Happy Friday: Nymphomaniac Chapter 6 Trailer – NSFW

Hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying Hanukkah. Well looky here, another Nymphomaniac appetizer. I thought after last week’s big trailer debut that was the end of the previews, but we get more.  Like Thanksgiving leftovers for your eyes. Things are looking really desperate for Joe/”Fido”(Charlotte Gainsbourg) in this clip; this will turn out to be a blue Christmas for her.

Chapter 6: The Eastern and the Western Church (The Silent Duck)

Quick Take: In the Realm of the Senses

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Watching this infamous piece of cinema from 1976 is exhausting, but not in the way you’d think. The plot, based on a true story, isn’t too complicated: Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda), a comely servant at an inn in 1930’s Japan becomes involved in a torrid love affair with the master of the house, Kichizo Ishida (Tatsuya Fuji). He pursues, she demurs, then the power flips, she dominates and ultimately kills him. This story is told in a repetitive manner which becomes draining of your attention. It’s all very well planned out; each scene moving the plot forward, lovely surroundings, and it’s incredibly, insanely sexually explicit. Nothing much is left out; it’s stunning in the forwardness and the great acting displayed. That’s the trick; Matsuda and Fuji’s performances are heartfelt, terrifying, moving, and they just happen to also be having sex.  It’s jarring throughout; I’m not going to claim that watching this is not unsettling.  There is a lot of imagery that is highly upsetting, but not in a standard pornographic mode.  Elder sex, food, toys, orgies; you have it all but it feels like it should be in this film.  The true story of two people who engage in risky public sex while drinking lots of sake can be explicit in content if produced well, which Nagisa Oshima did.  The audience for this film is limited; many would feel squeamish to watch alone or with others and many would find it boring. What would generally be considered pornography becomes banal when filmed with an intent on story in mind and attention to detail. Give this a look if you want a glancing take on the changing modes of Japanese society in the 1930’s intercut with an amazing amount of blatant real sex and terrible violence.

Happy Friday: Nymphomaniac Official Trailer – NSFW

It’s here!!! It finally came (sex pun, tee, hee)!!  The official, loud, dirty trailer for Lars von Trier’s newest film.  This looks like a whole lot of fantastic; all the pieces from the previous teaser trailers are meshing. He fit some Wagner into the clip too; heard the hammering dwarfs theme from Das Rheingold, nice.  I really can’t be objective about this film, I adore his work too much to be.  I figure if you can direct something like Manderlay and not have me torch your house, you’re doing something right. Even when I want to punch von Trier (the end of Breaking the Waves, come on now, really?) I still want to kiss him more for taking film to the next level.  Apparently this film is going to be 4 hours long; joy and happiness.

Update: YouTube took down the video due to the naughtiness. Boo-hiss! Vimeo has luckily posted it instead

Old (Film) School: Chocolat by Claire Denis

Originally Written in 2003

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The overlying essence of the film Chocolat is one of stagnation and entropy.  The character of France is the only person who seems to be comfortable with her surroundings and this is because she is a child.  Every other character possesses a volatile intensity that is a product of their position in Cameroonian society.

Stagnation is most evident when observing Aimée.  She is a vital young woman who is simply bursting to live a normal life. It is obvious that Aimée detests Cameroon, for she tries to keep her own traditions, while stubbornly  refusing to try new African ways. She also barely talks or relates with France; for she is too engrossed in her wistful dreaming of home. When she finally reaches out to Protée, she is rebuked for overstepping her boundaries.  It is as if Aimée is stuck in a narrow box in which she cannot be happy because she is not home and cannot make a home in such a rigidly defined locale.

The entropy of Chocolat is evident from observing the male characters. The white men are incredibly edgy because they know, deep down, that their occupation is unjust and will be short-lived.  Marc is fairly calm for he knows that the colony will not last.  The other white men express their uneasiness by acting superior to the black people and to women. Protée deals with the inevitable by acting stoically while being the consummate butler.  He knows the occupation will eventually end and he will then be able to live with the dignity which the white man had denied him.

Quick Take: Stories We Tell

stories-we-tell-trailer-0352013-182141Stories We Tell is a documentary directed by Sarah Polley about her family which explores the mysteries of memory.  This is a mesmerizing story told through interviews with her loved ones; the center being held by an amazing narrative provided by her father Michael.  The documentary shifts and moves into areas one would not expect, with Polley maintaining an always critical eye towards what she is trying to portray.  Few documentaries I have watched have such deft power of revelation without aiming to be sappy or shocking.  This documentary flows exquisitely, with such care given towards the participants that it is a triumph of love and understanding for Polley. The stories which comprise a family are often bittersweet but no less wonderful and magical, which this film conveys with acceptance.  This is a documentary which is subtle, calm and reflects on the complexity of life through an ordinary family, which in turn makes one realize that no family is ordinary.  All of our stories are intertwined and produce beauty and life.

Blue Jasmine

blanchettWoody Allen’s latest film centers on Jasmine, a divorced socialite who clings to the past as much as she clings to her Chanel boulcé jacket. Cate Blanchett’s treatment of this role is exquisite; a less skilled actor would have taken Jasmine into clichéd nervous-breakdown-woman territory.  Blanchett balances the mentally unstable woman’s affectations with sincere humanity, regardless of how thin the role could have been delivered. Her performance could be compared against Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence, Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia, or Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, in her sincere portrayal of mental illness.

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The casting of the film is uneven, but to be expected from Allen. He always starts with black screen titles and always casts popular Hollywood talents.  It was really fantastic to see Louis C.K. on the big screen, but honestly any actor could have played that role. C.K. did a fine job, it simply felt as if Allen wanted to put in the top comic for fun and nothing more.  The same could be said of the inclusion of Max Casella(Benny from The Sopranos), Bobby Cannavale (The Station Agent, Boardwalk Empire) and Andrew Dice Clay.  The afore-mentioned actors perform well with their material; it feels as though they were only included due to Allen’s whims.

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The story structure of past and present intertwining mirror Jasmine’s inability to move forward from her past. Her repetition of the same tales, her insistence on lavish creature comforts(first class airline tickets while broke) and her designer clothes shield her from the gritty reality of her present.  The character living in the present is Ginger(Sally Hawkins), Jasmine’s down-to-earth sister who begrudgingly takes her in after hard times arrive.  The two woman have love affairs but neither are fleshed out enough to elicit genuine emotion.  The use of Andrew Dice Clay as the deus ex machina feels cheap; it leads to an easily wrapped up ending that is not wholly fair to certain characters.   Regardless of the uneven tone of this film it is a welcome sight to see Clay still smoke his cigarette with flair and to witness one of Cate Blancett’s greatest performances.

Movie Theater Safety & Courtesy

Hi there Readers! This post is a little reminder about general movie theater etiquette and safety. Theater etiquette has become lax of late, which many are aware of.  Think about how often you go to a film and someone is chatting or texting throughout; not very courteous.  I went to see 12 Years a Slave, which I highly recommend, on October 23 and there were some curt words spoken between patrons over poor behavior.  One young gentleman had to firmly explain to a woman about why her texting was distracting.  Two others yelled at each other, “SHHHH, BE QUIET!” which was replied to with a “YOU don’t tell ME what to do!”  Ah, the pleasures of an NYC film audience.   I also had a mishap.

12 years a slaveUnfortunately, I had to duck out to the restroom about 45 minutes into the film.  As I was exiting the theater I tripped over something on the floor and fell directly on my face! Yes, I face-planted in a Times Square movie theater, not my finest moment.  I brushed myself off, ran to the restroom, washed off my blood and returned. Throughout the rest of the film I was flexing my right hand which was bruised and swollen. By the next day I went to the hospital, got a tetanus shot and had two broken fingers splinted.  This was the result:

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Don’t be like me folks, watch where you are going.  I also relocated from New Jersey to beautiful Kansas City this past week, which is taxing on broken bones. I won’t be able to make a fist or generally write legibly for a while. So next time you go to the theater, put your phone away, be quiet and for goodness sake be mindful of where you are walking.  Be safe and good to one another.  Peace!  🙂