Mouchette (1967)

fuck bresson

By Franz

For years now, people have been hyping this one, telling me it’s one of the greatest films ever made and Bresson is one of the greatest directors. So, I finally saw this, and this was my first Bresson film, and I hated it. This film fucking sucked. And before somebody says “Go back to your Star Wars films!”, I want to make it clear that I love art film and I don’t mind slower paced films, 2001, The Master, Le Plaisir, Last Year at Marienbad and Walkabout all belong in my top 20 and I would hardly call those “fast paced”. So it’s not like I didn’t like this film because I’m not used to watching films like this, I grew up watching films like this! But this film sucked ass, and I’m going to explain why. This isn’t going to be a standard review, because I just couldn’t.

Nadine Nortier plays the lead, Mouchette, and she is extremely boring. She’s so goddamn bland, she has no personality aside throwing mud into the faces of other girls and being sad (I guess?). I have no idea where people are coming from when talking about her performance as “heart-breaking” or even emotional, I didn’t see any of that. Bresson is known for using amateur actors, and sure that’s a nice idea, but it also means you’re going to hire some terrible actors, they’r not amateurs for no reason. And the rest of the cast was as bland and terrible as she was, the guy who rapes her is trying to be drunk, but I didn’t even realize he should be drunk before he said he is, that’s how bad he was.

There isn’t a lot of talking in this movie, it’s to the point of making it stylized. However, it’s one of the things Bresson gets wrong completely. If you’re going to do something as stylized as that, yet trying to pass it off as real world, well, it’s not going to work. There are two directors that came to my mind, who may or may not have been influenced by this, but did it better: Jean-Pierre Melville and the greatest Finnish director of all time Aki Kaurismäki. The films of both directors are known for their sparing use of dialog, but they know how to make it work, they have never made “realistic films”. Melville’s movies have always been fantasy like, at times they were ridiculously naive and fantastic, because he made homages to the films he loved (American film-noirs), but he stylized the shit out of them. And when he made a more realistic movie, like Army of Shadows, he played by real world rules, it wasn’t stylized, it was gritty and ugly and people talked normally. And Kaurismäki has never made “real world” films, he’s made extreme realism, which is a term I just made up, meaning his films are something where we can mistakenly say that it’s like real world, but once we look at it for a while, notice nothing in it makes any sense in the real world. Nobody talks like his characters do, nobody acts like them, but he always gives us the world where these characters would and it makes sense.

Those directors created worlds where sparing dialog works, but Bresson doesn’t create a world, which is fine if you’re going to play by real world rules, but he doesn’t. Nobody talks, when they should be talking, people do things nobody would unless they’r retarded, it’s like Bresson is trying to both create a world but is so lazy he stops mid-way and in my mind, it fucks the movie up. The world should be realistic, but it isn’t, and it left me cold. I have no idea where Bresson was going with this film, I didn’t see anything he was trying to say with this film, it felt like an empty film. I’ve always said that I think that Godard is a self-indulgent asshole, but at least he was always trying to say something (I guess?), but I didn’t see what Bresson was trying to say with his boring, overly slow paced story? Was he trying to make us feel apathy in the rape scene because he didn’t develop the character at all? Maybe, but it seems like a lazy cop out. I don’t buy it, feels like he just didn’t know how to develop a character, you could have made it really interesting by showing that maybe Mouchette isn’t a very likable person, make her terrible, so the apathy in the rape scene would have been so much more interesting as we, the audience, wouldn’t know what to feel. Also, during the rape scene (which is terrible directed), she puts her arm on his back, showing she wants him, now that’s interesting, but since we know basically nothing about the character, I don’t what to say about it, every time it was beginning to get somewhat interesting, it killed itself because there was no character, they were just made out of cardboard.

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The Usual Suspects (1995)

usual

By Franz

This is going to have spoilers, so if for some reason you haven’t seen this movie or you some magical way don’t know the twist of the movie, skip to the overall sections near the end of the review (page 2)

This is one of those “modern classics” and while I really do enjoy this movie, I wouldn’t call this a “classic”. I’ve seen this a bunch of times and I just recently decided to re-watch it, mainly because I haven’t seen this in a couple of years. The first times I saw this, I really loved it, so did it hold up now? Well, let’s find out.

Characters/Performances

Kevin Spacey’s plays the lead Verbal Kint and he’s fucking great. This was during his “golden period” where anything he did was basically amazing. After American Beauty, he wanted to be a terrible actor and went on to do shitty performance after shitty performance (thankfully he’s been awesome in House of Cards). But anyway, Spacey’s very good in this. His performance is believable as a pathetic, naive, kind-of-a-loser. He’s charismatic and emotional and when the twist comes, it comes as a genuine surprise because of his performance was so believable. He’s good, but not American Beauty good.

There’s a lot of characters to talk about and all of them do a pretty damn good job. Benicio Del Toro is hilarious as the mumbling weirdo, Chazz Palminteri is wonderful as the tough cop, Kevin Pollock is funny and charming, Stephen Baldwin is okay as a semi-tough guy and Gabriel Byrne is fine. Honestly my favorite performance was Del Toro because he’s just so fucking weird and his voice is even weirder. The way he acts is just so perfect, it’s like he’s high during the whole movie. Baldwin is probably the most annoying of the bunch, but that may be because I think he’s a pretty awful actor. Byrne, while pretty good, is just kinda bland. They could have done a lot more with his character, but instead we get only a little bits and pieces of him. But he’s definitely not bad.

There really isn’t a lot to talk about, they’r all pretty good. Whatever.

Directing/cinematography/script/etc

Directed by Bryan Singer, the film is very intense. Or the last 10 minutes are at least. Honestly I was kinda disappointed by the film, sure it was entertaining, but after seeing the film couple of times, knowing the twist, the film is kinda meh. It’s fast paced and the events are very interesting and well-handled, but somehow I just wasn’t invested in it. But the last 10 or so minutes are fucking incredible. Even with knowing the twist, the directing, the writing an especially the acting in that scene is just wonderful. Singer handles the moment so well with the use of slow-mo and the slow build up to it all. It’s a classic scene for a reason, making the reveal of one of cinemas greatest twist so powerful and exciting. The moment when Spacey’s limb leg slowly turns to normal as he walks away is something I consider one of the most perfect ways to show the twist to the audience. Though I did feel they kinda dumb-ed it down when they just hammered the twist in with the fax machine things and couple of other things, it would have worked a lot better if they would have shown Palminteri looking at the wall and then the limb leg to normal thing. It would have been more subtle and effective. But whatever.

But like I said, the rest of the movie is just fine. It’s well written an acted, but the twist is really where the movie shines. If you’re a fan of mystery and/or crime films, you’ll probably see the twist coming, but it’s still a fantastic twist, even if everybody in the whole world knows it. I do feel kinda cheated considering 95% of the movie was just complete bullshit, but the writing was so entertaining that I didn’t mind.

The cinematography and the soundtrack are both fine, though I don’t feel the should get any special mention. Both were professional and effective, but nothing note-worthy. It looked and sounded fine, just like a film should.

Revolver (2005)

revolver

By Franz

Guy Ritchie is the not-so-good British version of Tarantino, but I will admit he has made two films I really liked: Snatch and, of course, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Everybody likes those films, but they’r right, those films are very funny, entertaining and have a fun old-school British crime thriller style mixed with some indie comedy. After Snatch, he made an awful film with his then wife Madonna, called Swept Away. It was shit, but I haven’t seen it fully, because it is shit. But I did see this fucking turd of a film, so I can at least review this. This is the incoherent mess known as Revolver.

I usually do my reviews in three sections (Acting, directing/script/etc and overall), but I’m going to do a different style here, because there is so much wrong about this. I’m just going to talk about the pro’s and cons of the film. But if this is the first film review you’ve read from me, trust me, I usually am not this hack-eyed.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers. If you want to know my opinion about this film without being spoiled, skip to the overall section at the end of this review, at page 3.

Cons:

The main problem of this film is simply, the script and directing. This is infamous on how ridiculously incoherent it is, how the plot not only makes any sense, but you have no idea what’s going on after the first twenty minutes. My sister saw this and told me to watch it, just so I could tell her what happened. And she’s a very smart woman, so yeah, I was expecting something complex, but it turned out to be just messy. It seems like they had a 300 page script and the film was going to be an epic crime film, at least two and a half hours in length, but it’s like they cut over a half of it out. After thirty minutes, the story starts gathering about a million different sub-plots that doesn’t feature any of the main characters, mainly just Ray Liotta’s hammy gangster and some Japanese dude. You really don’t give a shit about any of that, because they’r not the main characters. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem, a film should focus on more than just one or two characters, but when it focuses on them too much, to the point of seemingly forgetting Statham and the dude from OutKast, something’s not right. Especially when the performances are this poor, why would I care about Liotta when his acting is more scene-chewing than Nicolas Cages and Al Pacino’s cocaine addicted love child.