Monday, November 02, 2009

AFI Fest 2009

Plume Noire is at AFI Fest - to check out our coverage click AFI Fest 2009
More to come about the festival soon ...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

LA Film Festival 2009 Winners

Filmmaker Award: Wah Do Dem
Documentary Award: Those Who Remain
Best Narrative Audience Award: The Stoning of Soraya M - The Stoning of Soraya M review
Best Documentary Audience Award: Soul Power
Best International Feature Audience Award: Born Without
Best Performance: Dear Lemon Lima

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Unmade Beds

There is surprisingly a strong French cinema feel in this film set in London and directed by Argentine director Alexis dos Santos. The film follows 2 roomates, a Spanish boy looking for his father and a French girl looking for love with the British music/art scene as a backdrop. The film is slow paced and humorous, fueled by nights of drunkenness and occasional sex, while the tone oscillates between poetry and light existentialism, without the pretentiousness. Music is a big part of the film and despite being set in the present, it also echoes the British youth and scenes from the 80's and 90's, which should make it hit close from home for lots of spectators - at least those who grew up with new wave and later on Brtip pop. Unmade Beds review

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Facing Ali

There has been countless documentaries, movies and shows about Muhammad Ali but Facing Ali (Facing Ali review) gets probably the closest to experience him as the fierce fighter he was as, rather than going for the usual biography, it makes us face the champion through the eyes of 10 men who fought him in the ring. What's interesting is that, despite all the beating up and the wars of words -- and Mr. Ali was quite a big mouth -- they all respect him, even showing affection for their past nemesis. Not only does the documentary give us a unique insight about the champion but it also gives us a look at the lives of these men who got into the spotlight thanks to Mr. Ali. While they all got their 15mn of fame, their paths differ, some having fallen into oblivion or having been doomed while others found success. Despite their ups and downs, these fighters provide for a colorful gallery of portraits, the old lions having for the most part become charming and humorous characters who, while reinforcing the Ali myth, provide the flesh of this documentary.

Hot Rods to Hell

With a title like Hot Rods to Hell, you might expect a movie involving bad-ass Mad-max type drivers and menacing leather-clad bikers. What you instead get is a group of rich teenagers who, by contemporary standards, look as menacing as your average computer nerd. A great moment of corny nostalgia filled with overacting and laughable moralization, the film centers around a family getting bullied on desert roads by a group of teenagers driving hot rods. What were designed as thrills at the time now sound like jokes and the film is memorable for some great lines such as: a mom talking to her daughter "every woman on earth wants a man"; two teenage kids talking "you think all women are the same?" - "no they have different names". Hot Rods to Hell review

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Starting with a humor note, poking fun at both tourists - in the movie - and what the audience might expect, Birdwatchers (Birdwatchers review) is quite a singular film mixing social commentary, ethnological study, magic and irony. The film, which aims at sensitizing us to the rights of indigenous from Brazil who are trying to get some of their land back easily win us to their cause but fails when it comes to portrait the characters in this story, whether they're on the good or bad side. While the film makes these indigenous look stubborn, cold-hearted and their crusade somewhat aimless, its portrait of their nemesis isn't deep enough to make us believe he would be inclined to take extreme actions. In addition, the magic aspect of the story tends to undermine the purpose of the film, which is to get a serious reaction from us, when faced with so much injustice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Transformers the revenge of the nerds

Just kidding, we don't cover commercials for toys. I just wanted to share that for the 2nd time in 3 years, I am revolted that the LA film festival not only shows a Transformers movie but also a Michael Bay film, a filmmaker who is at the total opposite of what cinema and film festivals are about.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Born Without

This documentary, which was screened as part of Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal and Diego Luna’s Ambulante festival, focuses on Jose Flores, a handicapped musician and actor who could be seen in Alejandro Jodorowsky's cult Holy Mountain. While the documentary obviously approaches its subject with a social angle, showing us how handicapped people are perceived - and treated - in Mexico, Mr. Flores' life is colorful enough to portrait him as a human being rather than basing this work on hisd his physical appearance. Unfortunately, and despite surprising late revelations, Born Without fails at providing us with enough matter to sustain our interest. The film remains somewhat flat, without real thematic approach, and is never able to transcend its anecdotic format. Born Without review

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Andy Warhol Screen Tests with Dean & Britta

What makes the Los Angeles film festival such a unique festival has always been its knack for bringing us events that mix cool music and films. I still remember their punk-rock karaoke years ago when the festival was taking place at the Sunset plaza while other highlights included the Sex Pistol's Steve Jone's Indie 103.1 radio show live from the Ford Amphitheatre.

This year they brought us once again another exciting moment, this time blending art, music and cinema, with the screening of Andy Warhol's screen tests, supported by a live accompaniment by electro-folk duo Dean & Britta. The music of the band, with its Velvet Underground tones, provided a great experience while the screen tests featuring the likes of Lou Reed, Denis Hopper, Nico, Eddie Sedgwick among others were being shown onscreen. 13 Most Beautiful... Songs for Andy Warhol Screen Tests review

The Stoning of Soraya M

The Stoning of Soraya M (read The Stoning of Soraya M review) proved to be one of the most powerful and revolting film I have seen in a long time (and no, I'm not saying that to sound like that advertising whore for film posters that Rolling Stone's Peter Travers is).

Set in a remote Iranian village, the film tells the true story of a woman who was stoned to death after being wrongfully accused of cheating by her husband who wanted to get rid of her. Based on the eponymous bestseller, this film avoids the traps of melodrama and makes sure to not be interpreted as a critique of Islam. The Stoning of Soraya M takes on hypocrites using religion as a pretext and denounces a world where women are treated as second-rate citizens. Fueled by a documentary-like realism, this is a rought and uncompromising work, which ending is almost unbearable to watch - be warned that most of the audience had to close its eyes or was crying during the final sequence.

The film was followed by a Q&A featuring the director and the lead actress (the beautiful Shohreh Aghdashloo) and the LA film festival can also be credited for bringing a scholar who, among other things, explained that stoning wasn't part of the Koran.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jimmy Page, Jack White & Coffin Joe

Our coverage of the LA film festival 2009 started with a bang as Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and the White Stripes's Jack White were attending the screening of It Might Get Loud (read the It Might Get Loud review), a documentary focusing on the art of guitar playing of emblematic figures such as Page, White and U2's The Edge (who was busy rehearsing in Spain for the opening of U2's tour). If you're a fan of the 3 guys, which I am, you certainly will enjoy having the opportunity to spend time with these 3 icons and see them jam together. However, watching It Might Get Loud as a critic is a different kind of experience, as this film proved to be highly disapointing. To capture the essence of these musians and the creative process in general, the filmmaker posed himself as a watcher, rather than as a true director, letting his camera roll freely to follow whatever the artists are doing. As a result, It Might Get Loud is devoid of any narrative threat, wandering aimlessly and failing to bring anything of substance to the table. Listening to what Mr White had to say, there would have been several interesting points to explore, if the filmmaker would have dared to challenge the musicians; but by containing himself in the role of a witness, he unfortunatly fails in his endeavor, delivering the work of a fan rather than a real documentary.

The third entry in the Brazilian horror Coffin Joe series, Embodiment of Evil (Embodiment of evil review) brought back the thrills of exploitation cinema, with its crazy mix of sadism and nudity. While I enjoyed it, I must admit some scenes were hard to watch -- horror geeks seemed to find them amusing -- and I wouldn't recommend that film, unless you have a strong stomach or a sadistic propensity.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Cannes Film Festival 2009

Just a quick announcement to let you know that from May 13th to May 24th, Plume Noire will be covering the Cannes film festival 2009 to bring you exclusive reviews of the films presented.

Monday, April 27, 2009

COLCOA 2009 Awards

Top Prize: Eden is West
Special Prize: The First Day of the rest of your life
Audience Award: Welcome
Audience Special Mention: Mesrine
Short film Award: Make Yourself At Home
Short film Special Prize: Skhizein

A Day at the Museum and A French Gigolo

Designed to be a critique of the art world, the ensemble piece A Day At the Museum, turned out to be one of the most excruciating films I've seen in a while. Not only wasn't it funny, but this spoof of a pretentious world suffered from being pretty pompous itself. The film, which is an adaptation of a popular play also suffered from looking like a filmed play, the director here being a stage director, which resulted in creating a constant feeling of stagnation while cinema, contrary to plays is about movement. While some of the scenes only lasted a few brief moments, several scenes aiming at vehiculing a message were stretched, creating a sense of boredom onscreen. Despite an ensemble cast including some of the most popular figures of French cinema, A Day At the Museum not only fails to entertain but ends up being a major failure, like a bad piece of art.

Written and directed by French comedy star Josianne Balasko, A French Gigolo kicked off with a lot of Gallic charm but somewhat lost ground as soon as it started to oscillate between comedy and pathos without really finding itself. By turning abruptedly from comedy to drama, the film lost its welcome light tone, looking for morality and redemption through plot lines that strechted its running time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Night with Spies - OSS 117 and Spy(ies)

Friday night was arguably the best night at COLCOA this year with its mix of gangsters and spies.
Mesrine (read the Mesrine review) was screened in its entirety (part 1 and 2 were shown successively) while 2 different kinds of spies movies were featured, each of them being successful in its own genre.

The spy spoof OSS 117 Lost in Rio, which is the follow up of the highly successful OSS 117 proved to be as hilarious as its predecessor, its charming kitsch being this time transposed in the exotic surroundings of the Brazilian city. The writer director, present for a Q&A afterwards, brought a welcome note of sarcasm answering unintinteresting questions from the audience and from that annoying pompous critic from a well known publication.

A couple days after the highly disappointing and messy Secrets of State, Spy(ies) proved that French cinema can deliver smart and sharp movies about spies, without losing its soul to provide some entertainment. Focusing on highly flawed characters, the film was an effective psychological thriller supported by a strong cast.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Secrets of State

Somewhat aiming at being a spy movie with a French touch, Secrets of State leaves you with the feeling that you just watched a - post-Syriana - Hollywood movie set in France, rather than a French movie, which is mostly due to the fact that co-writer/director Phillippe Haim seems to be working hard at channeling Tony Scott and, to some extent, his brother Ridley.

By editing and shooting his film like an edgy and flashy piece of filmmaking, the writer greatly undermines his screenwriting's attempt at constructing a serious tale about the war between intelligence services and terrorists. While his film is captivating at times, whether it's during a couple action sequences or when it comes to describing in details how this world works, the central message he's delivering here is so heavy handed that it looses its impact once it becomes redundant: did we really need 3 references to understand that secret agents are prostitutes working for their country? Probably not, especially after watching Paul Verhoeven's Black Book.

COLCOA Opening Night Gala

COLCOA kicked off with a gala filled with the usual fine food, drinks and guests, from filmmaker Costa-Gavras to actresses/directors Josianne Balasko & Zabou Breitman.

The film opening the festival, Someone I loved, which was directed by Ms. Breitman and starred Daniel Auteuil was more problematic. Not only is this a minor - though entertaining - film that does not have the caliber to open a film festival - Mesrine (Mesrine review) or even OSS 117 would have been better choices - but its abrupt changes in tones, from pathos to a cliched romance, made it look like a work that is constantly questionning its own identity and purpose.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mesrine review

The Mesrine review has just been added to our COLCOA page - make sure to check it out as it's one of our festival picks!
The two Mesrine films (Death Instinct & Public Enemy #1) will be playing on Friday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

COL COA 2009

The COL COA French film festival is coming, from April 20th to April 26th. As usual we will bring you some exclusive reviews of the films presented. In the meantime, here are our first recommendations for COL COA 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 Razzies - Nominations

This is this time of the year again and the Razzie Awards are coming soon. To check out the nominations visit 2009 Razzies ...