Une Affaire de Femmes

(Story of Women)

(Claude Chabrol, 1988)

I think the genius in this movie, and there is definitely genius in this movie, is in the way that Chabrol isn’t passing judgement, isn’t coming down on one side of the central argument here or the other. It’s a movie about fierce, powerful subject matter, that goes about chronicling the odyssey of Marie Latour through wartime France in most maturely detached a manner.

Isabelle Huppert is of course key to the success of the whole thing. She keeps her cards close to her chest, you never can quite tell just what the hell is going through her head, and it makes the woman all the more fascinating, and the performance (and by extension the film) that much more effective because it remains neutral, neither pleading for sympathy, protesting innocence, nor acting the monster. For that reason it stands in sharp contrast to a film dealing in similar subjects in similar times, Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake. Where Chabrol’s film also differs from Leigh’s is in the surrounding ensemble. While the majority of characters in Vera Drake are decent, innocent folk, rocked by the revelations that unfold before them, the characters in Chabrol’s movie are almost without exception a collection of malcontents.

It all adds to the murky grey morality of the movie. It is at once a mystery with no reveal, a depiction of an individuals journey from poverty to prosperity without any triumph, a microcosmic look at the state of a nation at a certain time and place without judgement. It’s what Chabrol did at his best, you can see it in La Ceremonie too, there’s no admonishing, no lecturing, he’s just laying out the pieces, and letting you make up your own mind about what you’re seeing. It’s always nice when a filmmaker has that kind of faith in their audience.

I’m sure some of its critics will have something to say regarding the largely negative portrayal of men in the movie, but to me they’re so generally insignificant to what we’re seeing that the complaint is irrelevant. Just look at the title, because it tells you all you need to know, and hot damn does it ever go about being what it says it is in mighty fashion.


The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

    The mostly hexagonal basalt columns were formed as lava rapidly cooled and cracked after a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. 

happy earth day, brothertruckers.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me”


(Darren Aronofsky, 2014)

This is an odd movie. It’s odd for a number of reasons, some of them good, some of them bad. For one thing, I don’t think Darren Aronofsky does big melodramatic, earnest emotion very well. When he tips into the absurd in things like Requiem for a Dream, or Black Swan he can make it work, but with things like this, and The Fountain, and basically every time Evan Rachel Wood was on screen in The Wrestler… I felt the results were a little less convincing on the whole.

Still, said scenes in this movie, even if awkwardly directed, and transitioned between are often saved by the actors, Jennifer Connelly in particular, who is as unhappy as ever, but has such an awesome handle on what she’s doing, and absolutely brings the whole epic extravaganza down to an all too human level of genuinely pained authenticity that puts the whole ordeal into context, keeps the thing under control, provides the conscience. Russell Crowe too, by underplaying everything he saves the movie from going too far off the deep end. I think Logan Lerman is kind of great too, with a character that early on is often pretty trickily written, and later on has to do a fair bit without saying very much at all, and he makes it all work. Emma Watson doesn’t really bring anything significant to the table, Anthony Hopkins brings gravitas, and Ray Winstone certainly gets one good scene, but the rest of the time is saddled with a pretty run of the mill character, whose rounding out could have significantly improved the whole movie.

Ultimately, for all the spectacle, all the historical/biblical/fantastical goings on, it is the writing that makes this movie note worthy (for better or worse). A movie on this subject by this man was never going to be your typical, ordinary, family friendly, old school bible epic, and I guess I can see why people are getting upset over it, but I think that even if everything going on here doesn’t work, even if some of the filmmaking is a little off, it’s doing enough of interest from a writing point of view to be worth a watch or two.

Aronofsky has never been one for holding back, for exercising subtlety (Wrestler aside, for the most part) and he’s not turning over a new leaf here, but his extreme delving here into religious extremism sort of works in a similar sort of black comic way to something like The Crucible, and it’s sort of nicely rounded out, never morally black and white, never comfortably, cleanly coming down on one side or the other, and I appreciate that more than anything else. It isn’t a total winner, it isn’t great pacing wise, often feels its length, but on the other hand it makes some pretty absurd stuff work pretty well, has a nice swelling score to tug and toss you about, and it’s exploring of this material with fresh thematic eyes elevates it above the ordinary. It takes guts to build such a big movie around such a questionable fellow, and in movies like this guts are admirable. I guess what I’m trying to say is that what makes this movie primarily special is… Noah’s arc. *groan*


Luke and Jaime confrontation


Luke and Jaime confrontation

Bob Dylan


"Hurricane," Bob Dylan. RIP Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, 1937-2014, the man the authorities came to blame.

The Following 2x13 - "Why don’t we just leave the country? Let’s just go."

                                      “Listen, Joe Carroll must pay for what he’s done.”


My aunt was right. Those who don’t know how to make love make war.