French actor-filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika) takes on a major event in his nation's colonial history with this true action-adventure set on the lush South Pacific island of New Caledonia. It's a muscular, harrowing military thriller that has echoes of Zero Dark Thirty in its urgent story's drive to a big action climax. And it was made a year earlier.
The events take place in 1988, as politicians in France are preparing for general elections when an uprising breaks out in New Caledonia and several people are taken hostage by Kanak islanders. So French special forces captain Philippe (Kassovitz) assembles a crack team to diffuse the situation. Their goal is to facilitate talks to find a peaceful solution, but the local French politician (Martin) and military bosses are keen on a much more aggressive approach to crush any percieved rebellion. This is especially frustrating to Philippe after he meets the Kanak leader (Lapacas) and discovers that they also want peace, and that the whole situation is the result of panic and inexperience.
As the military and government pushes violence over peace, the story becomes increasingly intense. The political gamesmanship is shocking, as candidates falsely label the Kanaks as "savages" to get votes while arrogant leaders make snap decisions thousands of miles away in Paris. So the film begins to feel like a real attempt to right France's colonial wrongs, and it's infused with the righteous anger of centuries of mistreatment of indigenous peoples. It even opens with the caption, "The truth hurts, but lies kill".
Continue reading: Rebellion [L'Ordre Et La Morale] Review
It's the First World War, and the British, French, and Germans are all held up at a front in France, where the Brits and the French are determined to send the Germans home. Earlier, three brothers from Scotland are told that they will be going to Glasgow for military training. Palmer, the oldest and an Anglican priest (Gary Lewis), is apprehensive while his younger brothers, Jonathan and William (Steven Robertson and Robin Laing, respectively) can't wait to go out and defend their country. The French commander, Lieutenant Audebert (a great Guillame Canet), tries to keep his soldiers morale up after a small massacre in the trenches from a German gunner. Meanwhile, the German leader, Horstmayer (Daniel Brühl), attempts to find a way to get out of the fight with his honor intact.
Continue reading: Joyeux Noël Review
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The supposed wisdom imparted by Irréversible is, unfortunately, wholly unoriginal in theory and decidedly odious in practice. To Noé, man is, regardless of his civilized facade, a vicious animal driven by primitive instincts. Homosexuality and femininity are the enemies of masculinity, and should be treated with suspicion and disgust. The modern world, and Paris in particular, is a cesspool of vice and depravity. And the only way to fully convey these themes is to depict them unflinchingly, without restraint or decency. The film, like far too many recent French imports (Baise-moi, Romance), mistakenly embraces blunt shock tactics as the surest means of capturing artless reality.
Continue reading: Irréversible Review
As an eight-year old, Julien (Thibault Verhaeghe) can't accept his mother's (Emmanuelle Gronvold) mortality as cancer steals her life away. It devastates him and his reality when she finally passes and he loses the parent he was closest to and needed most. He focuses his energy away from his heartbreak and, when young Sophie (Josephine Lebas Joly) becomes his playmate, her mischievous imagination leads them both into a world of amusement. That world includes destructive pranks and dirty words in class, each the response to a game of "Dare."
Continue reading: Love Me If You Dare Review
Or does she? Although Adrien, who stays on at his farm after the sale in an attached cottage, defends Sandrine to the neighboring farmers ("She sells her goat cheese on the internet! To people in Germany!"), and although Sandrine expands the farm to include a popular bed and breakfast inn for tourists, both privately wonder if solitude and sixteen-hour workdays equal a full life for an attractive young single woman. In the beginning, in fact, Adrien spitefully looks forward to Sandrine's failure. But as this determined woman's true industriousness and drive are revealed in her competent management of the farm, he gradually comes to accept and then admire her. Meanwhile Sandrine is paid a visit from an old flame, and their night together triggers feelings she had hoped she didn't have - not about this particular young man, exactly, but about life and companionship in general. She blames Adrien in part, simply because he was right; their relationship is further complicated when the old man suffers a heart attack and comes to the realization that he can no longer imagine life on the farm without her.
Continue reading: The Girl From Paris Review
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