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Gad Elmaleh's auto promo vehicle, not for Sophie Marceau fans
This film is only for those who are entertained by "comedian" Gad Elmaleh. He takes up most of the time. Sophie only appears once in a while (another good pay-check for her, though). Gad's type of slapstick humor is really unbearable: the frenetic piano playing, the continuous narcissistic showmanship, the tired old battle of the sexes quips, and his buddies and their clique-y in-crowd--jokes - that must be witnessed by all else around them, because really the joke is on every one else, for paying even a smidgen of attention to these unpleasant creatures. Who wouldn't wanna be part of this social circle, right? Not!
Decor wise it's all a big chaos as well. The only places of relief are the outside Paris exteriors.
Moreover this film is pure propaganda for everything that's wrong with France these days. Absolute conformism to hierarchic capitalism is portrayed as completely normal (even desirable); proposing a further degeneration of the three basic principles of French culture: liberty, fraternity, and equality. The characters think nothing of it, that they have to subject themselves to humiliation and maltreatment from "powerful" people (for example the ape like record company director barking at Gad through Skype - like an African despot). To an immigrant like, Elmaleh, this role reversal might be hilarious, but the native French people are fed up with this degeneracy. Me and my buddies wil bring your once civilised country down, and I'm gonna rub your faces in it. That is the main purpose of the film, I got it loud and clear, from picking up on all the subliminal messages mockingly thrust in my face as "comedy."
This product is reprehensible on all levels.
Non ti muovere (2004)
An ego-centric portrait of Segio Castellito
I was expecting much from this film. The synopsis of the movie interested me, and also Penelope's involvement as a destitute character stirred my curiosity. However, the film is plagued by many faults. The worst one is that the movie focuses too much on the male character, who also happens to be the director (surprise surprise). It's what I call the Nanni Morreti syndrome: a childish self obsessed sexist heterosexual male who is supposedly desired by all other characters, the wife he cheats on, the girl he rapes, the daughter whom he treats like a son, and then still wants the whole world to take pity on him for his suffering existence in the upper class world of the Italian elite. The soundtrack is riddled with too many songs trying to say something about the particular situations of scenes, and the musical score sounds like a bad ennio morricone composition, (even a Mexican soap has better music). By the time the climax of the movie arrives, already so many pseudo-dramatic tragedies have occurred, that one can't really care anymore. This is one of those examples why money shouldn't be pumped into European cinema. Because the money always seems to end up in the pockets of ego centric directors who haven't got a clue about building up drama. I only kept watching because Penelope Cruz's performance is so unlike her normal characters, and she does a great job, but she can't save an otherwise flawed movie.
God Bless the Child (1988)
the American disease
The movie portrays the opposite of the American dream. Because for every great winner there are great losers, not because they deserve that, but because bad luck can strike anyone. And when just surviving becomes an impossible dream to achieve, that's when you know you're a goner. Homelessness is humiliating. It is more important that all citizens have homes and medical aid, than to be spoilt for choice, and become obese, sick with a third house and a yacht, while others have nothing. The Amercian dream should be providence for everyone, but the real nightmare is stark capitalism relentlessly leaving people out in the dark. This movie is incredibly touching and has a communistic message, countering the yuppie consensus of the Reagan era. It surpasses its format, eg, a TV movie. And surpasses most Hollywood dross. 10 out of 10
Rien sur Robert (1999)
making fun of itself
Do characters have to be credible and does a dialogue have to be realistic for a movie to be 'good'? This movie certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea. The typical french virtues/vices of film making are present here: "over-intellectualizing, not tying up a storyline, and wasting time on details", yet, at the same time, the film satirizes exactly this French behaviour, and that what for me makes it very enjoyable, and proves its one step ahead of the current french film makers who all too often take themselves much too seriously without delivering anything intellectually original or emotionally engaging. In particular Sandrine kiberlaine's character is very entertaining.
After un lugar en el mundo and Martin Hache. I was very much looking forward to the new Aristarain movie. Unfortunately the weakest points for the previous here fill out an entire feature length film of a gratingly long 130 minutes. Characters have no other depth than proliferating themselves by talking about their favorite classic/jazz musicians and literary figures. They do not explain what meaning or experience they find in these. just referring to them must convince the viewer that these characters must be very intellectual. Of course the effect is that they come across as very hollow, pretentious and rather unpleasant. Thbe only character that wins the viewer's sympathy probably is Roma, Joaca's mother. Her views are fresh and yet heartwarming. Perhaps it was the intention of Aristarain to alienate the viewer from any emotional bonding with these antipathetic characters, in that case he succeeded. What is truly a structural flaw of the film, not just of taste, is the way the story is told, if one can call it a story. There are just flashbacks which do not seem to follow from one to the next. Characters suddenly take meaning to other characters without any explanation. In the end the film becomes a mess, and I could not even finish watching it. Aristarain is crossed of my list of favorite directors. I hope he'll turn the tide with a next, better, film.
Frío sol de invierno (2004)
beautiful drama in Euskadi
Unax Ugalde seems to be a guarantee for top quality movies. Every single movie he has been cast in, has been an intelligent, emotional, well written, atmospheric film. His excellent acting skills are here enhanced by those of Marisa Paredes. A real surprise in the movie is the actress who plays the tragi-comic role of the young prostitute. Her sub-story left a big emotional impact on me. Unax plays a rich kid, with a mental history, who is released from the institution where has been 'healed' and is returned to his former elderly house, abandoned by his parents, but given the financial resources to survive. He learns that in the drama of his childhood many more persons were intricate, as he gets to know the people who live on the wrong side of the tracks of town. It amazes me that sugary nonsense like 'mar adentro' gets hailed into heaven, while much more original movies such as these hardly find their way to a mainstream audience. I'm glad however I discovered it, and recommend it anyone to watch it.
El milagro de Candeal (2004)
Put a camera in Brazilian town, push record, and you have a film
This is the umpteenth time that Fernando Trueba, a highly overrated director of movies which only exist because he survives on film-subsidies of the government. Basically Trueba goes to Brazil, puts a camera in the middle of a semi-poor area, asks some people to make music, starts recording and then goes back to Spain to show his holiday video to his 'audience'. An audience which exists mainly of people who think by saying they like Truba movies and Brazilian music from the barrio, they are good left wing intellectuals, but in fact are an arrogant bunch of ignorant followers who need someone to introduce Brazilian music to them, whereas it's so easy to discover it yourself, and better music than then the one displayed in this film. If there's any reason why the Spanish government should not pump more money into the 'directors/beggars' like Trueba, here's the proof. It's a disgrace. It's not surprising that Almodovar decided to leave the Academy, because it's made up of lazy directors like Trueba for whom film making is all about financial, and arrogance, rather than a passion to make good films. It'a terribly unoriginal documentary and definitely not a Brazilian Buena vista Social Club.
The performances of singers like Jamelia, Girls Aloud and Delta Goodrem and Brian mc Fadden, seem somehow to make the songs much more boring than when seen on ordinary pop TV shows like Top of the pops, or cd uk. Liza Minelli's singing was truly horrible, she just did not hit those all important belting notes. Elton John did his regular thing at the piano, and Barbara Windsow stuck in a carry on loop. Is there no one within the establishment of 'artists' and performers in the U.K. who dares to stand up on stage, look at Prince Charles balcony, and tell him that it is time to abolish the monarchy. The period of Cool Brittania is definitely over. And even that was overrated.
El principio de Arquímedes (2004)
ambition and success depends on scary capitalist system
It had to be in Spain where a director still dares to make a film about the awful corporate state of most Western (not to mention 3rd world) societies. Against the background of this statement, is set a story of self discovery, love for those who were regarded as failures, and admiration for those who reject the American dream, which mostly comes at the price of abuse and inhuman values. Once again proof of Spain's strong cinematic and socially engaged quality. Marta Belastaugui is going to be one of the most wanted actresses in the next few years, mark my words. Alberto Jimenez is always watchable as backstabbing bastard. And the other two main actors also give very good performances. The slick grey/white corporate style and the business district of Madrid as background give the film also visually its distinctive identity. Full marks
Horas de luz (2004)
Promising beginning which doesn't deliver in the end
Being a fan of actress Emma Suarez, I went to see this film full of anticipation. The film starts off with bleak scenes of crime and punishment, sceneries of an all male world where ruthless police are at war with equally brutal criminals. Men devoid of human consideration and gentility. A world where humans are nothing less than wild beasts, and where their spirits are broken by sadistic guards. After this relentlessly grim opening, Emma Suarez's character arrives. She is the prison's doctor who is shocked by the conditions in which the inmates live. She falls in love with one of the inmates, who we suddenly come to see as noble savage rather than ruthless killer. The moments of tenderness which she is able to give through the excuse of tending to her patient, are very intense. Too soon however the movie swiftly moves on to tell the story of how she starts a campaign to stop the terrible prison conditions. Even though it is very educational, it doesn't make for good drama. The movie focuses in a corny and cheesy manner on the personal relationship between delinquent's hussy, Emma, and her bit of rough. The movie's tone changes completely and it is af if we are suddenly watching another movie. The director should not have tried to tie in 20 years of development, but simply have limited himself to the early years, rather than drag the story on, and on, until it becomes a sugary mess in which inmates, prisoner's wives, police guards and prison directors suddenly love each other to bits.