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  • Irma Vep [VHS]
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Irma Vep [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard, Antoine Basler, Nathalie Boutefeu
  • Directors: Olivier Assayas
  • Writers: Olivier Assayas
  • Producers: Françoise Guglielmi, Georges Benayoun
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • VHS Release Date: March 23, 1999
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1572522356
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,631 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

In the tradition of films about filmmaking, Irma Vep takes its own special place among such films as Fellini's . A has-been director decides to remake the silent French serial film Les Vampires starring a Hong Kong action film superstar. The production is falling behind schedule and its star, Maggie Cheung (who plays herself), finds herself an outsider with the film's crew save for a woman costumer (Nathalie Richard) who has a crush on her. Rene the director (Jean-Pierre Leaud) cast Maggie after viewing one of her many martial-arts fantasy films. Although he finds her perfect for the part of the jewel thief in Les Vampires, the rest of the crew cannot see the reasons for casting Maggie beyond her beauty and how she looks in her tight-fitting latex costume. Rene's vision is soon lost on everyone and he suffers a mental breakdown. The film is reassigned to Jose (Lou Castel), a seemingly more commanding director (although he takes the job because his welfare is about to run out), whose first decision is to fire Maggie. Irma Vep is presented as a comedy, but at its heart lies an examination of the art and craft of filmmaking. In a clever turn, Maggie creeps around her hotel getting into character, in essence remaking Irma Vep for real-life director Olivier Assayas. Assayas wrote the film in 10 days and shot the film in a month after meeting Maggie Cheung at a film festival--a fascinating case of life imitating art... or is it the other way around? --Shannon Gee

Customer Reviews

One of the worst films i've ever seen.
Ryan
Unfortunately, however, getting to that point may be something of a chore.
Robert Beveridge
The film is interesting, but there are problems in the execution.
Doran Steele

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 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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6 of 6 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer on January 28, 2009
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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3 of 3 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 1999
Format: DVD
I recently discussed this film with my dad, whom I'd recommended it to very highly. He told me he found it so boring he'd turned it off halfway through. I suppose I can understand the sentiment, although I think Maggie is adorable throughout and, even though he's really decrepit and his English is almost unintelligible, I would watch Jean-Pierre Leaud read the yellow pages for two hours. But I told my father: YOU MUST RENT IT AGAIN AND WATCH THE ENDING. It literally took my breath away and it redefines Leaud's character in a heartbreaking way.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By socrates17 on April 7, 2002
Format: DVD
Well, are we all sitty comfybold on our bottys? Then I'll begin.
Olivier Assayas is such a great director with such an astonishing body of work, that as good as Irma Vep is, it is not one of his best films.
It is good enough that you really should buy it, if you have not already. However, beyond that, in my typical whiny, frustration-driven way, I am going to spend the balance of this essay on things you (we) cannot yet buy in the hopes that one of the smaller and more rational DVD companies will rectify this. None of the following are even on video in France, at least based on the Amazon.com.fr website.
Une Nouvelle Vie is a brilliant character study. This film reconfirmed to me to the great and subtle talent of Judith Godreche, who has never let me down since. (Of course, I did not see the DiCaprio foolishness she was in because that would have broken the No-DiCaprios Allowed rule.) Ms. Godreche plays a complex and multi-layered character faced with a deepening mystery as she tries to find a father she has never known and is stalled by her half-sister and her father's lawyer who is apparently friendly, but clearly has some agenda of his own. The use of the camera is simply staggering. The camera circles the protagonists, alternating their points of view as the psychological games proceed. This same effect was so very irritating in Branagh's Frankenstein because there it served no purpose.
L'Eau Froide is a 60's period piece which introduced me to the work of Virginie Ledoyen. A simply plotted story of disaffected youth, which in less talented hands would have been cliched, is confidently and masterfully turned into something much more.
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