Posts Tagged ‘French film’

Antichrist – Minute Movie Review

Montag, September 6th, 2010


After the loss of their only child, Charlotte Gainsbourg is overcome by grief while her husband Willem Dafoe, a therapist, decides that he himself should help her. They go to a secluded cottage in the woods where things quickly get out of hand as her delusions begin unhinging their life. Brilliantly acted, perfectly filmed, the film is one of the most abhorrent films I have ever seen. Brutal and unrelenting, the film is anything but a pleasure to watch. But the story, the mythology and the themes make it worthwhile – and give you plenty of opportunity to muse about the film afterwards, even though what you really want to do is purge your mind of the images.

Random Observations:

Antichrist at the IMDb

Lars von Trier said that he tried to make a horror film with this, but ultimately failed. As I see it, however, he made a much more horrifying film than any of those so-called horror films today. Saw XVII or whatever they may be called.

Co-produced by just about every country in Europe (Denmark, Germany, France, Sweden, Polen and Italy, to be precise), set in the US, and filmed in my home state, Nordrhein-Westfalen.

I’ve wanted to delve into Lars von Trier’s work for a long time, but I’m not sure whether this was the right starting point. Especially since the film does not even follow the Dogme 95 rules. At least I sincerely hope it doesn’t.

Personally, I found the opening sequence, set to a beautiful piece by Georg Friedrich Händel (‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from the opera Rinaldo), much worse to bear than any of the psychological and physical torture and mutilation later on.

I briefly considered making this Lars von Trier Week, but I really need an easy comedy now.

Au revoir les enfants – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, August 25th, 2010


Goodbye, Children is based on actual childhood events from director Louis Malle. In 1943, a new boy comes to a catholic boarding school in Nazi occupied France. He forms a tentative friendship with Julien, the Malle stand-in, over the next months. But the boy is Jewish, a refugee taken in by the priest running the school, and naturally this is not a story that can end well. I’ve seen many films dealing with the Holocaust, but never one as good as this. It’s not the bigger picture, just a single fate, it’s not told from a big perspective, but a personal story that is incredibly real, touching and sad. Louis Malle made many good films, but this is his masterpiece and well deserves to be remembered.

Random Observations:

Au revoir les enfants at the IMDb

Dear Ryan! I will not use this space to rant about the “first feel good film about the Holocaust”. You know which one I’m talking about, though. And you also know, hopefully, that this is by far the superior film, even if it sadly does not have the same critical acclaim.

One more Louis Malle film on Friday to conclude his theme week.

The acting by the children in the film, especially the two leads Gaspard Manesse and Raphael Fejtö, is superb.

Atlantic City – Minute Movie Review

Montag, August 23rd, 2010


Burt Lancaster is an ageing petty criminal with delusions of grandeur. He takes care of his dead friend’s widow, works as a small time bookie and dreams of the golden days when Atlantic City was run by the mob. Susan Sarandon works as a waitress in one of the casinos and dreams of being a blackjack dealer. When her husband and sister, who ran away together, arrive in town hoping to sell some drugs, all their lives will be changed. Louis Malle’s film is a harsh and bitter look at small time life in the once great city. There is no room here for greatness, just for everyday hopes and dreams, most of which are ultimately squashed. The plot or rather some behaviour of the characters is not quite consistent, but it detracts little from the otherwise very good film. Surprisingly sweet and funny, this 1980 film is a forerunner for the crime revival of the 1990s – just without the delusion of grandeur.

Random Observations:

Atlantic City at the IMDb

“I never wear a seatbelt. I don’t believe in gravity.” How’s that for a great line?

In the great tradition of themed weeks at Fabricated Truth, I have deemed this Louis Malle Week.

The film is a French-Canadian co-production, but was shot on location in Atlantic City, USA. (Which, incidentally, is the German title of the film.)

The great Wallace Shawn has one of his earliest roles in the film as a waiter. It’s always interesting to see such “big name actors” in their humble beginnings. And yes, I am aware that only one of regular readers has any idea who Wallace Shawn is.

Bis ans Ende der Welt – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, August 20th, 2010


Until the End of the World was a passion project for director Wim Wenders, who spend 14 years on it, filming in a dozen countries on four continents along the way. The story is both incredibly simple and extremely complex. Solveig Dommartin falls in love with hitch-hiker who robs her William Hurt and follows him around the globe, while also being pursued and followed by several other people, including her ex Sam Neill. So the first two-thirds of the film are basically a global road movie, set in the distant future of 1999 (the film was finished in ’91) where a malfunctioning nuclear satellite threatens the world. But it’s not only a road movie, but also a science fiction story about that ever popular theme of the influence advanced technology has on our humanity. The film is deeply flawed, riddled with plot holes and bad acting (everyone aside from Max von Sydow catches that bug), both too simple and too complex for its own good. But the film is also deeply poetic, filled with incredible moments of natural and human beauty and memorable scenes that make you forget the film surrounding them and appreciate them on their own. The film moves at its own pace and the story is often only an excuse to showcase the director’s world and imagination, which the film does admirably. This is not a film for the masses, it’s hardly for anyone but the director and maybe his cast and crew, but if you can forget that for a while, you can get lost in the film, which maybe is the best thing cinema has to offer.

Random Observations:

Bis ans Ende der Welt at the IMDb

This review is based on the 280 minute director’s cut, not the significantly shorter theatrical release. And yes, I saw all three parts of the trilogy in one sitting.

The version I watched was also lacking subtitles (despite Italian, which is not one of my strong languages, to put it mildly), so I’m not really sure I fully understand all of the French dialogue scattered throughout the film.

Naturally, Wim Wenders’ favourite actor Rüdiger Vogler, is also in this film. And in an unprecedented turn, he is actually extremely tolerable in this film.

My favourite scene/sequence is probably in the last part, when the impromptu band is formed. It’s oddly emotional.

I’m not a big fan of the score (because to me it all sounds the same), but the soundtrack of the film is amazing, especially coupled with some of the scenes.

The film features an amazingly accurate satellite navigation system in an unusual bit of actually guessing the future right. It also features, however, video phones, which basically every sci-fi concept ever has and which have never and will never catch on.

Les diaboliques – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Juli 5th, 2010


A tyrannical school principal mistreats both his heart sick wife and his mistress, so the two conspire to kill him. But what should be the perfect murder doesn’t come off as same, especially when the body is not found as planned and the dead man seems to have come back to life. Henri-Georges Clouzot’s film is an absolute classic horror thriller and was for a while considered the scariest film of all time, at least until Psycho came along. The film is dark and horrifying and towards the end you start to question all of your assumptions – even about the final scene.

Random Observations:

Les diaboliques at the IMDb

The film is based on the novel Celle qui n’était plus (The Woman Who Was) by French authors Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, which Alfred Hitchcock also wanted to buy. So they went and wrote D’entre les morts, the book that Vertigo is based on, especially for him.

The wife is played by Véra Clouzot, wife of director H.G. Clouzot, who only acted in his films, which is a real shame. The history of her and her family is also quite interesting, if anyone cares to read up on that.

Joan of Arc (1999) – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Juni 2nd, 2010


Who doesn’t know the story? In the 15th centure, Jeanne d’Arc gets the message from god to lead the French army against the English invaders. After doing so successfully and allowing the dauphin to be crowned King, she is abandoned by him and ultimately tried, convicted and burned for heresy and blasphemy. In Luc Besson’s film version, this simple story takes about two and a half hours, most of which are wasted. The film leaves little doubt that Joan was simply insane (and not really god’s messenger), but Milla Jovovich’s portrayal of her is so incredibly bad, that the intriguing character becomes a one-note farce. Furthermore, the film is best when it goes for the big battle scenes, ridiculous as they might be, for those scenes are not crammed with unnecessary symbolism. This is a great story and the film does not manage to ruin it completely, but gives it a decent shot.

Random Observations:

Joan of Arc at the IMDb

Fourth – but not last – entry on the seventh day of Dustin Hoffman Week! The only reason that this film, in which Hoffman has little more than a cameo,  is included, is due to the fact, that for some obscure reason, it is part of this otherwise good Signature Collection of his work I’m watching.

I have no idea whether there are any better film versions of the story, never having seen another one. But I would expect so.

John Malkovich, while a fine actor, was completely miscast as the King of France.

The “vision” scenes where slightly creepy, but done in such a bad way, that they had no emotional resonance whatsoever. A pity.

The Quiet American – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, Mai 4th, 2010


In 1952 Saigon, quiet American Brendan Fraser is murdered. His friend, the British journalist Michael Caine, reflects on their unlikely friendship and their shared love for the same Vietnamese woman while the French colonial power in the country collapses. Based on the novel, the film is an exploration of love and friendship in the face of politics and war. The story is intriguing and well told, but suffers somewhat from the friendship between the two men never being sufficiently explained. Nevertheless, it is a film well worth watching.

Random Observations:

The Quiet American at the IMDb

This is the second adaptation of Graham Greene’s 1955 book. The first was made in 1958 by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Michael Redgrave.

The film was shot on location in Vietnam and in a studio in Australia, financed by German investors and distributed by an American studio. I’m pretty sure that makes it a French film.

The score by Craig Armstrong is simply superb. Apparently, Caine insisted on Armstrong before signing onto the film.

What is it with death scenes at the beginning of films? Why are so many stories that end with a main character dying told as a flash back? I always feel it lessens the impact, especially when it is murder. After all, this is not the story of the investigation.

First entry in “Western Asian Week” – European or American films set in Asia. Expect two more such films!

La science des rêves – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, April 14th, 2010


The Science of Sleep tells the story of a young man who mostly lives in his dreams, substituting them for a reality he can’t deal with. It magically blends the boundaries between reality, fiction and dreams, creating a visually arresting yet ultimately empty experience that leaves everything open to interpretation. It’s redeemed somewhat by a good cast and some amusing scenes, but it’s deep insights are ultimately superficial.

Random Observations:

La science des rêves at the IMDb

Director Michel Gondry is mostly known for making the also vastly overrated Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His best film by far, however, is the endearing little comedy Be Kind Rewind. It’s also his most atypical work.

The thing I enjoyed most about the film were the dream worlds created, especially the paper tube city and the television studio. They had a nice surreal touch.

Feel free to discuss the meaning of the ending in the comments. Personally, I dislike the happy ending apologists, but sadly finding little evidence to the contrary.

Silk – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, April 2nd, 2010


In 1862, a young French man returns to his village, falls in love and gets a job as a trader, buying silk worm eggs, that help to sustain the village’s economy. He travels repeatedly to Japan and is torn between the love for his wife and a Japanese woman. The story does sound kind of promising, but it does not deliver on that promise at all. The best parts are the few travelling scenes, with truly beautiful pictures, but otherwise the film is boring, pointless and plodding. The revelation at the end is not bad, but since the film never developed any of the characters, ultimately pointless as well.

Random Observations:

Silk at the IMDb

I wanted to see the film because I wondered what Michael Pitt would do with a straight-up leading men role. Let’s just say he should better stick to genre fare and bit parts.

The story takes place (mostly) in France and Japan. The film is based on the novel by an Italian author (Alessandro Baricco). The non-Japanese lead actors are British and American. Since the director is Canadian, this makes the film a Canadian-French-Italian-British-Japanese Production. How’s that for international movie making?

Adventskalender 21

Montag, Dezember 21st, 2009

Klick auf den Link, um das einundzwanzigste Türchen zu öffnen. Click the link to open the twenty-first door.

(weiterlesen …)