Phillip Morris? Terrific!
Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, June 24, 2010
… through Wednesday, June 30
by Thomas Ohlson
Best Bets: I Love You Phillip Morris. Knight and Day.
Right, Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey
This is Issue Number 34 of Volume 5 of these listings.
Phillip Morris is absolutely delightful, and a must-see film in my opinion. But it’s only being shown twice a day (weekdays, anyway) at 12:25 and at 5:35 pm. I urge you to see it before it disappears!
Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week
* Knight and Day: US, Action/ Comedy/ Thriller – 110 mins – The film where Tom Cruise gets to show his chops again, after some absence. And early reports say he is charming again in every way, with the old Cruise magic in place. And the magic of Cameron Diaz. Studio synopsis: “An action-comedy centered on a fugitive couple (Cruise and Diaz) on a glamorous and sometimes deadly adventure where nothing and no one - even themselves - are what they seem.” There are reports that the film works even better as a rom-com. Directed by James Mangold, director of 2005’s Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biography. Also with Peter Sarsgaard (from last year’s excellent An Education, and the great Viola Davis who just last week won Broadway’s Tony Award for best actress in a play (Fences, co-starring Denzel Washington), the second time she has won that award. Mixed or average reviews: 52/55 out of 100.
* I Love You Phillip Morris: France/ US, Comedy/ Drama – 102 mins – A bit raunchy in its language at times, and a theme that won’t please everyone, but I think it’s a terrific love story, even if it dare not speak its name. Well, they do speak its name here – in fact they shout it from the rooftops, and in the jail cells. It’s the story of a scam artist (Jim Carrey) and his love for Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), with whom he fell in love during his first prison sentence. If you have mixed feelings about Jim Carrey, give him a break on this one. He’s really good. Rated R in the US for sexual content including strong dialogue, and language. Generally favorable reviews: 67 out of 100. Major Cineplex only, and only two showings a day at present. Very highly recommended.
Rotten Tomatoes: This fact-based romantic comedy has its flaws, but they're mostly overcome by its consistently sweet, funny tone and one of the best performances of Jim Carrey's career.
Empire Magazine: One of the funniest films of the year, this is a wonderful mix of old-school Carrey outrageousness with a genuinely touching – and very modern – love story.
This is a film — like its main character — that takes enormous pleasure in cheating, lying and defying expectations. As it turns out, this is one of the sharpest, blackest and funniest comedies of the year. That it actually mutates into a truly touching and very moving love story featuring a stunning Carrey turn that should have, in an ideal world, resulted in an Oscar nod, is a happy accident.
The movie’s title refers to Phillip Morris, and while McGregor is fine in the role as a sweet, almost unrealistically innocent naif, it’s Carrey we follow throughout, with the comedian enjoying a dream role that allows him to combine his old-school comedic box of tricks — the pratfalls, the sweaty, manic intensity and even the odd rubber-faced gurn — with an emotional honesty that feels earned and genuine.
Ficarra and Requa, the debutant writer/directors here, wrote Bad Santa, and there’s no doubt they’re both drawn from the same, scabrous gene pool, with the duo tackling gags of all shapes and sizes, on any number of subjects, from anal sex (although, crucially, the fact that Steven and Phillip are gay is never a punchline) to corporate fraud. But they also bring a welcome panache to the material, with neatly framed visual jokes and one sustained sequence, in which a mouthy inmate hurls abuse at guards, that borders on the sublime.
And if, occasionally, their handling of the film’s more serious moments isn’t quite as sure-handed as the comedy, rest assured in the knowledge that the rug will soon be pulled from under your feet, and the laughter will begin again. Trust us.
Scotsman, Alistair Harkness: Carrey demonstrates an ability to successfully flit between the kind of flat-out slapstick physical humor with which he made his name and that darker, more disturbing strain of comedy he never quite nailed in early efforts such as The Cable Guy.
Film4, Catherine Bray: I Love You Phillip Morris is based on a true story, which is a good thing because it would get panned for being improbable were it not. Our hero is Steven Russell, a charismatic and exuberant fellow who goes from leading pillar of his small-town community to flamboyant gay urbanite, then from convicted felon to committed romantic. It's the comic role of a lifetime for Jim Carrey, who apparently worked for union rates in order to help the film get made.
Steven's key character trait is that when he does something, whatever it is, he does it to the upper limit of what is conceptually possible. He's not just a regular wholesome family man - he's a wholesome family man who plays organ at the church, celebrates good news with a nice glass of healthy milk and prays to his god nightly with his blonde haired blue-eyed devout wife. Likewise, when he decides to come out as gay, he must embody the epitome of what he imagines a gay lifestyle to be: vacations in the Florida Keys, a Miami Beach tan, a Latino boyfriend who also has a Miami Beach tan, plenty of blinged up his-and-his jewelery, chichi nightspots, two miniature dogs and the tightest trousers this side of the tour de France. "Being gay is really expensive," he ponders aloud.
This extravagant lifestyle leads Steven to a life of scamming which leads swiftly to ja
il, where he meets the love of his life, the Phillip Morris of the title, a ludicrously sweet and naive boy played with every ounce of winsome charm Ewan McGregor is capable of summoning. The pair have a weirdly believable, natural chemistry, despite their larger than life roles
Deserves to be a huge hit - not to prove a point to studio execs who are still scared of gay heroes - but because it's a funny, original film.
Evening Standard, Andrew O'Hagan: You’ve got to say hurrah to this sort of thing. The film is not perfect: it stops and starts and sometimes it becomes overwhelmed by its own iconoclastic energy. But this is a smart and quite moving Hollywood film about a subject that is still handled very awkwardly by mainstream cinema, despite the art form having been something of a haven for gay people since the year dot. Usually, it is handled either in a campaigning way (Milk) or in a tragic way (Brokeback Mountain). But what we have here is a good attempt at a light comedy with a dark backing. It is the sort of movie that tries to work in a tradition of gentle comic naturalism — the world of Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, and Bill Forsyth — and so even its failings are interesting.
Carrey should be given maximum points for starring in a film like this. He brings a lovely, comic familiarity to the whole crazed world of Steven Russell. But also he brings a big name to a film about a gay couple in love. Things have perhaps improved when it comes to offering a more complete view of human sexuality in the cinema, but not totally. An out gay actor, regardless of his popularity or looks, is yet to find himself the headlining star in a series of major Hollywood films. The writers and directors of this engaging, funny film can’t put that right but the film speaks eloquently for the subject matter. It feels like a 21st-century love story made not just for consenting adults but for everyone who cares about human feeling.
* The Karate Kid: US/ China, Action/ Drama/ Family/ Sport – 140 mins (yes, it’s a long bugger!) – The movie stars a talentless kid who is only in films because his doting Dad is so powerful in the business. In my considered opinion, the kid is a spoiled brat, nay, a little snot! Responsible single-handedly for ruining the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. This remake, directed by Harald Zwart, with Jackie Chan, was filmed in Beijing emphasizing tourism sites, which apparently the Chinese required as part of the co-production deal. Internationally the film tends to be referred to as The Kung Fu Kid despite its origins as a remake, because in fact what the kid does now is Kung Fu. Generally favorable reviews, which I can’t believe: 61/60 out of 100. The Vista version is Thai-dubbed.
Rotten Tomatoes: It may not be as powerful as the 1984 edition, but the 2010 Karate Kid delivers a surprisingly satisfying update on the original. Produced by Will Smith and featuring his son, Jaden, in the title role and Jackie Chan as the martial arts mentor, The Karate Kid remake appears to be less faithful to its source material than A-Team is. Key changes include a younger Kid than Ralph Macchio was in the 1984 smash, a new location that he moves to (China instead of Los Angeles; a big change because both the Kid and his mentor were cultural outsiders in the original, now it's just the Kid), a glossier veneer and a different martial art: kung fu instead of the titular karate (the picture has sometimes been called The Kung Fu Kid by its producers).
Boldly stepping out of a hip-hop video
Brian Orndorf: The modern “Karate Kid” isn’t fooling around: It’s nearly a scene-for-scene remake of the 1984 picture, with only minor deviations in plot and characterization. Christopher Murphey’s script is one long case of déjà vu, refusing a clear invitation to open the story up and pursue new challenges and moods. Instead, the script crudely traces over Robert Mark Kamen’s original work, figuring a few cosmetic changes will be enough to lasso in a whole new audience.
My displeasure with “The Karate Kid” isn’t entirely based on its remake DNA, but the tone-deaf way it conducts the same old business. The original film was a slow-burn affair that took its time establishing the characters, conflicts, and locations. The do-over speeds the connections up to such a degree, all nuance is lost. The friendship between Dre and Mr. Han should be a flowering connection that fills an emotional void in both their lives; Murphey’s script gives them all the chemistry of a blind date, sprinting through the stages of the partnership to get to the hero highlights of the first picture. The corner cutting is exasperating after the first act, where it suddenly dawns that Zwart doesn’t care about the personalities, only their iconic positions in the formula.
The training sequences are shallow and unresponsive, with the 2010 film trying to replicate the effect of mundane busywork as a cornerstone of martial arts discipline. What was once “Wax on, wax off” is now “Jacket on, jacket off,” and the timing of the big reveal is accelerated. The 1984 film used the surprise of Mr. Miyagi’s chore-based education as a way to snap the audience to attention; the 2010 picture triggers the revelation early, negating the comprehensive adventure and frustration of Dre’s kung fu tutoring. In place of building a strong foundation, the update assumes a more mystical path, with magic yin-yang water and a cobra-taming finishing move to match the all-powerful crane kick.
Harshly comparing the two films might register as unfair to some readers, but the 2010 version doesn’t sweat hard enough to be its own film and explore its own world. The move to China is meant to crack some fresh air into the franchise, but Zwart doesn’t understand how to exploit the alien factor of the land, having Dre and his mother adapt to their surroundings with ease. The rest of the film concentrates steadily on rehashing the emotional beats and training woes of the 1984 feature, hoping to entice a new round of fans with 26-year-old moves. Even Miyagi’s powerful scene of drunken confession is trotted out for a second lap, this time highlighting Mr. Han’s devastation over a car accident, which compels him to wreck and repair an automobile as his yearly penance. Here is a clear difference between the two scripts: the first places a face on a horrendous period in Japanese-American history to unearth Miyagi’s pain, the remake hands a shadow of a character warm cliché to seize the same sympathy.
Needless to say, if the acting were as satisfying as before, complaints would be in short supply. As it stands, Smith and Chan lack chemistry as Dre and Mr. Han, solemnly going through the paces without much in the personality department. Stillborn emotions are expected from Chan (he’s never been much of an actor), but Smith is handed a plum role and all he can do is channel the shtick his father Will made famous. Smith lacks humility to play the underdog, doing more posing than reflection, trying to play it cool when the character is anything but. The new “Karate Kid” is careful not to render Dre as any sort of dork, making the character’s budding confidence redundant. It’s a disappointing performance from a young actor who doesn’t have the chops to carry his own movie. There’s nothing to cheer for with Smith, who claims victory from the start. At least with Ralph Macchio (who originated the role as Daniel LaRusso) there was vulnerability, mischief, and angst. Smith looks like he boldly stepped out of a hip-hop video, making any rooting for the bullies to win not entirely uncalled for.
* That Sounds Good / Rao Song Sam Khon / เรา สองสาม คน: Thai, Romance/ Comedy – A romance-comedy that follows the journey of two girls and one guy, and how they form a complicated love triangle on their journey through three countries: Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Directed by Leo Kittikorn, responsible for such items as Ahimsa: Stop to Run, and Saving Private Tootsie. In Thai only at Vista, and possibly at Airport Plaza as well.
Wise Kwai: Inevitably, with the three attached to their orange Suzuki four-wheeler, a love triangle forms, with lots of significant glances and long, mood-drenched stares across the exotic landscapes. Leo set his romantic drama against backdrop of one of those off-road caravans, in which Thai motorheads kick up dust on the backroads of Laos and Vietnam. Such petrol-guzzling events provide filler for TV news shows, car magazines and the automotive sections of newspapers.
Leo said he “virtually” scouted the route beforehand, but found plenty of opportunities to improvise, letting the plot find its own way.
Most of the dialog is unscripted.
“There was no need for us to memorize the script like parrots,” actress "Gypso" Ramita is quoted as saying. “We just tried to communicate the script in our own words.”
Oh, I see.
The A-Team: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – 117 mins – A group of Iraq War veterans looks to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed. Directed by Joe Carnahan; starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Sharlto Copley. And here’s an oddity: though it’s only rated PG-13 in the US, it’s rated 18+ in Thailand – the equivalent of an R rating in the US. Could be because of the incessant and emphatic smoking. Mixed or average reviews: 47/53 out of 100.
Richard Roeper: To say it's cartoonish would be to insult cartoons.
Roger Ebert: The A-Team is an incomprehensible mess with the 1980s TV show embedded inside. The characters have the same names, they play the same types, they have the same traits, and they're easily as shallow. That was OK for a TV sitcom, which is what the show really was, but at over two hours of Queasy-Cam anarchy, it's punishment.
The movie uses the new style of violent action, which fragments sequences into so many bits and pieces that it's impossible to form any sense of what's happening, or where, or to whom. The actors appear in flash-frames, intercut with shards of CGI and accompanied by loud noises, urgent music, and many explosions. This continues for the required length, and then there's some dialogue. Not a lot. A few words, a sentence, sometimes a statement that crosses the finish line at paragraph length.
... How is it interesting to watch a movie in which the “action” is essentially colorful abstractions? Isn't it more satisfying if you know where everyone is, and what they're doing, and how they're doing it in real time? ...
StreetDance 3D: UK, Dance/ Drama – 98 mins – In order to win England’s Street Dance Championships, a dance crew is forced to work with ballet dancers from the Royal Dance School in exchange for rehearsal space. Directed by Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini; starring the always terrific Charlotte Rampling, and with Nichola Burley, Roy Winsor, and Rachel McDowall, and groups from Britain’s Got Talent. Generally favorable reviews: 65 out of 100.
Warning: Remember, 3D comes at a price, which you might or might not be perfectly willing to pay. Generally it’s 240 for a regular, 260 for a honeymoon seat. 150/170 Wednesdays.
FILMINK (Australia), Alicia Malone: The story is predictable and the acting is not always natural, but StreetDance 3-D is enjoyable to watch, thanks to the impressive dance sequences...and there are plenty of them. Expertly helmed by music video directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini, the routines are spectacular in 3-D, with the technology really bringing each dance style to life.
The routines are set to a great soundtrack of recent hits, and feature dancers from the TV show Britain's Got Talent. StreetDance 3-D might not put any new wrinkles in the dance movie genre, but its visually impressive dance scenes and bright tone will suit families keen for a feel-good film.
Urban Cinefile, Louise Keller: Sensational dancing, funky music, and romance all play their part in this upbeat, crowd pleasing film about passion and dreams. A cut above the usual dance movie, there's a twist to this story. Yes, of course it is about street dancing, but the storyline takes us in a slightly different direction, fusing classical ballet with improvised hip-hop dance moves - and the result is hot. Lovely Yorkshire actress and dancer Nichola Burley makes a star turn as Carly, facing major professional and personal challenges to achieve her goals. With impressive 3D effects to help put us in Carly's dancing sneakers, first time directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini succeed in delivering a vibrant film bursting at the seams with joie de vivre.
... There's dancing in the street, in the rain, on a roof top overlooking London at dawn, on steps, in malls and even in a sandwich shop, where there is a great routine involving cucumbers, bread, and cold meats. The climactic dance sequence is edge-of-seat stuff, when passion, technique, and improvisation are happily come together in one joyous, heart-pumping finale.
Prince of Persia: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Romance – 116 mins – Some of the rather unique moves that you make in the video game this film is based on, such as running along walls at an angle to the ground, are duplicated here, much to my delight, as I enjoy the game. And there’s some sense of the game’s action and visuals. But I can’t believe how terrible the movie really is. It’s ruined for me by the editing of the action sequences, of which there are a lot. They’re all rapid-fire, and devoid of any narrative structure, giving only impressions of battle, with no idea of who is doing what to whom. It’s as though a fairly good film was re-edited by some people high on drugs, and the result can only be appreciated by those on the same drug. It would have to be a fast and jumpy drug, like methamphetamines or cocaine. Perhaps some of my readers would be willing to test this theory for me.
Based on the video game, which I’ve played and am now playing again, and enjoying. Some of the rather unique moves that you make in the game, such as running along walls at an angle to the ground, are duplicated here, and there’s some sense of the action and the visuals. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, a very enjoyable villain in Ben Kingsley, and a lot of fun with the comedy of Alfred Molina. Mixed or average reviews: 50/50 out of 100.
The story is sort of an old-style Arabian Nights story in the Thief of Baghdad mode, set in medieval Persia when a nefarious nobleman covets the Sands of Time, a legendary gift from the gods that allows its possessor to turn back time. It’s a profoundly silly story, but the silliness is okay, and beautifully done, and with a few delightful performances, but ruined for me by the editing of the action sequences, of which there are of course a lot. They’re all rapid-fire sequences devoid of any narrative structure, giving only impressions of battle, with no idea of who is doing what to whom. I’m fed up with them – these sorts of sequences of late have made a number of half-way decent movies unwatchable in my opinion.
Rolling Stone, Peter Travers: What's missing in Prince of Persia is a sense that all the running, jumping, climbing and fighting is leading to something. The best video games challenge you to reach the next level. Prince of Persia is content to skim the surface.
ReelViews, James Berardinelli: Gamers will find a lot of the jumping, climbing, swinging, and other maneuvers employed by the characters to be familiar. Of course, it's a lot more fun to play a game than it is to watch one being played, and this applies here, as well. The real standout is Alfred Molina, hamming it up as a desert entrepreneur who races ostriches and avoids paying taxes. It's a stock character, but portrayed with considerable verve. Ben Kingsley, slumming as he is wont to do from time-to-time, is entertaining, although his portrayal seems uncannily like an audition for Ming the Merciless in a new version of Flash Gordon.
Prince of Persia falls into the ever-popular category of summer cinema which was best described by Shakespeare as "sound and fury, signifying nothing." It looks impressive (all the more so because no one forced a 3-D conversion) and there's never a dull moment. Director Mike Newell understands the dynamics and rhythm of a big-budget fantasy adventure, having already taken the reins for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so he crafts something eminently watchable. But, in large part because of extreme narrative deficiencies, it's hard to see Prince of Persia as anything more substantive than drive-in fare. With lots of running around and plenty of special effects, the only thing missing for the viewer is a game controller and the ability to replay some of the most challenging moves and jumps.
Arizona Republic, Bill Goodykoontz: The audience should be given game controllers upon entering the theater. It wouldn't mean the film would make any more sense, but at least you'd feel like you had some say in the matter.
Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov: By no means a great film, but it is an entertaining one, a nearly bloodless, family-friendly throwback of sorts to a cinematic age when Persian palace intrigue, winsome princesses, and ambitious princes ruled the back lots and Errol Flynn was in like, well, Errol Flynn.
Scheduled for July 1
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: US. Fantasy/ Romance/ Thriller – 124 mins – The gang is back again! In this episode, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward (Robert Pattinson) and her friendship with Jacob (Taylor Lautner) -- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life.
And looking forward
Jul 15: Inception: Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard; Directed By: Christopher Nolan.
Rotten Tomatoes: Just what exactly does Christopher Nolan have in store for us with Inception?
The Dark Knight director has mostly kept his lips sealed on his movie's plot details, other than that it's a sci-fi thriller set in the architecture of the mind. What we do know is that Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a new kind of corporate spy – one who steals ideas from the minds of others by hooking them up to a machine in a drug-induced haze. Promotional material has been enigmatic: a droning teaser trailer featuring fist fights where the rules of gravity seem to keep changing, another trailer posing questions about the power of ideas, and a poster showing DiCaprio standing tall as water rushes into the city.
Marketing efforts based on mystery have paid off for Nolan so far in his career: he gets us curious, then follows through with some of the best movies of their respective years. In what is likely this Summer's most mysterious potential blockbuster, we'll all uncover what tricks Nolan has up his sleeve this time around on opening weekend.
Jul 22: The Last Airbender: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – The story follows the adventures of Aang, a ten year old successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations. Starring Dev Patel, the contestant in Slumdog Millionaire. Based on the hugely successful Nickelodeon animated TV series. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel, and Jackson Rathbone.
Rotten Tomatoes: M. Night Shyamalan makes his return to theaters following 2008’s The Happening with The Last Airbender, a movie that feels like it has been in theater previews forever because, well, it has been. Now, finally, the airbending shall commence.
Airbender tells the story of a force known as The Avatar, the only one in the world with the power to control the elements of earth, wind, water, and fire to maintain peace between the tribes of the elements. After The Avatar disappears, a 12 year old by the name of Aang has to master the elements, embrace his destiny, and restore peace after a hundred year war begins between the tribes.
Nickelodeon fans will recognize the story and characters from the original animated Nick series. Rumor has it that this could be the first of a series of Airbender movies, so there will be a lot riding on the young boy's abilities this summer. No pressure, Aang
Jul 22: The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Teresa Palmer, and Alfred Molina; Directed By: Jon Turteltaub
Rotten Tomatoes: Disney has decided to completely reimagine the poem once again, this time in a live-action film starring Nicolas Cage as the sorcerer and Jay Baruchel as his titular apprentice.2010's Sorcerer’s Apprentice is set in contemporary New York, where a college kid (Baruchel) is recruited by a wizard named Balthazar (Cage) to undergo training for an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. In other words, you probably won’t see Baruchel chasing down any dancing brooms with an axe. What the film does promise, however, is a bit of Cage’s trademark loopiness, some grand action sequences (the movie’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, after all), and plenty of jokes that take advantage of the "everyman in over his head" premise.
Jul 29: Splice: Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chaneac; Directed by: Vincenzo Natali.
Rotten Tomatoes: Another Sundance premiere hits the big time with the sci-fi/thriller Splice, directed by Vicenzo Natali (Paris je t’aime, Cube). Splice tells the story of two genetic engineers who combine the DNA of animals to create hybrids; when they decide to ignore protocol and, without permission, fuse human DNA into a new hybrid, well, it's safe to say the creation goes mildly bonkers.
Audiences will get a double paranoid dose of Adrian Brody, as his roles in Splice and Predators have him running from plenty of monster types all summer long. Joel Silver said that "Splice is like nothing you’ve ever seen before" upon acquiring the Sundance film, and the CGI used to create "Dren," the hybrid creature, is said to be particularly impressive in a summer filled with plenty of special effects.
Will Splice end up being another sleeper hit? The genetically modified thriller has generated a fair amount of buzz, and Dren will have a lot to prove to audiences that have been anticipating the film since January.
At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
The Alliance Française shows its series of French films in a small room in their building at 138 Charoen Prathet Road. The building is directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel. Tell your taxi "Samakhom Frangset" and/or "Wat Chaimongkhon." A contribution of 30 baht is requested; you pay outside at the information desk of the Alliance Française proper.
At Alliance Française on Friday, June 25, 8 pm: Je ne suis pas là pour être aimé / Not Here to Be Loved (2005) by Stéphane Brizé – 93 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles.
With Patrick Chesnais, Anne Consigny, Raymond Pellegrin, Georges Wilson, Lionel Abelanski.
Fifty-year-old Jean-Claude Delsart, worn out by his police work, gave up on the idea of life offering any sweet surprises some time ago. But he hadn't counted on just what would happen when he finally got up the nerve to learn the tango...
– Alliance description
DVD Times: Running the family law firm as a bailiff, Jean-Claude Delsart’s work sees him hand out court orders and carry out evictions and repossessions on a daily basis. It’s not a fun job, but somebody has to do it and Delsart (Patrick Chesnais) has the emotional detachment necessary not to get too personally involved in the unpleasant nature of his work. The job is mildly stressful however and although he’s not in bad health, at the age of 50 he’s not getting any younger either. His doctor advises against taking up tennis again – as a child Jean-Claude was an accomplished tennis player – a little light exercise would be good, but nothing too energetic or over-exciting. The dance-class that Delsart can see from his office window gives him an idea – he’ll learn how to dance the tango. There he meets Françoise (Anne Consigny), a young woman who becomes his dancing partner, and through the intimacy of the dance, she manages to get closer to a man who has closed himself off from all emotions. There is only one problem, Françoise is engaged and is taking the classes in preparation for her wedding.
“Nothing too energetic or over-exciting” also kind of sums up Not Here To Be Loved (Je ne suis pas là pour être aimé). It’s one of those “time of life” films that are financed by French cable television channels to ultimately fit nicely into a safe evening TV slot for a certain mature type of audience. It’s not hard for this audience to identify with normal people, living unglamorous lives in boring dead-end jobs, seeking to regain the little spark that will get them through a difficult stage in their lives and marriages. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this type of film - it’s all about what you bring to it. And here, everything is as readable and predictable as the title would lead you to believe. The situation and characterization is more than a little contrived – an aging, irascible and emotionally cut-off single man with no outlook on life other than his regular weekend visit to his cantankerous father (a superb Georges Wilson) at an old people’s home, meets a younger woman who, about to be married, is uncertain about the direction in which her life is going. The main problem here is that it fails to convincingly establish this relationship between the faded older man with no real prospects and a much younger woman.
The brief verbal exchanges between Jean-Claude and Françoise and shorthand attempts to depict their situation are woefully inadequate and heavily clichéd, but like other films where a convincing common ground has failed to be adequately established in the thin characterization, the director hopes he can wing it through a subtle evocation of mood and sentiment. Where the words fail the music, subtle lighting, and awkwardness of their fledgling steps together should cast their spell upon the viewer. Uncertain and unhappy with their current positions, but unable to articulate it - or perhaps even being unaware of it - it’s in following the steps of the tango, in letting themselves go and not thinking too hard that they should rediscover the natural rhythm and passion that is missing from their lives. In many ways however, Not Here To Be Loved also slips into a familiar step that has been danced a number of times already (how often, for example, must we see a scene of an employee giving it straight to his boss, only for it to be revealed that he is speaking to an empty chair?), and by rather more skilled and adept practitioners of the relationship tango than Stéphane Brizé.
BBC Movies, Tom Dawson: What's moving here is the fact that the characters find it so difficult to express their feelings of love, whether to partners or relatives. Brize skillfully uses the mournful tango score to convey their unspoken yearnings, and the cramped, sometimes Spartan interiors reinforce the theme of entrapment. Although the prevailing mood is melancholic, there's also a welcome vein of dry humor at work here, much of it provided by the poker-faced Chesnais. And the ending suggests that Jean-Claude and Francoise may at last have freed themselves from some of the emotional shackles imposed on them by their respective families.
On Friday, July 2, 8 pm: La Fleur du mal / The Flower of Evil (2003) by Claude Chabrol – 104 mins – France Drama/Thriller. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews 67/68 out of 100. Rated R in the US for brief language.
With Benoît Magimel, Nathalie Baye, Mélanie Doutey, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Le Coq, Thomas Chabrol, Henri Attal.
Anne runs for re-election to the town council, shepherded by Matthieu, her fellow candidate and campaign manager. Her husband, Gérard, a businessman and philanderer, hates the campaign and feels vindication when a nasty leaflet circulates about their family history. His son, François, just back from the U.S., is in love with his step-sister Michèle, and she with him, although something is amiss besides their being cousins. Watching it all is their elderly Aunt Line, who has her own haunting memories...
– Alliance Description
Three generations of a wealthy Bordeaux family are caught in the crossfire when Anne decides to run for mayor, thanks to a political pamphlet that revives an old murder scandal.
At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
June is “The Month of Alpha and Omega” at Film Space. July, “The Month of Consequences.”
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 at least 20 baht.
Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, June 26, 7 pm: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones – 91 mins – UK, Adventure/ Comedy. – This is an absurdist send-up of the legend of King Arthur and his knights' quest for the Holy Grail. Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Universal acclaim: 90/78 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: A cult classic as gut-bustingly hilarious as it is blithely ridiculous, Monty Python and the Holy Grail has lost none of its exceedingly silly charm.
IMDb Plot Summary: The movie starts out with Arthur, King of the Britons, looking for knights to sit with him at Camelot. He finds many knights including Sir Galahad the pure, Sir Lancelot the brave, the quiet Sir Bedevere, and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Lancelot. They do not travel on horses, but pretend they do and have their servants bang coconuts to make the sound of horse's hooves. Through satire of certain events in history (witch trials, the black plague) they find Camelot, but after literally a quick song and dance they decide that they do not want to go there. While walking away, God (who seems to be grumpy) come to them from a cloud and tells them to find the Holy Grail. They agree and begin their search. While they search for the Grail, scenes of the knight's tales appear and why they have the name they have. Throughout their search they meet interesting people and knights along the way. Most of the characters die; some through a killer rabbit (which they defeat with the holy hand grenade), others from not answering a question right from the bridge of Death, or die some other ridiculous way. In the end, King Arthur and Sir Bedevere are left and find the Castle Arrrghhh where the Holy Grail is. They are met by some French soldiers who taunted them earlier in the film, so they were not able to get into the castle.
Picture of God
ReelViews, James Berardinelli: Monty Python and the Holy Grail features the same kind of brilliant comic writing that characterized the best episodes of the television series. Everything, from Marxist rhetoric to scientific observations to religious doctrine, takes a beating. Most comedies saturate the audience with gags and jokes in the hope that one-third to one-half of the material might be funny. But, in The Holy Grail, there's hardly an attempt at humor that fails. That's a rare claim for any movie to make, but, even when a viewer isn't laughing aloud at this film, he or she will almost certainly appreciate the incisive intelligence evident in the Pythons' approach. The quality of the humor - irreverent, smart, and challenging - is one of the things that differentiates Monty Python and the Holy Grail from so many other motion picture comedies.
Of course, the Python brand of humor is something of an acquired taste, and is not for everyone. I have known people who can sit through the "Dead Parrot Sketch" episode of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and not once crack a smile. The first time I saw The Holy Grail, I was convulsed with laughter for practically the entire running length. Now, six or seven viewings later, I still smile and chuckle. Regardless of where an individual's comedy zone lies, it's impossible to deny the intelligence of the script, and the movie's willingness to take chances and be different. Those qualities alone should be enough for even a humor-impaired viewer to find something to like about Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And, for those who "get" the jokes, this motion picture represents one of the best and brightest comedies ever to shine from the silver screen.
Chicago Tribune, Michael Wilmington: An incredibly silly film of great humor, brilliant design and epic insanity.
July is “The Month of Consequences” at Film Space.
At Film Space Saturday, July 5, 7 pm: Sunset at Chaopraya / Khu gam / คู่กรรม (1996) directed by Euthana Mukdasanit – 135 mins – Thai, Drama. – Adapted from the novel Khu Kam by Thommayanti, the story is a love triangle, set in World War II-era Thailand, and depicts the star-crossed romance between an Imperial Japanese Navy officer and a Thai woman who is involved with the Free Thai resistance. Singer Thongchai "Bird" McIntyre stars as the Japanese officer Kobori, reprising his role from a popular, 26-episode television series in 1990 that was based on the book. Aside from the 1990 series, the story has been adapted numerous times, including a film in 1973, another film in the 1980s and a musical play in 2003.
Rotten Tomatoes: A love triangle plays out in Thailand against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation during World War II. Kobori, a Japanese navy captain, falls in love with Ungsumalin, a Thai woman who was involved with Vanus, a member of the Free Thai movement. Vanus, while gaining political momentum in England, asks Ungsumalin to marry him upon his return to Thailand. Ungsumalin must then choose between matters of country and matters of the heart..
IMDb Viewer: "War destroys the loser, the winner, and everybody involved" -- this opening quote from the movie establishes the theme. A story set during WWII, of a Thai woman who marries a Japanese officer for political reasons; she is caught between her growing love for her Japanese husband and the Thai resistance movement and her returning lover, Vanus. There are overtones of "Romeo & Juliet", interesting traditional music, beautifully photographed scenes of the countryside and the Chaopraya River, and a promise made beneath a tree.