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Entries in Tahar Rahim (4)

Sunday
Sep082013

TIFF: Asghar Farhadi Returns With "The Past"

Weirdest Cannes best actress win"

Nick whispered to me as the end credits unspooled on Asghar Farhadi's The Past. Co-sign. It's not that Berenice Bejo, who was charming in her international breakthrough in The Artist, is not a good actress and she's certainly a beauty. But at least in the context of The Past she's a blank one. Despite the plethora of information writer/director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) keeps sending us -- e-mails are an enormous plot point -- I'm still waiting to hear anything substantial about the character of Marie, Bejo's woman at its center.

Yes yes, we learn that she still loves her ex-husband Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa), has troubles with her teenage daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet, wonderfully cast) and is cagey about her new relationship to Samir (Tahar Rahim). But we learn all of this very quickly in the movies promising opening scenes in which Marie picks up her ex-husband from the airport and brings him home rather than to a hotel room he asked for. 

But after that... what else?

Farhadi has quite a lot else in store for us... though strangely what seems to take precedence is the intricate minutae of its plot, rather than the characterizations. It's not that we learn nothing about the characters exactly, but that they seem to be serving the intricacies of its many twists rather than the other way around. Like Farhadi's recent masterpiece A Separation, we return again and again to the same seemingly tiny event, although this one is offscreen, and its enormous ripples. To be fair to Berenice we do learn two more thing about Marie. First, she's a bit of a dramatic queen and pushes situations and conversations past their natural end point until they reignite or explode. Second, and long delayed... that she is guilt-ridden about her relationship with Samir without realizing it. But it's too little too late for a film that overextends its welcome and pushes its luck with its intended cartographic drama.

Marie between her men. She does this to herself.

When your favorite touch in a hotly anticipated movie by a brilliant director is the subtle dynamism of its title card ("The Past" is erased by windshield wipers as the ex-lovers are reunited in the opening scene) and the thing you relate to most visually is the endearing confused scowl on a young actor's face (Elyes Aguis is just superbly natural as Fouad, Samir's son) something has gone quite wrong. Thanks to a fine turn from Mossafa, Ahmad the exhusband, is the film's most interesting and well defined character. The movie suffers considerably whenever he (wisely) steps out of his place in this quiet heavy love triangle. Three may be a crowd but Marie and Samir are too blandly conceived to carry the film's heavy heart and complicated plot on their own. C

Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Mano-a-Mano Hallucinations Norway's Pioneer & Jake Gyllenhaal² in Enemy
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
Jessica Chastain at the Eleanor Rigby Premiere
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
Queer Double FeatureTom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness 
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars

Friday
Sep162011

TIFF: A Funny Man, Love and Bruises,... Anatolia

Amir, here, back with more coverage of new TIFF films. The Toronto International Film Festival is winding down but luckily I have a couple of big name movies still scheduled. Here's a few from the last two days.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
This Cannes grand prix winner is a slow-paced police procedural in which a doctor, a prosecutor and a group of other police agents drag an alleged murderer along with them in the rural Anatolia region of Turkey so he can show them where he’s hidden his victim’s body. More than half of this gorgeously shot film is spent during the night and I for one wished the morning never came. Gokhan Tiryaki’s impeccable lighting and the varied range of shots he creates in the limitless but monotonous locale of the film easily tops my personal list of best cinematography of the year. 

There’s more to the film than the actual nightly search as Ceylan gives us indications that we should question the nature of the crime. Supernatural observations, spirituality and religious themes of guilt and faith all play a part in this hypnotic film. At two and a half hours, Anatolia won't be for everyone, but if you’re willing to go along with Ceylan’s delicate look into the social structure of Turkey and his humanistic approach to this crime tale, the end result is incredibly rewarding.

The cast of "A Funny Man" (Nikolaj Lie Kaas in the center)

 

A FUNNY MAN (dir. Martin Peter Zandvliet) 
The director’s follow-up to Applause (for which Paprika Steen was a medalist right here in Nathaniel's film bitch awards) is a biopic about Dirch Passer (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), one of Denmark’s best known comedians. Once again, Zandvliet has given us an insightful look into the troubled life of an artist, one who’s always faced with the struggle of transitioning his successful comedic career into that of a serious dramatic actor. Much of the film is similar to what we often see in biopics that cover the bulk of the protagonist’s life, but don’t let that throw you off. A Funny Man is an emotional film that can make you laugh, cheer and cry at the same time and there are truly great performances in it. Nikolaj Lie Kaas (of Brothers and The Idiots fame) is a marvel as the late Passer and embodies both his comic genius and his dramatic talents to the same effect. Even better is Lars Ranthe as his partner Kjeld whose subtle turn in this demanding role is sensational. Both actors would have been easy gets for Oscar nominations had this film been in English. The film’s real champ for me, however, is Sune Martin, whose soothing, gentle score is even better than the eccentric work he did for Applause.  

 

LOVE & BRUISES (dir. Lou Ye)

This was the beginning of my most disappointing day at TIFF. I was excited to see this for Tahar Rahim (Un Prophete) but my enthusiasm died down just a few minutes into the film. Ye’s hollow and underdeveloped love story between Hua, a Chinese teacher (played by Corinne Yam) and Mathieu, a French construction worker (played by Rahim) who meet by accident on the street of Paris was anything but lovely. One-dimensional characters, a sexist and judgemental view of relationships and an inconceivable plot make it one of the weakest scripts of the year.

 

Rahim tries but the script gives him very little to work with. Worse still, the film gives us a whopping total of ZERO reasons to like Hua’s character who’s inexplicably adored by almost every man she meets. Though, I'd add that my reasons for disliking Hua all relate to how flatly written the character is which is entirely different from the misogynistic reasons the film itself seems to hate her. Lest you think sexism is the film’s only fault, its on-the-nose depiction of social class division is surprisingly even more distasteful. I’d give this film a straight "F", but I’d probably listen to Peyman Yazdanian’s score out of context, so a "D-" would be fair. 

 

CUT (Amir Naderi)

I’d like to say it was the after-effect of the previous screening that made me abandon this halfway through, but Cut was no masterpiece either. The film opens with a sequence that begs for our sympathy as a cinephile walks the street yelling “they’re killing pure cinema. Today’s films are only for entertainment” into a megaphone. Then, in a contrived turn of events, he becomes a human punching bag for inexplicably violent men in order to pay his deceased brother’s debts. The film’s subpar production values and mediocre acting weren’t helping its cause but I shouldn't express opinions on a film I haven’t watched in full. Perhaps a miracle of improvement happened after I left?  

 

>Final Weekend: back-to-back screenings of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis follow-up and Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights which has just been picked up for distribution (albeit in 2012), actressy musicals and Joachim Trier still to come.

 

 

Saturday
Mar262011

This & That: Dick Tracy, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Taylor

Little White Lies talks to French actor Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, The Eagle)
The Wrap
Warren Beatty wins Dick Tracy rights lawsuit. Y'all know I love my Beatty but this decision seems ridiculous to me since the rights were only supposed to stay with Beatty if he was actually using the character but he NEVER WORKS. I would love for him to act again but it is obviously not a top priority for him.
Cinema Blend
the absurd Face/Off duo (I like that movie) Nicolas Cage and John Travolta may reunite onscreen. May not. The crystal ball is cloudy.
Basket of Kisses Mad Men rumors continue.

Cinema Blend also reports that Josh Hutcherson auditioned yesterday for that Hunger Games role he wants so badly. If you ask me he's already doomed despite fans of the property thinking he's right for it. He seems so much younger than Jennifer Lawrence, doesn't he? And isn't it a love interest situation? The woman reading older is anathema to Hollywood. They are so weird about needing their women much younger than their men.

Oh and P.S. have you seen his "straight but not narrow" campaign? Cute.



Time Out Chicago Melissa Leo interview on a new project which I shan't name anymore -- I've given it too much free promotion. Must control myself unless I'm invited to things and can weigh in with an informed opinion -- but this bit on the Oscars made me giggle.

TimeOut: I was surprised myself by the backlash. Isn’t the awards season all about self-promotion?
MELISSA LEO: Perhaps that’s very so. [Laughs]

A few more Liz & Tennessee articles
Sunset Gun Strong piece on Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
LIFE Magazine published Liz & Monty photos. I've seen some from this shoot before but not these two. I love them together so much.
The Daily Beast has excerpts from an Elizabeth Taylor interview, one bit involving James Dean that she would not allow to go public till she died.
fourfour a Liza Minnelli anecdote on Liz.
Salon the always provocative Camille Paglia on this movie star's pre-feminist power.

and the Oscar Completist has having an Elizabeth Taylor viewing binge and has also written about the rarely discussed TV versions of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer (1993), and the 1984 and 1995 versions of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Friday
Feb112011

Review: The Eagle 

The Eagle is the latest of the many sword & sandal ripples that Gladiator set in motion 11 years ago. Channing Tatum is this year's brave soul, stepping into the Arena of Undefeated Russell Crowe Memories. Channing plays Marcus Aquila, a young centurion getting his first command in Britain. His faither soiled the family name by vanishing in the North of Britain and losing his legion's gold standard, The Eagle. Though Rome at large has moved on, Marcus is obsessed with retreiving the shiny bird.

Marcus is very serious about his command but he's also good at it. In fact, he's practically clairvoyant in his first test as a leader, sensing danger coming well before it arrives. Though he saves his men, a serious injury sidelines him from battle, and the film threatens to stop dead in its tracks just as its begun. Thankfully the movie picks up considerably when Jamie Bell enters as Esca.

Esca is purchased as a body slave for Marcus. Waste of money, that. Purchasing a body slave for Channning Tatum? Surely there were volunteers at the ready?

Read the rest at Towleroad

What are you seeing this weekend?