Saturday, December 1, 2012

A few movies seen recently

I rent movies from Netflix and from the Evanston Library, and Paul and I generally see several films that are new to us each week.

A recent favorite was Moliere, a fictional story about a period in the playwright's life when nobody knows where he was or what he was doing. It was so well done that I was completely swept away. The story is primarily a love story and a drama but there's a good deal of humor in it as well. Fabrice Luchini plays a clueless nobleman who's trying to worm his way into a beautiful courtesan's good opinion, and he pays Moliere to write something that will impress her. The costumes and sets are spectacular. Highly recommended.

On the strength of Luchini's performance, we rented The Women on the Sixth Floor, which is a little film, enjoyable fluff, not very realistic but fun to watch.

Clash wasn't quite so good; it's a martial arts film purportedly filmed in Vietnam, but the plot and acting aren't  quite up to par. Perhaps the best thing about the film was that even the toughest characters revealed some vulnerability. The silliest thing about the film is that the fighters pummel each other for 10-15 minutes at a stretch with not much effect.

Watching Black Robe wasn't a hopeful or cheerful experience, but the cinematography is unbelievably beautiful and the story compelling. I expected a lot more gore than I saw, after having been warned that the film was hard to watch, and I think the real reason it's hard to watch is that it's the story of missionaries who are on such an arrogant, pointless errand.

Last night we watched The Owl and the Sparrow directed by Stephane Gauger, about whom I'd like to know more, as he's clearly American but fluent in Vietnamese.  We listened to part of the director's commentary last night and hope to listen to the remainder tonight. The hand-held camera work is a little jarring at first, but it does have the impact Gauger was looking for, of placing the viewer right into the movie. After about an hour of the film I realized I was watching the movie, I'd become unaware of anything but the characters. It's a very sweet story of a little girl on her own on the streets of Saigon who plays matchmaker between two lonely people.

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