Louis Malle

Louis Malle

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Le Combat Dans L'île Review


Extraordinary
Hemorrhaging lost masterpieces as if it were a newly uncovered bounty of Nazi gold, the 1960s go one more with Alain Cavalier's magnificent Le Combat Dans L'île, literally translated as "The Combat on the Island." Loosed from the distribution impound lot, it comes not long after the rediscovery of Godard's sublime and spontaneous Made in USA and the globe-trotting opus Army of Shadows; films made by two directors to which Cavalier's film was meant to serve as a blithe rebuke.

Produced by friend and mentor Louis Malle, Cavalier's metamorphosing tale of obsession and repression was originally met with middling reviews in l'hexagon upon its release in 1962. Surrounded by the "dirty war" in Algeria, Cavalier and co-scripter Jean-Paul Rappeneau set out to condemn not only what the government sold as "maintaining the order in a province," despite broad support for the war.

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Au Revoir, Les Enfants Review


Excellent
Louis Malle made a lot of films about coming of age and losing childish innocence over his storied career. But none is so powerful as Au Revoir, Les Enfants, Malle's autobiographical tale of the time he spent in a Franch boarding school during the German occupation of his homeland.

The tale revolves around a new student, Jean Bonnet, and one of the other lads there, the pint-sized Julien Quentin. It's obvious to everyone that Bonnet isn't like the other kids -- he has curly hair and doesn't eat pork -- and soon enough the fact that he's Jewish is an open secret among the kids. The Catholic priests have taken him in as an act of charity, along with a few other Jewish boys living under pseudonyms now that their parents have vanished. Think of it as The Diary of Anne Frank by way of Dead Poets Society.

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Murmur of the Heart Review


Excellent
When the French come of age, they really come of age. That is, I don't recall any of the kids in Stand By Me having sex with his mother.

Hope that doesn't ruin anything for you,but you ought to be aware what you're getting into with Louis Malle's seminal work, Murmur of the Heart, often described as a "lighthearted" film and Malle's best work, particularly of the movies he made in his homeland of France.

Continue reading: Murmur of the Heart Review

A Very Private Affair Review


Grim
In A Very Private Affair, Brigitte Bardot gets to basically play herself, an overacting, overstacked blonde goddess who just can't take it any more when the pressures of celebrity get to her. Her performance is just short of a tragedy, and the plot is saccharine, asking us to feel sorry for the plight of her movie starlet when the paparazzi flock to her country place after word surfaces about her "very private" affair with an older man. When press light a bonfire in your yard to keep warm and helicopters hover right over your roof, sure, you should get upset. But in that case reality will have dissolved completely, so why worry?

Continue reading: A Very Private Affair Review

Elevator To The Gallows Review


Excellent
How Louis Malle got such a wide swath of talent for this first narrative feature I'll never know. But I'm not complaining: Elevator to the Gallows is unlike any film Malle would make in subsequent years: A taut, black and white thriller that speaks to the treachery and hopelessness of mankind, a far cry from his later, optimistic thought pieces.

Gallows gives us a familiar setup: Woman (Jeanne Moreau) wants rich husband dead. Her lover Julien (Maurice Roget), who works for the man, murders him and makes it look like a suicide. But Julien leaves his rope outside his penthouse office window. With all his gear in the car, Julien heads back to retrieve the evidence, but security guards shut off the power in the elevator on the way down. Meanwhile, the car is stolen, the young couple who take it pretend they're Julien and wife, and subsequently kill a pair of German tourists. Julien is unknowingly framed for that crime, all while trying to escape the elevator he's stuck in.

Continue reading: Elevator To The Gallows Review

Au Revoir, Les Enfants Review


Excellent
Louis Malle made a lot of films about coming of age and losing childish innocence over his storied career. But none is so powerful as Au Revoir, Les Enfants, Malle's autobiographical tale of the time he spent in a Franch boarding school during the German occupation of his homeland.

The tale revolves around a new student, Jean Bonnet, and one of the other lads there, the pint-sized Julien Quentin. It's obvious to everyone that Bonnet isn't like the other kids -- he has curly hair and doesn't eat pork -- and soon enough the fact that he's Jewish is an open secret among the kids. The Catholic priests have taken him in as an act of charity, along with a few other Jewish boys living under pseudonyms now that their parents have vanished. Think of it as The Diary of Anne Frank by way of Dead Poets Society.

Continue reading: Au Revoir, Les Enfants Review

Murmur of the Heart Review


Excellent
When the French come of age, they really come of age. That is, I don't recall any of the kids in Stand By Me having sex with his mother.

Hope that doesn't ruin anything for you,but you ought to be aware what you're getting into with Louis Malle's seminal work, Murmur of the Heart, often described as a "lighthearted" film and Malle's best work, particularly of the movies he made in his homeland of France.

Continue reading: Murmur of the Heart Review

May Fools Review


OK
Louis Malle's farce has a gaggle of Frenchies bickering over an inheritance, all while the 1968 student uprisings are occurring around the oblivious relatives. Occasionally random storytelling gets in the way of an otherwise light and fun film. And who doesn't love that Miou-Miou!?

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Spirits of the Dead Review


Good
A rare '60s oddity, Spirits of the Dead takes a weird premise and makes it even weirder. How weird? Try classic Edgar Allen Poe stories given a 1960s spin -- one that lambasts the whole free love/no morals movement the way that only the Frenchies could do. And stars some of the biggest stars of the era -- Fonda! Bardot! Delon! -- and is told in three short pieces, courtesy of three big-time directors -- Fellini! Malle! Vadim!

Roger Vadim takes his Barbarella star Jane Fonda through a very loose interpretation of "Metzengerstein," with Fonda as an aristocrat bored of the constant orgies and swift executions of her enemies. She ends up falling for her cousin, but when he rejects her, she burns down his stable, taking him along with it. Strangely, the cousin ends up possessing the spirit of a horse, which the countess ends up fascinated with anew. It's the weakest of the three shorts, but it's worth seeing if for no other reason than to see Barbarella trot out her French. (To be honest, that might be the only reason -- the story just doesn't make much of an impact.)

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Pretty Baby Review


Good
Here's the film that introduced the world to Brooke Sheilds' eyebrows.

As a 12-year-old daughter of a prostitute (Susan Sarandon) in 1917 New Orleans (when hooking was legal), Sheilds' Violet immediately becomes one of the most memorable characters in the last 30 years of cinema. But let's be honest, a lot of that is due to the unbridled eroticism of her role. She's not just often naked and carousing, she's pretty blase about it. This is a 12-year-old with about twice the world-weariness of Kramer vs. Kramer's Justin Henry.

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A Very Private Affair Review


Grim
In A Very Private Affair, Brigitte Bardot gets to basically play herself, an overacting, overstacked blonde goddess who just can't take it any more when the pressures of celebrite get to her. Her performance is just short of a tragedy, and the plot is saccharine, asking us to feel sorry for the plight of her movie starlet when the paparazzi flock to her country place after word surfaces about her "very private" affair with an older man. When press light a bonfire in your yard to keep warm and helicopters hover right over your roof, sure, you should get upset. But in that case reality will have dissolved completely, so why worry?

Continue reading: A Very Private Affair Review

Louis Malle

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