Few movie reviewing pleasures are as satisfying as being able to sing the praises of Catherine Deneuve. Even more stunning today than she was when she first burst onto international movie screens as a 60s vixen and sexpot, she is still working and continues to fascinate movie audiences around the world. It is impossible to believe she is almost 70 years old, so recently does her reign as France’s leading female star seem to have risen. No other French actress has taken her crown. Over the years, she has allowed some (Anna Karina, Genevieve Bujold, Juliette Binoche) to borrow it for a while, but even they knew it had to be given back, that it was only on loan. Deneuve, with her aloof translucence, her continental cool was and is an international force. Irresistibly beautiful on the outside, she also exudes within a searing intelligence and a dignity that places her on higher planes than those occupied by actresses who are merely pretty to look at. After decades of moviemaking, she remains France’s most delectable export. Like all the greatest movie stars, there is something eternal about Deneuve. Not only is she not of this world; she seems to exist beyond the world of cinema. When you die, you half-expect to find her in some corner of the Cosmos, holding court in rarefied air. Continue reading →
The philosophical insight Akira Kurosawa unleashes in his epic Seven Samurai stands above most war films ever produced. Though the portrayal of war is common among films, the true essence of conflict itself is often times overlooked. The manner and tempo with which Kurosawa delivers his epic is where the message emerges. With a steady pace and extensive view into every facet of struggle, the director breaches the threshold of cinematic philosophy into a new realm of artistic meaning. In 16th century Japan, the framework of conflict is embodied within seven selfless warriors who use all of their abilities to defeat a clan of bandits. Kurosawa’s stark vision of life itself is extrapolated in the picture. Constantly put into question by smaller battles along the way, the director paints a decadent landscape of morality, giving audiences the very essence of cinema and story in its most ancient form. Seven Samurai is a perfect step-by-step guide into the very heart of conflict.