Monthly Archives September 2014

Film Review: Violette

VioletteDirected by Martin Provost

Starring Emmanuelle Devos, Sandrine Kiberlain & Olivier Gourmet

Hands up anybody who knows who Violette Leduc is? Anybody? Nobody? Calm down you in the front, you’re the only one with your hand up, be patient. Luckily one can still watch the film with limited knowledge of its subject matter and still take a lot from it.

Violette Leduc (Devos) is living with writer Maurice Sachs (Olivier Py) during the later years of the Second World War. Despite her forceful, desperate advances Sachs is not attracted to Leduc which contributes to her low self-esteem stemming from being an illegitimate daughter and very critical mother. Sachs eventually runs away but encourages Leduc to be an author, which she pursues. After developing a relationship with fellow writer Simone de Beauvoir (Kiberlain), who introduces her to other intellectuals such as Jean Genet (Jacques Bonnaffé), Ludec starts to fall for Beavoir which starts to affect her work as she struggles to gain confidence and tries to come to terms with her own image and identity issues.

 


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The film is an intriguing, sometimes overwhelming, character analysis mainly consisting of Leduc suffering with many artistic demons that a modern audience would possibly associate with creative people today. However, these very same traits made Leduc out to be an outcast and unusual among her peers at the time. Dealing with unstable reservations about the quality of her work, being open about her sexuality, pushing the boundaries of French feminism among other struggles affected Leduc physically and mentally.

Director Provost portrays these character flaws in what appears to be an ordinary but actually quite sophisticated approach, using literary techniques such as chapters to introduce different turning points in Leduc’s life and emphasises the subject matter. Provost’s knack for concentrating on narrow, awkward spaces is an intelligent effective technique that reflects Leduc’s troubled psychological moods of somebody only feeling at ease through their work and praise from fellow peers. One could say using these visual aspects, Provost at times seems to channel the past work of other directors such as Oliver Stone. It should be noted that Devos captures these slight nuances and characteristics perfectly in a strong performance that makes the audience yearn for Violette to find the satisfaction she so deserves no matter where it comes from.

This aspect is however, a double-edged sword as what was a highlight eventually becomes a glaring flaw. A formula is formed in which we see Leduc faced with a dilemma and try to overcome it a number of times, the film starts to feel too episodic and one can almost guess what the forthcoming scenes entail.

Violette is a memorable film due to the excellent performances which and high point of the film. Emmanuelle Devos in particular excels, embodying Leduc’s mannerisms and persona. Cinematography is visually engaging for the most part and has a delicate coldness to it. It slightly seems to drag towards the end and while the subject matter can be heavier than expected at times, within reason, it’s managed well by the Provost with some humorous moments to lighten the mood.

3/5

Film Review: The Internet’s Own Boy

MV5BMjgwOTgwNjQ5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzk1NTQ2MTE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Directed by Brian Knappenberger

If the name Aaron Swartz doesn’t mean much to you, watch The Internet’s Own Boy. Brian Knappenberger’s intense, through-provoking documentary might make your brain melt with its subject matter, but you’ll be grateful nevertheless. Assange, Snowdon and Manning have taken all the headlines recently, but The Internet’s Own Boy suggests Swartz’s legacy could well be more powerful.

Like all good documentaries, Knappenberger’s film tells a compelling yet tragic story well. Fitting into the political tech-thriller niche made popular by Hollywood releases The Social Network and The Fifth Estate, The Internet’s Own Boy traces the life of Swartz from precocious toddler and schoolboy computer whizz to rebellious hacktivist. Of We Are Legion and Not Your Average Travel Guide fame, Knappenberger successfully mixes slick graphics, candid interviews and poignant archive footage in order to tell Swartz’s tale. It’s easy to watch films like this and get carried away with the impassioned pronouncements made, not to mention the stirring soundtrack and haunting home video clips. Yet The Internet’s Own Boy reminds you of what Swartz himself would have said – always question, always think, always ask why.

 

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Competition: Win Brick Mansions on DVD!

BMBefore Paul Walker’s tragic and untimely death last year he starred in Brick Mansions – an American remake of French parkour extravaganza District 13.

The film is released on DVD and Blu Ray on 8th September and you could be the lucky  owner of a free DVD copy.

All you need to do is head to twitter and retweet this  tweet and if you’re name is selected we’ll pop your prize in the post and have it delivered right to your door.

This competition closes on Sunday 7th September at 9pm so get retweeting!

Film Review: Before I Go To Sleep

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 21.10.00Directed by Rowan Joffe

Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth & Mark Strong

Amnesia is a condition that clouds the human mind, causing severe short term memory loss. It’s also a condition that plagues cinema and has spawned its own tedious sub genre – the memory-loss thriller. Rowan Joffe’s adaptation of S.J. Watson’s novel Before I Go To Sleep doesn’t exactly offer a breakthrough or an antidote for the disease, instead it feels like a case of maddening deja vu. This is essentially Memento without the brain or 50 First Dates without the heart – It’s a somewhat hollow piece of work. 

Christine Lucas (Kidman)wakes up every morning remembering nothing that has happened since her twenties and her stoic teddy bear of a husband Ben (Firth) has to explain day in day out that her condition is the result of a brutal attack. This routine carries on as an unbroken loop until Dr Nasch (Strong) sticks his chiselled nose in with some information that will turn her world on its empty head. In order for Christine to cling onto her memories she must record video messages on her camera which she can then watch back the next day, a device which proves to be a way less visually stimulating version of the tattooes in Christopher Nolan’s peerless masterpiece).

 

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