[An Iranian man, who has long-term domestic problems with his French wife whom he deserts along with their two children, goes back to his homeland. While he was gone, his wife gets involved with a French man and contacts him to ask for a divorce, compelling him to return to France, only to see his wife’s new partner in his home beside his children.]
I’m up-ing my foreign film game and what best to do that with then Asghar Farhadi’s follow-up to the amazing movie A Separationand a movie that stars The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo. Based on the trailer, it’s a worthy next film for both of them. And like A Separation, this movie seems to thrive on a family secret that is tearing a family apart, putting the children in the middle to chosen between their divorcing parents.
The film will make its word debut in France as one of the featured selections for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in a couple of weeks. No word on US distribution but I’m sure it will be announced soon. Once it is, look for it on my must watch list.
[A FSB officer fall in love with his agent, an American woman who works as a trader in a Russian bank.]
Okay, I don’t know what they are saying in most of this tri-lingual international trailer, but I know one thing. Jean Dujardin (star of The Artist) is really doing it for me. I understand enough of it though to peak my interest. The movie is definitely screaming Inception with its intellectual construction mixed in with all the sex and spy intrigue of a movie like Bourne Identity. Mobius opens in France February 27th. Here’s hoping for a release in the US in the near future.
..or “How the French taught me what to do with my tongue”
A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Valencia on a business trip after my trip to Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival. To get there, we didn’t have a direct flight so we choose Paris as our layover city. We flew AirFrance there which meant I got to see a great selection of French and French-inspired films for free (tip: if your french is limited (like mine is) don’t let’s say, ask for a pen in French to the flight attendants; they will continue to speak French to you the whole trip, lol). We also had an overnight layover in Paris coming back, which if you can get through the awful and totally confusing Charles de Gaulle airport, can be a great place to kill some hours. I had only previously been to Paris once for a couple of days so any additional time spent in that captivating city is a plus for me. Here are some highlights from my brushes with all things French.
The Eiffel Tower. One of my co-workers had never been to Paris or had seen the Eiffel Tower so of course we had to go there. It’s so beautiful when it’s all lit up at night.
Croque-Monsiuer. I’ve done the “go to Paris and have crepes” thing (by the way, SO the way to go), but this time I decided to have something else the French are known for and that is a fancy grilled ham and cheese sandwich ::smile:: We stopped at this little cafe by the Eiffel Tower that was so very good.
Rust and Bone. I’m so glad I didn’t bother to pay to see the screening at TIFF since I got to see it for free on the plane. This French film had been getting alot of buzz on the festival circuit, but for some reason, the trailer didn’t really appeal to me. I decided to check it out on the plane though and it was very… interesting. Marion Cotillard was definitely the best part of the film, playing a whale trainer (Stephanie) who looses her legs after a whale crashes into her. In her recovery, she connects (over and over physically, I might add ::smile::) with a down-and-out bouncer/kickboxer (Ali). While she is physically disabled, he is emotionally disabled, a father of young son who can’t seem to take care of him or himself. For me, I couldn’t fully invest in their emotional relationship which represented the bulk of the film but was more entranced in her inner battle with forgiveness and acceptance with the creatures she trained. For me, those were the great moments.
Moonrise Kingdom. Not a French movie but one very much French-inspired as the alot of songs on the soundtrack French songs, including the song featured in the original trailer, “Le Temps De L’amour” byFrançoise Hardy. This is also a film, directed by Wes Anderson, that in a short time has become beloved by alot of cinephiles. I never claim to really knowledgable about his films since I’ve only seen a couple, but I have always been drawn to his unique style. The film focuses on a couple of pre-teens on a New England island who experience first love with each other and subsequently, run away together at the chagrin of her parents and his summer camp leader. Though I really enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. I do applaud Wes Anderson for always staying through to his vision. My favorite Wes Anderson film will probably forever be his French-inspired short film Hotel Chevalier.
The Piano Tuner. Loved this. It represented just how great storytelling can be packed into less than 15 minutes. The story focuses on a young piano prodigy who, after failing in a competition, gives up playing and tunes pianos for a living. As a way to escape from his own shortcomings and disconnect from the world, he pretends to be blind. One day though, his seeing things he should not see becomes a danger to him. This is some great stuff. If you are interested in watching it, see the full short film here.
Jake Gyllenhaal has made his second music video cameo in the latest one released by the French electro duo, The Shoes. The song is called “Time to Dance”, and the video features Jake going all darkside and serial killing a bunch of unsuspecting hipsters. You know, the usual. Doesn’t clean shaven Jake Gyllenhaal at the end remind you of him in Donnie Darko? Anyone else thinks this would be a great premise (and trailer) for a movie? Discuss.
Yep, I’m late on this. I know. This year, I didn’t see alot of the movies that were up for some of the top awards at the Oscars, so I decided to start a tradition of seeing the two best films according to the Academy after the award show. As it was, this year they were the winner of Best Foreign Language film, A Separation, and the top film of them all, Best Picture winner The Artist (which I was already disappointed in myself for not seeing sooner). So to the theater I went, and I seriously could not have had a more enjoyable time at the movies.
Do See: The Artist (starring Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo) Charming. Cute. Nostalgic. Heartwarming. Those are all the adjectives I would use to describe this movie. The story follows the simultaneous fall of silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and rise of the new kid of the block, actress Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) as silent films began to lose popularity and “talkies” began to gain favor. The two cross paths early on and forge a bond that remains through the approximate six years of the movie (1927-1932). Through it all we see their vulernabilites and determination; his to survive being cast off by his studio and to remain in the film business and hers to become famous and ultimately help him through his struggles. Do I think it was worthy of the best picture win? I can’t say for sure since there were a few other nominees I haven’t seen. What I can say though is that I never thought a black and white silent movie could feel so fresh and relevant. Couple that with the brilliant commentary on the fickleness of Hollywood, wonderful dance numbers, and wicked chemistry between the leads, and you have one great movie. I have heard alot of people taking about the ending when (SPOILER!) he finds his voice and utters his only (heard) words in the film. But it was also clever is that he spoke in his French accent. Of course we all know now that Jean Dujardin is a Frenchman from the media, but what if you didn’t know this going in? He has the look in the film of a very American Clark Gable, but ultimately his character is a Frenchman making it in American movies, a fact that can be hidden in silent films (and even by his name which is probably a pseudonym). Consequently, I think there was another layer to his assertion in the movie that “no one wants to hear my voice”. So underneath this there is a even more inventive theme of losing/trading in ones identity (not just as a actor) that I think the movie explores. A must see in my opinion.
Do See: A Separation (starring Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini) I haven’t seen a ton of foreign films but this was probably one of my favorites to date (next to the Motorcycle Diaries). The story follows a married couple - Nader and Simin - who are separating and on the verge of divorce. Ultimately, Simin wants them to leave Iran with their 11-year daughter because of the country’s prevailing hostile conditions and to provide a better life for her but her husband Nader refuses to leave his father who is ill with Alzheimer’s disease. This separation becomes the catalyst for bigger issues as Nader is forced to leave his father in the care of a poor, pregnant woman who loses her baby and blames Nader for it. The movie does go on alittle longer than I thought was necessary and has an ending that I think did not do the story justice, but the totality of this gripping drama was successful both in bringing the audience into very real struggles surrounding culture/religion, marriage, parenthood, and more importantly the intent and consequence of truth vs. lies as well as weaving in dilemmas that snowball and make you struggle to find better solutions. This one is also a movie that I strongly recommend.