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  • Written by lezard on 26.11.2019

    It begins like a western movie. A desert under a scorching sun. A bird of prey. It goes on like a road-movie. Two men driving from Texas to L.A. Then it turns into a melodrama. Torn people, a family secret. Howewer, it's not a movie by John Ford, Monte Hellman or Douglas Sirk and the miracle is that this strange patchwork works out perfectly.
    This is Paris-Texas, 10Th film by Wim Wenders and a great movie indeed!
    The plot? A man comes out of nowhere. He meets his brother again. This latter has welcome his abandoned son. Together, they search for his long unheard of wife.
    Where does this man come from? Why has he run away? What has happened?
    These questions will be answered. The movie is a quest/inquest. It is also a tribute paid to different genres of American cinema, but these genres are revisited. As the title suggests it, there is also a European touch. It is a melting of two cultures and imaginations. The story starts in a border-place called Trelingua (3 languages).
    The film constantly deals with origins, filiation, fatherhood, roots and routes. For it is also a journey. Travis, as his name says, is the one who travels. He travels through space but through the language too. He is the one who comes from silence (mute, at the beginning) and journeys to the story, the tale (the final scene).
    The son is essential to this story. Once again the child is a father to Man. He is Hunter, the one who hunts for his mother. He has two fathers, two mothers. He is a bit lost.
    We first discover Jane, the mother, through a super-8 movie. Vision of Paradise Lost. A moment of great emotion, which as Wenders shows it, can only be expressed by a silent movie, the movie of the origins, the one that doesn't need words to touch us.
    The final meeting between Jane (Nastassja Kinski) and Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) is an awsome moment of cinema, some sheer genius in acting. She can't see him but he can. He can but doesn't stand the pain of seeing her which reopens a wound. He turns his back to her to be able to start speaking, and we listen, like children at bed-time in the dark, mesmerized by the power of story-telling.
    As a modern cowboy Travis vanishes in the distance of the night, back to silence.

    The movie was awarded the Palme d'Or.
    The music by Ry Cooder is unforgettable.
    You may emerge from this movie like Travis from the original desert. In this case, it will take you some time to have access to language.

  • Written by lezard on 18.11.2019

    Can you, must you be faithful ? Can you be true to what you once were, to the ones you love, to the ones you hate ? Is living giving up ? What happens when the crystal of childhood meets the mud of the rivers.
    Like the Mississippi, a mother-river, a father-river, these questions irrigate the 3rd movie of the young talented Arkansas-born Jeff Nichols.
    The movie starts with Ellis who escapes in the night to join his 14-year old friend Neck. Together, on a raft, they go up the river, to reach an island. Children on a river immediatly evoke novels (Mark Twain) or movies (the Night of the Hunter). Litterature of childhood, childhood of litterature. Going up a river is not fortuitous as well and evokes other novels or movies.
    On an island, they find a boat perched on a tree. The elements of the puzzle are well in place : the night, a mysterious island, a boat/shack. But every Robinson should know that desert islands are seldom desert.
    Out of nowhere comes Mud, a drifting loser, on the run after the murder of a man who harassed Juniper, his one and only love since childhood. At once, Ellis admires Mud, who represent the ideal knight, the raider, the adventurer. He will help him regardless of the obstacles because Mud embodies his hopes and his ideals of faithfulness, at a very special moment of his life. He’s growing up, his parents want to get a divorce, he discovers love and looks for answers.
    Mud is tracked down by the Police, but also by the family of the victim. It is a film moir with a violent ending. But before the end there is the heart of the film. It’s about believing, about loving and being saved. Just like Mud was redeemed by Juniper’s love.
    What is this mud Mud is made of ? Is it the mud that stains and blackens, the mud of lies ? Or the mud that relaxes and heals ? Or the one you shape with your own hands to create figures in the light ? Certainly the mud where juniper-trees grow. As to Ellis, finding and I-land seems to be obvious .
    It’s not a talkative movie, accents are deeply rooted in the land damp with water. Words lie and betray the heart. Actions, gestures only matter, like the one which ponctuates two key-moments.
    There are cross-like prints in the sand, blows, tears and blood, bird-tattoo on her arm, snake tatto on his. There are real snakes that bite fallen children. There are lights at the bottom of the river. There is Sam Shepard. There is the night and the hunters. Eventually there is the evernew bewilderment of water.
    A great rich movie.

  • Written by lezard on 16.11.2019

    It starts with an operation, « grand » music and slow camera movements. A warning : it's going to bleed and we're going to get to the « heart » of an American family.
    It's a story of revenge, meant to be a stressful thriller with tension and suspense and fear. The filming clearly aims at Kubrick's, nothing less.
    The result ? A complete failure, pretentious and vain.
    As a thriller, it doesn't work, as a metaphor for the vanity of the average American family and its so-called respectability, it is far-fetched and it totally misses the point because it is mostly a caricature and not a funny one, though many critics marveled at Lanthimos sick humour (if anyone really, spontaneously laughed while watching the movie, please let me know.). As to the photography, it is pointless as well because nobody is interested in watching excellent pictures of nothing. A magnificent box which contains nothing only amounts to emptiness.
    Others have compared Lanthimos to Bunuel, saying that what Bunuel did to the catholic church, Lanthimos wants to do it to capitalism. If this is what he really aims at, well, capitalism has a bright future. Plus, Bunuel liked some of his characters, he films desire, lust. In Lanthimos'movie, the main failure is the characters. Not one of them is worth saving, not one of them deserves an once of sympathy. If the film was designed to be a slaughterhouse, at least let's have some fun slaughtering ! Kill with joy !
    A vain, pretentious movie by someone who doesn't like people, obviously. Become an ermit, Yorgos, and don't inflict us your boredom.
    I would have rated it zero it it had been possible. If you have 2 hours, peel potatoes or watch paint dry instead.

  • Written by lezard on 15.11.2019

    First of all, it's a bit challenging to speak about the movie to people who haven't seen it, but as Chris Marker said : « Do those who haven't seen Vertigo deserve to be spoken to ? »
    Let's try anyway.
    Scottie, a former cop, has just resigned because he suffers from a fear of heights. He is hired by an old friend of his to follow his wife, Madeleine, who suffers from a morbid melancholia.
    But you don't follow a woman like Kim Novak innocently. When she falls in San Francisco bay, he falls in love with her (People fall a lot in the movie, it's a movie about falling). He takes her home. He lives not far from the Coit tower, can you believe it ?
    Spoiler :
    Madeleine thinks she is possessed by the soul of a doomed woman named Carlotta. Eventually she is going to die, by falling.
    Scottie is devastated, both because he is in love, but also because he failed to stop her.
    He falls (again) into a deep nervous breakdown.
    When he begins to recover, he accidently meets Juddy, who looks a bit like Madeleine. Driven by an insane obsession, he tries to change Juddy into Madeleine in every possible little detail. (Hitchcock, mourning the loss of Grace Kelly, and transforming Kim Novak?)
    I won't reveal the end.
    This could be just another Hitchcock movie, with suspense, love, lust, violence and a final switch. Still, this one is unique. There is a weird magic, a strange alchemy in this movie. Most of its charm and fascination come from the fact that it is divided into two parts which echo each other. It's a mirror-film in which everything is reversed. And it's litterally vertiginous ! For instance, see what side Madeleine is looking at when she kisses Scottie in the mission, and which side Juddy is looking at later. See how many times Scottie and Juddy are in front of a mirror, thus creating four characters. Some lines of the dialogue are even inverted. There is something really maniac about the movie, like Scottie knowing to the smallest detail of what Madeleine was wearing. Who could do this with the beloved one ?
    The colors also play an important and significant part in the movie. Try to spot red and green. Who wears them ? When ? What objects, car, door, are green or red?
    Finally, no matter how many times we watch the movie, the puzzle is always incomplete and the magic is still present.
    To conclude, in the west, there is a place called Scotty's castle. It is a remote, forsaken place, far from everything. As a coincidence, it is located in Death Valley, the place where Scottie wanders for ever, looking for Madeleine. A beautiful coincidence ?

  • Written by lezard on 14.11.2019

    R. Fleischer, a.k.a efficiency in film directing. Regarded as a gifted crafstman rather than a real « auteur » Fleischer is a real « product » of the studio system of the golden age of Hollywood. He has shot all genres of movies. His « films noirs » are especially quick, inventive, efficient.
    Among these ones, Violent saturday is often underestimated if not totally forgotten. It's a pity because it's a jewel.
    The movie, like the stick-up, is a well-built and precise piece of machinery. In 90 minutes, Fleischer's savoir-faire draws a portrait of small-town America, with a variety of characters, from the banker to the Amish farmer or the forgotten housewife. Ambitions, jaleousy, untold love are all depicted with a great simplicity. It is clear, direct.
    Moreover, it stars Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine for instance. Could you ask for more ?
    The violence of the heist echoes the violence of feelings, whether they be love or hatred.
    A great movie, which should make one want to see Fleischer's other masterpieces, such as the Boston Strangler or the New centurions.

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