Tag Archives: French Films

Capsule Movie Review – My Afternoons with Margueritte (2010)


Gerard Depardieu reminds how good he can be in My Afternoons with Margueritte, a comedy-drama set in small town France. Germain (Depardieu) is a goodhearted but simpleminded man who gets by doing odd jobs and selling produce out of his kitchen garden. Margueritte (Gisele Casadesus) is a nonagenarian bibliophile. They meet by chance in the park when they sit at the same bench to watch the pigeons. Soon they’re meeting every day; they talk and she reads to him from Camus. His mother is a harridan who’s been verbally abusing him his whole life and her only family is an uncaring nephew, and their odd couple friendship becomes something each has longed for. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Of Gods and Men (2010)


Of Gods and Men is a dramatization of the last months of a Trappist monastery in Algeria. Seven of the nine French monks were kidnapped and murdered by Islamic terrorists during the Algerian civil war of the 1990s. The script is faithful to the historical record, including writings left by some of the victims and testimony of the survivors. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of The Illusionist (2010)


The Illusionist is an often funny, extremely poignant, and slightly dramatic, melancholy film that contains two stories that coexist under one theme: the times that are changing. The first story is of an aging French illusionist, Tatischeff who is out of work and travels to a small town in Scotland to perform his magic in small locales. Once there, he is welcomed by all of the locals, and also a very drunk one in particular. A young teenage girl, Alice, takes his fancy. When Tatischeff leaves the town to travel to Edinburgh, Alice runs away with him and a partnership develops. It turns into a father/daughter relationship quickly and they get along very well. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Farewell (2009)


Farewell is a French espionage thriller set in Moscow in the early 1980s. The story is a dramatization of a consequential case of secrets-passing by a disaffected, high-ranking KGB officer. “Farewell” (the English word) was the code-name used by his French intelligence agency handlers. The film was directed by Christian Carion (Joyeux Noel) and based on a non-fiction book by Serguei Kostine. Continue reading

Free-Talking on Cinema, Movies, and Film (April, 2011)


Free-Talking Series: Next Post

[Note: The monthly Free-Talking post is updated every five days, give or take a day every now and then.]


So last week I was in Phoenix for a software training course. Or to be more accurate, in the middle of the anonymous, endless suburban sprawl that is greater Phoenix. I went looking for a Borders (to feed my manga addiction) and in the same mall found a 25 screen movie theater. Yes, you read that right. Twenty. Five. Screens. Needless to say there wasn’t anything like 25 movies filling those 25 screens. Between Arthur and Hop Russell Brand alone occupied five of them, which says pretty much all there is to say about that. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 (2008)


Mesrine is a biopic of notorious French criminal Jacques Mesrine (1936-1979), infamous for bank robberies, kidnappings, murders, and daring prison escapes. Sub-parts Killer Instinct and Public Enemy No. 1, originally released in France a month apart, divide Mesrine’s 20-odd year criminal career roughly in half, beginning with his return from Algeria after his compulsory military service and ending with his death. The two films are unmistakably two halves of a whole that was split down the middle presumably as a concession to the realities of film distribution and exhibition (the total running time of both parts put together is a shade over four hours). Public Enemy No. 1 comes out on DVD today, following last month’s release of Killer Instinct; back to back is the best way to watch them. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Heartbreaker (2010)


Alex (Romain Duris) is a professional break-up artist. With his big sister Melanie (Julie Ferrier) and her husband, he makes a living from breaking up bad relationships. It’s a company with a strong ethical code, though: they only take the job if the woman is unhappy, but doesn’t know she’s unhappy, and Alex never sleeps with the target. Their modus operandi is to coax the woman into realizing that she deserves better than that jerk, something her family or friends who paid for the break-up already know. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of A Prophet (2009)


One of the most highly acclaimed European films of 2009, A Prophet is a French film directed and co-written by Jacques Audiard (Read My Lips, The Beat That My Heart Skipped). It won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and was France’s submission, and one of the nominees, for best foreign film at the Academy Awards. In its home country, it won nine Cesars (the French Oscar), including film, director, actor, and supporting actor. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – The Class (2008)



The original French title of The Class is Entre les murs, which translates literally as “between the walls.” The film is based on a 2006 novel of the same name by Francois Begaudeau that is a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s experiences teaching young teens in a Paris inner-city public school. The English title is usefully descriptive, but the literal rendering is more evocative of the film’s mission to examine contemporary French multi-cultural society through the prism of the classroom. Continue reading

Movie Review – Rififi (1955)



Always referred to as “the Stéphanois,” Tony (Jean Servais) is released from a five-year stint in prison as Rififi begins. He took the rap for a younger friend of his, Jo “the Swede” (Carl Möhner), and once out is already playing cards with fellow underworld gangsters and acquaintances. His eyes are tired and his movements lack panache, but he’s not too old to keep his reflexes sharp. He calls Jo and asks him to front him some cash for a poker game and soon after they are meeting with a third party, having coffee in a cafe, and he’s being told of a new jewelry heist that would take place across the street. Continue reading