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3819 reviews in total 
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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Death of the maiden, 22 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Roberto Bermudez, a university law professor, respected author, and penal code expert, is conducting a special class for advanced students. It will only be an eight weeks course. Bermudez is surprised to find among his students is Gonzalo, an enigmatic young man, the son of friends, now living in Europe. From the start, Gonzalo appears to be a defiant pupil, whose concern appears to be proving to Bermudez his own theory about the subject at the heart of this seminar.

When a young woman is discovered in the university parking area, the whole class is instantly interested in the homicide. Bermudez, with his vast experience, believes the murder of the woman, who happens to be a waitress from a hang-out where most students spend time, realizes this homicide is the work of a psychopath. He begins his own investigation, trying to satisfy his own curiosity in discovering the assassin. His friendship with the police, helps him tie loose ends about the crime. It becomes obvious Gonzalo, a mysterious past, as well as his own interest in the case will bring the two men into a dangerous course of action.

Directed with sure hand by Hernan Golfrid, whose "Musica en espera" this viewer admired, we looked forward for the new film with interest. The work is based on a novel by Diego Paszkowski, which, unfortunately we did not read, gets a great production under Mr. Golfrid's direction. The adaptation of the novel by Patricio Vega is the weakest element in the film, which gets an impeccable treatment by Mr. Goldfrid. Technically, this Argentine- Spanish co-production has nothing to envy from films of the genre.

There are many unresolved issues in the story which lets the audience want for more. In reality, nothing is ever proved about who the real killer is, thus, the picture asks the viewer to get his own conclusion. There are hints of a deeper connection between the professor and his brilliant student, which is not really explored in more detail. And yet, the film involves us from the start. The complex character of Roberto by Ricardo Darin, probably the best actor working in movies today, gets an excellent performance. Roberto is probably the best mind in criminal law in the country. In his mind, he figures out who the killer is. Unknown to him, he is going against another brilliant mind, that of Gonzalo, who has returned to the country out of nowhere to give Roberto a run for his money.

Basically, this is a showcase for actors. On the one hand, Ricardo Darin, and on the other, a less experienced, but equally sly, is the wonderful Alberto Ammann, a new face in the Argentine film scene. The two actors match each other in unexpected ways. Calu Rivero plays Laura, the sister of the slain victim of the crime, who gets thrown into the picture perhaps to help Roberto entrap the man he thinks is the one responsible for the crime. Rolo Pulpeiro, the cinematographer, captures the moody dark tones the director required to set the action. Sergio Moure contributed the incidental piano score that blends perfectly with the plot.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Becoming Violetta, 22 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is refreshing to see an opera star of the stature of Natalie Dessay, preparing for the staging of one of Verdi's most famous operas, La Traviata. This French soprano is a joy to watch as she prepares to assume a role that has been a favorite of fans of this work. We watch the singer go through the preparation stage, responding to Jean-Francois Sivadier, the director, who at times, shows to be overbearing in the way he perceives the opera.

The documentary, presently having a commercial run at Film Forum, brings the viewer into the process that ultimately will be seen on stage as the opera takes shape. We are given a tour of what really goes on during the creative process of this piece. The viewer is taken through all what goes into the production being prepared for an Aix-en-Provence presentation. The whole process comes alive in Philippe Beziat's direction, making this filmed account of the Verdi masterpiece an enjoyable experience.

Highly recommended for lovers of opera.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Une flic, 14 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Antoine, a young lieutenant, fresh from the police academy, wants to be assigned to the Paris police force. He feels that by staying in Le Havre he will be missing his call, which is to be in an exciting environment where his talent will matter and he will be appreciated by his peers and superiors. Antoine gets his wish by getting place in the homicide division where there is always some unexpected thing happening.

As Antoine is about to begin his career in Paris, a new police supervisor, Caroline Vaudieu, returns to take command of this unit. She had been away from active duty for a while. In welcoming her back the head of the department congratulates her on being sober for quite some time now. Caroline is battling her own demons in her tragic life because of the death of her son, years ago. In fact, she remarks her late child could have been the same age as Antoine,had he still been among the living.

The death of a homeless person under strange circumstances brings the homicide unit into action. Everything points out to a duo of undocumented Russian immigrants who manage to elude the police investigation trying to capture them. Antoine, who gets the assignment, together with his partner, Morbe, to go after one of the pair who has been hiding in a hostel, makes a tactical error by going alone to the criminal's room, something that ends with fatal consequences. Caroline is devastated by what happened to her young subordinate, vowing to get the criminal, no matter what.

A great "policier" directed with sure hand by Xavier Beauvois, who also collaborated in the screenplay, as well as portrayed Morbe, a man whose mistake proves to be the cause the end of a young man's police career. The police work is examined with accurate detail by the director who keeps things moving, getting his audience immersed in the story. One realizes not all the police work is non stop action.we watch the men for what they are, comrades in arms working to protect the citizens of their area. It also presents a human soul suffering, as is the case of Caroline, a woman whose life has known great suffering in her life and her struggle to keep away from drinking herself into oblivion.

Nathalie Baye makes an excellent, and complex, Caroline. One can sense her pain. She is mourning for a loss that was a terrible blow for a mother. Her becoming an alcoholic ruins her career until she decides to get over her self pity, returning to a job in which she excels. Ms Baye is seen experiencing emotions that one can identify with. Jalil Lespert's new police lieutenant credible. He is perfectly eager doing a job he always dreamed about. Roschy Zem keeps getting better all the time,as he shows here. Jacques Perrin has a small, but effective role as Caroline's old lover. The excellent supporting cast is a joy to watch in an ensemble effort.

Villa Jasmin (2008) (TV)
Meeting the past, 14 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Henri Boccara and his pregnant wife are ecstatic as the ship that are bringing them to Tunis is approaching land. He has come back as a sort of pilgrimage to the place where he was born. Although his life changed dramatically at a tender age, the death of his father, serge, seems to have been anti-climatic. His mother passed away shortly after her husband's death.

Henri, who now has taken his father's name, goes back to some familiar places trying to remember parts of his life. In flashbacks we get an idea what his parents had to endure in a land that became polarized by the controls of France, as a protectorate, then the German invasion. As Jews, they did not have a chance to survive, but Henri and his mother and sister were spared of the fate Serge had in store when he was taken prisoner and sent to a concentration camp.

Ferid Boughedir adapted Serge Moati's novel for this television movie that is a sort of memory piece, a reminiscence of the past as a son goes back to rediscover his past. The problem with this feature is a disorientation as there is no differentiation between the present and the past, which is confusing. Arnaud Giovaninetti, Clement Sibony and Els Mollien, the three principals do good work in trying to bring the Boccaras to life.

13 (2010/I)
Unlucky number, 13 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Desperate situations send people into a state beyond their control, which is the case of Vince, a young electrician in Ohio, whose father is gravely ill in the hospital for an ailment never revealed. The family, has to mortgage the house and who knows how they will be able to survive because of the medical bills they must pay. While rewiring a house, Vince overhears a man talking on the phone about how he will get a lot of money from an unknown source. Vince realizes he has stumbled in a possible solution for his worries. So when the man in the house overdoses and dies, he steals the paper that has the information the dead man was looking into.

Vince has no idea what he is getting into. After picking up the instruction the dead man was to get, he decides to assume the dead man's identity. He must travel to a remote area where he will be met. In the envelope he found a card bearing the number 13. Not having a clue as to what he is about to do, Vince is drawn into an unpleasant situation that might even cost him his life for he enters uncharted territory where different people will enter a game of Russian roulette, something he never imagined to ever been involved.

Gela Babluani remade his own "13 Tzameti" into a Hollywood film which pales in comparison with the original. Mr. Babluani got help with the screenplay in collaboration with Greg Pruss transposing the action to America. The film, although not horrible, pales in comparison with the grittier first take. The main flaw was the casting of Sam Riley, a wonderful actor, who in here does not project enough fear as the man who might lose his own life in the game. The direction leaves a lot to be desired and the screenplay does not clarify things either. The rich people betting millions of dollars are in for the thrill of it all as well as the profits they can realize. Jasper turns out to biggest loser of all. Not only does he lose the money he borrowed but he suffers a personal loss as well.

The cast includes big stars like Jason Statham, playing a variation of his tough guy he is always seen in. The wonderful Ray Winstone has nothing to do in the film, nor is he effective as in other parts where he has appeared. Michael Shannon is a sort of an MC giving the instructions to all the players. Mickey Rourke is Jefferson playing a bandit who might, or might not have a lot of money stashed away. Ben Gazzara is seen as a gambling man with a nose for picking out winners.

Assassinée (2012) (TV)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Murdered, 12 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The mother of a well liked young woman, Cathy, is preparing a feast to celebrate the twentieth birthday of her daughter Eva. Cathy and Richard, her former husband, have been divorced now for a while, yet they maintain a sort of good relationship when it comes to their love for their daughter even though Richard has remarried and is living with his wife and infant child.

As Eva does not show up for her own party, Cathy and Richard begin to worry, but nothing prepare them for the terrible news they are about to learn. Eva has been murdered in an isolated place. As the police begin investigating, a chance encounter with a woman reporter, who finds Cathy's wallet, the identity of the victim is revealed in the press. What follows is a media circus as the media sets their equipment trying to get Cathy or Richard to talk about their daughter's terrible murder.

The terrible incident weighs heavily on Cathy and Richard, almost destroying them. Cathy who resented the sneaky way of the newspaper journalist, ends up teaming with her in her desire to find the culprit who killed Eva. An unexpected turn of events reveals about Eva's involvement with a man and the discovery of the identity of the real assassin.

A television film "Assassinee" was highly popular in France when it made its debut. Directed with his usual style by Thierry Binisti, who made an impression with his film of Louis XVI, also for the small screen, the film has a lot going for itself like the power of the media in obstructing a case, and then bringing light to catch the one responsible for Eva's murder. The story emphasizes how a crime affects the relationship between Cathy and her world as she rebels trying to make sense to her tragedy.

Patricia Kaas, a well regarded singer makes an impression as Cathy, the suffering mother. This is her second starring role as an actress. Serge Hazanavicius plays Serge, the man now consumed by guilt after abandoning Cathy and Eva.

Contraband (2012)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Smugglers, 12 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a remake of an Icelandic film titled "Reyjavik-Rotterdam" directed by the star of the original Baltasar Kormakur. The American adaptation is credited to Aaron Gusikowski, although the original screenplay was a collaboration between Oskar Jonasson and the great writer Arnaldur Indridason. Not having seen the original one, we have no basis for a comparison. This production was obviously a vehicle for its star, Mark Wahlberg.

The story has been changed from Europe to New Orleans, where John Bryce, a former smuggler himself, has gone legitimate with his own business and a nice family. Some of us can choose our friends, but not our family, or in John's case, his wife's family. His brother-in-law, Andy, working with a buddy, is surprised when the ship they are coming back home is escorted to the port on suspicion of drug smuggling from a crew member. Andy gets rid of the dope. Tim Briggs the reptilian criminal whose merchandise Andy is carrying, wants revenge at the tune of thousands of dollars for repayment.

John's wife, Kate, pleads with John to help her brother, an unwise proposition. John sees how his efforts in going straight comes to an end. He agrees to pay Briggs as he devices a plan to smuggle counterfeit money which will give him enough cash to repay the debt. Unknown to him with the fake money, there will be some drugs. In Panama, John has to sweat out bringing the merchandise to the ship without being noticed and passing the rigorous inspection. He manages, but he almost gets caught.

This story is not exactly original in that there are elements we have already seen in other action movies. The bad guy, played by Giovanni Ribisi has some good moments. Mark Wahlberg has done better before. Kate Beckingsale has nothing to do in the movie. Ben Foster plays the key role of Sebastian who has a lot at stake in spite of being John's good friend.

The funny moment comes when John is given a Jason Pollock's painting worth millions of dollars as part of the deal he makes with the Panama's contact and it is seen as a piece of canvas with some paint smears all over.

Bimboland (1998)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Blonde stereotype, 12 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cecile Bussy, a university student working on her thesis, has made important contributions to further her knowledge by going to remote areas to discover primitive people in their habitat. Unfortunately, nothing seems to stop the advancement of progress as Cecile returns to find the natives enjoying modern conveniences.

Cecile is told of a change at the helm of the university, where Laurent Gaspard will be her boss. She is a dowdy dresser, feeling an attraction to Gaspard, she is told by the popular Alex Baretto she must act as a bimbo if she wants to win Gaspard's affections. Alex supervises Cecile's transformation from a scholar into a vapid blonde joke.

Not having a clue as to what "Bimboland" was about,we took a chance in watching. The film, as directed by Ariel Zeitoun will certainly did nothing for women. Just the mere idea to become a "bimbo" is unimaginable, but it is more than an attitude, it is basically to play and act dumb in order to get favors from rich men. Judith Godreche, Gerard Depardieu and Aure Atika will not add anything to their resumes based on this movie.

Gorbaciof (2010)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The gambler, 12 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Marino Pacileo is a lonely man. He is seen performing his daily routine going to his job in a Neapolitan penitentiary. Everybody calls him Gorbaciof because of the birthmark on his forehead, which reminds people of the former Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Pacileo walks with a swagger which denotes he is confident about himself. His job consists in taking money from the relatives of inmates, although it is not explained why they pay. At the end of the day, he takes the money to be locked in a safe. We watch as he puts some bills in his pocket.

His days end up in the back room of a Chinese restaurant, where a corrupt lawyer holds nightly poker games. Gorbaciof has a terrible gambling addiction which consumes him and makes him "borrow" some of the money in order to satisfy his gambling. He feels an attraction for Lila, the lovely young daughter of the owner of the restaurant, who is himself an addict to the game. Pacileo senses the father will end up sacrificing Lila to a life of prostitution, something he wants to thwart, for he has to come to love the girl.

"Gorbaciof" directed by Stefano Incerti is not interested in clarifying for the viewer specifics about Pacileo's behavior. The director collaborated to the screenplay with Diego de Silva. It is an enigmatic story because of what is not being said, rather for the revelations on the life of this strange man who hardly utters a word throughout the story. We realize he must have suffer the loss of a loved one. Could it be a wife, or a child? We follow him to a cemetery where he sits and contemplate a humble grave. Pacileo, who sports wide sideburns and evidently does not care to dress, is seen in the only one suit he possesses, as it appears everything is secondary to him, except his addiction to poker.

Toni Servillo gives another "tour de force" portraying this strange man with a peculiar walk who gets deeply in debt to the bad lawyer who beats him playing poker. Mr. Servillo is an intense actor who gets under the skin of any of the characters he is asked to play. Without saying much, he speaks volumes in the way he is seen walking the streets of the Chinese section of Naples, in the metro, or outsmarting the man he owes a lot of money. Mini Yang is the sweet Lila. Geppi Gleijeses is effective as the lawyer and Nello Mascia is seen as the jail's superior who lets Gorbaciof think he is getting away with his stealing, but who wants something in return.

Pasquale Mari photographed Naples as it is seldom seen. TehoTeardo composed the music score, which plays well in the background. Stefano Incerti delivers a taut film and gets a fantastic performance by his star, Toni Seevillo.

Let's do the twist, 11 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A madcap comedy, clearly a vehicle for its star, the great Philippe Noiret, is set in the old Soviet Russia, still under the tight socialist control where thing were scarce and it was up to its citizen to find a way to make ends meet no matter what. Corruption was rampart as the people in the story clearly demonstrate. The premise being how Igor, the manager of a Moscow hotel is drawn to help his good for nothing brother- in-law who is trying to help a member of his family who ran afoul of the system by defending a Jewish man, going against the system.

All is made to be fun under the fast paced direction of Jean-Marie Poire, who keeps things moving at a fantastic speed. The screenplay is credited to the other star of the film, the wonderful Christian Claiver, with Mr. Poire and Martin Lamotte. The tight reign of the KGB and its control over the Russian people is in full display as the agency and a party auditor come to haunt Igor for a situation he did not create.

It is fun to watch Mr. Noiret in another stellar performance. He is mainly the best reason to watch the comedy. It has its own rewards as the action does not stop for a moment. Christian Clavier contributes to his own project as Yuri, the brother-in-law from hell. Marina Vlady makes an appearance as Igor's wife. Even Martin Lamotte, one of the team of writers makes an amazing turn as Boris, the party's auditor who acts as though he was Ninotchka in getting control on the excesses of these public figures.

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