Favourite bonkers French bloke Luc Besson (Fifth Element, Lockout) steps straight from Nikita into Transcendence via 2001: A Space Odessey and with his latest sci-fi thriller of big guns, big brains and big ideas.
The science may be specious, but the action is frenetic and stylised. In typical Besson style of throwing everything at the screen to see what sticks, there’s action, there’s pathos, philosophy and an art-house score from Eric Serra. Continue Reading
Stylish and inventive, Jean-Pierre Jeunet has intrigued us with dark fantasies Delicatessen, City of Lost Children, delighted us with Amelie, A Very Long Engagement, and frightened us with the underrated Alien: Resurrection. Micmacs is overloaded with Jeunet tropes and an excess of that rare thing – Gallic whimsy.
Micmacs à Tire-Larigot (“Suspect Activities” or “Jiggery-Pokery” at “Tire-Larigot” – the underground lair filled with extraordinary inventions and sculptures.) wears its’ heart on its’ sleeve. As a darkly comic satire on the arms industry framed in a Robin Hood, Ali Baba, TV’s Mission Impossible ‘caper movie’ it is drenched in Jeunet’s warped humour, a cast of bizarre caricatures, sight gags and nonsensical plotting.
Unfortunate orphan Bazil (Dany Boon) has his bomb disposal officer father blown up by a French landmine, and years later is himself shot with a French bullet. Unemployed and on the street, busking as a Chaplain mime, Bazil falls in with the underground eco-recycling gang of Mama Chow, whose daughters disappeared in a fairground hall of mirrors. Her team of human Wombles includes Slammer (Jean-Pierre Marielle) an elderly master criminal, contortionist Elastic Girl, Remington; a black ethnographer and impersonator; and Buster (Dominique Pinon), comic grotesque and Jeunet regular, a failed human cannonball.
On discovering the rival arms dealers’ factories, and the homes of their ego-maniacal executives, Bazil determines to exact his personal revenge on them both. Continue Reading
A surreal French steam-punk fairy-tale from the warped minds of Delicatessen creators Jeunet and Caro (1995).
In a latter-day Frankenstein castle – an oil platform at the centre of a minefield – a cloned scientist, Krank, prematurely aged and unable to dream, dispatches a cult of rubber-wearing, mechanically-enhanced Cyclops to kidnap innocent children. The genetically enhanced genius Krank would steal their dreams but gets only their nightmares. Their creator long vanished, Krank lives in exile with his makeshift ‘family’ of six younger clones, all played by Dominique Pinon, a dwarf bride, Miss Bismuth (Mireille Mosse) and a migraine-afflicted brain in a tank (Irvin, voiced by Jean-Louis Trintignant).
The Cyclops steal the wrong child when they kidnap Denree (Joseph Lucien), the Little Brother of One (favourite movie ugly bloke Ron Perlman, lately of Hellboy), a sailor and carnival strongman. Aided in his pursuit by a nine-year-old ingenue street thief, Miette (Judith Vittet), One chases them through a city mashed together from Dickensian squallor and the dark alleyways of 1930’s Parisian noir. Continue Reading
Paris, 1912; a reanimated Pterodactyl terrorises the city while our heroine Adele does derring-do in Egypt in search of a cure for her comatose twin sister.
Luc Besson takes a sideways step from his big-budget sci-fi and thrillers (Leon, The Fifth Element) into the slightly surreal 1970’s comic-book world of Jacques Tardi; a ripping-yarn that’s mostly the Mummy meets Indiana Jones with some Conan-Doyle Lost World but all with a Gallic twist (in French with sub-titles)
Freewheeling between set-pieces and a string of farcical sub-plots featuring a collection of well-drawn, but nonetheless cartoon caricatures, heavily influenced by Herge and lovingly rendered on screen. Continue Reading
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, pen-name ‘Molière’ wrote more than 30 plays and is considered in France to be a greater playwright than Shakespeare. This costume tragi-comedy, co-written and directed by Laurent Tirard begs comparison with Shakespeare in Love
In 1644, Molière was bankrupted and went missing for several months. Tirard fills those months with a fictional account almost entirely based on Molière’s most famous play, Tartouffe, in which a louche con-artist inveigles his way into the household of a nobleman disguised as a priest… Continue Reading
Hors de Prix (Priceless) (2006)
A French ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Jean (Gad Elmaleh), a shy young bartender, is mistaken for a millionaire by beautiful, scheming gold-digger Irene (Audrey Tautou). The love-struck Jean refuses to let her go when she discovers his true identity, even after she leaves him penniless. By blind chance, Jean falls into being a gigolo to an older woman at a luxury hotel, just as Irene continues to search for an eligible older sugar-daddy at the same hotel. ‘Luck’ and co-incidence string the plot of this movie together, played out in the rarefied atmosphere of upscale Riviera resorts. It is no surprise that Irene mentors, and finally warms to her persistent, persuasive suitor… Continue Reading