Anton Chekov’s The Duel Directed by: Dover Koshashvili Written by: Mary Bing (screenplay), Anton Chekhov (book) Starring: Andrew Scott, Fiona Glascott, Tobias Menzies and Michelle Fairley
Films of a certain nature achieve a literary quality; ones with a large cast of complex characters or with a sweeping narrative arc that transforms a main character to either a tragic or heroic end. Almost by default, a film like The Duel achieves this.
Clumsily titled with the novel’s original author at the beginning, Anton Chekov’s The Duel is a film rich with complex character motivations and difficult psychological questions. If you are one of the presumably few who would enjoy a movie that falls under the category “Darwinian melodrama,” then boy are you in for a treat. For the rest (and most) of you, sadly, there is not much here outside a sometimes-stirring philosophical musing set against gorgeous scenery.
Amélie Directed by: Jean Pierre-Jeunet Written by: Guillaume Laurant & Jean Pierre-Jeunet Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Serge Merlin, and Clotilde Mollet
Deep despair, insightful narcissism, impossibly cultured people- these are all things associated with French cinema. Though our overseas friends gave us the new wave, these things rode the surf as well. American cinema has tried since the birth of the French new wave to implement it as carelessly as such French staples as Breathless and The 400 Blows. What a strange, wonderful phenomenon it is that French filmmaker Jean Pierre-Jeunet turns French cinema on its head yet again with Amélie.
Amélie is as free-spirited, uplifting, and gracious as the protagonist its title speaks of (Audrey Tautou). Rarely does a movie tackle optimism as straightforwardly as this, and it’s something new for the often dark and brooding films associated with French cinema. During its more than two hour run time, Pierre-Jeunet’s film manages to make a mundane, normal life seem enthralling thanks to a hilarious, charming and original screenplay and some of the best visuals the cinema has ever seen.