My Baby Ate Your Dingo and other ramblings


Forbidden Games
January 19, 2009, 6:34 pm
Filed under: DVD review | Tags: , ,

Forbidden Games   Directed by Rene Clement   France 1952

     Forbidden Games is a clear statement of how war affects every day citizens who are not battling on the front lines. The film focuses on how war effects children most of all.  When Paulette is orphaned due to a Nazi air attack, she is befriended by a young peasant boy while walking around alone carrying her dead dog. Immediately the young Michel befriends Paulette and asks his parents to take her in.  The boy is perhaps eleven years of age but shows great maturity in recognizing the young girls aloneness. The family takes pity on her and accepts her into their home. jeux

The young children in this film are truly amazing. Their performances are beautifully natural. For individuals so young, they were able to capture they feeling unique innocence and drama.  Together the two children escape into a fantasy world all the while being surrounded by violence. 

     My favorite scene in the film is when the children bury Paulette’s dog.  It is so touching as she says a prayer for him and covers him up with dirt.  For someone so young she has lost so much and is still a carefree spirit. They take time to bury graves for everything, they have a huge sense of respect for the dead, the perceive burying as a sort of game, a way to pass the time. 

     The end sequence when Paulette is taken away is one of the most melancholy scenes in the film. It is also one of the most powerful anti-war statements I have seen.  Slowly the camera cranes up to reveal hundreds of orphanages people.  Poor Paulette is running thru the area trying to find Michel.  It is touching and tragic.  

 

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En-ra-ha, En-ra-ha, En-ra-ha
January 14, 2009, 12:20 am
Filed under: movie review | Tags: , ,

 

"Oh! What-chu-ma-call-it ding dang dilly dilly da da hoo hoo!"-Poppy

"Oh! What-chu-ma-call-it ding dang dilly dilly da da hoo hoo!"-Poppy

Fantastic, hilarious, touching, quirky… well  that doesn’t even begin to explain Happy-Go-Lucky.  Directed by British filmmaker Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky stars Sally Hawkins as the adorable Poppy,  an elementary school teacher who has a lust for life.  Although she may very well be on the brink of insanity, Poppy is extremely loving and caring.  Leighs previous films were rather depressing but Go-Lucky brings an enormous sense of humor to his style.  I found myself laughing out loud, perhaps too loudly, but my laughs blended in with the rest of the audiences.  Poppy is enchanting, a bit annoying, but basically I would love to have her as a best friend.  The comedic timing Hawkins brings to the role is priceless and certainly deserving of her Golden Globe win.  Poppy constantly smiles no matter how hard life gets which is a motto more people could live by.  She chose not to live a conventional life and is happier because of it.  her optimism for life is overwhelming and charming.  When Poppy’s bike is stolen she is forced to enroll herself in driving lessons.  Her driving instructor, Scott, is a polar opposite of Poppy.  Whilst Poppy views the world optimistically, Scott is morose and angry with the world.  The scenes between Scott and Poppy are some of the most hilarious parts of the film.  Although much of the film is comedic there is an underlining layer of sensitivity and lonesomeness.  Leigh is used to writing and directing films with a more somber tone and Happy-Go-Lucky still offers a bit of that.

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A Holiday film that doesn’t involve a dog or a mouse!
January 13, 2009, 1:18 pm
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A Christmas Tale  France 2008 Directed by  Arnaud Desplechin  Written by Arnaud Desplechin and Emmanuel Bordieu

I absolutely love Catherine Deneuve.  I’ll admit its more of an obsession.  She is so amazingly beautiful and so talented.  As a hardcore Deneuve fan I make it my priority to see anything and everything she is in (and bought a ticket to NYFF Persepolis premiere just to see her), but thats just the stalker in me talking.  catherinedeneuve1_narrowweb__300x3620

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Catherine plays Junon a mother of four who is dying of liver cancer.  Her only chance to prolong life is to have a bone marrow transplant, the catch is the transplant could also possibly kill her.  The film centers around  a large family getting together for the Christmas season.  The family is like any other American family… only French.  Due to Junons illness, the family is forced to come together.  The film is full of familial rifts, grief, comedy, and heartache.  Desplechin has constructed a multi-layer film that slowly unravels revealing a family that truly loves each other and will always be there for each other no matter how much they may act like they hate each other.  I found this film to be comedic and gut-wrenching which is something very difficult to achieve.  The scenes between Junon (Deneuve) and Henri (Almaric)  the trouble child and acceptable donor, are priceless.  Whilst the two jokingly discuss their despise of one another you somehow feel they genuinely love one another.  If you want to catch a good Holiday film that doesn’t involve an animated character or troublesome dog then I suggest A Christmas Tale.

The supporting cast includes some of France’s  most recognized actors:  Jean-Paul Roussillon, Anne Consigny, Melvin Poupaud, Emmanuelle Devos and Chiara Mastroianni.



Love Means… Never Having To Explain Why You Were In Jail
January 13, 2009, 1:05 am
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I’ve Loved You So Long  ( 2008 )  Written and Directed by Philippe Claudel

lovedyou460Kristen Scott Thomas plays Juliette a women recently released from prison after serving 15 years for killing her 6 year old son.  Juliette is now living with her sister, whom she hasn’t seen in years.  The film centers around Juliette a broken soul haunted by her past who is searching for the  ability to adapt to her new life as a free women.  Juliettes younger sister  Lea graciously welcomes Juliette into her life, along with her two adopted daughters,and husband Luc.  Luc does not take well to the fact that Juliette is living with them or that she is allowed to be around there children. He fears for the saftey of his children. Juliette is so far gone she would almost seem to be a ghost.  Lea desperately tries to bring her sister back form the depths of hell, but cannot because she does not fully understand her sister reasoning behind the murder.  Juliette will not reveal her reasoning and her sister is obviously curious.  The film is a lot to take in but is tragically moving, a story about redemption and re-humanization. Kristen a native of England flawlessly delivers a stunning performance in French.  She can move between French and English flawlessly without anyone noticing.  



Blame it on Checkers.
January 12, 2009, 10:30 pm
Filed under: movie review

Frost Nixon 2008  Directed by Ron Howard   Screenplay by Peter Morgan 

Frost/Nixon surprised me.  I went into the film with great hesitation. I had read reviews, seen previews but still wasn’t all that fascinated in seeing the film, however, I left the theater completely enraged… in a good way!  I was so moved by Langellas performance as Richard Nixon that I literally wanted to heave my five dollar Diet Pepsi at him!  He played Nixon flawlessly.  The film stands out strictly due to the astounding performances by Frank Langella and Michael Sheen.frost-nixon-0  The supporting cast is comprised of Kevin Bacon playing Nixon’s aid , Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell and Matthew Macfaydan all lend a comedic hand playing Frosts “three crack investigators”.   The story of the Frost/Nixon interview was something I never even knew about before this film came out.  Frost, a British playboy and television journalist recorded a series of 12 interviews with former President Nixon after his impeachment and resignation as Commander in Chief.  This was Nixon’s first interview since he left office.

The story sort of drags on and I really was only interested in seeing their final showdown. The film did capture my attention and created a sort of anxiety as I sat there watching poor Frost get his ass handed to him by Nixon.  Im would say I enjoyed this film but I wouldn’t call it a top film of the year.  I certainly think the film hasn’t received as much recognition as it deserves, particularly on Sheen’s part.  What I didn’t like about the film is how Nixon is seen as intelligent, presidential and sympathetic.  For a president so reviled it is astounding to see him, so many years later, being portrayed as a redemptive person.  I suppose it might be because a certain president (2001-2009)  is so dim witted and corrupt that even Nixon can be portrayed as a “good man”

 



Where’s Regis?
January 12, 2009, 4:13 pm
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Can I get a little privacy please?

Can I get a little privacy please?

Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire is one of the most original films I have seen in recent years.  Set in the slums of Mumbai,  Slumdog Millionaire focuses on the life of impoverished teen Jamal Malik.  Malik becomes a contestant on Indias Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and wins the grand prize.  After winning authorities suspect him of cheating, so Jamal explains his reasoning for answering every question correctly.  The film takes you deep inside Mumbai and the life of the people living there.  Intertwined is a romance story between Jamal and his childhood sweetheart.  What I liked most about this film was the way the story develops.  A series of flashback reveal the story and the truth behind his winning.  Jamal and his brother make there living by coning Foreign Travelers at the Taj Mahal or by stealing.  In a way Jamal is like Oliver Twist. 

It is breathtakingly shot, heartfelt and quickly paced.  I found the editing to be a bit too fast, but I know that it was for aesthetic value.  Im just not a fan of Bourne Identity style editing.  The music accompanying the fast paced shot adds a sense of adrineline and excitment.

The film uncovers the societal divide in India.  Where the rich live alongside the poor.  People living in cardboard boxes and men and women bathing along the Ganges.  This film has already racked up a bunch of awards and will most likely win Best Picture at the years Academy Awards.  Although I enjoyed this film, I do not love it.  I would like to see it win Best Picture because it will bring some much needed credit to Mumbai.



How much “Pabst Blue Ribbon” can this man drink?
January 12, 2009, 3:57 pm
Filed under: movie review | Tags: , ,

Gran Torino directed by and starring Clint Eastwood is a hilarious film.  Yes, hilarious.  Maybe I am just a little immature but I found most of the dialogue to be funny whether that was intentional or not.  Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a retired autoworker and cantankerous old man who spends his days drinking beer on his porch in Detroit with his shotgun by his side.  The film is laden with racist remarks about Walts Asian neighbors.  I am by no means racist and most of the terms Walt uses I have never heard before but found Clints delivery of those lines to be histerical.  The film is so/so and drags on.  Most of the reviews for the film praise it but I think thats an overstatement.  Yes, Eastwood is a genius even at 78 but Gran Torino is not one of the highlights of his career.  He plays a mean old man perfectly but also can bring a sense of compassion to the role.  The supporting cast includes a bunch of unknown Asian Americans, playing Walts neighbors who are haunted by an Asian Gang.  In the end Walt makes a sacrifice to protect his new found Asian “Family”.  You might be asking where the title comes from?  Its a car, yup a car.  I’ll leave my ramblings about the car out of this review.

I hope my dad's this cool when he's 78.  Replace the Pabst with O'Doul's

I hope my dad's this cool when he's 78. Replace the Pabst with O'Doul's