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.