Hector and the search for happiness

Hector and the search for happiness is what you would call a ‘feel good’ comedy, with the main character going through ‘personal growth’, and some in audience members who will decide if they like the film according to the ‘personal growth’ they got from the film. We often hear people describe the worth of a work of art by how ‘important’ it is. The Hector of the title is an unhappy psychiatrist who leaves the woman he loves (Rosamund Pike) to travel around the world and find out what makes people happy. First stop: China. On the plane he meets a taciturn and cynical businessman (Stellan Skarsgard), who offers Hector his hospitality. In Africa he meets French actor Jean Reno (very good here) as a drug lord, and gets entangled in the war between the drug lord and the militia. Finally, in LA he visits an ex girlfriend (Toni Collette) and one of his old teachers. The teacher (Christopher Plummer) is working on an emotion analyzing machine. Simon Pegg as Hector pushes his character’s geekness a bit too far, and his attempt at physical humor early in the film is pitiful. And the whole film just feel awkward. Sorry, but I did not ‘feel good’ about Hector and the search for happiness.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

Hector and the search for happiness

 

Directed by: 
Peter Chelsom
 
Screenplay by: 
Maria von Heland
Peter Chelsom
Tinker Lindsay
Based on the novel “Le voyage d’Hector ou
la recherche du bonheur” by François Lelord
 
Starring: 
Simon Pegg
Rosamund Pike
Toni Collette
Stellan Skarsgard
Jean Reno
Christopher Plummer
 
114 min.
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20,000 days on earth

20,000 days on earth is not your typical biographical documentary. It is about Australian singer Nick Cave, who was the frontman of The birthday party and The bad seeds. Although I did not know anything about Cave before I saw the film, I found it captivating. That is because its concept is way more interesting than if filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard had shown us film clips or archives. What we are witnessing is Cave’s 20,000th day on earth. During the course of this day, Nick Cave goes see his shrink (British writer Darian Leader). Then he drives through Brighton with actor Ray Winstone as passenger. They talk for a while, then Winstone is gone. There are others. Kylie Minogue (with whom she sang Where the wild roses grow) appears in the back seat of his Jaguar. There are some musical moments in a studio. He also visits some archivists who are sorting through photos and documents they received from Cave’s mother. This an original and amusing way to revisit his pass. And lastly, Nick Cave gives an electric performance at a concert. The few musical moments there are in 20,000 days on earth, beautifully shows Cave as an intense and emotional artist. I recommend.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

20,000 days on earth

 

Directed by: 
Iain Forsyth
Jane Pollard
 
Screenplay by: 
Nick Cave
Iain Forsyth
Jane Pollard
 
Starring: 
Nick Cave
Darian Leader
Kylie Minogue
Blixa Bargeld
 
97 min.

Night moves

I found Night moves fascinating and compelling. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Josh, a young who works at a sustainable agricultural cooperative in southern Oregon. Josh, along with college dropout Dena (Dakota Fanning), and ex-marine Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) are eco-terrorists who plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam. Director Kelly Reichardt shows us the small detail of their operation. Josh and Dena buy a boat and drive it to Harmon’s camper-trailler. There they discuss buying enough fertilizer to build a bomb. The idea is to fill the boat with the fertilizer, and put the boat next to the dam. One thing they never talk about is the consequences or the moral aspects of their actions. That’s because nothing is spelled out for us. We discover the plot as we are listening to their discussions. There is suspense building up because we are witnessing the details. The scene where Dena tries to buy the fertilizer is a good example. She lacks the proper ID, and is having a hard time convincing the sale clerk. But this is a slow and quiet film, with an introspective and minimalist approach. And no special effects. After the explosion, they all return to their normal lives. We follow Josh as he returns to the coop. There he learns that the dam destruction may have cost a man his life. But he keeps to himself. So much so that his co-workers are starting to suspect him. He contacts Dena, and start thinking she might go to the police. Night moves is a study on guilt and paranoia. In the second half of the film, Josh becomes suspicious, and thinks everybody knows his secret. This feels real. Eisenberg gives an impressive performance as quiet and pensive Josh. He is well supported by Fanning and Sarsgaard. The film was shot in Oregon, and cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt’s beautiful work make the glorious colors of the fall season, and the lake at nighttime look ominous. This is one of the best film this year.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

Night moves

 

Directed by: 
Kelly Reichardt
 
Screenplay by: 
Jonathan Raymond
Kelly Reichardt
 
Starring: 
Jesse Eisenberg
Dakota Fanning
Peter Sarsgaard
Alia Shawkat
James Le Gros
 
113 min.
 
Rated 14A

The zero theorem

In his new film The zero theorem, Terry Gilliam shows a futuristic world that is just close enough to our present world to be freaky. The main character is mathematician Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), who lives in London in the ruins of a catholic church, among broken, dirty statues, and rats. Qohen only goes out occasionally. In the streets there are ads covering every space of every wall of every buildings. Some ads pursue people as they walk on the sidewalk, talking to them, trying to get their attention. (somewhere among the tagline I saw “Corporations without borders” Wow!). Qohen is hired by a company called Mancom to solve the zero theorem. He works from home on his computer, and it looks like a very complex, impossible to do electronic game. Qohen is constantly on edge and unhappy. He is awaiting the phone call he thinks might bring him happiness. He is also eager to meet Management (intriguing Matt Damon). At a party held by his supervisor, Joby (David Thewlis), he meets Management, but also a girl named Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry). The second part of the film takes place at Qohen’s home, where he gets therapy sessions from the virtual Dr Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton). Bainsley comes to visit him and he starts trusting her. Together they go to a virtual beach and there he seems happy. Qohen strikes a friendship with Bob (Lucas Hedges), the teenage son of Management who comes to repair his computer. It could have been a mess, but Christoph Waltz’s Qohen is ultimately very touching and compelling. The scenes with Thierry and Hedges are intimate and help to give the film some much-needed heart and hope. And just like Qohen, we need some hope.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

 The zero theorem

 

Directed by: 
Terry Gilliam
 
Screenplay by: 
Pat Rushin
 
Starring: 
Christoph Waltz
Mélanie Thierry
David Thewlis
Lucas Hedges
Matt Damon
Ben Whishaw
Tilda Swinton
 
107 min.
 
Rated 14A

Yves Saint Laurent

This is a fine biopic about the great French designer Yves Saint Laurent, and his lover and partner Pierre Bergé. The film starts in 1958 with Saint Laurent working for Christian Dior. After Dior’s death, he becomes head of the House of Dior. After a disastrous short stay in the military, and a nervous breakdown, he is fired from the House of Dior. Despite being diagnosed with manic depression, he decides to open his own designer house. Pierre Bergé turned out to be a fierce businessman. Yves Saint Laurent changed the world of fashion forever. With them we go through the different fashions and cultural trends of the 60s and 70s. Bergé had to deal with Saint Laurent’s alcoholism and drug addictions along with some erratic behavior. Yves Saint Laurent is classically directed by French actor/director Jalil Lespert. He is also not afraid to show the dark side of fame in the fashion industry. As expected, it is a feast to the eyes. Some of the dresses are the original Yves Saint Laurent’s, others were done for the film by costume designer Madeline Fontaine. Pierre Niney’s Saint Laurent is a man who lives for his art, and yet suffers terribly because of it. A scene early in the film shows Saint Laurent in a psychiatric hospital. Depressed, with a mental illness and just fired, he probably thought he would never work again. Niney nails everything perfectly, as he does for the whole film. Pierre Bergé is a less showy part, but Guillaume Gallienne plays him with such a quiet intensity that it re-energizes the film. And Gallienne shows that if Bergé was a loving, caring man, he could also be terribly cruel and manipulative. There is a good turn by Quebec actress Charlotte Le Bon who plays Victoire, a model and friend of Saint Laurent. Some will find it too conventional. It is. But it is nevertheless very well made and acted.

You should know… There was a documentary in 2010. Pierre Thoretton’s Yves Saint Laurent – Pierre Bergé, l’amour fou was of course about the relationship between the two men, but for the most part was about their personal art collection, and the 2009 auction held at Christie’s. Over a three-day sale in Paris, 733 items were sold for a record-breaking 370 million euros (520 million Canadian dollars), with the proceeds proposed for the creation of a new foundation for AIDS research. In the documentary Thoretton interviews Pierre Bergé and has footage from the auction. But there is a another film set to be released in 2014. Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent stars: Gaspard Ulliel as the designer and Jérémie Renier as Bergé ( review at https://loveatthemovies.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/saint-laurent/).

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 

Yves Saint Laurent

Directed by:
Jalil Lespert
Screenplay by:
Jacques Fieschi
Jérémie Guez
Marie-Pierre Huster
Jalil Lespert
Based on the book by Laurence Benaïm
Starring:
Pierre Niney
Guillaume Gallienne
Charlotte Le Bon
Laura Smet
Marie de Villepin
Nikolai Kinski
106 min.
Rated 14A
In French and some English,
Russian, Arabic, and Japanese
with English subtitles.