It all starts with a poor valet named Francois Pignon (Gad Elmalah), who wants to be the knight-in-shining-armor to his longtime friend and crush Emile (Virginie Ledoyen). Emile needs money to keep open her quaint little bookshop, money that Francois is sadly without. Enter Mr. Levasseur (the great Daniel Auteuil), a philandering corporate dud, and Elena (stunner Alice Taglioni), his model girlfriend, who get photographed together by accident, with Pignon right next to them. The scheme gets thick: The businessman will stake the dough for Emile's store if Francois pretends to be the model's lowly boyfriend. The tent for the media circus is quickly erected as Christine (Kristen Scott Thomas), the businessman's loaded wife, mounts her own investigation into the validity of the relationship.
Continue reading: The Valet Review
The film opens interestingly, almost Matrix-like, as a woman (Arly Jover) is seen undergoing some kind of treatment for amnesia -- she can remember just about everyone except her husband. Increasingly suspicious and susceptible to flashbacks, she help from a psychiatrist who turns her on to the scars behind her ears and on her scalp. An x-ray reveals she's full of metal pins. Someone has done a major plastic surgery number on the gal. An hour into the 128-minute affair we get the film's primary revelation: Jover's Anna was once Turkish!
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And mon dieu, what parents she has! Victorine's mother (Myriam Boyer) is quite insane, and her father (Marcello Mastroianni) is a raging alcoholic who spends most of the movie hunched over a bar drinking pastis. They torment Victorine at every stage of her young life, and we see every stage, with Grinberg acting 12, 16, 20, or 25 as the scene demands. With just the change of an outfit and some altered body language, we get Victorine as a middle schooler in love with her daddy, as a married woman with several children (it's hard to tell how many), as a tough teenager looking for trouble, and as a preteen willing to give up her virginity to anyone who'll be nice to her. Linear chronology flies out the window, and you're never quite sure what you're seeing, especially when dead characters reappear to chat with Victorine or address the audience. It's a tour de force for Grinberg, although some of its power dissipates in the overall confusion of the storytelling.
Continue reading: Un, Deux, Trois, Soleil Review
Continue reading: The Big Blue Review
Luc Besson, imaginative mind behind such notable works of art such as The Professional, La Femme Nikita, and The Big Blue, has created such a memorable mess of things with his newest release, The Messenger. A car crash of a movie headed straight for the Days of Heaven territory.
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It's eight years later, and Poiré has directed another small comedy about two 12th century Frenchmen (hmm, played by Jean Reno and that same popular French guy) who are mistakenly transported to Chicago 2000. Hey, wait a minute!
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Pignon's wife couldn't stand him and left two years ago, yet he still phones regularly to her and their indifferent teenage son. After learning that he is soon to be fired, Pignon, distraught, returns home and meets that "perfect stranger" we all want to meet someday: The one who steps into our life and brings magic into it. From that moment on, the neighbor, Belone (Michel Aumont), navigates Pignon's life like a chess game.
Continue reading: The Closet Review
What can I say about The Fifth Element that you haven't probably heard already? Not much, but I will say that The Fifth Element is a mess -- a mess of grand proportions, full of dazzling colors, lights, explosions, outfits, and... hairstyles. Designer John-Paul Gaultier's involvement with Luc Besson's creation (the most expensive French production ever) is well-known, as is Milla Jovovich's role as Leeloo, supposedly the most perfect being (but I wouldn't have pegged her as being so flaky).
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