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Les grandes Grandes Vacances (2015)
Great history and adventure series
An excellent animated TV series about an occupied village's life during World War II, in Normandy, as told by children who witness and endure terrible events. Two of the main characters are Ernest and Colette, who came from Paris during holidays and had to stay in the countryside all the war long. They make a gang of friends called "les Robinsons", who meet in the forest and try to help the Resistance. The kids adventures are based on a collection of true stories. This show has all what lacks to the french children TV nowadays : great adventure, danger, sad stories,... The character design is done by comic books author Emile Bravo. Each episode is followed by a short animated story where a young director illustrates the actual testimony of someone who lived those times.
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
an underrated and good bad movie
There is always "something" in a John Carpenter movie. In this one, the great "something" is a really great nonsense humor. Lots of sequences are, in my opinion, unforgettable. Like the moment when the invisible Chevy Chase manipulates a guy he knocked to use a taxi. I love the way the CIA guys do every mistake possible (acting as treaters and villains) or the way Nick Halloway tries hard to have a quiet and normal life - no invisible man had wished that before, I think. It is definitely not a great movie and even not the average John Carpenter movie, but it still is fun. The french-subbed dialogs are very funny, I don't know how accurate they are to the original dialogs.
La graine et le mulet (2007)
A major movie of our times
Abdellatif Kechiche did very well with his previous movie "L'Esquive". But here we have even better. The story is simple : I'd say it is mostly about dignity, sacrifice and family love. The acting is brilliant. Habib Boufares is perfect, the young Hafsia Herzi is astounding, especially for the end of the movie. The actors are mostly non-professional people but the script is very well written and the characters are well defined, so this "amateurism" does great and helps the audience's immersion. The cinematography is very special (but never disturbing), with a lot of very close close-ups. The camera is "natural" as with Casavettes, but not "drunk", it is not a pain to watch and you don't get sea sick. The whole movie reminded me the Italian neo-realism and also a little of Renoir. Some people mention Pialat. It's a quite long movie but you don't feel it while watching, you just realize it after.
The New World (2005)
The image is astounding, the audience suddenly feels like discovering Virginia in the 17th century, or feels like what it has been for Pocahontas to see London. So that is great, and if I had to judge only the atmosphere and the cinematography, I would give the movie a 10/10. But a movie is also a story. Here, the story is a true story (I don't know - and don't care - how much it is accurate to the original story), and the script tells it to us in a quite "arty" way : while being told about the fort's discipline, John Smith thinks about Pocahontas (so we here about the fort and watch the girl running in the bushes). Lots of "off voice", with a quite tired tone, it is poetic, poetic and boring like hell. I had to end watching the DVD using the fast-forward button : I couldn't stand any more. Thus, I learned a lot, I mean that for the first time, what I watched seemed really true to me, not like if a time machine sended a camcorder back in 1600 but even better : it stills is cinema, with a beautiful image I told that already.
The Iceman Murder (2005)
Everything is not bad in this fakumentary. The murder inquiry for instance. It shows how scientists followed trails and changed their mind when they got new elements. This kind of plot can make the kids think about how science works. Well it could, if for the rest it wasn't so stupid as quite all prehistoric movies are : BBC telling how marriage was millenaries ago (the young beautiful 2000's girl is exchanged with a goat) with a few soft-erotic images (the bride, topless, having some kind of a massage by other beautiful girls of the tribe) will stay one of the joys of my life. So what do we got ? Three different stories about a man who actually lived, built from the very rich elements we have (he has nice shoes, he had an arrow in the back, he used medicine tattoos, he knew how to make fire, etc.), but all these stories as well as the "mariage" scenes, are just clichés : violent ages, rough manners, etc. The movie talks about a period we know nothing about, and lets think we know quite a lot. I actually happen to find this fiction documentary quite lame.
Waste of time for everybody
Greek avenger and hit woman Elektra Nachios is one of the best characters of the late eighties comic books. She is silent, sharp and lonely. She is a murderer and a victim. That's how she is in Bill Sienkiewicz and Frank Miller's Elektra. That's how she is in David Mazzuchielli and Frank Miller's Daredevil. But that's not how she is here : over-sensitive, crying for this or that, doubting, talking, talking, talking... She survives the story only because she gets helped... Surprises ? Fun ? Images ? Clever plot ? Hmmm... You'll find nothing of that in this B-Grade blockbuster, nothing but a quite boring Jennifer Gardner (strong shoulders, yeah, so what ?), irrational characters and situations : the willing suspension of disbelief never worked for me here. The Daredevil movie was really not the best of all the Marvel franchises (but fairly done), Elektra was made by people who don't care much : I guess the director didn't take time to read the book, I guess that Jennifer Gardner plays in the movie because of an old contract she wished she could break... Well, really, a waste of time.
Banlieue 13 (2004)
A great not-a-lot-of-brain pure adrenalin movie
In the usual big-budget American action movie of those days, there would be, besides the action, a love story and a bad boy redemption. No such crap here, this movie is much close to "Escape from New York" (I'd say it is even a little kind of a remake) than to an usual action blockbuster. There is not a lot of moral but some kind of a political message about the french suburbs. Anyhow the action is great, the acting is surprisingly good (even if I'm sure that the young Dany Verissimo - the girl - is not very well used). So ? Worth watching. Violent, like kids schoolyard games, not horrific (no torture, no blood), not "adult" (even if Dany Verissimo happens to be a famous adult movie actress), but not too unbelievable either : while you watch, you're in, you believe in all, the action and the plot.
France just can't do it anymore ?
I love "debut films" telling how somebody has passion, works and succeeds : stuff like Billy Elliot, Fame (great and underrated), Flashdance, Beat Streat (also great and underrated)... Some are light, some quite dark (Saturday Night Fever for instance). Most of them talk about music and dance (but Rocky is of the same kind no ?) How much of those movies exist ? hundreds maybe. One country (at least) seems totally unable to produce that kind of movies, and it is mine : France. I can tell titles : "Paroles et musique", "bouge!" and maybe the lamest of all, "Alive" (there is also "le defi", but to be honest I didn't watch it). All those movies talk about a show-business that never existed (that way) in this country : talent, work and struggle for art are not very french I guess. "Alive" is the story of a musical show (but there aren't much of that in France) director who lost his talent when his wife left him. He want to be back, even if his producer refuses to help him and even tries to stop him. The show is lame, the music is lame, maybe the only good point is that one or two singers are good (but not well exploited : the (now famous) talented Christophe Willem appears just a little as a guy called Henri who won't fit...). The editing is unprofessional, with a constant musical background (stop that radio), the romantic plot is ridiculous, all is too fast, and goes without any kind of tension, the audience stays out of that bad soda commercial. Maybe the worst movie I've watched on DVD this year.
If you look for a french "debut movie" that is worth watching, well there is one actually. It's "French Cancan", by Jean Renoir (1955). Cruel and fair.
The French (1982)
Back in the days
There are many reasons to love William Klein's documentary. The way his camera finds what things are, the way people quietly tell who they really are, the wonderful image, the premonitions too. But "The French" is special to my heart for another reason : I was ten or eleven when the picture was made, and I remember very well all the great tennis heroes of those times : Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Nastase, Navratilova or Chris Evert... They are the cast of this movie about Roland-Garros French Open. What can I say more ? The reason why I like this movie is quite nonobjective, but I'm sure it is a masterpiece even if you have never heard of all those tennis-men and women.
Not sure it was worth trying this
I know "Suske en Wiske" as "Bob et Bobette". My father used to love that comic series, that's how I knew it ("Bob et Bobette" are quite unknown in France). It is not an usual comic book : it is fun, it is full of ideas, it comes with its own rules, it is a whole universes in itself (Like Tezuka Osamu's mangas for instance). Therefore, filming that in live action can seem a foolish project, it requires a lot of things : a very special casting, much money for the special effects, a great cinematography and a good director. Well... The casting is quite okay. Sidonie is played by a man, why not (the voice could have been more feminine). Lambique, well, I'm not sure of the actor. Jerome is okay. Bob and Bobette are okay too, but Bobette seems older than Bob and she has too much breast. The image is poor, we don't understand all the actions, it is not very good. The directing and the editing are a little bit outdated, it is not far from the Benny Hill Show... Therefore, I'll get back to the books, this movie maybe shouldn't have been done. Maybe the very little kids can find some fun here.
As somebody already told it here, the DVD's bonus is terrible : slow and uninteresting, it mostly shows that a German/belgian production of that kind can not be really professional as other comics-based movies of the past decade, from the US (Spiderman, Xmen, Hulk, yes, but also older movies like Popeye or Annie) and even from France (Asterix).