Thursday, January 26, 2006

More viewing at home

LOOK AT ME (2004, Agnes Jaoui, seen on DVD)- beginning to think that Jaoui's not my thing, given my tepid reactions to this and her previous film, THE TASTE OF OTHERS. But then, low-key comedies of manners centering around the lives of cultured artistic types don't hold a great deal of interest for me in general- while I aspire to a life similar to characters in Jaoui's films, I need there to be something more interesting about the characters and the narrative than how cultured they are. Compare this film to say, most of Arnaud Desplechin's filmography- while Desplechin's deepens his characters by allowing them to surprise themselves (and the audience), LOOK AT ME plods along. Not a whole lot of character development, Jaoui's character aside, as she learns to disdain the lifestyle her husband learns to enjoy. Meanwhile, the overweight Lolita (oh, what irony! ), played by Marilou Berry, doesn't so much deal with her deep-seated issues with daddy and her body as she constantly prattles on about them, and though Jean-Pierre Bacri gives the film's most interesting performance as famous author/Lolita's dad Etienne, he can't manage to escape the boorish nature of his character as conceived by Jaoui. All rather harmless, I guess, but I don't anticipate remembering much about it in a month or so. Rating: **.

Also, more thoughts on FORTY SHADES OF BLUE- one thing I didn't mention last time was how the film never quite gets the feel of the music-industry world in which it's set. In one sense, this could be deliberate, as we largely see the industry through outsiders' eyes- Laura (Dina Korzun), a Russian immigrant, and Michael (Darren Burrows), estranged son of music producer Allen James (Rip Torn). Yet even bearing this in mind, I thought the film dropped the ball by failing to convince me that Allen was the giant in his field who his colleagues insist he is at more than one point in the film. Had the film convinced me, it could have more successfully contrasted this image with the more human-sized one seen by Laura and Michael, making the film's final twenty minutes or so more emotional affecting, if still low-key. Also, the film's final scene (which is given away by the trailer) is your standard-issue Sundance-movie half-ending, which isn't always a bad thing but has become a rather annoying cliché of late.

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