135 posts categorized "Cannes Film Festival"

October 29, 2023

RESERVOIR DOGS — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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ColeSmithey.comIn 1992 Quentin Tarantino did something that hadn't been done since 1986 with David Lynch's "Blue Velvet;" he reinvented cinema.

A deft application of an originally voiced time-flipping narrative, Tarantino's "action" script is a filmic illusion worthy of Hitchcock or Welles. 

The main conceit of Tarantino's deconstructed bank heist story is that the film's "action" occurs after the heist. Well-constructed flashback sequences and flashy monologues impose an emotional undercurrent of back-story on every dramatically inflected scene.

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Each of Tarantino's six black-suited robbers is known to the others only by his color coded pseudonym. Eddie Bunker plays Mr. Blue, the director himself plays the chatty Mr. Brown, Harvey Keitel is Mr. White, and Steve Buscemi is Mr. Pink.

ReservoirDogs

Suffering from a belly gunshot wound sustained during the heist, Mr. Orange (in Tim Roth's gutsy portrayal) is an undercover cop sincerely befriended by Keitel's character.

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Left bleeding in the gang's warehouse, Roth's Mr. Orange witnesses the psychotic Mr. Blonde (manically played by Michael Madsen) torturing a young cop named Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz) to the funky lyrical strains of "Stuck in the Middle With You (Stealers Wheel).

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Tarantino's brutal counter-point doesn't just sucker punch his unsuspecting audience in the solar plexus; the effect goes for the heart and groin as well.

Reservoir-Dogs

"Reservoir Dogs" is a flawlessly conceived picture whose theatrical design pivots on Tarantino's touches of Grand Guignol shocks. "Reservoir Dogs" created a sub-genre of crime suspense copycats, of which Troy Duffy's "The Boondock Saints" (1999) is one of the most embarrassing examples.

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Over his career, Quentin Tarantino's films have proven everything that "Reservoir Dogs" seemed to promise and still achieves.

Freshness and raw passion.

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This minimalist masterpiece is the real McCoy.

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"Reservoir Dogs" was an instant classic the moment it premiered in Cannes in 1992. 

I should know, I was there.

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And I met QT, the day after the premiere in the halls of the Palais du Festival, and told him how much his movie kicked my ass. The oh-so-young and talented Tarantino said, "That's just what I want to hear."

Fucking cool.

Rated R. 99 mins.

5 StarsModern Cole SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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October 28, 2023

PAN'S LABYRINTH — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

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ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comGuillermo del Toro Relishes the Horrors of Childhood

ColeSmithey.comIn discussing the leftist political themes of "The Devil’s Backbone" and "Pan’s Labyrinth," gothic horror maestro Guillermo del Toro responds by condemning what is considered "normal" because "normal creates inadequacy immediately." The transplanted director from Mexico embraces abnormality and moral ambiguity in "Pan’s Labyrinth." It's a film he wrote and directed as a deeply personal treatise on the defense mechanisms of a child dealing with war and death. "Pan's Labyrinth" is a surreal and dark fairy tale about resistance and sacrifice from the point of view of a resourceful child.

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Ofelia (played with immeasurable grace by child actress Ivana Baquero) is uprooted with her ailing pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) during Franco's 1944 postwar Spain to go live with Ofelia’s stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) of Spain’s Civil Guard. Mother and daughter arrive at an abandoned rural mill that Vidal has converted into a military headquarters to oppose the local "maquis" freedom fighters. Ofelia momentarily escapes the farm’s oppressive ambience to explore an old garden labyrinth where she meets a peculiar faun (Doug Jones) who acts as a mentor. The strange creature assigns Ofelia three tasks to prove her royalty as a princess.

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Ofelia's dark fantasies of fairies and monsters are matched by the savage hostilities incited by Captain Vidal’s obsessive reign of power. The hideous but friendly faun gradually becomes beautiful as Ofelia fulfills his commands of obtaining a key from a repulsive toad, visiting a pale monster with eyeballs in the palms of his hands at a banquet from which she must not eat, and releasing the blood of an innocent. This is thought-provoking stuff that del Toro presents with fluid attention to detail. You couldn't hope for a more visually lush experience.

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After the film’s premiere in Cannes del Toro said, "In this movie, I think the fascist is more terrifying than any of the creatures Ofelia encounters in her fantasy. I feel that the more humanist point of view is the one that I like. I love "Beauty and the Beast" by Jean Cocteau. I love "Frankenstein" by James Whale. I like "Night of the Hunter."

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Taking into account del Toro's stated influences, you can see where each have an impact on the film he has crafted from every angle. Here we have gothic horror combined with fantasy in a purely original way that nevertheless breathes with a sense of tradition.

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"Pan’s Labyrinth" is set at the end of World War II when the Spanish resistance still had a fighting chance against Franco’s regime if allied support arrived in time. The movie works intriguingly opposite Steven Soderbergh’s "The Good German" as a phantasmagorical reflection of an underground reality seething beneath the scorched and bloody soldier-inhabited earth above.

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Guillermo del Toro is a bold creator of modern fairytales in the tradition of the Grimm Brothers, as mixed with a healthy sprinkling of Greek mythology. In planning his films, the director draws colorful drawings of the creatures he will bring to life, such as the mandrake root that Ofelia places in a bowl of milk-and-water beneath her mother’s bed to cure her sickness and protect her unborn child.

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As del Toro points out, "There is a mythology that you can grow a baby out of a mandrake." Mandrake is another name for ginseng, but del Toro proposes the plant was traditionally born under the gallows at the feet of hanging victims who spasmed as they died. "You had to look for it under a full moon with a black dog and wear protection on your ears because, when the dog digs for it, the mandrake screams and the dog dies. And if you don’t have protection, you die." The childhood desperation that permeates his dramatic sensibility is elevated by del Toro’s sincere devotion to imaginary belief systems rooted in cycles of nature.

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Del Toro says, "Pan’s Labyrinth" is an adult movie about being a kid. My favorite kid movies are "The 400 Blows," or "Au revoir, les enfants" by Louis Malle or "The Tin Drum." None of these are movies that I would play along with "Chicken Little" for my daughters, but they are movies, nevertheless, about childhood."

Add "Pan's Labyrinth" to that list.

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Rated R. 120 mins.

4 Stars ColeSmithey.comCozy Cole

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October 24, 2023

SEVERENCE — SHOCKTOBER!

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

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Screen Shot 2022-08-28 at 4.12.56 PM"Severance" is just enough of an exploitation satire (think, Roger Corman in his heyday) to hold your interest beyond its gratuitous knife, blood-and-breast recipe for suspense and shock.

A group of international yuppie corporate defense coworkers get caught in an Eastern European trap of horrors when their bus breaks down.

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Okay, so maybe there really isn’t enough satire to compensate for another scream-and-chase slasher flick, but it does try a little.

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The Eastern European landscape of remote back woods adds another frightening element to the gore at hand.

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Oh, the blood, so much blood!

Rated R. 96 mins.

3 Stars SHOCKTOBER!!!!!!Cozy Cole

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