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6/10
Gonna give 'em a taste of their own medicine!
20 March 2019
That's what the title means. A woman who has always been the family's punching bag can eagerly dream of the day she will take her revenge on those who treated her like a scapegoat when she was the poor cousin.

Although coming from a high bourgeoisie background,Brigitte (Miou -Miou really ages gracefully) and her grown up children live in a public housing project ;they are at the beck and call of auntie Bertille , who is rolling in it ;fortunately she dies,and during the funeral , they indecently rejoice ....but never count your chickens before they are hatched .....

For poor cousin Eloise is the sole legatee ! and now, it's their turn to be under their former victim's thumb ! The first third of the movie is a true delight : Anemone in the small part of millionaire Bertille and reminding the family of their living in a nineteenth century desirable dwelling; Eloise ,now a heiress ,"taking in charge her family" ,but demanding a project before putting up money for it ,helped by three consultants; when the humiliated members submit their project to her ,they look like students taking an exam : "did everything go off smoothly?"

The movie loses steam in the second third ,although there are at least two or three good scenes in it , including the moment when Paul,whose art gallery has been approved by all-mighty Eloise, and who intends to add a cafe for the visitors to refresh and offers his sister a ....waitress job.

The last third is much less convincing and opts for facile developments (the baby,notably ,is a cliché. Eloise's longing for someone to love another one ) ;we expected more nastiness ,more madness ,and we get (in spite of the scenes harking back to the past) a glorification of the family with a capital F .

It's the same problem as in "Nous Aurions Pu Etre Amies " ,in which ,little by little,as Carole gained assurance,it was at Marithé 's expense !It is as though Ann Le Ny was afraid to get off the beaten track when it came to ending her movies.

There are enough good moments to make your watch worthwhile though.
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The "dictator" and the mushroom
19 March 2019
Created by Rob-Vel and Jijé in the thirties ,Spirou hit his stride with Franquin who gave the best albums of the serie :"Le Repaire De La Murène" " QLN Sur Bretzelburg" "Le dictateur Et Le Champignon" .....

............And "Z Comme Zorglub" which inspired -more or less - this movie . Like so many comics heroes such as Astérix,Michel Vaillant ,Iznogood , Boule and Bill, this is a hopeless disaster ;the movie bombed in France and it is sure easy to see why : the screenplay is a mess and can be told in one sentence :The Count of Champignac has been kidnapped by Zorglub,Spirou and Fantasio come to his rescue .I really doubt the comics buff will get something out of it. Spirou is very cute and his helicopter gives him a James Bond touch ,but he displays a tendency to react to events instead of initiating them ; apart from the car crash and the ridiculous final,he is totally passive .Fantasio (Alex Lutz,the French teacher in "Jamais Contente ",on the other hand ,hogs the stage ; neither him nor his friend resemble their models,let alone Geraldine Nakache as "Seccotine " (=strong glue, TM) , a reporter (thus Fantasio's rival) ,and (strictly in the screenwriters' mind ) Champignac' s daughter (?);besides Fantasio is in love with his colleague ,which was unthinkable in Franquin's works .

You will hardly know Christian Clavier as the count ; and should you choose to follow Spirou ,squirrel Spip and co through their painful journey ,you would not recognize their world either....

Perhaps I'm not objective enough :I have always preferred Tintin.What can you expect- you can't change how you are made!

NB :Some lines are in some kind of backslang ;but do not panic ,there are subtitles.
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Lamiel (1967)
Lamiel chérie
18 March 2019
Like Jean Aurel 's precedent effort ,"De L'Amour" , "Lamiel " is based on a Stendahl (unfinished ) novel ;screenplay by Cecil Saint-Laurent ,whose touch makes itself felt in the anti -French Revolution lines:the famous sentence of the Declaration of Rights," Men are born and remain free and equal in rights "is ridiculed by one of the characters.

Cecil Saint-Laurent 's most famous heroine ,Caroline Chérie, had to live through the dark hours of the French Revolution ,and her misadventures were worthy of "the perils of Pauline";in the movie made by Richard Pottier,screenwriter Jean Anouilh was an asset ,sending away the opponents (aristocrats and sans-culottes)without pronouncing in favor of either.

Like Caroline , Lamiel is free and easy ;unlike her ,who was a noble ,she's a peasant girl , a go-getter ,who found her Pygmalion in the shape of Dr Sansfin (=endless) ,mischievously played by subtle Michel Bouquet ;he helps her climb the social ladder; a charlatan ,who makes a duchess (Denise Gence) think she suffers from an imaginary eyes disease and has her hire Lamiel as a reader ; from the dowager's son (Pierre Clémenti) to a count (Jean-Claude Brialy) she marries ,she eventually finds love with a thief (Robert Hossein)....

Like Julien Sorel ,she is not in a world where she belongs and Saint-Laurent will see to it...

Even though Anna Karina (27 at the time) was a little too old to play an ingenue ,she shows plenty of go in a part which does not demand too much anyway.The cast and the nice cinematography make up for the relative paucity of the story .

Like this?try these .....

"Kitty " Mitchell Leisen ,1945

"Caroline Chérie" Richard Pottier ,1950

"The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders " Terence Young ,1965
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Belle étoile (1938)
7/10
It's a wonderful life in France!
18 March 2019
Jacques De Baroncelli was a prolific director ,active from the silent age (1916)up to post-war years ("Rocambole" 1947)."La Duchesse De Langeais"(1942) is considered his best work.

This one is a comedy.The beginning might remind some users of a famous scene of the all-time classic "it's a wonderful life" -which had still to be made in 1938-: a young man ,weary of life ,wants to throw himself into the river ;but a young girl does it at the very moment he is about to act.He saves her and a "guardian angel" welcomes him ,in the shape of a tramp ,played by the always wonderful Michel Simon.Nothing magic,nothing religious ,like in Capra's beloved work.Simply the two young people decides to live under the stars ,like their mate .The chick (Meg Lemonnier)is a wealthy banker's daughter and the boy (Jean ¨-Pierre Aumont) a poor artist ,but he is handsome whereas all the men the rich dad wanted his heir to marry were graybeards.

Dad gets out of his way to find back his precious darling;but gangsters get wind of the disappearance and demand a ransom.This is a pleasant cops and robbers comedy in which everyone ,the bad guys and the good ones all wind up in a court .
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Le patriote (1938)
And the river opens for the righteous...
17 March 2019
It's 1801,folks, and that wicked czar Paul the First is making it rough all over.

Harry Baur was one of the greatest French actors of the thirties,and even when the screenplay takes a lot of liberties (an euphemism) with history , it's a pleasure to watch him .It was not the first time he had tackled a Russian character : a couple of years before,he had portrayed Rasputin,in "La Tragédie Impériale" (the name of the assassin was not historically accurate ,but the movie holds up quite well today)

"Le Patriote " is a horse of a different color,as far as history is concerned : the czar is an infantile tyrant ,probably to justify his assassination and the title : this patriot is count Pahlen (Pierre Renoir),one of the plotters who tells his naive master he is part of the conspiracy just to thwart their ominous plans (historically accurate) ,and commits suicide once his duty is done (false,he died years after).The czarevitch (Gerard Landry) knew everything about the plot,but he thought his authoritarian father's life would be spared ;on the other hand, his love affair with Nadia (Josette Day) is pure fiction and seems inspired by Rudolf Von Hapsburg and Mary Vetsera :after his father's death,he became Alexander the First and married a German princess.

Paul the First's reign was not thoroughly negative : he notably made the living conditions of serfdom less harsh ; but he did not trust the nobles and it may explain his tragic fate,although the notorious "patriot" of the movie is seen in a much less flattering light by historians.

With his follow -up ,"Katia" ,starring Danielle Darrieux ,Maurice Tourneur would carry on with Russian history (or its footnotes).
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7/10
Pattes Blanches
13 March 2019
I'd like to talk about some details: The flashback ,which is very short ,allows some doubt about the murderer.I watched it picture by picture and I really cannot tell:it seems it's only a veil which is falling.Did she jump or was she pushed?But what's extraordinary is the obvious connection with Gremillon's later work "Pattes Blanches" (1947): the murder of the bad girl (Suzy Delair) by Maurice (Michel Bouquet) on the cliff,and the white bride veil .

Another thing that seems amazing: at the beginning of the French talkies period,the actors used to overplay,in a theatrical way (see Marcel Lherbier's or Abel Gance's works circa 1930).Here their performances are almost amateurish ,in the Bressonesque sense of the word.
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Folie douce (1951)
1/10
Sheer madness
10 March 2019
It was to be Jean-Paul Paulin's last effort ;high time he called it a day for ,unlike some previous efforts ("L'Abbé Constantin" " L'Esclave Blanc " "Trois De Saint-Cyr" "la Nuit Merveilleuse " and even "Echec au Roy" and " L'Homme Qui Vendit Son Ame Au Diable " ...) ,this bomb has virtually nothing to recommend it ;a dreadful pot-pourri of horrible songs (the title song " Folie Douce" =sheer madness,plus some others each one lousier than the one before) ,third-rate acting and cock and bull story .

A chief executive officer thinks he is the captain of a pirates ship and is confined to a mental hospital ,but he manages to escape ;one of the employees of his firm inherits his uncle's castle ,but it's mortgaged to the last brick : with two other colleagues ,he goes to a " corsair ball" where they meet again the escapee from the insane asylum ....

Stay away ...
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Chien (2017)
7/10
They gotta quit kicking this dog around.
9 March 2019
It takes a lot of nerve to assume such a thankless (an euphemism) part ;Vincent Macaigne (who played his game well in the average comedy "Des Plans Sur La Comète" ) is an actor to be taken seriously and he's not about to succumb to the "feel good" atmosphere which mars the contemporary French scene .

Either this hero is a meek saint or he takes masochism to new limits ; it may be another (how ironical !) story of the living being (man or dog ,it does not seem to matter anymore in that context ),who after an eventful journey ,a la "Lassie " comes back to his sweet home ..If Lassie were a man...

Our hero loses his wife (Vanessa Paradis ,whose part is almost a cameo ,his job, everything ) He is ridiculed (the bank executive) and treated with suspicion and contempt by his former boss .He seems divorced from the realities of this world : if it were not so,how could he pay such a price to the pet shop man ?When the dog he just bought gets run over , training lessons for dogs he bought from the dubious man is all he has left ;as he 's got no dog anymore ,he will be the dog.Much to the pet shop guy's surprise, he comes for the training .

Never the sentence "he's treated like a dog" had made such sense: humiliation,S/M games , bondage,homosexuality (and however this is not a gay porno movie) abound ; there's more to the picture than meets the eye : what is the dog/man searching? love,tenderness, or merely a place in this world.

You can interpret this fable according to your own sensitiveness; it may be a metaphor for our world ,where only the strong survives ;the story of an extreme masochist ; the longing for a square deal for the human (?) being ; the legitimate desire to find back ,whatever the cost , your family .

As French connoisseur "search and destroy" warned you,definitely a film only suitable for an informed audience ,not for squeamish .

In the years to come,Vincent Macaigne will be a name to reckon with.
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Good night ,Irene.
6 March 2019
Irene lost her husband in a car crash :she was in the car but she came out unscathed :she was pregnant and she decided she would keep the baby ;but it was hard to overcome the tragedy ,she gave up her career -a stage actress- and her child,Emile , was put in the care of a nurse,Helene .Now,she seems to be able to raise her boy again ,and she meets him in La Rochelle where she meets Yann ,a sailor ;it's love at first sight.

This script may seem derivative but actor/director Nicolas Giraud manages to overcome those clichés and his first effort is endearing.He doesn't pass over in silence a certain rivalry between the mom and the nanny ;the mother is still immature, she finds it hard to make up her mind, till the last pictures ; Nicole ,marvelously played by highly talented Helene Vincent may sometimes seem hard on Irène ,but further acquaintance shows that she possesses the wisdom (which Irène lacks,even though she gives Emile a "wisdom notebook" ) ; she does not really rise to the occasion when she welcomes sailor Yann in the house

Sailor Yann is perfectly depicted in the FRENCH song ,Françoise Hardy's "Des Ronds Dans L'Eau " : "you would like to be loved ,a bit like a hero,but who would enjoy making rings in the water"; for a sailor ,life means adventure,taking risks ,and Irène cannot relate to that .He is about to sail for a long voyage he has postponed several time and his dream is to to take Irene and Emile with him.

This is the very subject of the film: two people launching into a new phase of their life .

NB :"Des Ronds Dans L'Eau " was a song featured in Claude Lelouch's "Vivre Pour Vivre" (1967),sung by Nicole Croisille ;kudos to Nicolas Giraud ,for championing La Chanson Française whereas most of his colleagues choose songs in English whose connection with the plot is often dubious.
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Célibataires (2006)
1/10
Bachelor blues
5 March 2019
This is such a load of trash!so bad one feels sorry for the late Guillaume Depardieu who certainly deserved better .

A thirty-something , who has been living with his girlfriend for three years ,cannot resolve to take the plunge and to marry her ; she leaves him and he does not know where he stands anymore: what's best ? To be a bachelor ,free and easy , or a hubby?

Helped,so to speak , by a bunch of pals, who overplay and try to hog the stage , he makes his way through a cruel world.

All the scenes are hackneyed , badly written and even crude ;as soon as Olivia Bonamy wants a baby ,there's nothing but derivative to expect from a dismal screenplay ,which a poor directing does nothing to rectify.The superintendent who bewails his terrible fate (he 's a cuckold),and the shrink ,whose mom is a pain in the neck ,hit the jackpot!

Take to your heels .
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Asphalte (1981)
Mass exodus for Summer vacation.
5 March 2019
The first time I had seen this movie, a long long time ago,I did not like it at all;today I would be more indulgent.

I had found Carole Laure pretty bad but ,when I watched again the movie,I realized that actually it's her part which is hopeless:no actress could get away with so pathetic a story:Juliette is to meet her lover in Montelimar ,but she 's stopped by a policeman and she realizes that she's driving her lover's wife's car ;in brief ,her squeeze walked out on her;she is then harassed by "Le Cousu" ,a sexually obsessed half-wit ,and not only once;she's almost run over by a car .A man (Jean Yanne) takes her on board and .....car crash !enough is enough! that Juliette can survive such an ordeal is beyond belief!

Denis Amar wanted to depict the Summer rush ,when everybody leaves for a well-earned holiday:as anyone knows,the road kills and in the hot summer ,accidents claim the lives of too many people ;he gets support from the army's health services,from the road safety administration and from the Red Cross....

.....Which does not prevent the characters from accidents !a Beauf (=typical of the archetypal lower-middle-class Frenchman),played by the always reliable Jean- Pierre Marielle ,wants his car ,even without brakes!!the young mechanic keeps repeating it's dangerous ,the vacationist who doesn't want to lose his rented accommodation cares nothing about ....

Meanwhile ,in the hospital ,surgeons and nurses work miracles,working overtime and trying to save their fellow men's precious lives.

The most moving scene shows a couple of old persons,coming to the scrapyard to open a glove compartment to pick up these foolish things that mean a lot.

Yes ,the mass exodus of people from Paris and other major cities at the beginning of the holiday period ,especially late July/early August is murderous;the problem with Amar's movie is that it deals with cardboard characters, nay unsympathetic ones (with the exception of the barmaid played by Marion Game);the subject had to be broached ,but it is given a "much too much" treatment which mars the good intentions.

NB :Watch out for Christophe Lambert's cameo :he's the doctor who "explains" to the desperate Marielle why they need blood.
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6/10
A distaste for kangaroos.
5 March 2019
Much to the credit of the film, it takes place in a common milieu,and the fact that the desperate lover wants to drowns himself in the Canal Saint Martin might well be a nod to Marcel Carné 's "Hôtel Du Nord " a populist masterpiece .

Gus who wanted to commit suicide is saved by Georges who comes to his rescue;but the savior cannot swim and the person with suicidal tendencies feels compelled to save him;this is a good gag and a good way to introduce the characters Gus (Dupontel) and Georges (the sadly missed Jean Yanne).Grumpy Georges,a hair dresser ,and Gus become inseparable,in spite of the hairstyle the new friend adopt for him,which makes him look like a villein from the Middle Ages .

Gus suggests Georges he enter a hair contest which takes place in Czechoslovakia ,a festival of bad taste : he will be his assistant , justifying the title of the movie ("every man for yourself");sequences which takes bad taste to new limits ,from the opening ,which apes cheap sword and sandal movies to the horrible works of the hair dressers (Georges' welcome simplicity being the exception.)

It's a pleasant comedy ,but it does not really make it as a whole ; a desultory screenplay does not help and it takes all Yanne 's talent to make it enjoyable.
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The King (1936)
King of Cerdagne.
4 March 2019
Based on a successful play ,"Le Roi" has funny moments and boasts a dream of a cast :Victor Francen,Raimu,Gaby Morlay ,Elvire Popesco.....

One of its subject is familiar in the thirties and forties: the nouveau Riche,who's got the money and the old aristocrat ,who's got the ancestors :see also "Le Maître De Forges" ,"Les Nouveaux Riches " "Le Bal' and the masterpiece of the genre " Les Affaires Sont Les Affaires".

The Nouveau Riche (Raimu) would do anything to pull the rug out from under the marquis's ground:he did not want his daughter to marry his son,a commoner ('"it's unthinkable!) ,so he will take his revenge on him by stealing his lover and by entertaining his majesty the king of imaginary Cerdagne Jean The First .As his family is not used to move in the aristocrat world ,we have hilarious scenes à la "Madame Sans-Gene":the message in cipher Raimu uses to welcome his guests,his missus' problems with the refined language ,his daughter's doggerel..

But the movie has a contemporary feel too: the wealthy man is a democrat ,on the people's side ,he even passes for Red ,a true lesson in demagogy:the leftist politician welcomes a king,a bishop and colleagues who do not give a damn about the people's fate.
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8/10
La terre
3 March 2019
The story ,even if takes place when agriculture was beginning to modernize (the threshing machine) ,was arguably inspired by Emile Zola's "La Terre".Vanel's character recalls the Père Fouan even if he does not want the earth to be shared between his brothers and sister.He loves the earth and nothing else and the conclusion of the film proves him right ,at least to the authors' eyes.

"La Ferme Du Pendu" (The hanged man's farm)is a rural melodrama ,without the thriller side of contemporary works such "La Ferme Aux Loups" or the celebrated "Goupi Mains Rouges" .Its depiction of the peasants is less caricatured than in Becker's work.The long scene of the wedding is excellent ,complete with songs (Bourvil in a supporting part sings one of his "logical" songs ),the bridesmaids' lament which goes on repeating that marriage carries away romanticism and true love ,blue jokes ,and a curious dance where the guests jump over chairs .

The movie transcends clichés :the farm girl who got pregnant by one of the brothers ,the bad boy who finally realizes that a child could be his salvation.Even if the word is not uttered ,the master of the farm wants his servant to have an abortion .

If Charles Vanel is great as the patriarch (actually the eldest brother),he is matched every step of the way by Alfred Adam ,a lady killer who becomes disabled and who turns mad before hanging himself desperate because of the child he would never have.

"La Ferme Du Pendu" is arguably one of Jean Dreville's three best movies (the others being " Les Affaires Sont Les Affaires" and "Le Visiteur";let's forget his celebrated tear-jerker , "La Cage Aux Rossignols " remade as "Les Choristes ).
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5/10
Step right up Ballerina
3 March 2019
Michele Morgan and Henri Vidal ,then wife and husband ,were the ideal couple for the young girls of the era .The movie they made together were good at best ("Fabiola" ),rarely exceptional ("L'Etrange Madame X"),generally mediocre (this one,"Pourquoi Viens -Tu Si Tard?).

The title comes from a nursery rhyme sung when girls dance in a ring (the first picture) ;it is used ,later in the movie,as a ballet score (the best moment ,with a beautiful scenery and Morgan graceful as ever).

Jean-Paul LE Chanois is now universally demeaned in his country ;some of his works are unfairly overlooked :"L'Ecole Buissonnière" "Sans Laisser D'Adresse" and even " Agence Matrimoniale" and "Le Cas Du Dr Laurent" ;but some others are indefensible .

"La Belle Que Voila" is a spate of clichés and ,unlike Douglas Sirk or Jean Gremillon who directed "L'Etrange Madame X",Le Chanois is incapable of transcending the permanent features of melodrama :two people in love want to become artists :a great sculptor and a ballerina ;but life tears them apart ,he winds up in jail for years and she's wounded (he tried to kill her when he found her with another man who had made her drink )and if she does not take care of herself ,her heart may.....

Like in any melodrama,when a woman is unlucky in love ,she 's lucky at cards ,that is to say at dance :she soon becomes Prima ballerina,ousting her rivals after sleeping with men who help her with her career .And meanwhile his one and only love is still in the nick....

Morgan is a brunette and is beautiful;Vidal is as handsome as ever;but the impact is lacking.

It was the most inadequate follow-up to his brilliant " L'Ecole Buissonnière " ;but Le Chanois turned around from this dud and his next effort " Sans laisser D'Adresse " , a populist work ,his forte , was a return to form.
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Fumée blonde (1957)
A private eye comes back to work.
3 March 2019
Sophie Desmaret is the true star of the movie;Darry Cowl only appears halfway through as Gachit (=waste)and Paul Guers (who in spite of a long career remained unsung in his country)is featured at the very beginning of the film ,only to reappear ten minutes before the denouement.

Sophie Desmarets is a renowned detective but she retired;when a man entrusts her a pack of cigarettes (which justifies the title of the movie:light smoke)which may be very important,she resumes her investigations;that means we deal with a spoof on spy thrillers ,not with Miss Marple's whodunit.

It's a heavy-handed comedy: the appearance of David's false (or true) friends is a good thing;Desmaret's act in the circus begins quite well and the tone of her voice,enthusiastic at first,then shaky,wins over the audience.Unfortunately it becomes repetitive in the long run.Not only the female detective has a not-so-useful assistant in tow,but she 's also got aunt Esther,a pain in the neck.

The scene at Gachit's school is a waste of breath:it's unfunny from start to finish.The "political " side is brainless.
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6/10
Christmas for Cinderella.
3 March 2019
This is not really what you expect from Henri Verneuil : it's an old-fashioned comedy ,which will remind you of Mitchell Leisen 's "remember the night" and " midnight",(late thirties,early forties)both dealing with what we can call the "Cinderella syndrome ";it was shot in color ,at a time it was rare in the French cinema and it enhances the scene of the "Réveillon Surprise" where the young couple enters the luxurious ballroom .

A manicurist (Françoise Arnoul), who dreams of a wonderful Christmas in the four-star hotel where she works meets a mechanic who passes himself off as a wealthy owner of a shipyard (he drives a car where you can enjoy all the orchestra in the worlds ,thanks to a record -player : today it would be in a museum);as she does not want to be outdone by him,she asks an ageing rich businessman (Charles Boyer) to pretend he is her dear dad ,thus making her a heiress.Fortunately his wife (they really made Tilda Thamar look ugly) will be away for a while although she remains present for her photographs -which are not very flattering- seems to keep an eye on her husband .

Then begins a night to remember ,an eventful night ; the screeenplay by Charles Spaak is a bit derivative,but he avoids vulgarity and his comedy is often as light and as sparkling as Champagne ,with witty lines .

Supporting act by Raymond Bussières as the mechanic's colleague 'Soupape" (=valve) who in his scenes effortlessly steals the show from the bland romantic male lead (Roberto Risso);Louis Seigner is also great as the indignant millionaire whose luxury car was stolen right under the hotel staff's nose .

Like this? Try this..

"Le Dix-septième Ciel " aka "Un Garçon,Une Fille " (Serge Korber)
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7/10
Showdown in the lighthouse
2 March 2019
Pierre Chenal's last hurrah-although not his last movie-,it's easily the best of the four thrillers he made when he was back from Argentina."Jeux Dangereux" the precedent year suggested a return to form for a director who made interesting film noirs in the thirties and a masterpiece in the forties ("La Foire Aux Chimères" ).All promises were fulfilled in "La Bete A L'Affut" .

There are two apparently distinct plots:

-A cop's widow (Françoise Arnoul) is through with love and she spends her time collecting money for the orphans of the Police,abetted by a bunch of snobs and false friends.Unfortunately the person who was in charge of the money is assaulted and the money is gone..Might this respectable notable of the town be the stealer,after feigning an aggression?

-A warden has two inmates do some repairs in his house.But he's got a too pretty wife .Two of the men are killed in mysterious circumstances and the survivor,one of the prisoners(Henri Vidal) takes refuge in the widow's desirable mansion. Love begins to grow between them but is the man a victim of fate as he claims to be?

The screenplay is particularly smart as the two stories meet in the last minutes.There's also a grandiose finale in a lighthouse ,with scenes to rival the best of Jacques Tourneur.Henri Vidal was perhaps never better than here and his pairing with sexy Françoise Arnoul was really a good one.The last scene was particularly harrowing when you know that Vidal was to pass away in December 1959,leaving Belmondo and Delon a clear field.

NB:Henri Vidal was disappointed with the roles he was given.He wanted to make movies with Carné,Clouzot,Allégret and Delannoy and his fine physique went against him.
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Me Two (2008)
6/10
Being Daniel Auteuil aka "Dans La Peau De Daniel Auteuil"
1 March 2019
The English title ("me two" ) is much better than the clumsy original one (the person with two persons);it's a funny offbeat little comedy,which loses steam in its last third ,but which features witty lines(with a liking for scatology ) and a good performance by the always reliable Daniel Auteuil.

A eighties has-been(Chabat) wants to make his come back and as he is rehearsing his brand new songs in his car ,he is killed in an accident ; but his spirit survives and "after seeing the bright light they say we see when we're dead ",takes refuges in an accountant's body (Auteuil) .Auteuil 's career is not brilliant ,he's bullied by his colleagues and his authoritarian boss, a young woman (Foïs) who threatens to send him away in a branch of their firm in Bucarest ,Romania .

As for him , the singer's spirit ,who gets used to his new dwelling ,namely the accountant's body ,does not renege on his come back ,in spite of the real owner's jibes ("I thought you were dead/I make an album every six years/ 0,16 album a year ,that's not much")

Two thirds of the movie are thoroughly enjoyable,but the last part becomes too predictable after a while and some scenes (the bloody nightmare, the love affair,the reappearance of the husband in the flesh ) are heavy-handed ;both of them should challenge the powerful firm!and challenge, they do ,but politely,cowardly,when we were expecting more madness.

Daniel Auteuil's fans will have a good time though;so will the others .
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3/10
Shame and scandal in the family
1 March 2019
Chritian-Jaque was often an excellent director who gave memorable works to the French cinema ;but,except for true completists, a wise cine buff would pass this up,if only out of respect for the artist.

It's based on a play and it shows;directing is static, actors and actresses overplay as hell ,and now and then ,a horrible song is heard , egging on the viewer to put his fingers in his ears or use the very convenient fast-forward button.

The story deals with a libidinous family of magistrates,with the notable exception of the judge's wife ,a paragon of virtue, who nonethess is still dreaming of romantic love ;the well-respected young son of the household is to marry a girl from a good background;alas ,his former lover,Carmen , who works in a circus,is not prepared to accept it .

We learn that proceedings held in camera favor fecundity.
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No orchids for the niece
28 February 2019
Like the later "Vieil Homme Et L'Enfant " , "Un Certain Monsieur Jo " pits a grumpy aging man with a tender heart against a child .

Kidnappers abduct a girlie ,but as they have the police hot on their heels,they hide her,unbeknown to him, in a former gangster's place ;now released on parole ,he's back on the straight and narrow and honestly earns his living.In his small restaurant/hotel,with a Guinguette(place where you can drink and dance ) on the banks of the Seine,he works with a dumb bartender with a big heart who did not realize what he did when he took the abducted child.

This may look derivative,but this is not;of course the old man (portrayed by the great Michel Simon true to form) and the girl get on very well and she calls him "Tonton" (=uncle);but the gangsters who cannot get any ransom asks their involuntary accomplice to get rid of the "stuff".Then what was a comedy turns into true drama .

With a genius such as Michel Simon,a smart screenplay by Marc-Gilbert Sauvageon, good supporting parts ,notably Gabrielle Fontan ,as the local gossip,one can dream of what a great director (Duvivier and Decoin come to mind) could have done.It's an interesting effort,which is to be recommended for Simon's fans though.
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8/10
Siodmak back in a country torn apart.
27 February 2019
It was a long way from "Menschen am Sonntag" (Germany,1929) to "Die Ratten" (Germany ,1955).It was a long way from "La Crise Est Finie" (France,1934) to "L'affaire Nina B. " (France ,1961).

Anyway,although a FRench production,"l'Affaire Nina B." is definitely a German movie,even if the lead is Pierre Brasseur.

It is another unfairly overlooked work by Robert Siodmak,a director who took the film noir to its absolute peaks in America ."Nina " is no longer a film noir,although in several respects ,it is.Now the gangsters have been replaced by the war criminals and the spies,the femme fatale (Nadja Tiller replaces Ava Gardner and Yvonne de Carlo)has turned into a whore hired as a secretary .

The cast and credits set the tone: split Germany ;two bits of map which read "DEUT" and "SCHLAND " ,like two pieces of a jig saw,a la Saul Bass For a man like Siodmak,who was driven away from his country when the Nazi rose to power,it meant a lot.

A movie which was ahead of its time,it anticipated the spy thrillers about the cold war .Pierre Brasseur is a blackmailer "specialized" in war criminals.Anyway,all the characters of the movies are "Ratten" (rats):from the corrupt lawyer to the bosses who pretend they help the third world to the pitiful chauffeur,a loser no longer to react to events anymore.

Extraordinary scenes: Brasseur visits one of his " customers" : he tells him about what he "did" in the war: so there were 81 persons killed instead of 80? Who cares?Someone cares : the criminal's seventeen-year old son heard it all.No burst of anger,no tears ,no melodrama,but this boy "who could have been part of the victims" and "who's already heard his school mates talk about his dad's past" cannot take it anymore.

With its use of cinemascope,its icy pictures and its murky atmosphere ,"L'Affaire Nina B." has a deadly charm.
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Becassine comes to town.
27 February 2019
Paulette Dubost passed away a few years ago at the age of 100;she played in lots and lots of movies, most of the time ,supporting acts;many of her movies are eminently forgettable ,but some of them ("La Règle Du Jeu" " La Fête A Henriette ",even "Viva Maria" ) highly commendable

In "La Rosière Des Halles "=the covered market virgin" ,she plays the lead .A naive peasant woman with a gift of the gab ,she comes probably from Britton ,a region which provides Paris with their servants ;the character was certainly inspired by Becassine ,a character Dubost would later play ,long before Podalydès's movie.

The beginning of the story is a true delight ;on the train ,our talkative heroine with her country accent is "invited" to have lunch in the dining-car :much to her surprise,you've got to pay ,and it's not cheap.

A cook in a house where the husband (Pierre Larquey)is a playwright whose lines do not sound right ("you should hear the working classes talk ,it would give you a clue") ;he is a cuckold ,for his wife sleeps with the romantic male lead of his future play;the movie becomes too predictable to be really effective ,but Paulette Dubost sustains the interest throughout .

The play concerns a love story between a servant and a market porter ,which also happens in real live,which will be a great help for the baffled playwright.

Watch out for Vivianne Romance's cameo :she would become one of the two bad gals of the French cinema,along with Ginette Leclerc.

According to French cinema connoisseur Happy Trigger ,his ultimate effort ,"La Grande Meute " is also director Jean De Limur's towering work.
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A female lawyer in the thirties
19 February 2019
Henry Decoin cast again his then-wife Danielle Darrieux as the lead of a pretty good melodrama;an orphan ,Darrieux follows her best friend's not so good piece of advice:pretending to be a wealthy writer's natural child.There is some excuse:her grandmother passed away and she couldn't pay the rent anymore and continue her law studies ;besides ,every time she thinks she's got a job,the macho men want to abuse her! The Cinderella syndrome was much better applied on "Premier rendez-vous" where Darrieux played an orphan again.But Darrieux's charm is irresistible .

Best scenes:

Darrieux's "father"'s wife gets a phone call,while the girl is in the room;someone is talking about a person who would have deceived these rich bourgeois.Has the imposture been revealed?

Darrieux's first defense speech.In fact ,while she is defending an accused ,she's speaking of herself:Darrieux injects more real emotion in her words that you might think possible.
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Le témoin (1978)
7/10
Chabrolesque
17 February 2019
When Jean -Pierre Mocky tries,his works resemble Claude Chabrol's.Such is the case of 'the témoin" which is his best film since "l'albatros" (1971).Here there is a true screenplay,no could-not-care-less directing and the results are satisfying.It takes some time to get off,but after about thirty minutes,the movie hits its stride,and it will remain interesting till the very end.

Noiret killed a Lolita who used to pose(an angel!) for Sordi,a painter in charge of restoring a church.Sordi knows that.Then a good psychological suspense begins ,enhanced by an angelic choir in the church.

There are good lines too:

Superintendent:"this crime can have been committed by anybody!"

Noiret:"Only a sex maniac could do such a thing!"

Superintendent:"That's what I said:anybody could!"
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