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280 reviews in total 
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More engrossing than most, 20 June 2014

This Maigret episode is set in Finland and deals with art forgery and other forms of cheating. Heinz Bennent, whom we remember from Le Dernier metro (he played Deneuve's husband forced to hide from the Nazis) is effective as a shady gallery owner and dealer. His wife is cheating on him with a thug who's good with guns. Maigret is in Helsinki to investigate the shooting of his colleague Lognon, and stumbles upon the shady art dealings by accident.

Bruno Cremer is often outshone by the guest actors, this is no exception. Besides Bennent, there is Elizabeth Bourgine who plays his wife; she's very demure as she hides her past from the authorities.

Enjoyable, 17 June 2014

The Maigret series fits me like a glove. I enjoy watching Bruno Cremer slowly working out his problem as he fills his pipe and lumbers through the set. He is much more fun to watch than Jean Gabin was: you waited for Gabin to explode in anger, then when he did you just waited for the final credits to roll--nothing more to see. I much prefer a thoughtful Maigret.

This episode has some first class acting. Tall gaunt Olivier Achard plays a man condemned to death who can't seem to respond to Maigret's questions, even when he could be cleared. Emmanuel Salinger is really good as a cynical villain--I remember how effective he was in Desplechin's early films. Marisa Berenson is celebrity casting. The club is beautifully filmed; the camera darts in and out of tight little groupings at tables, great to watch. Lovely music too.

Clumsy, dull, 10 June 2014

I admit the only reason I watched this curiosity was the presence of Robert Le Vigan as Michoux, one of the main characters. This is another in a long line of weirdo characters that Le Vigan played throughout the 1930's. The drunk in Les bas-fonds, the sinister teacher in Le petit Chose and many more are wonderful to watch today.

The story stumbles to its conclusion in only 68 minutes, which may be a blessing. The actor Tarride is really wooden, can hardly speak his lines understandably and is very tiresome to watch. Rosine Derean has some charm as the servant girl Emma. The sound track has an annoying whistle running through it. For Maigret completists only, all others should abstain.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not the best Simenon adaptation, 8 June 2014

I was left wondering what Tavernier or Resnais would have done with this story. Or Delannoy or Autant-Lara, or... I found Granier-Deferre's film to be visually sumptuous, thanks to Dominique Andre's art direction and Pierre-William Glenn's cinematography, but it left me emotionally cold and indifferent. The acting is splendid: Simone Signoret and Philippe Noiret do very well, and Fanny Cottencon and Julie Jezequel as Signoret's daughters are effective. The constant cutting back to Egypt and the postcard scenes of souks and pyramids was a wonderfully jarring device. But the visual effects can't make up for the coldness of the directorial approach.

Paris When It Sizzles, 29 May 2014

I didn't expect much from this one, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Gabin plays very well, and Bardot manages to be uncomplicatedly sexy. Her character is smart but lacking formal education (much like Bardot herself, I've often felt), and she shows us she can burn up the screen. Pulling an armed robbery with an accomplice, then trying to seduce Gabin so that he'll agree to be her lawyer--she never turns a hair on her beautiful blonde head.

The two principals are surrounded by superb actors. Edwige Feuillere, after making L'Aigle a deux tetes and Le ble en herbe, had become the grande dame of French cinema (sort of what Meryl Streep is for us now) and here she is superb as the resourceful wife who is fairly sure she can deal with the threat posed by Bardot. Franco Interlenghi gives a deft performance as the young lover Mazetti--tough, a little vulgar, not willing to give Bardot up.

Autant-Lara had to make a concession to 50's morality when dealing with Yvette's sexuality. Simenon shows us she is bisexual and very easy with her affections with the maid Janine as well as with the two men in her life. On screen we see very little of this: the censors could be happy.

Not inspiring, 27 May 2014

I'll give it 5/10 for the solid craftsmanship that went into making it. Delannoy always knew how to move his camera; he could also get good performances from his actors. When he came to make Maigret tend une piege, the actors were outstanding and served to create a film of stunning power.

What of Chiens perdus sans collier? We never see any great imaginative perception of these children's situations. Alain Robert's spectacular actions as he burns the barn down--and almost kills himself--is well shot, but it seems derivative of Clement's Jeux interdits of 1951. The love affair between Francois and Sylvette is redolent of TV melodrama. Gabin's performance as the children's court judge is well observed but he has done this sort of part many times in his career.

I don't care to reopen the debate regarding cinema of quality vs. New Wave--I like too many of the directors on either side of the barricade. I merely want to write about what I felt watching this particular film.

Toni Servillo kept me watching, 19 May 2014

Toni Servillo kept me watching this mediocre sub-Fellini movie. The cinematography was elegant in places, I will grant, and the music was often effective, but all in all this is a clumsy attempt to revisit the society better described by Fellini and Antonioni (in Le Amiche and Cronaca di un amore). Scene after scene goes flat because the script is weak; only the superb comic verve of Servillo (this is the first one of his films I've seen, incredible!) keeps the story going at all. When he skewers the pretensions of the female novelist, it's with a twinkle in his eye that I found irresistible. The performer who slams her head into the wall is dealt with in a similar fashion--it's delicious.

The picture founders because the writers don't know how to construct a real satire of manners and morals. The entry of the strip club owner is a good example: he doesn't move the story in any direction at all, it's just an excuse to indulge in some more elegant camera-work. I await Toni Servillo's next film eagerly.

Otello (2008) (TV)
Poplavskaya and Alvarez triumph, 8 May 2014

I have a version of Otello from the Met, recorded in 1978, with Jon Vickers, Renata Scotto and Cornell MacNeil, and it stands up favorably to this Salzburg performance of 2008. Jon Vickers managed to put his stamp on every role he took on, and here he is singing and acting at his usual high level, leaving Aleksandr Antonenko for all his vocal quality far behind. Marina Poplavskaya is a very moving Desdemona, the equal of the renowned Renata Scotto. Only Carlos Alvarez with his extraordinary acting ability outshines the Met baritone Cornell MacNeil.

I enjoyed this Salzburg performance quite a bit: the staging was effective (the Regietheatre impulse was kept in check), but I do think that Vickers as Otello is the reason to prefer the Met performance, also Levine's conducting is just as virile as Muti's.

"We live in bloodless times", 20 April 2014

My theory is this: you have to watch this film after midnight, after all the cares of the day are forgotten (the phone call you forgot to make, the stuff you didn't pick up at the store) and you can relax completely. Just let the scenes unspool before you, the beautiful images wash over you. Godard has made a kind of masterpiece, under trying circumstances--he wanted Vittorio Storaro as DP, and had to call in Coutard, with whom he was no longer friendly--and his efforts were not crowned with commercial success; the picture was a flop.

Jerzy's character is fascinating; he seems to take inertia to new heights. Imagine refusing to shoot because the lighting is wrong. Fritz Lang (and Godard himself, of course) would never have used that silly excuse: they would have worked around any problems on the set. Miss Lucachevski, the tall and very elegant script-girl, says that she is tired of working on a production that produces nothing and we can feel her frustration. Jerzy asks her to read a passage from Les Miserables about Enjolras's passion, then he makes the bloodless remark about bloodless times I've used in the summary. Radziwilowicz is a pudding-faced actor who shows us little of what he's feeling. Hanna Schygulla on the other hand is extraordinarily animated and focused as the uneasy female angle of the triangle with Michel and Jerzy. She is photographed better here than Fassbinder managed to shoot her in his films. MacCabe's book on Godard tells how she came to work one day after a night of excess and Godard insisted on shooting her with every wrinkle lovingly recorded. Whatever, she is gorgeous, every bit as striking as Anna Karina, or even Jane Fonda, to name two of Godard's leading ladies.

The enactments of the paintings are ravishing, worth the price of the video in themselves. Myriem Roussel posing on the pool deck for the Ingres Bather is stunning, the entry of the crusaders into Jerusalem will delight you. A knockout.

Détective (1985)
One of the most beautiful..., 18 April 2014

...of all the Godard films I've seen, and I've seen practically all of them. I don't care much about the plot: who Jim Fox Warner is, and why he takes such a casual approach to what must be a big fight, who Tiger Jones is either, and why the two girls are hanging around the hotel suite; I don't care much about the old Mafioso who seems to have his finger in every pie (played marvelously by Alain Cuny, with that splendidly seamed face). The 40 million Francs that Chenal owes are just a detail; the cheating that his wife Francoise is doing doesn't move me much... no, all these details are but a backdrop for the wonderful lesson in cinema that Godard gives us here. I've never seen him take such care over rooms and corridors, kitchens and storerooms as he does here. It's lovely--what he does with this Parisian hotel makes this a great experience. Narrative has never interested him much, but it doesn't matter: visuals and music are used very well throughout.

Nathalie Baye has never been more beautiful on screen: Godard's camera is in love with her. Claude Brasseur gives a good performance as the pilot whose airline is coming apart.

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