Le hérisson…est un film magnifique!

This tender and heart-warming film is my foreign movie pick-of-the-week.Set in modern-day Paris, it touches delicately on the emerging existential angst of a young pre-teen girl from a wealthy family and the joy of unexpected friendships. Frech movie. English subtitles. Worth seeing…twice!

Renee is the concierge (janitor) of a grande Parisian apartment building and conforms perfectly to the expectations of the residents; she is uncultured, bad-tempered and invisible. But Renee has a secret, her life as concierge is a facade. Behind closed doors she is a connoisseur of literature and the arts and is, in many ways, far more cultured than the wealthy people who employ her.

Paloma is a young girl tired of her mother’s neuroses, her father’s absence, her older sister’s self-centredness and she has decided that, on her twelfth birthday, she is going to kill herself. Paloma says that it is not how you die, but what you are doing when you die that is important; she will be making a movie about life. It is from behind the lens of her camera that she discovers Renee and finds, at last, a friend. Add to the mix the arrival of an elegant Japanese man, a goldfish and Paloma’s beautiful ink drawings which spring to life as line animations, and there is a heart-warming, life-affirming film that makes me wish I was able to read French so that I can go buy the book that inspired it. I loved it!!!! It even has a twist at the end!

What more could you ask for?!

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Verbal threats of grievous bodily harm…

The only thing that makes beat-em-up blow-em-up macho movies worth the time it takes to watch their gap-infested story lines and content poor dialogue, are those once-in-a-while one-liner threats of grievous bodily harm. My favorite of the week went something like this…”If you don’t (act of life-threatening stupidity), I’m going to shove my fist so far down  your throat that you’ll taste my armpit hairs.” Such charm, such class!

Not that I am opposed to macho action movies at all! I am quite open minded when it comes to movies with eclectic tastes that range from the big blockbuster right down to little indie art house films, foreign language films and Aussie classics, black and white, Western, Anime and musicals. There is very little I won’t consider watching (though I am ruthless with junk- a movie gets ten minutes from me and if it is rubbish, it gets the flick- I have wasted too many hours watching movies that really shouldn’t have made it off the cutting room floor!), though I have never managed to venture into the horror genre much! I don’t like to be frightened- ever! I’m not talking about that biting your nails feeling you get when you watch an edge-of-your-seat thriller like “Shutter Island” or “Dead Again” but the fear-mongering horror movies that make you afraid to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night- I hate those. They don’t even get a look in!

There are some movies I’ll watch just because an actor is in them….Kenneth Brannagh, Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, James MacEvoy, Cate Blanchette, Daniel Autieul, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Colin Firth, Juliette Binoche, Tim Robbins, Denzel Washington, Kristen Scott Thomas (she’s done some great French movies too!), Geoffrey Rush, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Audrey Tatou, Rhys Ifans, Hugh Jackman, Sean Penn, Johnny Depp….people who are good at their craft, who speak the language of story telling, who suck you in until you have forgotten that the gay statesman he played in the last movie is the same person who is watching his family fall apart in the one you’re watching tonight, that the South African running around in the bush last year is the same as the middle-class suburban salesman whose life is imploding in front of him or the mental patient whose life is a fantasy. There are dozens more who usually deliver and hundreds of others who are perfect for those specific genre movies that you need on a Friday night with friends, or for a family movie on a rainy saturday afternoon.

I watch dozens of them! I have foresworn television and it’s 40 minute mini-plots and rehashed story lines and EXCESSIVE advertising. The two Tv shows I do enjoy, I watch online or when they come out on DVD. I do have to wait a bit longer to see them, but no cliffhangers….no adverts! Seems like a fair trade off to me. And there are plenty of movies to watch in the meantime…for free…

…because, like my other passion, they are freely available to borrow from my local library. I can borrow one for every night of the week (which I frequently do) from any one of five or six categories. My Local has a fantastic selection of foreign films as well as Hollywood dollar-earners. Anime, they’ve got it. Swedish cult movies…got it (I saw the original “Let the right one in” before “Let me in” was released in Hollywood) I use the online catalogue to get in early and reserve the ones I want to watch and they send me a nice little SMS to tell me my ship(disc) has come in and voila….new release DVD’s at my fingertips. They even have Blu-Ray! AND NO ADVERTS! And it’s legal…because we all know that ‘Australia makes great movies and what we’re really burning is the future of our movie industry.’ 🙂

So what about you? Do you love movies? What are your faves? Any recommendations? This week I was really impressed by ‘Trans America’, the first movie I’ve seen where a female actress played a male playing a woman…it was thought-provoking and heart-wrenchin, and controversial..but I’m cool with that…thinking happens to be one of my favorite past-times….they say it helps prevent Dementia in later life…if only I could remember what I was talking about…

Precious

I watched this movie last night.

I watched it and I cried.

I cried and I raged and I cried some more.

Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire, this screenplay visits some of the darkest and yet, most ‘real’ places I have been taken to by a work of fiction. It is the heartbreaking story of Precious (played by Gabourney Sidibe), an obese sixteen year old and the crucible of abuse and worthlessness from which she must rise.

I was blown away by the gritty, no-holds-barred look at the realities of this illiterate teenager’s life- hated by her mother, raped and impregnated by her father, rejected or ignored by society and cut off from the means of improving herself- and her slow and painful journey to a more hopeful place. Having said that, the horrific abuse she suffers is more implied than seen (though you see more than you’d want to) and the director(Lee Daniels) has cleverly woven the fabric of Precious’ own fantasy world to mask, as Precious herself does, the visceral shock of seeing this girl ripped to shreds at the hands of those who are supposed to love and care for her.

Gabourney Sidibe is heartbreaking and believable as Precious, no small feat when you see how little she herself resembles the character in all but the physical sense. Mo’Nique gives a harrowing performance as the mother and Paula Patton shines as Ms Rain. Mariah Carey plays the social worker and Lenny Kravitz makes an appearance as Nurse John. There is little or no ‘dressing up’ of this story and the actors themselves remained largely unadorned (Mariah Carey performed with no make-up at all or with bags added under her eyes to make her look washed out and tired) and the result is a gut-wrenching, documentary like feel that lets you know that this work of fiction is art imitating life, that thousands if not millions of young women face these realities each day, hate themselves this much, long for a better life with this much passion.

Precious moved me, woke me up, healed me even. This movie was amazing. Shocking. Precious.