Wednesday, 17 December 2008
jcvd - the movie
"Quite possibly the best idea for a movie yet" - Herald Sun
"Funny, nimble, knowing, gracious and kickass" - Entertainment Weekly, USA
The biopic that has wowed critics around the world and revived the career of one of the world's most notable action stars, JCVD, is coming to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) for a two week season in March 2009.
JCVD is, of course, short for Jean-Claude Van Damme. A household name, box office hit, heartthrob and action film icon of the 1980s and 90s, Van Damme's career has not reached quite the same heights since, with many of his more recent releases going straight to DVD.
In JCVD, Van Damme pokes fun at his waning fame, playing himself, a fading action star whose life and career are imploding. Struggling on the treadmill of direct-to-video flicks, losing custody battles and screen roles, Van Damme retreats to Belgium where a trip to the local bank turns nasty and all hell breaks loose, involving police, media and crazed fans flocking to the ensuing hostage scene. JCVD's public image is used with great ease to manipulate the state of affiars by those inside and outside the hostage situation in this comment on the very nature of fame.
ACMI Film Programmer Amree Hewitt, says this film achieves a clever balance between entertainment and commentary. "What makes this film a true off-kilter delight is that JCVD is so madcap and entertaining that it almost belies its more challenging genre bending, self reflexive cinema moments," she says.
"Young director Mabrouk El Mechri is obviously a fan of Van Damme but one who sees clearly the stars foibles, failures, press fictions and delusions. Together with the star himself, he hones all these elements into a surprisingly moving dissection of the very nature of self, celebrity and hero worship. Not bad for a heist film!"
Young French director Mabrouk El Mechri highjacks the actors' personal and public identity creating a riotously entertaining mix of Dog Day Afternoon and Being John Malkovich with touches of the self-conscious cinema of Jean-Luc Godard.
Rather than create a spoof movie, El Mechri, has drawn on his obvious admiration for Van Damme to create an action hero flick of a different kind - of Jean-Claude Van Damme, the man. Using similar techniques to those employed in Van Damme's earlier career highlights, El Mechri creates an action flick about an ordinary man, staring in an extraordinary life. Throughout the film, he allows us snapshots of Van Damme the action hero, the marital arts master, the celebrity, the father and the son, and the very real conflict between each. The result is a seriously entertaining piece of metafiction.
When Van Damme steps out of character (as himself) to deliver a 'to camera' address (as himself) on what it is like to be JCVD, this tour de force monologue is more mind shattering than any roundhouse kick to the head.
Since its world premiere in France in June 2008, JCVD has screened at the Toronto and Rome Film Festivals and has been overwhelmingly met with critical acclaim, including five star reviews. Variety said JCVD "must be seen to be believed" and the Boston Globe promised viewers the chance to "see the star in a whole new light".
Travel from reality into fiction and back again through JCVD, in a two week season at ACMI from 5 - 18 March, 2009.
"***** Stunning. Van Damme takes things to a whole other level" - NOW Magazine
"Simply put, it's a blast. Van Damme is a pleasure to watch - funny and light on his feet, at once playing it straight. JCVD may well be the most pure fun to be had in a Toronto movie theatre this Festival year" - LA Weekly
Mabrouk El Mechri, 93 mins, Belgium/Luxembourg/France, 2008, Digital betacam, English & French with English subtitles, Courtesy: Transmission Films
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