La Fête Nationale: French Films

Today is 14th July and it is Bastille Day or La Fête Nationale in France, which means it is time to celebrate French films and French directors. Below I present a number of French films I reviewed on this blog, and this includes films from Jean Renoir, Robert Bresson, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Julia Ducournau and François Ozon, as well as three French-produced animations:

Grande Illusion, La (1937) Regle du Jeu, La (1939) Diaboliques, Les (1955)

Pickpocket (1959) Planete Sauvage, La (1973) Roi et L’Oiseau, Le (1980) 

Betty Blue (1986) Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea (2002) Elle (2016) 

Odyssey, The (2016) Raw (2016) 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) (2017) 

L’Amant Double (2017) 

There are so many great French films out there, including the works of René Clément (Jeux interdits), Claude Chabrol (Les Cousins), Jean Cocteau (La Belle et la Bête), Louis Malle (Ascenseur pour l’Échafaud), Agnes Varda (Cléo de 5 à 7)Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Samourai), Jean-Luc Godard (À bout de souffle), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) and Claire Denis (Beau Travail). Do you have a favourite French movie?

Sean Connery (25 August 1930 – 31 October 2020)

Sean Connery as Mark Rutland in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964)

It was with great sadness that I heard yesterday of the passing of Sean Connery, a Scottish actor and one of the film legends. He was a man of incomparable charisma whose acting and screen presence were always distinguishable and memorable. Possessing innate smoothness, gentleness and his very own recognisable sense of masculinity and vigour, he emanated the persona of a true gentleman and a real action hero on screen and both at the same time, inspiring warmth and a sense of awe in others. If there ever existed an actor or just a human being working in a film industry who personified the word “class”, it was Sir Sean Connery.

Sean Connery won his Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in The Untouchables [1987], but most people remember him as being the world’s first ever James Bond, which was also his breakthrough role. And, Sean Connery will always be the James Bond in my eyes. Gallant and almost too nonchalant, but caring, romantically-involved, but objective, Connery was the most perfect cast for Fleming’s famous Agent 007. With his incomparable screen presence, he could get everyone following his character, no matter the location or the plot. Dr. No [1962] and From Russia With Love [1963] were good films, but my favourite James Bond film with Sean Connery has to be Goldfinger [1964]. I think it was Alec Baldwin who put it best in his obituary article of the great man, saying that Connery had a “trifecta dynamic” and he knew [instinctively] “where masculinity, sensitivity, and intelligence intersected“. There had been other handsome actors before and after Connery, but I think it was Connery’s delicate combination of “masculinity, sensitivity and intelligence“, as well as his skill of presenting himself and his character’s actions as immersively as possible, that helped make him into a star.

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“25th Hour” Review

25th Hour Film Poster 25th Hour (2002)

Today (11th September) marks 18 years since the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, USA, and I thought I would review a movie that incorporates the post-9/11 atmosphere – Spike Lee’s film 25th Hour – as a tribute so that we never forget what happened and what it meant. Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing (1989), BlacKkKlansman (2018)) based his film on a book by David Benioff that tells of Montgomery “Monty” Brogan (Edward Norton), a man with a criminal history, who has just one day to enjoy his freedom before he goes to jail for seven years for drug-related offences. We follow Monty on this day, as he reflects on his past and the mistakes he had made in his life. With the beautiful score by Terence Blanchard, 25th Hour is a film that showcases the post-9/11 grief and anxiety to the fullest, while also demonstrating the extent people are pushed to lead a better life. Copying with grief and coming to terms with tragedy and one’s life mistakes are just some of the issues explored. 25th Hour may be too long, not entirely cohesive and thin plot-wise, but, with its vivid images, it somehow seems to speak directly to one’s heart and soul, being a film about hope, guilt and attempts at redemption, making it somehow very significant.  Continue reading ““25th Hour” Review”

Alan Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016)

British actor Alan Rickman
21 Feb 1992 — British actor Alan Rickman — Image by © Didier OlivrÈ/Corbis

“If you want to know who I am, it is all in the work.”

“I don’t play villains, I play very interesting people.”

“When I’m 80 years old, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, “After all this time?” And I will say, “Always”. (Alan Rickman)

British actor Alan Rickman sadly passed away on 14 January 2016. My first introduction to him was through “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991), which I watched at a young age on a VHS. Rickman was the perfect villain there, impersonating Sheriff George of Nottingham with such passion, zeal and enthusiasm, he becomes a truly feared man there, and I do not think that impersonation would ever leave me, so powerful it was. Then, of course, we also have Rickman’s “great villains” in “Die Hard” (1988) and “Quigley Down Under” (1990). I have always admired people playing villains. Unlike action-heroes or “goodies”, villains in films are people whom no one likes, but they are very important because without them, there will not be any praises for glorious heroes. It also takes real acting skill to play a villain, and Alan Rickman could do so not just superbly and convincingly, but with that originality in his presentation that would be simply enviable.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman (23 July 1967 – 2 February 2014)

2011PhilipSeymourHoffmanPA090712

‘My passion to develop as an actor didn’t have anything to do with people knowing me. I had no idea that would happen. To become famous, to become a celebrity is something that I thought happened to other people’ (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Continue reading “Philip Seymour Hoffman (23 July 1967 – 2 February 2014)”