Archive for the ‘2006’ Category

Paris: Je T’aime – (*)

Posted: November 28, 2015 in 1/2, 2006, Drama, Dramedy, France

Watching this compilation of short movies looked like a great way of honoring the great city that is Paris.

But it sucks.

None of the short movies are intriguing. So you’re left with some nice shots of Paris. But you can go on Instagram for that as well.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401711/

During a visit to Egypt several years ago, a tour guide suggested to watch The Yacoubian Building, a controversial movie based on a bestselling novel about the lives of several inhabitants of a famous art deco building in Cairo. It didn’t really get an international theatrical release, but you can buy the movie on dvd (if you look hard).

It’s clear why this movie was controversial and successful in its native Egypt. It deals about all kinds of tabu matters, from common issues like corruption, poverty and prostitution to lesser discussed topics like abortion, jihadism and homosexuality. Some praise the movie (and initially the book) for raising awareness of these aspects of life. Others find the way they are dealt with old-fashioned and damaging.

Non-Egyptians will need some time to adjust their mindset to this different kind of culture and cinema. The directing is not all that bad really and it’s great PR for Cairo. But the whole movie feels like it could have been made in the forties or so. It only has brighter colors. Be warned: Characters in Egyptian movies like these don’t talk, they SHOUT. Actors in Egyptian movies don’t really care about looking ravishingly good (apart from Hend Sabry, but she’s Tunisian). Nor do they care about acting natural. Once you’ve accepted the differences, you can persevere until the end.

The stories themselves aren’t all that interesting really. They are all so predictable and never merge, which is actually the point of telling the tale of the inhabitants of one particular building. But it’s fascinating to see life as it happens in Egypt. It’s a 2,5 hour soap and that’s exactly what the producers have made after the theatrical success: a tv series.

The main reason to watch the movie is to see how a unique moment in Egyptian movie history (showing a homosexual character) becomes totally counterproductive. It’s like the gay characters of the Hollywood movies of the fifties. They are all alcoholics and die in the end, gruesomely. Because, hey maybe that’s what they deserve. And that’s exactly what happens here. The gay characters is the editor in chief of a newspaper who throws money at uneducated men, invites them for dinner and a LOT of alcohol to his apartment, then throws himself passively on the bed waiting for the straight acting man to have a go at it.

Yes, it’s controversial and daring, but it’s also so sad and bad that it’s almost funny.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425321

Sofia Coppola’s biopic on the famous teenage queen of France didn’t leave a big impression on me when it was released back in 2006. But this second view left me baffled. It’s an incredibly well-directed movie. Kirsten Dunst is excellent as the troubled queen. The costume and set designs are impeccable. The contemporary soundtrack is risqué, but incredibly fitting.  (in fact, that was the only thing I liked nine years ago). The overall feel is great.

Having visited Versailles more than 50 times since the release of this movie does change your views on the story. You see all kinds of details that just aren’t historically correct (Marie Antoinette never took that many baths, nor could she have eaten macarons – an invention from the 19th century). There’s also a lack of realism in those scenes where everyone has beautiful teeth and nobody gets bitten by mosquitoes when they lounge along the swampy pool. However, apart from all the mistakes, there are also a lot of very accurate details and it’s refreshing to see a consistent biopic where the director clearly had a view of how the main character had to be depicted. In that sense, you can accept more discrepancies, anachronisms and biased depictions. Was Louis XV as much a loser as Jason Schwartzman’s performance makes you believe? Did Marie Antoinette really have an affair with the Swedish count Fersen? We will never know, but the fact that it’s presented this way doesn’t make you like the characters less.

This is a very young and refreshing movie that may not be historically correct, but will entertain an audience with historical facts that otherwise would never ever bother to watch a period piece. And that’s a merit on its own.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0422720/

Watching a season of E.R. as preparation to a First Aid course does wonders! It really does. Sure, you hear all kinds of medical terminology that you will never use. But they do show a lot of simple and basic techniques that can help in a case of emergency.

Of course, the First Aid course was just an excuse to start watching E.R. again. Especially if the dvd box of Season 11 only cost 5 euro.

There was a time when the show was incredibly popular both in the US and other parts of the world. Many a viewer of the George Clooney episodes may not realize that this series lasted a record 15 years. At least for those viewers who live in countries where the show got shifted from a main network to a niche channel.

Season Eleven feels like a new start. Almost like a spin off. It takes a few episodes to get to know all the new characters, especially if you haven’t watched any of the previous 5 seasons. Sure, you miss the familiar faces, but it doesn’t matter. It also does not feel outdated at all. First shown in 2006, and still quite realistic in 2014.

This really isn’t the bad season people claim it to be. Some episodes are really captivating and well directed. Each episode is an entity on its own, sometimes focussing on one theme only. It’s quite frustrating to care for a certain patient and then never hear how his or her story ends. But that’s what makes E.R. quite interesting. In the end, the staff also don’t learn what happened to the patients after they left the hospital.  The acting is overall pleasant. And it’s in fact the new comers who steal the show.

A great re-introduction and hopefully the other seasons are still in the (second hand) store

The worst episode: Time Of Death (for which Ray Liotta won awards!)

The best episode: Alone In A Crowd (with Cynthia Nixon suffering from a stroke)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108757/episodes?season=11&ref_=tt_eps_sn_11

If life is shit, then life in Cité Soleil, a slum of Haiti’s capital Port Au Prince is the amount of diarrhea from 100.000 dysentery affected tourists. It’s an area controlled by gang leaders who are in constant war with each other and in constant war with both the government and it’s opposition.

The political situation in the country is quite difficult to understand and this ‘documentary’ is not really explaining it. But basically this movie takes place in the year that former president Aristide left the country and rebels/opposition took over control.

A Danish director managed to film two gang leaders from the notorious slum during that year. How he was able to gain their trust is unclear. But he did and the result is quite disturbing. The gang leaders are brothers, they each control a part in the huge slum. They have a love/hate relationship with each other, which is very confusing. They are physically quite different, so it’s weird that – by the end of the movie – the director still writes the names of the brothers when they both appear on the screen. As if he assumes the viewers still won’t be able to tell them apart. They are very intriguing people. One, called 2pac, is a wannabe rapper. The other, Bily, is more serious and even has political aspirations. They both are smart. And quite likable. But their adoration of power and violence makes them no kids to fool around with. If they were fictitious, they would be superfly motherfuckers. But they are real, so it’s more difficult to fully empathize with them.

Luckily there is bonus material on the dvd, which is worth watching. The main feature feels like a snippet. By the time the end credits roll you feel disappointed because there are so many other things you want to know about these guys. The extras don’t really explain that much more, but it makes you realize that the director had to make a decision on how he wanted to tell the story. He totally decided to tell it from the brothers’ perspective. So it’s very biased. Several critics blame him for not being more neutral and for taking sides. But I guess he had to do so in order to get this movie made. I wonder if he ever asked them questions, because all they do is talk into the camera and say what they feel like saying.

The third main character in the movie is even more intriguing. It’s a volunteer worker who befriends the brothers and ends up being the girlfriend of 2pac. Throughout the entire movie I couldn’t help thinking that she worked together with the director. It felt like she was (voluntarily) used as bait to get the trust of these gangsters. I’d love to meet her and ask her about this. I’d interrogate her for hours about her relationship with these guys. You never really get to learn why she’s in Haiti really. It feels like she’s just there to party with the bad guys. I’m sure she must have done so helpful work too. And I’m really interested in learning about these kids’ past. They aren’t just street (or slum) smart, they are very eloquent both in their creole-French and in English. Oh well.

It’s NOT a documentary. It’s a showcase. But it’s a fascinating one. Endure the unimpressive beginning and wait until the volunteer worker becomes very present in the story. Don’t expect to understand the Haitian situation after this movie. Don’t expect neutrality. And don’t expect a Haitian Cidade De Deus either. It really isn’t that cool. It’s sad. But true.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479046

the whole film is on youtube dubbed in French, like a real documentary

Fair Play – **

Posted: November 26, 2012 in 2006, Adventure, France, Thriller, X1/2

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454602/

;

Fair Play was one of those dvd’s that have been on my shelf for over two years now and that I still had not watched. There are some 20 others on that shelf in case you wonder. It stars Marillon Cottilard, who I adore, and Jeremy Renier and Benoit Magimel, who I like. They all play characters that work for the same company, where fair play is just a word, not a deed. They all try to establish their place in hierarchy and hate the guts eachother.

The movie is quite original and unique, which makes it interesting to watch, but it is not an easy watch. The movie basically consists of six scenes only, all taking place in some sportive setting. In the first one we meet two colleagues rowing on a canal. In the second one we see one of them playing a game of squash with his boss. That scene lasts 15 minutes! 15 minutes of seeing two guys squash! I normally prefer not to know anything about a movie and be my own judge, but in this case I had hoped that someone would have warned me about this. It all makes sense in the end and if I had read about this movie before watching it, I would have know that the squash scene was the basis of this feature film. The director received an Oscar nomination for a short movie called Squash in which a game of squash will decide on whether someone will get fired or will get a second chance. A strong scene, but 15 minutes is long and unusual. The third and fourth are weird as well, causing a lot viewers to just give up on this story.

The fifth scene is even longer, but worth all the wait. The boss goes on a canyoning trip with
four of his employees in an attempt to solve certain issues that have arisen. Needless to say that the trip becomes a mini-nightmare. The setting is incredible. Those canyons are both impressive and intimidating. And the acting is good. But most rewarding is the suspense. Will they all get out of the canyon alive?

I liked the originality of the story telling. The story itself was underdeveloped, but I loved the original six act script. Plus the sportive setting! Very clever. Just don’t rent it thinking it will be a real thriller or a team building drama. Rent it for that original set up.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362225/

Ne Le Dis A Personne is a French movie based on an American suspense novel. It will get an American remake (directed by Ben Affleck), but that can’t possibly be better than this version. It’s actually a really good movie, but I won’t give it more than two and a half stars. I was incredibly annoyed by the use of popular songs during inappropriate moments and I thought the story was incredibly far-fetched and unbelievable. The reason why I still think it’s a good movie is the fact that, regardless of the issues mentioned, it had my attention until the end! The story is filled with plot twists, some more predictable than others, but it keeps the movie going. And the acting is good. The directing (apart from the soundtrack selection) is also great! Canet is a much better director than actor. (in that sense, Affleck, is the right man for this job) There are some really cool shots in the movie.

The only thing you need to know about the story is this: a doctor receives an email from his deceased wife, eight years after she was brutally murdered and found near the lake where both of them were taking a holiday.

the US version of the trailer sucks: