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Irma Vep (Essential Edition)

37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hong Kong action diva Maggie Cheung (Ashes of Time Redux, In the Mood for Love) plays herself in Olivier Assayas' spiky satire of the French film industry. After seeing her in Johnny To's Heroic Trio, past-his-prime director René Vidal (New Wave legend Jean-Pierre Léaud) impetuously casts Cheung as the lead in his remake of the silent classic Les Vampires. Unable to speak a word of French, Cheung tries to navigate the disorganized production while clad in a head-to-toe rubber catsuit and receiving cryptic direction from Vidal. Things only get crazier as she juggles a lovesick bisexual costumer (Nathalie Richard), a gossipy executive's wife (Bulle Ogier) and the whole backbiting crew. With freewheeling shots choreographed to the strains of Sonic Youth and Luna, Irma Vep immerses the viewer into the heady desperation and l'amour fou of modern moviemaking. Zeitgeist Films celebrates its 20th Anniversary with a sparkling new DVD release of this supercool comic gem.

SPECIAL FEATURES
- 16:9 Anamorphic transfer, available for the first time in North America
- Audio commentary: a discussion with director Olivier Assayas and critic Jean-Michel Frodon
- 30 minutes of never before seen on-set footage, plus an additional audio essay by Assayas and Frodon
- "Man Yuk: A Portrait of Maggie Cheung" (1997), a short film by Assayas
- Black-and-white rushes of Cheung as Irma Vep on Parisian rooftops
- Original French theatrical trailer
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- 16-page booklet with essays on Maggie Cheung and Les Vampires director Louis Feuillade by Assayas, and a new appreciation by critic Kent Jones

Review

"Four Stars! Cheung, slinking around the corridors of her hotel in her sheath of shiny black latex to the dissonant chords of Sonic Youth, is an instant icon of everything cool." --Ken Fox, TV Guide

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Nathalie Richard
  • Directors: Olivier Assayas
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: December 9, 2008
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001G0LC1E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,651 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Irma Vep (Essential Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Fabio G. Rojas on October 17, 2004
Format: DVD
Irma Vep elicits two reactions from different groups of people: nay sayers who view it as yet another boring French film and people who focus on the film-about-a-film. I think it is seriously misleading to view the film in either of these lights. Irma Vep should be viewed as a series of short films, tied together by the "plot" of the film. Each mini-plot is fascinating and together make the film wonderful.

If you don't know, Irma Vep is a movie about a Hong Kong action star (Maggie cheung) who arrives in Paris to do a remake of a 1915 French film about the French underworld. The director is losing his emotional stability and eventually the crew unravels. A lot has been said about the "film within the film" aspect of the movie, so I won't say more. What I think is fascinating is how the director tells a number of stories within this strange plot:

- The crash and burn of a film crew

- Zoe, the costume designer who is attracted to Maggie and she is rejected

- Maggie's desire to indulge in her criminal fantasies

- the director's strangely engaging mini-film

Since all this takes place in the middle of chaos, it can be hard to appreciate at first. There is really no beginning or end of the film. It is abrupt, which I think must reflect the experience of someone who arrives in the middle of turmoil. But each mini-plot is lovingly filmed and well acted. It also helps a great deal that Maggie Cheung is an attractive actress who can really carry well while wearing a latex suit the director insists she wear. The rest of the cast puts in a great performance as well, which allows you to engage with the other characters.
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Format: DVD
What the world needs is a movie about producing a book. You know, the creative angst of the author as he tries to remember when to use "which" and when to use "that," the nasty arguments over choosing a typeface, the dust jacket tantrums about artistic integrity if both boobs are shown or just one, the cattiness of the editors and, perhaps most insightful, whether the proofreading will continue to be the night guard's responsibility during his dinner break or whether the delivery boy from the next door deli should be given a crack at it.

Until that movie is made, Irma Vep will have to do. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed but there are absolutely no spoilers here or in the movie. Irma Vep is a movie about making a movie and it's stuffed with angst, pettiness, tantrums, ego and confusion. Taken on one of its own terms -- is it any good just as a movie -- the answer in my opinion is a loud "yes." Forget all the inside cineaste stuff (it is French, after all) and you may find that Irma Vep is funny, not just clever. It's good-natured with a friendly performance by Hong Kong kung fu heroine Maggie Cheung playing herself. Most of all, it is so eccentric a movie I seldom could stop smiling.

Rene Vidal (Jean-Pierre Leaud), an aging New Wave director now well past his sell-by date, is planning a comeback. He'll re-make a long, long and long ago silent movie called Les Vampires, a movie about a gang of criminals who prowl and stalk. One of them, in a skin-tight black body suit and black mask, is named Irma Vep. She will be Vidal's inspiration. He has just the star in mind to play Irma...Maggie Cheung. Maggie, who doesn't speak French, shows up in Paris ready to work. Cast and crew snipe and argue in many mini-dramas. Vidal collapses.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 27, 1998
Format: DVD
This film is a film lover's film. It uses documentary style filmmaking to narate it's slice of life relism, alongside the imaginative and transportative storymaking that gives this film many dimensions to explore, this is the most refreshing and modern foreign film you will see this year.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This movie has a casual, tossed-off feel, (it's rather different than Assayas' other pictures, which are hard to see in the U.S.) It's slyly funny about Parisians and their various neuroses and obsessions. Maggie Cheung is charming and, though she doesn't say much, she projects intelligence and good-natured resourcefulness. I disagree with the comments that this is a racist movie; rather it is about how the world is getting smaller and more multicultural. Worth a look for it's picture of contemporary filmmaking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on May 1, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
*In film noir the source of discontent is the tedious/repetitiveness of modern life, and the most tedious task we modern characters are forced to perform is the reproduction of (an unjust) social world. Film noir characters are thus rebellious sociopaths who refuse and resist in whatever way they can, but often the form their rebellion takes is itself tedious/repetitive and so these characters quickly become fatalistic/nihilistic.
*What is fetishized in film noir is crime itself. Because that is where the characters (and the audience members) experience their moment of rebellion, of freedom.
*Of course the crime can take many forms: a hiest, adultery, a murder, looking at a painting, reading or writing a book, watching or making or acting in a film, or simply being onself (off camera).
*Whats really wonderful about a fim like Beineix's Diva is that the crime is something as minor as illegally recording an opera and then stealing the diva's dress. In Diva, art (and art appreciation) is viewed as transgressive and exciting.
*And whats wonderful about a film like Lynch's Blue Velvet is that the originary crime is simply boredom which begets curiosity which begets investigation which begets spying which begets awareness of every other form of transgressive behavior which begets knowledge.
*In life most of us are forced to hide out from ourselves. We hide out from ourselves in jobs that we don't like, we hide out from ourselves in relationships that require us to act more socially presentable and acceptable than we feel like acting, we hide out from ourselves in suburbs, in family life, we hide out from ourselves in all kinds of ways.
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