Hors de prix

June 24, 2008

Look at that shot above and tell me it doesn’t arouse even the faintest of curiosities deep inside you, underneath all that flea-infested swag that Hollywood regularly thrusts into everyone of us. Well, Hors de prix is not far from brusque Hollywood-ish sentimentality, but it does seem to withhold enough mystery about its characters to keep the film interesting for some time. Whip together a sly sense of humor carefully crafted by the leading characters’ lack of morality and a seemingly endless supply of charm and sexuality coupled with lavish decors of upper-class living in southern France and the carnal weaknesses of their affluent elderly counterparts, and we got a delectable yet frivolous comedy about a man’s unrequited love for a high-class “prostitute”.

Hors de prix (or Priceless, as it’s known in the Western world)  has one of those disgustingly romantic-sounding taglines – “She only dated men with money…until she met a man with a heart“, and the film maneuvers dangerously close to cloying ineptitude. But the characters are quite fun to watch, especially Irene (Audrey Tautou), who reveals a boyish charm underneath all her shrwedness and insecurity. There are of course “recurring” moments that get recalled just enough times to make a dint in the audience’s temporal memory, but none of these really should be anything new to the experienced wayfarer of cinema. While it does posses minor social commentary on the relationships between the wealthy and the working-class, given a choice, I think I’d probably prefer Leconte over Salvadori for contemporary French comedies.


Street shots

June 15, 2008

Over at WNYC, there’s a nice piece featuring six video interviews (although only four are up as of now) with street photographers from New York. Personally, I find street photography a challenge, never being able to surmount the fear of approaching strangers armed with just a lens and an excuse that photography is my hobby. Bruce Gilden (in the first interview), who’s quite a famous name in street photography, has no such restraints. He even uses a flash right in front of his subjects, which I find alarming and frankly a tad disturbing. What amazes me more is that the people (in the video) appear unflustered by a blistering flash of light smack in their faces in the middle of the afternoon! Gilden’s technique is blunt, unflattering and baroque; it is also candid, raw, and a little frightening. But it works – for him. For everyone else, we all have to find our own crack in the wall.


Rod Y Gab

June 2, 2008

It’s been a few months since I last listened to Rod Y Gab, and I just stumbled across them a few days back. Reliving the acoustic dynamics that throbs from the guitars of this tempestuous duo, their melodious thumps made my heart convulse like never before. An excerpt from this review of their live performance at New York describes them as “Mariachi Metal”, a fitting description to this high-tempo metallic cadence:

It’s as if a roaming band of mariachis met up with a nomadic pack of Metallica die-hards on the road somewhere, and nine months later, two stars were born. One-part satanic rock, one-part angelic classical; sheer fuck-your-face acoustic awesomeness in totality.

I simply cannot wait to catch them live later this year.

[image from last.fm]


The Band’s Visit

April 29, 2008

I’m eager to see this Eran Kolirin debut which premiered at Cannes last year. My other greatly anticipated viewing of the term, Fellini’s 8 1/2, was a bit of a letdown, probably because my expectations were set unreasonably high (as usual). On the other hand, I loved the surrealistic and eloquently mangled El Topo. Anyway, as of now, I just wish I had more time to spare.


Persepolis

April 20, 2008

On a beautiful night, with clear skies, mild winds and an almost full moon, I watched Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, a deeply sensuous work, painfully autobiographical and frighteningly real. Persepolis’ visual style mimics Satrapi’s famous “graphic novel” of the same name. Viscerally disturbing at times, it combines the cruel depiction of an oppressive Iranian regiment with a mildly upbeat and catalyzing humor that is deliriously addictive, yet quite subjective and idiosyncratic.

There’s an interview of Marjane with the NYT here. She sounds very blunt and seems to possess a naturally polarizing character.


La Ceremonie

March 24, 2008

I’ve been holding this DVD for a week now, and still haven’t watched it. I’m simply going to return it to the library today. The same thing happened with Resnais’s Last year at Marienbad. Sometimes I feel like I’m just not ready. I did get to see Chabrol’s Violette, casted with two of my favourite actors, Stephane Audran, and Isabelle Huppert (I would never have realized it was her, were it not for the credits). Chabrol’s sensibility has matured and he approaches the subject carefully without introducing an overwhelming amount of mystery and suspense, which was something I did not particularly like in his earlier works (though with exceptions like Les Biches and La Rupture). I now keep wondering how it would have been if Huppert had played Why in Les Biches. Audran and Huppert make a wonderful pair together, though it’s hard for me to visualize them as mother and daughter.


Miss Cuthbert

March 24, 2008

She’s so achingly beautiful. Makes my heart bleed.

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[photo ©WireImage.com]


Claude Jade Interview

March 13, 2008

The stunning Claude Jade in an old interview beside Truffaut.


Some thoughts

February 24, 2008

There’s already a lot written about Coen Brothers’ No Country for old men and I do not wish to descend into a redundant interpretation. Instead I shall say that unlike Pan’s Labyrinth, in this case, the film matched (in fact, exceeded) whatever expectation I subconsciously had. The broadening arc cast over every individual’s (mis)guided interpretation of life, the hazy envelope that covers acts of will and faith and the underlying nature of causality are just some of the film’s powerful revelations, delivered through a mass of bloody chaos and paranoia. Just brilliant.

Atonement was another film I watched over the past couple of weeks. The film has a lot of potential, but I just wish Joe Wright had decided to keep the film’s cinematography clean and simple, rather than imbuing it with pointless stylistic touches of supposed splendor.

Before the Devil knows you’re Dead was a disappointment for me. The film’s first half is a frustrating and condescending manipulation of the audience, frequently reversing the sequences it makes us assume, while Lumet strikes me as being impatient in the latter half. I really have to watch some of his earlier films.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting (almost breathlessly) for this winter term’s showings of Nights of Cabiria, 4 months…., There will be Blood and The Savages. Speaking of Mr.Anderson, there’s a funny article where he comments about No Country for Old Men: ““You really think that movie was better than ours! C’mon, do you really believe that?”.


Baisers volés

January 31, 2008
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Now every time I spread cheese on crackers, I’m reminded of the touching scene near the end of Stolen Kisses, when Doinel, trying to butter a toast breaks the bread and Fabienne  Christine shows him how to layer a piece atop another so it doesn’t break, and then tells him she’ll teach him everything she knows and he’ll teach her everything.