Bel Ami (2012)

Bel Ami
Director: Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod
Writer: Rachel Bennette
Based on: Guy de Maupassant‘s novel
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, Kristin Scott Thomas, Natalia Tenna, Holliday Grainger, Colm Meaney, Philip Glenister

Plot:
Georges (Robert Pattinson) just returned to France after serving as a soldier in Algeria. Pretty much penniless, he tries to get by on his looks when he runs into an old colleague, Forestier (Philip Glenister). Forestier invites Georges into his home, introduces him to his wife Madeleine (Uma Thurman) and several other influential people. Soon Georges’s luck is looking up, as he sleeps his way up the ladder: he starts an affair with Clotilde (Christina Ricci) and works at the newspaper La Vie Française run by Rousset (Colm Meaney), though his articles are written by Madeleine.

I was pretty certain that I would not like the character Bel Ami, but that (female) cast just drew me in, despite myself. Unfortunately not even their awesome put together is enough to balance the combination of Robert Pattinson in that role.

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New York, I Love You (2009)

New York, I Love You is a collection of short films, bundled together because they are all set in New York. The segments were directed by Fatih Akin, Yvan Attal, Allen Hughes, Shunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Shekhar Kapur, Joshua Marston, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman and Brett Ratner, the transitions between the segments by Randall Balsmeyer. And in the various segments there were Justin Bartha, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, James Caan, Hayden Christensen, Julie Christie, Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Andy Garcia, Ethan Hawke, John Hurt, Cloris Leachman, Blake Lively, Drea de Matteo, Natalie Portman, Maggie Q, Christina Ricci, Eli Wallach, Robin Wright and Anton Yelchin.
I’ll spare you and me the writers, but they are interesting, too. [Also, do not ask how long this paragraph has taken me to write and link. It is better not known for it shows my obsessive-compulsive qualities.]

Plot:
A young woman (Emilie Ohana) drives around New York with her video camera, capturing various stories and moments around her.

The single segments deserve their own reviews (mostly) [which I’ll do after the jump] but overall, I have to admit that I was mostly bored during this movie. The stories weren’t connected enough – I expected a more unifying theme – nor were they representative of New York (unless New York barely has any black, hispanic or Asian people and no none-cis gendered, none-hetero persons either). I think most of the segments would have worked beautifully as short films, but bundling them together to one feature film didn’t work out.

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Penelope (2006)

Penelope, Penelope, why can’t more movies be like you?

Just so you know, I absolutely loved every frickin detail of this story. Starting with the plot, continuing with the characters, ending with set/production/costume design. Oh, and let’s not forget the beautiful message this movie sends, which actually makes sense.

Penelope is the daughter of a rich, aristocratic family. Unfortunately, she was cursed and is born with a pig nose. In an attempt to keep her safe until the nose is gone and the curse lifted, her parents lock her in at home and bring her one blue-blooded husband contender after the other, in the hopes that he’s Mr Right.

The setting is magical realism (tor has a great essay up on magical realism), the style reminded me of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium or Big Fish. And it really made me want more movies set in worlds like that. In literature, it’s pretty prevalent (think Gabriel García Márquez or Haruki Murakami among others), in movies, it’s not. Very sad.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Christina Ricci is a wonderful Penelope, sweet and naive, but also strong and powerful, filled with purpose and a sharp mind. Catherine O’Hara is the well-meaning mother of everybody’s nightmares. James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Simon Woods and Russell Brand (who is everywhere nowadays) complete a perfect and very funny cast.

As I said before, I loved the design of the whole thing – Penelope’s clothes, her room, the city… it all fits the general mood of the movie and is just extremely pretty. And magic.

What it boils down to is that it’s a wonderful fairy tale that reminds you that the world is kind of enchanted. When you look at it closely.

And it’s actually a movie that got 10 out of 10 points on my list.

Miscellaneous Older Movies

I’ve seen Troy, finally. And I have to say that it was better than I thought it would be. Which doesn’t say a whole lot, because I expected it to be as bad as Alexander or Kingdom of Heaven.
I actually like Troy. All because of Eric Bana, Peter O’Toole and Sean Bean.

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Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is nice. It just has two huge flaws:

  1. What’s up with the accents? I hate it when they shoot films in English which are set somewhere else and to make up for it that it’s not the original language, everybody talks with an accent. It’s just not logical. It’s either prentending that English is the national language in Greece, than only the Italians and Germans should have accents when talking, or you shoot in the original language (in this case Greek, Italian and German) and use English as the language they communicate in when not talking to each other or just use subtitles.
  2. When having the choice between Christian Bale and Nicolas Cage, who in their right mind would choose Nicolas Cage?

Christian Bale Nicolas Cage

Seriously?

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Audition is one freaky movie. I didn’t know much about it when I watched it and the slow development and the beauty of the first half of it, lulls you into safety.

It features one of the most beautiful shots I’ve ever seen.

Audition

And then it gets so seriously crazy…

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

When the bag moves for the first time, I almost had a heart attack.
One of the worst scenes ever in any film is the one, where Asami goes “Kiri, kiri, kiri”. Especially, because in German you say “Kille, kille, kille” when you tickle someone and it’s phonetically really close. I don’t think I can ever tickle my nephews (or anybody else for that matter) again without seeing needles everywhere.

[SPOILERS END]

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Snakes on a Plane was even worse than I thought it would be. Couldn’t they even get someone who could believably animate snakes? It is really, really sad to watch. Nevermind the story which is thin as it is, but they could have at least made the snakes look like real animals.

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Black Snake Moan features Samuel L. Jackson as well, but no snakes, which is good. From the trailer, you’d expect a completely different movie. But the film it actually is, is really good. Interesting, different, disturbing, very good characters and acting. Christina Ricci was amazing. And I wouldn’t have thought that Justin Timberlake could actually act.

The ending was a bit disappointing though. It came a little fast, compared to the pace of the rest of the movie and it was a little too optimistic for my taste.