Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tribeca 9: Eurotrashpop, or is it Europoptrash?

Okay, folks, celebrity culture is as big in Europe as it is here in the 'States. Here we have two examples of the thirst for fame, fortune and access to same. It all seems like it is here, but that's globalization for ya. They had it first....

Beauty And The Bastard (Tyttö sinä olet tähti) (Finland) - North American Premiere.

Directed by
Dome Karukoski

An interesting phenomenon is how happy people are when the government film commissions of some European countries decide to fund a Hollywood-style film. If an even halfway decent film of that ilk starring local talent in the local language will be a real hit.

This is that sort of film, halfway, but not full-way, decent. Had this been an American film, it would be considered a throw-away romance that would be gone inside of two weeks, with maybe a short afterlife on DVD or cable.

Nelli(Pamela Tola) is a recent college graduate studying for her medical school entrance exam. But she doesn’t actually want to be a doctor, she wants to be Shakira or Britiney!

So in an act of desperation, she accosts a big-shot Helsinki record producer (Mikko Kouki) who gives her a ten second audition in an elevator and tells her to come back when she’s got a demo. When she asks where she could make one, he pawns her off on Hip-hop
DJ Sune(Samuli Vauramo), who just quit in a huff in the scene before. This is a typical romantic introduction scene. They hate each other on sight. They meet again at a club, and he agrees to produce the demo. Sune’s bandmates Kondis(Joonas Saartamo) and Mr. Daddy(Eero Milonoff) bet him that he can’t get her into bed, and he takes it.

What he doesn’t know is that Nelli has a fiancée named Mikko(Jussi Nikkilä). He thinks he’s her brother. Standard complications with the usual twists, we have nothing original here. Not that we really need that sort of thing, this is a romantic comedy after all, and the intended audience isn’t as cynical as it is here sometimes.

Everybody lives happily ever after except poor Mikko, but that’s romantic comedy for you!!! It’s a nothing movie, but it’s the Finn’s very own, and don’t they deserve a little glitz?

Backstage (France) – U.S. Premiere.

Written and Directed
by Emmanuelle Bercot

People blame America for celebrity culture, but it’s a universal phenomenon. Emmanuelle Bercot and Jérôme Tonnerre know this and that the French are just as star struck as we here in the US, and thought that this might be a good way to explore a releationship.

Lucie(Isild Le Besco) is a bored teenager living out in the boonies. It’s her birthday and her mom(Edith Le Merdy) decides to get a special surprise for it. She’s contacted the producer of a TV reality show, and he got Lucie’s heroine, the famous singer Lauren Waks (Emmanuelle Seigner), to film a music video in Lucie’s back yard.

Lucie, of course, freaks out big time.

But soon after, knowing that her idol has left her a note that she’d like to meet her again, and feeling that she’s blown the biggest chance of her life, she hitches all the way to Paris and after waiting in front of the hotel with the other deranged fans before sneaking in and getting first past the bodyguard(Jean-Paul Walle Wa Wana), before wangling an audience the diva. Lauren’s secretary-minder Juliette (Noemie Lvovsky) and her business manager(Valery Zeitoun) are at first mildly supportive (it’s only five minutes) but Lauren has for some reason decided to hire Lucie as her pet go’fer.

Thus begins a semi-lesbian platonic love affair, where both diva and fan feed off each other’s neuroses and develop a bizarre codependency. Lauren is pining for her ex Daniel (Samuel Benchetrit), and Lucie, who’s met him while packing up the soon to be abandoned apartment, immediately begins a relationship with him, that’s for Lauren’s benefit, of course.

This is the story of two sick people trying to stay that way. The film has a mesmerizing quality about it, but the fact is is that it’s ruined by the music, which is terrible. The acting is good, so much so that we can suspend disbelief and go with the absurdity of the whole thing.

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