17 June 2016.
4 to see, and 1 to really miss.
OUR KIND OF TRAITOR (Un traître idéal) ***1/2
Excellent spy thriller from John Le Carre about a top man in the Russian Mafia who wants to turn West, an idealistic British university professor who unwittingly becomes his contact man, and corrupt English politicians.
Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgard are brilliant, as are the slick settings, from Morocco to London to Bern, along with the tension that builds and builds in this script by British/Iranian Hossein Amini, directed by Susanna White.
MA MA ***1/2 (vo Spanish)
At 42, Penelope Cruz is at the height of her talent and beauty. And with this film by Julio Medem, tailor-made for her attributes, she is not only actress, but also producer. One feels her full commitment in this homage to the strength and independence of a woman struggling for her very life with an incredible amount of love, gumption and acceptance of differences.
This melodrama is an obvious tear-jerker, and except for the very last kitschy scene, it is well worth the lumps-in-the throat.
Its various story lines about cancer, mother love, empathy for a terrible loss, love and sensuality found in the strangest circumstances and the intertwined characters make up a rich panorama of life at its fullest yet most vulnerable. So go ahead and shed a few tears…
DANS LES FORÊTS DE SIBÉRIE ***1/2 (vo French)
A superb hymn to the liberty of nature, silence and solitude, this film is somewhat reminiscent of Robert Redford’s “Jeremiah Johnson”.
Raphaël Personnaz’s clear blue eyes embody the vast, freezing expanse of the Siberian lakes and planes in this film by Safy Nebbou, based on the autobiographical book by Sylvain Tesson. This is a quiet yet intense, intriguing adventure of one lone man abandoning himself to nature.
NICHTS PASSIERT *** (vo German)
Fear makes the best men go to extremes to hide their weaknesses. Fear of losing a cushy job, fear of a strong wife’s disapproval, fear of public embarrassment…
A German family is on a winter holiday in the Swiss mountains. Their underage guest is possibly raped at a party in town, but only confides in the father who becomes slowly entangled in his own foolish decisions. This excellent moral tale by German writer/director Micha Lewinsky unfolds like a tense thriller.
And the 1 to miss:
A BIGGER SPLASH – This film is an insult to the elegant, mood-creating 1969 original, “La Piscine”. It’s an insult to Alain Delon and Romy Schneider at their height – two glorious felines making sensual, indolent love in southern France, in a sun-drenched romance that turned noir with perfection.
This remake is a vulgar, hollow fiasco that is simply boring. The great, versatile Ralph Fiennes makes a fool of himself. The usually magnetic Matthias Schoenaerts is out of place here, a male object having to fawn over the always-strange Tilda Swinton who is as sensual as a board. A sexy rock star? And plain-Jane, no-talent Dakota Johnson has only made it on her parents’ names and by shedding her clothes.
Awful miscasting, script, direction, music. Nothing fits, nothing is real, simply a waste-of-time bad copy. And the director, Luca Guadagnino? More sexploitation, as in those rose novels: his last one was “I am Love”, with Swinton as a bored, rich Milanese wife falling for her son’s friend. Ouch! Sadly, those who have not seen the original may be pulled in by the film’s cheap tricks…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
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.