Friday, April 13, 2007

April 13th Log

2007, Olivier Dahan, France

1st Viewing, Theater

To watch La Vie en Rose is to watch the performance of Marion Cotillard. She completely inhabits the role and gives a lovely and worthy tribute to the beloved French singer Edith Piaf. This is the role of a lifetime and Cotillard truly gives on the very best screen performances imaginable. Besides portraying the flawless psychical aspects (including gestures, movements, posture, as well as the aging process) Cotillard captures the essence of the emotional core of the film (which is primarily Piaf’s various addictions be it her music, her love life, her drugs, or herself). Cotillard has been one of my favorite actress for awhile now, but she has never been given a role to shine, but this should undoubtedly change that. Her performance really can not be understated here. Besides Cotillard the films appeal lies of course in the Piaf’s music. Director and co-writer Olivier Dahan tries to give this film something different then the standard biography picture by shuffling the linear timeline of the narrative. For the most part the film is success but at nearly 2 and half hours the film becomes a little uneven (particularly in the scenes dealing with the World Boxing Championship). Of course the concert sequences are the highlight of the excitement and Dahan stages them quite effectively with the aid of strong production design and cinematography (not to mention the music and performance- which is heightened in the skillful uses of close-ups). The films opens with Piaf performing in New York near the end of her career. La Vie en Rose again is a bit uneven in dealing with Piaf earliest days of birth, but it eventually settles in under the performance of Cotillard, who plays Piaf from teen-ager to her death in 1963 at the age of 47 (though she looked much much older). The films film scene is a fitting and powerful one. La Vie en Rose may not be a masterpiece of filmmaking, but it is a wonderful tribute to a great artist, who is portrayed in a breathtaking and unforgettable lead performance.

1935, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan
Repeat Viewing, DVD

An Inn in Tokyo is Ozu's last and perhaps greatest silent film. The film is very reminiscent of the later Italian Neorealist films of the 1940s (notably Vittorio De Sica's masterpiece The Bicycle Thief) as well Ozu's 1933 film Passing Fancy) in it's simplistic yet powerful examination of the human condition amongst the struggles of the Depression (in this case pre-war Japan). Using a decaying Japanese environment as the visual surrounding, Ozu captures the very essence of human struggle, centering around a poor widowed father with two sons as well as a friend who is a widowed mother with a sick child. Faced with a moral conflict the man must make a decision that could effect his family. Equally beautiful and heartbreaking An Inn in Tokyo is a masterpiece.

>>> More on An Inn in Tokyo @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>> Here is a scene from Ozu's last (and perhaps greatest) silent film An Inn in Tokyo (1935). Set against the backdrop of an isolated landscape the scene contrasts a dreamlike quality with the harsh realities of the depression and human struggle.


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