Directed by Michel Gondry
Starring Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou & Omar Sy
In this latest film from Michel Gondry- music video director turned surrealist arthouse genius- Colin (Duris) is a member of the idle rich, and all his friends have lovers; Nicolas (Sy), his live-in lawyer and chef, has many female acquaintances, while Chick (Gad Elmaleh)- his bookish best friend- has found love with a fellow academic. At a party, Nicolas’ beau sets him up with Chloe, the ever-amazing Audrey Tatou. Their chemistry pings right from their first lines, and while both are excellent as their characters, together they form an intoxicating couple.
With its central couple in place, the film focuses on expanding on sensory images, providing a constant synesthesia to delight the viewer. Sound waves become little rings of light, a happy couple exits their wedding floating through water, a breathtaking view of Paris from within a fiberglass cloud. In communicating his mixed-channels sensory overload, Gondry combines an astounding array of methods, combining stop motion, greenscreen, rear projection, miniature, practical effects and CGI, often within the same sequence. Colin’s mouse exits from the bathroom to the kitchen via a miniature tunnel, then in a tiny stop-motion animated car, arrives via greenscreen insert, then stays present in the scene as a miniscule projection. The overall effect reminded me of a dinner I ha at a Venetian restaurant once, where the last course was titled ‘whims and frivolties’, and consisted of different kinds of cakes, pastries and mousses on a plate. The idea there was the same as Gondry’s approach to this film- to supply an execution of multiple styles all at once, so flawlessly that it appears just a whim, just a frivolity.
Directed by Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
Starring Klaus Tange , Ursula Bedena & Joe Koener
Directors Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani are no strangers to the sensual, sexualised violence of the giallo. Their first feature, Amer, draws heavily from that, and their segment in The ABCs of Death- the distinctive O for Orgasm- is also loosely inspired by that genre. For the uninitiated, the abundance of nasty Art Deco architecture, black leather gloves, and neon lights, might all seem a bit bizarre, but rest assured it’s perfectly normal. Well, as normal as giallo can be. It’s a relatively obscure genre in the UK and USA, but in Italy and to a lesser extent the rest of Europe it was huge in its 70s heyday. Named after cheap yellow detective books, giallo films typically follow a thriller format, and are characterised by high stylisation- think Hitchcock on acid- and hyper-sexualised violence. A typical giallo will feature some dizzying camerawork following a murderer of beautiful women. If this sounds familiar, it might be because the giallo is such a huge influence on the slasher, particularly via Halloween which is basically giallo style applied to a more morally puritanical Middle America outlook.
Directed by Jose Padilha
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish & Gary Oldman
I should be open and upfront with you, reader. This is not a good remake of RoboCop, nor is it a good film in its own right. It is a capable film, and it has its moments of brilliance, but mostly it is a mess- disappointing to those who love the original, and boring for those who are seeing it with fresh eyes. That this would be the case should have been clear to most from seeing the first trailer, or even earlier, from seeing the new ‘darker is better’ RoboCop suit.