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35 Shots Of Rum [35 Rhums] Review


Excellent
Quietly establishing her characters and their inter-relationships with very little dialog, filmmaker Denis uses her typically moody, vague style to explore multicultural France with dark humour and warm emotion.

Jo (Diop) lives with her widowed train-driver dad Lionel (Descas) in a Paris flat. Also in the building are Lionel's ex Gabrielle (Dogue) and Noe (Colin), a neighbour Jo has her eye on. Together, they're a sort of family, watching out for each other even as circumstances change around them. When a friend (Toussaint) retires, Lionel becomes terrified of his own old age, which opens him up to potential romance with a local cafe owner (Ado). And besides Noe, Jo is also drawn to a cute shop clerk (Folly).

Continue reading: 35 Shots Of Rum [35 Rhums] Review

I Don't Want To Sleep Alone Review


Excellent
He's back. Tsai Ming-liang, master of slow-moving image-laden tales of urban disconnection, returns to all his favorite themes (and his favorite leading man) for the tenth time with I Don't Want to Sleep Alone. The amazing thing: he's as fresh as ever, especially since this time around he's left Taiwan behind.

Working in his native country of Malaysia for the first time rather than in Taipei, where most of his movies are set, Tsai takes us into the seedy underbelly of hot and dangerously smoggy Kuala Lumpur, where we tag along with a merry band of impoverished immigrant Bangladeshi construction workers who are lugging an old and stained futon to their hovel. To them, it's a treasure. Along the way they run into a homeless guy (Tsai's main man, Lee Kang-shen), who's been brutally beaten while trying to out-con a con artist. One of the workers, Rawang (Nathan Atun), takes responsibility for gently nursing the poor guy back to health and enjoys sleeping next to him with a not-quite-platonic vibe.

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Private Fears In Public Places Review


Excellent
Here's one no one could have seen coming. Alain Resnais, at the stately age of 84, comes back from a life of harrowing Holocaust documentaries and existential meditations to direct a winter-set play adaptation with a modest multi-narrative pull. Swept with snow-flurry transitions and sunken-in rom-com dynamics, Private Fears in Public Places, besides being the filmmaker's best work since 1977's Providence, brings theatrical adaptation to a new level of complexity and imagination.

It all starts with Thierry (the great André Dussollier), a realtor trying to find an apartment for Nicole (Laura Morante) and her contemptible husband Dan (Lambert Wilson). Thierry is harboring yearnings for his secretary Charlotte (Sabine Azéma), whose scattershot persona lends itself both to the religious and the carnal. Charlotte's night-job finds her taking care of the curmudgeonly father of bartender Lionel (Pierre Arditi) while he is serving drinks to Dan and Thierry's sister Gaelle (Isabelle Carre) at a classy hotel bar. All of this is connected by Charlotte's bible, a mysterious videotape of a woman go-go dancing and the search for a perfect apartment.

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The Wayward Cloud Review


OK
It's all in the timing: Tsai Ming-liang's long-awaited follow-up to Goodbye, Dragon Inn finally finds distribution and, what one would assume to be, a mouth-agape audience at New York City's Anthology Film Archives. A sort of festival myth, The Wayward Cloud premiered at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival, was released on DVD in Asia and then began to find itself popping up in small festivals all over the U.S. As much as you love to see a film so elusive and divisive finally get an open forum, The Wayward Cloud finds Ming-liang in a rut and unable to elevate his neon wilderness to the heights of the rest of his consistently fascinating oeuvre.

Following What Time is it There? and the short The Skywalk is Gone, The Wayward Cloud catches up with the watch-salesman-turned-porn-star and the unaffected object of his obsession. The opening scene (one for the books) shows Hsiao-Kang (Ming-liang standby Lee Kang-sheng) sexually violating a watermelon placed between the thighs of a female porn star. While he is tending to his craft, Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-chyi) sits in her apartment, all zombied up by her television set. Their chance meeting occurs in a small outdoor booth in a sunny park, where a small spark is relit that sets off the beautiful mess that follows.

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What Time Is It There? Review


Good
Tsai Ming-Liang has garnered some deserved recognition for articulating difficult emotions through the mundane actions of every day life. How more simply can a lack of motivation be expressed than when watching a character urinate into a water bottle (no frontal nudity, don't worry) placed beside his bed instead of getting up to go to the bathroom, not 10 feet from his bedroom door?

In What Time is it There?, like his previous work with The Hole and Vive L'Amour, Ming-Liang utilizes long, ponderous, closely-framed shots of characters amidst detailed backgrounds that reveal more about their lives than anything that could come out of their mouths. It's not whether the character is clean or dirty so much as the items in their lives that make up these traits. There is virtually no dialogue. Together, these elements create the thrill of unpredictability. There seems no reason for the camera to linger on a specific moment, and there are no recognizable clues as to what will happen next. It's a fascinating, but irritating, way to keep your attention focused on screen. You never know if a character is going to speak or what reaction they will have to a given situation, if any at all.

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Les Destinées Review


Weak
Do you like plates? Like, really nice plates? Perhaps fine porcelain plates made in the 1900s-1920s in Limoges, France?

You better damn well like plates if you're going to suffer through the three hours of Les Destinées, an exhausting family drama about a porcelain empire and just as hard a flick as its subject matter.

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Friday Night Review


Excellent
The sun goes down, and the city lights of Paris slowly rise. The romantic melancholy of a girl's adventure story finds a haunting backdrop in Claire Denis's Friday Night. This follow-up to the ultraviolent vampire horror show Trouble Every Day feels like a contemporary fable, retaining the signature Denis touches of expressionistic images and aching sensuality. Sweet, shy Laure (Valérie Lemercier) is packing up the apartment on her final evening before moving in with her lover. Laure's the very portrait of ambivalence, a sharp twist on the male fear of commitment.

That Laure won't throw away her sexy red dress (saying, "I'll keep you," in one of her affectionate throwaway lines to household objects, clothing, and her beaten-up but friendly car) says she has some vitality in her yet, and hasn't quite finished exploring life's spontaneous opportunities. Going out for the night wearing a trés chic black dress, Laure gets stuck in a massive traffic jam, allowing regular Denis cinematographer Agnes Godard to rove between vehicles picking up details of Parisian life through rain-speckled car windows illuminated and obscured by neon, headlights, and shadows.

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Pola X Review


Weak
When I left the theater, an angry woman was berating her boyfriend for dragging her to another one of those films, to which I assume she meant a pompous French soap opera. Furthermore, she didn't understand what the title had to do with anything. Seems she didn't read the press release, which the theater was kind enough to dole out. Pola X is a French acronym of the Hermann Melville novel on which this film is based (and shakily updated to modern times): Pierre, Or, the Ambiguities. The X stands for the tenth draft of the screenplay which writer/director Leos Carax completed.

While the title, Pola X, certainly has a nice ring to it, it stands representative of everything Carax's movie is: all flash, pointless trickery, grating snobbery and, ultimately, no more substance than a private joke only one person finds amusing.

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Bruno Pesery Movies

35 Shots Of Rum [35 Rhums] Movie Review

35 Shots Of Rum [35 Rhums] Movie Review

Quietly establishing her characters and their inter-relationships with very little dialog, filmmaker Denis uses her...

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone Movie Review

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone Movie Review

He's back. Tsai Ming-liang, master of slow-moving image-laden tales of urban disconnection, returns to all...

Private Fears in Public Places Movie Review

Private Fears in Public Places Movie Review

Here's one no one could have seen coming. Alain Resnais, at the stately age of...

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What Time is it There? Movie Review

What Time is it There? Movie Review

Tsai Ming-Liang has garnered some deserved recognition for articulating difficult emotions through the mundane actions...

Pola X Movie Review

Pola X Movie Review

When I left the theater, an angry woman was berating her boyfriend for dragging her...

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