Tag Archives: Lea Seydoux

Quick ‘n’ Dirty: January at the pictures

In a vain attempt to keep up with all the films I watch I came up with this new series of posts. The idea is to bundle up speedy reviews of the movies I saw at the cinema and at home for which I have neither the time nor the inclination to write a full critique. The posts will be distinguished in two types: “at the pictures” and “at home”. So, without further ado, here’s January selection of films:

 

The Lobster: intrigued by a quirky trailer and some good reviews, I went in with high expectations for a captivating indie movie with a great cast. I came out sorely disappointed and confused. The film starts with an engaging premise of a near future society with a little twist in its social mores but, then, it loses momentum making the plot more complicated and without a clear direction or thesis. Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz gives solid performances but it’s not enough. Missed opportunity —4/10

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Black Mass:  it aspires to be a new Goodfellas but doesn’t have the guts to go all the way. Irish mob in the seventies fights the competition with the help of complacent FBI agents: it sounds good on paper but it doesn’t fully deliver. Johnny Depp’s chameleonic transformation into James “Whitey” Bulger, who ascends from petty criminal in South Boston to FBI’s most wanted status, is convincing but lacks bite. Notwithstanding the efforts of a great cast, Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch in particular, the film has an uneven pace and not enough tension to win me over. I wonder what Scorsese would have done… oh wait, he made The Departed! No guts, no glory —6/10

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2: typing this long title makes me already weary! First off: splitting the last part of a trilogy in two just to milk every possible dime from the audience is not cool, especially when there’s no real need for it. The story picks up exactly where it left off but a year of waiting it’s way worse than commercial breaks to get back into the rhythm and care for the characters. So Katniss and her ragtag gang of heros need to kill President Snow to finally end the civil war in Panem and it seems that they go at it all the wrong ways; I haven’t seen so many useless deaths since George Clooney’s in Gravity. Anyway, the good guys wins but there’s a price to pay…duh! It felt flat and unengaging and the multiple endings do not help.  Watch on TV —5/10

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The Big Short: Adam McKay takes on the not easy task to explain the root causes of 2008 financial crisis using as a starting point the eponymous book wrote by Michael Lewis. He takes a few liberties with the source material but he succeeds in getting through the most important facts and information with clever and funny breaking-the-forth-wall speeches and using Ryan Gosling’s character as guide for the audience. With a stellar ensemble cast at his disposal, McKay skillfully tells the story of a few individuals who saw the end of the real estate bubble coming and all the problems connected with financial derivative products. Despite the complicated and, some might say, dull subject the film is well-paced and funny with convincing performances. Special kudos to Christian Bale! Relevant and entertaining —7.5/10

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Spectre

Director: Sam Mendes; Main Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa SeydouxRalph FiennesBen WhishawNaomie HarrisDave BautistaAndrew Scott;

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Sam Mendes as director, Christoph Waltz as main villain, Daniel Craig finally owing the role as 007, after good performances in Skyfall and Casino Royal, at least one age-appropriate Bond-girl (Bellucci)… this film had all the ingredients for being a worthy new chapter in the suave spy’s history. Alas, it doesn’t deliver on all its promises. To begin at the beginning: the title sequence with Sam Smith’s song is neither remarkable nor particularly memorable, so no, not a good start (it was difficult to top Skyfall, I know). Our hero is on a mission from M (the deceased one, not the current one) but he doesn’t really know what he’s chasing or looking for. The not-so-greving widow (the above mentioned Bellucci) of the man Bond most recently killed points him to a secret meeting of a secret organisation… and I was waiting for someone to say “Hail Hydra!”… I’m too jaded I guess for a serious take on an all powerful, worldwide criminal syndicate. It did work well in the sixties when the franchise started but now, after so many homages and parodies (I’m looking at you Austin Powers!), I think it lost its aura of menace and uncomprehending evil. Blofeld is not truly convincing as psychopathic megalomaniac, Waltz’s valid efforts notwithstanding, and makes the whole story a little flat. While our globetrotting spy is involved in all the classic Bond-action scenes — foot and car chases in cities,  beating up henchmen, saving the damsel in distress and gathering intelligence — on the home front M (Fiennes), Q (Benshaw) and Moneypenny (Harris) are fighting the ugly face of progress, personified by C (Scott), who wants to bring the British intelligence into the 21st century. Of course, we know from the get go that there’s more to it and it helps bringing the plot full circle in the third act of the film but…really! Demonising the digitalisation process it’s a bit old… Sarah Connor told us decades ago. Anyway, I’ve been very negative so far, so here’s the good part: the  cinematography is spectacular, the action is quite breathtaking and the cat-and-mouse chase during the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City is amazing. All actors give solid performances and the story moves along smoothly, Mendes, after all, knows his job. Maybe my expectations were too high and I felt let down, only time will tell. Spectre wants to be sinister and serious but lacks the more raw and grim elements of Skyfall to be as good as the latter. Unsatisfactory –5.5/10

 

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La vie d’Adele

Director:  Abdellatif Kechiche, Main Cast: Léa SeydouxAdèle Exarchopoulos

We witness how Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) grows from a teenager into a young woman, discovering her interest and then passion for Emma (Lea Seydoux), an art student and a painter few years older than her. The story is captivating and both actresses give a convincing portrayal of their characters. The director uses the visual medium very effectively to showcase all Adele’s different social interactions, with her high school classmates, at the gay bar, at the family dinners, with Emma’s friends and, of course, with Emma herself. We sympathise and empathise with Adele. We watch her inner monologues and struggles when, after jumping into a situation without really thinking (with quite some courage, I must say), she has a “now what?” moment. I have some issues with the editing: some cuts are too abrupt and some scene are too long or plainly unnecessary to the narrative (e.g. sleeping scenes in the second half of the movie). With regard to the sex scenes, I get the burning passion but, after a while, it seems a mere voyeuristic exercise and odd, silly things start to pop in my mind…like…”aren’t they cold after spending so much time naked?” Or “their esthetician is very good but they must be spending gazillions of euros on waxing”, probably not what the director had in mind. Anyway, these might be considered minor flaws. Beguiling —7.5/10

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Grand Central

Director: Rebecca Zlotowski, Main Cast: Tahar RahimLéa SeydouxOlivier GourmetDenis Ménochet

Blue collar drama in modern France. A classic love triangle with an unusual backdrop: the difficulties and dangers of working at a nuclear power plant.  Pretty interesting use of the visual medium to deliver all the non-verbal communication among the characters and the rich subtext (life as a disaster waiting to happen?). Something different to watch. —7/10

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