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"Maid…made to do everything.", 24 June 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Taking a look at some French Videos that my dad had picked up a few years ago for 10p each (!) I spotted a flick from auteur film maker Claude Chabrol.Having some good memories of watching the The Ruth Rendell Mysteries TV show with my mum and dad,I decided that it was time to witness Chabrol read Rendell.

The plot:

Struggling to keep a balance in life,the Lelievre family decide to hire Sophie La Bonne as an in-house maid,who can do all the chores that are just too demanding for them.Largely keeping to herself,Bonne gets a close view on the inner workings of the Lelièvre household,from husband and wife Georges and Catherine enjoying all the luxuries of life,whilst sweet,innocent daughter Melinda secretly gets close to her boyfriend.Quietly moved on to the small town after the "strange" death of her 4 year old daughter, Jeanne La Postière works in the post office.Viewing the Lelievre's bourgeoisie lifestyle in a less than approving manner, Postière winds them up by messing with their mail,which soon leads to postière crossing paths with Bonne,who decides that they should both give the Lelievre's a special delivery.

View on the film:

Gliding round the Lelievre household,co-writer/( along with Caroline Eliacheff) director Claude Chabrol & cinematographer Bernard Zitzermann drape the title in a blazing hot sun which blinds the Lelievre's from getting a full view of Bonne's growing dislike for them. Backed by a dour score from Matthieu Chabrol, Chabrol casts a creeping uneasy atmosphere over the house,with stilted shots allowing Bonne and Postière's partnership to slowly seep into the family.

Transferred from the pages of Ruth Rendell's novel,the screenplay by Chabrol and Eliacheff carves out an enticing Film Noir offering,by making Bonne first steps into the Lelievre household feel like she is about to a ruthless Film Noir world.Offering a glimpse of what could have been in the rich,jet-black Film Noir final,the writers disappointingly freeze any tension from boiling over by taking an extremely detected approach which stops the Lelievre's from showing how truly evil they are,and also blocks the Bonne and Postière partnership from flowing into the Femme Fatale veins that it burns for.

Fragile entering the Lelievre house, Sandrine Bonnaire gives an excellent performance as Bonne.Faced with Bonne suffering from illiterate (and a possibly murderous past) Bonnaire superbly expresses Bonne's underlying difficulties in a delicate,subtle manner which flairs up as the Lelievre's tread on her.Rubbing shoulders with the bone china viper tongue of Jacqueline Bisset as Catherine Lelievre, Isabelle Huppert gives a great performance as Postière,whose quirky nature Huppert cleverly grips to hide Postière's deadly intent,as Postière and Bonne decide to show the Lelievre's who is in charge of the household.

"Try to remember the motto:"The first will be last and the last…or something like that.", 23 June 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gathering up works from auteur film maker Claude Chabrol,I spotted a title starring Anthony Perkins. With Chabrol being very open about his inspiration from the "Master of Suspense" I decided that it was time to see Chabrol meet the psycho.

The plot:

Caught in the middle of a car crash, champagne businessman Paul Wagner finds himself unable to settle down.Spotting a weakness, Christine Belling and her husband Christopher try to get Wagner to sell the business to them.Getting a grip on what few sense he has left,Wagner pushes their advances to the side. Struggling to get his condition under control,Wagner starts to fear that the car crash affected him more than he originally believed,when Wagner's girlfriends start turning up brutally killed.

View on the film:

Backed by Universal studios, (which led to a French and English version both being shot) director Claude Chabrol and cinematographer Jean Rabier fizz up the lavish lifestyles of Paul and Christopher,as stylish tracking shots pull back to reveal the colourful surroundings when the murders "pop." Closing in on Wagner's fractured mind,Chabrol locks in with elegant,tightly held close-ups which heat up a tough edge Film Noir atmosphere,which is lit up by Wagner's attempts to unscramble his memories.

Kicking off with a car crash that sends Wagner into a whirl,the screenplay by Claude Brulé/ Derek Prouse/ William Benjamin & Paul Gégauff delicately builds up the fractures between Wagner,Christopher and Christine Belling,with Wagner's blunt outbursts cutting him off as a Film Noir loner. Splashing the murders against the screen,the writers wonderfully press Wagner's anxiety down on the viewer,by making the viewer having to gather the loose reflections of Wagner's interactions with the victims, until the superb final shot "pulls back" to unveil the full puzzle.

Carrying a sly grin on his face, Anthony Perkins gives a great performance as Christopher,whose calm, collected business manner Perkins peels away to uncover a ruthless, calculating bite. Pushed to put the cork back in the bottle by the gorgeous Yvonne Furneaux's femme fatale , Maurice Ronet gives an excellent performance as Paul Wagner.Covering Wagner in Noir shakes of disbelief,Ronet digs his nails into the tortured doubt of Wagner,as the murder victims get covered in champagne.

"Oh my! It's a superproduction!", 22 June 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Looking for updates on movie sites,I spotted a French New Wave (FNW) title being highlighted as "the film of the week." With the flick having some very interesting IMDb reviews,I decides that I should go back to year 1.

The plot:

Feeling that technology,work and the direction the country is heading is going too far,the population decide to take everything back to the year "01" via quitting their jobs and leaving modern machines to gather dust. Taking a "side step" to a new philosophy on life,the 01 society start thinking about what direction the country should take.

View on the film:

Shot in a grainy,b & w fake-documentary style, director Jacques Doillon (with "guest" directors Alain Resnais and Jean Rouch) jabs the film with an "on the spot" raw atmosphere,which curls out by Doillon following the movement back to 01 on broken streets,glanced at in scatter-gun whip-pans. Whilst clearly taking the message seriously,Doillon does display a wry sense of humour in showing the end of machinery,which includes a cameo from Stan Lee!

Taking a documentary look,the screenplay by satirist Gébé aims for a loose anthology structure,which gives the title a snappy mood,thanks to each mini story not being given a chance to overstay its welcome. Inspired by the civil unrest of May 1968,Doillon and Gébé appear to offer a serious manifesto over how the population can return to its year 0 (1) roots. Whilst parts of it are well meaning, (such as people becoming disconnected by an overuse of machines) the title stays incredible vague over aspects which would have helped give the film the depth it desires,as the movie completely skips over examining how health,education,gas, electricity and (most) of the food businesses would be left in ruined,as society takes a step to year 01.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"Tell me,old chap,what happens if you take off your wooden leg?", 21 June 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After watching Claude Chabrol's dazzling Alice or the Last Escapade,I took a look at co-star Charles Vanel's IMDb page,where I discovered that Vanel stars in a Film Noir I've been meaning to watch for ages,which led to me getting ready to sin in Paris.

The plot:

Learning that the police are about to arrest him, legendary gangster Léonce "Le Fondu" Pozzi decides to break out of the hospital.During the escape, Fondu kills a cop.Seeing his partner dead on the ground,inspector Vardier vows to track down Fondu and to bring his underground empire down. Believing that Vardier can't get Fondu on his own,the head of police teams him up with new inspector Gilbert Barot. Looking for a weak spot to Fondu's inner circle, Vardier and Barot start to investigate the vices of the sinners from Paris.

View on the film:

Backed by a rousing score from Michel Legrand,co-writer/(along with Paul Andréota and Jean Ferry) director Pierre Chenal & cinematographer Marcel Grignon shine a light on the sinners with ultra-stylised shadows being wrapped around the strip clubs and Fondu's safe house.Breaking the darkness, Chenal fires shards of light across the screen as Fondu and his gang shoot up Vardier's routes.

Spun from a novel by Auguste Le Breton,the screenplay by Andréota/Ferry and Chenal wonderfully threads moody Film Noir with rustic Police Procedural.Following Vardier and Barot going by the book to break Fondu's gang,the writers shatter the cops rules with crackling Film Noir smoked in seedy dens and clubs that leads to Vardier uncovering a marvellously vicious twist ending. Attempting to balance the Noir with the Procedural,the writers disappointingly makes the small 78 min run time drag its feet a bit,due to Vardier and Barot rule book search for Fondu running out of steam.

Laughing at any cop trying to get their way, Charles Vanel gives a great performance as Fondu,whose mischievous grin Vanel wonderfully uses as a mask for the blunt-force actions of Fondu. Stuck with rookie Barot, (played by a very good François Guérin) Michel Piccoli gives a terrific performance as Vardier,whose rule book manner Piccoli joyfully twists and turns into Film Noir rebellion,as Vardier and Barot are surrounded by the sinners of Paris.

"What a shame this pendulum's stopped.", 20 June 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recently watching her debut again in Pim de la Parra touching Erotic Drama Frank en Eva,I decided to take a look at co-star Sylvia Kristel's other credits. Making some offerings from film maker Claude Chabrol be part of my plan to watch 100 French films over 100 days,I was delighted to spot a credit from Kristel where she worked with Chabrol!,which led to me excitingly walking into Wonderland.

The plot:

Arguing with her husband, Alice Caroll leaves the house and drives down a stormy road.During the storm,Caroll's windscreen mysterious breaks,which leads to her taking shelter in a country house.Entering the house,Caroll gets a strange feeling that the owners of the house have been waiting for her.Waking up the next day,Caroll finds the car fixed and a breakfast on the table,but no soon of any humans,and the exit from the house completely removed.Rushing round the gardens to find an exit from the place,Alice soon finds her self entering a wonderland.

View on the film:

Floating on air, Sylvia Kristel gives an earthy performance as Alice Caroll.Scanning the grounds with limited dialogue, Kristel gives the title a whispering, dreamy atmosphere by holding Caroll's head high in the clouds,and also giving Caroll a determined streak to dig up the rabbit hole.

Whilst skirting round a direct adaptation,the screenplay by writer/director Claude Chabrol does give some sweet surrealist nods to Lewis Carroll,from Alice's pill taking and meeting with a "childish" Mad Hatter,to the fantasy world being hit with a final jolt of reality.Taking a pause from his usual themes,Chabrol leaps around with an infectious energy in his surrealist Wonderland,which takes an episodic approach in Alice's off the wall encounters,which goes from all the birds singing to her,to Alice having to deal with a ban on questioning.Joining the tea party,Chabrol bounces the flight of fantasy with a sweet and sour psychological dip into an after life which opens the rabbit hole to the gates of hell,and reveals in a sharp final twist that Alice can never fully escape from the fantasy.

Surrounded by the grounds of the house, Chabrol & cinematographer Jean Rabier sink Alice into a lush surrealist landscape.Covering the screen completely in green,Chabrol steams up a mythical atmosphere by stylishly using the miles of bright green plants and trees to keep Alice in a disorientating state,and also completely closing off Alice's wonderland from the outside world. Joined by a majestic score from Pierre Jansen, Chabrol takes delicious detours that flip from a tea party to funeral transformation,to a high wall stopping Alice from leaving Chabrol's wondrous Wonderland.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Turning a blind eye., 19 June 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With Fathers Day coming up I started looking round for movies that my dad would enjoy. Speaking to a DVD seller,I found out that they had recently tracked down a Film Noir starring Hammer Horror Queen Barbara Shelley,which led to me shaking hands with the man in the dark.

The plot:

Whilst he has written hit singles since becoming blind, Anne Gregory finds everything her husband Paul does to agitate her,with Paul turning to drink when the music fails to play his tune.Crossing paths, Anne begins having an affair with artist Rickie Seldon-who Anne openly kisses in front of the blind Paul.Finding Paul to be getting closer to uncovering the truth,Anne uses her charms on Rickie to hatch a plan to blind Paul off the face of the earth.

View on the film:

Despite the ending slipping into the optimism of Film Gris,the screenplay by James Kelley/Vivian Kemble & Peter Miller compose a toe-tapping Film Noir,which makes blind Paul be the only one able to clearly see Anne's mind games in sight.Playing away from home,the writers give Anne and Seldon's affair a playful mood that turns sour with every hard shot Paul takes.

Lingering in the shadows,director Lance Comfort and cinematographer Basil Emmott give the title a twitchy Film Noir mood,as a fight breaking out in total darkness allows Seldon to stylishly experience Paul's blindness. Slithering across the screen,the alluring Barbara Shelley gives a great performance as Anne,whose up-beat mood Shelley breaks with a femme fatale smirk hinting at Anne's poisonous plans. Slugging drinks back, William Sylvester gives a terrific performance as Paul,thanks to Sylvester shaking Paul's blunt Film Noir bitterness and the desire to fight on for the Film Gris,as the man in the dark turns on the lights.

L'Enfer (1994)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"How would you feel to have you business got pounced on?", 19 June 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After watching the spectacular first Mission Impossible movie again recently,I decided to check Emmanuelle Béart's other credits.Discovering on Amazon UK and her IMDb page that 90% of Béart's credits were French flicks,I was taken aback,when I spotted a Neo- Noir (for £3) that looked liked the ultimate French 90's Noir,with the credits revealing that Béart was joining auteur film maker Claude Chabrol-and a screenplay from Henri-Georges Clouzot!,which led to me excitingly getting ready to jump into this Noir hell.

The plot:

Repairing an inn, Paul Prieur meets Nelly.Soon falling for each other, Prieur and Nelly soon get married and have a child. Initially living together in married bliss, Prieur starts to get anxious at every man who gives Nelly the smallest glance.Ignoring her explanations, Prieur begins secretly following Nelly on her daily routine.Catching his wife (possibly) being flirty, Prieur begins imagining the erotic acts that Nelly has performed with other men,which leads to the line between fantasy and reality in Prieur's mind crumbling away,as he and Nelly enter a pit of hell.

View on the film:

Lit up from the screenplay of Henri-Georges Clouzot's unfinished film, Chabrol (with additional dialogue from José-André Lacour) unleashes a Neo-Noir that is a perfect tribute to Clouzot,and also one whose themes allow the title to proudly stand on its own feet.Caught in a whirlwind romance, Chabrol gives the early days of Nelly and Prieur a bourgeoisie dream giving them a "perfect" image to the outside world.Twisting the knife into Neo-Noir,Clouzot and Chabrol display an extraordinary attention to detail for Prieur's lock into a Neo-Noir world,by making the slightest attempt Nelly makes to place a gap between them,lead to Prieur blurring the lines between his deeply troubling Neo-Noir "fantasies" in his mind,with the burning hell that he is shoving himself and Nelly in.

Presenting their marriage in fluid camera moves, Chabrol & cinematographer Bernard Zitzermann chip away at the light with brittle Neo-Noir darkness,via caving in the light colours with unrelenting shadows engulfing their lives. Dipping into Prieur's fractured mind, Chabrol grabs the neck of Prieur,via casting shimming shadows round Prieur's throat,that are lit up by Monique Fardoulis's razor sharp editing twisting and turning the murky nightmares and realities of Prieur and Nelly.

Becoming entwined with Prieur looking ravishingly beautiful, Emmanuelle Béart gives an immaculate performance as Nelly,whose care-free nature Béart makes shine,which is brilliantly turned into a shell shocked soul who cant find an escape from the Neo-Noir pit.Entering the title looking like a gentlemen, François Cluzet gives a magnificent performance as Prieur.Starting with a nervous grin, Cluzet subtly pulls the veins out of Prieur's anxiety and suspicions across the screen and circles them round the decayed relationship,as Prieur and Nelly enter Chabrol's and Clouzot's inferno.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Party politics., 18 June 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With Fathers Day coming up I started looking round for titles that I could enjoy watching with my dad.Picking up an old issue of UK film magazine Empire,I noticed a good review for a "quota quickie" political Comedy,which led to me getting ready to enter a political world.

The plot:

Seeing his son Tony return home in order to spend time with his politically minded girlfriend, Bill Smithers decides to catch everyone by surprise,by challenging Sir James Barrington-Oakes to become MP of the town.Entering the campaign race,Smithers soon discovers that this Oakes tree will not go down without a fight.

View on the film:

Whilst the film is rather minor,Network give the film a very good transfer,with the picture largely being clean,and the soundtrack lacking any hiss,and being easy on the ears.

Elbowing out any subtle satirical jokes to the sidelines,the screenplay by Syd Courtenay & Lola Harvey hits a Comedy broadside,where everything "Oop North" is proudly worn on Bill Smithers. Despite being largely stuffed with jokes for people in "the cheap seats",director Norman Lee gives Bill Smithers adventures in politics a warm folk hero atmosphere,as H.F. Maltby hilariously huffs and puffs as upper-crust MP Sir James Barrington-Oakes,who is desperate to stop Smithers bringing an end to his political partying days.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"The army makes you appreciate two things you haven't got:Logic and liberty.", 18 June 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After watching the stylish 1959 movie À double tour,I started talking to a fellow IMDber about the work of auteur film maker Claude Chabrol. Receiving a rec for another Chabrol title,I tracked down the DVD on Ebay,and get ready to have a butchers at Chabrol.

The plot:

Attending a wedding,school teacher Hélène meets Paul Thomas,who is a butcher in the small town.Still hurt by the pain from her past relationship, Hélène keeps things at a platonic level with Thomas,who drops his guard,and begins to open up to Hélène about the horrors he saw in war.Whilst getting close to Thomas, Hélène takes her class out on a field trip,who soon discover that a serial killer is butchering the town.

View on the film:

Opening in a cave,writer/director Claude Chabrol and cinematographer Jean Rabier boil the film down to its starkest elements,with the yellow and reds in Hélène's house being rubbed into a dour paste.Following Hélène & Thomas in restrained whip- pans,Chabrol cuts around Thriller chills by cutting into a subtly stylish study of modern masculinity,by making the limited shots of blood take man back from the bourgeoisie of the present to the primal instinct of the past.

Displaying on focus on the psychologically dramatic,the screenplay by Chabrol dissects Hélène and Thomas's attempts to find a fitting in modern society,which is sliced from Thomas giving his butchering work over to Hélène like a bunch of flowers,to Hélène doing the "old fashion" holidays that the pretty young things view as something almost as old as cave paintings. Simmering with unease over the final flame, Chabrol cuts around tension and bubbling thrills to explore modern masculinity,which whilst elegantly delivered does pull the title into a rather dry direction,via keeping Hélène and Thomas's relationship in a stilted position draining the drops of dangerous atmosphere from the film,as Thomas shows Hélène his real butchery skills.

Them (2006)
"But he was joyful…because he was …free.", 17 June 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Waiting in town for a friend to arrive in order to go for an hour long drive to Ikea (!) With her,I decided to pass the time by looking in a local DVD shop. Getting to the end of a terrible DVD row,I was surprised to find that the shelf actually had an interesting title,which led to me getting ready to meet them.

The plot:

Driving home, Clémentine spots a smashed up car lying by the side of the road (unknown to Clémentine,the car had contained a mum and daughter,who have both been brutally killed by a gang) Putting questions of the car to one side, Clémentine relaxes with her boyfriend Lucas in their country house.During the night, Clémentine and Lucas start to hear,strange,disturbing noises from the outside.Looking out of the window,Lucas and Clémentine spot a gang lurking in the shadows,who wants them to play.

View on the film:

Running a lean & (pretty) mean 74 minutes,the screenplay by co- writers/directors David Moreau & Xavier Palud chops into an unexpected slow-burn approach,which give Palud and Moreau to close off the couple with horrific isolation. Staying vague over the motive of the baddies,the writers brilliant limit the full appearance of the gang,to instead make them run psychological chills around the screen,which gives the bursts of violence from the couple and the gang a brittle brutality.

Shot in a real sprawling old estate in Romania,directors Moreau & Palud take full advantage of the vast location with tightly coiled tracking shots from every side of the house raining the claustrophobia down on Lucas and Clémentine.Hitting out in grainy digital,the directors and cinematographer Axel Cosnefroy cleverly use the format to give the title a grime-covered chiller atmosphere,by the grainy format rolling the shadows round the ankles of Clémentine (played by a great,hard nails Olivia Bonamy-who suffered from claustrophobia during production) and Lucas, (played by a very good,rugged Michaël Cohen) as they try to outplay them who want to play most.


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