Saturday, June 25, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - Habana Eva

I will not waste too much time blogging about Cuban entry Habana Eva (Habana Eva review) as a review will follow soon but the biggest question that comes to my mind is what in the hell were the programmers of the LA film fest thinking when they decided to include that unintentionally funny piece of cheesy soap in their Cuban selection.

I know that there aren't hundreds of Cuban movies available to screen internationally but I can think of a dozen of films that would have pay homage to the island rather than embarrass it. If the idea might have looked interesting on paper, the two lovers of a young Cuban girl acting as metaphor for the two choices the country has (capitalism/entrepreneurship vs. traditions), the direction was horrendous and the acting was Mexican-telenovela poor. The director and the peppy lead actress Prakriti Maduro were present for a Q&A.

Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - The Guard

While you might not be familiar with the work of writer/director John Michael McDonagh as the Guard (The Guard review) is his first feature as a director, the fact that his brother is none other than the man behind the viciously funny In Bruges should give you an idea of what to expect. Politically incorrect, mean and furiously hilarious, The Guard uses an investigation as a pretext to confront an African-American FBI agent (Don Cheadle) with a somewhat close-minded Irish cop (Brendan Gleeson). Of course the two protagonists are representative of their culture and the resulting clash managed to poke fun at both worlds without being condescending. A Q&A with Gleeson and McDonagh followed the screening, the two men showcasing their Irish sense humor while answering to quite a few idiotic questions from he audience.

2011 LA Film Festival - Love Crime

French thriller Love Crime (Love Crime review)wasn't on top of my list of films I wanted to see at the LA film festival as I'm not particularly fan of the perfect crime subgenre; and to be totally frank, it is the presence of gorgeous French actress Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool) at the screening that decided me to give it a shot.

The last film from the late director Alain Corneau proved however to be an exciting piece of manipulation with corporate backstabbing in the background. Not only were the mechanisms behind the crime finely tuned but the casting centered on Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas was right on target. The sreenning was followed by a Q&A with Sagnier.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - Elite Squad 2

While I wasn't sure what to expect from the sequel of the hugely successful Elite Squad, as I hadn't embraced it as much as everybody else, I must admit having been pretty surprised by Elite Squad 2 (Elite Squad 2 review), writer/director José Padilha having delivered a pretty nervous film that grabs you from the beginning to the end. Slick and action-driven without falling into over-the-top action, the film is reminiscent of those vicious Italian crime thrillers from the 70's, which were usually featuring a lonely crusader going against a corrupted system; This is actually the message that Mr. Padilha repeats several times throughout his film, reminding you in the process that you are not here to watch such a subtle work, but his direction is tight and intense enough to make you forget a few mafia cliches.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - The Fatherless

Don't ask me why but I've always had a thing for family dramas, you know those formulaic films where a family gathers but things take a wrong turn. Usually secrets are revealed during diner, brothers, sisters and lovers start fighting and, when the end comes, some relationships have broken for good. While the French are usually good at this, this is a German take on that subgenre which throws an additional dose of drama by setting it up in a former hippie collective where everybody was sleeping with everybody. The film is certainly interesting but it lacks to provide anything more than other films in that niche, the allusions to incest and the nearly suffocation of a baby (following Bad Intentions, this is the second film so far in this year's LA film festival selection to show this - I've noticed a trend at various film festivals where recurrent themes can be found among several films the same year) not being enough to elevate The Fatherless (The Fatherless review) beyond its genre.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - Paraiso For Sale

It's no secret that Panama has become for the last few years a haven for American retirees, the low cost of living in that country allowing expats to come buy houses on the beach for a few dollars - not even mentioning the absence of taxes to pay.

As the word spread across Northern America, not only have legions of seniors started to invade that country but greedy developers have also jumped the bandwagon, decided to turn Panama in another Cancun. The documentary follows three characters, a man running for major to protect locals against those developers, an indigenous fighting developers who are stealing their land and one of the first American residents who is now trying to fight this invasion as well. What we witness is a story that can be seen throughout South America and also in my native Provence (to a lesser extent), which is foreigners buying houses, developers kicking locals out while stealing their property and the price of housing becoming too high for local.

While the documentary does a great job at delivering its revolting message, one will regret that it doesn't confront the first American residents who, despite fighting against the invaders, were the ones who opened the can of worms in the first place.

The three main protagonists were present for the Q&A at the LA film festival, adding a dose of emotion to the screening. (Paraiso for Sale review)

2011 LA Film Festival - Bad Intentions

The Peruvian entry Bad Intentions (The Bad Intentions review) was probably the entry I was looking forward to the most and it didn't disappoint me. The film about a weird little girl who thinks she will die when her brother will get born provided a haunting look at the mind of a somewhat twisted kid while showcasing in the background the political turmoil that was shaking Peru in the 80's.

Writer/director Rosario García-Montero who was there for the Q&A admitted that it was somewhat of an autobiographical work; So far my favorite film at this Los Angeles film festival edition.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - Drive

Drive (Drive review) was a perfect choice as a gala entry on Friday. The Nicolas Winding Refn film (Valhala Rising) is not only a homage to those B-movies that always have had a place at the LA film festival program but it is in shot in LA's gritty streets not far from where the screening occurred.

In terms of Lalaland factor, the red carpet gala featured a series of celebrities, including the actors from the film.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

2011 LA Film Festival - Introduction

For the second time, the LA film festival is being held at the Nokia mall, downtown LA. While I'm really not a fan of that cold mall, which should be better suited for Irvine or any other aseptic OC city, this is at least a central location, which allows to bring a more contrasted crowd, rather than just a bunch of UCLA students, as it used to be the case in Westwood village.

What makes the festival particularly interesting this year is that it offers the chance to discover a wider selection of films, as there is less festival circuit favorites than usual. What also makes me happy is that we won't have to endure another premiere of a Transformers movie, even though the screening of that Green Lantern should have been a better match for the Newport Beach film festival.

The only thing I am somewhat disappointed with is the fact that the screenings at the Ford are scarce and not that exciting this year - I miss the good old times when former radio glory Indie103 was partnering with the festival for some punk screenings there ...

But what infuriates me the most - and this happens at every festival every year - is some of those ignorant film students who, because they took a film 101 class, have to ask every filmmaker during the Q&A if they got inspired by some film they just discovered ... to all of the wannabe filmmakers starting school or growing up on Michael Bay cinema, please respect the filmmakers during the Q&As and just shut up ... Here is a hint: No, Peruvian entry Bad Intentions doesn't look like it's been inspired by Pan's Labyrinth, even though these are two movies with kids in Spanish.

Now, it's time to get with business ... Find out about the films in our next posts ...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cannes Film Festival 2011 Jury

Plume Noire will as usual cover the Cannes film festival, which will take place from May 11th to May 22nd.

Here is the jury:
Competition Jury: Robert De Niro (President), Olivier Assayas, Martina Gusman, Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Jude Law, Nansun Shi, Uma Thurman, Johnnie To, Linn Ullmann Un Certain Regard Jury: Emir Kusturica (President).

We will review film that are presented in and out of competition as well as entries from Certain Regard and Critics Week.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Razzies 2011 Winners

Following last year's Razzie ceremony which had benefited from a serious glamour boost from the presence of actress Sandra Bullock, this year's Razzie ceremony was quite a dull affair. The organization that aims at lambasting bad movies seemed to surprisingly embrace some of the very things they have been fighting against - namely bad directing and bad comedy. The ceremony was marked by an uninspired music number opening, a parody of The King Speech, which seemed to drag for hours and countless fart jokes about the night's winner, The Last Airbender - how can you mock Rob Schneider when you put yourself at his level ??

As for the Razzie winners, while Sex & the City 2, The Last Airbender & Ashton Kutcher got well-deserved accolades, one can regret that the Twilight Saga got spared. Also surprising was the presence of Jessica Alba since her role and performance in Machete were obviously tongue-in-cheek.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Razzies Awards 2011

Plume Noire will be covering the Razzies Awards 2011 on Saturday in Hollywood. Make sure to tune-in to check our exclusive coverage of the ceremony and find out about the Razzies winners. In the meantime, have a look at the nominations.