Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Assassins et voleurs (1957)

From the start, this movie is gripping. Albert Le Cagneux (played by Michel Serrault), a thief, is breaking into Philippe d'Artois (Jean Poiret)'s house. As Philippe is not gone to bed yet, Albert is caught red handed. However, Philippe offers the thief a deal, that he will pay him 200,000 francs, if Albert helps him to commit suicide. Next, Philippe tells Albert his story.

10 years ago, Philippe falls in love with beautiful a woman whom he saves from drowning at sea. They separate, but he doesn't know her name, where she is staying, or the colour of her hair. He searches at every hotel and bar in Deauville, but finally finds that she is his old friend's wife, Madeleine. Her husband, Jean, terrorizes everyone, so Madeleine is happy with Philippe, who always finds new ideas. Jean finally finds out about the affair and he pretends to go out the night when Madeline is waiting for Philippe to come. In the same time, Albert the thief breaks into Jean's house. When Jean storms in and confronts Madeleine, Philippe hides, and Albert comes to help Madeleine. Too late, Madeline is dead by Jean and Jean is shot by Philippe, who then puts his pistol into Albert's pocket and jumps out of the window. The police comes and Albert is jailed for murder.

The trial scene is ridiculous. The wrong witness is brought to the court and his dialogues are very long. The judge should have stopped him much sooner. I love it, though, how this witness points to the court how the wooden fence (where witness is called to stand. I don't know what it's called.) should be fixed.

After jumping out of window, Philippe gets into his car and hits a tree. He is in comma in hospital and later is sent to a mental hospital, where he meets interesting people, including a kleptomaniac Russian countess. From the newspaper, Philippe learns about the poor Albert and decides to take his place as a thief. He cooperates with the countess. First they steals a diamond, but after realizing that the countess steals his part, he works alone.

From this part, the movie shows the art of deceiving, and the most interesting one for me is when Philippe steals the Corot painting.

Back to the present. Philippe learns from today's newspaper that Albert has been released from jail and guesses that the thief's first step is to find the man who framed him 10 years ago. He feels so distressed that he wants to commit suicide. By this point, Albert tells Philippe who he really is. The ending scene is a shock, which shows that Phillipe is really the top of his class.

This movie is very good and I hope TV5 will show more works of Sacha Guitry. His other work I have seen is only La poison.

Friday, September 11, 2009

3 hommes à abattre (1980)

There is nothing special with the story: Alain Delon plays Michel Gerfaut, a poker player who witnesses a car accident, brings the victim to the hospital, and the next day two men try to kill him while he is visiting his mother with his girlfriend (played by charming Dalila Di Lazzaro). From a newspaper, Gerfaut learns that the man in the car accident is dead by gunshot, along with 2 other, and that they all worked for Emmerich, who sells aircraft and missiles. Gerfaut asks help from his friend, an intelligence police, who soon is murdered, and Gerfaut is suspected as the murderer. Trapped and hunted, Gerfaut later becomes the hunter, and Emmerich, who thinks Gerfaut works for one of his rivals, tries to buy him. Gerfaut refuses and has to deal with the horrible consequence.

With exciting car chase and violence (which I think unnecessary, like when Gerfaut shoots the blond man and the last scene), no wonder that this movie attracted many viewers when it was released. I read that the successful of this is equal to Borsalino and Le cercle rouge. The dialogues are often filled with humour. "Have you noticed? My breasts are smaller in the morning," says Béa.

I like the scene in Gerfaut's apartment when the concierge comes to tell him that 2 men were looking for him last Friday. She carries a letter in her hand, but it is not for Gerfaut, but for someone who lives on the upper floor. It's quite funny and I've never seen this in any other movie before. In a movie, when someone knocks on your door bringing a mail, usually it's for you. We often forget that there is other people in the apartment building and the concierge doesn't serve the main character in the scene alone.

The music by Claude Bolling is beautiful. I did not expect something like that in an action movie.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths

I have always wanted to have a book about Greek myths, but didn't know any good one. There were so many in the market. I happened to read reviews about this D'aulaire's, which sounded great, and decided to buy the book. I enjoyed reading this so much and thought that this was one of the best books in my collection, even though it's bought from 2nd hand store and the jacket was missing. Until then, I only learnt about Greek myths from Disney or Hollywood movies - which people said not the best places. This book is for children, so it is a great introduction for me to those stories, which begins with Mother Earth Gaea gave birth to the gods. The stories are accompanied with lovely drawings, which amazed me, since they are made with pencil colours. The picture I include on this page is an example, depicts the kidnapping of Persephone by Hades.

Nous irons tous au paradis (1977)

This is the sequel to the successful Un éléphant ça trompe énormément. I still don't know what Marthe thought when she saw her husband was about to commit suicide live on TV, but in the beginning of this movie, Marthe and Étienne are happily married. While in the beginning of Un éléphant ça trompe énormément, Étienne is about to cheat on his wife for the first time; in the beginning of Nous irons tous au paradis, he finds a photo of his wife kissing a white haired man and plays detective to search his rival. Jean Rochefort perhaps would make a great Clouseau (The Pink Panther). How could I not think of that? Vladimir Cosma's jazzy music accentuates the matter . His thick moustache is very iconic, always makes me think of police characters in Tintin.

Étienne and his best friends Daniel, Simon, and Bouly buys a house near the airport. I wonder which road they take to go to the house, since they didn't see the big airport. One of the results of this folly: they have to play tennis wearing headphones.

In a party, Simon meets someone whose same fate as his: bullied by his own mother. I hope this fact makes Simon happy for a while. It turns out he loves his mother more than he has thought, for when she dies he cried helplessly. Bouly re-married, to unsatisfactory ending. Daniel successfully has a normal relationship, but she cancels the wedding on the D-day. The ending at the airport is good, with poor Simon is forced to fly to Bordeaux with Étienne's suitcase.

Compared to Un éléphant ça trompe énormément, this one is not as funny. I love the Adam cartoon, though.

Monday, September 7, 2009

World Without End

World Without End is the sequel to The Pillars of The Earth, although each book can be read separately. Set in the 14th century in Kingsbridge, the story spans in 34 years, about a conservative priory vs local merchants who want the town to prosper. The main characters are: Gwenda, who as a little girl made to steal by her father and longs to marry her dream man; Caris, a daughter of a wealthy merchant who wants to be a doctor, although at that time only men can enter the school; and Merthin and Ralph, sons of a fallen nobleman, who want to return the glory of their family. Merthin becomes a successful carpenter (like his ancestor, Jack Builder from The Pillars of The Earth), dreams to build the tallest cathedral in England, and makes more money than his brother who makes their father proud by becoming an earl. I finished this book in less than 2 weeks, which is fast for me. It was hard to put down because the story was fast paced, like any Ken Follett’s work (although after read many of his works one can guess where the story goes), and the intrigues were well woven. It was always interesting to see the characters tried to outwit each other.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Un éléphant ça trompe énormément (1976)

There were so many funny things in this movie that at one point, I couldn't laugh anymore. It's about 4 friends: Étienne (Jean Rochefort), a civil servant who is faithful to his wife Marthe; Daniel (Claude Brasseur) who is full of life and loves to do silly things; Bouly (Victor Lanoux), a big man who cries like a baby when his wife left him, taking the children and all the furniture - except a telephone; and Simon (Guy Bedos), a pessimistic doctor and dear son of his vulgar mom. These 4 guys play tennis regularly.

The central character is Étienne, who also narrates the movie. This loyal husband sees a beautiful woman in red in his company's parking lot [Imagine Marilyn Monroe wearing red in The Seven Year Itch. Then imagine a guy wearing a coat standing on the same grate.] and decides to have an affair with her. However he makes a date with the wrong woman ... twice! This poor guy never understands why his female colleague suddenly scratches his car. After a long search to find his dream girl's identity, Étienne goes every Thursday for horse riding because he is told that she is a regular there. The scenes with the horse are hilarious. It seems the animal always does the opposite of his master's wishes. Étienne finally can sleep with the woman in his dream and it seems all goes well, until her husband returns and Étienne finds himself upon the roof of her apartment building, wearing only a bathrobe, and people below think that he is going to commit a suicide. Soon, TV reporters arrive, along with the fire brigade.

I wonder what Marthe thinks when she sees the news about Étienne's "suicide". The last time she saw him, they just celebrated his birthday. She saw the beautiful Charlotte (woman in red), but as Daniel came to save the day, maybe Mathe thought Charlotte was Daniel's. Then Étienne's 3 friends came to take him away, to help Bouly whose wife had left him again. He didn't return that night. In the next morning, Marthe called Étienne's office, but he was not there either. Does Marthe know why Étienne is "committing suicide"? The sequel will be on TV next week, perhaps the answer is there.

I like the T-shirt worn by Bouly. It says 'Bisoo Bisoo' with pictures of red lips. Btw, I had a talk a while ago, that for men, friends are more important than family. In this movie, it is true.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Une histoire d'amour (1951)

The first time I saw this, it was a movie very ordinary. Last night I watched it for the 2nd time - because in the first time I missed the opening credits and later realized that the music was done by Paul Misraki, so I watched it again to have a better listening of the music, which was lovely indeed.

Inspector Plonche (Louis Jouvet) is given a task to investigate the death of two young lovers, presumably suicide. Two police find the bodies in the beginning of a movie, in a deserted coach, in a deserted place. Plonche's superior eagers to close the case asap, but Plonche wants to find why the young couple chose to die, and he does a thorough investigation.

The inspector first investigates the young man's father, Auguste Bompart, a sculptor who lives with a vulgar woman; and after that the girl's parents, the Mareuils, who own the metal factory
in the city. Plonche will slowly learn the story of the ill-fated lovers, from their first meeting during Catherine Mareuil's birthday party, the disapproval of their love by Catherine's parents - because Jean is only a trainee accountant in Mareuil's factory and Auguste is their ex-employee, sacked because of a theft - although later we will know that this is not true. In the end, Plonche will show the parents that their children are forced to take the cyanide because they don't want their happiness torn away from them. The tragic thing is, they don't need to die, but the appearance of two police doing a routine becomes a nightmare for them, after what they have been through. "No law prohibits idiot parents to have children." says the inspector. In this movie, it sounds sad.

My favourite moment is the Catherine's party, where high-class people gather together and make "funny" comments. When Catherine dances with Jean all the time, they say that he has no manner and wonder what sort of education she has got, while for her he is "Jean" and for him she is "Catherine" - no need for the surnames, which remind them that she is his boss's daughter and he is her father's employee. There is an old woman who comments that the young, beautiful Catherine looks older and has bags under her eyes.