La bande à Bonnot, 1968

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Bonnot - and you'll see that the film has followed the real events very closely, even if Fourastié had to travel far from Paris to find streets that still remotely resembled the French capital just before WWI. The 1911 bank raid on Société Générale in Paris was, it seems, the first time a car was ever used in a robbery (Bonnot was an ace mechanic and knew which models to steal). The cast is good - Bruno Cremer, Jacques Brel, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Annie Girardot, Anne Wiazemsky - and the supposed (by the authorities) glorification of anarchism was enough to cause problems for the filmmakers, coming out when it did, but there's somethig deliberately cold, rather Bressionian, about Fourastié's mise-en-scène. The killings are raw - no spectacular squibs or slowmotion - and there's precious little music to soften the blow. Fourastié - a name new to me, only discovered this watching Tavernier's magnificent Voyage series recently - had a few stints as assistant director (Schoendoerffer, Godard, Rivette..), but died early of a brain tumour in 1982, alas
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Denis Amar - Asphalte (1981)

On first view this sounds a bit conventional, not for its time perhaps, but a few years on: a bunch of people involved in violent pileups on different points of congested French holiday traffic. All framed by a team of surgeons in a local hospital doggedly stitching people together again, and again. But thankfully, it becomes so much more. I know nothing about the director, but from a quick IMDb glance, his time in the arthouse seems to have been very short. This and a few other things, and then off into action and television. A pity, things might have happened, maybe this tanked violently on release? Seeing as we are in France, there is the tradition of Jean-Luc Godard’s Week-end (Jean Yanne does a late, and excellent, turn in this one), Tati’s Trafic, Alain Cavalier’s Le plein de super (that film’s Etienne Chicot has a small role in this). A grand roster, but Amar steers clear of Godard’s dialectics or Tati’s japes and social commentary. And in fact, it deframes a bit, drifts into other territories, and this is where it becomes engrossing. I was brought to mind of George Sluizer’s Spoorloos; of the Italians, with Dino Risi’s Il sorpasso; the congealing ecstasies of the motorway in Fellini’s Roma; of Antonioni with Il grido and Deserto rosso. More concretely, there is a literary brilliance to script and dialogue here. Things are said that sound off, unfocused, weirdly astringent and confrontational. Tonalities overlap and intrude, become metallic and unpleasant: Carole Laure at a rest stop is continuously accosted by motorway dragueurs, another crazed guy insistently in her face. There is a very peculiar, and gorgeous, admixture of tensile lyricism and explosive unpredictability that you can recognise from Jacques Rozier and also, very distantly, from Stévenin’s Double messieurs. I am listing a lot of great stuff here, but that is how much I like it. One more, literature this time: Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop’s Autonauts of the Cosmoroute (Los autonautas de la cosmopista: o Un viaje atemporal Paris-Marsella), where the authors set about to travel by car between Paris and Marseille, stopping for the day, and night, at every rest stop they happened on. The trip is dubbed out into infinity, mechanical monotony and boredom giving way to dreamy abstraction and lyricism. An amazing book, really (I’ve read it at least two times): read that, watch the films, and watch this. Beautiful.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Another great traffic jam movie you forgot to mention: Comencini's L'ingorgo (1979). That Cortazar book sounds fabulous - another one for the pile (which is getting higher day by day, and will continue to do so until I finish Proust :))
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Robert Aldrich, World for Ransom, 1954

Saw this a few weeks ago and realised I'd forgotten to write it up. Not only that, I'd completely forgotten what the film was about (shows what a great impression it made, huh?) so had to look at this instead https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_for_Ransom
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Youssef Chahine, Adieu Bonaparte, 1985

Patrice Chéreau's slightly dotty Bonaparte is definitely the best thing about this (Michel Piccoli's reading of Caffarelli, though no doubt quite accurate in terms of historical detail - https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Mar ... i_du_Falga - was a bit too lively for my taste). Shame, because we wanted it to be better than it was - excellent subject matter after all, Napoleon's Egyptian campaign, with plenty of opportunities for fabulous location shoots, which Chahine is obviously more interested in than the plot. Hard to figure out who's who, or who's on whose side, which results in the film losing its centre of gravity, flinging all its energies and Piccoli's enthusiastic bluster out into the desert to be blown away to oblivion.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Marcelo Piñeyro, El método, 2005

Wiki: "The story tells of seven people that have been selected among several applicants for one final round to determine who will get an enviable, executive position for a mysterious corporation, Dekia. The seven applicants are submitted to a series of psychological tests - known as the "Grönholm Method" - that start eliminating the applicants one by one. It is warned at the beginning that one of the seven people is an employee of the corporation posing as an applicant to evaluate the others. As the applicants are discarded, the race for the position becomes more tense and sinister. The tests reveal the weakness of each of the characters and their attitudes to company work. In the end the "mole" will be revealed and only one of them will get the desired position." Yes, it's as dull as it sounds. Unless, that is, you're one of those folks who thrill to those stoopid reality teevee series where contestants have to vote each other off the show one by one (as well as eating caterpillars and/or walking barefoot through a minefield or some other daft shit). I have to teach Business English (yes, it's a whole other language) to earn a living, god knows why I listened to one of my students who recommended this film. A businessman, of course. Figures.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Philippe Garrel, Le coeur fantôme, 1996

Story (guess): "Philippe is a middle-aged painter, he lives with Annie : they have two kids. Just after they split up, Philippe meets Justine. He starts thinking about love, the relationship between former lovers..." Hats off to Luis Rego - whose enormous back catalogue of lightweight comedies I'm not particularly familiar with (he is splendid in Rozier's Maine Océan though) - for a serious and moving performance. Do you need to see it? Depends how many times you're prepared to step in the same river. There's so little written about this online (one three-line IMDb user review, forget it), so I took the liberty of DeepL'ing a paragraph from one of the few reviews I could find
https://www.liberation.fr/culture/1996/ ... do_164300/ :
"Garrel always says the same thing, goes round in circles, sees no way out. His cinema is a hypersensitive device that registers the slightest flaw, the shadow that passes over a face, a slight effort, embarrassed silences, the banality of everything and everyone that is the only possible earthly experience, the only one still worthwhile. From each of his shots emanates a nameless melancholy, scattered across a vague geography between the thin light of a Parisian spring and the scarred walls of an Italian city."
http://www.paristransatlantic.com
REISSUED! Eric La Casa / Jean-Luc Guionnet / Dan Warburton METRO PRE SAINT GERVAIS
https://swarming.bandcamp.com/album/met ... nt-gervais