Sunday, November 09, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
I must admit it was hard to find agreement about the two films we saw on Saturday at AFI Fest. While I highly enjoyed Plastic City (see video comments here), a gorgeous-looking and pretentious Hong Kong gangster film set in Sao Paulo, my fellow writer Anji hated it. However she did enjoy the con men comedy The Brothers Bloom (see video comments here - read the Brothers Bloom review) more than I did, as I found it wasn't more than a TV movie.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Darren Aronofski's The Wrestler (see video comments here - read the Wrestler review) is a small film about a washed-up wrestler who comes to question the purpose of his life, following a heart attack. The film has a realistic feel while being drenched in irony. While it's not a masterpiece, this is a highly enjoyable film, which will mostly be remembered by the raw performances from its two lead actors, Mickey Rourke & Marisa Tomei.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Sunday was pretty satisfying, movie-wise. The day started with The Class (read the Class review), the film that won the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival this year. I must admit, I was expecting some over-hyped heavy-handed patchouli message-driven picture but was left astonished by the multiple layers offered here, including a subtle commentary, which questions the - somewhat outdated - foundations of the French education system (check out my video comments here).
The following feature, Gomorrah (read the Gomorra review), proved to be as intense, giving us a realistic look at the mafia. While much has been said about how it de-glamorizes the mafia myth, which was already done with humor in the Sopranos, more important was its focus on the use of kids for all the dirty jobs, which makes it close from films such as City of God.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
But let's go back to the subject ... I started the festival with the screening of Nirvana (read the Nirvana review or watch my video comments about Nirvana here and if you need subtitles, email me!!), a post-punk Russian film that even a Sigue Sigue Sputnik fan like me found pretty tedious. The film was followed with some absurd Q&A with the director, who managed to never answer to the questions he was asked.
The following Waltz with Bachir was even more disappointing as it was preceded by some good buzz from Cannes (see video comments here - read Waltz with Bachir review), proving that having a good political/humanitarian message isn't enough to make a good film.
Finally, the documentary about Gogol Bordello (see video comments here) proved to be entertaining but messy, while James Gray's Two Lovers (Two Lovers review) was a good surprise despite the bad buzz from Cannes -- I know why the French hated it ... they didn't like the ending ... which isn't surprising, knowing their propensity to enjoy "drama".
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
What are our picks this summer at the Los Angeles Film Festival?
The festival certainly has its eye on sure hits in the action genre for opening and closing nights, though they're from directors far removed from the Michael Bay school of Kaplowie! high jinks. Opening night features Wanted (Wanted review), directed by Timur Bekmambetov (director of the hyperkinetic Night Watch - Nightwatch review) and starring James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie, while the festival closes with writer/director Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Del Toro will also be on hand for a conversation at the Hammer.
Must sees include Elite Squad, which looks like Brazil's answer to Training Day, Nordic music videos in Declare Independence: Spotlight on Scandinavia, HottirBoombaLottie, The Wackness, Momma's Man, South Africa's The Choir and Infinite Border.
Outdoor screenings at the Ford Amphitheatre remind us its summertime in the city. Swear-a-Long Scarface, surf movie Highwater (Highwater review) and high school documentary American Teen (American Teen review) will screen at twilight.
Poolside chats at the W Los Angeles in Westwood tackle topics like pot "The New Stoner Age", funny women "Funny Girls", and "Hollywood, D.C.".
Documentary topics include art:Dirty Hands: The Art & Crimes of David Choe, family strife Must Read After My Death, transsexuals Trinidad chef school Pressure Cooker, and the yucky Fleiss Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal.
To its credit, the LA Film Festival has always screened a few films that deal with the complexities of angeleno life. This year two films explore South Central. The ever important free screenings include The Garden (The Garden review), which examines the dirty underbelly of LA politics that allowed the destruction of a 14 acre farm in the middle of South Central and Made in America, which takes a look at root causes of gang warfare. Quintessential LA architecture is explored in Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman.
Is it too early too visit the 80's? LAFF doesn't think so. From The Lost Boys to Night Flight: Born Again, campy fun abounds.
The LA edginess has been watered down, but that means events like Antonio Banderas being saluted. And who doesn't mind saluting Antonio?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Now that the coverage of COL COA has been wrapped up, it's time to get ready for the Cannes Film Festival. From May 14th to May 25th, Plume Noire will cover the Cannes Film Festival 2008 and will bring you exclusive reviews as well as a blog. Stay tuned...
Sunday, April 20, 2008
While we can certainly be satisfied that Secret of the Grain (The Secret of the Grain review) was awarded the critics prize, it is pretty disappointing to see that the audience prize went to Welcome to the land of Shti (Welcome to the land of Shti review), a funny but cheesy French box office champion, which success is mostly due to the fact that, whether it’s here on in the main land, the French behave like a lot of sheep.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Saturday was without a doubt the strongest day of the week, with 3 films imposing their mark in different genres: in terms of pure entertainment, OSS 117 (OSS 117 review) proved to be the most intelligent and ambitious comedy showcased at COL COA. Flirting with cinema-verité, Water Lilies (Water Lilies review) offered an uncompromising look at the lives of 3 teenage girls while Secret of the Grain (The Secret of the Grain review) brought a significant emotional dimension by bringing us in the life of North-African immigrants. Next to these 3 major works, the charming but light comedy La Vie d’Artiste (La Vie d'Artiste review) was quite forgettable.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Centered on the intriguing relationship between a man and the killer who has been sent to kill him, Jacques Maillot’s The Killer (The Killer review) was the revelation of the night, this minimalist psychological piece slowly enveloping the audience in its noir atmosphere. Built on the confrontation of two brothers, a cop and a con, and supported by French stars Guillaume Canet & François Cluzet, Rivals is quite entertaining but collapses once you realize how poorly drafted are these characters, their implausible personas being used as a gimmick to trigger an expected dramatic conclusion.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
One of the most anticipated entries of the festival, Paris (Paris review) by Cédric Klapisch (L’Auberge Espagnole, Un Air de famille), proved to be a big disappointment. Abandoning his juicy portraits of a modern youth to, this time, focus on the adult world, with some social commentary in the background, Mr. Klapisch delivered a choral movie that stumbles in its messy storylines and veers too many times into cheesy Claude Lelouch territories.
Even more embarrassing was the following Q&A where it became clear that the interviewer didn’t know much about Mr. Klapisch’s body of work, beside a few articles he had read.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The 12th edition of COL COA opened with the gala presentation of Welcome to the Land of Shti. The event kicked off with the usual cocktail party featuring fine French food and lots of champagne, allowing festival-goers and celebrities to mingle around the food tables and the bars (American actor Robert Foster proved to be a lot of fun despite the fact I cut him in the line at the bar and several French filmmakers including Florent-Emilio Siri, Cédric Klapisch & Claude Lelouch were also available to chat).
Following the usual laborious speeches by some “French officials”, Welcome to the Land of Shti (Welcome to the land of Shti review) was presented to a room that was conquered in advance, thanks to the hype surrounding its French box office record. While the film was certainly fun and provided some great laughs (especially if you’re from the South of France like yours truly), there is certainly nothing to cheer about here, as this charming but cheesy little movie is far from being a good representative of what French cinema is.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
The hilarious spy comedy OSS 117 is one of the must-see films at COL COA this year. It stars French humorist Jean Dujardin as a French secret agent and it's been one of the best critical and box office success of these last couple of years. Check out our OSS 117 review
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Come back soon for our festival reviews and our festival coverage on this blog.