Jean-claude Dreyfus

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Delicatessen Review


Excellent
Before Jean-Pierre Jeunet became the critics' darling with this whimsical romance Amelie, he was known to geek film aficionados the world over for crafting one of the early '90s most audacious and thrilling cult sleepers, Delicatessen.

It's really quite shameful that the majority of Americans who enjoy Amelie and Jeunet's ill-fated follow up, the overlong but beautiful and quirky A Very Long Engagement, know nothing of Delicatessen. While Alien fans scoffed at Jeunet's wicked retooling of the franchise with Alien:Alien: Resurrection, it was but a pale shadow of his early, dark work with his co-collaborator and muse, Marc Caro.

Continue reading: Delicatessen Review

Delicatessen Review


Excellent
Before Jean-Pierre Jeunet became the critics' darling with this whimsical romance Amelie, he was known to geek film aficionados the world over for crafting one of the early '90s most audacious and thrilling cult sleepers, Delicatessen.

It's really quite shameful that the majority of Americans who enjoy Amelie and Jeunet's ill-fated follow up, the overlong but beautiful and quirky A Very Long Engagement, know nothing of Delicatessen. While Alien fans scoffed at Jeunet's wicked retooling of the franchise with Alien:Alien: Resurrection, it was but a pale shadow of his early, dark work with his co-collaborator and muse, Marc Caro.

Continue reading: Delicatessen Review

Two Brothers Review


Good
Set against the dramatic backdrops of the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia and the jungles of Cambodia and Thailand, Two Brothers is a gorgeously filmed fable centering on two tiger cub brothers that suffer at the hands of humans, only to rise up against their captors and overcome. Let's just say that if you sided more with the tiger in the Siegfried and Roy mauling, this is definitely the film for you.

Director Jean-Jacques Annaud (Enemy at the Gates, The Lover) returns to wild animal territory last seen in his film The Bear, choosing to focus his latest project - a children's movie - on two live, non-talking, non-CGI tigers. The result is a pleasantly sweet-natured and sometimes remarkable kids' film. Perhaps the biggest shocker is that, in these days of Babe and Pixar, Universal let this honest tale get out of the edit room without CGI-ing in even a single eyebrow-raise on these cubs' faces.

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The Lady and the Duke Review


Excellent
"Through a spyglass, I could see everything." King Louis XVI was beheaded on January 21, 1793, but instead of visualizing this act of regicide, legendary auteur Eric Rohmer's The Lady and the Duke observes from afar. Consider it a view to a kill made abstract. A proper British (yes, British) gentlewoman, Grace Elliott (Lucy Russell), and her loyal maidservant gaze from a lofty terrace in Meudon at the glistening city of Paris, where raucous crowds seem tinier than ants. The maid narrates what little she sees of the execution through her telescope (often muttering, "I don't know,") as the sound of cheering patriots and revolutionaries echoes through the air. What we don't see might not be able to hurt us. Just close your eyes and think of England.

During times of revolution, the aristocracy may feel a false sense of calm in their parlor halls, discussing tumultuous events over glasses of sherry until the walls cave in on them. Adapted from Elliott's memoirs, Journal of My Life During the French Revolution, Rohmer's latest artistic tour-de-force may seem far removed from his domestic comedies (Tales of the Four Seasons, etc.), a period film set during the most violent changes in French history. Resisting the temptation for grand-scale theatrics, much of The Lady and the Duke is about quiet, decisive moments between members of the cultural elite as they determine how to proceed as the world implodes.

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A Very Long Engagement Review


OK
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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The Lady & The Duke Review


Grim

A visually experimental but narratively lifeless French Revolution melodrama, "The Lady and the Duke" ("L'Anglaise Et Le Duc") recounts events surrounding Louis XVI's overthrow and the violent underbelly of its aftermath for the upper classes.

Taking a page from George Lucas's playbook, prolific Gaelic director Eric Rohmer ("Autumn Tale") shot the film against blue screens with minimal sets, creating the oil painting-like world in which action unfolds largely through computer-generated imagery in post-production.

But while this high-tech art flick is a worthwhile curiosity on the moviemaking front (its style bears a low-budget resemblance to "What Dreams May Come"), its story is a dull and academic one. It's told almost entirely from inside the soundstagey drawing rooms of English expatriate Grace Elliott (Lucy Russell), a real historical figure who had plenty of opinions but no influence to speak of.

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Two Brothers Review


OK

"Two Brothers" is a rare animal indeed: A critter movie not just for kids, with well-drawn, well-acted human roles that are more than just sidekicks for the stars of the show -- two extraordinarily expressive Asian tigers named Kumal and Sangha.

Generally a Serious Actor drawn to atypical grown-up dramas like "Memento" and "A Slipping Down Life," Guy Pearce is especially good as Aidan McRory, a famous, roguish adventurer, hunter and unscrupulous treasure profiteer in 1920s French Indochina, who becomes an occasional fixture in the tigers' lives. But Pearce also clearly understands he's in a supporting role and lets no movie-star pride get in the way of the story.

The first half of the film is about the cubhood of timid, curious Kumal and bold, protective Sangha, and how each comes to be captured as humans encroach on their territory and each of their parents is shot. Coincidentally, both tigers are rescued separately by McRory, but his own misfortune (he's arrested for looting archeological sites) leads to Kumal being sold to a gypsy circus, where his spirit is broken, and Sangha being turned into a trained killer by the emperor's private zookeeper.

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