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Princesse (2014)
Appearances are sometimes deceptive ..
20 August 2018
A man is in awe of his little girl ,Lois ,whom he spoils .They spend an afternoon on the town where he takes her to a candy store where she stuffs herself with sweets ,lollipops,and barley sugar;the shop assistant is wise :" you should eat fruit instead, you're going to put on weight".

Her father buys her a Cinderella dress and Lois thinks she has become a princess,were it for one day ;on the merry-go-round ,she begins to realize that plump girls are not made to be princesses ;she hardly find a place on the carousel "you're gonna crush it" says a girl ,when she wants to sit in the coach ; her father sees her humiliation, and shouts "press the button!" ;then she soars over everyone and is taken to imaginary heights.

It does not fool the audience ; it's a cruel fairytale ,in which frog princesses do not marry princes.
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Le flan (2015)
Vote of confidence .
20 August 2018
In a tiny village ,Robert is sure to be elected mayor ,for there are only seven voters ,four of whom are himself ,his wife and his parents ;against all odds, he fails ,a vote is missing ;but which one? his father's ? his mother's ?his spouse's?

In the parents' home ,we attend the settling of scores ;political stakes become a family feud and old resentments,building up for years,resurface .Much to everybody's surprise ,the wannabe mayor reveals he had no program at all.

A funny short ,with an astute ending ,well played by famous actors, particularly André Dussolier and Michèle Moretti as the parents;a political fable which has a contemporary feel.
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Chouquette (2017)
Breton land drive.
20 August 2018
A "Chouquette" is a ball of choux pastry sprinkled with sugar" ;in the movie ,it's the nickname a grandson gives to his granny ,a boy who is not overly fond of grandma ;he repeats several times :'I wish you died ".

Given the poor imdb rating ,and the fact that both actresses are not among my favorites ,I thought twice before watching it,but as nobody had reviewed it to this day on this site ...

I expected the worst ,and I have to make amends : it's not that much bad , there is a beautiful cinematography which takes advantage of the splendid Breton landscapes ; a welcome touch of black humor ; and a grumpy sullen Sabine Azema ,who never cracks a smile ,makes it a (very minor) winner.

At the beginning of the movie , the viewer might think he chose the wrong film: pictures of outer space ,of the universe (is it a sci-fi work?),and a questioning about the end of the world (and thus human destiny);it might seem exaggerated ,the connection with the movie being thin and boiled down to this : grandad (whose nickname is Gepetto) is fond of cosmology.

This is essentially a road movie ;the first scenes take place in Chouquette's desirable mansion (with a servant );she is about to celebrate her husband's birthday and she has invited several persons,only one of whom turns up : Diane, her hubby's mistress ,("I invited you for I thought you would not show up"); as for the hubby/lover ,he is nowhere to be seen.Then begins a long drive along the roads of Brittany ,involving both women , the grandson and the mistress's mother they collect in an old people's home ;the conversations often hints at death ,which may seem unusual is this kind of work ; the scene between Chouquette and the person in charge of the holiday camp is totally silent ,which is rare nowadays.We often feel the "drag it is getting old" ;an embittered Chouquette finds it hard to drive her rival's mom ,not only because she's burdensome ,but also because she represents all that she will become in a time not so far away now..."your time is not the same as my mom's " says the brat ,who knows both women hate each other and that her grandma's rival is younger .

That said ,there's also bad taste and poor ideas : Chouquette's pet is called F........ cause the servant cannot pronounce "Phoque " ( = seal in French); plenty of American songs (with one exception by Gainsbourg) which bear no relation to the plot ,the biggest flaw of the contemporary French scene; all savor American food (made by a French cook) whereas Brittany makes the best crepes in the world ;and the most obnoxious moment : a radio announces "the death of Bob Dylan " ,a stupid hoax which was spread by twitter last year;the censorship should have cut that!
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Ausweg (2017)
Dead end
19 August 2018
As the sun begins to rise,a young couple is heading for the mountains where they take refuge in a deserted house ;they think that no one will ever be able to find them ;they have escaped from their village where they do not approve of their union .At night they make love,but shortly after ,hunters appear in the woods , a father(the girl's ? The boys's ?) is among them.When they get to the place ,he shouts: "it's forbidden ,it's a sin!" ;the viewer thinks that they should not have sex before the wedding (judging by the clothes ,the events must take place in the fifties);it's actually much worse than that ;a girl's line reveals the unspeakable truth.

This is a desperate short,with an ironical title (Ausweg =way out),not for the squeamish.
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Villeperdue (2016)
6/10
Picking up the pieces
18 August 2018
Several months after the death of the father , the mother ,her son and her daughter get together in their modest flat in a project ("Villeperdue"(= Lost city) does exist ,but the events do not take place in this small village in the "Centre" region ).In movies, Family gatherings generally happen in rather rich-looking houses with well-off people where most of the problems are essentially psychological.Here the characters we meet come from a humble background :we do not even know if the sister works; the mother probably lives on a reversion pension,which is not much ;as for the son,he is a private ,not even a NCO: he seems to enjoy his being in the army ;we learn he is presently training in a boot camp (the last pictures show him there).

This mother-and-children reunion , to celebrate mom's birthday should be a moment's happiness ;however, deep wounds appear now and then ;the past remains vague but the mother claims that they have left her alone; she probably dreams of a reconstituted family with long-distance truck driver Regis and his daughter ;note that during the long sequence by the river where the children have a swim , Gaev introduces her new friend to their family but the night has fallen when Vincent shakes hands with him .Anyway ,the mother appears as a grown up kid ,who still acts as though she was in her twenties ;the intimate scenes are not always convincing,sometimes hysterical ,with lots of swearwords ,sometimes convivial,without apparent reason ;in spite of this reservation ,the director succeeds in making us believe there is something wrong in their relationship ,with revealing little details : the children smear the birthday cake with Chantilly cream (whipped cream) bought in a supermarket ,and they do not even bring a single present to their mom (only Regis does).

It's a very short movie (52 min) and ,in spite of obvious qualities, this work leaves us hungry for more;we haven't got enough time to make this family unit's acquaintance ;the soundtrack includes opera arias ,which may seem turgid to some ;but anyway ,kudos to the director for including a song in French ("Confidences Pour Confidences") whereas most of his colleagues opt for the obligatory English/American track(s).
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Le léopard (1984)
An African queen .
16 August 2018
The tough raider and the old maid in the vast sweep of Zimbabwe,Africa ,doesn't it remind you of an American movie of the fifties?

It probably does;but "Le Leopard " is a dud; the only interesting thing is the landscapes of the exotic country where it was filmed on location ;the screenplay is abysmal, badly written,full of plot holes ;both talented actors go out of their way to salvage something from the wreckage ,but what can they do when confronted to a labored story ,written in a slapdash manner?

A former secret agent ,who wrote a first novel which tells the eventful adventures of his hero "Le Léopard " ,comes back to work in a cock and bull story of coffee and rockets ,fighting against a vague organization whose whereabouts are unknown ;he is reluctantly joined by another writer ,an old maid who has written tons of novels featuring her own hero Nick Denver.This character is based on a real life person ,who was once a true love of hers :he appears in the movie,but the hero has turned into a villain who wants to get rid of his new rival (for,of course,the raider and the spinster have fallen in love ).

The movie constantly hesitates between the adventure movie à la Indiana Jones cum James Bond (the prologue looks like a poor man's "thunderball") and pure burlesque (both heroes riding ostriches -"can they fly" asks the damsel in distress)and loses on both counts.
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The night of the disgrace.
13 August 2018
A two-part historical MTV work,it depicts the feud between superintendent of finances Fouquet and Colbert both vying for political power ; It happens at a pivotal time in French history : the death of Cardinal Mazarin ,who ruled the country during Anne D'Autriche's regency ,and the beginning of the Sun King's reign .

Didier Decoin , famous director henry Decoin's son as well as a renowned writer wrote a strong screenplay even though he made the Squirrel the hero ,a bon vivant and a charmer and the Grass Snake the ruthless adamant villain .

Laurent Deutsch portrays a cheerful extravagant Fouquet ,sometimes a bit naive ,particularly when the king refuses to spend the night in his desirable castle and does not realize how sullen and jealous the monarch is ;in fact,he already fell into disgrace,without him knowing ,three months before the fete.A patron whose protégés (La Fontaine , Lebrun,Molière) appear in the movie ,mainly in the first part, and who would later work for the king.

Thierry Frémont is a cold sly Colbert ;Madame De Sévigné ,who was Fouquet's friend ,called him "the north" .She appears in the movie, and comes to his friend's wife's rescue when the king wants to take her children away from her.

Filmed on location in Fouquet's castle, in Vaux-Le -Vicomte ,and in other castles ,it's a rather good historical movie,in spite of occasional inaccuracies (the Fouquet/Colbert meeting in Pignerolles being the most egregious gaffe).

Directed by Laurent Heynemann ,whose most interesting theatrically released work was also a historical movie,dealing with torture in the Algeria war.
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8/10
His fall from grace was swift and sure.
13 August 2018
The highlight of this episode is the extravagant fête, rivaled in magnificence by only a couple in French history ;the king was entertained at Fouquet's castle with such luxury that the king was in a sullen mood the whole night : a gargantuan buffet ,a play by Molière ('Les Fâcheux" )produced for the first time for the event (the playwright begs the royal pardon for the lack of rehearsals ).The king was so infuriated by his host's wealth that he refused to spend the night in the palace ;on the other hand , Fouquet appears as a naive bon vivant, still thinking he impressed the monarch and that he was leaving to comfort the pregnant queen ,alone in Fontainebleau. This fête was certainly the straw that broke the camel's back ;but actually, , Fouquet's disgrace was secretly decided upon on 4 May, more than three months before .. The splendour of the entertainment sealed Fouquet's fate,in spite of his enormous popularity ,not only among the artists ,many of whom were his protégés (La Fontaine ,whose "La Grenouille Qui Veut Se Faire Aussi Grosse Que Le Boeuf "(= the Frog who wished to be as big as the Ox")is ominously heard at the end of the party ).

During the fête,in parallel, Colbert and his men are shown ,dissecting the accounts books; one thing that worried Colbert is almost passed over in silence :Belle-Isle and Fouquet's fortified towns.

What's true,on the other hand , is that Fouquet could only be judged by his peers ,the members of the parliament;so they urged him to sell his office so he could help the king with the money ...and be judged as a simple subject ;it was a travesty of a trial ,the document found behind a mirror( accurate historically)was obsolete and totally irrealist .

This second episode was well received, more appreciated by the users ,if we look at the ratings .it is sure easy to see why : Decoin let his Alexandre Dumas side flow ,which gives the episode a much more storylike side ; the part of Fouquet's (second) wife (Sara Giraudeau)was fleshed out and D'Artagnan appears in the flesh,complete with Gascon accent ;he did arrest the superintendent ;true to himself,he appears as a human musketeer , displaying sympathy for the prisoner's wife (the meeting on the farm might be fictional) ,and feeling sad when he left him in the gloomy Pignol fortress where the unfortunate bon vivant would spend the rest of his life.

Like the screenwriters love to have Elizabeth the First and Mary Stuart meet (it never occured), they felt compelled to make Colbert come to Pignol to visit his former enemy :"we could have been so good friends" says he ,in this invented scene ,from start to finish;Fouquet's poisoning is not taken seriously by most of the historians today too;this man called "Danger" (sic) had not motive anyway.On the other hand ,the wife's visit is credible, for the king had eased Fouquet's captivity.Even though the screenwriters briefly mention the alleged twin brother of the king,they spare us the iron mask .

In spite of historical innacuracies ,this is a very good MTV work;I wish we had more stuff like this!
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8/10
The king,the squirrel and the snake ...
12 August 2018
It could be the title of a La Fontaine fable ;the writer does appear in the movie ,which makes sense ,for he was one of Fouquet's protégés ,as many artists were ,those artists who would work for the king (Levau,LeNôtre, Lebrun ,Molière,Vatel ) after their patron's fall.

Nicolas Fouquet had acquired enormous wealth,and when the duke of La Vieuville died , he became Superintendent of Finances in 1653;at that time of regency ,the master of the kingdom was Cardinal De Mazarin ,a sick old man .King Louis the Fourteenth was still working behind the scenes ,but his trust in Colbert grew .A feud began between him and Fouquet ,the "squirrel," a clever but extravagant man who had a castle in Vaux built ,and Colbert ,"the snake" ,who claimed that not one-half of the taxes reached the king and accused his rival of embezzlement.

A muffled feud , with spies (mostly women) in the pay of both enemies ;Lorant Deutsch is to be praised for his portrayal of a man whose desire of magnificence (and munificence) knew no bounds ;during the eclipse -a superb scene ,which climaxes this first part- whereas they talk about the end of the world,nay ,Apocalypse,he shows no sign of fear ;so does the king ,who knows the sun cannot disappear .A charmer ,a bon vivant , Fouquet 's got many friends and lovers .

On the contrary , Colbert (played with an admirable restraint by Thierry Frémont) ,is as cold as "the North" ,as Madame De Sévigné (also appearing in the telefilm ,for she was helped by Fouquet after her husband's death -and ruin) would call him.He looks more like a spider spinning its web than a snake ;he hints at Fouquet's past ,at his maladministrations of the state's funds ;and little by little ,attracting the Cardinal,after the king ,on his side .He's proud to be a clothier's son and mainly,he is careful with money .

The future Sun King may still be working in the wings,but his attitude during the eclipse and his first council leaves no doubt about it :he will rule alone when Mazarin passes away.

Fouquet's fall has begun at the end of the first episode; the queen mother ,who is not part of the council anymore ,tells him so :"make sure your feast is not too sumptuous ".

And in the twilight glow of the last scene ,Madame De Sévigné 's misgiving is palpable.
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6/10
The man who knows too much has his suspicions
12 August 2018
This entertaining comedy begins like an old movie by Jean -Paul Le Chanois ,'"Agence Matrimoniale " (1951):an accountant (Jugnot) works for his bossy mom's marriage bureau;et 33,he is still under her thumb and his fiancée cheats on him with one of his friends ;he meets Barbara (Birkin) and falls in love with her ,but she prefers Julien ,a more handsome guy, who manages a zoo ;but this good-looking chap 's first two wives died (in mysterious circumstances?) and our accountant,Paul, is miserable and is afraid Barbara should meet the same fate as the alleged victims; as they flew to Morocco for their honeymoon, he follows them ;then the film continues as a spoof on films noirs : does the husband really want to get rid of his new wife?

Is Julien a handsome smiling man a murderer? Sami Frey is convincing in a part which will remind you of that of Cary Grant in "suspicion" ,relatively speaking of course; only his motives remain obscure: there's no hint at a whole-life insurance ,for instance .

Paul becomes the bride's bodyguard ,but Barbara is blind to what could well be murder attempts;she as clueless and as naive as her attentive escort is oafish .

The supporting characters ,with one exception ,are funny: the wife who does not want a souk item anymore, after her husband 's bargaining ;the hypochondriac who mistakes Paul for a doctor and harasses him for a piece of medical advice ;on the other hand,gays may be infuriated: the so called tennis player looking for a partner is naive,dumb, demeaned ..

In spite of this regrettable character,which should have been suppressed,this is a buoyant little comedy;filmed on location in Morocco,it takes advantage of its splendid landscapes.The three principals rise to the occasion.Jane Birkin 's part will remind you of those she played opposite Pierre Richard in the precedent decade.
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L'élan (I) (2015)
3/10
He is totally alone. He is 3 million light years(?) from home.
10 August 2018
"L'Elan " was almost (26th of December) issued in time to reap the Christmas tickets and some parents might have mistaken it for a movie aimed at the children's market ,but it is not so,by a long shot .The writers ,besides,felt compelled to issue a warning at the beginning of their work:they are not responsible for the numerous deaths their audience will see ;if it does not make sense ,you found it all.

This is the story of an extra-terrestrial (extra-human,they precise) : where is he from? From outer space? from the center the earth? Nobody knows; the newcomer is a humanoid dressed in a brown coat with a moose head (hence the title) :he looks like a cross between a carnival fancy dress and Jacques Demy's "Peau D'Ane" ("donkey skin").

This could have been a marvelously precise spoof on "ET the extra-terrestrial" but the paucity of the ideas and the lack of true humor do not help ; besides, the movie has metaphysical pretensions ;a scientist comments the moose-man's actions ,doings ,very seriously and present us with a fait accompli : people from other worlds do exist ;proof positive :he's got a whole album of those creatures .

Some people want to make friends with the newcomer : a whole family would like to welcome him to their home,but they are leaving for a vacation;fortunately, the gas station man needs help .But the nasty chemist (in love with a TV host who comes to the village -to interview the moose-man?) and the lazy hunters are to be reckoned with .

There are some unusual static shots which possess a sense of mystery ;but it does not make up for the desultory screenplay and the dull directing;poorly acted.
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10/10
La Gloire De Marcel.
6 August 2018
"Manon Des Sources " matched Pagnol 's great works and was arguably his best since " La Fille Du Puisatier" (1941);it's also his legacy for "Carnaval" ,a collaboration with Henri Verneuil ,was a disaster ,and "Les lettres De Mon Moulin ",was too uneven a work.A legacy ,it certainly is,but a mammoth work ,a 3h 45 movie ,and never a dull moment ;it flows along ,a source which never dries up (sic).

Now overshadowed by Claude Berri 's work in two parts,which is and is not a remake ,I won't add much to all that has been written on the site by both precedent users;I just want to point out that in the 1952 opus, the central character is the schoolteacher who plays a prominent part in the work (on the poster you can see his face;not on Berri's one.Now I'll stick with the black and white gem,perhaps my Pagnol favorite ,along with "Merlusse " and "La Fille Du Puisatier"

This schoolteacher is masterfully played by Raymond Pellegrin who found here his lifetime part ;I have always thought that he was the director's spokesman;after all, Pagnol's dad was a shoolteacher(remember the beautiful "La Gloire De Mon Père " and " Le Château De Ma Mère ",transferred to the screen by Yves Robert ) and he was an English teacher before writing and directing;it's not surprising that it's him who indirectly works the final "miracle" . "Manon " is originally a work in two parts;it was to last five ,nay six hours ,but the producers did not want to hear of it : both parts were released at the same time (like ,for instance, "Les Enfants Du Paradis") and the audience had to pay twice of course .

It might well be the longest French movie at the time but the four hours never seem to drag by .It might be this work which made Pagnol one of the new wavelet 's favorites ;it might seem obsolete,it's actually very modern :the scenes are very long ,they seem to have been filmed in real time ;if Pagnol's lines were not so witty and so florid,some of them would look like impromptu performances:

-the long scenes with Monsieur Belloiseau (Robert Vattier whose hilarious performance of a deaf and talkative clerk is unforgettable;often compared to Professeur Tournesol (Calculus));choosing a deaf man to deliver a speech is sheer genius ,and it adds a lot to the final scene which ends part one when everybody is panic-stricken .His long tale which begins the story in which he tells the hunchback's terrible fate (he's referred to "Jean De Florette"only at the end of part 2) could have been a stodgy melodrama; the "game" his audience plays wins us over : it shows that,like all the genuine artists,Pagnol never forgives his sense of humor .

-The speech the vicar delivers in an overcrowded church lasts ten minutes (you read well) and will remind Pagnol's fans of his short "Le Curé De Cucugnan"; although anticlerical to a fault ,the director does the priest justice :"your prayers are for your tomatoes" ;science ,represented by the schoolteacher ,and later by the engineer -whose geological explanations in front of a clueless village council are worth the price of admission,too :then again ,it could be the bore to end all bores :it's simply great!-,is as helpless as religion when it comes to get water back.And sometimes the viewer stops and wonders : perhaps the old country woman's curse -in Provençal Patois - is stronger than faith and reason (too bad that the wonderful Marcelle Géniat should be absent in the second part).

Water (although the movie does not deal with this problem ,"La Fille Du Puisatier" is "the well-digger's daughter all the same)and land (see "Joffroi" and "Regain" )are recurrent themes in the director's work ;so is the outcast : the unwed mother in many previous works ("Angèle "and the famous trilogy), lonely teacher ("Merlusse" ) ,halfwit ("Angèle" );Manon 's family was rejected from the start because her dad was a hunchback (superstitions would claim it brought bad luck)and had left the country for a while,he was not worthy of their community ;alone in the world with a sick mom we never see ,she 's got a chip on her shoulder;:some say Jacqueline Pagnol ,the attractive director's wife was not a great actress; but her husband made her a winner : a long-haired mysterious wild girl who knows the hills and their secrets (and who knows she's got sex-appeal),she effortlessly wins the audience over.Whereas it took a whole film in the remake, Manon's misfortunes are told here in admirably succint style : Belloiseau's tale , a drawing ,and (which is stunning in Pagnol's work) Ugolin 's visions (special effects in 1952) when he realizes that ,coveting the girl and the farm,he loses on both accounts.

There were things that would never alter ,in the director's canon:aided by a bevy of tremendous actors (they should all be mentioned) ,as usual,he creates dozens of unforgettable characters : you'll remember the butcher who used to give "scraps for the hunchback's dogs" ;the over possessive mom who accuses Manon of having split her dear boy's skull open; the mayor who tactlessly tries to undo the harm they've all done .

And if the director was sometimes accused of "filming plays" , do watch the marvelous landscapes of Provence ,of course filmed on location.And if both "trials " are filmed stage production, then give me more of them!

Comedy walks hand in hand with tragedy in Pagnol's magnum opus ;Raymond Pellegrin reportedly said something like :"Pagnol ,it's the sun on the brink of ruin".
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Bloodmoon (1990)
6/10
Blood moon on the rise.
4 August 2018
Compared to other serial killer stories, this one is above average ; when "Friday the thirteenth "and stuff like that consists of killing teenagers one by one, teenagers we hardly know before they get slain.

Here,there is a decent screenplay and chiefly , the screenwriters did create characters ;even though we guess who the killer is long before the end ,his behavior makes sense .If the youngsters are rather bland and conventional, the adult characters have some substance : the nun (the ending sees her play the part of the sister of "vertigo" ), the nymphomaniac headmistress and her impotent husband,the biology teacher , the policeman .

The rivalry between the wealthy students who" will become doctors and lawyers and the prole ones" is not fully exploited and it's too bad;but good scenes such as the maleficent relationship between the teacher and his wife, the two girls who try to see the tests before the exam so as to get only As make up for it.

Pretty good entertainment in this Australian thriller.
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Edy (2005)
7/10
Black and blue with the insurance blues again.
31 July 2018
This is Philippe Noiret's last leading part (in his last film,he is only supporting as a garage owner),and he is sensational ,stealing every scene he is in,even though his co-star is talented François Berléand .Marion Cotillard 's screen presence does not exceed five minutes (first in a dream which comes at the most awkward moment ,then as a future insurance agent).Jacques Spiesser ("RAS"; "black and white in colours" aka "La Victoire En Chantant") has a cameo as an insurance agent;

The first scene looks like a spoof on thrillers, although it's almost scary ;Berléand is about to shoot a man holding a spade who does not know why this "enemy" wants to do away with him and asks him why ;terse answer by the vilain :"dig!" The movie takes time to take off and seems to drag on for a while ;clues are given later ,notably the " reason" to kill a man and bizarre extracts of a famous TV quiz .

As soon as Noiret ,who (paternalistically) teaches the future insurance salesmen,appears ,he 's bigger than the screen:even when he talks about dirty deeds ,he remains "true to himself" ;his hilarious deductive reasoning is in keeping with market principles ,even though it means slaying some people on the way.

A funny comedy ,bursting with black humor ;the director should have stopped his movie when the insurance agent learns the news in a cafe on TV;but never mind ,you'll spend a happy time with Noiret and Berleand,the latter thoroughly overtaken by events.

Like this? try these.....

"Série Noire" (Corneau ,1979)

"Le couperet "(Costa-Gavras,2005)
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The French meet Davy Crockett and Napoleon.
29 July 2018
There is a French touch in this western which is closer to a political fable than to the usual stuff.Besides,the family Parker meets is French ,which is very rare in the genre.

Jeanne Dubois tells him so :"we came in America ,because we were in search of liberty";if the movie takes place at the end of the Civil War,then it was still )Napoleon (the Third , the nephew of Bonaparte)who was ruling the country (1848-1870);it was a dictatorship that led the country to war with Prussia / Germany (with disastrous consequences later in the twentieth century).Hence Jeanne's remark ,even though she does not hint at both emperors at all.

On the other hand ,Luke Darcy admires Napoleon (the First),with his inflated ego;it's not a cardboard character though ;he is a true demagogue,like far-right wing leaders ,he promises lots of things (schools ,hospitals),he's perhaps convinced he works for the greater good of his future subjects ,for he has an empire in mind ;and yet he remains deaf to the father's plea .As for Parker's wife ,her fate remains ambiguous ;as is his relationship with his enemy who reminds him of his own brother.

In spite of some implausibilities (the little girl survives the stampede),the story is not that simple .

A note about Nicole Maurey ,who recently passed away:she began her career with a masterpiece ("Journal D'Un Curé De Campagne " aka "diary of a country priest" by Robert Bresson) ,then continued to work in her native country ("Action Immédiate" )and in the US ('secret of the incas" opposite Charlton Heston.);but trying to do too many things at once ,she never became a true star in both countries.

Henry Silva ,who plays a supporting part in "the jayhawkers" ,enjoyed a career in Europa (mainly in Italy) in the seventies .
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Henry (I) (2010)
6/10
Henry Un Ami Qui Vous Veut Du Mal.
27 July 2018
Henri ,the hero of the eponymous movie,is a cynical man,a swindler, a selfish racist dude who's only concerned by his own good.

He's got two jobs: he owns a music instruments store and plays in a "rock " band but when one of the musicians of the group ,Maurice,dies in a car crash ,his burial is the least of his worries ;he knows that the late pal has a lot of valuable instruments ,notably a Les Paul bass ;it's not hard to buy these precious items from the alcoholic mom for a song .But Maurice's son does not agree and he tells him so ...

Besides,he tries to get rid of his sane sister,by driving her crazy : these scenes are certainly the funniest in the whole comedy ;it looks like a spoof on those thrillers where the villain wants to latch on to a relative's money ;it culminates in the scene with the shrink "who already knows the trick" .

"Henri" is a pretty funny comedy ,full of black humor, sometimes overblown ,with over-the-top performances ,but it makes a welcome change from feel-good flicks ;besides the final song ,over the cast and credits,is in French! No masterpiece ,by a long shot ,but good fun!
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Mon garçon (2017)
4/10
On an experimental basis.
27 July 2018
The thriller based on child abduction has undergone some changes since André Cayatte days ;they try to treat it in a more realistic way,by concentrating on the relationship between the parents ;and here,sadly ,we run into the hip cliché :the parents are separated ,but they still love each other,in spite of it all .Fortunately the wife's new partner is not cardboard .And the scene between the two rivals,which begins in a genial way , ends up in violence ,from whispers to screams is a good moment;the best scene of an "experimental" movie, maybe an impromptu performance , it takes advantage of a relevant detail: the wife's miscarriage ,as she was pregnant by her new companion :"you did not forgive her (me),so you have abducted and probably killed my own boy!"you're only concerned by your new shack ,your own happiness!"

The police are present ,but their role is so insignificant the viewer is wondering why he pays taxes to be protected by them!

The word is "experimental": Guillaume Canet had not read the screenplay and thus did not know the ending ; his co-stars did though(after all ,Henri Georges Clouzot regretted that Simone Signoret had read "Les diaboliques" screenplay for he did not like the way she played her character).

I thoroughly agree with the precedent users : too many implausibilities , the psychological drama turns into soft Rambo stuff ,in which Canet ,an intellectual geologist world-traveler (why are you never here when your son needs you? his wife screams ,quite rightly so) shows what he's made of.Single --handedly,yes sir! The flashbacks , now real ones ,thanks to mobiles and computers ,make the difference with the thrillers of yore .But it makes Julien's quest look like a video game :aren't the first (enormous) clues given by the computer?The police are too dumb to have noticed the license plate -anyway it's so implausible that we think it's a wrong track.

A movie which starts well,but gets bogged down along the way; too much filler( both final sequences could be a nice commercial : "a good day begins with a good breakfast :the cereals X......make all the difference!") too many flashbacks which do not make up for the plot holes .
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4/10
Mamma mia
21 July 2018
The title is one of the (slightly modified) commandments : "thou shalt honor thy mother and ....mother."From the start ,we know what we are going to deal with: the over possessive mom ,Oedipus complex, and ,a good way to combine pleasure with business, Greece,its blue sea,its blue sky ,and its wonderful landscapes .There is no doubt about it : the cast took advantage of it .

Lauded far beyond its station by the "feel good" critics, the movie is little more than a rehash of the former parts of Melina Mercouri : anyway ,the four boys dance the sirtaki and sing (in Greek,much to their credit) "Les Enfants Du Pirée " aka "children of Piraeus " aka "never on Sunday" by Manos Hadjidakis .Nicole Garcia is an excellent actress as well as a talented director and perhaps she should have directed the movie herself and rewritten the screenplay: for the younger actors and actresses (mainly the English daughter-in-law 's singing exercises get on your nerves the third time)are left to their own devices ;even the marvelous granny Emmanuelle Riva does not know what to do with herself .

At times,it looks as though all Brigitte Rouan's actors hog the stage ,and their lines are generally witless ;the funny moments are few and far between: the mayor has used the cultural funds to get a mains drainage ; the Virgin Mary procession ,led by a cross (orthodox) priest played by pop singer Demis Roussos , that meets the "Bacchanalia" and their giant phallus ;and finally the best moment : the spoof on Oedipus tragedy :but,it's too little too late ;and we are left dreaming of how great the movie could have been ,by focussing on this stage drama :rehearsals , performance , connection with real life ,Freud parody ,etc .It's not enough to include a surrealist Garcia on her flying chariot to suggest ,say, Medea.

Greece ,its mythology , the sons-mother relationship ,all is only skimmed over ;a nice vacation indeed!It's true that fried squids are a gourmet dish in Homer's land.
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7/10
The woman who came in from the cold.
20 July 2018
4.7? Come on!

This is not one of those heavy-handed comedies ;not one of those feel good flicks which pullulate on the contemporary French scene either .And there was a time when they used French (and Polish ,of course) songs in French movies,instead of the obligatory English or American ones....

Like his first effort "Les Héros N'Ont Pas Froid Aux Oreilles ",Charles Nemes's sophomore effort is a gentle work which leaves a bitter taste in the mouth ;whilst his "Héros" was thoroughly mastered ,this one contains scenes that should not have been edited : the commercial adverts -Paul should have been given a less trendy job in the eighties,and Gerard Jugnot's character gets in the way :his sex scene is the only rude moment in what is essentially a romantic movie.

Paul is a playboy: a former girlfriend asks him to marry Zosia ,a Polish girl ,opponent of the regime of her country (it's 1981,December would see the state of siege in Poland and the arrest of many opponents)

Paul hesitates but they told him so: it will be an unconsummated marriage and they will divorce shortly after.Against all odds,Paul ,who is a happy-go-lucky guy,who does not care about politics,flies to Warsaw :Zosia is a gorgeous blonde, and during their honeymoon, he falls in love with her.

But it's not that easy ;back in Paris, Zosia is still a political activist whose friends look upon Paul as an intruder ;and if Paul is in love, Zosia is not so sure and wants to fly to the USA: why by the way?she's almost fluent in French ,whereas she does not speak American at all (at the time,English was not taught in the communist countries)

Thierry Lhermitte and Barbara Nielsen are excellent as a romantic pair ;it's only partially a comedy;and the screenwriters do not choose the easy way: the ending is downright dramatic.

Both "Les héros" and "La fiancée " are neglected films, which should be restored to favor
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7/10
Z'heroes.
18 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
At my time of writing ,4.9! Come on!

First effort by Charles NEMES,his movie does not deal with heroes; his characters are actually anti-heroes,who live a routine life as bank clerks . Jean-Bernard (Daniel Auteuil) and his cousin Pierre (Gérard jugnot) hold second-rate positions -they are afraid of everything in their bank ,mistaking the alarm system technician for a dangerous gangster ;small minds, nothing to attract girls,French John Does ,they share the same apartment where they eat ham and canned food .

These characters are in fact pitiful ,but the viewer can relate to them (aren't we sometimes like them?)The director does not despise them ,and even their cold manager (Jean Giraud) takes pity on them and they are granted a weekend in the country :their trip is disappointing ;even if the movie becomes for a while a road movie ,nothing changes: only the road that stretches out ahead and leads nowhere;and only one of them has got his driving licence ,and his driving is far from being perfect ;on their way back home ,they pick up a girl ,the only event of their trip .

Both try to seduce her,but they do not even consider themselves rivals ;one can wonder if the girl in the nude is reality (or fantasy?)In this apartment ,where there's a problem in the toilet ,where the only culture is TV,what can two guys with loads of hang-ups expect from a girl?

Even the ending is unexpected, but in that context ,it makes sense ;after taking the minor girl home,actually a runaway,they are rewarded by the father who does not show any gratefulness or kindness for the cousins ;he signs a check and leaves them with a cold "we've got nothing more to say " The movie abruptly ends : our heroes buy a washing machine .Period.Derision to the highest degree.

This little comedy was probably too realistic for its won good ;by and large ,the audience does not like to identify with these men in the street who look a lot like them,perhaps more than sometimes .

NB:a little problem :Anne Jousset ,who plays the runaway ,is too old to be credible as a teenager.
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Helpless dancers
17 July 2018
Ivan and Serge are sympathetic characters ;their own occupation is to enter dance competitions where they meet each time new female partners ;Serge claims he's got good prospects and a lot of plans outside dancing,Ivan who is already blasé, has none .They often have sandwiches for lunch and sleep in their car ;but their smart pal,Maxence has big plans for them (that's what he said) and they want to join him in his place ;on their way ,they meet a special hitch-hiker :a wounded gangster who's just burglarized a bank ,and ,at gunpoint,he forces them to drive him to a place in the forest where they hide his loot ....A loot his hostages covet too ;and so does their good friend Maxence.

Good actors,but a desultory screenplay, full of plot holes ,and an absurd editing;all that revolves around the gangster is repetitive and the lines are seldom funny .If we do not give up before the end, it's because these characters,losers down on their luck,are quite endearing.

Chiara Mastroianni appears as a guest star (a former partner and mistress) but her presence does not exceed two or three minutes.
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Lost in the blue ferns.
16 July 2018
This movie had a strong asset ; four reliable actors:Françoise Fabian ("Belle De Jour" ,"Raphael Ou Le Débauché"),Caroline Cellier (Chabrol's "Que La Bête Meure" )Jean-Marc Bory ("Les Amants " by louis Malle ) and Gilles Segal (TV miniseries "Les Rosenberg Ne Doivent Pas Mourir".)

Although Françoise Sagan wrote many novels (many of which were transferred to the screen:only Preminger's "Bonjour Tristesse" is memorable ) ,it was the first time she had directed a film,the screenplay of which was based on one of her short stories;it was one of the biggest flops of the year and she called it a day as a director.

A bourgeois couple,Jérôme and Monika ,along with the husband's best friend and his escort girl ,Stanislas and Betty ,spends a weekend in the mountains in a hunting lodge .Stanislas thinks that Jérôme does not deserve Monika and he intends to take advantage of this two-day break to sleep with her.Betty ,whose companion despises and humiliates her,consoles herself with Antoine ,the warden of the chalet ,a simple-minded young man ....Stanislas and Jérôme go hunting in the mountains while Monika is reading,and Betty shopping in Chamonix.

I must confess that ,as a novelist ,Sagan is not my cup of tea ;as for the film,,it's psychological drama wrapped in Cellophane ;bourgeoisie is treated with indulgence ,unlike in Bunuel's or Chabrol's works .However ,there was something interesting in the Betty/Antoine relationship :both are exploited by the wealthy class ;she's an escort girl, her companion pays her to 'sit there and look pretty" ;he's a big kid,and for his employers ,just a piece of furniture they patronize ("it's pouring with rain,Antoine ,you're going to catch cold" );but Sagan lets them have sex and that's it ;she's more interested in her bourgeois ;if you can relate to this kind of characters ,much good may it do to you.

Do pick up the movies I mention above ,if you want to see these talented actors and actresses in a favorable light.
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Mon chien (1955)
9/10
Where have you gone ,my Pierrot?
15 July 2018
In 1948 , Georges Franju made a memorable documentary about a slaughterhouse .

In 1955 ,he was still making shorts and documentaries;after the animals for slaughter ,it was only natural that he broached the domestic animals 's plight when Summer Holidays come around.To some of these pets their masters ' vacation may mean abandonment and even death.

Written by poet Jacques Prévert ,Franju's short goes straight to the heart.The director issued a warning: millions of dogs are abandoned when Summer vacations come because they are too big,too burdensome .

A little girl loves her dog,Pierrot,dearly :we see them play together for the last time before they leave for the seaside ,on the 15 th of August.En route ,they drive through a forest -trust Franju to make any place threatening -,much to the girlie's amazement ;then IT happens :father takes the dog out of the car (the pet probably thinks he is going to play with him),takes off his collar (with the utmost care) ;realizing what fate lies in store for her companion,the little girl screams and cries,but mother,impassive ,deaf to her daughter's plea ,takes her away ; straight-faced , the parents have won their well -earned vacation.

A stray dog cannot believe he's been deserted for good;he returns to his empty place where he finds nobody home.As Prévert ironically points out ,stray dogs always search for human protection ;when they catch him ,he puts up no resistance to them .

Franju lets us in the dog pound where they live in small cages,and where they desperately bark all day long ;sometimes a lucky pet finds back his master ,but after 48 hours ,if nobody turns up,the animal is killed .

It was 1955 ,it's all in the past you're going to say,but it's still going on today in 2018 ;after 8 days ,if a dog is not accepted by a person or an association,euthanasia may wait for him .Former actress Brigitte Bardot ,who has always been an animal activist ,is one of the main personalities who violently denounces the vacationists who leave their loving dog on the wayside.Too bad if they leave a little girl crying for her pet....
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8/10
The noise of the lambs.
15 July 2018
"Le Sang Des Bêtes"(1948),Georges Franju 's short ,in 22 minutes,showed it all in an admirably succint style ;the kind of movie you do not escape unharmed,his documentary about a slaughterhouse is still scary.

More than half a century later ,Maud Alpi comes back to the subject ;on the contemporary "feel good" French scene ,it takes a lot of guts to film such a place ;Mrs Alpi's first effort "Drakkar " was already off the beaten track ;instead of showing the hip youth who pullulates in the contemporary French movies, her film only featured a boy,a girl and a dog : their sole company was internet.

The boy and his dog might be Thomas and Boston in "Gorge Coeur Ventre" (= throat heart belly);and the girlfriend also appears in a love scene which may seem irrevelant ,but think it over : the love scene,and the swimming in the torrent with his colleague are the only moments of pleasure in one of the darkest work of the last ten years .

labelled "thriller", Alpi's movie is rather a documentary ;not for the squeamish, even though it suggests more than it shows ,much to the director's credit.She creates a horror atmosphere with an extraordinary economy of means : the silent death factory at night as the boy wanders with his dog through the gloomy corridors ;then after they burn the carcasses ,the ashes in the air ,and silence again ,suddenly enhanced by Léonard Cohen's lugubrious vocals.

In between , the stars are ,so to speak , the animals (the final cast and credits reads: featuring the pigs ,the lambs,the sheep,the oxes.......); although she hardly shows the slaughter , Alpi makes us feel the animals' "sixth sense " ;it is as though they had a premonition that a horrible fate lay in store for them ; the oxes' heads, filmed in close-up , seem to reflect misgiving and even anguish ;one of the beasts draws back (maybe the strongest moment in the whole film) ,in spite of Thomas's shouts "Allez!Allez!" (go on! come on!)...As though he wanted to drown out the squeals, the mooings,the bleatings....

"I wish they could create breeds which do not make noise and do not sh....."says his colleague to Thomas .

You may go veggie after watching it!
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Fear is NOT a woman's best friend.
14 July 2018
In spite of the title ,the movie has nothing to do with Tennessee Williams or Elia Kazan .

Gaby cannot stay alone ; she's afraid of the dark ,of her nightmares which come to haunt her at night .One can wonder,however, whether she spends the whole movie out in the sticks ,in an isolated house .When her boyfriend -who is and isn't all at once,she wants him only to keep her company- , leaves her (he wants to have sex with her and she gets on his nerves),she's completely on her own .She's afraid of the daylight ,in those peaceful forests ,where danger might wait for her behind a bush ;at night when she gets back to her home, it's worse :may an intruder be in the place? So she goes to her one horse town's café where she picks up a man who believes it's his lucky day whereas he actually becomes some bodyguard who watches over her sleep .

The feminists may not agree, claiming women are often depicted as cowards ,but the director is a woman ;besides the character portrayed by Lolita Chammah is throughly credible ;people afraid of everything do exist ,and not only women of course.Too bad the director did not try to explain this pathologic fear (unless the pointless short scene with the shrink counts)sometimes deep-rooted in childhood .

Men in the pub are no longer at hand ,because they know why Gaby" wants " them;so she has to find another protector ;as luck would have it she meets the biggest bearded misanthropist who has walked the earth who lives in a hut in front of a desirable castle ;he's the warden ,but he never enters the place. However ,he might be the right choice,because he does not seem interested in sex ,which is fine with Gaby .

Gaby is not alone anymore and she tries to follow the man (Benjamin Biolay ) here ,there and everywhere ;but his walks through the country look more like an assault course ;actually it seems that her companion wants to educate her,to help her dominate her misgivings ...We would like to learn more from him,why he became such a hermit.

The answer is at the end ,but the average viewer has guessed it well before the "unexpected " conclusion ;this ending is really the easy way out.

That said ,it's an original film, off the beaten track ;it's not one of those ponderous crude comedies which pullulate on the French scene.It's not an in-depth psychological case study either.But it's often enjoyable,and the autumnal landscapes help all along the way.
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