Jean Marais

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Stealing Beauty Review


Bad
Stealing Beauty is a bad movie. Bernardo Bertolucci, the Academy Award-winning director of 1987's The Last Emperor, is dead. He has been replaced with a hormonal and juvenile kid, masquerading as a filmmaker, desperately trying to appeal to a cerebral audience yet maintaining enough accessibility for the moviegoing public.

Stealing Beauty fails miserably on both counts.

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Beauty And The Beast (1946) Review


Essential
When Jean Cocteau began to direct Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la bête) in 1946, he was known primarily as a poet and a painter. After the film was released he instantly became one of the finest French directors of his era. As it stands today Beauty and the Beast is still one of the best French films ever made.

The basic story, by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, is well known to most of us: A merchant (Marcel André) steals a rose from an estate owned by a beastly looking character. The Beast (Jean Marais) tells the merchant that he will spare his life if one of his daughters can stand in for him. The merchant reluctantly offers up his daughter Belle (Josette Day). She enters the Beast's world completely afraid of him but in time she grows to pity and then understand him. Ultimately she falls in love with him for his inner beauty rather than his external ugliness. And just about the time she accepts him for his ugly nature, he turns into a prince.

Continue reading: Beauty And The Beast (1946) Review

Elena And Her Men Review


Good
1956's Elena and Her Men, the third in an informal trilogy of films Jean Renoir made upon returning from the U.S. and following his work here during the war, shares a common theme with its trilogy mates. This theme - the ways in which theater and life interact, and in which the territory of the first encroaches on the latter - in fact preoccupied Renoir throughout his career. In Elena and Her Men (unlike the other two films, The Golden Coach and French Cancan), the film's principals are not stage actors. Their performances are given in the political and social arenas; Renoir concludes the trilogy, fittingly, with the assertion that all the world is indeed a stage.

Elena and Her Men tells the story of the title woman, a Polish princess living a life of high style in Paris despite the secret fact of her poverty. She's widowed, and although men throw themselves at her, she's unfocused romantically and takes these suitors on as projects rather than potential mates; she sees her work as assisting them in achieving their potential, and when they do, she moves on. Her ability is linked to the daisies she distributes to her men as charms, and these magical daisies infallibly do the job.

Continue reading: Elena And Her Men Review

Donkey Skin Review


Good
If you see just one film with a donkey that craps gold and jewels, see this one. Jacques Demy's bizarre fairy tale stars his favorite muse, Catherine Deneuve, in a story unlike anything you've ever seen: A king attempts to marry his own daughter (Deneuve), so she's whisked away in a donkey skin by her fairy godmother. Did I mention the blue people and the donkey that craps gold? Fine for kids.

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