Everest

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Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) is a gifted mountaineer who reached the top of Everest several times. In 1992, the talented climber decided to launch a high-altitude guiding business. By 1996, Rob managed to bring thirty-nine amateurs on the summit of the Mount Everest. However, this year was tragically marked by a horrible disaster. Everest tells the story of Hall’s last adventure.

Everest, directed by Baltasar Kormákur, wonderfully shows this irrational human needs to realise the impossible. The film is captivating from the start as Kormákur does not waste time on secondary story lines. Viewers are immediately immersed in the story. They passively participate in this extraordinary exploit. This delusional immersion is drastically helped by the poor cinematography of Everest. Indeed, the film is far from being aesthetically glamorised. Everest‘s imagery is raw, which makes the film look realistic. Viewers are therefore urged to forget the screen to exclusively focus on the long and risky ascension.

Everest is also a film about personal quest and challenge. Climbers in the film are clearly driven by the same purpose. They all want to prove their worth to themselves and others. Climbing the highest mountain on Earth is a way for them to justify their existence and flee their bland daily routine. To feel alive, they have to dangerously defy death. It is quite regrettable that the film superficially tackles the climbers’ motivations.

The film subtly denounces the commercialisation of mountain climbing. Everest is excellent at showing how unprepared the amateur climbers were, and how irresponsible the professional ones could be. It is quite scary to see the last ones thinking in terms of profits instead of safety. Their only objective consists in bringing their clients on the top of Everest no matter what. The disaster is, therefore, due to a multitude of poor decisions dictated by the desire to satisfy the clients.Hopefully this film will show that climbing the Mount Everest is not a game. Only experienced and professional climbers should be allowed to climb it.

In brief, Everest is a fascinating film which easily engages viewers by realistically depicting the Everest ascension, and by showing the dangers of commercial mountain climbing.

 

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Madame Bovary

81

Emma Bovary (Mia Wasikowska) is married to Doctor Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). Whilst the young French woman seems happy at the beginning, her life progressively becomes boring. Emma spends bland days. Nothingness appears to rule her monotonous existence. And yet, Mrs Bovary dreams of a better and more exciting life. She does her best to distract herself and escape this mortal routine. Therefore, Emma starts spending money she does not have, and love men she should not.

Although Madame Bovary, based on the eponymous French novel, is a pleasant film, it remains inferior to Flaubert’s masterpiece. Whilst Gustave Flaubert managed to adroitly narrate a story about boredom without boring readers, the film, directed by Sophie Barthes, is incapable of addressing this theme in a captivating way. The story on the screen struggles to fascinate viewers.Translating the boredom on a screen is really difficult as the imaginative process is totally killed. The cinematographic production, contrary to the book, fails at transmitting Emma’s feelings and thoughts. Here is the greatest flaw of the film. This lack of depth prevent viewers from understanding Emma’s choices and reactions. Emma from the novel is more complex and developed than the woman introduced on the screen.Two hours are definitely not enough to convey the delicate beauty and poetry from the book. The rhythm is too fast to actually reproduce the particular atmosphere of Flaubert’s marvelous literary creation. The story has unfortunately been too simplified to meet cinematographic conventions.

Moreover, her relationship with her husband Charles Bovary is superficially tackled. Charles in the film greatly differs from the character described in the novel. Charles on the screen is too glamourised. He almost appears as a brave and attractive man. It is not the case in the novel. Flaubert’s Charles is weak, fearful, and quite pathetic. The man severely lacks ambition. In the novel, readers can understand Emma’s reactions and decisions. The film tends to denature the book by telling the story with an external and neutral look. It should have followed the novel and transmit the story under Emma’s viewpoint. The film would have increased its quality status.

However the film manages to represent the vanity of Emma. The best scenes revolve around her endless quest for more. She wants more money, more prestige, more lovers, more excitement. Her evolution in the film is well illustrated. At the beginning, she is this pure and fragile woman who starts a new life. And she progressively becomes this miserable and desperate person who is looking for a life of excess. She becomes selfish, irrational and arrogant.

Madame Bovary is a satisfying film which unfortunately does not properly honour Flaubert’s chef-d’oeuvre.  

 

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Nightcrawler

80

When Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is not wandering into the dark Californian streets with his car, he is desperately looking for a job. Someday, after randomly arriving on an accident scene, Louis meets Joe Loder (Bill Paxton), a freelance news photographer selling his footage to television stations. The unemployed man quickly develop an admiration for such independent and lucrative activity. Therefore, he decides to make his debuts in television journalism. To deliver competitive content to stations, Louis acquires a professional video camera, buys a new car and hires an assistant. Soon, he realises that to at the top he will have to employ unethical and illegal methods.

Nightcrawler, directed by Dan Gilroy, is a smart film offering some brilliant insight into the struggles unemployed people go through nowadays to obtain a paid activity. It is highly interesting to see how Louis, brilliantly interpreted by a a mesmerising Jake Gyllenhaal, tries to survive in the Californian jungle. He needs a job and apparently possesses great skills to embark on an interesting professional path. And yet, the hunt is long and difficult, driving Louis to despair concerning his future. As a result, when he decides to start working in television journalism, Louis deliberately crosses legal boundaries in order to keep his captivating job. Equipped with a video camera and deprived from any ethical limits, Louis makes triumphal debuts in his new career. Nightcrawler perfectly shows how perverted the television industry can be. Louis is no longer an observant. Indeed, to obtain better exclusive images, he does not hesitate to intervene in the crime scenes. And, he is protected by his news editor, Nina Romina (Rene Russo) who is completely aware of such illicit and immoral practices. This thriller demonstrates the excessive abuses created by the unbearable pressure coming from the world of television news.

Nightcrawler is also about the immorality of capitalism. The television news station needs to make money and they are ready to do anything to reach their objectives. Nina has no problem about broadcasting gruesome and shocking images to attract viewers. The journalistic field is brilliantly explored in the film. The moment when the editors are discussing the manner in which the footage presenting a murdered family should be edited is fascinating. It just shows how inhumane television news professionals can be. They barely respect human dignity. Instead, they are driven by their audience ratings, which is truly disgusting, but unfortunately not far from reality if we think about how 24-hour channels cover terrorist attacks or crimes to attract mass audiences for example.

Moreover, Nightcrawler features authentic characters as they are all flawed. The film manages to convincingly challenge the naive Manichean perception Hollywood can have of the real world. Even if Louis appears mentally unstable as he is ready to sacrifice his assistant to obtain unique footage, his ambition can also be understood. He does his best to keep the job he struggled to get. He only tries to eliminate his competitors as anyone would actually do. The same goes with Nina. She needs to prove her worth in the newsroom. She has to produce and deliver distinctive content to assure the success of her channel. Nina is tied by the numbers. This is why she remains silent when she realises the illicit and felonious activities of her employee.

To sum up, Nightcrawler is an amazing cinematographic production authentically representing the cruel reality faced by job seekers.

 

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The Hundred-Foot Journey

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Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) lives in India where he has developed a remarkable culinary obsession and talent thanks to the family restaurant and the know-how of his mother. After losing both of them in a terrible accident, the Kadam family, now led by Papa Kadam (Om Puri), immigrates to southern France. There, the family are kindly helped by Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), a sous-chef working for Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) who owns a Michelin-referenced French cuisine establishment. Not ready to leave the small and welcoming village, Papa Kadam decides to open an Indian restaurant just across the road from Madame Mallory’s successful business. A rivalry emerges and brutally spreads before fading thanks to the innovative culinary prodigy of Hassan.

The Hundred-Foot Journey, directed by Lasse Hallström, is a delicious and tasteful cinematographic production. Despite some clichés attached to rural France, this film brilliantly and subtly conveys a message of tolerance and acceptance through its focus on food. Not only are different ingredients mixed, French and Indian cultures are also perfectly intertwined. The film uses metaphors to challenge ideas of nationalism and show how positive cultural mix can be. For example, by mixing French and Indian cuisine together, Hassan obtains magical and tasty meals that are better than ever.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is also about respecting the origins. Hassan likes cooking traditional meals which remind him of his childhood and homeland. Hassan is a culinary genius. When he goes away from his roots he feels he loses himself so, he has to go back to make food he enjoys. First, he strictly follows the recipes, and then adapts them on his own. In this film, the path to success is detailed. Even if you have talent, you are not exempt from learning the bases. The Hundred-Foot Journey is a modern fairytale about a little boy who, after discovering the exquisite pleasures of food, has worked hard to achieve success and be recognised.

All the characters are touching and well interpreted, especially Papa Kadam and Madame Mallory who are the core of the story. Their tense chemistry perfectly works. The shift in their relationship nature is smartly and slowly done. It never feels superficial or botched. On the contrary, the journey Madame Mallory goes through before accepting the Kadam family is well-developed. Here again, there is a message of tolerance and acceptance. Madame Mallory does not accept racist and nationalist ideologies despite their business rivalry. She actually respects the courage of the family. She does not reject them because of their origins. The Hundred-Foot Journey challenges stereotypes about immigrants. Here, these people are polite, respectful, well-educated and contribute to the well-being of the small village. There do not appear as threatening the community. By showing the Kadam family embracing the French culture without denying their origins, the film brings immigrants closer to “us.” This is an important film which delegitimises extreme-right ideologies.

Overall, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a must watch as it delivers a truthful and original view on immigration, far from stereotypical representations.

 

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Pitch Perfect 2

61

The Barden Bellas are back! After a humiliating and ridicule performance in front of Barack and Michelle Obama, the group, led by both Beca (Anna Kendrick) and Chloe (Brittany Snow), is no longer allowed to sing within the aca-circuit. Not ready to give up and motivated to prove their worth, the Bellas bravely decide to enter an international competition. However, the path to win turns out to be complicated, and demands a strong commitment from all the girls. They notably have to work on their friendship to reinforce their musical link and recreate their special enchanting genius.

Pitch Perfect 2, directed by Elizabeth Banks, is a botched and superficial film. Viewers are barely engaged with the sketchy, insipid and monotonous plot. Too many storylines are explored but definitely not in depth. What is happening to the different characters is neither interesting, nor intriguing. Everything goes too fast. The film does not take time to establish the roots of solid and captivating stories. For instance, Pitch Perfect 2 would have been a better film if more time had been devoted to the scenes in which the Bellas express their fears about leaving university. Even the struggles encountered by Beca during her internship could have been expanded further to render a film of high quality. Instead, such moments are sacrificed in favour of musical performances which do not contribute to the stories’ development. Although amusing and entertaining, these performances are regrettably mediocre. The mash-ups are not harmonious at all and sound quite cheap. Also, some characters, such as Becca’s boyfriend, Jesse (Skylar Astin), are shamefully non-existent, which is really disappointing. This second opus resembles an awful episode of Glee.

The only positive point in Pitch Perfect 2 is Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson who is just amazingly hilarious. Every word which comes out of her mouth is laughable. She is the star of this cinematographic production. Rebel Wilson is freshly delightful and deliciously funny. She clearly saves the film with her awesome comedic talent. A spin-off with Fat Amy would actually be the perfect comedy.

To sum up, even though Rebel Wilson delivers an awesome interpretation, Pitch Perfect 2 remains a disappointing cinematographic production.

 

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Mad Max: Fury Road

60

In a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland where humanity madly suffers from the scarcity of vital resources, two insanely brave people fight for a better future. On the one hand, Max (Tom Hardy) is a solitary man scarcely speaking but flooded with hallucinations. He tries to make peace with himself after his wife and daughter got brutally killed. On the other hand, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is a vigorous and fearless woman who heroically tries to join her childhood homeland to save her female companions from the cruelty and ruthlessness of the powerful and evil Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

Mad Max: Fury Road, directed by George Miller, is an explosive and audacious cinematic production. This action film is successfully driven by a hypnotic rhythm, an impressive and innovative cinematography, and charismatic protagonists. Indeed, stagnant and slow scenes are rather rare. The main action revolves around the captivating chase. Hence, there are always fast movements, which adroitly serves to increase the exciting tension emanating from the film. The editing is original and truly reflects the craziness of those who appear on the screen. Mad Max: Fury Road is also visually outstanding. Colours are smartly mixed and desert landscapes are admirably captured by the camera. The plot remains simple with a clear focus. By avoiding extra storylines, the film does not fall into the usual trap characterising other productions. Here, there is no empty scenes deprived from any interest. In addition, all the protagonists are fascinating and bring some unique value to the overall film.

The best character in Mad Max: Fury Road is, without any doubt, the rebel Furiosa interpreted by a royal and brilliant Charlize Theron. She is a true positive role model. She is a strong, brave, fearless and independent woman. Furiosa is the real badass heroine. What a delicious pleasure and satisfaction to finally see a woman being the extraordinary saviour in a cinematographic genre usually targeting male viewers. Mad Max: Fury Road is unambiguously feminist as it successfully challenges the hegemonic male domination regrettably found in action films. This cinematographic production will hopefully change the way women are depicted in this specific genre. Women can be convincing leaders.

In brief, Mad Max: Fury Road is a marvelous film which does not hesitate to place a badass female heroine at the very core of the action.

 

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The Age of Adaline

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Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) was born at the beginning of the 20th century. After a car accident coupled with some mysterious magic originating from the sky, she becomes miraculously ageless. Adaline is doomed to stay forever young. Whilst this situation could please many, the young woman realises that she cannot stay in the same place more than ten years without raising suspicions. Therefore, she has to constantly change her identity. Whereas her plan perfectly worked during several decades, everything collapses when she meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman). Suddenly she is confronted with her past and has to make decisions that could considerably affect her future.

The Age of Adaline, directed by Lee Toland Krieger, turns out to be quite disappointing despite a thought-provoking core argument. And yet, at first sight, the theme explored by the film is particularly original as hegemonic opinions about aging are adroitly contested. Indeed, Adaline suffers from her impossibility to grow old. In the film, youth is not stereotypically glamourised, and is rather presented as a burden. Aging is here desired more than anything. The Age of Adaline challenges the dominant myth of a supreme youth. Nevertheless, the manner in which the story is treated is unsatisfactory. Everything is expected. Nothing really surprises viewers. On the contrary, the end is so predictable that the film becomes boring. This is not even helped by the general level of acting. Actors do not even seem convinced. Harrison Ford, playing William Jones, offers an uninspired performance. Also, the film is truly superficial. There is a clear lack of chemistry between the two main actors. Their romance is barely fascinating. In contrast, the link between Adaline and her daughter, Flemming (Ellen Burstyn), seems more captivating and would have deserved more screen time. Unfortunately, instead of developing the relationship linking Adaline to her daughter, the director has regrettably preferred to focus on the insipid, bland, monotonous, and empty love story.

The only asset of The Age of Adaline is Blake Lively. The ex Gossip Girl is surprisingly convincing in the role of the immortal Adaline. She plays her role with grace, delicateness and ideal restraint. Blake Lively really embodies the timeless beauty defining her character. She finally proves and confirms her qualities making her a safe value in the world of Hollywood. She is not only an appearance, she is a talented and touching actress. It is a real pleasure to see her in a cinematographic production.

To sum up, The Age of Adaline, led by an astonishing Blake Lively, is a terribly mediocre, superficial and frustrating film whose flaw is develop a pointless romance instead of an incredible maternal link.

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