Tuesday, June 12, 2007

siff hotties: melvil poupaud

The ninth installment of SIFF Hotties! (Previously, Hommes de Paris, Juan José Ballesta, Lee Young-hoon, Boys of Cashback, Quim Gutiérrez, Dasepo Sonyeon, Joseph Chang, and Joe Odagiri.)

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I don't know much about Melvil Poupaud, except that he started acting when he was still a kid. I saw him in last year's SIFF playing a young gay photographer in François Ozon's Time to Leave. His character finds out he has a terminal illness that will kill him in a matter of months and after coming to terms with it, sets about making things right in his life before he dies. It was a good movie. This year, he played a hot and very charming French man in Zoe Cassavetes's Broken English.

Beware, one of the movies below was so bad I walked out after half an hour! Guess which one.

Broken English. Rating: 5. I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Parker Posey plays a single woman in her mid-30s who's stuck in her life. She doesn't really like her job, and she can't seem to find the right guy. Then one night, she meets a hot French guy, and all her problems are solved! No, not really, but you should just watch the movie to find out what happens with her. I felt like the movie was a good reflection on how life doesn't always go the way you want, without being heavy at all. I love Parker Posey and she did an exceptional job, and Melvil Poupaud made me want a French man to come into my life and sweep me off my feet. Zoe Cassavetes also did a really good job with writing and directing her debut feature. Oh, and the soundtrack by Scratch Massive was spectacular too.

A Parting Shot (Pas douce). Rating: 4. A nurse, angry at life, tries to shoot herself, but ends up shooting and injuring a teenage boy instead. The boy is then unwittingly put into her care. The film follows her as she is transformed by her guilt and her interactions with the boy (who is also angry at life) into a better person. There were no surprises in this movie (aside from the moment she shoots the boy), but I quite liked it, because the study of her character was done very convincingly. It was short (at just under an hour and a half) and to-the-point, and it gave me a good sense of satisfaction after watching it.

Surveillance. Rating: 1. If I could give it a 0, I would. This was a terrible movie, probably the worst SIFF movie I've seen in all my years of SIFF participation. A teacher meets a tabloid photographer with a dangerous secret at a club and sleeps with him. When he leaves the photographer's flat, the teacher accidentally takes the photographer's phone with him (they have the same model phone). Pretty soon he finds he is being tailed by agents who may or may not be from the government, and they want that phone. I would tell you more, but I don't really have to. The plot was so familiar that the filmmakers needed to do something to it to make it interesting. Unfortunately, they failed. The basic premise the movie was built on was that there are hundreds of cameras everywhere, and at any point in time, you are being watched by at least a dozen of them. Thus, to illustrate this point, every scene is shot from several awkward angles, above, below, from here, from there, through different lenses, and then edited together to create a distracting mess. As if this wasn't bad enough, the narrative was cut up and arranged seemingly at random. I know what they were trying to go for, because the technique (rearranging the timeline) is used in lots of movies where you want to reveal information slowly, but the way they did it was completely unsuccessful, and by the third or fourth time I'd seen the same thing, I wanted to tear my eyes out and throw them at the editor. But all of this was so unnecessary because it was already obvious after 10 minutes what was going on that it seemed stupid that it still thought we were still in the dark and it was inching towards some great reveal. The writing was horrible, and the direction wasn't great either, so I don't know who to fault that the actors didn't do a terribly good job. Actually, it was probably a combination of all three, which is too bad because Tom Harper and Sean Brosnan (son of Pierce) are kinda hot. Of course, I suppose you shouldn't really take my word for it, since after 30 minutes, I could stand it no longer and walked out of the theater. Maybe the rest of it was great and I missed out, but I really doubt it. I really, really, really doubt it.

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