Thursday, 13 April 2017

April 13 2017:  
Personal Shopper

Three excellent new films come out today for your long weekend viewing delectation! All three are strong, and unusual, in their own disctinct way. 

Dir: Francois Ozon
Length: 113 min
© Sharmill - the mostly black and white cinematography
gives this film makes for an exquisite look.
Inspired by a 1931 Ernst Lubitsch film, this is one of Ozon's best. The film has so many layers and themes that it's hard to sum up in a five-minute nutshell!  In Germany in 1919, Anna (Paula Beer) is mourning her fiancee Frantz who has been killed in the war. One day she observes a young Frenchman Adrien (Pierre Niney) laying flowers at Frantz's grave. When Adrien visits the home where Anna lives with Frantz's grieving parents, a sequence of lies is set in train, but when the truth is finally revealed, life has changed for all concerned. I remain deliberately obscure, not wishing to spoil a moment of this intriguingly plotted and superbly acted film, with its themes of war, redemption, forgiveness, prejudice, national pride, and love. The icing on the cake is the exquisite cinematography, (including stunning close-ups of faces) mainly in evocative black and white, but with moments of soft colour, along with a haunting musical score. 
4.5 - wholeheartedly recommended!

Personal Shopper
Director: Olivier Assayas
Length: 105 min

© Rialto - Kristen Stewart's performance gives the film 
its strength
Don't be fooled by the title - it's not some girly "let's go shopping" type movie. This is one that could divide audiences, as it is an audacious blend of themes, ranging from the legitimacy of ghosts and mediums, through to job dissatisfaction, grief and murder. Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, an American who lives in Paris, and is a personal shopper for a rich celebrity. Maureen's twin brother has recently died from a congenital heart defect, and Maureen waits for the promised sign from him from beyond the grave. When she starts getting anonymous text messages, life becomes intriguing and a little threatening. While the plot has a lot of unanswered questions, it nevertheless creates a credibly frightening vibe. There is a strange interplay between Maureen's almost detached pragmatism, her grief, her mounting fear, along with a sensual attraction to her employer's clothing. I'm a big fan of Stewart, and she absolutely nails the paradoxes in her character. Her mesmerising performance underpins the film. The conundrum of what is real (or supernatural) and what is conjured by her grieving mind, along with the unfathomable (well, to me!) ending gives rise to interesting psychological and paranormal food for thought in this oddly compelling and terrific looking film. 
3.5 - recommended!

Director: Mick Jackson
Length: 110 min
© Entertainment One- a weighty courtroom drama 
about denial of the Holocaust
Not so much a film to enjoy, but to admire, Denial is a courtroom drama based upon a true trial, in which professor Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) goes head to head with Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall), supported by legal eagle Richard Rampton (the always impressive Tom Wilkinson). Lipstadt has called Irving a liar because he claims the Holocaust never happened, and so Irving sues her for libel. Because the film centres around fine points of law, it has an emotional remove, which made it for me less engaging than I would have liked, given the importance of the subject matter. Of course in these times of nay-sayers and historical revisionists it is always important that films of this nature come out, encouraging the world to be ever vigilant in acknowledging the truth of crimes against mankind. Weisz is powerful as Lipstadt, while Spall embodies the heinousness of his character in a powerful performance.    
3.5 - recommended!

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