11 December 2015.
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.
BELIERS/ HRUTAR/ RAMS ***1/2 (vo Icelandic)
There is something very touching about Icelandic films. They’re usually grey, cold and rough, like the weather, but they are also very compelling. It must be their strong character-driven plots. Not much dialogue, not very attractive actors, but a lot of intense, pent-up feelings that need to be released occasionally. And therefore the human drama of it all…
Like most of the films of their internationally-known director Baltasar Kormakur of the recent “Everest” and “The Deep”. Or like last year’s brilliant “Of Horses and Men” which told of eccentric characters and hidden sensuality in a small northern community.
This one by Grimur Hakonarson, which won the top prize at the Certain Regard section in Cannes, is about two estranged brothers who raise pedigree rams, are neighbors, but have not spoken to each other for years. The simplicity and lunacy of human reactions along with the power of dedication makes this an exceptionally tragicomic work.
UN + UNE ***1/2 (vo French)
Ah, dear Claude Lelouch is back! He loves life above all – life and love. All forms of love – love of the colors and textures of India. Love of film and music and creativity. Love of parents and children. But above all, love between a man and a woman. “Un Homme et une Femme” was his great leap into fame in 1966, when he got a Palme d’Or at Cannes. With his myriad films – some 50 of them – he has followed his heart each time. Sometimes with great élan, and a few times, a bit off-course. But he keeps at his pursuit of this connection in life – between friends, as in the wonderfully loony “l’Aventure c’est l’Aventure” – or chance encounters, as in “Hasards ou coincidences”.
This time he takes us to India, with its multitudes, its vivid hues, its poverty and possibilities. He introduces a local thief who does a heroic gesture and ends up in a movie about his exploits. And a French composer of film music, who comes to India to write the score for the film.
Suffice it to say, that Lelouch has found a lovely couple in Jean Dujardin and Elsa Zylberstein, who have a curious attraction, seductive yet moral. They each have their own partners, but a spiritual voyage connects them further, till an ultimate meeting with the renowned Indian saint of love, the holy Amma. Those sequences moved me to tears. Ok…I’m an old softie.
He films the charming, amusing Dujardin with a great deal of love, probably as his own alter ego. All sorts of emotions, flashbacks and dreams weave in and out of the film, as does the music, always created by his old friend and composer, Francis Lai.
Various critics have given this film the cold shoulder. They adhere to their usual Lelouch-bashing. As also with the talented, successful Luc Besson. It seems it is envy more than anything else. Let these zero-heroes try to make films as these dedicated artists do!
IN THE HEART OF THE SEA ***
Remember “Moby Dick” with Gregory Peck as the driven seaman who was out to get the killer whale?
Well, director Ron Howard (of such varied and exceptional films as “Splash”, “Apollo 13” and “A Beautiful Mind”) has concocted a remake that tells that old tale from the perspective of a narrator recounting the events to the author of the book, Herman Melville.
Howard has combined a literary quest, a grand adventure yarn with fantastic special effects, and a fine acting crew starring Australia’s hunk, Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson as the storyteller and Ben Whishaw as Melville.
This is big-time blockbuster striving for intelligence…sort of like “Amadeus”, “Gladiator” or “Lincoln”.
SUBURRA *** (vo Italian)
The scenes and the weather are as dark and ominous as the theme in this Italian film by Stefano Sollima. But then we are deep in Mafialand and it’s all about the convoluted corruption and moral decay in Italy.
It is the year that the Pope is thinking of resigning. We are in the political chambers of Rome, where votes are bought with promises and favors. And the dark night keeps on raining as we follow the misguided dalliances of one senator, from his wild night with two prostitutes, his desperate meetings with various unscrupulous characters and the meltdown of the government, once again. Like “The Godfather”, the direction is tight, the action is vicious and the message is obvious. Pierfrancesco Favino is fine as the politician, while the dangerous character named Samurai becomes enticingly attractive as played by Claudio Amendola. This is a polished, well-done film if you don’t mind coming out with a feeling of filth and resignation.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars