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Agata and the Storm-Movie Review 04/15/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, European Film Awards, Film Movement, Italian language film, Romance.
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Agata and the Storm (Italian) 2004

From Film Movement
Directed by Silvio Soldini
Starring Licia Maglietta, Guiseppe Battiston, Emilio Solfrizzi, Marina Massironi, Giselda Volodi, and Claudio Santamaria

NOMINATED, Best Actor (Battiston); Best Actress (Maglietta); Best Supporting Actor (Solfrizzi); Best Supporting Actress (Volodi), and several other categories, David di Donatello Awards
NOMINATED, Audience Award-Best Actress (Maglietta), European Film Awards

A light romantic comedy combined with a story about redefining one’s identity, all done in the Italian way.

Agata (Maglietta), who owns a bookstore and is given to flights of fancy, is being pursued by a younger man. She is also experiencing some sort of psychic phenomenon: she causes light bulbs to go out and other electrical appliances to go haywire. When her serious, hardworking brother Gustavo (Solfrizzi) finds out that he was adopted as a baby, Agata tries to help him adjust to the idea of having a brother, the fun-loving and aptly-named Romeo (Battiston).

While not overly remarkable, this is a pleasant enough movie. I’m looking forward to watching Pane e Tulipan (Bread and Tulips), an earlier (2000) film by the same director that features some of the same actors. Pane e Tulipan was more critically acclaimed.

118 min. Not rated. Adult themes.


The Barbarian Invasions-Movie Review 02/10/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, Emotional Drama, French (Canadian) language film, Golden Globes, Movies.
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The Barbarian Invasions (French-Canadian) 2003
Les invasions barbares

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film (Arcand); NOMINATED, Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Arcand), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Croze); Best Screenplay (Arcand), NOMINATED, Palme D’Or (Arcand), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Director, Best Film, Best Writing (Arcand), NOMINATED, Most Promising Actress (Croze), César Awards
WINNER, David Award-Best Foreign Film (Arcand), David Di Donatello Awards

Written and directed by Denys Arcand
Starring Rémy Girard, Dorothée Berryman, Stéphane Rousseau, and Marie-Josée Croze

One of those unassuming French films that sneaks up on you with humor and sentimentality and develops into a solid story that is both charming and touching. Rémy Girard stars as Rémy, a middle-aged man facing illness and the end of his life with the help of friends and his formerly estranged family. It soon becomes apparent that Rémy’s friends and family members hold very different perceptions of him.

Although the premise sounds depressing, and serious issues are certainly presented, there is much entertainingly clever and funny dialogue as well. However, one scene reminded me of the “what sentence does not belong in this paragraph” questions in Language Arts tests. Let me know if you have the same reaction and to what scene.

This film is the sequel to 1986’s The Decline of the American Empire, which follows the trials and tribulations of Rémy and the same group of friends at much younger ages. I watched that after seeing The Barbarian Invasions (a post about the earlier film will follow soon); watching the two in that order didn’t detract from either one. I thoroughly enjoyed both movies.

99 min. Rated R. Adult themes.


A Prophet-Movie Review 10/23/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Arabic language film, Cannes Film Festival, Dark Drama, David di Donatello Awards, French language film, Golden Globes, London Film Festival, Thriller.

A Prophet (French) 2009
Un prophète

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Film, British Independent Film Awards
WINNER, Grand Prize of the Jury; NOMINATED, Palme d’Or, (both for Jacques Audiard), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER and NOMINATED, Numerous Awards, including Best Actor (Rahim); Best Director (Audiard); Best Cinematography, César Awards, France
NOMINATED, Best European Film, David di Donatello Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Film, London Film Festival

Directed by Jacques Audiard
Starring Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, and Adel Bencherif

Growing up in France with no family, Malik (Rahim) spent his early years in reform schools. At nineteen, he is put into prison for six years for assaulting a police officer. Malik is of Arab descent and speaks both French and Arabic. To survive in prison, he becomes errand boy to mob boss César (Arestrup) and is eventually forced to commit horrendous acts of violence both inside and outside the prison. Although he has to undergo humiliation and isolation with this arrangement, Malik learns how the mob world works.

Malik experiences prophetic visions and “visits” from one of his murder victims. He eventually takes advantage of his prison time to educate himself to read and write. When the tides of power change and César loses most of his henchman, Malik is near the end of his term. Despite all the odds against him, he survived.

This is a long film and not for the faint of heart. The violence is ongoing and explicit; the conditions of the prison are horrifying. Tahir Rahim, a newcomer, manages to maintain Malik’s inner dignity. Rahim received many accolades (see above) as did director Jacques Audiard.

149 min. Rated R. Violence, sexual content, nudity, language, and drug content.