Films unlikely to be showing at your local multiplex...
< < M O R E | M O R E > >
last update 30.Aug.05
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The Intruder   3/5 L’Intrus
With yet another seductive and emotionally charged but maddeningly elusive film, Claire Denis is turning into a French version of David Lynch. This is gorgeously shot and finely assembled, and it thrills and excites adventurous filmgoers, but it's impossible to figure out. Is it a metaphor or maybe a swirl of memory and experience?
  The fit and energetic 50-something Louis (Subor) lives in isolated bliss in the wilderness with his huskies, then suffers terrible heart problems that force him to confront his past, especially after a heart transplant, which might have come from his son (Colin). He now embarks on a journey to a Polynesian island, where he meets an old friend (Tetainanuarii) and adopts a new son (Teriipaia). We also meet various women in his life: a lover (Bambou), a daughter-in-law (Loiret-Caille), a mysterious Russian (Golubeva), a wild woman (Chammah) and the, ahem, Queen of the Northern Hemisphere (Dalle).
  Making any sense of the plot is pointless. It's such a mixture of seemingly irrelevant events that we're never sure what we're watching or how any scene relates to the one just before it. There are elements of a spy thriller, an international business drama, a road movie and even an absurdly comical X-Factor-like audition scene for Louis' new son. And it's absolutely, inexplicably gripping. Of course it helps when it's filmed with Agnes Godard's sumptuous wide-screen camera, edited with suggestive wit and augmented by a fascinating sound mix.
  Performances are very strong, often feeling like improvised or even documentary filmmaking, but resonating with life and emotion--the way Louis traces his chest scar absently with a finger, the unspoken communication between various characters, the steady stream of dogs, horses and other animals. Contrasts abound--life and death, age and youth, east and west, tropical steam and icy winter, snowy white and blackest night, past and present. That we're never quite sure what we're watching is beside the point. This is a film that provokes our mind and satisfies our heart. It's like nothing we've ever seen--and it'll drive a lot of viewers mad.
dir Claire Denis
scr Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
with Michel Subor, Béatrice Dalle, Grégoire Colin, Katia Golubeva, Henri Tetainanuarii, Jean-Marc Teriipaia, Florence Loiret-Caille, Bambou, Lolita Chammah, Alex Descas, Yoo Sang-heul, Kim Dong-ho
shnurov, vovchenko and laguta release Fr 4.May.05,
UK 26.Aug.05,
US 25.Dec.05
04/France 2h01
15 themes, violence, sexuality
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Lower City  4.5/5 Cidade Baixa SHADOWS MUST SEE MUST-SEE
From the same artistic pool as City of God and Madame Satã, here's another bracingly dynamic Brazilian drama that jolts us with raw authenticity, finding the universality of human experience in a violent, passionate setting.
  In the poorer, lower part of the bustling coastal city of Salvador, Deco and Naldinho (Ramos and Moura) are childhood friends who now earn a living running things up and down the river. One passenger is hooker-stripper Karinna (Braga, niece of Sonia), who pays for passage with sex. Alas, both men fall for her, while vowing that a woman couldn't come between them. Jealousy ensues, so they take a break--Deco goes back to boxing, Naldinho back to crime--but neither can resist Karinna's charms, and a confrontation is inevitable.
  The love triangle storyline is clearly giving a nod to Jules & Jim, and director-cowriter Machado spices it with distinctly Brazilian flavours. The film bristles with the energy of the setting, but is so authentic that we readily identify with the characters. Blood, sex and sweat mingle as these people battle their own inner urges; they know they need a peaceful balance, but their emotions are too powerful to ignore.
  And the actors pour their bodies and souls into the roles. Ramos and Moura have a remarkable brotherly camaraderie, believably strained by lust. Braga is astonishingly transparent in her fragility and defiance. All three have an overwhelming physicality that resonates off each other. These are extremely likeable no-hopers trying to cope with loyalty and jealousy. They're desperate for affection, and doing all the wrong things to find it. And it's deeply moving to watch the burden of guilt shift between them.
  Machado brilliantly cuts through the film's edgy surfaces to draw out the essence of these characters. He seasons the film with unforgettable sequences--a sizzling three-way disco, a terrifying pharmacy robbery, a few shocking gunshots. In the end, the film takes on a surprisingly wrenching tone that draws out themes that are much wider than the beautifully formed plot. If only these feuding brothers could just look each other in the eye....
dir Sérgio Machado
scr Sérgio Machado, Karim Aïnouz
with Lázaro Ramos, Wagner Moura, Alice Braga, Dois Mundos, Débora Santiago, João Miguel, Maria Menezes, Harildo Deda, José Dumont, Ricardo Luedy, Olga Machado
ramos and moura
release Br Nov.05,
UK 2.Dec.05, US 16.Jun.06
05/Brazil VideoFilmes 1h37
Prix de la Jeunesse:
18 themes, language, nudity, sexuality, violence
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
No Rest for the Brave   3/5 Pas de Repos pour les Braves
This elusive and thoroughly strange French concoction is for adventurous moviegoers only. Blending satire and thriller with a heavy dose of absurd surrealism, it's almost impossible to figure out. And yet it's still intriguingly enjoyable.
  The plot is open to interpretation: 24-year-old Basile (Suire) thinks that if he goes to sleep he'll never wake up. So he runs away, pursued by his soulful best friend (Blanchard) and a cool-guy bounty hunter (Soffiati) who's the self-proclaimed "King of Hide & Seek". Basile has changed his name to Hector and is now living with an old guy (Guidone) in the village Dying. On the run again, he's pursued by two gangs of thugs, led by feuding leaders (Martin and Nouvel). Maybe it would be better to just go to sleep after all.
  Confusing but engaging, this film is like a dreamy lovechild of Fellini and Lynch. Characters are both vivid and indefinable--never realistic, but hilariously fascinating (such as the guitar-playing goatherd who barks out English punk). We never have a clue what's happening, but this swirling strangeness actually adds a sense of unpredictability and expectation, spiced up with outrageous humour and bracing observation. As well as some terrifically nuanced performances. The characters are funny and endearing, often rather violent and strangely omni-sexual.
  The dialog is full of existential rambling; the conversations have little context but loads of witty banter. Much of this is about nothing at all, like a Tarantino-style parody of pretentious French art films. Meanwhile, director-cowriter Guiraudie fills the screen with bizarre imagery and situations. This is beautifully filmed and edited in a comical, freewheeling style.
  The way he makes it both nonsensical and genuinely involving is also a comment on mindless Hollywood blockbusters that do the very same thing. But in the end what emerges here is a startlingly meaningful coming-of-age story about a guy realising some truths about human nature and the world around him: happiness is elusive, work is essential, death is inevitable. Not a new message, but definitely an original way to say it.
dir Alain Guiraudie
scr Alain Guiraudie, Frédéric Videau
with Thomas Suire, Laurent Soffiati, Thomas Blanchard, Vincent Martin, Pierre-Maurice Nouvel, Roger Guidone, Nicole Huc, Bruno Izarin, Jean-Claude Baudracco, Jacques Mestres, Serge Ribes, Valérie Pangrazzi
sofiatti and suire release Fr 12.Nov.03,
UK 26.Aug.05
03/France 1h47

15 themes, language, violence, sexuality
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Vengeance Is Mine 4.5/5 SHADOWS MUST SEE MUST-SEE
A masterpiece of Japanese cinema, Imamura's profile of a vicious sociopath boldly digs into the soul (or lack thereof) of its central character and post-war Japan. Gripping and haunting, it's a strikingly timeless film.
  After watching the government undermine his father's business, Iwao Enokizu (Ogata) has led a life of rebellion and mayhem. Now in 1963, at age 37, he turns to murder and theft, going on a cross-country rampage starting with the sudden killing of two friends (Baba and Shibata), heaping even more humiliation on his parents (Baisho and Miyako) and his achingly lonely wife (Mikuni). While the manhunt widens, he hides with an ex-con innkeeper (Kiyokawa) and her daughter (Ogawa), who pays the bills with sex.
  The story's told out of sequence, with flashbacks swirling around scenes of Iwao's police interrogation and the narrative backbone of his murderous odyssey. But this is more than a crime thriller; it really digs into the characters' desperation, agony, action and inaction. The one exception is Iwao himself--he is a smiling, heartless, compulsive criminal without even a hint of a conscience. He seems to murder simply because he doesn't have the imagination to do anything else. Vengeance is his feeble excuse.
  And putting such a merciless black hole at the centre of the film is what makes it so remarkable. Ogata is note-perfect--we can see why people are drawn to his intelligence and charm, even as we know he's up to no good at all. All around him, the strong cast vividly expose their Christian guilt, misplaced passions and family dysfunction. We can see why Iwao seems to be such a ray of hope to them, even though he's brazenly throwing life away.
  Imamura films with style and energy, combining snappy humour and creepy subtext. It's electric right from the start, taunting us with its expressive visual imagery and jazzy Dragnet-style score. And the themes gurgling underneath the plot give the film a strong depth, mainly in the economic and religious issues that create a society that requires a seedy undercurrent to maintain the shiny surfaces. Utterly essential cinema.
dir Shohei Imamura
scr Masaru Baba
with Ken Ogata, Mayumi Ogawa, Rentaro Mikuni, Mitsuko Baisho, Nijiko Kiyokawa, Chocho Miyako, Kazuo Kitamura, Yoshi Kato, Torahiko Hamada, Frankie Sakai, Goro Tarumi, Taiji Tonoyama
ogata and shibata release Jap 21.Apr.79,
US 17.Oct.79
reissue UK 9.Sep.05
79/Japan 2h20
18 themes, violence, sexuality, nudity
back to the top Send Shadows your reviews!

< < M O R E | M O R E > >

© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall