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C’est Moi Sang Froid

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle comes at us like a twisted version of Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie. Luckily, he’s assisted in his effort by the performance of his star, Isabelle Huppert. Huppert is as much the auteur of this film as the director. As the film veers from heartbreaking tragedy to comedy to dark social satire, it brazenly defies expectation, unwilling to ever be pc.

Huppert’s performance brings clarity to the proceedings even when Verhoeven loses his way. And that’s no small feat considering that she’s called upon to portray a complex array of psychological shadings, challenged at every turn to not make her Michèle a victim.

Elle is more a provocation than a film, pushing lots of buttons as it weaves its web of moral ambiguity. It leaves you hot, it leaves you cold, it often leaves you perplexed. But every time I was inclined to avert my eyes, Huppert kept me riveted to the screen, holding the film’s center, a screen performance that’s nonpareil.

Genre/flecting

Just watched Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. It’s a well written, superbly acted satire directed by a topnotch director. It’s a picture absolutely worth watching. Yet I felt, even with an A-list director at the helm, that the film had been misdirected. The full bite of the satire seemed off-key. It’s incumbent on directors to make choices. This is what directors do. Here Lee chose a lighter hand when delivering the satire. The characters came off more human less caricature, perhaps at the expense of the satire.

The set-up is brilliant: a look at individual patriotism within the context of the Iraq War set against the over-hyped hoopla and hypocrisy surrounding the NFL’s weekly “circuses.” I’ve felt for a long time that the NFL wraps itself in it’s own self-importance leaving it deserving of a good skewering.

I must confess, I’m comparing Billy Lynn to the gold standard of cinematic satires, Dr. Strangelove and M*A*S*H,  Billy Wilder’s darker than dark Ace In The Hole.

The tone for Lee’s picture seemed off too many times for me to ignore, the pacing too languorous. I wanted more bite, even as I was appreciating the high level of film craft. Tough thing though, conjuring Iraq, patriotism, and the NFL. Bread, circuses, life, lies, and death.

Curious to get your impressions about this worthy film which could easily be overlooked.

Envelope/Interlope

So it came down to La La Land and Moonlight. Mistakenly announced as 2017’s best picture, La La Land graciously stepped aside when Moonlight was revealed to be the actual winner.

Yet each picture in its way deserved best picture.

La La Land reintroduced audiences to the world of the Hollywood musical. Romantic, revisionist, reductive, resplendent, reinvigorated – the Hollywood musical reimagined in the romantic mold of four seasons, its simple story unfolding in a city where there are no seasons. In La La Land’s case the romance, between a man and a woman, between a town and its main industry was skewed winter, spring, summer, and the fall. Once upon a time, under a “sun-drenched” winter sky, stuck in traffic on a freeway on/off -ramp…

Moonlight unfolded in the dusky, twilit world of its protagonist, episodes glimpsed of a black gay youth’s formative years. The poetic surprises,  contained in the jagged shards of light cast down from a Florida sky, illumined the wishes, hopes, hurts, and dreams of characters too often not depicted in the mainstream. This picture  revealed surprises with each turn in the narrative. Simply told, simply shot, simply acted, simply resonant, simply heads above the rest.

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Ratings War

Hooray for Hollywood was originally posted on February 15, 2017.
Tonight it’s DC versus Hollywood, 45 against the 89th Academy Awards.

Alt. – who goes there?

Here are my forecasts again:

BEST PICTURE: La La Land (okay) or Moonlight (preferred)

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Denzel Washington (Fences); Casey Affleck (Manchester[?])

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Emma Stone (La La Land); Isabelle Huppert (Elle[?])

ACTOR/SUPPORTING: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight); Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals[?])

ACTRESS/SUPPORTING: Viola Davis (Fences)

DIRECTING: Damien Chazelle (La La Land) or Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Linus Sandgren (La La Land)

EDITING: John Gilbert (Hacksaw Ridge)

PRODUCTION DESIGN:David Wasco (La La Land)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: 13th (Ava DuVernay) or O. J.:Made In America (Ezra Edelman)

hooray-clipart-hooray-for-hollywood-vgyiqz-clipart

A Tom Joad Moment

 http://www.criticalcommons.org/Members/cmarez/clips/grapes3_excerpt.mp4/view

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Alt Hollywood

The Alt Oskars (aka The Donalds) will be tweeted from either Washington, DC or Trump Tower or Mar-a-Lago on February 26, 2017, 4:00AM EST.

Picks:

BEST PICTURE:

SHAKE -Trump’s mocking portrayal of disabled NYTimes journalist Serge Kovaleski.

or

SEND IN THE CLOWNS – High drama/low comedy as we follow the Republican primary debates through 2016.

or

SHAMELESS, THE MASTER BUILDER – Ripped from today’s “fake” headlines,  the Donald Trump story.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: The Donald:

We were #1 at the box office, domestic and international, the entire year (2016).  I’ll make America #1 at the box office…again. 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Melania (Knaus) Trump

ACTOR/SUPPORTING: Mike Pence

ACTRESS/SUPPORTING: Kellyanne Conway

DIRECTING: Steve Bannon

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Andrew Breitbart

EDITING: Roger Ailes

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Reince Priebus

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Trump of the Will

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Hooray for Hollywood

The Academy Awards will be presented on February 26, 2017 in the “old” Hollywood, not Alt Hollywood (DC, Mar-a-Lago, Trump Tower).

Here then my prognostications for the Oscars including my personal picks when applicable.

BEST PICTURE: La La Land or Moonlight (my preference)

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Denzel Washington (Fences); Casey Affleck (Manchester[?])

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Emma Stone (La La Land); Isabelle Huppert (Elle[?])

ACTOR/SUPPORTING: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight); Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals[?])

ACTRESS/SUPPORTING: Viola Davis (Fences)

DIRECTING: Damien Chazelle (La La Land) or Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Linus Sandgren (La La Land)

EDITING: John Gilbert (Hacksaw Ridge)

PRODUCTION DESIGN:David Wasco (La La Land)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: 13th (Ava DuVernay) or O. J.:Made In America (Ezra Edelman)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/film/Oscar-statuettes_3197387b-xlarge.jpgnice_manicule

 

 

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