8 July 2022.
Sorry for this third edition of the same films…but it’s summer (and the living is easy…) and I am taking a little holiday. As you all are…
The multiplexes are full of mediocre fare for the kids, and some bad excuses for adult entertainment, so go out to the beaches, sit under a shady tree or have an alfresco dinner.
But make sure you see the first three films on this list – they should not be missed, even if you don’t speak German!
There’s one other good film to look forward to for next week – PETER VON KANT by François Ozon, a director of fascinating, elegant and original films.
Still on the screens and worth your while :
HIT THE ROAD
DOWNTON ABBEY II
INCROYABLE MAIS VRAI
(Check out schedules on cineman.ch)
This film is as electrifying as Elvis himself! From the first scintillating credits it comes on as exciting as was the King of Rock ‘n Roll, for this is after all a Baz Luhrmann film, which means bombastic and sometimes over-blown, but always entertaining.
He’s the director from Australia who gave us the thrilling “Strictly Ballroom” back in 1992; a modernized “Romeo and Juliette” with Leonardo DiCaprio; the hectic yet incredibly romantic “Moulin Rouge” with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor singing their hearts out; and then a remake of “The Great Gatsby”, once again with DiCaprio. With his wife and artistic partner, Catherine Martin as multi award-winning costume and production designer, he has given a breath of fresh air to his many tales, musicals and operas.
And now he has set his eyes on the life and times of the legendary Elvis Presley and the long and painful relationship with his agent, Colonel Tom Parker, a strange, shadowy figure. He gives us an Elvis we didn’t know, who grew up with the blacks of the South, steeped in their marvelous musical moves and rhythms, and on to his early, tragic death. The way Luhrmann has brought together the sweetness of this idol, his pure, innate talent as a showman, and the manoeuvrings of his devious manager, is pure genius. The sleek editing and storyline, the brilliant makeup, the acting of Tom Hanks as the Colonel and new-comer Austin Butler, who becomes Elvis in front of our eyes (just watch him from the back walking onto the stage – it’s Elvis!), make this film one that will go home with you and remain in your heart and mind. In fact, it’s one of those films that you’ll want to see again, very soon.
Simply put, Baz Luhrmann has created an intense, grand homage to an extraordinary performer, and an eye-opener about his little-known manager. Done with heart and intelligence, this is supreme cinema. For that, I give it 5 stars, a rarity.
EL BUEN PATRON (The Good Boss) ***1/2 (vo Spanish)
What makes a good boss? Someone who cares about his employees; someone who is present every day on the job; someone who feels proud of his organization and shares that pride with his team. Sounds right, doesn’t it?
Well, that’s what Javier Bardem’s character is trying to do for his company and its workers as he waits for that year’s excellence award which may be presented to his business in their provincial town somewhere in Spain. His is an important family-run factory that makes industrial scales and he is trying to solve all its problems before the committee arrives for a final assessment.
And he has a handful there, what with a distracted foreman who is hysterically stressed about his wife leaving him; an enraged employee because he has just been fired; a gardener whose delinquent son needs help with the police; and a nubile apprentice who becomes too charmed by his seductive advances. He really cares about them, trying to help each one as much as he can, but it never seems to end. In fact it gets worse the further he digs himself in.
Bardem is brilliant in these various roles, from the benevolent leader of his company, to a loyal friend for his foreman, and a smooth operator to the females around him. Does he really have a good heart or is it all just about him? Bardem manoeuvres his character with such dexterity that one is simply bowled over by his finesse. By Spanish director Fernando Leon de Aranoa, this is a wry satire of gentle power gone awry and an astute look at the different levels of society co-existing in our modern age. A bitter, intelligent delight, it took most of the awards at the Goya ceremonies, Spain’s Oscars.
ICH BIN DEIN MENSCH (I am your Man) ***1/2 (vo German)
Do you want a dream partner, someone who understands your every mood and need? Well, you’ll find him in this film, with the deepest blue eyes, a gorgeous demeanour, smooth and accommodating, but the problem is, he‘s a humanoid robot. Just perfectly programmed for you.
As for the woman, an uptight researcher at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, who is supposed to try him out for some weeks, she just can’t gel to the idea. The setting is beautiful when they first meet – a retro nightclub, with intimate tables and partners dancing blissfully. Is this all real or just a facade? Then he has to move in with her, but she keeps the relationship icy cold, despite the “man’’s patient, caring and discreet manner. This clever and charming futuristic tale delves into the deepest emotions of this bizarre relationship, a precursor of what may be the norm some day.
Directed by the German Maria Schrader (of the sublime “Stefan Zweig – Farewell to Europe”), with Maren Eggert and British actor Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame), the film has won awards for its script, direction and actors, and is one you should not miss. Seriously.
Normally Pixar studios are the cream of the crop of animation. Their classic Toy Story franchise was one of the most beloved of all their works. And astronaut Buzz Lightyear was one of Andy’s favorite toys. Now he’s got a film all to himself about his origins in outer space, but it doesn’t quite pan out as the stories did on earth. Nor does it have the charm. There’s just a great deal of action as they try to get back to their home planet and a lot of rah-rah decency on our hero’s part. In all honesty, I’ve already forgotten the plot which seems to go around in circles.
Newly requisite equality examples abound in the characters around Lightyear, for his best friend and leader is a woman, black and lesbian. So we’ve got that covered in one go, as it seems we must teach the kids early on. (Some conservative foreign countries have refused its distribution due to a same-sex kiss). Oh, well.
For more reviews click here.
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.
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Your Elvis recommendation was well merited! Loved it and thanks, Neptune! I might have missed this otherwise!