365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


Elle (2016)

Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Total Recall) Elle opens with a scene that even the most jaded person would find difficult to watch. Whenever we see a rape scene on the big screen, we are mortified. Rape is a crime we abhor and, next to murder, the one we find most unacceptable in society. To start a movie with a brutal rape sets the immediate somber tone of the movie and, ironically, a tone that we often get away from. There are so many genres in this French subtitled film. It can be classified as a drama, romance, suspense, thriller, revenge, mystery, and even comedy. I'd be lying if I said I understood every component of this movie without having to do some research for it afterward. Apparently, the older gentleman didn't have that problem as he began clapping as we rolled to credits. The reason I saw this film was because Isabelle Huppert (Things to Come, Amour) is a lock for a Best Actress Academy Award nomination after winning a Golden Globe. I think she has a solid chance to win. I think her only real competition are Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Emma Stone (La La Land) I'm uncertain, at the time of this writing, which way I would lean. I wasn't the biggest fan of Jackie, but Natalie Portman did nail the role perfectly. It was dark and dreary and I wasn't sure the movie was needed. Elle was fresh and original and while the content was dark, Huppert gives a career-defining performance as Michele, a woman who refuses to show any reactionary human emotion for the events she is put through. If someone forced me to make a pick today, I would say that my heart says Huppert, but my mind says Portman. It would not be unprecedented for an actress to win cinema's top prize. In fact, there have been two winners in the past decade (Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose and Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as well as a slew of other nominations, including two in the past four years. And Portman already has her Oscar for Lead Actress (2010's Black Swan). While Huppert might be an unknown commodity in the western hemisphere, she has been one of the most revered actresses in Europe for the past 40 years. With no Oscar nominations to her name yet, the one she receives this year may come with the trophy itself.


Amour (2012)

Michael Haneke's (Funny Games, Time of the Wolf) Amour might not be the most depressing movie of the year, but it is the most horrifying. The plot line could simply be "growing old with the one you love the most while facing life's misery". This movie is simply about the deterioration of a wife and what an elderly husband is able and willing to do to take care of her when she can no longer care for herself. A universal believe, I think, is that we all want to age gracefully and to not impose on others. A universal truth, I know, is that this does not often happen. The idea that a husband and wife can fall in love in their 20's and live 60 years with minimal health issues and then die in their sleep on the same night isn't realistic, no matter how much we want it to be. In all likelihood, each spouse will rely on the help of his/her partner. In the end, one partner will most likely care for and make the decisions of the other. That's what this movie shows us. And it shows us to it in an oh so brutal way.