Arsinee Khanjian

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Eden Review

Good

Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered garage music in France. It's not an easy film to engage with, since the characters and situations remain stubbornly undefined by the atmospheric filmmaking. But fans of the music will find the movie mesmerising as director Mia Hansen-Love cleverly recreates the clubbing culture.

The central figure is Paul Vallee (Felix de Givry), who with his buddy Stan (Hugo Conzelmann) forms a DJ duo called Cheers in the early 1990s, adding a "French touch" to the garage sound and developing a friendly rivalry with their pals Thomas and Guy-Man (Vincent Lacoste and Arnaud Azoulay), better known as Daft Punk. Despite gaining success in France, around Europe and even in America, Paul struggles to make a decent living, mainly because all of his money disappears into his drug habit. So he constantly turns to his mother (Arsinee Khanjian) for help. But the real problem for him is loneliness, as his relationships with a series of girlfriends (including Greta Gerwig and Pauline Etienne) fade away. And nearly 20 years years later, he still feels like he hasn't grown up.

The film is assembled with artistry, capturing the period and settings with an earthy realism while the musical beats churn through every scene. And the actors deliver naturalistic performances that draw out a variety of intriguing themes. So it's deeply frustrating that the film's uneven structure develops so little momentum. De Givry is superb as Paul, but there's nothing about him that becomes terribly interesting apart from his musical innovations. He seems to just drift along, never steering his life in any particular direction, neglecting his relationships to concentrate on the music. Oddly, even his cocaine habit seems to barely impact him, apart from the realisation much later on that the world has moved on without him.

Continue reading: Eden Review

Jurors Of The Palme D'Or Award Are Presented To The Media During The 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Arsinee Khanjian, Karim Ainouz and Cannes Film Festival - Yu Lik-Wai, Jean Pierre Dardenne, Arsinee Khanjian, Karim Ainouz and Emmanuel Carrere Wednesday 23rd May 2012 Jurors of the Palme d'Or award are presented to the media during the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival

Arsinee Khanjian, Karim Ainouz and Cannes Film Festival
Arsinee Khanjian, Karim Ainouz and Cannes Film Festival
Arsinee Khanjian, Karim Ainouz and Cannes Film Festival

Adoration Review


Excellent
With his usual themes of memory and technology, Egoyan tells a provocative and deeply emotional story that centres on current issues. It's a little heavy handed, but still thoroughly involving.

Simon (Bostick) is an orphan teen raised by his slacker uncle Tom (Speedman).

When a teacher (Khanjian) assigns an exercise based on a news story, Simon's piece recounts how his Palestinian father (Jenkins in flashbacks) talked his pregnant violinist mother (Blanchard) into carrying a bomb onto an airliner.

Continue reading: Adoration Review

Adoration Review


OK
About halfway through Atom Egoyan's 12th feature, Adoration, a woman wearing a mask of black cloth and silver jewelry asks a man about a nativity scene he is putting up in his front lawn and eventually begins to prod him about the Israel-Palestine conflict. He asks her to keep walking and she does but comes back later to discuss the same thing with even more assuredness. It feels like a fever dream, both to the man and to the viewer.

How we perceive reality, whether in art, history, or technology, has been the monkey on the back of several directors, but none have seemed as seduced by the conundrum as Mr. Egoyan has been for the last two decades. The woman with the mask is Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian), a teacher who we meet early in the film and who has become entangled in quite the imbroglio with her student Simon (Devon Bostick). Together, Simon and Sabine have engineered a false identity for Simon, casting him as the son of a terrorist who attempted to blow up a plane heading to Israel by hiding a bomb in his wife's luggage. Simon uses the identity in a presentation to his classmates, who take it as gospel, and soon enough, he is the focus of international news. But, in reality, Simon's parents died in a car accident, leaving Uncle Tom (a very good Scott Speedman) as the young man's sole guardian.

Continue reading: Adoration Review

Ararat Review


Good
Life must be a nonstop party at the old Egoyan homestead. Our pal Atom comes home, tired from a long day's work, sits down for dinner with his wife Arsinée Khanjian, and finally they retire to the living room... where they get to discuss Armenia at length.

Atom Egoyan, the avant-garde Canadian filmmaker born in Egypt to Armenian parents, has a chip on his shoulder the size of the Great White North. And that chip is Armenia. Obviously harboring a deep guilt for his living high on the hog in the West while his ancestors were massacred in the motherland, Egoyan never misses a chance to revisit Armenia as a theme in his films -- even if, say, it's a movie about a strip club and a dead girl (Exotica). And invariably Egoyan casts his wife Khanjian as an Armenian of some sort, always taking the time to let us know she's Armenian with the subtext that she should be pitied.

Continue reading: Ararat Review

Speaking Parts Review


Excellent
With Speaking Parts, Atom Egoyan showed that his long-simmering promise as a great filmmaker had finally been fulfilled. Early movies like Family Viewing were earnest but rough. Here, Egoyan crafts a meticulous and dazzlingly confusing tale of love, prostitution, obsession, technology, coldness, death, and potential incest, all wrapped into a tight 90 minutes. A plot synopsis would consume the better part of your afternoon, and would spoil too much for you -- just figuring out what's going on is have the fun of the film. Solid performances by a band of unknowns improve the film beyond typical low-budget experiences.

The Sweet Hereafter Review


Excellent
It's been over two years since Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan first came to my attention with his breakthrough film Exotica. Since then, I've become something of an aficionado of his works through home video, and it was with breathless anticipation that I awaited what was sure to be the movie that pushed him into the mainstream: The Sweet Hereafter.

Maybe I over-hyped it in my mind, becoming too hopeful in the face of overwhelming praise for the film. Or maybe I know Egoyan's tricks too well by now. Either way, I left the film extremely pleased but depressed: partly because the movie is such a downer, and partly because I know Egoyan can do even better.

Continue reading: The Sweet Hereafter Review

The Adjuster Review


Excellent
He's an insurance adjuster willing to do anything to make his clients feel better -- even if that means sleeping with them.

She's an adult movie censor that surreptitiously videotapes the screenings so she can get off to them after hours.

Continue reading: The Adjuster Review

Fat Girl Review


Bad
Fit for a ghoul's night out, Fat Girl stands cast iron firm with the simplistic, fatuous, built-in excuse that its woman director is baring the harsh sexual realities of adolescent girls. Being a boy, I might not understand female behavior and am unequipped to analyze this particular pseudo-feminist coming-of-age story. Fair enough. I'll pretend to ignore the mannered posturing and Health Class 101 "this is a no-no" dialogue when Older Teenage Boy coaxes Younger Teenage Girl to let him have anal sex with her, speaking variations on "It won't hurt!" for a scene that seems to last at least ten minutes. This is done almost entirely in an unbroken master shot that suggests unimaginative camerawork more than unblinking voyeurism. They dare you to look away, without possessing the courage of allowing the children to actually sound like children (they're mouthpieces for writer-director Catherine Breillat's one-note clinical politics).

Rather than show an even-handed evaluation of the rigors of hormonal change, Breillat (previously responsible for the unwatchable Romance) wants to indulge in her hour of hate. Life is pain, highness. Get used to it. She'd find keen bedfellows in Neil LaBute and Todd Solondz, other sultans of misanthropy who lack the balls to be earnest or honest. For children, dealing with trauma and pain is complicated. To bury that in sarcasm and academic theory feels cheap. These would-be auteurs (more like hauteurs) haven't earned the right to display suffering because they don't layer it in emotional truth (as Mike Leigh does throughout Naked and David Lynch in several key scenes of Blue Velvet). Of course, there I go again comparing her to all these (better) male directors. I don't care. Gender be damned, she's borderline inept.

Continue reading: Fat Girl Review

Exotica Review


Essential
Exotica is a new dramatic thriller from Canadian director Atom Egoyan, who brings us this fascinating glimpse into the life of Francis Brown (Bruce Greenwood), a Canadian tax auditor whose life intertwines with a his brother and niece, an exotic animal smuggler, and, most importantly, the denizens of a strip joint called Exotica.

The action in Exotica jumps from one character to another, from location to location, and back into Brown's past occasionally, teasing the viewer with bits of information about how these people's lives are eventually going to gel into a cohesive story. As the story progresses, there are plenty of blanks left for the viewer to fill in as the action springs around. The seamless editing makes this seem natural, albeit a bit overdone at times, but eventually it all comes together to make perfect sense in the end.

Continue reading: Exotica Review

Felicia's Journey Review


Good
Atom Egoyan is no stranger to the top ten lists of filmcritic.com. The Adjuster (#7, 1991), Calendar (#6, 1993), Exotica (#7, 1995), and The Sweet Hereafter (#3, 1997) attest to some amazing staying power over our minds. And while Egoyan's latest effort, Felicia's Journey, is certainly a watchable film, it's likely to be his first of the decade that doesn't make the cut.

Why? While Egoyan is a master at working with cryptic source material, Felicia's Journey lends itself more to its source as a novel than the big screen. Basically, this is the story of two people. First is Felicia (Cassidy), an Irish lass who's travelled to the U.K. to search for the father of her unborn child. Along the way she encounters Joseph Hilditch (Hoskins), a sweet and friendly "catering director" who hides a secret that other critics will undoubtedly reveal, but I won't.

Continue reading: Felicia's Journey Review

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Arsinee Khanjian Movies

Eden Movie Review

Eden Movie Review

Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...

Ararat Movie Review

Ararat Movie Review

Life must be a nonstop party at the old Egoyan homestead. Our pal Atom...

The Sweet Hereafter Movie Review

The Sweet Hereafter Movie Review

It's been over two years since Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan first came to my attention...

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Fat Girl Movie Review

Fat Girl Movie Review

Fit for a ghoul's night out, Fat Girl stands cast iron firm with the simplistic,...

Felicia's Journey Movie Review

Felicia's Journey Movie Review

Atom Egoyan is no stranger to the top ten lists of filmcritic.com. The Adjuster...

Ararat Movie Review

Ararat Movie Review

Writer-director Atom Egoyan's heartfelt passion project "Ararat" is an abstractly structured account of both the...

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