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Pan Wolodyjowski (1969)
Needs to be redone ....
This 1960s movie is not horrible, but having just re-read the Trilogy, have to say it is not very good, Very little of the quality of the book was conveyed. The characters (which tend to be stereotypical anyway) were even more so in the movie. Azia in particular was all too obviously villainous -- lots of eye-flashing and lip-curling, nothing of the complexity of the character. Also, there was NO chemistry between Michal and Basia; and really nothing to involve you with Basia at all. Hard to believe Basia is considered one of the most endearing of literary heroines in Poland if you base your impression on this film. Here she looks like just any 60s movie cutie, with her anachronistic hairdo. Those bangs!
Nothing of the epic quality of Basia's ride back to the fort is conveyed. Even minor details matter in period films. Could they not at least have dressed her in period? In the book, whenever she dresses in male attire, Sienkiewicz is careful to describe her costume -- big baggy trousers, etc. In the film, she rides in stylish 20th century skin-tight trousers making her escape through the snow even more implausible. I would really like to see this remade.
Le dernier vol (2009)
A waste of time
Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet, a full complement of Touareg tribesmen in picturesque robes, beautiful desert landscapes -- sounds good, yes? But what we get is a slow-paced, dreary movie which seems to have no particular point to make.
We are in the French Sahara in the 1930s. A conflict is established between a gung-go French captain, the commandant of the local garrison, who is determined to gain glory and promotion by crushing a local rebellion, and his lieutenant (Canet).
The lieutenant appreciates the local culture, speaks the local language and tries to rein in the captain. In flies a French aviatrix (Cotillard) -- she's searching for her lover, an English pilot who has crashed in the desert.
Actually, now that I think of it, there IS a point -- to show that Cotillard looks fetching on a camel. In this the film succeeds but not in much else.
I was kind of dreading this, but it is now my favorite Emma adaptation. Much better than either the Paltrow or the Beckinsale version.
Romola Garai was as close to perfect an Emma as I could imagine. Jonny Lee Miller was an excellent Mr. Knightley. I adore Jeremy Northam but really he was almost too dishy to be a credible Knightley. With Northam around how could Emma ever think herself in love with anyone else? With Miller, Knightley became a more credible character -- that pleasant, cultivated, somewhat older man from next door that Emma had known all her life and never realized she loved because she was so used to him.
Michael Gambon was wonderful as Emma's father. He is easy to overplay to comic effect for his idiosyncrasies -- a foolish, fussy hypochondriac. With Gambon, he was more nuanced -- his fear of illness and accident was understandable (people did die of such things a lot in the 18th century, and he had lost his wife in tragic circumstances). He seemed genuinely loving of Emma, not just exploiting her as a dutiful daughter. You could understand why Emma was genuinely fond of him.
The rest of the cast was also excellent and the English countryside never looked so gorgeous.
There were some smallish glitches. I am quite sure, for example, that Frank Churchill would never have sprawled on the ground with his head on Emma's lap, as he did in the Box Hill scene. All Highbury would have been shocked.
Milou en mai (1990)
I love this movie!
I wonder why it is not better known? You would think it would be, it is a beautiful movie, maybe not among Malle's very best, but certainly very good. There's a bittersweet feeling and it is also quite funny, as when the sisters are fighting over which one the mother wanted to leave her jewelry to.
Michel Piccoli is one of my favorite actors, and all the other parts are well done too.
Plus, the setting and photography are so beautiful. Somewhere in the Gers I think. When Milou is walking through the vines with his elderly foreman, I drool.
Just the sort of small, beautiful, mellow, not too elaborate country house and vineyard I want for myself when I win the Loterie Nationale!
Plus belle la vie (2004)
It's a SOAP OPERA, for goodness sake!
I've been watching on TV Cinq Monde and I find it entertaining. Seriously, I don't understand the criticism. Why would anybody get his (or her) knickers in a twist over this harmless bit of TV? It's not intended to be realistic or profound. It's just a soap opera -- the French equivalent of, for instance, EastEnders. There are definite parallels to EE -- several families, different backgrounds, organized around a square with a local hangout where everybody fetches up sooner or later -- the pub in EE, Roland's bar in PBLV. Sure, there is more melodrama than there would be in any real urban setting -- again just like EastEnders.
It's entertaining, the actors are almost all appealing. Ça sert à passer une demi-heure. What else do you want? If it's high drama that you're hankering for, don't watch PBLV, go to the Comédie française and catch some Racine.
Prince of Foxes (1949)
Entertaining movie .... but NOT Andorra.
I love this movie! It is great swashbuckling fun. The only thing that I really don't like about it is Wanda Hendrix who looks utterly wrong in all the gorgeous Renaissance settings -- too all- American, too obviously a Hollywood starlet. They could probably have found any number of Italian actresses who would have been perfect. Note, in reply to first comment: it wasn't Andorra that stood in for Citta del Monte, it was San Marino (a tiny independent hill town/country completely surrounded by Italy). One scene was filmed in Siena -- but others were filmed in other locations around Italy -- San Gimignano, for one. And also of course in studios in Cinecitta.