Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009)

Directed by Jan Kounen
Written by Carlo de Boutiny and Jan Kounen
Cast Mads Mikkelsen, Anna Mouglalis, Yelena Morozova
, Anatole Taubman

Reviewed by Paivi

There are two Coco Chanel biographies released this year. Coco avant Chanel stars Audrey Tautou (Amelie) as the leading lady and the movie is released later this year. Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (starring Anna Mouglasis as Coco and Mads Mikkelsen as Igor) shows only a small part of Coco's life and focuses on her relationship with the Russian composer.

Coco Chanel was a very independent woman for her time. After her lover called Boy (Anatole Taubman) was killed in a car accident, she decided to live alone in her huge mansion, interiors designed by herself. The actual Chanel mansion is used in filming the scenes. Coco is a fan of music and an admirer of everything brave. When she witnesses the almost riot that follows the "scandalous" premiere of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, she wants to get to know the composer.

Stravinsky lives with his wife (Yelena Morozova) who is sufferfing of tuberculosis and children in a small flat and Coco invites them all to live in her mansion - allowing Igor a possibility to more space for his musical creativity. Coco and Igor are drawn to each other and finally end up having an affair.

Brilliantly filmed movie uses beautiful visuals. Every single frame is like a work of art. However, the story itself is missing the passion that should be present between the two artists. Coco even though very well presented as an independent woman feels calculating and cold without any emotions.

The Danish actor Mikkelsen makes Igor a vulnerable man, a man drawn to two directions - the wealth and love of Coco and on the other hand his loyalty to his wife and children. Also for a man and an artist it is difficult to accept the fact that the woman is also an artist and with her own will and self esteem.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Chéri (2009)

Directed by Stephen Frears
Written by Christopher Hampton, based on Colette's novels
Cast Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates

Reviewed by

Michelle Pfeiffer and Stephen Frears worked together in 1988, doing the romantic 3-Oscar-winning drama Dangerous Liaisons, which gained the first nomination also to Pfeiffer. Three years ago Frears made The Queen that gathered success around and brought its leading lady Helen Mirren an Oscar.

With Chéri Frears and Pfeiffer travel back to France and to the time before the World Wars, the time known as Belle Epoque, when courtisans were a visible part of the society. The most successful courtisans lived luxurious lives in beautiful houses, surrounded by beautiful dresses, jewelry and their own staff. The story is based on novels by Colette.

Pfeiffer is Lea, a luxury courtisan who is aging and planning on retiring. She has experienced all kinds of love, except the true love. One day when visiting her old colleague Madame Peloux, played by brilliant Kathy Bates, she is tempted to kiss Madame's 19-year-old son Fred, nick named Chéri (Rupert Friend). Unexpectedly the kiss turns their lives upside down and they find themselves living together for many years.

When Madame Peloux informs that she has arranged a good marriage with a wealthy young girl Edmee (Felicity Jones) for her son, both Lea's and Chéri's dreams come tumbling down and they realise their affection is something deeper than just lust and friendship.

Wonderful Pfeiffer is the heart of this movie. As an aging beauty, insecure and troubled at the inevitable fate of her body slowly losing its youth and glamour, Pfeiffer does a convincing job. Also as a woman so involved in all sort of love affairs in her life, finally finding true love and losing it to a younger woman she is a fragile work of art.

Rupert Friend as the young courtisan's son is at ease in a role many others might have been afraid of performing. He is a good looking angel face with a gorgerous body when naked, and considering he's working with such a big name as Pfeiffer, he pulls his role as her lover professionally.

Visually stunning surroundings, beautifully framed pictures give the drama an extra essense. Frears is at best in directing movies of interesting personas - Chéri shows this the similar way as The Queen did.

Final verdict: Beautifully shot Belle Epoque drama of the love affair of an older woman and a younger man. Strong and convincing characters played by brilliant actors, especially the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer. Watch for next year's Oscar nominations and especially costume design category.

Monday, 1 June 2009

UP 3D (2009)

Directed by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson (co-director)
Written by Bob Peterson (screenplay)
Cast Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft, Elie Docter, Jeremy Leary


Reviewed by Sari

UP 3D is yet another 3D-animated film on the theaters and it's also the latest Disney-Pixar production from the makers of Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Cars. This colorful story starts from the early childhood of an old man, Carl Fredricksen (voices, young Carl by Jeremy Leary, old Carl by Edward Asner), who is the leading character in this animated film.

He once was a quiet little boy, who meets a rascal girl called Ellie (voice by Elie Docter), falls in love with her and finally marries her. So it's the classic love story, so to speak. Carl and Ellie are one extremely happy couple, and they share the same dream of going on an adventure to South America one day. They even dream about having their house at the edge of The Paradise Falls. But their life passes by and the adventure seems always to be postponed further. Until the day Ellie gets seriously ill and passes away.

Carl is now alone, being an 78-year old man and is facing the fact that the adventure they so wanted to experience never took a place in their life. But things start to change for him and one day he decides to literally "take off" and is soon flying high on the sky in his house, thousands of balloons carrying him to his destination, South America.

For his suprise a young wilderness explorer Russell (voice by Jordan Nagai) is going to share this experience with him and these two soon find they way to South America and face the most interesting situations and characters while trying to move Carl's house to the right spot, next to The Paradise Falls, that Ellie so dearly loved.

On their way to the falls they run into a rare bird species, a pack of talking dogs and end up inside a large cave, where Carl's childhood hero, the ultimate explorer Charles Muntz (voice by Christopher Plummer) lives and has trained all these obedient dogs. Carl is excited to meet him, but it's soon quite obvious that Charles is not a good man, but he is actually after something they possess and this leads into an exciting and intense chaise.

The story starts quite smoothly and takes you to the early years of Carl's life, giving you a nostalgic feel of his past. It's also quite funny to see him and Russell battling their way to South America flying on a house carried by colorful balloons, trying to find the perfect spot to that beautiful, old house. At some point the story gets a bit chaotic though, especially from the point where they run into a talking dog called Dug, and then into a whole pack of talking dogs, leading their way to an old explorer behind them, Charles Muntz. I wasn't sure if I understood the funniness behind the talking dog theme, but then again, I really loved that old man Carl and his little companion Russell and felt that those two were meant to be together on this adventure.

UP being and animated film is of course a film made for the whole family and especially children, so perhaps the storyline and all the peculiar characters will open up better for the younger age groups than us grown-ups. Visually the 3D-film is just stunning and I especially enjoyed all the vivid colors, the high-quality animation and all the 3D-effects, which we could all expect to be excellent after seeing all those previous Disney-Pixar films.

UP is an entertaining animation which you want to take your kids to see and let them enjoy all the craziness and chaos of this everyway colorful, animated film. And don't be suprised if you enjoy it yourself, too.