Did you know that Marcel Marceau, the most famous mime who ever lived, helped the French Resistance of the Nazis? Honestly, I did not. In Jonathan Jakubowicz’s ‘Resistance,’ you can see that he was helping the anti-Nazis even before the French occupation by helping children transported to Switzerland. But this isn’t really a Marcel Marceau bio film, though I wish it was. We only see glimpses of his miming here, and I wish there were more, because that would have been a more interesting film for me. ‘Resistance’ has very familiar themes, but it is always timely, and kids nowadays seem to have limited knowledge of the horrors of the second world war, and e=any information to ‘remind’ them is helpful. Jesse Eisenberg is great here, although, again as a mime he felt a little short, but as a man who is against the regime, he is particularly poignant and effective.
Whatever I feel about Woody Allen’s personal actions, I have always and will be on board regarding his artistry. I think he is brilliant. I love his films. I love his humour – I get it. I love his writing. There are films of his I don’t like as much, but I still like them and never think they are a waste of my time. His latest film, “Café Society,’ is, in my opinion, one of his better ones – surprisingly romantic, elegantly written, directed with class.
In its heart, the film is a tragic love story, although you wouldn’t perhaps describe it as such. Jesse Eisenberg plays “Billy” and is the “Woody” character here – the nebby bumbling guy who gets the girls, and he is perfection, probably the best in the line of actors who have tried to Woody it up onscreen. His mannerisms, his tics, his voice – they all mirror the Woody aesthetic. Even Kristen Stewart, as Veronica, convinced me, and trust you me, she had to win me over three thousand times because I have this hatred of Stewart and his perma-scowl. But what do you know, she made me overlook my disdain for her.
Do I think the movie is perfect? Certainly not. The thin plot gets stretched, with some characters drawings of what Allen has done before – I read a review where the critic pointed out that Bill’s family seems to be the same characters from Allen’s 1987 film ‘Radio Days.’ But I do think that these familiar touches make me appreciate the film more, maybe it makes me feel like I am truly inside Allen’s world. And the costumes and sets are beautiful to look at, transforming you to 1930s Hollywood and New York effortlessly. The ending hits it just right for me – a melancholy, romantic one that will make you pine for the one that got away, if you have ever had one in your life. That alone will get a thumps for me.
Grief is that weird thing that touches people and changes them. Norwegian director Joachim Trier tackles that in ‘Louder Than Bombs’ wherein a trio of men is left behind by photographer Isabelle (Isabelle Hupert) Her husband (Gabriel Byrne) and her two sons Jonah and Conrad (Jesse Eisenberg and David Druid) try to make sense not only of what’s left behind metaphorically, but also the art/photographs needed for an introspective of their mother’s career. We see three men lost here, and Trier uses an abstract hand in the storytelling. I wish I could say that the character studies work, but we only get fragments of each of the characters, and we never really understand why they act the way they act. For example, we see that Eisenberg’s Jonah is scared of fatherhood, and he deals with it by committing. But we don’t know how to react – should we be enraged, or understanding about it? As such, it felt random. We get a clearer idea with Conrad’s plight, and there is a heartbreaking scene at the end when he spends some time with his cheerleader friend. We only see fragments of emotions, making the experience wanting. There’s an elegant quietness in the movie for sure, but at times maybe I just need things to be spelled out a little clearer.