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Recent Movies: Kedi; Personal Shopper; I Called Him Morgan

April 16, 2017

Recent Movies


This documentary pays tribute to the many stray cats of Istanbul as well as the humans who love them, take care of them, and are inspired by them.

There is superb camera work that follows the felines in their daily adventures in the city. The cameras are always low and the camera people use clever devices that can keep up with the cats thus allowing the viewer to better see their activities some of which are fascinating.

Even more inspiring are the interviews with the people who voluntarily help and observe the cats. Some find it therapeutic. Some are even spiritually inspired. One woman compares them to aliens from another planet with a different kind of intelligence. The interviewees, like the cats, come off as very likeable.

There are about seven cats who each have a special segment in “Kedi”. This is like the musical “Cats” in which each musical number told the story of one of its cat characters before moving on to the next one. While all creatures in this film (biped as well as quadriped) exude charm and warmth, interest wanes a little by the end. But it’s still fun to watch the cats and humans connect so nicely. It helps one recall one’s own favourite feline memories.

RATING (out of four stars):   * * *

 Personal Shopper

Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is an American living in Paris whose job is to buy clothes for a wealthy supermodel. Maureen’s twin brother has recently died and she attempts to connect with his spirit in the large house on the outskirts of Paris where he lived before his death.

Stewart’s natural talent and presence are a great aid to this film. She’s at her best during a scene involving a police interrogation. But too much of the film focuses only on Maureen when she is alone. This includes an unbearably long sequence that involved her exchanging text messages with a mysterious stranger. Stewart’s talents can alleviate this movie’s flaws but only up to a point.

The movie also suffers from having too many sub-stories none of which seem to meet their potential. The “ghost story” has some mysterious moments but ends with too much unresolved mystery. The narrative involving Maureen’s relationship with her mostly absent boss (Nora von Waldstatten) could have benefited the movie overall with more time and exploration. The boss shows up in one scene which is almost comical. She is an obsessive egomaniac who multi-tasks while bullying someone on a conference call as she is trying to save gorillas. The final narrative involves a murder mystery whose impact seems to disappear once the mystery is solved.

Considering the film’s unearned acclaim – plus the fact that it was made by the talented creator (Olivier Assayas) of such great films as “Irma Vep”, “Summer Hours” and “Carlos”, this movie is sadly disappointing.

RATING:   * *

 I Called Him Morgan

The focus of this documentary is renowned American jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan (1938 – 1972) as well as his common-law wife Helen More who restored and saved Lee’s life during a time of serious drug addiction only to end it later on.

The movie’s directing style, by Kasper Collin, reflects the beauty and mood of the jazz music it portrays. A very clever bonus is the use of coloured footage of people walking about the streets of New York in the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. This helps greatly in recalling moods and styles of eras that are long gone.

The main narration of this film is an audio recording of More in 1996. While it is mostly insightful, it is occasionally difficult to understand as More had an unusual accent that is not always easy to comprehend. Collin ought to have used subtitles during these segments.

With many magnificent still photos, TV footage, and interviews with Morgan’s past bend members, it was unfortunate that only a brief audio recording of Morgan could be found as evidence of the man himself offstage. But the music – highlighted by Morgan’s brilliant artistry as a trumpet player – more than makes up for this gap.

RATING: * * *


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