Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Current Cinema 17.4

Alien Covenant

In "Prometheus", director Ridley Scott began an ascension away from the original scare tactics of the "Alien Trilogy" and layered in origin ideas and the base for countless sequels to come. "Alien Covenant" continues this theory with some pretty batshit crazy acting from Michael Fassbender wrapped around some even crazier ideas of creationism, trans humanism and the floundering inability of space travelers to avoid danger. Essentially a haunted-house-pick-everyone-off slasher film (really, the franchise has been building towards this for 30 years, now its fully embraced it), "Alien Covenant" has its moments of near greatness but its ultimately a victim of that horror film trope of too many people we don't care about biting the dust. Add to that, quite frankly, the menace and freak show energy of the actual alien creature is reduced to a nimble CGI effect. If anything, the film shows us that a robot can be just as manipulative and evil as the very creature the franchise is named after. Maybe the next one installment will be called "David".


Frantz

Francois Ozon's "Frantz" is a beguiling effort that despite its arbitrary switching from shimmering black and white to bursts of color (that I still can't figure out why) genuinely grows as it winds along. Suffering from the loss of their youngest son in WWI, a German family's only consolation is the dutiful presence of the son's fiance played by Paula Beer. When Frenchman Adrian (Pierre Niney) appears, he slowly insinuates himself into the family, telling them he was a friend of Frantz in Germany. Of course, nothing is as it seems. Battling the disapproving glances of the whole town as well as the harsh nationalism and broken pride of their German defeat with a Frenchman in their midst, "Frantz" is quite the slow burn but whose mood and second half perspective shift makes for a consistently surprising effort from Ozon.


Plus lots of new stuff at Dallas Film Now:


A Quiet Passion

Black Butterfly

The Wedding Plan

The Dinner

Saturday, May 06, 2017

70's Bonanza: France, Anonymous Society

Alain Corneua may be one of the more under appreciated French filmmakers of the last few decades. Working right up till his death in 2010 with the Kristin Scott Thomas/Ludivine Sagnier potboiler "Love Crime" (which spawned a fairly putrid DePalma remake in 2012 titled "Passion"), Corneau's real mean streak came in the mid to late 70's. Alongside the very bleak "Serie Noir" and hard nosed cop flick "Police Python 357", "France, Anonymous Society" was his feature film debut in 1974. In the spirit of all brash first attempts, Corneau runs rampant with idea, style and social commentary. The main idea, as such, is a complicated web of sardonic posturing between a local drug dealer (played to cool perfection by Michel Bouqet) and an omniscient drug corporation who seem to substitute for the government in political reach and power. One viewing may not be enough to fully comprehend exactly whose side each person resides with as the body toll mounts, kidnappings of silent little girls compounds the tensions and dead-end-bug-eyed junkies may eventually rule the world. And did I mention the whole thing takes place filtered through the immortal memory of the Bouqet character 100 years in the future? It seems all the violence did help discover some sort of immortal health injection, which creates even more of a loopy and dazed tension to the entire film. I'd say "France, Anonymous Society" is ripe for  "rediscovery and release", but seeing as how its never been released on home video outside a now long out of print 10 film boxset, it's simply due for "discovery". See this if you can. It's been one of my unmitigated joys of the early year so far.