Sunday, November 24, 2013

Amélie (2011)

AmélieI have seen thousands of films in my life, and thought nothing could surprise me anymore on a screen. Amelie proved me I was wrong. Instead of writing another "best film ever" comment, I would like to give some indications for non-french speaking viewers, as the translation might have made some lines a bit obscure.

Amelie says to Colignon "Meme les artichauds ont du coeur" (Even artichokes have a heart). In french, "un coeur d'artichaud" (an artichoke heart) is a person that falls very often and easily in love.

Colignon calls Amelie "Amelie-melo" (pronounce "ah-may-LEE-may-low") which sounds like "un meli-melo", a muddle or mix-up.

In the cafe, people discuss about time and weather, as the same word "temps" means both "le temps qui passe" (time that passes) and "le temps qu'il fait" (the weather). So goes Hippolito's theory : they speak about the weather because they are afraid of the passing time.

Collignon says about his mother : "Elle a une memoire d'elephant, un elephant de mer" (literally: she has memory like an elephant, a sea elephant). A "sea elephant" is a sort of walrus, and "mer" (sea) and "mere" (mother) are pronounced the same.

When Amelie is in a theater, she watches "Jules & Jim", a movie by Francois Truffaut. There are many references to Truffaut in the movie : Claire Maurier plays the mother in "the 400 blows" and many scenes refer to "Bed and Board", which itself refers to Hitchcock's "Rear window". I still have to figure which was the movie whith Spencer Tracy driving without watching...

When Amelie watches her projected life on TV, a scene that refers to Woody Allen's "Zelig", the voice over is from Frederic Mitterand, nephew of his uncle, who is famous for commenting weddings or funerals of aristocrats on french TV.

The "likes/dislikes" narration was experimented by Jeunet in a short movie "Foutaise" with Dominique Pinon, that will be included in the collector edition of the DVD. It also refers to "La vie, mode d'emploi" (Life: a user's manual) from Georges Perec, although Jeunet admits he could never finish the book.

Most TV scenes are stock shots. The story about the horse running in the Tour de France is true. Most stories told in the film are true, including the one about collecting discarded pictures.

There are numerous references in the movie, including to other Jeunet films. The scene in the mystery train is almost a copy of a similar scene in Alien : Resurrection where Ripley has an almost tender behaviour with the alien.

Finally, "Amelie" comes from "Emily", as Emily Watson was supposed to play the role, and "Poulain" is both a young untrained horse and a chocolate brand. And this is not a coincidence.

Like the star of Chocolat, the title character of this magical comedy also wants to heal people inside. But this particular healer is a daydreamer with an irresistible smile, a Louise Brooks bob hairstyle or an Audrey Hepburn-like bun when it's tied up, and will charm the pants off the iciest of souls.

The only-child of a tight-lipped, hard-hearted doctor father and a neurotic schoolteacher mother, Amelie Poulaine grew up being too much unloved, with a not too happy childhood. As a young lady, she becomes a waitress at the Two Windmills cafe, but other times spends her time in an imaginative world of dreams, not forming close ties with people, being terribly shy.

One day, she is watching TV when Princess Diana's death is announced. From then on, she decides to be a healer of sorts, whether it be uniting a man with childhood memories he left in a cubbyhole in the skirting board long time ago, trying to soothe the hearts of people, make people's lives better, or being an avenging angel. The scene where she helps a blind man across the street and describes what's going on is simply magical.

Amelie is also befriended by artist Raymond Dufayel, known as the Glass Man because of a disease that has given him very brittle bones. They communicate indirectly through a painting he's working on, particularly a young girl that Dufayel's trying to figure out.

Amelie meets Nino Quincompoix, a man who collects discarded, frequently torn ID card photos from a photo booth and puts the reconstructed pieces in an album. Included in there many times is a stern bald man whose pictures are always torn up. Amelie finds Nino's album and wonders who the bald man is. This is a mystery included in the film.

There's Colignon the grocer, an obnoxious middle-aged man who delights himself in disparaging his assistant Lucien, who's slow-witted but nice and sensitive. Amelie feels sorry for Lucien and the scenes where she becomes his avenging angel at Colignon's expense are hilarious. At one point she tells Colignon, "You'll never be a vegetable. Even artichokes have hearts." Ouch, but well deserved.

Amelie's widowed father spends his life collecting garden statues to decorate his dead wife's shrine, instead of travelling around the world. Amelie steals one of them, a bearded garden gnome complete with red pointed hat, and then something weird happens. A few days later, her father receives a postcard from the gnome, who is apparently on holiday abroad!!! This goes on for a while and completely baffles him.

Audrey Tautou would've been my choice for Best Actress of the year. I simply melted everytime she smiled in the movie. She also bears a slight similarity to another Audrey--Hepburn. Both have in common black hair, a face brimming with charm, and irresistible smiles. Maybe that's why it was love at first sight with me.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet uses some quirky film techniques, mostly visual imagery, such as a scene when Amelie literally dissolves into water. The onscreen narration is also useful. At times, it sets the stage for turning points in the film. Earlier, it describes the likes and hates of the Poulaines and the one important characteristic of the Two Windmill employees. He creates an imaginative film that's a breather from the usual Hollywood grind. But it's his closeups of Amelie and her smile that make this worth seeing over and over.

Buy Amélie (2011) Now

Before I urge you to rush out and revel in this romantic wisp of a movie, I must warn you that it is the kind of film that will make you either quake with bleary joy, or propel you out of the cinema with an ungovernable urge to smash things. If the words 'sugar', 'naive' or 'cute' are not in your vocabulary; if the mere sight of a bobbed gamine making eyes at you across the screen doesn't make your heart flutter; if scenes where lamps discuss their owner's love life with her paintings, or a young girl screams to save her suicidal goldfish don't enchant you, than, in the words of Gilbert and Sullivan, don't go.

If, however, you feel your spiritual home is in France, than 'Amelie' might just make you fall in love again. it is for those who love Paris in sunshine or rain; who palpitate at the very thought of tree-lined Parisian streets and cafes; who have experienced haunting musical epiphanies at night in empty Metro stations; who have read Raymond Queneau novels; who rejoice in street markets, Renoir paintings, or the sight of horses running in the Tour de France.

'Amelie' is a romantic comedy for those who prefer the chase to the clinch. its heroine is almost a ghost, unloved and friendless as a child, who presides disembodied over strangers' lives, linking characters, punishing baddies and deciding destinies in ways that seem supernatural to them. She can only observe others from a distance and act accordingly her own life remains emotionally dead. Of the various Queneau-like mysteries, red-herrings, non-sequiters and paper trails strewn throughout the film, the most pressing and emotionally charged is will Amelie find love and rejoin the real world?

The film is unashamedly nostalgic in its romantic vision of a vanished (never-was?) Paris, where musette is still played in sparse cafes, and funfairs and ghost trains become sites of erotic possibility. The CGI effects are used not for inhuman spectacle, but to do rich justice to individuals' inner lives. The idea of reworking the past; the comfort of myths, lies and delusions; the creation of one's own future these are some of the film's themes, and they encompass characters, culture and place. As such, the film has been condemned as reactionary. It's probably sexist (although I identified with Amelie, rather than simply fancying her).

It has reminded people of various reference points from the Oulipo writers to the early films of the French New Wave to Ally MacBeal. its most recent counterpart might be 'Magnolia', from the opening narrtion with its comic chaos theory, and its narrative about disparate people trying to connect, to the godlike force that contrives to do so. But it's much more treasurable than that. i loved this film. I loved the adorable Audrey Tautou, funny and smart, with huge melancholy eyes a 21st century Audrey Hepburn. I loved the way the film felt like a cinematic novel without being literary. I loved the way the mystery plots took on emotional dimensions the connection of clues to recover the past to restore happiness. I loved the colours, especially those rich reds; the wistful accordian music; the love of vignettes, photographs, chance, fantasy, dreams...

Read Best Reviews of Amélie (2011) Here

....P>I saw Amelie first in the theater, but my real appreciation is for the DVD. The transfer to DVD is almost legendary, it is done so well. It helps to start with the magical direction of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who oversaw impeccable camerawork and a script loaded with charm into the film you will see on the DVD. It was obviously a labor of love, and Jeunet worked nearly as hard on the special features that accompany the film on the 2-disc set. The audition tapes, the story of the "home movies" within the film and the chats with Jeunet and the cast are all captivating.

Jeunet successfully uses voiceover as a tool in the film, allowing the viewer to quickly react to the situations encountered by both child and adult Amelie. He's artistically clever with his music, with flashbacks, and with dream sequence to give you a series of interconnecting events, all leading up to the theme of redemption and the enjoyment of life through the joy you give to others. In particular, the use of photos, the booby traps for a local grocer with a nasty temper, and the delightful traveling garden gnome are creative and funny.

There would be no story without Audrey Tatou, the whimsical actress who embodies Amelie. Audrey Hepburn at a young age, she is incredibly charming and quirky. It will be interesting to see if her career takes her beyond this, a signature role.

You'll love owning and watching Amelie, it is one of life's small treasures!

Want Amélie (2011) Discount?

Pour moi, this film is the gift that keeps on giving. A sweet, romantic and inspiring modern classic, this French film is like comfort food. If a bad day is plaguing you, pop this one in and revel in its instant catharsis. Starring doe-eyed, instantly charming Audrey Hepburn incarnate Audrey Tautou as the shy but quirky main character, the viewer is instantly transported into her delicately colored, imaginative world. Amelie leads a quiet life, working as a waitress in a restuarant filled with dysfunctional characters, occasionally caring for her friend's cat and indulging in simple pleasures. Then one fateful day, her life changes forever. Upon finding a childhood keepsake and returning it to the owner, she becomes a secret guardian angel to the people around her. But while she can make others happy, she just can't seem to make things click with handsome stranger Nino (the talented and good looking Mathieu Kassovitz). The story plays out in a magical Parisan backdrop that only adds to the story's charm. The film is slow, sweet torture when it comes to the unfolding romance between Amelie and Nino, but when it gets to the climax, you can't help feeling amazing. Even when I watch this for the 100th time I get that heart-pumping, mind-blowing feeling of true love. So make a list of your likes and dislikes and indulge.

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