Monday, April 16, 2012

Four More at Various Theaters

I have been posting non-stop for two weeks and I'm still not caught up...

I saw four films in late March which have little to do with each other but I'll post them together:

Delicacy starring Audrey Tautou & François Damiens; directed by David Foenkinos & Stéphane Foenkinos; French with subtitles; (2011)
Centaur starring & directed by J.P. Allen; (2011) - Official Website
Pretty Poison starring Anthony Perkins & Tuesday Weld; directed by Noel Black; (1968)
Remember My Name starring Anthony Perkins, Geraldine Chaplin & Berry Berenson; directed by Alan Rudolph; (1978)

I saw Delicacy at the Landmark Embarcadero, Centaur at the Landmark Lumiere and the other two were a double feature at the Castro.


I don't think I've mentioned it but I have a serious crush on Audrey Tautou. Amélie was ok but as she has aged, she has acquired that je ne sais quoi - sexy, funny, appealing, genial, etc. I fully recognized it when I saw Beautiful Lies last fall. In Delicacy, she continues to establish her romantic comedy credentials as the successful businesswoman who begins a romance with a schlub. Schlub is a little harsh because Markus (François Damiens) isn't such a bad guy. He's not as successful or handsome as Nathalie's (Tautou) late husband but he's thoughtful and funny...and nearby when Nathalie emerges from her long but functional period of mourning. Much of their romance was attributed to fate as Nathalie seemed to kiss the first man she encountered. She later denied recalling the incident to Markus.

Delicacy is not a film to be dissected line by line to see what motivates the characters. Delicacy is fun, lightweight romantic comedy about finding love in unexpected places. Nathalie is finally ready to live a full life again and for whatever reason (and there are some), she chooses Markus. Markus is being paid attention to by a successful and attractive executive...who happens to be his boss. There is one joke where Nathalie chides Markus for making such a big deal of the at an American company.

I found Delicacy to be delightful.


J.P. Allen is not a name I was familiar with before seeing Centaur. When I saw his face, I immediately recognized him from his 2004 film Gambling which played at the 2006 SF Indiefest. That film was a character study of a mna with a gambling addiction. A little to wordy for my tastes. Good dialogue is welcomed, but Gambling was filled with long, elliptical monologues.

Allen's latest film is similar although the premise is a little more compelling. Allen plays an unnamed man who videotapes his thoughts as he plans to kill the man who killed his wife in a drunk driving accident and escaped legal punishment. As the film is structured, Allen speaks into the camera extensively but the dialogue is more literal than I recall in Gambling. There are some passages about flying with his pilot father and him and late wife on Lake Tahoe during a storm, but Centaur builds up suspense nicely towards its conclusion. The man has give himself 30 days to complete the task and is quite thorough in his preparation so suspense builds as each day passes in the video log.

I won't reveal the ending because I was little confused about it. That didn't change my tepid response to the film. Not bad, not great but something in between. Centaur was filmed in San Francisco so many of the locations were familiar. Allen has a silky voice which can be used to connote many emotions but in some ways I think he relies on it too much in his films.


In Pretty Poison, Anthony Perkins plays a man fresh out of the psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Convicted of arson while a teenager which resulted in the death of his aunt, Dennis Pitts is released into society with instruction to contact his parole officer/psychiatrist regularly. Pitts immediately leaves town, ignore those instructions and gets a job a wood processing factory. Eyeing 17 year old Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld), Pitts scams her into thinking he is a spy! Or does he? Sue Ann proves to be more mature than her age and excels in manipulating Pitts. Two murders later and Pitts is taking the rap for Sue Ann's crimes.

Darkly humorous and highlighting Weld's sexiness, Pretty Poison reminded me of a Hitchcock film. It was very enjoyable with strong chemistry between Perkins and Weld.

I had seen Remember My Name at the Castro in May 2009 as part of its Women on the Verge series. I didn't realize that until the first scene which like the rest of the film, use blues music as the soundtrack. Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie's daughter) is an ex-con who begins to stalk her ex-husband (Perkins) and his wife (Berry Berenson, Perkins' wife at the time of filming and future 9/11 victim).

As the film progresses, the audience begins to see Chaplin's character go from initially mousy and strange to vindictive and strange. There is a scene where Chaplin is hiding in the house while Berenson is moving about unaware of her uninvited guest. It was a very tense scene. Chaplin really nailed the angry, scorned female character type. Jeff Goldbeck, Dennis Franz and Alfre Woodward have small roles. Remember My Name is nice piece of 1970s cinema. Modestly budgeted and shot on locations around LA, the film a distinctly 1970s look which dates it but gives the film a lot of its appeal as well.

The theme for the double feature seemed to be "Anthony Perkins is played for the fool by sexy women."

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