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Amelie * Jean-Pierre Jeunet * 2001

“Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” is one of these ‘alternative’ films that reached a large audience. It used to play in filmhouses, but it seems that everyone has seen it. It is a comedy, so there was no priority for me to see it, “maybe when it is on tv”. But, my girlfriend wanted to see it, and when entering a ‘normal’ videostore there were six copies of it on dvd and several on video!

But to the film. “Amelie” opens with a brilliant and hilaric scene with strange events and a funny voice-over, a bit like “Magnolia”. It quickly tells about the main-characters in the film, their likes and not-like and the opening is the absolute highlight of the film, in one word: brilliant.
But no worries, the rest is also very enjoyable. Amelie (Audrey Tautuo) is a beautiful young woman who has been a bit neglected in her youth. This led to her living almost completely solitary and in and our her fantasy-world. She tries to help people using peculiar methods, while other people she drives insane with bizare jokes. Then when the times comes that she can help herself to her first love, she keeps playing the jokes she does with other people. In the end all comes well.

“Amelie” is not just a comedy, but more a drama with funny touches. Not always to laugh, but often it is. A very witty script, great story, good acting and you will hardly notice that it lasts over two hours.

This is the film that you want to see when you are in the mood for a comedy, but not one a the cheap kind.

À Ma Soeur * Catherine Breillat * 2001

However the title means “for my sister”, the international title of this film is “Fat Girl”. This film played in the local filmhouse for a while, but I didn’t get to see it and now it was on TV. The film is about two sisters who are on holidays with their parents, the older is pretty, the other fat and depressed. Both want to get deflowered this holidays and of course the pretty girl has most success. On day one she meets an older boy, falls in love, has sex on the room where both girls sleep. When the parents find out it is end of holidays.

The film is quite nice, teenage conversations about sex and the conflicts with parents. The end is terrible though, a bit as if the director couldn’t come up with a descent end.

Alright, but only see it when it is on TV.

Los Amantes del Círculo Polar * Julio Medem * 1998

“Los Amantes…” was one of these ‘bigger’ filmhouse-films that I still wanted to see. It is of the same director as of Lucía Y El Sexo (2001) which is another film I still haven’t seen “Los Amantes” is about two young people with palindromic (Otto and Ana) names who meet and feel attracted to eachother at an very early age When their parents get a relationship the two get to live together secretly having a relationship as well, while their parents see them as brother and sister. When Otto’s biological mother dies he goes even more insane as he already is and leaves his father, stepmother and even Ana The two continue their lives but still hope that fate will bring them together some time. This does happen eventually, but…

The film is slowly told in two versions, a version of Otto and a version of Ana. The two versions go through eachother and after eachother. Sometimes you get two versions of the same event, sometimes not. Because both seem to have difficulty keeping reality and fantasy appart, you don’t know what is real and what is not. You even don’t know if it is a happy end or not!

All in all a nice romantic film.

Almost Famous * Cameron Crowe * 2000

Often compared to “Boogie Nights” (of which I have no review?!) this film. It also plays in the seventies, is a weird combination of comedy and drama and with young actors. Russell is a 15-year old intellectual who gets gripped by Rock ‘n’ Roll music that is already on its return. Following the fictious band “Stillwater” the boy first writes for the magazine “Cream” and later for the “Rolling Stone”. The film shows how Russell gets tempted by the life of a rockstar, their groupies and of course journalists. Amusing.

Allerzielen * various directors * 2005

“Allerzielen” is a compilation of 16 short films that were made after (and because of) the murder of Theo van Gogh (23/7/1957-2/11/2004). Mostly young and new directors made a variety of short films. They are either about the killing, the reactions to it or more artistic films such as dance-films. The films go from hilaric to serious and artsy. Some are very clear, other say more about yourself. Some show something which would haven’t been shown before the killing like a Dutch mother talking to her daughter while a Maroccan (I think) woman is talking to her daughter, or a hilaric film about a Turkish man and his Maroccan neighbour accross the street. Some films are very critcial and clear, other vague and suggestive. Funny is that this film had its premiere in 12 cinema’s and on tv on the same night. A week later it was only shown in 2 cinema’s and now only in one. I suppose it will be on DVD soon. “Allerzielen” is both interesting from ‘filmographic’ point of view, but also of course in the course of events. Personally I found it a bit too long/strange/experimental to view all at once.

Alice In Wonderland * Nick Willing * 1999

I remember that as a child I saw some Alice In Wonderland animation a few times. My girlfriend bought this cheap DVD also expecting this animation, but it turned out to be a ‘real’ film. Not really my genre, childrens/family films, but actually this version of the famous tale is very entertaining. An impressive cast with Woopy Goldberg (magnificent as the smiling Cheshire Cat), Ben Kingsley (Major Caterpillar), Christopher Lloyd (Carpenter), Peter Ustinov (Walrus) and Miranda Richardson with a briliant part as Queen of Hearts which is like her part as the queen in Blackadder but even more over the top. I don’t suppose I have to say anything about the story, so I will just say that this film version has a nice absurd atmosphere, great stages, costumes and computer animations and great acting. So if you (or your children) want to see an Alice In Wonderland, I would say that this is a good option.

À la folie… pas du tout * Laetitia Colombani * 2002

This is the second film of the French director of 1976. “Selling point” is the main part played by Audrey Tautou who we all loved playing Amélie Poulin. This film is said to be a “romantic thriller”. Well, it sure isn’t a comedy like Amélie, but a thriller? Oh well, maybe a bit. Angelique is in love with a cardiologist and fantasises a relationship with him. She does her best to win his heart, but this isn’t easy. In the first half of the film you get Angeliques story, in the second half the same story is told, but this time from the eyes of the cardiologist and you get a completely different story. Very enjoyable.

Une Affaire De Goût * Bernard Rapp * 2000

I haven’t seen any of the other films of Rapp, but I had wanted to see this one for a while. A very original story. The young man Nicholas is hired the rich Frédéric Delamont as ‘pre-taster’. Delamont doesn’t have to turn over every bill of E 1000,- so he wants someone to find out if he will like a certain meal. In practise he wants Nicholas to try everything he wants to undertake first, like a skiing piste. Nicholas even becomes Delamont’s replacement for experiences, such as a jump with a parashute. Nicholas gets addicted to the rich life of Delamont and Delamont to experiences and conversations he never had. Delamont pushes the borders of their relationship, but it becomes clear that both will have a hard time when they get separated. An enjoyable drama to see when it is on TV some time, but not good enough to buy or rent.

“A matter of taste” is the American title by the way, but in French there is a nice word-game as you can see.

Adaptation * Spike Jonze * 2002

A film from almost exactly the same crew as “Being John Malkovich” (BJM), which says a lot, doesn’t it? But, if you haven’t seen BJM, I suggest you see it before you do this one. There is one big difference between the two films. Whereas you best know as little as possible about BJM before you see it, with “Adaptation” it is very helpfull to have some background information. The ingenious script for BJM film has been written by Charlie Kaufman. He wasn’t the first choice for, but for this very reason he was asked for a strange Holywood project. There happened to be a book about orchids written by Susan Orlean. However it isn’t exactly an easy popularly-written book, it was a bestseller in the USA and as it goes with bestsellers, the rights to make a film of it were bought by some bobo. Several scenerists have clutched their brains over the question how to make a film about orchids that people would go and see. Nobody succeeded, so Charlie Kaufman got the job. He pondered and thought but couldn’t come up with anything, so in the end he decided to write a script about him trying to write a script for a movey. Instead of looking in Malkovich’s head you get a peek into Kaufman’s own head. The film is partly ‘biographical’/true, partly not. Nicholas Cage for example plays both Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother Donald, but Kaufman doesn’t have a brother in reality. Susan Orlean is played by Meryl Streep who falls in love with the orchid-hunter John Laroche (Chris Cooper), but if I understand correctly, this is added to make the story a bit more interesting. Just as the thrillerish end by the way. Further you can see some of the filming of BJM in the film with Malkovich and some of the actors (including Spike Jonze himself). The title of the film refers to the evolution-theory of Charles Darwin (plants adapt to their new environment in this case) and the adaptation of the book that had to be filmed.
And the result? Well, “Adaptation” is a nice film, but definately no “Being John Malkovich”.
At the same time in the cinemas is another story of Charlie Kaufman being “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” (first film directed by George Clooney!) which I hope to see some time soon too. <3>

Abre Los Ojos * Alejandro Amenábar (1997)

I saw this wonderfull film in the cinema when it still played and later I also saw the American version (“Vanilla Sky”) in the cinema. “Open Your Eyes” by Amenábar (“Tesis”, “The Others”, etc.) was one of the earlier films with the ‘what is true, what is dream’ theme and is here centered around a cryonics project. It is well-done, fairly surprising if you haven’t seen (or heard about) it and especially Penélope Cruz is a feast for the eyes.