Yves Pelletier – Les Aimants AKA Love and Magnets (2004)

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Montreal Mirror wrote:

People tend to be cynical and derisive towards romantic comedies. Personally, I’m a softie and seeing people fall in love on screen always touches me. Then again, I’m aware that most entries in the rom-com genre are derivative and idiotic. But once in a blue moon, you find one that’s surprisingly original and intelligent. Les Aimants is such a film.

After five years abroad, Julie (Isabelle Blais) comes back to Montreal and crashes with her sister Jeanne (Sylvie Moreau), a woman who lies as she breathes. Jeanne is engaged to Noël (David Savard), a workaholic who’s never home, so they communicate through messages they leave on the refrigerator. When Jeanne leaves for a week of adultery with theremin virtuoso Manu (Emmanuel Bilodeau), she asks Julie to cover up for her by responding to Noël’s fridge notes. But Julie decides to get “positive revenge” on her seemingly heartless sister by making the messages she leaves more romantic… Continue reading

Ferzan Ozpetek – La Finestra di fronte aka The Window Opposite (2003)

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Giovanna is a bookeeper in a company which packs chickens. She is married to a man who has a precarious job. First she starts being curious about a young man who lives in the block opposite hers, and then she falls in love with him. The relationship between the two becomes much stronger when she starts to find out more about him from an old man who bursts into their lives. The old man, obsessed with the memories of some things that happened n the long past autumn of 1943, has lost his memory and finds refuge in Giovanna.
“Facing Windows (La Finestra di fronte)” is like a very European and more sophisticated take on “The Notebook,” as it shifts between romantic and culinary past and present through the in-and-out consciousness of an elderly man. The “Rear Window” eroticism is just one element that accidentally brings together tangled, stymied lives swirling around lovely, exhausted, frustrated chef, wife and mother Giovanna Mezzogiorno, where each child, man, woman, friend and neighbor has separate priorities and fantasies that annoying real life interferes with, from the practical to the political. Continue reading

David Lynch – Wild at Heart (1990)

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After breaking parole for self defensive manslaughter, Sailor Ripley and his girlfriend Lula Fortune head down the highway for sunny California. Lula’s mother sends out a private detective and a hitman after them. Sailor and Lula encounter an assortment of extremely bizarre “people” while discovering hidden secrets about one another. Full of lurid imagery and references to The Wizard of Oz. (Written by Jennifer Harrison)
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Oskar Roehler – Elementarteilchen aka Elementary Particles (2006)

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Quote:
If you are moved by the death of a parakeet at the beginning of The Elementary Particles (Elementarteilchen), you are in for a bumpy ride, as all of humanity as we know it will be wiped out by the film’s end in a brief written epilogue. Of course, those who have read the novel (Les particules élémentaires in its original French, Atomised in its UK version) saw this coming, but for those who are unfamiliar with Michel Houellebecq’s cult hit that explosively mixes sex, death and science to annihilate mankind – and blames the flower power generation for it in the process – this might come as something of a shock. Continue reading

Mario Camerini – Il Signor Max (1937)

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Plot:

Vittorio De Sica, heir to a large sum of money and owner of a newspaper vending stall, makes enough money out of his business to take a vacation at a fashionable resort. He is given a cruise ticket by an aristocrat who is an old school friend, and is mistaken for the aristocrat when he uses a camera that has his friends name on it. Assia Noris plays a maid who falls in love with him because of who he is and not who others think he is. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Waltzes from Vienna (1934)

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A bizarre entry in Alfred Hitchcock´s filmography: Johann Strauss Jr. is the son of the famous conductor and composer, and plays the violin in his father’s orchestra. He hasn’t had any of his own compositions performed or published because Strauss Sr. sternly discourages it. Not dismayed, Strauss Jr gives singing lessons to his gifted sweetheart Resi, the daughter of a pastry chef, and dedicates all his songs to her. Then he meets a Countess who has written some verses and asks his help in setting them to music. When her husband hears from a servant that a young man is upstairs with his wife, he storms into the music room, but the name of Strauss placates him. Later, Resi isn’t so easily placated, for she senses a rival. However, the Countess essentially has Strauss Jr’s best interests at heart. With a publisher friend, she successfully plots to have the elder Strauss delayed one night so that Jr’s new composition, “The Blue Danube” may receive a performance. Strauss Jr. conducts the waltz himself, becoming the sensation of Vienna. Soon afterwards, though the Prince’s suspicions have briefly been aroused again, everyone is finally reconciled.
In his interview with François Truffaut in 1964 and in many other interviews, Alfred Hitchcock referred to this film as “the lowest ebb of my career”. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)

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“Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is a rarity in that it was directed by that master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The film pays in ways that only a crafty Hitchcock would know how. The director takes Norman Krasna’s screen play and gives it an elegant treatment.

The idea of a technicality annulling a marriage is at the center of the story. When David Smith is told about it, he sees the possibility of not telling his wife. Ann and David have a strange marriage life. They love each other dearly and they seem to work at maintaining their union as a fun enterprise where they are playful and do unexpected things to please one another. David miscalculates Ann’s reaction to his playing a joke and not telling her about their new status.

The revelation at the beginning of the film is made known to Ann, who goes along with the joke expecting to be asked that same day to run to a justice of the peace to get married again. When David doesn’t act on what for Ann seems to be essential, she flies into a rage and vows to get even with David. This is the basic premise of the comedy. Things get complicated, but we know all will be right at the end as Ann will come to her senses. David also is expected to legalize their status. Continue reading