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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.

La vérité (2011) (TV)
The truth, and nothing but...., 11 March 2013

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Michel, a business man, is having a torrid love affair with Alice, a doctor. Both are married to other people, but for six months now they have been making time for their trysts in hotels. Alice wants more. She longs to spend a night with her lover away from Paris. Michel, who has a good thing going is concerned what he will tell his own wife, Laurence, about an illicit week-end he will spend in Alice's company.

Facing Laurence, Michel gets all shaken up because he is feeling the pressure and the guilt that went along with the love affair he embarked upon. His wife questions him about what he has been up to that same afternoon, when he failed to answer her phone call in trying to locate him. In fact, she ran into Paul, the unemployed husband of Alice, who had not heard from Michel in a few days, even though they are tennis partners. Both Paul and Laurence will have a lot to account for themselves as Michel, later in the story, decides to come clean to his wife.

"La verite" a delightful play that was popular in Paris is one of those French comedies with a lot of wit and charm involving four people who might have more to do with one another than really meets the eye. This film was taped on a live performance at the Montparnasse theater in Paris under the direction of Vitold Krysinsky. Written for the stage by Florian Zeller, it is one of those boulevard plays so popular in the French stage involving deception, and a few surprises at the end of the final act.

Pierre Arditi, a film actor who feels quite at home on a stage makes a fantastic "tour de force" as Michel, the man at the center of the story. It is a theatrical presentation, showing the cast on stage delighting the audience. At one point Mr. Arditi falls out of character when someone in the audience makes him laugh and he has a hard time trying to keep a straight face, as does the wonderful Fanny Cottencon playing Alice. Patrice Kerbrat and Christiane Millet appear as Paul and Laurence.

A play that is lot of fun to watch with an impeccable cast under the direction of Mr. Krysinsky.

The Desert of Love (2012) (TV)
The desert of love, 11 March 2013

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Maria Cross, a woman of a somewhat sordid past, is the central figure around whom this story revolves. She has just lost her six year old son, mourning him and not accepting the sad fact he is gone. A local doctor, Paul Courreges, is devastated in not having been able to cure the boy, something of a failure in his own mind. Blaming himself, he still takes care of Maria, with whom he begins a correspondence which becomes the center of attention for his own family. His teen aged son, Raymond, cannot help being attracted by the suffering Maria. He does everything too be near her. Unfortunately, Paul discovers to his amazement of the way his son feels about the woman he became in love with, himself.

That is basically the premise of Francois Mauriac's novel. Mr. Mauriac was one of France's most admired writers. It does not surprise why the story was adapted for television a second time. Jean-Daniel Verhaeghe, whose work is primarily in television adapted in collaboration with Anne-Marie Catois and Natalie Carter. The story is seen through the eyes of Raymond. The young man develops an attraction for this tragic woman, not realizing what his father's feelings are for her. Of course, decency prevails and both, father and son, are saved from a scandal as Maria Cross departs for Paris.

One can imagine this was a vehicle for its star, Emmanuelle Beart, who plays the enigmatic Maria with a touch of mystery. One never gets to know what really was in her mind, or what she felt for the young admirer. Didier Bezace, an actor who does a lot of television, is the tormented doctor who finds himself in love with the young mother. Mathieu Spinosi makes a good Raymond.

A man and his dog, 11 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Alexandre, the owner of a large farm in France, does not enjoy a minute of rest for the long hours he puts tending his fields. He cannot stop because his wife, whom he calls La Grande, has a way of reminding him not to slacken on his duties. Naturally, Alexandre resents this nagging woman to the point that he can well do without her. Even when a neighbor offers him a terrier puppy, he must secure his wife's approval to let the dog come live in the well maintained farm.

Alas, relief comes in the way of a fatal accident where not only the wife dies, but also his parents. Left alone to his own devices, Alexandre's erases the chores his wife had assigned him to do on a blackboard, writing "Sleep, sleep, and SLEEP", which he proceeds to do for a solid three days. With the help of his intelligent dog, Alexandre prepares his bedroom as a place where he will survive happily arranging everything he needs and having the dog do the menial errands for the supplies he wants from the village store.

It does not take long before his neighbors begin getting worried of the transformation. Not only that, they resent the fact that while they are hard at work, Alexandre is enjoying his fishing and naps. Everything changes when a shapely young woman, Agathe, comes to work at the store. She is intrigued about Alexandre, being a lazy woman herself. It does not take too long before he falls in love with Agathe overhearing about the possibilities of being rich by marrying Alexandre so she can one day be the owner of his property, but she does not take into account that the widower knows what is best for him and his beloved dog.

A delightful comedy by Yves Robert who also wrote and collaborated with Pierre Levi-Corti in the adaptation for the screen. The idea of a henpecked man suddenly finding his happiness which ensues after the disappearance of his tyrant wife, lends itself to a joyous movie which even forty some odd years still has the ability to delight audiences. The idea of a lazy farmer is something Alexandre's friends and neighbors cannot compute in their minds. Let alone the envy they all feel about a man who suddenly is fulfilling his life by doing absolutely nothing.

Philippe Noiret runs away with his winning take of Alexandre. The actor enjoyed a long career in the French cinema and he proves why everything he did always turned out in natural performances. Mr. Noiret was a man who gave the best of him in films because of the charm he exuded. This Alexandre is one of his best creations. Francoise Brion, as La Grande, makes a case for the domineering woman whose sole job was to nag her man to the point that her untimely death is a relief. The wonderful Marlene Jobert makes an amazing Agathe. She was at the height of her popularity and proved to be an asset in anything she played. Others in the supporting cast were a young Pierre Richard, Jean Carmet and especially, Paul Le Person, as the combative Sanguin.

Shot in central France, the impressive cinematography by Rene Mathlin shines in the copy we saw recently. There is a tuneful score by Vladimir Cosma. Director Yves Robert gave the public many fine features, as proved by this delightful work.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Closing the pipe, 8 March 2013

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Phil has decided not to take any more chances with a surprise like his father-in-law Jay got when his wife Gloria became pregnant. Claire and him decided to undergo a vasectomy process to remedy the situation before it is too late. Getting it done is another story. Phil proves to chicken out after the possible pain he will experience.

Cam is having a fit because as a stay home parent, he feels his life is meaningless without the presence of Lily, who is now going to a prekindergarten school. Ever the theatrical person he is, Cam will look into other avenues where he can make himself useful. Mitch's efforts to help his partner get a job, has the opposite effect on Cam.

Gail Mancuso gets a much positive approach to the way she paced the episode, something that has been lacking at the beginning of this season. This installment was written by Danny Zucker who is involved in the production of this winning series. Ty Burrell gets an opportunity to shine as Phil. Eric Stonestreet's Cam is perfect as the man without a cause, or where to put his energy to good use.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Falling in love again, 8 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sido, a middle aged woman, finds herself divorced trying to exert her rights, chasing her ex-husband who is reluctant to leave the comforts of living in the country house he has come to cherish. Sido will not have it; after all, he got the Paris apartment, as part of the settlement. Single life is new to her. The house, located in the small town where she grew up, brings back happy memories, but she is not ready for living in such small community where everyone knows her business.

Her friends Odile and Yvonne come to her rescue. They want to fix Sido up with eligible bachelors. Odile has in mind Georges, a widower, who is a well to do landscape artist, the only problem being his age; he is seventy six. Sido is surprised to find Jo Marengo, the man who deflowered her. He is still around and a womanizer. Georges tries to pursue her, but although a nice catch, there is no chemistry between them. Bernadette, her neighbor wants her to consider her son, Jean-Paul, who we learn, had a fling with Sido.

A sunny comedy made for French television. Directed by Olivier Peray, and written by Caroline Vignal. The film examines the life of a vital woman now on her own. Sido arouses something in the men she comes in contact. Even her old husband, Francis, misses her cooking, though he was two-timing her with his own lover. This is a delightful comedy without an agenda to be savored by audiences that appreciate the genre.

Ariane Ascaride is basically the main reason to watch the comedy. She is an accomplished player whose no-nonsense style endears her to the public. As Sido, she exemplifies an independent spirit who gave her best and was betrayed by a husband who never loved her. The wonderful Jean- Francois Stevenin has fun playing Jo Marengo, the man who goes way back with Sido. Michel Aumont is perfect as the widower who likes Sido, but ultimately, realizes she is not for him because there is no chemistry. The supporting cast is fun to watch.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Desperate hours near LAX airport, 7 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not having seen this 1960 B type film, we had a chance to take a look when it showed itself on cable. Directed by Edward L. Cahn, a man who could churn several pictures a year and must have been a reliable source of the genre during the time where he was active in the 1950s and 1960s.

The story in not exactly original. It appears to be a composite of other films in which Mr. Cahn was involved. "Three Came to Kill" is a semi documentary account of how a big shot from a Middle East country, secretly living in the USA is targeted for elimination before he returns to his country. Paid assassins are assigned to do the job which involves breaking into a house near LAX airport, kidnapping the air traffic control and his family to gain an advantage to do the deed as the plane the foreign dignitary is taken will be dealt with.

The best thing in the film is a super kinetic Cameron Mitchell who is seen as Marty Brill. The direction of Mr. Cahn does nothing to get rid of the amateur feeling the production got under his direction. The film must have been shot in a secondary air strip near Los Angeles as in 1960 the airport in that city did not look the way it shows in the picture with its ridiculous control tower.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Vincent and Teri and Franck and Rachel, 7 March 2013

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Remember Paul Mazursky's 1969 film "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice"? That was a tame attempt to bring up the subject of partner swapping, or a foursome play in bed. This French film "Simple Few" does not leave anything to the imagination. It is an 'in your face' account of two couples who decide to switch positions with a willing the opposite member of the quartet. When it comes to telling like it is, leave it to the French to deal with the matter without shame, or guilt.

Rachel, the jewelry designer, gets aroused when Vincent, a web designer goes to visit her in preparation to take the product on line. That encounter leads to a friendly dinner at Franck and Rachel's apartment, where Franck offers to massage Teri's back; she is a former Olympic gymnast suffering from pains. It is clear to everyone they are mature enough to handle whatever happens, so the arrangement is uncomplicated enough until Teri discovers Rachel's diary in which she discovers how the arrangement came into place.

Antony Cordier, the director of "Simple Few", or "Four Lovers" as it was released in some countries, would be accepted in spite of its explicit sexual context. The screenplay was written by the director and Julie Peyr and it tackles its subject without any taboos. The sex in the film, although fake, is made to appear like the real thing. It is basically of the straight variety with the exception of a session where the two women go at each other with relish. No such thing occurs between the men. Roschdy Zem is a bit more careful in showing what he has, but Nicolas Duvauchelle lets it all hang out. Marina Fois and Elodie Bouchez act without inhibition.

There is a ridiculous scene in which the two couples have two sacks of flour fall all over them and then proceed to have sex on the floor. After the session, the foursome go into a nearby watering place to get cleaned. One can only guess what thrill they derived from being coated in flour.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Apres ski, 6 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The idea of seeing a comedy by Patrice Leconte, a director with a history of more serious work behind him, presented itself when this film turned up on a cable channel. True, this was a film that bears no resemblance with such movies as "Ridicule", "Intimate Strangers", and others, more accomplished than this silly comedy. Granted, it was made by a younger man who showed his genius in staging this sequel of "French Fried Vacation", which we have not seen, also directed by M. Leconte.

As comedies go, this strictly for local consumption. It is surprising Hollywood did not steal the plot for a remake, although we cannot be one hundred percent sure it was not the case. Suffice it to say, M. Leconte gives the picture some fun in the snow. The surprise in this film was the presence of the young and energetic Thierry Lharmitte, who went to make a name for himself in the French cinema. We were somewhat disappointed by Josiane Balasco, an actress who has always delivered, but here has nothing to do. Basically, it is the same cast as in the original film. Michel Blanc, and especially the wonderful Christian Clavier fare better than their comrades in the snow.

Before daybreak, 6 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A common laborer, Francois, shoots, and kills, M. Valentin, a despicable man who has come to his room in a housing complex unexpectedly. In flashbacks we get to know the story behind Francois' action, as he sequesters himself from the police that has been called to take him away. It is a tense moment for Francois, a quiet man, otherwise.

The story of Francois involvement with the beautiful Francoise, a young woman who grew up like him in an orphanage, brings them together for they feel the need for one another. Francois does not think for a moment he will be in such a position, but when his sweetheart decides to go alone to a music hall, he follows her there. He is astonished to see Francoise going to M. Valentin, a dog trainer whose act is part of the revue in the local theater.

Clara, who is M. Valentin's assistant in the act, is clearly disgusted with him. Leaving the stage, she joins Francois in the bar. They both witness the trainer and the young woman leave together. It is evident they know one another and that perhaps Francoise is not as naive as she pretends to be. Things come to a head when Valentin comes to see Francois with a feeble excuse about Francois' girl, ultimately resulting in the shooting.

Marcel Carne's masterpiece came right after "Quai des brumes", another dark tale of people in turmoil. Jacques Viot's original scenario was given life by the great Jacques Prevert a man who collaborated with M. Carne in other films with his perceptive take on the dialogue. This is pure Carne who felt attraction for telling stories that involved ordinary people, as it is the case in this film. Although well respected in his work, the film was not embraced by audiences because of the obscurity of the subject. The figure of Francoise, the main interest of our man in this story, is not immediately made clear. On the one hand, she appears to be a somewhat naive woman, while leading, perhaps, another life with the older Valentin.

The other role that is quite enigmatic is that of Clara, who obviously must have been connected with Valentin, not just as his assistant for the theater. Clara clearly wants Francois, but he is blindly in love with Francoise, who might be hiding a secret side of her personality when she is with Francois. It is indeed a complex story in many levels, but Carne delivers an intense drama that keeps his audience glued to what is happening on the screen.

Jean Gabin, at the height of his film career made a perfect Francois. He does not make a false move throughout the story. Jean Gabin was a natural for cinema, as he demonstrates here. The great Arletty appears as Clara, the woman who loving Francois, stays out of his way since she realizes she cannot have him. Jacqueline Laurent projected the right kind of naivete as the sweet Francoise. Jules Berry plays the odious M. Valentin with relish.

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