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THOR: THE DARK WORLD opens this week and should take a big chunk at the box-office.  Two highly charged emotional dramas open as well, one straight THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN and the other gay BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR if you want to watch something more down-to-earth.

 

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 FILM REVIEWS:

THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN (Belgium 2012) **

Directed by Felix van Groeningen

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The first few minutes of the film which shows the little daughter Maybelle getting cancer treatments at the hospital while her parents wrestle with their daughter’s fate sets the angry tone of the film.  This is the story of the stormy relationship of tattoo artist Elise (Veerle Baetens) and banjo-playing bluegrass musician Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) put to the ultimate test when Maybelle eventually dies early in the film.  Elise joins the band and the band does well.

The film is intensely authentic with the fights and screaming.  But we have seen films like this before in which each parent blames the other for the death.  Elise blames Didier’s family cancer history while he on her smoking and drinking the few months of pregnancy.  Though there is validity in their arguments (Elise did not realize she was pregnant the first weeks and it is not fair to blame family history), it is really annoying to watch lots of screaming and shouting knowing that the result is a lose/lose situation.

Heldenbergh wrote the play in which this film is based and it gives him too much opportunity to vent his anger at worldly issues.  The film takes the audience through full circle of life from meeting, romance, love, parenthood and death.  There is a long vent at American President George Bush’s veto on cell stem research in the U.S. and an even longer display of anger at God after one of the band’s performances.  With shouting like that, one would hardly take the side of Heldenbergh even though one might agree with the issues because of his extreme obnoxious behavior.

Director Groeningen shoots his film in non-chronological order jumping all over the place.  Didier and Elise’s first meeting is seen midway during the film and Elise’s suicide at the film’s start (therefore not being a spoiler in this review).  The narrative is hugely compromised as a result with the success of the film built entirely on drama of the relationship.

The film lasts almost two hours.  It is quite a chore to watch two unlikeable characters dish it out with each other.  The only watchable segments are the band’s on stage performances.  The soundtrack album containing a mix of traditional and original bluegrass compositions became a bestseller in Belgium.

Trailer:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Umjruify6lg

KILL YOUR DARLINGS (USA 2013) **

Directed by John Krokidas

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Set in the Beat Generation years of the 1943, New Jersey, KILL YOUR DARLINGS is the story of a young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) embroiled in the notorious 1944 murder of Burroughs’ friend

David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), which their friend Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) is suspect.

Krokidas who co-wrote the script plays with the law and with his film as a whodunit.  But the revelation of the murder is observed by flashback, which kills the mystery so created.  The interaction of the literary figures are also examined in the film but Krokidas cannot concentrate on what his film should be about.

Though the atmosphere is effectively created, aided by an impressive musical score that includes a few bright tunes to liven up the proceedings, KILL YOUR DARLINGS is still a rather boring piece of work that seems to have no goal.

The script hinders any of the performances to shine outright, but Krokidas’ film does have a few moving segments in between.

Trailer:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRY2ogQpbvg

 

THE HUMAN SCALE (Denmark 2012) ***

 

Directed by Andreas M. Dalsgard

 

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THE HUMAN SCALE is about people and cities.  Like a travelogue, the film takes the audience across the globe from China, to Denmark to the U.S. to explore city planning and how people live.  Though the film appears quite ‘ordinary’ at the start, the film grows more intriguing as it progresses.

 

To make his point, director Dalsgard choses certain architects that the film follows as they plan and improve cities.  One is the Danish architect Jan Gehl.  His studies include a physical count of the number of pedestrians that walk past a street corner, what they are doing, how they interact and so on.  And in relation to these, how the street is performing according to these users.  Cities around the world like Melbourne, Dhaka, New York (the most fascinating segment of the film), Chongqing and Christchurch are examples inspired by his work.

 

THE HUMAN SCALE is a film that flows smoothly from one segment or one city to another.  Not much concentration enough is required to absorb Dalsgard material.  But the film is nevertheless eye-opening and those who have seen this film would definitely want to visit Copenhagen, which is prided as the most people-oriented of all the cites in the world.

 

OIL SANDS KARAOKE (Canada 2013) ***
Directed by Charles Wilkinson

 

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OIL SANDS KARAOKE is a Canadian documentary set in Fort McMurray, Alberta around 5 oil workers vying to win the local karaoke contest at the local Bailey’s bar.  The 5 are from different backgrounds but they share the common aim of making fast money in a remote and cold environment.  They are aware of the environmental issues surrounding their work.

 

There have been many documentaries centering on a contest involving several contestants.  These usually get the audience to root fro a few with the end result of the competition forming the climax of the film.  SPELLBOUND dealt with the national spelling bee while MAD HOT BALLROOM on kids’ ballroom dancing.  But in Wilkinson’s film, there is no one that is the underdog or favorite.  The result is a rather climaxless film though the film concentrates on other issues.

 

The karaoke contest is not the most interesting part of the movie.  Though the 5 croon out sing-along tunes, the work they are involved in is more captivating.  The huge trucks drive, the spoilt landscape (also seen in WATERMARK), and the private lives of the 5 form more intriguing fodder.

 

Trailer:

 

 http://vimeo.com/62965248

 

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (USA 2013) ***

Directed by Alan Taylor

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From the film’s opening shot, the voiceover narrative goes into a length full explanation of what has happened to the universe as well as its present state.  The universe was in total darkness because of the Dark Elves.  The explanation deals with Bor, father of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who vanished the Dark Elves led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) using a force known as the Aether.  Meanwhile on Asgard, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) stands before Odin and sentenced to life imprisonment.  And meanwhile again, our hero Thor (Chris Hemsworth) alongside warriors Fandral, Volstagg and Sif, who the audience does not see again till the end of the film, repel enemies making peace in the Nine Realms.

If all this sounds a bit too much, the film’s story goes into more confusing mode with Thor and his astrophysicist girl friend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) who somehow carries the Aether force inside her.  What is truly incomprehensible about all this is not the story but the way the audience is drawn into the world of Thor, no matter how illogical everything is.  If one throws logic and reasoning to the wind and goes with the flow, the result will be mindless entertainment.

The film’s climax has for example, creatures appearing and disappearing out of nowhere as a result of the alignment of the Nine Realms which somehow takes place at Greenwich on the outskirts of London.  The scene in which the collector having given the Aether to safe keep, who then remarks: “One down and five to go,” also makes little sense to most.

Never mind the logic of the outer world but the script throws away reality as well.  In one funny scene, Thor takes the underground at Charing Cross Station and asks a fellow passenger where to get off for Greenwich.  “Three stops”, is her reply.  But there is not Greenwich stop on the tube in London except for North Greenwich, which is far from Charing Cross and requires a change at Waterloo Station.  One wonders whether the print in the U.K. has a different editing.

Those who stay for the end credits will be glad they did.  Half way through the end of the credits, a major plot twist (though unexplained) is revealed.  And yet another revelation when all the end credits are done.

Will THOR 2 make enough money?  The film already grossed more than a million worldwide before opening in North America.  This might be the film that will take 2013 out of the box-office doldrums.

Trailer:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npvJ9FTgZbM

 

 

Never mind the logic of the outer world but the script throws away reality as well.  In one funny scene, Thor takes the underground at Charing Cross Station and asks a fellow passenger where to get off for Greenwich.  “Three stops”, is her reply.  But there is not Greenwich stop on the tube in London except for North Greenwich, which is far from Charing Cross and requires a change at Waterloo Station.  One wonders whether the print in the U.K. has a different editing.

 

Those who stay for the end credits will be glad they did.  Half way through the end of the credits, a major plot twist (though unexplained) is revealed.  And yet another revelation when all the end credits are done.

 

Will THOR 2 make enough money?  The film already grossed more than a million worldwide before opening in North America.  This might be the film that will take 2013 out of the box-office doldrums.

 

 

 

LA VIE D’ADELE (1 &2)

(BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR) (France 2013) ***  

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

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The odd title BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR has nothing to do with the French translation of THE LIFE OF ADELE.  Blue is the Emma’s dyed hair and also of the dress that Adele wears at the end of the film to Emma’s Exhibition.

This is a 3-hour lesbian film, the sound of it sufficient to drive audiences away in droves.  But the film did win Cannes Palme d’Or this year.  The film does drag on and thee is no break between the two parts.  The film generally charts the life of Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) from the age of 15 at school to her sexual awakening.  She finds no sexual attraction to the boy she dates, who eventually dumps her.  She meets blue haired Emma (Lea Seydoux) and many long and repeated sex scenes result with lots of moaning and groaning.  The sexual scenes are erotic enough but one can even tire of too much of a good thing.  There is not much anticipation in the story.

The final confrontation between Emma and Adele when Emma finds that she has been cheated for a boy seems forced from Emma’s part.  And what has the boy have to say, as he just conveniently disappears.  But the reason of the breakup, which implies that their relationship has not grown and grounded too much in sex, is nevertheless quite accurate.  A 3-hour mixed bag of tricks!

Trailer:

 http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi4217350425/

 

Best Bets of the Week:

Best Film Opening: Thor: The Dark World/Blue is the Warmest Colour

Best Film Playing: Blue Jasmine

Bes Comedy: This is The End

Best Foreign: Les Salauds (Bastards)

Best Animation: Turbo

Best Action: Ender’s Game

Best Documentary: Red Obsession

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