Category Archives: Feature Film

FILM REVIEW: The Midwife (Provost, 2017): France

Posted and reviewed by Larry Gleeson

 

 

Cesar-award winning director, Martin Provost’s latest film, The Midwife, an official selection of the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival, is a bittersweet drama about the unlikely friendship that develops between Claire, a talented but tightly wound midwife, portrayed by Catherine Frot, and Beatrice, the estranged, free-spirited mistress of Claire’s late father, portrayed by Catherine Deneuve. Interestingly, Provost wrote his script with the two French actresses in mind for the lead roles of Claire and Beatrice.

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaal Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films

In a printed interview distributed by Music Box Films, Provost, having been saved by a midwife at birth, insists his film work is not autobiographical. After learning of his difficult birth he sought out the midwife who gave her blood that allowed him to live. His efforts turned up nil as the hospital archives were destroyed. Consequently, he decided to pay tribute, in his own way, by dedicating his film to her and through her to all the women who work in the shadows, dedicating their lives to others, without expecting anything in return.

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaâl Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films

The film’s opening scene delivery room’s color palette of pink and blue pastels contrasting with cross-cutting establishing shots of earthy tones foreshadow what unfolds in the film’s narrative as Provost unfolds the lives of two very different women.  A non-diagetic score by Gregoire Hetzel, the film’s musical composer, accompanies the scene and is repeated throughout in Claire’s scenes reminiscent of “Peter and the Wolf.” Meanwhile, a stunning mise-en-scene of daybreak is meticulously presented with an enormous tracking shot. A secondary, high, magnificent, omniscient point of view shot of Claire entering a building slowly tilts and pans to reveal the Porte Saint-Denis.

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaâl Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films

Another non-diagetic score, decidedly melancholic, accompanies the next scene as Claire hears someone at the door asking if she is the daughter of Olympic swimmer, Antoine Breton. It is Beatrice. And, this score is repeated in scenes with Beatrice. But, unbeknownst to Claire, Beatrice, living off winnings from illegal gambling dens, is destitute and quite possibly terminally ill. All of her life, Beatrice has lived casually, enjoying all that life has to offer with little regard for those around her much like La Fontaine’s Grasshopper from “The Ant and The Grasshopper.”

Yet, the two women slowly become a source of complementarity, of reciprocity, of wisdom. Their relationship is at the heart of the film: for Beatrice, the relationship becomes an opportunity to bring some light into Claire’s life while possibly gaining a better understanding of her own life; and for Claire the relationship becomes an opportunity to rediscover her second mother, the one she chose at a time she was just becoming a young girl.

With The Midwife, Provost introduces a powerful thematic question on what is freedom. On the surface, it appears, Beatrice is the ultimate purveyor of freedom living without boundaries and outside the rules of society. However, upon closer scrutiny, her reality echoes of escapism. For Beatrice, Claire, whose lifestyle Beatrice has always rejected, becomes a conduit for a lasting freedom with the opportunity to create good, loving memories that will live on in Claire’s mind.

Admittedly, some of the delivery room scenes in The Midwife are graphic. Nevertheless, the scenes create a remarkable sense of vulnerability and provide a bird’s eye view of the fragility of life. Ultimately, The Midwife is a story of transmission and of transformation with Claire receiving the light of Beatrice and with Beatrice achieving a deeper understanding that life without others is nothing. Catherine Deneuve is as regal as she has ever been. Catherine Frot emits a chilling performance until warmed over by Deneuve’s character performance. Costumer Bethsabee Dreyfus achieves a strong character sensibility in clothing the lead actresses. Thierry Francois’ production design is the epitome of realism as both actresses are performing in extremely realistic settings of a delivery room and an illegal gambling den.

The Midwife is scheduled to open in Los Angeles and New York on July 21st, 2017 and is highly recommended.

The MidWife

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Music Box Films Presents The Midwife

Posted by Larry Gleeson

 

 Presents

The MidWife

Written and Directed by Martin Provost (Violette, Séraphine)

Starring Catherine Deneuve, Catherine Frot (Marguerite, Haute Cuisine) and Olivier Gourmet (The Minister, The Son)

Opens in Los Angeles and New York on July 21st 

Official Selection: 2017 Berlin Film Festival

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaâl Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films
Catherine Deneuve, left, as Beatrice Sobolevski, and Catherine Frot as Claire Breton, in The Midwife. @Michaal Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films.

THE MIDWIFE, starring Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Frot in their first on screen appearance together in a moving drama about unlikely friendships, forgiveness, and the need for change, written specifically for them by director Martin Provost (Séraphine, Violette). THE MIDWIFE is scheduled to open in Los Angeles and New York on Friday, July 21st.

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaâl Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films
Catherine Frot as Claire Breton in The Midwife. @Michaal Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films

Claire (Catherine Frot-Marguerite) is a talented but tightly wound midwife and single mother on the cusp of losing her job as her small maternity clinic can’t compete with the nearby big hospital.  Béatrice (Catherine Deneuve), is the estranged, free-spirited but broken-down mistress of Claire’s deceased father looking for redemption.  Though polar opposites in almost every way, the two women come to rely on each other to cope with the unusual circumstances that brings them together.

THE MIDWIFE - © Michaâl Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films
The Midwife Director, Martin Provost. @Michaal Crotto/Courtesy of Music Box Films

Writer-director Martin Provost began his career as both a stage and screen actor and joined the prestigious Comédie Française theatre troupe in the 1980s.  After two shorts and first feature Tortilla y Cinema (starring Carmen Maura), his directorial breakthrough was Séraphine, about the self-taught artist Séraphine de Senlis, which went on to win seven César awards including Best Film and Best Actress for Yolande Moreau. Provost has also written several novels including Aime-moi vite, Léger, humain, pardonable, La Rousse Péteuse and Bifteck.  For THE MIDWIFE, Provost filmed in maternity wards in Belgium capturing real life births.

THE MIDWIFE is scheduled to open in Los Angeles and New York on Friday, July 21st.

Written and directed by Martin Provost. Cinematography by Yves Cape. Edited by Albertine Lastera. Produced by Olivier Delbosc. Starring Catherine Frot, Catherine Deneuve, Olivier Gourmet, Quentin Dolmaire, Mylène Demongeot.

Running Time: 117 Minutes
Language:French with English subtitles.
Rating: Unrated

(Sourced from press materials provided by Marina Bailey PR)

FILM REVIEW: Lost In Paris (Abel, Gordon, 2016): France

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson

With Oscilloscope Laboratories, Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon have pumped out their seventh film together, Lost in Paris.

Lost in Paris is a burlesque comedy, about a small-town Canadian librarian, Fiona, portrayed in a stellar performance by Gordon, whose life is disrupted by a letter of distress from her Aunt Martha, who is living in Paris. Fiona hops on the first plane she can only to discover Aunt Martha has disappeared. In a myriad of episodic disasters, Fiona encounters a strangely seductive and oddly egotistical vagabond, Dom, portrayed in an unmissable performance by Abel, who won’t leave Fiona alone.

Replete with memorable antics harkening back to early Hollywood films featuring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and French filmmaker, Jaques Tati, while mixing in a measure of poetic license with a slapstick-like choreography, Lost in Paris reveals a peculiar story of clownish characters finding love while lost in the City of Lights.

Utilizing a simple narrative within a framework of what appears to be an amateuresque investigation, Abel and Gordon allow their burlesque, larger-than-life characters’ physical performances to take hold and engage the viewers. Almost all the events take place over a period of two days and two nights with the characters bumping into each other almost constantly while in a heightened state of emergency mania.

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88-year-old, renowned French actress and Academy Award-nominee, Emmanuelle Riva, portrays Aunt Martha, a headstrong, independent, audacious and seemingly happy senior citizen on the verge of being placed into a nursing home.  Her freedom is non-negotiable. Aunt Martha represents liberty, lightheartedness and “joie de vivre” (exuberant enjoyment of life).

Fiona embodies a spinster librarian living in rural Canada. She becomes a wonderstruck tourist – lacking in life experience – as she stumbles through every step of her rather awkward journey. In contrast to Martha, Fiona has rarely done anything adventurous until she dives headfirst into Martha’s world. It becomes apparent Fiona is a Martha in the making as she understands Martha.

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Dom, on the other hand, is a selfish, conceited hobo who carries himself with a marked elegance despite his tattered and worn clothing. At first, his impulsiveness infuriates both Martha and Fiona. Yet, as the story unfolds, Dom becomes a liberating presence.

Interestingly, all the film’s characters are non-conformist – full of hope, resistance and innocence – while they evoke laughter, vulnerability and a sense of beauty. Actor Pierre Richard portrays Norman, an elderly, independent, charismatic artist who resurfaces three times throughout the film’s storyline, with an understated grace, humor and charm. A classic foot dance, in my opinion, Norman and Martha engage in, is a defining example of one of the film’s themes – that a sense of lightness doesn’t necessarily convey a sense of triviality or thoughtlessness, but rather a synonym for joy, liberty and vitality.

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Aesthetically, the filmmakers utilize a plethora of fixed shots, long takes and some highly artisanal special effects in Brechtian fashion. In addition, the film is set in Paris, a mythical city and a symbol of dreams and grandeur. Symbolically, Dom lives in a tent at the foot of the Statue of Liberty (a miniature replica). His daily environment is the I’lle aux Cygnes, a portal from which the historical center transforms into the modern city. On one side, there are stone bridges and the Eiffel Tower; on the other side concrete walls, express lanes and rows of skyscrapers. Nevertheless, the directors aren’t showcasing the city’s monuments solely for aesthetics, but rather for symbolic power and the poetic images conveyed as the characters move through the Parisian geography in real-time.

Lost in Paris, firmly anchored in contemporary society, opens in Los Angeles and Orange County today, July 7th, is a funny, poetic, heroic and sometimes pathetic piece about human beings who are knocked about by life and flail in order to exist….and who keep getting up one more time to live their lives on their own life’s terms.

Highly recommended.

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‘King of the Belgians’ selected for 2017 LUX Film Prize competition

Posted by Larry Gleeson
KARLOVY VARY / BRUSSELS, 2 JULY 2017. Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth’s fourth feature ‘King of the Belgians’, is one of the ten nominees of the European Parliament LUX Prize. The films have been carefully selected to provide a comprehensive panorama of the best current European cinema.
Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 4.07.55 PMThe official selection of the LUX Prize was announced this evening at a press conference at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival  in the Czech Republic. As one of the 10 nominated films, ‘King of the Belgians’ can count on additional promotional visibility on the various platforms of the European Parliament and partner organizations such as Cineuropa, Venice Days and Festival Scope. The film will also receive a special screening in the European Parliament.

A panel of 21 European film professionals will select three finalists from the selected titles, which will be announced on July 25th. They will be screened in more than 40 cities in the 28 member states of the European Union during the LUX Film Days and will be subtitled in 24 languages. The film that will win the LUX Prize is determined through a voting by the members of the European Parliament. The winner will be revealed at the plenary session in Strasbourg on November 15th.

In ‘King of the Belgians’, Nicolas III (Peter Van den Begin) is on a state visit in Istanbul when Wallonia, Belgium’s southern half declares its independence. The King must return home to save his kingdom. But a powerful solar storm disrupts all telecommunication and air traffic. The King and his entourage are now stuck in Istanbul. With the help of a British filmmaker they manage to escape from Turkey, incognito, hidden amidst a group of Bulgarian singers. Thus begins an odyssey through the Balkans in which the King discovers real life and himself.

‘King of the Belgians’ is the sixth Belgian film that receives an official selection since the foundation in 2007. ‘Le Silence de Lorna’ by the brothers Dardenne won the LUX Prize in 2008, while Felix van Groening’s ‘The ‘Broken Circle Breakdown’ was a favourite in 2013. The film did not only win the LUX Prize itself, but was also chosen by Europe’s film lovers as the winner of the LUX Audience award.

The nomination for the European prize is yet another addition to the flawless trail of ‘King of the Belgians’. The film had its world premiere last summer in the Orizzonti competition of the Venice International Film Festival, received its Asian premiere in Busan and was invited to Film Fest Gent in its own country. There were also stops in Valladolid, Tallinn, Zagreb, Dubai, Les Arcs, Gothenburg and Palm Springs. At the International Film Festival Rotterdam, ‘King of the Belgians’ managed to snatch the KNF Award – the prize of the Dutch film critics. In addition, the film was awarded the Global Vision Award at Cinequest and received a special mention in Chicago. Other premieres took place at festivals in Hamburg, Sofia, Sao Paulo, Thessaloniki, Cleveland and Sydney.

In the coming months, ‘King of the Belgian’ will continue to travel to Taipei, Perth, Croatian Pula and Munich bringing the sum up to over 50 festivals worldwide. The film has also been selected for the international competition of Odessa International Film Festival, (14 – 22 July) where it will be competing for the Golden Duke Award. In addition, sales agent Be for Films has sold cinematic rights to more than 25 countries including the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Russia, Canada, China and Japan. Television and VOD rights have also been purchased in over 15 territories.

‘King of the Belgians’ is a production of Bo Films in coproduction with Entre Chien et Loup (Belgium), Topkapi Films (The Netherlands) and Art Fest (Bulgaria). The film received support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), Netherlands Film Fund, Netherlands Film Production Incentive, Eurimages, Bulgarian National Film Center, Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Screen Flanders, Belgian Federal Government Tax Shelter, Casa Kafka Pictures, Casa Kafka Pictures Movie Tax Shelter empowered by Belfius and the Media Programme of Creative Europe.
(Source: Press release provided by Riema Reybrouck – Post Bills PR)

LOST IN PARIS opens July 7th in Los Angeles and June 16th in New York.

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Filmed in Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon’s signature whimsical style, LOST IN PARIS stars the filmmakers as a small-town Canadian librarian and a strangely seductive, oddly egotistical vagabond. When Fiona’s (Gordon) orderly life is disrupted by a letter of distress from her 88-year-old Aunt Martha (delightfully portrayed by Academy Award®-nominee Emmanuelle Riva) who is living in Paris, Fiona hops on the first plane she can and arrives only to discover that Martha has disappeared. In an avalanche of spectacular disasters, she encounters Dom (Abel), the affable, but annoying tramp who just won’t leave her alone. Replete with the amazing antics and intricately choreographed slapstick that has come to define Abel and Gordon’s work, LOST IN PARIS is a wondrously fun and hectic tale of peculiar people finding love while lost in the City of Lights.

 

 

 

(Source: Press material provided by Dina Makhlouf, Marina Bailey Film Publicity)

 

Don’t Tell

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Directed by Tori Garrett

Written by ANNE BROOKSBANK, URSULA  CLEARY, JAMES GREVILLE, STEPHEN ROCHE

Produced by SCOTT CORFIELD, IRENE DOBSON

Executive Producers TERRY JACKMAN, STEPHEN ROCHE

Starring JACK THOMPSON, ADEN YOUNG, SARA WEST and RACHEL GRIFFITHS

DON’T TELL is the story of a young woman who fought back after enduring sexual abuse at a prestigious private school. With a dogged and determined local lawyer by her side, Lyndal took on the powerful church that denied her abuse for over a decade. Based on true events that changed Australian child protection laws, Don’t Tell is a poignant story about finding the courage to stand up, speak out and fight against injustice.

NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL WORLD PREMIERE

DON’T TELL

Monday, April 24th

7:30 PM

The Lido Theatre

3459 Via Lido

            Newport Beach, CA 92663

(Source: press materials provided by Chris Blackmon)

Film Capsule: THE WEDDING PLAN

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Rama Burshtein

Rama Burshtein’s second film, dubbed The Wedding Plan, a romantic comedy about a young woman with elaborate wedding plans with just a month to find a groom and a run time of 110 minutes, screened last Monday, as a pre-roll out for members of the press. Burshtein wrote and directed the film, a Roadside Attractions production and a nominee for Best Film at the 2016 Venice Film Festival. Burshtein’s first film Fill the Void centered around love and marriage as well with Burshtein picking up Ophir Awards (the Israeli version of the US Oscar) for Best Directing and Best Film for her first-time effort.

Actress Noa Koler portrays the film’s lead character, Michal. Despite being a relatively unknown film actress (The Wedding Plan is her first major role in a feature film), Koler garnered the Ophir Award for Best Actress for her notable efforts. Koler delivers a resounding performance displaying a gamut of emotions as Michal, a 32 year-old, Orthodox Jewish woman who wants a husband to love and to experience the comforts and security of marriage. According to Burshtein, the only way to consummate love in this community is through marriage. Seemingly not too much to want in a tight-knit religious community until Michal is jilted by her fiance in the weeks leading up to the wedding day set for the 8th night of Hanukkah. In teachings of Kabbalah, the mystical side of Judaism, the 8th day of Hanukkah is representational of the world of faith and belief.

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Noa Koler as Michal

Not to be derailed in her devotion to marriage, Michal sends out the invitations, gets a beautiful wedding gown and books the hall for her wedding and reception in Bnei Brak, a known ultra-Orthodox center with a unique ambiance of a simpler time. While booking the hall, a noticeable energy is in the air as Michal commits herself to this marriage. She has a hall, a dress and has completed the needed arrangements for a wedding. The only aspect missing is her groom! Michal’s mother and sister are dumbfounded and stupefied as Michal continues with her wedding full steam ahead.

Most of the film is shot in Jerusalem with exterior shots of Tel Aviv, including Jaffa, an ancient port in the city’s southernmost area.

Over the next 22 days, Michal goes on a spiritual adventure of extraordinary faith. Unwavering in her destiny, Michal ventures out on disastrous “blind dates” to find and secure a suitable husband. Her tenacious intellect and her dogged determination to have a husband who is committed to loving her takes the viewer on an intellectually stimulating ride. As the day of the ceremony draws closer, Michal puts everything on the line to find her happiness.

Various characters are introduced including Israeli heart throb, Oz Zehavi, as the delightful and lighthearted Yoz, a handsome, sensational pop musical star. Interestingly, Michal crosses paths with Yoz in Uman, Ukraine in a pivotal sequence shot at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman, an influential Hasidic spiritual leader. A phenomenon among believers is the ability to go through the wall of the tomb to the other side of faith and possibilities.

Michal is attempting to cement her desire to marry and to uncover her life’s pathway. She begs and pleads at the tomb’s wall posing life questions with strong passion. In response, a warm, tender male voice answers and Michal is unsure of herself and overcome with tender, heartfelt emotions until she comes to understand that the wall has a male side and a female side. The male on the other side turns out to be Yoz and he shows Michal how to be light and happy. But is he the one for Michal?

the-wedding-plan

The Wedding Plan is scheduled to open May 12 in New York and May 19th in Los Angeles.

A strong, veteran supporting cast augments Kooler’s performance in a most unequivocal manner. In addition to Oz Zehavi, Amos Taman, a successful television actor on a popular Israeli series, plays Shimi, the owner of the venue Michal has booked for her wedding and Irit Sheleg, a well known media persona, plays Michal’s mother. Most tellingly, a powerful, shoulder-mounted cinematography provided by Amit Yasur captures the energy and life force of Michal’s world and helps create the film’s suspense and emotionality. Moreover, the film’s mise-en-scene is anything but drab as various shades of yellows, reds, pinks and blues complement the more traditional colors of gray, black and brown normally associated with Orthodox Judaism.

The Wedding Plan is an exceptional film full of inspiration on the endless possibilities life has to offer. Along the way, more than a few life truths are revealed and numerous insights into the heart, faith and daily obstacles of an Orthodox Jewish woman seeking love and marriage are brought to light. Highly recommended.

 

Source: THE WEDDING PLAN