Entries tagged with “Europen cinema”.


You can hardly get a better set of premises for a film than the ones of Le tout nouveau testament or The Brand New Testament by Belge director Jaco Van Dormael. Bored being, one day, God created Bruxelles (quite a fun city actually, but this is a tourist perspective, not the one of the inhabitants and certainly not the one of God). Then he moved together with his wife and daughter (his Son JC died about 2000 years ago, as we all know) in a secluded apartment, from where he controls the world by means of a PC and an Internet connection. He is quite a nasty guy, making happen to people on Earth all the unpleasant things we know about, and an abusive father, who does not allow any TV but sports in the apartment. Until the day when his pre-teen daughter decides to take revenge and run away, not before using her Father’s computer to let all people on Earth know the date and time of their death. When arrived on Earth, she needs to find six extra-apostles chosen randomly from the population of the planet (or of Belgium better said). Why 6? Because 12 + 6 = 18 – the number of players in baseball, the preferred sport of Mother.

 

source http://www.cinenews.be/en/movies/le-tout-nouveau-testament/

source http://www.cinenews.be/en/movies/le-tout-nouveau-testament/

 

Before you get angry on me, these are only the first 5 or 10 minutes of the story. The rest is about how these wonderful premises are being used. Director Van Dormael seems to have had two models in his mind. The first is of course the eternal masterpiece of historical satire Life of Brian. Because of the subject. The second is the eternal masterpiece of sweet feel-good movies Amelie. Because of the kid-actress who is in control of all the action and all good or at least well-intentioned things that happen on screen. The result is also middle-of-the-road. Too middle-of-the-road. Because Van Dormael does not have (yet?) the daring insanity of Monty Python and because Pili Groyne is not (yet?) .

 

(video source European Movie Trailers)

 

Much of the film is spent with telling the stories of six brand new apostles, what they chose to do with the rest of their lives now that they know precisely how long it will last, and how the Brand New Testament and the team of 18 are performing better than the previous editions. As one may expect, the ending is kind of DEUS EX MACHINA.

This sweet merry Reformation on screen is fun to follow for most of the time. Just the pleasure of seeing in a new role (one of the apostles, no more or less) is enough reason to go and see it and there are other. Yet, director Jaco Van Dormael took a bet and partly lost it in starting from such bright ideas and producing just a nice film.

Every age has it’s love films. A long time ago, during my late my teens I resonated together with the millions of young folks at my age in between the age of the hippies and the age of the yuppies to Erich Segal’s book Love Story and the film made by Arthur Hiller staring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neill. It was a sad story with two young people falling in love, getting married against the social conventions, then she falls sick, and she dies, nice music and a smart slogan that made my teen heart beat strongly (yes, I remember the girl I was with at that movie, where is she now?). Now I have seen Michael Haneke‘s Amour, probably the most awards-gatherer non-American movie of 2012, a superb film, and a very different love story. I resonated again, I was moved and even more than that, but if I am to chose which one of the two films I want to see again I will chose the older one. Actually, if I think well, Amour may be one of the rare films, maybe even the only one, I will give a grade of 10 at IMDB but I do not believe that I have the strength and in any case I do not have the will to see it again.

 

 

Michael Haneke is known for the  cold approach towards his stories and heroes, sometimes at the border of cruelty. He does not spare us the viewers in Amour either, telling us the story of an old and well established couple of musicians who are hit at the end of a life of love and shared experiences by the tragedy of the malady of the woman (Emmanuelle Riva) leading to the decay of her physical and mental health. No details are spared, and the painful and inevitable process made even more pressing by the fact that there is no improvement and no chance of recovery is described in quite a lot of rather explicit details. And yet, there is no overall sense of repulsion because all this process is dominated by the dedication of the husband, who dearly takes care of his wife although the woman she was mentally disappears with everyday that passes. Riva was a candidate for best actress at the Oscars (she did not win), but it’s Jean-Louis Trintignant‘s acting that impressed me most, because it’s not spectacular, but it conveys better than everything else in the film the message in the title. It takes a lot of courage for these two actors whose career was followed by the French and international audiences for almost half of century to face the camera in a film that deals with such bluntness with the theme of the disasters of aging. They took upon the challenge and the result is strong and moving.

 

(video source My Trailer is Rich)

 

The whole story takes place in the interior of a Parisian apartment, and it’s amazing to see how many interesting things can me made with the camera in these few rooms.  The fine acting however takes precedent and will hardly be forgotten by anybody who has seen this film. The relation between the aged couple, their shared experiences, their small conflicts, their tenderness are described in all their complexity, as well as the relation of the two with their daughter dominated not only by the gap between ages and generations, but also by the lack of power of the younger woman to help in face of the inevitable. There is one final decision, one final act of love to be made, we guess it from start, and when it comes nobody is surprised. A final scene shows the daughter entering the apartment now empty, which remained only an empty space gathering things reminding of the love that was. There is no happy end to this Love Story either.