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Zimna wojna

Love between 2 difficult people complicated by oppressive goverment
Although there are two people at the center of the story, there is a third and equally potent "personnage" - which is the totalitarian state. The director beautifully transitions the story from the milieu of desperate post-war poverty with a very heavy hand of the Communist regime through to affluent, sophisticated and free Parisian society. Despite these changes in the world around them, Victor and Zula's love affair seems to get more difficult as the years go on. Regarding the end - the suicide - I haven't read any reviews that mention it, but it seems obvious to me. THey promise "til death do us part" - then take pills. Zula tells him to take the larger share of the pills because he "heavier." (It takes more poison for a larger person.) The next scene shows them sitting by the road, looking ghostly. She says, "Let's cross over." They get up and walk out of frame. Then they're gone, with only the wind left behind.


Beautiful cinematography; vapid story
I have seen four other films by Andrei Zvyagintsev - and I liked all of them (especially "Elena.") This film, though --- "The Banishment" -- is not very good. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and I would have been happy to watch a documentary on the cinematographer's technique and simply look at shots from this film. The director takes advantage of every landscape, showing it in all its glory. The interior scenes are lit and shot like beautiful Flemish paintings. Unfortunately, the story is not well-thought-out and the film is loaded with continuity errors. The story should have had dramatic impact, but it's so poorly written that each event feels contrived and rings false. Very disappointing.

First Reformed

A subversive, inspirational and terrifying film
Exquisite film with a timely political message told through the revelation of one man's spiritual journey. The film is a call to our conscience - and a call to action. "First Reformed" poses the question -- If I see a great wrong, what should I do?

The cinematography is beautiful with mostly high-contrast shots with muted color palette. Interesting devices were used in shooting this film. For example, in the scene between Rev. Toller & Michael, in voice-over, Toller says that he was exhilarated by the discussion. In the close-ups of Toller in this scene, a faint light from elsewhere in the room is reflected in his eyes, which looks like the awakening of an inner fire. I loved the film. I've seen it more than once already. A subversive, inspirational and terrifying film.

Bonjour Anne

Totally unrealistic
I lived in France for many years and enjoyed the scenery, the food and wine and I had many wonderful French friends. The character of Jacques in this film is totally obnoxious. I never met any Frenchman who is a know-it-all blowhard like this character. Perhaps back many years ago when the 80+ years old director traveled in France, there were men like that, although I rather doubt it. It seems that she took every cliché about French men and wrote them into the Jacques character. Diane Lane played her part well, but the way the part was written showed her to be mostly ignorant of history, ignorant of other people and of life in general. If you are looking for a light romantic comedy for an evening of entertainment, there are other much more enjoyable films.

Personal Shopper

The last 10 minutes
I loved this film. I watched it twice and went back to the final minutes of the film, starting with the note telling Maureen to go to Room 329. Maureen goes to the Plaza, Room 329 with the bags of Cartier jewelry, She goes to meet the person who she suspects killed Kyra. In the room, she puts the jewelry on the bed, she then sees someone that we don't see and then, the scene fades to black. The next shot is of the hotel elevator and hotel doors opening and closing as if an invisible being is walking out. Is this Maureen's ghost/spirit? Was Maureen killed in room 329? It seems so. Back inside, the next scene if of Ingo exiting room 329 alone, leaving the hotel and being accosted by the police. He escapes.. From there to the end, Maureen is only a spirit. In Oman, she finally realizes that what has happened. "Is it me?" she asks.

(Many commenters about the film seem to doubt that a Personal Shopper is an actual job. Yes, it is. There are personal shoppers in high-end stores that assist the wealthy as well as helping photographers, filmmakers and other professionals find the needed clothing and accessories for their project. Personal Shoppers also work for celebrities, as in this film. It's not an easy job because of the demands and responsibilities.)


Heart-rending film
This was a wonderful film that depicts a experiences of a refugee 'family' as they try to establish a life in France. Oddly enough, the ending of this film has been highly criticized. IMO, the people who have criticized the ending perhaps have not carefully thought through the events leading up to that 'ending.' Dheepan's wife is held hostage and Dheepan goes to the rescue. He attacks a couple of gang members with a machete and then, using a confiscated gun, kills several more gang members on his way up to the top floor of the apartment building where his wife is being held. The building is still surrounded and controlled by violent gang members. Without much doubt, the police are on their way there, too. It seems that the only real 'ending' for Dheepan is either to be killed by gang members - after all, he's on the top floor with no logical escape route - OR - to be arrested by the police for murder. It's not even imaginable that he escaped that situation unscathed. It's even more unimaginable that he could have gotten out of there and then emigrated to England.

The 'ending' then is not the real ending to Dheepan's story. His story obviously did not end well. The 'ending' tagged into the film is a dream - a dream of what might have been. The 'ending' is shot in warm, hazy tones, no one has aged or changed - It's a wish, a dream, a last fleeting thought.


Maudlin series
The cinematography and lighting are lovely and the cast is made up of good-looking actors, but the script is filled with implausible points, there are too many useless sequences that don't propel the story and maudlin emotional scenes that don't ring true at all. I don't recommend this film.

To name a few implausible points: - How could a young woman who lives with her parents have a side career as a race car driver and have affairs with two men without someone wondering why she's never home? Instead, the film portrays a happy family. - How did it happen that the daughter of the police officer was the one to discover the body? A silly script coincidence. - The scene with Flo in the bar saying she'd just had her fifth cocktail. Really? A slender woman has had five and is still talking and laughing? - The scene at the park with Romain and Lea having sex in the car. Why? They have a room at Romain's house and permission from his parents. It seems a bit implausible, not to mention the silly earring discovery. And many more.

Wasted time and sequences would include -- Flo swimming (what's the point of several of these sequences?), -- family dinners and restaurant meals that don't add anything to the story line -- The overly long sequence in the morgue, -- Too many scenes in the basement with Julien printing pictures -- Flo's night out getting drunk If this film were well-edited, it would be much shorter and a good thriller.

In the maudlin category --- There are too many sappy scenes of characters trying to look sad or pensive or thoughtful with a techno pop soundtrack. Yuk.


Poorly edited script
This should have been a gripping and rousing story about the British fight for women's right to vote, but the overly-long and meandering script spoiled the impact. The film came across as a made-for-TV docudrama.

Women's rights is such an important issue that it's too bad the film wasn't done well, especially since it was written, produced and directed by women.

The problem, as I see it, is that they tried to cram in too many little events and details rather than focusing on the main story of the political struggle. They should have edited the script much more carefully.

They could have cut whole scenes and cut out superfluous characters and given the story more impact. For example, they didn't need to show the young girl being molested by the shop owner and later 'saved' by the main character. They could have instead shown that the women were at the mercy of the owner's lechery without bringing in a whole other character. They also could have skipped the force-feeding in the prison and addressed it in dialogue. Same for the hokey adoption scene of the little boy – that could have been done in dialogue, which probably would have been much more devastating. Cutting some of those 'detours' would have kept the focus on the political struggle AND would have cut at least 20 minutes off the running time of the film. Overall, a great opportunity to inspire was wasted.

P'tit Quinquin

This film is overly long and meandering, which is frustrating because too many scenes should be edited more carefully. Several scenes, like the funeral of Mme Lebleu, went on far too long. Also, there are too many unnecessary inserts into scenes. For example, in a restaurant in fourth episode, where the commandant is talking to a public official, there's a family with a disruptive son who is mentally handicapped. There is no reason for this family to be featured in this particular scene. This kind of fragmentation detracts from the already thin storyline. I don't recommend this film unless you have watched everything else and have plenty of time to waste.

Paziraie sadeh

The cruelty was depressing
I saw this film today as part of the Global Lens series. Although the photography was wonderful, the story was very depressing and didn't seem to have a point. The two lead characters were despicable people who seemed to take pleasure out of degrading the residents of a remote Iranian region. The money they are distributing comes from their mother who used to live in that region. Are they doing paybacks for wrongs she may have suffered? Hard to know. If it's their mother's vendetta, then why are these two treating people so horrendously? If every "donation" is supposed to be recorded for their mother to later see, then why was some of the money left in a restroom, out of view from the cell phone recording? The inconsistencies in the story line and the cruelty of the two lead characters made the film less than a good cinematic experience. I give a 5 for wonderful photography and beautiful locations, but that's it.

37°2 le matin

I saw this film when it came out in the late 1980s. At that time, I was dazzled by the story and locations and I was seduced by the beauty of the two leading actors. Despite those good points, I didn't like the character of Betty (Beatrice Dalle.) I've just watched the nearly 3-hour Director's Cut on DVD. This time, watching Betty's madness was tedious and downright unpleasant. I still liked the locations and cinematography, but had no patience for watching an off-the-rails, self-centered young woman create havoc and unhappiness for those around her. I still recommend the film to anyone who hasn't seen it, but it's nowhere near as good a film as Beiniex's "Diva."

Heaven's Gate

Sensational film, still relevant today
I didn't see this film until it became available on the Criterion DVD. Despite bad reviews from when it was released, I was intrigued to see the Director's Cut. I thought this was a sensational film. The photography is beautiful, the costumes and sets are impeccable recreations of the era, the actors and actresses are well cast and most of all, the story is completely relevant to today's discussions surrounding immigration reform. The film depicts a sad history of persecution and hatred of immigrants. Many of the characters in the film seem to have present-day counterparts on our evening news - especially whenever town halls are held to discuss immigration reform or when the news cameras visits certain places in Arizona. I'd love to see this Criterion restoration on the big screen.

Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo

A little too long
This is an informative documentary and has some very interesting video footage, but the last 20-30 minutes are repetitive and don't add to the story being told. The film begins by showing the complex process that is involved in creating blue dye from green leaves. The process differs in different parts of the world, but the resulting dye is indigo. This first part of the film is quite fascinating. Unfortunately, once the director has finished showing the segments about indigo production in India, Pakistan, Africa, Mexico, etc., she then continues in the same vein with two additional segments - one on India and one on Mexico - segments that don't add anything new to the information already imparted by the first segments on India and Mexico. These last segments seem to have been added as an afterthought or perhaps as filler. The film would far be more effective without the last segments.

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