Heartbreak and Her Crooked Sister, Bittersweet Revenge

Les Dames Du Bois De Boulogne (1945)

Robert Bresson’s second film, Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, is based on a tale by Diderot and features characteristically idiosyncratic dialogue by Jean Cocteau. Maria Casares, who was later cast by Cocteau as Death in his Orphee, plays Helene, a wealthy socialite who has been slighted by Jean, the man she loves. Initially, Helene is caught out by her own game when she tests Jean’s affections by saying that her own affections for him have waned. The bluff backfires when, relieved, he confesses that he no longer loves her as he once did. Helene remains outwardly composed and inwardly resolute as she hatches a plan to avenge herself by making Jean fall in love with a club dancer (a profession that, at the time, was synonymous with prostitution). Claiming the dancer, Agnes, whom Helene has purposefully taken under her wing, is beyond reproach, Helene manipulates all the characters to suit her purpose – she fans Jean’s affections for the dancer, knowing that he won’t be able to resist the image of Agnes that she herself has created; she encourages Agnes’ mother, whom is financially indebted to her, to look upon her as a protector; and she traps and betrays Agnes who wants only to escape her previous life. Ultimately, however, she plays her game too well, and not even the truth is able to destroy love.

Bresson’s characteristic pared-down, sparse style, whilst not yet fully developed here, nonetheless is already evident, adding to Cocteau’s dialogue to create something of a distance between the actors and their subject which gives an added tension and an occasional surreal quality to the most emotive scenes.

The film is a fantastic portrait of the scheming woman who spins a web of deception in which, ultimately, she catches only herself.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPNRC9LFwTg

Schizophrenic Sunday Staff Selection – (So-So Special) 29/4/12:

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

When you need a musical, but the thought of Julie Andrews causes contractions in your throat, try Hedwig. The perfect antidote to the Sound of Music. Musical extravaganza of a punk-glam transsexual singer from East Berlin. Wicked wigs, sassy songs.

Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YO9FpWX57E

Bad Lieutenant (2009)

 A standard cop B-movie turned loopy masterpiece through the combined forces of Werner Herzog and Nic Cage – watch out for the iguanas.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OblPKObX6Q

 Trash Humpers

Directed by Harmony Korine

(2009)

Following a gang of senior delinquents through a negative American landscape, this is an exploration of freedom and horror in a modern time. Uncompromised desire and degeneration meet in a free-wheeling narrative washed in harsh magnetic tones. This post-slacker Salo makes for perfect Sunday viewing, equally shocking and hypnotic.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQYSRXT3CiU

Tout Va Bien

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

1972

Disgruntled workers take over their factory and run it as a collective. Godard examines the resilience of political and social ideology in revolution and love’s ability to withstand a relationship.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYTZvTwqUtU

NEW RELEASES: 30th April, 2012

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL:

Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible 3) returns to the character of Ethan Hunt in the fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise. I’m guessing there’ll be explosions, guns, car chases, a sex scene, a dilema, some quick decision-making and lots of fighting. Unless this is the one where Ethan retires to a country manor and becomes involved in a love triangle full of awkward moments and furtive glances. In which case, expect lots of tea drinking, billowy frocks and Ethan, with an aching heart, listening to Chopin on the gramaphone, and marveling, whistlfully, at the craftmenship of his newly aquired grandfather clock. Whichever it is – I forget – it is surely not to be missed. Directed by Brad Bird, whose previous works (Iron Giant, The Simpsons, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) have been the perfect training ground for this explosive Hollywood action thriller. Or, the romantic period drama. Whichever it is… Cert. 12

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0LQnQSrC-g

IRON LADY:

Meryl Streep in her Oscar-winning portrayal of her – she whose name must ne’er be uttered.

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZrAKdlX0SA

BRAQUO SEASON 1:

Crime series about a group of police officers struggling to deal with the consequences that follow the suicide of a colleague. Just when we were beginning to think that Britain was the 51st US state, Europe rescues us through the self-same TV we’d fallen American to. The number of  top-quality subtitled TV series at the moment serves to remind us that, yes, there is life after Friends. Now, move down on the couch and pass me my biscotti .  French with English subs. Cert. 15

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpWYsDoxxyM

BETTER THIS WORLD:

Documentary about two young political activists who step-over the boundry of peaceful protest once they come under the influence of a radical mentor. Betrayed by an informant and arrested by the FBI, they and their families are left to puzzle over the question of civil liberties and the future of political dissent in a post-9/11 world…. Cert. E

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd0pY18lA4k

JAZZ BARONESS:

Documentary exploring the relationship between the Duchess of Devonshire and jazz genius Thelonius Monk. Cert. E

THE LOOK:

Documentary, featuring Charlotte Rampling, Paul Auster, Jergen Teller and others.

“If you’re going to give anything worthwhile of yourself, you have to feel completely exposed.” – Charlotte Rampling.

An unflinching exploration of identity construction, constraint, freedom and exposure. Cert. 15

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u0Qaug3bNM

What the Frack Do We Know…?

By Jesse Tadini Rybolt.

Josh Fox’s mostly overlooked 2010 feature Documentary Gasland may now take on new significance for British viewers.

Gasland (2010)

With ministers currently deliberating whether to give the ‘unconventional gas’ industry the green light in the UK, Natural Gas welling may soon be in your back garden. This process, known as fracking, was already making headlines last year when two minor earthquakes were triggered in Blackpool as a result of drilling the wells. Fracking involves drilling 2 kilometres into the earth, a ton of explosives, millions of gallons of water and a load of carcinogenic chemicals – do that near a fault line and no wonder you get earthquakes.

Much like the majority of the DogWoof output, Gasland  follows the paradigm of the little guy vs. corporate or governmental (or both’s) greed and corruption. However, unlike the majority of DogWoof’s mostly political and environmental catalogue, Gasland manages to intertwine the classic talking-heads documentary form with moments of visual and aural beauty, serving to remind us that whilst documentary must serve its’ purpose, it is still cinema and still art. Little White Lies’  Zara Miller described it as: “The 21st Century’s answer to Erin Brokovich, with a Banjo”.

Not really sure where that’s going, but fear not, you will not be subjected to an hour and half of a dungareed, porch-dwelling Julia Roberts strumming away, grinning a toothless Mona-Lisa smile. Just the all American road-trip and a shed load of good ol’ fashion sticking it to “The Man”.

All that said, the film is rather one-sided but it’s a side that the gas companies and politicians can easily shout above. I need to look further into it myself, and we all have to make up our minds. Either way, we may all be affected soon, so for the time being, this is well worth watching.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZe1AeH0Qz8

New to Our Shelves:

Despair (1978)

Dirk Bogarde in a film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, based on a novella by Vladimir Nabakov adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard. The film is called Despair and has been described as Fassbinder’s ‘most optimistic film.’ Already, it sounds amazing.

Set against the backdrop of the Nazi’s ascendency to power, Despair focuses on Hermann, a Russian exile who is slowly losing his mind, and who is obsessed by out-of-body experiences. A meeting with a tramp who looks like himself leads Hermann to hatch a plan which he believes will free him of all his troubles.

Optimistic Despair – in the current socio-economic climate, surely an attitude well worth mastering…

Paolo Sorrentino: Back Catalogue

If you’re thinking of braving the weather to head out and see:

This Must Be the Place (2011)

then you should also consider braving the weather to head out and rent from Sorrentino’s back catalogue…

Il Divo (2008)

 – winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes and nominated for the Palme d’Or (2008). Nominated for Best Foreign film at the Academy Awards (2010)

Sorrentino’s critically acclaimed bio-pic of Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, offers a typically stylish critique of the Italian political system, complete with its requisite assassinations.

Here’s a hilarious and fascinating juxtaposition: first watch the European trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOBwGVOaCCg

and then check out the American trailer, just for fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw-qm-liCPA

Family Friend (2006) – nominated for the Palme d’or at Cannes (2006)

A modern-day beauty and the beast story of Geremia, a miserly old man who uses his money to insinuate his way into the lives of others. When someone asks him to finance his daughter’s wedding, Geremia falls in love with the beautiful young woman.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWuGNzjHs-Y

Consequences of Love (2004) – nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes (2004)

Fantastically stylish romantic drama/thriller about a secretive businessman whose loner life is transformed by his attraction to a young barmaid. The reasons for his secretive existence become clear over the course of the film, bringing with them deadly destruction.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDE9J0zPd00

Everyone’s Asking For…

Everyone’s asking for:

Pointless Remake (2011)

Everyone should be asking for:

Another Earth (2011)

If you don’t like sci-fi, don’t be put off. Or, if you’ve seen the trailer – which makes it look like some sort of really budget Contact –  don’t be put off. Brit Marling and Mike Cahill have made a surprisingly poignant, low-budget, drama about a promising young girl whose life is ruined when the car she’s driving collides with that of a music professor (William Mapother), killing his family.

What makes the film good is not so much the storyline, which is very simple, but rather the delicate handling of how we are drawn into Rhoda’s psychological world as she deals with her new life as a felon, and the silent ways in which she attempts to come to terms with what she’s done.

The discovery of a planet which mirrors our own ( the announcement of which led to the car crash) and upon which there exists an exact duplicate of every human on earth – like a twin, but one who’s had the exact same experiences you have – brings all kinds of existential questions for the human race: what would happen if you met? What would happen if you met and one of you held up your right hand and the other their left? Would having knowledge of your duplicate cause a tear in the symmetry of your joint existences? According to the film, it would, leading the principal characters to wonder what has become of their duplicates – was there a crash, or have their lives followed another, uninterrupted trajectory.

The film’s most heart-rending occurence, isn’t so much the crash that devastates the lives of all principal characters, but rather the developing relationship between Rhoda and the unsuspecting composer who was the victim of the crash. That these two people are drawn to each other out of mutual curiosity and a genuine rapport adds a complicated tenderness that leaves you unsure of which way the storyline will go.

Ultimately, Another Earth is more of a drama with a cleverly handled sci-fi edge than a straight sci-fi film. At its centre is a strong, understated, very natural performance by co-writer Brit Marling and a delicate direction by Mike Cahill that gives the film a bittersweet quality that’ll keep you thinking about it for a good couple of days after.

Enjoy, and look out for Brit Marling – she looks like she might be a smart cookie.

Another Earth, starring Brit Marling and William Mapother. Directed by Mike Cahill. Winner of 2011 Sundance Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and Special Jury Prize.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8hEwMMDtFY

Recent Additions (Films We Should Have Had Before But Didn’t):

Freud (1962)

Montgomery Clift stars as Freud in John Huston’s troubled, but excellent, production which chronicles 5 years in the life of the man who has so much to answer for…

Universal Studios sued Clift for causing the film to go over-budget due to his erratic behaviour brought on by his post-crash drink and drug problems and the screenplay was originally written by Jean-Paul Sartre (a fervant anti-Freudian)but, after a fall-out with Huston, he removed himself (and his name) from the project.

The great Montgomery Clift, the first, and perhaps best, of the ‘new generation’ of actors who explored a fragile masculinity so different from what Hollywood had ever before – or indeed since – seemed comfortable with, was black-listed and made only one more film before his death in 1966.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEhnr_HfbIU

Other Monty Clift films well worth watching:

Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953) Directed by Vittorio de Sica, screenplay by Truman Capote

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpTsP-2yvKw

The Misfits (1961) Directed by John Huston, screenplay by Arthur Miller

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EckvMsLsfBM

A Place in the Sun (1951) Directed by George Stevens

– featuring Elizabeth Taylor’s first ever kiss (on-screen and off)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Fm6sa_L5_4

Judgement at Nuremberg (1961) Directed by Stanley Kramer

– surely one of the most powerful Hollywood films of all time, and with some of the best performances to boot.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwPb8HXvigk

Our Man of the Eyebrows

Happy to be 75 today:

“I only take Viagra when I’m with more than one woman.”

How To Get To Know Jack

Grab a cigar and some inappropriate company, and settle down to an evening of Obvious Goodies:

Easy Rider

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Chinatown

Or,  Just as Good, but Less Obvious Goodies:

The Passenger

Reds

Five Easy Pieces

About Schmidt

 Fun Goodies:

Mars Attacks

Witches of Eastwick

Or, if you’re feeling trashy, Not-So Goodies:

Anger Management

Bucket List

NEW RELEASES: 23rd April, 2012

GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO:

One more example of how far the Americans will go to avoid having to watch a subtitled film… Anyway, this is the first instalment of the American version of the Swedish thriller sensation. Will it be as good as the original? Will it be exactly the same? Actually, it looks promising, not at all the flash and glossy Hollywood remake that it could have been as Fincher has kept the Scandinavian colour palette (grey) to create the appropriate dark and broody atmosphere, giving the film a somber and muted feel – think Let the Right One In meets Silence of the Lambs. Definitely one to check out. Starring Daniel Craig (Bond, apparently) and  Rooney Mara (Social Network). Directed by David Fincher (Social Network, Benjamin Button, Zodiac). Cert. 18

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esOJNCmAy2c

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS SEASON 2:

More running up and down the stairs. I hear it’s good for the glutes. Although, it could be tricky in full-on evening gown and heals. Perhaps that’s why it’s left to the maids… Nothing like having one’s servants exercise for one – I’d much rather a sherry…

SKINS SEASON 6:

More pimply teens partying and making out. Sounds like the most boring show on earth. Still, dozens seem to like it, so…

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjJW6zqjZBo

SON OF NO ONE:

A young cop must negotiate an old secret that threatens the safety of his family…. Hopefully this film can live up to its big cast and get over its poor title. Starring Channing Tatum (The Eagle), Katie Holmes (Thank You for Smoking), Juliette Binoche (Three Colours Blue and every French film you’ve ever seen) and Al Pacino (Devil’s Advocate). Written and Directed by Dito Montiel (Fighting). Cert. 15

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuVwb9nLZ20

TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS:

A middle-aged man must make a decision between leaving his wife – the mother of their child – or his 27 year-old mistress. He has until Christmas to make up his mind. Starring Dragos Bucur (Titanic Mini-series). Cert. 15. Romanian with English subs.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAmLtStWZoE

GERHARD RICHTER- PAINTING:

A fantastic documentary that shows the working process of one of the world’s most important living artists. Cert. E

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y685hA65x1E

PATIENCE (AFTER SEBALD):

Immensely original documentary that takes the viewer on a journey through the pages of W.G. Seabald’s work The Rings of Saturn. Cert. E

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pftG3sr2X9o

THE FUTURE:

When a 30-something couple adopt a cat, they have to wait 30 days before it’s released to them. In that 30 days they each begin to reassess their lives in view of the on-coming responsibility. Written, Directed and starring Miranda July (Me You and Everything We Know). Cert. 12

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_l05MZ9y8A

THE LADY:

Luc Besson (The Big Blue) Directs this bio-pic of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Starring Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and David Thewlis (Anonymous). Cert. 12

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUYyX4NLaCY

THE NINE MUSES:

British experimental film telling the story of immigration to Britain from the ’60s onwards. Cert. E

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xegOksDquyo

Allegedly LOL

Comedy is the hardest thing to recommend. What we find funny might make you frown. Or cry. And, indeed, vice versa. Recently, we have become aware of the number of films which are, according to their DVD sleeves, ‘laugh-out-load hilarious’. Concerned that there may be a few too many titles taking themselves a bit too seriously in the old funny stakes – but also thinking that, as we find them hard to recommend, isn’t it handy that they so strongly recommend themselves? –  we thought we’d compile a list of those films which have been marketed as LOL. In listing these ‘hilarious’ films, we are neither giving our blessing, nor are we judging – much.

 Friends with Benefits (2011) Starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJS-wWqVAyk

50/50 (2011) Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa–ea9P7P4

 

The Guard (2011) Starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5pk6s-PRUE

Swinging with the Finkels (2011) Starring Martin Freeman and Mandy Moore

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmgBjr3HvUA

You, Me and Dupree (2006) Starring Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEZBOFZ1KpM

Dan in Real Life (2007) Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SqaWEBSd4g

Away We Go (2009) Starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEp3NKG2U5U

Win Win (2011) Starring Paul Giamatti

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci_I6n2j5Uw

Submarine (2010)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IVFfiv6wpY

Top Tips on a Hard Watch:

Scenario: there’s a stack of DVDs sitting by your player that have been there for quite some time. They are, sadly, films of the ‘worthy’ variety; films that even when you merely consider watching them you can feel your brain stretch and your I.Q. jump up by several points.

But the stack has been gathering dust. Why? Because they’re hard work. Oftentimes, when you’ve had a long day (no milk for cereal, late for work, computer crashes, world explodes, cat vomits on sofa) you just don’t feel like kicking off your shoes and settling down to a nice spot of Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Maybe you just fancy something pre-chewed. The film equivalent of a ready-meal. A processed-cheese, no-crust, white bread sandwich-film.

However, after a while of processed, liquid brain-food, this will quite simply make you ill. You’ll develop an awful disease that will cause your brain to shrink and your vocabulary to reduce to a few grunting noises and your idea of art to stretch no further than Damien Hirst. So, to save us all from a such a fate, here are a few pointers by Tom Moore  on how to prepare ourselves for films that require dentures:

 

Tips for overcoming a short attention span, off-puttingly overblown film-reputations, and making the most of long, uneventful, yet staggeringly beautiful art features…

1. A very specific chunk of time should be designated for the film a day or two in advance. Make sure the time allotted is significantly longer than the film itself, allowing for preparations and potential post-viewing reality adjustments.

2. Practice desiring the film. You should long for the film enough not break your date.

3.  Anticipate a sense of achievement at having experienced something incredible and potentially mind altering. Imagine what kind of warped version of yourself might come out the other side.

4.  A short nap directly before hand maybe? Followed by plenty of tea, for an even and gentle caffeine heightening. By directly leaving your own dream-state and entering the films dream-state you will be more susceptible to its effects.

5.  Slow moving snacks fight drowsiness.

6. Turn the lights out, phones off, and disconnect the fire alarm to ensure zero distractions.

7. Allow your metamorphosis to take hold. 

Looking Ahead: May Releases – Highlights

7th May:

War Horse (2011)

Buck (2011)

Story of Rock ‘N Roll Comics (2005)

14th May:

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Thrones (2011)

Underworld: Awakening (2011)

Breaking Bad: Season 3 (2011)

Shame (2011)

The Sitter (2011)

21st May:

True Blood: Season 4 (2011)

Haywire (2011)

The Grey (2011)

The Descendants (2011)

Intruders (2011)

28th May:

Grey’s Anatomy: Season 7 (2011)

Journey 2 The Mysterious Island (2011)

The Artist (2011)

Carancho (2010)

Like Crazy (2011)

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Tiny Furniture (2010)

Treme:Season 2 (2011)

Visions of Apocalypse, Or: As We’re English, Let’s Talk about the Weather…

So summer’s over. The temperature has plummeted to a degree that only penguins feel comfy with, the wind sounds like we’re trying to rent DVDs to passing trolls out of a kiosk somewhere near Mordor, and the sky has clouded over as though the gods have caught us renting Basic Instinct to a 12-year-old. And it’s raining blood. Almost.

As it feels like the end of the world out there, here are a few films that may have a tip or two for us (i.e. how to forage, how to build appropriate shelter, how to avoid cannibals/zombies and how to survive on only the smell contained within an empty crisp packet – watch carefully and take note):

Take Shelter (2011)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5U4TtYpKIc

2012 (2009)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFXGrTng0gQ

Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQDSAiPiEDU

The Road (2009)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbLgszfXTAY

I Am Legend (2007)

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewpYq9rgg3w

Thankfully, apocalypses (as well as alien invasions) only seem to occur in America, so, hopefully, the weather should just pass…

Wrong Bond:

Mr. Universe Contestant, Sean Connery: Slippery and Stirred

In his notorious interview with Barbara Walters, here’s our once  favourite Bond discussing his belief that, every now and then, a woman should be slapped:

Suddenly it seems sad that Timothy Dalton did just the one Bond…