Mood Indigo

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DIR: Michel Gondry  WRI: Michel Gondry, Luc Bossi   PRO: Luc Bossi • DOP: Christophe Beaucarne  ED: Marie-Charlotte Moreau  DES: Stéphane Rosenbaum MUS: Étienne Charry  CAST: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy

Perhaps as a natural defence against the lukewarm reception of 2011’s so-so Seth Rogen vehicle Green Hornet, Michel Gondry’s latest offering sees the director pitch himself head-first back down the rabbit hole from whence he came, bringing the surrealism in such spades as to make even such a tenuous Alice-In-Wonderland reference as this seem perfectly structured by comparison.

 

Mood Indigo (originally L’Écume des jours) follows a young and wealthy Frenchman named Colin (Romain Duris) who, envious of his friends’ successes with the fairer sex, stands up from his breakfast one day and decides that he too would quite like to fall in love. Enter Chloe (Audrey Tautou), a sweet and witty socialite who views Romain’s bumbling gestures at social grace as endearing. The two are scarcely married before Chloe is struck ill with a case of water-lily-in-the-lung, and Colin kicks in a life of idle pastimes in order to foot their growing hospital bills.

 

If the premise sounds a bit strange, rest assured that the story of love and loss is a solitary anchor in the fever dream to follow. Where Gondry’s perhaps best-loved work, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, takes increasingly unhinged forays into the surreal while winding up to a climax, Mood Indigo lives there from the get-go.

 

Set in modern-day Paris as filtered through a funhouse mirror, Gondry’s world is one of philosophy fiends, thrift-shop technology and frantic pathetic fallacy, where walls literally close in on the characters, sunlight is threaded along musical strings and conveyor belts of typists mash out the minutia of modern life on an unceasing literary production line. It’s an evocative and often overwhelming mix, and the same surreal images that enfuse the love story are equally powerful when swung the other way in the film’s latter stages.

 

However, to repeat the inevitable comparison to Eternal Sunshine, Mood Indigo never quites matches style with substance in the same way that its predecessor does. Though movingly delivered by all actors involved, the main love story is simply not as involving as it could be, the characters inspiring abstract amusement more than genuine empathy.

 

Powerful as the imagery is, it too often judders between whimsy and woe to truly achieve either, and while certainly affecting while on the screen, the film leaves little after a viewing beyond fleeting enjoyment and a notion that something entirely larger has been missed.

 

Ruairí Moore

12A (See IFCO for details)
94 mins

Mood Indigo is released on 1st August 2014

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The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet

DIR: Michel Gondry • WRI: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg • PRO: Neal H. Moritz • DOP: John Schwartzman • ED: Michael Tronick • DES: Owen Paterson • CAST: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz

Nothing elicited more excitement and anticipation of The Green Hornet more than Michel Gondry’s attachment to the project, raising hopes of a tongue-in-cheek action hero dealt with artistically and amusingly. Promos for the film diluted the enthusiasm somewhat, showing a hackneyed script and predictable story arc, and previews were proving less than amazing. After many, many revisions to the release date, The Green Hornet finally arrives to our shores a little bit late, and a little bit anticlimactically. Despite the addition of 3D, at great expense and delay, it proves itself to be little more than a slightly-funnier Spiderman, and a less action-packed Batman.

Seth Rogan is to blame for quite a lot of the film’s inadequacies. Despite slimming down and buffing up for the role, he is still, essentially, portraying the same character he has been playing since his erstwhile chubby face first graced our screens. Throwing in a bromedy relationship (or perhaps a ‘bromance’ – who can keep up with America’s obsession with ‘bro’ anything!) with his valet, Kato (Jay Chou), does little to alleviate the sinking suspicion that Rogan is making no effort to move outside his comfort zone. Cameron Diaz arrives onboard playing her standard role of ‘object of all men’s desires’ and it’s palpably obvious that even she has become bored with this duty – her comedy quips and sultry pouts are becoming just a little bit forced. Half-transporting the story of the Green Hornet from 1930s America to modern-day LA hammers another nail in the coffin of believability and adaptability. Add to this a script that is just that little too much self-aware, and the result is a middling movie that raises itself above average far too few times in its not inconsiderable running-time.

The story is loose enough, and for those who know the Green Hornet, dutifully aligned with the original idea – i.e. Britt Reid (Rogan) becomes a masked vigilante after the death of his media-emperor father, along with his kung-fu and techno-whizz chauffeur Kato. In this day and age of constant superhero adaptation, however, even the ‘twist’ of the Hornet instigating himself as a criminal, in order to infiltrate the underworld more effectively, falls on numbed and deadened ears. Held against the beautiful shadows of The Dark Knight, or even the action-packed pace of Spider-Man 2, it falls short of giving this decade a superhero to hold on to. Even casting the fantastic Christoph Waltz – one of the most enjoyable Nazi’s ever onscreen – as LA’s super villain fails to live up to standard, as the banality curse falls upon him as much as on Rogan.

Despite its many, many flaws, however, The Green Hornet manages to be entertaining at a level enjoyable to younger viewers. Kids will lap up the action scenes and Chou’s energetic kung-fu – though for adults, it will always be compared to Bruce Lee’s turn as Kato in the television series. Children are also less likely to be so weary of seeing Seth Rogan bumble and mumble little ‘comic’ asides at every opportunity – a tactic he has been employing in the mistaken assumption that it makes him more cuddly and likeable. An out-and-out kid’s movie, The Green Hornet fails to excite beyond that level, and though not a torturous event to sit through with younger filmgoers, it falls too far short of being consummately entertaining.

Sarah Griffin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
The Green Hornet
is released on 14th January 2011

The Green Hornet Official Website

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Be Kind Rewind

Be Kind Rewind
Be Kind Rewind

DIR/WRI: Michel Gondry • PRO: Georges Bermann, Julie Fong, Ann Ruark • DOP: Ellen Kuras • ED: Jeff Buchanan • DES: Dan Leigh • CAST: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz

This new movie from director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is another quirky, off-centre motion picture that has a life and originality all of its own. While maybe not being quite up to the task of filling out the 100-minute running time, the basic concept of the film and its obvious charms make it an entertaining, watchable and fun flick for the not-too-critical viewer.

Jerry (Jack Black) is an off-the-wall, paranoid and eccentric (to say the least), junkyard worker who believes his brain is being melted by the local power plant. He is sure this is a government conspiracy to control his every thought and brainwash his already demented mind.

While attempting to sabotage the local plant with comical stealth at night he is electrocuted by a massive pylon that proceeds to magnetize his whole body and spin him in the air for a bit too.

The next day he visits his friend Mike (Mos Def) who works in the local run-down video store that still rents out only VHS tapes. While the two are chatting in the shop Jerry inadvertently magnetizes all the videotapes by just being in the general vicinity of them and every rental movie is completely erased. This all happens while the store’s owner, played by Danny Glover, is away on a business trip.

The two friends go into a complete panic over the blanked tapes and cannot see a way out of their predicament. A loyal customer (Mia Farrow) attempts to rent out Ghostbusters and Mike tells her he will have it the next day. After phoning around to attempt to acquire the movie and coming up a blank, Mike asks Jerry to help him film their own version of Ghostbusters and try to fob it off as the real thing.

Surprisingly, the woman likes their version and word gets around about the miniscule-budgeted remake. Soon Mike and Jerry are being asked to make their own versions of a collection of classic movies as requested by customers. They call them ‘Sweded’ when completed and charge higher rental fees for them too. King Kong, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rush Hour 2 and countless others are on their remake list. They are soon using the help of local people as cast and crew. Business booms until they are handed a writ pertaining to an infringement of copyright law by a government agent, played by Sigourney Weaver, raining on their parade.

All is not lost however, when Mike, Jerry and many locals help in making a movie about the life of jazz pianist Fats Waller, who was brought up in the area. It’s not a remake so they believe they can legally get away with this one.

Although it’s probably not worthy of a second viewing, this movie provides pretty fair entertainment value and can be forgiven for being a bit sloppy and dragging in places. There are enough laugh-out-loud moments to carry the film through these dips and Jack Black is always a hoot to watch. It’s not a classic by any stretch of the imagination but give it a shot and I don’t think you’ll feel let down!

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