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The Kid With A Bike Review

A striking central performance and the Dardennes' usual intimate filmmaking bring this simple story to vivid life in ways that are moving and sometimes gasp-inducing. It's a striking film with a real kick in its tale.

Cyril (Doret) is an angry tornado of a boy who lives in a care home with no idea where his father has moved. In a fit of desperation, he goes in search of his beloved bike, which is found by a neighbour, Samantha (De France). Her kindness strikes a chord with Cyril, and he starts visiting her for weekends.

She also helps him find his father (Renier), who can't cope with the responsibilities of fatherhood. But Cyril then turns to a local thug (Di Mateo), who teaches him how to rob a local businessman.

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Potiche Review

A sense of barbed optimism infuses this 1977-set French comedy. Not only does it keep a smile on our faces, but it also quietly says some potent things about old prejudices that still linger in Western society.

Life-loving Suzanne (Deneuve) is married to uptight umbrella factory manager Robert (Luchini). Their daughter Joelle (Godreche) is fed up with her controlling husband, determined not to become a trophy wife like her mother, while their son Laurent (Renier) is marrying someone Robert feels is unacceptable. Meanwhile, the union is on strike for better conditions, and when Robert refuses to give his workers anything, Suzanne starts negotiating with a union-friendly local politician Maurice (Debardieu) with whom she has a past.

Soon the children and Robert's secretary (Viard) are in the middle of a farce.

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Potiche Trailer

The Pujol family make umbrellas, in the town of Sainte-Gudule. Robert is the head of the family and he rules his business and household in a very similar fashion. His wife, Suzanne, is a very bright and beautiful woman who's mothered their children and allowed Robert to get on with running the family business. Remember, in 1977, a womans place was in the home and the fairer sex wasn't respected in industry.

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Summer Hours Review

Summer Hours, the extraordinary new film by Olivier Assayas, opens on a group of kids, running and laughing around the front lawn of their grandmother's bucolic countryside manor. Their game is aimless, incorporating elements of tag and the use of a map drawn in invisible ink. Up at the house, three siblings, the parents of the brood, aimlessly wander around as the maid prepares a late lunch for them. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The silver-haired matriarch of this subdued clan -- the antithesis of the tribe of lunatics in A Christmas Tale -- is Hélène (Edith Scob), a one-time art-world staple. Her three children are just about as different as three siblings can be: There's flighty Adrienne (Juliette Binoche), a designer of sorts living in New York; young and ambitious Jérémie (Jérémie Renier), who works for Puma Sneakers in Peking; and nostalgic Frédéric (Charles Berling), the eldest, an economist who doesn't believe in economics. Sentimentalist and stubborn nationalist that he is, Frédéric laughs his mother off when she tells him he will have to sell the house when she dies, insisting the house will stay in the family.

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In Bruges Review

The Bruges Chamber of Commerce should be delighted with at least part of Martin McDonagh's film In Bruges, as it provides an unprecedented and absolutely ravishing look at the architecture of this gorgeous Belgian town that appears to have been dropped into the 21st century from a pristine, fairy-tale version of the Middle Ages. They should be happy as a good number of people, after seeing the film, will be tempted to hop on the next flight to the little jewel box of a medieval village, all canals and pristinely preserved Gothic architecture. Such town boosters will be less delighted with other aspects of this dark-as-night comedy, in which a pair of hitmen hiding out in the town spend their time arguing over whether or not the town is, in fact, "a shithole." Later on, the guns come out, large quantities of blood are spilled, and a story that had been weaving a fairy-tale ambience up until that point turns into an entirely different kind of fairy tale -- one that doesn't exactly cater to tourists.

Writer/director McDonagh has dabbled in fairy tales before, in his grimly funny and ultraviolent stage plays like the Tarantino-esque The Lieutenant of Inishmore and, particularly, The Pillowman, which knocked Broadway audiences for a loop back in 2005 with its mix of bloody, Grimm-like Germanic storytelling and anonymous, Kafkaesque modernity. With his feature directorial debut (his short film, Six Shooter, won an Oscar in 2006), McDonagh takes his particular theatrical affinity for finding cockeyed laughs in horrendous situations and creates a precisely structured and knock-you-down hilarious comedy of violence with a film that (hopefully) announces a great new cinematic talent.

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Private Property Review

Sibling rivalry and real estate disputes are two great topics for cinematic drama. Mix the two together, and you can hope for some serious combustion. In Private Property, divorced Pascale (the always elegant Isabelle Huppert) lives with her twenty-something twin sons, François (Yannick Renier) and Thierry (Jérémie Renier) on a beautiful Belgian farm that she won in a bitter divorce ten years earlier. The stage is set.

It's a strange life. When Pascale is not battling her ex-husband over money, she's trying to control her bratty sons, who seem to have no desire whatsoever to behave like adults. François is more of a mama's boy, while Thierry has a temper and has traditionally sided with his father in family disputes. Pascale, who only now is starting to date again, needs to break out of this routine.

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L'Enfant Review

A mother is carrying her new-born baby back to her apartment. She holds the little bugger, named Jimmy, close to her breast and makes her way up the stairs and knocks on the door. To her surprise, there are two strangers having sex in her apartment. Her boyfriend has lent the room out for the day for some extra dough. She leaves the apartment building and searches for the boyfriend/father. In any other world, this would be the set up for Lifetime's April movie of the month. Don't fret: We're in the world of the Dardenne barothers (Jean-Pierre and Luc), two men who can turn just about anything into a pondering on modern social spirituality.

The young mother in question is Sonia (Déborah François) and she finally finds her boyfriend, Bruno (Jérémie Renier) on a street, scheming to rob a man with two teenagers. Bruno sees the baby as a passing interest, something that makes Sonia happy so he is happy. Bruno is not smart and he resorts to crime often, but he is by no means a bad person; he sees most things in terms of how much he can get for them. Therefore, when he is left alone with Jimmy, his impulses lead him to sell the child on the black market. When he shows the wad of money to Sonia, she faints and calls the cops on her awakening. Bruno gets the child back, but not without owing money to some local hoods, which forces him into robbery again with his frequent partner, Steve (Jérémie Segard).

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Criminal Lovers Review

She's a mouthy, demanding, bratty femme fatale who always wants her own way. Her cuckold is a slightly goofy young fellow who hangs on her every word and submissively goes along with whatever scheme she cooks up. These are our unsympathetic heroes in Francois Ozon's latest exercise in cinematic shock treatment, Criminal Lovers.

After a preliminary scene in bed where the girl, Alice (Natacha Regnier, unrecognizable from The Dreamlife of Angels), mouths off to the boy, Luc (Jeremie Renier), taking a photograph of his limp penis and threatening to mail it to his mother, they commit a violent crime. Without fully knowing their motive, our title characters meander into a high school shower and stab their jock classmate Said (Salim Kechiouche).

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The Pornographer Review

An old adult filmmaker is out of money, so he comes out of retirement to shoot a couple more porno films. But in the '00s, he finds things aren't the same as they were back in his heyday. Stories and symbolism -- a love story!? -- are all out the window. Now it's all about the explicit sex, and the dirtier the better. Although Jacques (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is the director in name, he finds the younger crew around him controlling the set. He finishes the film depressed.

Bertrand Bonello's film isn't just a study of how porn has degenerated from adult-oriented love stories to rank perversion, it's also a film about how the movies themselves have changed, especially French cinema. No longer thoughtful spectacles, even Gallic films have succumbed to the need to shock and awe.

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Brotherhood Of The Wolf Review


"Brotherhood of the Wolf" isn't a bad pre-Revolutionary French action-horror flick, per se. But everything that's wrong with it can be summed up by noting that if it had been made in English, it would have starred Christopher Lambert, that heavy-browed, stiff and oh-so-serious staple of glossy B-fantasy swordplay flicks like the "Highlander" series.

It's lavishly over-produced yet full of cheap cinematic artifice -- like gratuitous, unmotivated, absurdly dramatic slow motion and over-the-top sound effects. It takes itself very seriously for a movie with blinders on to its pronounced plot holes. It features ominous secret-society meetings of evil aristocrats who wear masks and velvet robes. And it has a hunky blond hero (Samuel Le Bihan) with period-inaccurate, rock star mullet hair, who sports war paint and twirls twin swords -- just because it looks cool -- during martial arts duels set in cathedral-like mossy forests.

Everything that's right with "Brotherhood of the Wolf" is harder to explain. Set in a dark French province beset by some stealthy supernatural beast that's goring villagers, the film is thick with atmospheric peril and mystery that seems to have hung in the vaporous air for ages.

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