Bruno Putzulu

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Fresh Bait Review


Good
French sophisticates cringed in horror, I'm sure, when news of this (true) 1993 crime came to light: A girl and her two friends tortured and murdered a pair of wealthy men. Why? Because they wanted to raise money to open an upscale clothing boutique in the United States.

Well, it's easier than venture capital. And it helps if you're a psychopath. The movie belongs to ingenue Marie Gillain (best known as the daughter in My Father the Hero), who just so happens to appear naked pretty much throughout the entire film. Nothing wrong with that, and in fact it's not totally gratuitous: You'd have to be a nut to strip this often in front of this many people.

Continue reading: Fresh Bait Review

Monsieur N. Review


Bad
No movie to my mind has made such a disaster of the voiceover device as Antoine de Caunes' Monsieur N. In fact, the movie should be cited in Screenwriting 101 courses as an example of how, when in the service of a poorly conceived story, the voiceover can become a go-to device for filling in expository and emotional nuances that the script fails to convey. The voiceover in Monsieur N. belongs to a young British aide-de-camp, Basil Heathcote (Jay Rodan), who is assigned to monitor Napoleon's (Philippe Torreton) daily activities during the latter's imprisonment on St. Helena between 1815 and 1821, the year Napoleon supposedly died. Manzor intersperses the script with Heathcote's voiceover, favoring his intimate impressions without sufficiently fleshing him out as a character or developing any sense of why he particularly matters. In director Antoine de Caunes' fidgety hands, what is meant to be a suspenseful lark into historical revisionism quickly becomes an earnest and thudding bore.

Manzor's script grafts upon this movie a Citizen Kane-type structure as it shunts us between the occasion of Napoleon's exhumation in Paris in 1840 and 20 years earlier, during Napoleon's island imprisonment. Upon his exhumation, the question is raised of how Napoleon died -- from an ulcer or slow poisoning? -- and whether Napoleon died at all -- or, as rumor has it, he foisted his butler Cipriani's body in place of his own and escaped to an anonymous life elsewhere. To find out, Heathcote questions Napoleon's mistress, Albine (Elsa Zylberstein), and the few officers who attended to him on St. Helena, as well as the British governor, Hudson Lowe (Richard E. Grant), once in charge of Napoleon's imprisonment and now reduced to an aging and disgraced wreck. Their reflections -- alternately wistful and caustic -- cue us to extended flashbacks of those island years and of Napoleon's shrewdly enigmatic persona. There is also the question of Betsy Balcombe (Siobhan Hewlett), an English merchant's daughter on St. Helena with whom Napoleon has an affair -- much to Albine's chagrin and Heathcote's too, for we're meant to believe that Heathcote's also smitten with her. But his gambit, at one point, to express his feelings to her is laughable, because it's such an obvious ploy by Manzor to bring his character to some turn-of-fate, having arrived here using voiceovers as a shortcut device and never treading the hard road of character development to earn his way.

Continue reading: Monsieur N. Review

In Praise Of Love Review


Terrible
One might expect a cathartic viewing experience walking into a new Jean-Luc Godard film. After all, he was a founding member of the highly influential French New Wave. He is also an esteemed film critic, lending intelligence and historical perspective to us in much of his writing. However, his latest creation, In Praise of Love, is possibly the most exasperating film experience of the year.

The abstract concept on which the film is based had merit, to dissect love into the following four categories: meeting, physical passion, quarrels, and reconciliation. These four universal truths would be revealed through three different couples: young, adult, and elderly. It is Edgar's (Bruno Putzulu) self-appointed task to capture these moments after a recent breakup, to define a central idea: "It's only when things are over that they make sense." Whether this project will end up a play, film, or opera remains undecided. The thesis is simple enough that, if played right, it could really hold sympathetic value for anyone.

Continue reading: In Praise Of Love Review

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Monsieur N. Movie Review

Monsieur N. Movie Review

No movie to my mind has made such a disaster of the voiceover device as...

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