Raymond Hakim

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Belle De Jour Review


Extraordinary
Martin Scorsese has done us all a great service by reviving the little-seen classic, Belle De Jour, Luis Buñuel darkly comic and disturbing 1967 tale of Séverine (Catherine Deneuve), a woman who lives a double life. By evening she is the steadfast, almost-frigid wife of a famed French doctor (Jean Sorel). By day, she is "Belle de Jour" -- her new "stage name" at an exclusive Parisian brothel.

Buñuel weaves masterfully through scenes of Séverine's hum-drum existence with her cold husband, her surreal day job as a wanton prostitute, flashbacks to her childhood, and bizarre daydreams of her humiliation, bondage, rape, and torture. Deneuve is exquisite, playing one of the most difficult roles imaginable with her characteristic grace. I find it incredible that this film has gone unnoticed for so long.

Continue reading: Belle De Jour Review

Belle De Jour Review


Extraordinary
Martin Scorsese has done us all a great service by reviving the little-seen classic, Belle De Jour, Luis Buñuel darkly comic and disturbing 1967 tale of Séverine (Catherine Deneuve), a woman who lives a double life. By evening she is the steadfast, almost-frigid wife of a famed French doctor (Jean Sorel). By day, she is "Belle de Jour"--her new "stage name" at an exclusive Parisian brothel.

Buñuel weaves masterfully through scenes of Séverine's hum-drum existence with her cold husband, her surreal day job as a wanton prostitute, flashbacks to her childhood, and bizarre daydreams of her humiliation, bondage, rape, and torture. Deneuve is exquisite, playing one of the most difficult roles imaginable with her characteristic grace. I find it incredible that this film has gone unnoticed for so long.

Continue reading: Belle De Jour Review

L'Eclisse Review


Very Good
It's impossible not to sound like a snob when writing about Antonioni's movies -- hell, the guy's name is "Michelangelo" -- but writing about the spare L'Eclisse is the worst job of all.

Antonioni's films rarely vary from a tight thematic script that ranges from melancholy to loneliness to despair. In L'Eclisse, he focuses that beam on Monica Vitti, an almost stereotypically detached Italian woman whose engagement falls apart in the opening scenes of the film -- though it's virtually without dialogue for 15 minutes. Eventually Vitti's Vittoria hooks up with Piero (Alain Delon), and the remainder of the film concerns their relationship -- as it were, anyway.

Continue reading: L'Eclisse Review

Pépé Le Moko Review


Excellent
You have to like a movie that was the true inspiration to that famous animated skunk Pépé le Pew.

1937's Pépé le Moko was directed by Julien Duvivier and was an immediate critical and box office success. Viewed in hindsight it's easy to see that the film captures a few stylistic aspects important to the French cinema and stands as a major influence to Hollywood in the 1940s; particularly poetic realism, crime noir, and the policier genre (i.e. cops and robbers). Poetic realism in this case is closer to fatalistic romanticism, which never really got a foothold in Hollywood, but the noir characteristics and the policier aspect was played out throughout the 1940s and '50s and goes on straight through to today. The film spawned two Hollywood remakes and there are also obvious parallels with Casablanca, which came out in 1942.

Continue reading: Pépé Le Moko Review

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