Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An apology is due

I know some people consider it bad form to apologize for inconsistent posting. "Just post more often, don't continually apologize for it" they say. Well, I still think an apology is due over the time it took for me to evaluate my priorities and goals. We're now back to our regularly scheduled programming, mes amis. Thanks for your patience.

Au revoir,
M. Cinema

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Supporting Actress Blogathon: Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark in Inglourious Basterds

My second entry to StinkyLulu's 2009 Supporting Actress Blogathon is a performance that grabbed my attention from the moment it first appeared on screen.

Diane Kruger (who pleasantly surprised me here) plays Bridget von Hammersmark, a German actress and Allied double agent tasked with being the film's eponymous Basterds German liaison and helping them with
Operation Kino, a plan to end WWII in one fell swoop. She's stylish (even her leg cast is high-heeled), beautiful, glamorous and (key ingredient) snarky. In other words, she's a diva.

The problem with divas is that playing one cannot really be taught. You can make them snappy with the script and glamorous with the wardrobe and art direction. However, the true diva has something else; something intangible, a certain je ne sais quoi. A diva has to be larger-than-life; human, yet unattainable.

Which is exactly what Kruger brings to the role. Yes, her wardrobe is gorgeous, but it would not look half as good if she did not carry herself the way she does. Her poise in everything from the way she smokes her cigarettes to the way she charms an entire room full of Nazi soldiers is astounding. But a delicate flower she's not. When (after a particularly messy gunfight) she's shot in the leg and and forced to cope with a redesigned strategy for Operation Kino, she doesn't hide her frustration. Rather, she directs her anger and wit at the dumb Basterds she's forced to rely on. It's during this scene that Kruger truly won me over. The gusto with which she delivers her lines is what finally tipped her into film diva territory, at least for me.

All of this would be fine and good for a truly decent supporting actress performance, but a remarkable one? That would require a little plus, and Kruger, once again, delivers. As her schemes begin to unravel, she's forced to deal with Cristoph Waltz's Col. Hans Landa (my favorite male supporting actor performance of the year). As she begins to realize, with ever-growing panic, that he's figured it all out, her perfect mask of poise and charm falters once more. Except, whereas before we saw a fierce attitude that wouldn't back down, now we see fear. She shows terror in her eyes, in the quiver of her lips, in her gasping breath. And then, she pulls herself together and manages a halfhearted smile before calmly, defiantly asking her executioner "What now, Colonel?"

For all of these reasons, it is my pleasure to nominate Diane Kruger as one of 2009's best supporting actresses.

Au revoir,
M. Cinema

Supporting Actress Blogathon 2009: Marion Cotillard as Billie Frechette in Public Enemies

This is the first time I ever participate in StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Blogathon. Actually, it's the first blogathon I ever participate in. With that in mind, I wanted this first contribution to be something I could be proud of. So, I racked my brain and thought of a supporting performance that had grabbed my attention. Sure enough, plenty sprung to mind; but I wanted to avoid the obvious choices (Mo'nique), at least for my first post. And so, I chose a performance that was one of the few things I enjoyed in Michael Mann's Public Enemies.

Academy-Award-winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose)could have rested on her laurels in this movie. Plenty of her costars were doing just that. Instead, Cotillard delivers a remarkable turn as a supporting actress in a movie that was otherwise just not that interesting. Let's break it down.

Cotillard plays Billie Mary Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, a coat-check girl that meets notorious bank robber John Dillinger and becomes his lover. Her reasons? She was bored with her life and felt like she needed to be protected. Now, these simplistic reasons coupled with a stale script could have spelled disaster for most actresses, but Cotillard handles it expertly.

The way Cotillard avoids the double-whammy threat mentioned above is by sticking to what I think great "actressing at the edges" is all about: the details. Cotillard doesn't rely on a fantastic script or an engrossing story. She just gives the role little idiosyncratic touches that make it her own. And while maybe she does have an advantage over other potential contenders because she has an "Oscar scene" (the interrogation), that's not what kept me interested. Rather, it was scenes like her first date with Dillinger and the way her eyes twinkled with interest as he told her about his exploits that made me fall in love with her. Her interrogation scene wouldn't have been half as effective if we didn't care about her character, and we would've had no reason to do so if it wasn't for her wonderful performance. For all of this, I nominate Marion Cotillard as one of 2009's best supporting actresses.

Au revoir,
M. Cinema

P.S. For more fantastic "actressing at the edges", head over to StinkyLulu.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

In the blink of an eye

First, I'd like to explain why, unlike my fellow cinephiles, I have not been busying myself writing end of the decade lists. The 2000s have come and gone and now is the time we look back fondly (or not) on what happened over the last ten years. And while I find these efforts to sum up the Oughts in clever lists and articles a fun and perhaps even necessary exercise, I will not take part in them.

The reason I'll abstain from such things is my birth-date. I was born on January, 1992; on the same day as my sister's birthday. I grew up a child of the 90s and when the new millennium rolled around I was still a little boy. So, while I was alive throughout all the 2000s, I was much too young to see the majority of the films that came out in the first half of the decade. Yes, I have seen films from years past to fill the gaps in my film education, but I still think I am not qualified to provide an adequate review of the entire decade.

So, what is left for me to do, my dear readers? Well, one thing I am prepared to review is 2009. And on this last day of the year, as you uncork the champagne and count down the seconds to a bright new beginning, I'm prepared to entertain you with one last bit of my opinion.

I raise my glass today to this past decade, and for all it has brought. Bonne année, mes petits.

Au revoir,
M. Cinema

P.S. And for those of you interested in such lists, there's a fantastic group of them over at Cinematical.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Alice in Wonderland

A new trailer for Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland has been making the rounds and I thought I'd share it with you. The film looks wonderfully Burton-esque. I specially love Helena Bonham Carter's Red Queen. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Do you cover your ears at the Queen's insane scream (love!)? Let me know in the comments.

Au revoir,
M. Cinema

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Portrait of the Ad as a Short Film

You may have noticed a trend that high-end ads are following these days. The thing nowadays is to turn ads into short films that happen to showcase the product in one way or the other. This type of advertising, where the line between an ad and entertainment gets blurred, is technically knows as branded content. The first of these commercials I remember watching is No. 5 The Film, a Chanel advertisement for the legendary perfume of the same name directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!). Featuring Nicole Kidman and Rodrigo Santoro in a simple, star-crossed-love story, the commercial raised the bar for advertisement everywhere (in my mind, at least).

This year, Chanel released a new ad for No. 5, this time a short film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie), where he once again worked with Audrey Tautou. And although it's not as glitzy as the first one, it still is miles above what most fashion commercials are doing these days.

However, competition being what it is, rival fashion house Dior has released it's own contribution to this emerging genre. The Olivier Dahan-directed The Lady Noire Affair features a gorgeous Marion Cotillard and a dark color palette to go with the noir mood, along with the promise of Cotillard returning for the sequel, The Lady Rouge. Not only this, David Lynch is set to direct. Now, don't get me wrong, I find the Chanel ads much more charming than this one, but the thought of Lynch directing Cotillard in a John Galliano-styled short film is pretty interesting to me.

All of this leads me to the question; are these any good? Are these competently made short films? Or are they just above-average, different advertisements that grab my attention due to their originality? And if they are, are they an indication of what advertisement can aspire to be? Are these lofty aspirations even accomplishable? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Au revoir,
M. Cinema

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Summer Plans

I know what you're thinking. Why would you make plans for summer 8 months or so in advance? Well, my dear readers, that's because I just got told that next year my school's theater department is taking a trip to New York. I, being the NY-obsessed boy I am, immediately asked them if I could join them. They said yes and that means I've got a chance (however small) of actually going to Broadway. Needless to say, this makes me a very happy camper, mes petits. The plan is to go and see four musicals (not chosen yet) and I'm lobbying to go see Hair. The show's gotten rave reviews and it has an amazing cast, so I'm dying to go. I leave you here with a couple of choice videos showcasing the amazing performers and specially the outstanding Gavin Creel.

Wish me luck, darlings.

Au revoir,

M. Cinema