Posts tagged “Paris

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

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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


The Dreamers / February


The Dreamers  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)There’s nothing between heaven and earth that’s quite as tantalizing as forbidden fruit…  From Academy Award-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci comes “a masterpiece” (The Telegraph).  Amid an explosive political landscape, three young film buffs are drawn together by their shared passion for movies… and for each other!  Left alone while their parents are on holiday, twins Isabelle and Theo (Eva Green, Louis Garrel) invite American exchange student Matthew (Michael Pitt – “Murder by Numbers”, “The Village”) to stay with them.  So begins an intense, erotic voyage of sexual discovery and desire in which nothing is off-limits and anything is possible!

2003  –  Certificate: 18  –  UK
Rating Details:  Strong sex
6 out of 10

I’m not a fan of February.  In fact it’s only good point is that it’s shorter than any other month.  It’s so screwed up it can’t even decide exactly how long it wants to be.  Who in their right mind trusts a unit of time that doesn’t know how long it is?  Imagine if seconds or years behaved in such a cavalier way?  If the Government was to stop wasting time deciding whether to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU and instead focused on something important, like a referendum to decide whether we should get rid of a month or two of the year, then I already know how I’m voting.  Most of the bad things that have happened in my life have happened in February; (or okay, if not actually in February then not far from it).  It’s a long way from Christmas but it’s still winter, which by February has always more than outlived it’s welcome.  (Not that I’d ever welcome it anyway, but like a crappy, Top 40 R&B pop song, it will just hang about and basically piss everyone off with its banality and generally annoying, ill-informed and unwelcome outlook).  I thought I knew everything bad there was to know about February, but this year it has plumbed new depths of aggravatingness.  Yesterday I found out that a meeting I was expecting to go to next Monday (25th) is actually on Monday 25th March, not February.  Normally lasting exactly four weeks, this evil, psychotic month deliberately targets and harasses busy, top executives (like myself) with its diary-bending weirdness.  Fortunately, in this case I manage to outsmart the little twerp; (and when was the last time you heard anyone use that word)?  Today I had to go to a meeting in Winchester.  I was there with quite a bit of time to spare, (thanks to the inconveniently timetabled trains).  You can probably work out what comes next.  So anyway, I’ve got to go to a meeting in Winchester next month, in exactly four weeks’ time…  This film is set in 1968, in the Spring, so not in February at all.  That’s one of its few good points.

What a load of outrageous twaddle this film is.  Even the ‘backwards credits’ at the end just screamed out pretentious.  It’s some nonsense about three, young students in Paris, at the time of the Protests.  I didn’t like any of them and I hated the whole vibe of the film.  Their stupid, hollow, ‘mummy and daddy will give us money when we need it’ baby-boomer, irresponsible and uninformed approach to everything, bugged the hell out of me.  They should have all gone down the French equivalent of the Job Centre so they could contribute something useful to society, not piss their good fortune up the wall in an orgy of self-centred hedonism and childish games.  Considering it’s people of their age that are mostly in positions of power now, this film explains quite a lot about the mess we’re in.  (Wow, what a great rant; I’ll be voting Conservative at this rate!)  In a technical sense the movie is actually very good and Eva Green is certainly easy on the eyes.  The fact that I disliked the main characters also suggests that it was doing its job.  I guess if you’re not too shocked by the outrageous behaviour of the three of them, it’s not a bad film.  But I despised them.  Even Theo’s ‘action hero’ scene with the petrol bomb didn’t impress me one bit.  It felt more like he was acting out a part in a film in his head than actually doing it for the right reasons.  So I’m afraid he scored “nul points” on the Anarchists’ Official Scorecard.  If ever a movie needed a chainsaw wielding psycho to sort things out, this was it.

The music used in the film works really well.  A clever mixture of late 60s garage, classical and theatre scores, by both original and more contemporary artists, sets the film up nicely and makes a big difference to the atmosphere, both in feel and historically.  I doubt there’re many movies that include music by both Jimi Hendrix and Edith Piaf.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for boring students that like to discuss ‘stuff’ a lot.  Not recommend for watching with your parents.

Top badass moment?  When the guy turns up 20 seconds after the start of the movie and blows away the three main characters with a Minigun.  Pretentious prats.  Sadly this doesn’t actually happen, not even in the uncut version, but it would sure have improved things.

The Dreamers at IMDB (7.1/10)


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)


Dans ma peau: 3.5 Stars


Dans Ma Peau  -  Front CoverFar be it for me to ever admit I have any sort of imperfections, but up until a few years ago I used to bite my nails.  Then one day I realised I’d more or less stopped doing it.  Weird isn’t it?  I’ve no idea what made me stop, but there you go.  One of life’s little mysteries.  This isn’t really a film about biting fingernails, which is probably a positive thing as I can’t imagine it would be very entertaining if it was.  It’s more about someone who’s ambitious at work, who over-stretches herself and as a result of an accident at a partly, starts to self-harm in increasingly extreme ways.  I really wanted to feel sorry for Esther, the main character in this movie.  After all, she clearly has some big issues she needs to deal with and I’m a nice, caring person; no, really I am.  Trouble is, she was basically a selfish bitch and I got the feeling she always had been.  Decent job, caring boyfriend, intelligent, but still managing to be a bitch to everyone, but in that sneaky way only the clever ones can be.  She also uses these same ‘skills’ to hide her new ‘hobby’ from those around her, or at least hide enough of what she does to give them an excuse not to do anything to help her, because that’s easier isn’t it?  I bet they felt pretty bad about it all after the film ended (if that makes any sense)?  Not that I liked any of them really, not my type at all.  Pretty boring, dull, unpleasant people the lot of them.

2002  –  Certificate: 18

Rating Details:  Frequent bloody images of self-mutilation

This is an interesting, intense, French horror.  It’s weird how a country that managed to invent a type of bread that’s so impractical it doesn’t actually fit into anyone’s shopping bag (stupid or what), also manages to produce some really great horrors.  Its self-harming scenes are genuinely unsettling; it’s the sound and the look on Esther’s face more than just simply the gory bits.  It has very good effects and it has to be said the acting is excellent too.  I was glad I hadn’t eaten before watching it.  The scene with the arm during the meal in the restaurant is a bit surreal though and sort of doesn’t quite fit in with the tone of the rest of the film.

No cats and no decapitations.

Recommended for people into slow, intense, quiet horror, with a high “eew factor”.  Not recommended for people who get grossed out during first aid training courses.

Top badass moment?  In the words of the Smiths, “I tried but I failed”.  There’re no characters in this movie with enough redeeming qualities to qualify them as badass.  They weren’t exactly bad, but none had that self-sacrificing ‘hero quality’ that I was looking for. Move along now, nothing to see here; just a lot of flawed humans.

Dans ma peau at IMDB