Posts tagged “French Film

Laura / Wow! How to be a Great People Manager


Laura  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

The sensually provocative images of internationally acclaimed photographer David Hamilton again move and breathe in Laura. A delicate journey through innocence, beauty and sensuality involving a 16 year old ballet dancer who falls in love with her mother’s former lover, a 40 year old sculptor. A classic cinematic treatment of mother-daughter competition and the first stirrings of sexuality.  With utmost taste and talent, Hamilton presents the gratification of budding womanhood.

1979 –  Certificate: 18  –  French Film
5.0 out of 10

For reasons that mostly baffle me but probably point to a severe breakdown in the decision-making process somewhere, I’m trusted with the management of nine people at work, plus another two or three that are ‘incoming’. I’ve never received much in the way of training to accomplish this, but I do my best.  I try to work them all to within an inch of their lives, make them feel worthless and in awe of me, blame them when something goes wrong and take the credit when something goes well.  I provide them with impossible deadlines and grass them up to more senior people when they fail to meet them.  I invent or overcomplicate existing procedures, to make their lives as difficult as possible.  My managerial catch-phrase is, “if you don’t like it you can leave”.  In fact the only book on management I’ve ever read is “The Art of Demotivation”.  I’d heartily recommend this to anyone who manages staff.  I keep my well-thumbed copy by my desk at all times.  Despite my obvious lack of emotional intelligence, in a strange way I consider these ‘resource units’ as my family.  (In that sense I care for them deeply, in the same way that Captain Janeway on the Starship Voyager cared for her crew, but still managed to nearly get them killed most weeks.)  Consequently, I get very distressed when any of them decide to fly the nest or take maternity leave.  (Mainly because of the extra hassle it’s going to cause me.)  In the next couple of months I have to recruit three or four new members of staff.  From experience, I’m pretty sure that interviewing is about as close as a man can get to giving birth.  The only difference is that we interview during office hours to a sensible timetable that minimises the disruption it causes.  It is however a painful experience, in which you deal with things as best you can, when all you really want to do is scream and moan about how long it’s all taking, as you wait for the candidate(s) to come into the room so to speak.  And my top tips for interviewing?  Always have the interview panel with the light behind its back.  I find it helps to put interviewees at ease if you silhouette yourselves.  I also find that starting off interviews with the question, “what’s the worst question we could ask you today?” often helps to put candidates at ease too.  If I don’t see tears by the end, I know I’m facing a tough son-of-a-bitch, who might one day challenge my Alpha Male status, an attribute that at work we call Wow; strangely, these people always score really poorly and consequently never get appointed.  There’s nothing Wow about this film either.

David Hamilton made a few films like this and they’re all crap. This is probably because I know nothing about art and can never relate to anything or anyone in them.  And I hate the ‘soft focus’ (i.e. out of focus) photography that always seems to get used too, so it’s not just the people, plots and places I don’t get.  I guess if I was cultured enough I’d think this movie was a cinegraphic masterpiece that “presents the gratification of budding womanhood” and unrequited love, rather than some child porn dressed up as art.  But what do I know?  I’m probably just an ignorant, Mail-reading Brit, who thinks anything foreign is rubbish (unless it’s American or curry).  I guess if I go out and kill someone on purpose, as long as I do it tastefully it’s art, not murder.  Having said that, there is a story of sorts (a somewhat pervy love triangle) and a bit of action when something catches fire.  There’s also some ‘fun’ with weed-killer too.  (It’s a good example of what happens when you don’t store and use chemicals correctly.)  I guess if you can work around all its technical and plot foibles, then you could get something positive out of it.  (It’s not unlike a trashy B-movie in that respect.)

The soundtrack is mainly plinky-plonky ‘emotional’ piano or dated prog rock. It’s not something I’d miss if it was somehow erased for existence by time-travelling, intergalactic film critics.

Trailer. Well if there is one I couldn’t find it.  Yes, the Internet has let me down.  The best I managed to locate were some clips, so I’ve picked out an especially action-packed one for here.

Recommended for sculptors, dancers and anyone with a very open mind.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? I guess it’s another reason for me to be sent to Hell, but Paul (40) manages to get off with Laura (15).  It’s not that I approve or would want to be in his place; it’s just that he could, which makes it badass, although mostly just bad.  What’s he got that I haven’t?  Other than he’s good looking, French, talented, sexy and (in these post-Saville times) “a sinister pervert who used his fame to get close to young women and girls”.  No wait, that’s Rolf Harris.

Laura at IMDB (6.0 / 10)
Laura at Wikipedia
Laura clip at YouTube

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Time To Leave / Summer Holidays


Time to Leave  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Acclaimed filmmaker Francois Ozon’s most intimate and lyrical work, ‘Time To Leave’ features a moving performance from Melvil Poupaud as a 30 year-old man facing up to the reality of his own mortality.  With his perfect life thrown into chaos by the shock diagnosis of a serious illness, fashion photographer Romain finds himself unable to share the news with his boyfriend or family, confiding instead only in his grandmother (affectingly played by screen legend Jeanne Moreau).  But anger and denial give way to an acceptance of sorts when a chance encounter with a waitress (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) offers Romain a glimmer of hope and the unexpected chance to leave something of himself behind.

2005  –  Certificate: 18  –  French Film
Rating Details:  Strong Sex
8.5 out of 10

I like this time of year.  Once my birthday has passed, the clocks have gone forward, I don’t need the heating on at home, we’ve got over the end of the Financial Year at work and the winter is fast receding, things start to look better.  The spring has arrived and the local plants and wild animals have started doing their stuff.  The weather’s getting better and the days are longer.  I can go to gigs and not freeze half to death on the way home in a soggy t-shirt.  And with all the bank holidays and most of my Annual Leave from work left to take, I get to (allegedly) work some shorter weeks; in fact from last week onwards I’m only meant to be working two out of the next twelve as five-day weeks.  A three-day weekend suits me I think.  I’ve even been giving some half-hearted thought to going on holiday somewhere.  I won’t be going far from Cactus World, but I feel I ought to do something.  After knackering my ankle on the South Downs Way a few years ago, I’ve been a bit reluctant to put it under too much pressure since, as it still doesn’t feel quite right.  But I might take a few days and go camping/walking along a canal; that will have a decent, flat path and plenty of pubs scattered along it.  The Kennet & Avon Canal starts only a few minutes walk from where I live and runs for 87 miles, so I may well pick on that.  Talk about putting minimal effort into planning a holiday!  This film ends on a beach, which is holiday-like.  And beaches are by water, just like canal tow-paths.  (Sorry, that’s the best link I can manage.)

Romain is a somewhat arrogant fashion photographer, who, when diagnosed with a serious illness, chooses not to have any treatment for it or to tell many people, but instead goes about pissing off most of those around him.  (They’re all rather forgiving it has to be said.)  Of course, as the film progresses, he goes on a life-journey of sorts, but in my opinion he never ceases being a little too self-centred.  So, he’s not the most likable of characters.  Now, I watch quite a lot of French films; (French movies are the fourth most common I watch, after American, British and Japanese).  However, I’ve never come across Melvil Poupaud before, but he puts in a totally amazing performance as Romain.  The film’s worth watching for this alone, although all the acting is uniformly great.  I don’t often single out actors but I was seriously impressed by this guy.  Even where the script or plot wobbled a bit he managed to make it all seem very believable.  Some of the scenes can’t have been easy to film either.  He’s a very good-looking chap, yet he loses a huge amount of weight as the story progresses and ends up being hardly recognisable.  I didn’t really like Romain, yet I really cared about what he was going through.  France is turning out some great movies these days.  They still feel French, but they’re also very grounded too and easier for more of the rest of us to relate to now.  This is an emotionally depressing film, but hugely rewarding too.  The scene where Romain rings his sister really was very powerful.  Go watch.  I’ve just realised that I’ve made this film sound a bit wimpy, but at times it’s quite raw; it didn’t get that 18 Certificate for nothing.

There’s a limited amount of music used in this movie and most of it sits in the background, but it really fits in well.

The trailer uses Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.  This bit of music isn’t used in the film and it’s a huge cliché, but it does do the job it’s being asked to do here.  (Then again, it’s such a great song that it would be pretty difficult for it not to.)

Recommended for photographers, grandmothers, dysfunctional families and people who spend way too long sitting on beaches.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Romain gives his sister Sophie an especially hard time and clearly had a track-record of doing so, long before he got ill.  Yet when he phones her to apologise, (well I think that’s what he was trying to do), after she’s sent him a letter, she was so nice about it.  She could easily have told the supercilious little sod to get lost, but she didn’t.  I guess that’s pretty badass.

Time to Leave at IMDB (7.2 / 10)
Time to Leave at Wikipedia
Time to Leave trailer


Deterrence / Fun With Laptops and Phone Lines


Deterrence  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Dutch ReleaseIn the year 2008, U.S. President Walter Emerson (Kevin Pollak), who recently took office after the death of the former chief executive, is campaigning for re-election.  After winning the Colorado state primary, Emerson finds himself stranded in a roadside diner after a freak snowstorm.  While the president exchanges pleasantries with the diner’s staff and customers, a new bulletin appears on TV: Udei Hussein, son of the late Saddam Hussein, has invaded Kuwait and butchered several hundred U.S. peace-keeping troops.  Outraged, the president announces that if Hussein and his forces do not withdraw and officially surrender, he will begin dropping nuclear weapons on Baghdad.  However, Iraq responds that if they are attacked, 23 cities in the United States and allied nations will be immediately destroyed in a counterattack.  Emerson, his advisors, and the others trapped in the diner with them debate long and loud about what to do, and what the potential consequences could be.

1999  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  French / American Film
8.5 out of 10

A few weeks ago I wrote about my work laptop having a few ‘issues’.  Work-related stress, cruel and heartless management and a failure to ‘work smarter and not harder’, had reduced it to an untidy pile of nearly useless components unable to do the simplest things, other than make up excuses for not having done them. (Oh wait, that’s just me.)  Over the past week or so, to coincide with moving our office, trying to sort out the old one and get the new one in a state to be used as anything more than a second-hand furniture shop, I’ve had ‘The Man From Dell’ visit no less than four times, in an attempt to fix my laptop’s problems.  However, I’m now the proud owner of what looks like a new computer; although it’s been totally pulled to bits so many times and so many parts have been replaced, that I’m not sure it even recognises itself now.  More importantly, it actually works.  I really enjoyed downloaded the four million or so e-mails that have piled up for me over the past couple of weeks, many of which are increasingly angry ones from people demanding that I do this, that and the other by yesterday.  I doubt they’ll care that moving office takes a bit of effort, my laptop’s gone mental, my mobile phone went into hiding and the new office looks like Engineering on the Enterprise after a particularly bad day dealing with Klingons.  They’ll just think I’m a lazy, work-shy imbecile, who can’t be arsed to make an effort; trouble is, they’re probably right.  In related news, ‘The Man From BT’ was also in today, to put in two basic phone lines.  Quite why this took him (and a colleague) most of the day, I’m not sure.  We’re in the centre of the town, there’re landlines and junction boxes everywhere.  Unlike BT and myself, the President in this film manages to ‘get things done’, even though he’s stranded in a cafe with just a few phone lines and a TV, as he organises universal Armageddon faster than BT can get a telephone to work.

Despite all its plot holes and general dumbness, this is actually a really clever and tense political thriller.  A number of its assumptions have since proved to be quite prophetic too.  Its clever use of stock footage of American Presidents playing at “Team America: World Police” and TV coverage of the developing crisis, works very well.  I wasn’t entirely sure if it was making a point about war being bad or necessary; or that American presidents have too much power or a responsibility to use that power.  However, there is something very chilling about seeing someone ordering a nuclear attack on another country.  It was also rather depressing to see how little value was placed by the Americans on the lives of its enemies and allies alike.  (If it wasn’t for us, they’d still be riding around firing bows and arrows at one another.)  I can’t really say much more as knowing about the plot would spoil things, but I’d certainly recommend watching it.  It’ll give you lots to talk about afterwards too.

The soundtrack is good example of understated music making a big difference to the feel of the film.  Good job.

Recommended for Special Agents, dictators and anyone caught in a snowstorm or who works in a cafe.  Definitely not recommend for American Presidents.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The American President ordering a nuclear attack is about as badass as you can get.  Shame it’s not a good type of badass.  I wouldn’t like to piss him off though.

Deterrence at IMDB (6.4 / 10)

Deterrence at Wikipedia

Deterrence at YouTube


The Class / Wild Rice


The Class  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe tense environment of a tough inner-city school where cultures and attitudes often clash is revealed in this award-winning drama based on François Bégaudeau’s best-selling novel Between the Walls.  Bégaudeau himself stars as an idealistic teacher of a class of unruly 15 year-olds, whose spiky independence present constant challenges to his sometimes unconventional teaching methods.  Featuring an outstanding non-professional cast of real teachers and students, Laurent Cantet’s gripping and sharply observed film offers a microcosm of contemporary society and explores the difficult issues facing education today.

2008  –  Certificate: 15  –  French Film
Rating Details: Strong Language
7 out of 10

I worked from home today.  Despite not having nearly enough space to do so, I quite enjoy it as it allows me to work in just my underpants (the pair I was wearing the day before of course) and indulge my anti-social tendencies by not going out or seeing anyone.  Today I did have to speak to people on the phone a lot, but that’s not as bad as actually having to speak to anyone face-to-face.  For my dinner tonight I had some weird concoction that included tinned tomatoes, rice and tofu.  To further indulge my anti-social tendencies, I do most of my food shopping online.  Last time, due to an apparent world shortage of cheap, brown rice, I was gifted by Waitrose with a bag of basmati rice with added wild rice; (for the same price as the cheap rubbish I’d ordered).  I’ve never eaten wild rice before, mainly because it’s about a million pounds a bag.  After eating it tonight, I was left wondering how many people are willing to spend twice as much on a bag of rice as they need to, simply because it’s got a few ‘black bits’ in it.  Taste-wise it didn’t seem to add anything, but I guess if you’re stupid, vein and rich, you can pander to your rice fantasies whenever you like.  Finally, to indulge my anti-social tendencies still further, my meal tonight included two whole garlic bulbs.  That’s a lot of garlic; and this film is French.

This is a movie that’s looks very much like a documentary.  It features the staff and pupils at an inner city school in Paris and focuses on one particular teacher and his class, over the course of a year.  Most of the time is spent in the classroom, watching him teaching them.  Yep, that’s pretty much it; for over two hours.  The teenagers act like real teenagers; sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re bad.  The teacher acts like a teacher; he gets some stuff right and some stuff wrong.  Strangely, it’s all rather watchable, but I really have no idea why.  Perhaps it’s the almost constant mental combat that’s going on in the classroom that makes it so absorbing?  However, it has reminded me of just what a hard job teaching can be.

Music?  There isn’t any.  At all.

Recommended for teachers and school age teenagers.  Game on!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  This is a film about one man who thinks he can ‘make a difference’.  He’s got no superpowers or cool gadgets, or a perfect physique.  He does however do battle on a daily basis, with a horde of confrontational, argumentative and troubled teenagers.  He’s a teacher.  That’s badass.

The Class at IMDB (7.5 / 10)

The Class at Wikipedia


Gwendoline / Changing Evolution


Gwendoline  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseFrom acclaimed master of erotica Just Jaeckin (“Emmanuelle” “Story of O” “Lady Chatterley’s Lover) comes “Gwendoline”, one of the most sought-after ‘guilty pleasure’ movies of all time!  Filled to the brim with enough female flesh and fetishistic imagery to satisfy the most demanding of voyeurs, this is one cult fantasy film you definitely won’t want to miss!  Follow the adventures of the sweet and innocent Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen of “Bachelor Party” and those legendary Whitesnake videos) in which she travels as a stowaway to the Far East with her sexy friend Beth (played by French actress and model Zabou) on a mission to track down her father, who has mysteriously disappeared whilst on a mission to find a mythical butterfly.  Rescued from a group of lecherous seamen by the hunky adventurer Willard (actor and male model Brent Huff), Gwendoline persuades him to make up their trio and embark on a daring journey to the land of the Yek Yeik, a country ruled by a diabolical dominant Amazon queen and an army of female fetish-clad Amazonian warriors!  There, Gwendoline must defeat the evil queen and prevent Willard from being forced to spawn a new race of female warriors – or face certain death.  Gwendoline is a bizarre adventure like no other, freely adapted from John Willie’s acclaimed erotic comic strip, which fans will be talking about for years to come.

1984  –  Certificate: 18  –  French Film
Rating Details:  Strong violence
7.5 out of 10

Right now I’m sitting here drinking a bottle of Batemans Victory Ale; (6% and Vegan Society approved), thinking how great the summer is.  I know, every year the weather’s a bit of a disappointment, but somehow it’s still loads better than the winter.  However crappy the weather is, it’s still always a lot lighter in the summer than the rest of the year.  In the summer, the sun goes down to the right of that tree over ‘here’.  In the winter, it goes down behind the tree over there; (trying to hide its embarrassment, no doubt).  It’s 8:42 pm right now, warm and light enough to sit and read in my lounge without a light or coat on.  In the winter at this time it would be freezing cold, dark and depressing dank outside.  If I ever own a time machine, I’m going to go way, way back, to the point where humans (or whatever we were then), evolved away from hibernating during the winter.  Out will come a very sharp pair of secateurs and whatever genetically mutated freak of nature caused us to stay awake all year, is going to find itself well and truly snipped away from the evolutionary tree.  Bastard!  This film is about natural history too.

I thought this was one of those nature documentaries, where we’d follow an intrepid explorer searching for new species of something, in this case a butterfly.  So you can imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a chisel-jawed anti-hero, two beautiful woman who’s tops fell off slightly more often than was strictly necessary, a lot of bald chicks in leather bikinis, a lost tribe of women and a quite imaginative torture chamber.  Then again, I’ve never been on as expedition to search for anything, so perhaps Sir David Attenborough runs into things like this all the time.  I guess that would explain why nature documentaries are so popular.  Nevertheless, it is a film all about a hunt for a butterfly and without wanting to spoil the ending, it looks a lot like a blacker and larger version of a Swallowtail.  Normally I’m not exactly inspired by trashy films like this.  It’s certainly another of those vegan-unfriendly, birds-in-leather with whips films.  However, this one’s funny enough (both intentionally and unintentionally), well-made enough, epic enough and silly enough, to provide a highly entertaining and fun watch.  It looks really good and the acting is pretty spirited too.  Brent Huff at the hero Willard is a hoot and Tawny Kitaen, (who goes from innocent convent-educated girl to kick-ass, gladiatorial warrior in less than 100 minutes), looks… good.  The movie starts with an establishing shot in a busy, crowded, claustrophobic market near a harbour; I think it’s meant to be in China.  In the first three minutes we see someone nearly get run down and his cart of fruit tipped over, a fight break out, a theft of goods from the quayside with some associated shooting as the crew attempt to stop the getaway lorry, a group breaking into storage boxes, someone stealing food and someone else having a trolley taken from him; whilst two mounted police look on magnanimously, clearly on the lookout for some real crime under their noses.  That pretty well sums this movie up, as does the “Barbarella meets Indiana Jones” line on the DVD’s cover art.  It’s interesting that the BBFC’s “insight” (that’s what we call the rating details), now just says “strong violence”.  When it was first released it had 194 seconds cut out of it to enable it to get a cinema release in the UK; whilst America suffered from a version 16 minutes shorter.  Clearly, chariots pulled by semi-naked woman have lost their impact in the 21st Century.

In a B movie kind of way, this film has quite a decent soundtrack.  There’s not a lot else I can say about it really.

Recommended for naturalists, lepidopterists, heroes and anyone with a convent-based education.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Willard first appears in the film by crashing through a window.  He then takes a few moments to adjust his hat and smile, before dispatching all the bad guys with a display of high quality, hand-to-hand combat and rescuing two women from human traffickers.  That’s badass.  I’ll never be that cool.  :-(

Gwendoline at IMDB (5.0 / 10)

Gwendoline at Wikipedia


Choses secrètes / The Future of the Human Race


Choses secrètes  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)From director Jean-Claude Brisseau (“Noce Blanche”) comes an immoral tale of two women who use their sexuality and beauty to climb through the dizzy heights of office politics.  When the beautiful but naïve Sandrine meets the worldly stripper Nathalie they conspire to better themselves.  Both gaining jobs in a Parisian bank, they set about using their wiles to gain promotion.  Before long Sandrine has seduced her employer – the powerful owner of the bank, but it is his son who has his own secret agenda as both women fall hopelessly for him.   Handsomely shot, this is one drama that positively relishes the sadistic pleasures of office politics.

2003  –  Certificate: 18  –  French
Rating Details:  Strong sex and nudity
7 out of 10

For the past few months I’ve become increasingly convinced that as a species, humans are basically doomed; and doomed sooner rather than later, probably within my lifetime.  Climate change; the ‘too big to fail’ power of large corporations; terrorism and the response to it; the pending failure of antibiotics; corrupt and inadequate politicians; greedy and inadequate big-business CEOs; the general failure of the global economy and the inaction of those that could do something about the system that led to it; the overuse of finite resources that are fast running out; an increasingly ineffective United Nations; too many old people who the rest of society can’t provide for; the power of the press; the dreadful behaviour of many banks; the exploitation of people in the developing world by western companies; national heroes turning out to be paedophiles; the police routinely bending the rules when it suits them; I’m sure there’s more.  I just thought I’d share that.  All those angry punk songs were right after all.  Meanwhile, this movie provides an additional explanation for the collapse of the French economy.

“Lesbian sex, public masturbation, orgies and worse”, so said The Guardian about this film.  Fortunately it’s French, so that’s okay then.   A stripper and a bartender working in a seedy Parisian club, fed up with the world when they get the sack for refusing to have sex with some guy for their boss, decide to sleep their way to the top of a big bank instead.  When they get there they find it’s run by a guy who’s irresistible to woman and holds orgies in his mansion; and is having a sexual relationship with his sister too.  Where’s the News of the World when you actually need it?  (Actually no, I’m glad it’s gone.)  Now, I’d be the first to admit that I’m not that familiar with the workings of French banks so maybe they’re a bit different to here, but I can’t imagine a stripper and a barmaid, in a matter of months, working their way up from being new employees at RBS to becoming lovers to the two most senior staff in the organisation.  And despite all the criticism of RBS, I have difficulty accepting Stephen Hester as being so irresistible to women that when he dumps his lovers, (of which there’d have been many), they’d have a habit of setting fire to themselves and this wouldn’t result in some sort of media ‘interest’.  I’m pretty sure ‘Liverpool’s favourite newspaper’ would think that to be a story ‘in the public interest’, never mind the bank’s shareholders.  So now I’ve established just how preposterous the plot of this film is, I can add that it’s actually a pretty good movie.  The two lead actresses are excellent and the story, provided you can suspend your belief enough, (well I’d give it the rest of the day off to be on the safe side), flows really well. It gets going straight away with some ‘erotic dancing’ and doesn’t let up until the final showdown at Christophe’s mansion.  (He’s the irresistible one by the way, even though his head is shaped exactly like an Action Man, with a personality to match.)  All in all though, it’s a pretty depressing film, despite the lesbian sex; all played out on top of an overwrought classical soundtrack by Antonio Vivaldi and his mates.  Office politics where I work isn’t nearly as exciting!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for people who can deal with the plot, the ‘explicit bits’ and the vibe.  So basically that’s the French I guess.  It’s no good for uptight Brits I’m afraid, there’s just too much to get outraged about.  (As a little side note, I deplore the use of generalisations in this way; 130 million people aren’t really going to fall into one of two groups, based on their nationality.  But hell, it’s a cheap, clichéd comment based on nothing but prejudice and media spin, so what does it matter?  When it comes down to it I’m as rubbish as the next guy.)

Top badass moment?   When Nathalie takes Sandrine back to her flat for the first time, they decide to open a bottle of wine.  Champagne of course.  If that happened in the UK it would be a bottle of Tesco own label plonk with a screw lid; or a few tins of lager.  It’s hard to argue that a touch of class isn’t badass.

Choses secrètes at IMDB (6.0/10)


The Secret: 3.5 Stars


The Secret  -  Front DVD Cover (USA)What if you got one more chance to say goodbye to your loved ones after you died? But what if the only way to do that was to inhabit your daughter’s body?  David Duchovny (“The X-Files” and “Californication”) and Lili Taylor (“The Haunting” and “Ransom”) are Benjamin and Hannah, happily married soul mates whose relationship is brutally severed when Hannah is killed in a car accident.  As she dies, a bizarre twist of fate propels Hannah inside the body of her beautiful teenage daughter, Sam (Olivia Thirlby, “Juno” and “United 93”).  Immersing herself in Sam’s world, Hannah discovers some shocking truths about her daughter’s secret life, while at home, she and her husband draw closer and closer to rekindling their romance….

2007  –  Certificate: R  –  France
Rating Details:  Language Including Some Sexual References and Drug and Alcohol Use Involving Teenagers

I spoke to two people yesterday, on the phone, for quite a long time.  This made me realise that I can’t actually speak properly anymore or string a sentence together at ‘speaking speed’.  I’ve not really had a proper conversation with anyone for weeks; well since before Christmas anyway.  I’ve had plenty of ‘shop chats’ (where you just say “thanks” or “cheers”),  a few other short ones on the phone, plus some on the Tube and in venues where it’s really noisy so you have to shout, but no ‘normal’ ones.  I forgot how to have a normal conversation years ago, but now I can’t even make up sentences up that work grammatically or make sense.  I imagine this might make me even more of a social outcast than I already am, another embarrassing faux pas I can add to a growing list.   Then again, it doesn’t seem to have stopped Professor Stephen Hawking being a genius, although I probably don’t have his insight into ‘how things work’.  I can’t see myself being asked to advertise an insurance comparison website anytime soon; or writing a book on how the universe came into being either.  This film features someone who suddenly finds himself unable to communicate with his wife in the way he’s been used to doing.

This is a decent fantasy thriller.  It’s based on a Japanese one called “Himitsu” that I watched years ago.  (I don’t suppose the fact I watched the latter influenced the decision to make this film.)  It would be quite interesting to Go Compare them side by side, (which for those that haven’t made the connection, relates to the “insurance comparison website” I mentioned earlier).  There’re a number of ‘body swap’ movies out there, but most of them are comedies; this one isn’t.  This could have been a great film, but somehow it just doesn’t quite make it.  The script pulls its punches a bit when it could have really landed a few know-out blows.  The characters don’t quite feel coherent enough to be totally believable; there were too many gaps in time between some scenes, which changed their relationship without us really seeing or knowing why.  This is a shame, as this really is the core of the whole film and at times is really played out well.  It could have explored the difficulties of the situation a lot more too, which would be helpful to anyone who ever found themselves in the same one for real; (okay, so not very likely I admit).  Some of the minor characters seem a bit caricaturish too; I was half expecting them all to go off to a remote location somewhere and get killed by a nutter with a big knife.  Olivia Thirlby’s acting as the daughter/mother is great though.  In a few scenes she switches between them and it’s really spookily convincing.  The car crash one works well too, as does the one in the hospital, very realistic and effective.  So, it underachieves a bit, but at its best it’s more than worth a watch.  As for the rating details, they sound like they could be applied to life in general.

Recommended for people who want to debate the “would if have been incest or not” issue; which doesn’t include me as apparently I can’t speak anymore.

No cats, no chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It’s not every day you have to deal with your dead wife being sort of reincarnated inside your daughter’s body.  That has to make things really complicated, not that it’s something I’ve ever had to deal with personally you understand.  Under the circumstances, I thought Benjamin took it all pretty well and dealt with it in a relatively thoughtful way.  Dealing with adversity well is badass.

The Secret at IMDB (6.2/10)


Betty Blue: 3.5 Stars


Betty Blue  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Listen up, this is important.  I believe the Earth is about to be invaded and taken over by an evil alien, whose sole purpose is to enslave the entire human race and laugh in a really, really annoying way at our suffering.  Proof?  For a start, this film.  The main male character in it is called Zorg.  Is Zorg a common name in France?  I doubt it.  This film is clearly a message from the future sent back into the past, to warn us of the impending doom to come.  No one really calls their son Zorg, do they?  I hope not, because it’s the sort of name only megalomaniacs in 50’s pulp sci-fi and B-movies should have.  Emperor Zorg; Zorg the Mighty; Lord Zorg, Ruler of the Flatulent Empire and 10,000 Worlds; that sort of thing.  We never get to meet Zorg’s parents in this film, but honestly, what were they thinking?  They must have been smoking something when they came up with that name.  Then this evening I had my shopping delivered by someone called Zoltan.  Again, another clear example of a Flash Gordon era baddie, who was obviously casing the joint and looking for weaknesses in the Earth’s defences.  You shouldn’t allow the fact that he came not in a gigantic spaceship, but in the “cabbage van” (so the text from Ocado said), to deflect your attention.  He even had a bit of an accent, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t of this Earth.  These aliens, clever people, that’s why they’re ‘here’ and we’re not ‘there’.

1986  –  Certificate: 18  –  France
Rating Details:  Strong scenes of sex and nudity and some strong violence

Clocking in at almost three hours (it was the Director’s Cut), this is a loooong, French, romantic movie that takes us on a trip with young couple Zorg and Betty.  From painting beach houses, through to working in a pizza restaurant, writing books and selling pianos, it chronicles their relationship and the effect Betty’s (undefined) mental illness has on it.  Having a friend with the latter, I found it intensely saddening at times.  But I also enjoyed it in a rather Thomas Hardyish way, in the sense that I knew the relationship was probably doomed from the start and I was just waiting for it to crash and burn.  Now having just compared it to a quintessentially English author, it’s actually a very French film.  There’re plenty of examples of tasteful love-making (because the French are supposed to be good at that), as well as lots of ‘unconcerned nudity’ in it, most of it of the male variety it has to be said.  It also had several somewhat bizarre and funny scenes of what you might consider to be almost slapstick comedy too.  The ending is somewhat inexplicable as well, which seems to happen a lot in French films.  Ultimately though, it’s a downer of a movie and after spending three hours with the characters, sharing virtually every aspect of their relationship with them, it’s hard not to be affected.  I really felt sorry for them both.  It’s a nice looking film too (and I’m not just talking about the main characters) and the mono soundtrack is actually pretty decent.

Recommended for those who are willing to invest an evening in lusting after Betty or Zorg.

1 cat, no decapitations or chainsaws. The cat, a lovely white one, appears in three scenes and has a pivotal role right at the end, including a bit of (dubbed) dialogue.

Top badass moment?  Betty throwing a bucket of pink paint all over Zorg’s boss’s car.  He was a serious asshole and quite frankly a load of paint on his car was the least he deserved. When you’re boyfriend’s being a wimp and not sticking up for himself, someone has to be badass about it.  And let’s face it, who hasn’t thought of doing something like that to a crappy manager at one time or another?

Betty Blue at IMDB (7.2/10)


The Last of the Crazy People: 3.0 Stars


The Last of the Crazy People  -  Front DVD CoverI went to the dentist yesterday.  The good news was that I didn’t need any treatment.  The bad news was that I need to have a wisdom tooth removed.  Having spoken to three people about this since, all of whom it turned out have had more than one of these teeth removed, I now realise that having my head amputated would be somewhat less painful and traumatic.  When a dentist has a look and goes “oooooh”, then you know her next line isn’t going to be good news.  My dentist’s helpful suggestion was that I should see one of her colleagues, as he’s better at extractions; and stronger.  I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not hurting me or bothering me in the least.  Who named them wisdom teeth anyway?  They’re clearly very stupid teeth!  Probably my earliest childhood memory is of having a tooth taken out at the dentist, screaming my head off in pain and my mum coming in and giving the dentist a piece of her mind; I recall she had him pinned up against the wall, which was very out of character for her!  To say having the opportunity to revisit this experience now I’m a grown-up is not top of my plans this summer, would be an understatement of galactic proportions.  I’m seriously considering giving up food entirely and just living on tepid, filtered, distilled water.  I’m sure I can probably do it myself anyway, with a pair of pliers or something.  I’m struggling to identify what the connection might be between this film and my impending operation, but I felt I needed to share the latter.

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  France
Rating Details:  Moderate Violence, Suicide Scene, Brief Nudity and Strong Language

The Last of the Crazy People is a French film, in French.  After quite a long run of other sorts of films, it was good to get back to one of my favourite sub-genera, the dysfunctional family.  In this case it lives on a farm in France, not that there’re actually any scenes of farming going on in it.  I’m not sure what to make of it really.  It’s very slow, it has no music in it whatsoever and there are quite long periods when not a lot seems to be happening.  The main character in it is a ten-year-old boy called Martin, who’s basically neglected and ignored by most of the other people in the film who are too busy with their own problems; most of what’s going on is seen from his prospective.  I feel watching it probably ought to have had more of an effect on me than it did, but somehow I didn’t really feel very sorry for any of the characters and the more shocking scenes felt a bit flat. (I probably watch too many Hollywood blockbusters with lots of noise and explosions in them to help me to understand what’s going on.)  The boy who plays the part of Martin, does manage to look suitably miserable for virtually the entire film and is really very convincing, which helps the quality of the movie greatly.  He also walks exactly like Bod.  (If you don’t know who Bod is I suggest you type “Bod” in to YouTube.)  A few years ago I went through a phase of trying to write film reviews on the Amazon web site, which included writing one about this movie.  I eventually realised that my irrelevant and childish ramblings didn’t fit well with the average, serious Amazon DVD buying person; my review for this one is presently being found “helpful” by 7 out of 14 people; or to put it another way, it’s being found unhelpful by 7 out of 14 people.

Recommended for pissed off ten-year-olds everywhere.  Not so good for people interested in studying modern developments in agricultural land management in France.

1 cat and no decapitations.  The cat, a big ginger and white one, had a speaking part and appeared in five scenes!  Sadly it’s last one involved it being run over and then put into a freezer.  It did look suspiciously like it had been drugged for this last one too, which didn’t impress me one bit.

Top badass moment? Any ten-year-old who singlehandedly takes on responsibility for sorting out his family’s problems, is badass personified.  So okay, his solution was a little unorthodox, but it probably worked.

The Last of the Crazy People on IMDB