Coco avant Chanel (2009), Dir. Anne Fontaine

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Alessandro Nivola as the dashing Arthur Capel and a captivating Audrey Tatou as Coco Chanel

 

Rating: 6/10

I liked this film more until looking at the details of Chanel’s actual life I found out that she slept with a nazi during the war, and that she was a a bit of a liar making up her whole aspects of her upbringing, which is not represented here. Of course to portray a sympathetic heroine it would be hard to include this. But I think that they put too much emphasis on her as a pioneering woman, as Colin Mc Dowell points out in The Sunday Times , Poiret released women from the corset before Chanel and women like Lanvin got into the fashion business also long before Chanel built her empire.

It is then a bit of a hagiography and clearly not as good as the film it was trying to cash in on, La Vie En Rose, and it’s certainly not as dramatic as this film even though it does follow the same rags to riches formula; seeing her go from a strict catholic orphanage, to a singing career in a brothel  to a successful career. Nonetheless, it is entertaining and Audrey Tatou is always a delight to watch beautiful (especially when dressed in  a suit), luminous and engaging if a little gaunt (perhaps she slimmed down for the role?). It is fact her who makes the film, though Benoit Polvoorde (who was also excellent in Man Bites Dog) is also good as the wise-craking but immature Etienne Balsan. The man who, at first reluctantly, takes on Chanel as his mistress or as he prefers it to see it his ‘geisha.’

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Kisses (2008), Dir. Lance Daly

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Rating: 7/10

I saw this as part of the Kilburn Film Festival at the Tricycle in a half-full (if that) cinema. Which is the problem with these small British, in this case Irish, films they just don’t attract the crowds like a Transformers can. Something to do with marketing and money,was ever the way.

Which is a shame because this is a good film, honest and touching in a way that reminded me of This Is England or In Search Of A Midnight Kiss. Though not quite as good as these two films it came close. Writer and director Lance Daly has also managed to get a great and natural performance out of the two young leads Kelly O’Neill and Shane Curry as Kylie and Dylan.

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Overrated Classics

Micheal Haneke: Provacative, maybe, enjoyable, decidedly not.

Micheal Haneke: Provacative, maybe, enjoyable, decidedly not.

What is it with critically lauded films that are for the most part confusing , frustrating and makes you feel like nearly everyone-else understands or gets it apart from you, and therefore you must  either be a philistine or just a little bit dim. Neither of which you feel you really are. Watching two films by recent Golden Palm winner Michael Haneke, Caché (2005) and Funny Games (2007) (admittedly not the Austrian original but seeing how the US version is meant to be virtually identical it probably doesn’t make that much difference) the other day I felt quite cheated (which I suppose people will say was Haneke’s intention meaning you never can win an argument with a Haneke fan). But having heard so much about this director, and having sucked in by the many film festival plaudits and recommendations I was convinced that I would like him.

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