Thursday, 1 April 2010

It's a Good Saturday for Films at Cinéfranco

Cinéfranco wraps up on Saturday, April 3rd, and I wanted to let you know about a few films that I have screened and recommend you check out. Now, just a reminder, that if you wouldn't go see a certain type of film in English, then don't go see it in French. I want to help you expand your movie selection beyond the very limited options at your local cinema; I don't want to force you to watch something you don't like. So, what's your taste: comedy, drama, crime fiction? Have a look at these Saturday afternoon and evening options.

Skirt Day (La journée de la jupe)
Saturday, April 3rd
1:00 pm
AMC Yonge/Dundas

Back in the day Isabelle Huppert and Isabelle Adjani were my girls! They owned the screen in their movies. Huppert is the more prolific when it comes to her screen roles, while Adjani has taken breaks in her film career; so, when I heard that Adjani was in a new film and that Cinéfranco was showing it, I had to see it.

Skirt Day is about a classroom hostage situation, and I couldn't help thinking that the film was going to be like the multiple award-winning film, The Class (Entre les murs)--except this time with a gun. Well, I wasn't far off in my comparison of the two films. At their core, they are both about racism in France and how it is manifested in the school system; how Skirt Day differs, is in the role that gender adds to this conflict, and, of course, the tension that arises when a gun enters the classroom.

Adjani is brilliant in her depiction of a teacher who is determined to educate her class despite the disrespect that is shown her by these same students. Her belief is that education, not religion, should be taught in the public school system, and women should have the same level of equality as men, period. The action in the film comes from several directions: the classroom where the group dynamics among the students and the teacher twists and turns; the Principal's office, where the teachers argue among themselves about the Muslim students and police officers argue about the best negotiation tactics; and outside, where reporters and the public argue about racist social conditions and the ineffectiveness of the school in keeping their children safe.

A gun, Molière, and a skirt are symbolic of difficulties facing present day France. As for Adjani, she dominates this film. No question she deserved to win her recent César Award (France's Oscars) for this role.

Ugly Melanie (Vilaine)
Saturday, April 3rd
6:00 pm
AMC Yonge/Dundas

Melanie may not be pretty but she is "nice": she does good deeds for family, friends, neighbours, and refugees. Finding out that she is the butt of a cruel joke, Melanie decides that her role as "Melanie the Nice" will be now be played by "Melanie the Bad"; if "ugly" is what she is being labeled, then "ugly" is what people are going to get. At first, it's not easy for her to change, but when the joke being played on her goes a step further, Melanie's descent into villainy is revealed in one diabolically, funny plot after another. Think Amélie possessed, and you'll get the picture. If you haven't seen Amélie then think about what happens if a puppy whose tail has been stepped on one too many times, suddenly goes feral. It's not a gross-out comedy, but it is just...not right:-)

Partners (Complices)
Saturday, April 3rd
8:00 pm
AMC Yonge/Dundas

Partners Hervé Cagan (Gilbet Melki) and Karine Mangin (Emmanuelle Devos) are brought in to to investigate the murder of a young Rent Boy, Vincent. Who murdered Vincent and threw his body into the river? As Hervé and Karine follow the case they soon find out that Vincent had a girlfriend, Rebecca, who has disappeared. What has happened to her? Is she dead or alive? Was she involved in Vincent's murder? The film is aptly titled, giving us a variety of ways in which people can be "partners": platonic, romantic, sexual, fraternal, financial, impersonal...I usually hate flashbacks in movies, but in this one the technique is used well to bring us into the lives of Vincent(Cyril Descours) and Rebecca (Nina Meurisse) and their particular segment of the world. The dark, mysterious, Hervé is half in love with his partner, but will never admit it to Karine, who just sees him as one-of-the-guys. The two couples a perfect foil for one another with the older Hervé and Karine's jaded look at the world, and Vincent and Rebecca's youthful insouciance about sex and society.

Frédéric Mermoud's film is an interesting crime drama with exellent performances by the cast. Gilbet Melki (I last saw him in Monsieur Ibrahim) with his somnolent eyes and rugged face wears the character of Hervé like a suit that was custom-made for him. Emmanuelle Devos (La Moustache) as Karine gives a believable performance as woman looking for love, who also happens to be a cop. Cyril Descoursès comfort with his body comes through in the sex scenes and proves that he is on actor who can act with or without his clothes on. As for Nina Meurisse, there is an indescribable sadness to her face that fascinates, perhaps this is why she is now in her third film with director Frédéric Mermoud.

Heads Up: explicit sexual content.


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