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A reconstituted movie, 29 April 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The only way for me to review this movie is an inventory à la Jacques Prévert:

-A reconstituted family.

-A funeral

-A philosophy professor,afraid to be transferred to the Provinces (Poitiers)

-A veggie who feels for the poor animals' stress in the slaughterhouse,soon to be joined by a young sympathizer.

-A young writer,who enjoys dancing in the dark.

-A small ad for "Savane' marble cake


-A whiff and love in the toilets (but it does not work)

-Wind pumps.

-The legend of the lost cows.

-Lots and lots of songs in English ,including the well-known French traditional "swing low sweet chariot'.

-A car which poses problems.

-Policemen who stop the car ,but fortunately are good friends with the late father .

-A part of a sermon and a settlement of scores in the church.

-A liberated priest :don't judge lest thou be judged "

-A good neighbor ,perhaps gay (the young couple giggles)

-The dead daddy's house where memories are lingering ,with plenty of grand piano and violins ,to enhance a moving atmosphere.

-One coffee too many and another settlement of scores.

-A high speed train to Pamplona.

-The return of the lost cows (see above)that replace the raccoons.

Samos 99 or jerks in Istambul, 28 April 2017

Francis Rigaud is a French coarse comedies specialist ,but "Jerk A Istambul "(What a dumb title!) is a different matter : it's a thriller ,with an alarming lack of imagination.The film is decidedly of very little interest (just read the plot).Michel Constantin was par excellence the French cinema tough guy ,but romantic Jean- FRançois Poron (mostly remembered for "La Princesse De Clèves" or"Le Masque De Fer") is miscast .Very beautiful Duperey (20 at the time)is given the part of the damsel in distress,not great material to work with .Pierre Richard who portrays the villain must not be mistaken for the other "Pierre Richard" with whom Duperey co-starred in "Les Malheurs D'Alfred".Lots of beat-ups and bland songs pad out the movie.

Made at a time when people would not travel much ,the movie takes advantage of the scenery: Bosphorus, The Meteors in Greece ,which are the real stars of the flick.Please ,remember the guide .

Moral of this story: put aside your (not so) old grudges ,and hope for the best!And as the woman in black suggests :revenge is a dish best eaten hot!

The indiscreet charm of the bourgeoisie, 28 April 2017

A cursory look at Michel Boisron's filmography and you know what you are going to watch:it's pure commercial stuff ,sometimes entertaining ("Le Chemin Des Ecoliers").Always jumping on the bandwagon,he made a "yeah yeah" movie ("Cherchez L'Idole" ),a spy thriller in the wake of James Bond ("Atout Coeur A Tokyo Pour OSS 117"),a fairy tale after Demy's "Peau D' Ane " ("Le Petit Poucet),and so on....

The Office Catholique Du Cinema advised their flock against this movie which lauded degenerate ways, free love,and above all ,who laughed at the sisters ,their school and their obsolete methods and their religious upbringing: the scenes in the sectary school are nevertheless the funniest in the whole movie ,with absolutely gorgeous Sassard (by far ,my favorite girl) who braids her hair before letting it hang down !Her "cousin"'s visit under a nun's watchful eye ,her being expelled from this place where you are carefully taught ,because ,as father Roquevert thinks ,she laughed in the chapel (you cannot be always crying in the chapel,can you?)

At first sight ,it appears as a woman's lib manifesto as well as a defiant attitude against a stilted society .But it is not so .Boisrond's movies- see also "Comment Epouser Un Premier Ministre " or "La Leçon Particulière" - may lampoon or challenge the establishment ,but they do it cowardly.All his characters move in wealthy milieus :Julien's father ,himself a womanizer ,owns a recording studio,Agathe's father is a chemist ,Helene 's folks are famous virtuoso musicians (Roquevert cast against type is hilarious).And if Julien is cynical ,if he may scandalize, he will take his exams and he will do his military service (1959 ,it was Algeria war ,all the same).The last sequence ,which takes place in a jail ,epitomizes reaction: a young soldier in uniform who has some kind of church wedding,everything to reassure the God - fearing and the right- thinking.

As for the girls' "crime" ,it is too gentle,devoid of black humor ;we are in a sanitized world ;even the dreamlike scenes suffer from a lack of imagination .

Delon's career really took off with Clement's"Plein Soleil" aka "purple noon" which was fortunately around the corner.Sassard's abruptly ended with Chabrol's "Les Biches";too bad her beauty did not grace the screens after 1968.

Two Paul Anka songs (including his big hit " Diana" ) are heard:the connection with the plot escapes me,I fear.

Your sister can't twist but she can rock and roll., 24 April 2017

A remake of an American movie ("Your sister's sister")I have not seen ,and probably never will .

"Et Ta Soeur" gets off to a most auspicious start.Pierrick has just lost his brother ,and opinions differ : some sing the praises of the late boy whereas his sibling gives a warts and all depiction ,although he certainly misses him :a brother is someone unique you cannot replace and it's certainly a thing the future librarian is aware of.

Unfortunately ,the starting point is quickly forgotten (there's no hint at the loss afterward) and the poor screenplay is little more than a second-rate sitcom;the twists are worthy of the Theatre De boulevard , but these plays were at least funny whereas "Et Ta Soeur " is talky ,boring,full of navel-gazing and smugness which will remind you of the worst aspects of the New Wavelet "deep" "important" "works" .

This film takes no chances,raises no questions (lesbianism is no longer taboo,and anyway ,sixty years ago,woman director Jacqueline Audry hinted at it,organic food is hackneyed) ,does not charm or appeal (if the condom trick makes you laugh ,much good may it do to you!)

Filmed on location in Brittany ;so the actors can combine business with pleasure.

Nb :" Et Ta Soeur" is a slang expression which means "get lost"

Et Merci Pour Le Chocolat., 19 April 2017

Made to capitalize on Eddie Constantine's huge popularity in the French fifties,this little thriller begins as a whodunit (a star of the screen,Michèle Marley is accused of the murder of another actor,Norbert Castan)and continues as a gangsters movie.

The first part often takes place in the cinema circles with the managers and the studios ,places which are used with good results : the bossy director ,who shows how to act a scene ,and gets killed whereas people around goes on rapture over his performance ("he lives out his art!"),then a long chase in the huge empty rooms with good camera work.The last part ,in the "circus" is more derivative with acts which are filler,but includes the good moment when the false monks take collection (of money and jewels).

Robins Des Banques., 18 April 2017

AZF (French initial-ism for AZote Fertilisant, i.e. nitrogen fertilizer) was the name of a chemical factory in Toulouse, France, which exploded on 21 September 2001. (Wikipedia)

Although he insisted "his story is based on a false story" ,director Pluvieux did use pictures of this disaster at the beginning of movie. I've not heard of cancers caused by that,and anyway the events take place in Lyon.

"Amis Publics" (the title refers to "public enemies " ,a term generally used for dangerous gangsters;in the movie they are nice guys ,so "public friends")It should be considered a fable à la "La Vita E Bella",not a true story !

Leo wants his terminally-ill kid brother to make the best of time left for him .His dream is to stick up a bank.So they will organize a false stickup ,and they all will play a part ,like in thrillers;unfortunately,they get the wrong address and they really stick up a bank.

But as the victims of the before-mentioned disaster have not received compensation,public opinion sides with these "Robin Hoods of the Banks" ,soon to be joined by a Marian and pursued by a cop- turned-sheriff-of-Sherwood .

There are good ideas ,and an anarchist side (which remains very politically correct though) ,but the screenplay is repetitive, the dialogue is poorly written,and the last part remains heavy-handed and confused,in spite of the actors' efforts.

The best moments are to be found in the first half ,when little brother says he 'd like to walk in the streets as a normal person (therapy has made him bald),and when big brother shaves his head in public (via TV) to set an example.

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A blue lotus of sorts, 17 April 2017

Although there are elements of melodrama (the sister who tries to save her poor brother, a junkie in jail),this Matarazzo film does not belong to the genre of which he was a brilliant representative (see "Tormento" "Catene" "Il Figli Del Nessuno" "La Nave Delle Donne Maledette");it's closer to Film Noir ,and it features a famous dispenser of justice Za-La-Mort ,an Italian equivalent of French Arsene Lupin and British Raffle.

The best of this extravaganza ,the events of which remind you of the serials of the silent age , is the central part ,when Lina enters the enchanted palace ,where many of her brother's "friends" welcome her.She's like Alice who discovers her maleficent wonderland where all is "so strangely sweet , tea and cigarettes ".The depiction of the opium den where everybody becomes a slave to their dose,with the head aptly called the Master,is still impressive today.

The rest of the movie is more derivative : the police are rather dumb (they arrest the wrong woman ,in an implausible scene ) and the heroine on the rails with a train coming is worthy of "the perils of Pauline" or "Les Vampires " .

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Secrets and lies (or Noah's rainbow), 17 April 2017

There's a Deja Vu feeling in this movie; the foster child in search of his/her biological mother was already the subject of Mike Leigh's movie and many other films have broached it since .

"Je Vous Souhaite" has many similarities with the English movie:in both case the foster child has a good job whereas the mom has remained a crude uneducated woman.

The fact that director Oumie Lecomte is herself a foster child could have helped the movie possess a real-life appeal .But her approach is melodramatic .The mother has to go to a physiotherapist's and,what a coincidence ,it's her own daughter who ,herself in search of her mom, takes care of her.She works as a dinner lady in a school canteen where she is the pupils' punching bag .Besides,there are racism problems ,some of which will be explained in the end ,but it looks more like an "unexpected twist " than a realistic explanation.

IMHO,Anne Benoit as Annette gives by far the best performance :she remains simple,restrained, and makes the best of a not-so-rosy life under an over possessive mother's thumb.She shows compassion and a great longing for the happy -against all odds- days of her youth and a desire to be truly loved.

On the other hand ,Celine Sallete whose performance French critics praise to the skies does not move me at all ;blame it on her character ,maybe :she looks like a spoiled child , egoist , not caring that much about her child and her husband she divorced - this male part is totally underwritten - and who seems a very good dad to Noé.And why an abortion in another country?(the nurse speaks English).Let's mention the wonderful Catherine Mouchet as Madame Kubiak who blows her off the screen in her brief appearances.

On the plus side ,filming on location in Dunkerque is fine .A final "moral" in voice over brings the intellectual side of the movie to a head whereas the last mother/daughter scene is a model of simplicity.

My feelings are mixed.

Vanity (2015)
David Miller checked into his room only to find Gideon's Bible., 15 April 2017

He flips through it but how can it help him?He's waiting for someone who 's going to help him to die :although the words "assisted suicide " are never uttered ,we almost immediately understand why Esperanza (what a first name!) comes .He has chosen to die in that motel because he (an architect)and his wife drew the plans of the place which is his pride although changes have been made .This final evening takes place on a cold December night (maybe it's Christmas)whereas his memories which come back as black and white flashbacks depict a luminous place with men and women swimming and diving in the pool (which does not exist anymore).Vanity.

The first part may recall Stéphane Brizé 's "Quelques Heures De Printemps"(2012) and Frederik Steiner's "Und Morgen Mittag Bin Ich Tod" aka " Zurich" (2013).But nothing happens according to plan .

As the suicidal man and his "assistant" need a witness ,they ask Treplev ,a male prostitute ,who works to feed his wife and his four children.He's waiting for a client ,but "he is as gentle as a sheep and it won't take long" ("we say " as a lamb" in French ,says David who,even in his last night,wants a correct language)

These eccentric newcomers confuse the issue ;there are echoes of John Huston in this implausible relationship: David wants to take his own life,Esperanza is only three years younger than him,but she's still coquette ("this boy mistook me for a whore")and she's got the lust of life ("are you sure?...When you have drunk it,you won't be able to go back").Treplev is a sentimental ,he cannot hold back his tears ,he is a down-to-earth person who "makes more money with his clients than he would do in design ,and anyway we are all bisexuals ,aren't we?".He thinks David should leave his death in the hands of God .But the old man does not want a natural death because it's not natural ;in other words,he wants to choose his .Vanity.

The last third is less convincing ,altough it features a FRENCH SONG (French directors ,why don't you do the same,instead of filling your works with songs in English which bear no relation (or not much) to the plot?)Here Claude Nougaro's jazzy " Dansez Sur Moi" with its line ("dance over me on my funeral day")is thoroughly appropriate. And David's drive through Christmas night is dazzling.

In spite of the initial subject,it's not really a sad movie.It does not condemn assisted suicide either;but sometimes ,instead of the Biblical "vanity of vanities,all is vanity", it makes sense to bring someone back to life.

Mad Love (2015)
My time in Eden, 14 April 2017

Based on a true story ,that of the Abbé Guy Desnoyers(village of Uruffé): this priest was not guillotined -in spite of a hostile crowd - He was granted "extenuate circumstances " because it was actually his family (particularly his grandmother)who pressed him into becoming a priest whereas he did not really have a vocation .He had a life sentence .He ended his life in 2010 in a monastery.

The prologue is obviously inspired by José Giovanni's "Deux Hommes Dans La Ville" :its final scene showed,in lavish detail,the hero's execution,like Delon's in 1972.After his death ,the "head "tells us the whole story,like William Holden's corpse did in "sunset boulevard".

When he arrives ,the country landscapes seem to be some kind of "Heaven on Earth",a luminous land .From the beginning ,the hero plays a part : it's not a coincidence if he brings profane plays to the stage ,the likes of Hugo's "Ruy Blas" or "Macbeth" (and not Claudel or Racine's "Athalie" )An hedonist , he is the coach of the football team (but he does not abuse the young boys,he exclusively sets his heart on women) .Football is harmless and can reassure the daddies and keep them away : except from two priests ,there's only one man -an aging man who obviously cannot act in the priest's amateur company- in the whole movie.

The priest ( probably hypocritically) tries to justify his acts by recalling the Holy Writ: the beginning is the first chapter of the Bible ,the Genesis .Once his world has been created (man an woman included) ,he acts as though he is God Himself ,he repeats the original sin.The main objection of this movie: as we do not know the vicar's past - maybe nothing could explain his attitude but his lust for life and sex,so it's only natural he should get a death sentence.

At first, he seems to be a modern but serious priest whose speech dazzles woman;as it is only a way to seduce them,his priesthood weighs heavy on him and one scene in a confessional is a true comic relief.

But remnants of religion may make him heavy -hearted:hence the imitation of Jesus Christ(whose picture he keeps in his room) and his penance in the desert.However,there is always a way for cynicism : to get rid of the soon-to-be-born baby of the blind girl he got pregnant,the priest evokes Abraham's sacrifice and sarcastically adds "if God does not want it,he'll send his angel who'll stop my arm".

Great performance by Melvil Poupaud,a handsome snake crawling in his garden of Eden ,splendid cinematography ,and a hundred thanks to the director who did not feel compelled to include a song in English in his movie!

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