…and so, since I’m afraid they will eventually erase these forever, I thought I’d collect the reviews I wrote here. It would appear there are three types of movies I really like talking about:
- French ones;
- Ones that deal with race; and
- (My all-time favorites) French ones that deal with race
So here’s what I have to say about a couple of movies.
La Haine You rated this movie: 5.0
La Haine is the perfect antidote to the whole “Magical Paris!” fluffiness that seems to have begun its resurgence with Amelie (Avenue Montaigne, Paris Je t’aime, etc). It’s really a shame that more movies like this aren’t being made right now in France. In fact its success is an incredible testament to its enduring relevance, considering the artistic and political resistance and resulting financial limitations it encountered when being made in 1995. The only thing I can really add to everyone else’s already perspicacious reviews is a sense of urgency with which I would encourage everyone to see this movie. It is an important work that encourages a more informed dialogue concerning the reality facing Western Europe’s major cities. Here I will take issue with one reviewer to say that Kassovitz does, in fact, do the issue of racial integration (or lack thereof) justice. 97 minutes obviously doesn’t necessarily allow for an analysis of French colonialism and its aftermath; neither is that Kassovitz’s intent. It’s really more of a stylized expose that forces the viewer to confront certain realities that were heretofore (and since?) overlooked in French cinema. My only other addendum is to mention(as Jodie Foster does in her introduction in the bonus features) the linguistic opulence of the dialogue. I’ll withhold any obvious further pronouncements about slang and simply say that it is definitely worth hearing… and repeating to yourself and googling (along with the soundtrack)… if you’re into that sort of thing, of course.
You wrote this on 2008-02-09
Bamboozled You rated this movie: 5.0
I first saw this movie about 5 years ago and it’s safe to say it changed the way I think. I wouldn’t say that it’s perfectly executed, but I would recommend “Bamboozled” VERY highly. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered, a lot of problems unresolved, and it certainly doesn’t make you feel empowered. In fact, I think that may be the point. As the title would suggest, it leaves you feeling slightly tricked - “but wait,” you protest, “that ending sucked!” or, “that just reinforces a stereotype!” or “but that would never happen!” In general, you feel riled up. You feel like some mass injustice has been perpetuated on you, and you have been proposed no solutions whatsoever. And maybe that’s what real discussions of race feel like. Maybe that’s what it’s like to be any of those characters, and maybe that’s what it’s like to think critically about race relations in America— completely frustrating.
Spike Lee doesn’t want to offer a neat solution any more quickly than he wants to offer a neat idea of what it is to be “black” or “white,” but I think this satire encourages us to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It encourages you to really enter the realm of the taboo, and in breaking down this “appropriate” or “realistic” barrier at which so many racial discussions stop, you are left conceptualizing race in radically different ways. Maybe that is the goal of the film, to at least open the possibility of radical change? It’s not clear in this film that Lee even thinks radical change would be “good” for anyone, though. In this fluidity of interpretation, this movie is absolutely brilliant.You wrote this on 2008-04-09
Paris, Je T’aime You rated this movie: 4.0
Enjoyable and sometimes great. For me, the last film alone, the one written and directed by Alexander Payne and set in the XIVe arrondissement, makes the whole movie worthwhile. Simple, honest, and really powerful. I’d rent it again just for those 5 minutes.You wrote this on 2008-02-11
Another Gay Movie You rated this movie: 1.0
Horrid!! I mean, it’s supposed to be horrid but this is mostly not even clever horrid. It’s really a movie for teenagers. As a twenty-something, I was not feeling all the graphic sex, ridiculously bad acting, production that looks like it was carried out in someone’s basement, and the all-encompassing total cliche… that doesn’t even pull off ironic cliche! The highlight for me was the performance of Scott Thompson (of Kids in the Hall fame) who plays the Eugene Levy American Pie-esque dad. Ok, ok, I laughed at some of the poop humor too.
You wrote this on 2007-12-27
Avenue Montaigne You rated this movie: 3.0
I think I had heard about this for too long and was expecting too much! It frankly reminded me of a lot of other recent French montage dramedies… I loved everyone who acted in it, especially Valerie Lemercier. And maybe it caught me on an off day, but I just didn’t find it particularly earth-shattering. Completely enjoyable, fun, and great to watch, however.
You wrote this on 2007-11-07
The Visitors You rated this movie: 4.0
OK you should ONLY watch this movie if things like “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” really got you going back in the day… If stupid, totally over the top humor is not your thing, run the other way. If that IS your thing, this is a classic. Jean Reno as the noble savage and Valerie Lemercier as the French yuppy are priceless, and there are some really funny moments for any students of Medieval France or French. Great for high school French teachers. Oddly enough, the score is really beautiful. There is one theme especially that comes back a couple of times that is truly worthy of a more serious film (it plays the first time when Frenegonde runs out of the castle). Enjoy this ridiculous gem.