25 November 2022.
This has been a busy week for me due to a family arrival, many events and Thanksgiving thoughts (we certainly can be grateful being here in peaceful, well-run Switzerland!), so this week’s reviews will be brief. But as always, I shall try to lead you to the best in cinema…
GUILLERMO DEL TORO’s PINOCCHIO ****
The tale of Pinocchio has been around for ages, in various forms. This latest version, by Mexican director Del Toro who excels in passionate tales of fantasy (as in his Oscar-winning “The Shape of Water”), is one of the most moving and beautiful. His animation looks as earthy as the wood from which Pinocchio was crafted by old Geppetto, yet it has an incredibly human feel to it. It has humor, thrills, politics and pathos. And the melodious voice of Ewen McGregor as the cricket/narrator adds to the spell of this wondrous fable. For children from 5 to 95.
By the way, Del Toro is part of the famed Mexican triumvirate which also includes directors Alejandro Inarritu (“The Revenant”) and Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”), all multiple Oscar winners!
THE MENU ***1/2
This film about a star chef who is obsessed with the idea of food is a gripping experience. It takes us along with a boatful of rich, spoiled ‘elites’ to his private island where he is to give them the culinary experience of a lifetime. I will let you discover it on your own, as it holds many surprises concerning class and the power of money versus celebrity (somewhat like the recent “Triangle of Sadness”).
Suffice it to say Ralph Fiennes as the master chef and the hypnotic Anya Taylor-Joy (of Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit”) are quite a duo, and it’s downright vicious.
LES MIENS (Our Ties) *** (vo French)
Roschdy Zem, the much awarded Moroccan/French actor and director who is everywhere these days, has made his most personal film in this touching family drama. With a storyline close to his own life and perfectly acted by a strong ensemble cast, he traces some of the relations and moments with his relatives that have left strong marks on his own character as a celebrity.
It’s gratifying to see a famous person reveal his vanity and ego as he learns from the individual members of his family and entourage. This is filmmaking that is honest, humble and very moving.
LES AMANDIERS **1/2 (vo French)
It’s the late 1980s and we are witnessing a young group of acting addicts who have come to learn the art from director Patrice Chéreau of the Amandiers Theater in Nanterre. Directed by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (sister of Carla Bruni), it is her early life and theatrical experiences that she has put into this film, with all the passions, love affairs and tragedies that youth affords.
The young girl who plays her character has all of Tedeschi’s fragile, bewildered qualities, and Chéreau is played by her ex-lover, the talented Louis Garrel. This is pure, personal nostalgia.
STRANGE WORLD *1/2
This animated film that is supposed to be fun and adventurous gets bogged down in its so obvious political correctness. Disney has decided to fully embrace Woke-ness: of course there’s the mandatory multi-racial couple; the grandson’s girlfriend who may not be a girl; and the women who end up being tougher, braver, wiser…guess you gotta make up for all those years of second-classhood!
Such a mishmash of ideas and strata forced down one’s throat can get tiresome. Give us some of the wonder, humour and sweetness of Pixar!
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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.