29 posts categorized "Foreign"

February 15, 2018

VIVRE SA VIE — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

ColeSmithey.comGroupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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Jean-Luc Godard's fourth film features Godard's wife-at-the-time Anna Karina as an actress-turned-prostitute in this ground breaking example of the French New Wave. Stone Delicious IPA seemed like the perfect beer to go along with this equally attractive film. 

ColeSmithey.comIn 1962 French New Wave provocateur Jean-Luc Godard shifted stylistic filmic gears as lucidly as Miles Davis revolutionized music. Artistic experimentation was in the air. For his fourth feature Godard took Marcel Sacotte’s book about prostitution in Paris as inspiration to create a fascinating cinema vérité styled character and social study.

Godard’s groundbreaking camera techniques add intimacy, suspense, and mystery to his documentary approach to sensitive subject matter. The dramatic effect is memorable as it is meaningful. Every aspect of the movie is effortlessly iconic, not the least of which is the stylish personality profile that Anna Karina fulfills. 

Anna Karina

Never before had the backs of heads and shoulders been exploited to such a delightfully dramatic extreme. Hair styles express nuances heretofore unknown. Broken into 12 chapters, “Vivre Sa Vie” takes a non-judgmental view of a character who is nonetheless doomed.

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Godard’s wife at the time Anna Karina is transfixing Nana, a lovely young French actress driven to take up prostitution after meeting a pimp. Forth-wall-breaking moments allow the audience to connect with Anna Karina’s guileless yet fragile beauty in support of her aspirational character. The emotion and intellectual nature that Karina transmits is every bit as affecting as Renee Falconetti in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s brilliant silent film “The Passion of Joan of Arc” from 1928. Indeed, Godard references Dreyer’s masterpiece in “Vivre Sa Vie” when Nana goes to a screening at a Parisian cinema.

Anna Karina

“My Life to Live” has just as much social currency today as the day it was released even if its gangster trope ending lets Godard off the hook all too easy. Here is a unique film that takes daring chances while rooting itself in neorealist filmic soil. You can feel its grounded sense of immediacy and truth.  

Anna Karina

Not rated. 85 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

June 20, 2012

KLOWN

   Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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ColeSmithey.comThis ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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ColeSmithey.comEasily the most ribald and politically incorrect comedy to come out of the 21st century’s second decade, Mikkel Norgaard’s “Klown” smacks funny bones you didn’t know you had. Certain to provoke prudish audience members to walk out before the movie hits its stride, “Klown” goes artfully over-the-top while pressing its cascade of outrageous situations into a volcano of comic explosions.

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Based on a Danish television show of the same name, the story follows the exploits of Frank (Frank Hvam) and Casper (Casper Christensen). Casper and Frank go on a canoe trip that Casper has privately dubbed the “Tour de Pussy.” Horny Casper places pussy above fatherhood in his hierarchy of life’s priorities. Frank, however, has just found out about his girlfriend Mia’s (Mia Hjortshoj) pregnancy — which she hesitated to disclose because she doubted Frank’s potential to be an adequate father.

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Mia considers an abortion. Capitulating to his anxiousness to prove Mia wrong about his nurturing abilities, Frank kidnaps her 11-year-old nephew Bo (Marcuz Jess Petersen) and takes the unsuspecting boy on the canoe trip.

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What follows is a series of embarrassing and humiliating events that mark Casper and Frank as two of the biggest idiots you could imagine. Relationships and classic psychology are tested in this diabolically funny movie, which Hollywood already has plans of mucking up with a remake.

Rated R. 99 mins.

5 StarsColeSmithey.com

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

March 13, 2012

THE KID WITH A BIKE — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

   Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

Welcome!

ColeSmithey.comThis 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.com

 

 


ColeSmithey.comThe Dardenne brothers tweak their polished neorealist formula of personalized socially conscious cinema. Once again, we are exposed to their hometown of Serain, Belgium. This time, however, composed music plays a central role.

The Dardennes continue the focus of their oeuvre on the plight of Belgian youth. The result is a somewhat less than convincing story about a troubled 11-year-old boy named Cyril (Thomas Doret).

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Having been recently abandoned by his single-parent father Guy (Jérémie Renier), Cyril searches desperately for his missing dad and for his bicycle, which has also gone MIA. The manic boy escapes from a boys' home to return to the empty apartment he once occupied with his father. Pursued and dragged by his keepers back into the group home, Cyril throws himself at a visiting woman waiting in the home’s lobby.

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Hairdresser Samantha (Cecile de France) helps Cyril find his bike and agrees to look after the violence-prone boy on weekends. Samantha is at a loss to understand Cyril’s self-destructive impulses, which land him in a string of violent altercations. Still, Cyril's fortunes improve when Samantha agrees to keep him with her full time. Cyril’s guardian angel helps him track down his deadbeat dad at a restaurant where he works. Guy eventually makes clear he wants nothing to do with his needy son.

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The filmmakers explore too shallowly Guy's reasoning for essentially throwing his son away. This, coupled with a lack of perspective on Samantha's backstory, weighs heavy on the film as a narrative contrivance that is fortunately mitigated by Thomas Doret’s exceptional performance.

ColeSmithey.com

In spite of its all-too-obvious machinations, “The Kid with a Bike” touches on social ills in a straightforward fashion without preaching. When Cyril falls in with a neighborhood thug to perform a violent crime with no reason other than to try to win the approval of an older male figure, we see clearly what the filmmakers are getting at. A kid with a bike is nothing without both a mother and a father.

Not Rated. 87 mins.

3 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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