Monday, October 15, 2007

The Week in Review

FILMS:
  • Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, UK, 2007)
  • I Walked With a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, USA, 1943)
  • Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, USA, 1942)
  • The Leopard Man (Jacques Tourneur, USA, 1943)
  • Money Movers (Bruce Beresford, Australia, 1978)
  • Belle de jour (Luis Buñuel, France, 1967)
  • Les amants criminels (Criminal Lovers, François Ozon, France, 1998)
  • Persona (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1966)
SHORT FILMS:
  • Regarde le mer (See the Sea, François Ozon, 52 mins, France, 1997)
  • Action vérite (François Ozon, 4 mins, France, 1994)
  • La petite mort (Small Death, François Ozon, 26 mins, France, 1995)
  • Une robe d'été (A Summer Dress, François Ozon, 15 mins, France, 1996)
  • L'homme idéal (The Ideal Man, François Ozon, 5 mins, France, 1996)
  • Scènes de lit (Bed Scenes, François Ozon, 25 mins, France, 1998)
  • X2000 (François Ozon, 8 mins, France, 1998)
DVD:
  • Dekalog: 1 (Krzysztof Kieslowski, Poland, 1989)
Eastern Promises
A separate review will be posted.

The Melbourne Cinémathèque screenings of films by Jacques Tourneur
I wasn't over-awed by these three films. I liked them as under-stated horror films, and they certainly looked nice. Maybe I don't have enough historical context to appreciate them fully.

Dekalog: 1
A bright father has an even brighter son who meets a tragic end. Classic Kieslowski. I like the way he raises questions of religion and spirituality but without overtly taking a position. I glean from his films that he is at least agnostic and humanistic, if not a covert spiritualist (quite distinct from religious faith).

Money Movers
An overlooked classic Australian heist film by Beresford that is edgy and captures some of the cultural aspects of the day. Apparently a favourite of Quentin Tarantino who used a similar torture scene in Reservoir Dogs.

Belle de jour
It's a pity I didn't see this before Belle tujours at MIFF this year. I'm keen to catch up on the back catalogue of Buñuel films, and while I enjoyed this one, it didn't overly grab me. It screened as a companion to François Ozon's 5 x 2.

Criminal Lovers
After making over a dozen short films for a decade, Ozon finally debuts with this very chilling story that seems not entirely original. A schoolgirl convinces her boyfriend to murder a fellow student who has been pursuing her sexually, and things don't go according to plan.

Ozon uses the screen masterfully, with beautiful naturalistic visuals, great characterisations and edgy story. It was interesting to see both leads early in their careers who have gone on to become very recognisable - Jérémie Renier (L'enfants and Nue propriété) and Natacha Rénier (Les amitiés maléfiques and La raison du plus faible), and both performances were very strong in this film.

Ozon has shown himself to be a diverse film-maker, and not unlike some of his other films, inserts a light-hearted and understated love scene at the end of what is otherwise a very taut thriller.

Persona
Having read Filmnut's nice review of this film, I feel much of this film went over my head and I might watch it again on DVD one day. Visually stunning, and tackles some strong themes of identity and reality.

See the Sea
At 52 minutes, this is not feature-length material for Ozon, but substantial enough to tackle a gritty yet understated story. Visually it has much in common with some of his later films, particularly Under the Sand, and has a dark side somewhat like Criminal Lovers with strong resemblances to some of the dark films of Michael Haneke. There are no comedic or melodramatic devices in this, no outbursts of song. The end is chilling.

The film screened with the other short films by Ozon. Other than a handful of other shorts that did not screen at ACMI's Focus on François Ozon, and Sitcom (which I missed), I have now seen the remainder of Ozon's oeuvre. I definitely prefer his more understated and naturalistic films such as Under the Sand, as well as his dark thrillers like See the Sea and Criminal Lovers. I like the way he includes sexuality, nudity and homosexuality in a non-self-conscious manner and his films have a humanistic aspect that connects with me.

The Short Films of François Ozon
There were quite a few of these films at the one session at ACMI, which predominately explored relationships and sexuality. One or two I had seen previously, perhaps on SBS television.

2 comments:

Marina said...

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on "Eastern Promises".

Kamikaze Camel said...

I love the Tourneur films. Cat People would be clawing it's way into my top 20.