Eric Altmeyer

Eric Altmeyer

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In the House [Dans la Maison] Review


Excellent

With Ozon's usual sharp writing and direction, this black comedy is a fabulous series of provocations, challenging us to explore how we see, or perhaps imagine, the people in our lives. It's also a playful exploration of the nature of storytelling itself, using a teacher-student relationship to reveal all kinds of uncomfortable truths.

The teacher and student in question are Germain (Luchini), who's tired of teaching literature to illiterate students, and shy 16-year-old Claude (Umhauer), a gifted young writer. His essays spark Germain's imagination because they continue on from each other to serialise his encounters with the family of his friend Rapha (Ughetto). As Claude writes about flirting with Rapha's mum (Sagnier) or becoming pals with his dad (Menochet), Germain becomes gripped by the story. And so does his wife Jeanne (Scott Thomas), who sees this as a wonderful escape from the mundane pressures in her life. But in a private tutoring session with Claude, Germain crosses an ethical line. And things start to get strange.

Writer-director Ozon is wickedly blurring the line between fact and fiction, as everyone who reads Claude's essays imagines the people in ways that fuel their own fantasies. So events unfold through a variety of perspectives, some of which must surely be imagined, especially as Germain and Claude adjust the characters to reveal hidden secrets. Yes, this brings out the voyeuristic tendencies in all of the characters, and in us as well, since we too are living vicariously through people whose lives seem so much more interesting than ours. Even if they are supposed to be us.

Continue reading: In the House [Dans la Maison] Review

Potiche Review


Excellent
A sense of barbed optimism infuses this 1977-set French comedy. Not only does it keep a smile on our faces, but it also quietly says some potent things about old prejudices that still linger in Western society.

Life-loving Suzanne (Deneuve) is married to uptight umbrella factory manager Robert (Luchini). Their daughter Joelle (Godreche) is fed up with her controlling husband, determined not to become a trophy wife like her mother, while their son Laurent (Renier) is marrying someone Robert feels is unacceptable. Meanwhile, the union is on strike for better conditions, and when Robert refuses to give his workers anything, Suzanne starts negotiating with a union-friendly local politician Maurice (Debardieu) with whom she has a past.

Soon the children and Robert's secretary (Viard) are in the middle of a farce.

Continue reading: Potiche Review

OSS 117: Lost in Rio Review


OK
Less raucous than Cairo, Nest of Spies, this new adventure for the suave but bigoted French super-agent is still extremely good fun, with its amusing script, hilarious characters and astonishingly detailed production design.

It's 1967, and Hubert (Dujardin), aka secret agent OSS 117, is assigned to make contact with an ex-Nazi (Vogler) hiding in Rio with some incriminating microfilm. Reconnecting with his old CIA pal Bill (Samuels) and dodging Chinese hitmen from his last job, Hubert teams up with sexy Mossad agent Dolores (Monot) to travel with the Nazi's hippie son (Lutz) from Rio into the Amazon and to Iguacu Falls. But treachery awaits them at every turn, not to mention a buxom seductress (Kherici) and hungry crocodile.

Continue reading: OSS 117: Lost in Rio Review

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life [Le Premier Jour du Reste de Ta Vie] Review


Essential
This exquisitely made French drama traces the life of a family through five key days over 12 years. It's a joy to watch, with vibrant characters, inventive direction and an emotional resonance that's both provocative and deeply moving.

In 1988, Robert and Marie-Jeanne (Gamblin and Breitman) are coming to terms with the fact that their eldest son Albert (Marmai) is moving into his own flat as middle son Raph (Grondin) turns 18. Over the years we also revisit them as rebellious daughter Fleur (Francois) turns 16 and follow relationships with various boys and girls as well as Robert's wine-loving father (Dumas). The family bond is strained and tested, including at least one ongoing feud, and yet there's an irresistible, indefinable connection, and a sense that they are discovering life together.

Continue reading: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life [Le Premier Jour du Reste de Ta Vie] Review

Steal Review


Terrible
Oh, what's the point?

Here's another movie that consists of a series of tame heists followed by lengthy chase scenes, as a collection of punks outwits the cops and the mafias to try and abscond with 20 million bucks. Stephen Dorff and Natasha Henstridge aren't necessarily the kiss of death in a movie -- and in fact they're collectively the only thing worth watching here -- but that isn't saying much. (Even more baffling: The 82 minute movie includes 8 minutes of closing credits -- that's 10 percent of the film!)

Continue reading: Steal Review

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