When a young couple and their transvestite maid organise an orgy at their house with four guests, they never intended for it to turn out quite like this. The guests - consisting of The Slut, The Star, The Stud and The Teen - all have stories to tell and bring their own fantasies, culminating in an evening none will forget in a hurry. In a mixture of comedy and passion, the participants discover that they are part of something more; infinitely more than just the sensual and erotic party they originally expected; an intense blend of fantasy and reality, unfolding before their very eyes.
Continue: You And The Night Trailer
Surreal and over-constructed, this offbeat French drama often feels more like a stage play than a movie, with its pointed dialogue and a cast of "types". It's also a bit vague and hard to get to the bottom of, which leaves it a curiosity rather than anything more meaningful. But there's an undeniable intrigue to the plot, and some of the characters break out of their boxes to become oddly sympathetic, although that will depend on whether you can identify with one of them.
It's set in a super-modern house owned by Ali and Matthias (Kate Moran and Niels Schneider), who are holding a party with the help of their cross-dressing maid Udo (Nicolas Maury). Sex seems to be the main thing on the menu, so as each person arrives, Udo blankly asks them if they'd like "speed, poppers, cocaine, MDMA, something to drink". On arrival, the guests are given a title rather than using their names, to protect their anonymity. The Stud (Eric Cantona) defines his entire life by his genitalia. The Slut (Julie Bremond) wants everything on her terms only. The Star (Fabienne Babe) prefers the room to be dark, so she can feel and be felt without seeing or being seen. And the Teen (Alain Fabien Delon) is clearly hiding from something. Then the cops arrive looking for the runaway teen, and things take a turn.
Not that there's much of a plot here. The turn is inwards, as the film is much more concerned with the orgy of words than any sense of physicality. There's enough of that to earn the 18 certificate, although it's oddly choreographed to be eerily clinical. And this reflects the way each of the characters seems distanced from real life. Even Ali and Matthias are reluctant to face the truth of their situation (Matthias isn't well). And since these people sit around talking to each other in increasingly arch, stagey ways, the film begins to feel rather pretentious.
Continue reading: You and the Night Review
At age 30, Vassili (Rideau) works the streets in Paris but finds that his clients are getting older. So he starts quietly killing them. When he rescues 20-ish Angelo (Durdaine) after an attack, the two start to fall for each other even as they continue pulling tricks. And although Angelo asks him to stop, Vassili continues murdering their johns. So they leave the city to see Vassili's friend Anna (Dalle)and her young son (Morisset). Together they head to an idyllic mountain cabin to visit Vassili's mentor Victor (Flamand), where Vassili has a terrible idea.
Continue reading: Our Paradise Review
Opening on a digitally-rendered fetus in the womb being shaken up by a car crash, directors Bustillo and Maury spend little time with pleasantries. That pregnant woman in the car is Sarah (Alysson Paradis) and the bloodied-up corpse next to her used to be her husband Matthieu. Four months later, both baby and mother are miraculously alive, prepping for an induced labor that will be administered the following day, Christmas. Hubby's death has left Sarah isolated from her mother and her boss, both of whom are given the cold shoulder when they offer to spend Christmas Eve with the mother-to-be. The night is to be spent solely with her black cat and the memory of Matthieu until that ominous knock on the door invites another guest to the party.
Continue reading: Inside Review
Throughout the course of one night, we are driven around in five separate taxi cabs that range from familiar ports of L.A. and New York City to the echoing streets of Paris and Rome to the final ride through the frozen-over metropolis of Helsinki, right as the sun is rising. In Los Angeles, a big-time agent (Gena Rowlands) tries to seduce her rough-and-tumble cab driver (an insolent Winona Ryder) into becoming an actress. While in New York, a jerky Brooklynite (the superb Giancarlo Esposito) teaches his German cab driver (Armin Mueller-Stahl) how to drive, talk, and jive correctly while also trying to escort his sister-in-law (Rosie Perez) home.
Continue reading: Night on Earth Review
There is one scene in Clean that sticks out to me. A supremely-groggy Nick Nolte sits at a small fast food joint and gets a small salad and water while Maggie Cheung (playing his widowed daughter-in-law) goes up to the counter and orders a monster burger, french fries, and onion rings with a large coke. It's her first real meal since getting out of prison and it's his first meal with her for god knows how long. There's a lot of symbolism, even though it's simple, being used in the scene, and it gives depth to a complicated relationship (everyone thinks she Courtney-Loved her rocker boyfriend). How did director Olivier Assayas, a seasoned pro, allow this to be one of the scant few scenes that hold any real fascination? Furthermore, how did he allow himself to write something so damn drab and insipid?
Emily (Cheung) spends the first 15 minutes of the film being the annoying Yoko to Lee (Nick Cave dead ringer and cohort James Johnston), an aging rocker trying to get a deal for his anthology. She gets nabbed for heroin possession just when she finds Lee's body but is saved by Lee's manager. Out of jail after a quick stint, she meets with Albrecht (Nolte), her father-in-law who has been raising her son Jay with his wife. It's apparent to all involved (besides Jay) that Emily needs to get clean, get a job, and take custody of her child. The journey is held up by a brief stint in Paris where she still takes pills, gets fired from a job and finally begins to detox after her musician friend Tricky (playing himself) ignores her requests for help with the custody issue.
Continue reading: Clean Review
As Betty, Béatrice Dalle makes her screen debut, taking on the role of a young and brazen twentysomething that's clearly -- painfully -- stricken with some mental illness and probably more than one. As we meet her, she's visiting her new boyfriend Zorg (excellent name), played by Jean-Hugues Anglade, and much of their three hours on camera is filled with various forms of foreplay, sex, and afterplay, with Betty spending the intervening hours in various stages of undress.
Continue reading: Betty Blue Review
Director Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) offers a tantalizing setup this go-round, yet he ultimately does nothing with it. Here's the gist: A family arrives at their vacation house under suspicious (and weirdly hazy) circumstances, only to find squatters living inside. Soon Haneke reveals that some (unexplained) apocalyptic event has transpired, scattering people across the countryside. What happens when people try to survive a nuclear winter (or thereabouts)? Does soceity break down or does it rebuild?
Continue reading: The Time of the Wolf Review
Vincent Gallo (Buffalo '66) and Tricia Vessey (Town & Country) portray American newlyweds named Shane and June Brown, spending their honeymoon in romantic Paris. A reluctant Shane appears fearful about consummating his marriage with an eager June, causing him to seek refuge in a nearby Parisian medical clinic where he explores his unexplainably weird sexual urges. And there's also this tendency for him to want to devour his spouse during sex. Yes, as in literally eating his loving partner's flesh right down to her human bone. Hence, Shane has to resort to masturbation in order to overcome the desire to chew on his new bride as if she were a juicy pork chop. Bottom line: If Shane doesn't get the help he needs to control his bizarre behavior, he will inevitably end up killing his woman.
Continue reading: Trouble Every Day Review
Ferrara's only consistently smart move has been casting Christopher Walken over and over again, since Walken can make a good movie great and a loathsome movie durable whenever he's onscreen. His 8-minute scene in The Addiction is the saving grace of that otherwise abysmal, unwatchable, and pretentious failure. When he starts talking about his vampiric bowel movements, or questions whether Lili Taylor has ever read Naked Lunch, there's a much-needed dose of humor in an otherwise terminally unfunny affair. You know those Gothic club kids who are too cool to smile and let you know they're actually having fun? The Addiction is that movie.
Continue reading: The Blackout Review
The Munich-born, French-dwelling Michael Haneke's work is nothing if not challenging.
The first film I saw of his, "Code Unknown," I found shockingly brilliant, with mesmerizing extended takes exploring all kinds of inner torments, class struggles and frustrations with identity and celebrity.
His follow-up, "The Piano Teacher," was far less satisfying, and struck me as a one-dimensional, unreasonable portrait of a masochist. Nevertheless, "Code Unknown" passed by with barely a whisper and "The Piano Teacher" became a huge art-house phenomenon, even snatching up our San Francisco Film Critics Circle award for Best Actress for star Isabelle Huppert.
Continue reading: Time Of The Wolf Review