Archive for August, 2002

2001

August 13, 2002

HBO

USA

English

Mark Wahlberg. Jennifer Aniston.

The Story Of A Wannabe Who Got To Be.

Pretty fun to watch if you’ve ever dreamt of being pulled out of the crowd to sing along with Bruce or play along with U2. The story is extremely thin. Pittsburgh guy gets picked, falls for the party lifestyle, loses girl, tries to build life back. The same story is done every week in 44 minutes on VH1. Wahlberg and Aniston are cute together. They both know every possible fact about the band they love, Steel Dragon. This is pretty much the story of the guy who used to sing in a Judas Priest cover band and then when Rob Halford left, he was hired. I saw a film called TRIBUTE which was all about tribute bands. This Judas Priest story is recollected by a guy who now performs as Rob Halford in his own tribute band. To hear him tell the story, the guy sang the first line of a single song and was hired on the spot. I don’t know which song it was, but it required some sort of loud, high, sustained note. The singer telling the story seemed bitter that he wasn’t given the chance to try out. Anyway, in this film, Wahlberg is flown to L.A. to a home studio to sing along with a track and is offered the gig that day.

I found it particularly funny when someone asks Wahlberg if Steel Dragon played a particular song. He answers that they haven’t played it since Tokyo 1978. My friend Matt can tell you the setlist of any U2 show since 1981. Wahlberg and Aniston also ridicule another tribute singer for having the wrong color lapel on his dragon jacket and are mortified by the other singer’s mixture of different tour costumes.

This film is extremely light, and it was fun to watch. Wahlberg did a good job of lip syncing and Aniston just had to look like a hot, smart, rock fan. At the end, Wahlberg does a fantastic Eddie V. impression. Authenticity is added by Steel Dragon being played by Ozzy’s former guitarist, Dio’s former bassist, and son-of-the-best-drummer-in-history, Jason Bonham.

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(READ MY LIPS)

2001

July 31, 2001

Camera 7

France

French

Vincent Cassel. Emmanuelle Devos. Olivier Gourmet.

Secretary hires ex-con assistant and the two of them become a team.

Extremely interesting story about a mostly-deaf, lonely office worker who becomes attached to the ex-con she hires as her assistant. The sound design on this film was among the most creative ever. When Devos takes her hearing aids out, we don’t hear anything on screen. When she has them turned up too loudly, like in a dance club, the pulsing beat makes us want to cover our ears. They also did a great job on the photography. There are close ups aplenty, and when we are seeing through Devos’ eyes, we pinpoint one part of the frame. People who have one sense disabled, make up for it by having another sense that is a bit more sensitive. Through her eyes we see her focus on a man’s lips as he is speaking and on hands or an angora sweater or on young lovers walking. This was very creative. But the sound design was superb. A doorbell rings and we barely hear it, then she fumbles for her aids and puts them in and we hear the loud ring.

Her lip reading becomes a skill that an ex-con can use for criminal purposes, but this isn’t the normal ‘defenseless woman in peril’ film that we’re used to. She isn’t a weak patsy. She uses his skills to better her situation and he uses her skills to better his situation. They make a unique team. There is an attraction between them that begins clumsily and ends up being realistic in the amount of time it takes for the two of them to get comfortable with each other.

The woman is normal looking. She is a bit frumpy and nervous and doesn’t go out much. But alone in the privacy of her apartment she’s a tempting seductress, as she stands looking in the mirror wearing only spiked heels. She longs to be as attractive as her slutty friend.

She needs this ex-con in her life, if for no other reason than to give her a friend to bring along to parties, to the surprise of her girlfriends. She likes visiting him while he tends bar, she likes washing his shirts, she likes having a lunch partner. She has spent so long in her shell of loneliness, made worse by her deafness, that she feels the need to cling to this guy even though he is a bit of a criminal. There is a scene of her having an imaginary conversation in her apartment with a man that is both funny and heartbreaking. Emmanuelle Devos becomes more attractive as the film goes on, and not because she begins dressing a bit hipper. It’s because we’ve gotten to know her throughout the film’s running time. It’s fun to watch her come out of her shell.

* Best Picture of 2001 for Jacques Audiard–Cesar Award Nomination

* Best Director of 2001 for Jacques Audiard–Cesar Award Nomination

* Best Screenplay of 2001 for Jacques Audiard and Tonino Benacquista–Cesar Award Winner

* Best Actor of 2001 for Vincent Cassel–Cesar Award Nomination

* Best Actress of 2001 for Emmanuelle Devos–Cesar Award Winner

* Best Cinematography of 2001 for Mathieu Vadepied–Cesar Award Nomination

* Best Editing of 2001 for Juliette Welfling–Cesar Award Nomination

8.7 Critical Consensus

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Written by Michael W. Cummins