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The Princess of Montpensier Review

Veteran filmmaker Tavernier approaches this 16th century drama with a fresh touch. It has everything you hope for: swashbuckling, romantic intrigue, heaving bosoms. But a blast of realism continually catches us off guard.

The Marquis of Mezieres (Magnan) is only mildly annoyed that his daughter Marie (Thierry) has fallen for suave warrior Henri (Ulliel), even though she's promised to his brother (Domboy). Then a better offer comes along, and the Marquis offers her to Prince Philippe (Leprince-Ringuet), son of the Duke of Montpensier (Vuillermoz). Leaving Marie with his loyal mentor Chabannes (Wilson), Philippe rejoins battle alongside his old friend Henri in the war between the Catholics and the Huguenots. But Philippe soon becomes jealous of Henri, as well as the flirtatious Duke of Anjou (Personnaz).

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The Princess Of Montpensier Trailer

In 16th century France, wars were raging between the Catholics and the Protestants. Heiress Marie de M'ziSres is forced into marriage by her father, the Marquis de M'ziSres to a man she has never met, Prince Philippe de Montpesier. Marie refuses at first, because she's in love with her handsome childhood friend, Henri de Guise.

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Picture - Gaspard Ulliel New York City, USA, Thursday 3rd March 2011

Gaspard Ulliel Thursday 3rd March 2011 Opening Night of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Paris Theater New York City, USA

Gaspard Ulliel

Picture - Bertrand Tavernier and Gaspard Ulliel New York City, USA, Thursday 3rd March 2011

Bertrand Tavernier and Gaspard Ulliel - Bertrand Tavernier and Gaspard Ulliel New York City, USA - Opening Night of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Paris Theater Thursday 3rd March 2011

Bertrand Tavernier and Gaspard Ulliel

Paris, Je T'aime Review

One would like to think that there at least a few other cities in the world besides Paris that could have inspired a film as varied in the types of cinematic pleasure so ably delivered by the anthology piece Paris Je T'Aime -- but it seems unlikely. This isn't due to an unavailability of good stories or locations in many other great metropolises, but more because being able to dangle the possibility of shooting in Paris in front of the world's greatest directors is going to be so much more enticing. Also, there are few other cities besides Paris that come with such a powerful and multifarious wealth of preassociated images and emotions for both filmmaker and audience to both draw upon and react against. So what could have been a collection of short films with a few highs, several lows, and a lot of muddled in-betweens is in fact a remarkably and consistently imaginative body of work, practically giddy with energy, that only rarely touches the ground.

Project overseers Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carné wanted to create a cinematic map of Paris, with each short film representing one of the city's 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods). They ended up with 18 films, none of them more than a few minutes long and directed by a glittering, international roster of filmmakers. While none of the films here are anything approaching masterpieces, hardly a one is in any way a chore to sit through, which has to be some sort of an accomplishment.

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Hannibal Rising Review

As bad as Hannibal Rising is -- and believe me, it's terrible - this fictional biography of the beloved Dr. Hannibal Lecter could have been worse. After all, financing studio MGM and its assorted producers could have tossed a small fortune at Sir Anthony Hopkins in hopes of coercing the Academy Award winner back to the title role -- never mind the fact that the picture covers the cannibal's formative years.

The Lecter character has appeared in five different films now, which by my count is four too many. Brian Cox gets credit for first playing the imprisoned killer in Michael Mann's underrated Manhunter. But Lecter didn't become a household name until Hopkins sank his teeth into the role for The Silence of the Lambs. Since then, Hollywood has strained its muscles beating every dollar it could from this dead horse of a character. We've endured the Jodie Foster-free sequel Hannibal and Red Dragon, an unnecessary Manhunter remake with Hopkins in the Lecter role.

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Hannibal Rising, Trailer Stream Trailer

Hannibal Rising

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Strayed Review

Strayed is set in World War II during the German occupation of France. The setup is simple; a woman named Odile (Emmanuelle Béart), along with her two children, escapes a convoy that has been air attacked by German airplanes. They spend the night in the forest and the next day meet a teenager named Yvon (Gaspard Ulliel), who takes them to safety.

Yvon, who is on the run from both the Germans and the French, takes the family to an abandoned country chateau, which he has broken into. Over the course of a few weeks they begin to live in the chateau as a makeshift family. Yvon befriends Odile's son (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) and - much to the chagrin of Odile - becomes a father figure to the boy. And in time - even though Odile is Yvan's senior by many years - they both fall for each other.

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A Very Long Engagement Review

Although there are likely better directors who could have been found to film Sebastien Japrisot's World War I-set novel A Very Long Engagement than Jean-Pierre Jeunet, of City of Lost Children fame and Alien: Resurrection infamy, there are many more who would have been worse - and if that sounds like a backhanded insult, it's not. The story of five French soldiers who are sentenced to death for self-inflicted wounds (done so that they could be evacuated from the front lines) and condemned to march out into the no man's land between the Germans' trenches and theirs, it's a tricky mix of war epic, black comedy, and heart-stirring romance that would have left many filmmakers flummoxed. And although Jeunet takes some serious missteps and doesn't know when to leave the jokes alone, he has mostly succeeded where many would have failed.

Although it starts off like a war film - opening in the muck and mire, as all good war films must - and gives us plenty of reason to understand why these soldiers shot themselves in the hand (a sort of purposeful self-stigmata), A Very Long Engagement is really about a woman trying to find her lost love. The woman, Mathilde, is played by Jeunet's muse, Audrey Tautou, and though she doesn't here have the near-angelic glow he gave her in Amelie, she's plenty captivating nonetheless. Mathilde fell in love with her childhood friend, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), and we see their romance in flashback, all frolicking in their picturesque village, swooning episodes atop a lighthouse and innocent carnality. Then the war comes, and poor, fresh-faced Manech is sent off to the front, later to be one of the five hurled into no man's land by a callous military bureaucracy determined to make an example of them. After the war, Mathilde refuses to accept what seems obvious to everybody else, that Manech is dead, and she launches on a journey to dig up every last piece of information she can about the case and find out what happened to her one true love.

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Strayed Review


Fleeing the June 1940 arrival of Hitler's army in Paris, a pretty young war widow (Emanuelle Béart) and her two children are rescued from dive-bombing German fighters by a cocky, reckless teenager (Gaspard Ulliel) -- and his inbred instinct for survival quickly becomes the family's salvation in "Strayed," a drama of fugitive subsistence and uneasy camaraderie from French director André Téchiné ("Alice et Martin").

Much to the discomfort of Béart, who clings idealistically and insistently to the conventions of civilized society as the world falls apart around her, the courageous but disconcerting young man leads her family far off the beaten path, convinced that nowhere is safe to hide until they stumble upon a remote and abandoned chateau.

Over the course of several weeks as squatters (or maybe it's months -- the film's timeline is unclear), an uneasy new family unit forms as Béart's 13-year-old son (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) takes a brotherly shine to his emotionally unpredictable savior, whose elusive, paranoid behavior suggests he may be a deserter. But while the young man's looting of empty villages becomes their sustenance, his volatility and cache of weapons taken off dead soldiers keeps the mother on edge.

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