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Lady Chatterley Review


Very Good
Anyone hoping that the 2006 reinterpretation of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover would feature young gorgeous stars like Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom indulging in erotic adventures must have been let down to discover that Lady Chatterley features older, less beautiful actors, and the whole thing is a French production spoken in French, which is slightly odd given the English, stately-home setting.

Still, director Pascale Ferran has found her way to the core of Lawrence's novel (she actually works from an earlier version of the book), and the result is a very watchable, if a bit plodding, examination of one woman's longings.

Continue reading: Lady Chatterley Review

To Be And To Have Review


Excellent
Teaching is possibly the most undervalued and thankless of professions. You get snotty kids that don't see the point of homework and jaded instructors who've seen their considerable efforts go to waste time and again. Every once in a while you'll hear news of a gem of a relationship in the classroom. Whether we make a big deal out of these stories because they are rare, or to redeem ourselves from the lack of attention we usually give to the worthy cause, is unclear. But the next thing you know, a predictable Dangerous Minds or Stand and Deliver is spit into theaters to reacquaint us with the idea that education can be a mutually beneficial experience for all involved.

To Be and to Have succeeds in warming the heart where these dramas might not, due to the sparer style of documentary. Though the focus is a special teacher in rural France, you come to appreciate his strength of character and goodness with children through simply watching him with students. There is exactly one scene in which the subject is alone and talking directly to the camera. Not only does he seem genuinely uncomfortable being the center of attention, but this time is used more to find out about his background - which you're curious about anyway by that point - than to place him on some pedestal.

Continue reading: To Be And To Have Review

Wild Side (2004) Review


Excellent
It's a tale told over and over again: lonely souls adrift in a cruel world finding each other and creating a new kind of family with the strongest of bonds. Tell the tale incorrectly, and it can dissolve into sap and cliché. Tell it right, as director Sébastien Lifshitz and writer Stéphane Bouquet do in Wild Side, and the result is a moving story that offers hope for even the loneliest soul.

Set in Paris and the countryside of Northern France, the film brings together three very different lost souls: Stéphanie (Stéphanie Michelini), a pre-op transsexual prostitute; her roommate Jamel, a bisexual hustler of Moroccan descent who does his best work in Paris's skankiest railway bathrooms; and Mikhail, a traumatized Russian soldier who illegally immigrated to Paris and has fallen in love with both Stephanie and Jamel. Luckily, they have both fallen in love with him too. A weirder ménage à trois you will never encounter.

Continue reading: Wild Side (2004) Review

To Be And To Have Review


Excellent
Teaching is possibly the most undervalued and thankless of professions. You get snotty kids that don't see the point of homework and jaded instructors who've seen their considerable efforts go to waste time and again. Every once in a while you'll hear news of a gem of a relationship in the classroom. Whether we make a big deal out of these stories because they are rare, or to redeem ourselves from the lack of attention we usually give to the worthy cause, is unclear. But the next thing you know, a predictable Dangerous Minds or Stand and Deliver is spit into theaters to reacquaint us with the idea that education can be a mutually beneficial experience for all involved.

To Be and to Have succeeds in warming the heart where these dramas might not, due to the sparer style of documentary. Though the focus is a special teacher in rural France, you come to appreciate his strength of character and goodness with children through simply watching him with students. There is exactly one scene in which the subject is alone and talking directly to the camera. Not only does he seem genuinely uncomfortable being the center of attention, but this time is used more to find out about his background - which you're curious about anyway by that point - than to place him on some pedestal.

Continue reading: To Be And To Have Review

Marius Et Jeannette Review


Weak
How's this for grand escapism? The caretaker of an abandoned cement factory falls in love with a supermarket clerk after she tries to steal some unused paint. Robert Guédiguian's love story is a thinly disguised fable about the superiority of "the simple life," but ultimately it says nothing. Boring and fairly tame for the genre, even for the French.

Nearest To Heaven Review


OK
"Reinventions" rarely work this way. Normally, when a filmmaker gets an idea to reimagine a movie, they do it with a modern flair, a younger cast, and a hip soundtrack. Rarely does a filmmaker take an old standard classic and remake it with actors in their fifties -- and in French.

The strange update of An Affair to Remember goes like this: A dazed and neurotic French woman named Fanette (Catherine Deneuve) is so obsessed with Affair that she sneaks into the movie theater constantly to see it. (You can still see An Affair to Remember in Paris theaters?) An old flame resurfaces -- she thinks -- and a mysterious note arrives suggesting she meet him in three days at the top of the Empire State Building, just like in Affair!

Continue reading: Nearest To Heaven Review

Venus Beauty Institute Review


OK
A movie that centers around the workplace can end up feeling like a sitcom. You have a couple of principal characters whose lives are examined, and a small cast of others that are thrown in to add pizazz to the storytelling. This may work in a well-written 22-minute TV show, but in Venus Beauty Institute it results in a film that eventually loses its focus, trying to rely on passion that just ain't that passionate.

Pity poor Angèle (Nathalie Baye). She toils away at the titular French beauty salon during the day, and looks for quick sexual encounters at night. In her 40s, she feels too burned by the loves in her past to get hurt again, and instead finds her happiness in hunting down men with whom to have trysts. Early in the film, she quickly approaches a stranger in a cafeteria, tactlessly luring him away from dinner so they can do it in his car. We get the feeling that she wants more -- a funny opening sequence where she gets dumped helps -- but she's too headstrong for that.

Continue reading: Venus Beauty Institute Review

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Gilles Sandoz Movies

Wild Side (2004) Movie Review

Wild Side (2004) Movie Review

It's a tale told over and over again: lonely souls adrift in a cruel world...

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Venus Beauty Institute Movie Review

Venus Beauty Institute Movie Review

A movie that centers around the workplace can end up feeling like a sitcom....

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