24 November 2017.
Here is a strange romantic tale that takes the mind and heart in different directions.
Starring the unique Rosey de Palma, whom Almodovar made famous, this film is about the cruelty of class and the tenderness of the heart. De Palma literally steals the show as she blooms into a warm, shining star as a Cinderella-like maid who is thrown into high society and dares to dream beyond her status.
There are bits of “Pretty Woman”, bits of Hollywood romcom à la Billy Wilder, and some very twisted, down-to-earth reality. It’s all in good fun, but it may also break your heart.
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB: ADIOS ***1/2 (Spanish and English)
Remember Wim Wenders’ wonderful 1999 documentary about the pillars of Cuban music?
Those great musicians were gathered and brought to the fore by the American guitarist and entrepreneur Ry Cooder, who saw their huge, as yet undiscovered talents and managed to take them all the way to New York’s Carnegie Hall and make them world famous.
Director Lucy Walker has brought back those original, ageing musicians, including gentle, so charming Ibrahim Ferrer, amusing Campay Segundo, lovely Omara Portuondo, and many others – who reminisce about their past as they come to the end of their lives and careers. And so it is “ADIOS”, a tremendously moving and valuable testament to their talents.
It will have you shedding a tear while you samba in your seat.
BATTLE OF THE SEXES **
Voila another tennis battle, right after the gripping, very satisfying “Borg/McEnroe” which brilliantly balanced the personal and sports aspects of that film.
This one is about the 1973 media circus between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs and their “match of the century”. Here were two people on opposite sides of the spectrum – both sexually and ethically. And the ‘twain shall never meet…except on the tennis courts.
The film’s strong insistence on the lesbian connection and its heavy-handed equality message give it feel of a lengthy commentary on King’s sexual leanings. Steve Carell is exceptionally touching as the buffoon Riggs, while Emma Stones tries hard to be Billie Jean, in between steamy scenes of her first lesbian encounter.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY (YOU WERE NEVER REALLY THERE) *1/2
Saw this film in Cannes and was terribly bothered by its bleak, harsh violence. When Joaquin Phoenix bought the ax from the hardware store I knew it was going down the path of bloody returns. Since it’s from the critics’ darling, Lynne Ramsey, director of such gruesome works as “We need to Talk about Kevin”, it is being lauded as a dark masterpiece, or a new “Taxi Driver”. That is marketing blasphemy. This tale of an emotionally tortured hitman is a relentless descent into the evil of men. And Phoenix is out to eliminate them…
Those with delicate emotions might think twice.
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.