PODCAST no.2: Week 31 / Films #188-194

Ernest Goes to Podcast

Popping down the quill and warming up the vocal chords, this is my second weekly round-up podcast for your ear’s delectation. Seven reviews, movie clips, and  thirty minutes of me talking. Why wouldn’t you want that?

Subscribe to the iTunes podcast HERE, or listen in to the Soundcloud hosting episode below. I may be biased, but I’d say that it is at the very least listenable.

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#191: Mifune (1999)

HONEYMOANERS

Mifune is the third instalment to Dogme’95, a rigid film movement set up by a Danish frat-pack who had filmmakers sign a “vow of chastity” prohibiting them from using bourgeoise luxuries and “directorial touches” like props, nondiegetic sound/effects and genre pieces. Following on from Thomas Vinterberg’s quintessentially dark Danish drama Festen and enfant terrible Lars von Trier’s gratuitous The Idiots, stripped of a directing credit, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen’s Mifune is a lighter, considerably commercial film in the Dogme universe. An unadorned, kooky take on the classic Hollywood rom-com adage.

After consummating the vows on the night of his wedding, lustful Copenhagen yuppie Kresten (Anders Bertholesen) gets an unexpected wakeup call with news that his estranged father has died. Previously claiming he had no family, Kresten is forced by his father’s untimely death to abandon his bride Claire and return to the dilapidated farm of his youth and his hermitic, severely autistic brother Rud (Jesper Asholt).

With the first third playing out like a more bittersweet Danish equivalent to Barry Levinson’s Rain Man, Mifune goes all a bit Pretty Woman when Kresten, unbeknownst to him, hires former prostitute Liva (Iben Hjejle) as the live-in housekeeper and nanny for UFO-obsessed Rud. With these three characters all living under the same rotting roof, it doesn’t take long for unrequited romance to blossom and friction to rise to the surface.

Filmed over a brief ten days, it’s remarkable how Kragh-Jacobsen has been able to produce some fantastic performances in Mifune. Asholt embodies the fragile character Rud with delicate perspicacity, whilst Hjejle enchants as the rational and moralistic ex-hooker.

Most impressive of all is that, even when bound to the written code of conduct, this third Dogme film is that it doesn’t feel dogmatic at all. Kragh-Jacobsen’s enforced minimal style feels intrinsic to the thematically austere story. The result is an impressive example of thrifty, barebones storytelling, but one that is ultimately forgettable as soon as the makeshift credits swipe across the screen.

★★★☆☆☆
IMDb it.

#184: Chacun son Cinéma (To Each His Own Cinema) (2007)

Take to your seats.

Presented at the glitzy 60th Cannes Film Festival in 2007, Chacun son Cinéma is an unsurprisingly tumultuous omnibus feature. With 34 three minute shorts shorts from 36 directors, it also feels a bit too crowbarred for a single 100-minute presentation.

With festival director Gilles Jacob challenging each director to create a short which somehow describes “their state of mind of the moment as inspired by the motion picture theatre, it’s fascinating to see these international auteur’s explore their devotion to cinema restricted to a measly time restraint. With little time for exposition or pretty much anything else, I was hoping for pure cinema, but instead I got 34 short homage films featuring cinema halls. Close, but no Croisette.

There’s a great deal of shorts to like here. Brazil’s Walter Salles’ 5,557 Miles From Cannes is at tuneful riff on Cannes elitism. Canadian visionary David Cronenberg morosely explores the futile future of cinema in mini-dystopia flick At the Suicide of the Last Jew In the World In The Last Cinema In the World. Italy’s answer to Woody Allen, Nanni Moretti produces a narrative commentary about his movie-watching history in Diary of a Spectator, which is both breezy and informative. And China’s Wong Kar-Wai’s luscious I Travelled 9000km to Give It To You presents the director’s love for cinema in a sexy new, beautifully coloured light. Oooh, I almost forgot Kiarostami’s Where is My Romeo?; even when given just three minutes, he can still churn out an allegorical mini masterpiece.

Expectedly, when the turkeys do come, they come gobbling. David Lynch’s uninspiringly mysterious Absurda is, even for the master of modern suspense, completely trite. Then there’s France’s most forgiven child molester Roman Polanski pain inducing attempt at comedy with Cinema Erotique. Above and beyond, the worst of them all comes from Britain’s most overrated filmmaker, ‘socio-realist’ Ken Loach’s Happy Ending, a frustrating and superfluous father and son tale starring Bradley Walsh. BRADLEY FUCKING WALSH!

The subheading of the programme translates roughly as Or That Thrill When The Lights Dim And The Movie Begins. Although these projects may come from a passionate place, there’s not a lot of love or willingness to thrill in the projects individually. There’s also no space (or, let’s face it, time) to represent the artistic license which these lauded directors have accumulated over their career’s.

An exercise in industry back-patting, Chacun son Cinéma attempts to present the world’s film artist arsenal in all it’s glory, but ends up feeling like a lightweight pet-project. Still, as far as omnibus movies go, it’s much better than Paris Je t’aimeBut then again, so is everything.

As an overall, 100 minute film….

★★★☆☆

IMDb it.

ADMIN –
If you were interested, here’s details on all 33 shorts, with individual star scores out of six. A lot of them can found on YouTube.

OPEN-AIR CINEMA- Raymond Depardon – 2/6
ONE FINE DAY- Takeshi Kitten – 3/6
THREE MINUTES- Theo Angelopoulos – 5/6
IN THE DARK- Andrei Konchalovsky  – 5/6
DIARY OF A SPECTATOR – Nanni Moretti – 5/6
THE ELECTRIC PRINCESS HOUSE- Hou Hsiao-Hsien – 2/6
DARKNESS- Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne – 3/6
WORLD CINEMA – The Coen Brothers – 5/6
ANNA- Alejandro González Iñárritu – 3/6
ABSURDA – David Lynch– 1/6
MOVIE NIGHT- Zhang Yimou – 4/6
THE DYBBUK OF HAIFA- Amos Gitai – 2/6
THE LADY BUG- Jane Campion – 1/6
ARTAUD DOUBLE BILL –Atom Egoyan – 3/6
THE FOUNDARY- Aki Kaurismäki – 2/6
UPSURGE –Olivier Assayas – 2/6
47 years later- Youssef Chahine – 1/6
IT’S A DREAM- Tsai Ming-Ling – 2/6
OCCUPATIONS- Lars Von Trier – 3/6
THE GIFT- Raul Ruiz – 4/6
THE CINEMA AROUND THE CORNER- Claude Lelouch – 2/6
FIRST KISS- Gus Van Sant – 1/6
CINEMA EROTIQUE- Roman Polanski – 1/6
NO TRANSLATION NEEDED- Michael Cimino – 2/6
AT THE SUICIDE OF THE LAST JEW IN THE WORLD IN THE LAST CINEMA IN
THE WORLD David Cronenberg – 5/6
I TRAVELLED 9000 KM TO GIVE IT TO YOU –Wong Kar Wai – 5/6
WHERE IS MY ROMEO? –Abbas Kiarostami – 5/6
THE LAST DATING SHOW- Bille August – 1/6
IRTEBAK – Elia Suleiman – 2/6
SOLE MEETING –Manoel De Oliveira – 1/6
5.557 MILES FROM CANNES – Walter Salles – 6/6
WAR IN PEACE –Wim Wenders – 2/6
ZHANXIOU VILLAGE- Chen Kaige – 3/6
HAPPY ENDING- Ken Loach – 0/6

#148: Reprise (2006)

Reprise is a bold and bouyant comedy-drama from new Dane on the block Joachim Trier. Not just a namesake of the infamous Danish filmmaker Lars von, in his feature debut, Joachim manages to unravel two absorbing central characters in best friends-cum rivalled novelists Erik and Philip

Contemplative yet enthralling, this French new wave-influenced debut shows a great deal of footing in the right direction for the mini-Trier, who charmed festival audiences last year with his latest existential treat Oslo, August 31st.

★★★★☆
IMDb it.