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Guy (I) (2018)
5/10
Jamet a star ,Guy!
15 December 2019
"Guy" is a fictitious version of "l'air de rien" (the fact that the singer would be the illegitimate father of the journalist is only anecdotal,and is insignificant in the film) which was the portrait of a real aging singer ,Michel Delpech .In 'Guy'" the surname of the star who never was, "Jamet " (a homonym of the French word "jamais"=never) ,is revealing .

In "l'air de rien" ,Michel Delpech appeared as a man who had found peace of mind ;he did not seem to play a part ,he acted naturally ,and most of the time ,his scenes looked more "cinema vérité" than a fictionalized story of a has- been .

Hence the paradox in "Guy" : Alex Lutz the actor/director tries desperately to sound "cinema-verite" ,but it's only a movie, and it can never hold a candle to a real-life career:the fact that Michel Delpech should pass away , shortly after the movie was made, makes "L'Air De rien" all the more poignant.

Playing on nostalgia at top speed,Lutz even featured sixties pop singer Dani as a former singer ;but in real life ,she was only a footnote in the sixties, her career never approaching those of the four top girls of the era.Nevertheless ,her duet with Lutz on "Da-di-da",a pleasant pop song, in parallel with another duet they performed some twenty years before ,climaxes the movie which also features Julien Clerc ,an artist whose career is still buoyant .

The film is essentially some kind of interminable interview interspersed with songs ;the first half hold one's attention,dealing with nostalgia, the hard situation of a has-been ;but in the long run, it becomes repetitive and shows Lutz's tendency to hog the stage ;the final lines ,for instance,are pretentious and are little more than fortune cookie philosophies.
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8/10
Brown turns to black.
14 December 2019
The only movie made by TV producer ,screenwriter and director Gerard Jourd'Hui which was released in the theaters ;it's a successful effort, with a sensational performance by Michel Serrault;based on a Frederic Brown novel,it perfectly captures his tongue in chick suspense, his gruesome humor and his complete immorality .....

Darius (sic) Caunes is a modest printer flanked by a cantankerous spouse ;he finally does away with her and becomes friends with the lieutenant in charge of the investigation ...who does not suspect him at all! Non content with having done such an awful crime,he is also a counterfeiter -which is easy in his printing house-who "gets some change" far away from his home ,one fake bank note at a time .But one blimp is enough to bring everything grinding to a halt !His secretary ,pretty Rose, gives some of these forged banknotes to a buck she is in love with...

Michel Serrault gives a superlative performance (his wry smile, his ironical comments in voice over) ,a criminal but also a respectable little bourgeois ;fine support by Pierre Richard as the cop who has not got a clue . The scene in the cafe when he embraces his embarrassed friend is sher genius ....but a final revelation is reductio ad absurdum that the denouement was not that much immoral after all.

Violence is kept to economic levels, for the crimes are committed behind the scenes;watch this riotously funny comedy -which includes a conversation with the rascal's cat -and take a good dose of black humor.
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8/10
The corn is green
13 December 2019
When the movie was broadcast for the first time on French TV ,it was shown with a thing of the past ,the "carré blanc" (=white square" )on the low right of the picture,which meant that the work was strictly reserved for adults ;today,it would not scandalize a nun.

Which is not to say the movie is bad ;time has passed since and we've seen worse!Claude Autant-Lara was one of the best French directors of all time and progressive at that ;Colette was a feminist writer ,ahead of her time ,whose books were often transferred to the screen by feminist director Jacqueline Audry ,the only woman directing in the pre-Varda days :and like it or not ,Autant-Lara and Audry were more feminist than Varda( see "Le Bonheur" for that matter) :In "La Garçonne ",Audry depicted what one should call a playgirl (in the fifties) ; in "Le Blé En Herbe ",Colette reverses the roles : the still majestic Edwige Feuillère uses Philippe like as a sex object : when she leaves him ,she tells him so :"you'll be a nice vacation souvenir".No more ,no less; people frightened of the rising woman power -which was to blossom in the late sixties- depicted the movie as the initiation of a young virgin lad ... A woman such as Madame Dallery made her way through the fifties thriumphantly , with a whiff of scandal (what she does was only allowed to men at the time);the Office catholique Du Cinema made no mistake when they forbade this "trash " to their flock.

And it had just begun :in the sixties ,Autant -Lara devoted two movies to abortion (still illegal in the French mid-sixties).

A note about the young actors : Pierre-Michel Beck's career was short-lived,but Nicole Berger carried on with her career through the sixties when she was killed in a car crash;
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Indiscreet .
13 December 2019
By and large ,Roland André's works of the late forties and fifties were a notch or two above the abysmal production which was to follow afterward ,each movie lousier than the one before .

"Les Indiscretes" is a harmless little comedy which may possess a little appeal for fifties cinema fans;a threesome of charming actresses helps: Louise Carletti , Dany Carrel and Nicole Berger who was to disappear early in a car crash .

A businessman is killed in a car crash,caused by a heart attack.A young girl,Elisabeth, has seen the accident.The dying man tells her that his fortune, he's just withdrawn from the bank, is intended for his illegitimate son, now a young doctor who does not know who his biological father is.He gives the package to the young girl ,recommending her not to tell him where the money comes.Elisabeth lives in a boarding-house where she meets her two best friends.They go in search of the young doctor ,but ,as the newspapers talk about the disappearance of the banknotes, they fear they may be suspected of theft.

The screenplay is somewhat repetitive , not always witty ,but there are good gags : Elisabeth who does not realize her visitors are cops,even after seeing their cars; her friend ,asking for 400,000 francs every ten minutes;the three girls imagining what might happen to them if they give back the money ;the doctor (played by heart-throb Frank Vilard) overtaken by events , who takes the money to the lost and found ,then complaining because he receives lots and lots of money...And a pair of cops (one of them played by Jean Lefèvre ) worse than Dumb and Dumber or the Thompson twins.

Entertaining ,but the average viewer will forget all about the movie as soon as the word " fin" ("the end " ) appear.
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Aux abois (2005)
Labored
10 December 2019
Based on a novel by Tristan Bernard which took place in the thirties ,but that the screenwriter transferred to the fifties at a time death penalty still existed in France.

Lauded far beyond its station by "télérama style" critics , "Aux Abois" ,in spite of a painstaking reconstruction of the fifties , is a listless thriller ,an interminable wandering, recalling the worst sides of the notorious Nouvelle Vague .

A man has killed an usurer with a hammer and is on the lam all through the movie ;despite the title which means " in desperate straits ", Elie Semoun gives a johnny-one -note performance,and never ,in a month of Sundays ,one believes he is in jeopardy;Ludmilla Mickael tries her best to save the movie from wreckage ,but what can she do when she is given so weak material to work with?

This is PhIlippe Colin's last work to date .
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1/10
Shame and scandal in the family.
9 December 2019
With Raoul André,the French cinema plumbs the depth of mediocrity:his "Ces Messieurs De La famillle "is absolutely dreadful .The plot could have been a guilty pleasure ,but the gags are so repetitive and heavy-handed that the viewer feels sorry for the actors (Poiret et Serrault who had seen better days with Guitry and would see them again with Claude Chabrol).

A chief executive officer makes a manful attempt to crack the commercial coconut (the American market that is)by trying to sell their products to the Yankees;one of their executives is to come to France to conclude a deal ;this man is a puritan ,who thinks that French way of life is contrary to accepted standards of good behavior. And unfortunately the chief executive officer asks Mister Peltier to entertain the American in his home ,where his brother-in-law's favorite pastime is womanizing;and the rest of the family does not help :his wife is mistaken for a prostitute , the maid is a Maoist ,the daughter wears suggestive miniskirts,you name it....

A dreadful potpourri of overacting ,appalling lines ,a pathetic programme! The American never says a single word in English, and he's got a German accent (because his ancestors were Germans,we hear)! The maid sells propaganda papers about the little Red Book in front of her employer's firm,an employer who winds up in the police station every ten minutes !

Take to your heels!
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Watching the doves.
8 December 2019
Paul is thirty-six and is a council worker in a village from Perigord.A confirmed bachelor,he keeps boredom at bay while watching the ring doves.The arrival of Claire,the schoolteacher substitute ,changes his life.She is a refined discreet educated woman who soon notices the passion Paul nourishes for her.She spends a night of love with him.But will she love him tomorrow?

The characters are close to those of Claude Chabrol's "Le Boucher" (aka "the butcher" )who made a film noir masterpiece ; "La Palombière" is no thriller , rather intimate drama .The problem that the movie has nothing in store for the viewer ; no surprise, it becomes the umpteenth version of a worker and a teacher who are worlds apart .

This director has made better works :"histoire d'Adrien" or "Champ D' honneur";watch these ones and forget this soap opera.
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8/10
Dieu est amour.
7 December 2019
Few legends have been woven from humbler stuff,and this particular encounter between one of the poorest peasant girls in a tiny village of the Pyrenées and "the Lady" led to events that shook not only my native France but the entire Christian world.

Lourdes has become the second Christian pilgrimage place in the world after Rome,the second hotel town in France after Paris.

Coming after "the song of Bernadette " ,unlike the latter,Darène's movie is not based on a biography but on a solid screenplay by writer Gilbert Cesbron whose lines go directly to the heart ;this is the first of the two French movies which tell Bernadette's extraordinary tale ,the second (and the first in color) being Jean Delannoy's "Bernadette" .

Cesbron's lines are wonderfully written :keyword is humility ; Bernadette came from the poorest family of her town who would live in a slum called "Le Cachot" (=the dungeon);she says she's ignorant (the admirable scene in which a nun asks her who God is ,and the good pupil who has learnt her lesson well and repeats it parrot fashion), she does not understand what she's been told by the "lady in blue" :the "Immaculate Conception " eludes her ; we never see the apparition and all her lines are told by the heroine or her neighbors ("she was told she would not find happiness in this world,but in the next one")

Bernadette disturbs :she comes against the knowing Church ,law and order ,before winning them over ;later,in the convent ,she's humiliated by the mother superior and she finds that normal,because this amazing grace which emanates from her,saved a wretch like her.

Danielle Ajoret shines in her part and was awarded a prize in the Cork festival :her beaming face is fascinating ,her faith could move mountains .This excellent actress could have made a great career in the movies,but she favored stage (notably Molière)

The movie does not pass over in silence the moneychangers in the Temple ,as pictures of Bernadette are already sold when she 's in the nunnery;a highly trade was to be highly developed in Lourdes Town.

Robert Darène was never a great director ,but when he dealt with religion (see also "Les Chiffonniers D'Emmaus" )he had been inspired.

I would repeat the admirable lines which introduced "the song of Bernadette" :"for those who have faith,no explanation is necessary .For those who don't ,no explanation is possible"
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The brothers ,yes! Lola ,no!
7 December 2019
Lola (see the prologue) has always been a second mom to her two brothers who are probably older than her. These two siblings are played by the director (Jean -Paul Rouve )and Jose Garcia ;both outshine the bland couple Ludivine Sagnier/Ramzy Bedia.

The former is an optician whose problems with English cause him problems with the color of the spectacles : his customers have little choice: peas-green, spinach-green ,green bordering on purple(?) The latter is dismissed and he tells his posh boss a few home truths before leaving his office.His scenes with his son could have been cut ,the movie would not have suffered for it,but every time he meets his sibling,there's a wonderful chemistry between them :their reaction to sister's great event is memorable :they pull a disapproving face when they learn she is in love (and they know she will not be only theirs) :the have excuses : the new boyfriend epitomizes the French feel good scene : highly educated, clever, eating with chopsticks ,in a nutshell :perfect .And Lola is not better :a lawyer (in the" feel good" French movie,this is par excellence THE woman's job) ,who laughs up her sleeve when a crude woman (from the working class) insults her husband ,a scene which sounds distastefully bourgeois .

We'd love to see both brothers teach a thing or two to this self-satisfied self-assured buck.

But we can relate to them ,because ,unlike their brilliant sister ,they are like us : sometimes brooding,sometimes playful ,often mischievous ,together through life .Stand by them.

All the songs are in French! bravo!
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Meet the Sister bros .
6 December 2019
In Italy ,there are the Taviani bros,in France the Prévert bros ,in the USA the Coen bros !There's room for brothers in the movie business, says Jacques Soeur (=Sister) to his sibling Charlie !

They have been sending their "invaluable " screenplay for months to countless producers ,to no avail ;so when the last producer turns their offer down ,they blackmail him : they film him with his mistress in a hotel room and threaten him: the video cassette could be sent to his wife and her wealthy dad ,or ,worse,shown on internet.

Denys Podalydès actually often works with his brother Bruno and one can wonder why they do not use real siblings in the film ;but he does not matter for Podalydès and José Garcia (you may remember his feat in " Harry Un Ami Qui Vous Veut Du Bien " ) are tremendous actors, with riotously funny facial expressions.....

......providing they are given a decent screenplay and a true director!and it's not good news for that matter ; the story is so desultory it's often hard to catch up with : a jumble ;directing leaves the actors to their own devices ,some of whom outrageously overplay (Jackie Berroyer rapidly gets on your nerves) or are totally wasted (Daniel Emilfork who has the most sinister-looking face in the French cinema but almost always chooses the wrong flicks).

The heroes' screenplay ,although far-fetched to a fault ,should have filmed instead of this slapstick : a girl who is crying in the rain at the graveyard attends her boyfriend 's funeral : she has him exhumed and all his organs but the heart (the title is "the heartless man" )are given to the hospitals ;afterwards,the girl goes in search of the people who receive the lungs ,the kidneys ,the liver,etc This might have been a gruesome comedy full of black humor.

Sorry ,Sister bros,but it does make it!
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Black Angel (1946)
7/10
A momentary lapse of memory
5 December 2019
In William Irish 's aka Cornell Woolrich's novels ,woman is rarely a femme fatale; most likely a victim or a wife who gets out of her way to help her husband sentenced to death: such were the case of the heroines of "phantom lady" by Robert Siodmak or "silent as a grave" (adapted for the screen by French director Jean Delannoy as "obsession")

"Black angel follows suit : it's essentially a three-part movie, the middle one being IMHO the weakest,in spite of the talented Lorre and the smart trick of the piano playing ;Dan Duryea is the typical Irish hero; in the writer's world ,there are no brilliant lawyers,no sleuths , and the gangsters often take a back seat ;Duryea is a common piano player ,overtaken by events and he does not really intervene to save the damsel in distress in Lorre's den.

The trick of the brooch is a really a smart one, and amnesia,which has often been present in films noirs ,is given a very special treatment here .Suspenseful.
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The Wind Turns (I) (2018)
The wind is changing.
5 December 2019
Generally praised to the skies by the chic TV magazines "Le Vent Tourne" is actually a confusing work.At its best, these images have a soaring transcendence when they depict the fixed windpump in the wonderful landscapes of Switzerland,superbly filmed;at worst it descends towards the banalities of the extra-marital love affair,with the obligatory sex scenes .

It's a sprawling affair which may be in turn fascinating or boring;too many subjects are treated at the same time: Galina the girl sent from her native Russia to recuperate in the pure air of Swiss mountain after Tchernobyl, pollution and new energy sources, the breeder mistrusting his sister-in-law who happens to be the local vet and her treatments , the engineer who (what a coincidence!)is fluent in Russian,and with whom his wife falls in love .

The film begins with a poem by Rebecca Wood which the story (more or less) illustrates : life can be a long quiet peaceful river (the breeder) or things have to be destroyed (or ruined ) to re-build a brand new world (the feminist side personified by Melanie Thierry's character.)

Mostly in French ,the movie also uses Russian and English ,which shows respect for the audience .As for the characters' motives, it is not always convincing, and Galina ,played by a Russian girl,seems to play second fiddle.

My feelings are mixed.
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Taras Bulba (1936)
The cossack -graduate .
5 December 2019
The screenplay is very close to that of the famous remake by Jack Lee Thompson (1962)starring Yul Brynner ,Tony Curtis and Christine Kaufmann whose parts are played here by Harry Baur ,Jean-Pierre Aumont and Danielle Darrieux .

The part was tailor made for Brynner in the color version ,but with make up,Harry Baur is a very credible cossack : probably the best actor of the French thirties, to many even more powerful than Jean Gabin ,he effortlessly dominates the cast :on the other hand, it takes a lot of imagination to believe that romantic male lead Aumont is his son !The same goes for Danielle Darrieux as a Polish girl;and fortunately Pauline Carton (the concierge of many films and par excellence the cheeky popular woman ) as her lady in waiting has only one scene!

Unlike the American film, the French effort passes over in silence the years in the boarding-school where cossacks send some of their offsprings to study:it begins with the "graduation " ,so to speak,and whereas André succeeds "magna cum laude" ,his brothers has remained a dunce and is proud of it ;and anyway ,one wonders why Tarass wants his sons to study ,for reading ,writing and arithmetic are a sissy's thing if we are to believe him ;the only thing a cossack kas to do is to make war ;to make the matter worse , graduate André has fallen in love with a gorgeous polish girl ,Marina,and his dad besieges her town.

The French in the thirties were very fond of Russian tales ,with laughable casts (see also "Volga En Flammes " ) ;this one is entertaining ,mainly in its first part ,more comic strip than Russian litterature ;best scene: the cossacks ,seen from a distance ,coming to lay siege to André's sweetheart's town.
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7/10
My name ain't Hugues!
4 December 2019
An excellent little thriller ,infuenced by Hitchcock,which was remade by Arthur Penn as "dead of winter" ;an anomaly in his filmography ,his version was closer to the horror movies of the eighties, with even gore thrown in for good measure. Joseph E.Lewis 's work is in the Gothic tradition ,with its castle by the sea and its park with high gates a la "Rebecca" ;Nina Foch is efficient as the damsel in distress, who fortunately proves herself often smarter than her persecutors ;George McRead and the marvelous Dame May Whitty,terrifying under her genial comforting attitude ,give good support ;although the film is rather short (65 min) we feel that this son has remained a little boy under his mom's thumb. (as it often happens in sir Hitchcock's works) Sit back ,turn off the lights and get some scares .
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5/10
The stage door creaks .
3 December 2019
Girod loves the unconventional figures:in "le trio infernal" he made delicate Romy Schneider an awful criminal.In "la banquière" he made the same actress a bisexual Robin Hood of the finance. And he knows his classics too;not only his movie is an update of sorts of "Entrée Des artistes ",by Marc Allégret , but the final will fatallly remind you of Duvivier's masterful "La Fin Du Jour" ;if it were not enough,there are also hints at Vincente Minelli 's "the bad and the beautiful" ,and a short extract from the latter ,the scene in which Kirk Douglas throws Lana Turner into the pool ...

"L'Enfance De L'Art "means "a child's play" in French ;but it takes another meaning in the movie;like Marc Allégret before him,he wanted to depict the budding comedians learning their art in the Paris Conservatoire :many scenes are rehearsals (notably Racine's Berenice),some of which (with made up thespians )could (and should ) have been cut .

The problem with this movie is that the director cannot make up his mind: Simon and Marie' s tale is also looking towards "a star is born" for good measure; Marie 's star is on the rise whilst her boyfriend 's is slowly but inexorably leading him to despair.A drama?

But the best moments are the funny ones: Simon panning the ludicrous screenplay of Marie's film debut ;or the students laughing at the Cesar (French AA) ceremony ;or Simon and his camel ,as an extra on the set of an exotic soap opera;Simon making a mess of his "Berenice " lines ....Hints at aids and gays are not that much funny,though.So,a comedy?

All that concerns Marie's first film is worthy of a Harlequin romance ; and her director (a smug Dussolier) has got a lot of nerve to dedicate his movie to her dearest wife Regine!

When it was released ,the movie got unanimous thumbs down; thirty years on, it has not improved with time.
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The Bandit (1946)
Inglorious home coming.
3 December 2019
This movie has a great beginning and a moving ending,but the gangsters story in the middle is not on the same level.

Ernesto ,a prisoner of war,comes back to his dear Italy ,to find his mother killed in a bombing and his sister a prostitute. The prisoners packed up on a train, the crowds on the platform with the distraught German woman claiming " he married me ", the drive through a ruined country ,the exhausted prisoners coming against an inhuman local government ......All rings true ..

What follows is a bit disappointing ; as the precedent user wrote, the social context is almost completely forgotten ;Lattuada may have had "I'm a fugitive from a chain gang " in mind ,this film noir classic ,but his story is a trite unconvincing story of cops and gangsters and La Magnani is totally wasted as a moll .....

The epilogue,which I will not reveal, is a beautiful touch of melodrama, a genre Amadeo Nazzari knew quite well.
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Mes héros (2012)
7/10
It's Christmas every day.
3 December 2019
A man in his forties (Clovis Cornillac) sees his marriage on the rocks and his ambulances business runs into difficulties .Returning ,willy-nilly,to his roots ,he spends some time in the house where he was born,to be confronted with his old folks ....

A mom ,an anarchist idealist who takes on an emigrated young boy (Tinocco)and who hates the cops.In this part of a caricature of the retired grumpy woman, Josiane Balasco wins us over: her comical expressions ,her stubborn logic and her stranglehold on her hubby she stuffs with kiwis and orange juice are priceless.

Matching her all along the way is Gerard Jugnot 's portrayal of a happy-go-lucky granddad who goes mushroom -picking , listens to Nicole Croisille (and even apes her,using a mushroom as a micro!)and probably keeps on smoking in spite of the doctor's warnings.

On the other hand , Cornillac's problems with his love life leave the viewer cold: this is too clichéd ;fortunately , little time is given over to this hackneyed subject ,and the son has his moment when he defends his mom against the cops ......

The movie ,however ,does not fall into the feel-good atmosphere ,which mars so many movies of the contemporary scene ;it has a darker side to it ;granddad hints as his possible death without succumbing to pathos; we feel ,that ,in spite of their daily quarrels ,this aging couple has understood that they have to stand together ,if they want to go through old age,and to do it gracefully.
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No Escape (1958)
7/10
Trapped
2 December 2019
" Les Possédées " was the first time Raf Vallone and Magali Noel had teamed up and ,in its way ,it was also a "trap" ,for the man spends half of the time at the bottom of a well ; a tendency to overact (vallone and Madeleine Robinson) and sub-Tennesse Williams atmosphere wrecks this attempt.

So here there are again : hunky Vallone and sexy Noel as sensual as ever ;as a film noir ,it's much better than "les Possédées",although there are strong shades of James Cain 's "the postman always rings twice" ,which ,must it be repeated ,was first filmed in France ,before Garnett's and Visconti's (superior admittedly) versions.

Brabant displays a surprising sense of ellipsis ,mainly in the first part: very few words ,and it takes time before the viewer knows who is who ;some details remain mysterious: what has become of Noel's husband? what is the exact relationship between this attractive woman and her peeping tom father-in -law (Charles Vanel) , getting an eyeful of her swinging legs.Even more to the director 's credit ,an uncanny atmosphere ,with this refinery and its relentless thump which sounds like a monster's breath.

It was love /sexual attraction at first sight for this on the lam and this frustrated innkeeper (whose name is CORA ,like the "postman" heroine!).But from the very beginning they are trapped and their attempt at living a brand new life far far away (like the heroes of the Realisme Poétique of the thirties) backfire on them;the director does not always avoid ponderous symbolism (the two fishes Cora releases) and he does not always prevent both actors from overacting .

In spite of its flaws , the movie is a good "in camera" film noir .....

Like this ?..try these.....

"Chair De Poule" ,Julien Duvivier,1963

"La Lumière D'en Face " ,Georges Lacombe, 1955
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Queen of nil .
1 December 2019
Pascale Petit did never become a big star in her native France although the late fifties provide her with her best part in Marcel Carné ' s" Les Tricheurs".

Her Cleopatra is more comic strip stuff than historical drama (although unfairly underrated ,Mankiewicz' s magnum opus has no contenders ) ,but as pure entertainment , not to be taken seriously , it's not worse than the average sword-and -sandal flick :muscle man Gordon Scott (later a secret agent) is completely miscast ,being too young (and Cesar was bald!),but as he only appears late in the movie ,it does not matter ;It's actually George Ardisson (himself a sword and sandal habitué ,later a secret agent too) who plays Cleo's attentive escort and whose character was invented from start to finish ).

The screenplay often verges on tongue in chick ,probably the best way to deal with such a far-fetched story.
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6/10
White milk
28 November 2019
The film begins with an introduction by the book's author, Henry Bordeaux ;his book was famous at the time (the cast and credits read "from the celebrated book of......."),but has fallen into oblivion since ;so has the film.

It is an interesting curiosity which was released about two months before WW2 broke out;A Lebanese Christian woman,Yaminé (a first name which means "beauty ",Bordeaux dixit)-the Maronite Church- falls in love with Osman -bay ,a dashing muslim ;although the girl is engaged to Khalid ,a christian ,a marriage which stems mainly from their families' agreement .The lovers elope ,but the girl's family is not prepared to acced such a misalliance : they kidnap the fiancé;facing the board of gardians ,Yamilé has nothing to say in her defence: her love for Osman is the only thing that matters ,but she affirms she has kept her religion and her faith .....

Long long after this Romeo and Juliet ,a Lebanese Christian female student claims ,that the marriage to a muslim would not be a matter of religion ,but it would raise problems with family and society ;nowadays ,these unions are about 1 or 2%; this old-fashioned movie was not so obsolete...

The movie was filmed on location in Lebanon ,the interior scenes in a studio in Paris .This is the only movie movie by director Charles L'Espinay and he was probably right to call it a day after this single effort :his directing in unimaginative ,and his actors' playing is out of time ;even the great Charles Vanel,future star of the famous "wages of fear" and "diaboliques",does not playhis game will ; it takes a lot of imagination to believe that bland virgin Yamilé and Osman are deeply in love ;"love at first sight" during the cedars feast (hence the title),and a single love scene which fails totally to convince ;besides ,Jacques Dumesnil who plays "Romeo " is thirteen years "Juliette"'s senior ,and it shows :how are you going to believe that this almost mature man is still a bachelor ,"without a single woman" as we are told.

But that a Christian girl elopes with a Muslim Boy (and not the other way about) was not derivative,it deserved a better treatment.
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Tu parles, Charles!
27 November 2019
First effort by Lucas Bernard ,both director and screenwriter;his work as a writer leaves a lot to be desired : his story is complicated instead of complex, full of plot holes ,and it's really difficult to pigeonhole the movie: a detective story? rehersals for retirement?(isn't it a bit ironical for a first work?)A (bland) love story?a depiction of social customs of contemporary times?A gibe at modern art ?A tribute to Arsene Lupin and to Louis Feuillade 's Musidora of the silent era?

It does not make a good movie for all that .In the first part ,every scene seems to be the beginning of the film ,and the cop's investigation ,apart from some good lines such as: "the robberies in museums are risky :try to flog "Mona lisa!";so robbery in the wealthy parvenus's houses is a better job.

Fortunately , there are actors who can save something from the wreckage :an actor who works on stage as well as in the movies ,Charles Berling is one of them ;without him ,I would have yawned my head off all along this bore .In my book,everything rests on his shoulders : wearing a wry smile, often overtaken by events (like the cops in old Arsene Lupin), ill at ease in those galleries of weirdoes (the "invitation") or nouveaux riches (our hero does not have a clue in art),he walks through the film like a tourist , rehearsing for retirement .Too subtle a thespian for the part , he nonetheless succeeds in making us feel his fear of retiring (his "I 'll take care of my grandchildren" does not convince anybody ,even himself ): for that matter ,the very old grandad "they don't know to do with "is an ominous prospect .

He may envy the "beau Voyou" (beautiful lout),his youth and his attractive girlfriend ,but he had the last laugh (the very last picture).
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Farandole (1945)
Folle farandole .
26 November 2019
First version of what will be fully achieved by Max Ophuls ("La Ronde" ,1950),then butchered by Roger Vadim (same title ,1964).

Henri Jeanson would have written the dialogs ,under a pseud,being blacklisted and even jailed for his pacifism ;but,apart perhaps for some line now and then ,(notably Dubost's ) ,his touch is hardly felt in this jumble: the screenplay is desultory , extremely patchy : sitting on a fence, the director does not seem to be able to choose :comedy or drama: probably the former, but the funny moments are few and far between .

This is a stodgy brew in which you find a suicidal man, a crook, a hooker (Paulette Dubost might be the only one to play her game well), an actress (special effects for Gaby Morlay 's short stint ), a trial (Jany Holt ,ill at ease , does not seem to know whether she 's in a drama or in a farce ),reporters vying for their headlines ,a poodle named "Bonsoir" (Good Evening) and 20,000 Francs which pass from hand to hand .

André Zwobada 's firts effort was a sci-fi movie,an anomaly on the French scene during the Occupation and a curio ; his "La Septième Porte" is a strange fable which deserves to be watched .As for "Farandole ",it's eminently forgettable .
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10/10
A second look at "TU NE TUERAS POINT"
26 November 2019
The status of conscientious objector for all men who refuse to make war did not exist in 1949 when the movie takes place; as I wrote in my first comment ,Louis Lecoin,in his seventies, almost died of a hunger strike and was saved by a group of intellectuals and artists (are you gonna let Lecoin die?),some of whom were cinema people:Henri Jeanson,Simone Signoret , Yves Montand , Suzanne Flon who plays the mom in the film .And in 1963 the status became reality.

indeed ,so many and so horrendous were the chances taken by Claude Autant-Lara on his work that,with any lesser talent ,the result could have ben disastrous .A cursory look at the conditions the director had to work under are revealing :two French actors, a German one ,the rest of the cast being thorougly Yougoslavian thespians.He spent every last penny and had to film in ex-Yougoslavia .The movie was released in summer ,when the audience was limited and the critics panned it ,be they left or right .Much more dangerous than Godard 's "Le Petit Soldat ",reserved for an intellectual elite ,Autant-Lara's work was accessible to anyone ,and it scared all the more the powers that be .Even today ,where you can find H.M.Godard 's movie easily , no " thou shalt not kill" dvd is available except an Italian version with English subtitles!And the film was never ,nerver in a month of Sundays ,screened on TV:Hence its importance and its strength.

The movie did little for the Church's reputation too . All the priests stand together for Adler the priest who had to shoot a resistant fighter during WW2:Anyway,the dice were loaded and his cause was won in advance (" he is not dangerous ,he was given orders and could not refuse") ;or could he? Horst Frank ,who was given the part of the "villain ", shines in the execution scene ,injecting more emotion in his "pater noster" than you might think possible ; apart from this sequence , this priest is cold, unsympathetic,and finally acts cowardly afterward.Hence Cordier 's giggles when he learns his occupation .

Cordier's motivation for refusing to be drafted were mostly his religious belief and Christ's words ;but towards the end, ,defended by a worker priest, he realizes that the political Church and the Army walk hand in hand and then he refuses any help, he's doomed ; he may not be released before a long long long time for ,after one year ,he will be asked again to be a soldier ,and if not...

Autant-Lara did not fall into the trap of showing a ruthless adamant army;on the contrary , the military men mostly want to get rid of this burdensome morally contagious guy : the doctor desperately tries to find a medical reason which would allow him to discharge the recruit ; in desperation ,he suggest he declare himself "crazy " ; Cordier does not want this easy way out.....He will follow his ideas through :after all ,as Gandhi and Luther King showed, non-violence can have its way .

Laurent TERZIEFF ,a cerebral character actor, portrays Cordier with a remarkable restraint of gestures and words ;Suzanne Flon ,a committed actress ,is equally effective as the proud mom whose looks say more than words .

Great scenes:

-the medical exam ,and Cordier's adamant attitude ,proudly refusing a comfortable job (the officer's secretary )or the discharge

-Cordier,leaving the military hospital ,and his mates ' reactions .

-Cordier ,alone in a room full of officers ,refusing to put on the uniform...

Autant-Lara's fight in the sixties had only begun : after this burning subject ,he broached,as nobody had done before, another taboo topic :abortion ;it was 1965 and it took 10 years before Mrs Veil's law was voted.

A man whose mother was dismissed from the Comedie Française in WW1 because of her pacifism ,Autant-Lara,the most liberal (and progressive) director of the sixties ,joined the ranks of the far right wing in the eighties ;many are still wondering why...
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8/10
My mummy is gonna die......
26 November 2019
If there is still any doubt that Mr Jérémie Rénier is one of the European 's greatest actors , see "l'Ordre Des Médecins ", a first effort by Mr David Roux , a masterstoke ;taking a subject as old as the hills (a mother dying in a hospital where his son is a seasoned lung specialist ) ,Roux avoids sentimentalism and pathos ,achieving a delicate balance between an almost documentary approach and an unusually human compassion ; many scenes come to mind : after the end (not shown on the screen) ,father and son desperately embrace each other in a dark room;the terminally-ill mom,saying her life has been a fullfilled one and that she can go;her last words spoken could be "all is well ,all is peace" ;the sequence when the whole family savors ice-creams in the garden echoes it ("isn't lemon taste wonderful,mom? and just have a taste of apricot") the young doctor, bursting into tears after saving a patient .

Jeremie Rénier,since his breakthrough with Ozon's disturbing "Les Amants Criminels" (1999),has proved he was able to play anything: from the last ,lonely and wretched guy ("L'Enfant" by the Dardenne bros ) to a pop singer ("Clo-Clo" )to self-assured lung specialist facing a situation which undermines the fondations of his world;a world which is not rosy every day : the scene in which Rénier took my breath away is when he scolds a young intern who has just said to a young patient suffering from mucovisdicosis that they would save her : and in spite of his ruthless words ,Rénier achieves the incredible feat of remaining endearing to the audience .

Matching him every step of the way is Marthe Keller's portrayal of a dying mother ;co-incidentally ,miss Keller had ,some forty years ago ,portrayed a terminally-ill woman opposite Al Pacino in "Bobby Deefield";she shows here that, unlike some her colleagues lost in the current "feel good" French scene,she can age gracefully.;spare of words and gestures ,she expresses everything with her looks.

But whereas the patient remains resigned to her fate, the husband does not accept it: "I'm fifteen years her senior,I should have gone first!" or " I 'd like best your mom to be in your service ,I'd be easier in my mind ";terse answer by the son: "it wouldn't make a difference".

And much to Roux' s credit ,no song in English ,as it is often the case with his "trendy " colleagues. Joe Dassin' s "C'Est La Vie Lily " provides the movie with one of his rare playful moments; "Donne-Moi La Main" is the equivalent of the poster ,the man with bright prospects who for the first time in his career needs a helping hand and who feels helpless and lonely in his tragedy .

Yes ,Mister Roux will be a name to be reckoned with,in the years to come.I would highly recommend this work,but only for people with a strong heart.
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The Wastrel (1961)
7/10
Crawling from the wreckage
21 November 2019
Part psychological drama,part adventures, this Cacoyannis movie belongs to the first part of his career ,before he hit the big time with his famous "Zorba the Greek".

A man (Van HEFLIN , it's quite surprising to see him in this Italy/Cyprus co-production) whose marriage is on the rocks,sets out for a little sail (and not around the globe as the storyline reads)on a simple motorboat (and not on a yacht ,as the storyline claims) which explodes :hence the title "IL relitto" = the wreck .

This wreck of course is symbolic and it may seem a bit ponderous: the wreck of the boat parallels that of the marriage .

After the wreckage,with only debris to keep them afloat ,father and son are going to struggle for their life in the middle of the sea :today ,this subject has become a favorite for fans of suspenseful movies ,but Cacoyannis' treatment is first psychological drama .

The scenes of these two unfortunate shipwrecked persons are interspersed with many flashbacks which show the last quarrel between this wealthy alcoholic with his wife (Ellie Lambetti) wooed by a handsome man (Fabrizio Fabrizi).

Although this treatment may seem pretty original ,it actually throws the film off balance : these scenes from the past begin to drag on after a while ,and are finally quite derivative .On the contrary , when the director comes back to his heroes lost at sea,he makes his work a winner : pictures of the mother which appear and disappear beneath the waves gives the movie an eerie touch ;moreover,Van Heflin is excellent (apart from the child,the other actors are indifferent) as this father,hoping against hope, comforting his terrified son,realizing that his life itself has been a long wreckage . You should watch it for him .
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