Friday, January 27, 2017

German Zweig and French Rosalie Blum via Reims

 I'm always behind the times where films and television programmes are concerned, so it has taken me until now to come across these stories and movies ...

Via BC as Trump Knows Better Than You Do

‘The ways into language are slow and sideways, regurgitating and tethering half-swollen noises, latching them onto passing shapes and floating notions. Sounds get tied to words, a set of letters in which the sound is held latently, to be woken upon reading. These tethers for sound are impressed onto paper, folded into newspapers, bound into books, lassoed into balloons. Language spreads: I grew up surrounded by animated, jabbering cats, mice, sponges and paperclips, never really questioning how they were speaking in the first place.’
~Unspooling emails, SMSs and quotes in the bathroom

Zweig left a suicide note, in which he wrote: “I send greetings to all of my friends: May they live to see the dawn after this long night. I, who am most impatient, go before them.” 

 “He was torn between two worlds. He was physically in a new place, but he couldn’t distance his mind from thoughts of what was happening in Europe and the pain of others. His talent for fantasy became a curse the minute he became an exile,” Schrader explained.

The director suggested the world today should take a page from Zweig’s book.

“Today, you just need to click and say, ‘I am for this’ or ‘I am against this,’ but it doesn’t mean anything,” Schrader said.
“LIke Zweig, we need more words. We need to see the whole picture, to see developments on a larger scale — not just from today to tomorrow. If we simplify things too much, we are in danger of answering radicalism with radicalism.”

When German director Maria Schrader began her work some years ago on her new historical feature film, “Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europe,” she had no idea just how relevant it would soon become.

Lately, a new generation became aware of Zweig when Wes Anderson revealed that his 2014 critically acclaimed comedic film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was inspired by some of Zweig’s short stories.
Despite escaping and finding safety first in England, and then on the other side of the Atlantic, Zweig was haunted by the brutal disintegration of the liberal, cosmopolitan Europe he loved, and by the horrors that had befallen those he had left behind. Exile Tragic Effect

The biggest hit in the 27-year history of the Alliance Française French Film Festival, Julien Rappeneau's enchanting directorial debut ROSALIE BLUM is a witty and ingeniously crafted comedy about a random encounter that has unexpected and life-changing consequences. Thirty-something Vincent Machot (indelibly played by Kyan Khojandi) is a hairdresser, like his father before him. Life rotates around work, his overbearing mother who lives in the apartment upstairs, and a womanising cousin constantly trying to set him up. But one morning Vincent experiences a powerful déjà-vu when he meets the gaze of a grocery store clerk, Rosalie Blum (the fabulous Noémie Lvovsky). Intrigued by this mysterious woman, he begins a search to uncover the truth behind their connection... To reveal more would only spoil the surprises of Rappeneau's impeccably directed and performed tale, other than to say that a series of coincidences - both hilarious and moving - memorably brings together a group of lost souls in a manner reminiscent of Claude Berri's wonderful Hunting and Gathering. Indeed, with its themes of the importance of altruism, forgiveness and the value of compassion, ROSALIE BLUM delivers an ever-timely reminder of the best that French cinema has to offer. It's a joy to watch

A prematurely balding hairdresser starts stalking the mysterious fortysomething owner of a provincial corner shop in Rosalie Blum, a quirky, cockles-warming adaptation of the eponymous graphic-novel trilogy by French artist Camille Jourdy. Debuting writer-director Julien Rappeneau — son of Jean-Pierre, most famous for having directed the Depardieu vehicle Cyrano de Bergerac — follows Jourdy’s lead and also plays around with narrative structure and audience expectations to keep an otherwise rather familiar story of lonely hearts and wacky-cutesy humor fresh and engaging. Nuanced performances from a strong cast including Noemie Lvovsky (Camille Rewinds) and French-Iranian thespian Kyan Khojandi (Lou!) further help sustain interest. Rosalie Blum

Who would have thought that a film about a week in the life of a bus driver and part-time poet named Paterson, who lives in Paterson, New Jersey, would be one of movie highlights of the year? In his new film, independent American director Jim Jarmusch returns to the kind of minimalist work with which he made his name 30 years ago — films such as Stranger than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986) andMystery Train (1989). Paterson is a film in which conventional narrative is shunted aside in favour of detailed character observation; nothing “happens”, in a traditional sense, yet everything happens.

Paterson, beautifully played by Adam Driver, lives in a small suburban house with his girlfriend Laura (the radiant, Iranian-born Golshifteh Farahani) and their English bulldog, Marvin. Every morning (the film is divided into chapters named after the days of the week) Paterson wakes up soon after six, has breakfast — always the same cereal — and walks with his metal lunch box to the bus depot. Every morning he has an exchange with the doleful Donny (Rizwan Manji), the Indian depot manager, who never fails to moan about the series of disasters that have befallen him. During the day, Paterson overhears the conversations of his passengers — men talk about girls, a couple of boys talk about boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, and so on — while he composes poems (that appear in written text on the screen), all of which are basically love sonnets to Laura.

Laura, meanwhile, stays at home, decorating the house in her favoured black and white geometric patterns while planning to become a singer like Patsy Cline — she orders a black and white guitar — and preparing food for dinner (one startling recipe she serves combines Paterson’s favourites, cheddar cheese and brussels sprouts, in a pie). Towards the end of the week she bakes cupcakes topped with black and white icing to sell at the local market.

Every day Paterson, who writes his poems in a notebook that, despite Laura’s entreaties, he never quite gets around to copying, takes Marvin for a walk and stops off at a bar where most of the customers are African Americans. Here he chats with Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley), the bar owner, who refuses to have a television but has a Paterson Hall of Fame display on his wall, which includes beat poet Allen Ginsberg and comic actor Lou Costello (the latter seems to be Paterson’s most famous son; at one stage Paterson drives past the Lou Costello public park). This daily routine, except for weekends, is punctuated by unexpected encounters and incidents.

Paterson meets a little girl who turns out to be a poet and who shares Paterson’s admiration for Emily Dickinson; he also meets a Japanese tourist (Masatoshi Nagase) who, like Paterson, is an admirer of Paterson poet William Carlos Williams; on Friday, the bus breaks down, but it’s no big deal.

In the bar there’s a conflict between Everett (William Jackson Harper) and his former girlfriend Marie (Chasten Harmon), who wants no more to do with him. These are only digressions, though each one adds to the richness of the film. Mainly,Paterson is content to explore the relationship between Paterson and Laura, who are deeply, uncomplicatedly in love and incredibly sweet and supportive of one another.

At one point Laura exclaims: “This is so much fun! It’s like living in the 20th century”, and you can see what she means: potential threats and dangers come to nothing, life seems simpler, and a strange man talking to a little girl does not arouse suspicion. A trip to the movies isn’t to see some new blockbuster: it takes them to a sparsely attended art-house cinema for the creepy Island of Lost Souls (1932), with Charles Laughton, which they appear to thoroughly enjoy. The film is as innocent as it is gentle, and viewing it is a truly sublime experience.

Noemie Lvovsky in writer-director Julien Rappeneau’s first feature, Rosalie Blum.
Noemie Lvovsky in writer-director Julien Rappeneau’s first feature, Rosalie Blum.

If the narrative of Paterson is tantalisingly slight, that of the French film Rosalie Blum is quite the opposite; the first feature from writer-director Julien Rappeneau, this intriguing and tantalising — and plot-driven — romantic mystery-comedy is based on a graphic novel by Camille Jourdy. Like Paterson, the film is divided into chapters, but instead of days of the week Rappeneau devotes a chapter to each of his three main characters.

First there is Vincent (Kyan Khojandi, who was born in France to Iranian parents, another link to Paterson). A hairdresser who lives in the same apartment building as his dotty, demanding mother (Anemone) in a small town, he seems to lead a lonely existence. He has a girlfriend, but she lives in Paris and whenever he arranges to see her she cancels at the last moment. He suffers from nosebleeds when he’s stressed and his only real companion is his cat (this film’s equivalent to Marvin in Paterson). Then, one Sunday, his mother decides she must have crab and lemon for a recipe she wants to make, and she sends a reluctant Vincent off on his bicycle in search of these ingredients.
The usual stores are shut, and he winds up at a corner shop some distance away where he meets Rosalie Blum (Noemie Lvovsky), the shopkeeper. She’s middle-aged, a bit shabby in appearance, certainly not what you’d call sexy — but somehow something clicks. Exactly what that “something” is we aren’t told — and in fact we won’t know until the film’s final scene; but whatever it is, it mysteriously obsesses Vincent to the extent that he starts stalking her. He follows her to her home, to a cinema (where she sees a Japanese film), and to a club, where they listen to music.
After this very intriguing set up, Rappeneau offers Chapter Two, named after Aude (Alice Asaaz), Rosalie’s niece, whom we glimpsed as one of the customers in the club. It seems Rosalie has noticed she is been followed and she asks Aude to follow the follower, which Aude does with the enthusiastic help of her two best friends (Sara Giraudeau, Camille Rutherford) and her eccentric roommate (Philippe Rebbot).
Now the events of Chapter One are replayed but this time from Aude’s perspective, when everything takes on a new — and quite comical — meaning. Part Three, Rosalie, wraps up the story in a very satisfactory way.
Rappeneau’s decision to conceal the explanation for Vincent’s obsessive behaviour towards Rosalie until the bitter end — and in a flashback at that — is a bold one, and some may be annoyed, rather than intrigued, by the mystery. But the film quickly exerts a grip on you, mainly because of the engaging performances. Khojandi is a convincingly hangdog hero, while Asaaz is a delightfully daffy Aude whose laziness and eccentric lifestyle become quite endearing. Rosalie is more of an enigma, but that’s as it should be.
Comparisons have been made with Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie (2001), but don’t be fooled; Rosalie Blum has none of the fantasy elements of that modern classic. It’s firmly grounded in reality — even if the behaviour of Aude and her friends is weird at times, it’s always basically believable Rosalie Blum and Paterson by David Stratton