So I watched this French Film Marguerite, written & directed by Xavier Giannoli about a woman who loves singing but isn’t good at it and no one tells her the truth. So now I’m sitting here watching what I think is supposed to be a comedy but for me it’s not at all. To me it’s a very sad little drama about a person’s dreams and how different people are exploiting it for their own gain. Now follow me here, the title character is a married woman who has a rich husband that lets her do whatever she wants to be happy; and that is music and singing.Continue Reading …
The Taking of Tiger Mountain. Doesn’t that sound like pure fire? You see that trailer and it just sounds and looks like some extra gully Hong Kong experience. See, The Taking of Tiger Mountain is an adaptation of the novel ‘Tracks’ in the Snowy Mountain. It’s the story of People’s Liberation Army versus a Bandit Gang during the Chinese Revolution. The director is Tsui Hark, a director with a great legacy in Hong Kong action cinema. If you haven’t seen classics like Once Upon A Time In China or Legend of Zu you need to fix that.
Here’s the thing with this film though. It’s long, like LONG. It felt like watching a whole war. The pacing is totally off. This felt like they took what should’ve been some miniseries or two movies and crammed it in a really long movie. Some of that caused me to lose track of some of the characters, or really just their names. The characters are pretty amazingly costumed into these really cool and distinct looks. At times it’s like watching a cool Tekken movie.
Now I don’t want to seem like a Debbie Downer because the one thing that is cool to see in this is the action. For those not up on Hark’s work he is like a god of what’s called wire-fu in martial arts flicks. He’s been doing this for close to 4 decades so now with technology out here his set pieces go pretty far insano. Take all that cool stuff from his kung fu with flying into trees and punching so hard the wind hurts and what not and apply that to soldiers fighting battles. You have tanks and planes and machines guns, you have hero soldiers bouncing bullets off of helmets to take guys out and stopping grenades with other grenades, complete insanity. If this movie was shorter it would’ve been worth every penny.
I can’t really say if the performances were great or not. They are kind of generic to be honest. Like there is a dude named Hawk and he has a hawk, I don’t know what truth there is to pull from that. No lie, the whole thing feels like I was watching some fairly average anime but all with real people instead of animation. Like it was some super form of cosplay. Now I know this sounds very harsh, I have to say I’ve seen better from Hark and I was really excited to see this but was profoundly disappointed. So The Taking of Tiger Mountain is something you should really not go out of your way to see, it’s probably worth looking for the English translation of the novel or if you can read mandarin read it that way.
The Blue Room is an interesting and tense little film. It’s a film that really has a main character that is really quite standard now. A middle-aged man named Julien is in an adulterous relationship with another woman; living this double life. The film starts in the middle of the story, not in the beginning; and in a moment of passion a conversation happens, that leads to our protagonist in police custody. The film then goes back and forth as Julien is trying to figure out how he got to this point while talking to the police. The thing that sets this film apart that makes it interesting to watch is the direction from Mathieu Amalric, who also is one of the writers and stars as Julien along with Christophe Beaucarne and Francois Gedigier (the Cinematographer and Editor respectively) together through shots and editing that has the intent of putting the viewer in Julien’s mind frame. I must say they are pretty successful since it the film had me confused and questioning the situation just like Julien must have been feeling.
All the performances are really good and not to use a blanket statement but that’s about par for the course for me with French films this year. The run time is really short at 76 minutes and while that brisk pace works for me it may feel a little incomplete for some. Things are not nicely tied up like they are in most Hollywood films. While I thought the film was good and worth watching I can’t help but feeling a bit tired of the middle-aged man bored with his life or lying about his true nature and basically gets in too deep with a troubled woman who ruins both their lives. As I spoke of earlier this is getting to be a tired trope but I’m guessing it’s balanced enough so that your eye and mind can focus more on how it’s told, much like flipping a fairy tale in a new way.
I shouldn’t ignore the acting but being that I’m not that familiar with many of the actors in this film it’s like watching a cast of unknowns. All the acting is great. Amalric holds the film together with his performance never being unbelievable on screen as Julien, with his relatable performance drawing you in as his situation goes from bad to worse. Lea Drucker and Stephanie Cleau both play off Amalric well as the two main women in his life. Both are on par with Amalric in holding their own on screen with him. He was able to do well with getting great performances out of them while still having to act with them. The Blue Room is very engaging and concise thriller something that works great for the fall season. While it might not be for those who just want to be entertained by movies it is a film I would tell people to take a leap on because it is truly a well-made movie.