Swimming Pool (2003) Francois Ozon

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Charlotte Rampling’s Sarah Morton is a famous British mystery writer, think P.D. James, who professionally has reached a creative stalemate moment in her career and needs inspiration. With the help of her publisher, John Bosload (Charles Dance) she takes what is hoped to be a rejuvenating combination of vacation and work at his villa in France. Sarah gets to shop in the local village as well as revitalize her creativity. She is living the solitary life she craves with only the local caretaker roaming the grounds during the daytime hours.  Her quiet, isolated world is soon disrupted by the unexpected arrival of Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) Bosload’s sexy, outgoing French daughter. The rigid and serious Sarah is annoyed by the gregarious, bold young woman who thinks nothing of sunbathing topless by the pool and bringing home men for her sexual pleasure. Continue reading

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Stardust Memories (1980) Woody Allen

When I saw “Stardust Memories” for the first time back in 1980 (Baronet Theater in Manhattan) I was completely lost as to what Woody Allen was doing. Filled with Fellini like imagery, bizarre inhabitants straight out of Diane Arbus and seemingly resentful, bitter attacks on his fans.  I found the film, to say the least, hard to swallow. I wasn’t and am not one of those folks who keep wishing Woody would trek back to his ‘funny’ early films. I actually relished his celluloid journey, his growth from dubbing a cheesy Japanese spy flick with completely new dialogue turning it into “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?’ through his early visually clumsy, but oh so funny, films like “Take The Money and Run” and ‘Bananas” to his classic “Annie Hall” and on to the Bergman like “Interiors” and the homage to his home town in “Manhattan.” Woody always seemed to be expanding his artistic horizons. At the time of its original release, I chalked up “Stardust Memories” as a failure, hell everyone is entitled to a failure now and then, right?

Now, let me just say here, I watch many of Woody’s film all the time, over and over, true some more than others, I have lost count on how many times I have seen “Manhattan,” “Bananas,” “Sleeper,” “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” “Annie Hall, “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Broadway Danny Rose” and so on. His films are like old friends with whom you gladly sit, have a drink, and reminisce about those days gone by. The one film I never went back to was “Stardust Memories.” Frankly, until I watched it for the first time in years, just a few months ago, I remembered little about it except for the feeling of confusion I had and a why bother attitude about taking a second look. One day I found a copy at a local library and for no particular reason decided to give it another shot. All I can say is hallelujah brother! I have been seen the light and have been converted! Continue reading