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Chloe Grace Moretz (r) and Juliette Binoche - The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival - Sils Maria - Photocall - London, United Kingdom - Friday 23rd May 2014

Chloe Grace Moretz (r) and Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche, Another Womans Life and The French Film Festival - Juliette Binoche attends a screening of 'Another Womans Life' as part of The French Film Festival at the IFI Saturday 24th November 2012 Featuring: Juliette Binoche Where: Dublin, Ireland

Juliette Binoche, Another Womans Life and The French Film Festival
Juliette Binoche, Another Womans Life and The French Film Festival
Juliette Binoche, Another Womans Life and The French Film Festival
Juliette Binoche, Another Womans Life and The French Film Festival

Juliette Binoche and Cannes Film Festival

Juliette Binoche and Cannes Film Festival

Certified Copy Trailer


Certified Copy is set in the picturesque surroundings of Tuscany. When a lady who owns an art gallery attends a lecture by renowned English writer James Miller on the value of original art compared to that of a copy we are lead to believe she immediately feels a connection with the speaker. When the pair meet up after his talk they decide to go on a trip around the city and into the countryside visiting some remarkable places.

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Juliette Binoche Saturday 15th May 2010 2010 Cannes International Film Festival - Day 12 - Palme d'Or Closing Ceremony Red Carpet Arrivals Cannes, France

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche Saturday 15th May 2010 2010 Cannes International Film Festival - Day 12 - Palme d'Or Award Photocall Cannes, France

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche - Tuesday 18th May 2010 at Cannes Film Festival Cannes, France

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche - Friday 16th May 2008 at Cannes Film Festival Cannes, France

Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche - Friday 15th May 2009 at Cannes Film Festival Cannes, France

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

Summer Hours Review


Excellent
Summer Hours, the extraordinary new film by Olivier Assayas, opens on a group of kids, running and laughing around the front lawn of their grandmother's bucolic countryside manor. Their game is aimless, incorporating elements of tag and the use of a map drawn in invisible ink. Up at the house, three siblings, the parents of the brood, aimlessly wander around as the maid prepares a late lunch for them. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The silver-haired matriarch of this subdued clan -- the antithesis of the tribe of lunatics in A Christmas Tale -- is Hélène (Edith Scob), a one-time art-world staple. Her three children are just about as different as three siblings can be: There's flighty Adrienne (Juliette Binoche), a designer of sorts living in New York; young and ambitious Jérémie (Jérémie Renier), who works for Puma Sneakers in Peking; and nostalgic Frédéric (Charles Berling), the eldest, an economist who doesn't believe in economics. Sentimentalist and stubborn nationalist that he is, Frédéric laughs his mother off when she tells him he will have to sell the house when she dies, insisting the house will stay in the family.

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Juliette Binoche Wednesday 18th March 2009 The Korean premiere of 'L'Heure D'ete' (Summer Hours) held at the Dong Soong Art Center. Seoul, South Korea

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan
Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche Monday 16th March 2009 arrives at Incheon International Airport Incheon, South Korea

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan - Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan London, England - The launch of 'In-I' and 'Jubilations' - A Season Of Dance, Film And Art at the National Theatre Friday 4th July 2008

Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan
Juliette Binoche, Akram Khan, Anish Kapoor and Philip Sheppard
Juliette Binoche, Akram Khan, Anish Kapoor and Philip Sheppard
Juliette Binoche, Akram Khan and Anish Kapoor
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche, Akram Khan, Anish Kapoor and Philip Sheppard

Flight Of The Red Balloon Review


Extraordinary
Paris (and France in general) tends to be a habitat seen in big sweeps and large outside shots, attesting to the ongoing American romanticizing of the City of Light. The Eiffel Tower looming large in the background, the stoic Arc de Triomphe, the rolling lawns in front of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur: However intimate the city's candor might be, film has always taken Paris in with its monuments, landmarks, and open spaces as pieces of a collective familiarity.

With the exception of a lone, beautiful coda within the Musee d'Orsay, the very body responsible for the film's funding, Hou Hsiao-hsien's gorgeous Flight of the Red Balloon drifts away from these environs, making a film about Paris life that seems uninterested in Paris as a city. Based on, or perhaps just familiarized with, Albert Lamorisse's French children's classic The Red Balloon, Hsiao-hsien moves the focus from a child and his balloon to a child, his frazzled mom, and his new Chinese nanny, a young filmmaker on a student visa.

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Dan In Real Life Review


Very Good
It has been a while since I've seen an actor single-handedly elevate merely fair material with a transcendental performance.

Steve Carell is the Dan of Real Life, and his touching turn as an unassuming newspaper columnist and father of three girls exists on a level above the film's perfectly acceptable cast -- no small feat considering that Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney, and Juliette Binoche contribute to the ensemble.

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Juliette Binoche Wednesday 24th October 2007 World Premiere of 'Dan In Real Life' at El Capitan Theatre - Arrivals Hollywood, California

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche Monday 10th September 2007 Screening of 'Quelques Jours en Septembre' (A Few Day's In September) at the Barbican London, England

Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche

A Few Days In September Review


Bad
Lots of bad things seem to happen in a matter of "days" in the month of September. It took Four Days in September for Alan Arkin's kidnapping drama to unfold, but only One Day for the Munich Olympic hostage catastrophe to pan out. 9/11 would be the backdrop for 7 Days in September. 9/11 is the subjext again here, but director Santiago Amigorena must have sensed that primary numbers were getting scarce, saddling his film with the awful title A Few Days in September. You know, give or take.

The title isn't all that's awful about this film, a mess of a story that wants desperately to be an espionage thriller. The tale centers around a missing spy named Elliot. On the hunt for him is Irène (Juliette Binoche, perhaps never more out of character) and two of Elliot's kids, American David (Tom Riley) and French Orlando (Sara Forestier), actually step-relations.

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Paris, Je T'aime Review


Good
One would like to think that there at least a few other cities in the world besides Paris that could have inspired a film as varied in the types of cinematic pleasure so ably delivered by the anthology piece Paris Je T'Aime -- but it seems unlikely. This isn't due to an unavailability of good stories or locations in many other great metropolises, but more because being able to dangle the possibility of shooting in Paris in front of the world's greatest directors is going to be so much more enticing. Also, there are few other cities besides Paris that come with such a powerful and multifarious wealth of preassociated images and emotions for both filmmaker and audience to both draw upon and react against. So what could have been a collection of short films with a few highs, several lows, and a lot of muddled in-betweens is in fact a remarkably and consistently imaginative body of work, practically giddy with energy, that only rarely touches the ground.

Project overseers Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carné wanted to create a cinematic map of Paris, with each short film representing one of the city's 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods). They ended up with 18 films, none of them more than a few minutes long and directed by a glittering, international roster of filmmakers. While none of the films here are anything approaching masterpieces, hardly a one is in any way a chore to sit through, which has to be some sort of an accomplishment.

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Breaking And Entering Review


Weak
Bathed in browns and tans and coursing with pent-up socioeconomic ponderings, Anthony Minghella's gentrification hiccup Breaking and Entering joins a rather terminal genre of films that want to have their cake and eat it too. Balancing a fumbling love triangle and a plethora of misconceived notions on class structure, Minghella has confined himself to an intimate story that betrays his often loftier ambitions.

A string of robberies has plagued the ghetto of King's Cross in London. The thievery seems to be centered on an architecture firm that (no surprise) is trying to clean up and reconstruct the famed slum into something more suitable for London's middle-class. Headed by pretty boy Will (Jude Law) and scruffy Sandy (Martin Freeman), the company has an internal conflict on whether it was a member of the cleaning staff (that Sandy is sweet on) or outside burglars that committed the crimes. While attempting his own makeshift stakeout, Will spots the young robber and jumps out of his posh SUV to chase him. It leads him to the home of Amira (the luminous Juliette Binoche), a survivor of the horrors of Bosnia who yearns to return to Sarajevo with her son Miro (Rafi Gavron), the thief in question.

Continue reading: Breaking And Entering Review

Caché Review


OK
A low-rent setup for two penthouse-level thespians, Michael Haneke's Caché is somehow rigorous yet formless, absolutely exacting in its procedure, yet seemingly bereft of intent and meaning, scrupulously acted for not much reason at all. Derived from the same nervous Parisian bourgeois milieu as writer/director Haneke's Code Unknown but quite a bit more tightly-packed, it's a thriller wrapped inside a moral lesson and presented with the glassy omnipotence of the true voyeur.

The story owes a debt on some level to that greatest of cinematic voyeurs, Hitchcock, whose corpulent presence seems constantly in the filmmaker's mind. Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil plays Anne and Georges Laurent, a perfectly respectable married example of the modern Paris intelligentsia. She works for a publisher where she can set her own hours, while he hosts a literary TV talk show. They have a nice little flat and a nice son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). This is all filled in later, however, as the first thing we see is a static shot of the Laurent household which turns out to be a videotape Anne and Georges are watching which had been left on their doorstep with no explanation. Someone simply set up a videocamera across from their flat and filmed it for hours on end. Things escalate, of course, with tapes mysteriously appearing, soon with childlike drawings attached, of a face spitting blood, a chicken getting its head cut off. Someone starts calling for Georges, sending the tapes to his work, sending the notes to Pierrot at school. And there is no demand, no message, no anything but the constant surveillance and the feeling (soon proven) that the watcher knows more than the Laurents would like about themselves and their past, especially Georges'.

Continue reading: Caché Review

Bee Season Review


Excellent
One of the rarest beasts in the celluloid kingdom is the two-director film. I don't mean films with co-directors; I'm talking about two names under that "directed by" credit. It happened earlier this year with Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's relentless Sin City, which couldn't be farther from the style or subject matter than Scott McGehee and David Siegel's Bee Season.

We see a helicopter bring a large metal statue of the letter A over a west coast bridge. Watching intently, young Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross), her brother and her parents drive to colleges and jobs. They each have their own lives and secrets that we can't even fathom yet. Eliza's secret is that she's an expert speller, able to close her eyes and harness a power to see the letters come alive around her. After winning her school's spelling bee, she attempts to tell her father, Saul (Richard Gere), but he doesn't notice, not until she wins the next round and gets her name in the paper, which turns Saul's attention away from his son, Aaron (Max Minghella), and towards his daughter's strange talent.

Continue reading: Bee Season Review

Breaking And Entering Review


Weak
Bathed in browns and tans and coursing with pent-up socioeconomic ponderings, Anthony Minghella's gentrification hiccup Breaking and Entering joins a rather terminal genre of films that want to have their cake and eat it too. Balancing a fumbling love triangle and a plethora of misconceived notions on class structure, Minghella has confined himself to an intimate story that betrays his often loftier ambitions.A string of robberies has plagued the ghetto of King's Cross in London. The thievery seems to be centered on an architecture firm that (no surprise) is trying to clean up and reconstruct the famed slum into something more suitable for London's middle-class. Headed by pretty boy Will (Jude Law) and scruffy Sandy (Martin Freeman), the company has an internal conflict on whether it was a member of the cleaning staff (that Sandy is sweet on) or outside burglars that committed the crimes. While attempting his own makeshift stakeout, Will spots the young robber and jumps out of his posh SUV to chase him. It leads him to the home of Amira (the luminous Juliette Binoche), a survivor of the horrors of Bosnia who yearns to return to Sarajevo with her son Miro (Rafi Gavron), the thief in question.While he is away from his wife Liv (Robin Wright Penn) and borderline-autistic stepdaughter Bea (Poppy Rogers), Will takes coffee with a Russian prostitute (Vera Farmiga) while warming up for a rather awkward affair with Amira. The affair is about bourgeois guilt and escape for him, but for her it's a way of securing her son from a life in jail and keeping him away from the local coppers, led by the reliable Ray Winstone.Replacing regular cinematographer John Seal, the masterful Benoît Delhomme (The Proposition, What Time Is It There?) gives this panorama of class and relations an inebriated tone of mystique. That's half the problem: King's Cross has no real sense of danger or of any sort of differentiation of class, visually speaking. Catcalls of "better watch out" or "shouldn't be wearing those duds round here, mate" become rather pathetic signals of danger when Will chases Miro through the underbelly of the "slum." This also puts a lot of stress on Binoche and Gavron: If their surroundings don't communicate the class difference, the actors have to. Binoche has become an actress so malleable in her talents and appearance that it's often hard to categorize her. The fit, stressed mom in Michael Haneke's superb Cache has given way to a slightly chubbier, East-European-accented mother hen with drab clothing and a strongly felt love for her son and his future.Binoche is the heart of the film, and the scenery and mood matches her, ironically, up until Amira and Will's affair begins. The dazed atmosphere of the film becomes gelatinous, giving the class struggle a somewhat hollow resonance. The descents of all the characters (Liv is Scandinavian) becomes a point of order in the film's context but it's never given any sort of importance to offer the narrative a sense of intricacy. Even more so, Sandy's yearning and ultimate disappointment with his lower-class cleaning lady hints at a more developed and poignant representation of bourgeois ethos, but it's never developed past the films first 30 minutes. So, instead, the cultural clash is restricted to pale shades of white, and any sort of challenging critique of modern status and stratum is widely averted. Not quite a misdemeanor, but definitely nothing to celebrate.Is your refridgerator running?

Hail Mary Review


Very Good
"Denounced by the Pope" is pretty heavy marketing material, and one look at Hail Mary's premise can certainly make you see why he'd not take kindly to the film. Here, the lovely Myriem Roussel is a teenage gas station attendant named Marie, who becomes inexplicably pregnant despite being a virgin. She marries her boyfriend Joseph. Eventually she has a son.

Sound familiar? This reimagining of the birth of Jesus is both hauntingly beautiful and often quite funny, just the sort of surreal experience that is the hallmark of director Jean-Luc Godard's best work.

Continue reading: Hail Mary Review

Mary Review


Excellent
Out of the thousands of problems one could have with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, there is one thing that sticks out above all: its sureness and certainty. There was no questioning going on in the film and no humbleness in the great face of possibility. It was an act of utter belief, which could be seen as a great gesture or a great detriment. This obviously got the attention of indie rebel Abel Ferrara, the firebrand behind Bad Lieutenant and King of New York. Where Gibson is steadfast in his Christianity, Ferrara has the foresight to fill the film with his own humility and confusion over what's going on up there.Jesus Christ walks into a cave (this would be directly after the resurrection) to find Mary Magdalene and attempts to comfort her. Then, Jesus yells "Cut!" It turns out that he is actor/director Tony Childress (Matthew Modine), and Mary is Marie Palesi (Juliette Binoche). Tony is just wrapping his retelling of the life of Jesus, This is My Blood, and is high on his own self-righteousness. So much so that he blows up at Marie when she announces she is going to Jerusalem. See, Marie has become obsessed with the character of Mary Magdalene and has made it her new mission to try to unlock her secrets.Back in New York, hard-nosed discussion show host Ted Younger (Forest Whitaker) is prepping a week long discussion on Jesus and the Bible. He has a pregnant wife (Heather Graham) that he ignores and a pressing need to get Childress on his show. Childress agrees but Younger hits a water hazard when his wife gives birth prematurely and the life of his son is not certain. Things get really messy, but Younger gives it up to god and Childress stages a coup when a bomb threat threatens to cancel the opening screening of his film.Childress isn't just a representation of Gibson-like pomposity; he is also a representation of Ferrara's feebleness/audacity with this subject matter as well. Ferrara's search is sincere and unbelievably open, but it really is a return to the ideas that he was tangling with in Bad Lieutenant: uncomplicated redemption. Bad Lieutenant's physical world of pain and corruption eventually led to that shocking scene where the Lieutenant offers to kill the rapist and the nun asks him not to, ostensibly forgiving the kids who raped her. The redemption sought after in Mary has much more breadth and a mercurial vastness. Every character is looking for their way to rediscover god, to be brought back into his graces. Childress tries to find it by emulating it, Younger does it by finally giving into his humility and Marie wants to find it through finding Mary Magdalene's true purpose. At moments, it can be overwhelming.Ferrara returns to his city of choice with an uncanny gothic style, dark and frankly frightening. Those long shots of Younger's limo rides home evoke a deep sense of dread in the current state of cynicism and fear (often, Younger is watching news of terrorism during his rides home). For the first time since 1996's The Funeral, Ferrara has found a sustainable tone and a story that allows him room to talk about a reverent subject. Somehow, he turns confusion into a concise study on what it means to believe in god in this day and age. Consider it an act of faith. Amen, brother.

Bee Season Review


Excellent
One of the rarest beasts in the celluloid kingdom is the two-director film. I don't mean films with co-directors; I'm talking about two names under that "directed by" credit. It happened earlier this year with Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's relentless Sin City, which couldn't be farther from the style or subject matter than Scott McGehee and David Siegel's Bee Season.

We see a helicopter bring a large metal statue of the letter A over a west coast bridge. Watching intently, young Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross), her brother and her parents drive to colleges and jobs. They each have their own lives and secrets that we can't even fathom yet. Eliza's secret is that she's an expert speller, able to close her eyes and harness a power to see the letters come alive around her. After winning her school's spelling bee, she attempts to tell her father, Saul (Richard Gere), but he doesn't notice, not until she wins the next round and gets her name in the paper, which turns Saul's attention away from his son, Aaron (Max Minghella), and towards his daughter's strange talent.

Continue reading: Bee Season Review

The Widow Of Saint-Pierre Review


Excellent
Based on a true story, The Widow of Saint-Pierre is a surprisingly effective French period piece that spins a timeless tale of love and compassion.

In 1849, we find ourselves on a French island colony near the Canadian coast, a cold and inhospitable land with few inhabitants. In a night of drunkenness, Auguste (Emir Kusturica) and his friend kill a local man. Auguste is sentenced to die. The only problem -- there's no guillotine on the island, and no executioner either.

Continue reading: The Widow Of Saint-Pierre Review

Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu) Review


Excellent
The only thing I remembered about seeing Krzysztof Kieslowski's Blue -- the first part of his Three Colors trilogy (see also White, Red) -- is that it put me to sleep right at the 40-minute mark.

Watched again with a more mature and critical eye nearly 10 years later I didn't nod off, but impatient types will find the film slow and difficult, and to some extent, that's what Kieslowski wanted. Based on the colors and ideals of the French flag, Blue focuses on the idea of "liberty," though not in any political sense. Rather, the film tells a deeply personal story of loss and salvation, Juliette Binoche owning the lead as a woman whose husband and daughter are suddenly killed in a car wreck. Binoche's Julie then tries to piece her life back together -- not by visiting the past, but by creating a new future for herself, free from the trappings of yesterday. But of course, it's the past that refuses to let go, as old acquintances track her down and untold truths begin to surface.

Continue reading: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu) Review

Caché Review


OK
A low-rent setup for two penthouse-level thespians, Michael Haneke's Caché is somehow rigorous yet formless, absolutely exacting in its procedure, yet seemingly bereft of intent and meaning, scrupulously acted for not much reason at all. Derived from the same nervous Parisian bourgeois milieu as writer/director Haneke's Code Unknown but quite a bit more tightly-packed, it's a thriller wrapped inside a moral lesson and presented with the glassy omnipotence of the true voyeur.

The story owes a debt on some level to that greatest of cinematic voyeurs, Hitchcock, whose corpulent presence seems constantly in the filmmaker's mind. Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil plays Anne and Georges Laurent, a perfectly respectable married example of the modern Paris intelligentsia. She works for a publisher where she can set her own hours, while he hosts a literary TV talk show. They have a nice little flat and a nice son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). This is all filled in later, however, as the first thing we see is a static shot of the Laurent household which turns out to be a videotape Anne and Georges are watching which had been left on their doorstep with no explanation. Someone simply set up a videocamera across from their flat and filmed it for hours on end. Things escalate, of course, with tapes mysteriously appearing, soon with childlike drawings attached, of a face spitting blood, a chicken getting its head cut off. Someone starts calling for Georges, sending the tapes to his work, sending the notes to Pierrot at school. And there is no demand, no message, no anything but the constant surveillance and the feeling (soon proven) that the watcher knows more than the Laurents would like about themselves and their past, especially Georges'.

Continue reading: Caché Review

The English Patient Review


Excellent
Just so you know, "patient" refers to a man with a medical condition, not the ability to sit through a film that flirts with a three hour running time.

You think I'm kidding, but I'm serious -- The English Patient has got to be the longest romance movie I've ever seen [This was before Titanic. -Ed.]. Well, Out of Africa was awfully long, too, but that doesn't make it okay! (Like your mother might say, "If Meryl Streep jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?")

Continue reading: The English Patient Review

Code Unknown Review


Good
Austrian bad boy filmmaker Michael Haneke follows up his nihilistic home invasion psychodrama Funny Games with the elusive Code Unknown. Frustrating and seemingly disconnected, Haneke's crafted one of those strange films that, at the time of viewing, inspires reactions ranging from outrage ("What a waste of my time!") to bafflement ("What's the point?"). It's certainly cold, observing an ensemble of characters tied together overtly and incongruously through the opening sequence of street violence.

Following a clearly telegraphed prologue in a classroom for the deaf where no one can figure out what a little girl is miming (theme: miscommunication), Haneke details within a single, unbroken shot four characters -- a young man, his brother's girlfriend, a homeless woman, an angry black schoolteacher -- whose paths cross on a busy Paris street corner. The young man, Jean (Alexandre Hamidi) tosses a crumpled bag into the lap of the homeless woman (Luminita Gheorghiu), a motiveless crime springing from his own insouciance. The black teacher (Ona Lu Yenke) demands the youth apologize, using physical force to make his point. The police break it up, taking the black man away in handcuffs. Race, class, righteousness, and passive observance collide, and each party involved carries the moral baggage.

Continue reading: Code Unknown Review

Rendez-vous Review


Good
Good news for you pervs out there: Juliette Binoche spends virtually the entirety of Rendez-vous buck naked, usually begging for sex from one of two men she's just met. At 20 years old, she may look like a teenage boy, but hey, that's the price of gratuitous nudity.

Rendez-vous begins with aspiring actress Nina (Binoche) fresh off the boat in Paris, where she immediately falls into bed with both real estate clerk Paulot (Wadeck Stanczak) and his in-your-face roommate Quentin (Lambert Wilson). Soon enough, secrecy is put aside and the whole affair becomes a messy conflagration of emotion and raw sexuality.

Continue reading: Rendez-vous Review

Jet Lag Review


Good
Rose (Juliette Binoche) is an accomplished beautician traveling to Acapulco to flee her rage-aholic boyfriend. Félix (Jean Reno) is a chef who's traveling to Munich to attend the funeral of his ex-girlfriend's grandmother, much to the dismay of his former lover. In Danièle Thompson's breezy romantic comedy Jet Lag, the two meet in a Parisian airport brought to a standstill by a public utilities strike, and it's not long before these opposites realize that, despite their first assessments of one another, they just might be a perfect match.

No one should fret over the fact that I've just revealed the film's ending, since all but the most novice filmgoers will deduce such a conclusion from Jet Lag's opening moments, in which we find Rose - who, to top off a bad day that's left her stranded indefinitely in the airport, has lost her phone down a toilet - asking to use Félix's cell. Decked out in stylishly alluring attire and an abundant amount of make-up, Rose seems, at first glance, to be a somewhat trashy primadonna. However, despite her appearance, Rose has set herself down a life-altering path - finally seizing the opportunity to break free from her no-good boyfriend's violent control - even though waiting for her flight provides numerous chances to give up the escape plan and return home, Stockholm Syndrome-style, to her tormentor.

Continue reading: Jet Lag Review

In My Country Review


Bad
South Africa's 1995 Truth and Reconciliation Hearings - which sought to resolve the animosity between blacks and white Afrikaners after the fall of apartheid by having victimized blacks confront their white tormentors, who in turn would be granted amnesty by publicly admitting to, apologizing for, and proving that they were ordered to carry out, their hateful actions - may one day spawn a great movie. In My Country, John Boorman's lazy and ludicrous film about the Hearings, isn't it. A prime example of why it's dangerous to concoct fictional narratives in order to tell historically important stories, Boorman's latest is awkward and ungainly, a dramatically forced and stilted tale of interracial reconciliation bereft of any rhythm and even less subtlety. With the wildly inconsistent director working more in the vein of his legendary disaster Exorcist II: The Heretic than his neo-noir masterpiece Point Blank, it's the kind of well-intentioned, but wholly unsuccessful, misfire that makes one desperately pine for a thorough documentary on its real-life subject.

Inauspiciously beginning with a clunky montage of sun-dappled vistas and police brutality newsreel footage set to rousing (but still slightly heartbreaking) African singing, In My Country focuses on Anna Malan (Juliette Binoche), an Afrikaner journalist and poet whose white father and brother disapprove of her interest in the Hearings ("Remember where you're from, Anna," racist Dad ominously warns). While covering the event, she meets Langston Whitfield (Samuel L. Jackson), a Washington Post reporter opposed to the Hearings' disinterest in persecuting the country's heinous, government-sponsored white criminals. The two quarrel over the effectiveness and justness of the Hearings' guiding principle of "Ubuntu" (an African belief in forgiveness over punishment), but their horror and sadness over the proceedings' testimonials - many of which have been recreated, word-for-gut-wrenching word, by the filmmakers - helps them eventually bridge their initial ideological differences and, in the case of Anna, learn to reconcile herself to her family's own nasty role in apartheid. After some boneheaded flirting, the two attempt to heal the country's racial divisions themselves through lovemaking, all while Anna's cheery African-American sidekick Dumi (Menzi Ngubane) gleefully confirms the hoariest of stereotypes by breaking into jubilant song and dance at every available turn (including in court).

Continue reading: In My Country Review

Alice Et Martin Review


Bad
Everything that's wrong with French cinema is on display in Alice et Martin, a daring title for a film that, when translated, means... Alice and Martin. Martin is a troubled young French man (Alexis Loret) who runs away from country home, steals fruit and eggs along the way, and ends up in Paris, where of course he instantly becomes a male model. Here he meets musician Alice (Juliette Binoche), and soon enough she's pregnant. Then he goes nuts.

I didn't understand any of this, and I don't expect anyone else to, either. That is, unless you have a psychic connection with the screenwriter. There are long shots of the countryside, slow-motion shots of waves, and an old man falling down the stairs. What does it all mean? Hell if I know. Something about love, obsession, relationships? I know a lot of crazy people, and none of them act like this.

Continue reading: Alice Et Martin Review

The Horseman On The Roof Review


Excellent
You heard it here first: 1996 will be the year that puts French cinema back on the map, at long last. With both Purple Noon's re-release and the arrival of The Visitors (the highest-grossing French film of all time) later this year, we're guaranteed a couple of hits. But the first of these French delicacies to arrive will be The Horseman on the Roof.

Rumored to be the most expensive film ever shot in France, The Horseman on the Roof is the film adaptation of Jean Giono's popular novel of the same name. Directed by Cyrano de Bergerac's Jean-Paul Rappeneau, this tale of love and tragedy in 1830s France is an exquisite period piece, full of settings and photography as lush as its story line.

Continue reading: The Horseman On The Roof Review

In My Country Review


OK

A fictional narrative created to encompass several storiesthat personify the nation-altering emotional crux of South Africa's Truthand Reconciliation hearings, "In My Country" accomplishes itsgoal -- but does so largely through obvious plot devices.

JulietteBinoche and Samuel L. Jackson give strong, movingperformances as two journalists -- one Afrikaner, one African-American-- covering the gut-wrenching testimony as the oppressed came face-to-facewith their oppressors during these historical early-1990s committees, heldall over the upended nation as it transitioned from apartheid to democracy.But it's too obvious that their characters are designed to represent (orat least be acquainted with) particular points of view that must come toa symbolic accord for the country's race issues to be resolved.

She comes from an enlightened perspective about equality,but her rich, white family is nervous about living in the new South Africa-- and of course they have skeletons in their closets that soon come tolight. He has a huge chip on his shoulder about race relations, havinggrown up seeing America's Civil Rights movement pave the way for more equalitybefore the country developed a collective sense of denial about the lingeringdiscrimination still ingrained in its culture.

Continue reading: In My Country Review

Chocolat Review


OK

A fanciful fairy tale for grown-ups, "Chocolat" takes place in a sleepy French village, circa 1959, and stars Juliette Binoche as a nomadic confectioner of sublime candy delicacies whose arrival -- just as Lent has begun -- stirs curiosity, gossip and scornful disdain among the locals.

Happy-go-lucky in the face of adversity and apparently a boat-rocker by nature, she sets up shop practically across the street from the church, providing almost cruel temptation to a population observing 40 days of fasting and penitence.

But the influence of the chocolaterie and its proprietor soon extends beyond simple taste bud enticement. Her enchanted chocolates and therapeutic personality have soon rekindled the marriage of a local couple, returned a smile to the face of her cantankerous landlady (Judi Dench), and inspired an abused wife (Lena Olin) to leave her husband (and come work for Binoche). This disruption in the status quo ruffles the feathers of the zealous and austere local nobleman (Alfred Molina), who considers the chocolate shop to be the work of the devil and sets his mind to seeing Binoche run out of town for interrupting the village's static tranquility.

Continue reading: Chocolat Review

Alice & Martin Review


Weak

Handsome, stormy Alexis Lorent gives a memorable performance in his screen debut as the Martin half of "Alice and Martin," a bipolar young man haunted by guilt over the death of his callous father, and forever flighty from a hard childhood under dad's stern hand.

Juliette Binoche ("The English Patient") is also affecting as Alice, an inhibited and financially strapped violinist and Martin's slightly older lover who tries to quell his tortured psyche.

But this awkward drama about romance, estrangement and what people are willing to do for love is such a structural mess that it's impossible to get lost in the strength of the performances because you're too busy trying to keep up with the entangled narrative.

Continue reading: Alice & Martin Review

The Widow Of St Pierre (La Veuve De Saint-Pierre) Review


Good

It's been a week since I saw "The Widow of St. Pierre," and I'm still a little frustrated with it.

I was effectively drawn in to the story, about the wife of a 19th Century French commandant who befriends a death row prisoner in her husband's charge and champions the cause of sparing his life. The story takes emotionally-hooking twists as -- while waiting for a guillotine to arrive from France so the man can be legally executed -- the people of the barren, wintry island of St. Pierre (apparently off the coast of Newfoundland) become so attached to the gentle criminal that no one is willing to act as his executioner.

As you can glean from the title, there are tragic results. What sticks in my craw is the fact that the blame rests with the widow herself (played with poignant, fervent, impulsive intensity by Juliette Binoche). Not that I can blame her. She finds herself in a terrible spot.

Continue reading: The Widow Of St Pierre (La Veuve De Saint-Pierre) Review

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