Thursday, January 28, 2010

Film Space schedule

At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm


January is The Month of Coincidenceat Film Space. February, “The Month of Hard-pressed Women.


Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.


At Film Space Saturday, January 30:  See How They Run / Summer Things / Embrassez qui vous voudrez (2002) by Michel Blanc – 103 mins – France/ UK/ Italy, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance. Generally favorable reviews: 74 out of 100.


Empire: A riche bitch queens it over her less fortunate friends, while unaware that husband Bertrand is sleeping with his transsexual secretary.


Reeling Reviews: Writer/director Michel Blanc has whipped up a typically French romantic comedy which is an engaging romp despite its cast of thoroughly unlikable characters. Blanc paces his film so quickly that before one has fully absorbed the ramifications of one character's despicable action, the action has moved on to another bit of bad behavior. See How They Run is deliciously amusing on its surface, yet offers insights into the human condition as an after taste.


Blanc begins his film with a dinner party and ends with a garden party, both hosted by the wealthy Lanniers. Initial impressions of those around the dinner table are tweaked as the script drops in unknown details later on which give us a fresh slant on the characters - Elizabeth's good friend Julie is really her husband's ex-mistress, Jérôme is broke but trying to appease his wife to fill in the void left by the death of a child, Elizabeth may be subconsciously enabling Bertrand to spend time with a male lover to maintain her marital status quo. Blanc also slips sly little jokes throughout his tale. English actress Rampling complains that Touquet is being 'overrun by the English.' Lulu's complaint that mints 'take her throat out' is mistaken for the effect of a certain sexual act when overheard by her husband. Funniest is the affect of a broken typewriter key on a suicide note.


Rotten Tomatoes: Michel Blanc's adaptation of Joseph Connolly's novel Summer Things/Vacances Anglaises romps through scene after scene of riotous romantic upheaval and treachery. The story follows two eccentric families on vacation together in Touquet, France. One family, however, is privately bankrupt and can only afford a trailer on the outskirts of town. Casual infidelity and small deceits are the norm, as almost each character, young and old, becomes involved in a summer tryst.


February is “The Month of Hard-pressed Women” at Film Space


At Film Space Saturday, February 6:  Marie Antoinette (2006) by Sofia Coppola – 123 mins – US/ France/ Japan, Biography/ Drama/ History. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis, Rip Torn, Rose Byrne, Asia Argento, Molly Shannon, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston, and Steve Coogan. Generally favorable reviews: 65/61 out of 100.


Rotten Tomatoes: Lavish imagery and a daring soundtrack set this film apart from most period dramas; in fact, style completely takes precedence over plot and character development in Coppola's vision of the doomed queen.


Philadelphia Inquirer Steven Rea: A gorgeous confection, packed with gargantuan gowns and pornographic displays of pastrystuffs, Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette is also a sharp, smart look at the isolation, ennui, and supercilious affairs of the rich, famous and famously pampered.  



At Film Space Saturday, February 13: Strawberry Shortcakes (2006) by Yazaki Hitoshi – 127 mins – Japan, Drama.


New York Asian Film Festival 2008: Strawberry Shortcakes tells the story of the intersecting lives of four different women in Tokyo: an office worker, a prostitute, an artist, and a receptionist for an escort service. Each of the women is miserable and unfulfilled to varying degrees. The office worker has a boyfriend who won’t commit to her, and is stuck with an unfulfilling job with coworkers who despise her. The prostitute engages in dangerous, unprotected sex with her clients and pines after a college buddy who spurns her affections. The artist suffers from bulimia, and the receptionist is not only deeply lonely, but also is trying to avoid the advances of her skeezy, married boss.


As the plot description suggests, Strawberry Shortcakes is a troubling film. All of the women in the film are rather weak-willed. Most, if not all, of them believe that they will never be happy or fulfilled until they are married. On the other hand, the men in the film are portrayed as uncaring, lecherous, two-timing sleazeballs. Is the film critiquing how members of both sexes destroy their lives by falling into stereotypical patterns of behavior? Or is the film merely reinforcing those stereotypes? The answer is not clear, given that the story is presented in a naturalistic style without an explicit point of view.


Although the film’s politics may be questionable, the film’s aesthetics are unimpeachable. Although the film is shot in a vérité fashion, with long takes and minimal non-diegetic music, its imagery is far from rough-hewn. Most of the film’s shots are remarkably beautiful; the filmmakers have truly managed to find poetry in unexpected places such as back-alleys and grungy rooftops. Notwithstanding their eye for visual beauty, the filmmakers do not shy away from ugliness; scenes in which the women engage in degrading sex are particularly tough to watch. As a final note, all four of the lead actresses should be commended for their fine, fearless performances. The actresses are extremely convincing in their roles, even when they have to pull off tough dialogue, such as conversations with God.

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