Archive for the ‘ENGLISH’ Category

“A prophet”, directed by Jacques Audiard in 2009.

28/02/2010

Malik has been sentenced to six year’s imprisonment. His lawyer let him know that as an adult he will be transferred to the central (a prison reserved for inmates serving long sentences). He is manhandled upon his arrival by the Corsican group which gets its paws on him during the first walk. The boss Cesare Luciani tells him what his mission is: to make friends with a fellow prisoner, cut his throat in his cell and make it look like a suicide. Malik, realizing that he has no choice, beats someone up in the attempt to be sent to the isolation ward. Unluckily he gets caught by the prison guards who are bribed by the Corsicans. Malik then carries out the deal with a razor blade hidden in the jaw.

Without anyone to pay him a visit, Malik will rapidly finds himself at home in the prison. He will benefit, as his elders do, from small privileges granted by the protection of Luciani. Having no real alternative, Malik will adapt to the environment in which he is immersed and will learn very quickly how to progress in the underworld. Taking advantage of its weekly release, he begins his own business on the outside. His scheming will comes into conflict with the Luciani’s interests.

“The Prophet” is a film which shows us the learning in the process. It portrays a young offender whose detention will turn him into a hardened criminal. But make no mistake, this picture is no ordinary gangster film. It is rather the story of a special destiny changing before our eyes from the beginning to the end of his confinement.


Jacques Audiard’s film has a sense of unparalleled power, a film in which we witness the making of a criminal. A story where brutality and malleability are respectively expressed by Niels Arestrup Tahar Rahim. Both characters complement each other perfectly. The two performances were justly rewarded by the Cesar statuette award for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor.

Needless to mention however what the film is not about. Indeed, the political dimension of reintegration after jail term is completely absent of the film. It was simply not the director’s intent to raise the issue. Equally unnecessary is the criticizing of the film for its lack of reality, the audience knows that the prison situation in France is not that of the United States. What matters is that the film is credible and in that sense “a prophet” is truer than reality.

“City of Fear”, a film by Dummies!

21/02/2010
Odile is at the film market in Cannes to promote “Red Is Dead”, a horror film like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” where a communist serial killer murders his victims  with a sickle and a hammer. But the room is always empty before the end of the screening. Fortunately enough for the press officer, a series of murders similar to those in the film -the projectionists of “red is dead” are killed the same way- gets the film out of anonymity and make a unexpected publicity.

Simon, the lead actor who has not acted since the release of the film at Cannes is recalled by Odile. The latter assigns him a bodyguard, Serge Karamazov, who, smarter than ever, already suspects the presence of a “serial killer”.

Cult film if any, “City of Fear” is full of gags. It captivates the audience from beginning to end  by keeping the suspense in the most absurd way. The non-sense humor of the “dummies team” is absutely great and it takes several viewings to identify all the brainwaves of the film, some dumber than the others. A few memorable passages – the Carioca, the chase, the outcome – are still etched in the collective memory.

With among others: Chantal Lauby, Alain Chabat, Dominique Farrugia and Gérard Darmon. A movie directed by Alain Barberian in 1994.

“The Big Blue”. Luc Besson, 1988.

19/02/2010

Jacques is asked for help by his classmates who have just spotted a coin shine at the bottom of the sea. He is preparing to dive but Enzo turns up. He dives and rises to the surface with the precious coin in just six seconds. Jacques moves aside.

Johanna Baker works for an insurance company in New York that sends her in the snowy Andes of Peru. On arrival, she immediately falls under the spell of Jacques, who was called to inspect a wreck trapped under the ice. Back in New York, after some hesitation, she finally decides to return to Europe to live with the love of her life.

A few years later Enzo, the free diving world champion calls his friend to dispute his title in Taormina in Sicily. They meet thus for the occasion. Enzo is still as exuberant and more Italian than ever. Jacques, who has lost his parents when young, is a reserved guy who spends most of his time swimming with dolphins. Finally Enzo retains his title and Johanna and Jacques are both invited to celebrate it with Enzo’s family.


Jacques, shortly after, manage to dive to 101 meters, but Enzo does not let himself be upstaged and soon descend to 114 meters. The competition continues and, over the international competitions, the two childhood friends are breaking their own records in turn. But danger lurks, diving below that point is sheer madness. At this depth the blood cannot hold enough oxygen for the divers to resurface.

Hatred, a film by Mathieu Kassovitz. 1995

17/02/2010
“This is the story of a man falling from a building of 50 storeys. The guy at as he falls, says constantly to himself: So far so good, so far so good,so far so good. But the important thing is not falling, it’s the landing. ” With this prologue in voiceover, begins this movie now passed down to posterity as a cult film. Just after that, you can see a Molotov cocktail engulf the planet earth. And then archive images of riots in suburbs with the names of the actors that appear, typed as a police report. Bob Marley sings in the background “burning and looting”.

The film begins, it is 10:38, the TV news tells us of incidents that have exploded in the city of lilies after an inspector had beaten up a young man who now stands between life and death. Finish the images provided by the media, now the camera film Vince and Saïd who hang out together. They join their friend Hubert who trains himself in the boxing gym that was burned down the night before. A policeman lost his gun during the riots. Vince reveals to his buddies that he found it, and if their friend Abdel dies in the hospital, he will restore the balance by killing a policeman. Hubert tries to reason with his friend and then goes away, pissed-off by the attitude of his friend. Eventually the three of them will meet to go to Paris and see a guy who owes money to Saïd. Vince takes his weapon.


The film shot in black and white and directed with great visual effects,  follows three young people from different backrounds in their ghetto and then in the capital city where they are cramped. In addition to having burned the memory of French cinema as a film emblematic of the ghetto issue, “Hatred” has helped popularized the French ghetto slang known as “verlan” (back slang), the language of the youth in the suburbs which is expressed by Vince, Hubert and Said. In the soundtrack, along with Bob Marley’s song, is “Killer Cut” played by a DJ. Very significant is the passage “Fuck the Police / Non je ne regrette rien. Awarded as best directed film at Cannes and César for best film, the film was such a critical and public success the director came to report that his film does not belong to him anymore.

“Blissful alexander” Yves Robert, 1967.

13/02/2010

Alexander is a peasant as strong as an ox who farms his 120 acres of land without a break. But what he loves above all is fishing, playing pool or football, listening to the birds singing, playing the trumpet and sleeping in the hay. But his wife won’t hear of it and remembers him to work with a walkie-talkie whenever he falls asleep on his tractor or lingers along the road. To cheer him up, his neighbour, a good friend of his, offers him one of his dogs that he cannot keep. However, submissive, he hides it from his wife as Obelix does when carrying Dogmatix for a trip.

One day his wife dies in a car accident. At the funeral his friends ask him what he will do now. His answer is clear: “nothing”. He will take time to take it easy, that’s life! When he comes back home, he frees the farm animals, erases the blackboard, which included the list of chores and goes to bed right away.

Time passes and it has been about two months now that Alexander has not left his bed! His dog, friendly enough, goes to the grocer’s for him. Antoine, a friend, volunteered to try to reason with the sleeper, but when he returns he is no longer the same. He has been contaminated by the words of Alexander and decided to stop working too. Soon the contagion reaches the entire village, much to the annoyance of his neighbour who does everything to ensure that Alexander finally gets out of bed. Agathe, a pretty green-eyed girl has just arrived in the village to work at the grocery store. Can she convince Alexander to get up?

“Blow-out”, a film by Marco Ferreri. 1973.

12/02/2010

Philippe, Ugo, Marcello and Michael are four good friends who share the same taste for good food and occasionally get together to organize a feast. “But this time it’s different,” warns Ugo, a restaurant owner who brought with him his whole set of kitchen knives. Naturally, their relatives are quite sceptical about their true intentions for this weekend but let them go. Having taken leave of their families, the four individuals then go into an old family house that belongs to Philip, a judge by profession.

Gradually the veil is lifted on their fatal project they intend to surrender to the delights of sins … to death. Mashed chestnuts, cockerel, quail, oysters, everything is there to fill their stomachs, but soon enough they begin to feel lonely. While Marcello, an airline  pilot, invites women with loose morals to keep them company. Andrea, a primary school teacher, too, is joining the party. She will stay with each of them until the very end. While the whores will leave earlier, disgusted by such a vice!

Marco Ferreri gathered his favourite actors to make this film. The four friends kept their own names to act. This movie has been characterized as physiologically by the director himself who explains that the idea of the film came after sharing a few meals with the protagonists.

Each character has childish ways. As the lock-in goes on, they will regress and return to their mother’s world they never really left. Philip, for example, still lives with his nurse and has not yet been weaned. Michael practice dancing in a tutu. Ugo is married to a castrating woman. Finally Marcello behaves like a kid who can’t help fooling around.

This feature has caused a scandal at Cannes. But Ferreri, when making a daring film, never intended to cause such a fuss. If the public does not support the mirror that is shown to them, it is not his fault. He simply wanted to make a critical film that is both realistic and dreamlike.

However one question still remains: why on earth do they want to commit suicide? Perhaps the answer can be found in the tirade of Michael “Vanitas vanitatis”. They want to escape this vain world.

HIROSHIMA MY LOVE, by Alain Resnais.

09/02/2010

In 1959, Hiroshima has become a city of peace, a city cultivating the memory of the catastrophe. In this context, a French actress is acting in a film about peace. The next morning we find her entwined in the arms of a Japanese architect she met at the “New Hiroshima” hotel.

Supposed to be a one night stand, that love will eventually awake the painful memory of a forbidden love. A youthful love for a German soldier she paid dearly for. In her hometown Neuverre, this was considered a treachery in wartime and had not been forgiven. The mistreatment she suffered from 17 years ago suddenly reappear on the occasion of this new passion to which she cannot commit.

Our heroine with a distant look is haunted by these painful memories which will eventually take over. The psychological scars caused by her incarceration are stopping her from surrendering to this budding romance. Unable to cling to anything real, she keeps reliving in thoughts that first love shattered by war.

The time of narration, here given by the detached voice of the actress, is repeated in the film. A repetition of the tragic events that cannot be prevented in history.

The atomic bomb, without being the topic of the film, hovers above it. A theme even better addressed when almost absent. A story of impossible love as basis for a film on Hiroshima: this is something paradoxical enough to speak about a disaster which is most difficult to handle.

“Pete the madman”, a film by Jean-Luc Godard. Released in 1965.

24/01/2010

Ferdinand is tired of the meaningless life he has in Paris. Those around him are only concerned with their material needs. And that he cannot stand. Only books and poetry in particular matters to him. One evening on the way home, he accidentally meets Marianne, a previous love, who came to babysit his children. Then leaves it all and spend the night with her in her apartment. The next morning Fernand comes acrss a dead body. She explain that she is pursued by gangsters for an arms trafficking affair to which she has been unintentionally involved. They go south and then burn the car on the roadside. This is the beginning of a long getaway to the sunny south, where their passion leads them. But soon enough, their respective sense of freedom will take over their mad love.

Jean-Luc Godard inspired by a novel by Lionel White, transposes it to the screen adding his staccato style and revealing all its poetry. The ellipses, which punctuate the story from beginning to end, give the narrative a sense of breakneck speed. All these breaks in the film, like the ones in timing or the fact that the actors speak directly to the camera, are all transgressions vis-à-vis the “cinema de papa”. A film moving with the times in a libertarian tone that caused the film to be censored. A fiery hero and a free woman, we have there two characters who prefigure the student movement of 1968.

“The trip in the moon” by Georges Méliès. 1902.

20/01/2010

During a lecture attended by eminent scientists, professor Barbenfouillis sets out his ambitious project to a boisterous audience: a trip to the moon! A team made of fearless volunteers is formed. Soon begins the making of a shell and a launching ramp that will propel them to the heavenly star.

Once there, they witness an earthlight. But soon some snow begins to fall. The crew goes down to the entrails of the moon, a place where giant mushrooms grow very quickly. However soon enough they notice that they are not alone, they face the moon dwellers, which after a brief fight finally make them prisoners. They take them to their chief right away …

Six years after the cinematograph was invented, Georges Méliès conceives this adaptation of two of Jules Vernes’ novels “From the earth to the moon” and “Around the moon”. Doing so he creates a new genre in cinema: the enchentment. But above all, conjurer by profession, he makes up a new technique: the faking. Méliès, without revolutionizing filmmaking, is in that way the forerunner of science fiction and its special effects. He uses his talent to make fun of the scholar society, caricaturing them as pretentious and incompetent.

Exit of a factory, by Auguste and Louis Lumière.

19/01/2010

The cinematograph, literally the “the writing of the movement”, is a device perfected by the Lumière brothers at their factory in Lyon in 1895. Based on the working of the Thomas A. Edison’s Kinetoscope their invention is an instant success.

“Exit of a factory” is the very first film in cinema history. Indeed, the Lumière brothers non content with being the inventors of the cinema itself, are also known as the first filmmakers. Their favourite topic, instead of being still lifes, are people filmed in their daily activities. The tone is set: the cinematograph will film movement.

On the screening, which is only a few minutes long, you could see about 300 workers getting out of the factory after a good day’s work. The audience can’t believe their eyes, the show is performed again and again and the extraordinary device is exported abroad. Others films are made, “the gardener and the mischievous boy” will be the first comedy ever.

The cinema is born!