A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply well-made film feels somewhat slight, with only a wisp of a plot. But the characters are so vivid that it's thoroughly engaging, and it's written and directed by Stanley Tucci with a terrific attention to detail. So even if the plot itself barely seems to have enough fuel to keep moving, there are constant bits of comedy, drama and emotion to hold the interest.
It's set in 1964 Paris, where journalist James Lord (Armie Hammer) agrees to sit for a portrait with Alberto (Geoffrey Rush), who says it will only take a day or two. But Alberto doesn't work very quickly, painting then repainting while constantly being distracted by his favourite muse, the prostitute Caroline (Clemence Poesy). His wife Annette (Sylvie Testud) barely tolerates this, while his brother Diego (Tony Shalhoub) just shrugs it off as he assists Alberto around the studio. James watches all of this with a smirk, then becomes a little worried as days stretch into weeks and he begins to understand that for Alberto this painting will never be completed. Indeed, he never sees any of his work as ready to show to the world.
Anchored by one of Rush's best performances yet, the film is a wonderful depiction of Giacometti's artistic process, watching him produce his work with only his own inner voice to guide him. Rush plays him as a man who never lets a moment of pleasure pass him by, and everything he does is based on spontaneous impulse. So the people around him need the patience of a saint. The wry Hammer is a terrific foil for the blustering Rush, sitting with a bemused smile watching the chaos unfold around him while wondering how he can extricate himself from this situation without ruffling the artist's feathers.
Continue reading: Final Portrait Review
Natalya Petrovna Islaeva is feeling disillusioned in her marriage to her land baron husband Mikhail Rakitin. As good as he is to her, she is open to him about her feelings that perhaps she is not quite as in love with him as he is with her. As heartbroken as he must be, he is understanding, but things get more complicated with the employment of a young tutor for her small son. His youth, vibrancy and good looks overwhelm Natalya, but he is more interested in her elder daughter Verochka. Natalya knows she must forget about this young man and Mikhail insists that he must leave for everyone's sake, but her jealousy and desire threaten to rip apart her family when Verochka learns of her mother's feelings.
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From France, this artful drama is designed to stir controversy among viewers, approaching taboo issues in a way that can't help but raise the hackles. But by doing this, the film forces people to think about these things in new ways, challenging accepted wisdom and even the letter of the law. It's a bracingly fresh approach to filmmaking for writer-director-producer Agnes Trouble, who's far better known as the designer agnes b.
At the centre is 11-year-old Celine (Lou-Lelia Demerliac), who ends up caring for her younger siblings because their mother (Sylvie Testud) is working extra shifts and their father (Jacques Bonaffe) just sits around the house uselessly, moaning about the fact that he's unemployed. But he also has some very dark urges, inviting Celine upstairs for special time that's all too clearly horrific sexual abuse. So it's no surprise that Celine begs to go on a school camping trip, then quietly runs off when no one's watching. She stows away in the cab of friendly Scottish truck driver Peter (Douglas Gordon), who instantly understands everything that's happened to her. So he decides to help her escape.
The film is shot and edited with a lot of swirly and gimmicky stylistic touches that often obscure the precise nature of a scene, capturing Celine's perspective on events while forcing the audience to look closer. This also makes the film feel almost like a caper, as Celine goes on this apparently exciting adventure with a stranger who, for the first time in her life, lets her play as the happy little girl that she should be. Meanwhile, as viewers, we have constant chills down the spine, understanding various ramifications of what's happening and wondering why Peter never calls the authorities. What we know also clouds the scenes of Celine's parents desperately searching for their missing daughter.
Continue reading: My Name Is Hmmm... Review
French actor-filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika) takes on a major event in his nation's colonial history with this true action-adventure set on the lush South Pacific island of New Caledonia. It's a muscular, harrowing military thriller that has echoes of Zero Dark Thirty in its urgent story's drive to a big action climax. And it was made a year earlier.
The events take place in 1988, as politicians in France are preparing for general elections when an uprising breaks out in New Caledonia and several people are taken hostage by Kanak islanders. So French special forces captain Philippe (Kassovitz) assembles a crack team to diffuse the situation. Their goal is to facilitate talks to find a peaceful solution, but the local French politician (Martin) and military bosses are keen on a much more aggressive approach to crush any percieved rebellion. This is especially frustrating to Philippe after he meets the Kanak leader (Lapacas) and discovers that they also want peace, and that the whole situation is the result of panic and inexperience.
As the military and government pushes violence over peace, the story becomes increasingly intense. The political gamesmanship is shocking, as candidates falsely label the Kanaks as "savages" to get votes while arrogant leaders make snap decisions thousands of miles away in Paris. So the film begins to feel like a real attempt to right France's colonial wrongs, and it's infused with the righteous anger of centuries of mistreatment of indigenous peoples. It even opens with the caption, "The truth hurts, but lies kill".
Continue reading: Rebellion [L'Ordre Et La Morale] Review
Young Amelie (Sylvie Testud) is a Belgian who spent the first five years of her life in Japan and never lost her love for the culture. Now out of college and fluent in Japanese, she returns to Tokyo on a one-year contract to act as a translator for the gigantic Yumimoto Corporation. But no sooner does she take her seat across from her immediate superior, the impossibly glamorous Fubuki (Kaori Tsuji), than the culture clashes begin.
Continue reading: Fear And Trembling Review
A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...
Natalya Petrovna Islaeva is feeling disillusioned in her marriage to her land baron husband Mikhail...
From France, this artful drama is designed to stir controversy among viewers, approaching taboo issues...
French actor-filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika) takes on a major event in his nation's colonial history...