The Day Of The Jackal (1973 Britain/France)

Oubliez le remake 1997 de la merde. En fait oublier que Bruce Willis existe même. This is a wonderful, organic piece of thriller-narrative film-making. Over 2 hours, mostly without music, no patronizing voice-over or script-embedded exposition. Consequently, those moments where we’re not entirely sure what’s happening act as moments of suspense, not so much twists as notches in the grain of the plot. What I like most about the film is its pace. The economy with which the director Fred Zinneman tells the story is stripped right down. He allows the story to breathe inside the viewer. What else do I like about it? No CGI – hurray! No botox – bravo! No Hollywood/PC multi-culturalism to make races with brown or yellow skin feel ‘included’ in a story which isn’t theirs – wonderful! No smarmy wisecracks either. [Read more…]

The Train (1964 France/USA)

The concept of an ‘action’ film is the most curious, as many examples of the genre seem very static – even today where it seems that anything can be shown. A fight, car crash, explosion, etc is rehearsed, staged, simultaneously photographed and edited in a certain way that brings out and sometimes enhances the action. But, as the event is meticulously planned, rigorously controlled, sometimes or always re-shot, spontaneity cannot be part of the action, or plays a small part. The action may be impressive, but still seems unreal, too chaotic, the sense that the action is not integrated into the story and maybe even more importantly, the attitude and motivation of the characters. Most action films are far from achieving all this. [Read more…]

Casablanca (1942 USA)

casablanca01If any visitor to this blog doesn’t read this review, they’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of their lives.  I have to give credit to screen writer Julius Epstein for all his quotable lines. One of the greats is: “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” Such throwaway chit chat has become the stuff of legend of course but I have to admit that it is Humphrey Bogart that is numero uno for me here. He had a timeless masculinity that is reassuring. His nasal whine was so confident that he seemed tall, although he was short by modern standards. He was attractively ugly. Whatever he had, the man was magic and probably the best Hollywood actor of them all. [Read more…]

The Immortal Story (1968 France)

The-Immortal-Story-images-5b006a21-2bf1-4c4e-92c2-a3801ed656aBecause Orson Welles directed this, of course it is going to be obscure and pretentious and his ego insisted the man himself star in it too. This is an arty piece about a bankrupt merchant (Orson Welles) who for some unknown reason wants to turn a myth into reality by hiring two people to play out the theme of a story the townspeople have turned into a myth. [Read more…]

Le Samourai (1967 France)

LE-SAMOURAI-1967_1766331iWho is he? It doesn’t matter. What does he want? To kill someone. Enough said. A man, a mission, few words. That’s the way of the samurai. One downside only: there is no greater solitude than that of the samurai. Unless you are a tiger in the jungle. What you won’t experience here is adrenaline pumping fast pace, flashy quick cuts, slow motion sequences, car chases, spectacular stunts or explosions. Even blood is scarce.  [Read more…]

ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1957/8 France)

5110f1ab49e57_267051bAs I type these words I feel like Prince Charles’ fingertips. Or where ever his brain is located. Is this story an answer to his question “whatever love means?” If this is love, then it makes everyone thoroughly miserable. They are fighting back the tears, digging their nails into the palm of their hand or turning their face toward a rain-soaked wall. But as an Anglo-Saxon what do I know? Maybe this is normal. [Read more…]

BELLE DE JOUR (France 1967)

largeMaybe all girls dream of being a prostitute. That’s a surreal thought! Moving on… the first glimpse of our main character, Séverine, occurs during a masochistic nightmare (or maybe its a welcome dream) where her husband betrays her on a coach ride through the woods. She awakens in bed, where we discover she has had dreams like this before. [Read more…]

PAPILLON (Henri Charriere)

pappilion2If I could take just ten books to an isolated island paradise, this would be one of them. This tale is so engrossing that you may forget to even eat for the day. To read this classic memoir for the first time is an unforgettable experience. What I want from an author is to take me there. Monsieur Charriere does that and then some! [Read more…]

THE BRIDE WORE BLACK (1968, France)

bride-wore-black-2Time for me to get nostalgic about my first few posts and this was the very first, so if you missed it back in March (I started off writing reviews that were too short and cold–then realized they needed more length & warmth). So here it is again. How can you resist? I didn’t think so either. Seriously though, this is one of my more sexy reviews. It has to be. Jeanne Moreau is the star and her middle name is Sexy. You’re eyes and brain will thank you for it …. [Read more…]

JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH (Jules Verne)

2287204First published in 1864 but it doesn’t seem a day over a hundred years old. Jules Verne must be the most enjoyable author France has ever produced. Well, for those of us who like simple adventure tales that our inner child can get lost in. [Read more…]

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