Tuesday, 7 February 2012

To Swim in His Blue Blue Eyes...

Oh, my! It has been a long time since I blogged! So, sorry, my dear followers--part busy life, part procrastination. Still pressed for time, but at least I've beat the procrastination. Here's a look at a few movies that I've seen since I last posted. What have you seen?

Carnage: why wasn't any of these lovely people nominated for Oscars?  It cast is comprised of 3 former winners, Kate Winslet, Jody Foster, Christoph Waltz,  and 1 Oscar-nominee, John C. Reilly. This satirical look at two couples discussing then battling it out over their respective son's role in a playground skirmish, is filled with deliciously scathing and witty dialogue delivered by a seasoned cast worthy of multiple ovations. If the film at some points feel stage-y, that's because Yasmina Reza has based the screenplay on her own play Le dieu du carnage, and because the entire evening takes place in one apartment. Director Roman Polansky is genius in what he brings out in his actors and how he chooses to capture their moments within this tight space. He breaks down walls as much as is possible in a one-set production, focusing attention on the players and using the set as a character that silently reveals personality and plot. His well-placed camera and character blocking relieve static and Reza's crackling dialogue make this film a merry experience.

I'm a good person/i'm a bad person: Thanks to Raindance Canada I was able to attend a public screening of Ingrid Veninger's film after having viewed it at an Industry screening at TIFF 2011. I'm a good person was one of my Top Ten Faves at last year's festival, tieing with Ralph Fiennes, Coriolanus. Oddly enough the two films screened withing days of each other!  You can see Coriolanus in theatres, but I'm a good person is intended for film festival viewing only, as the audience learned at the Indie Night at the Carlton screening. Director, Veninger, who currently teaches at York University, has decided that unless their is great demand for it, she would rather have an interested audience view her film, that navigate the uncertainties of of theatrical distribution where films with little or no budget duke it out with mega-Hollywood films with astronomical promotion budgets.

Cafe de flore: I've respected the work of director, Jean-Marc Vallée since his film C.R.A.Z.Y., but I didn't fall in love with him until a Canada Screens event of his then upcoming Young Victoria. After listening to him talk about making films, trying to remain independent while working in a business that demands soul-sucking compromises, trying to get the music you want in your film, and the problems of distribution, I fell into his swimming-pool blue eyes while having a one-on-one conversation with him at the bar. Being a mature woman, of a certain age, I don't allow my crushes to influence my take on a film (and if I ever feel I can't I will tell you straight up that my opinion is biased), so I honestly tell you that Cafe de flore is a film worth seeing, and seeing twice. The film follows two different story lines (mother/son; husband and wives), in two different time periods ('60s/present day) and cities (Paris/Montreal) connected by themes of love and obsession. The surprising success of the film lies with strong performances by Vanessa Paradis and screen newcomer, DJ turned actor, Kevin Parent in the lead roles. I say surprising because Paradis is not an actress know for this type of working class, unglamourous role and Parent is brilliant in a first time acting role that would be demanding, even for experienced actors. Jean-Marc Vallée's hands are all over this work in terms of the casting, music, and his collaboration with cinematographer Pierre Cottereau and an outstanding special effects team.

Monsieur Lahzar: We are so luck in Canada to have such wonderful directors whose work are finally getting international acknowledgement. Like Veninger, and Vallée, I have been a fan of Philippe Falardeau  several years. My introduction to Falardeau was via his 2000 film La moitee gauche de fringo. Since then I've seen and loved Congorama, C'est pas moi, je le jure! and now the Oscar-nominated, Monsieur Lahzar. I've never managed to get an interview with him, always somehow missing the connection, but since I would just gush anyway if I did, I will encourage you instead to go and see this delicate drama about a substitute school teacher (played by Mohamed Fellag) whose personal tragedy allows him to empathize and compassionately communicate with his grade-school students. Good luck on Oscar night, Philippe!

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