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Must-See Movies or Events:
Blue is the Warmest Color
Adapted from Julia Maroh's graphic novel Blue Angel, Blue is the Warmest Color centers on the evolving sexually-charged romance between two lovers, 15-year-old Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and a college art student, Emma (Léa Seydoux). Adèle has tried sleeping with boys, but they don't fulfill her sexual or emotional desires as much as Emma does. Both of them come from different kind of families. Adèle's parents seem reserved and cold compared to Emma's warm, Bohemian parents. One can see why blue-haired Emma turned out to be so free-spirited and true to herself. Their relationship hits a few bumps as it progresses because love, after all, is complicated, comes in many different forms, and sometimes fades away beyond one's control. Adèle has a lot to learn about her first experience with love.
To label this film as merely a coming-of-age story would be to undersell it because it's much more than that. Writer/director Abdellatif Kechiche captures the mind and soul of Adèle with so much attention to detail that you can't help but care about her immensely as a human being. They're not caricatures nor are they easy to put into a box; they're both complex and fallible which makes them all the more interesting. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux give radiant performances that feel entirely authentic and genuinely moving. When Adèle cries, you can grasp her innate pains, regrets and longings especially by paying attention to her eyes. She's truly an actress who must have depth because it takes someone who's deep to tackle such an emotionally complicated role. The same can be said for Léa Seydoux who's very well-cast here. Both Adèle and Emma are the kind of characters that linger in your mind long after the end credits long after the end credits which is a true testament to the film's power.
Rarely has the love between two characters onscreen felt so palpably real. Kechiche depicts their relationship unflinchingly and thoroughly so that by the time the end credits commence after 179 minutes, you feel as though you've watched a documentary about Adèle and Emma. You even get to meet their parents, although there are very few interactions between Adèle and her parents, so at least Kechiche leaves room for interpretion there. He also includes beautiful cinematography and uses thought-provoking symbolism, i.e. the many different shades of blue found in the film. What hasn't been mentioned yet, though, is the very explicit sex scenes which gives the film its NC-17 rating. Those scenes aren't shocking or disgusting or perverse because they're authentic and true to the characters of Adèle and Emma. Perhaps the sex scenes come across as surprising given the fact that it's not just sex, it's sex with intense, palpable emotion involved. Blue is the Warmest comes alive because of its raw, pure, unadulterated emotions displayed unflinchingly onscreen.
All is Lost
Robert Redford delivers a tour de force performance as the nameless character, "Our Man", whose small yacht strikes a cargo container floating in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Water quickly floods the yacht and disables all means of communication and navigation thereby stranding him 1,700 miles from land. He's smart enough to figure out where his yacht is and where to steer it---he even marks his route on a map which happened to have remained dry. You hope, along with him, that a ship will pass by and rescue him somewhere Luckily, he has food and water albeit not enough to last him more than a week. Will he survive the ordeal? Or will the forces of nature ultimately win? The answers to those questions won't be spoiled here.
Writer/director J.C. Chandor takes many risks by telling a seemingly simple story sans exposition or narration and it's virtually all silent, with the exception of when Our Man very appropriately says the F-word and, in the opening scene, when he briefly reads out loud a letter that he's writing to his loved ones. Given the fact that Our Man doesn't talk to himself throughout his struggles at sea, you'll find yourself imagining what he's thinking and, essentially, narrating the film in your own head as you watch it. Silence is often more powerful than words, and All is Lost is a testament to that kind of power. Fortunately, Robert Redford is the perfect actor for such a role because his face is very expressive. You can notice many things about him just by paying attention to his eyes, for instance. One could even go to the extent of saying that he gives a terrific innate performance which means that both Redford and Chandor have a knack for grasping human emotions. When Our Man is sad, you'll be sad. When he's exhausted, you'll feel exhausted. When he's hopeful and happy, you'll feel the same way. No other American actor would have been able to pull off this role as effectively as Redford does. Kudos to him for taking the risk of such a physically and emotionally demanding role. Hopefully those risks will pay off with at least an Oscar nomination.
If All is Lost were written/directed more conventionally, it would have been a bore. Not a single moment rings false and, amazingly, the technical aspects of the film are quite impressive without inundating you with too many stunning visual effects. In other words, All is Lost never becomes shallow; it remains grounded in humanism and naturalism from start to finish.
The fact that Chandor leaves a lot of room for interpretation is yet another of its many feats. What do the cargo container and yacht symbolize? What does the crash or Our Man's struggle itself symbolize? Or maybe they're not symbols at all. You can take away anything you want from the film and you won't be wrong because Chandor doesn't spoon-feed you with information. He trusts that you're intelligent, observant and mature enough to fill in the gaps on your own, even when it comes to the ending. Perhaps a repeat viewing will give you a totally different kind of perspective and make you notice details you may have not paid attention to the first time around. Moreover, it's worth noting that the running time is only 1 hour and 46 minutes. If it were longer than 2 hours it would've been too exhausting, so at least Chandor and his editor, Pete Beaudreau, have discipline. All is Lost is palpably suspenseful, engrossing, bold and intelligent. It's a new American classic that will be remembered for many years to come.