Friday, December 16, 2011

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Collector's Box Set (Vol. 1-2)

This box set is one of the best books in my collection. It consists of 2 books, each in excellent hard cover.

Volume I : Race to Death Valley
Contents : Mickey Mouse in Death Valley, Mr. Slicker and The Egg Robbers, Mickey Mouse Music, The Picnic, Traffic Troubles, Mickey Mouse vs. Kat Nipp, Mickey Mouse Boxing Champion, High Society, Circus Roustabout, Pluto The Pup, Mickey Mouse and The Ransom Plot, Fireman Mickey, Clarabelle's Boarding House, Lost on A Desert Island.

Volume II : Trapped On Treasure Island
Contents : The Great Orphanage Robbery, Mickey Mouse Sails For Treasury Island, Blaggard Castle, Pluto and The Dogcatcher, The Mail Pilot, Mickey Mouse and His Horse Tanglefoot, the Crazy Crime Wave, Return to Blaggard Castle.

These early works about Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson are very enjoyable to read. Mickey himself is a bit different than in later stories where he has been doing more detective works with Inspector O'Hara. In Disney's cartoon version, he often makes mistakes and is often clumsy. In these early stories of Mickey Mouse, he is very brave. He is a hero.

Except Return to Blaggard Castle, the last story in the book -which is published in 1993 and the least I like, all stories (which are published in the 30's) are in black and white. The only complain I have is that the writings are too small - and I think I have good eyes because I still don't need glasses. I don't know if older people have the same complain. The size of these two books should be bigger.
Included also, in the book, documentaries about the famous mouse and the people who created him.

Disney's Four Color Adventures Volume 1

I bought this book without knowing what's inside because it was wrapped in plastic. The contents turn out to be:
-64 pages Donald Duck stories (1 page 1 stories) by Al Taliaferro
-The Reluctant Dragon by Irving Tripp
-Baby Weems
-The Sorcerer's Apprentice (from Fantasia)
-Old MacDonald Duck
-Goofy in 'How To Ride A Horse'

The contents are not as exciting as I expected. The Al Taliaferro strips, I have read them before, and although it's nice to re-read them, I prefer Donald's adventurous stories. As for The Reluctant Dragon, I saw the movie a couple of months ago and this comic is very similar to the movie. Baby Weems is a nice story. The Sorcerer's Apprentice is in short stories format, means it has many words and a few pictures; which makes it out of place in this comic book. However this book is a compilation of 2 books, if I am not mistaken: one is 64 pages Donald Duck stories (Four Color #4) and the other one is The Reluctant Dragon (Four Color #13) which contains 5 stories: The Reluctant Dragon, Baby Weems, etc. I think in its original publishing, it was okay for The Sorcerer's Apprentice to be there. I just didn't expect this format in this -what I thought to be a- comic book.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Insoupçonnable (2010)

This was on TV a couple of days ago and I really enjoyed watching it. Marc-André Grondin, who plays Sam, is very good looking. Sam and Lise (played by Laura Smet) grew up together and now they become lovers. They only have each other, don't have much money, yet they want to be rich (but who doesn't, anyway?). Lise works in some sort of club, where her job is to accompany lonely men. There she meets Henri, a rich business man, who is attracted to her. Sam is jealous, but Lise convinces him that Henri only comes to talk to her. When Lise brings Sam to meet Henri, saying to Henri that Sam is her brother, Henri asks her to marry him.

Lise accepts the proposal, telling Sam that it's a way for them to get out of poverty. Henri also gives Sam a good job, even though his associate and brother, Clément, is against this. Times passes and Sam cannot take it anymore, especially when he hears the news that Lise is pregnant, and he asks Lise to go on with their original plan: Lise is pretended to be kidnapped, and after Henri paid the ransom, Sam and Lise run away with the money.

However, surprises await Sam. Is Lise now in love with Henri - the man who loves and respects her, who has given her a baby? Or has she betrayed both Sam and Henri, and has chosen Clément?

The cast is very good. The story flows well, although I was sometimes annoyed with many flashbacks continuously put in one after another - to give the audience answers. It sorts of giving several twists to the ending, though.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fall of Giants

It took me more effort to finish this Ken Follett's new novel. It was not really because of its thickness, but I think it was because there were too many historical facts in the book, which made me tired after reading a couple of pages. The story is set around WW1 with characters from America, England, Germany, and Russia.

It's not that the book is worthless, because while I was reading, I got a better picture about how double murders of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo could trigger a world war. Most of it because of greed of the leaders. Giant countries were changed because of the war: Germany lost the war and revolution happened in Russia; and although we could say England and France won, the people suffered, many were dead, and there were political changes in England. The description of pain and horror in the war, however, was not as haunting as Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong. [But we know Ken Follett and Sebastian Faulks are different kinds of writers.]

The president of USA, Woodrow Wilson, then had an idea to form the League of Nations, so that any future conflicts could be canvassed, and such world war could be prevented. Of course we know that the League of Nations was a failure, and the United of Nations replaced it.

After reading Emile Zola's Germinal, the parts about coal miners in Wales are not so interesting. The struggle of English Women to be able to vote is not interesting either. I did enjoy reading the stories set in Russia, although after the revolution, there were too many political facts for me to read.

Fall of Giants if the first book of the Century trilogy. I guess the 2nd or 3rd book could be set around WW2. I know this is a historical fiction, but could it be possible to include more fiction?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

Last Sunday I went to watch this Tintin movie. I had avoided to see any promotions (trailers, movie clips, stills), so I was looking forward to this.

I watched it with a friend. Things were bad at first. I arrived first at this noodle restaurant and she sms-ed me to order a portion for her. It turned out the order was wrong. How could I know that she had given me the wrong name, but the right price? We divided the (wrong) food for 2. After lunch, we went to buy tickets, but the 13.45 show had been sold out. She was upset again, and said that we should have bought tickets first before having lunch. [I would happily do that if I had the credit card used for 'buy 1 get 1' promotion.] We ended up watching the 2.55 show, and in 2D; which was another reason for her to be angry: we had wanted to watch the 3D version, but that day, the only 3 theatres played the 3D were far. Most theatres in Jakarta had only showed the 3D for a week.

The movie was great. Beside The Secret of the Unicorn, there were also elements from The Crab with the Golden Claws. The Bird brothers' were removed from the story and Mr Saccharine became the bad guy - which was a great idea, because he actually looked like Red Rackham. The movie was not exactly like the books (like the TV series) so the audience had things to look forward to. The chase scenes were spectacular and I enjoyed them very much. Although there were changes, the characters were not changed (except Mr Saccharine), they were still characters that we had loved and still loved. The creator of Tintin, Hergé, was not forgotten, he appeared in the beginning of the movie, drawing Tintin in the fair.

After the movie ended, my friend's good mood was back and she said the movie was funny and very good. Snowy was a bit different from the book (the drawing/shape), but we loved how he reacted against Bianca Castafiore's voice. [I hoped there was more emotion on Signora Castafiore's face, or was it intended to make her stone-faced?] We can't wait for the sequel, hope Prof. Calculus will appear, and hope the scenes where the Thompson Twins pump and pump again will be included.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Topkapi (1964)

I like very much Jules Dassin's Rififi and read that Topkapi also has good reviews, so I wanted to watch this.

Melina Mercouri (sometimes I see her looks are scary) plays Elizabeth Lipp, a beautiful thief without a single police's record. She wants a dagger once belonged to Sultan Mahmud I of the Ottoman empire, which holds 4 priceless emeralds. This dagger is stored in Museum Topkapi in Istanbul. She contacts Walter Harper (Maximilian Schell), a thief without a police record, also her former lover, to do the job for her. Walter agrees, but he wants to recruit amateurs as his crew because after the theft is done, the police will search among notorious thieves.

Walter recruits 1) Cedric Page (Robert Morley), a toy maker, to deal with the alarms 2)Giulio (Gilles Ségal), a human fly, to trade the real dagger with a fake by hanging from a rope 3)Hans Fisher (Jess Hahn), a strong man, who will hold the rope; and 4) Arthur Simpson (Peter Ustinov), a tourist cheater, who brings the car which hid a rifle to shoot the lighthouse's lamp (so the museum guards cannot see Giulio) and smoke bombs to divert the guards. Unfortunately, when bringing the car from Greece to Turkey, the rifle and smoke bombs are found by the customs and the authorities mistake the group of thieves as terrorists. They let Arthur Simpson go, but he must act as their spy.

Like any good heist movie, the heist itself must be a success. So Walter Harper and his friends splendidly succeed and the audience are satisfied to watch how the theft is done. It was a breathtaking moment, really, especially if you see it for the first time, like me. Then, as predicted, the gang are caught because there is an idiot among them: Arthur Simpson.

Fantômas (1913-1914)

The DVD set contains 5 episodes about Fantômas by director Louis Feuillade. Based on popular novels at that time by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, Fantômas is a mysterious criminal who terrorize Paris. He leads Parisian street thugs and wears various disguise. Among a few people who can recognize him are: his arch enemy Inspector Juve, a young journalist named Jerôme Fandor who works for newspaper La Capitale, and his accomplish Lady Beltham.

(L-R) Juve, Fantômas, and Fandor

This series, although they are silent, I found them captivating. I guess crime stories are always cruel and merciless, it's not important when they are done. If you think criminals in 1913-1914 were not as mean and as clever as they are now, you are wrong. The plots are very good. In every episode, Fantômas does a series of nasty crimes (and he doesn't hesitate to murder), then the police try to catch him, but he always be able to escape.

I really like the stories and hoped that they were made in later date so that they had sound and more dialogues. The other versions I have seen are the ones with Jean Marais and Louis de Funès, but they are more like comedy than thriller and has been influence by James Bond movies.

Last episode in the silent series, Le Faux Magistrat, tells how Fantômas is jailed in Belgium for a murder. Inspector Juve goes there and replaces his place in jail so that Fantômas returns to France and Juve will be able to catch him in the end. I know Inspector Juve has an obsession to catch Fantômas, but I think he goes to far and that he better lets Fantômas rot in Belgium's jail. As always, Fantômas can escape from the police who tails him and he returns to France safely and commits another big crimes.

Cracker (1993-1996)

The DVD box-set of Cracker contains 11 episodes. Its main character is a psychologist named Edward Fitzgerald, or used to be called 'Fitz', played by Robbie Coltrane. Fitz likes to gamble, drinks a lot and smokes a lot. His relationship with his wife Judith (played by Barbara Flynn) is not good. In most episodes, they live separately: Fitz with their son Mark, and Judith with their daughter Katie. In the first episode, Fitz is introduced to DCI Bilborough (played by Christopher Eccleston) by the victim's family to help him with a murder case and since then, he seems to prefer with the police than with his family. Fitz even has a romance affair with DS Jane Penhaligon (played by Geraldine Somerville), who is younger and more beautiful than Judith.

I think the first episode 'The Mad Woman in the Attic' is the best of the series. This is the only episode where we can guess if the prime suspect is really the killer or not. He suffers amnesia and says that he cannot remember, but is he telling the truth or is he pretending? The writing and acting are brilliant, which lead the audience into doubt like the police in the film also experience. It reminds me to the first episode of Prime Suspect (Did George Marlow do it or not?) and first episode of Touching Evil (They don't have enough proof to charge Professor Hinks).

In the rest of the episodes (2 - 11), we can see the culprit(s) even before the crime is executed. So it's more about what and why. I myself like detective shows which, not only explains what and why, we can guess who is the killer.

Christopher Eccleston's character dies in episode 4 and what a pity because he is one of my favourite actors. Here in Cracker, he was still young and not as thin as he is now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tango "Bad Dog" (2010)

Audrey Fleurot, whom I saw in Engrenages and Un village français, plays a police detective named Joana Larsen here. I believe men will find her hot, especially for her red hair :-) Joana Larsen is a very independent woman and Fleurot is perfect in this role. Her co-star, Frédéric Pierrot, is also very good in playing a police detective who has divorced and is taking care of his only son, who often blackmails him to get things he wants, like the newest game, for example. Thierry Sauvage (that's his name) has been having relationship with another woman and she is pregnant now. It's not official yet because he still lives with his son only. One time he irons his pants in the headquarters. In one occasion his son sees the dead body in the autopsy room.

Together Larsen and Sauvage try to solve murders of 3 women who live alone with their dog. The victims found the dogs in the street about 2 months before. It seems that the 'timid' dogs are the killer. The investigation leads the 2 detectives to an old case of 20 years ago, where one of the victims, still a high school student, accused her teacher of rape. 3 other girls were witnesses. The teacher committed suicide and it seems now that the murders are an act of revenge. Something has triggered the dogs so that they become ferocious and attack the women. The detectives must find the 4th woman before it is too late. Meanwhile, the killer sends a killer dog to Sauvage's son, who blackmails his mother so that he can keep the dog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of 'The War of the Worlds' (2006)

I was curious to watch this DVD of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of 'The War of the Worlds' and thought to give it a try, because the price was not much. I must say first that I never like alien stories, although I do enjoy Doctor Who very much. I have never watched other versions of The War of The Worlds movie and I have never read the book by H.G. Wells. However, I like musicals such as Les Misérables, The Phantom of The Opera, Blood Brothers, Into The Woods, Jane Eyre, Rage of The Hearts, Aspects of Love... and many more of them; and in where I live, musicals shows are rare; so I very much longed to see this DVD of Jeff Wayne's musical, which was recorded live on stage - and not some poor film version where they have change all backgrounds. The reviews were all positive, so I had a high hope on this.

However, the show was not what I had expected. The music is very pop - although I am not sure if it matters much, because I like La Révolution Française, which is a rock opera. I think what bothers me much is the number of repetition of the songs. A 3D head of Richard Burton appears on a big screen on stage, to function as the narrator. This big screen is like what we see on cinema and I don't like this. It shows everything: the alien planet, the ship, the burning village, etc. I like musical theatres because I love to see the tricks they do on stage, how the backgrounds change. Like in The Phantom of The Opera: front stage, back stage, underground, roof; are performed on a single stage. In 'The War of The Worlds' I don't see such things.
The story is also not as rich as I have expected, because there are times when only pop music can be heard [i.e. the narrator & other characters don't have any lines to read or sing].

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary

It's been years since I listened to any Les Miz recording, so I was very happy to watch this DVD. The familiar songs brought back good memories. There are parts which are not available in the 10th anniversary concert, which is a good thing, because those who are new to this musical can understand more about the story. About the cast, I think the 10th anniversary concert has better cast.

In the 25th anniversary concert, I think Norm Lewis who plays Javert is very impressive. Alfie Boe, who plays Jean Valjean, is good, but not extra-ordinary, or at least that was I first thought. I thought Colm Wilkinson was better, until when Alfie Boe shows his true ability in singing Bring Him Home with Colm Wilkinson, John Owen Jones and Simon Bowman. Wow, he is great and deserves the standing ovation. Lea Salonga is very good as always; she and Jenny Galloway are the only cast member whom I have known before. Ramin Karimloo, who plays Enjolras, is very handsome; but I still prefer Michael Maguire.

I only once went overseas, and that was only because someone kindly paid for my air tickets & accommodation. That one time I went to London for 9 days and watched 2 musicals, one of them is The Phantom of The Opera, in which Ramin Karimloo played Raoul. In that one time, his mind seemed elsewhere and I thought he played badly. I still dislike him for ruining Raoul in that one time I was able to watch The Phantom of The Opera. For him it was perhaps only another night, but for me it was the only time I could watch that musical on stage. John Owen Jones played The Phantom and he was very very good and stood out among the cast and I still love him until now. [That was in the middle of September 1994.]

I have read that Michael Ball was in this 25th anniversary DVD, yet it was still a surprise to see that it actually had the whole Original 1985 London Cast. Together with the 25th anniversary cast, they sing 'One Day More', the last song in Act I. And being guests, they sing with more relaxed feeling [because the whole musical has a tragic nuance] and oh, what a happy situation it is, when The Thénardiers sing their part.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

France Boutique (2003)

This entertaining movie is about France Boutique, a shopping channel created by Olivier and France, who are husband and wife, played by François Cluzet (who looks like Dustin Hoffman, imo) and Karin Viard. Olivier and France also star in their advertising films. In fact, the most interesting thing in this movie is behind the scene of the advertising film making. However, if I myself think that advertisements exaggerate products' quality and that they are mostly lies; here Olivier and France test a product before represent it.

Here comes Sofia (Nathalie Baye), the head of an internet shopping company, who offers a big contract for France Boutique to make an ad about a fear eliminator product. The product itself is bogus. Sofia wants France Boutique loose its credibility so she can take their airtime. She sends a spy to report back to her. Meanwhile, Olivier - France's relationship is having a hard time. France seems cannot concentrate and she ruins the shooting several times.

It looks like Sofia will win, but France gets her good mood back [after relaxing, i.e. spending a night with a g*g*lo] and markets the product as a cellulite tracer - and it works!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I've seen the movie version of this book, Gervaise, by René Clément, but this book is sadder. The poverty described by Émile Zola is so detailed.

The story spans 15 years. In the beginning, Gervaise is a lovely young mother with 2 kids. Her lover Lantier is about to leave her for another woman. Perhaps this is sad, but when we reach the end of story, we know that she is better off without any man. Soon she marries Coupeau, a roofer; and it all seems very well and they begin to be able to save money. Then comes the accident, where Coupeau falls from the roof and Gervaise spends all the savings to give him better treatment. The long rest makes Coupeau lazy and he prefers to spend his days at drinking dens instead of working.

Meanwhile, Gervaise's friend, Goujet, lends her money to rent a shop. Gervaise's dream is to have her own laundry shop, which is doing well until Lantier comes back to her life and makes friends with Coupeau. Coupeau offers Lantier to stay with them and he accepts. Gervaise now has to work to feed her children and 2 idle men. Slowly, she becomes devastated and neglects her works. She loses her costumers and finally, also, the laundry. Then she joins her husband in the drinking dens.

The presence of Lantier in their house makes Gervaise not faithful to her husband. It's not that she does it easily, but when she comes home and finds Coupeau lying in his own vomit and there is stains on their bed, why doesn't she accept Lantier's offer to sleep on his clean bed? Surrounded by unkind people, like Coupeau's mother, sister, and brother-in-law, Gervaise doesn't get good advice she needs. They never give her strength. She is distressed and doesn't care about her being and surrounding, and it leads to her downfall. What once was a lovely laundress who owned a beautiful shop, dies in poverty, alone and hungry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crainquebille (2010)

This episode from Au siècle de Maupassant: Contes et nouvelles du XIXème siècle is one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. Crainquebille is an old man, happily lives with his loyal dog, Bébert. Daily he sells vegetables at his usual spot for 40 years in the local market, which is led by the major, Mangin, his son's future father-in-law. The marriage will take place in 2 months. Also coming is the future election. Crainquebille soon will move with his dog to the country, where he will use his savings to buy a new house, while his son Antoine, now Mangin's delivery boy, is happily married to Solange Mangin and inherits Mangin's butcher shop.

One day, after the market has closed, a maid arrives, asking Crainquebille to sell her some leek, if not her mistress will be angry. Some seller has already turned her down because the market has been closed. Crainquebille takes pity of her and sells leek to her, but this maid forgets to bring money. While waiting for her to come back with the payment, Crainquebille refuses to move his cart and this causes another seller angry (the one who has turned down the maid) because her cart cannot pass. Constable Matra comes (he is young and new) in the middle of the argument and he seems to hear that Crainquebille says "Down with the Pigs!" to him. The constable takes this as an insult and arrests Crainquebille.

Matra's superior reads the report and asks why Matra puts "I seemed to hear..." in the report and asks him if he really heard Crainquebille spoke the words or not. Matra cannot be sure. The superior tells him to change his report and write "clearly heard". The result: Crainquebille goes to jail for 1 month. His cart, which was left in the market when he was arrested, has been stolen - and Bébert who guarded the cart that night has been killed. None visits him at jail except Antoine.

After serving his sentence, Crainquebille returns to the market to work as usual. His usual spot has been given to someone else and his is now in a dirty corner. Customers hardly buys from him and later his cart is full of rotten vegetables. He goes back to his bad drinking habit. One night, his savings is stolen while he lays drunk.

With the coming election, Mangin cannot take any risk and forces Solange to put off the wedding. No way his daughter will marry an ex-convict's son. Antoine takes this badly and commits suicide. Crainquebille is now alone, leaves his home, and lives like a beggar.

In the end of the movie, one year later, he meets again the maid who has caused all his misfortunes. He says to her that she still owes him 40 cents for the leek, but she doesn't recognize him at all. Her boyfriend gives him some money, though, in the name of charity. Hungry, Crainquebille remembers that in jail he is warm and well fed. When he meets a police, he says to him, "Down with the Pigs!", but the police won't arrest him and just walks away.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Los ojos de Julia (2010)

The name Guillermo del Toro made me want to watch this. This is one of the scariest movies I have seen. [I haven't seen many, though, as I don't like to be scared.] One of the scariest things in life is darkness, and this is what the movie explores.

Julia (wonderfully played by Belén Rueda) cannot believe that her twin sister, Sara, who is blind, committed suicide by hanging. She believes there is someone else in that room when Sara is dying. No one believes her, so Julia tries to investigate herself, sometimes helped by her husband Isaac. The problem is, like Sara, Julia suffers neurodegenerative disease and is going blind.

The movie is presented in pale colour and we often can't see faces of the people. Pictures are often out of focus. This is to make us understand what is Julia going through. The story reminds me to Patrick Süskind's Perfume. If the baddie in Perfume doesn't have smell, this one doesn't have light. He always becomes a shadow that people don't realize his presence.

Jane Eyre (2011)

I couldn't believe that another movie version of Jane Eyre had been made. I also couldn't believe I actually made myself to watch it. Why they didn't make a movie version of Villette instead? I hope to watch Villette because I never finished the book.

This 2011 version of Jane Eyre is the 5th version movie version I have seen. [I also have the musical version by Paul Gordon: Original Broadway Cast and the Toronto cast.] I must say that I am disappointed with this. I think it's very calm and 2 hours are not enough for this story. On the positive side: the whole production looks beautiful with amazing cinematography, and there is Judi Dench.

The first 5 minutes shows Jane Eyre running away from Thornfield until she, very tired and hungry, meets St John Rivers. I myself disagree with the filmmakers's choice to open the movie with these scenes. It seems like a long 5 minutes.

Compared to Orson Welles - Joan Fontaine, Timothy Dalton - Zelah Clarke, Michael Jayston - Sorcha Cusack, Toby Stephens - Ruth Wilson; it seems to me the chemistry between Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska is not very convincing. Mia Wasikowska is not passionate and she looks calm. I can say the same about Michael Fassbender. Or is it the script? They only have 2 short conversations in front of the fireplace: 1) when Rochester look at Jane's drawings after they were officially introduced and 2) after he gave Adèle a cadeau (the talk about paid-subordinate). Suddenly, there is the fire in Rochester's bedroom. I think it's too fast and I don't believe a spark of love is already there.

My favourite movie version of Jane Eyre is still the one with Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke. Despite the fact that the production looks cheap (which is understandable since this is made by BBC in 1983), it has almost all the delicious lines straight from the book. I also love how Timothy Dalton delivered those lines. His Rochester has a temper and he shouts a lot. [Someone said that was why his wife had gone mad and had to be locked in the attic.] Dalton's Rochester made me cry when he begged Jane to stay. The line "Is it better to drive a fellow creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law?” moves me more than the 2011 version: "You would rather drive me to madness than break some mere human law". Dalton's Rochester also made me want to read the book. Many say that Timothy Dalton is too handsome to play Rochester, but there are people who say that he is the ugliest James Bond.
My 2nd favourite is the one with Michael Jayston and Sorcha Cusack. The chemistry between these two is the best.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Le mariage de Chiffon (2010)

Le mariage de Chiffon is one of the episodes from Au siècle de Maupassant: Contes et nouvelles du XIXème siècle series. It tells about a young girl, not yet 18 years old, called Chiffon (very well played by Christa Theret). The story begins with her mother wanting her to receive a rich military old man's proposal. Chiffon refuses the proposal, but realizes later that the military man is not as old as she thinks, but at the same age as her uncle, Marc, whom she loves and loves her; although both sides hide this mutual feeling (until the end of the film). Chiffon's mother herself think that Marc gives bad influence to the young girl.

Marc's wealthy aunt dies and Marc is the sole heir. Very soon Marc is pursued by Adèle de Liron, one of his customers. Marc is a photographer. Finding de Liron's photograph at Marc's is enough to make Chiffon jealous. Meanwhile, after Chiffon refusing the military man, the local priest has an idea to marry Chiffon with a student. Uncle Marc makes an agreement with Chiffon's mother, that if Chiffon refuses the student, Uncle Marc will go away so the mother should not worry about his bad influence anymore. If Chiffon agrees to marry to student, Marc will stay. Of course Chiffon receives the student's proposal, although it makes her heart break.

At Chiffon's first party, in which she is introduced to the public, she dances with many men that she breaks two men's hearts: the student - who try to forget it by drinking too much; and Uncle Marc, who decides to go away. Luckily, Chiffon leaves the party in time to find her uncle and tells him that she is in love with him.

Christa Theret is a perfect Chiffon. She is beautiful, free, wild, modern - it's easy to see why those men fall in love with him. Hippolyte Girardot who plays Marc is also very good. We can see why Chiffon loves him, even though he is much older and he is her father's brother (is it allowed??). This is one of the films which can lift up our spirit.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rumba (2008)

This is a very interesting movie. The dialogues are not many (reminds me of Jacques Tati movies) and the visual art is very good. The 2 main characters are not very handsome or beautiful (at least compared to top actors nowadays), yet they could make me watch this without being sleepy last night.

Fiona, an English teacher, and her husband Dom, a sport teacher, live in rural France. They loves Latin dancing. One night, after winning a competition, they have a car accident. Fiona has one leg amputated and Dom suffers short term memory loss. Then they lose their jobs, their house is burned, and Dom is missing. It ends with a happy ending.

For me, the humour in Rumba is more understandable than Jacques Tati movies - probably because Rumba is more recent. The English sentence Fiona uses to teach her pupils: "My dog likes rice. My dog likes fried rice." I think it's funny. Not many dogs like fried rice here because fried rice is cooked with chili. I think most dogs will choose bones over rice, unless the dog is very hungry or meat is added with the rice. Then there is Gérard, who wants to commit suicide, but when he is waiting for a train to hit him, the train is not coming. When he is waiting for a car to hit him, a car is not coming, but a train is passing by above. There is a scene where Fiona and Dom changing clothes inside a running car, like Mr Bean.

Much recommended!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Man from St. Petersburg

I like reading Ken Follett's works. The Man from St. Petersburg was not on the top of my list actually, but I happened to see a copy with a low price (it's a used book) so I couldn't resist.

This book is quite enjoyable. The title character is Feliks Kschessinsky, a Russian anarchist who is trying to assassinate Prince Orlov, a Russian prince who is making a deal with the English government. Set in 1914: Germany is about to start a war, and England wants Russia to be their ally. Orlov is sent to negotiate with Walden, a House of Lords member and ex-British ambassador for Russia. Feliks wants to assassinate Orlov while he is in England so that the Czar is angry, that the alliance will never happen, so many young Russian people will not go to war.
The plot is tangled with the fact that Lady Walden was once Feliks's lover.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

La peau de chagrin (2010)

Adapted from Honoré de Balzac's novel, this movie version of La peau de chagrin is very good. I like the plot very much: a destitute young man finds a way to fulfill all his wishes: with the help of a magic skin. This is much better than Doraemon's magic pocket, for the magic skin will not deny him anything. However, it demands a payment: for each wish, it shrinks and consumes a portion of the owner's physical energy, so his life is getting shorter by each wish.

Raphaël (Thomas Coumans who plays him is very good looking) is poor and unfortunate. His book is rejected by the publishers and he stupidly falls in love with a very rich lady, Fedora. When Fedora rejects him, his life shatters and he wants to commit suicide. When he wants to obtain a gun to kill himself, he meets a blind man who owns an antique store with strange things and the blind man offers him a magic donkey skin which can make all his dreams come true, but his life will be getting shorter by each wish. "If you want to end your life, here is a more delicious way." Raphaël, who thinks that he is about to die anyway, takes the skin.

Soon Raphaël is rich, his book is published and sold out, and he successfully ruins Fedora's reputation. However, he worries when he sees the size of the magic skin now. He tries not to make wish and tells his butler that the word must be banished from his house. Then he meets Pauline, daughter of his ex-landlord, who faithfully kept him company during his miserable days. She even gave him a Napoleon coin when he was about to leave, but he lost it on a gambling table. He realizes now that it's Pauline he loves and wants and he would give back all his wealth if he could live longer and grow old with Pauline. It's no use. However, the blind man tells him that dying is worth if Raphaël knows the meaning of his life.

One thing I like about this story, is that Raphaël is described as arrogant. [Usually this kind of story has a perfect hero.] His vanity makes us think that he deserves his demise, but his beauty and unfortunate life make us pity him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Adventures of Scrooge McDuck

After Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck (which I doesn't own. I have missed out the collection and had to buy the volumes from America), Gramedia published another collection of Scrooge McDuck stories by Don Rosa, entitled 'Komik Petualangan Paman Gober' (The Adventures of Scrooge McDuck). Luckily, this time I succeed in collecting the whole set. *happy*

This set consists of 8 magazines.
Series 1: Guardians of The Lost Library, Nobody's Business, The Son of The Sun
Series 2: His Majesty McDuck, W.H.A.D.A.L.O.T.T.A.J.A.R.G.O.N., Island at The Edge of Time
Series 3: Return to Plain Awful, Return to Xanadu
Series 4: The Treasure of The Avatars, The Lost Chart of Columbus, The Curse of Nostrildamus
Series 5: The Last Lord of Eldorado, The Quest for Kalevala
Series 6 : The Treasury of Croesus, On Stolen Time, The Universal Solvent
Series 7: The Black Knight, The Black Knight Glorps Again, Attack!
Series 8: Last Sled to Dawson, A Little Something Special

I enjoyed each of the stories and hoped that there were more.

Delon: Les femmes de ma vie

Delon: Les femmes de ma vie is one of the most beautiful books I own. First Alain Delon himself is one of most beautiful persons ever, I'm never tired looking at his pictures. This book contains more than 200 pictures (so it's said, I haven't counted them and never will) well reproduced on glossy papers. The size of the book is quite big: 29,7 x 29,8 cm, that I had difficulty finding it a place in my little room.

The description at Amazon says that Alain Delon is one of the authors, and I was curious, I wondered whether he really had had the time. After I got the book, it turned out that he only gave comments on the photographs, with his handwritings. The book is divided into 3 parts: The women in my life, my co-stars, and my friends. Then, little stories about them. Stories of each woman in 'The women in my life' is told in more details (one page each), one page of story for 'my co-stars', one page for 'my friends', and one page for his two dogs. It was a surprise to see the two dogs were included in this 'les femmes de ma vie' book.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

9 (2009)

This is a weird movie set in the future, after the human are all dead, after an apocalyptic war between human and machines. A rag doll with number 9 drawn on his back is the main character. He wakes up and finds the world is in ruin and a very dangerous place to live. He meets other rag dolls and tries to save their life and his from the beast.

The plot just doesn't make sense to me. This is a movie about rag dolls vs machines, lead by 'The Brain', which brought to life by mistake by 9. What should I care about those rag dolls? They are given soul (and life) by a scientist who also created The Brain. How can a human give soul to a doll?

However, the images are wonderful and action scenes are very good. I just don't see the point of the story. When his friends are trapped in The Brain, 9 tries to convince 1 (the rag dolls are named from 1 to 9) that they are not dead yet. After The Brain is defeated and the souls of 9's friends are free, the souls go up high to the sky and dissolve. I think that means dead.

Buster Keaton The Complete Short Films

Having watched works of Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, and read documentaries about them, I knew that I had to watch works of Buster Keaton. I then saw one of his work, Seven Chances. Seven Chances was not as funny as I had expected, the first part of the movie was slow; but I enjoyed the wonderful stunts. I was not very eager to get this complete short films box-set, as I was not that crazy about Seven Chances; but I bought it anyway. I knew I would enjoy the box-set more than today's comedies.

What I didn't know, is that Buster Keaton worked with Roscoe Arbuckle in his early career. The first movies in the box-set (total 32 movies) are his collaboration with Roscoe Arbuckle and Al St John. These movies are funny and enjoyable, although they often lose focus of the plot. I love how Arbuckle threw his knife up to the air and it landed smoothly on the table. My 8 year-old niece, who loves to cook and helps her mother in our warong, enjoyed watching The Cook very much; how Arbuckle threw what he was cooking in the air and caught it again with the saucepan, and how he threw what the guests ordered and how Keaton caught it smoothly. However I told her not to practice what she had seen there. Luke the dog, who could climb ladder, amazed us.

Apart from The Cook, my personal favourite is One Week; which shows 7 first days in Buster Keaton's character's marriage. The new couple built a portable house, which didn't work well due to a sabotage by the bride's rejected lover. I like the idea of portraying a failure in building a portable house.

Compared to Charlie Chaplin & Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton's stunts are as dangerous and wonderful as Harold Lloyd, if not better. Now I know what people mean by precision when they talk about Buster Keaton. The stunts did need precision indeed. About Charlie Chaplin, although stunts in his movies were not as brave as Keaton & Lloyd, but characterization is stronger.

The box-set from Masters of Cinema contains a nice book of 184 pages with many photographs, full of discussion on Buster Keaton. I am a bit disappointed with the quality of the movies, though. I have bought DVDs from Masters of Cinema before and they are of excellent quality. And if it's a case of old movies, my Chaplin DVDs from BFI and Harold Lloyd from Studio Canal are in much better quality. It's a pity that Keaton's works have not been preserved very well. Was it because he didn't produce his own movies?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Z (1969)

This was on TV last night and it was very captivating. More than 2 hours and I was stuck to the end.

Minutes ago I read that this is based on a true event (yes, the credits did say that any similarities to any living person are deliberate), but the location was in Greece. When I watched it last night I thought it was France. 'Z' in ancient Greek means 'he is alive'.

Supported by a strong cast (incl. Irene Papas,Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin, François Périer, Renato Salvatori), Yves Montand plays 'Z', an activist, who I think fight for peace and is against foreign military bases. After giving a speech, he is hit by a club, held by a passenger on a passing truck, and later dies of brain damage. The authorities, the generals in particular, try to cover up the case, but the examining judge keeps pursuing the truth.

This is a very powerful film and gives a good picture about how powerful a conspiracy can be. Too bad this kind of movie can only be seen on TV5. Our local stations must show this kind of film once in a while. The examining judge is not without threats or offers if he agrees to compromise, but he goes on. I like the scenes where he charges the colonel/generals with first-degree murder. In entering the room, each of the accused says 'this is embarrassing. I prefer to kill myself.' but the judge ignores them and says instead: 'Nom, prenom, occupation?' And in getting out of the room, the judge tells them to use the back door to avoid journalists. They walk through this narrow alley and funnily each of them tries to open a locked door in the alley. I wonder if they are familiar of the alley, or it's just an instinct.

In the end, one honest person is not enough. To get rid of corrupted persons, every body need to cooperate. Every body needs to have a will to be better. The examining judge has done good, but if the justice system does not support him then it's all for nothing. The movie closes with notes that the culprits receive light sentences because almost all the witnesses are dead.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I read reviews of this book by Simon Kernick and it sounded great, so I thought I'd give it a try. I never read books by Simon Kernick before.

The main character is an office worker named Tom Meron, a father of two kids. He receives an odd phone call from his old friend, who never called him for years. As he listens, his friend is being killed by his pursuers, but the last words he tells them are Tom's address. Tom knows that since that moment, his friend's killers will be after him, but what do they want? He doesn't know. He leaves his home, moves his kids, and is trying to locate his wife, who works in a university. Arrives in the university, someone has been murdered there, and Tom is the main suspect.

The plot is quite good, but simple, like in Hollywood action movies. However, the book is not as great as I had imagined. I prefer to read something with more complex woven plot. If Relentless's plot is like in action movies, what I prefer to read is something like in miniseries. I think what disappoints me most is the very reason Tom is phoned at the critical moment. The call has changed his life, and why? because in state of panic, his friend could only think of his address. For me that is not a strong reason.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Princess Bride (1987)

I wanted to watch The Princess Bride after reading that one of the characters in the story was a very mean prince, named Prince Humperdink. Prince Humperdink wants Princess Buttercup to be his wife, but as she doesn't love him, the prince tortures the princess's lover. I thought that was interesting, because torture scenes in fairy tales for children are rare, especially if the movies/books are made by Americans. The original fairy tales (like by the Brothers Grimm) have nasty scenes, but when they are made into films, those nasty scenes are removed.

To my surprise, The Princess Bride by director Rob Reiner is very good and I like it a lot. The DVD by Lionsgate is also very good and the pictures are sharp and clear. The plot is rich (blessed the writer!) and the lines are often hilarious, reminds me of 'Fanfan la tulipe', another great swashbuckling movie. This movie has: revenge, true love, torture, friendship, honour, kidnap, monster, battle of wits, traps, duel, giant, villain, adventure etc.

Princess Buttercup, Prince Humperdink's fiancée, is kidnapped by 3 men. Their intention is to start a war with the neighbour country. A masked man who saves Princess Buttercup, is none other than Westley, her long lost lover, whom she thought had been killed by pirates. However Prince Humperdink has another intention in marrying Princess Buttercup.

The story is framed with modern scenes, where a grandfather read the story book to his sick grandson.

Cary Elwes is perfect as Westley, but my favourite is Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, a swordsman who is looking for a six fingered man who has killed his father. I remember him from Sunday in The Park with George and Evita. I also like the bishop who cannot say 'r'.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics

Lately I like Scrooge McDuck comics by Carl Barks and Don Rosa very much that I think perhaps in the past there were other enjoyable comics like them which I didn't know. I found this book while browsing through. It is a collection of comics in the 40's - 60's. As I read the contents, I recognized a few: Little Archie, Little Lulu, Dennis The Menace, and the one which interested me most: several Donald Duck stories by Carl Barks himself.

After finishing this book, I conclude that Disney Comics by Carl Barks are still on the top of my list. I must add that I enjoy Marge's Little Lulu by John Stanley and Irving Tripp, too. Perhaps I would enjoy this book more if I were much younger.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Go-Between (1970)

The Go-Between is a collaboration between director Joseph Losey and writer Harold Pinter, based on the novel by L.P. Hartley. It tells about ageing Leo remembering his summer days in his school friend's place. This friend's family belongs to the upper class, but they receive young Leo kindly. Marcus's (Marcus is Leo's friend) older sister, beautiful Marian, takes Leo to the town and buys him a suitable summer suit and since then Leo likes her very much and will do anything for her. Marian takes this opportunity to use Leo as a go-between, to bring her messages to her lover, farmer Ted Burgess, whom she can never marry. It ends badly when Marian's mother finds out about this affair.

Marian seems to depend on Leo so much that she becomes angry when Leo finally says he cannot give her message to Ted Burgess anymore because Leo is afraid Hugh (Marian's fiancé) will be hurt. Leo is fond of Hugh as well. Marian is so angry that she says to Leo rude things.

The differences between upper class and workers are described well in this movie. However I find it hard to believe that young Leo is really that innocent. The story is set in 1900 and probably at that time 13 year-old boys were really that ignorant. It's quite annoying to see he didn't see right away the significance of the messages between two lovers he brought. And it's very annoying to see the scene where he annoyed Ted Burgess with his questions about men and women. Another annoying thing is Julie Christie's hair, which was too much.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

La Ronde (1950)

La Ronde (in English it probably means Roundabout, although in my mind I see a merry-go-round, which also appears in the movie) is an interesting movie by director Max Ophüls. It's adapted from a play and this can be seen in the movie, with a presence of a narrator to explain to and communicate with us, the audience.

La Ronde consists of several love stories which connects one to another with the same personage from previous chapter, and in the end we are taken back to the first personage who appears in the first chapter.

In the first chapter, we meet Simone Signoret, a prostitute, who is told by the narrator to wait on one of the soldiers - the 6th soldier who passes by will be hers. As the narrator knows all the stories, he knows best. The soldier, Serge Reggiani, soon leaves her to romance another woman, who will work as a maid and is seduced by her young master. This merry-go-round of love goes on until we meet an actress who makes love with a young comte, Gérard Philipe, who will miss his appointment with her again and wakes up drunk in Simone Signoret's place.

Monday, May 2, 2011

L'innocente (1976)

I've seen several movies by director Luchino Visconti and although the art in those movies are excellent, mostly they are, for me, very slow. So far only Rocco and His Brothers which I thought very captivating - for it's very dramatic. Now I have added L'innocente to this list. L'innocente is the last movie by Visconti, and he had died before the premiere.

L'innocente tells about rich aristocrat Tullio Hermil (played wonderfully by Giancarlo Giannini), who has an affair with widow Teresa Raffo (Jennifer O'Neill). This affair is publicly known, and his wife Giuliana (Laura Antonelli) can only accept it. Tullio can even discuss his mistress with his wife and tell her to stay silent in order to avoid further scandal. In her loneliness, she cannot resist the charm of writer Filippo d'Arborio (Marc Porel), who is brought to the house by Tullio's brother. Tullio is suspicious that his wife has an affair and he tries to win her back. The day after their reunion as husband and wife, Tullio learns that Giuliana is 2 months pregnant. He knows he is not the father. He contacts his brother so he can meet Filippo, but his brother tells him that Filippo is gravely ill.

Tullio himself has an affair, but he cannot accept if his wife is infidel. He perhaps can forgive her if she doesn't carry a souvenir from her affair. Tullio tries to kill the baby before it is born. To protect the baby, Giuliana pretends that she also hates the baby - and this proves to be fatal, because it gives Tullio encouragement to murder the baby, the innocent. Tullio can never win Giuliana back for his two rivals are dead.

Teresa is also not faithful to Tullio. She has another suitor, to whom she often makes promises. Tullio is not faithful, yet he demands his wife and his mistress to be faithful to him.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tales from The Arabian Nights

I believe these tales are also known as Tales of 1000 Nights. In ancient dinasty of Sassanidae, lived a great sultan named Schahriar. His kingdom lied from Persia to the borders of China. He was betrayed by his beloved wife and therefore concluded that every women was as wicked as her. So every evening he married a new wife and the next morning had her strangled. The grand vizir, whose task was to provide the sultan a new wife, had 2 beautiful daughters. Scheherazade was the eldest, very beautiful, intelligent, and wise. She thought she had a way to stop the terror, so she asked her father to present her before the sultan. On the wedding night, she asked her sister Dinarzade to accompany her in the chamber. One hour before dawn, Dinarzade was to wake her up and ask her to tell a story. The story, was to be continued in the next day, and this went on and on, and finally the sultan let Scheherazade lived.
by H.J. Ford

This Reader's Digest edition, only contains selected stories from Andrew Lang's The Arabian Nights Entertainments. There are 18 colour illustrations and 13 black and white illustrations by Edmund Dulac, René Bull, H.J. Ford, W.H. Lister, and Monro S. Orr. The binding is strong and good.

In the first chapters, it's very obvious that the tales are continuous. They are tales within tales. It begins with 'The Merchant and The Genie', about a merchant who accidentally kills a genie's son. The genie wants to kill the merchant as a revenge, but then comes 3 old men who each tell the genie a tale, in order to make him change his mind. After that, it continues to the story of The Fisherman. "But, sire," added Scheherazade, "however beautiful are the stories I have just told you, they cannot compare with the story of the fisherman."

by Edmund Dulac

The Fisherman is about a fisherman who finds a jar, which contains a genie who has sworn to kill whoever set him free. The fisherman succeeds to trap him back into the jar, and he says this to the genie who asks for mercy: "If I trust myself to you I am afraid you will treat me as a certain Greek king treated the physician, Douban. Listen, and I will tell you." And the tale continues to The Greek King and The Physician, which ends with this sentence: "This vizir [] told King Sinbad that one ought not to believe everything that a mother-in-law says and told him this story." and continues to a tale entitled The Husband and The Parrot, which continues to The Vizir who was Punished, and ends with The Young Kind of The Black Isles.

Next, there are longer tales, some are well-known: Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves, Prince Ahmed and The Fairy, Sinbad The Sailor, The Little Hunchback, The Prince and The Princess, Aladdin and The Wonderful Lamp, The Caliph of Baghdad - The Blind Baba-Abdalla, The Merchant of Baghdad, The Enchanted Horse, and The Jealous Sisters.

All are very enjoyable reading. Scheherazade is a great story teller. My personal favourite maybe (because it's hard to choose) The Little Hunchback, in which a hunchback is accidentally killed and the person who thinks he is responsible for the death tries to put the blame to another person, but when they (for in the end there are several who think they are the killer) see that an innocent man is to be put to death for the crime, each of them confesses that they are the real killer. The story ends with a happy ending, for it turns out none of them is the killer.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Estate violenta (1959)

Violent Summer, one of Zurlini's earliest works, for me is more preferable than 'Girl With A Suitcase'. Set in 1943, it's about 2 lovers who fall in love at the wrong time- with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Eleonora Rossi Drago. All 3 Zurlini films I've seen all star exceptionally beautiful women: Eleonora Rossi Drago in Violent Summer, Claudia Cardinale in Girl With A Suitcase, and Sonia Petrovna in La Prima Notte di Quiete. What I like about Zurlini's works, is that they are not difficult to understand, the theme is interesting - with not-to-slow pace. Also, as I made screen-captures for this blog, I could see how beautiful the photography was.

Carlo is younger than Rosanna [Jean-Louis Trintignant is 5 years younger than Eleonora Rossi Drago], a 30 year-old widow of a soldier with a daughter; and he is a son of a fascist, whom Rosanna's mother dislikes. To make the matter more complicated, Carlo has a girlfriend, who of course wants to keep Rosanna away from him. All this is situated when the country is in chaos because of the political situation, yet they manage to live like it's all never happening. Carlo has been avoided his military duty, with the help of his father's influence. With the change of situation, his father flees, Carlo cannot hide anymore and must report himself. However, Rosanna persuades him to ignore his duty and go with her to her villa, when on their way the train is bombed. Then their eyes are opened with the horror of war - how they cannot escape anymore. I think when Rosanna sees the dead girl, she must be thinking of her own daughter, whom she has left -without any message- in order to be with Carlo.

The last scenes, the bombing of the train is very haunting and well made. Very impressing because it's made in 1959 and Zurlini was not a big name at that time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Glorious 39 (2009)

This is the story of Anne Keyes (played by Romola Garai), the adopted daughter of Sir Alexander MP (Bill Nighy). The movie begins with a boy, in present time, who asks two old men, who knew Anne Keyes, what had happened to her in the eve of WW2.

Anne Keyes, an actress, lives happily with her family: Sir Alexander, his wife, and his two children: Ralph and Celia. She also has a fiancé, Lawrence, whom she loves. Things are well until that dinner in their country house, when Hector, a young MP, meets Balcome. Hector expresses his opinion, in which he disagrees with some people who wants to make a deal with Hitler. For some, the horror of WW1 is still fresh in their memory and they try to avoid war. It's obvious that Balcome, who works for the secret service, doesn't agree with Hector. A couple of days later, Hector is found dead, probably suicide.

Anne finds a recording in her father's store-room which contains a telephone conversation, where Hector was being threatened. Could it be possible that he has been murdered?

For Anne, the whole thing is a nightmare. First, she lost baby Oliver. She is falling asleep and someone has taken him, and returns him. Next, she asks a fellow actor to listen to the recording and soon he is found dead. The worst for her is when Lawrence is also dead and she finds that her family know about the conspiracy from the start.

What is scary here, is the knowledge how powerful the secret service is.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Black Swan (2010)

I watched this last night and enjoyed it very much. Natalie Portman as Nina is very good.

Nina has been chosen to play the Swan Queen in Swan Lake, but Leroy, the director, wants her to improve her Black Swan. For those who don't know, Swan Lake is about a beautiful princess, Odile, who is turned to a white swan by a sorcerer. A prince comes and falls in love with her. He is supposed to help her change into human again. However, the sorcerer sends Odette (the black swan) to seduce the prince so that he forgets Odile. In her desperation, Odile throws herself from a cliff and dies.

Leroy says that Nina is a perfect Odile because she is beautiful, virginal and pure; but as the white and black swans are played by the same person, Nina must learn about seduction so she can be a perfect black swan.

Throughout the movie, Nina's distress is obvious. She is afraid Leroy will give the role to her rival Lily if Nina cannot play the black swan well. She has hallucinations, which are getting worse and worse. As Leroy says: "The only obstacle between you and the role is yourself." Her transformation as the black swan is wonderfully depicted in the movie. In the end, Nina plays the perfect Swan Queen, but she also finds her demise.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

La banquière (1980)

This movie about a female banker in France in the 20's, which at that time was rare, is quite engaging and as Romy Schneider played the lead role, this is a must see.

The movie begins in black and white, in silent movie style, which I like. Emma Eckhert in early 20's has already had problems with the authority due to her homosexuality. She then marries Moïse and they are divorced, but still work together - she as his superior. She has a girlfriend, who lends her a lot of money. Emma Eckhert builds the Eckhert Bank and she first attracts attention when, with the help of a friend, she makes a lot of money by buying oil shares. People come to her, entrusts her with their money. Banks usually give 1 - 1,5% interest, but Emma gives 8%. Her biggest rival, Vannister, works together with the President to sabotage her. Emma is accused of fraud and they put her in a jail. Emma only wants one thing: to reimburse all her clients, in this way she also can proof that the accusation is absurd. After a political change, incl. a change of President, Emma is free; but she is shot to death in the middle of a speech, among her clients, in her efforts to reimburse them.

A strong scene which I cannot forget is when after her arrest, Emma is taken to her office, where the judge and the police search for proofs. There is none. Meanwhile, the bank is open and the clients are queuing for drawing her money. And what the judge does when he doesn't find any proof? He orders to close the cashiers. In this way, Emma cannot pay back her clients. She protests, but they take her out to the jail - where the guard, a nun, refuses to give her a table. Emma wants to be able to write to defend herself.

There are lots of well-known faces: Jean-Louis Trintignant who plays Vannister, young Daniel Auteuil plays this financier who works for Vannister, Marie-France Pisier as Emma's lover's wife, Claude Brasseur as the judge who ruthlessly investigates Emma's fraud case, and Jean-Claude Brialy as Emma's lawyer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cette sacrée gamine Mam'zelle Pigalle (1956)

I've seen several movies by Michel Boisrond and they are all entertaining. This one is with Brigitte Bardot, who is very pretty here. She plays the only daughter of a nightclub owner, who decides to disappear for a while because the police suspects his involving in money forgery. He asks his friend, cabaret singer Jean Clery to take care of his daughter - because the police will go after her to find her father, and soon Clery finds that Brigitte is a trouble. At one point, she even burns down his house, starts when she tries to iron his shirt. Furthermore, she is so sexy that her being endangers his relationship with his fiancée. Clery's butler is also an interesting character.

I see two camera tricks. First, when Clery seems to be rowing, but as the camera walks away, we see that he is in his room, only practicing. Second, in the end, when Clery's fiancée holds a baby, with Clery beside her. We thought Clery doesn't get Brigitte, but as the camera shows the whole room, we see that he does get her.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

La ragazza con la valigia (1961)

Girl with a Suitcase is my 2nd Zurlini film. Like The Professor, it tells about a love story with an unhappy ending. The theme reminds me of Giuseppe Tornatore's Malèna, where an adolescent falls in love with an older woman.

16 year old Lorenzo (played by a very young Jacques Perrin) finds the beautiful Aida (Claudia Cardinale) in front of his front door, carrying a suitcase, looking for a man named Marchiori, who has abandoned her. Knowing that the man she wants is his own brother, who has given her a false name, Lorenzo decides to help her, to right what his brother has done wrong. He puts her in a hotel and gives her money, and during all the time falls in love with her. Lorenzo's teacher warns Aida that what they both have been doing is not right, because Lorenzo has given her money which is not his. Aida leaves and looks for Piero (most likely her ex lover), who has promised to give her a job, but Piero turns her out. Piero's cousin seems keen to help her, but Aida soon finds that he has something else in mind. Lorenzo comes, picks up a fight with Piero's cousin, and Lorenzo and Aida flee to a beach.

There are some captivating moments, like when Aida meets Piero in a station, with Lorenzo following them, trying to hear what they are talking about. To prevent her to go with him, Lorenzo tells her that he knows where Marchiori is. Later we see Aida breaks down and tells Lorenzo about her past, that she has a son.

The story flows very well and we learns about Aida from Lorenzo's point of view. The scene on the beach is very beautiful, and it's when we see that Aida does love Lorenzo, even though only a little.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pillars of The Earth (2010)

I have read the novel which this mini-series is based on, yet I still enjoyed watching this. The film is fast paced and the intrigues are well woven. Set in the 12th century in Kingsbridge, England, the main plot is how Prior Philip wants to build a cathedral, but the plan is opposed strongly by the bishop, who wants to use the capital to build a castle for himself. Another important character is Jack, the master builder's foster son, who later will continue his father's work.

I think the series is well made, although I hope Aliena, Jack's mistress, could be played by another actress. Hayley Atwell has a modern face. Aliena is a modern girl - for her time-, but I think Atwell's face is still too modern. She reminds me of Claire Danes in Les Miserables (1998), whose face I also think is too modern. They are beautiful, but not the kind of beauty I imagine for girls in those eras.

After watching Don Camillo, the intrigues in this series scare me, however fictional they are. The priests in Pillars of The Earth are very corrupted that they are not afraid of God anymore, or worse - they think they will be blessed for what they are doing. Bishop Waleran, for example; he tortures himself in the name of Christ and prays to God to forgive all his sins and takes pity on him, yet all the time he continues to lie, hate his brothers - especially Prior Philip- and plans wicked things. The Communist mayor in Don Camillo is a thousand times much better and kinder than priests in this series.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quand vient la peur (2010)

This is a 2 part miniseries, about serial murder on brunette women in the 70's in Poitou-Charentes region. Anne Ketal investigates, with the help of her partner Mathias, who has recently arrives from other region. The victims are found with open belly and a dead crow nearby. As usual when horrific things happen in a small town, the inhabitants begin to suspect each other.

The police force is in a poor condition. With such a big case, it seems only Anne is working on it. Mathias is more interested in building a relationship with her than catching the murderer. When her friend calls Anne after receiving a dead crow and believes she is the next target, Anne calls some police to go to her house. As there is no patrol car, they go by bike - and has a flat tire. When they arrive, the girl has been dead.

Realizing that the killer only targets brunette women, the beauty salon is flooded with those who want to dye their hair blonde.

The conclusion is somewhat disappointing. The sympathetic Mathias turns out to be the culprit. OK, he has been abandoned by his mother and abused by his foster mother. "Do you realize that the women you killed have nothing to do with this?" asks Anne. "That is why you have to kill me now to stop this." he answers. I hope he could come with a better line.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tangled (2010)

I know the story of Rapunzel: A pregnant woman wants a rapunzel leaf and her husband steals it from their neighbour's garden. This neighbour turns out to be a witch who wants the new born baby for payment of the rapunzel leaf. She jails the baby girl, named Rapunzel, in a high tower, whose only way out is a window which can be reached by climbing Rapunzel's very long hair. Time passes and a prince finds the way to enter the tower and falls in love with Rapunzel. When the witch finds out, she cuts short Rapunzel's hair, throws her away, greets the prince, blinds him and throws him away as well. Many years later only Rapunzel, who already given birth to twins, meets her prince again and cures his blindness with her tears.

This Disney version of that story is a bit difference. Tangled, as it is called, is a very entertaining movie, although I must say that I am a bit annoyed of how they are always ruining classic stories. A pregnant queen is sick and the whole kingdom is searching for a certain Rapunzel flower to cure her. A witch has been hiding the flower to keep her young and beautiful. When the flower has been taken away from her, she finds that the queen's baby girl's golden hair is as magical as the flower; so she takes the baby away and hides her, named Rapunzel, in a high tower. Every year on their lost baby's birthday, the king and queen and their people fly lanterns into the sky. Rapunzel watches the shining lanterns from her window and dreams to be able to see what they are, for she thinks they are some kind of stars. Then enters the rogue prince, who is actually a wanted man for thieving.

I think since The Little Mermaid, Disney make the characters very modern. The expressions, the dialogues are so lively... I myself prefer the classic way. Snow White's prince or Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty are my favourite. They have manners. These modern characters, begins with prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, sometimes can look stupid and not elegant at all. It's like watching degradation in human characters, in this case - represented by cartoon characters.

Don Camillo Box Set

I was wrong to buy the region 1 Don Camillo box set from Koch Lorber, because later I found out that in France there were a box set contained 6 movies. I didn't know that the French box set actually had English subtitles. I put it in my wish list, but as I was saving money, it was sold out. Fortunately, another one was coming out, but this one only contained 5 movies. It was okay as I learned that the 6th movie didn't star Fernandel as Don Camillo.

So I end up with this box set from Studio Canal. Another difference from Koch Lorber box set, is that in the first 3 movies: Le petit monde de Don Camillo, Le retour de Don Camillo, and La grande bagarre de Don Camillo; English subtitles only come with the French audio version. The Italian audio version comes with French subtitles.

I love Don Camillo movies (and books). As I have written when I wrote about the first 2 movies, this Catholic priest and the Communist mayor both have good and bad side in them. They dislike each other, but cannot leave without each other; like in the end of La Grande Bagarre de Don Camillo when Peppone wins the deputy election and is ready to leave the little town. Don Camillo is more sad than happy to see his enemy going away.

I see many recent movies with many dialogues yet they are empty. The writers have worked hard to please producers, to get the scripts bought and made into movies; but for me the words are meaningless, like they are fabricated and false. It's different with Don Camillo's movies. I read how people say the sequels of Don Camillo movies are not as good as the first, but when I watched the 3rd (La grande bagarre de Don Camillo) I really enjoyed it. I am not sure if it's because in the credits it says that the writer of Don Camillo books Giovanni Guareschi himself wrote the script. [I jumped immediately for the 3rd as I had watched the 1st and 2nd from Koch Lorber.]

If I have a less preference among the 5 movies, it's Don Camillo en Russie, which I think doesn't have many plots as the other 4.