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L'ombre d'un crime (2005 TV Movie)
A Sports Car, a Love Triangle & Curves above the cliffs
28 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very pleasant "soap opera" style French TV movie, just out in the Americas on "Eurochannel" by the way. It's full of clichés, but blessed with beautiful shots of a recreated post war France, and especially good is its unpredictable ending, which may have made it otherwise tedious viewing.

Basically, it mixes the love (and business) of sports cars, a love triangle (or is it quadrangle?) and plenty of curves above the cliffs of the beautiful French seaside ever influencing the plot.

The script is set in the early 1950's, around the high bourgeois Alberte De Vildrac, a 45 year old widow. She lives alone, though with 2 or 3 servants, on her beautiful estate. She feels lonely, and has given in to monotony. Her sole daughter, Camille, found a mysterious lover in Franz, whom everyone takes for a Lithuanian émigré turned war hero (French Resistance), and car engineer.

The relationship between mother and daughter becomes tense due to their mutual attraction to the handsome war hero. While he asks for Camille in marriage, Franz attempts to seduce Alberte, who though ceding to FGranz' charms, begins to suspect of his true intentions. The convoluted relationship between Alberte and her daughter Camille leads the action, though a couple of profiteers, another male suitor, and the family servants all have a hand in the development of the plot.

The beautiful scenery, cinematography, and classic romance themes all combine to make this a very watchable movie, despite its inherently over worked "romantic novel" traits.

The film is also an interesting take on post World War II France, a recent yet bygone era, and the country's transition from the late 1940s to the modernity of the 1960s and beyond. Its total duration of under 100 minutes also helps to make the film very watchable.
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Pure, unadulterated crap! A pack of lies
28 November 2005
It was bound to happen. With the surge in the popularity of documentaries in recent years (roughly post- Michael Moore ), so-called serious documentaries dangerously dis-informing the public have begun to appear.

Of these, this is the first one I definitely identify as FALSE and DISHONEST, and that I feel so strongly about, that I would waste my time writing about it. Recently shown in Brazil and in Argentina (and clicking on "Release Dtaes" in other Third World and Disadvantaged Countries), SHOWCASING A FILM LIKE THIS IS ALL A LOCAL COMMUNITY NEEDS TO UNDO YEARS, IF NOT DECADES OF HARD WORK, AND MILLIONS OF DEATHS.

This "DOCUMENTARY" follows (without citing him) the South African Prime Minister's ignorant call to a crusade that "HIV does not cause AIDS." This was possibly Mbeki's most infamous "faux pas" until he recanted following Winnie's (and Nelson's) Mandela's that "poverty doesn't cause AIDS, HIV CAUSES AIDS.

Though the fact that HIV causes AIDS has not been totally confirmed following the complicated, if not inexact and faulty "explainable" logic exposed in this film, HIV is certainly a common factor in every AIDS case. The hard rhetorical questions posed by the film "experts"(you'll easily recognize them - CLEARLY presented as the normal, nice guys) cannot be ignored.

But if all medical theories are scrutinized to the extreme this film plunges into, to disqualify the importance of isolating HIV, then few if any "medical truths" are irrefutable. I mean, the "Adam and Eve" hypothesis of creation would be a very plausible scientific explanation for the creation of mankind to to these fanatics.

If the "experts" are easily recognizable in this film, so are the BAD GUYS - the HIV theory supporters. Few of these bad guys, if any, say that it is PROVED that HIV causes AIDS (but rather that they are related), but these "BAD GUYS" are imminently more qualified to speak than the "good guys" (common people who could not have been made to look more "natural" or like the "next door neighbor."

But this film, in its sick crusade, clearly and manipulatable show these unaccredited "normal" people we can all identify with as "wise experts" The real experts are shown as villains, in such caricatures and cheesy editing, that a smart person doesn't know whether to laugh at these sophomoric efforts, or cry for the masses the film makers may manipulate.

How can these "bad guys" (as accredited as they are) be blown away by the "good guys"? EASY. The wonders of the documentary. You show only the perspective you want, you create the good and the bad guys, using the most basic human psychology. And then, you go around the world with your production. The more uninformed and dis-informed the area, the BETTER for the film makers. Just "razzle dazzle them" with the pack of lies you've fabricated in your documentary.

Boy, am I sorry I saw it. And may it NOT be the start of truly cruel and irresponsible disinformation campaigns that this new documentary "craze" can definitely spawn.

This is a film with NO sense of responsibility. I can only compare it to the continued marketing of cigarettes (not allowed to advertise in its own countries) flooding the world's poorest countries, and targeting its most disadvantaged people, with the glamorous (and DEAD) "Marboro" man. The film's message is a disgrace, a disservice to humanity, and an insult to all those who have died from, or have done something to combat AIDS.

SHAME ON YOU, film makers, wanting to "make a name" at any price! And I mean others' peoples' lives. And strong "boos" to international film festivals for not screening the film before allowing these lies to be shown as "American scientific fact" to its communities.
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Racism in 19th Century Provincial France
15 January 2005
An interesting film addressing racism in provincial France of the late 19th century. A black doctor from the French Caribbean assumes the position of town doctor. He replaces a white doctor, and finds his practice is empty and devoid of patients.

He realizes that, in order to remain in his position, he must gain the confidence of the local population. His strategy is to first conquer the mayor's trust, who's taking his family to a nearby town in order to be treated. The story is well told, and technically, the TV film is impeccable.

I imagine that the writer's (an director's) intention is to show how little racist feelings have changed in European small towns in the last 120 to 150 years. While the doctor enjoys the respect of his assistants, the local bourgeoisie accepts him; but as a rarity, a desired sex object for many women.

You're not a "nègre" is something the doctor hears, but does not accept. It's the same comment assimilated Jews and other racial groups have had to accept to integrate into most communities. The points of not really being black and being a rarity are accentuated when the local zoo has African tribal men from the colonies in cages like monkeys, and with monkeys too.

The doctor cannot accept this spectacle, but he realizes its symbolism. The women who chase him are after his uniqueness, just as if he belonged in a zoo. The powerful men in the town also cannot overcome their prejudice, and often justify the doctor's acceptance by his Carbbean, rather than direct African heritage. The doctor's father had come from the Creole elite, a plantation and slave owner, who had married a slave. That's how our doctor had access to medical school.

In all, the film is outstanding as a made for TV film, with excellent production values, wonderful reconstruction of the period, its costumes and bygone language. But it reminds us that the very basic in mankind has not changed much at all in 120 or 150 years. Now playing on Cable TV in the Americas.
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5x2 (2004)
Also shown in Brazil (Rio&S.Paulo) in September/October. So what?
30 October 2004
This latest Ozon flick is the most recent "Memento" ripoff, and by now has been seen even here on the other side of the world. If it is not being "released", maybe it's because audiences are tired of the "Irreversible"s and "21 Grams." And by the way, five showings at each of 2 festivals within 5 weeks (10 big screenings) draws a larger audience than a "limited release" lasting one week (here and in most countries).

One week is probably the most this loser flick would last anywhere, outside Paris, Brussels, Toronto and some other countries cited by other users, where, apparently, higher intellect abounds. Well, let it abound over there. Even festival audiences are getting sick of these backward told films directors can indulge in, make mistakes, and attribute their mess to misunderstood genius.

One would expect more from Ozon. But at least he gives us two gay characters, in a sermon about relationships, to remind us this film is his. Other than that personal mark, there is no trace of a developing Ozon most audiences expected. He repeats his SWIMMING POOL bit with the mystery, and repeats his hyphenated (a Franco-Argentinian director) countryman's "originality" in IRREVERSIBLE, better known as REALLY FORGETTABLE.

This even more forgettable film is so regrettable that the festival audiences already forgot it, or walked out of it. What distribution will this film get? Better to keep it out of release, and not burn Ozon out completely. Otherwise, his next film won't even make it to 2 South American festivals; forget any distribution in the "developed world." The audiences there are, well, developed. They won't watch this non novelty anymore. It's been done before - too much, too recently, and MUCH better.
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Diverse characters converge in a small Brazilian town
5 February 2001
This CIRCUS OF HUMAN QUALITIES is just that. A multi ring circus-like screenplay is acted out in several stories involving different characters from diverse strata of society. Some stories intersect, others don't. However, they all do take place in a small city in Minas Gerais (Brazil), and all do show that life is indeed a circus of human qualities, no matter whether these qualities are positive or negative.
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The other half of Rio celebrates the turn of the millennium
5 February 2001
This wonderful and insightful documentary focuses on the favela (slum) dwellers of Rio de Janeiro. And in particular all that takes place in the lives of a dozen very different characters from Babilonia, the hilltop slum with "Million Dollar Views." The inhabitants of Babilonia, by and large, are content to live in their own world high atop Copacabana. Fresh and candid interviews with these people, while following their activities during 18 hours between 11 AM New Year's Eve and the wee hours of New Year's Day 2000, are the essence of this fresh eye opener. A must.
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How South America's "West Was Won
5 February 2001
Finally, a South American Western showing the cruel realities of how its West was won. In this case, the film highlights how the Portuguese pushed further west into erstwhile Spanish lands to expand Brazil beyond the Line of Demarcation between Spanish and Portuguese America established by the Pope. The action takes place at the close of the 18th Century. Portuguese nobles, Brazilian-born Creoles (including the New Christians (Converted Jews sent to Brazil to populate the colony), and the Catholic clergy conspired to virtually wipe out Indian tribes, while "Westernizing" the landscape. It's an interesting history lesson, and an entertaining film. It features beautiful landscapes, and a supporting cast composed of many of the surviving "Indians" from the area. Unusual and worth a look.
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Fascinating glimpse of Brazil's wide ranges of religious "faiths"
5 February 2001
This outstanding documentary addresses the global and timeless issue of FAITH; the need for it and, and a wide profile of those who practice its many variations. The film focuses on the state of worship in Brazil, ranging from traditional Roman Catholicism and Born Again Christians, to black magic, witchcraft, Brazilian voodoo and other manifestations of faith which will surely shock viewers not very familiar with Brazil.
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