By Kay Quach
After winning first prize at the Palme d'Or in Cannes last year, Blue is the Warmest Colour or its French title La Vie D'Adele has become the most critically acclaimed release of French cinema for 2013.
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, this romantic drama is set in Lille, Northern France starring Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), a fifteen year old high school student who begins dating a boy she met at school. During their relationship, Adele passes by a woman with blue hair and becomes attracted to her to the point of obsession.
After Adele's first sexual experience with her boyfriend, she becomes dissatisfied and breaks off the relationship, still having the blue-haired woman constantly fixated on her mind. As time passes, Adele starts to question her own sexual identity, and enters a lesbian bar out of curiosity. Coincidentally, Adele meets the blue-haired woman known as Emma (Lea Seydoux), who is a graduating university student several years older. Adele and Emma soon develop feelings for each other, as Adele begins to undergo her bi-curious phase in their new relationship.
Blue is the Warmest Colour is most notoriously known for its several graphic sex scenes, which at times can provoke the argument between art vs. pornography, and has been accused of catering towards phallocentric desires. However, Kechiche has also chosen to depict the more mundane aspects of Adele and Emma's lives, that include consulting career paths with family members, the discussion of art and philosophy among friends, and the insecurities and emotional angst that come with adolescence and adulthood. On occasions, these scenes tend to serve as unnecessary filler, which explains the film's three hour runtime.
What defines Blue potentially as an all time great is the stand out performances by its leading actresses. Exarchopoulos' role as Adele has been absolutely spectacular. Her ability to naturally express on-screen emotions from joy, lust and despair is easily conveyed to the audience; she becomes a character that we can empathise with, and reminds us of the emotional roller-coaster that comes with growing up. Seydoux's performance as Emma is just as commendable, that delivers a compassionate yet raw chemistry with Adele. Their shared happiness is contagious and their hardships are enough to bring the slightest tear to your eye.
Overall, Blue is the Warmest Colour is one of the most true-to-life motion pictures for 2013. This film is less about the contemporary challenges of LGBT relationships, and more about the complexities of romantic relationships and youth. A landmark for both French and romantic cinema, I highly recommend it to those yearning for intense drama and a heartfelt love story.
by Kay Q
Attack on Titan or Shingeki no Kyojin (進撃の巨人) is arguably considered the most popular anime series for 2013. From the director of Death Note, Akari Tetsuro's most recent work is based off the highly successful manga series under the Shonen genre.
The series is set in a world where man-eating giants called Titans would appear and devour humans without reason or remorse. To survive, humans were forced to construct massive walls and live their lives under seclusion. For over a hundred years, the walls have provided safety for mankind, until a Colossal Titan appears and destroys the outer wall that borders between human civilization and the outside world. Eren the protagonist and his two friends Mikasa and Armin, who have lived their entire lives behind these walls, began to see the cruel nature from the outside world for the very first time, as the invading titans preyed on anyone in sight and destroyed the peace that mankind has cherished. After witnessing so much death and chaos, Eren vows to enact vengeance upon every single titan without mercy.
Attack on Titan has some of the most memorable characters among the anime universe, that it is easy to become immersed and emotionally attached to their affairs and well being. Eren's commitment towards eliminating the titans is unrivaled, while Armin's innovative approaches provide strategic advantages over the titans. The absence of fan service and 'kawaii' elements in the series allows Mikasa and other females to be portrayed as strong, determined characters, who embody the ideal attributes of feminism. This provides a stark contrast to the notoriously submissive and lewd personalities of female characters found in other animes.
Night train to terror is probably one of the most surreal, bizarre and wonderful cult classic to ever be made. It was released back here in Australia back in the day on VHS, but feel into obscurity.
On the left is the Australian VHS, I recall seeing it in the video store as a kid, that big blood stained knife. Why did this even get a release here you ask? I guess Aussie distributors were desperate to put any trash in the video store as long as its a 'slasher'. Despite the fact that this movie is in no way a slasher at all.
Snowpiercer is the newest film from popular Korean director Bong Joon Ho, many may be familiar with his other work such as the host and most recently Mother. His films bounce from being wonderfully fun to dark, snowpiecer falls between both. An adaptation of a French graphic novel, it certainly puts it into perspective. The film is set in the future when the world has been eliminated by global warming, the last few survivors remain on a train that constantly and aimlessly circles the world non stop. We meet our main protagonists who live in the tail of the train and are considered the scum of the train. Curtis is the main protagonist and he has a plan to lead the tail people to the from of the train and take down the evil Mr. Wilford; that essentially the entire movie in a nutshell. Its a quest film of them trying to get from point A to B. Visually it is very well done, Ho does an excellent job of repressing the slums and the elite.
There is a shift in the films visual appeal halfway through, it really does suck you into this twisted vision. Gore is a plenty, if you like you movies violent (like myself) this is going to be your cup of tea; it is a cartoonish violence that comes off very silly and almost comical. One aspect that fails is the humour, I am not sure if it got lost in translation but the audience I was sitting with never laughed at moment that were 'intended' to be funny. Instead they laughed at awkward moments, in a scene where Curtis is talking about eating babies; everyone found it hysterical. The pacing is good, so you will never feel bored by it and you will be constantly one the edge of your seat. The scene where we come face to face with hundreds of axed men leaves you on the edge of your seat. The tension and claustrophobia of the train is perfectly captured, making the viewer feel entirely boxed in throughout the journey. Most performances are over the top with Tilda Swinton playing an excellent and unrecognisable role; she brings some proper humour to the film where it lacks.
So why did it receive a 3.5, towards 2/3 of the way the movie begins to slowly fall apart, and it becomes apparent there is something wrong. There is a lack of effort and the end feels so slapped together at the las minute that it fails to capture and of the human elements of the movie. Most importantly it leaves you wondering "what was the point?". The ending is very similar to Old Boy (no spoilers), with the significance of winged men. Ed Harris plays a strong role and I have never seen him do a bad performance in his career (1987's Walker will still remain my favourite role of his). The use of CGI also doesn't work at times and takes you out of the overall experience, for example when we see insects in a machine; the CGI is so bad it looks like something out of 1998. A lot of things don't even make sense, with gap plot holes and a Korean father and daughter that never explain their addiction. Despite a mixed bag, take it for the fun ride it is.