ARCHIVE REVIEW: A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale
Directed by: Arnaud Desplechin
Written by: Arnaud Desplechin & Emmanuel Bourdieu
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, and Jean-Paul Roussillon

The French movie character, with its wildly shifting eyes, deep self consciousness, and ever-looming misery, never ceases to be endlessly thought-provoking.  Throw a bunch of these creatures together in the days preceding Christmas, and you’ve got the emotional bloodbath equivalent of Kill Bill.

A Christmas Tale is the typical American holiday drama done elegantly and boldly in the French fashion.  It is a dysfunctional family coming together during the holiday, and yes, mother is dying of cancer.  The movie succeeds because disease is a theme and not a plot point.  Cancer of one form or another has eaten away at this family’s soul for years; Junon (Catherine Deneuve) is suffering from the same form of cancer that killed her four-year-old son decades ago.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Dancer in the Dark

Dancer in the Dark
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Written by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Björk, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare

Brilliant auteur and unapologetic cinematic sadist Lars von Trier is one of the movies’ most polarizing figures among critics.  He has a cult following of fans, some of which are the most respected film scholars working today.  Almost all of his movies follow an artistic pattern of well thought out shots that often contain disturbing images.  This is where Dancer in the Dark is unique.

Von Trier’s emotionally wrenching film has a visual style that many will recognize from Cloverfield or NBC’s The Office.  It may throw fans off, and that’s probably his intention.  As a member of the Dogma style of film making, it is this director’s goal to throw you for a loop by defying everything held sacred in the movies.  He deconstructs typical methods and injects heavy amounts of emotion and tragedy in order to confound the viewer and leave them uncertain about what they’ve witnessed.  Dancer is no different in this regard.

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