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WIGS Season 2 Digital series

Jay Rodan - One Year Anniversary of the WIGS Season 2 Digital series - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 2nd May 2013

Jay Rodan

Monsieur N. Review


Terrible
No movie to my mind has made such a disaster of the voiceover device as Antoine de Caunes' Monsieur N. In fact, the movie should be cited in Screenwriting 101 courses as an example of how, when in the service of a poorly conceived story, the voiceover can become a go-to device for filling in expository and emotional nuances that the script fails to convey. The voiceover in Monsieur N. belongs to a young British aide-de-camp, Basil Heathcote (Jay Rodan), who is assigned to monitor Napoleon's (Philippe Torreton) daily activities during the latter's imprisonment on St. Helena between 1815 and 1821, the year Napoleon supposedly died. Manzor intersperses the script with Heathcote's voiceover, favoring his intimate impressions without sufficiently fleshing him out as a character or developing any sense of why he particularly matters. In director Antoine de Caunes' fidgety hands, what is meant to be a suspenseful lark into historical revisionism quickly becomes an earnest and thudding bore.

Manzor's script grafts upon this movie a Citizen Kane-type structure as it shunts us between the occasion of Napoleon's exhumation in Paris in 1840 and 20 years earlier, during Napoleon's island imprisonment. Upon his exhumation, the question is raised of how Napoleon died -- from an ulcer or slow poisoning? -- and whether Napoleon died at all -- or, as rumor has it, he foisted his butler Cipriani's body in place of his own and escaped to an anonymous life elsewhere. To find out, Heathcote questions Napoleon's mistress, Albine (Elsa Zylberstein), and the few officers who attended to him on St. Helena, as well as the British governor, Hudson Lowe (Richard E. Grant), once in charge of Napoleon's imprisonment and now reduced to an aging and disgraced wreck. Their reflections -- alternately wistful and caustic -- cue us to extended flashbacks of those island years and of Napoleon's shrewdly enigmatic persona. There is also the question of Betsy Balcombe (Siobhan Hewlett), an English merchant's daughter on St. Helena with whom Napoleon has an affair -- much to Albine's chagrin and Heathcote's too, for we're meant to believe that Heathcote's also smitten with her. But his gambit, at one point, to express his feelings to her is laughable, because it's such an obvious ploy by Manzor to bring his character to some turn-of-fate, having arrived here using voiceovers as a shortcut device and never treading the hard road of character development to earn his way.

Continue reading: Monsieur N. Review

Triumph of Love Review


Terrible
The moral of love: Be manipulative and conniving to get the man (or woman) you want, even if a few other folks get their hopes crushed along the way. That's what's certain after watching Clare Peploe's depressing fairytale/restoration comedy Triumph of Love (based on a superficial Marivaux play originally performed in 1732). That's not the filmmaker's intention, though. She's clearly going for whimsy, light romance, and slapstick cuckolding. What her film lacks is a heart and a conscience.

Mira Sorvino plays a princess who dresses up as a dandified male student to infiltrate the summertime estate of a misogynistic philosopher (Ben Kingsley). Under the old man's tutelage, a dashing prince (Jay Rodan) has been instructed to distrust the female sex. So clever Sorvino attires herself as a man to earn his friendship, trust, and above all, love.

Continue reading: Triumph of Love Review

The Caveman's Valentine Review


Weak

"The Caveman's Valentine" is a terrible title for an intelligent movie. It sounds like some B-grade fright flick from the 1950s with screaming blondes in strategically torn outfits being abducted by ape men found living on an uncharted island.

As it turns out, this "Caveman's Valentine" is actually a provocative, stylized psychological thriller/murder mystery about a one-time musical genius long ago driven out of a normal life and into homelessness by acute paranoid schizophrenia.

Played with an astonishing array of nuance by cinematic chameleon Samuel L. Jackson, Romulus Ledbetter is a disheveled, massively dreadlocked, ranting but misunderstood madman. His mind has become a tangled, delusional plane where an unseen evil -- an omnipotent adversary with powerful ray weapons -- conspires against him to take over the world.

Continue reading: The Caveman's Valentine Review

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