The Films I've Watched This Year #33

Film Anyone else feel a certain geographical dissonance watching the Paris episode of Dr James Fox's A Tale of Three Cities (or The One Show for adults)? If you'd visited the Mondrian show at Tate Liverpool you certainly would as Dr Fox is one minute on the streets of France's capital and the next walking through gallery four and into the replica of the artist's studio which is currently there until the 6th October.  The visit was unheralded - no onscreen caption or anything - and so some viewers may have suspected that this recreation was in Paris itself.  The Mondrian he stood in front of is in the exhibition too, I think.  The studio sequence is on BBC Four's website and admittedly you can just see the Pier Head through the gallery windows.

Café de Flore
The Chronicles of Riddick
Thérèse Desqueyroux
Bruc. La llegenda
The Lego Movie

Between The Young Victoria and Dallas Buyers Club, Jean-Marc Vallée directed Cafe de Flore and there aren't that many filmmakers who're capable of this kind of gear change between heritage cinema, scorching indie and in the middle a Kieslowskian bit of art house in which the stories of 10s Montreal DJ and the mother of a down syndrome child in 60s Paris cross cutting with one another for ambiguous reasons.  It's the latter which are most involving, a near perfect recreation of the city's New Wave era surrounding an unrecognisable Vanessa Paradis in a extraordinarily brave performance as her character fights for her son's acceptance which overshadows the colder present day love triangle though that does at least have Evelyne Brochu, Delphine from Orphan Black as the "other woman".

Having spent the past week watching my way through all of Anita Sarkeesian's perception widening Feminist Frequency YouTube series, I now have the language to explain just what's wrong with the ending of The Chronicles of Riddick.   Essentially arguably the best character in Pitch Black, recast and renamed to more closely resemble Hollywood's narrow expectations (even if it is Gwen from Angel), is Damselled and Refrigerated in a way which would fit right in with the montage of computer game shots in the second Tropes vs Women video.  Which is a pity because the film does have some virtues in regards to Guardians style epic science fiction, hilariously straight-faced Macbeth plagiarism and Judi Dench as Obi-Wan Kenobi.  But none of that is an excuse for the adherence to the Smurfette syndrome.

As well films made in France, my serendipitous Lovefilm list also contains cinema which is about France out in the world and how the world views the country, so here we are at Legend of the Soldier, a Spanish western set within the Napoleon's campaign against the Spanish in which a cell of Boneparte's army rip through the countryside and villages searching for a drummer who near singlehandedly defeated them in the Monserrat mountains.  The film's most notable for its flashback sequences which appear to utilise 3D cameras but shift the shape of the image through a 2D frame to dizzying effect and might explain why some critics missed a major twist which otherwise makes a gear change about an hour in seem entirely ludicrous.  It really isn't.

The Lego Movie is awesome.  Sadly my viewing of it was disjointed, crappy experience as I had my first experience of seeing something through Blinkbox on the Chromecast.  Tesco are closing their Clubcard TV service which hasn't had nearly as much usage as they were expecting it seems, which isn't surprising given that the only way to see it through a television was by plugging a laptop in the HDMI socket, there not being any apps available.  As part of the announcement I was sent a voucher code for their Blinkbox service and having realised quickly it wouldn't cover a new release, I chose The Lego Movie and unlike all the other apps, the stream quality was appalling and kept buffering.  Eventually I watched the last hour on my tiny iPad screen.  Sigh.  I've added the film to my Amazon wishlist nonetheless....

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