Wednesday, December 27, 2006

VP!: Arts & Entertainment

Le Corbeau
My cousin, Allen, pointed me toward a couple of French movies the other night. The first, Le Corbeau, was filmed in 1943 during the German occupation of France. The film is set in a small village in France beset by anonymous letters accusing various villagers of misdeeds. Each of these poison pen letters is signed by Le Corbeau, or the Raven. The film centers around Dr. Germain (Pierre Fresnay) and his attempts to uncover the source of the letters.

Le Corbeau is based on actual poison pen letters written in St. Robin, France during Vichy rule. The situation in St. Robin was similar to those in other villages, where people were accused of various acts against the Vichy government and reported to the authorities via anonymous letters.

Perhaps what makes Le Corbeau most interesting is the manner of its production. Le Corbeau was produced by Continental Films, the production company created by the Nazi Propaganda minister, Goebbels. According to one reviewer, Continental was created to both control film content in France and perhaps, as in Huxley's Brave New World, to actively sedate the latent revolutionary tendencies in the French populace with easily digestible pop movies. In this context, Le Corbeau is a standout by offering a vision of the deception and amorality in Vichy France.

This film is credited as Clouzot's masterpiece. I'm sure it warrants 5 stars, 2 thumbs, or whatever, but a 1940's thriller with subtitles only earns 4 broken legs.

High Fidelity
I hate Zach Braff. From his mumbly whining to his self-deprecating over-analysis, he epitomizes what I hate most about the post-modern man. Granted, Zach Braff isn't in this movie, but John Cusack's Rob Gordon is about as close as it gets to a Braff for the year 2000.

Regardless of its Braffyness, I love this movie. Jack Black playing in a band currently called Sonic Death Monkey, but on the verge of being called Cathleen Turner Overdrive? It doesn't get any better.

Most of all, High Fidelity rocks because the elitist audiophiles at the record store remind me of the elistist film-, accounting-, history-philes that make up my office. Just change the names and we're there:
Jake: Liking both Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel is like supporting both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Jeff: No, it's really not, Jake. You know why? Because Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel make pop records.
Jake: Made! Made! Marvin Gaye is dead. His father shot him!

Le Samouraï
The second in French film fare, Le Samouraï, is the essence of ganster cool. Essence because the film distinctly lacks any fluff. Le Samouraï tells its story with few pleasantries, minimal dialogue, and restrained action.

The main character, Jef Costello (Alain Delon), is a killer-for-hire set to assassinate a Parisian club owner. From his spartan apartment to the anonymous garage where he changes the plates on his stolen Citroën DS, Jef is depicted as the premier self-controlled professional. As a nice touch, instead of the samurai's kitana, Jef hones the brim of his fedora before venturing into the streets of Paris.

After the kill, Jef is apprehended by the police, but released with no charges. Convinced of his guilt, a zealous police chief continues to track him, while the men who hired Jef decide that a marked assassin is a liability they cannot afford. A savvy cat and mouse game in the Parisian Metro ensues as Jef seeks to evade the police and eliminate his employer.

très cool. 5 breaks.

If you haven't seen this movie, c'mon Babalugats, go see it now! It's one of my all-time favorites.

Why a rating of 10 hardboiled eggs? Well, it just sounded like a nice round number.

So that I wouldn't have rampant rating inflation this post, I've inserted Gigli into the mix. Gigli was ranked as the worst movie of all time by the Razzies and was generally panned by the critics, so it wasn't a long shot to expect a lemon. Though I must admit that I walked away from Gigli suprised: it sucked differently than I expected: instead of a maladroit Maid in Manhattan, I got a curious cocktail of Pulp Fiction (the F-word is dropped 124 times), My Cousin Vinny, Radio, and, well, Maid in Manhattan.

I must admit, I was impressed that Af-lo or J-fleck, or whatever ridiculous moniker the paparazzi came up with, decided to do a film with a little bit of guts. Granted the script was generally atrocious, but there were some half-way decent bits that warranted a slight chuckle and reflected what the filmmakers were trying to achieve, namely, a Pulp Fiction-type dark comedy replete with edgy dialogue.

But when Gigli fails, it fails hard. Affleck's delivery certainly doesn't help matters, as is painfully evident when Larry Gigli (Affleck) tries to convince Ricky (J. Lo) that he is a "serious" gangster:

Let me tell you who the f___ I am. I am the f___ing Sultan of Slick, Sadie. I am the Rule of f____ing Cool.

You wanna be a gangster?

You wanna be a thug?

You sit at my f___ing feet. Gather the pearls
that emanate forth from me.

Because I'm the f___ing original,
straight-first-foremost, pimp-mack...f____ing hustler,
original gangster's gangster.

What? Rule of f___ing Cool? Straight-first-foremost, pimp-mack hustler? Maybe these worked for The Sugarhill Gang or an irate Samuel L. Jackson, but watching Affleck stumble through these lines is like listening to The Backstreet Boys cover The Cramps "Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon".

Final comment, Gigli is not the worst movie ever made, but it sucked harder than Bandits, so I have to give it a quarter break. However, since I am too lazy to go back into Photoshop and re-edit a quarter-break icon, import it into iPhoto and re-upload it into Blogger, Af-lo will have to collectively settle for no breaks.


Rachiley said...

What we have here is a falure to of my all time favorites too Coy. Nice selction!

Anonymous said...

You know what I think about elitists?

They probably know more than you.