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The Nile Hilton Incident (2017)
Egyptian bad cop turns out great.
Not you "Visit to Egypt" postcard movie, this European-Egyptian coproduction had me grabbed to my seat at the local cinema.
Noredin Mostafa is not the talkative kind, nor a very likeable chap. Salwa, the slave labourer living on the edge of Egyptian society, isn't very chatty either, she probably suffered too much already. But what she saw is key to the movie. People like Salwa or "Clinton" are invisible to powerful people like Hatem Shafiq and Kammal Mostafa, Noredin's uncle, who may not be very bright but knows how to defend the status quo. Gina is very beautiful but also, not a very nice character.
Nobody is very clean morally yet this Nordic film shot in Egypt succeeds because of that, it doesn't preach when the truth is all there is to have.
The "cinema verité" approach, nervous camera, gritty social conditions, "trust nobody" psychology, cheap music, "public project" (cheap) buildings shot as if they were the main character. And maybe they are: social classes, specially the very poor (Salwa), the low middle class (the corrupt cops) and the mega rich (Hatem) show all the contradictions of capitalist society painfully. There, on camera, it seems too much to be endured by the people, specially given the corruption everywhere. And in fact this movie, set on 2011 revolutionary times in Egypt, show what happens when the people can't bear enough. I've seldom seen so much police brutality under a "democracy". Surely reality was much worse.
They all preach on moral values, on bad TV, in the family, your bosses, the national security (like a third world FBI), but act on double standards. Gold rules. Money may be a "burning steel" when you go to paradise, as one character says, but in this life, it seems to buy life and death. The poor can be killed like flies and nobody cares.
Violent and beautiful film, great music and photography. Acting, that looks non-professional, is all the better for it.
Watching this movie is like going to Egypt, but the real Egypt. That is probably like any other third world or "developing" country. Only watching it confortably makes it all the more visible and painful. Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti at "Caro diario" says that he'd like to shoot a film only with buildings. This film is close to Moretti's dream. You live in this film's buildings. Cheap pensions where people live like animals, bad "unhomely homes" like Noredin's, pricey yet vulgar "love nest" like Gina's place. Palaces like construction tycoon Hatem's, with so many employees at his service it's hard enough to count them all.
I hope this underdog movie gets the popularity it deserves. And people flocking to Egypt, but the real one.
The struggles of a sex worker, without melodrama.
Female director Anahí Berneri and screenwriter Javier V. made a great film, both real and hopeful, about "Alanis"/ María, a sex worker with a child. The film has her onscreen most of the time, she's so natural one forgets it's a movie.
The sleazy ambience, duplicitous relative, treacherous tenant, disgusting client, dangerous client, violent rival immigrant sex workes, it seems almost nobody is even fair to Alanis. What I liked about the film 1) Sofia Gala's acting 2) photography 3) plot 4) catchy music 5) it shows the reality of "la puta calle" while at the same time offering us a glimpse of hope, some beauty behind the cheap everything. The scene of A. having fun with Dante at the concrete half circle, almost the only moment we see her smile.
Loved the ending.
Finding one's place may take ages. Some never really gets there. Alanis, even clumsily, finds a room with a view, or something like it.
IMDB reviewer Raven-1969 is right that the role of the state and law enforcers is more like thugs than people that could help or at least be of some use to vulnerable people like A. It's a game the film makes with us that whenever she is asked about the name "like the singer, right?" she doesn't answer. She doesn't care, her identity is elswhere. Sometimes while she looks at her eyes in the mirror of a client's dashboard vanity mirror for instance.
Sofia Castiglione is a force to be reckoned with, thanks to intelligent direction. I am looking forward to watch new work both by director and actress.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Gal Gadot directed by Patty Jenkins steal the show.
A movie like WW centers on the main character. As I liked charismatic Gal Gadod' portrayal, I enjoyed the movie a lot. You probably know her from the Fast & furious franchise and the only likable character in the awful Batman Vs. Superman.
Chris Pine lives up to the task of being a likable hero.
Secondary characters like heroic Antiope and comic relief Etta are fine.
I liked Dr. Maru as a number 2 villain, by beautiful Spanish actress Elena Anaya (those eyes...). Agree with other reviews that Ludendorff is not as scary or interesting as it should be. On the other hand, Young Diana (8) is perfect!
Music is not one of its strongest points. Special effects are OK but a bit too "computer made". Fight scenes are great, as choreographs of action scenes.
Thoroughly enjoyable action movie, don't ask for more.
Most films with Isabelle Huppert follow a pattern of disturbing, cold characters that we nevertheless end up siding for if not actually "liking". For what is there to like in Michèle? She despises both son and mum. Also his star employee Kurt, her only friend A.*, her pitiful ex husband. Of course, her beautiful daughter-in-law Josie and her young ex husband's couple, Hélène. For different reasons, there is nobody she respects. She is alone for a reason, but goes through the motions of classy Parisian life as if nothing really reached her. She only laughs once in the film, definitely at a wrong moment.
She knows how to manipulate people, thou. Her relationship with his psychopath father and his carnage is unclear to me, as well as her participation in it. "She hates him" but they burned the house down together after it until the police came.
It's a film about sex and some sort of perversion (can't say more), but amidst the violence, Michèle seems to be getting the upper hand. In any case, she's so detached from others that one never really knows what pleases her, what does she want, where is her desire, actually.
All the other characters are secondary, maybe Anna rises above the rest. The ambient of game creation as big business is well depicted, and her luxuriously French house is the main setting of this film shot mostly in interiors.
Paul Verhoeven is a master at crafting gripping stories.
It may not get into the history of cinema, but it's a pleasure to watch and leaves you thinking about the loose ends. Love the classical score, lots of Mozart.
Like expensive wine, one shouldn't ask for too much to be satisfied.
*by having an affair with his man, and the way M says so.
I saw this movie in total amazement.
The camera is in love with Natalie P., and so are we, as soon as we see her. And she's not without flaws, neither are the Kennedys.
Photography, music and settings are perfect. The haunting music is obsessive, so is this film.
I thought this film would be well made but maybe a tad boring, "the official story" but probably having the Chilean star director Pablo Larrain made it more "alive".
At times it's tough to watch, Jackie doesn't seem to be doing well, her stiff entourage knows it, sometimes a helping hand helps her out, most of the time she's alone.
My favourite character is the journalist, played with gusto by Billy Crudrup. He knows from the start Jackie will be a tough case, but subsequently, he makes her melt, she is probably looking for a confident, and he gets more that what he came for. His last scene tells a story that will not and cannot unfold. How we want him to "get the girl" ;). The journalist is a gentleman, doesn't profit from a damsel in distress. He "does what he's got to do".
I thought this would be a film about a historical character, but I feel now it's about the distress of a fragile woman, who doubts, complains to the priest about where God is "is it in the bullet that hit my husband's brain?", is vain and stubborn, and wonders what would have been her life had she married an "ugly, simple man".
As one of J's greatest quotes, "people want to hear fairy tales". This is not, and we are so much the better after having watched it.
The priest gets the best lines, the ones that I'll try to remember for a long time. About the meaning of life, on how much can we expect from it, on how we ALL doubt at dark nights but yet wake up again fulfilling life's routines.
You may want to watch a sunset with your loved ones afterwards. Or dance like J does with her red dress. Or bully somebody with power like Bobby does to Lyndon J. I guess.
Every person is different, yet life is a mystery. This film makes you want to savour it in all its fragility, never waist a precious moment.
Whaw! Science fiction, brainy and emotional.
I'll be looking forward for any other Denis Villeneuve film. He pulled through a "smart Sci Fi" film, as smart IMDb reviewer "A_Different_Drummer (North America)" put down recently here.
I love the music! Max Richter's Blue Notebook will be another of those names on my radar now. He's been scored on films by Scorsesse, French auteur Anne Fontaine Les Innocentes, Stranger than Fiction, in Disconnect, and of course in Arrival.
As another friendly reviewer, this times on Amazon, aptly writes: "if you are prone to melancholia it will definitely ping at your emotions".
Photography and music work together to make it a haunting masterpiece.
It does have some funny moments, emotions are there, specially in the end, there is a lot to think and mull over afterwards. Did I mention Amy Adams is perfect?
As a linguistics teacher friend of mine said: it's the only mainstream film you'll ever see with a linguist being the lead character. She does speak fluent Chinese, of course.
Watch this movie.
Au nom de ma fille (2016)
Disturbing film about the true case of Bamberski. He was lucky enough to have a couple of sidekicks: the good lawyer who works alone, like him, the German translator, and faithful Cécille, who withstands a lot. His dad in his alpine retreat is also understanding, gives him the best advice.
André had a life as a businessman, not very kind to his employees as we see in the first scene, but has his life transformed by the death of her daughter. The film doses the truth very well, and doesn't' shy away from showing the darker aspects of André. He is shown speaking alone while working, attempting acts that are not very lawful, and with a single- mindedness that could end with somebody at any moment. My favourite moment is him eating and resting alone in his car, a homage to "L'adversaire" in my humble opinion (one of the best films I've ever seen). The differences between the two roles are stark, nevertheless. Daniel A. can pull off basically any role he's thrown at, with a lesser actor this film would have been just stock material.
The director succeeded into making Marie-Josée Croze an unlikable woman ;). Her character could have more character development, I didn't understand much her (lack of) reactions and why did she never react to André's truths, not even at the cemetery when they cross paths with A.
I didn't feel much like going to Germany after watching this film ;). It looks like a foreign country, cold, with a difficult language, a juridical system that protects people like Dieter K. and rather absurd legal decisions. Hadn't it been for Andre's stubbornness, Kalina's case would have been buried. The German system doesn't come off very well in this film ;). It may have to do with French-German relationships, not always loving, but it's for Europeans to give opinions on that.
Overall, a great film. Not entirely pleasurable to watch but, given the material, a well told story, without melodrama or demagogy.
Boring rural melodrama.
I loved "Zweite Heimat" from Reitz before knowing he was famous or important, so I was looking forward to this film, and got a 4 hour disappointment. The "death toll" was as high as the depiction of sitcom situations, only not even mildly interesting.
I never understood nor sympathize with our main character, "Jakob". A bookish dreamer, mistreated by her father, who was basically a tough brutish man, and dramatically out of place in this small town. He, J., was a born linguist and scientist but with obvious lack of "emotional intelligence" as we would put it nowadays. Even when he cries on camera, it didn't transmit anything, the emotions he has being like a child, rather like tantrums. He speaks in many tongues but seems to be unable to relate to the world around him. Take Jettchen, who says rather womanly: "You are different from ALL people around here", and gets the usual flat emotional response from him. You can't make a movie without one single likable character.
Reitz made a pretentious film with a trite plot that is way too long. I wanted to leave many times during the showing at a film festival. Had it been on TV I wouldn't have endured it for more than 20 minutes, and I do love European films. Yesterday on the same I saw "Banklady" from Christian Alvart , who says on a recent interview "I want viewers to be on the edge of their seats during the whole film". Nothing of the like happened to me during this ordeal.
I liked photography and music. The effect of "putting something in color for contrast" is interesting at first, but it grows annoying and a bit corny, like for instance the red cherries it highlights late in the film. If you want to know the "economic conditions" of that time in rural Europe or an anthropological view, this film may appeal to you. Otherwise skip it, you won't regret it.
PS: Cameo of Werner Herzog as Von Humboldt.
I tried to like this film but could never get into it, the plot is unbelievable, at it rests on Nelly's character, that changes her mind and follows a logic of her own.
Art direction is good, and actors do what they can with a story full of clichés, from the sexy "damsel in distress" to the bullied son, the love affair that makes no sense and ends as abruptly as it started, the friend who is always there and is taken for granted, the cool and also pretty neighbour who plays Bach but is reduced to being a cook and mistreated at it, her father who is a bit nuts but not really dangerous so we have to like him too, the ugly STASI female doctors, dumb looking officials- funny looking clothing-, menacing everything for we are supposed to empathize with Nelly who is being driven crazy by the German bureaucratic system.
Sorry, it didn't work for me.
Some people left at the showing here in BA, and I do understand it. The ending was a monument for cheesiness.
The movie pretends to make us feel empathy x Nelly while using many Hollywood tricks like "mom-son having a good time", "Christmas making characters take the big decision", "overqualified Eastern Germans being reduced to menial jobs because of ...?", and the list could go on. Maybe I expected a good European film but got an average TV movie that looks like those manufactured for Hallmark channel and the like, only this was spoken in German.
I do hope other people can see nicer things in this film, I sincerely couldn't. I wouldn't watch it.
Banklady will steal your life x 2 hours .
Best films are like love affairs. Some work right from the start, get you carried away, and while they last you just don't know what hit you. This is one of those films.
Montage, music, Art direction -those buildings! women's dresses and hairdos!, everything works towards the flow of the movie, never distracting from the main goal, that is entertain us with a couple of lovable delinquents. Love and sex are not what ties them together. Probably Gisela wanted to escape the dull routine of the factory, and Messieu wanted the thrill, as any psychopath. Roger Ebert already wrote better than anybody on why do we like people on the big screen that are not exactly role models, so I won't deal with that thorny issue here. I want you to watch this film and enjoy it as I did.
IMDb reviewer Ralfscheapthrill put it down perfectly: 'pre-68- melancholia and lust for life'. 2 more great reasons x watching this gem.
I've got a couple quibbles. Nadeshda Brennicke is too nice and attractive to be a factory worker, same goes x Henny Reents, probably Kommissar Fischer and her secretary too. It also happened in 'Monster' when, as in this film, when you saw the pictures of the real criminal, they were not alike. And the scene of the bank shooting, Gisela showing empathy x the victim, has so many troubles that it would be tiresome to mention them.
This film made me happier after having watched it, its powerful images remained on my memory the next days, and probably won't be forgotten. The seaside resort with the lady jumping out of the roofs as the quest for liberty, our own one, is my favourite scene. And Gisela clad as Banklady at the costume party from the factory. Or the proposal. Dialogues are also well crafted, the audience cracked at some jokes. Like the answer to the lady who lost her dog at the shooting, funny because Germans can be so formal when they want to, thus creating contrast. Or how Gisela replies to the marriage proposal in the last bank robbery. Secondary characters do have a role, like Gisela's unlucky 'boyfriend' and Fischer's grouchy boss, relentlessly effective at bullying the obsessive Kommissar.
This film is enjoyable like a bubble bum and well made as a Mercedes. I can't see why some critics didn't like it.
PS: Gisela's mum saying matter-of-factly what she has to do when Fischer raids their house only makes me wonder how Germans and a few other selected countries like Japan are so different from the rest of us, how they value honour and the social regard, the way they see crime as something that's bad, period.
"Simone de B, who is her? Such a long book cannot have been written by a woman".
Narrates the psychological journey of Violette, born unloved, but ready to fend for herself by whatever means, to literary Parnassus and then back to her nightmarish self. Also the clash between two classes, upper middle and lower, like when Violette complains for being given Simone's 'leftovers' of her house when moving, or when Simone advices her to 'go somewhere -travel-', V. answers 'people like me don't do tourism'. Which gets one of the brightest replies by Mme De Beauvoir, mentioning her "lack of imagination".
Maybe one default of this film and others of the genre is that sometimes dialogues are just too good, too literary and cerebral, too much of "for eternity". Specially Simone's, always bright, never trivial. Violette, on the contrary, is much more real, even when she repeats the same idea, moans, quarrels, just suffers or, occasionally, laughs, her character is much more 'alive' and believable.
Simone is like a therapist to poor V., her "life advice" is always right, even if it could be said that she also says it to get rid of V.
Photography is superb, specially Paris buildings and the female character's faces. Only perhaps marred by the "postcard images" of rural France. Music is also enthralling, particularly Avro Part's minimalism, obsessive as Violette. Maybe the score being so repetitive helps us focus on her life, that although seems full of episodes or chapters, they all end up in unrequited love. V. strives for recognition, some money to live and "not being alone", and gets probably only the first two. She repeats "Thins will always be the same", a trademark of depressive thought.
Psychologically, Violette was the poster child of a perpetual victim, always asking for things her partners cannot or will not give, yet she is also manipulative as with Jacques Guérin and also with Simone d B.
Simone treats V. with aloofness yet sometimes looks genuinely friendly with Violette, specially near the end. Yet, Simone speaks disparaging of Violette on at least one occasion, to Jacques: "Violette cannot be friends with anybody, I do it -taking care of her- out of duty".
The script is full of contradictions like the aforementioned or how Violette rebounds from her bouts of depression, or the relationship with her mother - another great actress, totally believable even with an erratic plot-. But great films like this are not made to be analyzed, but enjoyed.
Much as I am a fan of Emanuelle D., I feel she cannot play a woman that was famous for being ugly. Even the way she moves in the beginning at least, she is too much of a "rather nice woman" to play Violette. Sandrine, on the contrary, LOOKS like Simone d B. so much that, like with all good compositions –Kidman's Virginia Woolf on 'the Hours' comes to my mind- we will have the problem after having watched her performance of "always having the mental image of their performance when thinking about the author". Which is in a way, good proof that their acting is truer than life –Kiberlain and Kidman's-.
Martin Provost directed the famous 'Séraphine' but I feel this film is so much better, or at least, so much closer to my heart. Maybe because even if both films deal with artistic genius and rather stubborn woman, both women also with some sort of mental malady, Séraphine seems to struggle in emptiness, whereas Violette has something concrete to fight against, be it the literary establishment that doesn't recognize her, censorship, her long string of bad lovers, her lack of love for herself, her poverty and insecurities. Violette struggles against something, is perpetually in motion, until she cracks.
Séraphine is in a world inhabited by one person only: herself. Violette deals with the country as well as the city, another difference with Séraphine –country only-.
My favourite character is probably Jean Genet's, a lovable gifted rascal with his husky voice and love of life. Unlike Woody Allen's film 'Midnight in Paris', this film enables us to "live through" the characters's perspective, with all their defaults and contradictions. I wouldn't have thought that there was such misery in Paris or that Violette would live in such shabby apartments. They all look brown, dirty and depressing. As I said décor and wardrobe are just incredible, you wonder how did they come along such wonderful dresses. Sometimes I just looked at Violette and SdB.'s clothing, and I know nothing about fashion. I agree with IMDb reviewer ferdinand1932 about the well crafter structure in layers of the script.
This is a film not to be missed if you like French films, Paris and the literary world. A tad long perhaps but beautiful as you will rarely see.
L'enfant d'en haut (2012)
Some films just can't be improved, this is one of this rare class. Like Lorna's Silence and of course the Dardenne bros, we've got the sociological view of the poor and alone among the rich and powerful. This alone is better than most of what is filmed, but what makes this gem stand from the crowd? The story is powerful, never faltering, and yet without low blows. And with the classic "slow/ ethnographic" moments that have make "French film" famous or infamous, according to tastes :).
Simon steals the movie, and that's no small feat given the other main character is Léa Seydoux, probably too pretty for the role, but so well "dressed" and such a good actress that you almost never see in her the "Cannes Star" one is expecting, only a beautiful woman who happens to be poor and with an awful taste for men.
"Mike", "Christin" (the classy blonde) and J. F. Stévenin's baddie teach us in one lesson that whoever's got money or power, even if just a bit more than you, will probably humiliate you as soon as he/ she can.
This is a film probably only understandable for those of us who've been thou hard times, economically as well as socially (notice Louise and Simon have no friends, S. may have one client and then an unlikely sidekick, and Louise has her "men" but they have no social life, no "life" beyond "pasta and toilet paper" as Simon wryly says to Mike as to what he does with the $ he gets from his thefts.
Simon has some points in common with Truffaut's 400 blows, as Argentine critic Diego Battle aptly writes. He's so chillingly natural that we only hope he can be as good as J.-P. Léaud, or even better!
Léa, from "La vie d'Adéle" (Palme d'or at Cannes 2013') has a feline beauty as well as some "hidden anger" that suits our character perfectly. I never understood how she spends her money so quickly, as we may understand she gets money from hustling, also from Simon, and yet she's always broke.
Agnès Godard makes magic with the greyish-white Alpine settings, always showing how harsh weather may be warm compared with the people down there. You may not be eager to go to skiing after having watched this masterpiece!
John Parish's music is hypnotic and costume design are perfect. Everything in their house is ugly, like poor Simon's tacky bed sheets. (This reminds me of Lorna's silence, whose winter clothing always looked bad on her, herself a beautiful woman). Even when they but something brand new, it doesn't work as supposed, like the oven Simon wanted. Everything that enter the house sort of gets "soiled". They are always washing clothes.
The ending's got a clear symbolism, I owe this to IMDb reviewer Dan Frazen. My favourite scene is Simon and his young apprentice stealing kid's wallets, leaving aside the toys with cool efficiency, complaining when "they only have coins" and flushing all what they don't want down the toilet.
I'm eager to watch Ursula Meier's debut, "Home". I am sure she'll keep up the greatness.
Fine romantic drama starring "Raphaëlle Agogué" and other people :).
You can have it all: nice people in gorgeous settings, with great photography and in an epoch that we all like (la "belle époque).
This is a great film if you were ever intrigued by somebody, and didn't know why.
There are a few unexpected moments, the secondary characters like the great actress Ludmila Mikaël as a cool aunt "Odile" and Agathe Bonitzer as the faithful young forlorn love of Philippe Marcenat "Isabelle". The film stars him, Philippe, as the son of a great family company, "Marcenat papers", at Angoulême . Yes, some types of companies are bound to certain epochs, I guess this was a booming business in the XXth century, I wonder if they (Marcenat clan) could all enjoy this high standard of living ...now!
"Henriette", his mum, is my favourite character, snubbing her daughter-in-law for "she can't have children" and always thinking about keeping up appearances, of social mores. She is almost funny, from a distance, that is :). We all know people like Henriette, wanting everybody to obey what they want, nosy, and still ruled by XIX century morals. "Edmond", the "pater familias" is a tough company owner, like when he complains about workers asking for the 40 hour week: "What about productivity! We've given them all!" :).
The bohemian painter "François Crozant" is an interesting enigma, I leave it to the reader to guess him. Misa, Odile's friend (beautiful "Aurore Paris") is also a secondary character that turns out to trigger reactions in the main couple, the young Marcenat couple. Renée, the female doctor, is the third woman around Philippe in some way or other(Isabelle, Misa and the "socialist" doctor). Renée gets one of the "Henriette" comments: "You're not going to make a living out of taking care of workers!!" :) ...
The house itself, more like a country estate, is always present, thanks to "Denis Seiglan", the "décors" expert. It reminds me of a Mujica Lainez (an Argentine writer) novel called "the house".
This film was directed by a sister of Isabelle Huppert with distinction. One gets to know the "Charente" region. Based on a book by famous author André Maurois, script done by the director.
I leave for the end the main reason for which I watched this film, that is the charming Nimes-born Raphaëlle Agogué, known from the film "La rafle". Her character of Odile Malet is interesting because you never really know what she's up to. Her husband is mad with jealousy from the start, and that can drive anybody mad, but behind her understandable tantrums and fits of "painting in far away places" there is something wrong with her too. She was a suffering woman, it's hard to notice for we all pay attention to Philippe, who is violent when gets frustrated, unlike she that plays it cool. She is taller that any other character, including her husband.
Odille's father is also interesting, he knows her daughter more than we do. Also of interest are the "dances in the country" (Java), the luxury cars, the country palace, dresses (!). In short, an underdog of a TV film.
Good small town and crime film.
Brazilian-born Cristiana Reali, always stunning, stars this film that depicts pretty well life in a small quiet French town. She is "Abigaël Valérie Marie Jourdan", daughter of the town's major, wife of the chief of police, has a regular practice as a psychiatrist in a posh office, a nice home, even helps at the local charity. François Berléand plays "Pierre", his devoted husband who, even when sulking a bit at night, asks for forgivance later. Then you have the secondary characters, their daughter Guillemette, who is studying medicine as her mum, and her sister Catherine Debroise, also working in Medicine, with some issues of her own that resonate on Marie's past (she's got a dependent personality, always justifying his violent partner, "Marco"). We see only one patient, beautiful "Adeline", and Valérie is duly concerned about her. And then we have the delightful grandma "Denise", all the family together at the town council when they uncover the statue of Valérie's father, the late major of the town. How lovely! But, as anybody that has seen any Chabrol movies, we know how to "look beneath the surface of bourgeoise respectability", to so speak :).
The only ones that "knows" Marie is her secretary, Julie, who of course uses that to her advantage with "Fred". Even "Hélène" (Carole Franck) the reliable police woman who works with the chief is at a loss, same as all the police, the regulars at the chapel, her own family and entourage, etc. This may be the only weak point, but overall the film is highly enjoyable. The plot is tight in the sense that there's nothing there that just shouldn't be.
Just one quibble: Marie's "conscience", although similar to her, also in her beauty, doesn't really look like a "young Marie" (she doesn't have fair eyes, her face is more square, etc.).
Music is quite interesting, gripping and also nice to listen to.
Enjoy it !
PS: Do not confuse this film with another one of the same name (...) from the year before http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1661388/.
Légitime violence (1982)
Interesting polar / "dark thriller", if a bit untidy.
Anything with this great French actors, (and so young!) Lhermitte, Brasseur, Genest, Kaprisky, Lambert, Clavier and of course Aumont cannot fail, but doesn't necessarily have to succeed either.
After reading the title and reading the synopsis you may legitimately think this is a French Charles Bronson/ Van Damme/ ..., a regular guy driven by the massacre of his family to avenge them single mindedly.
Claude Brasseur being an unusual thug would only add some twist to an already too familiar formula. But French cinema always surprises us, this is not an European version of Cobra (remember, Sylvester Stalone) who fights the system in a Nietzschean, nihilistic way. Point of fact, he seems to be rather lost during this confusing movie, but that's due to a midbrow plot. He's of course very likable, thou, as he always is.
Following the genre's rules, we see a seedy Deauville, a gay bar called "the system" directed by Eddy, a classic psychopath who manipulates even his sister without flinching and who of course feels no empathy, and some glimpses to Véronique Genest's sculptural body and her singing . A customer even thinks she's a travesty :)! Eddy has only 2 faithful acolytes, the most remarkable is of course Jockey, the "sensitive one" of the two.
Everybody looks very young, the late 70s music, ambiance, decoration, hairdos (!), it only increases our feeling of "estrangement" to this unusual "big production" French movie, but that's probably not willing by the authors, just the result of them having chosen very "modern" topics and aesthetics, that of course faded fast as they grew.
What didn't wane was the rise of the far right, and French fears of it. Witness the preponderance given in this film to the group against the abolition of death penalty, a civil militia that during most of the movie talks a lot but does little. Well, they have small social gatherings, they scorn the regular police and judiciary system for being too easy on criminals (sounds familiar :)?) but it seems just a gropuscule driven by the pedophile Philippe Miller, who has his beautiful niece "Nadine" as his lover at home, is a control freak with her in public, even shows her in a bath gown to bereaving Modot.
It doesn't take much brains to figure out director Serge Leroy is making a point against the rise of the far right, as IMDb reviewer "dumonteil" so aptly writes, as always. On his review: "Leroy offends people even if he does not mean to do it". ... I'd only have liked the director being less gross. Less , well, trite.
The police fare no better, of course. Aumont plays against character, a corrupt sergeant who leads a "tired feet" policy, obviously has his own private agenda. He's got only a lonely sidekick, inspector Carducci (some day somebody will write about why the baddies, the corrupt, the coward, have Italian surnames in French movies :) ).
So we have the usual ingredients: "the world is cruel, life has no meaning (Eddy says it in the beginning of the movie), even the song's punkish lyrics 'make no sense' (sic), brainless criminals can take away what's most valued to you, your family, in a split second, the police will do nothing, or worse, will work against you and, this is the originality of the movie, the presence of this mysterious far right group, that even the cops call Nazis. Of course, nothing can be so grim and still be a major production, so we have inspector Paul Gouvion as a "lonely honest cop" in this ocean of police turpitude.
But nothing acts really as we expect it. Neither the "good cop" really does much, nor the "bad chief cop" is really all that bad, the female interest (Lucie) has only playing flippers and pool as her main "vice" (no sex, not even alcohol, in fact her tantrums look like a teenager's -of that time- rather than a thug's sister's). Brasseur's father easily convinces him that it's no good trying to kill those who destroyed you, "it's not the kind of education we gave you". Lucie has to instruct Martin how to escape the big husky thug that was about to dispose of him, and later she's the man when dealing with also physically imposing Jockey (Lambert).
If "the system" is just the name of a gay bar, and 3 criminals without much talent can kill with a machine gun on a busy train station, you may expect this film to be a 80sh version of "Falling Down" (the M. Douglas film in which a regular white collar worker finally snaps, due to 'the senseless and violence of urban life' or something like this).
Just don't expect clear cut conclusions and political correctness, and you may enjoy this film, let alone the many sociological notes hidden in the regular plot. Like (I'll only name one, you will spot others) the way people of a "midsized French city" have fun and cherish family, totally different than the classic Parisian elite we regularly have on standard French *(and American) films on "the French".
"Acting is easy, you only have to die each night"
Full of "cultural one-liners" like this, probably more common back then, in those times rules by language, than nowadays', this film is both for history and luxury buff as for those interested in social and class distinctions, the poor role of artists in the royal court, etc.
"Mharek" from Montréal writes: "one of the rare history movie that isn't done from a celebrity point of view".
This film is obviously a feast for Sophie Marceau lovers. We learn she dances quite well, for instance. Female director Véra Belmont drools on her figure as much as on royalty's excesses. As the Brazilian reviewers aptly puts it: "Sophie shines in all takes". But unlike later films starred by her like "L'âge de raison", in this film the plot is good, photography and music are superb, so you get carried away by the action, not just her looks.
Of course a stellar cast helps: the superb Bernard Giraudeau, a likable Patrick Timsit, a royally hateable Thierry Lhermitte, heartthrob Lambert Wilson, beautiful Marianne Basler and Polish rising star "Estelle Skornik".
Jordi Savalls performs the best period piece you could imagine. You get to see Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte in a new light, not as easy at it seems. There are some moving & emotional scenes, it's not only a "postcard movie" technically speaking.
As the NZ IMMB reviewer writes: "no one can make them like the French....". Showing both the grandeur and decadence, as the scholarly reviewer "dbdumonteil" writes on this site. side by side, as in real life, the French know what they're talking about when they do films about kings.
My favourite scenes have to do with water: the "public bath" of the Sun King and Marquise, and her dancing while it starts to rain in the beginning, shot like a TV publicity but effective.
Maybe a tad too long, and the ending may disappoint, but absolutely worthy watching!
PS: Some reviewers and plot summaries on this site do suggest the ending, so, dear reader, you're friendly warned :) .
The best short I've seen in a long time :) !
If you like (classical) piano, black humour and losers with a heart, this gem will leave you wanting more... to live more.
Maybe enjoying more films, listening to piano playing and or playing it yourself if you're lucky, and yes, watching out for the unmerciful meek looking stranger :)!
Centered exclusively on Adrien, he's got a husky buddy not very convincing, a sort of love interest and little else. It's a limited world for a guy who's failed at something he values a lot. So he's got to pick up the pieces and start again... changing some personal information in the process :).
La journée de la jupe (2008)
Perfect "social thriller" about the "two cultures", and how they interact... or not :)!
A mix of "Entre les Murs" ("The Class"), Michael Douglas' "Falling down" and maybe "Negotiator" (2008), this gripping even if unlikely film stars Isabelle Adjani, showing she's a great actress, and Denis Podalydès as "Brigadier Labouret" , who doesn't have to show anything, as a cop with problems at home.
Everybody has an antagonist in life, his Salieri. In this case, our brigadier has Bechet, who wants swift action, "shoot first, think later", style. Labouret, maybe because he knows from experience how things can quickly get out of control, tries to help our beautiful heroine, Sonia Bergerac, a literature teacher in an underprivileged state high school. Isabelle Adjani being born outside France, it's clear why she chose to star this film, and some of her monologues when she's not out of control are of course her "message", like when she tries to educate her unruly pupils about the value of education, how they owe it to their struggling immigrant parents to achieve something for all they've left behind, and how life isn't that tough for students like them, but it's ruthless for those (foreigners) who don't.
The State is represented by Nathalie Besançon, (also playing a classy chief at TV series "Enquêtes réservées") always beautiful, but easily misled, and the school principal "Cauvin", a bureaucrat, like all of his kind, trying to save his skin above everything else.
This film will keep you glued to your seat, it would be a disaster on a lesser actress than Adjani. Unpredictable, out of control, "like an actor who has lost his plot" as others have written. My gripes are two: I would have liked a bit more of screen time to "Mouss", the violent bully, and his pal. What makes them be as they are? The same for the female pupils, or should I say victims, Farida and specially Nawel, Nathalie's unlikely ally, also with issues of her own. I also didn't believe in the feminist issues, like the film's title for instance, or Sonia's lecturing on how males and females differ in terms of attitudes towards them when they have sex. For a sophisticated Moliere teacher, I think this sounds too like pop psychology. I mean, is that her "reivindication" for the media, what Labouret asks her, doggedly, and mistakenly of course?
This is also a film that will keep you thinking. What would you do to engage this troubled, rowdy teens if you had to teach them anything? How do you think they'll fare in life? Farid wanting to keep his bonnett is just an example of a bigger issue. Is laicisim just a fancy word with a bunch of violent kids who want to be footballers, read People magazine and participate in TV shows? Sonia, no cultural relativist, (notice her surname, with heavy literary significance) pokes fun at her pupils's lack of intellectual ambitions, in a very "grand actor's" way. She starts by trying to give them the class she never could deliver. Like making them memorize the real and fake name of Moliere, etc. But later, she finally makes them participate in a sort of "Big brother" contest, among themselves, just showing she's beginning to engage the pupils using their codes and language, understanding the limits of XIX century "classical" education, specially to XXI century "fragmented" / postmodern pupils!
The use of classical music (Mozart) to highlight the contrast between it, the "traditional culture" and the "all to modern" world in which our teacher fights is a resource that has been used before, but is effective, nevertheless.
There are two IMDb reviews you might like to check: "ck_104 from Lebanon" called this film a "committed/ social thriller", I think you can't expect a better one. And "herve naudet", himself a pupil like the ones we see at this tough film, who writes that Adjani lives her parts, and plays with her guts. I agree with "nyc host" from France that: "this film is more to-the-point than the very flat and bland take of the last Palmes d'Or 'Entre les Murs' ". And probably with ghibliii from United Kingdom here: (Adjani) "looks way too luxurious and sophisticated for the social milieu"
Nevertheless, it's a very good film by actor and director Jean-Paul Lilienfeld. I'm looking forward to watching more films directed by him. My favourite scene is of course her monologue with red lighting, in the beginning of the film and then later, you'll understand why.
Enjoy and think about it!
PS: Not because it's obvious it's less true: Adjani is stunning in her classy white tailleur and boots with high heels. Angel's face, really. Life's unfair :).
The real Dame !
Some films achieve the inexplicable "art" status by being beautiful, true, as well as emotionally touching, independently of the actors, plot or cinematography. It's as if the film rose from its "material support" so to speak, and you could really see the film as close to how the artist intended it to be. This is one of those rare cases.
We all know the story, but in this case Huppert and the director Bolognini make this stand out from the rest. You will probably have strong feelings for Alphonsine, who plays with the bad cards life has given to her, from her pimp father to her ill health. IMDb reviewer Gerald A. DeLuca is right that there is a sort of "didactic" hammering on our main character spitting blood. Quibbles aside, this superb film is just perfect.
Psychoanalytically it also has interesting things to say, like Plessis treating her daughter like yet another man/ suitor at times, or when she goes to live to the rich man's palace, she is given his MOTHER's room (not his own).
Cinematography does help, as does montage (the scene with Alphonsine in ecstasy followed by the slaughterhouse where she drinks blood, for instance). Of course the classical score, based on Verdi's Traviata but also drawing from other sources, heightens the story. All the male characters become supporting ones compared to Huppert, but of course they are excellent. G. M. Volonté in particular. Wait and see.
Don't miss this film! Utterly enjoyable XIX century melodrama!
Je vais te manquer (2009)
Fun to watch commercial feminine movie.
Some films remind you of so many other movies that it's hard to begin typing them... This one could be a French version of "Love Actually", that masterful "comedy of airports". "josymontmartre-1" is right about everything, the trivial plot, the clichés, the stereotyped characters. But nevertheless I liked it :)! Sorry intelligentsia, one can enjoy "popcorn" films when they're well made, and this is just that.
Three favourite scenes you may like: beautiful shot at the Canadian lake of Carole Bouquet, Max analyzing himself on his own couch (he's a shrink), and Fanny's confessions on the public bathroom with the toilet lady. The contrast between her formal attire, her wish to please, and the tiny walls with graffiti is well crafted.
Carole Bouquet's catty and so otherwordly beauty could heighten ANY movie, in here she's "Julia", a violinist with two very disparate daughters, bourgeois Ornella (Mélanie Thierry, from "La princesse de Montpensier") and Anna, leading a completely different life, and of course, disliking each other until ... By the way, the usage of pop songs in this film is terrific.
Pierre Arditti's performance is the hidden gem of this movie. We've seen him on MANY films, but here it's fabulous to watch his transformation from a Parisian writer, neurotic, narcissistic and abusing to a charming "drageur". Of course, he's seen Julia :)!
Alexandra London's "Maria", her long-suffering maid, is probably in love with him, but he trashes her and throws the food she just cooked as his routine, just before asking for fast food/ Chinese by phone (he knows the menu's codes by heart). This is obviously is the only contact with the outside world he has, besides his editor, also despised by this "Author" of course.
Michel Londsdale is also one of those famous great actors that could lift any movie. I'd have liked more screen time to his romance with Fanny Pelletier. I liked her close relationship with André, the hairdresser, a funny "comic relief", but also touching. Like the glimpse of her house, pink walls, and teenage decor, while she says: "I've always been a child", to which Andre replies: "That's the problem", knowingly, before making her the best present she could have.
We've seen them before making similar roles, but, a bit like friends who may be telling you the same old story, but you hear them with interest, because you always find something new in the old, you'll enjoy watching this two hot actors here. Bombshell Anne Marivin, yes, from the French blockbuster "Welcome to the Sticks" is a naive fresh young woman who's a bit lost in the world, emotional, alone. Patrick Mille, the gay friend (JP) from the TV series Clara Scheller, is here also a sensitive dad, always with the perfect attitude to his little daughter, played to perfection by "Clara Barbosa". It's rare to find a child actor play so naturally, so watch out for this girl.
Then we have Lila's 3 super friends, from which Nathalie Richard (from the fabulous 3 femmes... TV series) stands out.
This is "Amanda Sthers" 's first movie, which she also wrote, and already shows her as an able "summoner of talents". I only hope to watch more of her films.
Summing up, I'll quote an IMDb reviewer, John 575 from Australia: "attractive to the eye, ear and soul". Régis Blondeau's great cinematography can be admired from the nice beginning when Julia is looking at a beautiful if blue Paris but can only see a colorful image of two children, probably her own, with a tinge of nostalgia. "Sinclair"s music also creates ambiance.
PS: To this same IMDb reviewer : Who is / How can you be so sure about "one gay son"? I mean, Olivier, the perfect father and book editor, if you've seen the whole movie, well.. Can't say more but, I just don't see it. Readers can comment of course :)!
Avant l'aube (2011)
Great policier with sociological undertones !
Some films stand or fall because of one actor, not only because most of the screen time he's there, but because the action pivots on him. This is the case of Vincent Rottiers, whose "Frédéric Boissier" will stay in my memory for a long time.
Well known actors J. P. Bacri, beautiful L. Mikaël and F. Perrot on the surface are the perfect family, owners of a hotel in the chic Pyrinees, serving the wealthy and powerful. But from the first scenes we know something is rotten, and Bacri knows Fréderic has seen to much. As this boy with a troubled past has no family and a simple girlfriend, Machiavellian Bacri buys our friend F. with trifles. A coat from his own son (who subsequently hates him), some awful stiff dinners with his stressed family, staying at the worst employee's room for a few days. And affection, plus a father figure, which F. never had and needs so badly.
Bacri is of course perfect as a likable guy who even while blatantly lying, you wind up still believing him. We've all been used by people like "Jacques".
Nice well shot scenery (even if you don't like the snow & mountains), well used (sparsely) classical music, and a glimpse into a world most of us won't ever know (pricey winter resorts) seen from the owner and the worker's perspective, to boot.
I didn't like the female inspector's character, played by Sylvie Testud ("Ce que mes yeux ont vu" among others) who this time, strangely enough, is not believable at all, I am sure, because of a "thin" character, always clumsy, asking some questions but ultimately not delivering much.
"Jacky", Fréderic's coworker, is also a hidden gem of a character. If you've been envied by somebody without knowing why, you know Jacky.
Sadly beautiful Céline Sallette (Le grand alibi) is also moving in this film, albeit in a small role.
It'll keep you gripping at your seat until the end, and then some. Can't say the same of most blockbusters you'll ever see :)!
PS: There are some loose threads, about a car's light that F. finds, for instance, and doesn't put to good use. Just a passing thought.
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Too many chases, not enough substance.
If you've read Tintin when you were a child, you'll have high standards for an adaptation. Unluckily, even with the best means available, this film disappoints on many levels.
First the plot is nonexistent. If you take away the chases on ship, land, in the city and the desert, you'll get a story that can be told in one paragraph. This is an action movie, with no regard to story.
Secondly, the images themselves are not at all believable. We understand that nowadays every film has to be 3D or perish, but... I'd have preferred something way simpler, like the "old fashioned" Disney films of I guess the 60s, like Tom & Jerry, Donald Duck, to Thundercats, Transformers etc. 20 years later.
Tintin is not just a funny hairdo who fights down thugs. He's got a humanistic content that's blatantly absent in this movie. Tintin is intrepid but with the mind, not with his fists.
Captain Haddock is way worse. A constant drunkard, this film is basically Tintin's struggle to get him out of this addiction. And rather repetitive at that.
D. Craig as Rackham is way better, but he's not as central in the books as in this film, that already is selling us a sequel before it ends. The Thomsons are OK, I didn't like "Snowy", thought it was too humanized.
"Upcoming" on IMDb has a great positive review; I'm not glad mine cannot be so positive. "Ra-gp" (another user)'s review is right about the technical aspects being fine, like some creative montages. Music by John Williams is of course dutifully fine.
Maybe I was so disappointed because I expected a lot. I don't like motion-capture films like Zemeckis', and I'm afraid this film will win many accolades. Its commercial success doesn't relate to the qualities of the comic book, which just wasn't a cartoon in the American sense of the Spider man, Superman and so on. Summarizing, to put it in PC games' terms, I wanted "Myst", a game of mental riddles and beauty, and got "Counter strike" with a tint of AA/ addiction's recovery.
Cold movie about a supposedly Italian family in France.
There are thousands of films about Italian families around the world. This is probably the "less Italian" of them all. But for one character, *(Salvatore) the "classical macho", moustache and gait included, the rest of the characters have little that makes us feel they're from that country. There's a catchy Italian song that they'll repeat over an over.
Based on a novel by Sylvie Testud!, who also stars this botched film. Second film of director Éléonore Faucher.
This film is about a struggling divorced mother rearing her children on her own, "Anna Di Biaggio" (Amira Casar, from "Transylvania", "Filles perdues...", "La verite" among others, who is probably the most convincing character, having to deal with stupid lines and abrupt changes of tone in her character. Her sister is played by Lubna Azabal, also with a long career under her sleeve, including "Exiles" for instance. I'll briefly describe the family for it's a closed-knit one, just like our preconceived idea about "Italians".
Corinne, the oldest daughter, in the beginning seems to be the protagonist, but the real star is Sybille (as an adult she becomes S. Testud). Georgette is the smallest daughter, played to perfection by "Roxane Monnier" (it must be difficult to direct children that small!).
The movie is badly directed, with quirky dialogues. The scene of the father in the last quarter for instance is just nonsensical. Such an important moment and they all feign to be in a hurry. Then the "truth" emerges (trival at most, feigning dramatism). The father himself is a character that has no proper treatment in the film, he seems to have some limitations, professional and personal, but I don't think he's THAT bad for her wife and daughter not wanting to ever see him again.
There are many movies that exploit this better, from "The talented Mr. Ripley" to that famous one from NZ made in the 90s, also about women, whose name I can't recall now. *(help :)).
The only thing I really liked was how they showed family relationships down in Italy, how EVERYBODY speaks at will about "why her marriage failed", "what she should have done", "how was her husband", and the typical things that if you do belong to an Italian family, know you're going to endure. Before the dance and the collective joy, among lots of food of course :)! David-robin writing on IMDb is right that it's also of interest "the way Italians were perceived in France in the 60's". The reconstruction of the epoch is fine.
As a beauty relief male audiences will have a glimpse at bombshell Sophie Guillemin, from "Harry, un ami...", playing here a bimbo as usual.
Don't watch it unless there's really nothing else to do :).
Awful French movie about ...
corny clichés supposed to mean "the drama of children from a divorced couple". Very machist, like when the daughter's monologue says: "She was a ..., so my father HAD TO cheat on her" (emphasis mine). Then she repeats the idea.
The main character is Léa, the daughter. If you like what she says and does, you'll love the film. If you don't, as me, you'll loathe this film since the first minute. Chloé is his best friend, necessary in this kind of film. Maxime/Max as the male son is not very developed as a character but it's true, he's very young. So he misses his mum.
Mathilde Seigner (Marjorie) has done good films like the sensible wife in "Harry, un ami qui ..." or Samantha in the hilarious "Vénus beauté (institut)" with a stellar cast. She also did "Trésor" (about a dog...). This film belongs to the 2nd category :). She's a neurotic mum, without any likable or interesting characteristic.
François, from "Frenchman" among other films, is a bohemian dad, obviously this bad film's been written by a male, for he's the hero, and she's obnoxious without relief.
Anne Charrier as Clara is one of the father's many conquests. All just as unlikely, like the beautiful and 20 years younger piano teacher (Pauline/ Judith Davis) who sleeps with him just after having met him for less than one minute. Maybe he's very handsome, I as a male don't think so but...
Grégori Derangère as Jérôme does what he can with an unlikely character, liking somebody *Marjorie* without much ado. He "writes travel guides", so he's cool, handsome, has a deep, husky voice, and is even cool with her sons. So much she starts questioning him: Are you crazy, homosexual, alcoholic, drug addict, a murderer, attached to your mum, impotent, practising catholic...?". All at the same level...
Keyne Cuypers is "Hugo", Léa's love interest. Has a bit of the androgynous look that's fashionable now.
One of the best scenes is the school tour at Mount Saint Michel. For those of us not fortunate enough to have been raised in Europe, it's interesting to see what a nice treat a routine trip can be if you're at the right place :).
Nicole, Marjorie's father, also has a love interest. This film is basically about it: Love and its everlasting power to inspire countless insipid films :).
This film is sad for children, for the look like bothersome loads for their parents, who want to remake their lives, have their own new couples.
XavissimuS (PariS)'s IMDb review is right that the film being on a short period of time and during the school/ holiday break change has importance by givig the "tempo" of the film. Music is all American commercial rock that is sometimes cool, other just insipid. Paris looks great, thou.
You still think childhood is naive and that only as adults we can become ... less good? Go watch this film now :)! Jean Rochefort, usually a likable chap, sort of like a French Sean Connery, in here plays against character, a rich lonely guy who isn't of course as mischievous as his son, but is no angel either.
Films usually center or focus on one character, and this is Thomas Bréaud's movie! His cold stare and regular features are awesome. I'm surprised according to IMDb at least, he hasn't turned out any more films. Strange.
Charles Vernet on the contrary, and probably predictably, is a good boy, a normal chap in unusual, I'd venture say, not a very healthy environment.
I wasn't very convinced by her mum, played by Dominique Blanc with conviction but... there was something that didn't made me "see her" in the role, from the start. But that's probably me, for she's turned out more than 60 films, many well known. She is nice enough, dignified but also with obvious longings for earthly pleasures.
My "favourite" scene is when Thomas, right after being saved by Charles, comes home and whispers to poor Charles: "Your mother is a prostitute". And then at night actually shows her son how her bed is empty, and offers to look at her father's bedroom. Let alone the play... Thomas is a born perverse, with an angel's face, which makes him even more "lethal".
Visually arresting, like the scenes of the horses when the boys escape the castle, or Charles' ball bouncing off the ceiling of a cathedral, a helpless white soul in a solid grey world. OK, it sounds corny, and the film isn't, but it's what came to my mind at least :).
Music is 90% classical, all by the same composer: Prokofief! You'll hear the "Romeo and Juliet" ballet excerpt more than once, put to perfect use (it's chilling!) and other famous and not so pieces. With the delightful châteaux and superb car (any IMDb user can help me out and tell me which is the brand and model?).
Maybe Pedro Aguiar's insightful review here on IMDb of course is right, and only children's minds can grasp the "meaning" of a film such as this. I found it implausible on many accounts, to start with. And then, for some reason the film didn't resound to me as a humane story, but as a cold device made to shock, manufactured to startle and deceive. Like a mechanic cuckoo clock, if you get my analogy.
I didn't like this movie in the sense it's not pleasant to watch, at all, but life isn't composed only of roses, beautiful things, and good people, so if you're prepared for an emotional ride, a movie that won't let you rest for a moment, like a thriller but with psychological action (thus more effective, by far) do watch this movie.
Just don't tell me I didn't warn you :).