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Séraphine-Movie Review *** 09/30/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true events, Cairo International Film Festival, César Awards, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, French language film, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Martin Provost, Newport Beach Film Festival.
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Séraphine (French) 2008 ***
Based on true events

Written and directed by Martin Provost (with co-writer Marc Abdelnour)
Starring Yolande Moreau, Ulrich Tukur, and Anne Bennent

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Actress (Moreau), Cairo International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actress (Moreau); Best Film; Best Music for a Film; Best Original Screenplay; NOMINATED, Best Director (Provost); Best Sound, César Awards, France
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Moreau), European Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Moreau), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Jury Awards-Best Actor (Tukur); Best Actress (Moreau); Best Director (Provost); Best Film; Best Screenplay, Newport Beach Film Festival

Based on true events in the life of artist Séraphine Louis.

In early twentieth-century France, German art collector Wilhelm Uhde moves temporarily to the rural town of Senlis. There, he becomes aware that his cleaning lady, the humble Séraphine, privately produces exquisite paintings that he believes would thrill the art world. Séraphine is completely unschooled in art, and even makes her own paint colors. Uhde promises to become her patron and create an exhibition in Paris, but then he must flee France because of the war. Séraphine continues painting constantly. A deeply religious woman, she believes that her inspiration comes directly from God speaking to her, a belief that eventually carries her into madness.

For more about Séraphine Louis’s life, and to view a few of her magnificent paintings, visit Art Scene Today or do a search for Séraphine Louis. When I see the photograph of the real Séraphine, I appreciate the casting of the incredible actress Yolande Moreau in the title role.

Highly recommended.

125 min. Not rated. Suitable for older children and teens.

 

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Poetry-Movie Review *** 09/23/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Asian Film Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Chlotrudis Awards, Drama, Highly recommended, Korean language film, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Movies.
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Poetry (South Korean) 2010 ***
Shi

Written and directed by Chang-dong Lee
Starring Jeong-hie Yun, Da-wit Lee, and Hira Kim

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Director, Best Screenwriter (Chang-dong Lee); NOMINATED, Best Film, Asian Film Awards
WINNER, Best Screenplay; Prize of the Ecumenical Jury-Special Mention; NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (all Chang-dong Lee), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Best Original Screenplay (Chang-dong Lee); NOMINATED, Best Actress (Jeong-hie Yun), Best Movie, Chlotrudis Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Jeong-hie Yun), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

In her mid-sixties, Mija (Jeong-hie Yun) wants to learn how to write poetry, something she has wanted to do since she was a child. Although she has just received a diagnosis that she is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, she starts taking a class at the local community center. Mija is raising her surly teenage grandson Jongwook (Da-wit Lee); soon she must also face the consequences of his participation in a horrible crime.

Jeong-hie Yun was a well-known South Korean film star from the 60s to the 90s. This was her first return to films since 1994. Her graceful presence and natural simplicity adds much to the film’s complex and unpredictable story line.

Highly recommended.

139 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens.

 

Still Life-Movie Review*** 03/02/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Asian Film Awards, Durban International Film Festival, Highly recommended, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, Kinema Junpo Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Venice Film Festival.
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Still Life (Chinese) 2006 ***
Sanxia haoren

Written and directed by Zhang Ke Jia
Starring Tao Zhao, Zhou Lan, and Sanming Han

Among other awards:
WINNER, Best Director (Zhang Ke Jia); NOMINATED, Best Composer; Best Film, Asian Film Awards
WINNER, Best Direction (Zhang Ke Jia), Durban International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Silver Ribbon-Best Non-European Director (Zhang Ke Jia), Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists
WINNER, Best Foreign Film; Best Foreign Director (Zhang Ke Jia), Kinema Junpo Awards
WINNER, Best Cinematography (Nelson Yu Lik-Wai); Best Foreign Film (Zhang Ke Jia), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Golden Lion (Zhang Ke Jia), Venice Film Festival

To document the ravaging effects of the Three Gorges Dam project on a town along the Yangtze River in southeast China, director Zhang Ke Jia combines his visual observations with parallel fictional stories of two people separated from their spouses. Sanming has traveled to Fengjie looking for the wife and daughter he hasn’t seen for sixteen years. Shen Hong (Zhou Lan) has come back to visit her husband after two years apart. The stories are punctuated by the pounding of sledge hammers as buildings are destroyed.

The controversial Three Gorges Dam project is one of the largest artificial projects in Chinese history, flooding 60,000 hectares of land; many 2,000-year-old towns, along with the history and culture they contained, are being quickly destroyed. In the process, more than 1,000,000 people must be relocated, with many family members ending up in vastly different parts of the country.

The simplicity and pace of the stories might not appeal to some. I appreciated the opportunity to see what is happening to these towns, villages, and cities. The director’s interview is worthwhile viewing, as it gives a perspective on what he was trying to accomplish and how. The film is separated into four parts: cigarettes, liquor, sweets, and tea. Although the country now has a “market economy,” these are reminders of the “planned economy” projects of the past, when such items were rationed.

Highly recommended.

111 min. Not rated.

For more information about the Three Gorges Dam, click here and here.