mathieu amalric

NYFF 2014: Mathieu Amalric has a dark heart in ‘The Blue Room’

In Mathieu Amalric’s The Blue Room, love is a corrosive agent, an arsenic-like poison that slowly works its way into your heart. Amalric writes, directs and stars in this contorted but calculated little flick with a dark beating heart, adapted from a slim novel by Georges Simenon. It depicts the prelude to and aftermath of a possible murder (eschewing the actual murder itself, leaving things gleefully ambiguous). Amalric plays Julien Gahyde, who’s suspected of killing his wife (Lea Drucker). Amalric’s real-life partner Stéphanie Cléau plays Julien’s mistress, Esther Despierre, whose sickly husband owns a pharmacy with his mother. Amalric displays admirable trust in his viewers; he doesn’t withhold information as much as he carefully feeds us certain contemplated bits that add up to a beautifully hazy whole.

‘Venus in Fur’ is a luxurious treat

What is art if not an artist’s fiction translated into reality? A fiction wrought from fear, self-loathing and prejudice that escapes the confines of a sonnet and burrows its way into the collective consciousness. Now it is reality. Now it has power. Now it’s an idea, and ideas are poisonous. Rather than dispelling the poisonous reality, Polanski’s Venus in Fur toys with the delicate fiction lying beneath. It’s a study in role-playing, where the players and creators are equally baffled by the game. More importantly, this is the intensely personal work of an artist who understands that only by blurring the lines between fiction and reality can he approach what Herzog calls, “the ecstatic truth.”

GFF 2014: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is perhaps Wes Anderson’s most ambitious film to date, and one of his best

More than perhaps any other director, the work of Ernst Lubitsch has been the most noticeable influence on Wes Anderson’s style. Though the great German-American writer-director, most prolific in the 1930s and 1940s, was never quite so aesthetically bold in the look of his sets, he too was preoccupied with meticulous staging for comedy within his chosen locales, be they the titular Shop Around the Corner or the Parisian hotel of Ninotchka; The Grand Budapest Hotel is set in a fictional European country, the Republic of Zubrowka, another Lubitsch trait from works like The Merry Widow and The Love Parade, though The Shop Around the Corner happens to be set in the city Anderson’s mountaintop lodging house takes its name from. He garnered the descriptor of ‘the Lubitsch touch’ thanks to the moving sincerity that always made itself evident within even his more broad comedic premises, and Anderson’s own best work is that in which a recognisable humanism always makes itself known and potent even within the stylised stiltedness through which most of his characters are written and performed.

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