La Vie En Rose

Friday, May 30, 2008


My first experience with French film was Ma Vie En Rose, a movie I had to watch for a gender in culture class, and I must say that I was quite surprised by it's flair. And every French film thus far had been the same, so what a drastic change it was to watch La Vie En Rose, a drab and simple film on the life of Edit Paif.

A biography of the famous 1940s French singer, La Vie En Rose (The Life in Pink) stars Marion Cotillard who won an Academy Award for her performance. At an early age, Edith Paif was left in a brothel to be raised by prostitutes and learns of her talent for song; already strange. As she matures, she begins signing on the streets of France and is soon discovered. After she makes her debut in a modest, but packed bar, the crowd's enthusiasm for her singing ensures her lengthy career in show business. As her success sky-rockets her to the top, her personal life and health become victim to her scrappy and lush lifestyle.

Unrefined and rough, Edith Paif fit my imagined impression of Lucille Ball in real life. She was bossy, fierce, stubborn, and crazy about man who had eyes for more than one. Now, to portray a character with so much personality is a feat unto itself. But have you seen Marion Cotillard as he real self? She seems sweet and delicate, yet even her body language was drastic transformation from her slink down the red carpet. This was truly a remarkable performance.

However, other than this artistic achievement and the believable make up and costume, this movie was pretty boring. Yes, Edith Paif was quite a woman, but Man, could I not wait for this movie to end. It was dark and uncharacteristically French, with its non-hallucinogenic style, and you couldn't wait to get to the subtle climax that is distinctive in biographical films (kind of like a climax in a documentary).

I love to sound cool when I say I've watched a foreign film that no one's really heard about. Sadly, I don't know if I'd actually recommend this film, and sadly I'm not cool either. But I would watch it if you're hip, stylish, live in the Village and just want to brag on your artistic sophistication.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:04 PM 1 comments  

August Rush

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


One time, back in the days of "the WB," I was watching Felicity in the living room, and my mom passed by. I said "Isn't Keri Russell so pretty?" She replied, "Eck, she's too pretty." And from then on, every time I see her, I think she really is too pretty.

So I finally got around to watching August Rush. Of course, Keri Russell was too pretty, Irish import, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, was also pretty, and Robin Williams was pretty janky looking. Lyla and Louis have a highly romanticized one night stand, which inevitably turns into an Evan Taylor. Unfortunately, both Lyla and Louis never found each other after that night, and Evan Taylor was given up for adoption. Extraordinarily, Evan Taylor inherited his parent's musical talent, and as he convinces himself that he can find his parents with his music, he wanders the streets of New York searching for them through song.

So many things wrong with this movie - first, Robin Williams was obviously suppose to be the bad guy. He kind of reminded me of the Diablo. He reels unsuspecting, vulnerable prey in, takes advantage of them in a serpent-esque, a la Adam and Eve, kind of way. And though Williams makes for a very disturbing villain, his portrayal of the creepy homeless, black-market, businessman was just too much for this family centered romance. Then there was the notion that Evan's music could bring his family back together. Now, I realize that this film is meant to portray a larger than life situation where hope, love, and faith are not just present in the music, it is the music. It was just too dang corny for me, Man. And Diablo, over there, played great music too. He even smiled knowingly as he listened to Evan play his final piece in the end. What is that suppose to symbolize? Is Diablo like Frank from Donnie Darko; seemingly the Devil but really God? Who knows, and quite frankly, I don't care.

This movie was too; too warm and fuzzy, too syrupy sweet, too pretty, and two goombas.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:59 PM 1 comments  

Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Monday, May 19, 2008


I wonder if Tim Burton ever gets tired his look; his film look. I mean, it is slightly different each time, depending on its mood. Sometimes it's sad and darkly over exaggerated, sometimes it's happy and darkly over exaggerated, and other times it's madly gruesome and over exaggerated. But the costumes and scenery are always loud and attractively strange. It's almost like M. Night Shyamalan and his necessity to add twists to the ending. I wonder if it ever gets old to him. It surely doesn't get old for me as an audience member, but I guess an artist can only have one style.

Tim Burton's teams up with his #1 fan, Johnny Depp, in his latest, madly gruesome, musically tart flick, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In a past life, Benjamin Barker was happily married to a beautiful woman and had a beautiful daughter. Unfortunately for Barker, his wife's beauty attracted Judge Turpin, who then vindictively puts Barker in prison so he could swoop in and take Barker's wife for his own. Upon Barker's return (now calling himself Sweeny Todd) we find, through the magic of music, that he's given up on that life and vows to open up a barber shop on Fleet Street. Eventually, with the aid of his landlady Mrs. Lovett, he begins to kill all his customers via a single blade razor, while Mrs. Lovett turns their remains into meat pies.

I don't know why I laughed. Maybe because it was just so insanely gross and graphic that I must have needed to alleviate my involuntary cringing and repellence. Like always, Burton's attention to detail is stunning, and Depp's ability to look demoniacally crazed while still maintaining the ability to carry a tune is remarkable. And on the killing - the neck is such a delicate area that the chosen method for murder makes it seem more brutal, yet the actual murders were still kind of graceful. Until, of course, he pulled the lever that dropped the bodies down to the basement on their heads; then it was funny.

Sweeny Todd's character is tragic and romantic, yet wretched and pathetically evil. So sad for him. The ending's a dilly. Sweeny Tood will take you into his world and make you see internal struggle splattered across the screen. I wouldn't skip it if you're not into musicals. You can't really tell it is one. I would skip it if you're squimish or if you dislike meat.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 8:39 PM 2 comments  


Monday, May 12, 2008


As the season's first slated blockbuster, it's no wonder the hype for the summer movie line up has been minimal. Cheesy advertisements and a seemingly misfit role for Downey Jr. didn't sure give Iron Man a leg up, that's for sure. It's hard to believe summer has arrived without such a large bang at the box office, and I'm surprised to see how differently the critics feel about the latest super hero flick when many would rather stay at home to their beloved TV set.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a multi-billionaire and a bona fide genius, owns and runs the leading military weapons industry in the United States. However, after an unfortunate hostage situation in Afghanistan where he played the part of the hostage, he realizes that his weapons are being used against the the great US of A and vows to shut down production and focus the company's energy toward something more hero-ish. Afghanistan (if you hadn't already guessed) and someone close to home are the bad guys. Gwyneth Paltrow also stars as his beautiful, yet timid assistant.

Blatantly patriotic but generally entertaining, this movie wasn't nearly as cheesy it could have been. It was sleek and realistic, just like the Iron Man suit, and it struck the right balance between superhero archetypal themes and realism. It doesn't look comic-bookish, like its Spider-Man counterpart, but it isn't as stark as Batman Begins. Overall, I thought Robert Downey Jr. did an excellent job transitioning his character from a selfish and indifferent billionaire to a selfless superhero. I did have some issues with logical aspects of the film. How, for example, does Stark survive thousand foot drops in his suit? Brilliant and intelligent, he doesn't have super human padding. Also, I'm also sensitive to the fact that he shut down his weapons company only to make himself a weapon. Granted, he trusts himself to do greater good, my impression was that he would eventually create suits for others. How is that different from creating missiles?

This film has all the typical things you'd expect in a film of this caliber; crazy good CG, excellent explosions, interesting technology, and a decent character arch. I'd take the time to see it . . . until the Dark Knight hits the silver screen. I have a feeling that Iron Man will fall like an iron anvil short in that comparison.

On the side: Stay until after the credits. There's an extra scene that you might find interesting.
On the side: I hate how adding scenes after the credits have started becoming trendy. Its like the filmmakers are trying to pre-define a film as a cult flick.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:08 PM 0 comments  

American Gangster

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


SYNOPSIS: Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is part of a group who provides support and protection - through coercsion - to a community dominated by poverty, drugs, prostitution, corrupt cops, and troubled youth. He's an American gangster. Eventually he becomes the leader and raises his gang through the corrupted hierarchy by buying cocaine from the source, smuggling it into the country via the U.S, military, and selling "Blue Magic" at a competitive price. It's up to Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) to catch "the man above the mafia."

The GOOM: I thought this film was very interesting. It did a good job portraying mafia-type politics, and if I were a Political Science professor I would have shown this in my class for fun day. It was easy to follow, provocative, and exciting. An overall quality film.

The BA: No matter what Denzel does, I can't see him as a bad guy. I always see his foe characters as people who make poor choices but can always be redeemed; never just evil for the heck of it. So when Frank Lucas shoots a man straight in the head with no remorse in his eyes, I say "Well, that sucks. It's okay, I'm sure he didn't really mean it."

I also had issues with his wife's character. I don't think the movie illustrated whether she is just a gold digger or if she just doesn't care that her husband is a murder.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 8:10 PM 0 comments