Archive for the ‘France’ Category

120 BPM – **

Posted: May 7, 2018 in 2017, Drama, France, LGBT themed, XX

It’s the early 90s. The AIDS epidemic is still widespread amongst homosexuals, prostitutes, immigrants… and nothing is being done. The press ignores the disease. The government isn’t spending any money on prevention. And the pharmaceutical companies aren’t really in a hurry to find a cure.

Nathan decides to join the radical activist group ACT UP and falls for both the president of the organisation and one of the fiercest members of the group. He starts a relationship with the latter, even though the kid is already in a final stage of the disease.

This romantic premise isn’t really the focus of the movie. The activism is much more important. The actions, based on true facts, are well re-enacted and give you a good idea of what the movement did. It’s part of the LGBT history that needs to be told. The movie also shows how even in an organisation with a common cause, opinions can differ a lot. It’s all filmed in a pseudo-realistic way, but never tries to look like a documentary. Which is a good thing. And it’s a French drama, which automatically implies that characters aren’t necessarily there to please the audience and endings aren’t necessarily happy. Which is a good thing as well.

It’s fascinating until one of the main characters’ health deteriorates. The beginning is informative and intriguing. But towards the end it becomes a real drama. And the 120 bpm tempo slows down to a flatline. The last 20 minutes are just dragging on and on and on.

It’s a good movie. But it’s not nearly as good as what reviewers want you to believe. There are a lot of characters and all are introduced in a superficial way. Maybe a miniseries would have been better.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6135348

 

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Les Grands Esprits – **(*)

Posted: January 23, 2018 in 2017, Drama, France, XX1/2

Francois, a French and Latin teacher at a renowned Parisian high school, takes up the challenge to go teach at a school in Paris’ suburbs, where the lesser privileged attend class… reluctantly.

He takes up the challenge reluctantly. And the kids attend class reluctantly.

It’s been done before. Sure. But it works again. It’s much lighter than Entre Les Murs, the absolute excellent Golden Palm winner of 2008 which also focused on the struggles of a teacher in a similar school. And it’s normal that a comparison with that neo-classic is made. But this is feel good comedy. It’s a lot more accessible. Less raw. But they did look for real kids from a real school to play the characters and didn’t opt for child actors to play a part unfamiliar to them.

Because of its lighter character, it’s an easy film to digest. The school trip to Versailles is a highlight in the story. Which says a lot. It’s not that critical about the educational system. It’s not digging too deep into the backgrounds of these kids (and their lack of interest in getting ahead in life). No. Don’t expect another Entre Les Murs. Expect a simple movie about a teacher trying to do good and kids trying to do good too.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6481478/

It starts off really good, this crime thriller set in Cairo. The plot is intriguing. The introduction to the story and its characters is told by images rather than by words. The mood is dark. The setting is, well not really exotic, but different and thus exciting. But somewhere halfway through the story it becomes less appealing. There’s repetition. There’s no suspense. The direction is less inspiring. The acting is still good though. And there’s anticipation until the end about how the revolution of 2011 will be presented.

That Fares Fares is doing a fine job as the troubled good cop/bad cop who needs to solve a murder committed in a hotel room. A starlet is killed and there’s a housemaid who’s seen the killer. But instead of looking for the housemaid, the detective has a different trace that leads him to a network of prostitutes who seduce rich men, frame them and then blackmail them…

It’s heralded as a film noir. Which is understandable. The cops are depicted as a bunch of corrupt, cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, territory claiming gang of scumbags. They’re not roaming the streets of LA, but of Cairo. And the housemaids aren’t poor Mexican immigrants, but poor Sudanese immigrants. They all talk (shout) in Arab instead of English and the events occur during a rising revolution against the corrupt powers that be. It’s not the LA riots for a change. At one point the movie feels like an episode of a Scandinavian detective series. And guess what? The director happens to be from Sweden. Okay, he has Egyptian roots. But still.

The movie has a lot of potential, but the story is weak and unoriginal. Too bad. I’m sure it won’t be shown in Egypt.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5540188

Au Revoir Là-Haut – **(*)

Posted: November 5, 2017 in 2017, Dramedy, France, WW1, XX1/2

Well directed, well filmed, well acted.

Yet somehow, the story isn’t quite as gripping as you want it to be.

An artist son of a rich businessman is sent to war and gets wounded days before the armistice. The lower part of his face is totally destroyed. He needs a daily dose of morphine, can’t speak and can’t eat properly. So far the sad part. He asks his soldier friend to fake his death and takes on the identity of another (dead) soldier. Life goes on, he becomes a great graphic illustrator wearing self-made masks and comes up with a fraudulent scheme to make a lot of money and leave France for good.

It’s quite an adventurous dramedy. It’s a multi layered story and the pace and action make it a fast ride. There’s a lot of drama, but the humor makes it light-hearted. In fact the humor makes the movie quite unique. It’s pretty dark (for a french movie). There are quite a lot of funny moments relating to dying and death and disrespect to the deceased. It’s not to everyone’s taste.

It’s visually spectacular. The historical setting is spot on. The war scenes in the beginning are Spielberg-esque. The masked moments are magical. It’s one to watch in the cinemas.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5258850

Demain (Tomorrow) – **

Posted: November 5, 2017 in 2015, Documentary, France, XX

This documentary was a box office hit in France and got no attention in the US. Understandably. It’s a documentary produced by some French people who travel the world looking for alternatives to all kinds of issues that we are experiencing right now and are terrifying for the future. They do visit places like San Francisco and Detroit and even the windmills in Texas are mentioned, but it’s a movie about global issues and when people can choose between The Avengers and a lecturing documentary the choice is easily made.

It’s sad though, because it’s not a bad documentary at all. It’s an easy and soft approach and the lecturing is pretty limited. It’s quite a positive and uplifting documentary. It doesn’t make you feel like the planet is doomed, so it’s easier to appreciate the shown alternatives.

Too bad the directors didn’t stick to just one issue. The start is quite fascinating. Urban agriculture as opposed to mass agriculture. The projects of reducing the use of fuel in our societies are also intriguing. But then it starts off talking about alternatives in politics, democracy, education and that’s just a bit too much. Interesting, sure, but it’s like they tickle the subject and not tackle them.

Worth the watch.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4449576

Long Distance Flight Movie #6

Heard people around me laugh while watching Raid Dingue, a French comedy by the guy who made Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis. Not sure why they laughed so much. Yes, it’s a comedy. But the jokes lack subtilty. And are very repetitive. And most of them don’t work. The daughter of the minister of interior has one ambition: to become a member of the national special force unit. She’s stupid though and clumsy, tactless and stubborn. But she is the daughter of a minister and gets admitted to the boot camp. She’s assigned to an experienced officer who wants to get rid of her as soon as possible. Of course, they end up liking each other. And she will turn out not to be that clumsy and stupid. But before that happens, there’s a seemingly endless series of scenes alternating from very bad to kind of funny. Sure, there are some laugh out loud moments, but unfortunately they are rare.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5736696

La Fille De Monaco – *

Posted: July 30, 2017 in 2008, Drama, France, Romance, Thriller, X

A lawyer receives protection from a body guard, sent by the son of his client in a murder case. It takes a while, but after a few days there is a connection between both men who like each other’s company.  And just when you think the story will evolve into a gay romantic adventure in Monte Carlo, a young fresh actress appears on screen who steals the heart of everyone. She has her eye set on the lawyer, but dated the bodyguard in the past…

Intriguing plot synopsis.

Poor execution.

Roschdy Zem (the bodyguard) is quite impressive, as always, but he looks lost in the bizarre dialogues and the crazy story that leads to nothing good at all. This was probably set up as a mix between a romantic comedy and crime thriller, but there’s is no romance, no comedy, no crime and no thrilling element….

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1139800