L’Immortel

Foreign movie – French (2012).

L’Immortel (22 Bullets is the English title) begins with Charly Mattei (Jean Reno) with one of his children and after letting his son off to view a street vendor, Charly, a former French crime boss enters the underground garage. It is here that his childhood friend, Tony Zakia, has ordered a hit on him.

After taking 22 bullets, Charly is on the mend and has revenge on his mind for those that started this. The movie is entertaining in it’s own right but the reason I chose this was because I’m a fan of Jean Reno. Although it is not his best performance, it is good nonetheless. This does have a pretty good supporting cast and the actors play their respective roles well.

I realized after three-fourths of the way through that I had seen this before. Even with this I still enjoyed the movie – need I say more? Go ahead and have butter on the popcorn…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken With Plums

Foreign film – French (2011).

Poulet aux prunes is about an established violinist, Nassir Ali Khan, set in 1950’s Tehran. However, there are a few turns in the story. It’s filled with flashbacks after his wife breaks his beloved violin in a fit of frustration. He is unable to find a replacement for his broken violin, thus he has become broken. As a result of this, he decides that the only outcome is to end his life.

The film is whimsical in nature as we are taken down a rabbit hole of scenarios, flashbacks, and surreal frames of Nassir’s hallucinations. We find that Nassir does not love his wife, even though she thoroughly adores him. Nassir’s true love was lost to him due to his profession as a musician. This scenario takes us on a journey that is all too familiar in most films.

Amidst his flashbacks, Nassir has a few comical moments when he speaks with the Angel of Death, then back to reality while speaking with his brother, then back in the rabbit hole again seeing his true love as she feigns not to know who he is when they happen by chance to encounter each other years later. It’s the classic romance, albeit more like a Shakespearean ending than a true love story. Overall, I wasn’t as impressed with the movie but was mesmerized by each individual scenario. So for me the parts of the movie were better than the picture as a whole.

BTW, his favorite meal is chicken with plums…

The Women on the 6th Floor

Foreign film – French (2010).

Set in 1960s Paris, Jean-Louis and his socialite wife find their maid of twenty-three years has up and quit as their housekeeper. As the dishes and laundry pile up, Jean-Louis’ wife Suzanne is convinced by her social circle of friends to get a younger maid and they recommend she employ a Spanish maid over the traditional French maid.

Enter vivacious and pretty Maria and Jean-Louis takes a fancy to her. Maria enlists the help of the other maids and with all the chores this was no easy task. Marveled with her skills, Jean-Louis and Suzanne immediately hire her. With his attention to Maria, Jean-Louis becomes enthralled with her and befriends the women on the 6th floor. This light hearted romantic comedy is worth the cost of admission with a buttered popcorn.

The Bang Bang Club

Based on a true story of a group of combat photojournalists as they capture images of the final days of apartheid in South Africa from the period 1990-1994. This Canadian-South African 2010 drama/documentary style film grips you from the very beginning in many edge of your seat clips as well as graphic scenes of the violence.

From the opening frame to the last portrays the frustrations of four photographers and their friends as they snap photos of the inhumanity of civil strife as it tears apart a country. Although the violence is upsetting it is a film worth watching. The Bang-Bang Club members star Ryan Phillipe as Greg Marinovich,  Taylor Kitsch as Kevin Carter, Neels Van Jaarsveld as João Silva and Frank Rautenbach as Ken Oosterbroek as a tightly knit group to get the story of country caught in turmoil through the lens of a camera.

Grab the popcorn, put some butter on it and pick out another snack that suits your fancy although I will warn you that watching the compelling scenes you may just forget you have any snacks at all.

No One Killed Jessica

Foreign film- Hindi (2011).

Based on the true story of Jessica Lall who was murdered in 1999.

Jessica, an aspiring model, refuses to serve her eventual killer a drink after hours in a local nightclub. Manish, the son of a intimidating, prominent, and wealthy politician succeeds in buying off the witnesses with his father’s help believes he has beaten the charges in the senseless, deadly crime.

After several years of attempting to prevail in justice, Jessica’s sister Sabrina finally gives up as all seems to favor the politician’s son even though all believe Manish is guilty.

Enter stage right, Meera, a well-known reporter takes on the challenge of righting the wrong for Jessica. Utilizing unorthodox means, Meera sets in motion the will of power of the people. What transpires is a national protest against those individuals who believe they are above the law.

A very compelling film, skip the wine for this one but do butter the popcorn.

Intelligence Seasons 1 & 2

Foreign TV series – Canada (2005-2007).

Jimmy Reardon, a Canadian gangster hanging out in the city of Vancouver, BC is the main character in this Canadian TV crime drama. Unlike most crime dramas where you can’t wait for the “bad” guy to get caught in the end, this one you can’t help but rooting for the bad guys and you immediately like Jimmy. He’s a likable guy played to a “T” by Ian Tracey.

Jimmy has a strange connection to Mary Spalding, head of the Organized Crime Unit stationed in Vancouver in a nemesis-colleague type relationship. You’ll find you are wishing them both well.

Jimmy has a lot of people on his side and the characters are well played by the cast. Chris Haddock, the TV series creator did an excellent job casting the crew for this series.

Throughout the series, it was tough to tell if certain characters were good guys or bad guys on both sides of the law. The bad guys had some good qualities, they also had some bad qualities. The good guys had some good qualities, they also had some bad qualities.

Storytelling was top notch beginning with the first episode till the last one. It kept me spellbound at the end of each episode wanting the next episode to start right away. I’ll have to warn you, watching this is like reading a good book – it’s tough to put down.

Have butter on the popcorn, but make sure you get the refillable box of popcorn as you’re going to need it for all these episodes. You may want to get a few boxes of Goobers, Dots, Jujubes, Sno-Caps, Juicy Fruits, Junior Mints, Milk Duds, Raisinets, and Good & Plenty – yeah, the whole candy case. Oh, did I forget the licorice?

Cautiva

Foreign film – Argentina (2003).

An award winner at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The movie is based on the turbulent time of the military regime in Argentina during the 1970s. The plot does not focus on the activists of the era but what happened to the children of the activists.

Cristina, an affluent and almost perfect student, is summoned to the principal’s office and is escorted to a judge informing her that her real parents were taken from her when she was very young and were imprisoned. We first learned that Cristina’s adoptive parents found her on an abandoned train.

As a result, Cristina is taken from her adoptive parents and awarded to her paternal grandmother. Angry at first Cristina, born Sofia Lombardi, struggles to find out what really happened to her birth parents. In her journey she is brought to an old nurse, who remembers the situation quite well as it was during the time the Argentines won the world cup in 1978. The nurse retells the story to Cristina/Sofia that seems to turn Sofia toward her new destiny

She eventually warms to the idea of having a grandmother and cousins to grow up with. Although this is a heart warming story, it does have its slow moments but if you prevail I think you’ll enjoy this one.

It is believed that over 30,000 activists were imprisoned back then and to date 74 children have been found and returned to their birth families.

The Wave

Foreign film – German (2008).

Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel) is a high school teacher and is getting ready for “project week” where just about anything goes (within reason of course, after all this is high school). The topic is Autocracy and Rainer, as all his students call him, wanted the Anarchy class but the older teacher would not switch with him.

So, Wenger accepts the role of autocracy and tell the students they must call him Herr Wenger and that they must stand when they want to speak in class. To further the ideals of a unified group, Wenger suggests they all have uniforms and it is decided that jeans and a white shirt would prevail as the “new trend” in clothing style.

Another stipulation is that he rearranged the seating from an adhoc mish-mash one to a structured, facing the front, two students at each desk. Now, each of the students were not with their friends but paired up by one good student and one student that struggled academically.

The group decides to give their movement a name and decide on The Wave with a nifty salute. There are many parallels to Nazi Germany but you have to remember that the students are third generation from the mid 1940s.

Throughout the film we see the dynamics of the students before project week, during project week and the end of project week. You get a feeling something will go awry by the films end and it does but I’ll leave that for you to experience it. This was a well directed movie with some dynamic acting on all fronts. Go ahead and put butter on the popcorn and get your self a box of Dots too.

 

Rosenstrasse

Foreign film – German (2003).

After the death of her father, Hannah notices some strange behavior exhibited by her mother especially the strict Jewish rituals she imposes on everyone at the wake. One of the mourners introduces herself as Ruth’s cousin but is asked to leave by Ruth.

Hannah realizes the key to her past is finding the truth about her family and embarks on a mission to know more. She connects with Lena Fischer who helped Ruth escape the Nazi regime. As Lena describes the story we go back and forth from present day and the past. Part of this fact based drama retells a particular week in Germany where many of the Jewish husbands married to Aryan women are detained with the notion of sending them to concentration camps.  The women stage a non-violent protest for one week and miraculously the detained husbands are freed.

Based on true events, this is a great heart-warming story that will delight all. By all means put butter on the popcorn and enjoy the movie.

Max Manus: Man of War

Foreign film – Norwegian (2008).

Two things amazed me about this film: great directing and great acting. Max Manus was probably Norway’s greatest war hero.

Upon his return from Finland after doing battle with the Russians he became one of the best saboteurs of World War II when he joined the Norwegian resistance. His specialty was blowing up warships and the most notable was the sinking of the “Donau” as she was headed out of Oslo Harbor.

Throughout the film, Max not only battles the enemy but with his own inner demons and he feels responsible for the deaths of his friends and wonders why he is being spared.

You almost feel as if you are part of the film as this was a truly incredible story. Don’t miss this one and go ahead and put butter on the pop corn. The only thing I would have liked was to see this film on the big screen.