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gridoon2014

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1409 reviews in total 
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Uneven thriller from Claude Lelouch, 20 April 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first half of "Roman De Gare" is riveting: the way writer-director Claude Lelouch, aided and abetted by Dominique Pinon's masterfully ambivalent performance, keeps us considering several different possibilities, and expecting the worst, brings to mind the classic Alfred Hitchcock rule about how suspense is created when you show the bomb WITHOUT having it explode. But after one key question is answered, the film loses some momentum, and the final revelations are not quite as thrilling as you'd wish them to be. Still, it's beautifully photographed, and the two women completing the main acting trio - newcomer Audrey Dana and veteran Fanny Ardant - are also exceptional. **1/2 out of 4.

Too leisurely paced, 18 April 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Partners In Crime" is ostensibly based on an Agatha Christie short story, but I'm going to venture a guess and say it has little to do with it, since - as far as I know - Christie never explored science fiction territory, which is the genre the story told here really belongs to. But I've never really had a problem with Christie adaptations that are far removed from the original text; I do have a problem with Christie adaptations that lack any sort of urgency, which "Partners In Crime" is guilty of. This film is more of a seriocomic study of mid-life crisis and thirst for excitement with a sci-fi angle than a "traditional" Christie mystery; the humor is subtle - often too subtle - and the pacing is extremely leisurely. However, Catherine Frot (who remains VERY attractive in her mid-50s) and André Dussollier do have an affectionate and believable chemistry as a couple, and the locations are pleasing to the eye. ** out of 4.

Rather weak B-movie, 13 April 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just like the first "Sophie Lang" film, made two years earlier, this "Return" does not live up to its promise either. The one significant upgrade of the follow-up is the male lead: Ray Milland is, of course, more charismatic than Paul Cavanagh, even though he and Sophie Lang fall in love a little too quickly. But Cavanagh's character returns as well, in a somewhat confusing manner: this time he is played by a much older actor, so the implied, at the end of the first film, love affair between him and Sophie is completely ignored. Sophie's character, most likely due to the enforcement of the Production Code, has also changed from a jewel thief who loves her work to a reformed good girl who has (literally) buried her criminal past. Gertrude Michael has some good moments, particularly when she's mimicking Elizabeth Patterson's voice patterns, but overall this film is pretty weak. ** out of 4.

Disappointing film, despite a good start and a bright female lead, 12 April 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gertrude Michael is an unjustly forgotten actress of the 1930s. I've seen her in a couple of films by now, and she always stands out with her beauty, her smartness, and her modernity. "The Notorious Sophie Lang", where she plays a world-class jewel thief, could have been an ideal vehicle for her, and it does have a promising start, but static direction and a script where very little actually happens let the film down. Another debit is the male lead, Paul Cavanagh, who contributes little to create chemistry between him and Gertrude; prolific supporting actors Alison Skipworth and Leon Errol are given little truly funny to say or do. ** out of 4.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The best of a strong final season, 6 April 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The final season of "Poirot" is a generally very strong one (with only one slightly disappointing, but still watchable, episode, "The Big Four"), but I feel "The Labours Of Hercules" is the best of the five films. It's a delicious mystery - or, rather, a delicious crossword puzzle of mysteries, murders, thefts, disappearances, fake identities, and con games. Although the story is propelled by one of Poirot's very rare failures, which gives it a dark undercurrent, there is also significantly more humor here than in most of the other recent episodes, the majority of which comes from the character of Francesco, the multi-lingual, polite, but easily corruptible hotel manager. David Suchet gets to put on of his most theatrical "all the suspects gathered in one room" shows in the last chapter, and that's very enjoyable to watch, but the real find in this entry is the merely 21-year-old (!) Eleanor Tomlinson, who steals the film with her wonderful performance (and looks!). If there is a weak spot in "The Labours Of Hercules", it's the sometimes (like in the case of the avalanche) unconvincing special effects. *** out of 4.

Overlong but inventive low-key whodunit, 30 March 2014
7/10

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"Cat And Mouse" runs a little too long at about 103 minutes, and the murder mystery at its center is not exceptionally gripping, yet it has a lot going for it: some exciting camera-work (especially in a wild car ride from Paris to the countryside and back), an engagingly idiosyncratic central character (played by Serge Reggiani), lots of subtle humor, and a solution to all the mysteries that is simple, logical, unexpected, and very French. The narrative frequently moves back and forth in time and place, so the film does require the viewer's undivided attention; Claude Lelouch is not a "genre" director / writer, so this is not a typical "genre" film by any means. *** out of 4.

A weird, intriguing, but unsatisfying film, 25 March 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Viva La Vie!" can be described as a lot of things - mystery, sci-fi, pro-nuclear disarmament statement, espionage - but what it is above all is a hoax. After an apocalyptic grabber of an opening, director Claude Lelouch appears as himself and requests from the audience not to spoil the film for those who have not seen it yet; there are indeed many surprises in "Viva La Vie!", but the last one - which, essentially, is a SPOILER "it was all a dream" type of ending END SPOILER - does not leave the viewer with a feeling of satisfaction; it most likely leaves him or her with a feeling of emptiness. The film still contains some intriguing concepts, images and sounds, and is well acted by a top French cast, but it's more of an odd curiosity than a successful cinematic experiment. ** out of 4.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Phoenix Valen kicks ass, 23 March 2014
4/10

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"The Blood Bond" suffers from poor production values, faulty sound design, some amateurish directing, and the obvious discomfort of certain cast members with the English language. Co-star and co-director Michael Biehn has stated that the film was taken out of his hands in the post-production stage, so it's not really clear who is to blame. The story isn't much to write home about either, except maybe for the somewhat unusual fact that the "rebels" in a fictional third-world country are the bad guys. But Biehn has maintained some of his cool factor as an actor. And newcomer Phoenix Valen, though a little wooden in her acting, is graceful and powerful, with a gorgeous face and a solidly muscular body. I hope she gets more breaks in the action genre, though it doesn't look that way at present. *1/2 out of 4.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The least of Season 6, though still quite watchable, 16 March 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Out of the three most recent Marple films (all made in 2013), I would rank "Greenshaw's Folly" last: it lacks the exotic glamor of "Caribbean Mystery" or the psychological intensity and unusual storytelling devices of "Endless Night". As it is based on two short stories by Christie, it is padded with a number of subplots that have little or nothing to do with the main story. And there is a key revelation at the end which does not ring true, because either one or the other of the two cast members concerned have been miscast (from an age point of view; there is nothing wrong with their acting). It's still a watchable film, the Greenshaw House is magnificent and the killing methods are quite original, but as an entry in the "Marple" series, it's pretty middle-of-the-road. **1/2 out of 4.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Pleasant documentary, 11 March 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This documentary, which can be found as an extra on the last of the 3 discs which comprise the final DVD box set of the "Poirot" series, runs 56 minutes and is narrated by David Suchet himself. Among other things, he talks about his (mental and physical) preparation for the life-changing role of Poirot, he takes a trip to Belgium (Poirot's home country), he travels on the Orient Express, he goes back to the London building that stood for Whitehaven Mansions, he visits Agatha Christie's own summer house where he meets Christie's grandson, he reunites with old colleagues, and he takes us through the filming of what he calls the hardest shooting day of his life (Poirot's death scene in "Curtain"), as well as the bittersweet (later) day when he wraps up the filming of "Dead Man's Folly" - the last Christie book with Poirot that he needed to film to complete the entire collection. As you can see, "Being Poirot" covers a lot of ground - and yet not enough! In a series of 70 episodes, only a handful get a significant amount of time devoted to them - those mentioned above, plus "The Chocolate Box" and an incident from "The Third Door Flat". The structure of the documentary is also a little shapeless. Nonetheless, this is a very pleasant way to spend an hour: there is some fascinating trivia (like Agatha Christie's diary, where we can see text in her own handwriting), and Suchet's dedication and respect for Poirot come across clearly. **1/2 out of 4.


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