29 November 2019.
Here’s an array of varied, entertaining films to fill your week. Do go out and see them!
To be a mother or an astronaut, that is the question. The lovely Eva Green plays here an accomplished career woman who is being trained for a lengthy mission, Proxima, to an international space station on Mars.
But she is also a loving mother to a little girl who will be missing her terribly during the year she will be gone. So she solicits her ex-husband (the versatile German actor, Lars Eidinger) to take care of their eight-year-old Stella while she is away. When her mothering instincts begin to cast doubts on her lifelong dream and ambition to be an astronaut, she is faced with a huge dilemma.
This excellent, unsentimental probe into the difficulties of being both a mother and a professional is directed by French director Alice Winocour, with a top cast of international actors including the American Matt Dillon and the German Sandra Hüller (from the award-winning “Tony Erdmann”). With a great deal of discretion and understanding of the situation, Winocour marries the cold, disciplined world of science with the responsibilities of family life. This is a film to make you both think and feel deeply.
KNIVES OUT (A Couteaux tirés) ***
What fun! That is what this whodunnit is. Pure fun watching a convoluted family looking out for their own financial interests after a death.
They are played by an array of fine stars, including Daniel Craig (very un-James Bondish here), Jamie Lee Curtis (you know – Janet Lee and Tony Curtis’s talented daughter), Don Johnson of ‘Miami Vice’, Chris Evans of Captain America, and the venerable, eternal Christopher Plummer (“Sound of Music”, dare I remind you, and much much more).
It’s amusing to watch Craig playing a Southern-accented detective à là Poirot, trying to figure out whether it was suicide or a too-clever plot to make it appear so. We are in a grand mansion, it is the day after the scion’s birthday and there has been this sudden death. The family is gathered to be questioned by the authorities.
I won’t elaborate, for the plot is for you to discover and enjoy in this delicious thriller directed with gusto by Rian Johnson.
LAST CHRISTMAS ***
What a charming gift this is just around the corner from Christmas, with all the trimmings, lights and warm feelings that come with the season. You see, the story takes place around a Christmas shop just brimming with holiday bric-à-brac and decor in the middle of Covent Garden in London. And of course it’s a sort of love story, with different characters popping up and situations developing simultaneously, a bit like life itself.
There is mixed-up Kate, played by sweet Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) of the constantly gyrating eyebrows, slowly falling for the heavenly Henry Golding. There is her Asian boss played by the lovely Michelle Yeoh, being romanced by a mysterious Nordic gentleman. There are her eccentric Balkan parents, overacted by Emma Thompson as her mother, with a thick Slavic accent. There is her lesbian sister, who hasn’t come out yet… And the homeless shelter around the corner with lots of kooky characters. Ok, it sounds somewhat kitschy, but hang in there because it will delight and surprise you (even when you thought you’d figured it out), and maybe shake you up a bit, smiling and crying at the same time. And it’s all wonderfully buoyed throughout by the music of George Michael, Kate’s favorite singer. Go with a loved one and hug each other. Or go alone and hug yourself!
TOUTE RESEMBLANCE *** (vo French)
There have been many fine French films lately, so add this one to your list. The title means “any resemblance to…” and is embodied by the popular Franck Dubosc representing any variety of media newscasters, their passions, their fame and their limitless ambitions.
As luck would have it, Dubosc’s character manages to be the newscaster to announce the terrible 11/9/2001 Twin Towers’ debacle, and through his very personal and dynamic presentation becomes the rising star of the 8 o’clock evening news. He seems to have everything – bright looks, charm, a gorgeous, loving wife, an adoring backup team, a whole fresh way of handling the news. The only stumbling block on his way to the top is the new boss of the TV channel, played by the stern Denis Podalydes. And maybe his own hunger for more fame and power, as often happens. Plus the excesses that come with the package.
The film is especially effective as it is the first feature film of Michel Denisot, himself a top journalist and professional in the French media world. He throws in many of the top names of the media – as the former star newscaster Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, the current star, Laurent Delahousse and more – creating a real feel for the glamour of fame and fortune…before the fall. The film is both fun and cautionary, an insider’s look at the follies of grandeur. To be seen…
CHANSON DOUCE *** (vo French)
Do you have a nanny? After the interview, did you follow your own judgement over references from others when you hired her? Is her behaviour really normal? Have you ever noticed anything and said ‘we ought to talk to her about that’ but not got around to doing it ? Do you intend to fire her but not until the end of the month ‘to be fair’?
If you said yes to any of those questions, you should see this film. If you said no or the subject doesn’t concern you, you should see it anyway because it is a very fine piece of cinema.
Karin Viard plays the nanny, a little older perhaps and a little more forceful than your average nanny, engaged by a young couple because mum wants to get back to work. She has a young girl and a baby to look after in a poky apartment. And she is simply superb in the role of this, let us just say, unusual nanny, bringing a sophistication and subtlety to it which will surely bring accolades.
I will say no more, for fear of spoiling it for you, but this film is definitely worth seeing and will move you. It is not for the faint-hearted. (by BJ)
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.