Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Les Barbouzes (1964)

Directed by Georges Lautner, Les Barbouzes is an amusing movie about spies. In the opening scene we see someone is murdered on a train, and the murderer is murdered, the 2nd murdered is murdered by another man, etc - until there is no one left but the winner. Bernarshah is an arm dealer who buys patents of dangerous arms, so there are not too many people die for he needs both buyers and suppliers. One day, Bernarshah dies in a whorehouse in France and to give impression that he dies honourably, the police sends agent Francis Lagneau (Lino Ventura) to deliver the body to his widow (Mireille Darc) who lives across the border. There, Lagneau meets spies from all around the world who want the patents of the arms.
The movie is in black and white. This spy movie is perhaps to follow James Bond's success. I like best the part where Amaranthe (Darc) tells Lagneau every time she sees a bearded man. Is it obvious that spies wear false beard? They will be kicked out of the train and car hitchhike. The car driver's face gets irritated as he gets more and more passengers. If you like movies about spies and want a nice laugh, don't miss this. I've never seen so many gadgets in one movie. Also never realized that one agent can have so many aliases.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

La bête du Gévaudan (2003)

In south-central France in the 18th century, a mysterious were-wolf called the Beast of Gévaudan attacked about 100 people. This movie is based on that event.

The hero of this story is Pierre Rampal (Sagamore Stévenin), a traveling doctor. He goes to the village in this story to buy good fabric (for bandage etc) and starts to investigate the horrible deaths caused by giant wolves. After finding that the victims, the young women, have been raped before, he tries to tell the villagers that a man is behind some of the killings.

There are lots of interesting characters. Jean Chastel, the farm owner, is a newcomer who is more successful than the villagers so they dislike him. Marie Pourcher, the local priest's mother, has been trying to buy her land back from Chastel, who refuses to sell to her; so she says to the villagers that he is a witch and that in moonlight he turns into a were-wolf. Things become worse because the Gazzette, the newspaper read by everybody, printed the news about the killings with illustrations of giant wolves, because the bishop tells the publisher to do so. Pourcher, the priest, is a weak character and almost does everything what his mother says. Françounette is Chastel's daughter, a beautiful girl who loves to read. Marie Pourcher says the men in the village have been bewitched by Françounette. There is also the marquis, who wants to tell the priest about his sin, but is refused. Louis XV, who sends his best hunter Beauterne to kill the beast. Beauterne kills a big wolf indeed and gets a big reward, but the killings still go on. Beauterne doesn't care about the mysterious killings, he only wants to kill a wolf and goes home.

The terror finally ends after Jean Chastel kills a big wolf who has attacked his wife. He goes to see the king to report this, but doesn't receive any award at all and returns to the village in shame. The real killer is of course not any wolf, but a man wearing a wolf skin. The marquis knows who he is, but keeps silent for the killer's sister is the king's favourite woman. Rampal kills 'the beast' when he is after Françounette.

The movie is enjoyable. It reminds me of Sherlock Holmes' The Scarlet Claw.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mr Klein (1976)

"We are forced to sell."
"But I am not forced to buy."

Watching Mr Klein made me depressed. The name 'Klein' can be used by a French, German, or Jewish. Alain Delon plays 'Robert Klein', an art dealer who in this story (set in Paris - 1942) buys
at a cheapest price from the Jewish who are forced to flee from France. His name cards are all over Paris, and another Robert Klein, who is a Jewish and Resistance member, uses the card to give himself a false address. Klein begins to receive mails intended for the other Klein and later the police give him troubles. For his namesake, Klein tries to prove that he is 100% French and his effort to find the Jewish man turns into a dangerous obsession which will lead to his ruin.

The opening scene which shows a woman is being measured like a horse is interesting and sad. Basically I can't tell the difference from one European from another, but I have some observant friends who can do that. Also touching is when the woman on the bus wondering why the French police can give them into the Germans, and Klein only can answer her with "Je ne sais rien."

I would like to know what happens to Klein in the end, but most likely he will die, for he is transported without papers at all. He should stop a while to get the his grandmother's birth certificate from his solicitor, shouldn't he? But like him, I don't want to lose the other Mr Klein either. I want to see what he looks like. Finally the other Mr Klein has made Mr Klein pay for what he has done to the Jewish people.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Doraemon magnets

Every Rp 40.000,- purchase at Indomaret, we would get one Doraemon magnet. The promotion is now over and there are not many I can collected. Half of them even come from my niece, who is kind enough to give me some of her collection. There was a special album with lots of magnets, but I thought it was too expensive. This was only for fun, anyway.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Alain Delon 5-Film Collection

La Piscine (1969) - Jean Paul (Delon) and Marriane (Romy Schneider) are spending their holiday in a villa in St. Tropez when Harry (Maurice Ronet), Marriane's ex-lover, joins them with his teenage daughter Penelope (Jane Birkin). This amusing movie has become my most favourite among the 5 in this collection. I think it's because the main 3 actors are old friends, that it seems in this they didn't act at all. The chemistry is wonderful. When Schneider said to Delon, "Je suis toujour bien quand je suis avec toi. Je ne demande pas plus.", it seems the line really comes from her heart. My favourite scene in the whole movie is the chinese dinner, for the food looks delicious as Delon keeps eating throughout the scene. This is the 2nd time I see Delon kills Ronet and ditch the body into the water. Last month a special edition DVD was released in France and it has an alternative ending; anyone who can tell me about it, please do so.

Diaboliquement Votre (1967) - After a car crash, a man (Delon) finds himself in a hospital with a temporary amnesia, and a beautiful woman (Senta Berger) tells him that his name is Georges Campo, she is his wife, and that he is very rich. This comedy-thriller makes me laugh a lot. He calls his Chinese servant Mao tse-tung and I think Delon changed his voice here. The plot itself is not new to me, but I don't know which copied which as this is an old movie which I watch only this month.

La Veuve Couderc (1971) - None realizes how dangerous Jean Lavigne (Delon) is. In 1922 he shot two important persons in a official party, was sent to prison, and ran away. The movie is set in June 1934, shortly before WW2 and we can see how the French behave towards the Jews and non-French at that time. Jean arrives in Widow Couderc (Simone Signoret)'s farm and is hired to help her. The widow is not in good terms with her late husband's family and it is their jealousy which will end her future plans with Jean. The scene of Jean's death is spectacular. This movie gives me a sad feeling. Why can't Jean be given a second chance? They were so happy calculating the money they would get by selling the chickens.

Le Gitan (1975) - This is the 2nd work of director José Giovanni I have seen. Both 'Deux hommes dans la ville' and 'Le gitan' are about social problems: the first about ex-convicts, and 'le gitan' about gypsies. Le Gitan (Delon) with his two friends, Jo Amila (Renato Salvatori) and Jacques Helman (Maurice Barrier) steal from the state to help the poor. Their path is crossed with Yann Kuq (Paul Meurisse) who does a big jewel robbery. In both Giovanni movies, the police is depicted in a negative way. There is a touching scene, when The Gypsy is helped by a veterinarian who says that 'There are two sides of every story." I dislike the fact that Delon looks like Johnny Depp here.

Notre Histoire (1984) - This is an unusual movie which I think most producer will prefer to make as stage production instead into a film. The characters often speak to the audience, try to break the 4th wall. Delon is very good here as Robert Avranche, a middle-aged man who is tired of life. After learning that his wife has an affair with a younger man, in a long trip by train, he dreams about a young woman named Donatienne and follows her obsessively. The whole thing is confusing because it is a dream.

Wallace and Gromit

Having enjoyed very much The Curse of Were-Rabbit and Shaun The Sheep, I couldn't help myself to get the Wallace & Gromit Limited Edition Tin Box, which looked very cute. In reality, it is very cute, and I also get 3 more episodes of Wallace and Gromit, Three Cracking Adventures, which each runs for about 30 minutes long. There are also 4 postcards in the tin. The tin's dimension is 21 x 16 x 18.5 cm, and as I am not a fan of cheese (no, not even Wensleydale) so I use it to store my camera. Accompanied with several bags of silica gel, I think my camera is safe.

The three episodes are:

1. A Grand Day Out, where Wallace runs out of cheese so he makes a rocket to the moon. "Everyone knows the moon is made of cheese."

2. The Wrong Trousers, where Gromit is thrown out from his master's house and the new lodger uses Gromit's birthday gift, a techno-trousers, to steal a diamond. This episode is my favourite among the three. The scene where Gromit puts in the spare tracks in the train chase is hilarious.

3. A Close Shave, where Shaun The Sheep is introduced. I love all the scenes with those funny sheeps. I think it's very appropriate that Gromit reads 'Crime and Punishment' in jail.
My sister & my niece also enjoys watching Wallace & Gromit. Their favourite scene is in A Close Shave, when the sheeps form formations on the motorbike. Thank you, Nick Park!

Adieu l'ami (1968)

Starring Alain Delon and Charles Bronson, Adieu l'ami (a.k.a. Farewell Friend / Honor Among Thieves) is very entertaining. I like this better than Red Sun (1971), but that perhaps because I don't really like wild west movies.

Dino Barran (Delon), a doctor, and Franz Propp (Bronson), a mercenary, both just returned from Algiers and landed in Marseille, where Barran meets Isabelle who is looking for her friend Mozart. Barran agrees to help Isabelle to return some valuable bonds into a safe which is located in a vault by breaking into it. Propp finds out about Barran's plan, but he wants the money in the safe. Things don't go well and they both are trapped in the vault and have to work together to get out, only to find that they have been framed.

The quality of the movie is very good, the images are very clear. [I watch the region 2 DVD from UK.] There are funny moments: the chinese abacus, guards taking away the food and drinks, ... I even laugh when they start to burn the bonds for lights. Only two things I don't like: when Waterloo tries to stop Barran to go and get Isabelle's card for she seems so hysterical, and the second before the film ends, when Delon imitates Bronson's 'Yeah!'.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Manon des Sources (1986)

Manon des Sources is the sequel to Jean de Florette, both based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol. I didn’t know that there was a sequel, so the end of Jean de Florette came as a shock because the good character, played by wonderful actor Gerard Depardieu, died, lost in the battle against the evil. I was a bit relieved after reading ‘the end of part 1’, knowing that the story didn't end just like that.

Jean de Florette is a beautiful movie about farming. Jean the hunchback inherited a farm in Provence and comes with his wife and little daughter, Manon. His neighbour, the Soubeyrans, want to buy the farm, because the land is fertile and has a spring. Jean refuses to sell, so the Soubeyrans, Ugolin and his uncle César, block the spring. No matter how hard Jean tries, without water, everything he plans is failed, until at last he dies from an explosion while making a digging well.

In this sequel, Jean’s little daughter, Manon, has become a lovely girl. Her mother has sold the farm to the Soubeyrans and returned to the city. Manon stays near the farm with an elderly couple who teach her how to tend the goats and hunt rabbits and birds. Ugolin, who has become rich by selling carnations, sees Manon and falls desperately in love with her. However, Manon has seen him and César unblocking the spring in her father’s land, a short while before the explosion which killed her father, and knows that the Soubeyrans are behind her father’s ruins. When her goat falls into a crevice, she finds the main source of the spring which supplies water for the village and local farms. She blocks the spring as a revenge.

Manon des Sources is as beautiful as its prequel and in the ending, we learn that Monsieur Jean, who the villagers hated because he is deformed and an outsider, is the long waited son of César. The main actors, Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, and Emmanuel Beart, are wonderful.

Moral of the story: Always be kind to everybody, because you never know if the one you hate turns out to be someone you have always waiting of.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Le silence de la mer (2004)

This was on TV last night. When I read the programme, I thought it was the Melville version, and was a bit disappointed after seeing the colour (the old version was in black & white). However this was a beautiful movie based on Vercors books, Le Silence de la mer and Ce jour-là.

The setting is in a small village in France, near the sea, when the Germans begin their invasion. A young piano teacher, Jeanne Larosière, lives alone with her grandfather, after the death of her parents. A German officer comes and says the house is too big for the two, and he asks for a room for his superior Captain Werner Von Ebrennac. Angry because Werner occupies her parents’ ex-room, also as good French citizens, Jeanne and her grandfather don’t welcome him and always ignore him. However, beside being handsome, Werner is a well-mannered young man and a musician who loves German music and admires French writers. He says their silence is like the silence of the sea, that although it is silent (except for the surf), it says many things. Gradually the Larosières begins to like him and Jeanne almost can’t hide her sadness when she sees a letter from Werner’s fiancée. The strongest part of this story is the scene when she tries to save Werner from danger, and that is done without saying a single word. Her eyes warn him about the danger ahead, tell him not to go. Another touching scene is when Werner plays Prelude by Bach on piano for Jeanne on the Christmas Eve. In the end, as a good German soldier, Werner sees the difficulty faced by his comrades in Russian borders, he is asked to be transferred there, and it is time when Jeanne finally says a word to him: ‘Adieu.’

Monday, April 14, 2008

Out (Natsuo Kirino)

Out by Natsuo Kirino (1997) is a fast-paced crime story, starring four house-wives as the heroines. They take night-shift job in a boxed-lunch factory in Tokyo. The first woman is Yoshie, the oldest of the four, who lives with her paralysed mother-in-law and a young daughter. Yoshie is a hard worker, but her mother-in-law complains too much and her teenage daughter demands too much money. The 2nd woman is Masako, whose relationship with her husband has turned sour and their son never says a word. Masako is the strongest, and her friends depend on her. The 3rd is Yayoi, the most beautiful among them, who has 2 little boys but is often beaten by her husband. The last is Kuniko, a plump girl who likes to spend money more than she earns, and this habit will lead her into lots of troubles.

Driven by anger because her husband has spent all of their savings to gamble and play in a whorehouse, one night Yayoi kills her husband. Her friends agree to help her get rid of the body, but the weak point of the four friends, Kuniko, for the sake of money, will destroy them all. Meanwhile, a nightclub owner with a dark past, who is arrested by the police because he is suspected of the crime, swears to get his revenge, for the accusation has made him lost everything.

The story reminds me a bit to 'Shallow Grave'. In the movie David dismembers the corpse alone, and as the result, from a boring accountant, he becomes a cold blooded murderer, a nightmare for his friends. The characters in 'Out' have stronger nerves than David, especially Masako and Yoshie, because of their hard life, and for money they will agree to do it again. The novel was unputdownable and the ending was unexpectable. It must be beyond the 4 women's imagination that their friendship will be destroyed by the murder of Yayoi's husband, but they get to know each other better. A corpse is not something to play with, even though the life has gone, and they must pay the price for that. A very high price.