Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Sprawling Dysfunctional Family Melodrama (rated 5 stars)

by Arnaud Desplechin

Arnaud Desplechin’s Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Story) is filled with characters and moments that are unforgettable. The characters aren’t neccessarily likable, but they are fascinating to watch. Desplechin weaves an intricate plot that pulls the characters together at Christmas. The matriarch played by Catherine Deneuve finds out that she is has cancer that could be fought with a transplant from someone in her family. But with his trademark bold style, it’s not a melodrama about fighting cancer, but about the tensions, battles and triumphs that happen within the family. It was a bit confusing at first, but as I kept watching the film more pieces start to fit together and I absolutely loved it.

A Beautiful Look at Horrible Things (rated 4 stars)

by Agnès Varda

Agnes Varda is a gifted and often overlooked filmmaker who was associated with the French New Wave and pioneered many of the techniques and styles later popularized by other members of the movement. In Le Bonheur (Happiness), she paints a strikingly beautiful story of a man who commits adultery. Every frame looks like a painting and she uses her trademark long shots and carefully-composed frames along with lovely music as the husband happily decides to cheat on his wife. It’s very jarring at times as it casually unfolds, but as it goes on the events that we’re seeing work completely at odds with the way they are presented. It’s unique and powerful, just like Agnes Varda.