Foreign Dramas

La Moustache

April 8th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

I’ll warn off folks who need to have things neat and tidy right off the bat, because there is nothing neat and tidy about this film. When you watch the extras, you’ll see Emmanuelle Devos state that she still doesn’t understand the bit about the moustache! Well, if she doesn’t, how are we supposed to? At various times throughout the story I thought Marc was crazy, his wife Agnes was crazy, or Agnes was plotting to make Marc think he was crazy. I’m still not sure which, if any, of these is the case. One of the really interesting things I experienced while watching this was the twists and turns in my own reactions; fear, sympathy, suspicion and distrust, loathing, frustration…and constantly jumping to conclusions…it was a great ride! Read More…

La Truite

April 7th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

This is a rather odd character-driven movie that will appeal to a rather limited audience. This film could almost be considered feminist, but it isn’t really. It is primarily the story of Frédérique, played by Huppert, a young woman who, utterly disgusted by her father and his friend’s constant womanizing, becomes determined to get as much from men as possible, without giving anything in return. The movie is largely about watching her do just this, with a variety of men. Read More…

Alias Betty

April 7th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

Though less ambiguous than many of Claude Miller’s films, it still bears the mark of his hand, in that he never takes you to the obvious places—good and evil is explored with Miller’s characteristic subtlety. This film is not about the “letter of the law” but the spirit of what is somehow “right.” We sympathize with the protagonist, even though she is clearly breaking the law. We may hold high-minded ideals about never “taking the law into our own hands,” but the film appeals to our deeper sense of righteousness that longs for things to somehow work out right. Read More…

A Secret

April 7th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

Set before, during and after the deportation and murder of approximately 90,000 men, women, and children- 26 per cent of the French Jewish population. The director, 66 year-old French Jewish veteran filmmaker, Claude Miller, lost most of his aunts, uncles and grandparents in the concentration camps. I think it is the subtlety, and refusal to make this a straightforward story of perpetrators, victims, and politics, that is actually the most disturbing or uncomfortable thing about the movie. After all, we still live in a world of Holocaust deniers and victim blamers. I am thus, extremely grateful to Mr. Miller for treading into these murky waters to create a story about real people with real human passions, ideals, opinions, politics, wounds, foibles, and humanity—rather than cardboard victims and villains. Read More…

The Best Way to Walk

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

This film will annoy those expecting the promised “unflinching portrait of an unlikely alliance,” to result in a modern coming-out story. I was more immediately confused by the ending than annoyed, as it left me not really sure what the “message” of the film was, but it percolated in my subconscious for days after viewing. It made me think…and think and think…and the longer I thought the more I appreciated the film. Miller’s “message” is rarely obvious, but that is what I like about him. He makes character-driven movies, and the characters of Phillipe, Marc, and Phillipe’s girlfriend Chantal are all wonderfully written and exquisitely acted. Read More…

Lilja 4-Ever

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

I was really surprised by this movie. I thought it was perfect. There is hardly an ounce of sexploitation in this film. I happen to enjoy sexploitation movies, but I am quite uncomfortable with movies that blur the line between supposedly trying to inform and create empathy while simultaneously titillating a prurient interest. Maybe I really shouldn’t let that secret out of the bag, as even those who view it for the wrong reasons may be deeply moved by the humanity, tragedy, and utter believability of these characters. Read More…

La Vie Promise

April 5th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

This film is the story of a woman suffering from severe mental illness, possibly exacerbated by drug-addiction. Whether or not she finds anything approaching redemption or healing at the end of her Odyssey depends totally on how much the viewer is willing to suspend reason and believe fully in the power of love to heal all. As her present and her past unfold, we realize she has been in and out of a mental health institution, possibly more than once, and has been loved deeply by a husband who was probably helpless before her mental illness, though he tried his best. Read More…

Vagabond

December 23rd, 2010 by Wayward Muse

Agnes Varda’s masterpiece with Sandrine Bonnaire’s breakout performance as the enigmatic “vagabond” is simply sublime. The very first shot in the movie is of Mona, our vagabond, lying dead in a frosty ditch. There are no surprises in this movie, just an intricately traced “journey” of the last period of time that Mona was alive, and the people with whom she interacted. Read More…

Hipsters (Stilyagi)

October 16th, 2010 by Wayward Muse

With Oksana Akinshina, who also starred in Ya this year (and Lilya 4Ever if you ever saw that marvelous, traumatizing film about sex trafficking)

In fact this would be an awesome double-feature with Ya (I Am)…both deal with rebellious teens in Russia…in two very different eras..and both are musicals (and both have the lovely Oksana in quite divergent roles)…but Ya is only for the very brave…a very, very strange musical (!) mish-mash of Drug-flick (a la Spun or Requiem) meets One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest…it’s totally surreal…and it has that great, dark, deadpan Russian humor.

Hipsters, on the other hand, is a film many people will loveif they ever get the chance to see it….you can watch about half of it here by clicking the READ MORE link below…at least for now…and see what you are missing  :) Read More…

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