DVD review entries

May 11, 2009

Le Samourai

Le samourai
4 out of 5 stars

J'ai trouvé le film " Le Samourai" très intéressant parce qu'il a manipulé nos idées morales car les policiers ne sont pas nécessaires les bons hommes  et le meutrier n'est guere mauvais. Le directeur joue avec nos perceptions du bien et du mal jusqu'à, au fin du film, nous sentons que le mort de Jef n'est pas juste, cependant on a tort de dire que Jef est un homme respectable parce qu'il tue les hommes pour gagner l'argent.

May 03, 2009

Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amélie Poulain

Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amélie Poulain
Not rated

C'est un film de Jean-Pierre Jeunet. C'est l'histoire de la vie d'Amélie, une jeune fille qui déménage à Paris. Elle essaye constamment d'aider les autres, sans vraiment s'occuper d'elle-même. Pendant la plupart du film, elle souffre beaucoup de la solitude, mais, vers la fin, elle tombe amoureuse et apprend qu'elle doit s'occuper d'elle-même aussi bien que s'occuper des autres.

April 28, 2009

Paris,Je t'aime

Paris,Je t'aime
4 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed watching Paris, Je t'aime and I liked the way several of the individual stories linked together. I liked the way different types of love were conveyed and how there were humorous aspects to many of the stories to balance out the tragedie of some of the other love stories. Most of the stories involve ordinary people leading normal lives so it is easy for the viewer to relate with the characters, however there are a few random stories which break the film up as they are so extremely different from the others.   

November 11, 2008

The consequences of Sorrentino's dazzling gaze

5 out of 5 stars


The very first shot of Le conseguenze dell'amore (2004) encapsulates the essence of this peculiar film by the Italian film maker Paolo Sorrentino: a long, moving walkway in a minimalist corridor is caught from an angle that transforms the confined area into a futuristic tunnel. Sorrentino’s photographic eye fixes our gaze on this static shot for almost 2 minutes, before he immerses us in the tale of his Titta Di Girolamo. A strange name for a strange man, whose life is slowly unfolded in this fascinating film.


Di Girolamo lives in a hotel in an anonymous Swiss town, where he looks after a large sum of money that - as we eventually learn - belongs to a Southern Italian mafia boss. In fact, the puzzle pieces that make up this almost surreal story are given to us only one step at a time. The picture immerges of a lonely, sometimes even unpleasant man suffering from insomnia, though besides sleep, what Sorrentino’s phlegmatic character really lacks is some affection: the subtle shot of a masturbating Di Girolamo is enough to get the message. Furthermore, the man's rigid attachment to routine and habit keep him from expressing any of the feelings he seems to be harboring for a beautiful young waitress in the hotel. These problems are nothing however compared to the two gangsters he runs into in his hotel room, one day, and who eventually walk away with the suitcase De Girolamo has been faithfully safekeeping for his mafia boss. At this point Sorrentino moves up the speed: static, silent and melancholy at first, the movie is turned completely upside down as De Girolamo's phlegmatic, pessimist character is swapped for an almost absurd action hero that manages to retrieve the stolen money and eliminate the gangsters, though he does not reveal this to the 'rightful' owner, and pays the price. The suspense is kept on till the very end of the movie, which concludes with another one of those brilliant shots that give Sorrentino's films a different air.


This gangster plot is interwoven with a strange relationship between the taciturn De Girolamo and the waitress, one of those almost love affairs which characterize quality movies: not overloaded or tainted by any predictable love/sex-scenes, it remains in the air, sensible and profound at the same time. Yet this is not merely the story of a lonesome middle-aged man that learns to fall in love again, after a delusive marriage that has perhaps left him with bitter feelings towards the weaker sex. Sorrentino makes sure not to follow any existing patterns, the result of which is a jewel of a film, with some excellent performances and dazzling shots.

Andrea Hajek

November 10, 2008

Trois Couleurs: Bleu

5 out of 5 stars

Spielberg or Kieslowski?                           By Sam Magrath

Juliette Binoche’s career path could have turned out quite differently from the way it has. In 1993 she was faced with a tough but enviable choice. Steven Spielberg had offered her the lead female role in his blockbuster, Jurassic Park. Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski had Binoche in mind for the first in his Three Colours trilogy, which was to be entitled Blue. Few actors turn Spielberg down; Binoche proved the exception. After reading the script for Jurassic Park, which, it would be an understatement to say, is a little lacking in the characterisation department, Binoche memorably remarked that all the good roles in the film had already been allocated – to the dinosaurs. She chose to make Blue, which said a lot about the kind of artist she wanted to be and the kind of films she wanted to make; she could so easily have become a Hollywood darling, making blockbusters and cashing in huge cheques. True, she has made the occasional foray into Hollywood (The English Patient, Dan in Real Life), but, in the fifteen years since Blue, she has worked overwhelmingly with auteurs and visionary directors on challenging, European pictures, bringing her unique intelligence and sensibility to all of them.

Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Blue is one such film and was awarded the Golden Lion at Venice. Binoche plays Julie, a woman who has just lost her husband and only child in a car accident. Overwhelmed by grief, she attempts to kill herself, but she realises she cannot go through with it. Even in the darkest hour of her suffering the urge to live is too strong; even the rawest grief is better than the numbness of death.

Three Colours: Blue is a profound, vivid and affecting study of Julie’s grief over the next few months. Indeed, many scenes in the film are difficult to watch. The opening credits have barely finished rolling when one such moment occurs. Julie is in hospital and still too weak to attend her family’s funeral so must watch via television. Alone, she breaks down. The camera never lets up in its study of her grief as it incessantly tracks her face in a close-up shot until she breaks into tears. Such is the level of her suffering that, at times, it feels almost voyeuristic to watch and intrude upon this women’s personal grief.

Julie abandons the home full of memories in which she lived with her family and moves to Paris in an attempt to deal with her grief. The reasons for the move are twofold, as she later explains to her mother:”I don’t want any possessions, any friends, any love. Those are all traps.” By moving to Paris she can concentrate fully on her grief and cut herself off from humanity. She also wants to punish herself for living when those closest to her have died. But no one can survive without human contact, and Julie’s emotional journey to where she learns to be open again is an inspiring one.

As magnificent as Binoche is in the film, Blue belongs equally to its director, Kieslowski, whose innovative and highly stylized direction will not be to everyone’s taste. He rewrites the rules of modern cinema by fading the screen to black during highly charged moments and breaking the film's linear rhythm. All this heightens the emotional intensity of the scene. It is a risky move, but one which Kieslowski pulls off with considerable verve. And despite dealing with such an emotive subject matter, he never lets the film slip in sentimentality or endorses easy answers to impossible problems.

Like all films, Blue is not without certain minor weaknesses. At one point the plot goes off on a tangent and our heroine manages to find herself coming to the aid of a neighbour who works in a strip joint. The realism of the film is, fortunately, not broken, but it feels like an unnecessary scene and the nudity is gratuitous. Moreover, Julie’s reaction when she discovers her husband was not the angel she thought he was strains slightly at credibility. But perhaps the greatest difficulty is that Binoche’s performance is just too good. Let me explain: Blue is the first in a trilogy and it is so affecting that it undermines the films which follow it. In my view, Kieslowski did not match it with his next two efforts. Julie Delpy and Irène Jacobs – two very fine actresses – cannot bring the raw emotionality to their parts that Juliette Binoche did. It’s a small, perhaps pernickety criticism, but a criticism nonetheless.

However, we shouldn’t dwell on the negative. Kieslowski died in 1996 and was a true auteur of European cinema; thankfully, Juliette Binoche is alive and well and continues to make films. (If you like the Three Colours trilogy and Juliette Binoche, then try Michael Haneke’s Hidden.) What’s more, Blue was a truly European production, funded by Polish, Swiss and French money, which epitomises the co-operation, intelligence, creativity and general excellence that exists in European cinema. Let’s hope Hollywood doesn’t try to remake the Three Colours Trilogy. It would be a soppy mess. And they might try to add dinosaurs.

(Available in the TRC!)

November 05, 2008

L'Auberge Espagnol (Pot Luck)

4 out of 5 stars

L’Auberge Espagnol (British title Pot Luck) is a fresh and witty French comedy that not only entertains but also demonstrates the diversity of modern Europe. The film follows Xavier (Romain Duris), a slightly awkward and disillusioned French student on his year abroad in Barcelona. The film is charmingly funny, with witty dialogue and effective film techniques such as comic speeding up to show the maze of administration Xavier has to travel through to become part of the Erasmus scheme. Xavier is in the middle of a disorganised and overwhelming modern world of business, red tape and complicated relationships with girlfriends and parents where he only finally feels at home in Barcelona. The film becomes about the messy but homely apartment which Xavier shares with six other Erasmus students. This ‘auberge espagnol’- a French expression for a place where cultures are mixed together- represents a new diverse Europe where young people change and mature together. Each student is from a different European country and the film follows the ups and downs of their lives in Barcelona and the ways in which their horizons are broadened. Xavier is only able to realise just how much this experience has changed him once he has returned home. In the final scene of the film Xavier realises that his identity lies in Europe, he is not just French and he finally asserts ‘Je suis comme l’Europe… Je suis un vrai bordel’ (‘I’m like Europe…I’m a real mess’).

L’Auberge Espagnol is a charming and entertaining French language film that appeals to all European nationalities.

July 09, 2008

Huit Femmes/8 Women

4 out of 5 stars

Huit Femmes is a bizarre yet hilarious film, but something that you are only likely to enjoy if you are already a fan of musicals.   It was based upon a stage play but seems well adapted for DVD.  The film is set in the 1950's in an isolated mansion at Christmas time.  Inside are eight women who find themselves with a dead body on their hands, that of the only man of the house.  They cannot leave or summon any help, so the investigation begins...which one of them killed Marcel?  Each character appears to be surrounded by a pack of lies which slowly unravel as the film progresses.  The story is told through a mixture of normal speech and song.  The humour comes from the outrageously cheesy nature of these songs, and the accompaning dance moves.  The songs are surprisingly catchy, particularly 'T'es plus dans le coup Papa'.  The characters, costumes, and situation are all exaggerated, but that is the point.  This sense of exaggeration is what creates the comedy, yet it is prevented from becoming too ridiculous by the fact that this film stars some very famous actresses incuding Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Beart and Fanny Ardant whoall provide convincing performances.  You will get even more out of the film if you have some knowledge of the type of characters that these actresses usually play, since in several cases they are sending up their usual roles.  This is a nice change from some of the more high-brow French films that I have watched in the pasta and  personally I loved it because it did what I expected that it would, it entertained me and made me laugh.

Les Huit Femmes

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