Monday, April 25, 2016

Er ist wieder da

2015, Germany, directed by David Wnendt (aka Look Who's Back)

When I was in Berlin last year, there were posters everywhere for this but I couldn't make my schedule work to take it in; I'd heard of the book, which posits Hitler inexplicably awakening in modern-day Berlin, and read mixed things about the success of the film, though it's certainly worth a look as a curiosity and a muddled commentary on modern German pop culture (as well as the continued efforts of Germans to deal with their country's past). The land of Goethe and Schiller has no equal in its ability to plumb the depths when it comes to reality TV culture, and the film makes a good deal of hay with this, but what's most notable is the exceptional commitment of Oliver Masucci as Hitler, staying in character in the unscripted, public sequences to a quite extraordinary degree. Obviously, there's a debate to be had as to whether you can effectively use Borat-style tactics when you're dealing with an actual historical figure rather than an invented Kazakh lunatic, but there's an unfakeable discomfort that comes from the bizarrely warm embrace with which "Hitler" is met in so many quarters.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy

2014, US, directed by James Gunn

Monday, April 18, 2016

Now You See Me

2013, US, directed by Louis Leterrier

Friday, April 15, 2016

Gueule d'amour

1937, France, directed by Jean Grémillon

No great surprise that I liked this a lot: Gabin, Grémillon, 1930s. To my great surprise, though, I discovered afterwards that it was filmed in Germany, like Grémillon's later L'Etrange Monsieur Victor, though in 1937 this was a good deal less unpopular in terms of audience perceptions. The extent to which this telegraphs the postwar Gabin persona is quite fascinating -- he manages to occupy both the handsome young buck and embittered older man within a single, quite brief film. The film taps into that vein of poetic tragedy that so marked the French 1930s, though the finale is more brutal than I expected, perhaps again foreshadowing what was to come in the postwar years.

Monday, April 11, 2016

La Marie du port

1950, France, directed by Marcel Carné

Marcel Carné takes the helm of a film that in many respects establishes the post-war Gabin persona -- world-weary, still magnetic but with the years having taken their toll, and less laconic than an American tough guy might have been. Although Gabin was only in his mid-40s at this stage, you'd take him for a man in his 60s, and indeed the film is based on the idea that he's an older, successful business man (who owns a cinema among other things, which allows for the occasional, quite fascinating glimpse into the workings of a small picture house). The film doesn't reach the heights of Carné's pre-war and wartime work, though there are certainly passages that recall the best of the collaborations with Prévert, and Gabin is excellent -- very much the focus of the film both visually and emotionally.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Nos femmes

2015, France, directed by Richard Berry

Another film seen on a plane, which I was drawn into on the basis of the cast: Auteuil! Berry! Lhermitte! The middle man also directs what is supposed to be, I think, a farce along the lines of Francis Veber's chamber pieces like Le Dîner des cons. Based on a play, the underlying premise is distasteful in the extreme: Lhermitte kills his wife and the trio discuss, in extended comic riffs, how to deal with this situation and what it says about their friendship. Of course, French cinema has a pretty long history of men behaving badly, in particular with respect to women (much of Bertrand Blier's oeuvre, for instance), but there's something acutely offensive at play here and all the zip in the world can't fix it. Berry has very little to offer, either, as director and some of the material is the worst kind of filler (Berry dancing to a rap song). Auteuil has one strong scene, an extended, increasingly frantic monologue, but that's about it. Berry also undercuts the performances by cutting back and forth between the actors rather than allowing them to react in the same frame (I had the same objection to a much older piece of filmed theatre, Fric-Frac, with Michel Simon, Arletty, and Fernandel).

Saturday, April 02, 2016

American Hustle

2014, US, directed by David O. Russell

Zips by with considerable verve (something of a David O. Russell hallmark, of course, even if this is nothing like as as frenetic as, say, Silver Linings Playbook), despite virtually all of the characters being pretty unsympathetic as human beings (the excellent Louis CK comes across as the most likeable person, and he's barely in the film). Still, the immersive experience of the time and place is quite beguiling and the top-of-the-poster performances are fiercely committed -- and there's absolutely no doubting Jennifer Lawrence's star magnetism when she's on the screen.


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States