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All reviews - Movies (20) - TV Shows (1) - DVDs (21) - Books (1) - Games (2)

Marquise review

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 7 June 2015 12:44 (A review of Marquise)

Sumptuous, sensuous, and some playful naughtiness in this vibrant tale of a traveling theatrical troupe in 1660s France. If she wasn't already a longtime star, this would be considered a star-making type of role for Sophie Marceau who completely captivates as Marquise du Parc, a real historical figure who rose to fame as an actress coveted by playwrights Moliere and Racine as well as Louis XIV himself. Not only is she naturally gorgeous but she fills Marquise with a stubborn fire and passion for acting that electrifies in one of the best performances of her career, gets to show off her nimble and seductive dancing skills, and all the while crammed into a breast ballooning corset. The supporting cast is superb, especially Bernard Giraudeau as a wearying yet quick-witted Moliere and Thierry Lhermitte as the pompous Sun King. Everything in the production is first rate, from the costumes, the Italian locations plus a stop at Versailles, and the rich period music. Best of all is the script brimming with witty one-liners and racy reproaches, this is in fact a boisterous comedy laced with untimely tragedy providing a real feast for the senses and emotions. Puts the overrated "Shakespeare In Love" to shame in every respect, and oh yeah, this one came out a year earlier.


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Anna Karenina review

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 7 June 2015 12:43 (A review of Anna Karenina)

I can't tell you how faithful this opulent version of the classic tragedy is, but it was very highly regarded compared to other film versions according to reviews I read. What I can tell you should come as no surprise - squeezing 600 pages into two hours and change results in much collateral damage to the material. One peerless aspect of the production is the sense of time and place, filmed entirely in Moscow and Saint Petersburg which is where Tolstoy's story unfolds to the stirring swells of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky on the soundtrack. A very interesting choice involves the language. The actors in all the major roles speak English with their native accent, which is the way to go if you can't get the dialog in the original tongue. Nothing sounds phonier than actors speaking English with a Russian accent to try and convey that they are actually speaking Russian. But to add to the sense of immersion, director Bernard Rose hired many Russians for the minor roles and subtitled their speech. The lead actors even say a couple lines in Russian to add to the authenticity. Overall, I found these tactics unusual but very effective. Nevertheless, while I love Sophie Marceau and feel she has the capacity to successfully play Anna speaking her native tongue, something goes missing in her English interpretation. Obviously the producers felt confident in hiring her to star in this extravagantly expensive venture, which is a testament to the international appeal she showed in her role in Braveheart. There are certainly other problems in evidence - I didn't feel much sympathy towards Anna and the Duke Vronsky, never been a sucker for undying love at first sight, and I felt they rather deserved what they got, Anna's extreme fateful decision notwithstanding. Also the story of Alfred Molina's character Levin must have been important to the social commentary of the book, but his scenes seem completely independent to the events in the rest of this movie, and thus his usual quality performance is rendered inconsequential. On the whole this is a version worth watching for the unprecedented authenticity of the production which helps cover the gaps of emotional resonance.


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D'Artagnan's Daughter review

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 7 June 2015 12:39 (A review of D'Artagnan's Daughter)

Delightful escapist yarn finds Eloise the daughter of the famous D'Artagnan rousing the retired musketeers back into action to thwart a plot against young prince Louis XIV. Or so she thinks after she and others misinterpret a laundry list covered in blood for a secret code! Philippe Noiret and Sophie Marceau are terrific in creating a sparring father-daughter relationship, while Luigi Proietti is a hoot as multitasking Cardinal Mazarin. Plenty of lively horseplay, wordplay, and swordplay to go around with Marceau in particular breaking some uncredited ground as an action heroine, performing all her fencing and nearly all her own stunts a couple years before the likes of Xena and Buffy debuted on American TV screens. Combining a reckless abandon with breathtaking beauty, she's simply great fun and a real joy to watch in this. Furthermore it's a movie about the famous Dumas Musketeers that's actually made in France by the French, what more could you ask for?


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Fanfan review

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 7 June 2015 12:38 (A review of Fanfan)

An engaged man who believes that long-term relationships, particularly marriage, inevitably destroy the romance that he craves decides to win the affection of a pretty acrobat and never share physical intimacy. This French romantic fantasy blossoms with lots of charm, it's impossible not to love Sophie Marceau as the whimsical Fanfan. Alexandre on the other hand gives new meaning to the word douche, which is impressive because the French invented it. Not only is he screwing over his gorgeous fiancée, but he strings Fanfan along without regard for her emotions - or her sanity. If you wanted to be near someone, but stay at a distance, what is the perviest thing you could think of to do? That's right, secretly rent the apartment next to her and replace her wall-length mirror with a one-way mirror when she next goes out of town. But if you're willing to suspend reality, this leads to a couple wonderful scenes back to back with Fanfan first posing in her bubble bath and then her and Alexandre dancing to swing music on opposite sides of the mirror. The scene where they travel back in time to 1813 Vienna on a movie set is equally magical. If it was not for Alexandre and his hang-ups I would give an even higher rating as they demonstrate a real onscreen chemistry together.


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My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days review

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 7 June 2015 12:37 (A review of My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days)

As pretentious as the obtuse title would lead you to believe it is. Andrej Zulawski's film appears like an attempt by a student of Bunuel to emulate Bergman after he had just watched Kubrick's "The Shining" as evidenced by the cavernous hotel location, bellhop ghost, and men in animal costume. I definitely appreciated the bizarre aspects which kept things interesting, like a guy sitting down in the middle of a city street to carry on a conversation with his agent, when he takes a bath fully dressed in his white suit, and the girl's wholly dysfunctional entourage. Unfortunately the main character played by Jacques Dutronc is so morose that he drains my willing spirit away with every utterance and pained expression. He also has a maddening method of speech, rambling off unrelated phrases in a word game only he can follow. Additionally, Zulawski posits that if you experience a childhood trauma, your adult life will be forever ruined from the scarring. Way to completely discredit the capabilities of the human psyche there. Thankfully the luminous Sophie Marceau is present to rescue the attention during the meandering scenes. She gives a captivating performance as a striptease psychic and has never been more naked on film before or since. Zulawski uses an intrusive amount of extreme closeups of people we'd rather be get far away from to make their misery our own, but the technique is sporadically successful like during a long emotional love scene in which the viewer feels intimately involved in the act to the point of discomfort.


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L'étudiante review

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 7 June 2015 12:36 (A review of L'étudiante)

A 22-year-old teacher studying for her literary exams meets a 28-year-old touring musician at just the wrong time. Can they overcome the many obstacles and differences between them? Does love in fact conquer all? These are the questions tackled in this seriocomic affair, drawing inspiration from the philosophical writings of Moliere. Starts off sprightly, loses some traction due to the geographical separation of the stars, but finds its way to an agreeable conclusion without tying up in ribbons. Sophie Marceau is at her best when playing a fiery, strong-willed woman like Valentine, and of course she's gorgeous too. Her emotional oral exams during the climactic scene give her a real chance to shine as an actress.


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Mad Love review

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 7 June 2015 12:31 (A review of Mad Love)

MONEY, SEX, WHORES, THE THEATER, LOVE, DEATH, HA HA HA HA HA! DOWN WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT, BOOM! POW! KABLAM! SEAGULLS SEAGULLS SEAGULLS!

Yep, that's what watching this obnoxious film feels like: at top volume, in your face, all the time. The plot has something to do with rival Parisian gangsters and a Hungarian scooped into the mayhem who falls in love with a high-class hooker/gun moll, but it's just an excuse for a collection of disjointed rants against society and showcasing hysterical behavior. I'll give it this, there is no shortage of energy expended, with the loony anarchist gang of thugs resembling Kubrick's droogs from "A Clockwork Orange" paired with the gangland gunfire of "Scarface". The actors don't give performances, they go to histrionic extremes, constantly in motion, darting between rooms, convulsing their bodies, and either screaming their lines or laughing maniacally. Some believe director Zulawski is a gifted filmmaker, those of us who aren't moved by his bombastic delivery will find this exercise in excess torturous. According to the dedication, meant as an homage to Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" but I think it's closer to Macbeth: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."


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Marquise [all region] [import] review

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 7 April 2015 09:13 (A review of Marquise [all region] [import])

Sumptuous, sensuous, and some playful naughtiness in this vibrant tale of a traveling theatrical troupe in 1660s France. If she wasn't already a longtime star, this would be considered a star-making type of role for Sophie Marceau who completely captivates as Marquise du Parc, a real historical figure who rose to fame as an actress coveted by playwrights Moliere and Racine as well as Louis XIV himself. Not only is she naturally gorgeous but she fills Marquise with a stubborn fire and passion for acting that electrifies in one of the best performances of her career, gets to show off her nimble and seductive dancing skills, and all the while crammed into a breast ballooning corset. The supporting cast is superb, especially Bernard Giraudeau as a wearying yet quick-witted Moliere and Thierry Lhermitte as the pompous Sun King. Everything in the production is first rate, from the costumes, the Italian locations plus a stop at Versailles, and the rich period music. Best of all is the script brimming with witty one-liners and racy reproaches, this is in fact a boisterous comedy laced with untimely tragedy providing a real feast for the senses and emotions. Puts the overrated "Shakespeare In Love" to shame in every respect, and oh yeah, this one came out a year earlier.


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Female Agents review

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 7 April 2015 09:12 (A review of Female Agents )

Or, The Dowdy Half-Dozen? Female Agents shines some light on a rather unknown slice of World War Two history in which women were recruited and trained by the British government to act as spies in occupied France. Sophie Marceau's character was inspired by one such real life French agent named Lise de Baissac, one of only six women to be decorated with honors by the military during that war. While her backstory and future detailed in the epilogue are given a true account, what happens during the film is pure fiction! That's why her name was changed, since this mission never really occurred. Even so, the film capably presents a scenario that could have happened and thus offers an exciting couple hours of action and espionage as five women and their CO are dispatched to extract a disguised British geologist with knowledge of the imminent D-Day invasion from a German hospital. Torture scenes are wincing & convincing, as is Sophie with her stone-cold determination and ability to operate a sniper rifle. I also recommend you read the Telegraph's obituary on Lise de Baissac, who died in 2004 at age 98 and gave the director the idea for making this film. [Link removed - login to see]


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Fanfan (Original French ONLY Version) review

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 7 April 2015 09:12 (A review of Fanfan (Original French ONLY Version))

An engaged man who believes that long-term relationships, particularly marriage, inevitably destroy the romance that he craves decides to win the affection of a pretty acrobat and never share physical intimacy. This French romantic fantasy blossoms with lots of charm, it's impossible not to love Sophie Marceau as the whimsical Fanfan. Alexandre on the other hand gives new meaning to the word douche, which is impressive because the French invented it. Not only is he screwing over his gorgeous fiancée, but he strings Fanfan along without regard for her emotions - or her sanity. If you wanted to be near someone, but stay at a distance, what is the perviest thing you could think of to do? That's right, secretly rent the apartment next to her and replace her wall-length mirror with a one-way mirror when she next goes out of town. But if you're willing to suspend reality, this leads to a couple wonderful scenes back to back with Fanfan first posing in her bubble bath and then her and Alexandre dancing to swing music on opposite sides of the mirror. The scene where they travel back in time to 1813 Vienna on a movie set is equally magical. If it was not for Alexandre and his hang-ups I would give an even higher rating as they demonstrate a real onscreen chemistry together.


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