Monthly Archives: July 2011
Today’s movie was Jean-Luc Godard‘s A Woman is a Woman (Une Femme est une femme) and after yesterday’s Faces post about faces, I couldn’t not screencap this quick sequence from the end(ish) of the movie.
These frames pretty much sum up the entire film. It’s an ultra-classic romantic comedy with a touch of French quirkiness and, as an added bonus, Anna Karina, who won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 11th annual Berlin International Film Festival for her performance as Angela, the movie’s titular woman.
If you haven’t seen A Woman is a Woman, you should definitely give it a shot. I gave it four stars on Netflix just a few minutes ago.
I just saw John Cassavetes‘ Faces for the first time (streaming on Netflix until August 3). Glorious realism! After watching this and Shadows, it’s easy to see how his work may have influenced the mumblecore movement (which I love).
But this post isn’t about any of that. This is a quick note about how the director chose to light and frame his main subjects, Mr. (John Marley) and Mrs. (Lynn Carlin) Forst, during an argument near the end of the film.
Light, dark, up, down. What does it mean? How does it relate to the film’s title?
And check out this over-the-shoulder shot.
COMING SOON: A lengthy pictorial analysis of the final scene in Faces. You know, on the staircase. I’ve got all the shots lined up, but it’s late right now and I’d like to reflect on the film a bit before I really spout off about it.
The recently released and lengthily named Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the most disappointing conclusion to a 20+ hour, 10 year, 8 film series I’ve ever seen. The fanboys can’t curse me for saying so anymore. There’s no magic left here.
We begin right where the previous film (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, in case you couldn’t guess) left off. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has just buried Dobby, an annoyingly disgusting little Vladimir Putin elf I was supposed to care about but never did. With his pals Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), Harry has kidnapped a Goblin to help them break into a magical bank.
You see, in the Harry Potter world, the bank only hires goblins.
It’s not racial profiling. They’re just better with money.
And the bank is magical because DUH why wouldn’t it be?
Sounds cool, right? The gang’s going to break into a magical bank! There will probably be a big wizard fight and giant snakes and dragons and guard dogs with 13 heads and 14 tails. That would be awesome!
But first, an aside.
Harry has a few new wands and he has to ask the wand maker about them.
Why? Because how else is the viewer supposed to know wands abide by contrived rules of allegiance?
It’s really not important now, and it hasn’t been important enough to bring it up in any of the previous six books or seven films, but trust me, it’s going to come up a little later.
After Harry finishes interrogating the old man, the gang makes their way to the bank. They’re breaking in to find and destroy one of the horcruxes, the last book’s magical MacGuffins. This they pull off entirely without a hitch. A firespewing guard dragon offers nearly 12 seconds exciting of peril before the kids hop on its back and effortlessly ride it to safety.
Harry then has a vision which reveals to him the locations of the rest of the horcruxes. I consider this a lucky break for two reasons.
- Now Harry, Ron, and Hermione don’t have to use any of the clever antics that got them through seven other movies to figure out where the final horcruxes are. The answers have been dropped right into their laps for no reason better than “This series is already long enough, and besides, the whole last movie was these guys finding horcruxes.”
- Now I don’t have to sit though another two hours of the boring blahblahblah another horcrux hunt would be.
So the trio teleports to very near Hogwarts, the location of the next horcrux.
Q: But if they can just teleport, why didn’t they ______ so they wouldn’t have to _____?
A: Because magic.
Then alarms go off. We get 9 more seconds of near danger before the gang is scooped into a safe house kept by none other than the brother of the recently-deceased most powerful good guy wizard. We know they didn’t know he was there because Harry is inexplicably pissed at the old guy for saving his life. Don’t worry though, this movie isn’t about to get dramatic or anything silly like that. Harry immediately decides he isn’t pissed anymore. No arguing or fighting or emotion. I guess their teleporting to his front door was a coincidence.
So they sneak into Hogwarts and… I’m bored just thinking about it. The Big Bad Voldemort shows up and initiates the Final Battle for Hogwarts. It’s all the good guys vs. all the bad guys in the fight the whole series has been building to.
Cut to Harry talking to a whiny ghost. Cut to Harry taking a sparkly princess tiara from the whiny Draco Malfoy. Cut to Harry whining about how all his friends are fighting for him.
Oh right, they’re fighting! I wanna see the battle I wanna see the battle!
Cut to the battlefield, where no you do not get to see any sweet magic action. Voldemort’s called a cease fire and a few main characters are dead so their corpses get 2 seconds of screen time each. Everyone’s making whimpering sounds.
By now I’m thinking this movie is trying to keep the children in the audience from caring too much about its characters. Even Snape, who has been a massively important antagonist throughout the series, gets only a 2-minute flashback after his death to explain how he’s been a good guy all along. The best guy, really. And he’s in love with Harry’s mother.
This flashback comes to you via a magic birdbath Harry dips his head into after filling with Snape’s dying tears.
Remember all that wand nonsense the wand maker brought up earlier? In the final battle, Harry defeats Voldemort not with superior tactics, not by having the heart of a Good Guy, not by surviving the Avada Kedavra death curse twice, and not with the help of his friends. No, in the end, Harry beats Voldemort because Voldemort, the most powerful and evil wizard to ever life, forgot to read the fine print in his contract with the Elder Wand.
Flash forward 19 years. Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint’s heads hilariously superimposed on middle-aged bodies. He’s wearing a business suit, he must be 40 years old.
This isn’t very well organized, I know. It’s a rant. Maybe I’ll do a real review later.
Marc (Vincent Lindon) has worn a mustache all his adult life. One day on a whim, he decides to shave it off. Certain his wife will comment on the drastic change in his appearance, Marc is baffled when neither she nor friends notice at all. Even more disturbing is that once he calls attention to it, everyone insists he’s never had a mustache.
This is the simple premise behind La Moustache, Emmanuel Carrere‘s 2005 French thriller based on his novel of the same name. What sounded to me like an excitingly original idea for a comedy turned out to be the setup to one of the better thrillers you can find streaming on Netflix Instant.
The very first scene in La Moustache, pictured above, is Marc shaving his titular facial hair. Every turn the film takes from that point on is unexpected. Has Marc gone crazy? Are all his friends playing a big joke on him?
It’s a good sign when a movie can keep an interested audience wondering what’s real, and with head games that start within its first 5 minutes, La Moustache will leave you guessing through – and long after – its 87-minute run time.
No spoilers here, people. You’ll have to see this movie for yourselves. It earned every one of the five stars I gave it in my Netflix rating, and if you like puzzling psychological thrillers, it’ll earn yours too.
I posted the link twice already, but here it is again. It’s less than an hour and a half long. You can thank me later.
Seriously, who else is going to recommend this one to you? It would be awfully lame to forget all about this post and miss out on a fantastic movie like La Moustache. You can at least pop it into your queue, right?