Archive for April 11th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 2007 131m) DVD1/2

Strawberry jam

p  Matthew Gross, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd  d  Julie Taymor  w  Dick Clement, Ian le Frenais  ph  Bruno Delbonnel  ed  Françoise Bonnot  m  Elliot Goldenthal  m/ly  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison  md  Elliot Goldenthal, T-Bone Burnett  art  Peter Rogness  cos  Albert Wolsky  spc/tit Kyle Cooper

Evan Rachel Wood (Lucy), Jim Sturgess (Jude), Joe Anderson (Max Carrigan), Dana Fuchs (Sadie), Martin Luther (Jojo), T.V.Caprio (Prudence), Joe Cocker, Bono, Salma Hayek, Harry Lennix, Eddie Izzard,

It’s a commonly perceived opinion that whether one loves or loathes Julie Taymor’s phantasmagoria of love n’ the Fab Four depends on whether you grew up with the music and knew it with any degree of not just depth but feeling.  The Beatles had broken up several years before I was even born, so that rules that one out.  The approach of having characters burst into famous song was hardly a new one – it was mastered by the likes of Dennis Potter.  Nearer to the mark, however (in that the actors actually sing rather than mime or undercut) is Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, another love story set in the past and splitting audiences right down the proverbial spinal column bonemarrow. 

            Set in the sixties, the film tells the tale of Scouse dockworker Jude who sets off to America to find the GI father who left his mother pregnant during the war.  While over there he befriends Princeton student Max, about to drop out, whose sister Lucy has just waved her beloved Daniel off to the Vietnam War.  When Daniel is killed in combat, Lucy sets off to join Max and Jude and their Bohemian lifestyle in New York, from whence nothing will ever be the same. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 2001 104m) DVD1/2 (France only)

Aka. Yes, but…

Falling into the manure pit

p  François Kraus, Denis Pineau  d/w  Yves Lavandier  ph  Pascal Caubère  ed  Dominique Petrot  m  Philippe Rombi  art  Yann Mercier  cos  Edith Bréhat

Émilie Dequenne (Eglantine Laville), Gérard Jugnot (Dr Moenner), Alix de Konopka (Denise Laville), Cyrille Thouvenin (Sébastien Douglas), Vanessa Jarry (Françoise), Patrick Bonnel (André Laville), Stéphane Szestak (Kevin), Ahmed Guedayia (Youssef), Cédric Michel (Christian),

Here’s a film that never got a proper release in British cinemas, nor indeed in America prior to a belated 2008 DVD.  Prior to this, the only way to see it was to import the original French DVD release (a later cheaper version didn’t have English subtitles), and what a surprise it was; the sort of film to warm the cockles of the hardest pericardium.  If I was being brutally honest with myself, I would admit it isn’t what one would call an outright masterpiece, in the fact it is such a small scale film, but the fact remains that I could see no way it could be better done and quite perfect.  It’s also, to anyone who has been through either first or second hand what our heroine goes through, a film to which one could generate a great deal of empathy.

            Eglantine is a charming, clever seventeen year old girl who attracts the attention of the popular and attractive Sébastien.  However, her life is complicated by the fact that her mother is a manipulative, emotionally blackmailing manic depressive who refuses to let her have any freedom and lives only to make those around her feel sorry for her.  Her husband, Eglantine’s father, has started having an affair, too, which only makes her put upon Eglantine even more.  Finally, she thinks that her mother needs help and asks the help of a psychotherapist, only for him to say that Eglantine needs the help more.  They tentatively agree to a ‘brief therapy’ of ten sessions or so. (more…)

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