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Alamar-Movie Review *** 11/25/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Cartagena Film Festival, Film Movement, FIPRESCI Award, Highly recommended, Mexican/Spanish language film, Movies, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Toulouse Latin America Film Festival.
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Alamar (Mexico) 2009 ***
To the Sea

WINNER, Grand Jury Prize, Ibero-American Competition (González-Rubio), Miami Film Festival
WINNER, Feature Film Competition Award; Audience Award, Morelia International Film Festival
WINNER, Tiger Award (González-Rubio), Rotterdam International Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize (González-Rubio), Toulouse Latin America Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best First Work (González-Rubio); Best New Actor (Natan Palombini); Best Sound, Silver Ariel Awards, Mexico
NOMINATED, Golden India Catalina, Best Film, Cartegena Film Festival

From Film Movement

Directed by Pedro González-Rubio
Starring Jorge Machado, Natan Machado Palombini, Nestor Marin Matraca, and Roberta Palombini

This is one of the loveliest and most touching films I’ve seen in a while. Five-year-old Natan (Palombini) leaves his Italian mother to visit with his father Jorge (Machado) in Mexico. They travel by sea to the Chinchorro Reef off the Mexican coast where Jorge helps Natan become familiar with his Mayan heritage. Jorge’s father is a fisherman and the growing bond between the three generations is beautiful to see.

And the reefs, it goes without saying, are absolutely stunning. For more information about this protected area, click here.

Highly recommended.

73 min. Not rated. Suitable for older children.

Also highly recommended is the short film, No Corras Tantos (Take it Easy) that is on the same DVD. It is a five minute animation that uses sand as the medium. The music and lyrics are exceptional as well. I watched it once for the animation alone and the second time to read the lyrics (it was too hard to do both the first time around).


Elevator to the Gallows-Movie Review *** 11/18/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, French language film, Highly recommended, Louis Malle, Miles Davis, Movies, Prix Louis Delluc, Suspense, Thriller.
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Elevator to the Gallows (French) 1957
Ascenseur pour l’échafaud

From the Criterion Collection

WINNER, Prix Louis Delluc (Louis Malle), France

Directed by Louis Malle
Starring Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Yori Bertin, and Georges Poujouly
Score by Miles Davis

The musical score lends a special air of suspense to this thriller about Julien (Ronet) and Florence (Moreau), a couple planning to murder Florence’s husband, and Veronique (Bertin) and Louis (Poujouly), a young couple who don’t seem capable of planning anything, but leave a trail of crimes behind them. Hauntingly filmed in black and white, the style is reminiscent of Hitchcock, with a decidedly French sensibility.

Amazingly, this is the debut feature film by the late legendary French director Louis Malle (Murmurs of the Heart), filmed when he was only twenty-four years old. He had previously spent several years creating underwater films for Jacques Cousteau. Malle’s collaboration with jazz trumpeter Miles Davis for the film’s musical score has also become legendary. (Watch the Special Features for an inside look at Davis’s improvisation process.) Jeanne Moreau’s movie career went on to great success after her performance in this film.

Highly recommended.

92 min. Unrated. Adult themes.


Everlasting Moments-Movie Review *** 11/11/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Guldbagge Awards-Sweden, Highly recommended, Independent Spirit Awards, Movies, Swedish language film.
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Everlasting Moments (Swedish) 2008 ***
Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick
From the Criterion Collection
Based on a true story

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Achievement for Music (Matti Bye); Best Actor (Persbrandt); Best Actress (Heiskanen); Best Film; Best Supporting Actor (Christensen), Guldbagge Awards (Sweden)
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film, Independent Film Awards

Directed by Jan Troell
Starring Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Callin Ohrvall, and Jesper Christensen

A loving tribute to the life of Maria Larssons, co-written by relative Agneta Ulfsäter-Troell, who is also the wife of director Jan Troell. Maria (Heiskanen) was the wife of Sigfrid (Persbrandt) and the mother of six children, living in impoverished circumstances in turn of the 20th century Sweden. The story is narrated by Maja (Ohrvall), the oldest daughter of the family.

Before they are married, Maria’s husband is charming and sweeps her off her feet. Afterward, as she continues to bear his children, he is a drunkard and womanizer who tries to keep her servile to his whims. When Maria finds the camera they won in a lottery before they got married, she decides to sell it, but instead strikes up a friendship with Mr. Pedersen (Christensen), a local photographer. He encourages her to use the camera herself. She does and the world she sees through the lenses changes Maria’s life, if not her circumstances.

Although the overall story of Maria’s marriage is sad, her courage and spirit are to be admired. The sepia-toned cinematography and beautiful music add to the ambiance of the film, and at the end I felt like I do at the end of a novel I love, that I don’t want it to end.

The Special Features disc contains some of Maria’s photographs and interviews with still living relatives. Also, I liked this quote from director Troell in his interview (may not be exact): “Set the bar as high as possible because you know you’ll have to compromise.” I haven’t seen any other films by him, but given the opportunity I’d like to.

Highly recommended.
131 min. Not rated. Adult themes.