Friday, July 6, 2007

July 6th Log

2007, Olivier Dahan, France
Repeat Viewing, Theater

I saw this film at the Philadelphia Film Festival in April, and decided to give it another viewing during the current theatrical run… 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- with the help of a fine makeup job) 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 young actresses 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 (it really feels disconnected from the rest of the film and Piaf’s life), 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.

2006, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey / France
1st Viewing, DVD

Climates is the fourth feature film from internationally acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan. To date this is only the second film I have seen, alongside Ceylan’s previous feature Distant (2002). Ceylan is a film-festival favorite as he has won awards throughout the world for each of his films, including prizes at Cannes for Distant and for his latest film Climates. I thought Distant was an excellent film, one that portrayed absorbing visuals, profound and poetic metaphoric imagery, as well as a clever blend of humor. I thought it portrayed a strong sense of loneliness. With Climates, Ceylan once again captures this, here centered more along the failed relationships of Isa (played by Ceylan himself) and his wife Bahar (played by Ceylan’s real life wife Ebru Ceylan). You have to admire the boldness of Ceylan’s intentions, and this is very much a quiet and unambitious film. Ceylan has background as a photographer so it is not surprising the visuals of his work are again stunning. Here however, I found the imagery and atmosphere far less absorbing then in Distant and it even has me curious to revisit that film. Climate, much like Distant recalls the isolated loneliness within the landscape style reminiscent of Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni. The film is certainly not unwatchable, but it left me with a dull feeling, as the type of film seemingly made only for film festival acclaim.

1959, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

Repeat Viewing, DVD

Ozu's 1959 Good Morning is a loose remake of his monumental 1932 silent film I Was Born, But.... As with any Ozu film it's simplistic techniques do not discourage the complex depths and themes which result. Ultimately, Good Morning is a delightful film of contemporary Japanese society and consumerism within a suburban household, as well as an examination into communication and community. It's a comedy which is presented with satire, but it never becomes political and the calm and intelligent filmmaking from Ozu results in an equally profound and funny film (even if there are many "bodily function" jokes throughout). Ozu is one of the very greatest directors of children and the children here are outstanding (notably in their expressive vow of silence). Ozu presents the film in glorious Technicolor and it's beauty wonderfully captures the atmosphere and energy of the film, the suburbs of Japan, and the characters of the film.

>>> More on Good Morning @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>> Here is a clip from Good Morning:


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