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Le cose che restano (2010)
A must see for every movie fan
First I need to say that "Le Cose Che Restano" literally translated in English would be "The Things that Remain". In this case love, friendship, pain. So the title on IMDb is completely well let's say wrong. So that said, what about this series made by the same team as "La Meglio Gioventu". Well if you loved it you would love this one. The same authentic feeling, spot-on actors, great drama.
The series talks about a Roman family and how a drama will tear them apart and how they, during more or less 2 years, will slowly come together again, not the same, but stronger and more numerous than before, with a great view on mankind, immigration, and the limits of the system. With ironic situations and a kind of wisdom that grows for every one of them. Masterful. We stay constantly close to this lovable but not completely functional family. All of them with their qualities and weaknesses. What is great about this series is that it takes the time to let emotions sink, with a poetic power that beats most feature films. It's more a 6 hour movie that they have cut in 4 parts, like "La Meglio".
The only negative point that I would give is the predictability of some situations but that doesn't take away the emotions of this masterpiece. And I don't use that word lightly.
So wanting to love this movie but I can't
In 2001 I saw one of the most funny, smart & heart-warming short films of my short life : "Confessions dans un bain". Confessions in a bathtub. This short talks about a guy who decides to invite his friends to take a bath and to let them give confessions to the camera. Those confessions will have more consequences then he will anticipate.
10 years later I finally see the first feature film of the director that made "Confessions". My expectations where not high because I red some bad-to-average reviews. And when you saw Confessions you feel indeed that this movie is average to the talent of Marc Gibaja. It wants to be tribute and a fresh approach of the romantic comedy. A tribute especially to When Harry met Sally. But it wants to make fun of it too. That's the main problem. The movie is not funny, at least not funny enough to be a romantic COMEDY. Some jokes feel rehashed. There were more touching and funny moments in his short (of 25 min) than in this 90 minutes. I can remember one real fun moment.There are some funny side-kicks but it feels forced like "let's make it a comedy". Luckily Marie Gillain and Gilles Lellouche are great. If you're a fan of one of those two you should check out this movie. A pity they weren't served with better material ! Better next time!?
The Pillars of the Earth (2010)
One series, two experiences (spoilers!!)
I saw Pillars of the Earth without reading the book. I then red the book and watched the series again. This review has the aim to compare the two experiences.
Pillars of the Earth is, as a stand alone series, excellent. The title sequence alone gave me goose bums the first time I saw it. It gives you high expectations and you're not disappointed. Great production design, passionate drama, endearing characters. Not one boring moment. It's not perfect, with a rushed and silly ending as one of the little weaknesses I can remember.
We can safely say that one of the strong points is the cast. Hayley Atwell as the strong, damaged and beautiful Aliena, Eddie Redmayne as the mysterious and talented Jack. Matthew Macfadyen as the dry, naive and smart prior of Kingsbridge. Without talking about Rufus Sewell as Tom Builder and Natalia Wörner as the independent mother of Jack, Ellen. They are all perfect. Ian Mcshane as the cunning Waleran Bigod is maybe the only one too perfect for the role, replaying some medieval sadistic version of Al Swearengen, his character in Deadwood. But that's hair-splitting. The second strong point is the story, of course. I would never have imagined that the building of a cathedral would be so complicated. Between quarrel with the neighbours (the evil Hamleighs), permit from the King (who's not 100% in power), and cunning from the boss (Waleran), some people would lose their might to live;
That brings us to the book of Ken Follett and the adaptation by John Pielmeier. (Himself playing excellently one of the monks that advises Prior Phillip). Being completely taken by the series I had nothing to complain about his adaptation. Once I red the book and saw the series again however First of all the series feels rushed. I have red some review that Pillars lacked time. Once you've red the book it's so obvious and true. Why did they specifically chose an 8 episodes series and not 10 episodes. Besides the obvious financial reason I see none other. It's classically known that some things are left behind when a book is adapted to screen. Here they have added things. The King Stephen hallucinations and nightmares. I didn't miss it in the book;-) This arc is kept during 4 episodes or so, with Jack going with Prior Phillip to Lincoln. When you see this in the series after reading the book you know it's a bogus excuse to get Jack in Lincoln so that the king can attempt to murder him. I guess they wanted to improve the suspense so that people would tune in for the later episode. After reading the book it doesn't feel so natural as before. It feels manipulative. The two final episodes are the most different from the book. As a book reader you miss two three things that were in the book. The little squabble between Aliena and Jack feels forced. The pursuit of Waleran in the cathedral seems more silly than before. But the final image is one of the strongest you could have visually imagined to end this series. And the actors, as predicted, were well chosen. Reading the book I could not imagine other actors playing the parts.
So they did a very good adaptation but sometimes it feels like they did simplify and not adapt . And they added an unnecessary dramatic arc and it's a pity. But nevertheless they succeeded in most of the challenges that a book as Pillars can present and thanks to the series I discovered the books and it deserves to exist on its own and they deserve all the congratulations in the world to have given us a so qualitative series. A dilemma presents itself: will I read "World without end" before watching the series? I think I might.
Feux rouges (2004)
Afwull french movie
Bouquet and Darroussin are a couple in a crisis and Darroussin is becoming crazy because of the lack of love from his wife and on the road to Bordeaux going pick-up their children they have an argument and Bouquet leaves him and disappears.
This is the kind of movie that's the reason of the bad reputation of actual overal french movies. Carole Bouquet is a real stereotype and is not very believable. Almost all the secondary actors (men at the bar, doctor, bad guy, etc.) are not very convincing and pff, it was really boring and predictable. In the beginning I had the impression of watching the kind of movie of filmmakers that just finished a filmschool: academic directing, actors over-acting (especially bouquet), bad setting of the relationship between the couple bouquet-Darroussin. It's a pity to see so much energy (a lot of settings are used) wasted for such a result. Maybe it's a disguised publicity for Rover because we see that car a lot!
One of the worst ambitious French movies I've ever seen
Well, sometimes French people are ambitious. Again sometimes you have a nice and correct result like "Pacte des Loups-Brotherhood of the Wolf" and sometimes you have ugly surprises like this "Vidocq". The actors are all really bad, except Gerard Depardieu....you don't believe in them! Same problem with the general atmosphere and the image. It's all TOO MUCH. And worst of all, it's boring, really boring. The story-line is simple: Etienne Boisset, personal biograph of Vidocq, wants to know who killed him and he follows a path that even a child of 5 could have followed.
In short: actors are bad, the general atmosphere is unbelievable, the storyline is simple. I give it a 3/10. 1 point for the originality of the project (first movie completely with digital cam), 1 point for Depardieu and 1 point for a few ideas and for the effort.