Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies!
Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)
Starring: Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejto, Francine Racette, Stanislas Carre de Malberg, Philippe Morier-Genoud, François Berléand, François Négret, Peter Fitz, Pascal Rivet, Benoit Henriet, Richard Leboeuf
Director: Louis Malle
Genres: drama, mid-WWII, boarding school
Synopsis: Parisian boys are sent to a boarding school out of town to protect them from the growing Nazi terror. The school is run by priests, who are also secretly taking in some Jewish students, renaming them, and keeping a low profile. The main story revolves around that but focuses on the friendship of two of the boys, one of them one of the Jewish kids.
Impressions: Really good movie! Not overly sentimental. Has the ring of truth to it in the small details. Cinematography is great.
Etc.: French movie with English subtitles. The character of Julien, one of the boys, is based on the director and an actual incident the director experienced as a child.
Awards:Nominated for 2 Academy Awards. 28 other wins and 11 other nominations.
The Oxford Murders (2008)
Starring: John Hurt, Elijah Wood, Leonor Watling, Julie Cox, Jim Carter, Alex Cox, Burn Gorman, Dominique Pinon, Anna Massey, Alan David
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Genres: murder mystery, cerebral
Synopsis: A math student comes to Oxford for the express purpose of studying under a brilliant professor. He is smart enough to choose the boarding house that a close connection of the professor owns to rent a room. A death/murder happens fairly soon in the plot that draws the student and the professor together to try and solve it; as soon another murder happens that suggests the beginning of a series of murders based on mathematical symbols.
Impressions: John Hurt still knows how to command a stage. Elijah wood is blessed because he’s been able to escape from his Frodo character. He does a fair-to-middling job as the student who gets pulled into solving a mathematical murder mystery and a lot of other things as well. I’m guessing math geeks would appreciate “The Oxford Murders.”
Etc.: UK made film
Awards: 6 other wins and 5 other nominations
Frontline: The Interrupters (2011) PBS TV series, Frontline (1983 – ) S30 E3
Starring: Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra, Cobe Williams
Director: Steve James
Genres: documentary, crime, social and cultural examination, Chicago, IL
Synopsis: Federal funding bankrolls CeaseFire which hires former gang members to hit the streets of Chicago, keep their fingers on the pulse of their areas, and to build connections with the members of the community to a place where they often are able to intervene in powder keg situations before violence erupts. They are excellent mentors as well. They have an expense fund that allows them to take people out for lunch, to get their hair done, and other things that can help build self-esteem, connection, etc.
Impressions: The three interrupters/mentors they focus on are passionate about what they do, and their sincerity and passion take them a long way with the communities they work within. Holding hands and enabling their clients is not what they do. It’s more being present, processing developing situations with them to defuse them, even getting a little loud when it’s called for. It talks about the line the “interrupters” need to be walk between the citizens and the police, as both sides are leery of them for various reasons. The program is worthy of being replicated across the country in any large urban area. The underlying issues of socioeconomic inequality and institutional racism are not touched upon here, but these are the foundational issues that have set up why “interruptors” are needed.
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Jeremy Chabriel, Florence Mezzara, Alex Balaganskiy, Rosa Voto, Frank Moylan, Katalin Hegedus
Director: Ariel Kleiman
Genres: drama, family relationships, utopia/dystopia
Synopsis: The character played by Cassel starts with a bombed out rubble of a building and builds a compound. Once built he gathers damaged females one by one and becomes a patriarch of a commune compound with he as the sole adult male and a group of females and their children. He trains the kids from a young age to be lethal assassins that do jobs for him that he acquires from his criminal connections in the other very run-down buildings nearby. The plot mainly focuses on the relationship between Cassel and his oldest son, who looks about 10-12 years old, who idolize each other. The boy looks up to the dad and wants to please him – until a situation develops between the dad and one of the kid’s younger brothers.
Impressions: This movie is so different from and better than I thought it would be. It’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller as the plot develops. Cassel is excellent, as he always is. So is Jeremy Chabriel, the French-Australian kid who plays Alexander the oldest boy. The landscape is sterile and it has the feel of desperation outside of the compound walls. What seems at first like an idyllic oasis in the middle of hell takes on a more sinister aspect over time. It’s a movie that has you thinking about it long after it’s over.
Etc.: filmed in Tbilisi, Georgia (the country) and Morning Star Estate, Mount Eliza, Victoria, Australia; some scenes of disturbing violence
Awards: 2 other wins and 14 other nominations
Juliet of the Spirits (1965)
Starring: Giulietta Masina, Caterina Boratto, Alba Cancellieri, Valentina Cortese, Rosella De Depio, Sylva Koscina, Sandra Milo, Mario Pisu
Director: Federico Fellini
Genres: relationships, fantasy, cerebral
Synopsis: A wealthy Italian wife tries to make the perfect home for her husband, but his philandering ways have his eyes elsewhere. The movie focuses on Juliet’s “hero’s journey,” but Fellini is very creative in how the journey takes place.
from netflix/dvd.com site:
Filled with fantastic imagery, her adventure is a woman’s journey into dream, memory and spirit.
Impressions: Quality filmmaking. The vision of the director and how he is able to manifest that vision is memorable. It’s fairly slow-paced but overall a lot does happen. Giulietta is perfect in the role of the desperate and seeking neglected housewife. There is a colorful supporting cast that livens things up.
Etc.: Italian movie with English subtitles; Director Fellini said he took LSD in preparation for making this movie. The main character, Juliet, is played by Fellini’s real-life wife (Giulietta Masina.) This was Fellini’s first full-color feature film. Erotic and surreal imagery throughout.
Awards: Nominated for 2 Academy Awards; 11 other wins and 3 other nominations
I am Love (2009) aka Io sono l’amore (in Italy)
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Alba Rohrwacher, Pippo Delbono, Maria Paiato, Diane Fleri, Waris Ahluwalia, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marisa Berenson
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Genres: drama, family relationships, romance, LGBTQI+
Synopsis: Italian textile family that has built an empire looks picture perfect on the surface. Everyone has their place. Everyone has their role. Things roll along like a well-oiled machine – until love comes in and throws sand in the gears.
Impressions: Cinematography is fantastic. It shows how the ultra-rich live. The next best thing to living it is to see it depicted in film that you can vicariously experience. The home is magnificent. There are country scenes up in the hills that are breathtaking. Lots of the plot revolves around cooking and eating. Yummy! There are a couple of really well-done erotic scenes.
Etc.: Italian movie with English subtitles; Tilda Swinton had to learn how to speak both Italian and Russian for this role. This is the 5th movie that Swinton and director Guadagnino have made together. It took 11 years to get it made.
Awards: Nominated for 1 Academy Award; 16 other wins and 45 other nominations