Dominique Reymond

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Summer Hours Review


Excellent
Summer Hours, the extraordinary new film by Olivier Assayas, opens on a group of kids, running and laughing around the front lawn of their grandmother's bucolic countryside manor. Their game is aimless, incorporating elements of tag and the use of a map drawn in invisible ink. Up at the house, three siblings, the parents of the brood, aimlessly wander around as the maid prepares a late lunch for them. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The silver-haired matriarch of this subdued clan -- the antithesis of the tribe of lunatics in A Christmas Tale -- is Hélène (Edith Scob), a one-time art-world staple. Her three children are just about as different as three siblings can be: There's flighty Adrienne (Juliette Binoche), a designer of sorts living in New York; young and ambitious Jérémie (Jérémie Renier), who works for Puma Sneakers in Peking; and nostalgic Frédéric (Charles Berling), the eldest, an economist who doesn't believe in economics. Sentimentalist and stubborn nationalist that he is, Frédéric laughs his mother off when she tells him he will have to sell the house when she dies, insisting the house will stay in the family.

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Les Destinées Review


Grim
Do you like plates? Like, really nice plates? Perhaps fine porcelain plates made in the 1900s-1920s in Limoges, France?

You better damn well like plates if you're going to suffer through the three hours of Les Destinées, an exhausting family drama about a porcelain empire and just as hard a flick as its subject matter.

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Demonlover Review


Grim
In the cutthroat world of pornographic Japanese animé, she who remains most ruthless wins. At least, that's about as much of an overriding theme as I could glean from Olivier Assayas' visually vivid but narratively scatterbrained Demonlover, a film that begins as a pseudo-thriller concerning espionage at a French conglomerate and ends as an indecipherable mish-mash of technological paranoia and fetishized sex and violence in the Videodrome (and, unfortunately, FearDotCom) mold.

Alternating between French and English, the film hinges on the duplicitous dealings of Diane de Monx (Connie Nielsen), a merciless businesswoman who kicks things off by drugging a fellow employee in an effort to move up the corporate ladder. Now firmly ensconced as second in command at the Volf Group, Diane begins negotiations with animation giant TokyoAnimé, the world's largest and most successful producer of high quality sex cartoons. Diane is, in fact, a double agent working for rival firm Mangatronics, who - recognizing that a deal between Volf and TokyoAnimé would put them out of business - have hired her to sabotage the ongoing talks between the two companies. Unfortunately, despite a veneer of poker-faced iciness, someone is on to Diane's plans, and she suspects that either her antagonistic coworker Elise (Chloë Sevigny) or hunky negotiating partner Hervé (Charles Berling) is the villain attempting to blackmail her.

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The Bridge Review


OK

Carole Bouquet is a cinematic treasure. A gold mine of authentic humanity and emotion, capable of playing a vast range of personalities, and more astonishingly -- yet accessibly -- beautiful at 42 than ever before, she is arguably the best film actress in France today.

So when she plays an adulteress in 1962 Normandy who has an affair with her husband's boss in "The Bridge," there is so very much more to the character than just her cheating heart.

Mina is a woman who is frustrated by the slow evaporation of magic in her marriage. She still loves George, her blue-collar lug of a husband (played by Bouquet's real-life mate Gerard Depardieu). But their relationship has gone from dizzy and passionate to comfortable and polite. In fact, she'd much prefer to lose herself in a record or a good book, or go to the movies -- where emotions are powerful and love is always ardent -- than spend a night with George.

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Demonlover Review


Terrible

"Demonlover" features a score by art-punk band Sonic Youth that really captures the essence of the film: It's deliberately abrasive, rapidly pulsing electronic black noise that is designed to put the viewer on edge but ultimately signifies nothing.

A discombobulated, pretentious, psycho-sexual excursion into the cold-blooded, under-the-table fringe of 21st century corporate intrigue, it's a self-important drama in which poisoning, kidnapping, breaking and entering, ransacking, blackmail and brainwashing are all in a day's work -- and all add up to an unimaginative, exploitive shock ending.

The concoction of French filmmaker Olivier Assayas ("Irma Vep"), "Demonlover" stars Connie Nielsen ("Gladiator," "One Hour Photo") as Diane, a second-tier envoy for a Paris-based conglomerate that is negotiating a production and distribution deal with a Japanese maker of animated porn.

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