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Les invasions barbares (2003)
Arcand is working at the height of his powers. This story is effective at an emotional level that we normally associate with "Realism" and yet much like Almodovar's work there is nothing realistic about it - but a merging of the fantastic, and the shadow of realism. This is the kind of storytelling that require a wide vocabulary, and Arcand has it. Like his Decline of the American Empire, this film requires that we look at human beings as archetypes with all their contradictions, and not stereotypes. The plot if there is one becomes superfluous - what is achieved is transcendence.
This is a film that defies all expectation. It seduces you with humor, and craft. The performances, especially Bana's, are absolutely brilliant. This is a filmmaker with an extraordinary sense of tone. I look forward to what he will do next, and I am a Bana fan for life.
Le souffle au coeur (1971)
'Murmur of the Heart' is an experience that sneaks up on you like the combined years of one's youth. The subject matter is what the repressed might reductively characterize as simple incest. That is NOT what this film is about. It is about the elastic moment of adolescence. The strange, ugly, and beautiful contradictions of familial intimacy. A boy deperate to taste the pleasures of being a man - while stuck in an awkward inbetween physical, and pyschic geography. This is one of the strongest films in all of French cinema.
Ta'm e guilass (1997)
Haunting and Beautiful
This is a film that somehow removes the gauze that seems to be stretched
over Westerner's eyes. Abbas Kiarostami has crafted a masterpiece that
pulls you into the vehicle driven by Homayon Ershadi from the very
beginning of the film and never lets you out. Ershadi is a remarkable
actor and the collaboration of Ershadi and Kiarostami is a small
miracle. The premise for the film is so simple, that a westerner would
have likely turned it into a self conscience short film. This is why
what Kiarostami has achieved is all the more amazing. In the West,
cultures outside our own are often thought of in the most condescending
ways. If a culture is outside the West - it must be third world -
barbaric - bankrupt and full of religious dogma. Here Kiarostami pulls
that curtain of ignorance gently aside in a simple exchange between
Ershadi and a young seminary student (the wonderful Mir Hossein Noori).
Ershdi the Iranian seems to have some preconceived notions about the
comings-and-goings of an Afghani person in his country. If you have the
chance to experience Kiarostami's films, you will be the bet
The Journey (1959)
A film shot and directed with a hand so steady it would seem a revelation if any director today could do anything close. Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr and Jason Robards are terrific. The staging of the actors - the performances - this is film making at its best.
Broken Vessels (1998)
After Having huge expectations for Scorcese's "Bringing Out The Dead" I was somewhat disappointed. But where the hell did BROKEN VESSELS come from? This film is everything the other one promised to deliver but didn't. My brother sent me a DVD saying "This is the best Indie film of the year." The art work on the cover was dreadful. It looked like a stupid B horror film. The back of the thing had some awards listed and kudos for the actors. I watched it last night. What a ride! Who is Scott Ziehl? Who is Susan Traylor? And who is Todd Field? Field should have been nominated for this performance. I can only guess that the film went straight to video. Too bad more people won't see it. The film accurately depicted the decline of two young men into self delusion and drug abuse. Far better (dare I say) than "Trainspotting."