LE TOUT NOUVEAU TESTAMENT **** (vo French)
Delightfully irreverent, this Belgium film from one of the country’s best directors, Jaco van Dormael, tells it as it feels for a lot of people. The title and the poster say it all – The Brand New Testament, and “Dieu existe, il habite à Bruxelles”!
Played by the brilliantly loony Benoit Poelvoorde, God exists, but he is a nasty tyrant who slouches around like a bum and terrorizes the world, his wife (the always-sublime Yolande Moreau) and his sweet little daughter. The kid one day decides to rebel and create a new order – with a little help from her brother JC. There is one excellent point taken here, which I will not divulge, that somehow frees humans from their fears.
It was a huge hit when first shown in the Quinzaine de Réalisateurs at Cannes. Something between Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s extravagant yarns (Amelie Poulain and Delicatessen) and the hilarious Monty Python gang (Life of Brian), this is a film you can’t miss, both for its entertainment value and its liberating truth-in-your-face.
DIOR ET MOI *** (vo French)
This excellent documentary takes a two-fold look at the house of Dior, one of the grandest couture names in France. One is a portrait of the early years and its original founder, Christian Dior, while the other zeroes in on today’s head designer, the Belgian Raf Simons who had only 8 weeks in 2012 to create his first collection after the scandal which saw the demise of John Galliano.
Director Frédéric Tcheng follows Simons and his team with minute attention to the human touch and the art and handiwork needed to put together a collection. Tcheng puts us in the middle of the creative process, so once the film is finished it feels as though we’ve been through all the tension and exhilaration along with the whole crew. Fascinating.
RICKI AND THE FLASH **
Is it possible to have a mediocre Meryl Streep film? Guess this one proves it is, and the culprit is the weak scenario. An absent, wayward mother – can’t get more grungy than this – comes back home to help a depressed daughter. Streep is good, although at times somewhat over-the-top in her rock ‘n roll persona; the situations are utterly obvious; the cliches are embarrassing, as the perfect black wife, the gay son, his Chinese boyfriend – they just had to fit in all the minorities! And the neatly tied-up ending…oh, Lord.
You probably will want to see it anyway – go ahead – just to compare Meryl and her real-life daughter playing her daughter.
AMERICAN ULTRA *1/2
Kristine Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg are supposed to draw in the teeny crowd. Too bad for the kids, for this convoluted, ultra-violent, drug-happy CIA action flick that goes nowhere will only further twist their minds. Leave it to an Iranian/British director and Hollywood to lead them all astray. What a waste…
You really should try to avoid this one. If you want pornography, get the real thing. If you want a love story, this will turn you off with its banal dialogue and dull, pointless trajectory. And the lovers aren’t even very attractive, especially the insipid fellow. Director Gaspar Noé (of the vile rape film, Irréversible) has such illusions of grandeur that he names the baby in the story Gaspar, and an art gallery is called Noe… Hullo?!
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre *