Small Change (1976)

Small Change 1

Truffaut having a go at a slice of small town (Thiers) French life in the hot summer of 1976.

It moseys along pleasantly enough for the first half an hour.

Toddler toppling out of top floor window and bouncing off a hedge without as much as a dent or a scratch. “Gregory go boom” he chortles. Mom has fainted.

A pair of goldfish in a bowl – which one is Plic which one Ploc? – with no filter! (goldfish care in French films of the 70s – abusive!)

There’s a dark haired bad lad Julien. And this blonde freckly good lad Patrick.

Small Change 2

Julien is being abused. Patrick is disabled fathers sole carer.

Julien has to go into care. Patrick gets to kiss the girl.

Small lifes’, small sufferings, small joys – small change.

Message is: children need to be loved, somewhere, by somebody, somehow. Yes, we knew that already.

The kids in this film are clunky cute, amateurishly raw. The various vignettes seem underwhelmingly random, lacking focus or compulsion.

Freckly faced Patrick just about charms Small Change out of its ho hum hum drum.

Dir: Francois Truffaut, France


The Woman Next Door (1981)

7296-oeuvrenextdoor1You might be having one of those fantasies about watching a cosy French film on a rainy Sunday. You want to shut your door on the world, get the fire going, lie on the sofa eating kettle crisps with your favourite slipper socks on.

This is probably that French film you’re fantasizing about.

It’s got passionate but doomed romance; it’s got Mathilde, “One of those women that complicate life”, beautifully, neurotically. It’s got “O la-la, la-la”. It’s got Gerard Depardieu being intensely cuddly. It’s got French ladies in short tennis skirts.

An obsessive Gallic love story with beginning, middle, and – suitably tragic – melodramatic end.

It hasn’t got any French bonking.

You’re in a safe pair of French hands with Truffaut. You’re in a safe pair of big arms with Depardieu too. Everything I’ve seen him in he’s been woodenly mainstream. So i tend to stay away from anything with him in it usually.

As soon as the kettle crisps are eaten, the need to watch this film will be over. But i watched on. It was slipping down easily enough. I was all cosy dozy.

I’m not really getting what makes Truffaut such a “great” director.

He’s predictably “O, la-la, la-la”.

Although his conk isn’t as big as Gerard’s.

Dir: Francois Truffaut, France


UPDATE April 2016: I didn’t have any great hopes that this would improve on watching again (6 years later) and it doesn’t disappoint – to disappoint.

Gerard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant aren’t great together; her big mouth of teethy smiles don’t slip onto his tight lips very convincingly. Fanny was Truffauts lover at the time, so maybe having little Francois stood there overseeing the ‘love’ scenes stilted their clinches.

‘Before I thought that many extraordinary things happened under the skirts of women’ says Gerard. Does he still want to get under Fannys skirt? Will she let him hide between her legs? Yes and no. Or no and yes. There’s emotional pain being competed for; her hurt v his insouciance. It’s all feeling a bit Barbara Cartlandesque; soapy with cliche; we’ve even got swelling love-strings as Gerard slips his hand under Fannys skirt feeling for extraordinary things.

Gerard is getting firing up with his moody violence; harassing her into anxiety.

‘All love stories have to have a beginning, a middle, and an end’. Yes, and we know how this love story is going to end – badly (tragically)

The third act steams into overblown melodrama; Gerard is pawing Fanny around the garden to the shock of the gathered guests and their mousey spouses; then Fanny is hospitalised after collapsing under a bush; thinks she’s ugly, garbage, doesn’t know what has happened to her (neither do I) wants to die (she will be in about 20 minutes)

I’ve got well fed up of this film by now. Couldn’t care less who dies. It’s torrid. It’s turgid.

The denouement: he’s slipping under her skirt again. She reaches for gun. Pulls the trigger once. He’s dead. Pulls the trigger twice. She’s dead. Shot in their bonces. Hurrah! It’s over.

What a steamy pot of mush. Another seriously silly Truffaut film.

It gets dropped to a tediously stinky 4/10

Confidentially Yours (1983)

Confidentially Yours

Truffauts final film.

It’s fastly plottily paced. Felt like I was being briskly whisked along into – what? A Chabrolesque thriller? A Hithcockian chiller? A spot of Truffartian spooffery?! (of chiller thrillers)

Truffaut’s mucking about with ‘murder melodramatics’ is slapped on thick. I’m amused for about half an hour; but the story is listing its fun out of a rapidly leaking plot. Or to put it another way: the holes being constantly dug out of the plot are turning it sloppily loopy.

By the final third I’d lost interest. It’s playful had turned silly into farcical.

That slippery lizard Trintignant (I don’t like much) plays it straight. Fanny Ardant (who I do like much) gets her long legs wrapped all over this like a phony good time girl.

It’s not one to keep or watch again.

Francois Truffaut, France


The Aviator’s Wife (1981)

18435326.jpg-r_640_600-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxxI usually give films on this blog a second watch, but won’t bother with this one. By about half way through I was wanting to have it over with, finger hovering itchily over the fast-forward button.

Marie Riviere (Anne) was pressing a few touchy buttons. Poor Francois, Anne wasn’t half giving him a hard time. Pulling and pushing at him. Not in love with him. Not really wanted to be his girlfriend. Too ambivalent to even be that considerate. I mean, he’s a nice lad – at least she could be kind, let him down gently. She’s too selfishly caught up in her own precious feelings to enlarge her small self-centred self. Yes, irritating. Her various frustrations not only irritated her. They irritated me also. I couldn’t like her.

Francois was capably if somewhat blandly played by Philippe Marlaud. His cloying need to be Anne’s boy (friend) didn’t seem to be totally convincing him either.

This film was getting to drag its feet.

The second act was sort of better. At least Anne-Laure Meury as schoolgirl Lucie injects some necessary vivacity. She tries to charm the charmless Francoise out of himself. The way she plays with his dull consciousness is like prodding at a pudding with your finger to test how ready or resistant it is.

Despite Lucie’s liveliness I’m disengaging from these contrived dialogues they’re meant to be engaging one another with. They don’t seem real, or true. Is a 15 year old schoolgirl capable of talking like this? Can this amount of intimate self-disclosure really be motivated by such a casual encounter? I can hear too many Rohmer “articulations” being put into their mouths; they aren’t saying these words – Rohmer is.

Ok Lucie. I’ve liked you – but now its time for you to bugger off.

And I’d like Francois not to be buggering back to Anne. But he does. So the whole third act is taken up with her push-pull ambivalence again. Francois tries to make off through the door a couple of times – go on pal, pick up your bag and go! Leave her, reject her, dump her. Stop being a wop! Stop being so bloody nice. You’re not in love with her no matter how much you try to convince yourself – or us – you are. You’re just puting up with it mate. Letting yourself be a passive doormat. Go on – dump the self-absorbed selfish neurotic female. Do it!

But he won’t let go. Or he wants to – cus he likes to – cling on to what makes him feel worthless. And call it love. Cus he’s worth it.

And even having the half-hearted hopeless notion of going back to fresh young Lucie won’t work either. Cus she’s kissing off her boyfriend.

Good. It’s over. Not one to watch again. But I always say that about Rohmer films I haven’t liked. And then I go watch them again. Perverse this attraction I have to Rohmer. Almost like a failing, like a malady I can’t find a cure for.

Dir: Eric Rohmer, France


Sad Footnote:Philippe Marlaud died the same year this film came out when his tent caught fire while camping. Only 22. If I’d known that I might have watched him a bit more sympathetically.

UPDATE: March 2016

I only watched this film once. Then gave it a cursory once over review. Maybe I’ll see more value in it on a closer 2nd watch. Yes, I’m going to watch it again.

Not feeling the negative reaction towards Anne (Marie Riviere) I was having first time around. Marie Riviere was a favourite actress of Rohmers’. She was very sympathetic in The Green Ray.

My POV has switched to her. Before I was on side with Francois. But I can see how she might see him as a bit of a hapless puppy, hanging around and chasing after her all the time. She’s just not that in to you Francois! He’s the transitional gap-filler, the “interim he’ll do for now stooge”

He’s a serial stalker this lad. First Anne. Then onto following Anne’s ex (Christian) in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Schoolgirl Lucie lucks into view. A delightful distraction. Come on Francois, this girl is lovely. Stop being so earnest, let her light you up!

“You find me ridiculous” he says to Francoise

“Yes, people wrapped up in their own problems always seem so’ says Lucie. Astute this girl, for a 15 year old.

I’ve liked being in that park with these 2 for the last 20 minutes.

They sit in the Cocker cafe “I like life when its mostly like a novel” says she.

Goodbye Lucie. You were a lovely breath of fresh air. But now its back to stale aired Anne for the long final scene in her crampy little attic flat with her 2 goldfish swimming around their very small bowl – and no filter. They’re gonna die from lack of oxygen!

Poor Francois is suffocating Anne too, “I hate anything clinging” says Anne “It’s absurd, because here I am with the most clinging guy in the world”

“Since it’s occasional I tolerate you” (she’s just not into you!)

“You’re so sad, so angry, so upset, yet whats happened to you” says Anne, “Nothing serious”. That’s true. But its because he’s needy of the love you aren’t giving him that he’s so upset. His need of you makes you want him less.

But she’s poking and provoking him: pull him towards, push him away. Wanting his pale passivity to become passionate, as anguished as her own suffering. “If you talk about something you give it an importance it doesn’t have” says Francoise.

Every little grain and nuance of Annes ambivalence towards Francoise (and towards men, and love affairs in general) is painfully squeezed out of this scene.

I’ve been won over! This is being a much better film than first time around. It just shows you. That how you watch a film can depend very much on how you want to see it: on how your mood is, how sympathetic you are willing to be, what you are looking for, what you are prepared to understand, how invested in giving something of yourself you are, the degree of curiosity you are energizing your watching with.

I’m going to keep this film now. And by the time I’ve watched it a third time it will have matured – like a fine wine – into something even finer!

Rating moves from that initial desultory 5/10 to a very commendable 7/10

Shoot the Pianist (1960)

I was charmed by this film when i saw it about 15 years ago.

A gangster movie with Charles Aznavour that isn’t really a gangster movie.

It still had the charm.

There’s the funny plinkety-plunk song at the beginning, “Quelle avanie… Ah! Ah! Ah!…” sung by a bloke bobbing up and down like a loony.

A cuddly Dudley (Moore) is Charlie. All the girls like Charlie. Because he plays the piano so beautifully. Because he’s cute, tiny. A sad little boy.

Apparently Truffaut realised about half way thro making this film that he didn’t like gangsters much – so he softened them up.

He threw bits of everything into the mix. Which kind of makes it an odd hybrid.

Self-consciously stylised.

You can’t help (fat pig) Plyne or anyone, you’re not concerned with anything” says Charlie about himself in one of his internal voice-overs.

Which gets at the sadly comic detachment that seems to run underneath this film. Arrange those tears. Fluff up those smiles.

Just rinky dink that plinky plunk piano.

UPDATE: March 2016

Watching this again, for the 4th and last time . It’s still got that cheeky “Char-lee” charm. I like that Aznavour isn’t your stereotypical ‘leading man’. ‘You don’t play the ladies man or the tough guy’ says waitress Lena ‘You’re shy. You respect women’. Aznavour doesn’t seem to really ‘act’ that much either.

The gangster plot is too self-consciously melodramatic to engage me. Mind you, most gangster noir gets to seem too contrived. I refuse to be inveigled inside the trite machinations of too much ‘goings on’.

The comic ironies of the script don’t translate very ‘funnily’ in subtitled English. You’d be smiling and smirking probably if you were French. I know I’m meant to be chuckling along. But I’m only, merely, faintly amused.

Fanboys would see the film as playfully artful. Detractors, decry it as a self-indulgent flim-flam of farcical tics, noirish nudges, knowing winks – trying too hard to be different.

I’m in the fanboy club. But I’m just about to leave.

Dir: Francois Truffaut, France


Full Moon in Paris (1984)

Pascale Ogier playing Louise (in the pic above) kills this film stone dead for me.

Baby-dolled, soppy-eyed, big-haired, stick-insect. “You appear very ethereal” says Octave (who wants to get more than friendship going with her, but she keeps kneeing him in the nuts) For ethereal, substitute squeakily ingratiating. God she’s irritating!

Octave likes explaining her to herself; which she laps us cus she’s self-obsessed like he is about all things moi. “You chose men who are beneath you, to be safe” he opines. “When somebody loves me too much, i love them less” she opines. Much opining is done in Rohmer films. Plenty plenty wordage. And verbiage. And meaningage

Her dancing in this film is unintentionally hilarious. Jerky head, jerky arms. Top half of body disconnected from bottom half. A head not in rhythm with arse and hips. Dancing like somebody who doesn’t like sex very much. Dancing like a wind-up dummy at a Gary Numan concert (no, make that Kraftwerk)

After about half an hour I’m hoping Remi (her actual boyfriend) will see sense and dump the skinny drip.

Which he does. She goes teary with self-pity. But she’s bonked some skinny kid too – so no need to feel too much sympathy for her – the silly girl.

And that’s one less Rohmer film to endure. Cus I certainly won’t be watching this ever again.

Dir: Eric Rohmer, France


And yet sad to say: Pascale Ogier died  – aged only 26 – of a heart attack soon after this film. Which makes me feel slightly guilty.

UPDATE: March 2016

Ok. I know, I was an absolute pig to Pascale Ogier in that review above (Aug 2008) So I’m going to have to make amends. Watch her with some sympathy in my heart.

She’s still got that high-pitched baby-doll voice. But its less ingratiating.

She’s always lived with her latest guy, never alone. “The one experience I’ve missed is loneliness, and the pain it causes”. What, you actually want to BE lonely, so as to self-consciously suffer?! Ok, maybe what she means is that loneliness will be a good personal development strategy, help her mature.

Her slimy friend Octave I’m really struggling to feel sympathetic for. He keeps pricking into her with his psycho-prod abstractions  “You settle for men who are way beneath you to be on the safe side”. In other words, he’s just jealous of her boyfriend Remi. He’d rather have her all to himself, as his tasty bit on the side (he’s married to lovely wife Agathe)

So she feels obliged to confess “I want to love him and keep him. The only reason I can’t is that he loves me too much”.

“The other persons desire brings out mine” she says. Although Octave’s desire she has to keep slapping away (stop mauling her – you oily slimeball!)

She’s living out in the dreary suburbs with her stay-at-home stick-in-the-mud ugly mug Remi. They aren’t compatible. This is going to end in tears. Or/and he’s going to end up thumping her.

She’s retained her flat in Paris. So she can go dancing. Be her young flirty social self again.

Her dancing leaves much to be desired. Anorexical arrhythmia is my diagnosis. She’s like a stick insect with a discombobulated big head of hair. I was laughing at her sticky insect shuffle the last time I saw it. But watching it now makes me feel sad.

And of course here comes that bugger of a boring boyfriend Remi to spoil all her fun

Julie will have to be simperingly contrite and apologetic to jealous Remi for all that naughty dancing she did in Paris last night.

Is he going to thump her? No he’s going to thump himself!

He manages to be both scary and comically, pathetically, absurd.

The writing is on the wall for Julie and Remi.

And before long she’s out dancing again. With drummer boy Bastien (Christian Vadim)

No pesky Remi stood there staring at her with murder in his jealous eyes.

There’s a full moon tonight. And its Paris. And you’ve got a hot boy to click with. Go on – do it! Let your big hair down girl!

Now she’s enjoying herself! A full moon wiggle on. And she’ll carry on dancing with the thin lad in her bed. Like 2 Stick Insects mating together it will be (although we don’t see the scraping together of their limbs)

While the cats been away, having a moony nights forgetful play, her dull dog Remi has been having his day too. Only his bit of tickle is no one night stand. He’s found himself a more serious, more suitable, girlfriend to stay at home with.

Julie is being uninstalled and unloved, has got to go. Will have to leave that cubic suburban hellhole and slink back to Paris (God! I’m feeling sorry for her now. My eyelids wobbled!) But Paris is where she belongs. She won’t shrivel away once back in that frothy compote. Well, as long as she can keep slimy Octave’s paws off her bony body.

So there you go. I’ve succeeded in what I’ve intended. Which is to overthrow my initial irritation with Pascale Ogier and reinvent her as someone I could appreciate, and feel sneakily – I admit it – charmed by. She won me over. Or rather I defeated my own narrow reactivity.

It’s amazing what you can do to perception when you reset your head with the right intention, and you open the door of compassion into your heart.

Goodbye Pascale Ogier. You did good. No really, I mean it – you did.


A Winter’s Tale (1992)

a-winters-taleYet another Eric Rohmer film with an irritating female in the lead role. It has to be Rohmer’s directing; he wants you to see conflicted modern females as preciously, worthily, troubled.

Whereas all I see is precious, useless, self-absorption.

The Felicie (Charlotte Very above) in this film has 2 current boyfriends in love with her who she doesn’t love; Loic (Herve Furic), a “sweet” but egg-headed, book-wormish, christian wop; and Maxence (Michel Voletti) – also sweet – but a jowly, portly, hairdressing wimp. And a 3rd boyfriend, absent – “Charles” – who she does love (and has a kid by) but hasn’t seen for 5 years.

I didn’t get why Loic and Maxence were bothering with or putting up with her. “What’s the attraction guys?” i kept thinking. Because i ain’t seeing any.

To be the centre of and be controlling 2 competing boyfriends you have to have magnetic attraction, be a sexual Diva; have charisma, perhaps have the charming allure of a virginal damsel (in distress)

But this woman ain’t got no charisma or charm. She’s too controlling to be distressed. And she ain’t sexy either.

Neurotic, yes. A capricious mucker about with blokes feelings, yes. “What do you want men to do? Grovel at your feet?” says poor Loic.

Probably. That’s what spoilt Princesses like her like to be happening.

A pain in the backside with all her vacillating, self-regarding, air-headededness she is.

“I love you, not enough to live with you, only to ruin your life” she says to poor old Loic.

The 2 boys (friends) indulge her in her fannying about. I suppose you could call how fickle she is whimsical. They’re too nice or “sweet” that’s their trouble. Far too tolerant ( i kept thinking)

Anyway, “her” Charles is finally returned to her life, by accident, on a bus. So she can go live all happily ever after with him.

Goodo. She’s got rewarded with what her love always wanted.

Or maybe he’ll get as fed up of her as i was eventually – and fuck off for goodo.

I wouldo.


UPDATE: March 2016

That was a rather shittily subjective review i did there back in 2008 (Oct) Might be saying more about me (then) than the film. Lets see how I see it – see Felicie – now with hindsight, and perhaps a less partial perspective.

The opening sequence of her holiday romance with Charles neatly sets up the messy imbroglios that will mess up the next 2 hours. He was her Great Love. But they ‘lost’ one another. Now – 5 years on – and despite having 2 lovers on the go – she’s hoping he’ll return.

Her ambivalence over these 2 men – flabby hairdresser Maxence, and eggyheaded Loic – can be possibly explained, but not necessarily excused, by what didn’t happen with lover-a-lump hunk Charles. He’s got a daughter he’s never been a dad to. So, it is, that Felice feels like she has to keep her door open, just in case, he comes back.

In every Rohmer film I’ve seen, his casting of the lead actress, can either sink or swim my sympathetic engagement in the film. And unfortunately, this is one of his actresses (like Pascal Ogier in Full Moon in Paris) that switch me off (emotionally) more than turn me on (sexually). Or rather, they switch on a subconscious, and irrational, antipathy. Actually, that’s not quite right. I don’t dislike her. It’s more that I don’t like her enough to disregard her deficiencies. She’s doesn’t captivate me sufficiently to disarm what I see as the rather callous way she’s treating these 2 hapless blokes.

This is being a much better film than I gave it credit for. The psychology in it, like in all Rohmers films, is exquisitely subtle, finely nuanced, delicately emeshed; revealing, and examining, the entangled, contradictory, messy motivations that are true of real life. I’m getting inside this film like its my real life, and no longer just a film to be watched. As complex and as contradictory as life actually really is.

The way the opening sequence was presented made her love seem to have all the giddy infatuation of a holiday romance. A short-lived fling elevated into the One and Only Love. And yet she didn’t even know his last name! Or make sure how to keep in contact with him. Even more careless is her mistake, the ‘slip’, of giving him the wrong address for herself. So maybe her love was merely an inflation of the romantic idealism that got her carried away, and up the duff.

Seems to me she’s trying to sort out the type of relationship she actually wants with Maxence and Loic. Probably keep Loic as a dear friend. And have Maxence as her Friends with Benefits bloke. But both are second best. Until some other he man comes along who could ping her heart strings to shreds. The Prince Charming she believes her Charles to be.

The fickle feelings and love whims of this girl are being too indulged. She’s too precious. Or maybe she’s not precious enough, not special enough, to inhabit the self centred Princess persona she’s set herself up for.

She disgruntles Maxence by telling him she’s returning to Paris, ‘I can only live with a man I’m madly in love with’. Ok. The ‘madly in love’ she felt for Charles. That fucky fling thing she did for a few weeks 5 years ago. If I were Maxence I’d start shouting now (no, he’s far too nice and reasonable)

I suppose a more generous intepretation of how she’s being is to say she wants to live in  accordance with her true feelings. There’s something commendable about her commitment to living her life in integrity, on her own terms, according to her genuinely felt heart-sense. She’s eschewing the compromise of 2nd best, stubbornly refusing to live in ‘bad faith’.

Or maybe she’s just a selfish immature girl; jerking around these 2 men, and causing them unnecessary suffering, with her confused, and confusing, fickle feelings.

Back to Paris she goes, back to Loic. He’s bringing in Pascal, and Plato, in attempt to rationalise her Moment of Realisation, her Premonition, about Charles in Nevers Cathedral. Now, we see Loics male logic v  her feminine intuition. Reason v Faith.

It’s her Faith that wins in the end. She lucks out (Charles is sat there, miraculously, on the bus, opposite) She’s got given – as a gift of grace – what she had faith in, and believed, she always wanted. I’m buying it, just about.

So. I’ve invested more ‘objective’ interest in this film. I haven’t allowed myself to get carried away with superficial prejudices about spoilt Princesses.

This film has to be bumped up from a  5 to a 7. It’s been better. It’s been good.

Dir: Eric Rohmer, France


Love on the Run (1979)

Love on the Run 2

The final film in the Antoine Doinel cycle. That’s Antoine ( Jean Pierre Leaud) thinking he might be ‘getting it on’ again with his adolescent sweetheart Colette ( Marie-France Pisnier)

The film cuts and pastes various flashbacks (over 17 mins of clips) from the 4 previous films into this one.

What am I concluding about Antoine?
That he’s a Love-Addict.
That he’s a Pick-Up Artist.
That he’s a Narcissist.
That he suffers from Insecure Attachment.
That he’s a selfish, immature, Man-Child.

“You haven’t changed, you are as self-centred as ever” (says Colette) I’ll second that.

“All your little intrigues and quirks tire me out” says new girl on the go Sabine.
Yes, they have been pretty tiresome his quirks. In fact, how little lad Antoine has managed to suck so many beautiful women into his little-boy-lost love longing is a bit beyond me.

This ex girlfriend Colette did right to reject him right from the start

Love on the Run 1

Marie-France Pisier as Colette is one of those impossibly beautiful French actresses, albeit with a less than lovely over straining voice. She’s been reading there what lies Antoine has written about her in his lightly fictionalised account of their misalliance.

“Two people who love each other should share everything. Neither should feel left out of what is going on with the other” says newbie Sabine. True enough. But Antoine’s love for women isn’t a mature adult love. It still seems to be stuck, immaturely, in adolescent infatuation.

Appears that this concluding film is regarded as the weakest of the 5. I don’t think it’s that bad. But then again, I didn’t rate the other 4 films that highly to start with.

I wouldn’t want to watch it, or any of the other films, again. Mercifully, Antoine Doinel got killed off. And 5 years after this film was made, so was Truffaut.

Dir: Francois Truffaut, France

It gets bumped up from 5 to 6/10 because Marie-France Pisier is the epitome of beautiful French Actress chic!

Love on the Run 3



Down Terrace (2009)


The first film Ben Wheatley made on a very very shoe-string budget. And 4th film of his I’ve seen; I’ve already reviewed Sightseers, and A Field in England, but couldn’t be bothered with The Kill List.

I almost couldn’t be bothered to review this either. Its pretty bad.

Small time gangsters living in a Brighton semi-detached. A father, the bespectacled son, and a moll of a mom. Why shout at one another when you can scream? Why waste energy getting angry with people – when you can kill em?

This starts as low-grade Mike Leigh and ends up as, well, something I don’t really know (because I never watch them)  – a thrasher slasher flick?.

The 2nd half of the film is totally ludicrous. Everybody gets bumped off. Without any plausible character motivation or narrative justification for all the murdering going on.

Was it meant to be intentionally farcical? If so its not at all funny. A black comedy piss-take on reality tv dramedy? A parody of gangster Brit flicks? A parody of a parody? Yes, its a parody of a parody that ends up sounding stupid, being pathetic.

Tonal shifts (to parody a Guardian Film critic) here are more like tonal lurches, or total tonal lapses. Whatever tone its meant to be it all sounds out of tune, with no real authorial (directorial) voice or vision. Its like its ape-shitting, sticking its arse out to show how cheeky it can get. But it feels like failure.

I know Ben Wheatley is the Brit Crits darling because he’s a homegrown homespun film-maker who is daring to be different. Trying to be a bit out the box, flouting convention, flirting and cross-fertlizing across genres. Trying to shock cinema audiences out of their norms.

But maybe he just needs to calm down a bit. Stop showing off. Stop shocking for shocks sake. And stop this juvenile fixation he seems to have with killing everybody. Maybe his next film could leave out the schlocky shock stuff and gratuitous violence, and concentrate a bit more on developing plausible characters confronted by and with authentic dilemmas (i.e no more murdering)

Dir: Ben Wheatley, UK


Silent Souls (2010)


Not much is said in this film. Not much is stated. More is alluded to, or hinted at.

Miron’s young wife Tanya has died. He asks best friend Aist to lay her body out, to prepare her to be on her way to distant Lake Nero, where they’ll burn her body and scatter its ash into the water “Drowning means to suffocate from joy, tenderness, and yearning”

Miron is combing her long hair, carefully washing her all over with a flannel; her body looks so ripe and ready still (for life) Aist brings multicoloured threads to tie into her pubic hair.

Driving along empty roads into the bleak and the barren, Miron is talking about his wife; “All 3 of Tanyas holes were working, everything only happened by my initiative” This ‘smoke’ talk is apparently something you are allowed to do over the deceased person “because it makes your face brighter and turns your grief into tenderness”.

There were rumours that Tanya didn’t love him but Miron said nothing about it. Maybe he twigged she didn’t love him and bumped her off?

We get to see something of her life flashed back; he played the luscious breasts of her, bathed her in vodka.

Seems like Aist had been loving her too.

Silent souls sharing their living inside the now dead silence of the wife. “Our people are a bit strange. Their faces are inexpressive. There are no passions boiling”. These Merja people. Suffering in bleak and cold isolation. I’ve found home!

Here, Miron and Aist have met a couple of prostitutes to warm themselves up in

‘A live womans body is also a river that carrries grief away its only a shame that you can’t drown in it’

Its all so deliciously dolorously desolate.

But then of course, its all been a great big fat fiction. The ancient Finno-Ugric Merjas of West-Central Russia died out many yonks ago. This is an elaborate ethnological piece of cod! But so brilliantly done, you couldn’t smell the stink!

Dir: Aleksey Fedorchenko, Russia