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The Hawk (1983)
Nighthawk, 29 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Plot: once Frank was a crack cop his colleagues used to call "the hawk" (hence the title) ;but his wife perished in a car crash ,and his daughter went into coma.He has become a human wreck ,the ghost of himself.Gus,the killer he tracked the day his wife died reappears and commits more crimes ;Frank the Hawk wakes up:the hunt begins and will last the whole film :in the streets ,in the country,in a disused factory ;disowned by his superiors ,he carries on and ....miracles still happen.

The cine buff side of the actor surfaces in a final scene which takes place in the cinema museum ,although he does not direct here;when he does ,in Belmondo's swansong " Un Homme Et Son Chien" (2010),his cinema enthusiast will surface here there and everywhere,not only because it's a remake of De Sica's "Umberto D" ,but because of its many hints at other movies.

The leftist review from "La Saison Cinematographique 1984" was particularly hard on the movie,going as far as to write that this thriller verged on fascism !"the super-cop must get rid of this vermin so that his daughter can be born again" .It was politically correct to write that in the champagne socialists' France.

Frank Zodiak (sic) is none other than one of these stereotyped cops ,we've seen so many times it's impossible to count them all;self- defense is a burning subject and it takes a great director to handle this kind of situation,someone like Eastwood.

Cine buffs who 've never visited the "Musée Du Cinema" in the Palais De Chaillot might be interested .

Amok (1983)
Raving mad, 21 November 2016

A Morroccan/Guinean /Senegalese co-production,"Amok" was theatrically released for a limited audience,then later on screened on the third channel in its short lived "Cinema Sans Visa" series.

Running amok, sometimes referred to as simply amok or gone amok,[1] also spelled Amuk, from the Malay language,[2] is "an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects usually by a single individual following a period of brooding that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malay culture but is now increasingly viewed as psycho-pathological behavior ".(wikipedia).

In South Africa,Matthew,an old black schoolteacher ,living in a small village under a grotesque boastful kinglet,receives a letter from a former school mate who has grown into a priest ;he visits his sick sister Josephine ,a prostitute ;he meets again his son Gasha ,an "Amok " (see above),and his brother,a trade-union leader whose life will tragically end .

With a comfortable budget,"Amok" is an epic ,with plenty of extras ;it features Myriam Makeba as Josephine and we can her her voice over the splendid landscapes :Makeba was an activist .Her brother,though a teacher,only knew the world of his rural living;he discovers the realities of his country ,the racist Whites as raving mad as the amok brother,the police at their beck and call,who kill Delius ,an unionist clandestinely fighting .

Repression everywhere:the kinglet beats his stupefied servant,the white Police track down the rebels ;things have changed since 1982,but it's an account of the harsh age Joseph lived in;

Gérard Barray,Commissaire San Antonio ,round two, 20 November 2016

The true lovers of San Antonio will fatally be disappointed :gone are the vividness of the language,the colorfulness ,the Rabelaisian side .. Only the last sequence,where Berurier teaches the new female cops (ex-prostitutes) in front of a board on which a big whistle is drawn ,is true to Dard 's spirit.

I'm not a San Antonio fan but I do like Gérard Barray,a sweet childhood memory ("Pardaillan") :he's a very talented actor ,very expressive ,smart and full of humor ;obviously he opts for a tongue- in-chick acting ,the best thing to do with such a script and a non- existent director (Guy Lefranc had a relatively promising debut though).He gets good support from Jean Richard (also known for his portrayal,in a diametrically opposite way,of Simenon's Commissaire Maigret);the good cast also includes Marcel Bozzuffi ,generally cast as a villain,and Maria Mauban, a fifties star on the wane ,but still very attractive in a part of a so-called seamstress ,with probably lesbian tendencies (the bubble head girl played by Anna Gael).

The screenplay is more satisfying than the first effort,although the lines are less witty ,cause Audiard is not at hand this time. Beru is angry with his tenant who did not pay the rent for the mansion he inherited from his aunt ;he discovers that the residence has become a brothel,with a madam (Marthe Mercadier) and "Ces Dames" (those ladies) ,coming from every part of the world .The MacGuffin is 20 kilos of cocaine which many people covet.

Good things:the geography book,the dig at a shady person who was awarded the Legion D'Honneur,the perfectly trained would be butler who uses a refined language with profuse subjunctive imperfect ,the final scene .

On the other hand,Beru's drag act is heavy-handed ,and his wife ,with her shrill voice, unbearable .

It was Gérard Barray's last main part in a French movie ;he performed on stage afterward.His unexpected reappearance in Amenabar's "Abre Los Ojos" proved he could have become a great screen actor,had he be given more interesting roles.

Gérard Barray,Commissaire San Antonio ,round one, 19 November 2016

Gérard Barray was good friend with Frederic Dard ,which may help him get the part of the Commissaire San Antonio ;he was much better than the dreaded Philippe Gasté in Joel Seria's abysmal "San Antonio Ne Pense Qu'A Ca"(1981)Barray was a genuine actor,with plenty of go, derisive ,elegant,the "French stiff upper lip" ;he was never given the parts he deserved .Jean Richard is well cast as Inspecteur Bérurier,whose gargantuan sandwiches would choke the common run of people .

I have got to write it,San Antonio books have never been ,in a month of Sundays ,my cup of tea although I did like Dard 's thrillers ("toi,Le Venin;" Le Monte-Charge" brilliantly transferred to the screen by Robert Hossein)The true lovers of San Antonio will fatally be disappointed :gone are the vividness of the language,the colorfulness ,the Rabelaisian side ....But the others will enjoy Michel Audiard's lines ,with puns,double-entendre expressions,and lots of good humor.Censoreship would not have allowed Dard's bawdy lines anyway and the novel ("Messieurs Les Hommes" ) had to be watered down.

The McGuffin is difficult to decipher and anyway does it matter that much? Well atomic scientists are kidnapped and given a treatment close to that of the abducted marines of "Cinq gars pour Singapour",released the same year : they become as stiff as a poker and thus can be concealed in mannequins ....before being sold to the Russians (?)

A good introduction:in the first sequences,San Antonio and Beru act as if they've never met.

The movie must have attracted some revenues ,for a second "San Antonio" was made ,"Beru Et Ces Dames" .

Gérard Barray,secret agent, 18 November 2016

In the wake of James Bond' s unprecedented success in the field of the spy thriller,Maurice Cloche ,like so many others,jumped on the bandwagon,he who began his career in....1937.In -to put it mildly - an uneven filmography ,he made some estimable works such as "Le Petit Chose" and his admirable "Monsieur Vincent" ;the late fifties found him lost in a world of pimps , prostitutes and gangsters.

"X13" is his second spy thriller ,after his Coplan (1964) and before his "Vicomte " (1966).

The hero,Serge Vadile " X13 " was renamed X77 (X double 7,to look like you-know-who) and "Baraka pour" became "orders to kill" ,which sounds like " license to kill";besides,the action often takes place in a clinic ,with bandages galore,a la "thunderball".All this to try and crack the commercial coconut of the international market.

Although full of implausibilities (after being flogged till he bleeds,X13 makes short work of three opponents ),this spy flick is probably the most pleasant of the trilogy :its principal ,Gérard Barray ,was a very talented actor,handsome and dynamic,with a good sense of humor;like his director ,he had to retrain into the spy thrillers,after having been a sword hero in swashbucklers;Sylva Koscina is a nurse many a patient would like to have ,but her part is decorative ;she even says towards the end "I'm bored " after the secret agent has told him for the umpteenth time "If I'm not back in fifteen minutes ....".

This is a far-fetched story which revolves around the key to a professor code ;the only (relatively ) original idea is Ingrid 's role (Agnes Spaak),Vadile's collaborator ,who falls for a man and continues to love him even when she learns he is an enemy.

The original title means " X13 got lucky"

Gérard Barray, sword hero., 18 November 2016

First thing to bear in mind is that ,although the director brings Scaramouche back to his native Italy,it 's not another adaptation of Sabatini's novel,as were both American films ,Rex Ingram 's and George Sidney's ,the latter perhaps lauded beyond its station.The screenplay seems rather a cross between two great successes of the French cinema of the late fifties/early sixties, "Le Bossu" (the usurper subject)and "Le Capitaine Fracasse" (the comedians ,in which Gerard Barray was cast as the villain ).

Gerard Barray was Jean Marais 's alter ego ,the one they cast when the latter was not available ;a poor man's Jean Marais nohow:Barray was a good thespian ,who performed on stage ;he displayed plenty of go,of humor ,of Joie De Vivre and had no cause to be jealous of Stewart Granger when it came to wielding the sword;he was certainly better than his material (swashbucklers,cheap spy thrillers,Commisssaire San Antonio.....)and by the late sixties ,he had fallen into oblivion.He made a conspicuous comeback as Duvernois,in Amenabar's "Abre Los Ojos" in the nineties.Michèle Girardon worked with Bunuel ("La Mort En Ce Jardin") and Hawks ("Hatari")but she is rather bland .One can prefer the Italian Ava Gardner Gianna Maria Canale ,with whom Barray had already made "Le Chevalier De Pardaillan" (1961)There's a good chemistry between them and she has the best line in the whole movie ("my castle looks like a tavern compared to yours"),and when she waves farewell to the new duke ,she seems to say farewell to her youth (4 years older than the hero)and to her career (which would end in the mid-sixties).Alberto De Mendoza is a delightful infamous villain.

This is no masterpiece,but a very entertaining yarn ,extremely eventful and melodramatic,including betrayals ,damsel in distress,an usurper,plenty of duels (still impressive today) and even a very good use of pantomime,to reveal the truth about the villain's crimes ,a la Hamlet; the masks are a smart narrative device .What does it matter if Notre Dame De Paris is actually a Spanish cathedral?On the other hand ,the Château De Chenonceaux is genuine .

Score by Georges Gavarentz;his collaborator Charles Aznavour wrote the song of the movie "Les Comédiens" which was a big hit in France and is still very known over here whereas the movie attached to it is virtually forgotten ;too bad Aznavour did not sing this tune over the cast and credits himself .

Taj Mahal (2015)
Panic room, 17 November 2016

By and large,I agree with the precedent user :it's a bit a missed opportunity.

When Louise is alone in her room ,hearing screams and shots ,we do feel her terror : we are caught in this macabre hide-and-seek ,we are shivering :the treatment recalls sometimes "panic room",but with a big difference:during Louise's terrifying ordeal,we never see the terrorists ,only their shoes in the corridors ,and our fear is all the more intense since danger remains faceless while making its presence felt every second.

By the same token,the scenes with Giovanna ,the woman on honeymoon,are full of emotion and human touch ;both women stand by each other,and it helps them get through their nightmare .The moment when they embrace each other is perhaps the most moving in the whole movie.

(Now,I'm speaking of the actors and obviously,not of the real life characters)

It may be the directing or the script,but the father figure is a namby -pamby man, his wife ,a woman who sings lullabies (which infuriates her daughter ,and considering the impending fire,who should have known better);as desperate parents ,they fail totally to convince ;one could add that in the first part ,Louise appears as a spoiled child ,not particularly endearing ,and we only side with her in the second part.

The first part is mostly filler : a tour in Bombay,please remember the guide!

As the Greek user already pointed it out ,the third part is desultory ,and we could easily do without it;only the phone call to Pierre makes sense .

It would have made an excellent 45 min movie;artificially stretched out ,it does not make it as a 90 min one.

Watch it anyway:its central part will scare you to death.

Biting into the sandwich, 16 November 2016

Pierre Boutron has essentially worked for TV ,but he has made a handful of theatrically released efforts,this one probably considered the best ,at least the most popular.

Victor got a raw deal:his parents were victims of the Vel'D'Hiv roundup,and he had to flee France ;in 1947,back in Paris,the young Jew is taken in by a secondhand goods dealer who becomes a true father to him;he also makes friend with a rich teenager his age .

It's a depiction of those "sandwich years " ,the transition from childhood to adolescence in a suburban milieu ,with its small dealings;Victor will discover that ,whereas children make no distinction between social classes,grownups-here represented by uncle Jean -do.

Good acting by Wojtek Psoniak as the grumpy junk dealer and Claude Berri's son Thomas Langmann.(Shades of Claude Berri's and Michel Simon's "Le Vieil Homme Et L'Enfant (1966))

The film begins and ends with a flash-forward: an anti-Semitic attack,in the contemporary years (the eighties).

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Belle Epoque playgirl, 14 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jacqueline Audry is a special case in French cinema:today ,her work is either disdained or ignored.Nevertheless she was ,along Ida Lupino,and long before Agnès Varda ,the only woman director of the era ;and like her American peer ,she often focused on female psychology .

Based on Victor Margueritte 's novel ,it's the remake of a 1936 movie by Jean De Limur starring Marie Bell;another MTV work was made later starring the late Marie Trintignant.

In the fifties ,the movie got a PG 18 .And the office Catholique Du Cinema forbade this immoral film to their flock.

IMHO ,Audry's take on "La Garçonne"is superior ,in several respects ,to the thirties effort:not only because it was filmed in color ,but also because Andrée Debar was the ideal actress:a woman with an androgynous face ,the part was tailor made for her ;later Audry would cast her as the Chevalier D'Eon ,a spy in the pay of Louis The Fifteenth ,who,on his assignments ,used to dress up as a woman -in the movie,unlike what the historians say,the sexes are reversed.

Andrée Debar gave up her actress career in the sixties and became a producer;really too bad for she was one of a kind.

"La Garçonne ' begins as a traditional romantic drama : two families want their offspring to marry because of their business :Monique is an ingenue,a clueless girl,who believes in true love ,for her Fiancé is a handsome man ,and anyway at the time (early twentieth century) ,marriage is the only thing a decent girl must long for. When she discovers her future husband has a lover,she rebels against her bourgeois family and their money match :she will lead a free wild life .

She will live like a man (check the title : "la Garçonne" = the male girl).soon she becomes the toast of the Gai Paris,sleeping with all the men around ,and even with a woman called Nichette -it was more explicit in the 1936 version ,and anyway a blond Arletty stole the show from Marie Bell in every scene she was in-:in both movies ,of course,the word "lesbian " is never uttered; a homosexual man appears in both movies too.

As though it were not enough ,there are two scenes ,which must have horrified the Office Catholique: an (almost) naked male dancer ,which predates Playgirl by about 15 years,and a cabaret act ,showing an oriental sultan selling by auction chained beauties he whips :if this transparent metaphor of the women's submission is not clear enough,lesbian Nichette "buys" one of the slaves.

As far as feminism is concerned,Audry did cleverer things earlier than Varda (the latter's "Le Bonheur" displayed a macho side as the victim was a woman).Monique is not a victim ;the way she treats her former fiancé defies conventions :she takes him to the daring places where she is at ease whereas he "wants to save her" : "save me? from what?" she defiantly replies .In the last part,there's a curious "Mise En Abyme " : La Garçonne ,and her friend ,a philosophy teacher -who possesses Sade's "Les 120 Jours De Sodome " in his collection of books - put on a play which tells her story ,in which the ex- fiancé is ridiculed :when he attends the rehearsals ,he is humiliated and soon led to despair.Sweet revenge indeed.

The woman's lib side is more convincing in Audry's remake :okay,she will settle down ,but with the man she has chosen ,an intellectual twenty years her senior ,himself a rebel against the bourgeois society."My former fiancé is so awkward" she tells him when he tries to shoot them in a fit of anger.In a conventional story,the damsel in distress is forced to marry the graybeard whereas she loves the young romantic male lead ;but as her heroine,Jacqueline Audry was not born to follow.

Gargousse (1938)
Trouble in a one-horse town., 10 November 2016

The bossy mayor of a small village wants to rule his citizens with an iron hand;there is not exactly general agreement about him.His worst enemy is Gargousse the station master ,who is also occasionally a poacher and a bone-setter/healer ,much to the local thespian's disgruntlement -unfair competition-;besides the mayor's sister ,a forty-something spinster sincerely believes the quack is in love with her;and to crown it all,Gargousse's daughter-in-law falls in love with the mayor's nephew,the village schoolteacher.

This is a pale imitation of Marcel Pagnol's style ,with actors who look the part :Saturnin Fabre as the mischievous "outlaw" ,Jeanne Fusier- Gir in her umpteenth part of an old maid ;but there is a certain passé charm in the depiction of the small community with their gossips,their rural policeman and their steam-powered local train.Note the naive latent racism we find in almost all the French comedies of yore:of course ,the black man,mistaken for a tourist,speaks pidgin French;and the way screenwriters focus excessively on Paris :it takes a bunch of revelers from the capital to enliven the one-horse place .

Director Henry Wulschleger had his own theater company,most of them (Bach,Fabre,Milly Mathis,Paul Olivier ..)were featured here.

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