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I am a French film buff. I like to escape through cinematographic works that I systematically see 1) with a minimum of information so as not to be influenced at all by critics and/or crippling spoilers, and 2) in the original language, with subtitles eventually.
I particularly enjoy directors like Akira Kurosawa, Alain Resnais, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Alfred Hitchcock, Andrei Tarkovsky, Asghar Farhadi, Bertrand Tavernier, Billy Wilder, Charles Chaplin, Christopher Nolan, Claude Chabrol, Claude Sautet, Clint Eastwood, Costa-Gavras, David Fincher, David Lynch, Denis Villeneuve, Éric Rohmer, Federico Fellini, François Ozon, François Truffaut, Frank Capra, Fritz Lang, George Stevens, Georges Méliès, Gérard Oury, Guy Ritchie, Hayao Miyazaki, Henri Verneuil, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Ingmar Bergman, Jacques Audiard, Jacques Demy, James Cameron, Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, John Ford, John Huston, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Ken Loach, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Louis Malle, Luc Besson (until 1998), Luis Buñuel, Martin Scorsese, Michael Curtiz, Michael Haneke, Michael Mann, Michel Hazanavicius, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Milos Forman, Orson Welles, Otto Preminger, Peter Jackson, Philippe Lioret, Quentin Tarantino, René Clément, Richard Brooks, Ridley Scott, Robert Bresson, Sergio Leone, Sidney Lumet, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Tex Avery, Werner Herzog, Woody Allen, Xavier Dolan, Yasujirô Ozu, Zabou Breitman, ... as a not-exhaustive list ...
My actual list of 10/10 movies is: King Kong (1933), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940), Citizen Kane (1941), 12 Angry Men (1957), Psycho (1960), The Hustler (1961), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Army of Shadows (1969), A Clockwork Orange (1971), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Alien (1979), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Unforgiven (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Se7en (1995), Heat (1995), 12 Monkeys (1995), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Departed (2006), Dunkirk (2017)
On the Weinstein case and above all the pain of the victims
Harvey Weinstein was an excellent cinematographic producer with an extraordinary intuition. He was a workaholic and became then a geek without any real friend. He was also a boss as merciless as tyrannical who wouldn't take a « no » for an answer. Until then, it is objectively the public and well-known portrait of Harvey Weinstein before the media emergence of the scandal. Thus, this excellent documentary completes his curriculum vitae with an avalanche of testimonies as poignant as sorrowful. Personally, I was particularly moved by that of Hope Exiner D'Amore.
Harvey Weinstein was an unscrupulous and pathetic predator who shamefully abused his power. The description of his cv is now finished, as is his career.
Les émotifs anonymes (2010)
A subtle comedy with an extreme sensitivity
Jean-René Van Den Hugde (nm068814) and Angélique Delange (Isabelle Carré) both suffer from heavy relational difficulties: in public, they quickly lose their intellectual abilities and are unable to express their emotion without feeling a deep discomfort, an uncontrollable anxiety, fainting, ... Their common passion for chocolate will bring them together and Jean-René will hire Angélique who turns out to be a brilliant and creative chocolate maker while Jean-René runs a small chocolate factory on the verge of bankruptcy. They were meant to fall in love!
As a synthesis: an efficient and original love story with two marvelous actors
Parlez-moi de vous (2012)
Talk about others to better forget one's own emptiness
Abandoned by a 17-year-old unmarried mother, Claire (Karin Viard) became the host of a famous talk show. Nevertheless, all her (tiny!) entourage find her distant and hardly fulfilled: she ostensibly avoids the company of people. In fact, she suffers. Internally and intensely. Her behavior is close to a permanent self-penitence with quite sad habits: she sleeps in her closet, probably to better isolate herself from the 'noise' and be alone with the memory of her mother. With all the frustration that can be imagined, until a private detective finds the trace of her mother ...
Excellent actress game. Karin Viard is perfect, although sometimes excessive And this is the first film directed by Pierre Pinaud: one thumb up! 6/7 of 10.
An useless adaptation
A disappointing cinematographic adaptation of the excellent daily mini-series which was aired on the French tv channel Canal+ around 2012/2013, with 2 minutes per episode: Connasse (2013).
In Connasse, princesse des coeurs (2015), we easily recognize the offbeat and wacky atmosphere of the mini-series but the 80-minutes adaptation is quite laborious and tiresome.
Game Over (2019)
What if life is just a video-game & déjà-vu are just checkpoints?
A successful film despite a laziness insolently claimed by the scriptwriters: remake of Happy death plus a cinematographic graft of the ultra-well-known concept of the 3-lives counter freely inspired from the video-game universe. Not to mention three masked psychopaths more mean-looking than friendly with whom we do not really want to hug.
As a synthesis: nice with low expectation. 5/6 of 10
Death does not exist
An unwonted fiction in which Michel Houellebecq comes out of a sequestration for ransom following a kidnapping organized by François Hollande, former president of the French Republic, and suffered, we do not really know why, a lugubrious sea-water therapy in Cabourg where he meets, by chance, Gérard Depardieu.
An improbable encounter among two French giants, literature for the first one, cinematography for the second one, in an offbeat comedy based on partially existentialist and voluntarily absurd dialogues about ... higgledy-piggledy ... death, pussy rejections, wine abuse, reference to the truth, body resurrection, mud made of algae, religion, old age, ...
A praise of hedonism, sometimes screamingly funny, sometimes excessively tiresome in an unaccomplished film. 5/6 of 10
An efficient scary movie populated by chimerical creatures
Film directed by André Øvredal and co-written with Guillermo del Toro, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) benefits from an efficient Halloween atmosphere, an excellent photography, the nostalgic 60's dress code, impressive old cars and rather talented young actors. On certain aspects, in particular the ineluctably-fatalistic side, the film makes me think of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) directed by Wes Craven in which a psychopath sadistically haunts teens during their sleep.
After the showing of a cult film (Night of the Living Dead (1968)) in a drive-in theater, a group of teens arrives, we do not really know how, in a time-worn mansion on the edge of town, abandoned for ages after an unexplained murder. By chance, they find a book. A cursed book! The small town will then suffer a wave of atrocious deaths. Stella and Ramón will have to face their own worst demons in order to stop the carnage and save the inhabitants.
As a synthesis: an efficient teen movie for getting started with cinematographic thrills. 6/7 of 10
Haut perchés (2019)
A cinematographic theatre play
This movie is conceived with the prescriptive theory of the Aristotelian unities: unity of time (one night), unity of place (an ultra-stylized neo-retro Parisian apartment) and unity of action (a collegiate desire for revenge). Thus, 4 gays and 1 straight woman sequester a 6th person within a specific room of the apartment, this John Doe being the only connection between these 5 tormented and narcissistic people: they all have been affected by a former relationship more or less in love, more or less perverse, more or less long with this Machiavellian John Doe, and they now plan to take revenge, without really knowing how and when.
A wordy and tiresome night, despite good dialogues and an excellent photography. 4/5 out of 10.
Roubaix, une lumière (2019)
A pleiad of excellent actors
After the screenplay disappointment of Persona non grata (2019) directed by Roschdy Zem and aired very recently in the French movie theaters, Roschdy Zem excels this time as an actor in this thriller/whodunit directed by Arnaud Desplechin. His aura is obvious. Without forgetting three other characters excellently interpreted: his right-hand man (Antoine Reinartz) and two John Doe as strange as shady (Léa Seydoux and Sara Forestier).
The film articulates around the daily life of the police station of Roubaix, in the North of France, between Lille and the Franco-Belgian border. Thus, two local events will occur concomitantly: a banal rape and a coldly abject murder. The film becomes magisterial during the interrogation between the police inspectors and the suspects and then the cross-examination, without necessarily equaling the quality and the intensity of Garde à vue (1981).
As a synthesis: a pleiad of excellent actors in an unaccomplished film.
Late Night (2019)
An eloquent feel good movie
A feel-good movie with strong similarities with The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and Network (1976). Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is the host of a famous talk show. She has nevertheless rested on her laurels and has badly reacted to the gravis illness of her husband who is obviously the unique pillar of her life, even if she did not realize it yet. Because the talk show is now a shadow of its former self, Katherine needs now new blood to invigorate the texts prepared by her team of dialog writers. Until the improbable arrival of Molly (Mindy Kaling).
The pace is dynamic with excellent verbal jousts and the characters are rather well-built. 6/7 of 10
The Kitchen (2019)
A dynamic introduction in the form of a icebreaker with 3 women married with 3 pathetic Irish morons, in the neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, on a music of It's Man's Man's Man's World. Right from the preliminaries, the movie deliberately rhymes with misandry to high heaven, without any subtlety. These 3 women who followed an orderly life, by tradition or obligation, will then take over from their 3 indelicate husbands being behind bars for 3 years.
The film is nice thanks to a neat photography, a nice casting (especially men's, paradoxically), an excellent atmosphere of the 70s. But the script is desperately weak and the dialogues are appallingly standardized. A male movie with three women behaving like men: is this the cinematographic originality of today?!?
Une fille facile (2019)
Naïma (Jiang Rong) is almost 16 years old and lives in Cannes at her mother's house. Her family receives the impromptu visit of her Parisian cousin Sofia (Zahia Dehar), a young woman with a silhouette as divine as artificial. Naïma will spend an unforgettable summer on a luxury yacht along the French Riviera, with Sofia as well as Philippe (Benoît Magimel) and Andres (Nuno Lopes), two forty-year-old men, wealthy and attractive. Thus, she will get to know herself better and leave her adolescence to finally take life in her own hands.
The French title, i.e. « une fille facile » meaning an 'easy' woman, is deliberately provocative and tantalizing quite as the choice of the deliberately inflammatory Zahia Dehar who was a hot news topic, one decade ago, because of a scandal with a part of the French soccer team using the services of this juvenile call girl. This is slightly misleading. In my humble opinion, the focus is also on Naïma and a pivotal period of her life thanks to Sofia and Philippe.
As a postscript, 1) The incident with the collector's sextant is far-fetched and particularly disappointing: a real weakness in the script. 2) I would personally have imagined the end scene punctuated by the song 'My way' popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra. Why? Well, she obviously found it, didn't she?
Angel Has Fallen (2019)
The scriptwriter and the CGI have fallen
Third opus of the Banning saga based on a predictable script and caricatural characters. The movie is not bad at all thanks to Gerard Butler as an old lion, Morgan Freeman as an empathetic president or Nick Nolte as an improbable Rambo. But it nevertheless suffers from a blatant lack of originality with the almost permanent impression of having already seen it and of knowing the end. Moreover, the explosions are barely worthy of a TV movie, with a piteous Computer-Generated Imagery.
Nice with low expectation, the intended audience being probably narrowed to male teens at the dawn of their cinematographic puberty. 4/5 of 10.
A melancholic chronicle of an expected mourning
Frankie (Isabelle Huppert) is a dying French star. She organizes a family stay in Sintra, a sumptuous Portuguese seaside resort near Lisbon, the main purpose being an opportunity for all the remaining relatives to get closer and learn how to live together ... without her. I loved how she makes believe that she orchestrated a highly unlikely rapprochement between her son Paul (Jérémie Renier)) and her friend Irene (Marisa Tomei) while her objective is undoubtedly with other ones.
The making is probably excessively contemplative and the result is not as accomplished as Little Men (2016) also directed by Ira Sachs, all the characters suffering from an understandable but excessive temporal acedia. 5/6 of 10
La vie scolaire (2019)
A feel-good movie taking place in a forgotten suburb left to itself
End of June 2019, I saw this excellent film at a French premiere in the presence of the director Mehdi Idir and a few actors such as Liam Pierron and Moussa Mansaly, within UGC Parly, right next to Versailles, in the suburbs of Paris. Liam Pierron told us how he happened by chance to the rehearsals, accompanying a friend who was selected. No muss, no fuss ... he is at the top of the poster!
Second film directed by the duo Grand Corps Malade + Mehdi Idir, La vie scolaire (2019) is truly excellent: entertaining, truculent, deliberately caricatural, delicate, subtle, ... The co-directors give us an empathetic and tender look on a forgotten suburb. Moreover, Zita Hanrot and Liam Pierron are both awesome. Actually, the whole cast was skillfully elaborated in order to obtain a tiptop chemistry, with awesome supporting roles such as Farid (a hilarious teen suffering from mythomania), Dylan (a wacky monitor despite an inadequate IQ), a sports teacher with unorthodox activities, ...
As a synthesis: an excellent achievement. For sure, I will see their third movie, no matter what! 7/8 of 10
Alice et le maire (2019)
Chuckly, invigorating and deliberately absurd
Right from the beginning, we easily recognize the agitated, mischievous and disenchanted atmosphere of Quai d'Orsay (2013) (a lot) and L'exercice de l'État (2011) (a little) with an obvious inspiration from the universe of Éric Rohmer.
Paul Théraneau (Fabrice Luchini) is the current mayor of Lyon and in the midst of an existential crisis. He compares himself to a Formula One with an overpowered engine but out of fuel, continuing to move thanks to inertia more than anything else. He fears that his electorate notices it. He recruits in this way Alice Heimann (Anaïs Demoustier), a woman as brilliant as young and whose career is limited to professorship within the prestigious University of Oxford. She is obviously smart but her political and professional inexperience will quickly contrast with the lions' den atmosphere that reigns in the town hall of Lyon and the French Socialist Party.
Beyond the complicity that is very quickly developed between Paul and Alice, the film skillfully mixes politics (Fabrice Luchini), philosophy (Anaïs Demoustier), communication (Antoine Reinartz), tradition (Pascal Rénéric), art (Maud Wyler), friendship (Alexandre Steiger), uselessness (Nora Hamzawi), ... Despite some slight snags, the result is fundamentally successful. I really appreciated the obvious quality of the dialogues and these excellent acting games around Fabrice Luchini.
As a synthesis: 7/8 of 10
Wing and a Prayer (1944)
Where is our Navy?
Three months after the greatest disaster in the american history with the surprise military strike of Pear Harbor by the imperial Japanese navy air service, December the 7th, 1941, the American HQ set up a desperate strategy based on a simulation of disarray within the American navy so that the Japanese confidence goes up artificially and incites them not to deviate from their supposed plan of campaign: to take ownership of Pearl Harbor, this objective implying beforehand a passage through Midway where the American navy is firmly waiting for the Japanese navy.
The film focuses on an aircraft carrier unexpectedly playing the role of a bait and we witness the daily life of these airmen forced to behave cowardly every time they meet a Japanese zero. The atmosphere is typical of old war movies: ultra-patriotic, childish and cheesy, pretty close to a propaganda film, in a certain manner. We globally remember the team spirit, the heroism of the airmen, the dignity of the entire crew and the excellent cinematography given the technical means of the time.
Efficient and enthralling
This movie is somewhat alike Nappeun Nyeoseokdeul (2014), with the surprising association of a cop (Mu-Yeol Kim) and a gangster who heads a local mafia (Dong-seok Ma) in order to track down side by side a villainous serial killer (Kim Sungkyu). An extremely unorthodox attempt but, after all, the end justifies any mean, doesn't it? In spite of a few far-fetched scenes, the dynamic tandem is excellently interpreted and this efficient film is globally based on a breathtaking scenario, spectacular fights and a dark atmosphere.
A first movie as a director? One thump up!
The film begins with a tender speech of Thérèse interpreted by the excellent Fanny Ardant with her mesmerizing voice: according to her, the true love defines us and is all that matters. Then, we witness the unexpected theft of a bmw by a revolutionary female nudist, with a song of the bloody brilliant Gérard Manset. In two minutes, rhythm and atmosphere are laid!
Personally, I adored the manifold scenes that are deliberately absurd and delightfully droll, with a soft approach of existentialism, without being a depressing vision of humanity and without being abstruse as a book of Martin Heidegger. Nevertheless, without unduly spoiling the script, the end will provide a long-awaited touch of optimism and lightness and will make you forget the disenchanted characters.
The actors Swann Arlaud and Maud Wyler are both sublime. Actually, the whole cast is great. As a synthesis: I loved it! 7/8 of 10
A distant cousin of Clark Kent
The film is strangely similar to Superman, Brandon Breyer having many similarities with Clark Kent: a staggering arrival on earth of an alien with a human appearance within a kind of meteorite, a secret adoption by a couple in the countryside, the famous red cape (obviously!) and a metal from the meteorite that seems to be the equivalent of kryptonite. But, if Clark strives to 'protect' the world, Brandon should all just 'take' the world!
As a synthesis: 6.4 of 10 on IMDb? Clearly underrated! In my humble opinion, it's rather 7 of 10 knowing that Jackson A. Dunn flawlessly interprets this enigmatic character.
Je promets d'être sage (2019)
An unexpected rom com with two endearing losers
This film with the script clearly secondary is a pretext to an excellent game of actors thanks to Pio Marmaï et Léa Drucker. The film is nonetheless globally average and turns out to be, between Dijon (France) and Cabo Espichel (Portugal), a comedy deliberately amorale: stealing is a sin but if it suits me, why not finally?
As a synthesis: 5/6 of 10, knowing that Je promets d'être sage (2019) is a first movie as a director for Ronan Le Page.
A ninth opus distinctly different
Even if the context and the script are fundamentally different, Once Upon a Time ...in Hollywood (2019) is inherently alike Hail, Caesar! (2016) directed by the Coen brothers and lovingly dedicated to the cinematographic world of the 50's and more precisely to the Hollywood gossips. Thus, with his ninth opus, Quentin Tarantino plunges us with delightful and nostalgia into the Hollywood atmosphere of 1969 with two main characters: Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a has-been actor and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) is his personal stuntman. And during the first two hours, we bump with pleasure into major figures of the seventh art such as Steve McQueen (I'm an indefectible fan!), Roman Polanski or Bruce Lee. Quentin Tarantino was 6 years old in 1969. This film is an avalanche of cult references of his childhood with implicit or explicit allusions to Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958), The Green Hornet (1966), The Great Escape (1963), Dixie Dynamite (1976), the Western Spaghetti, a well-known subgenre of Western films that emerged in the mid-60s, ... And the barbaric murder of Sharon Tate is unfortunately a nightmarish Proust's madeleine.
For sure, the atmosphere of 1969 is perfectly transcribed with a strong focus on the two fictive fellows, Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. Thus, Brad Pitt interprets a guy without particular ambition, fulfilled, living from day to day without worrying about tomorrow and endowed with an exceptionally mesmerizing aura; in the audience, women were obviously under his spell. Leonardo DiCaprio impersonates a more complex individual who is no more than the shadow of himself, inexorably sliding towards the abysses of oblivion. They are both awesome! And Margot Robbie? Well, well, well, she sublimely shines. I truly behaved like the Tex Avery's howling wolf in each of her scenes!
If you are a film buff, you will probably enjoy Once Upon a Time ...in Hollywood (2019). If you are a fan of Quentin Tarantino as I am, you may be surprised or even frustrated by the contemplative narration and the deliberately slow pace. Actually, with a recipe including 2 major ingredients such as 1) Sharon Tate in August 1969 and 2) Quentin Tarantino, we may say that the cooking is over a sloooooow heat until the long-awaited final denouement, and the prepared dish is undoubtedly lacking of bloody red chili.
PS: There are rumors that Quentin Tarantino will bow out after his tenth opus. It can't be! No way!! I want 10 more masterpieces such as Pulp Fiction (1994) or Reservoir Dogs (1992), during the next three decades, please!
An interesting remake
First thing first, be aware that this movie is a 99% remake of the excellent 2-year-old movie Contratiempo (2016). Just switch the genders and the Hispanic actors with hindi ones. In August 2019, both movies are available on Netflix but, for some unexplained reason, Netflix does not connect them in the 'more like this' section. That's weird!
Then, is Badla (2019) a bad remake? Objectively and definitely no! I think bad reviews come from anger at seeing a remake without knowing it. And that's fully understandable. You are now officially warned!
Finally, I catch a glimpse of two possibilities: 1) either you have already seen Contratiempo (2016) and I kindly invite you to strongly postpone the screening of this remake, unless you unfortunately suffer from Alzheimer or 2) you haven't already seen Contratiempo (2016) and you have the choice between a Hispanic atmosphere or a hindi one.
Mon roi (2015)
Heartwarming and heartbreaking
An excellent film dealing with the complex concept of couple and the vision of each of the two protagonists about love, with their own pasts, their hypothetical skeletons in the closet, their desires, their doubts, their regrets, their professional issues, ... and the faculty of idealizing the partner, ephemerally or perennially.
The actors Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Bercot are fabulous. Georgio is charming and highly sensitive. Tony is fundamentally under his spell and blindly idealizes him. We feel a connection apparently sincere and real between them, with an obvious alchemy. A constructive alchemy first, a little less afterwards. And the director Maïwenn produces an excellent film and demonstrates her undeniable qualities, after the unforgettable Polisse (2011) and its 13 nominations during the César 2012.
As a synthesis: a French must see. 7/8 of 10
A first movie as director? One thump up!
Despite the imminent approach of an ineluctable end of the world, the film oddly bathes in a soft and serene atmosphere, if we obviously ignore some people who behave with humor, for our greatest pleasure: I mow my lawn, I do body-building, I am looking for a new Chief Financial Officer, I'm ready with my all-male friends to repopulate the planet (this one is undoubtedly my favorite), I collect vinyls in a digitized world (this one might be controversial), ... and tutti quanti!
Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightley) meet by chance while they are long-time neighbors. They will quickly realize that they perfectly match to achieve together their ultimate quests: he seeks to revisit the love of his life that he has not seen for 18 years and she seeks to see her parents and her nephew again. During these two concomitant quests, despite a 1-generation gap, they will learn to know each other, to appreciate each other, to desire each other.
As a synthesis: this movie is based on two marvelous characters characterized by their empathy and their beneficence, within an atmosphere as odd as wacky. 7/8 of 10