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Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent (played by Pierre Niney) grows up in Algeria and loves to design dresses for his mother, Lucienne (by Marianne Basler) and his two young sisters Michèle and Brigitte. At 18 years old, he moves to Paris to study fashion and quickly gets the attention of the Parisien Haute Couture set. He is instantly hired by Christian Dior. Slowly, his sketches and designs are adopted into the collections and when Dior dies prematurely, at only 21 Yves becomes his successor. His first solo collection achieves rave reviews and to ease media angst he shortens his name to Yves Saint Laurent. He struggles through the next few years, then he and his partner, Pierre Bergé (by Guillaume Gallienne) form their own fashion house – YSL. His label and “look” grow in popularity and many celebrities become his clients. Yves Saint Laurent’s heady lifestyle as one of the Paris jet set involves heavy drinking and cocaine. He continues to sketch and design, living in both Morocco and France. He holds fashion shows but struggles with his health and addictions, so if often distant from the day to day arrangements – relying on Pierre to keep the business operating. By the 2000’s the pair have established a steady routine, but he develops brain cancer and dies in June 2008 in Paris. Soon after, heartbroken Pierre undertakes an auction of their extensive collection of art and treasures.

This is a beautifully made movie and the performances by both Pierre Niney and Guillaume Gallienne are wonderful. As Yves Saint Laurent, Niney is captivating, strikingly like YSL in appearance, with a totally authentic portrayal of him. The relationship between these men is turbulent, at times violent but always passionate. It’s a very well told, fascinating story. For this work, Pierre Niney was awarded the César Best Actor (Meilleur acteur) at the 2015 France César Awards. Well done.

Made in 2014. Directed by Jalil Lespert

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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Movies

 

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Delicacy (La délicatesse)

Nathalie (played by Audrey Tautou) and François (by Pio Marmaï) meet at the same café every year on the anniversary of the day they met – they savour the delicious memory. Their’s is a beautiful, trusting and happy relationship. When they marry, both Nathalie’s parents (by Ariane Ascaride and Christophe Malavoy) are overjoyed and can’t wait for the grandchildren to arrive. They settle into married life until François has a tragic accident and Nathalie’s world turns upside down. She’s thrown into deep despair and is barely able to function. After a time, she returns to work and is glad that her boss, Charles (by Bruno Todeschini), will support her with lots of work to keep her occupied as she recovers. With her life in tatters, her best friend Sophie (by Joséphine de Meaux) has no clue how to help her and Nathalie’s behaviour becomes erratic. One day at work she has a random encounter with fellow worker, Markus (by François Damiens). Although her behaviour is beyond her control – and often her consciousness – she forms an unlikely friendship with the awkward and hapless Markus and she begins to emerge from her darkness. Charles, hopelessly in love with Nathalie, is outraged at their friendship and Natalie’s assistant, Chloe (by Mélanie Bernier) discovers the best office gossip for a long time. This situation can’t possibly end well … can it?

This is one of those movies that is billed as a comedy, but there isn’t much that’s funny in it. I guess some plot lines could be amusing to some viewers – a woman’s journey through tragedy and grief that produces some erratic behaviour; the despicable behaviour of Nathalie’s boss who is infatuated with her to the complete disregard of all other people; the awkward Markus and his confusion mixed with delight at the thought of making a personal connection with Nathalie. These are lovely storylines, but not really all that funny. Having said that, this movie this is easy to watch. As Nathalie, Audrey Tautou is as she always is, like a porcelain doll – so delicate, beautiful, unconsciously classy and flawlessly styled. François Damiens’ portrayal of Markus is a perfect balance – he is huge, awkward, scruffy and desperately average. Compare him to the behaviour of their boss Charles – he is totally French – egotistical, pretentious and arrogant. The friendship that develops between Nathalie and Markus is nice and it becomes beautiful towards the end when they pay a visit to Nathalie’s grandmother, Madeleine (by Monique Chaumette) – she’s just lovely. I guess some may find this funny. For his work here as Markus, François Damiens won the Prix Aquitaine Prix d’interprétation masculine at the 2011 Sarlat International Cinema Festival.  This is based on David Foenkinos’ best selling novel “La délicatesse”.

Made in 2011.  Directed by David Foenkinos and Stephane Foenkinos

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Movies

 

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The Son (Le Fils)

Olivier (played by Olivier Gourmet) is a skilled carpenter. He works at a Young Persons’ Rehab Centre to help youths develop skills in carpentry. This is a good job for him – he can focus on this totally and rebuild his quiet life after a terrible trauma involving the violent death of his young son. He tries hard to give the Centre’s attendees a solid a start so they can have hope of a more positive future. He has somehow transferred his attention from his lost son to them, so he’s happy to do it. One day, the Centre Director (by Annette Closset) brings a new attendee to his class. He recognises this young man, Francis (by Morgan Marianne) with a terrible feeling – so he refuses and tells her the class is full. When he follows up, he realises this is the boy who committed the crime that resulted in his son’s death. What should he do? His son is not coming back … should he refuse this boy his chance of improving his future prospects?

This movie is an enigma. The performances of Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marianne and Isabella Soupart, who plays Magali, the mother of Olivier’s son, are strong. The production is very good – it has a very specific plot focus, often with little dialogue – but talk is not necessary, the audience is engaged enough to watch and want to know what will happen next. The camera work is like nothing I’ve seen before – it’s not “fly on the wall” exactly, but more like “spider on the shoulder” … sounds weird, I know, but it’s shot from the close-up perspective of Olivier’s movements and often seems like the viewer is sitting on Olivier’s shoulder. It’s very well done and Directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne would have been highly meticulous in their work to create it. The movie has been universally applauded, including the 2002 Cannes Film Festival which gave the award for Best Actor to Olivier Gourmet and the movie a nomination for Palm D’Or. Very well done.

Made in 2002. Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Movies

 

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Young and Beautiful (Jeune Et Jolie)

Isabelle (played by Marine Vacth) is holidaying with her family in the south of France. They happily celebrate her seventeenth birthday in the summer sun and along the beach. One day, a holiday romance becomes her first sexual experience and in a less than romantic encounter she loses her virginity. When she and her family travel back to Paris, she’s curious to know more about sex so she secretly becomes a call girl. She meets several regular clients when her mother, Sylvie (by Géraldine Pailhas) thinks she’s either at school or studying with her friends. During one hotel liaison, Isabelle’s client Georges (by Johan Leysen) suddenly dies and she flees. When the police track her down and question her – she is unapologetic, but doesn’t behave like a victim either.  Her mother is horrified and her brother, Victor (by Fantin Ravat) is totally amazed – he wants to know more too.  Her life continues on and she tries to balance her adult experiences with her still maturing emotions.

This film is okay – of course the south of France and Paris are both lovely, but the story is strangely remote. I didn’t find Isabella particularly interesting at all, nor any of her family. The saviour for me is the cameo by Charlotte Rampling, but you need to wait quite a while for that. As a drama, it’s interesting in that you’d like to understand what makes this girl tick and what motivates her – she wants to have adult sexual interactions, but wants a teenage love affair with someone her own age too … difficult adolescent times, I suppose. I would be interested to see both Marine Vacth and Fantin Ravat in other things as I don’t think this is enough to judge. The director, François Ozon,  has also made “8 Women” and “Swimming Pool”, which I found far better than this one.

Made in 2013. Directed by François Ozon.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2014 in Movies

 

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The Lunchbox

Ila (performed by Nimrat Kaur) works hard to care for her husband Rajeev (by Nakul Vaid) and their school-aged daughter. Every day she cooks and packs food for Rajeev’s lunch and it is collected from her home in a thermos pack, to be professionally delivered by hand to him at his workplace. Ila wants to “spice up” her marriage, so she prepares a special meal for Rajeev – under the detailed instructions of her reliable Auntie (by Bharati Achrekar). Auntie lives upstairs and is always on-hand for advice via their informal intercom. Ila sends the special meal off to Rajeev and readies herself for a night of attention, but that evening he returns home no different than any other day – she is disappointed and perplexed. That same day, in another office across Mumbai, insurance clerk Saajan Fernandes (by Irrfan Khan) prepares for another ‘hum-drum’ day at the Claims Desk. He takes his lunch break as always, but today he enjoys the most delicious food he’s had for a long while. He is delighted, but confused. What has happened to his usual restaurant? A new Chef perhaps? The mysterious meal exchanges continue when Ila and Saajan realise they are connected by chance – a curiosity then a trust develops between them. Ila finds herself looking forward to preparing the next meal for this unknown man – while Saajan starts to rediscover parts of himself he thought had become dormant long ago. What will become of these two souls locked into lives that have become too lonely to bear? ……

This is a sweet and lovely film. The story is innocent and deep, with aspects that most people will identify with in one way or another. Ila is serene, she clearly loves Rajeev – although he is having an affair – and Saajan is a man of deep principles and faith. Between them they create a beautiful and intriguing story, which builds in tension and curiosity as the audience wonders what will happen with these two. It is very well made. The support character Shaikh, played flawlessly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is a marvellous balance to the steady and dead-pan Saajan. He is entertaining, totally irritating and beguiling. The performances of these three are all great. The body of work that went into creation of this film has been recognised and awarded globally. In the 2013/14 awards season debut Director, Ritesh Batra and the three key cast members all received awards from Amazonas, Apsara Film Producers Guild, Asia Pacific Screen Guild, Asia-Pacific Film Festival, Asian Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Dubai International Film Festival, Filmfare Awards, Ghent International Film Festival, Reykjavik International Film Festival, Screen Weekly Awards and Zee Cine Awards. Very well done and well deserved. I look forward to Ritesh Batra’s next movie.

Made in 2014. Directed by Ritesh Batra.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Movies

 

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Lore

World War 2 has finally come to an end – it’s 1945 and families in Germany are trying to get their lives back together. Hannelore Dressler (played by Saskia Rosendahl) is 15 years old and lives with her family in Bavaria. Her father (by Hans-Jochen Wagner) is a German SS Officer and her mother cares for ‘Lore and her four younger siblings. One day, Lore see’s something is not quite right when her Vati suddenly arrives home and says they are moving. Truth is clearly not on their side when their father abandons them. Their Mutti (by Ursina Lardi) is left with the children, including Lore’s tiny baby brother. But soon she too must find safety elsewhere so she tells Lore she is going away for a few days, but if she doesn’t return they should go to live with their grandmother, Omi, in the Netherlands. Lore feeds and cares for the family as best she can while she awaits Mutti’s return. Starving and desperate, she realises they are on their own and their safety is up to her. Lore must look after herself, younger sister Liesel (by Nele Trebs), twin brothers Gunder (by André Frid) and Jürgen (by Mika Seidel) and baby Peter (by Nick Holaschke). They set out on foot for Omi’s home – a journey of hundreds of miles to the north, where she hopes they will be safe.

This is an extraordinary movie – the story itself is remarkable, but the production takes the entire piece to a whole new level. Never before have I seen such drama and graphic images on screen, presented so well and with exquisite timing. The cinematography is outstanding, the emotion from every character is excellent and all the children portray their characters with excellence. As ‘Lore, Saskia Rosendahl is outstanding – her timing, emotion and focus is marvellous. The desperation she feels is palpable and the viewer is taken right inside her head, sees what she sees, feels what she feels and has the same thoughts she does as she reasons out her next move as they encounter challenge after challenge in their difficult journey. Another character, Thomas (by Kai Malina), adds complexity to this story which is well done. I can’t speak highly enough about the images, drama and situations that are presented here – it’s just truly marvellous, totally provocative and yes … courageous. The piece is beautifully supported by the musical score. There is no surprise that Saskia Rosendahl won several awards for her performance (Stockholm Film Festival, Australian Directors Guild, Film Critics Circle of Australia), the cinematography was globally applauded (Hamptons International Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival) and director Cate Shortland was deservedly awarded for the entire production (Hamburg Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Hessian Film Award, Locarno International Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival,Tromsø International Film Festival, Australian Directors Guild, Australian Writers’ Guild, Bavarian Film Awards, Beijing Student Film Festival, Film Critics Circle of Australia, German Film Awards and Valladolid International Film Festival). The film was also nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the Academy Awards (Oscars). Excellent work, well done everyone.

Made in 2012. Directed by Cate Shortland.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Movies

 

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A Lady in Paris (Une Estonienne à Paris)

Anne (played by Laine Magi) has been caring for her mother in Estonia. To do this, Anne has stopped work, so they are struggling to make ends meet. The winter is cold and things are bleak. Since her divorce, Anne’s her life hasn’t held much joy – even her children have found their own lives now. When her mother dies, her employer offers her a position in Paris, to care for an elderly lady. Anne is unsure, but takes a chance – just to get a change of scenery, more than anything. Once in Paris, she meets Frida (by Jeanne Moreau). She discovers that Frida is a fellow Estonian, but she isn’t interested in Anne’s care and is quite insulting towards her. So, this is what she left her home and family for? Frida is adamant that she doesn’t need help but Anne eventually finds a way to provide the care she has been employed to carry out, without damaging the pride of the once well to do woman.

This movie is quite harmless. It’s a sweet story of lonely people who are too proud to admit it – and I suppose it’s about about accepting that life doesn’t stay the sMe for ever. However, there’s not really enough in it for me. The only potential source of real drama or conflict is from Stephan, but he is impotent here also. The director provides several places where things could take a turn for the dramatic – and the viewer actually anticipates they will – but they don’t and the tension just fizzles. It has its moments, but there aren’t many.

Made in 2012. Directed by Ilmar Raag

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Movies

 

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