IDA (2013)

A film by  Pawel Pawlikowski

Cast:  Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, Dawid Ogrodnik 

1960’s Poland a nun called wanda (Agatha Kulesza) goes to see her aunt who tells her that she is jewish and so where her parents, that are now dead. So she goes in the search to see what they are buried only to find out family secrets.

Here is a jewel that is full of emotions with with a feeling of melancholy. Here the director goes back to his country where he was born to tell a story set in the 60’s and goes back to the essence of suffering from the Nazi massacre of the Second World War. A depressive scenery with a bit of surreal pictorial art. The frame, the scenery speak for itself plus it has a beauty to it. The director says that he doesn’t like to move the camera, he does not want to reveal to much with the image, to him he doesn’t like to give to much information after all like he said I am Anti-cinema. He was in a café when he saw this young woman studying and ask her if she wanted to be in the film because the has this innocence on her look. She didn’t want to be an actress. That is probably the only film you will see her in. The dialogue little there is of it was perfect. Here is Poland who tries to reconstruct the country from the war which he film was shot in the sublime black and white. Here is a nun with her aunt who are going on a road trip to find out what happen to their family and where they are buried. Here Pawel Pawlikowski is not a judge, but a brilliant artist, with a genuine vision of cinema.

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EDMOND (2019)

A film by Alexis Michalik

Cast:  Thomas Solivérès, Olivier Gourmet, Mathilde Seigner 

December 1897, Paris. Edmond Rostand is in late 20’s but already has two children and a lot on his plate. He has not written anything plays in two years. He then suddenly he proposes to the great Constant Coquelin a new play, a heroic comedy, but has not written it yet. But as he goes along nobody believe in the play. The title: “Cyrano de Bergerac”.

Man what a cool film, it moves fast and you are not going to be bored. Here is a young writer who has writer’s block when suddenly it comes to him through his friend who cannot speak to women and little by little he started to write this play that has to be finish by the end of the year. As the play gets written the actors started to see that they had this beautiful yet successful play. Michalik here adapted this play into the screen beautifully well. It is a joy to see this comedy taking off right from the start. The casting is absolutely unbelievable and fun to watch. It is a story based on a true story on how the play came about. You see Edmond (Thomas Solivérès) who just saw the brothers Lumiére’s first film Edmond though there will be no more play. But he decide to write an other play another masterpiece. Once he got everybody excited he needed some kind of funding and yes you will not believe who produced that play. It all comes together but with many obstacles. The director manages to capture the contagious energy of the actors. Also Michalik does not like to slow the film down. It is an homage to the author and the famous play, it is a declaration of love to the theater, the actors and the magic that shines on the screen. The play Cyrano de Bergerac has been played 20,000 times and the most successful play in France. Do not miss this one.

LADY WINSLEY (2019)

A film by  Hiner Saleem

Cast:  Mehmet Kurtulus, Ezgi Mola, Senay Gürler

Following the murder of an American author on a small island in Istanbul, an inspector arrives. In this small family community, his investigation and methods will arouse resistance and reveal family secrets …

Hiner Saleem, born in Iraqi Kurdistan, fled the regime of Saddam Hussein when he was seventeen. Refugee in Italy, where he studied at the university, he then moved to France. The twelve feature films he made were often financed by European co-productions. later Hiner Saleem opted for the thriller, transposing its action in the small island of Buyukada, near Istanbul. The choice of shooting on the island in the winter gave the story a fell of a thriller crime atmosphere with tension. Do not get me wrong about this brilliant and elegant film that is reminiscent of the universe of Agatha Christie. Saleem said in an interview he wanted to do a thriller my way, so he put in some comedy into it plus the fact that is a bit off beat. Because during the difficult investigation conducted by the inspector Fergane finds out secrets, and that the local corrupt commissioner is going to slow him down. Mehmet Kurtulus incarnate his character exceptionally well. What I like about it it not a hollywood production he has actors from all walk of life not all good looking and thin. It is more realistic that way. Lady Winsley is a breath of fresh air for a Director whose work has so far been rather confidential.

UN BEAU VOYOU (2018)

A film by  Lucas Bernard

Cast:  Charles Berling, Swann Arlaud, Jennifer Decker

English: A handsome Thief

Commissioner Beffrois waits for retirement with mixed enthusiasm when a bunch of stolen paintings catches his attention. Is it the elegance of the process, the different painting that are stolen, the audacity of the crime or the cat and mouse game that is going to take place. Is the Commissioner going to catch this thief before he retire?

A investigation jubilant in the world of art. It is a surprise for the first film of the year the tone, the dialogue, the story, the chemistry with the actors shot in Paris what more do you want? It looks like a bit from the film to catch a thief from Alfred Hitchcock, rewriting in today’s context. Here is the commissioner who is going to retire soon but is fascinated by the thief who is stealing work of art in the apartments in Paris. He has some issues about his sons who are leaving the apartment and the fact that he is going to retire which he won’t be able to work with his colleague, it looks like he is going to miss that. Charles Berling gives his character a facetious tone, with shining eyes and a quirky humor. Swann Arlaud brings the touch of mystery, discretion and sympathy to his character. You even kind of like him. There are a nice chase on the top of the roof of the apartments in Paris. A nice film by the first time director Lucas Bernard.

WHITE BOY RICK (2018)

A film by Yann Demange

Cast:  Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley

Based on a true story of Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

The director here immerse the audience in the 1980’s in Detroit Michigan where I used live about 30 minutes from there back in late 70’s. Rick Wersche Sr. peddled guns to Detroit lowlifes. However the FBI prays on this 14 years old boy to go undercover for them to deal drugs so they can know who is who and arrest them later. Things escalated and became out of hand, here is a father who with his son deals guns to drug dealers to make ends meet. The daughter however who is on drugs and sell her body for a quick fix leaves the house for good with her drug dealer boyfriend. Here is the story of a father for loves his children and does not want to break the family apart is trying to keep it together and do the best he can to take care of his kids that he loves so much. Plus the fact that the FBI screwed them over did not help. In this story you will see how corrupt are the mayor, the cops, etc… the poverty, and the decline of Detroit. When I went there I knew some people who told me that they knew people who bought a house in Detroit for $60,000 but sold it years later for $8,000 because the decline is so -bad . I remember working in Detroit at night and driving home in streets where the house were abandoned by their owners. Here is a story of a father and the love he has for his children. Of course there is a racial dynamic in the story. The performances were outstanding especially for the first time actor Richie Merritt. Not too bad for this film however a trip down memory lane for me.

L’EMPEREUR DE PARIS (2018)

A film by  Jean-François Richet

Cast:  Olga Kurylenko, Vincent Cassel, Freya Mavor

English title: The Emperor of Paris

Under the reign of Napoleon, François Vidocq, the only man to have escaped from the biggest prisons of the country, is a legend of the Parisian bas fonds. Left to die after his last spectacular escape, the ex-convict tries to be forgotten in the guise of a simple trader. His past caught him, however, and, after being accused of a murder he did not commit, he offered a deal to the head of the Police: he joined the police to fight the underworld, in exchange for his freedom. Despite exceptional results, it provokes the hostility of his fellow police officers and the fury of the underworld who put his head at a price …

Eugène François Vidocq ( July 24, 1775 – May 11, 1857) was a French criminal and criminalist whose life story inspired several writers, including Victor Hugo, Edgar Allan Poe, and Honoré de Balzac. The former criminal became the founder and first director of the crime-detection Sûreté Nationale as well as the head of the first known private detective agency. Vidocq is considered to be the father of modern criminology and of the French police department He is also regarded as the first private detective. Here Richet retraces the life some of it of Vidocq when one last escape from prison Vidocq tried to make a deal with the chief of police for a pardon of a crime he did not commit, he will close every case that the chief of police was not able too. You have to understand Vidocq had a gift in catching criminals it is something that he was good at. I love the fact they were able to recreate the old Paris way back in the day. The dark street, the scenery the decor all of that was well done with the help of some special effects. The story has been done many times before but I have yet to see the one that Depardieu has done in 2001. Vidocq was one the the first to open an private detective agency. He passed away at age 82, he was one of a hell of an adventurer. The cast of the film is an all star cast.  Denis Ménochet, Denis Lavant, Freya Mavor, Olga Kurylenko are outstanding. This version is more realistic as one pointed out to me getting out of the movie theater. You will have a good time however watching this film.