29 posts categorized "Women Filmmakers"

March 20, 2021

GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI

COLESMITHEY.COM

Liberating. Exhilarating. Honest. Fearless. Grace Jones’s status as one of the most important cultural artists of the 20th and 21st centuries is confirmed in every second of Sophie Fiennes’s exceptional filmic memoir. Grace Jones’s ironclad persona is revealed through hot performance clips contrasted with a visit to her homeland of Jamaica.

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Grace Jones’s electrifying stage presence, dynamic vocal phrasing, and muscular physical style is contrasted with her multi-layered ability to seamlessly exist between and amid international cultures. Dynamic stage lighting and stage craft plays a part.

A singing gypsy cheetah with a heart of gold, Jones expresses her lava-like emotions without putting them on her sleeve. Far from the diva Jones is frequently perceived to be, she comes across as the most grounded and sincere individuals you’ll ever meet. This lady has more communication skills than you can imagine. 

'Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami' Review: She's Almost Too Much for One  Film

As far as musicianship goes, Grace Jones is in a category unto herself. When Grace comes on stage in front of a packed house of adoring fans, and lifts a pair of marching band Zildjian cymbals to hit every accent in her dangerous version of the Punk classic “Warm Leatherette” (by The Normal”), the musical excitement and satisfaction comes in waves.

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Green fluorescent light beams down on Grace during her staggering version of Roxy Music's "Love Is The Drug." The scene is so sci-fi cinematic cool that you can't help but fall under the wicked spell being cast by this ultimate goddess of all things both human and primal. 

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Discover a world of humanity and earth-shattering songs delivered with primal passion by a woman whose skill and ability to transform reality is legendary for good reason. Until you’ve seen this film, you don’t know half as much as you think about the one and only Grace (Fucking) Jones. Not even Jagger, Bowie, Reed, or Iggy ever had an inch on Grace Jones. Big love.

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Rated PG. 115 mins. 

5 Stars

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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February 04, 2021

DAGUERRÉOTYPES

Screen Shot 2021-02-04 at 1.07.47 AMEquality. Recognition. Artistic and personal truth. I’ve watched all of Agnès Varda films while discovering Criterion’s lush celebration of the French New Wave’s progenitor. If you could only have one filmmaker’s oeuvre on your private desert island, Agnès Varda’s films are the right choice to last you the rest of your life.

In Varda-approved random fashion I begin my slight review of Varda’s supremely personal, transgressive, and satisfying films with Daguerréotypes, a documentary film that fully expresses Agnès Varda’s confidence and openness to the world around her. In this case that meant the 90 meter distance of cable that her camera could reach from her floor-level apartment to the shops and locations in the Rue Daguerre district of Paris. Varda was raising her two-year-old son at the time, so she needed to stay close to home. Varda's catlike curiosity pours through every second of this truly delightful movie.

Daguerreotypes1

The magician who appears at the film’s opening credits returns during a public performance in front of an audience of (Parisian) neighborhood regulars. Everything from the magician’s formal approach to his audience and their delightful reactions to his Grand Guignol-inspired tricks, Varda captures a dynamic personal immediacy to time and place. Think Les Blank. There's boldness in Varda's subtle simplicity. Agnès Varda retained this transparency throughout her spectacular career as a filmmaker of the first water.     

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The film's title comes from Rue Daguerre, the street that Varda lived on. The street was named after Louis Daguerre, "inventor of the Daguerreotypes of photographic printing."

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Naturally this movie is a time capsule of French life, by virtue of Agnès Varda's generous and willing ability to reach out to her neighbors in a cinematic way. There is much to enjoy, relish, and learn from the elderly subjects in this treasured movie. Taken with the joy that Varda captures and inspires, "Daguerréotypes" is a social study for all time. What love. What magic. What a celebration of life.

Chardon-bleu

Five Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This 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.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

July 16, 2017

SWEPT AWAY — CLASSIC FILM PICK

Colesmithey.comLina Wertmüller’s inspired social satire is wrapped up in political titles, however false, that people identify with or use to paint others with as friend or foe. Italian dogma of communist, fascist, and capitalist ideologies figure prominently into the upper and lower class characters that Wertmüller presents with a take-no-prisoners sense of irreverence and sexual frankness.

Four upper class couples are out for a day’s adventure on a yacht served by a macho crew whose pique of discontent about their disrespectful overlords comes through Giancarlo Giannini’s hangdog deck hand Gennarino Carunchio. Gennarino is equal parts caricature and flesh. Giancarlo Giannini’s virtuosic performance borders on farce without ever crossing the line into exaggerated pantomime. It’s no wonder that Wertmüller relied on the gifted actor as a muse for other films such as “Seven Beauties” and “Love & Anarchy.”

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Mariangela Melato’s rich snot Raffaella cares too much about the environment to be the capitalist devil that Gennarino pins her as. Still, she wears her entitlement on her sleeve. Mariangela slings insults and complaints at the boat crew she considers less than human. When the pasta isn’t cooked al dente she throws a fit befitting a three-year-old with a toothache. Sweaty t-shirts are also a bone of contention for Mariangela whose piercing green eyes closely resemble those of her sworn rival Gennarino.

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Tensions between Raffaella and Gennarino reach a primal equanimity after the two become stranded on a remote island where Gennarino proves his ability to provide food and shelter. Wertmüller’s satire pitches and peaks in Gennarino’s demanding process of taming Raffaella into his love slave. The roles of master and slave get reversed. Wertmüller’s forceful transfer of power between man and woman is as truthful and cunning as anything in the films of Catherine Breillat or Luis Buñuel. The scene where Raffaella demurely requests anal penetration is especially hilarious. Gennarino’s purposefully proletariat response speaks volumes.  

COLESMITHEY.COM

“Swept Away” is as relevant today as it was when it was made. The power that lovers wield is as psychologically transient as any political ideology of the day, and just as predictable. It could well be the ultimate date movie for the intellectually and sensuously adventurous.  

Rated R. 114 mins. 5 Stars

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This 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 pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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