Tag Archives: Arts

Delicacy

24 Nov

 

Directors: David Foenkinos, Stéphane Foenkinos

Writer: David Foenkinos (novel) (screenplay)

Stars: Audrey Tautou, François Damiens and Bruno Todeschini

Motion Picture Rating: 12A

Runtime: 108 minutes

 

What is it about Audrey Tautou? Probably the Amelie effect. Ever since she arrived in that stunning 2001 film she has been able to make movies like no other actress. In this film and many others (Beautiful Lies, Priceless, A Very Long Engagement) she is in almost every scene and placed right in the centre of every frame. She is allowed a voiceover and the camera seems to be at her beck and call. Her pixie presence is exalted. The pouty overbite, the ink black eyes, the asymmetric haircut, the megawatt smile are all on display and one wonders if the director is not a little smitten. It’s a strange phenomenon. I roll with it as I am partially smitten myself, but there are many out there, men and women alike, who struggle with Tautou.

In this French film she plays Nathalie, a young woman that loses her husband to a tragic accident and thereafter throws herself into work. Her career flourishes, but apart from fending off her lecherous boss she lives a very quiet and self-contained life. Men are attracted to her, but she is ambivalent towards them. She is difficult to read which makes her a strong boss, but exasperates close friends and family unsure about her recovery. Into her small life stumbles a colleague called Markus (Francois Damiens). He is a geeky accountant with fashion issues, bad teeth and a limited amount of life experience. He is delicate in the French sense of the word IE tactful and respectful, but he is no lady killer and physically a bit of a slob.

This film has its heart in the right place and is concerned with grief and how people move on with their lives. The central story is Nathalie and her surprising relationship with Markus. They are an unorthodox couple and the French obsession with social convention is dealt with in how others, mainly Nathalie’s friends and family, react to his appearance by her side. Those awkward scenes mostly provide humour and the film is certainly set up as an unconventional rom-com. That’s fine and it kind of works, but the few bigger laughs all come from Damiens as the unsuitable suitor. Besides him, it is not quite funny enough and Tautou for once can’t save the day. She’s nice, he’s charming and the oddball pairing is fun, but not a whole lot more.

Chronicle

15 Jun

 

Director: Josh Trank

Writers: Max Landis (screenplay), Max Landis (story), and 1 more credit

Stars: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan

Motion Picture Rating: 12A

Runtime: 84 minutes

 

 

I saw this film on DVD last weekend with my 14 year old nephew. It proved to be an excellent choice of movie and I am sure that the studio executives that bank rolled Chronicle had that teenage audience in mind from the start. There is actually something adolescent about the whole production and it certainly moves along with youthful charm and vigour.

Chronicle follows three high school boys aged 16 -18 that gain telekinetic powers after contact with a strange subterranean crystal. The life-changing encounter is not important as it’s the acclimatisation to their new mind control powers that rightly dominates the story. The boys are friendly, but not best friends at the start. They naturally grow closer as the implications of their shared secret start to dawn on them. Testing their powers, trying to keep the secret and navigating their way through high school all take their toll on the three, but in different ways.

The unique element of Chronicle, as referenced in that title, is that one of the three boys records their activities with a video camera. He takes it almost everywhere and so much so that almost the whole film has that handheld Blair Witch / Cloverfield feel to it. Here the first time director really shows off some wit and ingenuity. When the main camera is off limits he ropes in mobile phones, CCTV and police helicopter cameras to continue the big brother aesthetic.

This is a fresh and clever film. It has some particularly good scenes in the middle as the three boys act out Jackass style stunts by testing their new powers. At those points it is a lot of fun. Towards the end it loses some of its charm as the action gets bigger and bigger, but it’s still a good popcorn flick and an achievement for its relatively inexperienced cast and crew.

Shark Night

28 Apr

Director: David R Ellis

Writers: Will Hayes, Jesse Studenberg

Stars: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 90 minutes

 

 

 

B-movies have been a necessary and fun evil since the 1920’s as the warm-up acts for the main features in cinemas across the globe. Since then, and arguably through the ‘golden age’ of b-movies in the 1950’s, there have been cinema schedules to fill and low budget movies have been produced to do just that. Moving across genres including westerns, horror and sci-fi the consistent look and feel of the B-movie is one of cheap cheerfulness.

I have always been sceptical about the genuine appeal of B-movies, certainly those films stylized as B-movies, but made since the turn of the millennium. Back in the 1950’S movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon and Invasion of the Body Snatchers were charming in their convictions. Recent productions however have left me cold and Shark Night (in or out of 3D) is a definite barrel-scraping effort. This is without doubt the worst film that I have seen for a very long while.

Shark Night is absurdly plotted, cheaply made and incredibly badly acted. Maybe I am just too old, but I feel that this film robbed me of 90 minutes of my life and I am still annoyed about it days after sitting through it. It has no redeeming qualities and at times seems to revel in its own paucity of ideas and belief. As the director David R Ellis came to this from Snakes on a Plane I can only imagine that he’s now working on Tarantula Tuesday or something weaker. Avoid this film at all costs.

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