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Showing posts with label Ethan Hawke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ethan Hawke. Show all posts

Monday, 7 August 2017

Maudie - or Maudit ?

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2017 (19 to 26 October)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

7 August

Some observations, partly by Tweet, about Maudie (2016)

You are determined to put a stain on this family name !
Aunt Ida

This film, however based in reality, could only work on the level of parable -
and it unnecessarily laboured even that
Jacob Apsley

Some film-references :

* Being There (1979)

* Big Eyes (2014)

* Caravaggio (1986)

* Forrest Gump (1994)

* La belle et la bête (1946)

* Mr. Turner (2014)

* New York Stories (1989)

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Manhood and Hawke

This is a review of Boyhood (2014)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (28 August to 7 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

17 August

This is a review of Boyhood (2014)

One does not watch such a film for breathtaking cinematographic insights (though there are some nice outdoor locations, not least at the very end), but for character development, set somewhere recognizably real : in its own terms, exploring Mason Evans, Snr (Ethan Hawke), through the story of Mason Evans, Jnr (Ellar Coltrane), it does not disappoint at all, and there are three moments where one has a lump in one’s throat at how a character is being appreciated by another.

That amongst significant moments of behaviour where people have lost their way, and got into blaming or being jealous of each other, which is the contrast in life. At the heart of all this, though – for all that it is talked about – it is not the most remarkable thing about the film that it was shot, for three or four days per year, over the course of twelve years, although it does allow one to see both Lorelei Linklater (his daughter as Mason’s sister Sam(antha)) and Coltrane age, and their faces and features mature. No, it is principally that of the closeness between father and son, and how the former allows the latter to see things from an older perspective.

At one moment, towards the end, younger Mason asks what the point of it all is, and receives the totally honest answer that no one knows and everyone is pretending. For those who have seen Sam Rockwell in The Way Way Back (2013), he is the humorous and intelligent father / mentor that we all identify as being enriching, and, at the best of times, there is that quality in Hawke’s remarkably penetrating acting.

So much so that one almost feels that Linklater has to introduce a distance, by pausing when Hawke meets Charlie Sexton (credited as Jimmy ?*) and they have a child, otherwise Hawke will steal the film.

Other things, such as the invidious position of a stepchild, are probably better addressed by Steve Carell in The Way Way Back than here by Linklater, but the point of it all is the same : that of holding one’s children firm when they need it so that they can have the confidence and belief that they deserve. Patricia Arquette’s* courage in taking her family out of an unsuitable situation (and the strength that her friend gives her) remind of a little 30-minute gem from Cambridge Film Festival 2013 (#CamFF), Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) (2013)…

Compared with the more fly-away Hawke’s, Arquette’s character roots herself in responsibility, and feels the challenges of life in providing for Sam and Mason. These words could almost have been written for one scene :

She'll take the painting in the hallway
The one she did in Jr. High

Words : Matthew Charles Rollings / Doug Crider

Suzy Bogguss seems to have made this meditative song, ‘Letting Go’, her own, and it has an obvious resonance with the unsettling feeling of impermanence and of relentless change, which sometimes feels too much for Arquette as a mother. Where we leave Mason, we feel that he will make mistakes, but that he has kept a regard for his parents and their nurture, and we are content for him to take the course and not to witness it further.

Linklater’s desire to make this film with an ageing cast is not, except as a feature film, a new departure, because the well-known Granada Television series Up (which has been broadcast on ITV and the BBC) has covered 49 years in following fourteen British children since the age of seven (in 1964), whereas Mason is six when we first see the shot of him that is used in the film’s promotion. (He may also already have known that he would make a follow-up to Before Sunrise with the older Julie Delpy and, again, Hawke.)

Just two minor, minor things that do not work : when Arquette is remarried, and we cut to a side-shot of her Compliance Officer husband, his face is making the wrong expression for the serious subject that he is addressing, and then we cut back. That and the father-and-son exchange about other Star Wars films, which felt very placed and stilted.

But with Hawke duetting with the harmonizing Sexton (on Hawke’s own songs), and the other ways that music is organic to the feel, one can keep all the tracks in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) – this is the soundtrack to buy.

Click here for a PS to Mr Linklater - some of the things that made actual boyhood so difficult, but which you will find no mention of in this film


* IMDb, as it sometimes can, lets down massively by not providing the names of the characters : it lists Arquette as ‘Mom’ !

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Monday, 27 February 2012

Kristin allures again

More views of - or after - Cambridge Film Festival 2011
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

28 February

* Contains spoilers *

A friend in the cinema had already warned me of what his friend and he had found not only a surprising, but an inexplicable, ending to The Woman in the Fifth (2011), so I was on the alert.

That said, in the dark and not tempted to look at my watch (or the phone), I nonetheless knew that it was an eighty-four-minuter, but had no sense of how far in I was. Waiting for this surprise actually helped me concentrate wonderfully, and it did not, when it came, seem out of place.

What did keep me waiting was when Kristin Scott Thomas, who was presumably the woman of the title, was going to appear, and I had forgotten about the invitation that Ethan Hawke (as Tom) had been given to a literary evening:

Which, it must be said, seemed as dire as one might imagine, with even the effrontery of being asked for a contribution of twenty euros on arrival. If I didn't know that KST would be much better company than all of these old bores, I still wouldn't have blamed Ethan for, having caught sight of her, wanting to follow her (up to the roof, with the base of Le Tour Eiffel seemingly in touching distance) and leave them behind.

As to the way that everything was told (although, quite in the right way, nothing did get told), what arose from an initial feeling that things were uneasy was one of mysteriousness, especially in relation to KST (playing Margit Kadar, half-French, half-Romanian). The seductiveness that she had shown so tellingly well in her role in Leaving* (2009) was not to the fore as such, although she did greet Tom in a very intimate way when he came to her flat for the first time, but was simmeringly, almost glitteringly, present.

And it was fine that she could see an attractive quality in Tom, because his glasses (I am probably not one to speak) didn't suit him, and his face was much better without them when, in the same scene, she removed them (we possibly hadn't seen him properly like that before, because, talking to his daughter through some railings, we just catch him when he swaps glasses with her).

Tom had an inward quality to him that made it seem as if he had not even noticed that another woman (French-speaking Ania from Poland, played by Joanna Kulig) was taking an interest in him, until she arrives at his door very obviously dressed up and (likewise) takes him up to the roof. One almost thought, in the same way, that his curiosity would not get the better of him when on duty in his mysterious night-job (although his employer must surely have thought that, sooner or later, he would have that impulse), and that he would never go to the 5th arrondissement (the Fifth of the title, or, in the French, La Femme du Vème).

I wanted to see this film again, but I may not have the chance - not at my usual cinema, as it turned out that I had made it to the last screening - and I have ordered the book by Douglas Kennedy on which Pawel Pawlikowski based the screenplay that he has directed.

All in all, this was a film that credited me as a filmgoer to follow connections, to be confused, to work it out, and to construct a reality. I was deeply reminded of Kafka, largely the sort of internal logic of The Castle and (to a lesser extent) The Trial, but that's always fine with me.

Tom, I think, is also creating a reality, and his drifting (e.g. his apparent lack, after the initial concern, of action when he finds that his luggage has been taken from him when he is woken at the bus terminus at Quai de l'Ourcq, and then his inertia when, despite having no real money, he is given a room (no. 7) at Le Bon Coin) is part of that. If I get the chance, I will watch it all over again...


* I hadn't thought, when I saw it on DVD, that its title translated Partir, but I think that it does so effectively enough.