Friday, November 26, 2010

J'aurais voulu être un danseur (2007)

François Maréchal lost his wife and son and he blames whom? Gene Kelly!

It begins when François watches the famous scene in Singin' in the Rain, where Gene Kelly dancing in the rain; and suddenly he wants to be a tap dancer. He tells his wife he is looking for a job, but actually he takes a dancing lesson. What he didn't know is that his father Guy left his mother and him in 1973 for the same reason: He was crazy about dancing after watching Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, and chose to leave his family. His grandfather Maurice, who had also been inspired by Gene Kelly, committed suicide after his grandmother refused to believe that he could dance. François starts to believe that there is a curse on the family and he warns his son Antoine.

François dances together with his father Guy

There is an interesting scene where François visits the making of Singin' in The Rain. They have finished the famous scene: Gene Kelly stops singing and dancing after the policeman approaches him. The crews appear on the scene. François tries to come nearer to Gene Kelly, but the policeman stops him. The policeman tells him that he cannot blame Gene Kelly for what has happened. It is his own fault because he tells lies to his wife.

The ending scene is very enjoyable. It shows the four generations of Maréchal men dancing together. Jean-Pierre Cassel plays the old Guy.

The Girl who Kicked The Hornets' Nest

This is the last of the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. The first part, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, can be read separately. I think the 2nd, The Girl who Played With Fire, can be read separately, too; but it's recommended to read the first book first. However, we cannot read The Girl who kicked the Hornets' Nest without at least reading the 2nd book.

In the first, the heroine Lisbeth Salander helps journalist Mikael Blomvkist to solve a 40 year-old case of a missing girl. In the 2nd, Salander's past is explored. It explains why she is declared incompetent and has to be under guardianship, even though a few people who know her say that she is a genius. The 2nd book ends with Salander confronts her father, the mysterious Zala. They almost kill each other.

In this book, Salander is under arrest for attempting to kill her father and several other charges. Her friends, including Blomvkist, who believe her story about a conspiracy to lock her in mental hospital forever; work to save her and uncover the conspiracy. The enemy, known as 'The Section' seems to hide behind the government, but as Blomvkist will reveal the truth in his next book and magazine issue about how the government has violated Salander's rights for years, the government must act and work together with Blomvkist to remove the corrupted officers.

Too bad the writer was dead after finishing the 3rd book. If there was the 4th book, what would have it been about? Salander's lost sister?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Le passager de la pluie (1970)

At last I could see this movie. I like the works of director René Clément. So far, all that I have seen are very good: Gervais, Jeux interdits, Plein soleil, Che gioia vivere, Les félins, Paris brûle-t-il? and now this. I hope to be able to watch La bataille du rail in the future. Now it's indeed available on DVD, but the price is so high.

Its English title "Rider on The Rain" is not easy to comprehend, at least for me. However after the movie starts, I think I can understand its meaning. The movie starts with a passenger get off a bus, in a small town in Southern France. It is raining. The heroine, Mellie (played by Marlène Jobert), sees him from behind a window. If I'm not mistaken, she is in her mother's house. The stranger follows her when she is buying a new dress and to her home, where he rapes her. She wants to call the police, but changes her mind as she remembers her jealous pilot husband. She finds the man is still in the house, shoots him down, and dumps the body to the sea. The next morning, in the newspaper there is a news that a body has been found in the shore. Then arrives Colonel Harry Dobbs (Charles Bronson) from US Army who tells Mellie that he knows what she has done. He tells her that the stranger was bringing a bag full of money and had her husband photo with him.

In most part of the movie, there are only Mellie and Dobbs alone. He tries to make her acknowledge that she has killed that man, but she insists she knows nothing - until Dobbs tells her that the man's mistress has been caught by the police as the murderess. Mellie thinks she must tell someone that the mistress is innocent. The ending can be categorized as a happy ending, I think. Both main actors are wonderful. Jill Ireland, Bronson's wife, has a little role here, but she is not very convincing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

La grande vadrouille (1966)

I heard that this movie was very famous - at least in France. Its two main stars, Bourvil and Louis de Funès were great names. It was directed by Gérard Oury, whose work The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob with Louis de Funès I liked very much. After watching this, I still prefer The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob. I guess La grande vadrouille is preferred by many because this movie is about patriotism.

In La grande vadrouille (what does it mean? The Great Wandering?), Bourvil played a painter and Louis de Funès a chief conductor who is going to hold a concert in the Paris Opera House. Set in WW2, they help three RAF crews, whose plane has been shot down by the Germans. The British pilots came to Paris for Operation "Tea For Two" - which turns out a failure. The painter and the conductor help them escape to the south, to the unoccupied France. All the way, the conductor look down on the painter, who is a manual labourer.

My favourite scene is when Bourvil and Louis de Funès play with the Germans some sort of game, like toad jumping but using chairs. (pic attached) It's one of the funniest scene I have ever seen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Ghost Writer (2010)

What is a ghost writer? From Wikipedia: "A ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person." In the movie it's often shortened as "a ghost". Ewan McGregor plays the ghost. He is hired to reduct Adam Lang's memoirs. Adam Lang (played by Pierce Brosnan) is the former UK Prime Minister. The former ghost, Mike, has been dead by drowning.

The Ghost is to stay for a month with Adam Lang, who now lives in an isolated island in the USA. After a couple of days, Adam Lang gets involved in a big scandal and will be in investigation concerning war crimes. Then The Ghost finds some clues about Mike's death, which is probably not by accident.

The movie is well made, and that is not surprising, as the director, Roman Polanski is one of the best. I think the story itself is not too interesting. War crimes, CIA, politics... those are not interesting for me. I'm still not sure why the 2 ghostwriters should be killed. Is finding out the identity of a CIA agent a great threat to national security? On the other hand, The Ghost finds that Paul Emmett worked for the CIA (the year was also mentioned) by Googling the information. I also don't understand the reason why Adam Lang encrypted the secret into his memoirs - did he want to harm his wife and national security?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Where is Harriet Vanger? She has disappeared 40 years ago. Her great uncle, the rich Henrik Vanger hires journalist Mikael Blomkvist - who is about to serve his jail time - to solve the mystery. Henrik has dedicated 40 years to find her and would like to make one last attempt before he died.

I have read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo book and was surprised because I could still enjoy the movie. Perhaps this is the first Swedish movie I have seen and the language sounded so strange, even though I also don't understand Mandarin, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, German, ... After reading the book, I felt that the story had ended; I mean one can read book one only without reading the sequel (=The Girl Who Played With Fire). However, in the movie there is some hints that we must see the sequel: Little Lisbeth who threw petrol and burned someone in a car, Lisbeth's mother in a hospital.

The Wennerström Affair is mentioned a lot in the book, but in the movie it's only minutes. They focus on the investigation about Harriet and how it leads to series of murders. Several characters are missing, like Blomkvist's daughter and Anita Vanger; the cause of Salander's laptop to break is different (the movie is better), and Blomkvist's partner Erika Berger only appears for a couple of minutes ~ but basically it's faithful to the book. 

It is nice to see Sweden and particularly Hedeby. The bridge is much longer than I imagined and it is easier to see now why the contact was totally off when there was an accident on it. Martin's basement has more light and more cheerful than I had in mind. I thought of a real torture chamber, like the one in the Tower of London, for example. Or like the one in The Mermaids Singing from Wire in The Blood.

I think the Wennerström Affair is not as interesting as the investigation about Harriet (perhaps that was why they shortened it in the movie), but perhaps it's an important link to connect the trilogy, which is about the magazine - that is why it's called the Millennium Trilogy.

I imagine Sweden as a nice little country. We here hardly hear anything from there. So between 1949 - 1965 the killer had killed at least 5 women (in the book there were more) and the police didn't see the connection? Or they closed their eyes because they were from a minority group? The women had been mutilated, a way which I think was not often done in the 50's. My mother told me when she was a kid, there was a murder (without mutilation) in a city 100 kms from where she lived and it was a big news on the radio and all people talked about it. It is not like today, when murder is every day's news. Perhaps that is why murders in Agatha Christie's books are often made like accidents. However we are talking about fiction here. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson is the 2nd book in the Millennium Trilogy. In the first book, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, we were introduced to Lisbeth Salander, one of the world's best hackers, who has troubled personality. She helps journalist Mikael Blomkvist to solve a serial murder mystery.

In this book, we learn more about Lisbeth Salander: why she distrusts the authorities so much and why she is declared incompetent and has to be under guardianship, while few people who know her personally think that she is a genius.

Conspiracy theories are always amusing to read, especially if they are well written like this one. Halfway through the book, I finally saw why the book had been titled so - and I liked it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Engrenages (2005)

Engrenages (in the UK it is called 'Spiral' - but literally it means 'gear') is a TV series about how the French police & juridical system work. The main characters are: Captain Laure Berthaud, Judge Roban, Prosecutor Clément, Maître Karlsson, and police officers Gilou and Tintin.

I bought a box-set which consists of season 1 & 2, which I finished watching last night. I think it was very good, although when I first started watching it, I thought the colour was rather pale. Not sure if it's the quality of the DVD (from BBC) or the movie had been made that way. In each season, there is one main case, with new cases in each episode. In the first season, they investigate the murder of a Romanian woman - which leads them to a high politician, a bit like 'State of Play'. In the second season, it's about a drug ring. 

The main characters have their own problems, except Judge Roban - who is very clever - and Tintin