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Man, Can This Girl Act
I agree completely with the 3 other reviews. I mostly wanted to rave about this actress, Jasmine Trinca. She is really SOMEthing! She is unusually beautiful and elfin, w/ her Audrey Hepburn haircut, but that attribute is never mentioned in the film, and all the attention is on her laser sharp focus on her mission: traveling, procuring,returning and overseeing her Mexican contraband used by terminally ill people in Italy who wish to end their lives. She takes everything VERY seriously, and it is quite something when she finally smiles, near the film's end. I know using 'girl' instead of woman is not PC, but in this case, she looks soooo young (like 17,even though she was actually twice that old !) That, and maybe her naiveté, made me think of her as a girl.

The very unusual, complex and never explained relationship that develops w/ the 'grumpy old man' is the crux of the story, and the catalyst for change. For me, the film's ending depicted an act that was a true affirmation of Love, and I felt very satisfied by that.Film endings are rarely this successful. But you do have to figure it all out for yourself, because all the visual clues are there for you, but the dialogue never reveals most of what I picked up from watching it. Honey makes for a great conversation piece, about matters that really mean something in how we live our lives. A completely compelling and engrossing experience.

L'exercice de l'État

Tremendous Work
I saw this last year as part of a French Film Fest in Boston; it floored me then, and when I saw it again this year, it floored me again. Thankfully 2 other reviewers on its IMDb page-Philippe Guenot and hatugai - say it as well or better than I ever could.

I'm sure I missed a lot of messages that politically aware French people would not miss, but , in spite of that, there was still an abundance of rich material to absorb . That Olivier Gourmet is really something. I had admired his work in The Son and The Promise , but The Minister will be calling card for Gourmet in the same way Raging Bull was a calling card for DeNiro.I want to see other films by Gourmet and this screenwriter/director.

Girl on a Bicycle

Predictable and Lightweight but Neither Awful or Super
Very much like a Hollywood RomCom (formulaic, predictable, fluffy romantic comedy)some of the other IMDb reviewers thought it was awful and some thought it super duper. For me, it was neither extreme. The lead actor carried his part well and the chemistry was fun and believable between him and his German girlfriend. After the bus incident, you could pretty much write the story yourself, but it was still enjoyable enough to watch it all develop (though I did consider fast-forwarding it in a few places.) The screenplay had a few very good lines, but they're gone from memory as I know the film will be by tomorrow.

All of Me

Terrific Film on Living with Obesity and Rising Out of It
I was very impressed with this film. It presented a detailed and pretty complete picture of this group of women friends (all ages),their individual experiences with obesity,and the informal self-organized support group in which they found some happiness. The film focused on a few women's stories in detail and I identified with almost all of them. The resolve of a number of them to pursue gastric bypass surgery- was very reinforcing for me, as I have recently begin the road to that surgery as well. I think the film's director did a very thorough job of coming to understand all the issues that needed to be addressed in the film,and she organized them in both an entertaining and educational way. I highly recommend this film for anyone with weight issues, obese or not. It certainly may help change your life.

Comes a Bright Day

Emotionally Intricate and Quirky Hostage Film
I wouldn't use any extreme words to describe this film. It's not 'fantastic' or 'hysterical' or 'must see'. But it is interesting and unusual.The story of a jewelry heist gone very wrong and the three hostages awaiting resolution in the rarefied atmosphere of an elite London antique jewelry shop , it is fairly quiet, reserved,occasionally funny ;and occasionally jolting, stressful,violent.Except for a few scenes, it all takes place in one interior ,so it feels very much like a play.

I wasn't familiar with any of the actors except my hero, Timothy Spall, but they were all spot on.And it was very interesting to me that the five main actors all pretty much had equal time. There was no one person that 'made the picture.' For me, the story and the characters all felt very authentic and believable, and the pace never felt lagging or forced. The unexpected elements were the romantic interludes- a grief struck gentleman remembering the love of his life,a fairy tale-like story told to distract a worried hostage; a psychopath mesmerized by an opera aria; and they all contributed to making a heist/hostage film something quite different and out of the ordinary.I really enjoyed it.

Harukana jidai no kaidan o

A Sophomore Work; Unconvincing, Boring and Clumsy
I have just finished watching the last in this trilogy- The Trap, 2005. Where Stairway was a feeble wishy washy visually confusing poorly scripted effort, The Trap was a real movie.I really cannot figure out how anyone would find Stairway superior to The Trap, but since a few reviewers liked this film, i know i will not bother to seek the first in the trilogy. Stairway just felt off kilter through the whole piece, like a drunk who just can't get his footing. Derivative and Hat-tipping can be fun in the movies but in this film all those efforts were lifeless and clumsy and unconvincing.So my advice is- skip this film and see The Trap instead.


Went Right Over My Head or What a Waste of Time
I've never actually given any film a rating of 2, until now. I am just so miffed that i gave up two hours or whatever to watch this travesty.I saw Pater today as part of the Boston MFA Annual French Film Festival. I went to see it because I really admire the work of Vincent Lindon, but I had not researched it before going. All I can adequately relate was that it was an experience of watching 2 people(Lindon and the director/actor) eat a number of meals, talk about daily life, and play at developing a film (a film that went absolutely nowhere for me.) When I left the theater, all I could say was "what a waste." I think it was a purely intellectual exercise and I completely missed any value in it.

For those of you wanting a more informative analytical review,a review that found worth in Pater,there is a film reviewer whose work I usually enjoy and respect(Chris Knipp) and his review is included in the list of Critics Reviews for this film.

Conducting Mahler

Very Interesting But Far From Great
This DVD is actually two films in one. The first half is Conducting Mahler which intersperses pieces from Mahler's 10 symphonies with the thoughts of conductors Chailly, Haitink, Abbado, Muti, and Rattle. The 2nd half is I Have Lost Touch with the World, which is similar but only covers the 9th Symphony.

I have been a Mahler devotee for 30 years, so I was very excited when this DVD was acquired by my library. The pluses are the conductors' thoughts and experiences, the ability to see them conducting up close, and the pieces themselves as performed by world class orchestras. The negatives are many. There are no English subtitles, and their absence is keenly felt because of the WRETCHED sound editing (So many key ideas and passages are lost because of bad miking, particularly of Haitink and Abbado discussing the 7th ,8th and 10th symphonies in the film's first half.) And you must constantly adjust the volume, as the music is miked very loud but the interspersed interviews are miked very low. As wonderful as it is to hear the pieces from the 10 works covered in the film's first half, it is equally frustrating that they are not identified on the screen, and they are sometimes not from the symphony just discussed. (The irony is that the played pieces ARE identified in the 2nd half of the film -which is only about the 9th Symphony!) The conductors' thoughts vary in their effectiveness,Chailly's being perhaps the most enlightening. Abbado, while a wonderful Mahler conductor, is not a good speaker in this film. I was so disappointed that the filmmaker did not include Benjamin Zander instead , as he is justly famous for both his Mahler conducting and his articulate teachings about Mahler.

The 2nd part of the film, I Have Lost Touch With The World, is for me the most valuable part of the film, as it is a coherent well-ordered and more-than-superficial look into the grand 9th and all its parts. The words of famed Mahler expert Henry-Louis de la Grange I found particularly valuable. (His inclusion in the first half would have helped a lot.) The filmmaker has tackled a very big project here. There are currently no other films that attempt to cover this ground, so I am grateful for the film and all it teaches me(as I watch and rewatch it.) And you will most likely learn and benefit from seeing it. I only wish it did not have so many deficiencies.

Geu-rim-ja sal-in

Terrific Blend of Fun, Drama, Action; Loved It!
If this really is the first film of this director, he should be in the running for a First Film prize. The other reviews give you a good grounding of the plot and main characters. I loved so many things about the film-the general fun and tone of the film, the Mifune-like detective with great instincts, his somewhat goofy assistant/doctor who was none-the-less effective in many ways,the brilliant woman's help in solving the case,and the highlighting of women's issues and good morals. The pace,action, costumes and settings were all well done and i was engaged from beginning to end. I WANT sequels! * One caveat- they kept changing the look of the detective such that i was rather confused about whether new characters were being introduced in a number of early scenes.But no, it was the same guy.

Drei Sterne - Die Köche und die Sterne

What It Means To Be a Three Star Michelin Chef
Tonight I saw two excellent food documentaries at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).The second was "El Bulli".Of the 2 films, I think "Three Stars" by Lutz Hachmeister (2011, 83 min.) was the superior one. It focused on 10 Michelin 3 Star restaurants in Scandinavia, Europe, Japan and the U.S., their chefs, staff and environment. Passion was the operative word for all of these chefs, with focus, commitment, excitement and exhaustion all sharing the mix. Extremely well edited, i learned a great deal from the film. Because it tried to cover a great deal of ground, it was not able to answer all the questions you might have, but it did manage to cover many of the angles involved with achieving and maintaining the success that these talented chefs have achieved.Similar to "Danny Meyer, the Restaurateur",but with an international scope, Three Stars will undoubtedly give you a greater appreciation for what goes into giving you a memorable evening the next time you dine at a great restaurant.

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

Some Great Footage but Failed to Explain the Genius
The strength of "El Bulli: Cooking in Progress" was that it gave you a very good idea of what it would be like to work there. There was extended footage of the restaurant in operation, but more time was spent observing the creative process of Adria's team as they spent 6 months in their Barcelona laboratory, experimenting with food stuffs and techniques as they developed the menu of new creations for El Bulli's next season. The significant weakness of the film was that the director failed to take advantage of this unique opportunity to explain Adria's philosophy and genius. While you came away with an understanding of some of that genius, you came away with way too much time spent watching Adria as he tasted and made notes on the many experiments. But still, for the majority of us who never ate at El Bulli, it was a great opportunity to experience the place and its food preparation and presentation, at least visually, from ringside seats!

Mouvements du désir

A Believable Falling in Love- Step by Step
It is not easy to find this film, so if you have a chance to see it, you are a very lucky person.

I think I saw it at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and, while it was almost 20 years ago, I have never forgotten it.It is simply a kind of hour by hour look at two people who meet on a train and, over a week or so on the train, fall in love. It is just completely authentic,unassuming,and very affecting.

I don't know why this film and director Poole went so little noticed and unrewarded; of the thousands of films i have seen, this one stays in my conscience.

La Pointe-Courte

See It For The Visuals
I am not a film historian or a fan of Nouvelle Vague. I wanted to see this film because it gave me the opportunity to see my hero, Philippe Noiret, when he was just 26. Thankfully we began by watching the interview w/ Varda, which really gives you a solid understanding of why this film was/is so important, mostly having to do with it being so innovative for its time, and its place as an influence on filmmakers that followed. The 2 story lines did not engage or interest me really.But the visuals were often terrific. And oddly enough, we had just the night before, watched Clash by Night, an American film of the same time which was shot on location in the fishing community of Monterey CA. While visuals were often excellent there as well,in Clash by Night the film really was the STORY, and a very passionate one at that.

La Pointe-Courte was also really important as an example of one of the few important "First Films' of a director,especially a woman director in 1955 , and really especially, one who had no previous experience in film making and no knowledge of film history.

The Restaurateur

A Detailed Look at The Building of a Top Tier Restaurant
An excellent review of this film is here on one of my fav review sites, DVD Verdict:

Chronicles the efforts of well respected and successful Manhattan restaurateur Danny Meyers, from 1998, when he began the process of building Tabla and 11 Madison Park, through their openings, and then 11 years later. Focuses as much on personnel choices and team work as on the business plan and day to day construction and permitting details. Nothing like the nasty shenanigans of Reality TV, this is an informative look at what it takes to build a successful high tiered restaurant, and all the efforts that go into providing us with some memorable meals and experiences.

Hello Goodbye

I Laughed A Lot, but Humor is a Very Individual Thing
My take on this film is that it is a very funny tongue-in-cheek farce that also asks some serious questions about identity. Finding humor in both those Jews who obsess over Jewish identity and those that are coverts to Judaism who also obsess over Judaism, I laughed continually through the film's first half. As you would hope w/ pros Ardant and Depardieu, the acting is spot on.Very believable until things start to go over the top soon after they reach Israel. It slows down after that and rambles quite a bit, and the ending is a cop-out,but I am very grateful for the laughs. Actually if one looks seriously at the film, it addresses some very valid questions about the role of religion,race, nationality and community in one's identity, particularly as one grows older.

La corsa dell'innocente

Absolutely Dreadful: Schmaltzy, Amateuristic,Predictable Dreck
Oh how i wish i could save people from watching this film. It is sooooo cheesy, soo over the top, i wanted to laugh, as in a serge leone film, but unfortunately the director here was dead serious. arggggh. felt like a series of commercials. ALL it had going for it, and I mean ALL, was some beautiful scenery shots including some great Roman buildings. Other than that, if you are a sophisticated film goer,you will buck at the melodramatic schmaltz (both of the repeated shots of bloody murders, the repetitive slow motion shots of bloody deaths, and the light-filtering-in-the gauzy- child's- bedroom shots with the vaseline- coated lens.) Fortunately I could fast forward through all the stupid predictable dreck.If I save one person from watching this, i will feel so much better.

La reine des pommes

Quirky and Some Fun, But Ultimately a Waste of Time
Usually I write IMDb reviews for one of two reasons: to tell everyone how great a film is OR to warn people off from seeing a film. In this case, it is the latter. It is hard for me to give a film a 6 when it aggravates me so much. I gave this one a 5 simply because it is a well intentioned film with some cute concepts. BUT it takes forEVER to get through those concepts to the very predictable ending. Sorry if I sound smarmy, but when i see a film like this one, all i can think is- "What is it about some young filmmakers ? If they would just study film history, they would know that this film has been made a thousand times, and that what they want to make is not unique. And then eventually they would make something worth watching."

Anyway, the real name, not the stupid American name, is Queen of Apples; not Queen of Hearts, and that might tell you a lot. It's about a hapless young woman who can't get over being left by the love of her life. It's quirky and even funny for about the first half. But then it just gets s l o w e r and more repetitive . I have little patience with films that tread water for an hour, and i was about to leave, but then it was over.Out of 20 films I have seen as part of the 2011 French Film Festical, this was the only dud, the only one that left me angry for wasting my time. Sigh. But I won't be surprised if this woman makes a very good film some day. The lead character reminded me a bit of the terrific actress/writer of The Iceberg, a film which i implore you to see instead of this one.


A Very Unusual Look at Girlhood, with an Independent, Lone 10 Year Old
In 50 yrs. of films, I think this is the first film I've ever seen that gives the viewer such in-depth experience watching the day to day life of a 10 yr. old girl. The extraordinary Ponette has a four yr old subject and hones in on one other overriding topic- death- as understood by the 4 yr. old.

But The Girl has no focus on any one subject other than its heroine; it documents her day to day life as she, through accident(others') and intention(hers), is left at home to fend for herself during a significant stretch of her 10th summer. While resourceful and independent,this thin pale redhead is also emotionally walled off from the world. She watches, and you watch her watch.Her wanderings around her rural small town Swedish environs- teach her both the negative 'lessons' of cruel peers and weak adults, and the joys possible with kind strangers and simple friends. While not a children's film, it would be excellent for family viewing and discussion.

Seret hatuna

What Fun ! !(And Much for Thought)
I missed this when it played at The 2010 Boston Jewish Film Fest, but luckily, I was able to get the DVD through my Minuteman Library Network. (in MA, USA).

Though I was intrigued by the opening scene, it took a few minutes before i was hooked, but soon i was smiling and the smile pretty much stayed there.The premise is of a Tel Aviv bride who, on her way to her evening wedding, gets cold feet and spends a lot of the film ruminating and talking with the 2 employees of a closed coffee shop, while her Love deals with her not showing up. In addition to the main bride/groom plot, there are a number of other couple conversations that reflect many different kinds of relationships and create a much richer film. The story is compelling, the direction is tight and the actors are all perfect in their parts. Finally, it is the warmth and authenticity of the two leads that take the well written screenplay to the heights of a fully realized, touching ,charming and thought provoking experience. With a story just quirky enough, i believed it all and enjoyed myself immensely.

Seret hatuna

What Fun ! !(And Much for Thought)
I missed this when it played at The 2010 Boston Jewish Film Fest, but luckily, I was able to get the DVD through my Minuteman Library Network. (in MA, USA).

Though I was intrigued by the opening scene, it took a few minutes before i was hooked, but soon i was smiling and the smile pretty much stayed there.The premise is of a Tel Aviv bride who, on her way to her evening wedding, gets cold feet and spends a lot of the film ruminating and talking with the 2 employees of a closed coffee shop, while her Love deals with her not showing up. In addition to the main bride/groom plot, there are a number of other couple conversations that reflect many different kinds of relationships and create a much richer film. The story is compelling, the direction is tight and the actors are all perfect in their parts. Finally, it is the warmth and authenticity of the two leads that take the well written screenplay to the heights of a fully realized, touching ,charming and thought provoking experience. With a story just quirky enough, i believed it all and enjoyed myself immensely.

Regarde les hommes tomber

A Very Unique and Mesmerizing Story
I just watched this last night, having been very intrigued by Audiard's other works, esp.the brilliant and somewhat indescribable Read My Lips. See How They Fall was indeed one of the more unusual stories I have seen in film. While the story has 4 main characters, it is the two most unassuming characters that anchor and propel the film. One is an over-the-hill depressive teddy bear of a salesman, Yanne. The other is a mentally slow/mentally challenged grown up child, Kassovitz. The former is searching for his only friend's killer; the latter is a puppy dog follower of a seedy petty criminal, Trintignant. (I've never seen Tr. in this kind of role. He is extremely convincing and completely revolting.) Most of the film builds the back story and follows the lives of the 2 pairs of friends. There are certainly elements of Midnight Cowboy and Of Mice and Men, but I was very pleased to see that the stories have many unexpected elements, mostly to do with Yanne, as he gradually leaves behind everything familiar to him and 'becomes' the quest to find his friend's killer. He moves obsequiously and with ease through worlds completely foreign to him, and the viewer's empathy is gradually drawn into the essence of who he is. One completely believes that he is who he is playing, and the same is true of Trintignant and Kassovitz.

The film's resolution occurs close to the end, when the 2 stories intersect. Before this, the film would have been greatly improved if 30% of it had been edited out, but the film's resolution is quick and perfect, like a gentle but effective 1-2 punch. In both Read My Lips and See How They Fall, Audiard shows a very unique way with unusual characters and their just-as-unusual stories. Both films are relatively quiet and contemplative, and the many silences lull the viewer into a distinct internal rhythm. Long after the films have ended, this rhythm stays on.

Le refuge

Not Perfect ,but Lovely and Very Worthwhile
While I don't agree w/ Chris Knipp's view that this boiled down to a vague glossy ad....I am thankful that he used words like lyrical and elegance , which caused me to see the movie tonight as part of the Boston MFA's annual French Film Festival. I am a big fan of Ozon. I don't know what it is about him, but I feel very simpatico with his sense of humor,and his gazings and subtle observations about humanity. There is this allowance for space in his serious films, space for the characters to feel and grow, and space for the audience to partake in this. I do not find that space flat or boring; rather, it has me fully engaged as a viewer. In this film I was surprised and very taken in by the mesmerizing spiritual nature of Louis-Ronan Choisy . I have not seen him before and he was quite wonderful to watch.He was so perfectly cast for this role. I have been quite taken in by Isabelle Carre before, but I think it was a shame that her character in this film was not able to play to the ethereal and quite 'saintly'persona she has exuded in other roles.I was hoping to get at least a glimpse of the (in-reality) pregnant Carre with that beatific presence that she can emanate.

All in all, the relationship between the two of them, and the scene with her being verbally harangued by the guilt ridden woman on the beach, were enough to make me recommend this film. I found it not perfect;too many things unanswered character and plot wise, but still quite lovely, and it left me with a feeling, a mood, that I am still carrying.

Yuki & Nina

Don't Bother: A Dull Day in the Life of a 9 Year Old Girl: Flat, Long, Lifeless,Boring
Sigh. I am a major French film fan, into my 13th year of attending the annual French Film Festival at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. So many great films I have seen there, but this was definitely NOT one of them. If you click on External Reviews in the side bar of this pg., and then go to the Variety review for this film, you will see an excellent articulate review for this film, from which I stole the perfectly apt term "flat" for my title.

I do not know what this first time director (long time actor) hoped to accomplish in this film, but what a waste of time it was. French films centering on children are so dependably excellent (this years Festival highlight,Le Petit Nicholas, being one of them) that I felt doubly disappointed in Yuki and Nina. Ostensibly 'about' a Japanese/French Parisian girl reacting to news that her parents are divorcing and she is soon to move to Japan with her mother, the experience is mostly one of watching little girls play, obviously unscripted, for loooong stretches,followed by their meandering around. Adults' roles are equally amorphous and uninteresting.

When a brief unprecedented scene of magic realism is introduced, 5 minutes from the film's end, it confirmed my suspicion of this being a first time director's effort. Too bad that financial circumstances did not force him to learn his craft by making short films, so he could work his way up to making a worthwhile first feature.

Do yourself a favor and find a DVD of Ponette instead.Now THAT is a film about a little girl that you will likely not forget.

Qu'un seul tienne et les autres suivront

The Heart IS an Amazing Thing
Silent Voices

We saw this yesterday as part of the annual 2010 French Film Festival at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. As emotionally brutal as is one of the three parallel stories in this film, it was still a welcome relief from the nastiness of its festival predecessor, The Time of the Charity Fete is Over.

This amazing Cannes Award winning Best First Film was a terrific piece of work. I was fully absorbed into the three stories. A Moroccan widow journeys to Marseilles to find out why her son was murdered. A lovely middle class 17 year old falls in first-love with a charismatic street punk. A hapless spineless immigrant loser considers a money and life altering scheme that will have him exchanging places with a look-alike hard core criminal doing time. Aside from prison,all three stories shared a few common themes- leaving someone and being left, and inexplicable, deep, raw, soul-filled love. While the stories may have been reminiscent of others before them , the film was well scripted and the performances were 100% spot on.( I did feel that the film would have been much stronger if the last mentioned story were a different one; I just did not care about the loser, and it felt like his story, the least interesting of all to me, took the most time to tell.) I fully expect and hope to see the Moroccan woman, and the girl and boy, move on to become major stars. When they are on screen, your eyes are fully on them, and your heart is there too.

It makes perfect sense to me that the director , a most talented woman, Lea Fehner, grew up adjacent to a prison and worked with prisoners in her Social Work career. Her portrayal of these people and their lives, and the prison visiting days (all three stories share these)is completely documentary like in its authenticity. ( shudder. be thankful.) I look forward to her continued success.

Le temps de la kermesse est terminé

Refuse to Suffer the Nastiness; Go See Something Else(really)!
We saw this yesterday as part of the annual French Film Festival at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.At the film's end, My Love and I felt nothing but disgust. Not just at the film's protagonist, but at the whole experience of the film. We felt in dire need of a cleansing shower and ANYTHING, to change the mood and feeling. So, you could easily say, "Well, that's a real accomplishment, if the director made you feel that much." And I would easily respond to you that this 'accomplishment' is not one that I would ever choose to repeat or to have others experience. YECH. The details of the plot are perfectly and articulately found in the Cliffords' review(Reel Reviews) under External Reviews in the left side bar on this page.I could have written her description of the plot word for word, except that she really liked the film and I did not. I hated it.More accurately (ah ha! you will say)I hated HIM, the despicable protagonist. In so proclaiming, I fully realize that my 'objective film review credibility' is shot. But I don't care! It is not my wont to spend two hours squirming in my seat.

It's ironic; I attended this film solely because of the positive rec. of Reel Reviews. But if I can save just one of you(or two, to be exact)from seeing this nasty piece of work, I might begin to believe there is justice in some of the world.

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