Shadows Film FestArthouse films ’06
Films unlikely to be showing at your local multiplex...
< < M O R E | M O R E > >
last update 11.Apr.06
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The Last Day   3/5 Le Dernier Jour
Stylish and atmospheric, this French drama has a nicely understated tone that vividly captures the powerfully frustrating connections between its complex characters.
  Simon (Ulliel) is a young photographer who seems frightened of his own shadow. On the way home for Christmas, he meets the sexy Louise (Laurent) and invites her to join him. She's happy to play his girlfriend, and even more so when she meets Simon's sexy friend Mathieu (Vinçon). The problem is that Simon is actually in love with Mathieu, and watching him pair off with Louise is agony. Meanwhile, Simon's mother (Garcia) has rekindled a romance with an old fling (Todeschini) who has a few secrets of his own.
  Everyone in this story is hiding some deep, dark skeleton, and the family closet is getting far too crowded. Denial is the main problem, as no one is willing to confront the truth until it's absolutely necessary. Simon keeps dropping hints about his sexuality (like painting his Vespa pink), but he's willing to let his parents believe that he and Louise are engaged. Not that he's fooling anyone.
  Yes, it's a bit tedious watching all of these people wallow in their aching indecision. Ulliel and Garcia get the brunt of this emotion, and they're both very good, especially as they convey the passionate physical and soulful connections their characters make with those around them. There's an overwhelming, sad yearning going on here that we really identify with--we hope along with them for their romantic lives to get sorted out. Even though they're certainly not doing anything proactive about it.
  Writer-director Marconi takes a thoughtful, quiet approach to the story, indulging in lots of silent interludes that seem to be leading to intense dissatisfaction for everyone concerned. Even the major plot twists are gentle, only adding to the muddle in the characters' minds. And as it goes, we get the sneaking suspicion that the title might be referring to something rather ominously tragic. This is beautiful, lyrical filmmaking, but it's also intensely trying. Right to the bitter end.
dir-scr Rodolphe Marconi
with Gaspard Ulliel, Nicole Garcia, Mélanie Laurent, Thibault Vinçon, Bruno Todeschini, Alysson Paradis, Christophe Malavoy, Daniel Berlioux, Georges Delattre, Martine Joussemet
ulliel and laurent release US 29.May.05 sff, UK Mar.06 llgff
04/France Gémini 1h45

london l&g film fest
15 themes, language, nudity
15.Feb.06 llgff
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Metal A Headbanger’s Journey   4/5
This lively, energetic doc is a personal odyssey into the heavy metal scene, combining a fan's obsessions with a more objective desire to get the real story on screen.
  Sam Dunn is an anthropologist and lifelong metalhead who narrates this film with an infectious exuberance. Cleverly divided into chapters that examine just about every side of the story, it begins with a surprisingly astute analysis of the music's origins in blues (working class music) and classical: for Bach and Wagner, an orchestra was a way of amping up the sound, opera got the voice to the back of the room, the tri-chord has been considered the "devil's tune" throughout human history.
  From here we enter the debate about which was the first metal band; Dunn opts for Birmingham's Black Sabbath, which took music to a "darker, more sinister place". Through interviews and extensive performance clips, the filmmakers really dig into how and why the music is so controversial, playing so outrageously with religion, violence, sexuality and mortality. There are sections about censorship, including Snider's legendary showdown with Tipper Gore's PMRC, and a trip to the metal mecca, Germany's Wacken Festival. Not to mention a brief sideroad into the extremes of Norwegian black metal.
  And the interviews are fabulous--revealing, entertaining, outrageous, introspective. The best is Cooper, with his sardonic maturity and ability to look at the scene and his life with wry humour. Iommi (Black Sabbath), Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Neil (Motley Crue) and Dio all offer enlightening comments, while Dunn turns fanboy and hangs on every word they say. And then there are the brainy but pretentious guys from bands like Slipknot and Korn.
  All of this is expertly shot and edited, with a fast-paced, spirited tone that revels in the fact that the world doesn't understand why this music is so important to its fans. And how cool that is. This is music by and for outsiders, celebrating everything society denies. It's a place to belong, a spiritual force, and a scene that the true fans will never grow out of. By the end, non-fans will wish they'd caught the bug.
dir-scr Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen, Jessica Joy Wise
with Sam Dunn, Alice Cooper, Tony Iommi, Bruce Dickinson, Dee Snider, Vince Neil, Ronnie James Dio, Rob Zombie, John Kay, Lemmy, Tom Morello, Pamela Des Barres
dunn release US 14.Apr.06,
UK 28.Apr.06
05/Canada 1h36
15 themes, language, strong imagery
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Playing a Part A Story of Claude Cahun 3/5
There's an extraordinarily strong story at the centre of this documentary that, hopefully, will end up in a narrative feature. While this film presents the characters and events, it also gets slightly bogged down in its own artiness.
  At the beginning of the 20th century, Lucy Schwob emerged as a rebellious artist--a writer and photographer who drew on the inspiration of Oscar Wilde and her cross-dressing uncle to create a male alter ego named Claude Cahun. Her lifelong partner was her stepsister Suzanne Malherbe, a writer and designer also known as Marcel Moore.
  Over the years, they protested censorship, wrote essays and eroticism, and joined campaigns for tolerance and female empowerment. Then in the late 1930s, they fled to Jersey from both Nazism and Stalinism, which they actively defied through witty stunts and propaganda that was so effective that the Nazis believed there was a huge resistance group at work. Eventually they were arrested and sentenced to death, but after six years in prison the war ended and they were released.
  Filmmaker and academic Thynne tells this story with a bracing collage of archival footage and stills, dramatic re-enactments and restaging Cahun's photos, plus modern-day interviews and glimpses of the places today. Most of the film is in black and white, which adds to its historicity. And the way the material is presented clearly shows Cahun's influence on artists like Genet, Gaultier and Mapplethorpe in the way she subverted gender roles using iconic imagery.
  Most of Cahun's and Moore's writings were unpublished during their lifetime, so this kind of doc is vitally important in bringing them to light. But this film's gentle, elegiac tone is far too elusive and repetitive to be satisfying. It's made up of tiny snippets, elegantly laid out and edited together with new footage and the rather unnecessary re-creations. But their lives scream out for a much more radical documentary approach that digs into the grit of these exceptional women to challenge us. What's here is an amazing tale told in a style that's a bit too frilly and vague to carry any real kick.
dir Lizzie Thynne
with Claude Cahun, Marcel Moore, Anna Pons Carrera, Mary Herbert, Aneka Grimm, Robert Hickson, Yasmine Mayer, Antony Penrose, Jonathan Bailey, Elisabeth Lebovici, David Bate, Joe Mière
cahun release UK Mar.06 llgff
04/UK 44min
london l&g fest
adult themes
22.Feb.06 llgff
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Writer of O   4/5
Not only does this doc unmask the author of the scandalous French erotic novel The Story of O, but it's also an illuminating examination of censorship and sexuality.
  When the book was published in 1954, people thought author Pauline Reage must have been a man; it was clinically written, like a detailed male fantasy, although on closer inspection, the female protagonist was actually manipulating men through her submission. Was it actually an autobiography? It wasn't until 1994 that the truth came out, when mild-mannered editor Dominique Aury finally admitted that she'd written it.
  In this film, Rapaport builds on extensive interviews with Aury to examine the phenomenon, adding comments from artists and publishers, friends and family, and also elegant dramatisations from the book to examine issues of submission and liberation, and how the novel continues to subvert expectations. This is done in a lyrical, almost epic style, blending personal memories and feelings with sexy footage and more brainy comments on the issues.
  Aury herself is articulate and generous--open, self-effacing and fiercely intelligent. She talks about how she wrote the book and its sequel to lure back the man she loved (Jean Paulhan), and how her parents' attitudes toward sex pushed her to take on the taboo subject. What emerges is a portrait of a woman far ahead of her time--the only female to achieve such an elevated status as an author in the 1950s, albeit anonymously. And Aury is also a pseudonym; her real name was Anne Desclos, and she died in 1998.
  This film is packed with fascinating insights. In addition to telling an emotional story, we get a glimpse into the dawning of the cultural shift that finally began to empower women in Western society. Despite the oppression and censorship of the time, Aury swam against the stream--and changed the current. And it's in a much wider examination of love and lust, personal expression and fetish that the film becomes something far more important--looking at how we all have the power to free ourselves from our own limitations.
dir-scr Pola Rapaport
with Dominique Aury , John de St Jorre, Regine Deforges, Jean-Jacques Pauvert, Jacqueline Paulhan, Catherine Mouchet, Penelope Puymirat, Cyril Corral, Thierry de Carbonnières, Alain Rimoux, Serge-Robert Bedrines, Jean-Yves Roan
dramatisation of O release US 4.May.05,
UK Mar.06 llgff
04/France 1h19

london l&g fest

adult themes, nudity, violence
23.Feb.06 llgff
back to the top Send Shadows your reviews!

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

© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall