Friday, June 10, 2011

The Videovangaurd presents: The Retro Review Double Feature. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Belle Du Jour.

Hello everyone.  This retro review is going to be different because I am going to focus on not one but two movies.  Each of them will star Catherine Deneuve but both of them will have completely different performances.

Remember you can click on each title to purchase it from Amazon.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

                               (Photo:  Fox Lorber Home Video)

Cast:  Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo

Writer and Director: Jacques Demy

***and a 1/2 *'s out of four

Let me start off this review by stating that I am not a fan of musicals.  I find a lot of them to be very annoying and the songs are just horrible.  "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" is a movie I should despise because the whole entire movie has nothing but singing in it.  There is not one word of spoken dialogue throughout the whole thing.   At first I found this to be kind of lame because none of the lyrics are put to any type of song structure.  The music by Michael Legrand makes it sound like it could be a song but when you listen to it closely. It sounds more like words being sung than an actual musical number.    But as I got more into the story I found myself concentrating more on the actors performances and found the singing really helps enhance the characters' emotions more than actual dialogue could do.  This is one of the best movies I have seen and I hope it gets a release on Blueray soon.

The  story centers around a young couple(Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo) very much in love. They talk(sing) about what they would like to name their kids, and where they would want to live. It's all very colorful and innocent.   Despite some harmless bickering from the girl's mother(Anne Vernon) who feels her daughter could choose a better mate.  The two seemed to be destined to be together.   Than word comes around that the boy has been drafted in the army and would have to leave.   While apart the two begin meeting new people and even though they are nice.  Our young couple stays strong in the hopes they will see each other again very soon.

I could delve more into the story, but this is a movie that you will either see or you won't.  Many of you will pass on it because it's a musical.  A lot of you won't see it because it's in french with subtitles.  The performances from all the lead actors are all very good.  It's not easy to covey spoken dialog into a song and still convey such strong emotions when you do.   The cinematography from Jean Rabier is just stunning.  The color of France in the 60's just seem to pop like strawberry bubblegum.    This is the type of movie that Blueray was made for.  The setting and the costume along with the soundtrack would be stunning in 1080p high definition. 

Belle De Jour

                                (Photo.  Miramax Films)

Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel

Writers: Joseph Kressel(Novel),Luis Bunuel, Jean-Claude Carriere

Director: Luis Bunuel

** and a 1/2 *'s out of four

Belle de Jour  is a movie that is going to confuse many viewers.  Hell it still confuses me to this day.  It's about the sexual identity and confidence of a woman yet it's been claimed to be misogynistic in it's approach.  I'm not going to reveal too much about the plot because the decisions the main character chooses are far more interesting to watch rather than read about it.

The plot has Catherine Deneuve as a woman who is married to a nice guy but hasn't had a real orgasm in quite a long time.  She dreams of more darker sexual acts where her husband  and another man basically  tie her up and rape her.  This act of male domination excites her but she is way to ashamed to admit this to anyone much less her husband.  The lack of sex in their marriage drives the young woman to work in a brother under the name Belle.

The movie's ending is very ambiguous because the end scene is also where the movie begins.  Asking the audience to decide if what happened was actually real or just merely a fantasy.  This move was met with controversy when it was released in 1967.  This was just before the woman's right movements and to have a character express her sexual enjoyment of being submissive was quite a shock.  I found myself at many times wanting to shout at her and tell her to get out of that brothel, but than I would be just as dominating as some of the other men who would like to take control of her.  

I could not find a trailer of this to put on here, but I was able to find the next best thing.

Garbage- "Tell me where it hurts"  Music Video( A great homage to the movie "Belle De Jour")

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