Thursday, August 09, 2012

Summer 3


Writer-director Maiwenn’s French language film “Polisse” is much more an actor’s showcase than a genuine police procedural. It’s obvious reference point, Bertrand Tavernier’s brilliant and still unavailable “L.627”, “Polisse” follows the rambling day-to-day actions of the Child Protective Unit whose scenarios within the film are said to be based on actual events. But Maiwenn, who co-stars as the beautiful, lanky photographer given access to the close-knit group of cops for a pictorial book, is much less interested in meticulous real-life police work and more enamored with the messy personal/sexual relationships of the cops. Instead of plausible police investigations, we get over-the-top histrionics as we’re introduced to a pair of lesbian partners, a cop who develops a crush on his pregnant co-worker and Maiwenn becoming involved with Fred (Joey Starr) who emerges as the eventual protagonist of the group. Eventually, “Polisse” dispenses with truthful “thriller” aspects of the police unit altogether and actually becomes insulting in some ways, turning one scene of a young girl’s sexual confusion over oral sex in exchange for the return of her cell phone into a raucous outburst of comedic reactions from the questioning officers. If that’s based in reality, then the cops profiled in Maiwenn’s sub par effort are the worst law abiders on the planet.


Carnally transferred from the strict confines of late 1890’s England to the bustling, sun-drenched land of modern day India, Michael Winterbottom’s “Trishna” is a wonderfully twisted variation on Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Ubervilles”. Starring the magnetically beautiful Freida Pinto as Trishna, Hardy’s lingering tale of sexual power plays and emotional control is a devastating example of modern creativity putting a spin on old fashioned literature. Plucked from relative poverty by rich, handsome Jay (Riz Ahmed), their relationship blossoms then turns sour when the consequences become real. Winterbottom’s hurried yet succinctly edited style of filmmaking tracks the sexual power plays between Pinto and Jay with charged energy… a style that’s worked so well for Winterbottom since the mid 90’s. “Trishna” also continues the director’s fascination with depicting sex in a frank, uncompromising light. But it’s the cold realization in the film’s final moments that really sticks with the viewer…. A fade out to white that is certainly more nihilistic than many of Winterbottom’s previous efforts. A really good film.

Total Recall

Visually flamboyant and building on the rain-soaked, culturally cross pollinated future of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” ghetto, Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall” is almost a really good film. There are some terrific set pieces here, negated by Wiseman’s odd choice to distractingly cut over and over, sometimes during conversations with no regard to who is talking and almost always a few seconds short during its action sequences. As for the story, based on a Philip K. Dick and previous Paul Verhoeven adaptation, “Total Recall” gets a pass even though Colin Farrell maintains a consistent “what the hell?” look on his face and the effort is marred by the-villain-who-talks-too-much-and-allows-the-good-guy to-escape syndrome.

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