23 December 2016.
Oh, what a joyous movie! We are truly lucky this holiday season to have such delightful films to cheer us up and forget the cold and frenzy of the Christmas rush. Go, and forget for a couple of hours all the miseries we see on the daily news.
In this jubilant animation film an energetic koala bear, Buster Moon, takes us on a crazy adventure to save his badly indebted vaudeville theater. He’s a charming schemer (who better to voice him than Matthew McConaughey?) as he conjures up a talent show to bring in the crowds. But as we know, things will go awry, for his old iguana secretary keeps losing an eye…
There are all manner of marvelous characters and contestants: two mismatched pigs (an adorable Germanic one, of course!), a bluesy porcupine, a desperately-shy elephant girl, a feisty crooner mouse and my favorite – Johnny, the endearing young (semi-gangster) gorilla who so longs to sing. There are all sorts of mishaps and delirious moments, voiced by such talents as Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and John C. Reilly.
Directors Garth Jennings (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) and Christophe Lourdelet infuse life and genuine warmth into these strange animals, making them more vivacious than most humans. Go check them out.
Such sweetness is a rarity these days. A happy couple, content to be together, she at home (the beautiful Persian actress Golshifteh Farahani), baking cupcakes and decorating their little home in black and white patterns. He (Adam Driver), a bus driver who writes poetry likes he breathes the air in front of him – a need, a passion. While he jots them down in his notebook, we get his poems written on the screen. They live in a nothing town in New Jersey called Paterson. And they are content.
And yes, there is their bulldog Marvin, who actually rules the roost. He gets walked every evening to the corner bar where the master has a drink, then comes home to his lovely wife. It’s simple bliss, for this is a Jim Jarmusch film – made up of the ordinary things of life by the master of independent film and deep reality (remember “Night on Earth”, “Ghost Dog” or “Coffee and Cigarettes”?). There are a few characters that come in and out of their routined life, but it’s all serene until something happens out the ordinary, and that’s for you to discover…
À FOND ***1/2 (vo French)
To have the highly amusing José Garcia and the venerable André Dussolier as an incongruous son/father duo in this hilarious comedy is a huge gift to those who know French cinema. But to send them on a dubious family holiday trip, stuck in an ultra-modern SUV that almost drives itself, and then goes completely haywire on the highway, is the icing on the cake!
I could not stop laughing for days, just remembering the various hysterical moments. Like the wild man who chases them relentlessly because they accidentally tore off his car door; the auto salesman Garcia gets on his cellphone, trying to assuage his fears while selling the next self-drive car; the irresponsible highway controllers who are almost too busy playing pingpong to react to this runaway vehicle; or the slowly-revealed sins of the irresponsible father…
Great, lunatic comedies (that are based on probabilities) are not easy to find – here is one of them – don’t miss it!
WIENER DOG (Le Teckel)
Sorry, but I’ve got to say this – I believe Todd Solondz, the director of this and other similar films, is a deeply disturbed man. Take “Happiness” or Palindromes”, which were of course about misery and maladjustment, or this one, which I ran to because of the cute dog and title.
It’s been lauded as a black comedy, but there’s nothing laughable about it, and once again it simply portrays an array of miserable people who just exist, rather than live, including the poor Wiener dog, who seems to have the same disposition as his director.
It’s supposed to be about bits of lives that the dog passes through (you really don’t want to know…), but each family or relation is more depressing and uninteresting than the other. He even manages to make the delightful Danny DeVito into a boring basket case.
As for dialogue, acting and cinematography, you and I could do a better job!
If you want to see a dull film which will end up making you depressed, go ahead. I warned you.
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (Joyeux bordel!)
The French title says it all, minus the joy! This stupid holiday yarn, about an office trying to keep solvent by throwing a wild Christmas party, is once again the worst kind of “entertainment”. Inane script and vulgar characters, below-the-belt, sickening gags, the lowest common denominator of anything. Save your time and money.
APRÈS LE TEMPÊTE *** (vo Japanese)
COLLATERAL BEAUTY (Beauté cachée) *1/2
And for the new year, donate a bit of your riches to those many who have much less than we do…
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.