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La Guerre Des Boutons

Taking Offspring Number One off to Manuka to get a bit of the benefit of having the French Film Festival in town was quite an experience! I haven’t been to this cinema in years, and it hasn’t changed at all (even the popcorn tasted like it might have been there since my last visit!). But this film made it all worthwhile.

La Guerre Des Boutons (or The War of the Buttons for those who are too lazy to figure that out!) proved an excellent choice given that we don’t have time to see more than one this year. But really, how could you go wrong with any film in a French film festival?

The premise is simple; gangs of boys from two rival country towns in walking distance of each other elevate a long-standing tradition of conflict to all out war in which the greatest victory comes by the ceremonial removal of the buttons from the opponents’ clothes. It may not sound all that terrifying, but the wrath of a French mother towards a son returning home with no buttons is nothing to be scoffed at!

The film is a romp, but in that inimitable French style, the humour is offset by some brilliantly crafted characters, whose more human side is shown as the impact of the Algerian War is felt in the town. The balance between humour and the film’s more serious themes is impeccable, making La Guerre des Boutonsa film for all ages.

 
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Posted by on Saturday, 17 March 2012 in Film, French Film, French Film Festival

 

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Hugo

Hugois a great film, although it is about half an hour longer than it needs to be and (coincidentally?) half an hour too sappy.

Set in Paris, it’s the story of an orphan in the care of his drunkard uncle, who undertakes his uncle’s work to remain in his home in Gare Montparnasse, to avoid ending up in an orphanage. His home puts him in the perfect position to pilfer the bits he needs to continue his dead father’s work restoring an old automaton, but it also puts him at risk from the station’s other denizens.
The story is excellent, and the visual effects stunning. The characters are beautifully composed, and the whole film sings… as long as you’re patient. This film would have been so much better if it had been written by a Frenchman; its American screenwright, however, has seen fit to weigh it down with as much schmaltz as he could muster. It’s a shame, because it would be just about perfect without it.
 
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Posted by on Sunday, 11 March 2012 in Film

 

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Harry Brown

Harry Brown begins with one of the most guesome scenes of urban violence imaginable. The purpose of this scene, almost unrelated to the rest of the film, is perhaps to numb us a little for what is to follow. The violence of Harry Brown is, perhaps, of the same calibre as Quentin Tarantino‘s films, but Daniel Barber’s use of violence is otherwise entirely incomparable. It is targeted, purposeful and meaningful to the same extent that Tarantino’s is aimless and vague.

Michael Caine is at his best in this film. In case you were wondering, no, he’s not funny; he strikes with absolute perfection that degree of pathos that could so easily turn into melodrama, without even a hint of going too far. He is supported by an impeccable script and visionary cinematography.

I have long been a devotee of those films that can take the most grotesque aspects of the human condition and appeal, even in that context, to our capacity for hope. Trainspotting was one of the first I encountered, and remains one of the best examples of the transcendental in film. Harry Brown certainly stands well beside it.

And in case you read my previous post about seeing Robin Hoodat Perth’s Picadilly cinema, you may be interested to know that Leederville’s art deco Luna cinema was the perfect venue for a film of this calibre!

 
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Posted by on Monday, 7 June 2010 in British Film, Film, Marv Films, UK Film Council

 

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Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom poses that age-old question about how many blood spatters are too many. I suspect that the creators were attempting to use blood spatters as a visual motif, as most of the spatters were of a similar consistency, evenly spread across a contrasting surface, but ultimately they just echoed the naff nature of the film generally.

There was a lot of potential here. After a slow start, the film did engage, and it did manage to take me to that serendipitous point at which you have to know what happens next, and the screening environment just melts away. A magnificent cast with a wealth of experience is admirably lead by newcomer James Frecheville. His treatment of the morose character he landed is remarkably compelling, and I think the cast is this film’s saving grace.

But overall, this is a truly disappointing film; not because it represents nothing of value, but because it really had a lot of potential that it didn’t live up to. An engaging story and some of Australia’s best actors are let down by a slow treatment in the editing suite and mundane cinematography. This one’s definitely worthy of a remake, perhaps even with the same cast, but it needs a more compelling treatment by the creative team.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 28 May 2010 in cultural cringe, Porchlight Films

 

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