2019 TIFF Movie Review: LE DAIM (DEERSKIN) (France 2019) ****

Deerskin Poster
Trailer

A man’s obsession with his designer deerskin jacket causes him to blow his life savings and turn to crime.

Director:

Quentin Dupieux

DEERSKIN (LE DAIM) is off kilter comedy best described as humour that is a cross between Jacques Tati and Yorgos Lanthimos.  The film is irrelevant and features comedic set-ups like a talking deerskin jacket and a killing fan blade. 

 The protagonist of the story is an odd enough character, Georges (Oscar Winner Jean Dujardin of THE ARTIST) that goes mental with his ultimate goal in life to be the only one to be wearing a jacket.  To achieve this aim, he has to kill of or steal from anyone with a jacket.  In addition, with a gift of a video camera, he poses as a filmmaker.  

When staying at a hotel after his wife leaves him, he meets an equally weird bartender, Denise (Adele Haenel0 who ends up being his film editor.  Director Dupieux (the little seen RUBBER) has the talent of observing the simple hilarity from everyday human behaviour.  And like the Jacques Tati comedies, LE DAIM can be watched again and again.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQQmm2tvJ9A

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2019 TIFF Movie Review: PORTRAIT DE LA JUENE FILLE EN FEU (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE) (France 2019) ***

Portrait of a Lady on Fire Poster
Trailer

On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.

Director:

Céline Sciamma

Writer:

Céline Sciamma (screenplay)

Set in 18th-century Brittany, Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows Marianne (Noémie Merlant), an artist commissioned by an Italian noblewoman (Valeria Golino) to paint a portrait of her reclusive daughter Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), who is soon to be married. The peculiar conditions of this assignment, however, require that Marianne never  announce to Héloïse the objective of her visit.  

Instead, Marianne is to escort Héloïse on walks, posing as a hired companion while closely observing her subject so as to render her likeness on canvas in secret.  

Though nothing much happens, the film includes scenes of exquisite beauty courtesy of the cinematographer  Claire Mathon who did STRANGER BYTHE LAKE back in 2013.  The shot of the facial expressions of the three women playing cards and the one with the household breaking into a chorus of song are incredibly moving.  

It takes 3/4 of the film before the two women embrace, and the segments are executed with grace and erotic taste.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64QcwARoZAM

Full Review: BPM (120 BATTEMENTS PAR MINUTE) (France 2017) ****

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BPM (Beats Per Minute) Poster
120 BPM. The average heart rate. The protagonists of 120 battements par minute are passionate about fighting the indifference that exists towards AIDS.

Director:

Robin Campillo

 

Best known for being Laurent Cantet’s (ENTRE LES MURS, VERS LE SUD) scriptwriter, Robin Campillo is also responsible for EASTERN BOYS, never released in Toronto but clearly the best gay film of 2003, along with STRANGER BY THE LAKE in close second that year.  His shooting techniques (example overhead shots of a crowd) of his films are familiar and are put to good use as in his new film.

While EASTERN BOYS dealt with East European call boys invading Paris, BPM covers another controversial if not more non-fiction topic.  120 battements par minute (beats per minute) centres on the French chapter of the protest organization ACT UP, and the dynamics, personal and public, amongst this disparate group of men and women affected by AIDS.  The film begins with one of its protests followed by a meeting that analyzes its effectiveness.  In it, Campillo introduces his characters, its two leaders before concentrating on HIV positive Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart).  Sean (pronounced ‘shirn’ en Francais) is a charismatic and very oratorical young militant who wades fearlessly into action, bolstered by the courage of his convictions.   To make his film more personal as well as effective, Campillo puts faces into the organization of ACT UP.  Sean meets (at a rally) Nathan and has sex, beginning a relationship.

The film comes complete with uninhibited sex scenes.  The one with Nathan and Sean in bed is extremely erotic with full nudity and celebration of hot bodies.  The other one in  contrast, in the hospital is extremely grim.  Campillo love of contrast, is also observable with one seen in the dark and another immediately following in bright light.

In terms of history and non-fictional events, the film logs the fight of ACT UP against Melton Pharm, the pharmaceutical company that refuses to release their lab results.  The film, in its most powerful moments re-enacts the debate between the ACT UP members and the organizers.  “I am dying, my count is 87, I cannot wait,” are the desperate words of the protestors.

The film’s best moment is the Thibault’s visitation of dying Sean in the hospital.  Thiboult the ACT UP leader is always fighting with Sean, a founding member. They always argue on key points with Sean often embarrassing Thibault in public.  “We don’t like each other, but we are friends,” are very meaningful words uttered by Thibault that hit home.

The film also documents different reactions to the ACT UP activities.  When they break into a school to pass on information about safe sex, one teacher is angry and adamant while another tells the class to listen to the important information.

BPM, one of the best films of TIFF is definitely also its most powerful one.  Those who are HIV positive have the member of ACT UP and other activist groups to thank for the progress made a of today.  The film is a tribute to these people.

For a film that deals with the topic of death, BPM is full of life.  A film that deserves to be angry for the fact that the privilege of living for many has almost been taken completely away.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fhO2A4SL24

 

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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: BPM (120 BATTEMENTS PAR MINUTE) (France 2017) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

BPM (Beats Per Minute) Poster
120 BPM. The average heart rate. The protagonists of 120 battements par minute are passionate about fighting the indifference that exists towards AIDS.

Director:

Robin Campillo

Stars:

Nahuel Pérez BiscayartArnaud ValoisAdèle Haenel

BPM, 120 battements par minute (beats per minute) centres on the French chapter of the protest organization ACT UP, and the dynamics, personal and public, amongst this disparate group of men and women affected by AIDS.

The film begins with one of its protests followed by a meeting that analyzes its effectiveness. In it, Campillo introduces his characters, its two leaders before concentrating on HIV positive Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart). Sean is a charismatic and very oratorical young militant who wades fearlessly into action, bolstered by the courage of his convictions.

To make his film more personal as well as effective, Campillo puts faces into the organization of ACT UP. Sean meets (at a rally) Nathan and has sex, beginning a relationship. The film also documents different reactions to the ACT UP activities. BPM, one of the best films of TIFF is definitely also its most powerful one.

Those who are HIV positive have the members of ACT UP and other activist groups to thank for the progress made as of today.

For a film that deals with the topic of death, BPM is full of life. A film that deserves to be angry for the fact that the privilege of living for many has almost been taken completely away.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fhO2A4SL24

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