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lazarillo

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1111 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
"The Moon Child", 28 November 2014

Here's another French film that nobody seems to have ever seen with English subs (including me, so excuse me if this review is a little sketchy). The movie is about an adolescent boy (Quentin Challal) who has a skin disease that prevents him from going out in direct sunlight, so he has to stay inside or go out only at night or dress in a protective suit. The disease is apparently also degenerative and the long-term prognosis is not good. Still, like all kids that age he tries to live a normal life. Now if this were a Hollywood movie, they would wring every possible bit of drama out of this scenario with the adult actors especially mercilessly chewing the scenery in emotionally-wrenching (probably to the point of stripping a whole lot of emotional screws), Oscar-bait performances. If anything though, this French movie commits the opposite sin--it's subtle, oblique, and very slow-moving, perhaps to the point of being a little boring.

Obviously, the boy is a main character, but the main adult character is not the boy's single mother (Caroline Proust), who is surprisingly peripheral, but the middle-age doctor (VIncent Lindon ) who has been treating the boy his whole life and now has to break the bad news, not only about the prognosis, but also that he has to leave off treating him. This is the "man-boy relationship" referred to in the "plot key words", but it's not as creepy as THAT sounds. There is a weird scene where the doctor spots the kid at a soccer game with his friends and curiously follows him while he rides on his girlfriend's moped. But the doctor is really just a medical professional who cares too much, not a pederast or anything. The doctor also has a adversarial relationship with a female colleague (Emmanuelle Devos), but it's not only peripheral, but also pretty much unnecessary.

Many French movies, of course, make up for a lack of drama with an abundance of sex and nudity. All you get on that score here though is a brief gander at pretty French teen actress/model Solene Rigot's (admittedly very nice) breasts. (She plays the adolescent protagonists girlfriend). I can give this movie some kudos for NOT being saccharine and ridiculously melodramatic like a lot of American "medical problem" movies, and the performances are all pretty good. But when a pair of perky young breasts are the only thing that really, uh, perks your interest, it might be considered a pretty serious shortcoming of the movie. Some English subs would help, of course, but I still think this would be pretty slow going for most people.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Needs some English subs, but still rewarding, 26 November 2014

I recently saw this French movie on TV Monde USA. Most French-language movies on that channel have English subtitles, but this one had FRENCH subtitles (apparently for the benefit of all the hearing-impaired Francophones who live in the US, but can't read English). Needless to say, I didn't follow the plot too well, but since no one else has reviewed this yet. . .

This movie is about a precocious, provincial French teenager(Adele Exarchopolous)who likes to document everyone around her with a video camera. This includes her family--a chronically ill mother, a moody father, and a pregnant older sister who arrives from Paris with her new beau (or husband?). The protagonist is also kind of a tomboy with almost exclusively male friends (none of whom really seems to notice that she's smoking hot), so she also documents their troubled lives. One is a pretty boy with and unusually close relationship with his mother and violent relationship with his (step?)father. One seems to like to abuse animals. And the third is a weird Scottish kid who wears a kilt and occasionally speaks in English. He also does weird things like lie down in the middle of a road (but he's also the only one to do the completely understandable thing and have off-screen sex with our nubile documentarian).

This is strangely sex-free for a French movie, especially given the actress who plays the mother, Zabou Breitman, is most famous for playing Tawny Kitaen's sidekick in the softcore porn/nudie fantasy "The Perils of Gwendoline". That was 20 years ago though and even in French I can tell she's become a vastly better actress in the years since. Then there's the lead, an 18-year-old Adele Exarchopolous, who would go on a year later to do "Blue is the Warmest Color". But I think too much has been made of the graphic sex scenes in that movie and too little has been made about what an incredibly natural actress Adele E. is. She has a very expressive face and is one of the most talented non-verbal actresses I've ever seen (which is useful here since I didn't understand a lot of what she said verbally). She's incredibly photogenic and frankly she's more appealing with her clothes on than most women are with them off.

The title of this seems to come not only from here on-going, and rather elliptical, "documentary", but also a couple memorable montages of this young French beauty lying in the bathtub with the camera lingering on various "pieces of her". They're actually not the pieces most males really want to see most (for that you should watch "Blue"), but they're more unusual pieces (knees, wrists, shoulders), and really EVERYTHING about this particular girl is beautiful. To some extent, this is also true of this movie, which is slow and elliptical, but also beautiful and rewarding (even with no English subs).

Not a hot sex romp, but kinda fun, 23 November 2014

This low-budget Japanese movie somewhat resembles one of the late 80's/early 90's no-budget efforts of American directors like Fred Olen Ray, Dave Decoteau, or Jim Wynorski ("Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers", "Evil Toons", "Beverly Hills Vamp"). It has a small cast isolated at a single location and it relies a lot on topless female nudity and rather tame softcore sex, with bone-headed humor mitigating the actual horror and gore. Befitting the new millennium though, it's much more outrageous. It has the same basic plot as "Beverly Hills Vamp" with a lot of horny guys being dispatched by prostitutes at a sinister brothel/massage parlor, but there is more of an emphasis on bloody castration scenes, although they're still played strictly for laughs.

The three female leads are all played by former AV (adult video) starlets. The most famous is Asami, who has been in a lot of films like this and is relatively talented in that she can play both a badass and a more traditionally submissive female role. She gets to do both here. And if you find it either funny or sexy (I don't really), she and her male partner here both end up farting in each others' faces at different points. Asami and the other girls show a lot of "T", but not enough "A", and of course no "V" (or "P"?) since this is Japanese. The Japanese optical fogging here is downright bizarre. The dismembered, uh, members of the male victims turn up at several points, but they optically fog only the tips so they look like Vienna sausages (and wouldn't they deflate after all the blood ran out of them?). More annoying though is the optical fogging of the front of Asami's see-through, chain-mail underwear.

This movie is actually pretty entertaining though aside from the less- than-hot sexual content. It holds together well throughout with martial arts and sword fighting at the end (including a memorable scene of one character having her eyes literally knocked out). There's also a nice mean-spirited twist at the very end involving one the male characters, who is a virgin and has resisted the deadly hookers because he is trying to stay faithful to his fianceé. Don't necessarily expect a hot sex romp, but this is kind of a FUN movie.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I didn't hate it, 22 November 2014

Even though I've never actually been to Canada, I first started watching horror movies in the early 80's "slash-for-cash" era when a lot of horror films were made in Canada, thanks to government tax breaks there, and distributed in the US. Of course, a lot of these films tried to LOOK as American as possible, but being low-budget efforts, they often didn't succeed. Now, of course, Canada is pretty much "Hollywood north", but Hollywood movies filmed in Canada today are completely indistinguishable from Hollywood movies filmed in Los Angeles, so the essential "Canadian-ness" of movies like "Black Christmas", "Funeral Home" or "Curtains" has really been lost. What really made a lot of these low-budget films is the wintry Canadian settings and the ATMOSPHERE. These films aren't slick and bombastic and hyper-edited like bigger-budgeted Hollywood films. They let the tension build up slowly (too slowly perhaps for many people today) instead of bludgeoning you with loud music, countless "jump-scares", and expensive CGI effects. They're spartan, but often strangely effective.

As far as things like acting and dialogue, low-budget Canuck indies are definitely inferior and at times even incompetent. The plot of this movie is pretty weak and the ending is really weak. But this movie has a great setting of a wintry, isolated B-and-B where SOMETHING creepy is going on with the sick daughter of the innkeeper, who a young male guest becomes infatuated with after finding her diary. Strangely, the mother of the sick girl seems to be sexually pushing the guest towards her daughter (in a plot reminiscent of another obscure Canadian film called "Cold Comfort"). The resolution of the mystery is very dissatisfying, but this doesn't add up to the entire movie being worthless. It's actually quite effective in places.

Mention should also be made of actress Kimberly LaFerriere. Yes, she's probably not a great actress based on this and the only other thing I've seen her in (the TV series "1,000 Ways to die" where she plays a nympho who has a fatal encounter with a cucumber). She has a very good LOOK though, a very interesting combination of creepy and sexy (particularly memorable is her flashback ice-skating scene which graces the film poster). Except for the flashback scenes, she spends most of this movie literally in bed, but she still has more nude scenes than the ridiculously "hot" actresses that headline most Hollywood horror movies. (I also find it annoying that the obscure Canuck actresses of the "slash-for-cash" era have been replaced by Hollywood actresses like Meagan Fox, Alexandra Daddario, and Odette Yustman, who really aren't any more talented, but are just so "hot" they don't have to actually do nude scenes in lowly horror movies).

None of this makes this movie any kind of low-budget masterpiece (far from it, really), but it has some refreshing, kind of old-fashioned virtues of a truly Canadian horror indie. I definitely didn't hate it.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Pretty fun movie that could ONLY come from Japan, 19 November 2014

Truth be told, I have gotten really tired of zombie movies. The exceptions though are the serious and arty ones like the French "Les Revenants" OR, conversely, the ones like this that are completely exploitative and cheerfully offensive, but also make "Shaun of the Dead" look like a serious drama in comparison. This is not an actual "zombie porn" film, thank god. It doesn't have interminable scenes of the old "in-out" to turn on weirdos with bizarre zombie fetishes while boring the hell out of anybody else. This is a lot more fun, and really the kind of film that could ONLY be made in Japan.

Due to some weird phenomenon, males everywhere are turning "toxic". They start bleeding from their eyes and start raping every female they see. The females have to band together to fight off ravenous hordes of "rape zombies", who have highly poisonous semen to boot, and can only be killed by castration or a gun blast to the genitals. The funniest scenes involve female soldiers forming firing squads to execute "toxic males", who are bound and dressed in bulls-eye underwear so they know exactly where to shoot. The castration and genital blasting jokes wouldn't offend anyone in America, but many people would take the rape scenes way too seriously. Hordes of male "rape zombies" penetrate females who all conveniently have their silicone-enhanced breasts exposed and bouncing around, and of course they eventually end up enjoying the experience, at least before the poison semen does them in. But if you don't let your PC panties get in a bunch, you'll realize these "rape scenes" are every bit as ridiculous and funny as the firing-squad scenes.

The main characters meanwhile are four female "survivors" who are holed up in a shrine. The main character, the badass, is played by Asami, who is often called a "porn star", but seems to mostly appear in low-budget sexploitation fare like this as opposed to out-and-out "AV" (adult videos). There are also a pair of lesbians, who have a long scene together--it's NOT true all the nudity in this involves rape. Then there's a very sexy and mature-looking "schoolgirl" (who's even less believable as a genuine schoolgirl then is anything else in this movie). She's so horny for a (non-toxic) man she decides to seduce the young priest of the Shinto shrine, who is seemingly immune to the virus since he has taken a vow chastity. The result of this schoolgirl seduction is pretty predictable, but also very sexy.

Generally though, this movie goes for entertainment value first with the masturbation appeal only secondary. I wouldn't call it a "pink" film exactly , but it's much closer to that than it is to actual porn (It's what in other countries used to be known as "sexploitation"--films that definitely USE sex, but aren't NOTHING BUT sex). I don't know if I'll watch the rest of the "trilogy", but this one was pretty fun.

Puppylove (2013)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A French version of "Thirteen" (and a actually better version too), 17 November 2014

This French movie is somewhat similar to the overrated American indie film "Thirteen" that came out a few years back. It involves a young teenage girl (Solene Rigot) who is still an inexperienced virgin despite some casual fumblings with a male "friend with benefits". When a perhaps older, and definitely more experienced, girl (Audrey Bastien) moves in next door to her, they become friends, and the virgin follows the promiscuous neighbor into various sexual adventures like a near threesome with an older bartender (in a hotel room adjoining the room of one of the girl's parents), and later an actual threesome while on the standard French-movie holiday.

What I hated about "Thirteen" was the alarmist and hypocritically moralistic attitude. Everybody knows that many teenagers have sex, and a lot of males vividly remember having sex with teenage girls when they were teenagers or a little older. There's no good reason to shy away from the subject like American films do (except maybe in PG-13 movies actually aimed at impressionable teenagers), and if you're worried about creepy male adults, there's certainly no shortage of "barely legal" XXX porn in America--I doubt they bother much with movies like this. French movies don't necessarily glamorize teen sex, but they don't treat it as purely comical and consequence-free when the protagonist are horny teenage guys, and then turn around and become horribly alarmist when the protagonists are teenage girls. They treat it seriously, but also in a more matter-of-fact and in less judgmental matter.

The two actresses in "Thirteen" were actually about fifteen at the time and easily looked 20, so even though they didn't show nudity or anything, they did NOT exactly de-glamorize teen sex, and as a result the movie seemed more than a little hypocritical. The actresses in this actually are over 18, but look younger, especially Solene Rigot. Her sex scenes are less graphic, but perhaps a little uncomfortable because she genuinely looks about 15. The more mature-looking Audrey Bastien has full-frontal nudity and pretty graphic sex scenes, but even this actually feels more honest and less exploitative than most American films on this subject.

The one problem though is the end, which I won't reveal, but it's a VERY common plot twist in French movies like "In a Wild Moment" and "Girls Can't Swim" that probably has less to do with the real-life behavior of teenage girls than it does the sex fantasies of middle-age men. The female director can't help but indulge in this too, but it is not treated in a very exploitative manner (and is the least graphic of the sex scenes). I also appreciated that the very end was not the consequence-free ending of "In a Wild Moment" OR the ridiculously melodramatic ending of "Girls Can't Swim", even if some reviewers did find it frustratingly open-ended.

Hooking Up (2009/II)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Like a porno movie, but without the porn, 9 November 2014

This looks like a 70's XXX porn movie where people without the budget or the any near approximation of the talent tried to make an actual narrative film and failed miserably. But the target audience didn't really care because, hey, it was porn. Like a porn movie, the actors in this are all WAY too old for the characters they play. Corey Feldman is supposed to be 25, but was about 40. And I'd guess all the "teenagers" are played by actors at least five or ten years older. Like a porno, the characters are all paper thin and the situations so absurd that this doesn't begin to make it as a serious drama. But if it's supposed to be a comedy, it's not funny, and some things are actually pretty damn unfunny (although the people getting offended or saying it should be "illegal" are overreacting a little).

The problem this movie has is it's NOT a porn movie. There are only a few boring boob shots of the three "teenage" actresses. Instead, it just tries to be REALLY outrageous, kind of like "Clerks", but it REALLY makes you appreciate the relative talent of Kevin Smith. Here you just have horribly misfired jokes about anal sex, incest, "virgins" who perform oral sex on everybody, "glory holes", "seagulling" (don't even ask), cocaine, girls being slapped around and called the "c word" that rhymes with "punt", and perhaps worst of all, washed-up 80's child actor Corey Feldman having sex with three different 15-year-old girls (OK, they're obviously not really 15, but still. . .). The other two name actors, Brian O'Halloran and Bronson Pinchot, manage to maintain what little dignity they had to begin with. O'Halloran plays a characters his own age (the school principal) and Pinchot plays a teacher who fends off one of the teenage girls after she slips off her thong after class and tries to seduce him (in an ACTUAL porno movie, she would certainly have succeeded).

This isn't good. It isn't so bad, it's good. But it IS bad in a horrible, slow-motion car crash kind of way. You can't easily look away (as much as you may want to), and you really have to wonder what was possibly go through anyone's mind here. I'd buy the theory of has-been actors and never-will-be filmmakers getting together to lure impressionable young actresses by making a "movie". But why actually put film in the camera? And why foist something on the public that will actually do MORE damage to your completely moribund career? This is SO bad it's actually kind of fascinating in a morbid way.

Kind of Americanized but decent French teen flick, 8 November 2014

French teen movies and American teen movies used to be very different. The stereotypical American teen movie is about a group of male virgins trying to "lose it" and having all kinds of (allegedly) hilarious misadventures. They can be serious, but usually veer between completely frivolous and saccharine or sappy. French teen movies usually involve GIRLS and are more serious and perhaps sophisticated (if only because they have a more adult audience). They usually take place on a beach holiday, as opposed to a high school, where the girl or girls are more surrounded by adults, and they often "lose" it to a much older man in a much more sexually graphic fashion. In fact, they might be termed "coming of age" movies more than teen movies.

For better or worse (probably worse), French teen movies are becoming more like American ones. This movie is set in a high school and it is about two teenagers making a pact to "lose it". But the two protagonists are GIRLS and the conflict comes not because they have any trouble "losing it", but the ramifications afterward. One girl is regarded as a "slut" for spontaneously having sex in the locker room of a butcher shop where they all work after school. And the other girl feels peer pressure from the actions of her friend. Naturally, the boys in the clique take advantage of the situation.

Obviously, these days people are leery about showing teen sex (even in France). Modern French teen movies seem to either contain graphic sex scenes, but with older actors who obviously aren't teens (like "Cold Showers" and "La Vie d'Adele"), OR they are like this movie and use more believable teen actors, but make the sex more circumspect--and have silly scenes like one where a girl loses her virginity then gets out of bed with all her underwear on. The days of Catherine Breillat films like "36 Fillette" and "To My Sister" where you had believable teenagers AND believable sexual encounters are probably over, but the French do have the edge on Hollywood still with regards to pretty much anything to do with sex.

What the French and American movies always have in common though is using an actors who are simply too attractive to be very believable even if they are somewhat age appropriate. Christa Theret was probably 16 or 17 here, but she is a lot more believable in the otherwise much dumber teen movie "LOL" because in that she plays the most beautiful, popular girl in school, where in this she is supposedly more of an outcast goth girl everyone calls "Batman" (and why would a teenage girl choose to be a goth, if she's the ONLY goth in her school?). Even dressed in goth clothes, Christa Theret could probably get a lot of adult males 10 to 20 years in the Bastille and would probably have nothing to do with boys her own age. But despite a few stupid aspects like this, this isn't a bad movie. It's still better than your usual modern-day Hollywood teen flick.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Decent French thriller that really benefits from its "landscape", 6 November 2014

At one point in this movie, the protagonist, a creative writing college professor (Matthieu Americ) with a taste for his nubile female students, gives a creative writing exercise where he tells students to write something based, not on character or story, but on a "landscape". That's kind of what this movie itself is. The plot and characters are definitely very serviceable with the professor suspected of being behind the disappearance of a female student he is seen in the carnal company of at the beginning, and neither the viewer or the perhaps the protagonist himself (who is given to severe "headaches") really sure of his guilt. Instead of being the usual married French cad though, the professor lives in an isolated mountain villa in a rather incestuous relationship with his sister (Karen Viard), who might be propping up his career via her sexual relationship with the college dean. Meanwhile, the suspicions swirling around don't stop him from getting sexually involved with the missing girl's alluring stepmother (Maiwenn LeBesco) or being pursued by the hot-to-trot daughter of a big university donor (Sara Forestier), who wants him to give her "private lessons" in, uh, creative writing.

This movie though, despite being basically a TV film, really benefits the most from its great "landscape". It is set in a wintry French alpine village and has great crisp cinematography (I don' know if it's digital, but if so digital has come a LONG way). The natural beauty is well matched by the incredible modern glass architecture of the mountain college where a lot of this takes place. Besides having the most beautiful female students I've ever seen, the professor also teaches in probably the nicest classroom that ANY creative writing professor has ever taught in.

Americ is definitely a talented and charismatic actor, who is very big in French film and has even left France to play James Bond villains. He manages to make his coed-molesting--and possibly murderous--anti-hero genuinely likable. But the OTHER part of the gorgeous "landscape" here frankly is the sumptuous female bodies on display. Sara Forstier is so irresistibly sexy that it beggars belief that the professor even tries. Maiwen LeBesco is also really something. It IS pretty funny though that she seems to be the only French actress I know of to use a "body double" for nude scenes given that her little sister, the equally voluptuous actress Isild LeBesco, only leaves her clothes ON in a movie if it's absolutely necessary to the plot (maybe Isild is her older sister's "body double"?). Although she's more famous (largely as the result of her shotgun teen wedding to director Luc Besson and appearances in a number of his films), I've never personally thought Maiwenn was nearly as talented as her sister, but she's really good here.

I don't want to take anything away from Americ or the very decent (if not always believable) story, but it is the "landscape--of natural scenery, modern architecture, and, yes, female flesh--that real makes this movie.

Lights Out (2010)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sophisticated French teen murder-mystery, 6 November 2014

This is a pretty entertaining French murder-mystery revolving around a series of disappearances of three teenagers in a French suburb, and the effect it has on their group friends. It is not your typical police procedural since the focus is almost entirely on the teenagers with adults largely relegated to roles of potential suspects and potential red herrings. It's not your typical teen movie either (at least in Hollywood sense) because it's more dark and disturbing with more adult content and much more SOPHISTICATED plot. The narrative structure is kind of reminiscent of the 1950's Stanley Kubrick film "The Killing" with the movie going back four different times to show the perspective of four different characters. The narrative threads do overlap in places, but they also act as different pieces of an intriguing puzzle that eventually form a more-or-less complete picture at the end.

The actors in this typically look a little long-in-the-tooth to be actual teenagers. One of the male actors (Arthur Mazet) I recognized from his lead role as the hapless young protagonist in the French comedy "Sea, No Sex, and Sun" and he really doesn't fare any better here. Ana Giradot, who plays the pretty, popular girl, would go on to a young adult role in the acclaimed French TV series "The Returned" (which unlike this movie, is easily available in the US). One of the other major actresses (Selma El Mouassai) is unusual in that she is slightly overweight, and while not necessarily unattractive in reality, is downright hideous by Hollywood and the usual French movie standards. Audrey Bastien, who plays the girlfriend of the missing "Simon" of the French title, is very attractive by ANY standards and I would expect to see more of her in the future.

This an entertaining movie and definitely worth watching. I hope it makes it to the US some day.


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