Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of 2013

My top films of the year - not that I've seen many…I’m actually completely out of touch.

I wonder – did I used to watch that many films? Because now, like this year, I just keep watching less and less. It’s just strange. So I need to point out that I haven’t seen most of the top films of the year, even including documentaries.

I base this list, not necessarily in preferable order, it depends on the days really – on emotion, of feeling like its special, complexity and simplicity, effort, matter. Mostly I just love them and I think they’re great and not a waste of time. As usual, many of the films are from 2012.

Favorite Films of the Year

Before Midnight
Like I thought as the film progressed, just how perfect it is and the perfect revolves around every aspect related to a film. The craft, the quality and accomplishment behind the storytelling of Before Midnight, it is as real as it can be. It’s extraordinary, it’s essential.

The Broken Circle Breakdown
It’s a beautiful film.
It is purely heart breaking.
Gorgeous, beautifully shot, strong performances and it tells us love isn’t strong enough to overcome tragedy, or just becomes tragedy itself really.

Frances Ha
This film’s simple and utterly felt honesty, authenticity, and realism amaze me.

Stories We Tell
It’s simply exceptional.

Child’s Pose
This film’s life authenticity and its successful portrait amaze me.
The director imitated life so accurately, the drama is so tremendously well written and acted, it’s pretty astonishing. I identified with the film so much and I think many people could.
I believe it wouldn’t be the same without the lead performance by Luminita Gheorghiu.

Our Children
This film is a powerful and terrifying portrait about humans.
Is it horrifying? No, just really hard. This film is hard to watch, hard to understand and hard to accept human beings. This is the film that hunts you for days. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I kept rewinding in my mind.
The film is about a young woman – she falls in love, she marries, she suddenly sees herself with four babies and huge, acute depression. This is the story of a young mother who kills her four children.
Belgium Émilie Dequenne shines.

Rust and Bone
Brilliant film. Perfect film. I wish I had the talent to write something like this one day.

I am not a Hipster
Again, a film amazes me when it rings honest and heartfelt. It is also pretty amazing these days when you see a film you have no idea what is it about, and genuinely surprises you for good reasons.

Life is series of good and bad timings. This is how I should start when it comes to describing this great entertaining film. It’s a tight, intelligent and rewarding piece of filmmaking.

This is one of the most entertaining gems for me this year. I had to watch it more than once at the theaters. It’s so thrilling and irresistible. Great story, great drama.

I praise this film for its uniqueness, passion, and beauty. It’s a look at the Second World War we don’t often see, and there are plenty of stories to know out there. It’s not an easy film and it’s not for everyone but it is absolutely worth it.

Documentary Mentions

Stories We Tell

Here's what I wrote about it.

Mea Maxima Culpa – Silence in the House of God

The Crash Reel
Exhilarating, poignant, heartfelt, honest and fascinating. And awesome.

“I don’t give a shit what people think. I know what’s real, I don’t care people don’t think feminism is important because I know it is […] and other people can think whatever they want, my problem is when people get in the way of feminism, when people get in the way of people w ho are sick getting better, because they don’t understand it and if they don’t wanna believe it and they don’t care about it, that’s totally fine, but they should have to stay out of my way.”
The Punk Singer
Kathleen Hanna is the star, it’s her life, and it’s her doc. And this punk feminist just makes you rebel, she really makes you want to be a feminist. It becomes heartwarming, intimate and honest.

Valentine Road
Weeping story of a fourteen year old student called Larry king, who was brutally murdered with a gun at close range by his classmate.
What makes this documentary so good and important it’s because it is utterly revealing. The director is able to expose the both sides of this event, and ultimately exposing the great wrongs and misshapes and brutally obnoxious human being’s acts and beliefs – their scary ignorance, misleading and dangerous values. It makes you think like nothing progressed at all in society.
It wasn’t a hate crime? I ask. Then what was it?
Many citizens wanted the teenage murderer to be released with a minimum punishment and I don’t understand how can’t they realize they are saying with all the words that it is ok to take a gun and kill your classmate, if he’s bothering you?
Watching this doc is sometimes like watching a horror film, there’s nothing like witnessing some people’s scary ignorance and retarded and misleading society standards.

Call Me Kuchu
Bravery, in and out of it brave.

Watching this doc about a worldwide beloved American band called 30 Second To Mars made me quite emotional. I think it was the fact that we’re all in this same road, of how no one is more than any other, how unfair the world is and that we will have to fight against it constantly. It is the usual ‘life is unfair’.
Jared Leto is the brain behind Artifact, there’s this slight creative cockiness, but it is understandably part of his artsy persona and his creative process. Like many of us, he feels things quite intensely and he wants to reach for something special and meaningful.
I remember when I started listening the band, around 2004, I don’t listen them anymore; I really like their first songs, like Echelon.

Indie Love
Upstream Color
For the uncommon experience. Not that I understood much.

Favorite Comedy
La Cage Dorée
This is one of the most authentic and realistic films from what represents – the history of Portuguese emigration in Europe, center Europe, France. But then I think it can be easily identifiable as about immigration in general.
I shouldn’t say accurate, but really, it brings out these essential characteristics of the Portuguese people through a particular family. This is the ultimate portrait of a Portuguese immigrant family in France and possibly the rest of Europe (and possibly other continents).
There’s also a special timeliness to it, as the film comes in a time of a great Portuguese immigration tendency, where families, young couples, young adults flee the country. But today is different, maybe even more complex and definitely filled with prejudice. Today some Portuguese don’t want to be the ‘Portuguese immigrant’, the humble, the poor, the hard worker, as the film represents and they won’t even use any flags in their cars…
It is safe to say this film touched millions of people, the immigrants, the families of the immigrants, the new generation of immigrants identify with it too, cry with it but they also laugh and laugh and laugh with it. It’s such a great film.

Underrated Film (or rather unappreciated)


Favorite Gay Film
This film is about a passage in a marriage and this is the ultimate sentence that got stuck, “So I belong to you and you don’t want me.” Isn’t this like a perfect resume of the word marriage? I don’t know, I was never married.
It’s so interesting because, because this lesbian film, if one could describe, couldn’t be more the opposite of the other one, you know, Blue is the Warmest Color. It’s curious how much they differ almost in everything, except for the major theme which is desire and female sexuality. One is this European film made by men (written direction), about a young woman discovering herself, the other is an independent American film written and directed by a woman about an established married wife, mother of two, in her forties looking for something new. From the style of the filmmaking, to the length of each one, one being merely ninety minutes, the other three hours, one being a classic three act tale and the other being driven mostly by its actresses.

Other Mentions:
Stranger by the Lake
Plenty of dick to go around. Also pretty interesting ride.
Sarah Prefers to Run
When I was watching this film I was thinking of Water Lilies. They’re quite different, but I love they minimalism, their seemingless layers. I can’t wait to watch the next films from director Chloé Robichaud.

Behind the Candelabra
Disliked this film loads.

Biggest Disappointments
Saving Mr. Banks
I think this film is a simple, unquestioning, absolutely superficial and ultimately unnecessary take on an actual event.
I wouldn’t say it’s a bad film, ok maybe I should. It’s this Saturday evening family film that sounds and looks so empty and even if it wasn’t based in a true story it would still be under appreciative and shallow take on its protagonist.
At the end of the day, there this story that doesn’t really add much and it just sounds fake.
“In reality, Travers was a feisty, stereotype-breaking bisexual — a single mom who adopted a baby in her 40s, studied Zen meditation in Kyoto, and was publishing erotica about her silky underwear 10 years before Walt had sketched his mouse. Now that’s a character worth slapping on-screen, instead of this stiff British stereotype determined to steal joy from future generations of children. With her longtime girlfriend and then-adult son erased, this frigid Travers seems like she may not even know how babies are made. Maybe Mary Poppins could sing her a song about it.”

This film’s take makes everything so tasteless, colorless; even these great actresses aren’t likable in any way. I didn’t like Love Crime at all, the French film Passion is based on, it's the same story with Passion.

Two Mothers
Waste of time.

The Most Depressing Film Experience of the Year
Blue is the Warmest Color
Irrefutably Blue.
I felt as disoriented as ever, didn't know anything about anything.I still probably don't know much.

The Most Disturbing Film of the Year
Beyond the Hills.
I had a huge headache afterwards.

Teary Film of the Year
Besides the obvious Broken Circle, The Butler – the film opened with the cotton fields and I was already tearing up.

Performances of the Year
The duos:
Veerle Baetens and Jonah Heldenbergh.
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. 

Honorable Mention
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux – I’m not sure what was this, I don’t know if the word acting applies sometimes, it’s too restrict, the one thing I know is that it was heartbreaking, sometimes confusing and often too real. But of course, too real isn’t a thing, it’s just real. And Adèle wouldn't be the same without Léa and Léa without Adèle And one doesn't exist without the other.

Female Performances
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine.
Veerle Baetens, The Broken Circle Breakdown.
Frances Ha, in Greta Gerwig.
Émilie Dequenne, Our Children.
Luminita Gheorghiu, Child’s Pose.
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight.
Amy Seimetz, Upstream Color.
Rooney Mara, Side Effects.
Megan Mullally, The Kings of Summer.

Male Performances
Jake Gyllenhaal, Prisoners - In this great cast, he stood out, I fucking loved him in here. There’s something quite non dimensional about this character that actually makes it interesting. I thought it could have been played by a woman. It would be really cool actually.
Hugh Jackman, Prisoners – He kills it as well.
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master – Yes, this is past history, he has other films now, but he should have won the Oscar for this.
Jonah Heldenbergh - The Broken Circle Breakdown. What else can I say about this film?
Daniel Bruhl, Rush – Great.
Bobby Cannavale, Blue Jasmine – He’s great.
Jude Law, Side Effects
Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight.

Worst Performance of the Year
Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious - Actually embarrassing.

Best Hair
Brad Pitt, World War Z.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Prisoners.

Hot Entrances
Virginie Efira, 20 and d'écart. 

"Excuse moi."

Chris Hemsworth

Naked Choke
Rosario Dawson, Trance.

Favorite Out of Date Documentary
Edie & Thea – A Very Long Engagement.
What a treat – watching this deeply tender and endearing story, you just want to see them, Thea and Edie, cuddling and kissing, because it is never enough is it? I don’t think so.

Favorite Out of Date Film
Café de Flore
It was as entertaining as I can ask for in a film.  I have watched a few times since.

2013 - As I said, completely out of touch.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Tango in Halifax


Last but not least.
For me personally, I should say this year was the year of the small screen revelations. The non feature as not been a consistent part of my universe as films are so this is why this year is special, of course it helps the fact that this year was great and like a culmination of a certain tendency – with Netflix, with many filmmakers heading to the small screen, with shows like Orphan Black and so on. I still haven’t seen so so so many shows.

It is no surprise I finish the year with yet another small screen gem, it is called Last Tango in Halifax.

A posh looking family drinks tea at a fancy place, while a not so posh family arrives to their home, a farm in the middle of nowhere, taking their groceries from the supermarket. But they have something in common, as the elderly woman drinking her tea with her daughter and grandson and the elderly man helping her daughter and his grandson with the groceries share history together and happened to meet on Facebook very recently with the help of their grandsons. They are Celia and Alan and they are childhood buddies and used to like each other when they were teenagers. Apparently they really liked each other.

As Celia’s daughter Caroline struggles a career as a school principal, with two teenagers and a cheating husband, Alan’s daughter Gillian works peacefully at the farm and at the local supermarket, also trying to cope with her teenage son’s growing up and her past.
Alan and Celia meet, and by the end of the first episode they’re engaged - to which Caroline says “Whatever.” From this point on it is pretty undeniably irresistible to not watch this show. You know from the start it will be an amusing ride.

In this glorious first season you laugh a lot but what I truly love about this show is how sober and honest it is. These are real people; the creator gives us authentic portraits and real life experiences. After all, the story of Halifax is based on his mother, who re-married at the age of 75. It is so entertaining and true. And it is really funny.

I admired this show for various reasons. It is great to have these perspectives from the elderly; it is not often that we get to have these stories and they are revealing and important and always so interesting. Then we have their daughters, flawed women in their forties coping with many things at the same time, as they usually do.

Let me focus on one - Caroline is one of the great characters. She’s a forty five year old woman, with a big career, separated from her husband because he keeps disappointing her, having an affair with another woman, taking care of her teenage sons, worrying about her mother and trying to juggle all of this together.
There are a lot of things I love about Caroline, but the biggest one for me is how she fights back, she just keeps fighting. She won’t back down, even though she’s being forced to; she won’t put her head down, even though she’s so tired. And even when she does, she comes back and keeps fighting. She won’t give in to blackmail; she will mouth that person off in the most glorious way possible.
Sod off, you little prick, do you really think you can humiliate me? Go for it, genius, spread a few rumours, it’ll say more about you than it ever will about me; this is 2012! I’m single, she’s single, we’re adults, we had a fling: the ladies have landed! Quite a long time ago, in fact; get over it! She spoke to you because she was upset and this is how you respond. Bad move. And shame on you as well. Leave the door open on your way out. 

She’s not perfect, not at all perfect, but she knows it. Above all, the creator writes someone who is intelligent and vulnerable, with various layers defining her and her current position in life and who is filled with wit. It is in my view a really great performance by Sarah Lancashire. She’s authentic, and then she is simultaneously hilarious and dramatic. She’s great. You can see she understands this woman, she’s absolutely committed to her and in result she’s credible. And she kisses amazingly. That’s, you know, the confidence that comes with age, it’s the life experience. With this, I could say the same things about the other characters. I love the fact that the teenage boys worry about their mothers. I love the fact that they don’t want them to get hurt. 

Celia to Caroline: "You're perfect."
Caroline to Celia: "So are you."
Celia: "No I'm not."
Caroline: "I think you are. (Pause) Well, you're not, but you're very entertaining."

For Your Consideration - Adele

It couldn't be more in your face. 
This has to be one of the most amusing For Your Consideration efforts.
I'm just fascinated by it. What an effort. They even used the amusing interview they did in Toronto. They even used Magazine Covers, they used Adèle Exarchopoulos voice over.
I don't think it was on purpose, but I laughed watching this. 

Adele, 2013



J'ai pas peur.


It’s been a really good year for Adèle Haenel.
Personally, it wasn’t a great year for me because I wasn’t able to watch her films as much as I would like.
So let's take a look:

She’s been promoting Suzanne, the film premiered at Cannes and it’s been having a successful reception.

 L’homme que l’on aimait trop.

She shoot a film with the legendary Téchiné and the perhaps greater legend that is Catherine Deneuve and also Guilaume Canet. The film it’s called L’homme que l’on aimait trop and Adèle dyed her hair brown, for the lead role. The film is in post-production, and the hope is that it will premier at Cannes too, I would actually bet. I will most definitely bet it will go to the Cannes Film Festival.

On set of Les Combattants.

And she shot more, she has more work coming. So if 2013 was a great year for her, I’m sure it will keep getting better with the next years. 

Les Combattans.

There’s a film called Les Combattants also in post production. This film sounds like a really interesting character for her to play, an interesting role for her, actually ideal. Sort of a mysterious girl with a story of her own, unpredictable and she’s joining her co-star in the lead. I hope it premieres at festivals.
Here's the synopses:

Written by the director and Claude Le Pape, the screenplay focuses on Arnaud, 17 years old and down to earth. His older brother and mother, their garden shed company, even the death of his father, Arnaud deals with it all in his own way. Without making waves. Without knowing either. On this path that he was hoping would be straight, he encounters Madeleine, 19 years old. A bloc of tense muscles, lapidary phrases and dark stares, who is preparing for a war that Arnaud is not sure he understands. How far must Arnaud go for her, since she never asked him for anything. And where should he follow her, since she is the only one who knows where she is headed?

There’s also the film called L’âme du Tigre, or L’art de la guerre, with a 2014 release, but who knows?
Previous post here


Have you seen it?
There’s of course Spiritismes, which sounds like a pretty unpredictable experience. I’m curious about this, despite whatever form it might be. The idea is that it will be spread through various forms, from live streaming and at places like the MoMA. And it already started.
Take a look here.

Let's go for shorts now:

J'ai pas peur.

There’s a filmed called J’ai Pas Peur, which you can find it here, from 2011/12.

She’s also been in another play called Le Moche Voir Clair Perplexe of Marius von Mayenburg, from this December.
More info here.

Une Heure avec Alice par Jean Paul.

And again - if you're interested watch this short here.

I’m sure there are others bits and extras developing, I (and the internet) dont' know much, I’m not her agent and I don’t contact with her agents either!
For now, I am looking forward to see Suzanne. Later, I am very likely to have some extremely strong set of emotions as the year will progress and May arrives and new projects and new images will become available. I just can’t wait. I’ll probably be watching L’homme que l’on aimait trop in a year or so, but I hope not. It is one of the most exciting projects for me next year.

2014 – Adèle will rock.