Archive for October, 2008

October 31, 2008

>Burn After Reading + Terribly Happy

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I rarely can make serious observations out of most of the Coen Brothers films, and I guess that’s how they’re supposed to be, although some people might see something profound underneath, and that’s completely fine as well, after all, that’s what good films are for. Burn After Reading might be one of these cases: it’s goofy funny with its stupid characters, nonsense in its plot, it makes you giggle here and there, until it climaxes in the most hilarious and creepest way. Actually one of its funniest scenes could be the most tragic one in another film. But this is a Coen film! (and thank God, for that). Burn After Reading (2008) Directed by Ethan & Joel Coen. Starring: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt.

I haven’t seen a lot of contemporary danish movies, except for two Susanne Bier films now and then, and Lars Von Trier’s projects in english language. Most of all danish films I saw are those Dogma films made in the 1990s, like Festen. Therefore I didn’t quite know what to expect from Frygtelig Lykkelig (in the original title), a story that takes place in the country side, more precisely in a small town/village with very peculiar people, who have their own law and don’t accept outside interference very well: children who steal small shops don’t receive a warning, they’re spanked; a woman is phisically abused by her husband, but her bruises don’t shock anyone. When an outsider comes in the form of a policeman, things won’t change in people’s lives and their way of doing things, however, it’s the outsider who will incorporate their methods little by little, despite trying to make justice in the beggining. His sense of justice is firstly attracted by the wounded woman, who won’t hesitate to seduce him even in the most bizarre situations. Terribly Happy has elements of a classic noir film, like its dark cinematography, the femme fatale, subtitle violence and crime. Frygtelig Lykkelig (2008) Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz. Starring: Jakob Cedergren, Kim Bodnia, Lars Brygmann, Lene Maria Christensen.
October 28, 2008

>Films I Love: The Village

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Those of you who have read my blog for a while, are aware of how much I praise this film, as I’ve mentioned it some other times. The Village is quite special: it’s thrilling, intriguing and striking, and at the same, it’s as tender as a soft focus image coming out of a fairy tale. It’s a love story, a simple and true one. At least that’s how I see it, although others can see deepest elements in it, which is not entirely wrong, and that’s how brilliant the story is. One could see it as a sad and pessimistic film about today’s society and how we fear everything that surrounds us to the point of immersing ourselves inside a bubble. Through another point of view, it could also be about family values, about cherrishing and protecting those we love, no matter what it takes, like Ivy Walker does so bravely while entering in a forbidden path she can’t even see, after all, she’s blind. There’s also the beautiful soundtrack, layering love and terror when you least expect.

The Village (2004)
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Judy Greer, Michael Pitt.
October 25, 2008

>Innocence

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After all those wicked characters from contemporary films, I leave you with some innocence from a Hollywood that no longer exists. Mary Pickford, the first America’s sweetheart; the lovely Clara Bow and the eternal Charles Chaplin as the tramp. Don’t you just love the silent era?

Innocence is not entirely dead in the movies, not if it depends from the talented team behind Pixar, which delivered us the magical Wall-E this year. The film does remind me of those old silent pictures, when words were not needed to express one’s feelings.

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October 24, 2008

>Villains

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Wally has tagged me on listing 10 of the best villains in movie history. I should list remarkable evil characters whose actors delivered an outstanding performance to fulfill this request, but I’m afraid my list wouldn’t look so original in comparisson to what a typical movie fan would deliver. Then I thought of listing 10 really despicable characters, those who provoke nothing but despise, horror and disgust, but I suppose I’d scare away the readers by showing these images, I mean… Kevin Spacey covered in blood, De Niro fat and nearly bald, De Niro “molesting” a woman, and then Joe Pesci etc, etc. Not very pretty, I suppose. Therefore I decided to list the evil elements in some of my favourite contemporary films.

Everyone who lives in Dogville – even the apparently nice guy played by Paul Bettany ended up being very evil! Damn, what a wicked town.

The Duke in Moulin Rouge – “It’s not that I’m not a jealous man. I just don’t like other people touching my things!” (the thing, in question, is a woman).

The Father in Festen – “It was all you were good for”. We see this man, a family man, celebrating his birthday surrounded by his children, grandchildren, his wife, that we could never picture the shocking truth that is about to come out.

Stansfield in Léon“I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven. Can you hear it? It’s like when you put your head to the grass and you can hear the growin’ and you can hear the insects. Do you like Beethoven?” He obviously doesn’t follow the “no women, no children” rule when it comes to “cleaning”.

Pauline in Heavenly Creatures“Why could not mother die? Dozens of people are dying all the time, thousands, so why not mother? And father too.” She kills her own mother in cold blood, and somehow, I still feel simpathy for this character (not the real life Pauline, for God’s sake!).

Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King“Pretty little fly. Why does he cry? Caught in a web. Soon he’ll be… eaten.” I even liked him in the two towers, after all, he didn’t look or sound that evil, but look what he did to Sam..and Frodo.

Cruella De Ville in One Hundred and One Dalmatians “My only true love, darling. I live for furs. I worship furs! After all, is there a woman in all this wretched world who doesn’t?” EW, I don’t! Well, this is not one of my favourite films (I haven’t even seen it) and it’s not contemporary, but this lady, she’s evil. At least in that film with Glenn Close, she wanted to kill all those sweet puppies and make a coat out of their skin. My God. Fur is evil, folks. And it can be quite tacky sometimes.

Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List“They cast a spell on you, you know, the Jews. When you work closely with them, like I do, you see this. They have this power. It’s like a virus. Some of my men are infected with this virus. They should be pitied, not punished. They should receive treatment because this is as real as typhus. I see it all the time.” This guy would be the top 1 in villains of the worst kind list.

Captain Vidal in El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) – I fear him more than all those monsters Ofelia had to face along her tasks. But Amon up there is still the most evil one.

Chris Wilton in Match Point“The innocent are sometimes slain to make way for grander schemes. You were collateral damage.” The modern day Raskolnikov.

October 22, 2008

>Twentieth Century (1934)

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A few posts ago I wrote about how I wanted to discover Carole Lombard, and now I had a chance to do so, while watching Howard Hawks’ Twentieth Century in the movies. Carole has a great comic timing and looks stunning from the beggining to the end, first as a self-conscious shop girl who dreams of becoming a stage actress, and at last, an accomplished Hollywood star (I love how she’s wearing trousers and flats in a certain moment). Although she’s quite funny, it’s John Barrymore who steals the show in a hilarious performance as Oscar Jaffe, an idiosyncratic Broadway director who discovers Mildred Plotka (Lombard) and turns her into the glamorous and successful stage diva Lily Garland. Jaffe does not only control every step Lily gives on stage literally, he also controls her personal life, where she goes and who she meets, in short, she doesn’t know freedom. One day she gets tired and leaves to Hollywood, damaging Jaffe’s career, but he won’t miss a chance to persuade her to come back when he realizes they’re on the same Twentieth Century train on their way back to New York. But this is a hard task! Lily doesn’t long to see her former partner and would never agree to sign a contract that would expose herself to his demands once again.

I don’t know if the fact the acting in the film is quite theatrical has anything to do with silent movies being not so far behind, since it could have been done on purpose due to Jaffe’s personality (his life and career has no boards). I find it quite amusing.
October 17, 2008

>The Queen & The Duchess

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I haven’t seen The Duchess yet (when is it ever opening in DK?!?), but from the pictures I’ve seen, I was instantly reminded of Marie Antoinette, without the candy colours. I know both films take place in the 18th century, but I just have the feeling these two women have much more in common. Perhaps I’m wrong.
October 17, 2008

>Alice’s House

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(A Casa de Alice, Brazil, 2007) – She may be named Alice (Carla Ribas, outstanding), but her world is very far from Wonderland. Married to a taxi driver and mother of three children, all of them men, without a single exception. The family lives together in the same house, which belongs to her mother, an old lady who is practically an unpaid maid and whose only joy is an old portable radio. Every day Alice goes to work in a beauty parlour, where she’s a manicurist and listens to one of her female clients brag about how she’s happy financially and in her marriage. Alice listens but doesn’t share any of her frustrations, not to this person, not to anyone else. She seems optimistic and even smiles, that no one could realize what’s really going on inside her mind. She’s so helpful, that other people wouldn’t mind asking her for advices, like a young girl who lives in the same building and doesn’t know what to do to make her much older lover abandon his wife. She’s a good woman, after all. But Alice struggles between life’s adversities and the sexism her house possesses. The problem is she doesn’t quite know what happens inside and outside those walls, she’s not a strong presence in her own house. Her mother, however, knows about everyone’s secrets, but doesn’t interfere. It’s only natural that Alice ends up searching for real happiness outside her own world, but is it possible to be happy? This is a realistic picture, from the dialogues to how they’re spoken and filmed. Some of the actors seem so comfortable in what they’re doing and saying, that it feels like the camera is registering a real life happening.
October 16, 2008

>Romola Garai

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Probably the most talented young actress to ever grace Lula’s pages. No offense to Kiki, though.
The Thing Called Love, Lula Magazine, Issue #4, 2007. Source: romola-garai.com
October 9, 2008

>Carole Lombard, The Profane Angel

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When I fell in love with movies, many years ago, I was firstly seduced by classic movie stars, one by one or all of them at the same time. Marilyn, Ava, Rita, Marlene, Audrey, Grace… There’s always this unexplainable magic about those who will never age, who are eternal. And how could I not notice this exquisite beauty in a satin gown? I must have seen her photograph before, but I can’t recall seeing one of her movies. It’s time to discover her.

October 6, 2008

>Julianne Moore, the most unhappy housewife Hollywood has ever seen

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Chemicals, gay husband, severe depression, social conventions, something, somehow, made all these three characters extremely sad. It’s amazing how Julianne has brought a different element to all these three roles despite its similarities.

Cathy Whitaker in Far From Heaven (2002)

Laura Brown in The Hours (2002)

Carol White in Safe (1995)