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Sound of Noise-Movie Review 06/18/2013

Posted by dbinder in Cannes Film Festival, Chlotrudis Awards, Comedy, Crime, Molodist International Film Festival, Movies, Musical, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Swedish language film, Warsaw International Film Festival.
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SOUND OF NOISE (Swedish) 2010

Directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson
Starring Bengt Nilsson, Magnus Börjeson, Marcus Boij, Johannes Björk,
Fredrik Myhr, Anders Vestergard, and Sanna Persson

WINNER, Young Critics Award-Best Feature, Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Buried Treasure, Chlotrudis Awards
WINNER, Audience Award-Full-length Films, Molodist International Film Festival
WINNER, New Voices/New Visions Special Jury Mention; NOMINATED, New Voices/New Visions Grand Jury Prize, (both Simonsson and Nilsson), Palm Springs International Film Festival
WINNER, Audience Award-Feature Film; Free Spirit Award, Warsaw International Film Festival

A truly unusual story about six percussionists who wreak havoc around the city by performing musical numbers that use a variety of things–from the human body to vehicles–as instruments. It falls to tone-deaf policeman Amadeus Warnebring (Bengt Nilsson) to pursue them. Warnebring, who was raised in a highly musical environment (his brother, a celebrated conductor, was a child prodigy), hates the sound of music.

Funny and entertaining. And definitely different. Loved the music! Listen to some here. Hope the link’s not too choppy.)

102 min. Rated R.


La France-Movie Review 04/23/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Chicago International Film Festival, Emotional Drama, France, French language film, Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival, Musical, Prix Jean Vigo Award, Romance, World War II.
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La France (French) 2007

Directed by Serge Bozon
Starring Pascal Greggory and Sylvie Testud

WINNER, Feature Film-Serge Bozon, Prix Jean Vigo Award,France
WINNER, Festival Award, Best Director-Fiction (Bozon), Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival
NOMINATED, Gold Hugo-Best Feature (Bozon), Chicago International Film Festival

This is a very unusual “artsy” film about a band of deserting soldiers led by Le Lieutenant (Greggory). Roaming the French countryside during World War I as they try to reach freedom, they are soon joined by Camille (Testud), a young woman who has disguised herself as a seventeen year old boy so she can search for her missing husband. He is off at war and has sent her a mysterious letter ending their relationship.

What is most unusual is that every once in a while the soldiers take out instruments and break into song, songs that in themselves are unusual because they are more pop tunes than tunes from the World War I era.

Yes, that’s what they do.

At first, I wasn’t taken with this film but it grew on me and I liked it. The performances of both Pascal Greggory and Sylvie Testud as their relationship changes are what kept my interest.

But, caveat spector!

102 min. Unrated. Some nudity and violence.


Bride and Prejudice-Movie Review 06/30/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Bollywood, Comedy, Indian language film, Light Drama, Movies, Musical.
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Bride and Prejudice (Indian/English) 2004

Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Starring Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson

In this very loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lalita Bakshi (Rai) is one of four daughters; her mother is eager to see them all suitably married. When Lalita meets wealthy American businessman Will Darcy (Henderson), however, it is not love at first sight.

The movie is very funny in parts, and the plot is interspersed with Bollywood-style musical numbers and dances that are very well done. Watch for Naveen Andrews (Sayid from Lost); he is frequently smiling in this film, which took some getting used to, and he even does a break dance. Hey – it’s Bollywood!

Gurinder Chadha also directed Bend It Like Beckham.

107 min. Rated PG-13.


Electra, My Love-Movie Review 03/03/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Hungarian language film, Movies, Musical.
1 comment so far

Electra, My Love (Hungarian) 1974
Szerelmem, Elektra

Winner, Special Prize, Cannes Film Festival

Directed by Miklós Jancsó; written by László Gyurko and Gyula Hernádi
Adapted from the play by László Gyurko
Starring Mari Tōröcsik, Gyōrgi Cserhalmi, József Madaras, and Lajos Balázsovits

An artistic rendition of the story of Electra (Tōröcsik) and Orestes (Cserhalmi) who avenge the death of their father at the hands of their stepfather Aegisthus (Madaras). Jancso sets the play on the plains of Hungary, complete with Hungarian folk music and crowds of dancers (many of them naked). Very beautiful and moving performances, music, and choreography, with a surprise ending.

Director Miklós Jancsó is known for his stylized storytelling, extra-long takes (even in short films like this one), and political allegories.

This is a film that gets mixed reactions, and it will probably not to be to everyone’s taste. I enjoyed it very much, especially the performance by Mari Tōröcsik, as she portrays Electra’s emotional extremes, first of madness and then almost delirious joy.

71 min. Not rated. Nudity.


Solo Sunny-Movie Review *** 02/06/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Emotional Drama, German language film, Movies, Musical.
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Solo Sunny (Germany) 1980

Winner, Silver Berlin Bear, Best Actress, Berlin Film Festival
Winner, Critics Award, FRIPESCI Prize, Berlin International Film Festival
Winner, Gold Plaque, Best Script, Chicago International Film Festival

Directed by Konrad Wolf and Wolfgang Kohlhaase
Written by Wolfgang Kohlhaase
Starring Renate Krössner

In East Germany, Sunny is a singer who is determined to become a star. When she becomes haunted by a melody, her new lover writes English lyrics for her. But Sunny doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. When she quits the group she’s been singing with, her life takes a downward turn. She has to remake her image and strike out in a new direction if she wants to continue in the business.

With depressing surroundings that are bleak and crumbling, the film realistically portrays the times that in turn mirror Sunny’s life. As she tries to figure out where she fits in, Sunny constantly changes her look and her music. While Renate Krössner’s personality is engaging enough to carry the film, the music is also very memorable.

Listen to the melody that haunted Sunny, performed by the Gunther Fischer band in 2008

If you’re NOT planning to watch the film, here’s the song, performed in 2008 by Regine Dobberschütz

102 min. Not rated. Some sexual content and language.


Monsoon Wedding-Movie Review 11/27/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Drama, Emotional Drama, Indian language film, Movies, Musical.
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Monsoon Wedding (Indian) 2001

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Best Picture, Golden Lion, Venice International Film Festival; Best Foreign Film-Foreign Language, British Independent Film Awards; Audience Award (Nair), Canberra Short Film Festival
Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes

Directed by Mira Nair
Starring Nasiruddin Shah; Shefali Chaya; Vasundhara Das (who’s also an Indian pop star); Tillotama Shome; Vijay Raaz

The intertwined stories of three young women in modern-day India reflect their differing backgrounds, experiences, and roles.

Aditi Verma (Das), from a middle-class family in Delhi, is engaged to be married to a young man she doesn’t know; unfortunately, she’s already in love with a married man. Her orphaned close cousin Ria (Chaya) has no marriage prospects; as Aditi’s wedding draws near, however, Ria will have a cathartic experience. Alice (Shome) is in a subservient role as maid to the Verma household; when love unexpectedly appears in her life, she responds in a traditional way.

Alongside these emotional stories, there is much humor, especially in the character of Dubey (Raaz), a bungling wedding planner (and Alice’s suitor). The music and dancing in the movie very naturally ties in with the wedding and the joyful preparations for it. When the monsoon inevitably arrives, it is welcomed as part of the celebration.

A truly touching line comes from Lalit Verma (Shah), head of the household, as he struggles with being a loving father who must make hard decisions: “Sometimes when I look at my children, I feel love which I almost cannot bear.”

115 min. Rated R.


Sholay-Movie Review *** 11/10/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Indian language film, Movies, Musical, Thriller.

Sholay (Indian) 1975

A classic Indian film, directed by Ramesh Sippy.
Starring Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, and Amjad Khan.

What starts out seeming to be a lighthearted movie with two fun-loving bad guys, complete with Bollywood style singing and dancing, soon develops into a thrilling story about good versus bad versus incredibly evil.

Jai (Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra) are two thugs who pride themselves on their marksmanship. They are hired by Thakur Baldev Singh (Kumar) to avenge the horrible deeds done to himself and his family by Gabbar Singh (Khan), sadistic leader of a cadre of nasty bandits. The odds of survival in the fight scenes that ensue are unbelievable, but are somehow made believable enough. There are a lot of bad guys, and a lot of bad guys die.

In the midst of the revenge plot, many other subplots take place, including happy love scenes and comical scenes highlighting one or another of the characters.

I loved this movie and can well understand why it is considered a classic. My only complaint is that there are no subtitles for the lyrics; the musical numbers are obviously carrying the plot forward.

204 min. Rated PG. Much violence.


Once-Movie Review 09/29/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Irish film, Light Drama, Movies, Musical.
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Once (Irish) 2007

Winner, World Cinema Audience Award, Sundance Film Festival

Written and directed by John Carney

Stars Glen Hansard, songwriter and singer/guitarist from the Irish rock band Frame, as the guy and Markéta Irglová, Czech singer, songwriter, and musician, as the girl.

Simply stated, a guy and a girl meet by chance on the streets of Dublin. Their lives are intertwined while they make music together, and their story is accompanied by their songs.

Most of the lyrics and music was written by Hansard and/or Irglová. Their song “Falling Slowly“ won Best Original Song, Academy Awards and Critics Choice Award, and was nominated for a Grammy. (See below for info about an accompanying CD).

Neither Hansard nor Irglová had acted prior to this film, and their very natural performances reflect the friendship they had off-screen.

On a side note, everyone working in the creative realm should have a supporter like the guy’s father, who gradually realizes that his son truly does have what it takes to become a successful musician. He serves tea while the band practices together and critiques the resulting demo tape with a sincere: “That was f***ing brilliant!”

I’ve seen Once twice, will watch it thrice.

86 min. Rated R.

For more about Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

La Vie en Rose-Movie Review 08/04/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true story, Biographical, Drama, French language film, Movies, Musical.
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La Vie en Rose (French) 2007

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Best Actress (Cotillard), Academy Awards
Winner, Best Actress (Cotillard), Musical, Golden Globes

Directed by Olivier Dahan
Starring Marion Cotillard, who also stars in the 2010 film Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Based on the troubled life of Edith Piaf, a French singer popular during the 1940s and 50s. Piaf’s voice and style of singing is full of emotion and immediately recognizable.

Most of the accolades about this film center around the performance by Marion Cotillard, specifically her immersion into the role of Piaf, as Cotillard transformed herself into the singer’s emotional and, it almost seems, physical presence. Those accolades are well deserved, but I found myself reacting to her portrayal of Piaf with mixed (ultimately positive) feelings.

There are apparently many versions of Piaf’s life story. The diminutive (4′ 8″) singer, who was known as the “little sparrow,” had a terrible young life, growing up mostly on the streets of Paris in dismal circumstances. She certainly made the best out of the gift of her powerful voice, overcoming various physical ailments as well. As her fame grew, however, Piaf was shown displaying the mercurial temperament of “une artiste,” and she lost my sympathy for a time. But as soon as another of her moving songs was included, I forgot about her outbursts and simply enjoyed.

140 min. Rated PG-13.