Mikhaël Hers

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soundchaser
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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#26 Post by soundchaser » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:24 am

I watched Amanda tonight and have to heap onto the praise pile here, because...
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... of how many films get the subject matter so wrong. It’s such a truthful depiction of grief — of how sudden shocks ripple out through small events, and how difficult it is to navigate relationships with those who have gone through the same loss, and how it still doesn’t fundamentally change how difficult it is to put away your pride in a situation where you feel you’re justified in being angry and distant. It could have easily veered into mawkishness (that first act was dangerously close at times), and I’m not really sure what kept it from going over that line apart from its absolute honesty.

A few scenes that stuck out to me: I thought the confrontation between Amanda and David about Sandrine’s toothbrush was *brilliant,* and Amanda’s anger at being set adrift between David and her great aunt so perfectly captured the impossibility of anchoring a child after a major loss.

It was a difficult watch, though, and I’m not sure I’d have gone into it tonight had I known about the subject matter in advance. I lost an aunt in December who left behind two sons, one only twelve. I saw so much of him in Amanda, even though he’s a bit older, and that scene in which Amanda comes home to the perfectly-framed empty apartment only for reality to set back in when David flicks on the light left me a total wreck because of it. There are still moments like that, and I suspect there will be for a long time to come.
A very, very good film, domino harvey, and undoubtedly one of the best of the year, but I should have heeded your warning about crying.

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#27 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:20 pm

Amanda will be playing theatres and be available On Demand in the UK on January 3rd of next year. Please be aware that, of course, AE spoils the film in its single line description. I find it truly mind boggling that no one except the Lincoln Center programmers had the good sense to word their descriptions to preserve the plot‘s impact

Take it from me, and soundchaser, and almost everyone else: go in blind if you can, and have tissues on hand!

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#28 Post by domino harvey » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:39 pm

Just discovered Luc Moullet was one of Hers' biggest boosters early in his career. Time must have mellowed him, because his comments actually make sense!
Luc Moullet wrote:Hers' genius is based on a new and masterful rendering of time, which gives the impression of embracing reality fully

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#29 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:46 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:39 pm
Just discovered Luc Moullet was one of Hers' biggest boosters early in his career. Time must have mellowed him, because his comments actually make sense!
Luc Moullet wrote:Hers' genius is based on a new and masterful rendering of time, which gives the impression of embracing reality fully
where did you find this article Was it Positif?

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#30 Post by domino harvey » Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:01 pm

Image

Which from the credit I gather is from the catalog for a screening program of Moullet's own films (perhaps there was a component in the text of Moullet reflecting on modern French cinema?)

Moullet gave a 17 minute interview on Hers as a bonus feature on one of Hers' films as well

While Google searching Moullet and Hers, I found this amusing interview, wherein Moullet praises Pineapple Express and expresses a desire to see more Judd Appatow films!

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#31 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:34 pm

Rather unexpectedly, my commission of subs for Moullet's Hers video piece was fulfilled, so I can relay back some of his arguments. It is classic Moullet, with references ranging from Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick and Entre les murs to the Coen Brothers and Speedy Gonzalez! He offers several ways to look at Hers' filmography:

Hers as a director of Paris locations and as a director who knows how to use exterior lighting. He also somewhere in this argument calls Montparnasse "A little like Rope" which is... a take

Hers as a director of groups (here he calls Hers the "American John Ford," which is presumably a slip of the tongue!)

Hers as a director of authentically erotic cinema

Hers as a director of subtlety over bombast, as exemplified by brief moments of crime or unrest to suggest the larger issues without over-representing threats

Hers as a director obsessed by disappearance. This is Moullet's most convincing argument, especially since it is only amplified in the features that came after he pointed this out. Moullet theorizes that Hers had suffered some kind of trauma surrounding disappearance early in life and it's informed all of his work. He suggests that eventually one would be able to write a lengthy thesis solely on the function of disappearance in Hers' work, which again, seems dead on

He then closes by saying Hers is one of the two most exciting French filmmakers of tomorrow, along with a director I've never heard of, Isabelle Prim

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#32 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:37 pm

I've only seen two Hers so I really can't respond well to those claims, but I feel like his focus on groups is of acknowledgement and about as far as any director who focuses on the individual's experience as vessel with a complicated relationship to groups in the world around him/her. The "authentically erotic cinema" is a strange one... I wrote about the love scene in Amanda as authentic in my thoughts in this thread, but wouldn't call it erotic, unless we're stretching that term to mean sexual connection in which case, sure (though I know you mentioned in your writeups that he tackles sex a lot more intensely in his earlier work, domino, so I'll hold my tongue there).

The disappearance concept is very apt and I love the psychology in Moullet's analysis explained that way. It may be a bit hasty and diagnostic to look into Hers' past like that with an air of extremity specifically around suggesting trauma, but I'd say his relationship to the concept of "disappearance" and the horror of the unknown that accompanies it is definitely personal. I will try to seek out this video piece if it's publicly up on backchannels (just as I'll be seeking out Isabelle Prim's work immediately). Thanks for sharing this!

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#33 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:42 pm

The groups (he means it literally, as in some of his films do focus on a group of people congregating rather than intimate pairings) and erotic cinema approaches really only fit Primrose Hill and Memory Lane, which to be fair are two of the three films he was discussing as an oeuvre at the time. The rest strike me as applicable across his filmography and were prescient acknowledgements of elements that would continue to be in play going forward. Nothing in the piece really spoils any of the films, so you could watch it without having seen all the movies

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#34 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:32 pm

Whoever this Isabelle Prim is, she isn't even up on backchannels! Do any native French board members have any awareness or opinions on her work?

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#35 Post by barryconvex » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:43 am

I can't do them justice with just a short description but the little girl (Isaure Multrier) who plays Amanda has the most beautiful open face and deep blue eyes- they're the reason color film stock (or digital cameras) exist. This has to be one of the greatest child performances ever seen, the degree of difficulty involved in expressing the range of emotions Multrier's character experiences is staggering. I can't add much else but will say that for a movie about grief, this is as life affirming as any film could be. My favorite scene was
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the closing tennis match at Wimbledon. All the impossible complexities of losing a loved one (more than just a loved one, the most important person you've ever known) are written on Multrier's face. Fear, tranquility, joy, sadness, exultation, despair, anger- all the emotions she's portrayed throughout the course of the film suddenly come rushing back in the closeups that end the movie. Equally amazing was the scene when David discovers the shooting. He's arrived before any of the first responders and Hers lets the chaos of the moment play out in total silence, as if all the air has been sucked out of the immediate vicinity and sound is impossible in the vacuum that remains.

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#36 Post by Aunt Peg » Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:44 am

domino harvey wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:59 pm
Fantastic news: Artificial Eye/Curzon has picked up the UK rights to Amanda, so at minimum we’ll see an English-friendly DVD of this masterpiece so everyone can experience it (and fingers crossed for a Blu-ray)
Has there been any news on the possible UK physical media release?

I would have thought by now Amanda would have been released.

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#37 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:21 am

I’ve been checking every few weeks but nothing ever comes up. Such a shame that this gentle masterpiece is impossible to see for anyone not already exposed via the festival circuit last year or with access to back channels

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#38 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:25 am

I know we've talked about it before, but I *strongly suggested* my mother see this at the MFA last year and she and her friends were blown away, with my mom saying it was her favorite movie in years. It's insane to me that anyone could look at this film and believe it's not marketable here... we have hearts too!

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#39 Post by swo17 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:28 am

Do we though?

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#40 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:33 am

The problem is that every single venue and outlet except the Lincoln Center program seems bound and determined to ruin its narrative surprises in their descriptions and someone hearing it described in those terms many not give it the time of day (and you just know that the surprise turn of the narrative would be the ONLY selling point messaged in trailers/advertising here)

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#41 Post by Aunt Peg » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:37 am

Well I saw Amanda at the Australia French Film Festival is Australia last March (2019) and was very much impressed. A few months later it turned up on For to Air TV, played a couple of times and then disappeared. I would really like to own a copy of the first, even ifs it is just a DVD and I think it is a film my mother would really enjoy watching.

If anyone notices a release please post on the thread to let the rest of us know. Amanda only can back into my mind because I'm attending the 2020 Australia French Film Festival which started in March but was cut short by COVID and resumed two weeks ago so I'm getting to catch on up some of the stuff I missed the first time round. Prior to the festival being shutdown in March very few people were even attending. Now that it has resumed there are still very few people attending. I think most people are either too scared to go to the cinema at the moment (the health risk would be very very low as I type this right now) or given the economic carnage people simply cannot afford luxury indulgences anymore.

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#42 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:06 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:33 am
The problem is that every single venue and outlet except the Lincoln Center program seems bound and determined to ruin its narrative surprises in their descriptions and someone hearing it described in those terms many not give it the time of day (and you just know that the surprise turn of the narrative would be the ONLY selling point messaged in trailers/advertising here)
Yeah I guess, though Manchester by the Sea was clear about its tragic narrative premise and was able to hide future narrative surprises and get people in the theatres based on the basic setup. During COVID maybe people would be more averse, but I think audiences really like dramas about stressors forcing people to shift their priorities around and cope with unexpected life events, since that's a broadly universal experience (outside of a communal global one now).

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#43 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:43 am

domino harvey wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:34 pm
He then closes by saying Hers is one of the two most exciting French filmmakers of tomorrow, along with a director I've never heard of, Isabelle Prim
Prim's most recent feature, Mens, has popped up on backchannels with hardcoded English subs

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#44 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:58 am

Major spoilers:

I quite liked Amanda although I'm afraid that I found it to occasionally be a little bit too blunt on the subject of grief. Some of the discussions of responsibility to Amanda (especially the visit to the Children's Home that could potentially take Amanda in, but with conditions) felt a little unnecessary, but I suppose it was to enable the film to explore all options and let David work through his ambivalence towards taking on Amanda full time. There were also quite a lot of scenes of other people talking to David and giving him the opportunity to open up about his feelings, which perhaps might reflect more on my personal reaction as a grumpily cynical and hard-hearted member of the audience in not being able to particularly buy those situations as naturally arising and therefore feeling a bit of a clunky way to allow the main character to speak about his feelings directly (if I had the choice I would much prefer a complete to camera fourth-wall breaking interrogation scene such as those that you find in Godard!); although whilst I did feel that the set ups of those moments were a little too obvious I did like that the scene where David breaks down talking to his friend Axel contrasts interestingly against David immediately closing down the discussion with the journalist, especially when Amanda is brought up as being a good angle for being an emotive hook for the story that would capture readers. I would like to think that the film is recognising that it is doing exactly the same thing as that journalist is doing, although I have my suspicions that it thinks it is being a bit more profound than that. Which I am not sure that I can entirely buy into.

I'll spoiler tag everything else:
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I did very much like the relatively discreet way that the terror attack in the park was portrayed, although for the brief moments of David seeming edgy after the attack everyone is soon out and about wandering ceaselessly back and forth through the streets again as if nothing ever happened (but I did really like David's moment of grief being entirely expressed through sniffing back tears as he waits for Amanda to wake up and break the news to her. That was far more impactful than any of his tearful breakdowns later on). Maybe that is the only way people know how to deal with things, by just going on and trying to forget about it (and I did like that we start getting more shots of armed gendarmes in the couple of scenes post-attack, before the film rather forgets about that angle. Interestingly the whole 'terror' angle is played up more pre-attack as a kind of suspense thing, with the bars of the school gates looking like a kind of a fortress, and the bag searches David goes through. I think there is a scene later on of David having to go through a metal detector a couple of times on the trip to the crazy golf park, but that is about it for later in the film. It is almost as though it is more tense before anything has happened to warrant it, and that having to go through a situation is in strange ways a kind of relieving release, for all of the grief it brings), but I did think it was rather strange that it becomes much more of a family drama story than being too interested in exploring the effect of terrorism on the wider society. I think I may have just wanted a film that went external rather than internal however, so I cannot be too harsh on it being something that it is not... and of course an internal family drama is a particularly French style of filmmaking so it was rather inevitable that it would be the approach that a French film would take towards this subject matter!

That however was something that made Stacy Martin's brief scenes all the more impactful as whilst that character seems sidelined by the film (or perhaps more accurately her character sidelines herself from David's story), she is the only character who seems as if they have ongoing issues related to the terror attack beyond grief at losing a loved one (suggesting that this is not a film about terrorism exactly but it could be grief at a child losing a parent however it may happen. Its all traumatic and inexplicable, if not usually quite as sudden in its impact), especially in the moment of Léna being startled by the firecrackers and the pointed injury to her arm that is pretty much implied to have completely destroyed her piano teaching career (instead we see her after that working in a record store, slowly grappling with stacks of records of music created by others, instead of being able to create her own compositions anymore).

... yet I kind of have issues with whether we really needed that rather explicit sex scene. I guess it is nice to consumate the relationship and show that the two characters are fully committing to each other (and can maybe share in Amanda's upbringing, helping David to not have to do it alone), but I think we could have gotten that message across in a better way than just breast suckling. Especially when its the only explicit moment in the entire film. But then again its a French film, so I suppose that rampant bonking was inevitable at some point!

Although maybe the jarring aspect of the sex scene is meant to intentionally bookendingly contrast to the similarly jarring nature of the aftermath of the attack in the park. The couple would have made love sooner if they had not been thrown off course by unexpected events, and it takes the entire film for them to tentatively reconnect again, with the sex scene the, blunt, act of almost defiance of continued life in the face of random death? And that completes David's character arc going from grief and ambivalence towards re-engagement and commitment with others.

But while I felt there were some clunky moments there were some absolutely amazing moments as well, when some of the more schematic moments of 'plot and characterisation' stopped and we get to the heart of the matter. Particularly:

- the moment of running into Lydia, the friend oblivious as to Sandrine's death and then that moment of her leaving and David making the decision to chase after her to give her the bad news rather than letting her live in ignorance (or worse find out that he never told her if she finds out from someone else, similar to the way that their mother in England found out about their father's death), with that conversation taking place in long shot where we only see the moment of her reaction as we hear the fluttering passing of birds on the soundtrack (I also heartily second the other two moments that domino highlighted, particularly that we never find out what comes of Ivan's letter: I was worried that David was going to tear it up as with his mother's letter, but maybe not seeing him do that is a suggestion that he has grown as a person)
- that beautiful moment of the departed to the countryside girlfriend Léna's image superimposed over footage of trains entering and leaving the station while we hear the content of her letter, which inspires David to go to her
- the final shot of the crowds 'reclaiming' the park, and by implication the rest of the public spaces, suggesting that the empty streets might not be forever. Which of course hits even harder during a pandemic!

I also really liked the way that David's job of moving in and out interchangeable tenants gets both used in the opening section of the film to add to the 'multicultural' angle of the film (the world that is threatened with being overwhelmed by fear and PTSD post-attack), but mostly later on the way that taking furniture and throwing it away starts to hit home with the loss of Léna and the similar issues over David throwing away Sandrine's toiletries which so upsets Amanda. Amanda being so upset by that is a relatively low key suggestion that she is still processing the loss of her mother and needs to let go in her own time rather than having it forced, whilst David wants to throw everything away to forget about it. This actually reminds me a lot of what happened when my mother died a few years back: my father made arrangements with some of his friends to have them pick up a lot of my mother's books without telling me he was doing so (he just wanted rid of them), so I lost quite a few connections with my mother that way. The objects themselves don't mean anything but some people need to let go in their own way, if they ever do.

Which is really the point of the final scene at Wimbledon, which I both think is a bit too on the nose yet still very touching simultaneously, because that trip to see their estranged English mother and to go to Wimbledon was the last thing that Sandrine ever planned to do. David himself, seemingly without thinking about it, confirms his commitment to Amanda more than anything else by reconnecting with his mother when he otherwise never would have done so (therefore Amanda has helped him. He also shares cycling with Amanda, each on their own bike) and then whilst David does not understand why Amanda breaks into tears during the Wimbledon match, the audience is well aware that Amanda has had a year of being under her mother's 'protection' or 'influence' in a way with that planned trip, and now the mother's connection to the daughter from beyond the grave is completely ended and Amanda has no more contact with her and will have to continue on in the world by herself now (which in another personal aside reminded me of finding that my mother had left her supermarket points card after she had passed on, and whilst of course it was never intended as such, I did like to think that it was as if she was providing a last little gift to keep things going until I was up to speed with taking over her role with the shopping myself). However there has been that year of transition that has allowed Amanda to process and come to terms with David as her new guardian, and vice versa of David having Amanda as his responsibility. That also makes the final Elvis-allusion with the opening chords of the end credits song work really well, as Sandrine has only truly 'left the building' after that tennis match she had bought the tickets for ends.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:26 am, edited 9 times in total.

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Re: Mikhaël Hers

#45 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:42 am

Great in-depth thoughts as always, Colin! Love your observation about how one of Lacoste’s tasks on his job mirrors his eventual behaviors in the grieving process

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