Saturday, October 31, 2009

Le dîner de cons (1998)

This perhaps can be a lot funnier if I didn't expected it to be so funny. Sometimes reading too many reviews are wrong, but unfortunately I need a guide before buying a DVD. Watching le dîner de cons is like watching a play. Most of the events take place in Pierre Brochant's apartment. Every Wednesday, Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) and his friends hold a dinner and the one who bring the most idiot guest is the winner. Brochant's friend recommends him to bring François Pignon (Jacques Villeret), an accountant in a ministry office, whose hobby is to make construction of models made from matchsticks. On the very day, Brochant suffers backache and cannot attend the dinner, but stuck instead with 'the idiot' for hours in his own apartment.

That night is the worst in Brochant's life. This is a movie where things are going worse and worse. The director doesn't forget to tell us the moral of the story, and for some time the movie has it's touching moment. However, what I like most in this movie is the cute soundtrack by Vladimir Cosma.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mademoiselle (2001)

This little nice movie is surprisingly wonderful and not boring at all. The title didn't interest me at all, but I decided to watch it at least for 30 minutes. First, Sandrine Bonnaire, the lead actress, has one of the freshest faces I've ever seen on screen. In this movie, her character, Claire, is very charming and she seems doesn't have any problem in her life. She is happy with her husband and 2 children. Then, the movie itself starts well. In a party, we meet the lead actor, Jacques Gamblin (I often mistake him for Patrick Catalifo), in this occasion is working as a waiter named Cassini, who serves little sandwiches, but tells the guests not to choose the one with salmon because according to his cousin's research it's transgenic. Cassini and his 2 friends are actors, who travel around and work as improvisators. 

A mini lighthouse is used as a device, that Claire, after the party, meets Cassini again and again, and keeps missing her train.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Frank Riva (2003)

Starring by Alain Delon and Jacques Perrin, the beginning of Frank Riva took my mind back to their collaboration 18 years before: Parole de flic.  It is almost the same: Alain Delon in exile returns to France after someone in his family died violently, to do the detective work.

Frank Riva is a very enjoyable series. It consists of 2 seasons. I have only the first season and have watched the 2nd season on TV, but missed the first episode. The plot is as follows: In the beginning, there were 3 inseparable friends from the Coast: Frank Riva, Xavier Unger, and Marc-Antoine Rezzoni. All dreamed for an ideal world, and all became policemen. Frank Riva went undercover and infiltrated the Loggia family. His work harvested in May 1974 when the police tampered a big drug delivery, but as there was a price on his head, Riva had to leave France. Twenty-five years later, he received a phone call from Unger, now the Chief Commissioner, telling him that Rezzoni was in comma, and that Frank Riva had to return to France to replace Rezzoni for the time being.

Commissaire Lydie Herzog gets the order to pick Riva from the airport. She has this 40 year old photo of him (from Melodie en sous-sol. In other scenes, a photoshoped picture from L'eclisse appears.), which made me giggle, because if I were Lydie, perhaps I would never find him - unless there was only 1 man left in the airport. At first it is not easy for Riva to control the situation, as Rezzoni's men don't like their boss being replaced by a total stranger. However, as the investigation leads them to the Loggia family and Frank Riva knows better than anyone about the family, their respect for him begins to grow.

With Cédric Chevalme and Eric Defosse (although only a little part - at least in season 1), Frank Riva seems similar to Fabio Montale. Mireille Darc also appears, and I like the dialogues: "Have have you been waiting long?" "Oh, about a quarter of century." "I meant..." "I know what you meant." which are also used in the ending song. Nice touch.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Angels and Demons (2009)

I haven't read the book which this movie is based on. My cousin lent me The Da Vinci Code and although the theory about Jesus & Mary Magdalene was shocking that time, I found the rest of the book was boring. So I will read Angels and Demons book if I can borrow it from someone.

As I was completely blind about the story, I must say that I enjoyed Angels and Demons the movie. Tom Hanks was hired to play Robert Langdon again, but this time he was accompanied by Ayelet Zurer, an Israeli actress. The plot is as follows: The Pope dies, so cardinals from all over the world are gathered in Vatican for the conclave. Four cardinals are kidnapped and the kidnapper threatens to kill one of them every hour - it's not clear what he demands. He claims he is from the Illuminati group, people of science. In the past, the church tortured and killed them and now he takes revenge. Robert Langdon is called to the Vatican because he has written a book about The Illuminati. Langdon himself wants to go because it means now he can access the Vatican Library. The killer also has a bomb, an antimatter (what does it mean? Basically, it's a huge powered bomb), which can sweep away the whole Vatican.

Interesting to watch how Robert Langdon tries to solve the puzzles and find the 4 missing cardinals, dead or alive. It's an enjoyable fiction. I believe that the Vatican police should have been able to solve the problem without having to import Robert Langdon from the US, but it's Dan Brown's story. Ewan McGregor plays the Camerlengo. He is the reason I watch this movie, by the way. I wonder from where he finds the money to pay the killer. Why in this kind of genre, the Catholic Church is often depicted to have many inside conflicts? I also find it's confusing to see a killer who seems in pain to do what he must do than a killer with a blank face. The cardinals are old men who seem harmless and weak, so it must have taken a man with a nerves of steel to torture them to death. The killer cries sometimes, but he does the killings anyway. I prefer the God's Spy by Juan Gómez-Jurado, because at least the killer there has mental problem. I think this one in Angels and Demons does it for the money because he doesn't belong in either Illuminati or papal group.

State of Play (2009)

I saw the TV version of State of Play a couple of years ago so I must have forgetten details. I also have missed the first episode. The main character in State of Play is a reporter, Cal McAffrey from Washington Globe (This is one of the changes. In the movie version, the setting is moved from the UK to the USA) - played brilliantly by Russell Crowe, who I think is one of the best actors in our time.

The movie opens with a young man running for his life, but he is caught and shot by a hired killer. A couple of seconds later, a pizza delivery guy is also shot to death by the same killer. McAffrey is assigned to write article on this double murder. Next, a congressman's lead researcher, also his mistress, is pushed in front of an approaching train. The investigation will lead to a connection among the 3 deaths, and that a big company is behind it.

I think it's great to cast Helen Mirren as the leader of the journalists. She is of the same caliber as Bill Nighy, who plays the same role in the TV series. The relationship of McAffrey and Stephen Collins's wife is not as complex in the TV series, but it must be caused by the time factor. In the movie version, a twist to the ending is added (unless I missed this part in the TV series). I can have sympathy to David Morrissey's Collins, but not to Ben Affleck's, thus I like the ending in the movie, which shows that all politicians are rotten (except Monsieur Madeleine, the major of Montreuil-Sur-Mer, and he's a fictional character). Perhaps the writer of the script is a sceptic.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

La règle du jeu (1939)

In the beginning of the movie, Jean Renoir claims that this movie is not a study of morality and this, in my opinion, only triggers our sense because the characters are interesting enough for us to study their morality. What is so remarkable about La règle du jeu is its continuing scenes with many characters glide from one spot to another, especially in the mansion hall. This movie reminds me of Gosford Park.

The story centers on Christine, daughter of an Austrian musician who is married to Robert de la Cheyniest. She is loved by André Jurieux, the French hero who flied solo over Atlantic; and Octave, her late father's friend. On the other hand, Robert has a mistress. However, Christine is a happy woman and can even discuss with her rival Robert's bad habit: smoking in bed. Robert invites his friends to La Colinière where they will do the hunting.

Lisette, Christine's maid, prefers to leave her husband Schumacher the game-keeper, than her employer. In La Colinière, Robert hires Marceau, an ex-poacher. Marceau soon tries to seduce Lisette. This makes Schumacher angry and after a series of fights, both the game-keeper and ex-poacher lose their jobs. When Octave goes into the green-house with Christine, who wears Lisette's cape, Schumacher thinks that Lisette plays fire with Octave and he wants to get rid of that man. However, who will die but our national hero Jurieux?

My favourite character is the cook. When he is told that one of the guests wants salt from the sea, he says that the guest will get the usual salt like everybody else. He adds that he can accept diet but not craziness.

The Collected Tales Nurse Matilda

After watching Nanny McPhee, I was curious about Nurse Matilda, whom the title character in Nanny McPhee based on. Months ago, I saw the Bloomsbury edition of Nurse Matilda The Collected Tales by Christianna Brand in a bookstore and liked the appearance. Apart from the hardcover and the kind of paper used ("natural, recyclable products made from wood grown in well-managed forests"), I thought the black and white illustrations by Edward Ardizzone, Brand's cousin, were cute. The book was consist of 3 stories: Nurse Matilda, Nurse Matilda Goes To Town, and Nurse Matilda Goes To Hospital.

I wished I read it sooner because I think now I am too old for it. The synopsis is as follows: Mr and Mrs Brown have so many children that in the book only several of them are named. They are all naughty that nurses, nannies and governesses all cannot work there long. Then come Nurse Matilda with her magic stick who will punish the children in magical ways, and in the end they learn how to behave. The naughtiness in the book is repeated again and again, so is the way Nurse Matilda handles them, that it becomes rather boring for me. Evangeline, who in Nanny McPhee is played by lovely actress Kelly MacDonald, is depicted as an annoying fat girl whom the Brown children dislike, and of course she doesn't end up marrying Mr Brown like in the movie.

The Mike Hammer Collection Volume 1

I and an American friend were discussing about detective/crime stories and she mentioned that Mickey Spillane was one of the most popular writers of the genre. I then saw that he was popular because of a detective he had invented: Mike Hammer. I'd never heard of that name before. After reading a few reviews, it seemed that Mike Hammer had many fans, so I added this book, which contained 3 stories, to my list.

Now I have finished the book. I must say that I enjoyed it very much. It's one of the books that is hard to put down, written  in first person's point of view. Mike Hammer is a private investigator in New York. In his office, there are only him and his secretary Velda. He has a good friend in the police department named Pat, and they help each other to solve murder cases. In all 3 books, the cases taken by Mike Hammer are all personal. In I, the Jury, his best friend is murdered in cold blood; in My Gun is Quick, a girl whom he just gave charity to is hit by a car to death and although the police believe it was an accident, he believes it was murder; and in Vengeance is Mine! a soldier friend whom he just met after years was found dead in a hotel room they share together.

There is lot of violence in the book with a touch of humour here and there, and the sexy dames all soon fall in love with him, including Velda, although he is not handsome. "I looked in the mirror again and grimaced. It was a hell of a shame that I wasn't handsome." I imagine he is like some hero in American film noir, wearing trench-coat and fedora. Anyway, those dames, except Velda, become victims, too. The death rate in Mike Hammer's world is high.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Une enfance volée: L'affaire Finaly (2008)

Last night I watched this on TV. It was based on a true story, yet very gripping, and I found my eyes stuck to the screen until the end. In 1944, the Finalys couple, Austrian Jews, afraid that they would be caught by Nazis, asked their neighbour to take care of their little sons: Robert and Gérald, with the message that they should not be separated and that if something happened to the parents, the aunt would take care of the children. Not long after, the Finalys couple were arrested. This kind neighbour would send the children to a convent, in the hand of Mother Blandine, and from Mother Blandine to Antoinette Brun. After the war, the children's aunt  who lived in Israel wrote to Brun to return the children, but Brun never replied. The aunt then asked the help of Moise Keller. The movie shows how Keller tried to obtain the children from Brun's hands.

The movie portrays Brun as a selfish woman and Catholic fanatic. She looks at Keller as if he is her enemy. After taking care of the Finaly children for years, she has grown so fond of them that she wants to keep them for herself. The French public support Brun because of her courage during the war as she has saved many children by hiding them from the Nazis. However, according to the law, the children must be returned to their family, and in this case, their aunt. The children themselves seem to have loved Mother Brun, although they only see her twice a year. [They are sent to a boarding school.] They do whatever she asks, love her as their own mother, and do not hesitate when she take them to be baptised. The baptism, however, at least in the movie, seem only to prevent Keller from taking the children.

After the baptism, the Catholic church help Mother Brun to hide the children. I am confused about their insistence, saying that 'baptism is permanent'. In my opinion, the children are too young to decide. At this point, the court has decided that the children should be returned to their aunt. The church even goes as far as giving the children false names and papers and taking them out of France by foot into Spain, to a convent where Robert is separated from Gérald and each cannot leave their room. It feels like a prison. I believe at this point, Robert, the eldest, must be thinking, if living with their aunt in Israel is much better. The boys think of Israel as a desert with many Jews. In the boarding school, their friends mock them for being Jews, so they believe it's better to keep staying in France and be Catholics. The involvement of the church almost make this affair into a religious war, but finally the cardinal has realized that the matter has gone into such a mess and he helps Keller to find the boys. After 7 years, finally the aunt can take the children to Israel.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ho! (1968)

Like Les Aventuriers which was out the previous year, Ho! was also based on José Giovanni novel. This movie by Robert Enrico looks nice (the colour and costumes, especially), and there is a scene by a lake which I like very much. Below is a still which I think very appropriate because we can see the main character and his nickname, also the title of the movie.

Jean-Paul Belmondo plays François Holin, whom his friends call 'Ho'. An ex-racer who is out of job after an accident, François joins a gang of robbers led by Canter (Sydney Chaplin) who soon dies by his own weapon. This is not the only blunder, because François later is caught when stealing a car and sent to jail (after being attacked by the mob). There is a good little detail when the witnesses cannot confirm François as the driver in the previous robbery because of the way he tosses the cigarette. He escapes from jail by disguising as a cell-mate who should be out that day. This time, it's the guards who make the blunder since they let him go. His girfriend Bénédicte (Joanna Shimkus - much more beautiful here than in Les aventuriers), a famous model, finds out François's real job and breaks up with him.

The press exaggerates François's escape from jail. In the robberies, his role is only to drive and steal cars. He becomes a celebrity after the papers published his extraordinary escape as "The greatest escape of this century", calling him: Arsène Lupin + Al Capone = François Holin, public enemy no.1, man with nerves of steel, and that he has invented a new form of gangsterism. At this point, the narcissism can be clearly seen. François is so proud of himself that he fills up his room's wall with articles about himself. He contacts a journalist (Paul Crauchet) to write more articles about him and forms his own gang for a bank robbery. The police finally can trap François using his weakness: he is an avid tie-collector.

Alain Delon made a cameo here, as someone who is almost run down by Bénédicte's car after she picked up François from airport. It's not very clear, but I'm sure it's him.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Le diable et les dix commandements (1962)

The Devil and the Ten Commandments has a very original idea, using the 10 Commandments given to Moses by God on the Mount Sinai. Directed by Julien Duvivier, this was a big project which assembled many great actors. The movie is divided into 6 sketches, with the first is divided again to open and conclude it. The Devil appears in the shape of a snake and gives commentary between segments.

1. "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain"
Jérôme (Michel Simon), a pensioner, swears like a soldier. This won't be a great deal if he doesn't live in a convent. The abbess wants to get rid of him, but when the bishop (Lucien Baroux) visits the convent, he recognizes Jérôme as his childhood friend and agrees to give him absolution if he repents and learns the 10 commandments.

2. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife" "Thou shall not covet anything that belongs to thy neighbour"
This segment is the most simple and easiest to understand. Françoise (Françoise Arnoul) is given an expensive necklace by her friend's husband Philip (Mel Ferrer). Although claims that she is happily married to Georges (Claude Dauphin), being a close friend of the rich couple Micheline (Micheline Presle) - Philip, Françoise more or less is a bit jealous of Micheline and wants to keep that necklace given by her lover. But how to explain to Georges? Françoise buys a bag, fills it with a dozen of imitation necklace, put the expensive necklace among them, leaves it at the station and tells her husband that she finds the deposit ticket in a taxi. Georges claims the bag at the station. Françoise hopes Georges gives the bag and its contents to her. He does, but she doesn't find the necklace because Georges has given it to Michelin.

3. "Thou shalt not kill"
This segment is the most bitter. Denis (Charles Aznavour) renounces his vow to become a priest to revenge the death of his sister, who committed suicide after being forced to become a prostitute by Garigny (Lino Ventura). It's a bit strange as a priest is supposed to be a man of peace. Father Superior tells Denis to leave the matter in police's hand, but Denis believes that if police catches Garigny, Garigny will only spend several years in prison, and after that he will be out and commit crimes again. Denis arranges that Garigny kills him and is caught by the police red handed.

4. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"
A big man (Fernandel) comes into a farm which inhabited by little Marie, her parents, and her grand parents. He tells her that he is God. The grand-mother wants him to perform a miracle, but not on herself. 'God' makes the (pretended) paralyzed grand-father walks again. After he is done, the family has their faith again. 'God' leaves the farm, carrying with him the African totem which previously stood in front of the house and throw it down the canyon. Next, he is picked up by 2 men from the psychiatric ward.

5. "Honour thy father and thy mother" "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour"
Pierre (Alain Delon) comes home and finds his mother (Madeleine Robinson) in a sulky mood. Irritated, Pierre goes to his father and lightly says that perhaps she is not his mother. His father then tells him that his real mother is Clarisse Ardant (Danielle Darrieux), the actress. Pierre goes to see his real mother who at first thinks that Pierre is another die-hard fan. In a short moment, he learns that she is too much in love with herself. She cannot even find time to dinner with his son and refuses to know his address. Pierre returns to his adoptive parents and this time, his adoptive mother's scold sound lovely to his ear, as it only shows how much she loves him.

6. "Thou shalt not steal"
Didier (Jean-Claude Brialy), a bank cashier, is fired by his boss. On his last day, a robber (Louis de Funès) comes to his window and Didier gives the money voluntarily and let the robber go. Didier then manages to obtain the suitcase with the money, but before he can escape, the Inspector (Noël Roquevert) asks him to identify the robber from a line-up. Didier lets the robber go again, but knowing the ex-cashier has the suitcase, the robber runs after him. They end up agreeing to share the suitcase's contents, except that the contents are now: wine, bread, and sausages. Without his knowing, Didier has taken the wrong suitcase when he stops in a café.

7. "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy"
To conclude the film, Jérôme appears again. It's Sunday and Jérôme is invited by his friend the bishop to dine together. The bishop drinks too much wine and cannot recite the 10 Commandments. In this last segment, the characters can see the serpent. Jérôme catches it and throw it into a well. However, it doesn't mean that the devil has its end as he appears again.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Il était une fois un flic... (1971)

This comedy thriller by Georges Lautner is very entertaining, with solid cast and nice soundtrack by Eddie Vartan. After the death of Maurice Lopez, a drug dealer, Commissaire Campana (Michel Constantin) takes the identity of Lopez's brother to go to Nice and infiltrate the organization led by Pascal Manoni. Campana is single, so the undercover is not easy for him as the real Louis Lopez has a wife and a son, and the local police tail him all the time, suspecting him for murders which happen around him. Campana will soon know that there is a war between 2 gangs: Italian and American, fighting over the control of drug. When he finally can meet Manoni, the Italian is assassinated by 2 American killers.

Perhaps it's not difficult to find 2 Americans in Nice. At first the French police get a wrong couple and realize that not all "two American men seen in Nice" are the murderers they are looking for. Again, it's not difficult because 2 men who ask for English newspapers are rare in Nice, as can be seen on a hotel's breakfast table. The dangerous Americans can escape with the help of fire-brigade, right under the nose of the French police. However, when Campana hears that his 'wife' and 'son' have been kidnapped, he doesn't hesitate to confront them alone, like a bull, complete with the ¡Ole! I must say that this 'matador' scene is my most favourite in the film.

Mireille Darc plays the false wife and she is wonderful here. Perhaps she is Georges Lautner's favourite actress as they have many projects together. I think I've never seen Michel Constantin in a comedy before. Every time I hear his name, I think of one of the prisoners in 'Le trou'. He is great here as a single man who slowly feels comfortable with his new family. A child's cry when having a nightmare, the noise of police car toy when he needs to sleep or is having a phone call, extra expenses for cheese they don't need because the boy collects the pictures, the obligation to tell bedtime stories, having to wait before using the toilet... he goes through all these well.

Alain Delon made a cameo, as someone who rings the bell of Campana's apartement by error, because he is looking for Rodriguez who lives on the 3rd floor. Mireille Darc opens the door and Delon seems quite surprised to see how beautiful the woman who is standing in front of him. After knowing that he has made a mistake, Delon says 'Thanks' and leaves. Constantin asks Darc, 'Who was it?' 'None,' she answers.

Le salaire de la peur (1953)

This movie won at the Cannes Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival, so I actually hoped for something better after re-watching Rififi last week. Le salaire de la peur (a.k.a. The Wages of Fear) starts slowly to introduce the characters and there are not many twists in the plot like Clouzot’s previous work such as Le corbeau or L’assassin habite au 21. Le salaire de la peur is set in a poor South American town called Las Piedras. An American oil company is burning and to transport 2 trucks of nitroglycerin needed to put out the fire, 4 men are hired: Mario (Yves Montand) and Jo (Charles Vanel) in the first truck, and Bimba (Peter van Eyck) and Luigi (Folco Lulli) in the 2nd truck. They must drive carefully 300 miles over mountain roads as their load can explode easily.

As soon as the trucks start rolling, I felt the excitement and fear of the drivers as well. Jo, who has been so brave facing a gun, starts to lose his courage and falls ill - or so he says. However, his partner Mario has determined to finish the job for the high pay: US$2000 per person, so he can return to Paris – Pigalle.

The first breathtaking scene is when Mario drives the truck on the old wooden bridge and makes Jo falls over the edge. The next is when Bimba using the nitroglycerin to blow up a big rock which lies in the middle of the road. We also learn that Bimba and Luigi work well together, unlike the main pair, because Jo’s complains would have make me lose courage. Fortunately Jo has Mario. The greatest scene in the movie must be when Mario and Jo try to cross over the pool of oil. The images of Jo covered in oil must be difficult to make and the result is so beautifully scary.

The ending which shows Mario happily drives his truck, intercut with the celebration in Las Piedras, is also excellent. The truck dances, following the rhythm of the music. Mario cannot wait to go to Pigalle and it's interesting because in Bob le flambeur (1956), Pigalle is described as 'hell' and to go there one must 'go down'. Mario goes down to 'Pigalle', along with his truck.

Bimba : "If I've got to be a corpse, I want to be presentable."

Sophia Loren 4-film Collection

Like Catherine Deneuve 5-film Collection Boxset, the cover of the DVD is also made of thick plastic, but the red colour for this Sophia Loren boxset is much more charming.

1. Carosello napoletano (1954)
This is a beautiful musical consists of many stories, linked by a traveling family. I guess the songs are from or about Napoli, judging from the title. It's a well made movie with lovely costumes and sets. My favourite part happens to be around when Sophia Loren appears, along with the trio. I never knew that 3 + 7 = 27 can sound very nice. It's so funny when Sisina breaks up with her boyfriend and they ask everything they have given to each other back.

2. Attila (1954)
This is the worst among the 4 in the collection, imo. Anthony Quinn plays Attila, leader of the Huns who almost destroys the Roman empire. Rome is ruled by the weak Valentinianus, but his ambitious sister Honoria (Loren) offers her hand to Attila, promising him the empire as dowry. Nothing can stop Attila, except the man whose name is like an animal: Pope Leo.

3.Madame Sans-Gêne (1962)
Not as great as Fanfan La Tulipe, but is worth watching. Like other Christian-Jaque's works, this movie also combines action, drama and comedy. Sophia Loren plays Catherine, a laundress during the French Revolution, who marries sergeant Lefebvre (Robert Hossein) and both will climb unto the high society where Catherine meets again her old customer: Napoleon Bonaparte. Like in Fanfan La Tulipe, there is a funny scene where Lefebvre eagerly runs after Catherine that they don't realize they have gone too far into the enemy's area.

4. I girasoli (1970)
This movie reminds me to Waki Yamato's Haikara-san ga Tōru, although since the movie came first, perhaps Waki Yamato got her inspiration from I girasoli. Giovanna (Sophia Loren) and Antonio (Marcello Mastroianni) are newly wed, but he must go to Russia to serve military service. He tries to avoid the task by pretending he goes mad, but the authority can find it out. After the WW2 is over, Antonio doesn't return and is declared missing. Many believe he is dead, but Giovanna believes he is still alive and she goes to Russia looking for him, only to find the bitter truth, that he has married again to a Russian girl and has a child. There is a beautiful scene with a field of sunflowers where a Russian woman told Giovanna that every flower covers a dead soldier. The music by Henry Mancini is hauntingly beautiful.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Catherine Deneuve 5-Film Collection

I bought this because of Le choc, which is only available (the version with English subtitles) in this boxset. The 'box' is made of plastic, which imo looks better than the Alain Delon 5-Film Collection's box. Like the title suggests, there are 5 films in it:

1. Manon 70 (1968)
This movie is actually not bad, especially when they had the handsome Samy Frey, who I think could be James Bond if Roger Moore was not available at that time; unfortunately only several months ago I watched Henri-Georges Clouzot's Manon, which had many gorgeous, unforgettable scenes. One cannot help to compare both movies as they are both based on the same source. In this newer version, moral degradation is clearly depicted. One basic point is that a brother sells his own sister. Another example is the scene when Jean-Paul (Manon's brother) persuades Simon's wife to talk to Manon so that Manon leaves François and returns to Simon, so that Simon's wife can keep her lover; because if Simon loses Manon, he will ask his wife to leave her lover as well. Love is not enough for Manon, who loves anything glitters, but is it enough for François? He borrows so much money from his boss. And in the end, in the hitchhiking scene, we see that they only want expensive car.

2. Le choc (1982)
This one is quite entertaining and I like the nice soundtrack by Philippe Sarde. It is said that during the shooting Catherine Deneuve had differences with director Robin Davis, so Alain Delon directed the rest of the project. The plot is similar to Tony Arzenta: Delon plays a hired killer who wants to quit, but the boss won't let him. Martin Terrier a.k.a. Christian (Delon) hides in his turkey farm, which is run by Claire (Deneuve) and her husband Félix. A group of commando arrives and kills Félix, but Martin & Claire can escape to Paris, where they are caught again by Martin's boss who wants Martin to do another job for him. I don't know exactly what is the meaning of the title as there is nothing so shocking in this film. The turkey farm scene is lovely, though, especially when Delon & Deneuve are trying to catch the turkeys. And I like the water-gun joke.

3. Le sauvage (1975)
I enjoyed this great drama-comedy very much. Deneuve plays Nelly the savage in a very wild way, that I felt so sorry to Yves Montand's Martin. On their wedding night, Nelly leaves her husband Vittorio and goes into a hotel where Martin helps her to escape from Vittorio who is after her. She follows Martin to his private island, without his knowing at first, and as he tries to get rid of her, she becomes a pest in his life. Slowly Martin accustoms to her (like My Fair Lady, imo), but it is too late as Vittorio comes to take her home. I think this is the best among the 5 movies in this collection.

4. Hôtel des Amériques (1981)
When TV5 showed this months ago, I left asleep. Now as I have the DVD, I tried to watch this again until the end. I still think this movie is very slow and boring. Deneuve plays Hélène, a doctor who falls in love with Gilles (Patrick Dewaere), son of an inn-owner whose best friend Bernard, a failed artist, is one of their tenants. Gilles always doubts Hélènes love for him and that in his imagination she cannot forget her late boyfriend who left her a big house. This one has a sad-ending, but Gilles is left hoping, and so are we.

5. Fort Saganne (1984)
Gérard Depardieu plays Charles Saganne, who is sent to Sahara desert, away from Madeleine (played by a very young Sophie Marceau) who loves him, by the recommendation of her father. Charles becomes a legend, a great war hero, and yes, he marries Madeleine anyway. His reputation, however, proves not enough to handle the cruelty of WW1. Deneuve has a little role here as Charles's lover when he returns to France on a diplomatic duty. The movie is beautiful, but slow. What I like best is the friendship between Charles and Amajar, one of the Arab leaders.