Posts Tagged ‘Sylvain Chomet’

The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, UK/Fr, 2010)

The One Line Review: Beautiful, elegiac paean to a bygone era and the inexorable loss that is fatherhood.

The Verdict: I have always loved Belleville Rendez-Vous, so I had been eagerly awaiting Chomet’s next project for some time. That means I held it up to high standards. It didn’t let me down. The Illusionist isn’t in the same vein as its predecessor, it isn’t surreal or exaggerated, this is pehaps the result of the source material; Jaques Tati, revered silent French comic wrote this script for himself, late on in his career. A tale about an entertainer left behind by the times and slowly fading into obscurity would have been a brave and poignant change of direction for the slapstick artist, but the script stayed on the shelf, either he, or more likely the money men, were too afraid of tainting his public image. It’s worked for Bill Murray though. Still, his loss means we gain the sumptuous animation of Chomet, drawn on location is Glasgow using British animators for the most part. This film is just lovely to look at, it’s like walking round a gallery of the best watercolours you can imagine for an hour and a half. It isn’t a criticism, but the film feels much longer than it’s slim eighty minute running time.

Running alomgside this visual ballad of a waning star, is the platonic love story of Tatischeff and Alice. She adopts him as a father figure and he gives everything to please her, to preserve her belief in magic. As she slowly outgrows him he goes to greater and greater lengths to keep her happy, while she obliviously takes it all for granted. It is a tragic representation of paternal love that we rarely see onscreen. It’s sad and it’s beautiful.

Brothers (Jim Sheridan, US, 2009)

The One Line Review: Portman brings her Oscar game a year before Black Swan drops in this fascinating and largely low key relationship drama exploring the redemptive power of grief.

The Verdict: Jim Sheridan, who made powerful immigrant drama In America, draws robust and nuanced performances from Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire. A tale of two halves, the first is concerned with Portman dealing with being widowed by the Iraq war, Gyllenhaal the black sheep finding redemption by looking after his brother’s family and Maguire not dead at all, slowly losing his humanity as a prisoner of islamist insurgents. The dichotomy between the gently evolving relationship at home, the burgeoning happiness, and the escalating horror and loss of humanity in the Middle East is stark and shocking. The depths Sam sinks to, in a hole in the Afgham desert, are truly horrifying.

The second half is where it all kicks off though. Sam comes home, broken and wracked with guilt to find the hole he left behind has been easily filled by the reprobate brother he was always favoured over. Tommy is forced out of the happy dynamic he and Grace have established with the children and Grace is torn between the man who was there for her at the worst time of her life and the violent, unpredictable shell of the man she once loved.

Brothers is all about what goes unsaid; feelings and suspicions and guilt and remorse all swirl around the wonderfully photogenic faces of the three leads, without the need to signpost every detail in exposition. I’ve yet to see the Swedish original, but it seems the Irish helmer has taken a leaf out the European’s filmmaking book, rather thanfollow the Hollywood tradition of heavyhanded remakes that miss the point.

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I’m not a fan of online lists. I have tried to provide considered content on this blog and not lazy journalistic filler, but I have made a pledge to be less precious and post more often, so there will be a higher incidence of fluff betwixt the articles henceforth. In typically contrary fashion though, I have waited till list season has drawn to a close before casting my pearls of wisdom.
As best I can, I have tried to recall all the films I saw for the first time in 2011. This is a valuable exercise, at times surprising. I am always chiding myself for not keeping any kind of log of the films I watch or the books I read, or the gigs and shows I attend. I know it would serve me well when I am seeking new reads, or as a source of reference when compiling lists etc, but it just isn’t my style- I am not a meticulous keeper of records, I just like to absorb my culture (pop or otherwise) and move on. The drawback of course being a few months/weeks/days later I have no idea what I have consumed.

So: I can remember all four films I saw at the cinema I believe and LoveFilm helpfully lets me know what they’ve sent me. Anything from Blockbuster or on Television I’ve had to scrounge up from memory and I know there are significant omissions. I will cast an eye over my in-house collection and try to recall which are new additions. Still, there are about eighty odd on my list already, which isn’t bad considering I thought I’d hardly seen any films this year. I can’t even imagine the number I must have seen in the last five years.
That’s clearly far too many to summarise in one blog post so, in honour of the Year of the Apocalypse, I shall select twenty and review each in only one sentence- from these I shall nominate twelve  to receive a more considered appraisal over the next twelve days. Hope you enjoy.

Miyazaki's Ponyo

1. The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, UK/Fr, 2010)
Beautiful, elegiac paean to a bygone era and the inexorable loss that is fatherhood.

2. Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, US/NL, 2004)
Utterly tragic, desolate expose of the legacy of abuse.

3. Victor/Victoria (Blake Edwards, UK/US, 1982)
Unexpectedly risqué and open about gay lifestyles in the Seventies VV makes subversive use of Andrews’ impeccable voice. [Apparently it was made in the Eighties. Comment stands]
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar Wright, US/UK/Ca, 2010)
Just perfectly put together: the look, the dialogue, the casting- someone finally perfected the formula.
5. The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, US, 2010)
There is nothing right about this film and no excuses either.

Mysterious Skin

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Just a quick reminder that This Is England ’86 starts tonight on C4 at Ten PM GMT.

Isn't this the legendary neighbour from Somers Town?.

It’s  queued up on my mum’s Sky+ and I shall be posting on the first installment soon.  Judging by the massive jump in hits, I’m not the only one disappointed not to see Jack O’Connell in this series. No word as to why that might be the case, but his filming schedule didn’t look so packed that they couldn’t have worked something out.

I’m keen to hear what you all think.

In other news- a medium storm is gathering around Natalie Portman’s best shot at being a grown up actress since, well Leon really. Black Swan, written and directed by everyone’s favourite indie-ish auteur Darren Aronofsky. If it weren’t for the fact that he has taken Rachel Weisz off the market the guy might be a little bit of a cinematic hero.Clearly flawed and fallible, as the best heroes are, but with unswerving clarity of directorial vision. After the acclaim and popularity of The Wrestler, he has big money behind him and it looks like he’s taking full advatage of the financiers and distributors’ newly assured faith. I’ll be  rounding up responses soon, but universal word  on the street is that Portman turns out  a career best and delves new depths of acting craft yaddah yaddah.

As can be expected, a deal of the more prurient attention is focused on the interface between Portman and co-star Mila Kunis’s, erm, face. Like so:Portman/Kunis facial interface

Whether that is relevant and necessary or merely hype-baiting showboating remains to be seen. Black Swan is touring festivals now and should start seeing limited releases from December.

Also on my radar: Somewhere, the latest offering from Copolla junior, is making the rounds.  The Illusionist looks fucking awesome and is garnering semi-culture (mid-way between pop and high) kudos. Written but never made by tragic clown Jacques Tati and now illustrated and animated by Belleville Rendez-Vous animateur  Sylvain Chomet. I’m gutted I haven’t been able to see it yet- it was the star feature at my former local ‘indie’ [well Picturehouse] The Duke of York’s and even made a popular encore. The Runaways has arrived. I’ll betray my ignorance and confess I had heard neither of them, nor Joan Jett, till this film entered production, as notable for Dakota Fanning being nearly grown up (eek) and Kristen Stewart purportedly doing acting (improbable), as for the biographical subject matter.

Also keep your peepers peeled for Skeletons which recently won the Michael Powell award at the 2010 Edinburgh Film Festival.

What’s new in your world?