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Not Here to be Loved- Slow-paced, but very absorbing and well-directed. Patrick Chesnais is superb without over-acting--observe his emotional facial expressions. The plot has few surprises, but every scene adds something to the texture of the film. Highlights include impressive tango dancing scenes and a heartwarming, yet non-Hollywood ending.
Orchestra Seats-Cécile de France, the lead actress from High Tension is very likeable and charismatic. The plot jumps around between different stories which have something to do with the same café, but each story is engaging thanks to the talented actors and actresses involved. Valérie Lemercier has some very funny lines, especially in a scene at the restaurant with a very special director (Sydney Pollack in a cameo).
Gentille/Good Girl- A real crowd-pleaser! Emmanuelle Devos shines as does the entire cast in this very well-directed, funny, and enchanting film. Predictable plot and the ending drags a little, but it's all thoroughly charming thanks to Devos.
Vers le Sud/Heading South- Gorgeous settings,thoroughly fascinating,very sensual, as well as superbly-acted. Charlotte Rampling has rarely been better! A feast for the eyes and for the mind! Opens July 7th, 2006 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Angelika Film Center. Released by Shadow Distribution. Full Review
Le Petite Lieutenant- Natalie Baye simply steals the show with her remarkable performance. She doesn't even need any dialogue to act because of her very emotionally experessive eyes. The plot has enough suspense to be engaging with an interesting murder case. What makes this film really unique is that it doesn't rely on a musical score. Instead, the visuals along with the actors help to create an atmosphere. Opens September 8th, 2006 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Angelika Film Center. Released by Cinema Guild.
Palais Royal!- Valérie Lemercier proves to be a very talented actress when it comes to comedy. She steals every scene, even those with Catherine Denueve. Unfortunately, some of humor includes slapstick and juvenile humor which gets tedious, silly, and eventually falls flat. The plot wears pretty thin and the editing/transition between scenes feel too abrupt and awkward. Also, the same musical score repeats over and over, which gets quite irritating. Nonetheless, there's enough comic energy to keep you mildly engaged.
La Moustache/The Mustache- Original premise with interesting social implications. Midway, the plot switches gears tries to be too gimmicky for its own good and ends up confusing and boring. Phillip Glass' musical score is terrific, though. If only there were more scenes with Emmanuelle Devos, who feels wasted in this film! Opens May 26th, 2006 at the IFC Center. Released by Cinema Guild. Full Review
Travaux,On Sait Quand Ça Commence/Housewarming- Inventive plot, lively characters, but often silly and contrived. The script tries too hard to be funny, but mostly falls flat. Actress Carole Bouquet is quite good and look out for a special cameo by a famous British actor. You'll have to wait until the very end for the cameo, though.
Zim and Co.- This lively film about aimless, trouble-making young adults has plenty of energy to hold your interest. However, the plot does tend to meander midway through the second act. Also, a budding romance between two character doesn't add to up much. Nonetheless, the script does have a few witty and humoroes bits, but there's ultimately not enough conflict or insight.
L'Enfer/Hell-Creepy opening scenes set the stage for a psychological thriller but with very few thrills. Emmanuelle Béart is superb as are the rest of the talented actresses in this bizarre mystery drama that gradually connects three stories together. The ending is rather predictable, but at least it's not far-fetched.
...and the Ugly
Les Ames Grises/Grey Souls- Terribly miscast with Jacques Villes from The Dinner Game trying to play a more serious role.The plot is boring, unoriginal, and predictable while the script fails to bring any scenes or characters to life.
I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed-Boring, confusing slow-paced and poorly-directed. With a tighter script, it could have been much more engaging.
Rendez-Vous with French Cinema