guy-bellinger

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Reviews

Derniers jours à Shibati
(2017)

Foray into a threatened neighborhood
Hendrick Dussollier investigates. If there's one thing he dislikes, it's the dismantling of a city's old neighborhoods and what usually goes with it, namely the eradication of a unique environment, the erasure of a whole community's history. The director does have a mind of his own : didn't "Obras", his extraordinary first film, already deal with the same subject (the destruction of an old district in Barcelona) ?

What is original (and destabilizing) in this particular documentary is that despite his benevolence, the director, who is also the camera operator, is not welcome in Shibati, a miserable inner city of the sprawling city of Chongqing. Its inhabitants only see the foreigner, in other words someone suspect, in him. Moreover, although the victims of an unequal society, they are afraid that the intruder (even more so since he films them), will spread a bad image of themselves.

Luckily (both for the director and for us spectators) three of the inhabitants refuse to abide by that unwritten law: a picturesque hairdresser, a little boy who knows the labyrinth of streets like the back of his hand, and a very original old lady who collects and exhibits discarded objects and exhibits. Thanks to these three "accomplices", Dussollier finally manages to penetrate into the threatened territory and to reveal a few of the singularities of the district. . The result is an atypical film, totally unpredictable. We may remain perplexed at times but we are interested, amused or touched throughout. Very unusual and, for this reason, a must-see.

9 jours à Raqqa
(2020)

Nine days that matter.
We all know the names of dictators, invaders and other oppressors but it is much less the case - what an injustice! - for the names of the heroes and heroines who fought and are still fighting today against terrible adversity to bring about a better world. Thus, the name of Bashar El-Assad, cynical executioner of the Syrian people, immediately comes to mind, while the name of Leila Mustapha, the heroine of Xavier de Lauzanne's documentary « 9 Days in Raqqa », does not mean anything to most of us, including myself. And yet here is a most admirable person: she is not only a charming friendly young woman (aged 32 at the time of filming in late 2019) but also the deputy mayor of Raqqa, a doubly martyred city for first having been the capital of the Daech khalfat from 2014 to 2017 (with all the exactions that implies) and then savagely bombed (destroyed to 82%) by the Liberation Forces of the city. A woman, holding such important positions so early? Being single? And Kurdish? And Muslim? And not veiled? And a lover of freedom and democracy? All this in El-Assad's Syria? Incredible assuredly but true.

Such an exceptional woman (though of an astounding simplicity) well deserved an in-depth portrait. It is now done thanks to the director Xavier de Lauzanne, an excellent documentary filmmaker (remember the luminous « Little Gems ») and Marine de Tilly, a great reporter and writer, who agreed to interview Leila in front of his cameras during nine days in December 2019. The result is 90 minutes in every way exciting, which, in addition to the endearing personality of the mayor, informs us about the three years's time of the Daech dictatorship, the savage fighting of the Kurdish-American forces to dislodge them and the least known, the period 2017-2019, which documents the immeasurable task of the reconstruction, the restoration of democracy, political and cultural life, the emancipation of women. Focusing all her forces to fulfill this formidable mission, Leïla Mustapha works hard, sleeps little and is careful to protect herself (and her parents) from possible attacks (two of her collaborators were recently assassinated). All the more so since the task, immense in itself, is complicated by the withdrawal of American troops decided by Donald Trump. One can only admire the energy and the uncommon idealism of Leila who should become, in all logic after this film, a legendary figure. She who resists with a smile (and repressed fear) to forces much bigger than her. Thank you to Xavier de Lauzanne for having made us discover her, in spite of all the vicissitudes that have stood in his way. The same gratitude goes to Marine de Tilly, who knows how to put Leila in the spotlight through her questions without putting herself too much in the foreground. These 90 fascinating minutes are accompanied, which does not spoil anything, by an inspired score by Ibrahim Maalouf, at once tender, serious and melancholic. It goes straight to the heart ; maybe because, coming from Lebanon, the composer really knows about ruins.

Circle Line
(2012)

Journey in the head of a troubled man
Directed by South Korean filmmaker Su-won Shin, "Circle Line" is a remarkable short film, in the sense that it manages to harmoniously mix genres as disparate as social commentary (the inhumanity of the working world), psychological study (the impact of unemployment on the psyche of an executive invested in his work) and pure fantasy (the obsessions of the hero, Sang-woo).

The starting point of "Circle Line" is the dismissal of a 40-year-old executive. Unemployed for some time, he has not dared talk about it to his wife and his teenage daughter. Like others before him, he has been playing the comedy of work, pretending to go to the office in the morning and to return late at night. The truth is that the dejected man, deprived of one of his reasons for living and humiliated by the fact that he will soon no longer be able to guarantee his family's daily comfort, spends his time in the Seoul subway, going in circles from train to train on the aptly named Circle Line.

If the film were reduced to this, it would already be interesting, but it is even more interesting when we know that Sang-woo's wife, who is nine months pregnant, is about to give birth. One more mouth to feed is a problem, not to say a torment, and, in his daze, all the husband has to say to his wife the morning she tells him her water is about to break is that the baby shouldn't be born now, that it had better wait.

From then on, Sang-woo's questless subway odyssey becomes a very destabilizing guilt trip. Not only will he not be able to ensure a good life for this baby, but he bitterly reproaches himself (without being able to do otherwise) for letting his wife down on the probable day of her delivery. Soon the irrational interferes in his perception of things: he sees pregnant women everywhere, his wife is suddenly lying on the bench face to him. He is also obsessed with his office, where during a visit to return his badge, he is greeted with indifference by his ex-colleagues. In his confusion, he soon sees himself playing rock-paper-scissors with his replacement... on the edge of a station platform, at the risk of falling on the tracks and ending up crushed. He also has problems with a young beggar girl who asks for a handout to feed her baby. Crossing paths with her several times in harrowing scenes, whether real or fantasized, he finds himself confronted with the very embodiment of the anxieties he is going through.

Rarely has the distress of a man who has suddenly lost his bearings been shown with such intensity. And also with such subtlety and such an economy of means. No shocking scenes, everything is suggested, leaving the spectator to deduce the reality of things from the clues that she sows throughout his journey to nowhere. She does not explain anything, letting the spectator deduce the reality of things, which is different from the one perceived by the main character. The fact that almost all the action takes place underground (the few escapes to the outside actually only serve to reinforce Sang-woo's trouble) really makes sense, suggesting the poor man's inward-looking attitude. Sang-woo is indeed locked in because of his sterile denial: the solution to his problems can no more come out of his head than the fetus from his wife's swollen belly).

Cold colors, In-gi Jeong, an actor perfectly expressing Sang-woo's moral and mental disorders and inspired editing plunge the viewer into a bizarre feeling, at the same time pitying and condemning the hero . This is assuredly not a feel-good movie but in a way it does give you good vibrations, not generated by the story itself naturally but by the ability of the filmmaker, a brilliant creator, to talk to us finely about serious things, from adult to adult, from accomplished artist to demanding spectator.

La pièce rapportée
(2020)

Bites end laughs
A singular mix of social criticism (the ultra rich take their toll) and slapstick comedy, even "nonsense" : a 48 year old mama's boy (singer Philippe Katerine - with a toupee) falls in love with a charming subway ticket collector (just before the station's ticket office closes in favor of a magnificent automaton). The young lady is charming (of course, it's the graceful Anaïs Demoustier who lends her plasticity to Ava) but poor, a mortal sin in the eyes of the "Queen Mother" (the monstrous Josiane Balasko). However, her son's pickle is not too clever and the future Château-Têtard (that's the name of that nice family) is late in coming. The young Ava gets bored, escapes from the frozen interior of the mansion where she now lives and what was supposed to happen happens, she falls into the arms of a young bearded man, more in line with her age and her appetites. Her shrew of a mother-in-law (in open war against the one she elegantly calls "little whore") has suspicions and complications accumulate (especially following the unusual aggression of our two lovers by a wild couple of pro-Brexit Englishmen).

The laughs are uneven, there are a few dull moments and some redundancies but the whole remains entertaining while offering a criticism of the ultra-rich certainly caricatured (is not the caricature however an art in itself, eh, Honoré Daumier?) but relevant. The Château-Têtard family is rich because they were "wise enough" to sell their products "legally" and to the "right people" (the Nazis, Pinochet). A nice illustration of the saying, money has no smell).

Not the ultimate masterpiece, but Antonin Peretjatko's biting comedy is a worthwhile entertainment for those who like the genre.

Le rideau rouge
(1952)

A film that successfully conveys the authors' love for theatre but fails to fascinate.
The theme of theater and life coming together is not revolutionary, nor is that of Shakespeare influencing the lives of the protagonists ("A Double Life" by Cukor, André Cayatte's "The Lovers of Verona") but it could not but appeal to such theater enthusiasts as André Barsacq (the great figure of the Théâtre de l'Atelier, successor to Charles Dullin) and his friend Jean Anouilh (the famous playwright). "Crimson Curtain", the product of their collaboration (Barsacq co-wrote and directed, Anouilh was co-writer), while being a true detective movie is above all their common declaration of love for the means of expression they have dedicated their whole life to. Unfortunately, if love for theater is conspicuous in "Crimson Curtain", their film as a whole is nothing but a mixed bag.

Among the good points is the way the two authors pass on their love to the spectators: as theirs is a crime story, they deftly make their spokespersons two police detectives who while investigating, discover the world of theater, totally unknown to them. First merely astonished, they prove more and more captivated by the play, by the story it tells, by the suspense it generates, by the actors, by the wings and its workers, and finally by Shakespeare himself. Jean Brochard and Olivier Hussenot, who embody them, while working seriously at solving a murder story, marvel like kids unwrapping their presents at Christmas.

There are also a few good sequences involving the living performance of "Macbeth", especially the scenes of the confrontation of Macbeth with the ghost of Banquo paralleling that of Ludovic, the actor who plays the role, with the lookalike of the man he and his Lady Macbeth have just murdered.

On the minus side, André Barsacq fails in conveying an important aspect of the story, the poisonous interdependence between husband, wife and lover: first because there are no expository scenes to put us in the mood before the action begins, second on account of Monelle Valentin (Anouilh's life companion)'s unprepossessing looks and bland acting, which prohibits any sensation of fascination.

On the whole, besides, the performances are uneven. Beginning with Michel Simon who has a double rôle but only... half convinces: excellent as the obnoxious actor-director of the drama company, he is less convincing as his understudy: it is not his fault, simply, his double looks too much like him even if his voice has been changed. As for Pierre Brasseur, he is curiously self-conscious, except when he plays Macbeth on the stage and becomes his impetuous self again. I'll say nothing more about Monelle Valentin, the black spot of the story. In contrast, one will take unmixed pleasure in the acting of Olivier Hussenot, as a police inspector who discovers the magic of the theater with a childish joy, of Jean Brochard, very natural as a chief inspector with popular wisdom, and of his regular opposite, Noël Roquevert as a vindictive ham.

In the end, the film can be watched without displeasure but with the feeling that Anouilh and especially Barsacq have missed the great film that "Crimson Curtain" could have been.

Louloute
(2020)

Neglected gem.
With a great truth, "Louloute" takes you into its universe from the first minutes of the screening. The opening is not at all obvious though : the film is supposed to be about a little girl living on a farm in Normandy in the 1980s and what do we see? Teenage boys playing soccer on a lawn and a young woman asleep in the grass. The rain starts to fall and she suddenly wakes up, gets up and runs towards a building that turns out to be a high school. Don't panic, you're in the right room!, This young woman is indeed Louloute, or rather Louise, who, two decades later has become a history-geography teacher. The young woman is not feeling too good at the moment and often arrives late, as is the case here. What is her problem? You will understand the nature of her troubles later, through sequences that are either contemporary (with Dimitri, the new English teacher, her childhood friend) or set in 1988 (on the family farm, with her parents, older brother and younger sister). Louise is in fact the victim of an unresolved childhood trauma, a trauma, which will be revealed in the last part of the film.

As I said in the beginning, the film rings true from one end to the other, whether in the scenes in the 2020 high school (the premises, the teachers' lounge, the colleagues, the vice principal giving Louise a piece of mind, the classroom, the students' conduct) or in that of the 1980s (the authentic Normandy farm setting, the behavior of the three children, the daily life of a dairy farmer, discussions about the problems of small milk producers, etc).

This fine feeling of veracity is also found in the characters, starting with Louloute, an endearing hypersensitive little girl with too much intelligence not to perceive the problems her parents go through. In the role, Alice Henri reveals herself as an exceptional actress: carrying most of the film on her shoulder is a real exploit for someone so young - which she does - with honors! All the other members of the family are as well depicted and interpreted: each character has their own personality, especially Isabelle, the loving mother who is not made for misfortune (luminous Laure Calamy) and Jean-Jacques, the father, whose worries sometimes make the caring dad somewhat aggressive (Bruno Clairefond, who seems to have raised cows all his life).

Finally, let us note that Viel, not content with excelling in sociology, psychology, and narrative art (in particular his talent for moving from one era to another), also successfully ventures down the path of the unusual and the dreamlike. Two sequences in particular stand out: the liberation of a hen in a huge intensive breeding shed and Louise's nightmare, one of the most terrifying I've seen in a long time.

Unfortunately « Louloute »'s great richness, its magnificent humanity and its consummate art of storytelling remain uncelebrated, as it was shunned at its release. It is unfair, but it happens. But it is not too late: watch it on DVD, Blu-ray, streaming, TV, whatever, but watch it. It is a little masterpiece.

A Primeira Morte de Joana
(2021)

A sensitive intimate portrait.
Death of a loved one upsetting a teenager, denunciation of machismo and retarded morals in Brazil (at least by 2007, when the action takes place), slow realization of her homosexuality by Joana, the young protagonist of the story, it's a lot for one film. A question therefore arises: won't the writer-director bite off more than she can chew, as the saying goes? On the other hand, will she be able to avoid the two major pitfalls that threaten an effort of the kind, being over-demonstrative in terms of ideas or over-indulgent in terms of sex scenes, or both? Fortunately, as of the first minutes, we feel it for sure: it will be nothing of the sort.

Of course, gravity and tension reign, drama and threat loom in 'The First Death of Joana' (Cristiane Oliveira's second feature after 'Mulher do Pai' in 2016), but the author opts for a chronicle, not a tragedy. As a result, the story, told is an intimate one told day by day, is one in which darkness is aptly counterbalanced with lightness, crudeness with poetry and tenderness. And it works all the better because Oliveira has a deep sense of psychology, which helps us connect with the main character. Her fine description of Joana's personality, moods and emotional journey really make this young girl endearing. Gradually discovering Joana to be sensitive, quick-witted and combative raises our interest in her evolution from the stage of late childhood (which ends at the death of her beloved aunt) to that of nascent maturity (when she discovers her sexual orientation).

In the end, we leave the film moved and enchanted. Which means the director has made the right choices: capturing the characters in their authenticity (they all ring true, from Joana - Laeticia Kacperski - and her best friend Carolina - Isabela Bressane - to the adults, to the grandmother); placing them in a well-defined context (Rio do Sul, in the South of Brazil, its omnipresent nature, a big lake, a vast wind farm) ; advancing the story with light touches, infusing the seriousness of her subject rather than asserting it schematically, dogmatically or complacently. We feel before we understand: this is great impressionist art.

Also noteworthy is the use of the Scope format, which has often been said to be perfect for large spaces and gigantic sets but inappropriate for capturing intimacy. This film proves the contrary.: the 2.35 ratio can very well enhance the wide open spaces of... the human soul.

With this delicate film, Cristiane Oliveira falls within the category of sensitive and humanistic filmmakers and could one day join Renoir, Truffaut, Ozu, Kiarostami or Satyajit Ray in their pantheon. An artist to follow in any case.

Adieu Paris
(2013)

Better than the first few minutes of runtime can make you fear.
The beginning is somewhat alarming: it looks as though we are in for just another boring sentimental movie. What a trite photonovel situation indeed: on an airplane, a thirty some German woman is traveling to Paris where she is to meet her married lover. Flying on the same plane is another traveler (a handsome man of course). The said fellow has helped the lady get out of an awkward situation at the airport just before takeoff and though their first contact has been nothing short of uneasy, you can be sure of one thing, they will meet again and eventually fall in love. Along with time we learn more about the characters, already or not yet present: Patrizia Munz is a novelist, her lover an architect, the lover's wife a dentist and her savior, Frank Bendssen, a banker about to land a big deal in France. Well, if not a photonovel, "Adieu Paris" might well be one of those too oft-seen tedious bourgeois dramas. Sigh!

Wrong impression so pleasant surprise. Martin Rathaus' screenplay gradually acquires real depth: Jean-Jacques, Patrizia's French lover, has just had a serious accident and lies in hospital between life and death. The mistress is led to meet Jean-Jacques' wife and an ambiguous relationship develops between them. From then on, the narrative takes unexpected paths, and we find ourselves light years away from the worn-out story, seen a thousand times and more, which was threatening us poor spectators.

As a matter of fact, "Adieu Paris", well acted and competently directed (by Franziska Buch, gradually asserts itself as a beautiful meditation on life and death, safe from Bergman-like hysteria but imbued with real gravity, occasionally corrected by welcome touches of lightness. One exception to this delicate balance, the main character's propensity to indulge in navel-gazing, to feel sorry for herself with exaggerated complacency. But that is only a slight defect, it does not prevent the film from being absorbing on the whole.

All in all, "Adieu Paris" is not for those who think that a movie is pure entertainment and nothing else. But it will please those who do not refrain from thinking. Life, death, how make the most of the one life we are entitled to are the real issues addressed by this German film. A little reflection from time to time can't hurt.

Mémoires. Le temps qui passe: 1920-1960
(1996)

The Way they were
Using amateur films shot between 1920 and 1960, Jean Baronnet takes us on a fascinating journey through the depths of France, which we see evolving in black and white (and sometimes in color) - in terms of clothing, morals, entertainment, etc. Intelligently, the director chooses chronological order as the main thread, but also frequent flashbacks, which allow us to take stock of what we have just seen, avoiding that one image chases the other.

The tone adopted is rather good-natured, a little nostalgic, gently humorous. Baronnet makes only rare allusions to the tragedies that the country went through, notably the Second World War, during which the daily life of the French was disrupted. This is simply not the object of this simple chronicle of a nation's daily life We are shown people like everyone else, with few famous figures (one exception, Saint-Exupéry who gets off his plane in 1938): there are many scenes of family life, vacations, local festivals, etc. Four decades of daily life, unchanging in its rituals but always changing, unfold before our alternately amused and moved eyes.

If I had to select one sequence from this documentary, it would be the extraordinary crossing of Paris filmed in 1924 from a car: the driving license had only existed for two years and traffic lights were not yet in use. There were few cars but that did not prevent the traffic from being totally random, with everyone doing as they pleased. Poor passers-by (there were no pedestrian crossings either) having to jump between the vehicles at their own risk!

The film. A mix of interesting information, warm nostalgia and constant smiles, is to be recommended. One is not bored for a minute.

Médecin de nuit
(2020)

A brilliant contemporary film noir.
"Médecin de nuit" (The Night Doctor), co-written and directed by Elie Wajeman ("Aliyah", "The Anarchists"), filmed in Paris at the turn of 2019 and 2020, checks all the boxes of the film noir genre: a city at night, individuals at the margins of society, either by choice or left behind by the system (drug addicts, thugs and other traffickers, homeless or destitute underdogs), violence erupting at regular intervals, a hero (Mickaël, the night doctor of the title) somewhat in trouble with the law struggling against forces beyond him, including a (could-be) femme fatale (Sofia, Mickaël's ambiguous mistress) and a seductive but devious villain.

Naturally, gathering all the ingredients of a recipe does not mean that the dish will be successful, one has to accommodate them the right way. Judging by the result, Elie Wajeman has proved up to the task. The cook sure did not spoil the broth!

First things first, for Wajeman, just like Richard Bohringer, "A City is Beautiful at Night", an aesthetic taste that he manages (with the competent assistance of cinematographer David Chizallet) to translate on the wide screen, the cold ugliness of the areas the doctor drives through being advantageously replaced by the warm glow of all kinds of lights, fixed or changing (red lights, neon signs, lit windows, etc.) Secondly, as a writer (Wajeman started writing the script with Agnès Feuvre but completed it alone), the director shows an aptitude (required for this kind of film) to spare his effects, to play with the unexpected, to sustain the interest until the denouement: tension, threats and twists duly pervade the plot. Moreover, by compressing the action into a period of less than 24 hours and a running time of 82 minutes, Wajeman further enhances the dramatic potential of his story, constantly varying according to the moments from anecdotal, daily or amused to dramatic, even tragic, through a whole range of intermediate tonalities For his part, he actor Vincent Macaigne is not for nothing in this success: his unfailing investment in his character added to his natural talent give a flawless consistency to the whole thing. It is impressive to see him change without apparent transition from "holy man" to "thick brute", from worn out man to consoler of those who suffer.

Last but not least, as in the best films noirs, the author is not content to illustrate the crime plot, he places it in the richer framework of psychological study, sociological observation and documentary, Thus we will witness the marital crisis that pits Mickaël and his wife Sacha against each other.

Thus we will discover what is hidden inside these impersonal buildings housing modest beings in modest districts.

Thus we will see how a night doctor works (the consultation scenes seem to come out of reality as if filmed by a hidden camera.) At the time of the final sequence, of great dramatic power, you will be completely shaken. "The Night Doctor" will not disappear instantly from your memory.

Rosita
(2000)

Unpretentious homage to the slapstick comedies of yore. Some good laughs.
Dating back to 1997, the short film « Rosita », is one of the first comedies made by the duo Abel and Gordon. Featuring a fortune-teller and her assistant Raoul, it was quite relevantly shot on a fun fair ground ( The Foire du Midi in Brussels).

Well, despite this authentic element, this is not really a masterpiece. The duo's major comedies are still to come. Fiona Gordon is not yet this offbeat Englishwoman, half-minger half-fairy while Dominique Abel, although already maladjusted to the world around him, does not yet exude the sympathy that will make his character so endearing in their further efforts. Thematically speaking, there is at least one interesting feature, namely the indelible bond that unites the two losers whatever happens (and God knows how much fate is against them), a constant in their works to come. The scenario here is basic (we are still far from the elaborate universes of "The Iceberg", "Rumba" or "Lost in Paris"). It barely reports the misadventures of a doomed couple, Rosita, a clumsy clairvoyant and her even clumsier assistant. By joining forces (or rather by joining weaknesses), they are sure to fail. And they do ! The pair hopelessly (and hilariously) misses all their effects and the customers flee !

That's about all there is to it but we do laugh. After all, many of the first slapstick comedies were not more complex in terms of the scenario either but still work fine today.

So do not expect more than just a good glassful of unpretentious laughter, which is actually not that bad.

Visages du littoral: La Manche
(2012)

Passable. Not unpleasant bot too superficial
"Visages du littoral ; la Manche " is one of that (too numerous) kind of documentaries one watches without displeasure but that hardly leaves any trace in our memories.

To make us travel along the French coasts from the Belgian border to the confines of Normandy is naturally of interest. Amazing indeed is the number of natural and architectural beauties we are invited to fly over: the Opal Coast, the Bay of the Somme, the old town of Dieppe and its castle, the Mont-Saint-Michel - and these are only a few examples. But that is precisely where the shoe pinches: we are given to see zillions of sights, each one more beautiful than the other, far too many actually for a 52-minute screening time. Moreover, they are almost exclusively shown from the sky, so with a great distance, leaving in the shade the human beings who populate these places. Well, for sure, the director « overviews » the subject in both senses of the term.

Moreover, when Gilles Kebaïli, the director, decides to bring us closer to the inhabitants, he resorts either to archival footage (we are interested in the words of the philosopher Michel Onfray or Gérard Fusberti, Jacques Prévert's friend but they are taken from previous sources). And when he does not do that, he is content to film parachute jumpers, golfers and other sportsmen: aren't there people who put their region in a better light than all these fellows, who are certainly nice but who are only entertaining themselves, which all amounts, cinematographically speaking, to padding out.

If you are well-disposed, you can still get a minimum of pleasure out of this superficial travelogue and its images, assuredly beautiful but frustratingly fugitive.

Tout est normal mon coeur scintille
(2014)

Odd one-man show, at once brilliant, poetic, hilarious and disturbing.
"Tout est normal mon coeur scintille" is a fantastic journey into the troubled mind of a man who loved his girlfriend more than anything else and who can't get over her departure. She doesn't love him anymore, why? Well it's a fact, it can't be explained. But no explanation means no solace and the poor fellow finds it hard to survive, feeling as if he were amputated of half of himself. To express this terrible disarray, Gamblin denies himself nothing: neither humor, nor absurdity, nor onirism, nor dance, nor acrobatics, nor back projections, nor song hits ("Believe In Us" by Jay Jay Johanson). The result is a very personal one-Man show that has few equivalents, if any.

Fully invested in his character, disoriented but not without self-derision, Jacques Gamblin carries the whole show on his shoulders, with the added support of two dancers, one male one female, helping to express through their movements the character's emotional lack when his words are not enough. A multi-talented artist, he gives a breathtaking performance.

His February 2013 show (given at the Théâtre du rond-Point) has fortunately been recorded by Vincent Bataillon. A good deed indeed, for now a DVD exists and the play will not only exists in the memories of those who saw it at the theatre. This skillfully made recording is a real must-see for viewers in search of authenticity and originality. If you are in this case, please don't miss it.

Monsieur le maire
(1947)

Alsatian oddity
An overplayed, heavy-handed comedy with a hackneyed subject, "D'r Herr Maire" would not be of any interest if it were not the first talking film in the Alsatian language. Adapted from a successful play by Gustave Stoskopf from 1898, and performed by local actors, the film really only speaks to pure Alsatians. Non-Alsatians will appreciate it even less knowing that the subtitles are very incomplete, the French version leaving half of the dialogues in the dark. The historian may eventually be interested in this cinematographic UFO: shot in 1939 by Jacques Séverac (not from Alsace at all but from Normandy and a specialist of...Morocco!), "D'r Herr Maire" shows views of an Alsatian village near Strasbourg at it was shortly before World War II. Likewise, the film documents the costumes and headdresses still worn by its inhabitants. The ethnographer will be less convinced insofar as the customs of the local people are portrayed in a very superficial and conventional way.

To be reserved for the amateurs of curiosities, the others will pass their way.

Geu-hu
(2017)

Pure Style + Joyful skepticism = The Day After
Areum has just been hired by the publisher Kim Bongwan. She replaces the boss's resigning secretary (and mistress!). This morning, well before dawn, Areum leaves the marital home to join her new office. On the way, she can't stop thinking about the woman who left. On the spot, she sets to work. At the same time, Haejoo, Kim's wife, finds a love letter that he had left lying around in one of his pockets. Exploding with rage, she goes to the office. Taking Areum for the accomplice of her unfaithful husband, she slaps her in the face...

One likes or dislikes Sang-soo Hong as one likes or dislikes Eric Rohmer. But if one is sensitive to the charm of a "conversation piece" type of cinema, one will appreciate this philosophical fable, delicately hidden under the attractive trappings of a pure marivaudage. Ironic evocation of the indecision in love, serious reflection on honesty and hypocrisy, unvarnished denunciation of male cowardice, many themes of the Korean director are gathered here. But Sang-soo Hong, closer to Marivaux than Bossuet, approaches these austere subjects with a lightness that is both caustic and good-natured. And it is well-known that smiles help moral and reflection go down. As for the direction itself, "The Day After" bears the indelible signature of its author, namely these long sequence shots where the protagonists talk and talk, laugh and laugh and drink soju by hectoliters. Such a technique gives once again Hong's favorite actors the opportunity to shine (the beautiful Kim Min-Hee and the cowardly Hae-hyo Kwon here getting the best part of the cake). However, there is no question of the Korean master resting on his laurels; on his agenda is also the exploration of new territories, such as the use of black and white as well as some interesting research on the dilation and retraction of time. "The Day After", an unprecedented example of pure style and joyful skepticism, is to be recommended ... to those who are not allergic to this kind of cinema.

The Theory of Everything
(2014)

Two against the odds
A filmed biography of Stephen Hawking was inevitable. A genius of cosmology and quantum gravity, he was one of the rare scientists to have acquired great public notoriety. Knowing moreover with which valor this exceptional being, supported by his loving wife, resisted the ravages of Lou Gehrig's disease, the novelistic side was guaranteed. It resulted in James Marsh's « The Theory of Everything", not an exceedingly original work but quite a satisfying one for all that. It certainly deals only superficially with hard sciences, but could it be otherwise in a work intended for the general public? Inspired by Jane Hawking's book, the screenwriter Anthony McCracken has chosen - and rightly so - the only possible angle, that of the personal story of Stephen and Jane, closely united as they were in their struggle against an adverse fate. Thus considered, this "The Theory of Everything" proves to be as edifying as touching, thanks in particular to its two actors, Eddie Redmayne, amazing in his evocation of the physical deterioration of his character, and Felicity Jones, knowing how to ally the energy of the fighter to the expression of the unconditional love. Overall, not too much pathos, and even some humor. With such a potentially lachrymal subject, the finished product could have been worse, much worse.

Gauguin - Voyage de Tahiti
(2017)

Cassell and Tahiti are ok but...
Paul Gauguin has had enough of married life, of France and of misery. In the hope of a healthier and more authentic life, the painter moves to Polynesia. An opportunity for him to develop his style and become an artist with an inimitable touch. There, he also falls in love with the beautiful Tehura. The earthly paradise seems within reach...

On the plus side, a very decent reconstruction of the period, beautiful views of Tahiti and Vincent Cassel's rough but intense interpretation. On the other hand, the watering down of the subject is pretty hard to swallow. The girls (not the girl) with whom Gauguin slept were under the minimum age allowed by the law (which is not the case of the pretty actress Tuhei Adams, eighteen at the the time of filming); as for the disease that struck the artist, it was syphilis, not diabetes. It is not by embellishing things that one captures the truth of a human being.

L'orchestre de minuit
(2015)

Interesting little examined subject unfortunately marred by deplorable direction.
Michaël Bitbol left his native Morocco long ago. Thirty years later he returns at the request of his father, who has become a virtual stranger to him. In any case, he has no memory of the glorious time when Marcel was a famous Andalusian musician and director of the Orchestre de Minuit. Unfortunately, the reunion is short-lived: Marcel dies suddenly. Michaël then undertakes to repatriate his body. It is on this occasion that he meets Ali, a cab driver and absolute fan of his father. Ali introduces him to several members of the Orchestre de Minuit.

A serious and little examined subject (the forced departure of the Jewish community from Morocco following the Yom Kippur war), this is what predisposes in favor of this film. Unfortunately, the direction is not up to the task, to say the least. Jérôme Cohen-Olivar, whose sincerity is not in doubt, even succeeds in checking off all the wrong boxes: a messy production, extremely naive flashbacks, a whining self-pitying tone, clumsy and repetitive humor, heavy-handed acting (with the exception of Gad Elmaleh), the worst being Aziz Dades, who horribly overplays. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, it cannot be repeated often enough.

My Cousin Rachel
(2017)

Dark romanticism but a bit washed-out.
Philip Ashley, a Cornish landowner, learns of the mysterious death of his cousin Ambrose in Italy, which occurred shortly after his secret marriage to Rachel, a young and beautiful widow. What really happened? Philip wants to know. One day, the new cousin conveniently arrives at Philip's house. At first suspicious, the young man falls passionately in love with Rachel.

A fairly good adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel. There is fine image composition, attractive colors (especially in the candlelit scenes), good actors (Rachel Weisz, an attractive black widow; Sam Claflin, a touching big baby in love) but it lacks the spark that would set this too mild story on fire. One may prefer the previous version signed by Henry Koster, with a more bewitching dark

Mr & Mme Adelman
(2017)

Scenes from a married life - Franch champagne socialist version.
A series of sketches of married life over four decades, starting in 1971 when Sarah, a doctoral student in classics, met the writer Victor Adelman. Sex, happiness, children, cowardice, binge drinking, deception, betrayal, secrets, fights, separation, return home, divorce - the life of Mr. & Mrs. Adelman as a couple has not been a smooth one.

Choosing to tell four decades of the life of a man and a woman, how ambitious for a first film! It sure was a risky move for Nicolas Bedos. But from the very first minutes of the film, you realize that the challenge will be met. The fledgling director has indeed the gift to reconstitute with accuracy the times gone through while proving able to make his characters age with naturalness. He also succeeds, with the complicity of his companion Dora Tillier, in making endearing a rather failed love story, ravaged by the exacerbated cynicism of Victor, a champagne socialist. Perhaps because everything is seen through the eyes of Sarah, clearly less neurotic than her companion. Written in an energetic language, in which all the words bite home, "Mr. & Mrs. Adelman" shakes the spectator, pushes him in his tracks, while arousing in him a certain melancholy, born from witnessing the failure of a couple that had everything to succeed, both physically and intellectually. If the fiction couple works only intermittently, it is not the case of the duo Nicolas Bedos & Dora Tillier, whose alchemy is perfect. A good point also to Pierre Arditi as an upper-class jerk: the way he throws his lines in the scene of the meal is great art.

Le divan de Staline
(2016)

Mind games - in Stalin's style
Stalin comes to rest for three days in a castle in the middle of the forest. He is accompanied by Lidia, his long-time mistress. In the office there is a couch of the same kind as Freud's in London. Stalin proposes to Lidia to play the psychoanalysis game at night. During the day, the young artist Danilov, waiting to be received by the dictator to present him the project of a monument he has designed to his eternal glory. A troubled, dangerous and perverse relationship develops between the three. The challenge is to survive fear and betrayal.

Three years before his death, Comrade Stalin is no longer in very good health. His doctors recommend that he rest. He then moves to a rococo castle in Georgia and what does he decide to do there in order to regain his strength? Well, to play a very "entertaining" game: he will pretend to be a patient of Freud's while his mistress Lidia, a notebook in her hand, will play Sigmund! She will have to hear him reciting the dreams that haunt him (which include his mother, Lenin and his suicidal wife) and to interpret them... in the way that suits her terrifying lover. Soon, the entry into the fray of a young artist (who is not without carnal link with Lidia), will transform the perverse duo into an even more nightmarish trio. Fanny Ardant, now behind the camera for the third time, creates with great efficiency a heavy atmosphere, often nocturnal, misty, ghostly. Everything is slippery, uncertain, unpredictable, threatening... just like the Little Father of the Peoples. Depardieu powerfully composes the one who, not content with tyrannizing his people, can't help but do it with his entourage. He is well supported by Emmanuelle Seigner, whose face expresses a mixture of disillusionment, fear and cunning; to complete the picture. Pierre Hany is up to the task, making credible his character of a young artist ready to compromise himself in the official art.

Pupille
(2018)

Luminous
Théo, a baby born anonymously, is given up for adoption the day of his birth. The biological mother has two months to reconsider her decision... or not. In the meantime, the child welfare and adoption services are working hard. The first to take care of the newborn, the second to find an adoptive mother. Her name is Alice, she is 41 years old and she has been fighting for ten years to have a child.

Baby, anonymous delivery, adoption, one fears the syrupy soap or the two-bit photo novel. Don't worry, it's not! On the contrary, Jeanne Herry's (Miou-Miou's daughter) attentive pen and camera know how to find the right measure and the perfect angle of attack at every moment. As interesting as it is moving, the film harmoniously mixes the pedagogy of a documentary with the great emotions of a successful fiction. On the information side, we are put at the heart of the teams that work around the infant (caregivers, specialized educators, adoption officers). On the emotional side, we follow the long and painful journey of Théo's candidate for adoption (sensitive Élodie Bouchez). All of the actors in the film are to be commended for their ability to capture both the strengths and weaknesses of their characters. However, are particularly to be praised Sandrine Kiberlain as an empathetic social worker, Olivia Côte as the firm but understanding head of the adoption service as well as the most endearing of them all - divine surprise-, macho Gilles Lellouche as the baby's tender provisional father. A luminous work, which does honor to French cinema.

Be My Wife
(1921)

When Max meets Mary
Max and Mary are in love but Mary's aunt Agatha doesn't like Max and prefers the unattractive Archie. So Max has to resort to a series of tricks to try to get rid of Archie and spend time with Mary. Finally, Max devises a scheme that will allow him to prove to Aunt Agatha that he is more worthy than Archie.

In this second of three films that he made in the United States, Max Linder pulls out all the stops. The man whom Chaplin considered his master shines in almost all the roles (directing, screenplay, production and of course acting). From a simplistic argument as "Max loves Mary; Mary loves Max; aunt Agatha does not want", Linder manages to build a whole complex comic machinery with infernal precision. What a cascade of hilarious gags (the wild dance, Max disguised as a scarecrow); what a flawless sequence of slapstick, the highlight being the hilarious scene of the fight with an imaginary burglar. With so much brilliance deployed to approach her in spite of a surly aunt and a malevolent rival, how could Mary have resisted eternally the proposal of the elegant mustachioed man? To "Be my wife," her answer could only be "Yes!"

En liberté!
(2018)

Great atypical comedy
The police lieutenant Yvonne Santi, cherishes the memory of Captain Santi, her late husband, a model of bravery and integrity. For her little boy Théo as well, Dad is his own personal Superman. One day, Yvonne learns that the "white knight" was in fact a dirty cop of the worst kind. Upset, she vows to devote the rest of her career to righting the wrongs committed by the captain.

A hilarious, sometimes almost burlesque, fast-paced comedy, "The Trouble with You" raises above this mere level by its unbelievable profusion and inventiveness. Of course the viewers laugh all the time but never stupidly because behind the entertaining story are hidden themes as serious as widowhood, the education of a child by a single woman, guilt and redemption of faults, the deleterious role of prison, true love. A mixture of registers that works perfectly despite the difficulty of the thing. In the same way, the "couple on the run" style detective story goes well with tenderness and poetry, which are particularly expressed during the love exchanges. Adèle Haenel (energetic as always, but also very feminine) and Pio Marmaï (a likeable mad dog with astonishing fits of uncontrolled violence) help Salvadori in his approach. In the end, a great atypical film not to be missed.

Roulez jeunesse
(2018)

A fine mix of comedy and drama
Alex, 43 years old, is a repairman in the garage that his mother runs with an iron fist. One day, he helps out Prune, a pretty girl who is a bit lost. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Alex spends the night at her place. In the morning, he realizes with amazement that the young woman has disappeared, leaving him with her three young children.

A first feature film that skillfully mixes comedy (the tribulations of an immature forty-year-old infantilized by an authoritarian mother) and drama (three children abandoned by an irresponsible mother) without falling into the excesses of either the comedy film or the melodrama. The film, well written, is well served by its performers, Eric Judor (who reveals here his hidden side, that of sensitivity), Laure Calamy (full of energy), Marie Kremer (uninhibited and unrestrained, far from the sweet young girls she once played), Brigitte Roüan (castrating mother figure) as well as a trio of very convincing children. A good start for Julien Guetta.

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