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The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie Review


Essential
Bunuel's marvellously surreal satire pokes lacerating fun at the snobby, unflappable French middle class. Shot like a sitcom, it's a snappy look at the ridiculous inequity of Western society, peeling back the veneer of civilisation in a way that's even more timely now than it was in 1972.

Ambassador Acosta (Rey) and three friends (Frankenur, Seyrig and Ogier) arrive at a country house for dinner, but discover that they're a day early. And rescheduling the meal proves rather complicated, as the men are secretly involved in an illicit drug deal, and hosts Alice and Henri (Audran and Cassel) would rather sneak off for sex. The interruptions to their rescheduled meal become increasingly surreal, including a tea room that runs out of tea, a group of soldiers on manoeuvres and a gang of armed thugs.

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Certified Copy [copie Conforme] Review


Excellent
Like Before Sunrise, this film follows two people as they roam through a setting that's foreign to both of them. But since this is an Italian-French film by an Iranian filmmaker, it's also oddly playful and provocative.

In Tuscany, author James Miller (Shimell) finds that his latest book, Certified Copy, is more acclaimed in Italy than back home in England. A fan, Elle (Binoche), buys the book to her friends while her son (Moore) teases her that she's in love with the author. In her shop full of antiques (and copies), she meets James and the two head off for a day of visiting museums and roaming through an Italian village. And as they talk, they invent their own history as a couple.

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Danton Review


Excellent
Long before we arrive at the time and place where Andrzej Wajda's captivating Danton takes place, democracy itself had failed. Has it gotten better since the days of guillotines and powdered wigs? The answer is muddled, but behind it all still lurks the fear of that blade, its finality and the power that gives whoever holds the rope from which it hangs.

Georges Danton, the titular Parisian political firebrand who was put under the blade in April 1794, is played here by the incomparable Gérard Depardieu, and it may very well be one of the mighty, imposing actor's best performances. Danton returns to Paris to decry the Reign of Terror that, under the hand of the Revolution, had claimed countless lives and allowed the Committees to continue to do what they want without bowing to scrutiny or criticism. Instead, rather quickly, the one-time revolutionist was jailed along with several other politicians and accused of trying to bring down the Revolution.

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The Milky Way Review


Very Good
Approaching a film like Luis Buñuel's The Milky Way isn't a cut-and-dry affair. Part of you wants to look at it in the pantheon of Buñuel's oeuvre, citing his patented sense of sarcasm, skepticism, and wit. Another idea is to tackle it as a singular film, discuss its theories, its themes and characters, and the director's "point." Another dead end: Way has an episodic surrealism that makes clearly describing it somewhat in the vein of teaching a humpback whale how to solve a Rubik's cube. My editor told me the best way might be to just babble incoherently. [You're doing fine at that so far! -Ed.]

There are only two consistent elements in Buñuel's film: Its mocking of Catholicism and the two bums making a pilgrimage to the altar of St. James. Outside of these elements, there are high-flying moments that disregard time altogether. You'd call it goofy, but it's so well-crafted that you just hold on for dear life through all the outright daffiness that pours out of Buñuel's imagery.

Continue reading: The Milky Way Review

The Milky Way Review


Very Good
Approaching a film like Luis Buñuel's The Milky Way isn't a cut-and-dry affair. Part of you wants to look at it in the pantheon of Buñuel's oeuvre, citing his patented sense of sarcasm, skepticism, and wit. Another idea is to tackle it as a singular film, discuss its theories, its themes and characters, and the director's "point." Another dead end: Way has an episodic surrealism that makes clearly describing it somewhat in the vein of teaching a humpback whale how to solve a Rubik's cube. My editor told me the best way might be to just babble incoherently. [You're doing fine at that so far! -Ed.]

There are only two consistent elements in Buñuel's film: Its mocking of Catholicism and the two bums making a pilgrimage to the altar of St. James. Outside of these elements, there are high-flying moments that disregard time altogether. You'd call it goofy, but it's so well-crafted that you just hold on for dear life through all the outright daffiness that pours out of Buñuel's imagery.

Continue reading: The Milky Way Review

Goya's Ghosts Review


Bad
There are always clear-cut signs: a solid cast with no buzz, a good director but no release date, a topical film with a PR campaign that could best be described as non-existent. To say nothing of the fact that the first it was heard of was roughly a year ago, Milos Forman's Goya's Ghosts has its ineffectiveness in the bloodstream and appears to have been released solely on name cred.

Forman, the Czech madman, began his career with sublime studies in New Wave dynamics, most memorably with 1965's Loves of a Blonde and 1967's sublime The Fireman's Ball. Now, after Cuckoo's Nest, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and that ridiculous role in Keeping the Faith, Forman seems to have jettisoned over to the other side of the spectrum. While most of Forman's American fare at the very least holds the faintest whiff of provocation, Goya's Ghosts seems shackled to a supremely-uninteresting story without even a glimmer of spontaneity. Seriously, hasn't it already been proven that all art is inspired by women and all women are evil? Isn't it time to move on? Not according to Forman.

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The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie Review


Essential
From the moment his 16-minute Surrealist dirty bomb Un Chien andalou was dropped on an unsuspecting Paris in 1929 until the time of his death in Mexico in 1983, director Luis Buñuel patiently and gleefully held court as cinema's most steadfast, outspoken, and off-handedly inflammatory enemy of "polite" society. He built a career on his contempt for unexamined social mores and the gluttonous, self-righteous civic and religious leaders who perpetuated them, and he wasn't just fooling around. As a representative attack, consider this sequence from his 1930 feature L'Âge d'or: We're informed by intertitle that over the course of a long weekend in a locked mountain chateau, a group of depraved rapists and murderers have been having their way with a bevy of adolescent male and female virgins, whom they then torture and kill. The scene is based on the same Marquis de Sade material that served as the basis for Pier Paolo Pasolini's unconscionable Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom, the difference being that here Buñuel has thoughtfully included Jesus Christ among the deviants. He is even seen to drag an injured, escaping girl off screen, the assumption being, when she doesn't return, that He has finished her off. Was Paris burning? No, but once word of L'Âge d'or got around, you may rest assured that some of her theaters were.

Buñuel's cheerful blasphemy was, as you can imagine, shocking, but his commitment to relaying narrative through free-associative, non-linear images - his commitment, that is, to the Surrealist creed that raged among Parisian artists - was seen by many to be as grave an affront. Audiences grew hostile, it seems, when, in Buñuel's films, livestock lounged about in the beds of debutantes or miffed gamekeepers shot and killed children to blow off steam. Buñuel, who was a Spaniard, suffered a more concrete hardship when Fascists took power in Madrid in 1938; he eventually settled in Mexico in 1946, returning to Spain in 1961 where General Franco banned his first new film, Viridiana, just as hurriedly as the jury at Cannes awarded it the Palme d'or. And so Buñuel relocated to France, now in his 60s, and at an age when most directors have retired or have long since begun recycling their own material, he entered one of the most fertile periods enjoyed by any filmmaker anywhere. There are masterpieces scattered among Buñuel's French films like confetti, but in his 1972 comedy The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, one of cinema's most brilliant directors made the most brilliant film of his career.

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The Tin Drum Review


Extraordinary
The Tin Drum is one of cinema's greatest coming of age stories -- probably because its star, Oskar, never comes of age, literally.

Oskar (David Bennett) is a young lad in 1920s Germany, and at the age of three he realizes that as he gets older, the attention he's given will rapidly wane. He decides to quit growing and hurls himself down the cellar. He achieves his goal. Ten years later, Hitler is on the rise, and Oskar is still romping around with his precious tin drum, physically unchanged since that day but deeply affected by life experience nonetheless.

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The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Review


Extraordinary
When I first watched The Unbearable Lightness of Being, I was dating a poet who had read and loved the book. Not wanting to involve myself in reading the book at that point, I rented the movie instead. I loved it then and I love it now, but, at this point in time, I can compare it to the novel by Milan Kundera. The two are both vastly similar and vastly different. As an adaptation, it succeeds in transcribing the events of the novel, but does not do as well in successfully demonstrating its points.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being focuses on Tomas (Daniel-Day Lewis), a Don Juanist terrified of commitment and a surgeon at a Prague hospital. He is trapped between his platonic and semi-erotic love of Teresa (Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche), a photographer and his wife and a erotic and semi-platonic love of Sabina (Lena Olin), a painter and his mistress.

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Birth Review


Bad
Jonathan Glazer's stylish debut Sexy Beast stood out for the uncharacteristically explosive and vicious performance the director coaxed out of stately Ben Kingsley. Evidence of any such energy all but escapes Birth, Glazer's anticipated follow-up to his kinetic gangster picture. A plodding and pretentious thriller, this beyond-the-grave affair ends up being too art-house for the mainstream crowd and too mainstream for the art-house crowd. Loosely translated, that means it doesn't work for anyone.

Birth hangs its hat on a delicate premise that demands kid gloves if it seriously hopes to sustain the already shaky credibility. An elegant transition of life forces starts the film. Physician Sean dies while jogging. Simultaneously, a baby is born. Fast forward 10 years, where a cave-eyed child coincidentally named Sean (Cameron Bright) claims to Upper West Side basket case Anna (Nicole Kidman) that he is her reincarnated ex-husband. Anna's humorless fiancée (Danny Huston) scoffs at the idea. Her mother (a neglected Lauren Bacall) displays indifference. ("I never liked Sean, anyway," she articulates.) But Anna's not so quick to write the boy off.

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Jean-Claude Carriere Movies

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Movie Review

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Movie Review

Bunuel's marvellously surreal satire pokes lacerating fun at the snobby, unflappable French middle class. Shot...

Certified Copy [copie Conforme] Movie Review

Certified Copy [copie Conforme] Movie Review

Like Before Sunrise, this film follows two people as they roam through a setting that's...

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