Jacques-Yves Cousteau's first fascination with the ocean began with his career as a Naval pilot, but over the next 30 years of his life that developed into a desire to venture deeper than any man has ever been before. The sea might be a dangerous place, but to him it was a world of beauty, of purity, of opportunity. It was thanks to his life's work and improvement of the aqua-lung design that aided the development of open-circuit scuba technology, allowing divers and explorers to travel to depths never before thought possible. He even boat his own ship, Calypso, and brought his wife Simone and sons Jean-Michel and Philippe on his many adventures. He wrote many books including the best-selling 'Silent World: A Story of Undersea Discovery and Adventure' and won a Palme d'or at Cannes Film Festival for the documentary adaptation 'The Silent World'. He was later awarded the coveted U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in 1985.
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When Justine, a naive vegetarian high school graduate, arrives at college as a freshman, it's safe to say she is overwhelmed by what awaits her. Fitting in hasn't always come naturally, and never has it been so important, but the social rituals this particular veterinary school have in mind are disturbing to say the least. There's a boy in her class who she's interested in, and whose interest she appears to gain, but when she's round at his dorm, they are stormed by students in balaclavas and blood stained white coats. They are rounding up freshmen like animals into a sickening hazing ritual where they are forced to swallow unidentifiable raw meat from the labs. After that, Justine finds herself with an almost painful craving for a meat, and none of her fellow students are safe from her unquenchable hunger
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Much more than an unsettling horror movie (although it is that too), this film gets under the skin to play with the audience's emotional response, eliciting dark sympathies with the killers. It's an uncanny trick that Belgian director Fabrice Du Welz (Calvaire) does extremely well. He's also adept at putting a fresh spin on a true story that's been filmed three times before (as The Honeymoon Killers in 1969, Deep Crimson in 1996 and Lonely Hearts in 2006) and has inspired countless other murderous-lovers-on-the-run movies.
This time it has an internet twist, as Gloria (Lola Duenas) finds Michel (Laurent Lucas) on a dating website. She prepares for the date by leaving her daughter with a friend (Stephane Bissot); he prepares by burning her photo and chanting, "May Gloria succumb to my charms!" Not that he needs to bother, because she falls for him, invites him home and even gives him some cash for the road. But when he fails to answer her calls, she tracks him down and rumbles him as he seduces another woman for money. Instead of denouncing him, she proposes a partnership, and they pose as brother and sister as he woos Marguerite (Edith Le Merdy). But Gloria has a jealousy problem that turns violently fatal, so they move on to another widow (Anne-Marie Loop), and then another (Helena Noguerra), by which time Michel realises he'll need to sedate Gloria.
Yes, there's a dryly comical slant to the story even as it gets increasingly violent and unnerving. But it only works this well because the filmmaking is fiendishly clever and the actors give bravely realistic performances. Duenas is astonishing as Gloria: funny, passionate and utterly terrifying. And Lucas is just as unflinching in his portrayal of Michel's weakness for women. Both of these characters have very dark souls, but they're great at hiding this from their unsuspecting victims until the last possible moment. The entire cast offers open-handed performances that are utterly transparent, and everything is more alarming as a result.
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Marc's route to his next show takes him through the heavily forested Hautes Fagnes in Liège. It's a dark, forbidding place, a no man's land of rain drenched forests and isolated, rotting farms. When his van breaks down, Marc makes his way to the only inn nearby. It's a decided austere affair run by a former performer, the chubby and sad Bartel (played by the brilliant Jackie Berroyer). Bartel offers his humble hospitality and help in fixing the van in exchange for some company. Marc accepts. He's got no other options.
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Alain Getty (Laurent Lucas) has a nice job at an engineering firm where he is designing a new kind of webcam that can help in everyday tasks. His wife Benedicte (Charlotte Gainsbourg) hasn't found a job yet and is still unpacking their things when Alain agrees to allow his boss and his wife to come over for a dinner. His boss, Richard (Andre Dussollier), arrives at the house with a jovial aura but his wife (Charlotte Rampling) has the disposition of a scorpion. That night, they find an injured lemming in their sink pipe. Since a lemming tends to only live in Scandinavia, it freaks Alain out big time. Things don't get any better when the boss' wife commits suicide in the Gettys' house, which prompts Benedicte to take a very strange turn in mood.
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In With a Friend Like Harry, two former schoolmates accidentally meet in a roadside bathroom. Michel (Laurent Lucas) is on vacation with his wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner) and their three little daughters. He is harried and haggard, far from enjoying this so-called vacation: an endless ride with whining and screaming kids in an un-air conditioned car. Harry (Sergi López) is everything Michel is not: Sleek and self-contained, he doesn't seem to be burdened by anything except good memories and a load of money. Within minutes, Harry invites himself and his girlfriend, a corpulent, springy bun named Plum (Sophie Guillemin), to Michel's house -- to reminisce about the good old school days Michel himself can barely remember.
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While the Hollywood assembly line cranks out more and more formulaic, cookie-cutter psycho movies about slashers, stalkers and serial killers, a hit French thriller has slipped in under the radar, so sublimely subtle and tangible it makes "The Talented Mr. Ripley" look like a dog and pony show.
The film is called "With a Friend Like Harry" and the title character has an M.O. similar to Tom Ripley's -- he elbows his way into the life of an old classmate who doesn't remember him. But Harry (Sergi Lopez) certainly remembers -- scratch that -- has memorized everything about Michel (Laurent Lucas), a man he hasn't seen in 20 years.
The two of them meet by chance in a service station bathroom as Michel and his family are on their way to their fixer-upper country cottage for a vacation. By way of offering Michel's kids and wife a ride in his air-conditioned Mercedes on this stiflingly hot day, Harry invites himself and his sumptuous young fiancée Plum (Sophie Guillemin, "L'ennui") along on this family vacation.
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Jacques-Yves Cousteau's first fascination with the ocean began with his career as a Naval pilot,...
When Justine, a naive vegetarian high school graduate, arrives at college as a freshman, it's...
Much more than an unsettling horror movie (although it is that too), this film gets...
Filled with a tantalizing air of suspense, With a Friend Like Harry is an unusual...