Good fun and definitely rewatchable zombie comedy. I am still unsure whether I find this or Shaun of the dead a better zom-com (although I still would take Dr S Battles The Sex Crazed Reefer Zombies over both of them).
An absolutely blinding title sequence and a fair hit count of good laughs helped me to enjoy this film a lot at the cinema and at times, it does look gorgeous, but I found it hard to escape the feeling that Jesse Eisenberg was essentially playing Michael Cera. While he did a decent job of this it felt a bit strange given that I was already getting a feeling of overkill with Michael Cera playing Michael Cera in his films.
By now everyone should know about the cameo, but I have to admit – I found it a massive disappointment. It is so forced and the only laugh it gave me (which was probably the biggest laugh to be fair) was in the character’s eventual death. The film is the perfect length so that it doesn’t feel too long and it’s great to see that a director can show restraint and knows when to finish a film before it gets too stale.
Overall, this film is definitely in my top 3 comedy films of 2009 and I highly recommend it, although at times the gags can be hit and miss possibly due to the high gag count. It looks really good for a comedy film and shows some moments of ingenuity, but may be guilty of trying to many tricks to gain it’s own style.
Michael Haneke’s Palme D’Or 2009 winner also came very high in a large number of film critics films of the decade. The plot of the film involves a school teacher recalling memories of the year that he met his fiancee, where a number of strange occurrences take place in a German village during the twelve months between July 1913 and 1914..
As seems to be the case with Haneke’s films, White Ribbon can be described as both ‘violent’, but also ‘subtle’. I recently decided to rewatch Cache, another Haneke film starring my favourite foreign actor and actress, Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche. On first watch I didn’t enjoy the film but I decided to rewatch because I realised I had missed a hell of a lot of the plot because a lot of things happen in the background, and unlike a Hollywood film, isn’t telegraphed. I expect White Ribbon to be similar to Cache in that respect and Haneke is definitely a director that commands attention.
I managed to catch this at the fantastic Hyde Park Picture House (my favourite UK cinema ever) late last year and while the movie is watchable, it is far from a great film. Paul Giamatti plays Paul Giamatti preparing for the Chekhov play “Uncle Vanya”. To deal with his growing anxiety regarding the role, he decides to follow up an advert in a newspaper to store his soul in a storage facility until the play is over. The plot is amazingly high concept, but it just doesn’t seem to work. It tries to be subtle, but then hammers home some comedy elements (as though the writer was questioning the audiences’ intelligence). Also, rare for a Paul Giamatti film, he is guilty of some horrific overacting.
In summary, despite a great concept, the film never lives up to its premise. Cold Souls tries to be intelligent, but doesn’t have the brains that it thinks it has.
Also out this week: A Serious Man – Survival of the Dead – Paranormal Entity
Michael Haneke has won the Palme d’Or for his acclaimed The White Ribbon (review by Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian). The film, described by IFC’s The Daily as “a two-and-a-half hour parable of political and social ideas set entirely in a north German village in 1913 and 1914”, marks the first Palme d’Or win for Haneke following a number of other awards successes for the German provocateur at the festival. He has in the past won prizes for Hidden, The Piano Teacher and Code Unknown, but this is his first win of the top prize.
Alain Resnais, an outside member of the Nouvelle Vague and creator of the time-warping masterpieces Last Year in Marienbad and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, was given the Special Jury Prize in honour of his Wild Grass (review by Daniel Kasman at The Auteur’s Notebook). The Grand Prix was given to Jacques Audiard’s The Prophet (review by Anthony Kaufman at indieWIRE). The director prize went to Brillante Mendoza for his violent drama Kinatay, already torn a new one by Roger Ebert. The eminent Chicago Sun-Times voice essentially opens his review with an apology to Vincent Gallo over his past assertion that The Brown Bunny was the worst film in the history of the festival.
Ebert goes on to say:
“After extensive recutting, the Gallo film was redeemed. I don’t think editing is going to do the trick for “Kinatay.” If Mendoza wants to please any viewer except for the most tortured theorist (one of those careerists who thinks movies are about arcane academic debates and not people) he’s going to have to remake his entire second half.”
Onwards with Cannes however, The Prix de Scenario for Best Screenplay was given to Feng Mei for the Lou Ye-directed Spring Fever (review by Sukhdev Sandhu at The Telegraph). That has itself been surrounded by controversy over the decision by Ye to screen the film in Cannes without the approval of the Chinese government.
The Camera d’Or for Best First Feature was given to Australian Warwick Thornton for Samson and Delilah (interview here and review, by The Telegraph’s Sandu, which indicates the love to have come for this film), his indigenous realist drama.
Very nicely, the Prix du Jury was given to Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank (review by The Guardian’s Bradshaw) and Park Chan-wook’s horror film Thirst (review by Twitch’s Todd Brown). Arnold, whose outstanding Red Road won the Jury Prize in 2006, had been tipped for a possible Palme d’Or this time round but will instead have to settle for outstanding reviews yet again.
The acting honours provide the most curious choices. Tarantino’s lukewarmly received Inglourious Basterds (review by Spout’s Karina Longworth) saw Christoph Waltz take home the Best Actor Prize while Charlotte Gainsbourg won Best Actress for her performance in Lars von Trier’s hugely controversial Antichrist.
Probably the most notably absentees from the possible prize winners are Jane Campion’s Bright Star, her story of the love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawn, and Ken Loach’s fondly-tipped Looking for Eric. Bright Star was another beloved by critics in the UK while Looking for Eric didn’t quite live up to all expectations but was mostly liked too. Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, his follow-up to the equally loathed and admired Irreversible, seemed to spark little in the way of notice for those attending the festival, but did at least bring some searching analysis from those who did take notice.