Hop Gape

Hope Gap (William Nicholson, 2019)

Curiously, for a film set in Seaford in East Sussex, parts of this were filmed in Yorkshire. And this is just a couple of weeks after what may well be the same East Sussex cliffs stood in for East Kent. I look forward to Folkstone being the location for a remake of Wuthering Heights. Continue reading →

And Anything But the Truth

The Truth (La verité, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2019)

Tucked away in the credits is the detail that the film that veteran actor, Fabienne Dangeville (Catherine Deneuve), is making with starlet Manon Lenoir (Manon Clavel), Memories of my Mother, is an adaptation of a short story by Ken Liu, in which a space-travelling mother visits her daughter every seven years.

I’d quite like to see that film, which is not to dis this one.

Dangeville’s son-in-law, Hank, a struggling American actor who may have a drink issue, is played by Ethan Hawke, possibly best known for the Before … movies, made every seven years with Julie Delpy.

Well, actually, every nine years, but Juliette Binoche as his wife and Dangeville’s daughter, Lumir, is not that far from the Delpy role. Hawke, to be honest, does little, but be awkward about how much French he speaks or understands.

The two of them are visiting their mother on the occasion of the publication of her autobiography, called, natch, The Truth, although it is plainly nothing but. Noses have been put out of joint, pasts libelled, and there is a dark secret from decades ago involving a rival actress.

Deneuve is, as you’d expect, radiant, as she’s been since The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. You never quite know when her character is helpless or actually just artful.

A Fine Romance

Family Romance, LLC (Werner Herzog, 2019)

Indeed the whole effort at replacing the real father by a superior one is only an expression of the child’s longing for the happy, vanished days when his father seemed to him the noblest and strongest of men and his mother the dearest and loveliest of women. (Freud)

Here’s an oddity — a work of fiction in which some of the actors play themselves. Or a documentary in which everything is staged.

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Whistler’s Mother

The Whistlers (La Gomera, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019)

I suppose I thought this was made under the spell of Tarantino, but possibly more Kubrick’s The Killing, but it is a shuffled narrative about a crime. It is beautifully choreographed to music — notably Iggy Pop’s The Passenger — and has some random moments of violence (an American in the wrong place at the wrong time is particularly amusing, a minor supporting character less so).

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The Talented Herr Georg

Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018)

The estrangement is strong in this one. In Paris, Georg (Franz Rogowski) is persuaded to deliver two letters to a writer, Franz Weidel, but finds that the latter has died, by suicide. Narrowly escaping the police, Georg tries to smuggle his friend, Heinz, to Marseille, but the latter dies en route and Franz narrowly escapes the police. Georg has to break the news of Heinz’s death to his family and of Franz’s death to the Mexican consul – but he is mistaken for Franz, who has a visa that will allow him to escape the Nazi occupiers who will soon be cleansing Marseille… Continue reading →

Watching Paint Dry

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)

Some point after 1725, the artist Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned by a Milan-born countess (Valeria Golino) to paint the portrait of her daughter Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), whom she intends to marry off to a Milanese nobleman after the death of her elder daughter. Héloïse, formerly a novice at a nunnery, has other ideas and has already worn out a (male) painter. Marianne must pretend to be a companion, and paint in secret. Continue reading →

The Lighthouse Keeper’s World is Round

The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

A curious psychological horror, which begins in the Empire Marketing Board zone of Drifters and goes via Knife in the Water to A Field in England, with the Total Bollocks Overdrive cranked up to twelve and then cranked up further.

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