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Call me captain!, 20 August 2014

One of Martine Carol's first leading parts ,"Trente Et Quarante " (30 and 40) sees her playing opposite crooner heart-throb Georges Guétary.Obviously he sings ,and his audience will not be disappointed,but not too much ,which will be fine for people who do not go much for this style.

An over possessive father keeps a close watch on this daughter of his,Madeleine.He would not think of marrying her to exiled count Mario De Miranda ,an "entertainer" .He is proud of his military career which he tells ceaselessly and he demands to be called "captain".

A harmless comedy with two or three good moments: -the colonel they meet on a train who had a finger in every pie .

-the lesson,which alternates vocalizes and a love song ,with dad who sleeps with one eye open.

-the captain,who realizes he fails in his duty :he shall not gamble.

Like a feather in the wind, 20 August 2014

A filmed operetta ,"La Plume Au vent " will appeal to Georges Guétary's fans but strictly for them :they will not be disappointed:their idol croons a dozen of tunes,solo,with the housewives 'chorus on the market place,with his pals or with co8star Carmen Sevilla,(French -spanish production) the regular female star of the Mariano/Guitry vehicles .Songs include "Vivent Les Pharmaciens " (= long live the chemists)and "La Soupe Aux Choux" (=cabbage soup),two singalong ditties.

The plot revolves round a case of mistaken identities,a 4 million inheritance ,an inn where the only dish that is served seems to be chicken,a vet surgeon who attracts all the girls around much to the displeasure of his colleague/father,and even sci-fi :a young scientist creates a ray which creates weightlessness ,at least for forks and knives .

The best moment is Sevilla's dream,treated as a fairy tale :she is lost in the forest a la Snowwhite ,and she meets her beau and her mother dressed up as a witch,counting money;in the reality she wants her daughter to marry for money.

Heaven allows all that, 20 August 2014

The main character,played by Martin Sheen ,is the most interesting;too bad they focused on his passion for cinema and his will to have a movie theater ,in spite of the well-meanings from his flock .The question of his faith is much more important:when the old lady passes away ,he realizes that she was not a true believer ,and flashbacks about the priest's childhood show that he did not feel a vocation for priesthood (he tells it so:"God never called me" ).It was his mother's dream (and selfishness),not his.

But this side of the priest (which is ,all in all,essential) is too underwritten .The other parts are cardboard ,particularly Stephen Rea's grumpy notable.The young teacher is more endearing but his affair with his (married with a kid) landlady is quite derivative ,even if he compares her to Jane Wyman in " All that heaven allows" -thus we learn that the story takes place after 1955,whereas the hints at Rex Ingram's "four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and " The prisoner of Zenda" ,could make us believe the action happened much earlier.(though they were remade later)

Besides ,the choice (by chance?) of "from here to eternity" ( 1953) is not what you call a smart one to test the equipment;and it includes the famous scene when Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr (mistaken for Liz Taylor!) have an adulterous relationship at that! See it for Martin Sheen's moments of doubt and fear.

Cat burglar in black tights., 17 August 2014

"La Louve solitaire" was first a series of novels,then a comic strip ,which ,like "Diabolik" was "strictly for adults " before being transferred to the screen for a movie which seems more appreciated abroad than in its native France .

André Saint-Aube ,who created the character ,was probably inspired by Louis Feuillade's heroine ,Musidora ,who,in "les Vampires" (1915),wandered on the roofs of Paris in black tights ;on the other hand,as an user pointed out,Luc Besson was certainly inspired by the beginning of the movie (La Louve framed and forced to work for the government) to create "Nikita" .

The plot ,which deals with drug traffickers ,is banal.Francis Lai's score sometimes bears more than a distant resemblance to that of James Bond ,and sometimes falls into schmaltz ,which predates his "love story" music which charted high everywhere.

The late sixties saw woman's lib the rise of woman's lib ,and this heroine displayed a firm independence of men;and a woman who performed acrobatics ,complete with flying trapeze ,to achieve her aims,at that! Danielle Gaubert was a shooting star of the French cinema :she began her career with directors from the old age (Autant-Lara and Carné ) ;then her good looks led her to pose for soft-porn magazines ;after her marriage to ski champion Killy ,she gave up acting in 1972 and sadly died of cancer in the eighties .

Her pairing with highly talented Michel Duchaussoy ,in a part of an agent capable of reading on the lips ,is a good thing :the moments when they enjoy French breakfasts display a good chemistry between them,and that,without a single kiss!Notice that at the end of the movie ,La Louve cannot eat croissants anymore.This little detail means a lot.Duchaussoy,who recently passed away ,was a favorite of Claude Chabrol ("Que La Bete Meure) and Alain Jessua (with whom he made several movies including "Traitement De Choc").The cast also features Sacha Pitoëff ("L Année Dernière A Marienbad") as a chic villain.

The movie was not a big success,perhaps because of the macho audience,and there was no sequel.

"One of the greatest movie stars was Rin Tin Tin......, 17 August 2014

.....It can't be much of a trick!" Mitchum is quoted in an early insert about his famous Rin-Tin-Tin sentence;but he is not mentioned once afterward ,which gives the movie a surrealistic feel.

An offbeat road movie,featuring Olivier Gourmet as a lousy manager and Pablo Nicomedes as an insomniac actor who mumbles more than he speaks .Both are in search of a director ,who ,they think,can take them to fame and fortune.

Frankie Pastor ,the would be thespian ,is rather limited since he can only play one scene in a movie made by their idol/director called "fatal angel" ;but to find him,they have to travel to the Arctic Circle where a film festival takes place ;but the further they travel ,the harder it is to meet this ghostly figure.

The ending might be a justification of the title :"I invest my money in oil" says Sarineff :because ,as Mrs Desmond in "Sunset blvd" said :"pictures got small" or because as M.Mitchum himself reportedly claimed :"The stars today are just masturbation images"?

The pain scale has no top or bottom., 17 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Eduardo Noriega is certainly one of the best contemporary European actors;he shines in this movie and mesmerizes you in a way few actors can do ;Producer Amenabar had cast him in " Tesis" and "Abre Los Ojos " ,two major works ,and Noriega even appears on the photographs in "The others/Los Ostros"

"El Mal Ajeno " lacks perhaps Amenabar's rigor and the first scenes with the doctor's daughter's are a bit heavy-handed today;but the rest is,if a little confusing,interesting from start to finish .

The subject of the healer has already been treated ,but never before as in this work,without a hint at religion or magic .And if there is something vaguely "religious" ,it deals with the old testament :"eye for an eye ,tooth for a tooth" ...."a life for a life" .That might explain why we see the doctor dead for a few seconds .The story of the little sister run over and the affair which follows it borrows from old melodramas,but brings it all back home .

And if the ending makes sense ,if you pay attention to details:

-The young doctor shows Noriega his daughter's blood test :"leukemia" he says; but the father ,against all odds ,comments :"it's nothing!"

-The injection

-Sara,near the patient's bed,smiles sweetly to Pilar ,and her face reflects kindness and she holds the girl's hand.

As an user cleverly pointed out,all comments should be written in the conditional tense;but even if some elements elude us,emotion survives.

Up ,up and away in my beautiful balloon!, 16 August 2014

Based,like many French or American movies of today on a comic strip;I have never read it ,but the movie belongs to another era :the late fifties and the early sixties .

All the cardboard characters we have seen a hundred times or more, are present: the dashing handsome prince ,the gorgeous (good) princess,the bad sadistic woman (a touch of racism here maybe) ,the poor people overburden with taxes (scenes taken by force from Robin Hood),the traitor,the would be comic relief provided by a giant named Goliath,always stuffing himself with food,his sidekick ,a midget;and to top it all, right in the middle of the crusades, help is on the way in the shape of a Muslim!Maybe words of wisdom for our troubled times ! The movie begins with historic pretensions ,but quickly opts for a poor man's heroic fantasy;there are as many plot holes as in Swiss cheese and,after this far-fetched tale, we can only be satisfied that the holy Grail is left in good hands.

As the prince swears to his mentor he 'll always side with the underdog ,they might make a sequel.

Nous Avons Gagné Ce Soir., 15 August 2014

The movie begins with a tribute to flying pioneers (a lot of them including Guynemer and Mermoz) It's amazing to think that this movie was based on a play ,for it deals with the aircraft industry ,complete with flights,complete with flights,competition (the highlight is the fight for the cup),and ....crashes.

The love triangle:Marie Bell,her husband (Jean Galland ) ,the aviator about to (reluctantly) give up flying ,and her suitor , bound to win ,is not actually the subject of the movie.A harrowing scene shows Hélène coming to tell one of her friends that her husband was killed in an air crash ;she sheds not a tear,she speaks not a word,but the lady ,her little boy on her side,has understood.

Hélène 's husband thinks that she's in love with the future champion and his pride knows no bounds:he wants to carry on.When he realizes that his wife has always been afraid ,all along her life ,to lose him,it will be "his biggest victory" and Worth all the cups in the world.

The two songs are mostly filler;the first one ("Les Marins Du Ciel" =sky sailors) has become ridiculous;the second one is a straight love song,à la Jeannette McDonald.

Yvan Noé(Noemann),oddly,was at his best when he broached the fantasy genre:his most memorable works are certainly "Une Mort Sans Importance " and "La Cavalcade Des Heures " ,the latter being a must for anyone interested in the French cinema ;although Superior to "Ceux Du Ciel" (those from the sky) ,they both deal with death,or should I say,the fear of death ,which tends to show that Noé was perhaps an auteur,after all.

Heat Wave (2011)
Et Toujours En Eté., 14 August 2014

At first sight ,"Apres Le Sud" would display a Robert Guédigian influence: location in the South of France,average persons,whose paths meet ...

But further acquaintance shows it is not so: Guédigian's hope against hope and shades of optimism have disappeared . "Après Le sud" is a somber work Under the bright sun and the blue sky of French South.

The four characters seem to have lost their illusions ;the obese mother stuffs herself with Arab pastries while trying a medical treatment:she will remind you of Ellen Burstyn's desperate struggle with food in "requiem for a dream".Her daughter is a clerk in a supermarket ,a place she finds stifling :she's pregnant by a young Italian,Luigi ,himself a loser , who never succeeds in talking this over with her before the tragedy .The last character is a grumpy lonely old man who seems educated and who appreciates classical music.There's a scene where he is strip-searched in the supermarket by two hateful managers who humiliate him and whose behavior is really beyond the pale:taunting an incontinent old man,who is twice older than them! All this and more leads to an irreparable drama ,with a final scene recalling that of Pasolini's "Mamma Roma" .

Too bad the director succumbed to a contemporary vice: non-linear story,flashbacks,flash forwards,scenes showed twice (the latter would be interesting if we had a different point of view).This might be a little off-putting for the audience .

Nevertheless " Après Le sud" gets off the beaten track and thus can be considered an estimable work.

Dedicated to Cyril Collard ("Les Nuits Fauves ",1992)

Just a gigolo, 13 August 2014

First effort by the notorious Max Pecas ;in his long career ,art was the least of his worries.He made pornographic movies (let 's forget them) and coarse comedies (about squaddies/grunts and vacationists).

Against all odds ,"Le Cercle Vicieux"is watchable :this is a suspense story ,à la Boileau-Narcejac ,derivative but entertaining: a gigolo marries an older woman for her dough;however, he has always an affair with a young girl.The wife has a face-lift to look younger and prettier,but it's the straw that breaks the camel's back:the marriage is on the rocks .The young mistress is killed in a car crash and the dead body is impossible to identify (? nothing is told about it).So she could easily pass for his wife .So what about killing her and burying the corpse?But a stepdaughter is to be reckoned with..

The male lead,Claude Titre (later cast as Bob Morane for a TV series) fell into oblivion after the sixties;Charles Aznavour provides the music and it's his sister ,Aïda ,a poor man's Edith Piaf ,who sings over the cast and credits .

Like this? try this...

"Une Manche et La Belle" (Henri Verneuil,1957 ,the screenplay of which is very similar to that of "Le Cercle Vicieux ")

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