2017 Oscars – pre-ceremony thoughts

“For whatever reason, he spared a hamster”

When you see as much theatre as I do, it can be difficult to keep up to date with cinematic releases – if I have a night off, I rarely want to spend it in a dark room… – but I have tried my best this year to see at least some of the Oscar-nominated films, so that I can chip in once they’ve been distributed in a way that will doubtless cause some controversy or other.

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Film Review: Les Beaux Jours (Bright Days Ahead)

“Time is all I have”

There’s something I find very hard to resist about the impossible glamour of French actress Fanny Ardant and so when a friend spotted that one of her newer films was being screened as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema mini-season and that there was a post-film Q&A, I was glad to be able to attend. Marion Vernoux’s Les Beaux Jours places Ardant full square and centre as Caroline, a 60 year old recently retired dentist in Calais mourning the death of her best friend some months before.

To help her out of her funk, her daughters get her a trial membership to a senior centre where she has the option of picking up any number of new hobbies like acting, pottery or IT skills. But being as gorgeous as she is though her grumpily overworked husband may not notice, what she soon picks up is the très charmant Julien who teaches the computer class and a deliciously thrilling affair strikes up between the pair as she surrenders to hedonistic pleasures with a handsome lover 20 years or so her junior. Continue reading “Film Review: Les Beaux Jours (Bright Days Ahead)”

Film Review: The Love Punch

“It’s all gone. Let’s get drunk”

There’s something hugely likeable about the amount of fun The Love Punch is. It is at times ridiculous and downright barmy but it always has such a cheerfully warm-hearted glow – no doubt helped by the French Riviera sunshine – that made it an irresistible silly pleasure to watch. Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan play a (relatively) amicably divorced couple whose retirement nest egg has been smashed by a hostile takeover of his company and its pension scheme by an avaricious French hotshot. So naturally they set about trying to get revenge.

And it is this wonderfully batty scheme that makes up the most of the movie. After spotting that the Gallic gazumper (a tragically beardless Laurent Lafitte) has purchased a vastly expensive diamond to give to his fiancée, Kate and Richard decide to steal it in retribution, calling on friends and neighbours Penelope and Jerry as they impersonate Texans, infiltrate hen parties and weddings, and don wetsuits and climbing gear to break into a private residence, amongst a ton of other unlikely activities. But Joel Hopkins imbues everything with such warmth and not a hint of seriousness, it’s best just to crack open a can of Kronenbourg and enjoy the ride. Continue reading “Film Review: The Love Punch”

Short Film Review #40

I was lucky enough to catch Louis Garrel on stage in Paris recently and exploring his film work has been something of a pleasure, he’s an intriguing actor who I definitely haven’t seen enough of. Diarchy (or Diarchia) is a 2010 short by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino. Garrel and Riccardo Scamarcio play Luc and Giano, two friends whose complex relationship is tested when they take shelter in Luc’s family villa during a storm. Their competitiveness comes to fore, along with a delicious hint of homoeroticism, and the whole thing is beautifully shot by Filomarino. 

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