Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pouic-Pouic (1963)

Starring Louis de Funès, this comedy is quite entertaining. Louis de Funès played Léo, a richman who makes his fortune in stock exchange. For his birthday, his wife buys him a land in South America. The land is said to contain oil. However, the man who sells it is a swindler; so Léo concludes that he has been cheated. To get his money back, Léo plans to sell the land to Antoine, another richman who is after his beautiful daughter Patricia (played by Mireille Darc, who is very beautiful here.)

In the beginning of the movie, we see how much Antoine wants Patricia. He sends her everything, from small size (flowers) to big size (a car) - all tied with ribbons (including a dog). Patricia is so annoyed that she hires the courier (who delivers the car) to pose as her husband. She assumes Antoine will step back when he learns she has already married. When her father mentions to her that she must help to make Antoine buys the land, Simon the courier/her husband now must pose as her elder brother. Things get more confusing when Patricia's real brother, Paul, returns from South America with a girl.

Antoine is not stupid and he wants to make sure that the land really contains oil before signing the cheque. Léo's butler now must also help his master. Daniel Ceccaldi, who plays the Butler, is very funny. He played the butler who has no emotion. The butler is obviously well paid.
Léo : "I'll double your salary."
The butler : "Master has already had."
Léo : "I'll re-double it."
The butler : " Now I can loan money to people." (something like that)

The ending is not what Léo expected. He succeeds in making Antoine buys the land, but Antoine is the one who gains. The land does contain oil and Antoine also gets the girl - although not Patricia.

The title is the name of a pet chicken kept by Léo's wife. Every day she takes it out for a walk.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

I've seen several movies which they said were based on video games, but nothing is like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I haven't read the comics so I have no idea what they are like, but this movie is, I think, especially made for young people who love video games and rock music.

Like Edgar Wright's previous works, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of The Dead, this movie is very fast paced - he must be thinking that we love to use the pause button when we are watching the DVD. The director also likes to play trick with cameras and in editing, like characters who suddenly show up from behind the camera.

Since the beginning we are reminded that nintendo has a big part. The Universal logo at the beginning is a great idea. With today's technology it's not hard to realize the idea, but the idea itself is what counts. I like how Scott gets coins - and extra stuff sometimes (like the sword) - after defeating his enemies.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Doctor Who Complete Specials

Doctor Who is not popular here because it is not shown on TV. I was lucky to be able to watch the first season of the new series, with Christopher Eccleston plays The Doctor. The main character is an alien, a species called 'Time Lord' and he travels around through time and space in his Tardis, a spaceship which looks like the British Phone Box in blue colour. His weapon is a sonic screwdriver. When I first saw it, it was rather hilarious and Chris Eccleston looked wild and mad; but I loved the show. I think the phone booth and screwdriver was used in the first place because the show was produced by BBC Wales. I imagined the writer asked the producer for a spaceship and was told that, "No, we don't have a budget for that, but you can use that used phone booth over there."

I bought this Complete Specials because I wanted to see Timothy Dalton playing the Lord President. There are 5 stories in this box-set.

The Next Doctor was great. It reminded me of great time I had had when I watched the episodes with Eccleston. I think David Tennant is a great Doctor and I like him and I'm considering to buy another box-set with him as The Doctor. I enjoyed watching the Confidential in all 5 discs. This subject of an alien who travels into space and time can make the writers very creative. I mean, how else can you make a giant robot pop out in Charles Dickens' time and make the audience love it?

Planet of The Dead is also very good, and they manage to include another famous thing from England, which is a red double-decker. I think all episodes in this box-set are very good, but The End of Time is dark and depressing. I had fun watching the other 3.

The Waters of Mars is my least favourite. In 3/4 of the show The Doctor keeps saying "I have to go." and I went '-oh, so in this episode you cannot do anything for them? What the use of writing an episode like this, then?' In the end he did do something for them, but it turned out to be a mistake.

The End of Time goes in 2 parts. The end of part 1 is so thrilling, with people all over the Earth turned into The Master (The Doctor's enemy). Couldn't wait to watch part 2 because I had no idea how The Doctor could help the humans.

I think the series has progressed so much since 2005 and it seems that they had more budget. Specials effects, costumes, make-ups, lights; all are much better. I don't know if it's because it's the Specials. I will see when I get another box-set.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck

I was buying a magazine from Komik Terbaik Disney Karya Carl Barks (=Best of Disney Comics by Carl Barks) series last June when I saw that they had published another series called Kisah Hidup Paman Gober (=The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck). Unfortunately the latter series was published last year. I didn't even understand why that magazine was being sold, but I bought it, too. It was the last of the series (the 7th). Then I had no idea how could I get the rest of the series, having read the 7th and liked it very much; because the month before (May) I called the publisher (Kompas Gramedia) if I could get the 1st and 2nd of Komik Terbaik Disney Karya Carl Barks which were published inMarch but they didn't have them anymore.

I was glad to find the English version of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, although it was much more expensive. That time I only could find Volume 2 and Companion volume 1. Only this December Volume 1 is available again. Now I am waiting for the release of Companion volume 2.

This series by Don Rosa is very amusing. It begins with young Scrooge with his first job as a shoeshine-boy, where he gets the famous first dime - until becomes the richest duck in the world. The series ends when he meets Donald Duck and the 3 nephews. In between are stories about his struggles to get away from poverty. In volume 1, he more fails than succeeds, but he learns. Don Rosa built the stories from the clues left by the creator of Scrooge: Carl Barks; like facts where and when Uncle Scrooge bought his spectacles or his red jacket or his hat or his cane.

From all the stories in this series, I like very much "The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark". In this story, Scrooge visited Batavia in 1883. There he met Sultan Yogya Mangkunegara V and Sultan Solo Pakubuwono IX. He tried to sell 2 bulls to them because each of the sultans wanted to be the winner of Karapan Sapi race in Madura. Everyone whom I told about it thought it was very very amusing :-) ... and didn't make sense :-)

I like very much Carl Barks's works. Now and then I still like buying Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comics, but the stories are not as good as the ones I read when I was young. Comparing Carl Barks and Don Rosa, in Don Rosa's drawing Uncle Scrooge is meaner, not as kind as Carl Barks's. I think all characters is meaner in Don Rosa's drawing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mumu (2010)

Mumu is one of the movies which has left deep impression in my mind. Its central character is a 11 year-old boy named Roger Lantier, who has been expelled from several schools. The story is set in 1947. Roger is sent to a new boarding school, and this is his last chance. If he gets expelled again, he will be sent to a reform school.

Roger may behave badly because he is not happy at home. He lives with his step-father, who always compares him to his brother; and to his step-father's eye, Roger is not as good as his brother. His mother cannot do anything. Roger tries to behave, but boys will be boys, and one day it just happens: he accidentally throws a hairbrush into the face of his teacher, Mademoiselle Mumu. Mumu and the headmaster both like Roger; but they must set an example and Roger is expelled again. This time, he cannot avoid to go to a reform school. Roger suffers so much that he runs away in the rain and seeks Mumu.

The story seems so real. I read that it is some sort of autobiography by writer/director Joël Séria. It also reminds me of someone. [How many French boys were expelled from several schools in 1947?] Balthazar Dejean de la Bâtie who plays Roger is a beautiful boy, makes it easy to sympathize for him. I feel it's his parents's fault. When he tells the headmaster and Mumu how his parents often don't pick him up for week-ends, I really feel that they don't care for him. The most moving scene is when he tries to commit suicide. It will be a great lost: a boy that smart, that good looking.

Sylvie Testud plays the title role and she is very good as Mumu: a strict teacher who doesn't hesitate to punish those who are not paying attention and don't behave, but in the end, we see that she loves Roger. "I'll keep you," she says to him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Big Heat (1953)

German director Fritz Lang is one of the best I have known. I was so impressed with 'M' and wanted to see more works of him. Well, some are available on DVD, but they are so expensive. He also did several American film noirs, which were at more affordable price. I am not too fond on such films, but according to the reviews, The Big Heat probably the best of them all, so I picked this one.

I am not disappointed. I recently watched  several American movies made in the 50's - from different genres- and The Big Heat is the best. I like its complex plot.

Glenn Ford plays Sergeant Dave Bannion, an honest cop among corrupted wolves. The town is ruled by gangster Mike Lagana. The movie begins with a police committed suicide, leaving a note which will uncover the whole scandal. His widow takes the note  with the intention to blackmail Lagana. She tells the police that her husband's health was failing, and that was the reason for the suicide. This reason is unfortunately printed on the newspaper, which is read by the late cop's mistress, who takes the trouble to ring Bannion that there was nothing wrong with his health. The next morning, the mistress is found death. Bannion's suspicion on the widow stirs both worlds: the gangster and the police. It gets worse when a car bomb for Bannion kills his wife instead.

Compared to Tony Arzenta (1973) who also gets his wife killed in the same way, Arzenta knows who are responsible for the murder and kills them all; while Bannion searches for the very person(s) responsible. It is not easy for him, because the whole town is scared of Lagana and none dares to talk. Lagana's thug, Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) is even more dangerous than his boss. Bannion finally gets a little hint about the person who had the car bomb planted; and he gets luckier when Stone makes his girlfriend Debby (Gloria Grahame) angry. Debby will tell Bannion all and helps him to finish what he didn't dare to do. I guess in 1953 the level of violence in this movie must be very high, although by today's standard it is nothing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

La Strada (1954)

La Strada (in English it means 'The Road') is one of the movies which is hard to forget once you have seen it. The story is about a traveling artist, Zampano (Anthony Quinn), a big man with lungs of steel. He entertains the crowds by breaking 6 mm iron chains by expanding his chest. He buys Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) from her mother, teaches her to play a drum and a trumpet; in short: to be his assistant. He treats her harshly. They later join a circus, where Zampano is provoked by The Fool (Richard Basehart), who likes to tease him. They both are dismissed from the circus. When Zampano meets The Fool again, he accidentally kills him, and this shocks Gelsomina - because The Fool had persuaded her to stay with Zampano when she wanted to leave him. She was so shaken that she cannot work again, so Zampano abandons her. Yet years later he breaks down when he learns about her death.

I have several Fellini's works and except for 'Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio' I don't like them. For me, although they are very well made, the stories have nothing special. They are about every day life, mostly about moral degradation. The plot in La strada is much more interesting.

Giulietta Masina, who played Gelsomina, was amazing. Gelsomina is a strange character. She is like a child: she doesn't hide anything, she tells the truth, and her feelings are like an open book. She has a big smile, which makes me think that she is not right in the head. Actually I thought she might have been one of the unprofessional actresses, an unknown face, who were often used in Italian cinema after WW2. Her acting was unique. I was surprised to know that she was the director's wife. She really deserved her many awards for Best Actress.

Anthony Quinn played well, too. His face showed a hard expression: a serious brute who likes to beat women. Yet there was something in him that made Gelsomina love him. I was thinking that 'At least he is honest. He doesn't steal.' and the next second, he tried to make Gelsomina steal silver hearts for him. Zampano's love for Gelsomina is hard to read, he has troubles to communicate (and she does, too. She is like a child.). It's an unusual love story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Edge of Darkness (1985)

Inspector Ronald Craven (played by Bob Peck) lives with his only daughter Emma (played by Joanne Whalley, who is very beautiful here. I don't like her as Scarlett O'Hara, though. Vivien Leigh's Scarlett is so famous that casting big eyed Joanne Whalley was not wise, in my opinion.). One day, it just happens. Emma is murdered, shot, in front of his eyes, in front of their house. In investigating the death of his activist daughter, Ronald Craven finds that she and her friends had broken into a hot cell which illegally producing plutonium. Together with a CIA agent (Joe Don Baker), Craven tries to understand the mystery behind Emma's death.

Bob Peck played the tormented father very well. It shocked him how Emma had never told him what she had been through. They were very close. She took care of him after her mother's death and he took care of her.

The  movie consists of 6 episodes, each about 50 minutes. The first, as always, is rather slow. The 5th, however, when Craven and CIA agent Jedburg breaks into the Northmoor plant is breathtaking. It ends sadly, but makes sense, as little pawns always lose against giant corporations and the government.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tiré à part (1996)

Terence Stamp plays Edward Lamb, a successful publisher based in London. His relationship with his secretary is like James Bond - Miss Moneypenny and they could have been married, but Edward Lamb once had a lover in Tunisia, back in 1960, and he cannot forget her. Lamb's sweetheart, Farida, committed suicide in 1960 and her death made him stop writing.

One day, a writer called Nicolas Fabry brings his manuscript to Edward Lamb. Strangely, this manuscript is about Farida's death - which no one knew, except Farida herself and the man who raped her. Obviously, it was Nicolas Fabry who caused her death 30 years ago. Edward Lamb then makes a plan to avenge her.

Nicolas Fabry usually writes action novels, but his new work is very different. It is very good. Later it wins The Goncourt Prize. Things are well for Nicolas Fabry, until when a critic writes an article that his book is a plagiarism from a dead writer. The critic can prove that the former book was published in the eve of WW2.

Terence Stamp makes Edward Lamb has a heart of stone. His revenge is too cruel and I feel pity on Nicolas Fabry, who for the first time finally could prove to the public that he could write something good. It's bad luck that he puts his trust on Edward Lamb. How could he copy other writer's book if he wrote the story from his own experience? 

The movie has good pace and it's a thrilling drama. I kept hoping that Lamb could forgive Fabry and forget the past.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clash of the Titans (2010)

I like very much the 1981 version, but it's been so long since I watched it. I think in the end Perseus marries Andromeda.

The movie begins with how Spyros the fisherman saves baby Perseus who is floating with his dead mother in a coffin in the ocean. Spyros and family are later killed by Hades and Perseus swears that he will avenge them. In Argos, Queen Cassiopeia insults the gods by comparing Aphrodite's beauty to her daughter Andromeda; but instead of Aphrodite, it's Hades who comes to curse Argos. In 10 days, monster Kraken will destroy Argos unless Princess Andromeda is sacrificed.

Perseus learns about his birth from Io (played by Gemma Arterton, who is very beautiful. It makes sense why Perseus ends up with her and not Andromeda), that he is Zeus's son. Only Perseus can save Argos. He must first ask the 3 Stygian witches how Kraken can be defeated. The witches tells him to go to the underworld and get Medusa's head to stone Kraken. There is also Calibos, an ex-king who hates Zeus so much that he wants to kill his son Perseus.

The 1981 version is still my favourite. I like better the actors who play Perseus - Andromeda there - and I prefer white Pegasus. In this 2010 version, the moral lesson of 'a man can do this', 'one day a man must take a stand and say to gods 'That's enough', are quite annoying. This is a Greek myth! Liam Neeson who plays Zeus, is hired to play gods lately; for he is also in Narnia Chronicles, gives his voice to Aslan. Hades is played by Ralph Fiennes, who sounds like he is strangled while delivering his lines. I wonder why not he used his usual voice. He has melancholic eyes, and in my opinion, they should be portrayed anger in many scenes - but I didn't see it.

Case 39 (2009)

I don't like watching horror movie and only agree to watch this after being convinced that this was not scary, no devil in it, only enough to make me startled.

Renée Zellweger plays Emily, a single woman who works as a social worker. She has already worked on 38 cases when her boss gives her one more file. This is why this movie is called case 39.  A 10 year-old girl, Lily, in the last 3 months has been got bad marks at school, sleeping in the class-room, and has no friends. Emily suspects that she is abused by her parents at home. When she visit them, the parents do show strange behaviour. She keeps an eye on Lily, until one night when she finally saves her when her parents are about to kill her by putting her in the oven. The parents go to mental institution and Lily stays with Emily. However it turns out that Lily's parents are not crazy and that they wanted to kill the little girl because she is very dangerous.

Like Omen - but not as scary - the child is the devil incarnation. In Emily's world, where most of the people don't believe in God, the only way to get rid of the child is to kill her. It's not easy for me to grasp: if one doesn't believe in God, how can one believe the existence of devil? -even though if one sees it with one's own eyes. Emily suffers because she sees her friends die one by one, even more suffers because she knows she is the indirect cause of their deaths because she has taken Lily under her wings.

Robin Hood (2010)

Unlike other Robin Hood movies I had seen (Disney's version and the version with Kevin Costner), this one tells the story before Robin Hood becomes an outlaw under King John's reign. Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) fights with King Richard the Lionheart in the Crusade. He is detained after telling the king that the Crusade was useless and left the army with a couple of friends after the king was killed. [Yes, the king is dead. I wonder how he could return to England with that wound in the neck.]

In his way to the shore, Robin and his friends save king Richard's crown, which is on its way to England to his successor, from an ambush. The crown bearer, Sir Robert Loxley is dead, but he had made Robin Longstride promises to return his sword to his old father in Nottingham. The old Loxley makes Robin Longstride poses as his son so that his daughter-in-law Marion can keep the land. Meanwhile, the people suffer because of the taxation. The bishop is as greed as King John, who replaces the late King Richard. Sir Godfrey also provokes the lords in the north to rebel against King John, while Godfrey himself has a pack with King Philip of France, so that France can smoothly attack England in the civil war.

Our hero Robin Longstride will save King John's crown and save England - so he is actually a national hero; and yet he is rewarded by being declared as an outlaw. In the stories, he is usually saved by King Richard, but in this version, as King Richard is written to have been dead, can he save himself?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

I and my friend watched this today. We had never seen a movie in 3D before so we were very curious. Well, it was not as spectacular as I had thought - because I hoped every thing would come out from the screen. I think the glasses were quite heavy (can they make it lighter?) and every couples of minutes it slipped down on my nose. Perhaps next time I need to wedge it with a scrap of tissue paper. Now I feel so dizzy.

The movie was very good. We are fans of Narnia stories anyway. In this 3rd story (after 'the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' and 'Prince Caspian'), Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, with their cousin Eustace Scrubb; join King Caspian in a voyage across the sea aboard the ship The Dawn Treader. They look for seven swords belonged to seven lost Lords from Narnia. The seven swords must be placed on Aslan's table so that the evil can be defeated. 

I usually don't like movies which the scenes take place mostly at sea. However, I really enjoyed this one. I and my friend were amused with the casting of Eustace, because that boy looked very annoying in the first half of the movie. The fighting scene with the sea serpent was very cool.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

En cas de malheur (2010)

One day, Maître Viviane Guérand (Line Renaud), a successful lawyer, is visited by 20 year-old Lucie (Mélanie Bernier) in her office. Lucie needs a lawyer because she thinks she has killed someone. "In case of trouble," Lucie tells her. The night before, Lucie and her friend Noémie tried to steal from a jeweler, but they were scared and went off without taking anything after the jeweler bumped her head on a bar and collapsed with blood on her head. Lucie finds out soon that the jeweler does not die, so she tells Viviane that she doesn't need her anymore. However, Viviane has determined to take Lucie's case and to take care of her. Viviane's late daughter was of the same age as Lucie when she died 20 years ago. Viviane decides to give Lucie what she didn't give her late daughter: her presence. 

Mélanie Bernier is very pretty and she made it easier to understand why Viviane loves her so. Lucie is a DJ - and her boss, the café owner, in fact uses her in drug trafficking. Lucie is basically a good girl and Viviane tries to make a new life for her. First she installs Lucie in her own studio and then she keeps her away from Noémie and the café owner . Viviane's attempt is not without barrier. Her husband doesn't agree because Lucie is different from the people they are used to mingle with. And from Lucie's side: it's definitely not easy for her to detach herself from her old surrounding. A tragic thing happens when she and Viviane are about to start for Italy, to begin a new life.