Month: February 2006

Le Diable à quatre

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O diabo a quatro
Alice de Andrade :: Brazil :: 2005 :: 1h48

Set mostly on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, unlikely meetings wash up on the shores of Copacabana. Violent urban life is contrasted with the poetic romanticism of young dreamers. The small-time pimp, the pot-smoking surfer, the Amazonian princess and an enigmatic tough little boy will cross your screen. Caricatures abound, this production contains little to amuse you or contribute to your life other than seeing the beautiful Brazilian starlet Maria Flor. Their tacky version of the poster for the French release should suffice as a warning.


L’Ivresse du pouvoir

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L’Ivresse du pouvoir
Claude Chabrol :: France :: 2006 :: 1h50

Investigating for the justice department, Jeanne Charmant Killman helps several powerful men out of their jobs and behind bars for fraud and theft. Our investigator is played by the ever charming Isabelle Huppert who proceeds relentlessly in the face of opposition with a confidence only lady Justice herself could have. We could regret some curious choices in the scenario (theatrical interludes) unfinished relationships (with her husband) and an unconvincing Patrick Bruel (as a business hotshot) but then again why pass up on seeing what Chabrol is up to and spend almost two hours watching Ms Huppert at full strength? There is of course no resemblance in this satire to the famous power abuse scandal surrounding Elf-Aquitaine…


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Nanouk Leopold :: The Netherlands :: 2005 :: 1h24

A young woman finds her colleague dead after a suicide on their business trip, realizing it could have been her. The shock provokes a self-analysis of her own life living in her Scandinavian-type house outside the city with her husband and son, to see if she can consider herself happy, alive and valued. What starts out as slow and unclear, unravels itself as the movie progresses, and lingers after it is over. The photography encourages you to see the world through her eyes, which is the core of the means, as very few words are spoken. Her questioning herself – the honesty of her relationship(s) and her importance to those around her- takes her away from the very thing she is observing, namely her own life. A recital which hinges mostly on whether or not you can read into her mind, as the unspoken leaves room for projection. By all means an impressive and life-changing exercise.


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Joao Pedro Rodrigues :: Portugal :: 2004 :: 1h41

Rui loses the love of his life in a car accident and Odete throws out her boyfriend in a fit of disappointment. Two seemingly unrelated stories cross-over through a desire pulling Odete into the life of the mourning Rui. At an unbearably slow pace we are dragged through the murky psychological state of a desperate Rui and an uncontrollable Odete. Her blatant disregard for the emotions of others, leads us (slowly, slowly) to the predictable transformation. No doubt the whole movie was made with the final scene in mind, a scene which must rate as one of the most ridiculous images to have made it into cinema. A story which shows the supremacy of love (Rui’s) but has it all obliterated in a few seconds before the bell rings. But then again, as the names roll up, you can content yourself that yours is not up there with them…


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Kim Chapiron :: France :: 2005 :: 1h35

Group of youngsters leave a nightclub heading for a countryside house for a night of horrors. Your chance to see Vincent Cassel as a laughing satanic peasant and two beautiful teenage girls may push you into the cinema some friday night at midnight, but you will be be disappointed. A story-line which is so thin that it should have been compensated with strong characters, special effects and/or some stunts. As it stands, all you get is to follow a group of losers who meet up with some provincial ‘deliverance’ youths without any particular effect. An amateurish production based on an inconsequent, unfinished script. A wasted opportunity for all except Cassel, who no doubt amused himself figuring out what a devilish grin should look like…

Nouvelle cuisine

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Fruit Chan :: China (HK) :: 2005 :: 1h31

While they wait for their furniture to be shipped over from Europe, Mr and Mrs Li float through their empty lives, leading her back in dreams of beauty and the simple desires of youth. Her dreams are an iron will pushed to the extreme by Ms Mei, who cooks up her recipe for a vampiresque fountain of youth. In short, the horrors of the nouveau riche superficiality of having aimed at the wrong target in life. The complete a-moral void into which they throw themselves, and utter hopelessness of the spectator who has nothing to hold on too makes for a free fall to nausea. Your compensation en route is some original and well used Degas photography although contrasted sharply with over-the-top sound effects. Your reward is nihilistic revulsion. Make a conscious decision on whether or not to go and see this one.
The title is symbollically well found.
Realistically: seeing the characters’ non-relationship as their unbuilt kitchen (house)
Conceptually: contemporary cooking’s promise of a refined purity of taste … but in essence ephemeral and too un-nutricious to achieve even its principle purpose, namely to feed.