Feb 3 2011

Diva (1981)

Dazzling and Thrilling. 3 1/2 out of 4.

The 1980’s was a time when style superseded substance; music, fashion, television and film all seemed more concerned about the way they looked- which is does not mean they had nothing to say.  Granted, while some mediums of pop culture in this era were superficial, others used visuals to tell the story, but most were a little of both, and unabashedly so.

The “cinema du look” movement in France was a response to the French New Wave, in which filmmakers like Jean-Jacques Beineix, Luc Besson and Leos Carax favored experimenting with visual spectacle rather than with a film’s narrative.  The result was the creative use of primary colors, lighting and mise en scene to create a world that spoke for itself.  Amongst the first cinema du look films was Beineix’s Diva, which was made at the beginning of the decade and set the bar for the rest of the movement.

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Mar 3 2010

Un Prophete

Un Prophete, France/s entry to the Academy’s Best Foreign Film category, has been compared to The Godfather, a comparison that many will think presumptuous, undeserved or euro-centric.  Though the film’s protagonist is no Michael Corleone, the rise of the film’s titular character is just as majestic and engaging as his Seventies, American counterpart.

Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) is a nineteen-year-old Beur (formal term for an Arab immigrant in France) living on the streets of France when he is arrested and given a six-year sentence.  He has no family, no friends in or outside of prison and is illiterate.  Needless to say, he has all the odds stacked against him.

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