Those who liked it, those who disliked it, horror fans, everybody gets out of the theater shaken and "ill-at-ease".
Titane is a big hyperbole, of which the bizarreness of its synopsis is one instrument out of many. When it screams: "Listen what I got to say", it forces you to listen attentively. The viewer's reaction is an integral part of the experience in the sinister vision of feminism, paternity, gender identity that Julia Ducourneau proposes.
Without restraint or complacency, it will crush your prejudices, shake your vision of the world. That is why the bizarreness is at once essential to itself and the themes. It is at once, the bizarreness to shock, to catch the attention, and the hyperbole to make the themes understood.
In substance, most of the film deals with unconditional love, more precisely with son-father unconditional love. Or, conversely on how the two protagonists, Alexia and Vincent, needed respectively to be given endearment and to give it.
Julia Ducourneau seems to demand a lot of commitment on her actor's part, but it pays off. Both actors, Agathe Rousselle - in her first role for cinema, a role of physicality, nuance, and duality of genders - and Vincent Lindon - also a very physical role - are incredible.
I think lastly, in Titane, we can feel a love for experimental/edgy cinema. Lots of people have cited Cronenberg and body horror as an influence. And, indeed, it is an important part of Ducourneau's artistic style, especially regarding how she deals with gender identity. But, I also see in the opening sequence references to Kenneth Anger's Kustom Kar Kommandos. Anyway, it's a nice bonus that I appreciate.
In the vein of his acclaimed film Black Swan (2010), Mother! Will nevertheless confound and bore those who do not know the director's body of work. As the film derives to complete mayhem, Aronofsky perfectly knows the absurdity of the plot lets most amateurs nowhere to hold onto. He expects the criticism of "pretentiousness". We can compare this view of things to The Tree of Life (2011), just to cite a recent example. However, far from me, the idea of putting Mother! On the same level as Terrence Malick's masterpiece. These are two films where the plot can't be understood without comprehension of the director's intention.
Mother starts slowly. The horror/supernatural is present but hidden from the viewer's eyes. Only through Jennifer Lawrence's incredible performance, can we detect something isn't right in the tranquil existence. Something is supernatural. In Lawrence's performance, there is both the worry of the stranger through the eyes of a neglected wife and the worry of the supernatural through the eyes of a mystical human being. This grows more and more obvious as we witness Mother's ability to feel the house's heartbeat (when she touches the walls).
Aronofsky to mixes opposite genres of horror - the subtle kind of horror I talked about earlier to a feverish horror - first misleads the viewer, objects first seen as psychological trigger points disappear for most of the film before becoming full-fledged mystical artifacts. The same goes for events and certain characters which progressively seem to adopt a quasi-religious role.
As a matter a fact, as noted by practically everyone, there is a lot of allegories to religion, love, life, and even some to politics. One, for example, is the prophet embodied by Javier Bardem. The film has tackled an impressive amount of themes. Some will already be dizzy midway through.
Another trick, of Aranofsky's, is to play temporality. There is the temporality of Mother and the temporality of the others. Initially hinted at the beginning by the "alarm clock" scene, characters don't live on the same schedule. Exponentially, the two timelines estrange from each other to create chaos and mayhem only perceptible by the protagonist, Mother.
Lastly, the camera, one of the most important elements in the mix of horror genres. Following Mother closely, at the start, with lots of close-ups and tracking shots, it progressively detaches from the protagonist to show us a crowd or to isolate the characters.
In this review, if I focused on the great elements of Mother! Note that I have a few reservations concerning characters and the way some turning points are brought up. I can not go into details without spoiling, unfortunately. I would also like to warn viewers who aren't into formalism because I'm disappointed to read that so many felt that this film was pretentious.
Even though I believe cinema and comic books have different appeals which can't be transposed or copied on each other without a part of its message being lost in translation. Sin City's aesthetic qualities and original ideas were nevertheless unique in their style in the 2000s. Indeed, like the eponymous graphic novel, the motion picture questioned the conventions on the form and impacted its respective medium. We still see the impact of this new ideology, namely in Zack Snyder's Post-300 work.
Part of Sin City's greatest innovation consists of the use of black and white, contrast, light, etc, that for a film exaggerating on film-noir, and pulp novels characteristics, is effective. There are also the sparely used dominant colors, not always where we expect them, not only accentuating scenes, but effectively triggering unexpected emotions from the viewer, colors that stick with us after the viewing, we can associate with moments, characters, so on. There is visual research with these colors that, not so surprisingly since Frank Miller co-directed the film, is much more pertinent and original than Schindler's List.
If, as I detailed above, I consider Sin City's aesthetic as a meticulous work on the form. The same thing can't be said for the content. It is often forgotten that Frank Miller is very engaged politically. That his graphic novels aren't just entertaining sexy/violent adventures of tortured heroes. We have seen it more recently with Holly Terror. His political views aren't the most nuanced and subtle. Sin City, for instance, criticizes corrupted/amoral authority and nazism. It disappoints me that his visual style merely covers up the flaws of his screenwriting. I notice this also in the depiction of women, always the preys, the victims of men, unless they fit his political ideas (the women of Old Town)
All that taken into account, Sin City isn't the masterpiece everyone has been raving about. Regardless, it can be seen by the general public as it was intended by Robert Rodriguez, as entertainment. And, possibly Robert Rodriguez's finest entertainment.
In a scene that echoes 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Terrence Malick puts earthly concerns, sentiments, the infinitely small in a peer-to-peer relationship with the universe, the infinitely large. With this seemingly meaningless comparison, the film gives the respect it deserves to a simple human life, not a unique life, but no less important. In the presence of Zbigniew Presner's Lacrimosa, of the gorgeous VFX, this scene resonates in me as only an abstract piece of art can. It triggers in me feelings words can't express. And, that, even if I don't understand a word of Latin. In an almost obvious way, it is for creating such a scene and an uncategorizable film that Malick's cinema exists. The Tree of Life is the culmination of what he has been trying to do after his 20 years hiatus.
Whether they are abstract, like the forms separating each act of the film, or more realistic like the later scenes between Jack and his father. All The Tree of Life's pictures are imprinted with genius, both in substance and form. The whispering voice-overs as inner questioning of the characters or as dialogues with God, an idea borrowed from The Thin Red Line, are well dosed. They transcend mere words and delve into poetry. Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography also serves the purpose of infusing in every object, tree, flower, something somewhat mystical, wonderful, spiritual, at the image of Jack's childhood wonder. Not a shot is misused or unnecessary.
The story of a young boy and the contrasting education he received from his parents; Jessica Chastain as the loving mother turned towards the sacred, and Brad Pitt, in undoubtedly his best performance, as a pragmatic, strict "man-of-the-family"; becomes the semi-autobiographical journey of a man searching for his long-lost wonder at the sacred.
For all these reasons and others, The Tree of Life deserves multiple rewatches. I hadn't liked it on the first watch either, but it haunted me like no other film I had seen in the last decade. If you are in a similar position I recommend you rewatch it as I did. If you haven't seen it already, what are you waiting for!
Firstly, about Disturbia's biggest source of inspiration, Hitchcock's Rear Window. Rear Window is probably Hitchock's film whose concept has been stolen the most.
Disturbia has the same concept. And, yet it doesn't understand that you can't simply change the location of the story. A part of Rear Window's suspense comes from the idea you always know what your neighbors are up to. Since Rear Window is set in an apartment Hitchcock's vision is, at once, plausible, simple, and beautiful. Plausible; because it is easier to believe that you don't know your neighbors in your apartment block. Simple; because you don't need six windows to show the whole neighborhood and camera movement of the character running from a window to another. Beautiful; because it is well-composed. See the shots of Rear Window, and compare them with shots of Disturbia serving the same purpose.
Secondly, I feel like Disturbia has little respect for suspense and for what it means. Suspense not only means having a mystery, but it also implies having respect for your character's anxiety, obsessions, and fears. Vertigo is the perfect representation of this.
It is from this perspective that Disturbia fails the most miserably from a screenwriting standpoint. The "romance" going against suspense is the worst part of it. To say it is a generic "romance" would be an understatement. Yet again (in teenager flick), it insults characters, and this time, more precisely, Sarah Roemer's character, a girl who is defined only by her subjective "attractiveness". It is saddening to see such a depiction of women, especially considering that Grace Kelly's role fifty-three years before was much more than that.
Saraband is not really a sequel to Scener ur ett äktenskap (1973). Already the films bear the name of a music piece by Johan Sebastian Bach, and his intrinsically bound to music by themes and narrative (the mini-series didn't have music at all). Both the main characters of Scene From a Marriages have dramatically change psychologically, but they aren't the center of this film.
Saraband revolves around a father-daughter relationship. Parents/children relationships were also a theme massively left off of Scenes from a Marriage.
All that to say, both films are very different if we aren't taking into account the directing style and the character's names.
Nevertheless, it is what makes Saraband such a good film. It isn't fan service nor a lousy tribute to Bergman's extensive filmography. No, it is an intelligent and profoundly touching film with, like I said, its own theme. The older generation lets place to a younger one marked by the conflicts that shaped its ancestors.
Again, what stays of Scenes from a Marriage is the directing, the close-ups and the long shots on facial expressions. Bergman lost nothing of its emotional impact.
A mini-series that I think shows better Bergman's writing talent than any of his films.
Scenes from a Marriage is the story of Johan and Marianne and their setbacks regarding divorce. As an unexpected event tears them apart, they are at once unable to reconnect from each other and unable to forget each other. Behind its appearance of great tragedy, Scene from a Marriage has a heart, a desire for honesty, but also a sense of comedy that makes it accessible, unlike one may think.
Bergman, as a director, takes a step back. He lets his actors shine, especially Liv Ullman, and shows a romantic sensibility which I believe contrasts for the better with his earlier works. The Bergman who was called melodramatic after films such as Skepp till India land (1947) is long gone. The new one has reached the peak of his awareness in terms of romantic issues specifically marital issues.
His characteristic formalism to be practically absent from this work is the ultimate proof of Bergman's commitment to the emotional honesty of his film. In the scenes involving Johan and Marianne (practically every scene), close-ups play a major role. Bergman's camera focuses on the faces, typically of a single character, relying on the actor's talent to unveil emotions. Rather than using shot reverse shot, the camera stays on one actor for long minutes, a process I thought was more impactful. For that reason, Scenes from a Marriage reminded me of La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928). It is both as simple as possible and as emotionally powerful as possible.
I didn't expect to say this: "Cruella is a good film". Of course, it has his problem related to the screenplay, and it falls a bit in the shadow of films like Joker.
However, I found myself appreciating the punk/rebel aesthetic, and the excursion in Gillespie's ruthless world of fashion, where it is "free-for-all". After, Cruella, I, Tonya, and the newly announced Iron Mike, it is to wonder if he doesn't take a certain pleasure at exploring the darker side of success, and passions become dreams.
With that in mind, I believe, I thought of Jenny Beavan, an oscar-winning costume designer, his costumes, as an integral part of the conflict and the narrative rather than as accessories highlighting Cruella's personality.
It is a shame that Cruella was marketed as it was because I don't see it as a villain's genesis. At least, with those bland secondary characters and those predictable plot twists, it was definitely the worst part of the film.
On the contrary, as I implied earlier what you should be looking for is fashion and rivalry. For example, the fashion show, newspaper appearing in midair, the Hellman Hall parties. These are the shining moments of the film. Nevertheless, I believe less exigent children can still appreciate the Disney-esque touch.
Many like me won't be able to follow the film's pacing. Booksmart is a supercharged coming-to-age film filled with so many themes, tropes, and jokes that it is hard to follow.
Olivia Wilde is overdoing it. Her directing style is, despite appearances, pretty conventional, but it appears unconventional because it is overstated. It doesn't hide the film's themes, instead, it lessens their impact. Honestly, the screenplay played a part in this issue, it is too dense, and the pacing, as I said in the intro, is inappropriate considering the film's runtime. In brief, Booksmart is flawed at a different level of filmmaking for making little use of cinema's capability as a distinct medium.
There are some things that Book Smart does right though, at least in the acting aspect... Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein insufflate energy and confidence in their roles for their characters to feel different from the nerds you actually see in coming-to-age films. It is also the vehicle for the film's greatest gags.
Most of the time, when a film directed by a capable person disappoints me, it is because the directing doesn't suit the statement or the screenplay.
It is exactly the problem there. The Florida Project isn't a film complaining about the human condition in an unoriginal way, and I can't deny that it goes to great lengths narratively to put itself on the level of Moone. Although, I wonder why the film needed to create an aesthetical, with the uses of colors and lenses similar, that replicates what you see on Instagram. It worked beautifully by itself but, it had no reason to exist in such a film. Does a child see the world true an iPhone 6? I doubt it. I don't talk about the ending since I would have to spoil the film, but with the same idea, I disliked it.
Anyway, those are my main complaints about the film, and they are major ones. Otherwise, I appreciated the performances. Willem Dafoe's performance is unsurprisingly excellent in this film. But Brooklyn Prince is the true revelation, her performance for her age was great. Even if, at times, she was slightly overplaying, the hyperactivity of her character didn't strike me as being unrealistic.
I was shocked when Bergman called his first film, Crisis, "lousy through and through". But, this time I might agree. Melodramatic might be an appropriate adjective for this film. The directing and the screenplay work in opposite directions. If the directing is perhaps accentuating Bergman's fear concerning his relationship with his father, it is forgetting the romance into making it a lame melodrama.
Again, A Ship to India, Bergman's third film has some interesting ideas and proves his technical abilities. However, this time, due to the essence of Martin Söderhjelm, his formalist ideas (camera angles, lighting, dissolve) works against him.
Bergman's film debut begins with an introduction, a love letter to an unnamed small and calm village in Sweden. Notice how the narrator specifies that there is no train. Except for the bus carrying bad news, the village is isolated from the tormented worldly lifestyle. That unnamed village is, in reality, Hedemora, the only medieval city of Dalarna County. At first, as the narrator tells us the film is a comedy. In fact, at first, it is more precisely a romantic comedy having as pinnacle the waltz scene. But, the genius of Bergman regarding Crisis is how he seamlessly transforms it into a film-noir. The train portrays both literally and figuratively that change to a darker, grimmer story during the "laughing" scene. And, suddenly, the trees of Hedemora transform into the lampposts of the effervescent city, the splendid medieval architecture disappears.
After, multiples comic book films, Zack Snyder returns to make his own story with his character. And, it proves a real disaster, not that I liked all of his comic book films in the first place.
He makes an "original" film within the zombie genre. He forsakes a good part of Romero's style. But, it is another pair of sleeves regarding the rest of pop culture which seems to be Snyder's main source of inspiration. I believe that most will see references to Fast Five, Suicide Squad, Call of Duty, The Walking Dead. For me, it is problematic, Snyder seems to do all he can to please his fans on Reddit, Youtube, etc. To the point, that one of the characters is a YouTuber.
So by attempting to create such a mediatic event just after the release of the Snyder Cut, I get the impression that Snyder lost his style. At the very least, he lost what made his film unique. Most of his others films weren't excellent. But, with The Army of the Dead, the lack of dedication to the project is so apparent. Even Dave Bautista's character, through which Snyder reflects on his grief, lacks depth.
I warmly recommend that you skip this film whether you are a Snyder fan or not. You are surely going to be disappointed.
There is so much wrong with this film, starting with the poor collaboration between the directing and the screenplay. Both don't fit, they don't depict the same thing, John G. Avildsen appropriately depicts sports sequences, training sequences in the way that he does in The Karate Kid, but he doesn't understand the nuances. The most important one is that Rocky is prima facie a melodramatic film. And, maybe that I'm too harsh on him, maybe it is the fault of Stallone who did the same mistake on First Blood, but anyway, I don't like it.
Another problem, although less important than the precedent is that Stalonne isn't a good actor. His luckiness rose him to fame. Just like Rocky, he is an underdog, but never will he be a good actor.
Attenborough finds the right tone with this film. The message is activist, but not political, not overly sensationalized. He tells us from his perspective how things change during his lifetime, his 60 years career. For the most part, the documentary remains fun and instructive. There are even noteworthy images (linked below) that I'll keep in memory.
The only part that I really disliked was when they reconstructed a vision of a dystopian future. Showing what the world would look like in the coming decades.
In short, this is how you should treat a subject that I don't care about, especially, if I disagree with your opinion.
And, it proves that I'm not totally biased when I rate documentaries.
While the many subplots, sensationalist tone helped highlight the brave moments, they also have their drawbacks. In the post-war immediacy, in this tribute to the brave heroes who died in the war, Roberto Rosselini forgets what makes his later films, at least the one I saw, Germany, Year Zero, so impactful. The desperation of a true German boy in post-war Germany has no equal in Rome Open City. If the actors and Rossellini witnessed Italy during WWII, through the film's portrayal of bravery, you know they weren't tortured.
Rome Open City is still a great movie. Putting it in context, you could say it's a miracle. But for me, this is only the first draft of neorealism.
Here, in the leading role, we meet Cesira, played by Franca Valeri. She is a free thinker. For her time, we can even consider her as a rebel. But, she is jealous, she doesn't achieve happiness, she doesn't find love.
At her opposite, there is her cousin, Agnese Tirabassi, played by Sophia Loren. Unlike Cesira, Agnese gets all the attention from men.
Despite its conservative vision of women-men relationships, the film shines through the compelling, amusing characters that bring a unique spirit to this movie filmed in Rome. It contrasts with Dino Risi's other 1955 film, Pane, amore e..... (1955), in the sense, that it is isn't a movie about charm, but rather on the absence of it and on jealousy.
Nevertheless, the directing of Dino Risi attenuates the film's dramatic themes. For that reason, I think that if you are a fan of Italian comedies, you should go for it.
A new kind of teenage horror film inspired by Scream only lasted for aproximately four years (1996-2000). Urban Legend is clearly part of that era that some people now look at with a nostalgic feeling. I'm not one of those people, and I will explain why Urban Legend despite its energy and cool pitch didn't live up to my expectations.
The film begins strongly with a scene full of suspense, that I have difficulty believing was shot by Jamie Blanks, introduces the premise of an "urban legend" killer.
But after that, nothing matches the thrills of the first scene except maybe the appearance of Robert Englund. The film proceeds to follow all the tropes of the genre so strictly that it removes all intrigue in its "whodunit" plot.
And once again, the conclusion is inevitable. All the directors who did that kind of film in the 1990s would have been much better at directing Scooby-Doo episodes.
This movie had one of the best marketing campaigns in cinema history. It is astounding to see the number of people who bite the bait of the tagline: "You'll never go in the water again!" However, Jaws shares more resemblance with The Old Man and the Sea than with Ridley Scott's Alien. Don't expect an alien-esque horror film. Jaws demands more patience to be enjoyable because, first and foremost, it is a fishing film.
That brings me to another misconception about the film, the beginning is slow, really slow, and pointless. Fortunately, Spielberg's skillful directing was there to insufflate some energy into that otherwise bothersome first act.
If you haven't already seen Jaws, I do say go for it. It remains a classic of Hollywood cinema, but keep in mind that what you are about to see is not an action film nor a horror film.
Unhinged is a hyperbole promoting a pacific statement. When in fact, all that mattered was the action. For me, that was an issue, the opening credit and the epilogue gave me the impression to watch a social issues ad on TV, the message is in your face and not bright at all.
Also, whoever hired the actors did a really poor job. Not only because the actors are all bad (except Russel Crowe), but because they don't fit together in terms of the age difference. The age gap between the actress playing the mother and the actor playing the son should have been greater, it bothered me for all the film.
La Pianiste is the tragic story of Erika, a piano teacher, who represses her love feelings since she is unable to express them.
The premise is only more impactful when you realize that nor insanity nor her bizarre relationship with her abusive mother truly justifies her desire to sabotage her own life. And, the depiction of sexual violence is incredibly clever. Haneke suggests more than he shows, but the viewer ends up imagining more than Haneke would have dared to show. Which, for me, indicates all the brilliancy of the directing.
The last aspect but no the least is certainly the amazing performances delivered by Benoît Magimel and Isabelle Huppert. Considering the difficulty of their roles, I can only acclaim their commitment.
In conclusion, The Piano Teacher shocks and makes you think with all the virtuosity that characterizes Haneke. Bravo!
Pasolini had a self-proclaimed peculiar way of seeing the world and objects that some may call contradictory. But that you like his philosophy or not, he was first and foremost a great critical thinker. It is far too simple to reduce the Pasolinesque-thought to clichés, some authors have written on it.
At first, that Pasolini, who is an atheist directed a non-religious film on Jesus, dedicated to John XXIII can seem hypocrite. But while Pasolini was anti-clerical, he also had much respect for the sacred and the miracles. However, he didn't feel legitimate to interpret the myth of Jesus Christ. That is why the "Il vangelo" is closer to a documentary or a prosaic depiction of the life of Christ, it is almost a record at certain times.
The film doesn't attempt to convert you to Christianism, and it is the difference between it and all the mediocre and pseudo-profound religious films.
Add trademarks such as neorealism, classical music, and close-up. And, you get the greatest film on the life of Jesus Christ ever shot
Review - Code Inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages
Code Unknown is not the most acclaimed of Haneke's films, it also differs from the shocking style that he loves to incorporate in his films. Yet, I thought that it summarizes well the essence of his career. The unconventional narrative of the film helped to emphasize the crucial situation in the lives of people only related by a small incident through those multiple perspectives you discover numerous social problematics such as racism, child-abusing. In my eyes, the predominant aspect is the underlying question that raises the film: "Are all the problems in society caused by the inability to communicate?" That seems to be a question that you can reattach to other of Haneke's films (e.g. The Piano Teacher and Amour). And, for those reasons, I believe that Code Unknown is an underestimated masterpiece.
I thought that reducing the number of action sequences as compare to MCU films, of the film was a brilliant idea. It gave Man of Steel more of the needed time to establish the moral person behind Kal-El. And, those efforts at making Kal-el humane, and at exploring his psyche have bear fruit. In later films, DC has tried to do it without the collaboration of S. Goyer and Nolan, but unfortunately, the two main writers of The Dark Knight Trilogy don't seem to be replaceable.
The huge problem of this film lies within the climax. That climax is a total rip-off of Roland Emmerich's work. People are running, Metropolis is being destroyed by a giant spaceship, and Superman is bashing many, many, many buildings, going into space, destroying satellites, and returning on earth to destroy more buildings. One of the worst climax of the 2010s.
With all the praises that Sophie Loren received throughout her long career, I expected more. Her role (like all the female roles of the film) is stereotyped at excess. Plus, she overplays it.
The dialogues always explain to the viewer visual jokes. I found that incredibly annoying and unnecessary.
Vittorio De Sica's role is why I don't give this film a lower-rating. In fact, his character is the only one that feels really like a character, he has depth and real psychological evolution. But, make no mistake, I'm not saying that his performance was brilliant.