Archive for movies

Bastille day

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , , on July 18, 2016 by xi'an


After seeing the above poster in the Paris métro over the past weeks, announcing the opening of the Bastille Day movie the day before Bastille Day, on July 13, I wanted to write an entry about the absurdity of the title for a French audience, since the 14th of July is not called Bastille Day in France but either la fête nationale or simply le 14 juillet

But the senseless massacre of a crowd watching the fireworks in Nice by a madman on the night of July 14 makes both the comment and the movie (which has been taken off French cinemas) irrelevant. In memory of all victims and support for all injured and suffering.

Shriekin’ dull!

Posted in Kids with tags , , , , on July 8, 2010 by xi'an

On Sunday afternoon, my kids rushed me to downtown Paris to watch a movie as a “last time together” opportunity. I was somehow hoping for a valuable alternative (even Millenium 2 would have been nicer!) for myself but, since none was available, I ended up watching Shrek 4 with them… While I liked very much Shrek (1), its great soundtrack, and its second degree type of humor, this last (?) avatar of in the series is very dull and recycles most of the jokes (and all of the characters) of the previous movies. The main line is along the very easy scenario trick of alternate realities, namely “what if Shrek never rescued Fiona?!” in the current case. But there is very little to sustain the plot, the “bad guys” being hopeless, even though some ideas, like the witches dance floor, the rat/witch/sock/ogre piper, the origami way out of the contract, or the reversal of the roles of Shrek and Fiona, are worth their salt. At some point, I thought it was going to be a great parody of the (obscure) Groundhog Day, which repeats itself over and over again for a single character, but it seems the days of second-degree and self-inflicted irony are mostly left behind by the realisators producers of Shrek. Even the soundtrack was fairly poor. As with many 3D movies (which I fundamentally dislike because I do not have 3D vision!), the technical trick of producing 3D effects seems to take over the story (see Avatar as an upscaled example). In the end, the nicest part of the movie film was sitting in the cool and in the dark, but if it is not that hot, better stay at home and watch again Shrek 1. Or whatever!


Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , on June 21, 2010 by xi'an

On Saturday aftertoon, my daughter dragged me to the cinema to watch Babies with her… I had no expectation about the movie and this was the right approach: the 75 minutes are like family videos with a good editing, with the difference that one takes place in a mud hut in Namibia and another one in a yourt in Mongolia. Chabat’s idea of resorting to animal documentaties to film the growing babies with no narrative, no dialogue and no story is interesting, except alas that we all have seen babies and, for some of us, watched them grow in real time. So as a “wildlife documentary” it does not work much better than a one-hour film about domestic cats. Especially the parts about Japan and the US. I think it would have helped if none of the families had been speaking English as the fact that we understand the parents in Hattie’s case distort our perspective on this family. The choice of having no story at all is coherent with the realisator’s perspective, but the resulting message is rather limited: the fact that kids grow up is universal, while their evolution depends on their current environment. Hmm, this is all?! No mention made of healthy life expectancy in Namibia being 44 or of the probability of dying under five being 6% (and of the corresponing figures of 58 and 4% in Mongolia, as opposed to 78 and 0.4% for Japan and 71 and 0.8% for the US)? Cute of course but definitely superficial.

Harry Potter and the half-blood prince [debate]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , on July 23, 2009 by xi'an

“The film is great, but it was made quickly and without true feelings. But it is a series, so it has good points.” Rachel

I watched the sixth Harry Potter movie in the series with my teenage kids last afternoon and I came back rather disappointed. My daughter does disagree and so here are our opposite views, written together.

On the [lack of] depth of the plot (in the movie rather than the book), we concur that (new) secondary characters are missing (and even a major character like Voldemort only appears through a few childhood memories), that the surroundings have shrunk to three or four places, that the little snapshots on the “usual” life of magicians that made the earlier movies so fun are missing (except for Fred and George’s Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes joke shop), that the students’ studies at Hogwart are almost inexistent, with much less students visible through the movie, and that the story is proceeding at a fairly chaotic pace, lacking a driving line. The central role of the half-blood prince’s book is clear at the beginning of the movie but it disappears too quickly with no clear explanation, except at the end when Rogue claims his crux back. This also makes the train scenes amazingly long given that they involve hardly any action (even though the views of Rannoch Moor are stunning).

The major characters are alas far from convincing in my opinion, including Harry himself who is mostly one-dimensional (with a surprising limited range of expressions and an impossibility to communicate with his friends) but who appears in about every scene, while my daughter thinks Ron and Hermione played well. We both agreed that Draco Malfoy may be the best role in the movie, with much more depth than others. Dumbledore is also mostly convincing, as well as the new professor, Horace Slughorn, especially in his armchair disguise (my opinion!). The obligatory Quidditch scene is rather well-set, although Ron turning into a champion thanks to a placebo is too unrealistic, even for a magician. My daughter enjoyed the special effects surrounding the flight of Ron and Ginny in the field, I did not. My own preferred scene may be the early one in the subway dinner when Harry is treated as a “normal” teenager…

The central issue is the prevalence of the “love scenes” over the action scenes. I find them simply unbearable because poorly managed and badly acted, while my daughter considers the main drawback to be less magic and less action. Both of us think that the relation between Lavender and Ron is completely botched, especially the breakup scene in the infirmary. (In my view, Ron confirms his total lack of acting abilities from previous movies!) And my daughter does not see the point in the magic birds being thrown by Hermione at Ron!

So, overall, maybe not the worst Harry Potter in the series (two was really bad), but a very unexciting one, way below the book

A prequel to The Lord of the Ring

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , on May 4, 2009 by xi'an

The Hunt for Gollum came out this afternoon (only) on Dailymotion! It is a short movie made by dedicated fans of the original Lord of the Ring in the beautiful mountains and woods of northern Wales, recreating the costumes of Peter Jackson’s movie by themselves. Given those premises, it is incredibly good. That people could work on this project for years without any financial support and produce a coherent (if short) movie of almost commercial quality is amazing. (Without the above premises, I must add the movie is a bit bland… The plot is fairly simple and builds upon the few hints given in The Lord of the Ring about the search for Gollum but does not dare to go much further. The acting is not always very convincing either, even though the battle scene is well-done. So, objectively, I can only recommend the 35 minutes of The Hunt for Gollum to fans. Which is supposedly the reason for the shot.) Retrospectively, though, when compared with X-Men origins: Wolverine, where I had to take my daughter yesterday, I finally preferred by far The Hunt for Gollum!!!