Millionaire – Champagne

Looks like this blog could do with a little energy and what’s more energetic than a rock song or a short movie with rollerskating action? Erm, what about the combination of both? The short movie seemed to fit perfectly to the song, so Millionaire asked to use it, way back in 2001 (when they released their album Outside The Simian Flock). A bit of music from yesteryear and a short movie: looks like a good deal for an update.

BIFFF (5-17 April, Brussels)

Hugo Pratt, the comic artist behind Corto Maltese, is the designer of this year’s BIFFF poster, the 30th time Brussels holds its Festival of Fantastic Film.

The 2012 edition will run from 5 April to 17 April or, in movie time, from The Raven starring John Cusack to The Cabin in the Woods, the brainchild of the man who wrote Cloverfield and the man who’s responsible for Buffy.
As always there will be a Vampire’s Ball, so any creatures of the night who’re up for some dance moves should keep the night of 13 April available. Fans of silly glasses should rejoice in the fact that the BIFFF has managed to equip with Masterimage 3D technology: I literally have no clue of what I’ve just written, but I do know there’ll be a gigantic increase in 3D movies. Hmm.

It should be said that the programme of this year’s festival looks quite diverse: even though quite some movies seem to resort to gory gadgets, you won’t have to search too long to find a Korean version of X-men, a dystopian future, some drama, a sci-fi romcom and many other subgenres.
Equally diverse is the origin of the movies, there are quite a few American movies, but other countries thrown in the mix include the Philippines, Norway, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Denmark, the UK, South Korea, Germany and Spain. That’s what we call a fortnight-long trip around the world in horror and fantasy.

At this point, I have no clue as to whether I’ll have the chance to see at least one movie (let alone do a full day session like many years ago), but like me, that shouldn’t stop you from checking out the website. Even if you can’t make it, almost every movie contains a trailer and it’s a nice way to find out some interesting releases you may want to get your hands on if they appear on tv, dvd or whatever your desired medium is these days.

Points for the most dystopian trailer go to Carré Blanc (a Belgian-French co-production), the most endearing fantasy film appears to be the Swiss The Sandman, but the prize for best trailer (surely, “teaser” should be more appropriate) has to go to The Butterfly Room, which manages to boast with a cast including Barbara Steele, Heather Langenkamp and Camille Keaton. That alone should make you want to look at this trailer, even if none of these women feature in it.

Short movie: Helsinki

Today is a day unlike most, it only pops up once every four years and therefore it’s worth a bonus update. As a treat, here’s a 15-minute long short by Caroline de Maeyer. It’s her graduation movie. The main stars are Natali Broods (the woman you see on the still underneath, an actress who already had some cult status in Flanders) and Charlotte Vandemeersch (whose star wasn’t really shining back then but who’s become one of the more famous and prolific actresses in Flanders by now). If you don’t know if you can spare 15 minutes, the link to the trailer can be found underneath the short. Happy viewing!

Helsinki from Caroline de Maeyer on Vimeo.

Or watch the trailer instead. (Mind you, unlike the short, the trailer has no subtitles.)

Amatorski – Soldier

Originally I’d intended that the next update would be posted on 10 October, but after the previous post it seemed a bit cruel to have you wait until late December to discover the brand new material by Amatorski. (Sure you could tune into Radio Kurtodrome.) Their first full-length album is called TBC and it’s only seven songs long, but it’s still worth your investment. You can stream (and buy) the album on the band’s official site.

Below is the official video for “Soldier”. Be sure to darken the room and turn the volume up for full effect.

The next update is on 10 October and I’ll review a recent movie.

Le Gamin au vélo

Before my review of Le Gamin au vélo I would like to say a couple of things as today is the first post-DV day:

– the current look of the Avenue is not permanent, but its theme with “Random Posts” mentally forces me to add tags and categories to all the previous posts. That’s 340 posts and quite a work of labour. All the categories were lost during the transfer to the new place, so this may take some time before all it back to normal.

– two new blogs have been added to the sites you might like to take a look at: they’re Noir of the Week and Where Danger Lives, two blogs with a noir theme. Hard to go wrong there.

– At this point, the Avenue will update every time the day ends on 5 or 0. This will definitely be true for August and will help me to put some time into the Behind The Scenes work such as the retagging etc. Updates should appear on a more regular basis soon, at which point I’ll be more than happy to announce this.

Is that about it? Yes? Well, time for the review of the latest Dardenne movie. Even though Belgium is in a crisis (on the day this review is published, the country celebrates its 413th day without a government), the country never seems to look as bleak as the days in the lives of the Dardenne characters. Thomas Doret is Cyril, the boy on the bike from the film’s title: a young lad who spends his days in a home. Despite Cyril’s complete refusal to accept the truth, his father has moved to another place and didn’t leave a forwarding address. Cyril is adamant his father wouldn’t leave without bringing Cyril’s bike to the care centre: he skips school to go and look for his father, but the apartment is empty and Cyril is about to be sent back to the care centre… had I already mentioned Cyril is stubborn? Mentally unable to accept the truth, Cyril runs into the doctor’s waiting room, on the ground floor of the apartment block and accidently knocks down a woman. He clings to her as if she was his last straw of hope. She, a young hairdresser (Cécile de France, who’s more Belgian than her name suggests), falls for his despair, finds the boy’s bike and even wants to take care of Cyril during weekends.
This being a Dardenne feature, things can’t remain that positive. Before too long, a local thug and dealer fakes empathy for Cyril and tries to lure him into the world of crime. At the same time, Cyril and hairdresser Samantha track down Cyril’s father, who can’t face telling Cyril he doesn’t want to see him anymore. Surely you weren’t expecting a comedy from the Dardenne brothers?

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BIFFF 2010: the awards

The internet ate my essay! No really, 70 minutes of work down the drain and even the draft cannot be retrieved. Which is why I’ll use WordPress from now on to write my articles: at least it saves the latest draft every five minutes. So no article on the BIFFF today (there’s only so much energy in my body and I can’t waste another 70 minutes tonight), but a toned-down version of the original text. The 28th BIFFF (or Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival) has closed its doors, but not without awarding lots of prizes. Let’s take a look at the winners… (the blurb comes straight from the BIFFF site).

The jury, fronted by The Howling‘s Dee Wallace, awarded the Grand Prix (Golden Raven) to Jaume Collet-Saura‘s Orphan, a film already reviewed on DV. The film never got a cinema release in Belgium, despite being bought by a distributor, so the BIFFF decided to add it to their line-up and the jury really liked it.
The jury also awarded a Silver Raven (Special Prize) to two other films, Thirst by Chan-wook Park and Symbol by Hitoshi Matsumoto. Symbol was also given the 7th Orbit award.

The award for the least fashionably titled award goes to the Best Thriller Award. The winner is a Spanish-French co-production: Cell 211 (Celda 211) by Daniel Monzon. The jury also gave a special mention to Uwe Boll, for the “Bingo scene” in Rampage.

The Silver Méliès is the award given to the Best European Film. The German film Die Tür (The Door) by Anno Saul was the winner and a special mention was given to Cargo by Ivan Engler and Ralph Etter.

And finally the viewers’ say: the audience liked a fake documentary on vampires best: Vincent Lannoo‘s Vampires.

Amer (preview)

It looks as if Belgium has a new giallo on its hands (that’ll be n°3). It’s called Amer (Bitter) and it’s released in April in France (01/04) and Belgium (28/04). The film’s poster is dedicated to classic giallo posters and one of the trailers genuinely looks and sounds like a giallo. And this in the same month as Argento’s mediocre Giallo is released in Belgium.

To celebrate Amer’s release, Cinema Nova will have the premiere with both directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani and a mini-season of gialli: The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Blood and Black Lace and Autopsy.

Gilles Vranckx is the man who designed the film’s poster and did such a good job Mondo Macabro asked him to design a couple of posters for them as well. His blog can be found here:

Amer itself will be reviewed later, for now here’s the film’s site … … and the trailer:

Mr. Nobody

Remember that one time when you had to make a gut-wrenching decision? Sure you do. How you carefully thought of the possibilities and their countless consequences? Did you go through all the possible scenarios in your head? If so, then feel free to welcome Mr. Nobody, the brand new film by Jaco van Dormael.

If you’ve ever felt like everyone else in the world is more prolific than you, then Jaco is also there to make you feel better: after his 1991 debut film Toto le Héros, van Dormael made Le Huitième Jour in 1996 and… erm no, that’s it. Yes, van Dormael spent thirteen years coming up with a new film, giving the expression “the difficult third release” a completely new meaning. Mind you, he wasn’t slacking, he just carefully crafted all the pieces of what would ultimately become Mr. Nobody.

It almost makes you scared to ask: so, any good? Not only because of the long labour, but also because Mr. Nobody seems to profile itself as the most ambitious film ever, the movie version of Tristram Shandy. Who is Mr. Nobody, you may ask. Well, a weirdly painted Dr. Feldheim has exactly the same question. “I’m Nemo Nobody,” the protagonist replies, “I was born in 1975, I’m 34 years old.” Sounds logical, apart from the fact that Nemo looks closer to 115 years old. Confronted by a mirror, Nemo is scared of his own appearance and that’s the start of a rollercoaster ride, which takes us from 1975 all the way to 2092. To and fro. All the time. No holds barred. Mainly focusing on a couple of years (let’s roughly say: Nemo is often aged 9, 15, 34 and 117), we see Nemo leading his life… or rather: Nemo leading his lives.

You see, our lives are led by the decisions we make. Shall we do A or B? We decide, A or B, and move on. But not Nemo. Nemo’s life becomes Nemo’s lives because Nemo doesn’t choose between A or B. And because A will lead to X, Y and Z whereas B will lead to 1, 2 or 3, the moviegoer is subjected to what could be A, X, Y, A, Z, B, 1, 3, A, Z and Q. Because some things just don’t seem to make sense at all: suddenly Nemo is on a mission to Mars. But fear not, somewhere in one of his lives there is a reason which explains Nemo’s adventure in space.
And wheras this may seem outlandishly confusing if you read this review (or start watching the film), van Dormael succeeds in making this feel like the most normal thing in the world. Nemo wakes up, says the wrong name to his wife and child and suddenly he is somewhere else, not in his kitchen but at a pool, talking to another child (but one which does have the name he’d given to the other boy) and with another wife. What is going on? It seems as if the film is the rambling of an old man, the oldest (natural) man alive in 2092, who has trouble recollecting his past. But then you’re wrong. So wrong.

Essential people in Nemo’s life, apart from the doctor in 2092, are Nemo’s parents and three girls on a bench. They’ll play a big part in Nemo’s different lives, fantasies of what could’ve been, what maybe was and – why not – what may have collided. Just like some things seem be motives too: water and vases to give two examples. Of course this means that van Dormael, writer and director of Mr. Nobody, can come up with countless scenarios. Which is why this film could have been anything from 10 minutes to 10 hours. In the end, van Dormael seems to have thought 138 minutes was the ultimate cut for this film. Personally I would’ve knocked 15 to 20 minutes off, though I’m not sure why and I’m not sure which scenes would have to go. It’s not like some will make more sense than other, no scene is more than a variation or elaboration of another scene. I can only describe how I felt during the film: I sat down, let the film lead me, liked it more and more, slowly had the glowing feeling this could be the best film I’d seen in a long time, before getting some fatigue, which ultimately led to another high. As I said earlier, the film is a rollercoaster and not just in time.

The adult versions of Nemo are played by Jared Leto, who finds himself surrounded by a great cast, including Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh Dan Pham, Rhys Ifans, Natasha Little, Toby Regbo, Juno Temple, Clare Stone, Thomas Byrne, Audrey Giacomini, Laura Brumagne, Allan Corduner and Daniel Mays (don’t make me say who’s who). The final credits also mention the actors and actresses whose scenes had been cut, which give you the feeling van Dormael might have been able to stretch this film well over three hours. It’s a good thing he didn’t. But is his cut the ultimate cut? We’ll probably never know (apart from him being the director and we just the viewers). All we know is that this film fucks with your head, that it’s the ultimate ode to not wanting to choose (now this is a romantic movie) and that, while watching the film, I often had the urge to go and see it again, preferably the very next day.

If you like your films realistic and linear, stay away from this one. If not, give it a go. It’s often said about films when it’s not true, but it’s true for this one: it’s unlike any other movie. Enjoy.


La Fille du RER

The 'fille' on the way to the REROn your left you see Jeanne, portraying a young woman (or: girl) descending some stairs to take the local train in Paris (or: RER). And that’s why the film is called The Girl on the Train or (in its original title) La Fille du RER. It may be any RER, but Jeanne (as portrayed by Emilie Dequenne) isn’t any other girl. Jeanne’s story shocked France and many other countries in 2004. Yes, La Fille du RER is based on a true story and this time the producers didn’t make that up to make a larger audience flock to the cinema, this truly happened… or did it?

Let’s scroll back to 2004 and the unsettling news that a young woman was attacked on a local train by a group of youngsters who had taken her for a Jewish girl and had assaulted her. They’d cut some of her hair off and had carved in her belly.
Outraged? Well, so was France. But… prepare yourself for more outrage. Not long thereafter, it was revealed that the attack hadn’t taken place at all and the girl had invented this story. Rather than to question why a girl would do such a thing, the media were angry they’d been used and condemned the girl for inventing such a crime.

Fast forward to 2009 and to a film by André Techiné that tries to shed some light on the backgrounds of this story.

 And yes, that’s what we get to see: the full background of the story, though it must be added that sometimes this doesn’t always make for engaging cinema. But as a psychological study it’s a fairly interesting film. Mainly because it shows how things can develop if you’re living a lie, an extreme lie.
La Fille du RERThe film explicitly shows the involvement of the media in this story, changing Jeanne from the victim of a outrageous crime to a symbol of how today’s rotten society has no respect for other people and victimizes them beyond belief. And then,
when the story was revealed to be untrue, rewriting her as another symbol, of a respectless girl with no shame, a lack of knowledge of history and a sick tendency to manipulate the media. (Never mind Jeanne never actively looked up the media to sell her story.)

This is a trap Techiné doesn’t fall for, instead spending from the start of the movie a lot of time portraying the events that led up to the young woman’s fabricated story and developing more insight into this girl’s ‘twisted’ psyche. You get to know Jeanne, feel her despair, see her degree of naievity (i.e. how she was manipulated by her boyfriend) and, despite her errors, you can feel some sort of sympathy for her. Not unlike Rosetta then, Dequenne’s breakthrough role. In fact, you (or at least I did) feel so much for her that by the end of the movie (when Jeanne is jailed for deceiving everyone) you also feel a bit of outrage against the French system, because a jail sentence may not be the right punishment for this girl. (Usually, we don’t tell you how movie end here at DV, but in this case it’s different as a) the film is based on a true story and therefore a bit of googling would’ve given you this information too and b) the film is more of a social study rather than a whodunit thriller.)

If you’re in for a night of engaging cinema, we advise you to seek elsewhere, but if you’d like to find out how people can derail and psychology ticks your right buttons, then you might find this the right movie for the night. 

 Score: 6 to 6.5/10

Here’s the French trailer with Dutch subtitles. If you’d like to watch it with subtitles, go to the film’s site:

Panique au village

Panique au village (translated as A Town Called Panic) has been turned into a movie. This Belgian animation film brings you 75 minutes of madness. Plasticine madness. Cowboy, Indian and Horse live together in a house. It’s Horse’s birthday but Cowboy and Indian have forgotten this. They lure Horse away and start working on a wonderful birthday present, a barbecue made of bricks. Sadly instead of 50 bricks they buy a lot more. These may come in handy when their house is destroyed, but every night someone comes to steal the newly-built house. Can Horse and his friends catch the thieves? Will the gorgeous piano teacher fall in love with Horse? See the movie if you want to find out.

Panique au village is lots of fun, but the tempo is so high it’s like watching an ADHD movie. So much happens at such a high speed it’s impossible to watch all of it and sometimes you desperately want to get a breath. Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see such a lot of madness. They clearly didn’t care too much about a convincing plot, which is why (by the middle of the film) you don’t have trouble accepting the plot line of some wacky scientists who’ve invented a giant penguin with the sole use of throwing gigantic snowballs at animals in snowfree regions.

There is also a series of A Town Called Panic shorts, which you can find on YouTube. The movie is still playing in Belgium (in a French and a Dutch version – to please both sorts of Belgians) and has also been programmed at some international film festivals. Keep an eye open for it, if you don’t mind watching some wacky humour. Pingu on acid.

Here’s the international trailer:


P.S. Here’s a short clip from the film. As all of them are in French or Dutch, I chose one where the language doesn’t really matter. Here’s Steven’s breakfast. If you’d like to see more extracts, follow this link.