Trailer: By The Sea

Husband and wife seem to have trouble enjoying their vacation in a swanky hotel on the Maltese coast. Angelina Jolie wrote and directed By The Sea, and it stars in it with her husband Brad Pitt. They slap each other a lot, and look very unhappy and it is all very 1970s glamour. Make of that what you will.

Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa, a former dancer, and her husband Roland, an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner.

Blu-Ray Review: Eyes Without a Face

Director: Georges Franju
Screenwriter: Boileau-Narcejac, Jean Redon, Claude Sautet
Based on a Novel by: Jean Redon
Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Edith Scob, Juliette Mayniel
Country: France, Italy
Running Time: 90 min
Year: 1960
BBFC Certificate: 15


Due to my interest in classic film, I’ve often reviewed titles here that I’ve wanted to watch for a long time after hearing a lot of praise for them. Eyes Without a Face (a.k.a. Les yeux sans visage) is a curious twist on this though. Back in the early days of my blossoming love of film, I’d heard much about this and at some point I did get a chance to see it (if I remember correctly I’d taped it off TV). Now, this is where my memory gets hazy (it was a long time ago); I remember starting to watch it, but not getting very far and giving up. I’m not totally sure why. I have a vague notion that it wasn’t what I was expecting and looked a bit dull and pretentious. Watching the film in its entirety now, I’d be surprised if that was the case, but for whatever reason I never got further than the first 10 minutes or so.

15 or so years down the line, I’d forgotten why I didn’t get into Eyes Without a Face and my urge to watch the film had grown again. The BFI offered me a screener of their new re-release of the film on Blu-Ray and I snapped up the chance. Of course I watched the whole thing this time, but was I still disappointed?

Eyes Without a Face follows the brilliant surgeon Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) and his assistant Louise (Alida Valli) as they kidnap young women in the night. The ladies are brought to the doctor’s secluded house where he lives with his daughter Christiane (Edith Scob). Her face has been severely disfigured in a car accident when her father was driving. Feeling guilty for this, the doctor vows to give her back her beautiful face. The kidnapped women are to provide this for him, as he uses them to provide facial transplants. After the first is unsuccessful, the doctor becomes ever more determined and the death toll and psychosis increases.

In the meantime, Christiane becomes ever more desperate to leave the house she has become trapped in. Her father had faked her death using the body of one of his victims, so Christiane must remain in hiding. Her dilemma becomes one of deciding which she wants more, her face or her freedom.

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After the Credits Episode 173: August Preview

That is one good looking cast

That is one good looking cast

August feels like a bit of a slow month but perhaps the fact we’re missing one of our regulars might have something to do with it. Coleen was out taking photos of geisers and stuff in Iceland (more on that upon her return) but Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) managed to pull ourselves together to record this show. On the road no less! And I take all blame for it being a few days late. My bad.

Other stuff mentioned on the show:

My interview with the awesome Kevin Durand!

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Friday One Sheet – The Dressmaker

The simple, yet glossy, photo with just the title, tagline and credit block is a style of movie poster I like to call “Korean Style,” as South Korea, well known for its glossy studio films, often promote them in this fashion.

Here we have Kate Winslet standing in a golden Australian field with her sewing kit, and the promise of “Revenge.” Would I like to know more? Hell yes. That it has both the director and the star (That would be Jocelyn Moorhouse and Hugo Weaving) of 1991’s excellent Proof, all the better.

Review: Synchronicity

I never thought it would happen, but I have finally, personally, hit the wall with indie time travel flicks. Jacob Gentry’s Synchronicity is not lacking in smarts or clockwork precision, but abjectly fails to convince in its core ideas of love and fate.

Love may be a sticky and difficult thing, but the film seems to only communicate lust and desire, while empathy fails to make the journey. There is one worm hole too many. This leaves some impressive homages to Blade Runner’s dreamy Vangelis score and neo-noir chiaroscuro, as well as Code 46’s delight in contemporary-future architecture, simply hanging in empty space.

Slightly strung out scientist Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) is on the verge of inventing time travel with the help of his two calmer, wise-cracking lab technicians, Chuck (AJ Bowen) and Matt (Scott Poythress). But here is his paradox: He only has enough funding and radioactive material provided from billionaire angel investor Klaus Meisner (Micheal Ironside, deliciously vile) to open one side of the space/time wormhole. How to prove that something by necessity, requires two ends, when you only have one? Don’t sweat it, though, it works as certainly as Werner Heisenberg was of his famous principle or that Nicola Tesla knew he would die broke and alone feeding pigeons. In short, Synchronicity struggles with understanding the difference between a hypothesis and a theory.

Of course, nature abhors an empty wormhole and someone comes back through the other side. The human figure is obscured in the predictable kind of way of this type of film; with so few characters, elimination can get ridiculously easy. Could it be the femme fatale, Abby (Brianne Davis) who collects serial-numbered dahlias? Or Ben himself coming to warn of the dangers of flirting with gorgeous solitary ladies found in parking garages?

No matter, the film quickly starts to draw ever tightening circles around Ben and Abby’s relationship to one another, all the while Klaus threatens to steal the invention by withholding raw materials, and Matt and Chuck have to do all the heavy lifting. There is nothing wrong with this, some of the humour is quite excellent in fact, but just nothing is terribly fresh about its execution here. Shots from Aronofsky’s The Fountain are lifted without any resonance to the story, as is all the Blade Runner stuff.

Gentry does have a nice time machine design — possibly built out of old power supply units and industrial sized speaker magnets? — and certainly lays out the pieces of the film in a manner that makes sense to any attentive viewer as the the narrative structure becomes apparent. But his world drowns in empty homage, and even more colossally empty city landscapes. This is not a post apocalyptic urban landscape, but supposedly a thriving metropolis, and the lack of denizens makes the film feel too insular to suspend disbelief.

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Video Review: Shaun The Sheep

I just sent my children on a plane to their grandparents across the continent for the remainder of the summer. But just because they are not here with me to take in another dose of Aardman Studios’ delightful Shaun The Sheep feature film – and you should, it is the best modern-silent movie since The Artist – allow them three minutes to convince you from their take on the film a few months ago at the TIFF KIDS Film Festival.

Video is embedded below.

Cinecast Episode 405 – SPECTRE-tacular

 
Kurt is back from Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, and he might have a thing or two to say about the movies, the town and the folks at that festival. At nearly two hours we can only say brace yourself for genre-overload. But first, Matt Gamble joins Kurt & Andrew midway through the conversation on Christopher McQuarrie’s installment of the Mission Impossible franchise. Kurt loved it. Andrew liked it. Matt, well, Matt watched it. Practical stunts, exceptional set-pieces and the ass-kicking talents of Rebecca Ferguson and a cleaned up and ready for prime time Sean Harris are all on the conversational docket. While there is no full “True Detective” segment this episode (we’ll cap the remaining three off, next time) there is a full Watch List for your listening pleasure, and Matt does briefly chime in on this season of “True Detective,” along with the doc on Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau remake disaster, and Adam Sandler’s Pixels. Andrew covers off the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer and its direct-to-Nexflix sequel. Finally we settle the Mara Rooney / Kate Mara confusion (sort of).

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 

 
 

 

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DVD Review: White God

Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Screenplay: Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi, Kata Wéber
Starring: Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsótér, Lili Horváth
Country: Hungary, Germany, Sweden
Running Time: 117 min
Year: 2014
BBFC Certificate: 15


My friends and Blueprint colleagues Darren and Chris saw White God in Cannes back in 2014 and their description of it and positive review on our podcast put it high up my ‘want to watch’ list. It’s taken a little while to finally come out, but Metrodome picked it up in the UK and it’s just made its way to DVD. I grabbed myself a copy to see if it was worth the wait.

White God sees twelve year old Lili (Zsófia Psotta) go to stay with her estranged father while her mother goes away to a conference overseas. Due to the circumstances and being on the verge of becoming a teenager, she isn’t happy about her dad’s fairly strict rules. The worst of these however, concern her mixed breed dog Hagen. Her dad doesn’t want a dog in his apartment, particularly a mutt like Hagen, so after some heated arguments and an incident at Lili’s orchestra practise he sets the dog free in the backstreets of the city.

So far, so straight forward. However, from this point in the film we split our focus between Lili’s coming of age story and the dog’s own adventure. This is where the film really becomes something special. Hagen struggles to look after himself on the streets, but befriends a feisty terrier (maybe – I’m no good with dog breeds and they’re all mixed anyway) who takes him to join a group of the many strays roaming the city. He manages to evade capture from the pound, but ends up getting picked up by a vagrant and gets passed on to a man who trains fighting dogs. This man sees something in Hagen’s eyes and brutally toughens him up, thinking the dog will be a great success on the cricuit.

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