Thursday, November 30, 2006

Time to Leave

Melvil Poupaud, Marie Rivière & Daniel Duval, Time to Leave (Dendy Films)

Francois Ozon is one of my favourite French directors. His artistic renditions of human drama contribute significantly to what makes French films so worth seeing. This is his second instalment of a trilogy about death that started with the emotionally enthralling and understated Under The Sand.

Previously he has covered different genres like comedy (8 Women) and thriller (Swimming Pool). While these films have found a wider audience, I find the dramatically subdued exploration of grief and mortality in Under The Sand and Time To Leave much more interesting and satisfying.

Ozon typically uses a female lead in his films. In Time To Leave he uses a male protagonist, Romain (Melvil Poupaud). He appears to be selfish and egocentric – not overly likeable. Romain is approaching imminent death and finds his own way to deal with it. It is revealing to observe how he interacts with people and attempts closure on his ‘final journey’.

The film has a bit of a wandering Zen feel about it. There is no sentimentality and Romain does not burden anyone. It appears that he wants to tidy up loose ends before his passing in an attempt to find peace within himself.

Legendary actress Jeanne Moreau, playing the grandmother, has as strong a screen presence as ever (55 years after her debut). It is only with her that Romain seems to open up emotionally, and we get a glimpse of his warmer side. These scenes were very moving and felt like the emotional core of the film.

Like Under The Sand, Time To Leave doesn’t seem to be making any particular point. It doesn’t proselytise a world view. Nor is it gratuitous, contrived or flamboyant. It is like an essay on the human condition, with great artistry and compassion. There is such understated confidence, intelligence and skill in Ozon’s direction. Highly recommended.

Dir, Scr: François Ozon Rating: MA Duration: 85 min Genre: drama Language: French Country: France Release: 30/11/06, limited Dist: Dendy Films Prod Co: Fidélité Prod: Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier Sound Des: Brigitte Taillandier, Aymeric Devoldère Phot: Jeanne Lapoirie Ed: Monica Coleman Prod Des: Katia Wyszkop Cast: Melvil Poupaud, Jeanne Moreau, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Daniel Duval, Marie Rivière

Official website IMDB


Delon Melville said...

Paul, are you the David Lynch lookalike, if maybe Lynch lost the suit and button down and was more hobo behind Bob's Big Boy.

There is always a Daid Lynch character who has this esoteric quality about him, he is about 6'4" and always graces MIFF with his presence.

The long white hair standing on end on top.

Paul Martin said...

Delon, I'm 5'9", with short hair and look nothing like David Lynch. He is, by the way, my favourite director.

delon melville said...

well, look out for him.

It is th eMelbourne hobo version of Lynch, and he will be wandering around MIFF again one presumes

Paul Martin said...

Delon, if you're talking about the guy with the white beard who also regularly appears at ACMI, then I know who you're talking about. Apparently he was banned from ACMI, but I still see him there regularly, on Wednesday's Cinematheque, and other screenings.

delon melville said...

will there be an 2006 arbitrary "top 10" on the blog Paul?

Some nominations for bottom 10, Chumscrubber, Wil (great premise, perhaps a short, definitely not a feature), Combien tu m'aimes, Manuale d'amore

Definitely some ordinary films in that lot.

delon melville said...

funny, I think I know the white guy, overweight, 60's, has schizophrenia I belive.

An amusing anecdote, during the recent Russian festival, he walked into Solaris speaking to himself, which was quite appropriate.

He also was in the upstairs cinema foyer whilst folks were queuing and he was loud and talking about russian films, "there are not many films for the Russians are there?" "Oh, Russian Ark just played at the Astor" ... talking about Russian films very funny.

The guy I am talking about is not overweight nor in his 60's. I think he would be late 40's, and tall, 6'3" 6'4"ish, and white hair, shortish/mdium on the side, and long on top. But he wears it not Erazerhead or Lynch stule straight up, but half straight up and messy.

Always at MIFF.

Paul Martin said...

I've never written a top or bottom 10, but have privately analysed the films I've seen in a year for the best and worst. Maybe I will, we'll see.

There's still another dozen films I'll probably see before the year is over, so I'm not ready yet. My current best and worst for the year are respectively Em 4 Jay and Hard Candy.

The guy I think you're talking about (I can't remember his name, but someone mentioned it this evening at a Melbourne Cinematheque committee meeting I went to) is, I believe, schizophrenic but harmless. Yes, tall. But I think there's too similar looking guys, and I'm not sure which is which.

delon melville said...

I don't think they are similar looking guys. The Lynch go, you need to do a double take before ascertaining it ain't Lynch. Tall, and lanky, and the white hair long and standing up. His face his not like lLynch, more slimmer, just like his lanky physique, but he is unique looking, little bohemian.

The other guy at ACMI I have seen, was 6ish foot, overweight even as a middle to lat age paunch, plus beard and unkempt. Looks idigent, and carries bag with belongings. Has schizophrenia or some mental illness.

It was amusing an appropriate when he walked into Solaris, he was talking to himself as Tarchovsky's film obviously has doppelgangers, so the invisible friend of the schizophrenic sufferer, was almost a "performance art" accompaniment to the film.

Also, I have an acute view on mental illness so this should be not seen in a callous context as the medium is not condusive to portaying tenor.


Paul Martin said...

Delon, I might recognise the Lynch-lookalike if I saw him, but can't recall him. I've seen the other guy numerous times, including at the Solaris screening.

I have ample experience of people with schizophrenia, which is perhaps an understatement. I never took your comments about mental illness in any negative context.

delon melville said...

Peculiar last act don't you think?

Not sure the existential procreation was within the realm of belief, what were his words, something about being a fag and no kids in the first act.

I don't see how his character arc addressed that homosexuality and bisexuality intersection or crossing to the surrogate/donor and conceiving progeny.

Does a photographer take casual pictures with such spontaneity?. I know he framed his view, but there seemed to be little orchestration or pre-thought. Just a casual picture. Perhaps that was the point. But I doubted that in watching.On second thought many of the settings and pictures were poignant, and the casualness in the style probably was a trope to delineate the glamour photos of his profession.


Paul, do you take notes in a screening or see films twice?

I doubt I could be a critic or indeed a yeoman reviewer without a second view. I don't think notes would aid the feel of the first viewing, that is, you need to not be occupied with such activity, and take it in. The second viewing would be for notes and details. Ofcourse, you take notes immediately after first viewing. Usually the metaphorical themes are not immediate to the viewer so just sitting during and then thinking afer the viewing is me MO. Except I don't review!

Paul Martin said...

Hi Delon, there were aspects of the film that I thought would be unlikely to occur. I was happy to go along with the ride because of the other qualities of the film. Did you see Under the Sand? I don't think you would take that film to task on these points.

As far as the photographic thing, personally I almost always have a camera with me. That's the benefit of this digital age. It fits in my pocket. I really related to that.

I've only been taking reviews seriously for two months, before that they were fairly casual. I've never taken notes during and I rarely see a film twice. I agree with you that it would distract from the film. Film is experiential.

Personally, the way I experience cinema on most occasions is emotional absorption in the story (unless it's a crap film). One side of my brain fully engages in the fantasy or escape while the other side is simultaneously analysing and appreciating the technical aspects like camera angles, editing, lighting, acting, etc. I'm a both left and right brain person, and the many layers of artistic and technical endeavour in cinema is what fully engages me and makes it my favourite art form.

As far as second viewings, I think that now I'm taking criticism more seriously, I would like to see films more than once. I am planning to take my partner to see Time to Leave as she missed it earlier in the year when I saw it as part of the French Film Festival. I like this director a lot. I'm even interested to see Volver again, even though I didn't like it that much. But again, it's a matter of time. If there's a choice of seeing something I haven't, and something I have, I'll go for the former.

I started just commenting on films, just as you are here, Delon. Who knows, maybe it will develop into something less casual. I found putting up a blog a way of formalising it with some discipline. And just because it's the internet doesn't mean you can't proof-read. ;)

delon melville said...

touche, but perhaps one can't be bothered to proof-read.

I call it the 7-finger typing paradigm.

I watch the keyboard and often use malapropism or phonetical mispellings whereas if I was watching the monitor or pen on page I would not.

I definitely think you have some talent as a reviewer anyhow.

(I did reply to your email, so I assume you received it. Not that I require a reply to the reply, that would be juvenile, just confirming I replied. How stupid this paragraph is.)

Oh, now I see this blog offers a more overt option to edit. Hmmm, wonder why.

I saw Babel last weekend, I was disappointed. I thought Crash was crap, and this started to flirt with mawkishness in the parallel narratives and coincidences. I would prefer the narritves to be linked by themes versus direct relationship using more Deus ex Machinas than you would find in Jerusalem.

delon melville said...

saw Under the Sand.

But I need to refresh my memory.

Paul Martin said...

Delon, get yourself a typing program like TypeQuick. You'd be surprised how quickly you can learn to touch-type on your own.

I'm aware that I have 'some' talent, but it's a work in progress. Whether someone is going to offer me a job is another thing. Newspapers and magazines seem to be mostly interested in reviews that aren't too deep and mostly approve of the films that their advertisers are screening. As Andrew Urban says on his website, most reviews end up giving films 3 out of 5 stars.

I think writing is good for self-discipline, practising analytical/critical skills and self-exploration.

I've mentioned Volver more than once. It was a film that I didn't think that highly of, but analysing it forced me to delve into past interests and relate them to things in the present (ie, the film itself). It also forces one to relate to other films and films by the same director, connecting themes, etc. People who have formally studied cinema could give a more in-depth description of this process than I can.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'more overt option to edit'.

I've heard of mixed reactions to Babel but am keen to see it without high expectations. Especially after being very disappointed in Crash. I wasn't really completely surprised that it undeservedly won best film Oscar, as I consider the Academy generally rewards mediocrity. (I think Cannes, Venice or Berlin awards are a better indicator of a film's worth).

I wouldn't go so far as to say it was crap, though I don't have a problem with anyone else describing it that way. I did find it completely forgettable (so can't remember that much about it). I remember it was very, very contrived and self-conscious. The crescendo of silliness was when the racist cop (Matt Dillon) was helping the rich black woman out of the car wreck.

But I did love Amores Perros.

delon melville said...

re: edit option. It comes up in a yellow coloured box, whether or not you wish to approve/publish or edit

I did not notice that before, perhaps it was always a feature.

I just though Crash was a comedy when I was watching, though half the cinema thought it was poignant and emotional. Saccharine is an understatement. If a script wants to appeal to some social realism, how can it be so melogramatic, so shrill.

Paul Martin said...

Delon, that's always been there.

I just realised that I was mistakenly thinking Crash was also by Inarritu when it was by Paul Haggis. Inarritu did 21 Grams which I also found disappointing after Amores Perros.