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The Descendants (2011)
Globally satisfying but weak plot
The main strong point of this film is that for once we are preserved from violence, blood, gore, sex and and special effects which have pervaded a large part of the cinema and can only quite frankly interest a limited number of people on the planet.
Personally I have always been fascinated by Hawaii, but for a European this place is across the other side of the earth and very difficult to access. I am keen to visit the place to hear their music, eat the local delicacies and photograph the flowers and mountains. My uncle has a time-share there and he speaks some of the local language ! This film shows us a lot of different views of the islands and the climate, given the lush vegetation, seems to be quite changeable with an ever changing sky between rain and sun. One must suppose that one of the film's aims is to show that even in such a peaceful paradise such as Hawai'I, pain and grief are possible.
The film's plot is very limited but Clooney's actor performance in the role assigned to him is very good indeed - for this reason at the end of the film, you feel "highly satisfied" which is not the same as "enthralled" : to feel the latter you would have needed a spicier plot which just wasn't there. As to Clooney's wife in the film – I could not imagine being paid to act in a film and to spend the whole of that film motionless in a bed ? Could they not have used a lifelike dummy ?? As we never saw the woman "in action" during the film even by use of flashbacks, it is difficult for the spectator to feel any real emotion for her and we have more emotion in following the way Clooney apprehends the situation thrust upon him.
One very negative point is the frequent use of absolutely foul and vulgar language by the children. Is this typical of American children nowadays ? Or was it exaggerated for the film ? Whatever the reply to that question, it does absolutely no good for the film at all and the only effect it would have would be to repulse certain would-be viewers who would have otherwise liked the film. How I relish the older films from the 1940's and 1950's where this filth was totally absent and the film far more enjoyable. Even in fighting/violent scenes, people seemed to control their language.
A good point with "Descendants"was the lovely Hawaiian music – I have collected quite a few CD's of this bought overseas and I am fascinated by the culture mix these islands have produced.
Globally I have a satisfactory appreciation of the film which can be put down to Clooney's excellent performance and the magnificent surroundings and music and whilst you feel sad that the poor wife is confined to a bed with the unenviable prospect of death at the end of the tunnel, this sadness is tempered by the fact that we learn she was cheating on her husband. And cheating with who ? One of the killers from "Scream". Your emotions are slightly "numbed".
In Keeping with the Series - 3 amis, bronzés pour la vie........
Although this film actually came out in 2006, I have just now got round to seeing it. I remember at the time when it came out, many people were complaining that it was not as good as the original two films. In fact, the film is a reasonally praiseworthy successor to the other two and notably to the first one which, if I am not mistaken, takes place in Senegal. In fact, I found the second film, which takes place in the snow, decidedly more boring than the first. This third effort, manifestly made on the island of Sardinia, is more in keeping with the first original. The difference is that at the time of the original film, the morals of the film were a shock to the public. Today, the morals of the film remain the same, but public moral standards have declined so much (in my opinion) so that the film's morals do not shock any more and the film is therefore a disappointment to those who were expecting something even more "outré". I hasten to add that I in no way identify with the morals of this film - notably on the subject of infidelity which I find horrifying but I try to regard the whole film as something not to be taken seriously. The humor of the film is an extension of "Le Père Noël est Une Ordure" with the same gestuals and expressions, and it is easy to enjoy the performances of actors one has known for many years. The humour is (a) typically French and (b) within that domain, at the bottom end of the scale of finesse and subtlety, i.e. it is light years away from the likes of Fernandel, Bourvil, de Funès, Richard/Depardieu et alia. But there are some original touches and real comedic talent - I do like Martin Lamotte/Dominique Lavanant, and Thierry Lhermitte, and have a lot of admiration of Jugnot, though his rôle here is really not one of his best. However I am clavier-allergic, and I imagine many other people are too - they guy is just unbearable whatever the part he takes - and Marie-Anne Chazel is reasonably funny but not a ball ! On the other hand I do have soft spot for Michel Blanc with his pseudo-American expressions, and I have always found this actor to have a lot of talent which could be better used in other circumstances. Picture quality wise, the film is abysmal - everything seems overly yellow and it is a real shame that such a beautiful setting as Sardinia could not have been filmed in natural colors. I also mention the low audio quality and whilst liking the title song, would have preferred it to be sung in Italian rather than Spanish - there is something that defies all logic here but I can only conclude that the film director was under the misapprehension that the island of Sardinia was part of Spain !!
Des hommes et des dieux (2010)
This type of film is not, frankly, my cup of tea. The idea to see it was more my wife's - she is Mexican and during our trips to her region of Mexico we always pop in and see a community of Trappist/Cistercian monks whom she has known for many year and one monk in particular who is a great friend of hers. When you know such a community, it's true that the film takes on a more familiar meaning. The monks live a simple and healthy life, selling their produce locally, and caring for the local population and indeed most impressively are little interested in material possessions like the rest of us. To return to the affair in question, I had heard of the Tibherine monks at the time in 1996 so knew something about this drama. The film was incredibly slow to me and of course lacking in action - but, knowing the story, I really don't see how it could have been livened up otherwise. I did not know most of the actors, outside Michel Lonsdale and Lambert Wilson but I found their performance magnificent given the very limited subject matter.On the subject of image quality, I found that several scenes left to be desires - too much grain on inside scenes and a lot of over-whiting in the sunnier outside shots plus a slight tendency towards yellow overall. Ironically, some of the best and most natural scenes are those where they country side was covered in snow and where one might have expected white to over dominate - but this seems to have been very correctly handled by the cameraman. To resume - the limited subject matter means that a passionate exciting film is out of the question - but the actors did the best they could with what they had available. Some of the musical passages were too long and we both concluded that the whole affair could have satisfactorily been locked into a ninety minute time frame instead of dragging on for 120 mins. On the blue ray disc we have, a "complément d'enquête" gives a very interesting comparison of the real monks vs the actors who portray them plus showing the actual monastery and interviews with some of the monks' family members. Certainly a useful contribution to cinema with good production qualities - I am sure the film will end up in a few years being sold in monasteries around the world once it has become better known internationally.
Excellent Action Movie
I discovered this on a DVD on a recent visit to Mexico under the title "Busqueda Implacable". Not being a fan of modern films generally (too many special effects), I did not realise that the film was two years old. I sat down to watch this with my wife and we both concluded that it was an excellent action movie in the James Bond style. Particularly satisfying is the way in which our hero, in his quest to find his kidnapped daughter, liquidates the baddies one by one. The action scenes are nervous and impressive. It's a more modern and more violent version of Harrison Ford's "Frantic". Indeed the film is very violent, but this is good clean violence and is more than necessary, given the sort of scum our hero has to deal with. There is not a dull moment in the film and that is a very strong point. I have also seen the actor Liam Neeson in various other films and have liked him every time. Some viewers may complain that parts of the film are not plausible but I would send this sort of person packing immediately - plausibility is in no way the issue here - what counts is the entertainment value and nothing else.
Bobby Deerfield (1977)
What a yawn !
I made a special effort to see this movie and was totally disappointed with the outcome. On paper, the script seems hopeful, and the choice of actors leaves one with hopes - I liked Pacino in Scent of a Woman and have seen Anny Duperrey and Marthe Keller in several French and other films of the 70s/80s. But I had forgotten how important a part dialogues can play in a film, and in this film they are absolute ..... trash ! The filming locations were also attractive but the hopeless, pretentious and forced dialogues pulled the whole thing down to sub zero level. In addition to that, I am pretty allergic to the world of motor racing and find no interest in this sport. Even the inelegant dialogues in "Love Story" were better than the ones in this film (and that's saying something !!). I was really expecting better from this film and was very disappointed to have been let down so much.
Interesting Documentary WW2
A documentary potted history of WW2, the novelty here is that most of the film has been "colorized". The maker does not like to use this word and prefers to say "restored" but to all intents and purposes it is seeing the war in colour that makes it more gory and emotional. Explosions, bodies, speeches, ruins, bombs, it's all there and by the end of the sixth and last episode you are completely drained ! It is difficult to imagine how so much grief, damage disaster horror can be caused at the beginning by such a small number of people. Apparently, over 700 hours of film were examined before selecting the final product which is 6 x 52 minute episodes.
Why is this not issued to DVD ?
With almost every bit of cinematic junk being issued to DVD these days, and a lot of junk there is too, the mind boggles as to why this film, quite a respectable political thriller from 1970's France, has not undergone such a fate. Indeed the DVD situation in France is now pretty hopeless and whilst a lot of modern transatlantic tripe has here been issued to DVD ( for what reason I daren't imagine ) many of the classics of French cinema are still, in the year 2008, still sadly missing from the DVD repertoire in their home country. I possess a VHS copy of the film and would dearly like to see this restored and remastered as the colours appear washed out or "délavées". The film has an amazing number of strong points, not least its opening sequence with aerial shots of Saint Etienne in the Loire Department all accompanied by a MAGNIFICENT score by.....Philippe Sarde. True the score sounds more reminiscent of desert scenes or some more dramatic décors than a French town. Patrick Deware, who sadly committed suicide at a young age, is brilliant as the pure judge who wants to see justice done in spite of those all around him having cold feet when top ranking officials or politicians are compromised by a scandal. There are unfortunately too few people in the world with qualities of this nature, even today and in whatever country, though I do think that Western Europe has made some progress on the issue. The film is NOT left-wing propaganda ( thank God ) and merely seeks to denounce political "magouilles" or under dealings and has a bleak end. Jean Bouise, another all-time favourite of mine, is magnificent as is also Jean-Marc Thibault. The dialogues today seem a little dated but are far preferable to the politically correct homogenous tripe that today's cinema serves out with deeper-by-the-day ladles.
Ultimate Deception (1999)
Fairly Good film but with some silly stereotyping
This film is not bad, indeed I have always enjoyed movies with Yasmine Bleeth in them ! On the critical side, there is nevertheless a small point that needs to be addressed. There's some typical silly American stereotyping in this film especially about smoking. Need I add that smoking is neither a crime nor immoral ! On the contrary it's one of life's pleasures ! I certainly wouldn't give time of day to a woman who chucked me out of the house for smoking indoors as we see in the film. And, making only the "bad guy" smoke is both unrealistic to start with and a very very poor reflection on an increasingly sanitized and neurotic society. That point made, there is quite a bit of suspense in the film but also some plot holes and incoherences. It does seem highly unlikely that the husband could hide his real life completely and make his wife believe it. I had a lot of sympathy for the husband because he really did love his wife and had a problem admitting his own sterility. He therefore needed to find a child because he feared that if he did not, he would lose his wife and he couldn't envisage life without her. If obtaining a child could only be done through murder, I can see why he did it even though technically the murder was wrong. Anybody trying to cover up the truth about their life will eventually get found out, even if it takes time. Typical of today's American films, this one is very moralistic and the husband is caught by the police and imprisioned for life, which seemed a bit harsh to me, given that the motive was love for his wife and not some awful thing like sadism or cruelty to others. But I assume these sort of films are made to please a certain type of audience, generally the sanitized North American liberals ( the 'politically correct' ) and I suppose that if you consider the work in this context, it does its job perfectly.
Come Fly with Me (1963)
Good Fun and Great for a Rainy Afternoon
I've had this on tape for quite a while and recently transferred it to DVD. It is quite an unpretentious work but such a pleasure it is to watch this type of film compared to all the sophisticated overblown over special brain-tiring FX films of today. It's a hark back to the carefree 1960's when no-one (in the west, at least) had much to worry about, and the time was right for romance and love ! My favourite person in the film is Karl Malden, it's nice to see him in a role different from the Police of San Francisco, and I like the guy's face -it's original and unforgettable. My preferred scene is the one where French singer Simone Langlois, one of my favourites, sings the Yves Montand song "La Chansonnette" ( curiously enough translated into English as the Paris Love Song ) to Malden, his girlfriend stewardess and the ever so funny street urchin who accompanies them, this boy is listed as "Bibi Morat" but I have no idea if he is still an actor today as I have never heard this name outside the film. The on-location shooting in Paris and Vienna gives some kind of authenticity to the film, and I just loved the stewardess' costumes when they dressed up to go out for the evening - they were superb. Indeed, the more I watch the film the more I enjoy it !
Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (2008)
Should please French Canadians & Chti' Vee Wonder !!
This film, which should be a big success amongst the québecois and other French-speaking Canadians for reasons I will explain later, came out recently here in France and is having pretty substantial success. The plot : basically, a manager of the Post Office in Salon de Provence, France is trying to obtain a transfer to the Riviera in order to satisfy his neurotic and depressive wife who wants to live near the sea. Just when he thinks he's clinched an opening in Sanary-sur-Mer, he learns that preference was given to a handicapped candidate. He then tries to pass off as handicapped, wheelchair and all, during an interview for another post in the same area. All goes well and the interviewer is convinced that he is handicapped and cannot walk when at the end of the interview he stands up to say goodbye and thereby gives himself away ! This is a pretext for a "blâme" or sanction, and the poor guy's punishment is to be transferred, for a period of two years, right to the other end of the country to Bergues, in the Nord department, not far from Lille. To someone from the far south of France, going to the north is like going to the north pole, and his wife's old uncle, brilliantly played by Michel Galabru, warns him about the dangers and sub zero temperatures of the north, so our friend leaves his wife in Salon and makes the journey himself, planning to return home every second weekend. The purpose of the film is in a lighthearted and satirical way is to introduce the spectator to life in the north of France and to have a bash at some of the stereotypes commonly held about this region. The film contains numerous linguistic jokes and references and non French speakers will have difficulty in appreciating the full force and effect of the plays on words. Chti'mi is a dialect spoken in the north of France which tends to muddle c's and ch's, use mi and ti to mean me and you, braire (bray) to mean moan or complain as well as frequent usage of the word "biroute" which elsewhere in France is used for something more crude as well as lavish helpings of the word "quoi" (what, eh ! )pronounced as it if were "quow". I can see the film having enormous success in the French-speaking area of Canada as the Chti accent is not dissimilar to that used by the québecois and I feel intuitively that the latter will relish in it. Director Dany Boon is actually a Chti, or northerner, himself in real life and as well as directing actually plays the part of one of the Bergues post office employees and using his chti accent to excellent effect. His mother in the film is played by singer Line Renaud ( which IMDb lists as being born in Nieppe in Department 59 Nord so she may well be a chti herself ! ! )These northerners are painted as high livers, « bons vivants » over indulging in fatty foods and alcohol, very different from the south but little by little, our new manager gets used to this way of life, although the picture he paints to his wife in the south is much blacker than the reality. Eventually she joins him, is initially shocked but ends up enjoying herself too. Plot is not so important in the film, more important is the culture shock and interaction between the players. I have lived for several months in the north of France and the people there are indeed hearty, sincere and friendly, far more so than those in the south of the country who make more noise but are generally shallower as far as friendship goes. I also was lucky enough to have made a guided tour of Bergues about ten years ago, and found it a truly delightful place, surrounded by old fortifications. To resume, I really enjoyed the film and will willingly purchase the DVD when it is issued.
Predictably left-wing but certainly entertaining
I have watched this film several times. I usually avoid Costa-Gavras because he is left-wing and I have no truck with left wing ideals and socialist/commy doctrines. But, politics aside, this film is interesting plot and character-wise. I have read most of the comments from others on this and of course most of them are from left-wing liberals who rant on about racism and middle America etc etc. That was of course most predictable. The title of the film is "Betrayed". And this is what is interesting. How Debra Winger, masquerading as a farmer manages to betray the kindness of Tom Berenger towards her. Little by little she enters into his private life and he is taken in by her. And it is very painful for him when she reveals her real identity. The film is very entertaining and there is never a dull moment. True, there are some violent and unsavoury scenes but these are not overdone. I have great admiration for the character of Tom Berenger - very sensitive to Debra Winger and a man of traditional family values, standing up to anyone he does not agree with, including Klu Klux Klan members and Nazis. His character is actually quite complex and while the liberals will predictably denounce him as a racist, it's actually a little more complicated than this. This is a typical European left wing liberal view of Americans and should not be taken too seriously by the Americans themselves. Indeed the most Obnoxious character in the film is not Berenger but Katie's FBI boss, Michael. I was really hoping this man would die during the film but alas it was not to be so.He was a really evil character who was using Katie for his own ends. In addition the actor playing him really had a mean face !! My main interest then in the film is the love relationship between Katie and Gary Simmonds as well as the tune "the devil's right hand" which is actually the French title of the film.
Suburban Madness (2004)
Scraping the bottom of the ( Texas Oil ) Barrel
Caught this one on the television here this afternoon under the title "La Frontière de L'Infidelité". Never had I seen such a load of brash and ugly women grouped together in one film. The only good-looker was a guy and he came over as weak willed and lacking in character, running off with some dumb secretary who looked as if butter would not melt in her mouth. Basically the film is a collection of the dregs of humanity hypocritically going to church and then having affairs right left and centre. I wonder what spectator could be interested in this. Doesn't show texan women in a very good light. The man's wife was ugly, and his lover looked a drip. But there's no accounting for tastes, be they texan or other. I just wonder what interest the director was hoping to arouse with this, or is it just a portrayal of daily life in Texas. There are also numerous other characters and I didn't quite follow the relevance they had to the Harris' infidelity case. Anyway, there is NO excuse for infidelity and this nincompoop husband got his just desserts. Satisfying though that may be to see, it does NOT compensate for a generally boring film with too many neurotic women and too much uninteresting chit-chat.
Ma fille est innocente (2007)
Run-of-the-mill drug suspenser
A young French lady and her parents are on holiday somewhere in Indonesia, she is used by another Frenchman out there for a drug plant and then captured by the police for drug possession and imprisoned for life. The parents need to use every trick up their sleeve to obtain the release from prison of their daughter and the arrest of the real criminal. Pretty standard entertainment with the usual events in this type of story. Conditions in the prison are shown as being very harsh and quite frankly, the film is a bit of a turn-off for anyone planning to visit Indonesia, be they a drug-peddlar or not. The authorities are corrupt and unreliable and use everyone for their own ends. Dismal prisons, seedy night clubs, snakes, crocodiles, corrupt prison officers and police, all go to make an unsavoury mix which is best avoided. And I haven't mentioned all the bullying which the young lady has to put up with in prison ! You are warned !
Mixed feelings - watchable but not brilliant
The least one can say about this film is that it is artificial and a bit moralistic ! A young lady is sent to university, obviously from a wealthy family and spends all of her money on drinking herself sick. How interesting ! NUmerous passages of the film shown young idiots drinking themselves silly ! Funny thing is, no one is smoking either tobacco or marijuana ! It doesn't ring true. In my experience, all these activities are generally practised concomitantly by students. In addition to this you have a real pain-in-the-neck mother who is wasting the family money on frequent telephone calls to her daughter ! It is absolutely laughable. When I went to university, I had a phone call from my parents about every 2 months, so I do not really understand the carryings-on in this film. Perhaps you need to be a USA student to understand. I found many sequences pretty repetitive and the end most predictable though I actually had forecast Jessie's friend to die whilst falling from the roof during a binge drinking session. In the event, she died a little later at a binge drinking session at a friends house. All in all this is not really very serious, I cannot imagine where these students get all the money from to be able to spend so much on drink so I have doubts about the veracity of the film. Students generally have difficulty paying for their lodging and books and hardly have money to squander away on liquor ! Not a film to be really taken seriously.
Fairly entertaining, doubtful morals
The least one can say about this series is that it is fairly entertaining. It is supposed to be about the lives of an average French family. Of course the family are not average, they are damned well off. Husband is the owner of a high class restaurant and wife is a doctor. They have a pretty luxurious flat. What I like about this series are the actors, notably Bernard Lecoq, Annie Duperrey and Philippe Khorsand. Many of their dialogues are absolutely scrumptious and I am sure that many people can identify with them and their daily problems. What I do not like about the series are its moral values, it seems to depict homosexuality as normal ( which it is not ), unfaithfulness as normal (which it is not ). There's even unfaithfulness amongst the homosexuals. In addition we hear of young boys going off with prostitutes at 14 years old ....For me all this is the height of degenerateness and I cannot identify with these moral values. So I enjoy many of the dialogues and like the actors but am sickened by their values which are not those of a world I would like to live in ! The result of all this is mixed feelings. The lifestyle of the family is that of wealthy French and not that of a supermarket cashier and her postman husband ! So it's a bit artificial. But definitely watchable.
Un acte d'amour (1953)
Leaves a hole through your heart - but worth the watch
I discovered this one on French Television yesterday as the last of a series of Anatole Litvak films. I've probably been over-generous by giving it a 9 but admit to having some strange criteria for my annotations. It is an American film made on location in the city of Paris ( as opposed to being made in a studio ). And this is the Paris of the golden romantic age of the 1950's, not the ugly one of today - there's no comparison between the two. In addition to this we have lavish helpings of accordion playing Michel Emer's "Le Disque Usé" ( Tant qu'il y a la vie, il y a de l'espoir ....), a beautiful song made famous by Edith Piaf many years ago and indeed difficult to find on CD in an ordinary instrumental version...as they say in French .."quand j'entends cet air, je craque ....." ! Another unexpected jewel in the film was a glimpse, albeit short, of my favourite area of Paris - old Belleville and the Rue Vilin Staircase. Whilst most of the film is made in central Paris with views of the Seine etc, at one stage, Kirk Douglas is hiding out from the army authorities down a staircase. This is the famous "Escalier de la Rue Vilin" and there are various views from top and bottom of this staircase. It is exactly the same place as is used in the film 'The Red Balloon", "Les Jeux Dangereux", "Casque d'Or", " Du Rififi chez Les Hommes " and "Le Doulos". I have a book all about this area and apparently another American film was made there called "Gigot, clochard de Bellville" made by Gene Kelly and starring Jackie Gleeson as a mute. As you may imagine, there's more chance of an elephant passing through the eye of a needle than of finding that film anywhere in the world. To return to Act of Love, this is a sort of French "Waterloo Bridge", it starts out in Villefranche Sur Mer on the Côte D'Azur and flashes back to Paris in 1945. The same Michel Emer tune is heard both now and then. Kirk Douglas, as handsome as ever, wishes to stay in one particular room in a hotel, and a flashback indicates why. It is the same technique as in Waterloo Bridge with Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh. At the same time he meets another American tourist who seems to recognize him by who he himself does not recognize. The flashback helps us on this one too. At the end of the film, all fits into place but you have that same sickening and lugubrious feeling you had at the end of Waterloo Bridge. Plot-wise, the film is a little slow to get off the ground, and the love affair between Kirk Douglas and Dany RObin takes time to gather steal. That is my principal criticism. Also we see Serge Reggiani in a very aggressive role which annoyed me no end ! I didn't like the man at the best of times but in this film he was frankly a pain in the neck ! No doubt the film is unavailable anywhere on DVD - but I am at least glad to have a taped copy and will keep an eye out for any future issue. Missed "rendez-vous", be they in Act of Love, Waterloo Bridge or even Charles Boyer's "Back Street" are very difficult for me to bear whilst watching a film and leave an everlasting and indelible memory within me. The film is definitely to be recommended for nostalgics of old Paris, Kirk Douglas fans, and rare gems from the 1950's.
Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
Excellent Technicolor melodrama
I am an unconditional fan of Gene Tierney. I have never seen this actress in a film where I didn't like her. Whether it be in the magnificent "Heaven can Wait", the dark "Laura", the mystifying" Whirlpool" , the brilliantly witty "The Ghost and Mrs Muir" or the sumptuous "Leave Her to Heaven", she scores a hit with me every time. The film is beautifully shot - every picture is perfect with regards to lighting and detail. The choice of sets is exquisite. Can someone please explain why the picture quality of films today is less good than the Technicolor of many years ago. It is an absolute mystery. I agree that picture quality is not everything but it DOES go a hell of a long way towards making a film more pleasurable to view. Gene Tierney therefore carries the role of Ellen to perfection in this film. I come well down on her side despite many others trying to portray her as the psychotic and the villain. But the big question is : where does jealousy and possessiveness start and stop ? How long should you let family and relations invade your private life when you are married. You belong to your partner and they belong to you. It is a special relationship and any outside interference, be it from family or friends is a threat to your breathing space and your freedom of action. Of course this doesn't necessarily mean that you need to resort to murder ( or rather not murder, but letting someone die without helping them, whatever you call that ) or having a deliberate accident to kill your progeny. Of course the situation in the film is exaggerated to arouse the spectator's interest, but Ellen's attitude is not as shocking as all that. Especially as her husband ( Cornel Wild ) comes over as a BLAND WIMP ! Jeanne Crain ( Ruth ) pretty though she was, would have done better to scarper and leave them to it. The only one I felt sorry for was poor Danny who died ( I will not say "was murdered" ) in the lake. I think he got more than he deserved. But to me the real guilty party was Cornel Wild who did not love his wife enough, did not give her the passion she needed, and thus exacerbated her jealousy with the results we know. A very interesting film then, all the more so over and above its plastic beauty. Freely available on DVD in Europe. Its title has been translated into French as "Péché Mortel" ( Mortal Sin ).
You Never Can Tell (1951)
One of the funniest pooches ever !
This is a most original film. I have an excellent copy taped from French TV a few years back. It is a kind of a reverse "Fluke" but instead of a man coming back as a dog, we have a mutt coming back as a man. Also this film is extremely funny, in no small measure do to the excellent and flippant performance of Dick Powell and his female horse companion. I don't know who on earth could have dreamed this idea up but he/she was onto a winner. I am also curious to learn the title of Rex's Favourite Tune which Powell hears the young lady playing on the piano when he returns on a night visit to find evidence of his murder. Fluke had me weeping, but this film had me laughing most of the way through and I was a little surprised by the ending. The Heaven of Beasts is also well done special effects wise and I always have pleasure in seeing animals "speak" with human voices. I am not saying that animals watching would necessarily have the same opinion as me on this subject but there you have it. This film would do well to be available on DVD and to be publicised as its appeal and charm are absolutely TIMELESS !!
A Place to Be Loved (1993)
Brilliantly acted and very touching film
Found this a few years ago on a very cheap DVD in the UK and wasn't disappointed ! I have watched it over and over again. Richard Crenna is a very handsome actor and always plays his parts with great care and great professionalism. He has the perfect balance in his attitudes when trying to negociate the adoption of Sean. With his wife and other kids, he is the perfect Dad and husband. The film is very well done with the usual ups and downs of family life and I found the acting of the little boy Sean just spot on, not overdoing it but showing just enough emotion towards his new parents to keep the spectator hoping throughout the whole film that things would turn out right. The various courtroom scenes and of course the final one are brilliantly done. The child's adaptation to his new surroundings, to his new brothers and sisters is very emotional and I confess to having had watery eyes on several occasions. To return to Richard Crenna, I was very sad to discover on IMDb that he had died a few years back. I do not know all of his films but every time I saw him I was most impressed by his person. I think this film will appeal to all those who are sentimental and who love children. Definitely to be recommended for repeated viewings.
Unconvincing, badly acted heap of tripe
I am a great fan of USA TV films and notably courtroom dramas. Saw this one a couple of years ago on DVD in the UK and on paper the plot sounded interesting so I went ahead and bought it. Do not know whether it is fictional or based on some true life court case. Whatever the outcome, the name Caroline Warmus is totally unknown here in Europe. I was very disappointed by this film. There is a murder and two possible suspects. Either the dead woman's husband or his lover. There is no evidence to support either one more than the other. The acting in the film is atrocious, be it the main actors or even worse, those playing the roles of the police. The dialogues just did not ring true and you felt that the director was just doing this to earn a few extra dollars. The only redeeming quality is the sexiness of the actress Madsen who plays Warmus. Both of the other actors ( man and assasinated wife ) are most unattractive and man's dialogue totally unconvincing. Who is this actor ?? I have played the film three times, hoping to like it more on successive viewings but my opinion remains unchanged. At the end of the film we learn that Warmus was condemned for the murder but I could not find a single shred of evidence justifying this. I thought that tangible proof was needed to condemn someone, but in this case it seems to have been done on intuition or flair - which in my opinion is pushing it !Anyway, all this is too much and too perverted for my natural logic and whilst I appreciate that others like me may find Warmus sexy and attractive, the film itself is actually a total waste of time.
Les casse-pieds (1948)
Brilliant idea, bad image and sound quality - needs to be remasterized
I have had this on VHS tape for several years. It is NOT available on DVD at present ( 2007) . The picture and sound quality are abysmal. In spite of this, the idea behind the work and many of the examples given are brilliant. I am very impressed by Noël-Noël ! If only the France of today could produce comedians of this quality who play with the language yet speak with elegance. Most of today's lot are on a par with the English "chavs". Anyway, the subject of this film is "pains in the neck" to use a polite expression and the film is presented in a didactical form with Noël-Noël as the teacher using a virtual blackboard. He gives examples of the different pains in the neck that exist, for example, the woman who is trying to drive whilst chattering at the same time. One of the funniest is the person whom you don't want to meet in the street. You see them coming, so you quickly cross over to the other pavement. But they have seen you and think that you haven't seen them so they too cross over to the other side of the street so that you won't miss them !! I creased up laughing when I saw this !! OUr presenter also indicates that pains in the neck existed in Roman times and proceeds to show the streets of ancient Rome with Romans speaking frenchified Latin, trying to avoid each other etc etc. The technique is brilliant and I have never ever seen another film deal with this subject so intelligently. Please don't confuse the film with another more recent one called "Le Bal des Casse-Pieds" which was at the time purported to be a remake but which is best off being binned from the first minute. I can't recommend too highly the intelligence and the wit of Noël-Nöël and anybody feeling depressed or suicidal should watch this film to perk themselves up. Making a modern-day version ( pains in the neck are eternal and will always exist in every civilization ) is a desirable enterprise but how are we going to find someone to fill Noël-Noël's shoes ?????
In my opinion THE De Funès masterpiece ....
I have just watched this film for the umpteenth time and really thought it was time to submit some comments for it. Before going further, it is necessary to speak and understand French very well indeed to get the full benefit of the comedy. The DVD has been issued with French subtitles which should help any foreign viewer. From beginning to end this film is a RIOT. Never has de Funès been so lively, so vivacious or so expressive, even in Hibernatus or Rabbi Jacob. I will not go into the story itself as it is too complicated to rewrite in this place but suffice it to say there are a number of quiproquo's, misunderstandings, plays on words, plus an interminable exchange of black suitcases all strictly resembling each other but whereas one contains ladies underwear, another contains 60 million francs and yet another a hoard of priceless jewels. The star of the film is without doubt de Funès as the victim of all these hoaxes aided by his unflappable "wife", Claude Gensac. There is also a brilliant performance by Claude Rich and a minor one by Paul Préboist as the butler. The story is a MINE of surprises and unexpected twists and lasts under 90 minutes. Every minute something is happening, something is being discovered and surprises are appearing. Most of the film takes place in De Funès' character's house so I would imagine it was based on a play. I am surprised that De Funès didn't suffer a heart attack while making this, such is the intensity of his performance. Even you, the spectator will be left breathless by the pace of the dialogues and the energy exuded by Louis de Funès. Not to be missed at any cost, especially as it is now available on DVD !
Hot Enough for June (1964)
Very Nostalgic and Entertaining
I recorded this years ago on the UK TV during a "Dirk Bogarde Double Bill" together with the "Blue Lamp". Whilst the latter has since been issued on DVD ( Many of Bogarde's films fortunately have been ), someone, somewhere has forgotten this one. As it is so entertaining and colourful, I just cannot understand why. This is exactly the sort of film you need on a rainy miserable Sunday Afternoon to cheer you up. It blends Light Comedy, Fairly Exotic Sets, Sexy Ladies, Across-The-Iron-Curtain spy capers and features among others the great RObert Morley ( always irresistible ) and Leo McKern. The plot is original and unexpected. There is a fair amount of suspense and memorable scenes. My copy is getting slightly worn out and I should dearly like to find it on DVD. The UK is probably the only place it will be issued if ever. The title refers to the password that Bogarde must use to make contact with a spy in a Czekoslovak glass factory.
She Woke Up Pregnant (1996)
Excellent acting for a dubious plot
The plot of the film seem a little far-fetched to say the least - that someone would be raped while sleeping appears highly unlikely but technically possible with a bit of imagination ! Once you have accepted the improbability of the plot, the film is actually acted out very well indeed by all the main actors. Picture and sound quality are reasonably good. The title is a little unoriginal and I think they could have come up with something a little more imaginative. As we don't learn the reason for the pregnancy immediately and as we have not a single doubt re the lady's fidelity towards her husband, there are several minutes when the spectator is asking him/herself " How on Earth Could Such A Thing Happen ??". Once the guilty party is determined, the force of the film is "How on earth are we ever going to catch him out ??" A good fil will have the spectator on tenterhooks for the whole of its duration and this particular film succeeds admirably in that enterprise. In addition, William Moses and his wife make a very handsome couple whilst the lawyer defending JOe Penny is an absolutely despicable character, almost as despicable as Penny himself. A film well worth watching for the feelgood factor it dispenses.
The Boys of St. Vincent (1992)
Unequal film, but definitely worth a view
Living in Europe, I had never heard of this film until recently until my Mexican fiancée said she'd seen it over there ( in Mexico ) on their television. Surprised that Mexican TV would actually show this kind of film, and fascinated by the subject matter, I tried to acquire it here - with no success - and indeed only can it be found in the USA on a fairly expensive DVD which I just received and viewed this very day ! My sentiments on the film are mixed - I have never been anywhere near Canada in my life - but the sets do appear to be dreary cold and dismal. Picture quality is not that brilliant and unfortunately the DVD has no subtitles, a bit of a problem when much of the dialogue, especially in part 2 is unintelligible. I am referring notably to the two brothers who have grown up, and Czerny's wife. She didn't even appear to be speaking English and sounded like an East European. The DVD unfortunately does not contain any bonus or extras and I would have appreciated a documentary explaining the basis for making the film, as was the case with the "magdalen sisters".
On to the actors' performance and may I say that the whole of part one and the last 15 to 20 minutes of part two were brilliant and throat-gripping. The rest of part two I found rather more boring and slow and felt that the interviews with the psychiatrist could have been reduced in length. True, they give us some insight into Lavin's character but I found them too long. Secondly, the episode of one of the boys taking drugs or "snow" singularly bored me. I'm just not interested in drug-taking nor films about it and don't see the relevance here. I thought that the "grown-up" Kevin was far more plausible than the grown-up brothers and fully admired the actor's performance in his reticence to testify first of all and then his coming out and taking the bull by the horns, so to speak at the end.
As to the good bits of the film, I have nothing but praise. Czerny's performance is absolutely magnificent - mixing the right dose of cruelty, sensitivity, perversion and rectitude. The character is totally plausible from beginning to end and he is not painted as a purely evil character although there is no doubt as to his irresponsability, violence and paedophile tendencies.
I was also pleased with the actual quantity of violence, shown sex and implied sex. I had been afraid that none would be shown, and in reality there was just the right mix of implied and actual sex plus of course some terrifying violence. Female viewers of the film will no doubt cringe at these scenes as they have a maternel instinct which fills them with horror at the sight of cruelty or abuse to a child.
As a male, I do not have this maternal instinct and therefore do not cringe and I think it is necessary to show these scenes ( correctly dosed, of course ) as they are part of the reality. I find the scenes immoral, powerful, realistic and necessary. I don't believe in showing everything, a part must be left to the spectator's imagination, but enough must be shown to leave an impression of shock with the viewer !! Sorry if that sounds complicated.
The final question I had was "How Close was this to Reality". In France and the UK, at present, there is a sort of anti-Church or anticlerical racism presently rife to the effect that all priests or brothers are paedophiles. This is stupid, incorrect and inexact. I myself was educated first at a De La Salle Brothers College and then at a Jesuit Boarding School and never once encountered problems with these men of God. I never had any friends who spoke to me of this and whilst admittedly there are black sheep everywhere, even in religious communities, I do not subscribe to the theory that they are all paedophiles or homosexuals.
What I did find frustrating in the film was that the matter was not dealt with by the police on the spot when it happened and why one had to wait 15 years for the facts to be exposed. Why was the police report doctored ? WHy were the church authorities not more ruthless with the offending brothers. Why was there collusion and cover-up between the police and the church. I notably felt very angry with Noseworthy's superior who invented some story about losing his memory due to a prostate operation and the Minister of Justice who reportedly knew nothing about the investigations at the time. These were the real guilty parties.
The film is heavy-going and grave and deserves praise for the acting and the way the subject matter is treated. But it should not serve as a yardstick for judging all religious institutions and orphanages. It is important to keep a sense of proportion but also necessary to mete out justice swiftly, competently and ruthlessly as SOON as the need arises.