Valerian And The City of A Thousand Planets (2017) Review

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (2017)
French: Valérian et la Cité des mille planètes

Directed by Luc Besson

Based on Valérian and Laureline
by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

My Opinion:

I liked this. I didn’t really expect to. I do think I should just go into every movie with low expectations as I often end up far less disappointed that way. I went into this with low expectations as it looked like it could be a disaster. It’s a fun film.

Believe me, this movie is far from perfect. But if you like Besson’s The Fifth Element, I can’t see why you wouldn’t get some enjoyment out of this one as well. It’s visually impressive and I especially liked the gorgeous planet & alien race at the beginning of the film. I’m not sure if it’s really accurate to compare it to Avatar but I couldn’t help comparing them in my mind & I personally enjoyed this “science fiction movie with funny-looking aliens that some people won’t take seriously” film more than that one. The story itself & the look of the whole thing & even the comic relief all worked just fine for me. As I said, it’s a fun film & it kept me entertained throughout its rather long running time. I actually didn’t think it felt overlong, whereas I did feel that way about the film I watched before this one, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The only thing I can really fault about this film is its casting. Specifically its main stars: Dane DeHaan & Cara Delevingne as Valérian and Laureline. It’s a shame, as I think the lack of true leading character star power hurts the film. I know nothing whatsoever about the source material but they seem like two pretty cool characters and I imagine that they don’t really do them justice in this film. The surprising thing is I think DeHaan was almost weaker than Delevingne (who I really don’t like), although I’ve thought he was pretty good in the past in things such as The Place Beyond The Pines. Even more surprising is that Rihanna was pretty good in a small role but also as one of the better characters in the film overall. I liked her dance routine, which was pretty unique (but a little saucy if you bring your kids to the movie). Well, it’s no more saucy than her videos. But I may be the only one in my cinema who kept picturing the girl from Home every time she talked (my kid really likes that movie so I’ve seen it several times).

So. Where were we? A fun movie with weak stars that let the film down a little but lovely to look at and filled with wacky characters & some comic relief that you’ll either love or hate. The film is definitely not going to be for everyone but, hey – if you’ve seen The Fifth Element, you should know what to expect. If you like this genre (it’s my favorite) and if you’re happy to just enjoy a movie without overthinking things & being too judge-y, you may like this one just fine.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Eyes Without A Face (1960) Blind Spot Review

Happy Halloween, everyone! Here’s my final review for the day, after my review of the surprisingly fun Trick ‘r Treat posted earlier today. Now let’s look at a cult French horror classic…

Eyes Without A Face (1960)

Directed by Georges Franju

Based on Les yeux sans visage by Jean Redon

Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel

Music by Maurice Jarre

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A surgeon causes an accident which leaves his daughter disfigured, and goes to extremes to give her a new face.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Eyes Without A Face:

10. Eyes Without A Face – 7/10
9. Phenomena – 7/10
8. An Education – 7/10
7. Magic – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

I’d been wanting to see this for years as it sounded quite bizarre. Hence, it ended up on my Blind Spot list & I finally got around to buying it on DVD. I can’t say it quite lived up to my high expectations, although it’s a very good movie and I would imagine it must have been very shocking back in 1960.

The story here is the exact one I expected. Although similar stories have been done since, I’m thinking this must be one of the (and maybe the very) first to do it. I was extremely surprised at just how much was actually shown… I expected to see nothing but we see it all in graphic detail (for 1960, anyway). Wow! No wonder it angered some people at the time from the little I’ve read of it. Don’t get me wrong – it’s funny now how blatantly obvious the special effects & make-up are but this must have been like the Saw of 1960.

I’m struggling with what to say about this film as I’m not as well-versed on those that are pre-1970 but I do wish to expand my knowledge in this area. The main thing I’ll say is that I absolutely loved how stylish this film was. The mask the disfigured daughter is made to wear is fantastic. So frightening in its simplicity. Plus she wears the best nightdress/housecoat thingy EVER. I wear sweatpants & T-shirts to bed. Why the hell don’t we still dress the way women did in the 1960s? They looked so groomed & lovely at all times. Even one of the film’s victims still looked immaculate afterwards & I just thought “Damn! Poor girl… but I love that dress!”.

I know I’ve put this as my “least favorite” of my Blind Spot films so far but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not good – I just enjoyed the rest slightly more. I think I was mainly disappointed that it was more straightforward than I expected plus the acting was a little off (mainly the father & daughter, although the father’s “secretary” and the other women in the film were good). It also wasn’t all that deep – this is a topic that could’ve been explored in-depth. Beauty on the inside, the ugliness of human nature, blah blah blah. But it’s just a pretty basic crime thriller, albeit with a gruesome twist.

However, it’s stylish as hell. Just look at the images in this post – I love the look of it all. I’m very glad that I put this on my Blind Spot list & finally got around to watching it. Black & white horror is something I truly wish to further explore & will happily take recommendations from fellow bloggers on this genre. I would imagine that Eyes Without A Face is one that will easily remain a favorite of mine within the black & white horror genre, though, as it’s one that could never be easily forgotten once seen. Shockingly beautiful, I’d love to have seen the reaction of audiences when this came out. It’s not quite up there with either Nosferatu (1922) or The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) for me but, like those, it’s so ahead of its time & there’s no denying the amazing imagery in all of them. We need more horror movies with style nowadays…

My Rating: 7/10

Oh! I totally forgot to mention that I found the movie’s score, from acclaimed composer Maurice Jarre, interestingly bizarre. It was at times too distracting but I love the Jean-Michel Jarre connection (he’s Maurice’s son). Who doesn’t like a bit of Oxygène??

However, I have to end with this music clip instead. I’m sorry! This is just SO stuck in my head since watching this. 😉

Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) Review

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Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) (French: La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 – The Life of Adèle)

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

Based on Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

Starring:
Léa Seydoux
Adèle Exarchopoulos

Running time: 179 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour is a 2013 French romantic coming-of-age drama that revolves around Adèle (Exarchopoulos), a French teenager who discovers desire and freedom when a blue-haired aspiring painter (Seydoux) enters her life.

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My Opinion:

I watched this movie ages ago but I really hate leaving things unfinished so I’m still trying to catch up on reviewing the movies I watched in 2014. It’s harder with some movies than with others to remember them well at this point but I remember Blue Is the Warmest Color very well. I thought it was a really good look at a relationship and all the highs & lows in any relationship, regardless of sexual preference. The characters felt “real” thanks to the excellent performances from the two lead actresses. YES – I will admit that I partly watched it because of all the controversy over the sex scenes as I wanted to see what people were freaking out about. I can see why people were freaking out – the sex scenes were unnecessarily gratuitous. I’ll talk more about that topic in a bit…

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The two actresses, Léa Seydoux & Adèle Exarchopoulos, were fantastic & made their characters fully believable. Exarchopoulos was especially good as Adèle, who was the main focus of the film as it explored her coming of age with older, blue-haired Emma and also with her starting a career as a teacher and just trying to find her place in the world. My one complaint (other than the sex being too graphic) would be the fact that the character of Adèle is a freaking DRAG! She’s a very beautiful girl so it’s not hard to understand there being a physical attraction to her but she’s soooo depressed throughout the entire film that it’s hard to believe the far more interesting & creative Emma would want to spend so much time with her. However, their attraction is very much a physical one and they play this attraction very well. It’s a very animalistic, ripping-clothes-off, throwing-each-other-up-against-the-wall kind of attraction (I don’t remember if they threw each other up against the wall but you know what I mean). Which is awesome! We all want a bit of that in life (um, right?!). So let’s talk about the sex (baby! Let’s talk about you & me! Let’s talk about all the good things & the bad things that may be! Let’s talk about sex!). FYI to you kids – that’s Salt-n-Pepa.

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Wow! This is indeed a great, arty little French movie with wonderful performances but I did feel like I was watching full-on porn a few times. First of all, I’ll say that I don’t care in the slightest whether people choose to have sex with the those of the opposite sex or not. Or if they choose to have sex with both sexes! Who cares?? I honestly don’t understand why it’s even an issue at all. Like most females, though, I’m not exactly a fan of porn. Well, I’m sure some women are but I like my movie sex scenes to be all romantic. “Movie sex” is awesome! It’s all lit candles, cuddling, passionate kissing, and curtains billowing in the wind. I don’t want to watch real sex! Real sex is gross & awkward. Ew. Actually, “curtains billowing in the wind” sounds kind of dirty to me… Hehe! *giggle* *blush* Sorry – I’m very immature about sex scenes. You should have seen me watching Shame.

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Anyway, the sex in Blue Is The Warmest Color is gritty & realistic and there are no lit candles (from what I remember). Now, I think I read somewhere that the girls were wearing “fake vaginas”? Feel free to tell me if I’m wrong because I’m not about to go Googling that like some kind of weirdo. Either way, real or not, you see what appears to be vaginas & you see what appears to be real sex with those vaginas. I know it caused a lot of controversy but it was still released whereas I doubt that a mainstream film that showed sex in such graphic detail between a man & a woman or between two men would even be released. I think it’s well known that this movie was made by a straight male director and it does very much feel like the graphic sex scenes were done with straight male viewers in mind. What’s the point of that?? Take those scenes out & you couldn’t have paid a man to watch a love story between two women. I’m not saying I was offended by those scenes, exactly. Hey, I guess it’s good that the sex seemed just as real as the relationship did but I just didn’t find the graphic nature very necessary. The two actresses had great chemistry anyway and, quite frankly, there were a few fully-clothed scenes that felt more passionate & intimate than the sex scenes (when Adèle first spots Emma, when they first meet, and a restaurant scene toward the end). It was the fully-clothed scenes that sold the relationship to me more than anything. Okay, these girls were very passionate about each other but their acting was good enough that we didn’t need to watch them banging away at each other for ages in order to buy into their desire for one another. I don’t know… I’m not offended by the scenes themselves so much as by the fact that they felt thrown in there just to be controversial & gain more attention for the film.

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Oh! I said I had no other complaints about the film, really, but two more things did annoy me about Adèle besides the fact that she seemed like a depressing bore: the way she played with her messy, stringy hair constantly & the way she ate. The eating scenes were hilarious, though, as they were obviously meant to represent oral sex (Emma introduces Adèle to oysters & teaches her how to eat them). Haha – very clever, Mr Director. We get it, dude. We’re not idiots. But I was really glad to be done with watching Adèle eating things by the time this movie was over.

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Summary:

Blue Is The Warmest Color is a very realistic portrayal of a passionate relationship between a young woman and her first female partner. I don’t think it should matter that they’re of the same sex – a love story is a love story and this one works very well thanks to fantastic performances from the two leads. I felt Adèle’s yearning & heartache just as much as Heath Ledger’s in Brokeback Mountain and Lloyd Dobler’s in Say Anything – same sex relationship or not, we all have the same feelings. The sex was too graphic (in my eyes) and felt like it was made just to be controversial but it was a lovely film that I didn’t feel needed to go so overboard on the sex. Between that and kind of finding the character of Adèle a bit depressing & irritating (though Exarchopoulos did a brilliant job playing her), I’d probably give this a slightly lower rating than if I had watched a love story where I liked the characters a little bit more. They did feel very real, though, and you want nothing more at the end of this film than for both of them to be happy. Especially Adèle. You’re young & gorgeous, girl – cheer the hell up!

My Rating: 7.5/10

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