Friday, August 19, 2005

Day Two: "I want you to let the bear go, man..."

Day: 230
Film total today: 4
Films seen so far this year: 198 (32 to go)

Another day, another bear movie...

36 Quai des Orfevres

French thriller starring Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu as two rival cops.

I went to see this because the write-up described it as a sort of French Heat. That's not too far from the truth: it has some pretty fantastic shoot-outs, a decent script and the mouth-watering prospect of France's two finest male actors facing off against each other. It's not quite as intense as Heat was though. Auteuil and Depardieu play Leo Vrinks and Dennis Klein, two French cops who are both assigned to take down a brutal gang of armed robbers, with the understanding that whoever nails the gang first will get promoted. However, Klein fucks up the arrest, which results in the death of Vrinks' best friend and the rest of the department turning against him. Meanwhile, Vrinks is blackmailed by an old informant into providing an alibi and when Klein finds out, he decides to take Vrinks down, with tragic results. The shoot-outs are genuinely exciting and there are some terrific scenes. Highlights include: a criminal jumping out of a window and taking Vrinks with him; an upsetting scene involving a Mini; and one of Vrinks' men showing his disapproval of Klein by urinating on him. It also has great lines, such as: "What about our ethics code?" "I've wiped my arse with that for years..." Oh, and if anyone knows who the gorgeous woman who was part of the armed robbery gang was, please let me know. She's only in three scenes but my first note reads: "Wow. Who is that?"

The Art of Losing (Perder es un cuestion de metodo)

Convoluted thriller involving Columbian real estate.

I said yesterday that I usually struggled to stay awake through the slowest film of the day and today, this was it. All I can really say about it is that the lead actress was gorgeous and reminded me of Morena thingy from Serenity. It also didn't help that the subtitles were missing from the first five minutes. (I managed to keep up with the Spanish, but my brain was making, "Eh? Is the entire film without subs?" protests and eventually I went out to see what was going on. It had its moments though.

An Unfinished Life

Jennifer Lopez flees yet another abusive boyfriend and takes refuge with her estranged father-in-law (Robert Redford).

“I liked it when the bear escaped.”

The second bear-related movie in two days. Lasse Hallstrom’s An Unfinished Life is a last-minute replacement for Keane, which was apparently pulled because those bloody Frenchies had requested it for the Deauville festival. Lousy frogs. Anyway, the word is that Damian Lewis suggested it as a replacement, because he’s in both films. The basic plot is as follows: Jennifer Lopez plays a widowed mother who takes her feisty daughter (Anna Paquin-alike newcomer Becca Gardner) and flees abusive boyfriend Damian Lewis, ending up in Ishamooa, Wyoming and taking refuge with her bitter father-in-law, Einar (Robert Redford). Einar lives with Mitch (Morgan Freeman), his best friend, who is still recovering from a vicious bear-mauling. Einar still blames Lopez for his son’s death in a car accident, but his cold heart is slowly thawed by the granddaughter he never knew he had. And that’s when it hit me – it’s fucking HEIDI! Okay, so a couple of extra characters have been added and there’s a fucking great bear instead of all that business with the wheelchair, but the story is basically the same. Anyway, the scenery is gorgeous, there are several funny moments and the performances are superb, particularly Gardner, who is a real find. Lopez lets the side down a little and bungles her big emotional scene, but for the most part this is an enjoyable drama. Good support from Camryn Mannheim (whose name I have just learned because she was also in one of Marilyn Hotchkiss’ best scenes) and Josh Lucas, who, for once, escapes the Abusive Boyfriend role. There are Oscar whispers for this already, apparently – don’t be surprised if it picks up both a Best Picture nomination and one for Redford as Best Actor. It’s that kind of performance (alcoholic, learns to live again, etc.) Three stars.

The Magician

Australian “mockumentary”, in which a hit man agrees to be filmed by a film student.

The Magician doesn’t really do anything that wasn’t done ten times better by Man Bites Dog. However, this is less about sensationalism and more about the surreal humour in the relationship that develops between cocky hit man “Ray” (writer-director-star Scott Ryan) and film student “Max” (Massimiliano Andrighetto). It’s also very funny in places, with several laugh-out-loud scenes. Highlights include: Max opening the trunk to ask his latest victim (Tony) to settle an argument about whether or not Clint Eastwood was in The Dirty Dozen; Max suggesting that Ray lends Tony his underpants, because Tony has soiled his (and then lending him his own when Ray refuses); Ray later refusing to let Max sleep next to him because he doesn’t have his pants on; Max’s increasingly bizarre questions, such as, “So, Ray, how much would it take for you to eat a bowl of shit?” In fact, although the film is ostensibly about Ray (who looks like the scrawny lovechild of David Beckham and Willem Dafoe), it’s Max who steals the film, despite never appearing on camera. Andrighetto is either genuinely “foreign” and amusing or is an incredibly gifted comic actor – his innocent, matter-of-fact delivery of the line “Why don’t you lend him your underpants?” had me laughing out loud. Worth seeing.


Alex Crawford said...

I think that I tipped An Unfinished Life and Redford for Oscar nominations for this year's ceremony at about this time last year, deciding that the Hallstrom Effect would take hold.

Nice work btw, informative and funny.

rob_donat said...

Bonjour tous. FF, when you say '32' to go, do you mean that is your limit this year? In which case you are going to be v. bored in December.

There is a word for the bear thing, BTW; it is a 'cluster' as Forteans dub it, a selection of similar memes that appear at the same time, no one knows why.