Friday, September 5, 2014

1981, a French Canadian film about boyhood

1981 is a film inspired by the director's childhood in Quebec and to me it's somewhat reminiscent of The Wonder Years, a popular series with Fred Savage which took place during the late 60s and early 70s.

What I loved about this film by Ricardo Trogi is that it's so chock-full of French-Canadian culture from the time-period it takes place. It's like the film-version of a time-capsule. I enjoyed seeing the
hair, fashion, music, toys, cars, technology and Consumers Distributing which was a popular catalog store in Canada during that time.  There is also mention of popular American culture which crossed over into the current culture like the movie Star Wars  and TV show Bionic Woman.

Humor is interjected into the film with Ricardo's imaginings of Nazis and Le Petit Prince, a creation by St. Exupery,who also happens to be who the kids' new school is named for.

Ricardo is a new kid at school who has many challenges. He can’t write longhand. He has no friends. He develops a crush on Anne, the class brainiac who is assigned to help him with his longhand. 

He’s obsessed with getting things, especially from the Consumers Distributing catalog. Like many kids, he craves all kinds of things like: a calculator watch and a K-way jacket. The most recent craving is for a SonyWalkman  which was the latest gadget during that time period.

In order to be accepted at his new school, he starts to get into the habit of telling lies. One of those lies is to his new friends promising to get Playboy magazines. Here's a link to some Vintage playboy from 1981.

The realities of life are clear to Ricardo when his father tells him that they'll have to sell the house they just bought and moved into.

When he starts trying to tell the truth, Ricardo finds he has some physical symptoms.

Truth-telling between him and his buddies leads to some very interesting and touching revelations.

Some Quotes from this film:

"Back then the leader of Italy was named Benito. Benito Mussolini was their leader. If you named your son Benito, you got a check for $1. People were so poor, it worked. ---Ricardo

"At your age I'd never have dared ask my dad for a $400 watch."---Benito, Ricardo's father to Ricardo

"It's better to lie than to look dumb." ---Ricardo

"Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." ---quote by Antoine St. Exupery, shared by Aline, Ricardo's teacher

“Do you know how sick you make us always asking for stuff? “–Ricardo’s mother

"Lie again and it'll be the last lie you ever tell, understand?" ---Nazi officer

"The damn truth only works if everyone's telling it. If it's only you, it's useless."---Ricardo

Here are a few scenes from this film:

Here's the trailer:


Unfortunately there's no subtitles for it! Sorry about that! But at least it'll give you some idea of what this film is like. Probably fine for those of you who understand a bit of French.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Max Von Sydow - a very talented multilingual actor

Max Von Sydow is a favorite actor of mine. He's been around a long time! Instead of writing a post about only a film, I felt compelled to write this post about one of my favorite actors of all time.

He speaks many languages:  Swedish, German, Norwegian, Danish, French, Italian, and Spanish. Of course he was born and grew up in Sweden and his father was German so that's why he was able to speak the first two languages. He really got his start in Swedish film with director Ingmar Bergman when he got the starring role in The Seventh Seal. Like many Europeans, he learned other languages too! He currently lives in France and has taken French citizenship after marrying a French woman.

Being an actor with such great linguistic skills he's acted in Swedish, German, Italian, English, Spanish, Norwegian and Danish films. I really believe that being talented with different languages is a great skill for any actor to have as it affords them the chance to audition and find roles in other countries besides their own, thereby increasing their opportunities to find work and be more successful in their profession.

I recently saw Max in the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a film in which his character doesn't speak but communicates by writing and showing 'yes' and 'no' on the palms of his hands. I found his depiction of this character called 'The Renter' to be to be extremely expressive and incredibly sensitive. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are also in this film as the parents of the boy. Sandra Bullock has a challenging role as the grieving mother of a boy who is grieving and trying to be close to his father as he separates himself from his mother. There is a very touching scene between mother and son which is unlikely to leave any watchers' eyes dry. Tom Hanks is also interesting as the father and I think that his role is not such a major one as Max Von Sydow's.

The film itself is quite amusing, entertaining and touching with Thomas Horn in the lead role of a boy who continues to try to be close to the father he lost in 9/11.  Here's an interesting article I found about Max online which mentions this film. 

BTW, I also think that Thomas Horn is a very talented young actor. He has something in common with Max Von Sydow in that they both have German fathers. Thomas also has some things in common with the character of Oskar Schell that he portrays. I'm looking forward to and expecting to see Thomas Horn perform in some more great roles and films. I hope that like Max, he also gets the chance to use his linguistic skills.

People like Max, make me proud of my German heritage and the urge to know more languages. I really believe that knowing more languages increases one's perception and experience.

Here's a clip to show you Max Von Sydow in action with Thomas Horn. He is such a talented actor that even though he is a man who speaks many languages, he gives such a great performance without speaking any words at all!

Here's a clip of a much younger Max in Three Days of the Condor with Robert Redford:

You can watch the whole film Un Homme et Son Chien which Max also appeared in and which stars Jean-Paul Belmondo in his last role:

Here's a fairly recent Charlie Rose interview with Max Von Sydow:

My deepest hope for Max Von Sydow is that he continues to experience good health and act in many more wonderful roles. At the current age of 85, I don't imagine he'll be retiring from acting any day soon as long as he finds roles to play.

Some quotes from Max Von Sydow while acting:

"Your gift I discovered and your gift I can take away."---his character in Intacto, an interesting Spanish language film about gambling and luck.