Jean Bouise

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I Am Cuba Review


Excellent
At this writing (Novenber 2007), a just-released undercover poll of Cuban citizens reflects their unhappiness with the Castro regime and government leadership. That's the Cuba of today. I Am Cuba is the Cuba of yesterday, a slowly building rage of cinematic propaganda, created to showcase the island nation's beauty -- and the supposedly just causes for the anti-Batista revolution.

I Am Cuba is a fantastic film curiosity. Released in 1964 (shown in the States in '95), the film is a co-production of the Soviet and Cuban governments, with the call for Communist uprising as the ultimate message. Unique as that is, I Am Cuba has also become the gold standard for remarkable cinematography, with structure, movement and creativity that rivals the visual work seen in Citizen Kane.

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The Big Blue Review


Good
No wonder audiences didn't connect with this film, an early Luc Besson-Jean Reno collaboration that explores the mysterious world of deep deep diving. Oddly, The Big Blue is somehow a love story as well, with Rosanna Arquette and Jean-Marc Barr making goo-goo eyes between his deep dives and swims with the dolphins. The Reno-Barr rivalry (who can dive deeper) consitutes the bulk of the film, as well as its most dramatic moments, but the strange dolphin symbolism, blue-tinted photography, and self-important chest-beating will likely leave most viewers out to sea.

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Le Dernier Combat Review


Very Good
In the wake of 1982's post-apocalyptic powerhouse The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) theaters were glutted with cheap imitations. Anyone with access to a desert, some leather, beaten up cars and a few prop guns could make a post-apocalyptic film. Theatergoers thrilled by the prospects of seeing another Road Warrior were suckered into bottom-of-the-barrel rip-offs like Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone and Warrior of the Lost World. But most missed Luc Besson's (La Femme Nikita) 1983 take on post-apocalyptic life.

Operatic, furious, and unrelenting, The Road Warrior is nearly devoid of humanity. It is a vision of a world where the only escape from maddening chaos is blinding speed - moving as fast as possible along a road with no ending, no future. And The Road Warrior captures that nihilistic bent wholly. Le Dernier Combat approaches the same chaos - civilization reduced to rubble, humanity profaned - and suggests that the only way out is order, not escape. Besson sees the same world but with a fanciful eye. (While Le Dernier Combat was begun in color, it is Besson's stunning use of B&W Cinemascope that lends the film its polished, big-budget look. The style is "cinema du look," vogue in the '80s relying heavily on aesthetics over depth, consumer fetishism and "window shopping.")

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The Big Blue Review


Good

A giant metaphor for freedom and self-discovery, directed by a young Luc Besson who had yet to discover his self-indulgent streak, "The Big Blue" is a visceral and turbulent, yet strangely tranquil and beautiful cinematic experience that plumbs the souls of a pair of competitive deep-sea divers who are at once best friends and bitter rivals.

Made in 1988 and reissued this summer in a 40-minutes-longer director's cut, it's one of those rare films you can't help but be affected by on some level. Its vivid photography and even more vivid performances strike a nerve as the film follows the warm but antagonistic friendship between bombastic Enzo (a pre-"Professional" Jean Reno) and quiet, private and deeply reflective Jacques (a pre-"Zentropa" Jean-Marc Barr) beginning with their shared childhood in a craggy, cliff-side, coastal Greek hamlet.

Years later they meet again and form a powerful bond and a dangerous rivalry after discovering they're both record-setting divers who can hold their breaths for super-human lengths of time and plunge to unimaginable depths in professional diving competitions around the Mediterranean.

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The Big Blue Movie Review

The Big Blue Movie Review

A giant metaphor for freedom and self-discovery, directed by a young Luc Besson who had...

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