12 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
silly or haughty?
22 January 2005
This comedy of manners depicts too opposite sisters in a satire that is too crude and clichéd to be really moving. The Paris/province (rest of France)divide is a source of inspiration for many French comedies but the rotten humor and the engaging characters cannot make up for the very predictable plot.

Some moments are really funny though, there is a kind of tenderness in the caricatured portrait of each sister so all in all it's not such a bad try for a first film.

Eventually it's more a duel of two styles of acting, an encounter of 2 different actress with their own class. Not exactly a good film but a pleasant shot.
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Gosford Park (2001)
Sophisticated but soporific study of the British aristocracy
3 October 2003
R. Altman enjoyed himself painting a colorful portray of a bunch of aristocrats & their servants with a lot of subtlety so that you realize how human, i.e. grey (not black or white), both worlds are.....

Though beautifully filmed, the sly satire is not very effective because you feel completely lost in the confusion of so many characters you don't have time to know. It is not a typical storytelling with a hero or a murder mystery. It is certainly inventive but at the end, you feel a bit "twisted" because the film ends in the middle of .......the end, i.e. what's the point of all this ? !! In My opinion, "8 femmes" of Ozon looks far less pretentious and is certainly far more captivating as a cynical portrait of a class, and has more suspense and appeal in the murder mystery.

To sum up : An ethnological portray of a bunch of aristocrats & their servants, served by an original but boring storytelling.
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Les égarés (2003)
Nice, simple but flat !
8 September 2003
A journey of a woman with her 2 children accompanied by a young mysterious wanderer who tried to flee the war, but the tragic will somewhat jostled against this bucolic experience.

An intimist French film that typically depicts the emotions and mixed and complex relations between the protagonists.

Pictures are nice, actors are moving but with a dull script and so little stake, the films fails to catch you completely. Though slow, the film is never boring, it is very pleasant to watch.

The film leaves you charmed and confused, you would love to like it, but it definitely lacks appeal..(6 out of 10)
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Open Hearts (2002)
A sober tragedy about love and guilt
20 March 2003
This movie has a sober sense of tragic : It shows how life is fragile and uncontrollable, whether it is a young couple passionately in love hit by a terrible accident or a double-kid mature couple whose husband will be unfaithful to his wife. The cleverness of the story-telling lies in the fact that the two stories are highly intertwined and all through movie you find yourself recognising everything the characters struggle through. You want to judge them but you are left with you own guilt without any conclusion fro the film. The documentary-style and the dogme do not prevail over the meaning and even give some realistic strength to the beautiful acting. To sum up : a simple tale of two destinies where tragedy reveal our fragility and love can redeem guilt. (7 out Of 10)
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Taxi 3 (2003)
A commercial trip through comic boredom
3 February 2003
Taxi 3 : Here is a film that bears well its name : Yes absolutely it is the THIRD sequel of the same track race between the foreign Wicked bandits and the dumb French police helped by the turbo-charged taxi driver. After 2 attempts, you might expect a bit of "ageing" and maturation of this eye-catching concept, well except the the fun credits at the beginning and the surprise appearance of Mr Stallon himself, there is nothing really new :

  • a simplistic story-line - a demagogue & super-caricatural description of the French police - a crude humor - not so impressive track race - action scenes with barely no action - pityful dialogues - actors who are never really exploited - no surprise happy ending

Apparently Mr Besson wanted to make a comedy that does not take itself seriously : well if you are not too hard to please concerning the subtlety of the humor you might get a satisfaction but it's not enough to save this farce because the supposed action scenes are nothing more than boring and uninspired. Furthermore, the grotesque is too serious not to be taken seriously. So you are left with the story, but it the carbon copy of the precedents except that the Chinese have replaced the Japanese and the Germans as the shrewd bandits...

It's a pity that Mr Besson the producer/writer does not have the same standard of excellence as Mr Besson the director. This film could have been a funny piece of popular entertainment but it was too botched up to live up to this title.

To sum up : a ludicrous popular comedy made of crude gags + no action action scenes in the wake of the worn out Taxi series. (4 out of 10)
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K-PAX (2001)
A laughable reincarnation of E.T. flying over the "Donnie Darko" s nest.
6 January 2003
  • This film really made me laughed. Because you can't take it to seriously. From the 1st scene in the NY station, the story looks so little plausible. An investigation about the identity of a guy called Prot will lead us to a supposedly thought-provoking quest. Please understand me, this film might appeal to you, it really did not get to me. If you have not seen the film, I suggest you do not read my comment, and if you have, then share my very subjective opinion.

  • Dr. Powell, a psychiatrist, tries to cure an enigmatic mental patient called Prot claiming to be an alien who will soon be heading to his planet K-PAX. Is he what he claims to be (possible considering his unexplained super-intelligent abilities) or is he just a damaged person living out a dissociative delusion (possible too because of psychological reasons).Despite troubling elements, the psychiatrist favors the second solution especially after he uncovers a man of similar description named Robert Porter who suffered a trauma five years earlier, the same day that Prot is claiming to be arrived on earth. But the patients of the hospital love Prot and seem to recover thanks to him. The investigation about the real identity of his patient will also help the workaholic psychiatrist redress his own failures in his family.

  • How will you reconcile these 2 contradictory views : Alien or suffering from delusion ? Guess the answer : we are left asking after a resourceful ending.

  • As Dr. Powell struggles with his own sense of reality, we are also asked to question ourself how this unconvincing drama will lift up our spiritual and reconsider our social beliefs. I am still asking too. The biggest outrage of this pretentious film is to make you think that you must have missed something big because you find the story so murky.

  • The film failed to move me because I cannot believe any situations, some moments were so predictable (don't tell me you did not guess that Mark Powell would not meet his son at the end) and performances are just clichés (especially people at the hospital and the wonky hypnosis sessions), the acting is both contrived and "already seen" and the luminescent cinematography doesn't make up for the clumsy script. My biggest disappointment however lies in the fact that the film wants to have its finger in more than one pie : an underlying criticism of curing mental illness and an apology for better social human contacts but it fails to give any valid answers. The film is even very prejudiced against mental ill people sometimes insinuating that mental illness is just a result of social ills. The film aims at being manipulative like "A beautiful mind" but it seems as if I could never bite (why should I care for the guy in New Mexico ?). The end becomes submerged in suggested moralistic overtones. The supposedly ambiguous ending come after so many evidences for both interpretations that you are bound to believe that Hollywood wanted to make a cross of Donnie darko + Pay it forward +"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" + E.T. + a few other ones

  • I love films that tackle sensitive issues that challenge our perceptions of reality : If you want to see more convincing dramas of this type : Please see "Donnie Darko" or even " With a Friend Like Harry..." . Far far better to my mind..

Oh yes I have forgotten something very important : Besides, the film is a real bore to watch.

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A Daring but uneven attempt to depict absurd life in the Occupied territories.
4 January 2003
In a very scathing style, the Palestinian director depicts the preposterousness of daily life in the first place and then the difficulty of love in the Occupied territories. In the first part of the film, some burlesque scenes repeat themselves so as to stress the malaise of a whole population. Although he captures symbolic situations with a touch of sincerity that can be moving, this part is rather long and even tedious and failed to fully capture my mind.

On the contrary the second part involving the love story was in a way more interesting and easier to relate to the characters but the film then becomes more and more tendentious and it's difficult not to feel uneasy when you see satirical scenes that seem to glorify certain types of violent revenge fantasies.

to sum up : a poetic and committed tale of life and love, under the frustrating circumstances of an occupation army, that fail to capture enthusiasm despite its formal daring. (5 out of 10)
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Alias Betty (2001)
How to be reconciled with your mother ?
4 January 2003
This film really questions the sense of the "societally approved" justice and morality by an intriguing inquiry into the theme of motherhood. And it leaves you strained, confused and amused ! The film beautifully combines a tragedy with absurdity, and shows a witty balance of refrained emotion and black humor.

The plot is made of a main story that could be summarized as a tragedy, which will have a domino effect, hence the different sub-plots, that ultimately merge in an unexpected ending, which then reflects a new light back upon the rest of the movie ! That's where the main problem of the film is, the coincidences at the end look a bit far-fetched and over-the-top but are still believable. Otherwise the directing is great and this films looks like a suspense thriller, a French one however, which means a lot of talk at the beginning. But don't be put off, it's highly rewarding.

I could not commend enough how the acting here is excellent and realistic. The director paints a bunch of dysfunctional characters that all have something to hide. A sharp look at our modern society.

to sum up : an intriguing suspense film that questions the society's self-righteousness (and ours) (8 out of 10)
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Ben-Hur (1959)
3 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Ben Hur is certainly a good film providing its dose of thrilling entertainment but suffers from a slow pace and a heavy-handed entanglement of 2 stories : a friendship that turns sour (the pugnacity of Ben Hur to remain faithful to his people and the resulting confrontation with his friend Messala who demands fealty) and an encounter with Jesus that will cure Ben Hur of his hate. The whole story looks therefore a bit shaky and even lame but remains highly enjoyable because the minor faults of the story-telling can be easily forgiven thanks to the magnificent tale of a passionate confrontation of two egos.

(SPOILERS)By far, the most interesting aspect of the movie is indeed the relation between Messala and Ben Hur and the evolution of Ben Hur 's character : the reunion between two old Friends gives rise to a quick misunderstanding and clash (the film suggestively implies that their friendship might before have been very close indeed) for apparent political reasons, Messala is piqued and also wants to use the punishment for his own political purpose. Messala knows that Ben Hur's family is not guilty nevertheless he sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. Ben Hur will go through hard times but " Hate keeps a man alive". He will hang on and will be able to take a spectacular revenge through the climactic action scene of the chariot race.

Like in a Greek tragedy someone will have to die, and that will appease the passions. And Messala is the victim not only of Ben Hur's revenge but of his own pretentions. Although Judah seems to be without regret, the death of Messala leaves him disenchanted. His noble love for his family will then drive Ben-Hur to look for his leprous mother and sister. His lover Esther will be able to play the part of being Judah's former self and will reveal him his hardened heart. The film ends with a triumphant re-birth of the human spirit. : Ben Hur's family will be physically healed and Ben Hur will be redeemed by the very man who gave him hope at the beginning of his harsh journey as a captive. : "I felt his voice take this sword out of my head". The film ends as it begins : a testimony of Christ's power to change people's heart.

Unfortunately the development of characters sometimes lacks a sense of nuance : The unscrupulous Roman Messala versus the Noble Jewish prince nice to his family and even his slaves will be mercilessly condemned but because of his strong character and endless compassion, finds himself adopted by a Roman nobleman and will relentlessly pursue to avenge his lost liberty as well as as the imprisonment of his mother and sister. Eventually Judah learns that love triumphs over hate, becoming a follower of Jesus. Too much of a good thing is not always better.

However I love this film: despite the fake film sets, the grandeur of Rome proves to be really believable. Despite the far-fetched story, the development of characters is rather fine. Though very pompous, the music is memorable and blends magicly with the pictures. The result is a blockbuster that looks a bit dated but that can still captivate all your senses and mind.

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Pearl Harbor (2001)
the clichéd epic romance-story during real tragic history
28 December 2002
No it is not the overpolished shots, nor the melodic sound track, nor the brave hunks libe Ben and Josh, nor the lacrymal effects of the death of one of the hero, nor the classical love-story, nor the underlying jingoistic heroism after the humiliating coward attack that make this film disappointing : it is the waste of so much talent and money.

The acting is fair and mostly credible whereas the story is so cliched. Ok yes you can feel a few emotions but it seems so "Bruckheimered" that I find it hard to really identify myself during the emotional scenes. If you don't see what I mean just imagine the slow-motion camera on the hurt soldiers + hans Zimmer music and you will already fancy the revenge of the sleeping giant (the US). Or you could imagine the third role good black guy (Cuba Gooding, Jr) who should also be entitled to be a true American hero by shooting one plane.

Anyway besides the clichés and once you forget the historical inaccuracies, you could have "the epic romance story during tragic history" style of film, and that's where the shoe pinches because the epic soufflé never rises and the romance is predictable, contrived and too melodramatic !

Understand me, the movie is not that bad : you get more at watching it fully despite the 3 hours long than watching the trailer. It works as long as it aims at entertainig and has even some good points : the battle scenes are impressive (and even should I say it : nice),and the film is also a respectable tribute to the American heroes of WW2. Ben Aflleck is rather convincing, every shot of the film is like a Hawaian postcard. So bad the clichéd storytelling entangled all that.(6 out of 10)
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