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10 Word Reviews (A.K.A. Nathaniel Catches Up)

As per usual, though I maintain a healthy writing clip to fill The Film Experience with new material for vous, I have some sort of mental block about traditional film reviews. So let's just get everything unreviewed that's in theaters (or in one case, HBO) out of the way right this very instant. I got places to be! We haven't talked about most of these so why not?

Deneuve, Viard and Rennier: comic successes in POTICHE

in which a trophy wife exceeds expectations and reforms her husband's business.
10WR: Knowing hilarious riffs on: Deneuve, 70s, sexism; But souffle deflates.  B/B+

in which an abandoned pet lizard becomes a hero in a thirsty desert town

: Surreal weirdness grounded by Western tropes. So ugly it's beautiful. B+

in which Todd Haynes adapts the famous novel for an HBO miniseries in five parts
10WR: Glacial pacing but slow build payoffs. Beautifully costumed, lensed. B/B-
EPILOGUE: I'll just come right out and say it. This was not the "event" I was hoping for, neither in performance or in direction. But I did like it. Needless to say, I'll stick to the Joan Crawford gladly, despite them being two very different things.

in which Jake Gyllenhaal keeps reexperiencing the same 8 minutes to solve a bombing
10WR: Perfectly servicable but stumbles exiting train; Needs more existential terror.  C+

in which a washed up porn star (Kim Cattral) is pursued by a nerdy teenage fan
10WR: Cattral: effortful limited success; Movie: suffers badly from hermetic POV. C-

Finally, I do hope some of you will take in POTICHE if it plays in your town. It's quite funny and one should always support good non-English language films while they're still in theaters so that they keep releasing them; their market share is sadly ever dwindling. Potiche has done well abroad ($21 million) but is struggling in US theaters ($280,000). The cast is just delightful. I almost always like Jérémie Rénier (In Bruges) and the running gag about his lovelife has maybe the best punchline in the movie. It also amuses me that his name is so much like Jeremy Renner's and that they almost share a birthday (January 6th and 7th respectively though Rénier is ten years younger). It goes without saying that Deneuve fills my heart with joy as she always has (she's in my top ten actresses of all time list). Any Karen Viard fans out there? I'd love some recommendations as to other films as she's quite funny but I haven't seen her in many things.

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Reader Comments (24)

It makes me happy that Jeremie Renier is such a team player-- he's clearly leading man material but from my limited knowledge of him, he seems content to shine in ensembles too. Summer Hours is so lovely and he's such a great little brother in it.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Jeremie Renier is my favorite. LOOOOVE him. Potiche was quite enjoyable.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

If you'd like to see more Karin Viard, I'd recommend Haut les coeurs! (for which she won the Best Actress César), Embrassez qui vous voudrez, (for which she won the Best Supporting Actress César) and Les Invités de mon père (with Fabrice Luchini, who's also in Potiche).

If you can find them...

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulien

Have you watched Hell (L'enfer), one of those scripts left by Kieslowski and turned into movies along the Aughts? This one is a depressing drama, not that good, but Viard is quite moving.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPivo

Potiche is really funny,a real ode to Deneuve. I liked Mildred Pierce, I think it was really well done and I'm not sure what other things were expected from it. It seems everybody has their own version of how Mildred should have been played and I get more and more annoyed the more I hear people comparing it with the original.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

I felt the exact same way about Potiche. I loved most of it but after it deflated at the end, I'd have trouble thinking of it as much more than a B-level movie. Though it was rather enjoyable how it gave up all pretense of being anything other than (as someone said) an ode to Deneuve and her awesomeness (was that a spoiler?).

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Keller

I really like Karin Viard, but very often she's so much better than the movie she's in, it's frustrating sometimes. I recommend Haut les coeurs! too, it is very moving. L'emploi du temps is interesting as well. She was in Delicatessen too, if you haven't seen it you should!

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterstarfish

@julien: good choice

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpomme

I agree about Source Code. It's not perfect, but I was entertained, and it's a good showcase for Jake.
I'm still looking forward to Mildred. Glacial pacing is never a problem for me, and beautiful costuming and lensing are huge sells.
I hate to go off-topic, but will there be a We Can't Wait this year? The last few years, it's helped me get excited about the upcoming film year around the time that the summer superhero glut starts to depress me.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWheels

Potiche, to go by the trailer, looks a lot more camp than I was expecting. Not sure I'm really in the mood for that. Though if Renier takes his shirt off I could probably overcome my misgivings.

Mildred Pierce struck me as a snooze-a-thon from the jump. I've only seen scattered scenes here and there. Seems like it fits squarely in the realm that Billy Wilder once termed (in reference to Out of Africa), "classy but boring."

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I love that "so ugly it's beautiful" comment on Rango; really hit the nail on the head there. Probably my favorite 2011 release so far. That stunning chase/flight sequence was worth the price of admission.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjbaker475

starfish -- of her movies i've seen La Haine and Delicatessen and Potiche but i think that might be it. Though i coulda sworn i'd seen L'enfer i am having trouble recalling it so maybe not.

April 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Wheels -- wanted to add that Glacial Pacing is not really an issue for me usually. I mean i really enjoyed Gus Van Sant's Gerry for instance. and I sat for like 45 minutes mesmerized by the art exhibit 24 hour psycho which slows that movie down so much that it takes 24 hours to watch it ;) but on the whole i felt that what it did to Mildred Pierce was give them an excuse not to always think about how to frame the material and how to make the time jumps and what not. In the last chapter (or maybe it was 4) there were literally 3 scenes in a row without much dialogue and almost all staring off into space or long walks/contemplative Mildred. I just felt the 'make it as long as you want' appeal of the tv format sometimes makes people lazy about what to dramatize and when.

i've heard people complain about Mad Men's pacing but that's an example of a show that REALLY knows how much information you can cram into 50 minutes... even if it appears that not much in the way of "plot" is happening.

April 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Glad to see that you're featuring a post Mildred Pierce piece. I'm pretty much with the other opinions posted already. I was really looking forward to it, but once it actually started, I was thrown by the slow pacing. More than that though, was how off putting Mildred and Veda were. I get that they're unsympathetic characters, I get that Veda's a sociopathic social climbing gold digging ho that would sell out her own mum (or in this case, seduce her Mum's new hubby). I get that Mildred overcompensated and spoiled Veda even more once her other daughter passed away. But all that said, these characters came off so unlikeable, so off putting, so stupid (in the case of Mildred and her very poor decisions), that I didn't enjoy watching their story unfold. I don't have to like the characters in a film, of course. Particularly if that's not the purpose or function that they serve. But in a way, Mildred being the protagonist, I should be at the very least rooting for her. As it is, half the time I wanted to reach out and slap her, to wake her up from her fugue/fog.

On the acting front, I thought that Evan Rachel Wood was solid but not fantastic. When she finally shows up, the first half hour or so, she's stilted. Veda's ridiculous mannerisms and snide, "Mother, darling..." and "Really, Mother, that's so provinical!"...etc came off so affected and odd. Over on the True Blood forum at Television Without Pity, EVR's performance as Queen Sophie Ann was taken to task for being mannered, off puting, and lacking. And I have to say, that's how she was for the first hour, but then she settled in and really did deliver.

I've never seen the other Mildred Pierce film. But given how this 2011 version played out, I have no problem in believing that the other is superior in virtually every aspect. However, I will say that is a well mounted production, well crafted and beautifully shot. I hope the below the line people win some Emmys for their work, particularly the costumer, set decorator...etc.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlinking Cursor

Kate Winslet and Evan Rachel Wood were fierce in this! Give me the miniseries over the turgid original film any day of the week.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLenny

Nathaniel, your remarks about Mildred Pierce are so accurate. I must say I was disappointed. Costumes were great, but overall a very tedious watch. The best thing about it was Mare Winningham as Ida.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

Another vote for Embrassez qui vous voudrez- Viard is really very funny and at the same time very touching in this. As an added bonus, you get Charlotte Rampling, very early Melanie Laurent, Carole Bouquet and Gaspard Ulliel.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeehee

That poster photo of Jérémie Rénier is killing me! LOL. Is he, like, the blissfully obvious gay son or something?

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Julien is quite right about "Les invités de mon père," which I saw a few weeks ago, and which I should catch again while it's still here in Montréal. Viard is quite good in it...and Fabrice Luchini is even better.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

leehee julien bill etcetera.... my queue will soon crush my computer with its weight but adding these yummy sounding titles.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel Rogers

Loved Mildred Pierce. Hope it wins a boatload of Emmys!

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOrion

re: Viard, you must see Laurent Cantet's Time Out. It's an absolute stunner of a film, quite depressing, but beautifully done.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDevlin

I was very disappointed with Potiche! Loved the art direction and the hairstyles but as a satire I thought it was way too polite.

It is always nice to see Renier but I think I prefer him suffering... specially with the Dardenne brothers. He was so good in Le silence du Lorna.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

re: Viard, agree with the few suggestions of TIME OUT - to me, it's honestly the best film of its year, absolutely REMARKABLE. She's quite good in it, too, and since you loved The Class, it's the same director. She's also quite hilarious in the ensemble film Paris. It's a slight film, though quite enjoyable with a yummy cast. She has a teeny-tiny role, but managed to be the only cast member nominated for the Cesar in a film starring Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, Melanie Laurent, among others.

But DEFINITELY get to Time Out. It's astouding.

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDerek
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