Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:00 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 1:50 pm
Posts: 3965
Location: California/NYC


FIRST MAN (Damien Chazelle 2018). A movie about the Moon landing and Neil Armstrong that's radical in its harsh minimalism. It's hard to forget the final sequence where Neil (Ryan Gosling) and his wife (Claire Foy) stare wordless at each other when he's in quarantine, or the many blastoffs that are shot as a series of explosions and blurry closeups. You think it was a budget issue but then, given some sequences, probably just an artistic choice. Did Armstrong really take his sorrow over his dead daughter into his moments of greatest triumph? Was he so inarticulate, and did his wife push him so bluntly to say goodbye to his sons and admit he might not come back? Beyond the triumph here, there is a constant sense of tragedy, and very little celebration. Props for originality, but somehow it feels false, starting with Gosling, who isn't monolithic and grand enough. Watched at UGC Odéon 23 Oct. 2018. Metascore 84. AlloCine press rating 3.9.


THE SISTERS BROTHERS (Jacques Audiard 2018). Audiard has sometimes been the French director of the past few decades who I've admired the most, but his new Gold Rush era Western with John C. Reily, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed takes me out of my comfort zone and maybe out of his. It is after all his first English-language film. It takes place in Oregon and California in the 1850's. It works in a street scene of San Francisco and conveys the rapid change then under way, with men (anachronistically; it came a bit later) enjoying their first flush toilets and (validly perhaps) awkwardly wielding their first tooth brushes. A chemical formula to detect gold in water leads to dire consequences. What we see here are desperadoes longing for a peaceful life and partially moving in that direction, moving away from genre convention. It's pretty decent, original stuff but lacks the brilliance of Audiard at his best. Watched at UGC Danton, 23 Oct. 2018. Metascore 78. AlloCiné press rating 4.3.


MADEMOISELLE DE JONCQUIÈRES (Emmanuel Mouret 2018) This is a contrast to the director's cute Shall We Kiss? which I reviewed eleven years ago. It's like a pared-down version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (but based on Denis Diderot instead of Choderlos de Laclos) and stars Édouard Baer and Cécile de France as an 18th-century rake and the sophisticate, burned when he drops her, who takes revenge by bating him with a beautiful virgin who really isn't. It's a beautiful film with some good lines but I feel the casting is off. De France is trying hard to be beautiful but not hard enough to be mean. Baer is an appealing actor but that's the problem, not enough edge. Forget this and watch either Vadim's 1959 Dangerous Liaisons or Frears' 1988 English-language one, one of my favorite films of the Eighties. Watched at UGC Danton 24 October 2018. AlloCiné press rating 3.9.


CAPHERNAÜM/كفرناحوم (Nadine Labaki 2018). A scrawny 12-year-old in Beirut, jailed for a stabbing, takes his parents to court for abandonment.They should not have given birth to him since they could not take care of him, he says. The bulk of the film is his story. This "poverty porn" may deserve that Cahiers slur for its lack of a significant design such as Ladri di biciclette and Koreeda's Shoplifters have. But it does have a heap of authentic atmosphere. It does not go wrong in sticking close to its little star, Zain Al Rafeea ("Zain"), whose beautiful-sad face is offset by foul and vivid language that rends the air. A fully justified piece of casting. If you understand Lebanese Arabic you'll probably get a lot more out of that. This film won the Jury Prize at Cannes and then that was questioned. It's not so much sentimental as just preachy and messy. It's maybe Labaki's boldest film. Surely much more of this will stick to me than Mademoiselle de Joncquières. Caphernaüm is a village in the Bible and alludes to repentance. Watched at UGC Odéon 24 October 2018. Metascore 71. AlloCiné press rating 3.0, so no critical darling post-Cannes.


GIRL (Lucas Dhont 2018). Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, the feature debut of Flemish director Dhont concerns a transgender teen called Lara obsessed with her classical ballet training, which involves difficult late assimilation of painful toe shoe dancing. Winner of an acting prize at Cannes as Lara is 16-year-old male ballet student Viktor Polster. It's been said this combines Tomboy and Billy Eliot, however it is most notable for its painful restraint. Lara doesn't tell her loving single parent dad what a struggle it all is. But since hormone treatment and surgery have far to go, she is creating the illusion with tape and a smile and flowing blonde hair. A frustratingly restricted but brilliant and memorable film. Lukas Dhont was only 27 and Viktor Polster 16. Metascore 93. AlloCiné press rating 4.1. Watched at UGC Danton 25 October 2018.


LE JEU/NOTHING TO HIDE (Fred Cavayé 2018). Here's a movie with little export potential to anglophone audiences but good material for a Hollywood adaptation, but it's already an adaptation from the Italian, Paolo Genovese's 2016 Perfetti sconosciuti. A group of seven friends gather at the apartment of one couple for the total moon eclipse and one proposes a game: they all put their smart phones out on the dinner table and whenever anything comes up, they make it public, text, Facebook message, email. call, whatever. At first all is light as the wine flows and the cheese comes out. Then the deceptions begin to be unmasked. At climax all three couples look about to break up and the single's hidden sexuality has been confessed. The director and cast deserve credit for keeping it serious (though with a soft finale), and at the best moments the tension is high, but nothing offsets the conventionality. AlloCiné 3.4. Watched at MK2 Odéon 25 October 2018.


L'AMOUR FLOU ("Uncertain Love") (Romane Bohringer, Philippe Rebbot 2018). This real ex-couple made a movie out of their own recent lives. Separating after ten years of marriage, with two kids and a dog, they arrived at an original and convenient new living arrangement. At the suggestion of a friendly real estate agent, they chose to move to a new building where two separate apartments for the two of them could be joined in the middle by their children's rooms. They filmed themselves as this, and life, happens, with some ad libbing and some interpolated humorous threads involving friends and would-be lovers. There is a scene with Romaine's parents, who include Romain Bohringer, who for me will always be Gorodish in Diva. A vivid and watchable mingling of cinema and life that has something to say about love, marriage and compromise. "Flou" means not clearly defined: the film recognizes that a couple no longer in love still love each other with a different, "flou" love, and at the end of the film, Philippe and Romaine recommit for life, but in a new not matrimonially binding way. This will surely be in upcoming Stateside French series. AlloCineé 3.9. Watched at MK2 Hautefeuille 26 October 2018.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 50 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group