This is one of those articles that goes on and on about how many films are opening this week. Only a funny thing happened on the way to the funny farm.
The world doesn’t revolve around what films premiere on any given day. There are directors whose output should be watched on a rotating weekly basis: Kubrick, Lang, the Coen Brothers. Sure this is the week of The Hundred-Foot Journey and Into the Storm but it’s also a good week to catch up on a classic like Sullivan’s Travels or Bonnie and Clyde.
Preston Sturges, the director of Sullivan’s Travels had a socialite mom who hung out with Isadora Duncan and he himself invented kiss-proof lipstick. The director of Into the Storm, Steven Quale apprenticed with James Cameron and was a second unit helmer on Titanic and Avatar. I can watch Sullivan’s Travels endlessly. Into the Storm was good for one sit and one sit only.
You remember that comic takeoff of movies (Scanners in particular) where the commentators (John Candy and Joe Flaherty) talk about how “that character blowed up real good.” Well, in Into the Storm the tornadoes blow up real good. The rest of the movie unfurls with the attention to detail of a SyFy movie.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a foodie film but it doesn’t serve the generous portions of preparation and plot that a film like Chef (still in theaters after four months) does. Hundred-Foot will appeal to the bon appétit set because of its concern with high-end restaurants and how they achieve their Michelin stars. After Chef I wanted to eat a grilled Cuban cheese and ham sandwich. I did because that’s easy to replicate. After The Hundred-Foot Journey I wanted to eat sea urchin. I can’t even find that shit at Central Market.
Which leads us to the film of the week, the film not to be missed, the film people will be talking about (if they see it). The film that you’re going to hate and that other people are going to love.
Mood Indigo, released by Drafthouse Film and playing exclusively in the Houston area at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park, may be one of the most surreal films ever made. Actually two films this year, Mood Indigo and Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality, are two of the purest examples of cinema surrealism since Buñuel and Dali silent-era collaborations and the 1932 Blood of the Poet by Jean Cocteau.
Mood Indigo merges the themes and atmosphere of director Michel Gondry’s most recent films. Which is to say that Mood Indigo fuses the stick-leg effects of his Tokyo! segment (Gondry was one of three helmers on that art film.) with the appreciation for jazz he kindled in Be Kind Rewind. It’s as if Gondry has left the memory of The Green Hornet (great use of 3D) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in the dust.
In Be Kind it was the music of Fats Waller that propelled the story, and in Mood Indigo the sounds of Duke Ellington match the aspirations and feeling of the characters. I honestly can’t talk too much about the actual storyline because I literally didn’t understand the film.
Gondry assembles a classy international cast that includes Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Omar Sy and Gad Elmaleh. Duris and Tautou are star-crossed lovers who float around in a floating flower car a good bit of the time. Sy and Elmaleh provide comic relief. Everybody involved seems to be having a really good time.
- Michael Bergeron