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Réveillon chez Bob (1984)
Bobbing for Bob.
Like father,like son? not really,for talented Pierre Granier Deferre's son,Denys opts for the heavy-handed French comedy ;after "Que Les Gros Salaires Lèvent Le Doigt" (=let people with high income put up their finger) ,"Réveillon Chez Bob" (=Christmas eve's dinner at Bob's place)is not an improvement ;it will be 2010 before Denys Granier-Deferre makes a memorable effort, "Pièce Montée ",influenced by Altman's "a wedding" .
A young boy wants his father (Jean Rochefort) back ;this comics writer is always away from him and estranged from his attractive wife (Mireille Darc);so he imagines a stratagem :he writes his dad a letter in which he tells him that his mom's new lover,Bob , beats him,mistreats him ;in fact Bob is neither the mother's lover ,nor a child-batterer,but is none other than the family doctor.Thus,all along the Christmas night,when everybody has a wild time , daddy goes in search of the mysterious Bob ,who plays the role of what the French call "L'Arlésienne" ,a person who ,although much talked about , never materializes.
The movie begins quite well, with daddy , "helped" by a couple (a garage owner and his accountant: Guy Bedos and Agnès Soral ),searching his enemy in a sea of windows in a giant residential complex ;then the first party they spoil and turn into a free -for -fall.
Then the plot peters out :it becomes repetitive ,the good gags are few and far between, the actors begin to ham it up to enliven things a bit ,they meet Italians ,black people singing such classics as "only you" ,Pieds Noirs ,they walk through a sewer ;when they open the manhole , dad is confronted with his distraught wife who has lost their little boy.
In spite of talents involved, it's nothing more than a very average heavy-handed comedy of which the French have the secret.Even the kid is annoying ,his words are sometimes too recherché for his age ("incontrôlable ").
Brigade criminelle (1947)
Gilbert Gil is mainly known as an actor ,notably in memorable movies such as "Pepe Le Moko" (Pierrot) and Valentin's "L'Entraineuse ".That was his first attempt at directing and ,given the results ,it's a blessing he did not carry on with the task.
"Brigade Criminelle " belongs to the cloak and dagger genre: it deals with stolen plans ,with a lot of male and female spies it's hard to identify (I dare you to guess whom they are in the pay of );The screenplay is a mess, a jumble ,and as hard to decipher as the agents' secret messages.
One angry man .
André Berthomieu (in the cast and credits,without his first name here as such was often the case) was a prolific director,whose works were essentially potboilers ;one can save the lovely "Gringalet" (1945) and the riotously funny "Mort En Fuite " ,(1936) but,anyway ,how can you be wrong when you deal with Michel Simon and Jules Berry in the latter ?
In "Préméditations" ,like in "Mort En Fuite " ,directing takes a back seat to acting :Berthomieu had already directed Jean Dessailly in "Amours,Delices Et Orgues " (which Duvivier, who wrote the screenplay gave up ,probably wisely) and "Carré De Valets" : as far as both efforts are concerned ,if you can't say something nice...
Here the screenplay by Frederic Dard is very good ,and there is an ambiguity André Cayatte (one is on his turf obviously) would not disown.Both Dessailly and Pascal are excellent : the former ,a stubborn Javert, plays cat and mouse with the defendant ;he may seem cocksure but he is a fine busybody.The latter ,perhaps never better ,is handsome, engaging, sometimes threatening .Shall we feel for him or shall we fear him?On the other hand ,Pascale Roberts is not on a par with her co-stars (Marina Vlady ,a Dard habituée would have been a better choice) and her romance in jail is not credible at all:full of complexes ,devoid of the charm she displayed in "Les Loups Dans La Bergerie " ,she would kiss her client in his cell? Dard s got to be kidding!
This kind of story would be better performed on stage ,but the close shots allow Pascal to portray his multi-faceted character.
La deuxième étoile (2017)
They are still dreaming of a white Christmas ....
"Twice sweeter ....twice funnier"!the poster reads ,wishful thinking indeed!
8 years after the first film "La Première Etoile" ,the continuing story of the same family.
Hindsight displays the charm of the 2009 effort. People with minds full of received ideas have often limited ideas. "Black people can't ski" "skiing,it's the white's business" Writer/actor /director Lucien Jean -Baptiste based his movie on it: Winter sports are almost unthinkable for an unemployed black lazy dreamer and his family;cut to the quick,the father takes up the challenge :he will go out of his way to take his family to a ski resort.
Ten years after (or almost so) ,the family became middle-class ,and all the actors, black and white,ham it up all along a nothing movie. The new character ,an officer , played by talented Roland Giraud is so clichéd it's almost unbearable: the aging man who has never forgotten his daughter for marrying a black man but realizes the husband is a much better father than he was, how many times has one seen him?
Much of the film is devoted to a stupid "snow star" contest for morons ,with hosts hamming it up ,if it's possible,even more than the principals;add a Christmas party which is nothing but filler and there you are.
The film contains one short magic moment : the family arrives in the chalet where they are to spend their Winter sports holiday ;there lives widower Henri (pop singer Michel Jonaz who has taken on his role of landlord)welcomes them : we see a photograph of his late wife ,the marvelous Bernadette Laffont who blew everyone off the screen in the first effort :the actress died some years ago and she did deserve a little tribute.Her scenes with Firmine Richard were simple effective proof positive of the stupidity of racism .
The new version,a critical and commercial failure, has nothing to offer :you'd better stay away from it and pick up the director's 2009 film.
7 jours pas plus (2017)
Seven days and so much more! (another useless comment)
A wonderful little comedy, which in its last third verges on drama.Benoit Poelvoorde gives a Cesar-calibre performance;without a single world in French Pitobash matches him every step of the way ;excellent support by Alexandra Lamy , full of joie de vivre ,desperately trying to show the aging bachelor that two hearts are better than one .
The prologue may puzzle the viewer and its explanation (a little far-fetched)is given only towards the end of the story ;an Indian immigrant ,Ajit ,has all belongings stolen ;a cantakerous hardware dealer takes him in,but only for seven days (the table he writes is good fun) ;beneath that grumping exterior, Pierre is a generous man ,full of compassion ,in fact a tormented soul who experimented tragedy in his youth ; so did his protégé,at the same early age : it is a darkly humorous comedy ,one is far from those "feel good " comedies à la "Comment J'Ai Rencontré Mon Père ".
Poelvoorde's portrayal is delightful : when he counts his screws one by one to be sure he's not been fooled , when he deals with a demanding customer who asks for gilded screws ,then for the address of a DIY ,par excellence the enemy of small shopkeepers ,he literally wins the audience over.
Ajit and Pierre do not speak the same language (and the screenplay does not take the easy way of English ,as the politically correct "Comment J'ai Rencontré Mon Père" did ) but they do communicate ,not only with gestures ,but mainly ,day in,day out , with their eyes.Are words so important anyway? Jeanne speaks French and she makes herself clear ,but Pierre does not understand what she means at all .
That's why the female character is so important to the plot : her relation with Pierre is a dialogue of the deaf ;the man does not understand ( or does not want to understand );because his childhood was so sad (even tragic) ,he thought his life was doomed and that love and happiness were made for anyone but him ;when he meets Ajit ,he meets his double ,the young man he used to be and it's only after the Indian have left him that he will not stand his solitude anymore.
A dark comedy ,it often is ! The public services are not shown in a flattering light : the scene in the police station is overblown and provides the only really low point of the screenplay ;on the other hand, the scene in the consulate is more successful : a wretched penniless Indian immigrant, does it count for those high-ranking senior officials ,those vip ?
But Jeanne ,who takes Ajit to town and buys him cotton candy ,genially makes up for those selfish people . The movie is brimming with great scenes ,sometimes funny (the Raclette :melted cheese served with hot potatoes and cold meats) ,sometimes sad (thanks to an interpreter, Pierre and Ajit tell each other their hard past),always relevant .
This is a film worth seeing !Hats off to all the people who made it .Very nice score too.
Fernand cow-boy (1956)
Your disbelief needs to be suspended just as firmly if you are to get anything out of this 1956 comedy which stars stand up comic Fernand Raynaud in his adventures in Wild West, obviously filmed in French country .
It features :
- A hotel complete with saloon, Fernand's Inheritance ;a saloon where you do not drink orange-flower water but whiskey,where you do not play "Belote" but poker.
-Annie Du Far West (Annie get your gun) in the flesh.Here cast as the damsel in distress.
-An Indian "Careful Beaver " who helps the outlaws with their dirty deeds provided he gets 10% from the loot and whose way of torturing palefaces recall those in "lives of a Bengal Lancer" .
-A sheriff who stammers ,played by Noel Roquevert, who almost steals the show from the star.
-A horse "as gentle as a sheep ".A nice cowboy outfit for Fernand.
Who could ask for more?
Le meurtrier (1963)
Patricia Highsmith 's "the blunderer"
Highsmith 's novels are deceptive:it's hard to adapt them badly while being harder still to adapt them well.
It may seem strange that a movie called "the murderer" should be the follow-up to his accursed movie "Tu Ne Tueras Point " (thou shalt not kill") about a conscientious objector in Claude Autant-Lara 's absorbing (but including in the late fifties/early sixties many potboilers)rich filmography.
Jean Rosenthal,who translated the novel into French mistranslated the word or misinterpreted Highsmith :a blunderer is not a murderer ("Meurtrier") but a person subject to egregious gaffes :that's exactly what happens to Walter : keeping a news item , ordering a book in Kimmel's bookshop ...he worked his way down whereas he could have easily get away with it ,marry Ellie and live happily ever after ....
The movie does not possess highsmith's ambiguous side ,her talent for exploring the depths of the human psyche ;her book takes much time to take off and Walter does not meet the bookseller at the beginning of the story ;the relationship between he and his wife are much more complicated on the paper ;he does not really hate her ,the movie hints at it when he's in bed with Ellie after her death .Simply, Walter is not able to be happy .
By and large ,the first part of the novel deals with the couple, with a lot of characters,most of them have been ruled out ;only Walter's best friend remains By the second part ,a Javert-like cop plays cat and mouse with Walter and Kimmel : Highsmith reaches peaks of verbal and physical violence ,setting the draughtsman against the bookseller: the movie partially succeeds : it does not really restitute the rising hell in the police station...and we do not feel Walter's guilt complex,for even though his wife committed suicide ,is he really innocent?
Gert Froebe effortlessly blows his co-stars off the stage :he's the bestial impotent monstrous fatso depicted by the writer ;Marine Vlady is also adequate as Ellie ,a character ,who ,mainly in the book,stays aside and is not really involved in the tragedy ; when Walter is more and more a suspect ,she decidedly walks out on him (whereas in the film ,she trusts him till the very end);Maurice Ronet and Yvonne Furneaux (whose marvelous eyes did deserve color!) do a good job, but the screenwriters ,who have a good reputation though, cannot give both a real depth .On the other hand ,Hossein is miscast :.Corby is a very young slim detective , a whipper-snapper,who sharply contrasts with Kimmel 's obese body : but David is stronger than Goliath and sadistically humiliates him in an unbearable way (the scene of the glasses -repeated in the novel- is treated almost gingerly ,compared to the writer's words.)
it was not the first time Autant-Lara had tackled film noir ;the first effort saw him direct Brigitte Bardot ,Jean Gabin and Edwige Feuillère in "En Cas De Malheur" ;he seemed more at ease in Georges Simenon's world.
His directing here is just OK.The best scene is the first ,because Froebe really frightens the audience ;the glasses and the murder are somewhat borrowed from Hitchcock's "strangers on a train" (the first Highsmith adaptation for the screen ,by the way!);as is the final scene ,which,like in "the man who knew too much ,both versions) tries to integrate a murder in a concert .
"Le Gaffeur " ,sorry "the murderer " does not certainly deserve the contempt it's subjected to ;but given the quality of Autant-Lara's other works in the sixties ("Tu Ne Tueras Point " "Journal D'Une Femme En Blanc " "Le Franciscain De Bourges " ) ,it remains a minor effort.
Botta e risposta (1950)
Kleptomania in Roma.
Just a pretext to show many music hall acts in Roma ,including singing (Suzy Delair is the star ,but you will be disappointed cause she does not perform her famous " Avec Son tralala" from "quai des orfèvres ") ,ballets, conjuring and even a radio contest : it provides the best musical moment of a rather stodgy musical : Louis Armstrong in the flesh ,totally unexpected and therefore appreciated in such a context.
As for the screenplay ,it is decidedly lacking in interest :Fernandel is a house painter and he has his wallet stolen on a train to Roma ;another traveler was carrying star Delair's new dress for the show and it has disappeared too. While Fernandel ,whose pilgrimage to Roma is spoilt , is forced to work as a painter in the theater (which he compares to Sodom and Gomorrha ), the other unfortunate man from the train goes in search of the precious garment : he is given a clue by some kind of magician: you've got to find a woman whose name is the same as a queen whose nose was so famous it could have changed the face of the world .But our man's culture leaves a lot to be desired.
Fans of Fernandel will be disappointed:his appearances are few and far between.Fans of Armstrong might be interested.
Simone Barbès ou la vertu (1980)
Come on !quick, vote "non useful"
If you want to discover this woman director,you 'd better pick up her steadier,more palatable "Le Jour Des Rois" (1990) ,one of the wittiest French comedies of the nineties which,sadly,remained unsung.
If you 've already seen this film,and you're going to appreciate "Simone Barbès", you'd best forget about all this 1990 delightful comedy,because it's much less accessible .
This effort is made up of three parts :an excellent first one, a shaky and very uneven second one , and a very boring final one.
Simone is an usherette in a porno movie theater with her colleague Martine ; Treilhou,who writes her screenplays, lets her humor flow and it's really a joy to watch the audience enter this special place ;don't expect to get an eyeful though:all we get in the small hall where both employees chat is the soundtrack made of shouts , pantings, and jerky words such as "Ouiiiiiiii" "encore";the contrast with the impassive faces of the usherettes is striking ;we catch glimpses of the clients : some are ashamed,some are in a hurry,some are intellectuals ,you name it ;Simone is thoroughly at ease with this stange bunch and tries to console Martine ,whose boyfriend let her down.
The second part lets us in a lesbian nightclub,a place rarely shown in movies, unlike gay men places ; here Treilhou gives up her collection of mini-portraits ,and depicts the atmosphere :Simone ,herself a lesbian,waits in vain for her girlfriend;her attitude is more self-conscious ,whe's no more the cheeky usherette who laughs at her habitués in the porno theater .The actress is outshadowed by the acts which drowns her out : the Amazons ballet and rock group 12°5 's "Si Je suis Une Nana ,Mec"(if I'm a chick, dude) the words of which may seem ludicrous,but in that context come out almost threatening . This atmosphere had already been depicted by feminist director Jacqiueline Audry's "La Garçonne" (1957) and Treilhou's sequence suffers in this comparison :what was daring in 1957 might seem trite a quarter of century later.
The last part,which entirely takes place in a car is boring and comes as an anti-climax :Martine chats with an aging womanizer who pays the price of loneliness ;nothing new here ,a most inadequate ending to an interesting film about fringe groups .
Chéri, fais-moi peur (1958)
Man on a spying trapeze.
Strictly for Darry Cowl's fans ;the others can take to their heels ...
A detective story is awarded an one million Francs prize ;this being cause for celebration,the writer heads for Winter sports in a hotel full of American and Russian spies ,and a very clever girl (Sophie Daumier) he falls in love with.
The screenplay is more than far-fetched ,it's as undicepherable as the spies' mumbo-jumbo ;which does not matter anyway for half of the movie is an unterminable chase.
Stricty for Cowl's fans!
Madam switches off the red light.
Dismissed as rubbish by most of the French critics ,"Les Bons Vivants " is nonetheless a very funny comedy ,with lots of good lines by Audiard : it's entertaining , it's not head cinema, but why deny yourself a good laugh?
This is a movie made of three sketches ,the mcguffin of which is a lantern . 1°)the closure :lines warn us before it all begins :they put people out of business: it may be a factory ,a farm ...unemployment is looming It actually concerns a brothel ;the Marthe Richard law from 1946 closed all those places. The boss (Bernard Blier) and his ladies are lambasted ;some try to move into a new type of employment: nightclub hostesses, music hall ;some study the Assimil method (English without tears) to emigrate ;some will have to be streetwalkers . All are on the verge of tears .Don't ask for Maupassant's "La Maison Tellier" ! It's much fun though.The lantern (the red light) is given to the most deserving boarder.
2) The trial : thanks to men (and to dogs) ,this deserving lady(Andrea Parisy) climbs the social scale quickly and becomes a baroness , soon to be widowed ,for her husband could be her grandpa. Her desirable mansion is burglarized ; the thief (Jean Lefèvre) is arrested ,but it's impossible to find one of the stolen goods : the lantern .It works pretty well as a travesty of a trial ,but the ending is botched .
3)The Bons Vivants :how an athletic club turns into a private brothel ; one of the members (Louis De Funès)takes in a would be mistreated hooker (Mireille Darc) ;she becomes his servant ,soon to be joined by other ones (including Bernadette Laffont) Best moments: A clueless De Funès,reading his interminable speech ,while his partners have only eyes for the servants ; and a very special Christmas .
Everyone hams it up in this story which must not be taken seriously ;just for fun!
Fernand clochard (1957)
Tramp on the street
Fernand Reynaud was a famous stand-up comic whose best sketches ("Le 22 A Anières"..) have remained memorable .
Pierre Chevalier was his regular director and with "Fernand Vagabond" ,began a long series of movies with Reynaud ("Le Sicilien" "LA Marraine De Charley") ;by keeping the actor's first name,both men were trying to create a character (like Chaplin,or in France ,Leonce Perret)as they used to do in a silent era.He would keep "Fernand " for a handful of movies later on.
The beginning of the movie is pleasant : the tramp on the road,with his faithful dog "Brigadier " who helps him wash his dirty linen -the washerwomen ,at the river,is a delightful thing of the past-, then the jewels ("it's fake " says the cop).
Afterwards,things go downhill ;the screenplay is devoid of interest ,and why didn't they ask their actor to write his own lines? That would have meant a better movie.
The subject is hackneyed : "a tramp is not meant to live in an hypocrit society " and he'd better hit the road again" had been treated before and Chevalier's flick does not renew it.The approach is too gentle here anyway ,one is far from Renoir's "Boudu" .
Besides the "happy-go-lucky " Clochard (tramp) is a cliché ;nowadays ,the word tends to become obsolete and is replaced by Sans Abri "homeless" ,who are not exactly rolling in happiness .
Tricoche et Cacolet (1938)
For your eyes only.
A comedy by a past master of the genre,Pierre Colombier, which features songs by Fernandel (duets with his partner ,Duvallès and a young Ginette Leclerc ,before she became ,par excellence,the bad girl),and music hall acts which may seem mostly filler for the 2018 audience ;the screenplay is muddled,desultory ,far-fetched and does not match those of Colombier's earlier efforts "Le Roi" and "Ces Messieurs De La Santé."
Fernandel (Tricoche) and Duvallès (Cacolet) run a private eyes agency ;as their affairs are not going too well,they have to deceive their clients ,or to invent imaginary ones ;now and then ,a good gag :Banker Van Der Pouf ,holding two receivers ,talking at once to his wife and to his mistress; Duvalllès simulating a conversation with a so-called client;but as a whole,it does not really make it.
The main interest lies in the actors :apart from the names already mentioned,the cast also includes exuberant Elvire Popesco and Saturnin Fabre ;Ginette Leclerc is Fanny Bombance (=feast)
You gain the world but lose your soul.
Natalia has left her native Poland for France with her family.She wants to become a movie star and nothing will stop her in her thirst for glory .Being a Jew in an occupied France makes the matters worse :she has to deny her own parents,her fiancé ,and to work with a false passport .Little by little,she will lose her own identity .It's before Bertrand Tavernier 's "Laissez-Passer" ,the first movie taking place in the movies milieu in the dark days of the Occupation.
La promesse de l'aube (2017)
Inceste De Citron
Based on novelist Romain Gary's biography,this is the second version of the writer's youth .In her husband Jules Dassin's 1970 movie, Melina Mercouri hammed it up,but did convince as this character of a Jewish mom ,and it was the main asset of this earlier work.That director ,in his last part of his career,was succumbing to the vices of European cinema of the era: the slow motion sequences ,which were very trendy then are almost unbearable today.Romain was played by no less than three different actors.
The same goes for the remake :a boy ,a teenager and a young man (Niney,thus,only appears in the second half);.Charlotte Gainsbourg reprises La Mère-Couri 's role and compares favorably with her performance ,less histrionic,but always omnipresent -her arrival at the base is worth the price of admission-,ambitious ,demanding ,almost in love with her son (one never sees her have an affair with a single man ,though some of them (the painter, portrayed by the always reliable Darroussin)woo her .
Longer than the first version (101 min) ,this one (125 min) sometimes drags on and seems a little patchy and desultory but it's inherent in any biography ;sex scenes are more explicit (the initiation scene with the unexpected mom because of the coach incident is featured in both movies) .
War scenes are much more developed than in the first adaptation ;it sometimes verges on ridicule : the aviator ,suffering from typhoid,crosses the hospital stark naked .
Two small details : two soldiers were actually denied their promotion,Romain was not the only one ,but it 's less storylike on the paper,let alone on the screen. The 250 letters mom supposedly wrote are pure fiction; when he was in Africa, a telegram was sent to Romain who knew his dear one was dead when he came back to France.
The prologue in Mexico ,a bit gaudy , is a bit derivative:how many biographies were filmed as flashbacks?
All in all, you should see this remake ,but mainly for miss Gainsbourg ,in one of her best parts.
NB: When the first version was released,Gary was still alive ;hence the necessity to treat his material more gingerly.
Lola Pater (2017)
Lola smiled and took me by the hand and said "Little boy I'm gonna make you a man"
The title may puzzle you: "Lola" is a female name ,and "pater " means "father" in latin.Insofar as Lola used to be a man, it makes sense .
After his mother's death ,a young man goes in search of his father who left home a long long time ago .Much to his surprise, his father is a transsexual :he's become a woman called Lola ;besides she's a lesbian who's got a partner.;
Needless to say,the screenplay has a strong potential ,but it only skims over the human problems ,,it remains superficial,and the ending ,which is borrowed from countless melodramas ,is the easy way out indeed.
The only reason why you should watch this movie is Fanny Ardant's Cesar-caliber performance ;she blows every other actor off the stage : we do believe she was once the handsome man who appears in the short flashbacks or on the photographs ;she opts for a rather low-pitched voice which is perfect.She' one of the rare French actresses who,like Natalie Baye ,can age gracefully .Not afraid of playing daring parts ,she had already played a lesbian (who kissed Catherine Deneuve) in François Ozon's "8 Femmes ".Unfortunately,her young co-star gives a johnny-one-note performance and never rises to to the occasion .Nobody in the cast can hold a candle to Miss Ardant anyway.
In spite of this first-class performance,it remains a missed opportunity.
Jamais contente (2016)
A chip on her shoulder
This is exactly the kind of movie which the chic intellectual TV magazines praise to the skies ;lauded far beyond its station , 'Jamais Contente " is the umpteenth story of a teenager ,who has anything to be happy ,but whom nobody understands .Actually , it belongs to the "feel-good" atmosphere which has been marring the French scene for years ;if you feel for that girl who's got devoted parents , a conniving grannie (the cliché to end all the clichés,see the old "La Boum"), a modern "liberal " French teacher , nice friends ,much good may it do to you!
Mrs Deleuze (and Mrs Despléchin) should take a walk to a charity organization where volonteers work overtime to realize how trivial ,selfish and pathetic Aurore's problems are ;they also could take a walk to a junior high school :the students do not do any litterature analysis in those classes ,let alone Madame De La Fayette 's "la Princesse De Clèves " which is generally reserved for high school .This is only the second year of secondary school,all the same!One should credit Aurore for her personal brief summary of the book though.
Of course ,all the songs from the soundtrack are in English , the girl who's a singer in rock and roll band sings in English ,which is thoroughly implausible , the carol at the Xmas party is in English ; Ah! the very last tune (the old fusty "Mamy Blue" ) is sung in French,all the same!
The movie was hailed by the critics ,but commercially a flop (it came 310th in 2017 as far as receipts are concerned);sometimes the audience does not want to be fooled again with a spoilt teenager's misfortunes and they are not always wrong.
Gambling her money away ...
The subject is not new : the gambler , his addiction, was treated many many times from Jacques Feyder ("pension Mimosas") to Jacques Demy ("La Baie Des Anges" .In the latter, the central character was a woman (Jeanne Moreau);in Catherine Corsini ,it's also a woman,who plays poker .The fake dollars trick had already been used by Bertrand Tavernier in his sketch from "L'Amour Et La Chance".
The problem with "poker" is the screenplay : it's muddled ,some roles are too underwritten (Pierre Arditi's) ,and the story never takes off. The games are filmed without "suspense" ,we never really enter the (clandestine) circles ,we never feel the heroine's plight .Besides ,the writers introduce a bizarre character,the gambler's brother whom she mothers in an ambiguous way (see their last scene together;it looks like an incest ).
Because the heroine is a strong woman, and all the reviewers spoke highly of Caroline Cellier's performance ,quite rightly so .She is the asset for the movie ;if it hadn't been for her ,I would have given up halfway through. The depiction of those shady places in night Paris,enhanced by jazz music ,is another redeeming quality.
The Silent Invasion (1962)
A not so silent invasion.
This may be the worst movie dealing with the Occupation of my country in WW2 which has ever been made.So many implausibilities ,bad acting (particularly Petra Davies as the "heroine" ) ,poor plot and cheap low-budget production .
Everybody speaks English in this small village (the movie was made in 1962,all the same ,and at the time ,they knew what" interpreter" meant :the handsome officer -once again ,a very bland actor- ,an educated man majoring in medicine could have spoken French (English) ,albeit with a German accent ,but as for the others !and the French are all supposed to understand their conquerors!
Never,never in a month of Sundays ,French resistant fighters would have convened in a cafe ,openly and publicly to discuss plans :they were heroes in the shadows ,they had pseuds ,it was a secret network:because of informing which would run rampant,nobody knew who they were .These men and women had little victories but big defeats ,in the movie ,it's too good to be true.
And how dumb the officer must have been, not to see the connection between the attacks of the fighters and Maria's frequent visits to the Château he has commandeered (he may be a wine connaisseur "1929 is a good year for wine" ,but a military dunce).
One can save a good scene :the seventeen -year-old young man ,about to be shot,refuses to be blindfolded and ,for the last time,smiles at his sister.
L'ami du jardin (1999)
Short people got no reason to live????
This neglected comedy is certainly smarter than the contemporary feel-good French farces ;although marred by absurd filler (a grotesque parody of Claude François, strip tease , a gangster and his moll), the subject is nothing but derivative .It might well be the movie Jean-Pierre Mocky has never done ,because of his lack of professionalism.
So much for the prelims: in a mysterious house , a murder was committed (or was it suicide?) ; the moonlit garden is full of garden gnomes ; a few days later ,a dwarf (Thual) is coming to town ,in search of his roots : he writes letters to his granny ,which are read in a voice over .Everywhere he goes, he is condescendingly treated ,with so-called friends .New murders are committed . As the unfortunate midget is ceaselessly humiliated and even bullied,might he be the criminal ?
The screeenplay is sometimes confused ,mixing thriller, social satire and fantasy and horror ,but the lines often hit home and some scenes are first-class comedy :
-Like Gerard Jugnot's irresistible scene ,in which he is moaning against Walt Disney (SnowWhite and Donald Duck )who epitomizes for this narrow-minded leftish geography teacher American imperialism;fortunately there will be duck for dinner.
-Like the country fair ,where the dwarf meets a blind girl who mistakes him for a tall brown-haired man ,and where a perfect little girl performs a horrible song on stage ,one word of it surprisingly being a four-letter word which causes scandal .
-Like all the scenes in the police station :the superintendent with big flappy ears tries to have his lieutenant cultivate his mind by making him read Marcel Proust and Marguerite Duras which scandalizes the uneducated lad : "homosexuality, a teenage girl who takes a grown-up lover ,an Asiatic at that!That's too much he can endure . Their investigations are worth the price of admission: the murder could have been committed by ... a squirrel :"you don't know how those so-called gentle animals become aggressive towards someone trying to steal their hazel-nut "; the following suspect might be a gnome garden ,because the victim pointed an accusing finger at it : "it may be something behind" cleverly says the cop "yes ,a tree"... It's all very funny,and quite mad,all of which is just fine with me.
The movie can also be looked upon as a harsh satire ,the way "normal " people look down on their fellow men ,while pretending to be nice to them;the dwarf's colleague ,the teacher's wife ,with her beaming smile and her welcoming manners may be the worst of all them; both Claire Nadeau and Yolande Moreau overplay ,which makes wonders in such a caricatured world.
Yes,in spite of a muddled screenplay and importunate filler,you should watch this comedy , seemingly completely out of touch with reality.
The ballad of Bobby.
Juliet Berto was par excellence the cerebral actress:her filmography includes highbrow stuff,the likes of Godard and Rivette ;however ,for her first movie, she shows us the dark side of the neons of Pigalle, Barbès-Rochechouart with its losers,its junkies ,its transvestites and prostitutes ;the world of the thirties Realisme Poétique (Carné,Duvivier,Grémillon) transferred to the hard realities of the early eighties .
The boulevards are places where you can find cheap entertainment , fleeting pleasure : it looks like a permanent fairground ,with strip-tease galore ;in the cafés ,pimps and hookers, underdogs waiting for something to happen ,or " for their man" ,who brings them "snow" or heroine .For lack of happiness, everybody's looking for substitutes.
The detective side is not important and does not really interest the viewer ;but Berto's depiction of this shady milieu is thoroughly fascinating :when a dealer dies ,killed by drugs squad agents , we follow Anita ,a good-hearted waitress,who tries to help a young transvestite ,Betty ,whose withdrawal symptoms are bluntly depicted, to find more dope .The director does not argue or judge : where is evil?the taxi driver ,who , to save his wife from jail, informs against dealer Bobby? Bobby himself ,who sells his lethal stuff ?the drugs squad cops who fire at the dealers ,or would be ones ?Anita ,who never speaks of detox ?(and however ,she mothers her protégé)
It is essentially a night movie, but night lights are not enough to sweep darkness away ;the final song by Bernard Lavilliers ("Ballade De bobby", showing a strong influence by Gainsbourg) prolongs the painful atmosphere of a harrowing work.
Coup de jeune (1993)
It runs in the family
It's really a family affair ; the director is Xavier Gélin (sadly ,to die at 53) , the stars are his father ,Daniel Gelin,whose career was brilliant and his half-brother ,Manuel Gélin.
A scientist has invented a youth serum:overnight ,the seventy-year-old turns into a toddler ;the beginning of the movie is quite promising ,if awkwardly directed : a hippie sees the little boy driving his car and swears he won't touch grass anymore ; then the toddler meets his son ,a renowned chef and it's much fun to hear this thirty-something man call a four-year-old "papa ".
Unfortunately , things deteriorate beyond that point :the gags become repetitive ;the appearance of the thirty-year- old "version" of the professor (played by his own son Manuel) is a panting attempt to rekindle interest in a worn-out screenplay.Only the last picture is ,relatively speaking , surprising.
Une pure affaire (2011)
A hatful of snow.
David is a second-rate lawyer , relegated to a position of the secondary importance in his boss' office ;besides his colleague ,Brice ,an ambitious man with good prospects ,gets on his nerves . Worst comes to worst :his wife is fired and has no more job..
Finding a suitcase full of cocaine might be a godsend ;first David intends to work solo but his wife ,first reluctantly ,joins him and even gives him a piece of advice to increase his new income thanks to baby powdered milk .Pretty soon , the father-in-law ,reluctantly too at first joins the new traffickers .
This is funny little comedy ,with plenty of good situations :the stuff's owner ,who reclaims his dough and makes himself call "Mister Patron" (=Boss) ;the cop who tells David's rowdy son he should take his admirable parents as a model; the daughter, telling her mom they have always warned them against dope and now they become dealers themselves; Brice ,the first-class lawyer ,trying his hand at blackmail , but showing himself a callow amateur: the screenwriters take revenge on all the brilliant lawyers we meet in so many movies .
The movie is a reductio ad aburdum that drug traffic can contaminate a whole family (like father,like son) but it can help to rebuild a family and bring them back to the straight and narrow.
The moral is not unlike that of "Paulette" (2012) ,in which a retired old lady (Bernadette Laffont ) managed to make ends meet by selling hasch cakes which helped her quit her racist ways.
Bienvenue à bord! (1990)
Sweet hitch-hiker,don't you ride on my fast machine!
The unvited hitch-hiker subject is not new ; it may be treated as a thriller ,which Ida Lupino pulled it off with flying colors in her " hitch-hiker" (1953) .Here the driver is caught in traffic jam and "Bienvenue" could resemble Luigi Comencini's "l'Ingorgo " (1979),a brilliant comedy, although this latter work does not feature any hitch-hiker .
The director backs both horses :it's a comedy ,for the intruder never stops demeaning his driver, showing him how mean and wash- out he is ;one can wonder why,however ,the owner of the car does not get rid of this pain in the neck after two miles ; the lines lack focus ,intensity , and humor,almost always dealing with sex is ponderous ;directing is flat . Unlike Comencini 's "Ingorgo" ,in which madness knew no bounds ,this story is tame ,even though the director goes out of his way to make the hitch-hiker menacing..
For it's also a would be thriller :the man might be the convict who has just escaped ; sadly,Pierre Richard ,cast against type, would not scare a six-year -old .Martin Lamotte, as a failed writer (called "Placard " = cupboard)although smug and self-satisfied ,does not fare better .And I would not take his book even though it were given away for free.
It's a poor man's night road movie.
We 'll meet again.
Brilliant episode in the brilliant "MARS " miniseries;not forgetting the scientific side ,this segment essentially deals with commander Bob Sayer's character: to hear his crew speak of him will deeply move you;the scenes with his father may seem pointless ,but they are actually necessary to prepare you for the final scene between both men ,an extremely beautiful scene .