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L'inconnu du lac (2013)
Not for the faint of heart, but ultimately rewarding for demanding moviegoers
There are some thriller tropes here and there, a tiny bit of suspense, but at its core, it's mostly a chronicle, we follow, for a few day, a handful of men cruising by a lac. Some will be taken aback by the highly graphical nature of the movie, but I deeply believe that the point here isn't shock value, but simply the desire to shoot that peculiar microcosm completely untethered, and that, Giraudie (the writer- director) certainly does in spades! Idiots will talked about porn, but this clearly isn't masturbation material, it truly is masterful and heartfelt filmmaking, art in the true sense of the word, but with a lot of fellatio and hand jobs between men! It should speak to all of us, because at its core is the fear of absolute loneliness, even amongst one's kin, and the character of Henri in that respect is quite fascinating. Basically the man is a clam, his mind seems unfathomable, is he looking for a friend, is he looking for a lover? What does he truly want from the protagonist Franck? Who knows? So, to sum it up, don't take your parents to see this film, trust me, but go, you'll thank me later!
Dans la maison (2012)
Best Ozon in years!
Often funny, sometimes disturbing and sensual, the movie can be enjoyed at face value, but the heart of the movie lies underneath that appealing veneer, it's about creation and the required necessity to live your life fully to feed it. The budding writer enters the lives of a family, the same way a writer should embrace life itself, with a healthy dose of curiosity and nerve, precisely what his teacher is lacking. Add to that a fascinating and intricate observation of the blurring of lines separating reality from fiction in the feverish midst of artistic creation. Deep stuff, but all wrapped up in a neat bundle, Ozon making sure to leave almost no one on the side of the road, so to speak. So in conclusion it's smart and yet playful, intellectual but never pretentious. Well, in other words, it's a very good movie about potentially boring subjects. Highly recommended in those times of idiocracy!
Cherchez Hortense (2012)
I can see why such a movie could be so easily dismissed by your regular Hollywood addict, it's slow, rather smart and very much grounded in reality, and it's your typical Parisian literary approach to cinema story telling. Although I should emphasize the fact that I don't use the word typical in a derogatory way. Desplechin, Podalydes, Bonitzer, Resnais and other French directors, may seem stylistically or thematically close, but in truth are very different from one another. They take movies seriously, the European way, for them it's not about plot or sending a clear message to the viewer, they're more concerned with lofty concepts, creating a mood or simply sharing their views on the human condition. So yes, the protagonist is an intellectual (so is Bonitzer, he used to be a philosophy teacher) and yes, the thing happening to him may not seem to warrant a 2 hour movie, his life is boring, and so is often our own. Bonitzer, shows the naked truth, and it's risky, because that's not why most people go to movies, and I get that, but the movie is actually fun (in parts), never sentimental but sincere and touching. It's a fine movie, honest, solid, definitely worthy of the price of admission. It's very French and definitely naturalistic and intellectual, but pretentious it is not, but to put it simply, it'll be freezing in Hell before Bonitzer starts dumbing down his movies!
Les parasites (1999)
A crescendo of laughter!
I remember paying for my ticket and sitting in a mostly empty cinema, devoid of any expectation, and what a revelation it was! I laughed throughout, each pun, each line of dialogue perfectly hitting the mark. Now, I'm not saying that this movie is the work of a genius or that it is particularly subtle, because it isn't, but the group of people which made the movie was in a state of grace, they obviously were at the right place at the right time (in their career), working in perfect harmony and bringing a ton of ideas to an otherwise average movie director, the casting is perfect, Oulage Arbour is hilarious, and so is the rest of the cast. All the characters are nuts, excessive, almost caricatures, and yet they somehow feel real and almost endearing. The humor is just spot on, very fast, as if high on cocaine! It's just a blast to see the hero's seemingly simple plan of going to a New Year's Eve party to seal the deal, so to speak, with his would be girlfriend, go down the drain. As expected everything goes wrong and hilarity ensues, well for me anyway. Just give it a try, it just might surprise you!
Les beaux gosses (2009)
A sincere and naturalistic look at junior high first romance
First off, let me point out that this movie is by no means a french halfassed version of "super bad" (which I do love)or "American Pie", not that this movie is better (well actually it is way better than "American pie"!), it's just different, it's almost documentary style, but not as much as "The class", by the end of the movie, which is quite wonderful, because it miraculously mixes the bleakness of men's condition and the natural optimism and resilience of a young man who knows he has his life in front of him, you care for the characters, you hurt with them, way more than in American movie I've seen recently about similar subjects. I think the reason why is the sincerity of the director, who tackles every subjects, such as every day racism, misogyny, masturbation, the relationship between a adolescent and their parents, with a candour that would be deemed unacceptable by American audiences, anyway I guess. So this movie is extremely funny, the hero even has a Micheal Cera quality to him, but with less mannerisms, and it's impossible not to identify with the two main characters. So in conclusion,it is both a funny, beautiful and deeply nostalgic film about the transformation of a child into a man, if you will. Try not to miss it, but unless you live in France...well, wait for the DVD then !
Ever misunderstood Verhoeven...
Remember the people who pretended that Starship troopers was a fascist movie, when it was in fact a very ferocious ans immensely ironic pamphlet against all forms of excessive military ans nationalistic pride ? Remember ? It happened not so long ago, and guess what boys and girls, here we go again with Showgirls ! What am'I earring about this movie ? "it's excessive, vulgar, caricatural, complaisant, ugly, stupid, etc..." when in fact the subtext screams (pretty loud) "SATIRE", satire of the world of showbiz in Vegas of course, but in general too. Verhoeven does the same thing here, his characters are somewhat laughable caricatures who serve as tool so he can make his point about sex, greed for power, money or recognition, and peoples tendency to give up there principles and integrity to obtain those.
So no, the movie never looks ridiculous, it only offers Verhoeven point of view about the ridicule and ugliness of the world he's describing, it is deliberately over the top and ridiculous looking to give us a sense of what Vegas can be. It's quite ludicrous to believe that a man as talented ans smart as the creator of Robocop and Starship trooper, actually made the movie so vulgar and excessive by mere chance. Verhoeven knows exactly what he's doing, the movie is not vulgar, it's extremely sincere and strait forward about the absolute vulgarity of wanting to sell yourself at any cost, specially for a dream as tasteless and shortsighted as becoming a showgirl. The guy who says that this movie is involuntarily funny, obviously doesn't understand anything about cinema, and even less about the thought provoking and viscerally enjoyable work of Verhoeven. If one makes fun of this film, he or she only reveals there own ignorance and incapacity to perceive the presence of a subtext in any work of art, a shame truly.
L'ennemi public n°1 (2008)
A worthy follow up to Death instinct
All in all, i highly enjoyable and competent work from Richet, he truly captured Mesrine animal like charisma, his rebellious and determined character, his savagery and his sense of humor. Cassel did a amazing job as well, he's so impressive, funny and scary, idealist and cynical, he really brings it all on screen. One really as to salute Richet's accomplishment here, the pressure on him was huge, Mesrine is truly France's "Scarface" (only here it's for real !), known by all and fascinating as hell, i mean the guy was a superstar, a media freak who wonderfully played with the media to get some kind of support from the population and ridicule the system and the government, and he almost reached his goals! Now i just cant wait for the BR to arrive, so i can watch both movies consecutively and confirm my first impression, which is that Richet has done something huge, exiting and impressive, un coup de maître if you will !
L'instinct de mort (2008)
A powerful thriller for an amazing true story !
We could argue for hours about the point that Richet is trying to make, is he simply celebrating and glamorizing the crazy life of Jacques Mesrine ? Is he trying to say something about the increasing presence of big brother in western countries (the patriot act in the US, cameras everywhere in the UK or the french debate about listings of people etc...)wish supposedly smothers us and would render the existence of men like Mesrine an impossibility? But in the end who cares ? The movie is an absolutely brilliant genre movie, with amazing actors at their best, an incredible recreation of seventies France, very realistic and visceral action scenes (all based on facts by the way !), and Richet's directing is very controlled, precise, you feel he knows what he wants, sort of the anti-Brett Ratner if you will, and the ambiance is spot on too. Time flew so fast when was watching the film, and now i just can't wait for the follow up which should arrive in 2009. truly great stuff !
Fleur d'oseille (1967)
A wonderful gangster comedy !
I have to say that I'm always astounded and saddened by the fact that most people, apart from the french i hope, are blissfully unaware of the existence of one of the greatest french comedy duo of all time, and I'm talking about screenwriter Michel Audiard and director Georges Lautner, i mean, how can the geniuses behind such great flicks as: "Le guignolo", "L'incorrigible", "Les tontons flingueurs", "Fleur d'oseille" or "Laisse allez c'est une valse", to name but a few, still go unnoticed ?! I do realise that those movies are incredibly hard to dub, and require a little knowledge of french culture, especially to enjoy the wonderful dialogues from Audiard, but still, the injustice amazes me, so please, check those movies, and you can start with Fleur d'oseille, who is a delightful gangster comedy, absolutely typical of Audiard, Lautner, and of course, the sixties and France. I'm crazy about it, i always have, and hopefully, you will too.
Le salopard (2004)
Although I'm not particularly fond of short films, I was quite happily surprised by this one, the cruelty of this "Full metal jacket» like officer is really well depicted, yet plenty funny too, it's well shot and it's full of perfectly well digested influences. So, I wasn't hopping for much, but in the end was truly surprised. A true achievement. For people who are not speaking French, it obviously won't be easy to fully appreciate the dialogues, and that's a shame, for they are funny in a dark sort of way a I mentioned before, but what they will still be able to comprehend, is the immense weight of the influences of the director, mostly there's Leone and some Peckinpah, but some others too, and finally there's the gorgeous music, truly wonderful, you just don't expect that in a short film, obviously, the composer believed in the project and nailed the soundtrack a if it belonged to a feature film. Impressive!