★★★★★

Kings & Queen

April 9th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

Desplechin makes very long movies, full of incredibly neurotic and dysfunctional individuals and families having very odd interactions involving a whole lot of philosophical and literary dialogue. This film is a prime example. Nobody is really a hero or heroine; everybody is an anti-hero, with some good qualities, but their humanity generally shines through. The film portrays a somewhat cynical and tragic view of life, but with a strange sense of humor to balance it out. If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, give this a miss. Desplechin’s more recent film, A Christmas Tale, is at least oddly uplifting; Kings and Queen is much less so, though a case could be made that Devos triumphs over her father’s malevolence, or that sheer survival is a kind of triumph. Read More…

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…

Mississippi Mermaid

April 7th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

The primary mystery is solved early on. What remains is the mystery of just how far down a man will go in pursuit of the object of his mad love. The film moves and flows at a wonderful pace, with lots of twists and turns, so it remains interesting and engaging throughout. That anyone would be completely obsessed with the enigmatic, preternaturally gorgeous, and impenetrable Catherine Deneuve, is hardly a stretch of the imagination. That such a masochistic obsession would grow in the face of cruelty and betrayal is also hardly a revelation. Read More…

Private Property

April 7th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

This is a complex, twisted tale of family dysfunction that requires patience, attentiveness, and the ability and inclination to watch faces and bodies for clues to emotions and thoughts. It’s not a “talky” movie. The characters don’t tell us or each other much of what is actually going on with their thoughts and emotions. But it is painfully realistic—the essence of dysfunction is the breakdown of healthy communication, and in this film the viewer is dropped into a situation where they are in exactly the same situation as the family members—adrift in an uncharted sea without map or compass, trying to make do. 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…

3 Women – Criterion Collection

April 7th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

Altman says he dreamed this movie whole, complete with the actors, and then went about trying to recreate the dream on film. That is exactly how it feels: surreal, dreamlike, utterly absorbing, and perfectly cast. The nice thing about all this is that Altman himself does not claim to know exactly what it all means, so we are left with a great deal of freedom of interpretation. The three women in this movie seem to me to be parts of a whole; individually they are mere caricatures or faces of the Goddess; the sad, wise, mysterious, and resigned Willie, who is part mother and part crone; the hopelessly dorky and out-of-touch Millie, who seeks, through the outward trappings of what she imagines to be sophistication, to be the popular it-girl of her imagination; and the unformed child-woman Pinky, who remained utterly creepy to me from beginning to end. Read More…

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

Michel Legrand’s melody “I Will Wait for You” weaves throughout this deceptively simple “romantic” tale, adding a touch of irony that is more poignant for those raised on the English-language lyrics of this old standard. It’s not your typical Broadway or Hollywood musical, as it’s structured more like an opera—between the more obvious “songs,” where the characters reflect on their inner worlds and heightened emotions, all the dialog is sung in the style known as recitative in opera, a more speech-like singing that moves with the action. This might take a little getting used to for more mainstream modern audiences, but this wonderful film is worth every bit of the effort. Read More…

Belle de Jour

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

Beautiful film that is definitely dated in the eroticism department. But in terms of the overall story and meaning, this is not important, because really, it is a film about social-sexual repression and hypocrisy. Catherine Deneuve is a beautiful young bourgeois newlywed who wants to be bad..really bad! Now in a sane, rational, hypocrisy-free world; no problem! She just says: Honey, I’m just not turned on by this two bed, missionary-style gentle version of sex you keep offering me; I WANNA GET FREAKY! And he doesn’t say: OMG, I married a harlot, not the pure uptight virginal Madonna I paid for. Get thee to a nunnery, wench!! No, in a sane, rational world he says: Whoopee! I hit the jackpot! Let’s go buy some STUFF! Read More…

A Christmas Tale (The Criterion Collection)

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

A Christmas Tale is the story of a dysfunctional family that comes home for a little Christmas healing. The whole cast is exceptional, and the characters are captivating. It’s not particularly edgy or exceedingly artsy (a little, but not too); things I rather enjoy typically, but I thought it was great nonetheless. It is very “artistic” but in a very accessible rather than experimental way. It’s very long at 2 1/2 hours but I wasn’t bored for a moment and could just go on and on voyeuristically enjoying these terrific performances and fascinating characters. Even the most outrageously dysfunctional behaviors just seem “natural” not maudlin, not exploitative, not sensationalized. All the various relationships are treated with so much more nuance and sophistication than most Hollywood offerings—always a great draw of foreign film. Read More…

My Winnipeg

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse

I think I liked Saddest Music in the World a bit better, but that is due solely to my adulation for Isabella Rossellini. My Winnipeg was apparently funded by some Winnipeg arts & cultural org. as a documentary, & so that, at some level, is what it is. But what a documentary. I actually learned some fascinating things about Winnipeg–the strangest, of course, being the frozen horse-head river make-out spot–but also some cool stuff about the back alleys, and the demolition of the iconic landmarks of Madden’s youth and Winnipeg’s history. 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…

Swingtown: The Complete First Season

December 24th, 2010 by Wayward Muse

This show is real—in a sweet, lighthearted way. Swingtown is full of the exhilarating optimism of a time when everything was changing, and anything seemed possible. Shown not through the cynical, ironic gaze of hindsight, that pastes on labels like the “me generation,” but with all the sincerity of a time when “consciousness-raising” was a revolutionary act, and we really did still believe at a core level that “love would find a way!” It was such a treat to revisit the giddy optimism and innocence of that time. 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…

Cleo from 5 to 7

December 20th, 2010 by Wayward Muse

What an utter delight! There is so much here with such a deceptively simple presentation. The film follows Cleo, a young Edith Piaf successor (we even get a report on Piaf’s most recent medical recovery over the radio in a taxi ride), over the course of an hour and a half, which seems much longer as so much happens. But the camera never seems to lose sight of Cleo for a moment, staying with her in “real time” through taxi and car journeys, bus rides, and strolls down the streets of Paris, while she tries to come to terms with the fact she probably has cancer. 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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