15 April 2022.
CONTES DU HASARD ET AUTRES FANTAISIES (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy) ***1/2 (vo Japanese)
Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi rose to international fame this year due to his film DRIVE MY CAR, which excited the critics. Due to that snowball effect, it ended up with a number of awards as this year’s best foreign film, climaxing in an Oscar in that category. I personally was not convinced of its superiority to such films as Italy’s dazzling HAND OF GOD or even the little gem from Bhutan, LUNANA. In its 3-hour length it was definitely one hour too long, with repetitive, unnecessary rehearsals of Chekhov’s play, and a banal relationship between a theater director and his female chauffeur.
Now this one, by the same director, shows Hamaguchi’s full, intricate talent in three short novellas on love and relationships. His writing is precise yet airy, both grounded and feather light. His modernity, actors and cinematography are sharp and pure. And his interweaving imagination is astounding in its finesse. This is a good example of the constant quest for perfection in the Japanese arts. In addition to its own awards, it would have deserved the multiple prizes of the lesser ‘Drive my Car’. Go see it, you will be elated.
(Showing at the Grutli Cinemas)
LOVING HIGHSMITH **1/2
The American author of such psychological thrillers as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley is under the microscope in this documentary by Swiss director Eva Vitija. She follows the life of this trail-blazing lesbian writer, originally from Texas, through Highsmith’s countless travels around the world, interviewing her family, friends and various lovers. Like the proverbial sailor, she seems to have had a lover in every port…
Most of Highsmith’s books were brought to the screen with great success, including ‘Strangers on a Train’ which was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ which was first made in 1960 in France as “Plein Soleil” with Alain Delon, and then under its original title with Matt Damon and Jude Law in 1999 by Anthony Minghella.
My problem is, her obscure, seemingly caustic character prevented me from ‘loving’ Highsmith.
LA REVANCHE DES CREVETTES PAILLETÉES **1/2 (vo French)
The boys are off to Tokyo for the international Gay Games, but get stuck en route in a homophobic Russia, where their misadventures start. This second volume of the flamboyant gay waterpolo team is both sweet and silly, but entertaining, despite all the cliches surrounding gay problems.
The plot is far-fetched (especially the crazy anti-gay camp and its pink-clad mistress!) and the pace too slow for its subject matter, but the characters are both touching and real individuals, and the message comes through loud and clear – freedom of choice, and equality for all. It’s definitely very timely…
But before you go off, make sure you’ve seen LAURENCE DEONNA – LIBRE, which I reviewed some weeks ago. It’s at the Scala till next Tuesday. Excellent documentary!
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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.