Blind Spot 52: ‘The Three Colors Trilogy’

When I was setting up this year’s blind spot picks I took what seemed like a big risk in my pick for April. Deciding to go with a trilogy of films called the Three Colors Trilogy seemed like a big ask. Little did I know we would have a pandemic and I’d be in quarantine for the entire month! It ended up being the ideal choice!

3 colors

The Three Colors Trilogy is a trio of films by polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski. The 3 films are loosely tied together stories that are named after the colors of the French flag and supposedly meant to be emblematic of the 3 political ideals associated with each color: blue=liberty, white=equality, red=fraternity. Some also feel the films are an anti-tragedy, anti-comedy, and anti-romance.

While I admire the boldness of the project, the trilogy is bookended by 2 great films with a real turkey stuck in the middle. That’s right. I enjoyed Blue and Red but found white to be a big misfire. However, as they aren’t very connected this isn’t a huge problem and I’d honestly suggest just skipping White all together.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on all 3:

blue

Blue

Blue stars Juliette Binoche as a widow who loses both her daughter and husband in a horrible car accident at the beginning of the film. She is a classical music composer, as was her husband, but he got most of the praise and glory. Now out of the hospital she has to try to put her life back together all the while discovering new revelations about her husband along the way.

This is a very ‘fly on the wall’ type of movie with us mostly following Binoche around as she makes choices. One minute she is reuniting with a former lover, another she is selling her house, then moving to Paris etc. Fortunately she’s a compelling enough character for this to work. Binoche does a terrific job playing this damaged woman and her responses felt real and honest- no melodrama here.

I also enjoyed the way Kieslowski brought in the color blue into the film through a blue chandelier and lots of time in or near swimming pools. It was more than a gimmick but a way to establish moods of grief and loss.

Blue is a definite great start to the trilogy!

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

three-colours-white-thumbnail

White

As I mentioned above White is the film in the trilogy that is the big miss. It stars Zbigniew Zamachowski as a sad sap of a man who at the start of the film is getting divorced by his wife. She is played by Julie Delpy and she wants a divorce because he has failed to consummate their relationship. He then spends the rest of the movie feeling sorry for himself and planning his elaborate revenge.

At one point he gets involved with the mafia and sends himself in a suitcase to Poland to finish a job for a shady friend. I guess such gestures are supposed to be the ‘anti-comedy’ of the trilogy, but I didn’t laugh. I found him selfish, rude and irritating. I think there is supposed to be satisfaction in his ending, but I found it pathetic.

I suppose the acting and filming of White is fine but the story and characters were too insufferable and annoying for me to care about. Let’s just say it’s a slice of life I can do without!

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Three-Colors-Red

Red

The highlight of the trilogy is the concluding film, Red. Instead of an irritating useless male character as we saw in White, in Red you get a layered, interesting character and an ending that ties the trilogy together.

Red tells the story of a model named Valentine played by Irene Jacob. One day she has a car accident with a dog and she seeks out the dog owner. It turns out to be a former judge played by Jean-Louis Trintignant. Unfortunately the judge doesn’t care about the dog but he has a sophisticated technology for listening in on the conversations of his neighbors.

Like in Rear Window, as he listens he becomes more involved in their lives and starts to make assumptions about what is best for them. Valentine tries to help the judge but things become more complicated by the minute. She also has her own love problems to deal with along with some bad luck at work and in her social life.

Like Blue, Red works because it has a compelling main character we are interested in. The reason it is better than Blue is because the plot is more linear and engaging and Valentine is a more complex character (it was nominated for best screenplay). It’s also beautifully made from the lighting, music, direction, all the way to the cinematography. It’s a gem!

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Have you seen The Three Colors Trilogy? Which one is your favorite? I would love to read your thoughts below in the comments

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Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants Review

miniscule posterI made a goal that I would see every animated film of 2014.  I thought with Song of the Sea I would have all 13.  Well, little did I know there were many more foreign and independent animated films still to see. So I will finish my goal and plan on at least seeing all the films submitted for academy consideration.  One on the list was actually a 2013 release in France but got a small American release in January 2014 (only 4 reviews on rotten tomatoes so it must have been in only LA) called Miniscule: Valley of the Lost Ants.   It’s too bad more people don’t know about it because it was a total delight.

Let me start off by saying this movie is so cute.  Evidently it is based off of a popular TV show in France created by Thomas Szabo and Helen Giraud. It tells the journey of an ant and a ladybug.  There is no dialogue or spoken words of any kind beyond the squeaking of insects but it is not needed.  It reminded me a lot of Wall-e in that respect.

The film is computer animation set on real life backgrounds of the South of France mountains (gorgeously shot).  At the start a human couple is eating a picnic when they must go to have a baby leaving their lunch behind including a box of sugar.  It is of course discovered by our ants and a ladybug who has a torn wing.  They then go on a journey to take the tin of sugar to the ant hill but encounter a lizard, frog and an army of red ants.  In a great scene they must navigate the box through a river with the red ants in a pop can following them.

Then the movie takes a turn and becomes a war drama that is quite compelling with the hoards of red ants gathering to attack the smaller black ants.

ant invasion

It is so creative how they use implements available to an ant to battle each other and I got into the story.  It’s amazing what you can do without any dialogue at all!  The ladybug then goes to get more matches and faces off with a spider who proves to actually be a friend.  The spider kind of looks like the coal creatures in Spirited Away but other than that it is an entirely original design.

spider miniscule

I won’t give it all away but it’s a delight.  Kids will love it especially small toddler age kids.  I remember my little sister would watch this movie that just followed farm animals around the farm over and over again.  We think little one’s need the dialogue but they don’t.  They don’t understand what most of the words mean so a story like this is actually quite perfect for them.

And I think parents will enjoy it too.  It’s charming with enough story to entertain adults (at least this adult).  It you are an adult that appreciates beautiful art it has that too (its not only cute). The photography is gorgeous.  Makes you want to go to France!

It could be a little bit shorter and a few dream sections drag, but overall I was highly entertained by Miniscule.  I wish more Americans could see it because I think it could do quite well with the right publicity. It was only $27 million to make which is amazing because it looks so good (when I think Legends of Oz had 3 times the budget it is hard to believe). With such a small budget it wouldn’t take much for it to be a success (and I think it already was in Europe but not sure).  Like I said, especially little children 5 and under will LOVE it.

I know I have some European readers so I am curious if any of you have seen/heard of Miniscule or the TV series by Giraud and Szabo?  I’d love to know what you think.

The music by Herve Lavandier is crucial to making the film work.  With no dialogue it gives you the right cue to the situation and creates mood and tension.

I’m certainly glad I saw it!  I only wish I had been able to see it in 3D.  That would have been so cool!  The lucky French!  I watched it here