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La cerise sur le gâteau (2012)
Broken woman meets broken man. No hilarity ensues.
OK, I only give 1/10 to movies I just couldn't bear to watch till the end. This is one of them.
It is a very predictable 'broken woman meets broken man and falls in love patching up both of them' kind of movie. It's okay, plenty of movies are predictable. The problem is that the actors (or rather the roles) are extremely annoying. The woman made my hair stand on ends. The man is basically as alive as a slug: all he ever does is look sad; you have no idea what he does the rest of the time because he doesn't say a word, unless you count Wookie grunts as dialog. Their friends are either obnoxious or so contrary to what a friend ought to do that I'm pretty sure I've got better enemies.
No spoilers here because I stopped watching halfway through.
The New World (2005)
Excruciating extended version
I don't know how much difference there is between the normal and the extended version, but having seen the latter, my comment in short is that it was simply a torture to watch.
First the music was atrocious. The first 10 minutes is a continuous soup of all cords together on an organ, doing a powerful 'Vvvvvvv...' that drills into your brain. We turned the volume most of the way down until it stopped just at a time where we were getting ready to turn off the movie for good.
Then the editing is very non linear. In scenes with groups of people you have quick camera changes between 5 or more viewpoints, making everything confused. Sometimes it's seen from somebody's perspective, then from above, then from the side... It's acceptable for battle scenes, but not every time there's more than 2 people on screen ! The timing is also very confused: it's daylight, then suddenly it's nighttime and then 2s later it's daylight again in a scene that is the continuity of the previous one. Hint: if you want to give the sense of passing time, don't put the same scene more than once ! The dynamics of the various situations are also very confused. They are fighting the indians, then on the next scene there are some in the camp, trading, then the situation reverts again not giving us any hint as to why things could have changed.
There are so many people loitering and passing by uselessly in the background of every scene that we started laughing after a while.
And the main thing that got on my nerves is the constant whispering. There are no dialogs in the movie, only quick one-liners uttered by the characters out of context in the lowest whisper possible. They add nothing to the situations, but I guess they added them because otherwise the audience would fall asleep; at least now they go "what, what did he say?!?". Some examples: "A dog barks", "The moon shines"... There were some that were complete WTF.
So far that goes for a 2/10 movie, but there are some redeeming qualities: the scenery, the indians who are realistic and interesting (even though they seem to spend most of their time waving their arms around) and the actress who can convey a lot in a few wordless facial expressions.
Watch the short version, hopefully it's better.
Au-delà des cimes (2009)
Revisiting a myth
For those who were climbers in the 80s and 90s, Catherine Destivelle is a myth: a climbing competition winner who then moved onto higher ground and incredibly hard mountain climbs, culminating in solo ascents on the Eiger, the Dru, etc... Her face has stayed familiar but slowly faded away from climbing magazines in recent years. This movie is an invitation to climb with her.
It's a documentary, but it's not in the category of extreme sports documentaries. She simply takes 4 people: 2 old-timers who mentored her when she was a climbing teenager, a kid she taught climbing to who became a climbing instructor and one of her sisters out for some climbs. The climbs themselves are classics among the classics of Chamonix: 2 rock climbs and an ice one. Nothing extreme, but very scenic.
And all the charm of the movie lies there: its unassuming beauty. It shows the mountains in all their glory and also happy people climbing them. The dialogs are unscripted and often naive, but they brought quite a few laughs out of the public.
The images are astounding. No, better than that: I have no idea how it's been filmed. Some scenes are filmed a few meters away from the climbers, whom you hear talk perfectly between them, but then moves away and shows you the exposure. Helicopter ? I don't know: too close and too noisy. The sound is excellent, which is unusual for a french documentary. And the way the perspectives are shown will make you quake in your boots.
This is not a biography, although they show a few images of past ascents (and you can really tell how far we have moved in terms of image quality in barely 2 decades), just... an invitation to the mountains by an extraordinary woman. 'Magnifique!' Those outside France will be hard-pressed to see this in a movie-theater, but if you can catch it in some festival (Banff maybe?), the big-screen experience is absolutely worth it.
Conte d'hiver (1992)
How can this be rated so high ?!?
We tried to watch this yesterday and I have no idea how this major bore of a movie can be rated so high (7.2, are you insane ?). I don't normally comment on movies I don't like, I figure if there are people who like them, good for them. But here I am really surprised not to see this movie in the bottom 10.
First of all, it's horribly acted; the main actress is barely OK, but the rest of the cast (particularly the mother) has awful rhythm, glances at the camera, etc. The dialogs, which are the only thing the movie rests on, are so bad they are laughable. Then the movie is slow, oh so slow. To say that nothing ever happens would be an understatement.
And the story itself is uninteresting: "woman unsatisfied by her men dreams of the perfect man which she remembers from a vacation fling". Great. We can all relate, except that we aren't half as dumb as she is. I wanted to slap some sense into her (just like in Gone with the Wind).
But the final draw is that it is utterly predictable: after half an hour of watching this 2-hour long turd, I told my wife how I thought it would end and I went to read a book. She watched it (in fast forward) to the end and I had the ending spot on. And by the way, don't say that it is a woman's movie: she hated it too ! I only give ratings of 1 to movies I left or fell asleep halfway through and there are less than 10 in this category. Movies I hate deeply but watched completely get a 2.
The Prophecy (1995)
...Oh, did I just use the word 'belief' ? Well, with movies one often has to suspend disbelief, but this one is different: you have to adopt a complete set of belief: angels, lucifer, heaven and all that stuff. In other words a perfect catholic movie, all approved I'm sure by the highest religious authorities. That could still be okay if the movie was interesting, but the short scenes of weird action are separated by long boring moments, with religious gospels or bible reading sessions.
No the part that I really disliked is the politically correct: 'Oh, but we know there are other religions on Earth, see we put some indians..." Indians that we only see do useless handwaving, just to show how terribly inefficient they are compared to a great religion that has angels fighting each others in your backyards...
I don't believe you need to see that movie...
Waking Life (2001)
The 'drawing on film' technique is interesting at first, but after 5 minutes I had such a headache of watching constantly changing images that I had to keep my eyes closed... Unwatchable. And the philosophical debates are uneven: sometimes interesting, sometimes re-chewed from headline news.
The Dish (2000)
Another aspect of the Apollo program... yes, but it would be as boring as learning what the janitor was doing at the Goddard Space Flight Center or what women were doing while men walked on the moon... another bad movie. The few puns present in this movie fail to raise the level of boredom.
A River Runs Through It (1992)
Sorry, gave it a 1, which is the rating I give to movies on which I walk out or fall asleep. In this case I fell asleep 10 minutes from the end, really, really bored and not caring at all about what happened next.
Les étoiles de midi (1959)
The only true mountain climbing...
This is an old classic mountain climbing film. The actors are all the best French climbers of the '50 and as such may be reguarded more as a documentary than an action or 'extreme sport' movie.
It recounts a day of climbing in Chamonix. Different parties are at the refuge, they tell tales, get ready for their day, then go climbing. Some are novices on easy route, others are guides with clients, others are pro climbers putting up a new route. Things happen, small things like getting lost, big things like rescuing a snowblind climber.
Talking about realism, there is no comparision with Eiger Sanction (Clint Eastwood), K2, Cliffhanger (Stalone) or The Vertical Limit.
This movie showed continuously in Chamonix for about 30 years (where I saw it). The title refers to the very dark and clean mountain sky where you can sometimes see stars during the day.
A decent climbing movie
This movie left me with mixed feelings. The filmography is beautiful but the acting not quite.
The good thing is that it is really a climbing movie, not an action movie wrapped up into a mountain scenery (like Cliffhanger or Vertical Limit). Some of the actors are real (and good) climbers and one gets a glimpse of the climbing ethics (or lack thereof when sponsors come into the field).
The scenario is very loosely based on the story of the first ascent of Cerro Torre, a hard Patagonian peak. Definitely worth seeing if you are into climbing.