with the bold text in the example below:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blue Is the Warmest Color (La Vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2) by Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013 (NC-17)

with Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux, Jérémie Laheurte, Catherine Salée, Aurélien Recoing, Sandor Funtek, Salim Kechiouche

15-year-old Adèle aspires to become a teacher, but her life is turned upside down when she meets Emma, a blue-haired art student at a nearby college, who instigates a romance.
The film is based on the 2010 French graphic novel Blue Angel ("Le Bleu est une couleur chaude") by Julie Maroh.

I guess it would take me more time to really be objective about this movie. But lets talk about it. It is a three-hour long movie, that feels like it is incomplete, we could have spent an hour or two more watching it. The pain that portrays Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is so universal, and she is so stuck in it, deep... you cannot avoid relating. It is beautifully real, time in high school in the 90s, teaching elementary school and preschool, demonstrations on the street to protect the public school system, all this France I grew up in, the lifestyle, the conversations, the lack of them. It felt like home. I guess the perspective must be different if you are not born in the 80s in suburb France and growing up there... Still, from what I heard, everyone is pretty much addicted to the story.
The sex scene, ok, lets comment on it, just for the sake of putting an end to the debate which sadly takes too much space. It is long, a bit uncomfortable, perhaps shorter would have been better, the message is definitely the need they both had to share each others' intensity. It is shot in an objective way, which makes it a bit emotionless, and the actresses are not so much about their mutual love but about an appetite. The scene that told me more about their desire is the one in the cafe, when they meet again, far more complex, a masterpiece.

watch trailer:

Augustine by Alice Winocour, 2012 (NR)

with Soko, Vincent Lindon (Bastards), Chiara Mastroianni (Bastards), Olivier Rabourdin, Roxane Duran, Lise Lamétrie, Sophie Cattani, Grégoire Colin (Bastards), Ange Ruze, Stéphan Wojtowicz

When beautiful kitchen maid Augustine (French recording artist Soko) suffers an inexplicable, violent seizure, she is sent to a psychiatric hospital specializing in the treatment of feminine "hysteria" and presided over by Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (a founding father of modern neurology and a mentor to Sigmund Freud). Fascinated by his new patient, Charcot (Vincent Lindon) quickly makes Augustine the star attraction in a series of hysteria presentations, hypnotizing her to induce spectacular fits for crowded lecture halls. As the full nature of Augustine's affliction begins to emerge, the relationship between doctor and patient becomes more complicated and personal power dynamics start to shift. Based on a true story from late 19th century Paris, Augustine is a lush, darkly sensuous tale of romance, psychology, and sexual politics.

Another movie with Vincent Lindon and Chiara Mastroianni. A strange one. I was told to pay attention, since it was so much connected to the play "Some Historic Some Hysteric" and a demonstration of how ignorant people were, comparing to the time of Masters of Sex, who still had so much to discover. The movie has a strange curve, with no real climax, no real contradiction, no real drama, it feels like documented from a blind point of view, which missed half of the story. Wouldn't it have been fascinating to know more about Augustine's emotional journey, or Dr. Charcot's struggle to get his discoveries to another level, or the political game of the people of research and science... Everything is there, and still nothing gets deep, so, when the movie ends, it feels incomplete, in suspense.

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Bastards (Les Salauds) by Claire Denis, 2013 (NR)

with Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille, Michel Subor, Lola Créton, Alex Descas, Grégoire Colin, Florence Loiret Caille, Christophe Miossec, Hélène Fillières, Eric Dupond-Moretti
From the director of White Material and Trouble Every Day

Marco returns to Paris after his brother-in-law's suicide, where he targets the man his sister believes caused the tragedy - though he is ill-prepared for her secrets as they quickly muddy the waters.

It took me three times watching it again by pieces, to actually understand some of the nuances. The movie is the portrayal of a dramatic event and its consequences, in the lives of many people, drastic consequences. Of course, Claire Denis doesn't avoid us the pain and violence the characters go through, with the growing awareness of how horrendous the event was, and how irreversible. The cast is pretty amazing. Very dark, but in a way, fascinating.

Watch trailer:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On the Road by Walter Salles, 2012 (R)

Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart (Tron: Legacy), Amy Adams (Julie and Julia, The Master, Trouble with the Curve, The Fighter, Man of Steel), Tom Sturridge, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss (Did You Hear About The Morgans?, Mad Men), Danny Morgan, Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things, The Virgin Suicides, Melancholia, Upside Down), Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method), Marie-Ginette Guay, Steve Buscemi (Paris Je T'aime, Love in the Time of Money, The Messenger)

At the height of the Beat era, New York writer Sal Paradise, his freewheeling buddy Dean, and Dean's wife set out on a journey of self-discovery. Their cross-country quest for answers reflects the American character, attitudes and values of the time.
On the Road is based on a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac about the travels of Kerouac and his friends Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg across America. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry and drug use.

Ehhh.... I cannot say this movie is good. Sorry. The story of Dean (Garrett Hedlund) is pretty unusual, full of life and contradictions, and the actor gives everything he has. The character of Kerouac on the other hand doesn't hold the story together, if feels like his lack of determination is leading the movie to its perdition, with a first half of the movie where nothing flows and the silent landscapes are not beautiful enough to make you travel... nor do the intense discussions that intercalate with the landscapes, perhaps because they lack of silence, which would allow to understand the characters. The second half of the movie gives more time to Dean and perhaps then, the movie starts taking off. Not enough tho, and too late.

Watch trailer:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Forrest Gump by Robert Zemeckis, 1994 (PG-13)

Tom Hanks (Cloud Atlas, Larry Crowne, Captain Phillips), Robin Wright (House of Cards, Breaking and Entering, The Conspirator, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball, Adore), Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field (Lincoln), Rebecca Williams, Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Pay It Forward, A.I.), Sam Anderson, Geoffrey Blake, Michael Conner Humphreys
From the director of Flight

Forrest Gump, a simpleminded man, finds himself in the middle of nearly every major event of the 1960s and '70s. Along the way, he makes friends, changes lives and yearns for his childhood sweetheart, Jenny. Based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom.

Here's an old one, a classic of course. Funnily, because it relates to so many historical moments of the 60s and 70s, I also feel like an even older classic. It is definitely all-American patriotic, but because the character is so genuine, it makes us forgive it. It is a fairy tale that makes us all wish it were true. Tom Hanks is mesmerizing, impossible to look at him and think of the actor.
Side-story: the reason why I came to watch it again, after more than ten years, was the visit of friends from France who specifically wanted to eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co (which surprised me about how marketing pushed to even create a restaurant as part as the merchandizing...), and then this article "The 50 Most Heart-Wrenching Movies of All Time"which made me wonder about how much I cried the first time around... and realize Robin Wright was The Girl.

Watch trailer:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reaching for the Moon (Flores Raras) by Bruno Barreto, 2013 (NR)

with Miranda Otto, Glória Pires, Tracy Middendorf, Marcello Airoldi, Lola Kirke, Tânia Costa, Marianna Mac Niven, Marcio Ehrlich, Treat Williams (127 Hours, Hollywood Ending, Hair), Anna Bella

When American poet Elizabeth Bishop makes an inspiring visit to Rio, she catches the eye of an old friend's lover, Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, and begins to blossom under her attention, changing in ways she never imagined.

Word to mouth... The trailer sold me completely, the story is amazing, and tragic, and unusual. Two brilliant women. And unfortunately it was playing for only two more days. But coming out of the movies, I knew why. The story is amazing, the acting of almost everyone is great, the chemistry almost there, but unfortunately, pushing too much the character of Lota into a stereotype, Glória Pires lost us on the way. So that makes it for an incomplete movie, where the next thing you want to do is to read Bishop's poetry, read the women's bio, dig deeper in this story that wasn't an easy one and still, a beautiful one. The other weakness is perhaps the ellipses that build the story, they make it look like there was nothing wrong with Bishop, and that Lora was just neglecting her. Which I am not sure is quite true.

Watch trailer: