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Les brigades du Tigre (1974)
A Crime Caper Worthy Of Viewing
At the beginning of the 20th century, Les Brigades Régionales de Police Mobile (Regional Mobile Police Brigades) more popularly known as Les Brigades du Tigre (The Tiger's Brigades) came into being.
Founded by then-minister Georges "Le Tigre" Clemenceau, they were introduced to tackle a wave of modern organised crime and a growing Anarchist terror threat. Skilled in Savate, a street form of French Kickboxing, Les Brigades employed new inventions in their investigations. Fingerprinting, the telegraph and the automobile became part of Les Brigades' arsenal.
The critically acclaimed series of Les Brigades du Tigre (1974-1983) follows a trio of detectives, Commissaire Valentin (Jean-Claude Bouillon), Inspecteur Terrasson (Pierre Maguelon) and Inspecteur Pujol (Jean-Paul Tribout) through their exploits from 1907 to 1930.
Each fictional adventure is interwoven with historical, socio-political and scientific events such as the Entente Cordiale, The Black Hand, the discovery of the atom, as well as the Suffragette movement. The viewer delves into another era with each episode opening with an animated prologue bestowing historical context.
Episode themes reflect the apprehensions of a rapidly developing society in the face of globalisation. Each unique narrative is beautifully crafted with refined attention to historical detail.
Nevertheless, these escapades rarely fall into the pitfalls of inadvertently creating either a dry or sombre atmosphere. The trio's fluid performances maintain a light-hearted perspective. In turn, the dynamic tone ranges from action and humour (the 30mph car chases are particularly entertaining) to dreading suspense.
The famed ragtime pianist, Claude Bolling glazes the nostalgic atmosphere with a retro flavoured soundtrack. The anachronistic instruments exude the charm of the show complementing the colourful aesthetics.
Unfortunately, outside of France, the series is all but unknown save for a cinematic remake in 2006 that didn't quite do the original justice. Despite this, the BBC's Ripper Street seems to have appropriated some of Les Brigades' themes for their gritty Victorian London. Les Brigades du Tigre was conceived by its creator, Claude Desailly, to be France's equivalent of the 1959 US TV- Series, The Untouchables. Nevertheless, their escapades are both a unique experience and a joy to watch.
Agatha Christie Receives the French Touch
Agatha Christie: The Queen of Crime. Although popularised by TV movies starring Peter Ustinov, and later David Suchet, as the Belgian super-sleuth, Hercule Poirot, her page- turners have been adapted for the silver screen since 1928. This long-standing celebration of her work raises the question: is there anything left to explore?
Transpose British tales of bloody murder amongst decadent elite social circles into the quaint rural landscape of late 1930s France and we realise there is plenty of room left for investigation.
Never would the foreign location in France 2′s Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie (The Little Murders of Agatha Christie) alienate Christie fans as her work comes back to life in the coastal Calais region – one of many nods to the narrative's culturally British origins, and a tactic favoured by New Wave filmmaker Claude Chabrol. The 1930s setting also delivers nuances of anxiety to an already foreboding atmosphere.
Eccentric Commissaire Larosière (Antoine Duléry), and reluctant apprentice, Inspecteur Lampion (Marius Colucci) replace Christie's iconic sleuths in these re-imagined adaptations while providing the series' greatest quality that separates it from her original work: the womanising Larosière, a relic of the old world, soon discovers that Lampion is gay. Yet, despite homosexuality being a highly taboo subject during the period, Larosière not only accepts it but their unspoken bond blooms into an endearing father-son relationship.
In 2012, the Larosière/Lampion duo sadly came to an unexpected close. However, last year we were introduced to the new unlikely couple, this time set in the Rock'n'Roll 1950s: another womanising detective, Commissaire Laurence (Samuel Labarthe) and meddling reporter, Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir).
While this odd-couple's relationship has yet to mature to the same depth as their predecessors, their chemistry is unblemished. Although both highly entertaining, the true hero of this comeback series is Laurence's pin-up secretary, Marlène (Elodie Frenck), an enchanting yet somewhat dim Marilyn Monroe à la Française.
Not only does Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie successfully navigate the perilous terrain of adapting a celebrated British institution abroad, but it makes for a revitalising experience all while remaining loyal to the genre's conventions. If it somehow makes it across the Channel, it is certainly worth a watch.
Great Concept, Should Be Executed
I find it difficult to objectively write a full review of this title "Triads, Yardies, Onion Bhagees" as I only could manage 30 minutes. The concept of a multi-culturally controlled London criminal underworld and their struggles for dominance and diplomacy is a good one. Yet, it has been used before. Anyone thinking the Grand Theft Auto games if you replace London with "generic American city"?
As a fan of innovative screenplay, hand-held cameras and gritty settings I should be sympathetic towards this film. It reminded me of a poor attempt between the Shield and Jean Luc Goddard's Breathless. Having now related those two brilliant titles to this makes me feel dirty... If you watch the film, you'll see what I mean with the whole film being done through hand-held camera with not one single establishing shot. This I can survive with for half an hour - but please... there has to be sometime to rest! The camera often tried to show off with some freezes and zooming in. Some showy angles and trying basically to be exciting. Often it seemed to much a student project but once in a while there was a good shot. Problem was with this, when one was found, the trick was abused and used over and over again. In some ways, it was like watching an advert with fast changes from angles and moments within a scene, dialogue being narrated much like one long incessant movie commercial for a film rather than a film itself. This concept never seemed to stop and became more confusing than flashy. These jump cuts being used like French New Wave on crack!
The soundtrack had some good samples. However, the problem lies there. They should have remained samples. Through the first 30 minutes, ten second samples were looped over and over in certain scenes. Changing to another sample for the next scene. In fact, the soundtrack NEVER stops. One scene is a bhangra sample on loop, next it's some gangsta rap. It's also louder than the speech. My thoughts for this were to fill the lack of dialogue and to cover it's poor content for when someone did say something.
The acting was waaaaay over the top. Not one actor held my attention, sympathy or drew any kind of interest. Many of the actors seemed to have little experience of acting to the point of being dragged off the street. The worst moment had to be the introduction to the Chinese boss. This was the only point where a soundtrack stopped... only replaced with an ambient tone... in an attempt to appear mystic and frightening, his accent was Oxbridge, but his overacting and whispering with little gestures were pretty cringe worthy. His bodyguards were the most disappointing - especially their dresscode which was probably attempting to be Matrix-esquire.
The realism is pretty poor without a doubt. Whether this was intentional, I am uncertain. Research into the subject is laughable. One thing that particularly bugged me was a character in almost every scene would have to have a gun as a prop at one point. Whether to caress, pull out and put on the table and shove in someone's face. Now, I'm not a gangster but surely some subtly is required. Maybe it's just to remind the audience we're looking at gangsters. Having said that, I did notice a blatant yet respectable homage to Scarface where a line of coke is done off the DVD box...
CGI and effects are non-existent. Clearly, this is a low budget film. So I wouldn't expect there to be. But one attempt at a gunshot when the bullet missed and hit the wall was embarrassing! The was a little fireball on the wall when the bullet hit which looked like a cartoon explosion from an old arcade game. On top of that, it was in colour. The rest of the film is in black and white.
Regarding the grainy black and white setting. A lot of people have been quite critical of this. Personally, like the concept of the film and some of it's ideas; it isn't bad. They're just done too many times, too blatantly and abused. Of course, this isn't the case with the black and white, since they've stuck to it. As a fan of New Wave, I would say black and white with a touch of grain deserves a nod every now and then; it's a great effect for a film. But unfortunately not to everyone's taste.
This film I'd say 2 stars. Maybe some people out there like watching it - personally I'd say it's good if you're 14, an aspiring "gangsta" and playing Grand Theft Auto when you should be at school, but for anyone else, give it a miss.