La Belle Verte - The Beautiful Green

"Who wants to go to Earth? No one? They're primitive, they still use cars and computers." Aliens

"Who wants to go to earth? No one? They're primitive, they still use cars and computers." Aliens


☆☆☆☆Enlightening

La Belle Verte - The Beautiful Green (1996) is a thought provoking Sci-Fi comedy.

Directed and starring Coline Serreau.

Starring Vincent Lindon and a very young Marion Cotillard.

Basically, you have a very funny Sci-Fi comedy written by members of Green Peace, NASA and French Satirists. I had to download the English subtitles to help with all the dialogue within each scene. I'm quite sure that there is even more humor and subtext that the English subtitles missed.

The broad and absurd comedy is where this film really shines. Take the scene below where an entire football game's players are transformed by Coline's telepathic abilities into dancers filled with love for all. The audience at attendance doesn't know whether to have their usual game riot or dance along with the transformed players. The slapstick comedy within this scene and throughout the film can be understood by any audience member in the world. Coline subtle use of holistic views through comedy to inform us is similar to Kim Ki Duk subtle use of Buddhist philosophy through drama in his film, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring (2003). Both films have a beautiful message that is unique and effortless.

The film gets you thinking about what we value in our lives. Instead of preaching and judging us for our materialistic culture we are lightly tapped on the shoulder with comedy. As an audience member I laughed most in the slapstick scenes that I could relate to what the characters were arguing and struggling with in their own lives. A wonderful film that is both entertaining and enlightening.



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Trivia - Coline composed the original music score.

Lola Rennt - Run Lola Run

"The ball is round, the game lasts 90 minutes, everything else is pure theory. Off we go." Herr

"The ball is round, the game lasts 90 minutes, everything else is pure theory. Off we go." Herr

☆☆☆☆☆ Classic

Lola Rennt - Run Lola Run (1998) is high octane fun.

Directed by Tom Tykwer.

Starring Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu among others.

If you are into Time Travel or alternate outcomes this is your kind of movie. The pace is fast and unrelenting from the opening screen credits to its very end. Pay close attention to every visual cue, for each has a profound meaning depending on which narrative the story veers into.

I've attached below the entire opening of the film, so you can get a sense of what is in store throughout the film. Tom breaks all the rules of film openings and editing in this film. Basically, the opening prepares you for the madness that ensues as Franka Potente tries to save her boyfriend Moritz Bleibtreu. Franka has to run through 3 different scenarios to see which one helps her achieve her quest. Small characters throughout not only help her, but their own stories are told in photo montages.

Tom creates a visual feast as well as a tight story line with split second edits that add depth and weight to Franka's journey. As an audience member I was completely and utterly engrossed in Franka's journey. You don't need to read the subtitles to follow the story, which to me is the mark of a great director. Film is a visual medium that needs no words to tell its story.



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Trivia - Franka could not wash her red colored hair for the entire seven weeks of filming, so as not to lose the intense color.



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Bob Le Flambeur - Bob The High Roller

"Possibly, I will sue the police for damages." Bob

"Possibly, I will sue the police for damages." Bob


☆☆☆☆☆ Masterpiece

Bob Le Flambeur (1956) is a deceptively simple crime drama that revolutionized film making.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

Starring Roger Duchesne, Isabelle Corey, Daniel Cauchy among many others.

Melville's Bob Le Flambeur inspired and started the entire French New Wave of film makers. Study this film and you will see all the film elements that are now standard in modern films.

When I first viewed Bob, I was not all that impressed with Bob to be honest. It was just so simple and straight forward to my modern eyes. That is until I looked at the date it was made (1955). When watching a film you have to pay attention to when it was made, so you can compare it to other films made during that era and afterwards. When I'm watching an older film like Bob, I'm looking at it with a set of unspoken guidelines that modern films of my era have instilled in me. Thus, when I see a picture like Bob which was made before I was born, I see the beginning of the unspoken guidelines that modern film makers have instilled in me as audience member. Some of Bob's landmark film making techniques used today are: Bob was filmed using a hand held camera (Steven Soderbergh), uses gritty out door scenes(Martin Scorsese), violence away from camera(Alfred Hitchcock), existential ending (Paul Thomas Anderson), etc... With Melville's, Bob, you see all of these modern guidelines that film makers now use on their audiences.

The whole point of Bob is that a man (a criminal in this case) has to have a set of values, morals and ethics that he has to follow zealously to be respected by all men and women. It is such a simple character trait, but it makes Bob into a hero instead of the petty criminal. Bob's criminal and gambling traits drive and motivate every minute of his existence. The slot machine in his closet is played by him even after a losing night of gambling.

In the scene below, Bob played to perfection by Roger Duchesne and the sexy, seductive flower girl is Isabelle Corey. Isabelle steals almost every scene she is in throughout the film with her sensuality. Look at how she gazes at Roger. Corey layers an unfulfilled longing  into a simple nude scene in bed. Considering how strict the film codes were at that time I was surprised that these provocative and suggestive nudes scenes were kept in the original cut of the movie.

Anyways, I'm trying to understand why a flower scene occurs twice in this film. Bunuel gave this type of director hint to his audience in Belle De Jour - Beauty Of The Day (1967). Melville is saying something secretly to his audience. I will need to watch several more of Melville's films to see if he uses flowers again. A great movie to watch with an ending that is really amazing which ensures it will play on forever.



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Trivia - Melville auditioned and rejected Alain Delon for Paolo, fearing he would steal the film.



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A Bout De Souffle - Breathless

"Are you afraid of getting old? I am." Patricia

"Are you afraid of getting old? I am." Patricia


☆☆☆☆☆ Masterpiece

A Bout De Souffle - Breathless (1960) There was before Breathless and there was after Breathless.

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg.

With one brilliant editing idea to solve an overly long film, Godard ushered in the modern movie era with its revolutionary use of "Jump Cuts" (a cut in a moment within a scene, regardless of continuity to the scene or next moment within the edited scene).

Godard was not satisfied with the long version of the Breathless and his  asked mentor, Jean-Pierre Melville (who's film, Bob Le Flambeur (1956) had influenced his own film making aspirations)). Melville is considered the Godfather of The French New Wave, of which, (Breathless is one of the key films) for advice. Jean-Pierre suggested to Godard that he should cut scenes entirely, including his own (Melville plays the writer who is interviewed by Jean Seberg's character). Godard in a flash of inspired genius created the cut within scenes or "Jump Cuts". Melville is said to have declared the cuts, "Excellent" and the modern film was born. Breathless is to cinema what Marlon Brando is to modern acting.

Jean-Paul Belmondo is what makes Breathless, so... Breathless. Belmondo is playful, arrogant, but above all a likable killer. My only gripe with Godard's film, is that he doesn't properly explain, visually to the audience Belmondo's signature character trait(the swiping of his thumb across his lips). My first, second and third viewings of Breathless left me erroneously blaming Belmondo. I have a Method Acting background that requires me as an actor to fully express any and all character actions in a way that audience members can easily comprehend and or relate. As audience member I knew the action was  somehow related to Humphrey Bogart and his movies. Belmondo's character was constantly quoting from and trying to emulate Bogie's fictional persona in his own life. It wasn't until I researched Humphrey Bogart and discovered that Bogie had a natural tick which caused him to swipe his lips with his thumb. With this new insight I watched Belmondo's work again and discovered that it was Godard at fault for me as an audience member not being able to understand Belmondo's swipe. What Godard had needed was a scene from a film where Bogie swiped his lips and Belmondo imitated this action silently in a movie theater. Godard does have Belmondo swipe his lips with his thumb, as he looks at Humphrey's movie poster outside a movie theater, but I as a modern audience member, who has never observed Bogart do his natural tick in a movie could not put the two together on my own. What is strange is that when Jean's character rubs her thumb across her lips at the end of the film as an audience member, I immediately understood that Jean's character had taken on Belmondo's persona.

In the scene below, there are no "Jump Cuts", but there are "Jump Cuts" within the overall larger apartment scene that this scene is a part of. The scene below really captures the incredible chemistry between Belmondo and Seberg. They are both mesmerizing to watch.

One last point about Breathless, is that it truly is a film made by a collaborative team. It's the collaboration between director, actors, cinematographer and editors. It was made as they went along. Godard would write new scenes and give them in the morning to the actors and everyone involved would contribute as they shot it. This is a great film, that looks as good today as anything Quentin Tarantino makes. Enjoy!



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Trivia - Godard fed the actors their lines as he was filming. To give their performances more spontaneity.





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Robert De Niro Audition For GodFather II

"I make him an offer he don' refuse. Don' worry." Vito

"I make him an offer he don' refuse. Don' worry." Vito

Winning Audition

Robert deniro original audition for The GodFather II (1974)

Directed by Francis Ford Copolla.

Starring Al Pacino, Robert Deniro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Lee Strasberg and others. 

Here is an interesting audition of Robert De Niro for the part of Sonny Corleone in The GodFather II. The part of sonny eventually went to James Caan. Robert De Niro played the young Vito Corleone and won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrail of the young Vito.

What I find interesting in this audition as an actor is how Robert forgets his dialogue and covers it up by repeating the same words, "You Get His " at about the 10 second mark. By repeating the same words again more forcefully it jars your memory back into the moment of the scene. Never, ever stop a scene to restart, because you forgot your lines. Just do what De Niro does in this forgetful moment during an audition and all will be well. Usually it colors the lines and scenes in new ways and shows the director that you can handle a hickup or two under pressure.
The other thing I notice is that in the second take he laughs off the moment he just finished which relaxes the auditioners. Always stay easy going, no matter what happens in an audition. It really helps the auditioners like you and leads to call backs.
Robert has a lot of nervous energy during his audition here. This nervous energy never shows up in his work.
Anyways, glad to see Robert is as human as the rest of us.
Enjoy!


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Trivia - Robert prepared for the role of Vito, by living in Sicily for a time.

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

"Before he was evil and my enemy; now he is evil and my friend." Alec

"Before he was evil and my enemy; now he is evil and my friend." Alec


☆☆☆☆☆ Masterpiece


The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1965) is a cold, bleak, dark look into the real spy game.

Directed by Martin Ritt from a John Le Carrè novel.

Starring Richard Burton, Claire Bloom and Oskar Werner among others.

Richard is the head spy in Berlin during the Cold War in a stunningly simple, but complex role. Ritt uses greys, and blacks to convey a bone chilling, drab, bleak existence for Richard and his counterparts.

What I enjoyed most about the directing was the slow unfolding of story, plot and character. Martin's style of directing drew me in and never let me go. Richards acting was subdued as was his magnificent vocal instrument.

In the scene below Richard does a Edward Snowden; MI6 style of course. Its a beautifully simple, but effective scene that adds to the plot later. Each scene develops the story and especially the plot and moves the story and makes it as riveting to watch as any James Bond or Jason Bourne action film. Some films sneak up on you and never let you go, this is one of them.



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Trivia - Claire Bloom was 34 when she played the teenager Nan Perry.



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Mou Gaan Dou I - Infernal Affairs I


"By the way, whoever loses the game, dies." Superintendent Wong

"By the way, whoever loses the game, dies." Superintendent. Wong

Masterpiece

Mou Gaan Dou I - Infernal Affairs I (2002) is a Hong Kong Cinematic Psychological Masterpiece.

Directed by Wei-Kueng Lau and Alan Mak.

Starring Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang and Eric Tsang.

Andy and Tony play moles for different organizations. In the scene below, Tony (the one with cast on his arm) is a mole in a Chinese Triad in Hong Kong for the Police Department. Andy (the one seated with head phones) is a mole in the Police Department in Hong Kong for a Chinese Triad. Each is trying to not only compromise the departments they have infiltrated, but trying to stay alive, keep their sanity and please their demanding, ruthless bosses (Anthony and Eric) in a non-stop, heart pounding, jaw dropping film from beginning to end.

Think of the Jason Bourne films with their relentless pace set in a psychological rather than a physical action drama. Mayhem and Chaos are intertwined from moment to moment. You never know where the plot or the story will take the characters. This film requires multiple viewings to catch all the subtle plot twists and turns. There are two additional films that are equal if not better than the original.

What makes this one of the greatest films ever made is that they use Zen to illustrate how we humans can be both good and evil depending on our circumstances. Western audiences will miss the Zen aspect if they are not familiar with Zen Philosophy. Western audiences will still enjoy the plot twists, but the deeper meanings will not be understood. Infernal Affairs is a mind bending experience that has to viewed closely, multiple times to catch all the flipping between good and evil that every character goes through to stay alive. Good guys become evil, bad guys become good and vice-versa in a never ending duel for survival. The film makes you question the rigidity of classical right and wrong. This movie has only grey areas. The beauty of the directing, story, plots and acting is that like ZEN they all maintain a masterful subtlety of balance. No preaching, or heavy handed, moralistic viewpoints. Just pure human survival interactions.



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Trivia - Lee Sum Yee - the psychiatrists name, is a Cantonese homophone for "Your Psychiatrist" 



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Carlos

"My name is Carlos. You may have heard of me." Carlos

"My name is Carlos. You may have heard of me." Carlos




Masterpiece

Carlos (2010) is an epic account of the life of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the Venezuelan Terrorist, better known as Carlos The Jackal.

Directed by Olivier Assayas.

Starring Edgar Ramirez, Alexander Scheer, Fadi Abi Samra among many others.

The film Carlos started as a 5 1/2 hour, 3 part TV mini-series that was turned into a 2 part cable pay-per-view series, then a one part theatrical movie. Carlos is a masterpiece of directing, story telling and especially acting. I watched the entire uncut 5 1/2 version and completely mesmerized for 5 1/2 hours.

Edgar in the role of a life time worked hard on the minute character details that make his performance astounding, even Epic. As an actor what caught me was Edgar flair with languages, 5 to be exact in this film. I did a little reading up about Edgar and discovered he was fluent in those 5 languages. It really helps in bringing truth to his character. His words come out, Trippingly on the tongue, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet. Then there are the constant physical transformations Edgar goes through to portray Carlos from his mid twenties to his mid forties. Again as an actor I was in awe of Edgar's transformations, especially the 35 pounds he gained and lost during the filming. Edgars transformation and performance are on par with Marion Cotillard's work in Olivier Dahan's La Mome - La Vie En Rose (2007).

While watching Carlos I got the sense that director and actor where one, working as a team to bring out the real Carlos. It is a terrifying portrait of a man and his inhumanity towards others who did not share in his beliefs and values. In the scene below watch how Edgar seduces Nora Von Waldsatten with just a look. As an audience member I felt seduced.



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Trivia - In The Jason Bourne book series, Carlos the Jackal, is his nemesis. 



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Le Samourai

"There is no greater solitude than that of the Samourai's, unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle." The Bushido

"There is no greater solitude than that of the Samouri's, unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle " The Bushido


Masterpiece

Le Samourai (1967) is a master filmmakers crowning jewel.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

Starring Alain Delon, Francois Perie and Nathalie Delon.

Le Samourai can best be described as a minimalists study of a solitary assassin's isolated life. I've attached the opening scene below to illustrate and illuminate the minimalists visual style. Look at the greys and blues in the scene below, it sets the tone and mood of the film. The cigarette smoke that lingers in the air over Alain Delon, who we suddendly realize is lying in bed, fully dressed. Delon is like a tiger in the jungle; silent, isolated and solitary, waiting for his prey.

Melville's quote in the opening credits from The Bushido does not exist, Jean-Pierre made that quote up himself. Melville intrigued me so, I read up on him. Melville was in the French army when Germany invaded France in WWII. So, when France put down its arms peacefully, Melville, went to Britain to fight against Hilter. Melville, became a hero for The French Underground who were fighting the Germans occupying France.

After the war when the French film unions would not let him join, he began his own film production company. Melville started making films without permission from writers he had taken material from and filmed on location (a rarity in France at the time) without French Film Permits. Melville went on to inspire The French New Wave filmmakers.  Melville, goes on to play the writer in Jean-Luc Godard's French New Wave masterpiece, A Bout De Souffle - Breathless (1960). Later, Melville would renounced the very French New Wave movement he had inspired.

Alain, could be considered Melville's film alter ego, like Alfred Hitchcock's film alter ego was Cary Grant. Alain like Melville was a military man and not one to follow rules. Alain fought in Indochina as a French Marine. He was discharged from the Military after many fist fights with superiors. Alain, is oh so subtle in this film. This guy never took acting classes, but he was a born Method Actor. I love watching his thoughts run across his face as he carefully listens to his scene partners.

The producers of the James Bond films should have hired Alain to replace Sean Connery when Sean retired from the franchise. Ian Fleming wrote that James Bond's mother (Monique Delacroix Bond) was French. A French/Scottish lad working for Her Majesties Secret Service. The irony and background story would have been priceless. At only 5'10" he would have been on the short side, but Alain would be the same height as Daniel Craig, who is very much in the vain of Sean Connery, albeit with blond locks.




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Trivia - The opening quote from The Bushido Book does not exist, Melville made it all up.



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Ai No Korida - In The Realm Of The Senses


"A girl like you can stab a man's heart without a knife, huh?" Kichizo to Sada

"A Girl like you can stab a man's heart without a knife, huh?" Kichizo to Sada

Masterpiece


Ai No Korida - In the Realm of the Senses (1976) takes erotic passion to the outer limits.

Directed by Nagisa Oshima.

Starring Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda.

Ai No Korida, is as close as you can come to a feature film being porno. From the beginning this film dives into full, real sex and never looks back. The most amazing thing is that there is a deep and disturbing story lurking in the background that slowly emerges from within the sex. Each sexual encounter gets more intense, fetish and dangerous.

Nagisa pulls off the impossible by keeping the film sex from venturing into pornography. A feature film whose sex scene repeatedly cross into porno is La Vie D 'Adele - Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. Oshima avoids pornographic territory in his sex scenes, because the graphic sex is the story. Abdellatif's sex scenes have nothing to do with the his story. If you removed the sex scene's from Abdellatif's film it would not effect the story in the least. If you remove or shorten any sex scenes from Nagaisa's film you lose the story and narrative.

The lead actors Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda do an extraordinary job of revealing their inner selves through their sexual encounters. As an actor who has done many love scenes without going into real sex I found myself thinking about the research needed for the role. Sex scenes are as hard as comedy in terms of timing and subtext. If done wrong it looks fake and audience members will know, because they are human and have done sex many times before. In this case the sex is real, so as an actor you have to really open up your inner self, as well as your physical self.  The sex in each scene are real and graphic, so it will have to have meaning for you and your scene partner, so the audience can relate to the sex. As an actor I would only do a film role like this if I trusted the director to guide me. I would trust my scene partner to let go and go as far as I would dare go physically and mentally. I can't tell you how many times a director has had to recast a role, because actors could not get fully nude on a public stage. Think its easy to do a love scene in your birthday suit? Go ask your sister or brother to do a sex scene with you and have your mom or dad direct you both in front of your neighbors and relatives and friends. I have to tip my hat to Nagisa, Tatsuya and Eiko for making such a brave, open and utterly mesmerizing film. Ai No Korida - In The Realm of The Senses should be in your film library. Enjoy!


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Trivia - The film is based on a real story that happened in Japan in 1936.



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