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La Moustache-Movie Review 10/02/2013

Posted by dbinder in Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Chlotrudis Awards, Dark Drama, Emotional Drama, French language film, Psychological Suspense.
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LA MOUSTACHE (French) 2005

Directed by Emmanuel Carrère
Starring Vincent Lindon and Emmanuelle Devos

WINNER, Label Europa Cinemas (Carrère), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize (Carrère), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actor (Lindon); Best Adapted Screenplay (Carrère), Chlotrudis Awards
WINNER, Citizen Kane Award for Best Directorial Revelation (Carrère), NOMINATED, Best Film,
Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival

When Marc (Lindon) decides to change his image by shaving the mustache he has had for years, no one–including his wife Agnès (Devos) or his friends and coworkers–notices. Soon, he begins to doubt whether he actually had the mustache; eventually, he is forced to question his own sanity.

A psychological suspense story that keeps you guessing about what is real and what might be a brush with madness.

Vincent Lindon has a great face for showing the internal confusion his character experiences. Both he and Emmanuelle Devos are popular French actors.

87 mins. Not rated.

Fear Me Not-Movie Review 10/20/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Bodil Awards, Danish language film, Dark Drama, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Suspense, Thriller.
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Fear Me Not (Danish) 2008
Den du frytger

Directed by Kristian Letring
Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Paprika Steen, and Emma Sehested

Among other wins and nominations:
WINNER, Best Actor (Thomsen); Best Screenplay; NOMINATED, Best Film (Letring), Mar del Plata Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Thomsen); Best Supporting Actress (Sehested); Best Supporting Actress (Steen), Bodil Awards

A pretty good psychological suspense thriller in which Mikael (Thomsen), unknown to his family, takes part in a trial of antidepressants that completely alter his outlook on life. When the trials are discontinued, Mikael continues to take the pills anyway. Soon his personality undergoes radical changes; he feels free to be himself as he has never done before, leading to unforeseen consequences that affect his family (to put it mildly).

Star Ulrich Thomsen may look familiar; he has appeared in many films worldwide. On films reviewed on this site, he stars in Adam’s Apples and The Inheritance.

95 min. Unrated. (Violence; not suitable for children.)


The Outskirts-Movie Review 11/04/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Dark Comedy, Dark Drama, FIPRESCI Award, Movies, Political Thriller, Pyotr Lutsik, Russian language film.
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The Outskirts (Russian) 1998

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Don Quixote Award (Lutsik), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize, (Lutsik), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Philip Morris Award (Lutsik), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
WINNER, Jury Prize (Lutsik), Sarajevo Film Festival

Directed by Pyotr Lutsik
Starring Yuri Dubrovin, Nikolay Olyalin, and Aleksei Pushkin

A group of neighbors leave a collective farm and trek across the countryside to find the person who sold much of the land to oil interests and bring him to their brand of “justice.”

A very dark comedy that’s also listed as a political thriller. In fact, the darkness of the DVD itself (as the liner mentions) is literal, and you will probably have to turn up the brightness of your television. The film is shot in black and white, adding to the drab and often depressing landscape and interiors.

I came across this DVD accidentally, and its deadpan humor might not appeal to everyone. There is likely humor that gets lost in the subtitles, and political references that would not be understood. The director received several prestigious honors. Worth a try if you like to see something a little different; it certainly wasn’t predictable!

95 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children.


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.


Paris, je t’aime-Movie Review 08/28/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Comedy, Dark Comedy, Dark Drama, Emotional Drama, French language film, Movies, Romance.
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Paris, je t’aime (French) 2006

OFFICIAL SELECTION, Un certain regard, Cannes Film Festival

A collection of very short pieces by twenty noted directors, whose sole directive was to create a film with the theme Paris, je t’aime (Paris, I love you).

What they produced is a motley set of films characteristic of the individual directors: some are touching, some are funny, some are romantic, some are weird. The theme of “loving Paris” is sometimes approached from a very tangential angle.

Many familiar faces appear, such as Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood, Marianne Faithfull, and Juliette Binoche. Altogether, this is a very enjoyable DVD, and I don’t know that I’d be able to pick a favorite piece, since they are so very different. There were only a couple that I thought were not up to par with the majority.

Even the piece with mimes took an unusual approach that I could identify with (a prisoner begs to be released from the same jail cell as a pair of mimes).

There has since been a similar project, New York, I Love You, that I haven’t seen. The reviews are not as favorable.

120 min. Rated R. Language and drug use. Adult themes.


In Bruges-Movie Review *** 06/02/2011

Posted by Films to consider in British, Dark Comedy, Dark Drama, Irish film, Movies.
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In Bruges (British/Irish) 2008

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Best Performance-Comedy (Farrell), Golden Globes
Nominated, Best Writing-Screenplay (McDonagh), Academy Awards
Winner, Best Screenplay (McDonagh), BAFTA Awards
Winner, Best International Film; Best Script for Film (McDonagh); Nominated, Best Actor (Farrell); Best Actor (Gleeson); Best Screenplay (McDonagh), Irish Film and Television Awards

Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes

When new hitman Ray (Farrell) accidentally kills a little boy on his very first job, he and his mentor Ken (Gleeson) get sent to the Belgian city of Bruges to lay low. As they await word from their boss, Harry Waters (Fiennes), Ken tries to get Ray to appreciate the medieval beauty of the city.

A dark story about guilt and redemption mixed in with a great deal of dark comedy, witty dialogue, and a fair amount of bloody violence. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are funny as an unlikely pair of hitmen, and Ralph Fiennes is creepy as a cold-blooded killer who pretends to show consideration for someone he’s about to do in.

Favorite lines (there were many):
Ray says to Ken, “I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I’d grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me. But I didn’t, so it doesn’t.”

Be sure to watch “A Boat Trip Around Bruges” in the DVD’s Special Features for a look at this lovely city.

107 min. Rated R. Bloody violence, drug use, and strong language.

Home-Movie Review*** 01/15/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Dark Drama, French language film, Movies, Swiss language film.
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Home (Swiss/French) 2008

Winner, Best Technological Achievement (Agnès Godard, Cinematographer) Lumiere Award
Winner, ADF Cinematography Award (Godard); Best Actress (Isabelle Huppert); Nominated Best Film (Ursula Meier), Mar del Plata Film Festival
Winner, Best Emerging Actor (Klein); Best Film; Best Screenplay, Swiss Film Prize

Directed by Ursula Meier
Starring Isabelle Huppert and Olivier Gourmet as the parents, and Adelaide Leroux, Madeline Budd, and Kacey Mottet Klein as the children

A family of five lives in the middle of nowhere, their house located about ten feet away from an unfinished highway. Although not much is revealed about how or why they moved there, it’s obvious that it wasn’t under the best of circumstances.

The family seems happy and is very close, somewhat abnormally so, but their isolated world is about to change. After ten years of delays, the road is about to be finished. With no fanfare, a silent crew of highway workers shows up and moves the family’s belongings off the highway they have used as part of their living space. The new highway brings lots of traffic. As the family tries to adjust to their impossible new environment, each of them flips out in his or her own way.

Be sure to watch the fascinating interview with the director and cinematographer, who received awards for their work on this film. This was the director’s debut feature-length film; one of her short films, Des heures sans sommeil (Sleepless), is included in Special Features.

The interesting version of Wild is the Wind heard during the movie’s closing credits is by Nina Simone.

98 min. Unrated. Some adult themes.


The Porcelain Doll-Movie Review 10/15/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Dark Drama, Drama, Hungarian language film, Movies.
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The Porcelain Doll (Hungarian) 2005

Adapted from the novel Star Farm by Ervin Lazar
Directed by Péter Gárdos

A trio of brief, mystical, and slightly macabre stories, seemingly with a common theme of examining the possibilities of life after death.

Although I found the opening credits amusing, with the actors silently doing chores and other mundane activities, the stories are not lighthearted or humorous.

In the first a young boy is shot and killed because he performed better than a soldier on some physical skills. His aunt attempts to heal the wounds.

Next, a government official convinces a community that he can bring dead children back to life. When they emerge they look as if they were just sleeping.

Last, an elderly couple defies the order to relocate and are eventually caught.

I won’t tell the outcomes of the stories, and leave it for you to decide whether they are thought-provoking or perplexing. I experienced an agreeable mix of reactions that leads me to recommend this film. Please let me know what you think.

75 min. Not rated. Violence.