FORD V. FERRARI (2019)

A film by  James Mangold

Cast:  Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal 

Based on a true story, the film follows a team of eccentric American engineers led by the visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver Ken Miles, who are sent by Henry Ford II to build from scratch a new automobile that will dethrone the Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans competition.

Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), is a champion racer whose hypertension forces him to retirement. After hanging up his gloves and his helmet, Shelby goes into car sales with a sideline in modification and design, and he also manages some racers, including the eccentric Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. Ford was not too crazy to have Miles on board which created some friction there but Shelby insisted that Miles was the best man for the job. It is the story of those two Miles and Shelby who are going to be friends and the struggle that Shelby had to endure to have Miles stay as Ford’s driver. Great camera work here where Mangold put you in the driver seat. It is you basic story which will be a bit predictable but who cares you are going to have a good time watching this. And don’t get me wrong Ferrari even back in the day and now is a hell of a car. . It is a fine machine that drives like a dream.

THE TRAITOR (2019)

A film by  Marco Bellocchio

Cast:  Pierfrancesco Favino, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fausto Russo Alesi

the story of Tommaso Buscetta, the first high profile mafia informant whose testimony led to a landmark court case, setting a precedent for others to come forward against the criminal organization.

It’s about the end of a major chapter in that world in the ‘80s in this Mafia saga. Pierfrancesco Favino, stars as Buscetta, initially a witness and an informant who is mournful of the days when the Cosa Nostra was an organization dependent on “men of honor.” The director here has decided to do something new and to not glorify the mafia in this biography. In the early 80’s it was the greatest time for the mob in Sicily, there was a code of honorable conduct “not killing women and children. At the opening of the films the families decided to get together to make peace with one another. Buscetta knew that was not going to happen so with his new wife and kids decide to leave the country to brazil under an assume name. But unfortunately Buscetta’s clan are assassinated one by one. As one of his clan member and long time friend put the pressure on him to return home.

Terrific performance by Favino who plays this soldier who didn’t like those who didn’t respect the code of honor. A part of the film deals with the trials and the arrestation of many mob bosses. Bellocchio here put in the mob boss in cage (for their security as well as for the security of the witness) where they insulted Buscetta of anything they can think of as as Buscetta addresses their counter accusations. The court room drama were done with testimony presumably based on actual transcripts. And yet, Bellocchio makes it absolutely captivating and thoroughly movie that is character driven.

J’ACCUSE (2019)

A film by  Roman Polanski

Cast:  Jean Dujardin, Louis Garrel, Emmanuelle Seigner 

English title: An officer and a spy

During the 12 years that it lasted, the Dreyfus Affair tore France apart, . In this huge scandal, at the end of the XIXth century, blend judicial error, denial of justice and anti-Semitism. The case is told from the point of view of Colonel Picquart who, once appointed head of the counterintelligence, will discover that the evidence against Captain Alfred Dreyfus had been manufactured. From this moment and at the risk of his career tries to defend Alfred Dreyfus . Will he succeed?

There were some friction at the Cannes film Festival to include this film in the competition at Cannes, especially one member of the Jury but what you don’t know is that once again Polanski is on the news in France and I am not going to go with the details because it is getting absurd. So that is why he can relate to this film especially the character played by Louis Garrel (Alfred Dreyfus) unrecognisable and what a great actor he has become.

The opening of the film Dreyfus is being stripped of his arms and disgraced before the army, before being led away and into exile on Devil’s Island. Georges Picquart  is promoted to the head of the French Secret Service, he also finds himself looking into the possibility that Dreyfus might be innocent. Picquart gets sent to the statistics office a rundown building where are hero is going to find out about the lies, the misinformation and the defamation about this case. But trying to tell the story and to convince everybody what he found is not going to be easy. Jean Dujardin here delivers a solid performance as colonel Piquart as well as the rest of this wonderful cast we discover Louis Garrel, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Denis Podalydes, Damien Bonnard, Melvil Poupaud, Grégorys Gadebois and Vincent Grass. Photography, sets, costumes, music, everything is simply impeccable. It is really a production of excellent quality. The quest for truth, justice, fake news, antisemitism and many more are told here. Is a matter a fact the film took off very well its first weekend.

DONNE-MOI DES AILES (2019)

A film by  Nicolas Vanier

Cast:  Jean-Paul Rouve, Mélanie Doutey, Louis Vazquez

English title: Spread your wings

Christian, a visionary scientist, studies wild geese. His son, a teenager obsessed with video games, the idea of spending a holiday with his father in the wilderness is a nightmare. However, father and son will get together about a crazy project: save an endangered species, thanks to the ultralight of Christian! And then an incredible journey will begin…..

Based on a true story Christian makes a crazy bet to teach the wild geese a new migration route because the route that they take usually are not without risk . Our director here who was a naturalist taps into this theme to draw a portrait of a man engaged in a fight that he intends to pass on to future generations. Because Donne moi des ailes follows the course of a teenager who will gradually open to a new life in contact with nature and reconnect with his father. His parents are divorced. For the holidays and against his will, his mother (Mélanie Doutey) sends him to his father, an original half-poet half-scientist, who has a home in Camargue where he watches bird how they evolved and even raise them. A retreat that does not please his son who is interesting in video games then Nature. But against all odd his son gets slowly interested. It is not surprising that the director captures the danger of the trip but also the beauty of the Camargue to the Scandinavian countries. 420 million birds have disappeared over the last thirty years and the study is showing there is no end in sight. Beautiful film here where you can take the whole family to see.

AU NOM DE LA TERRE (2019)

A film by  Edouard Bergeon

Cast:  Guillaume Canet, Veerle Baetens, Anthony Bajon 

English: In the name of the earth.

Pierre is 25 when he returns from Wyoming to find Claire his fiancée and take over the family farm. Twenty years later, the farm expanded, so did the family. It’s the time of happy days, at least at the beginning … The farm has debts and Pierre is trying to stay above water by been over worked. Despite the love of his wife and children, he gradually falls into a deep depression … Built as a family saga, and according to the director’s own story, the film takes a human look at the evolution of the agricultural world of the last 40 years years.

Edouard Bergeon takes a personal angle here since he tells the true story of his father, crushed by the system and died in 1999. It begins with a sweet story, filmed with a retro light in an introductory scene where Pierre, on a motorcycle, drives through the fields to join his fiancée before making love to her passionately. The excitement of this beautiful story will quickly be disrupted by the economic concern, the debt that is going to follow which pushes this farmer played by Guillaume Canet to give everything that he has to his farm to the point of no return.

At the beginning everything is fine and the family was happy, the father of Pierre sold the farm to his son who is going to take over then an event is going to take place when Pierre is going to go crazy. Here the director is telling the story of his father who could not get out of debt which led to his emotional break down. Farmers in France are not making too much money to live on. Most of them borrows money from the bank and get help from the government and hope for the best. However the wife played by Veerle Baetens who is the most courageous tries to keep the family together. You see here Pierre wanted to be an entrepreneur instant of being the farmers he thought by expanding he was going to get out from under but unfortunately all hell broke loose. Outstanding job from the actors. Unfortunately there is a growing concern about farmers and their land. A surprising survey at the end of the film that surprised me.

LA NOCHE DE 12 ANÕS (2019)

A film by  Álvaro Brechner

Cast:  Antonio de la Torre, Chino Darín, Alfonso Tort

English title: A twelve year night

1973, Uruguay falls into dictatorship. Three political opponents are secretly imprisoned by the new military power. Thrown into small cells, they are forbidden to talk to each other and badly nourished with barely have the essential toiletry , three men whose limit is pushed to madness, three hostage where the punishment is to break them of their humanities. The film tells the 12 years of imprisonment lived by three the most famous figures of contemporary Uruguay.

Here are twelve men who are confined in a small cell and submit to the atrocities that are inhuman. Solitary confinement is the worse case scenario they said you can not go more than 30 days without talking with to someone or you will go crazy. A haunting story of 12 years of incarceration in the life of Jose Mujica (Antonio de la Torre) and his two camarade, Mauricio Rosencof (Chino Darín) and Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro (Alfonso Tort). In 1973, Uruguay in taken by a military dictatorship. Members of the guerilla known as Tupamaros are considered traitors to the country. They are caught and thrown in jail and persecuted. Some of them were kidnapped by the military to subject to inhuman condition and psychological torture. They are moved from time to time to different cells. But those three men are finding ways to even talk to each other sort of and to not submit to those atrocities. There was one funny scene in the toilet with a prisoner who wanted to take a shit but could not squat do to one arm was in cuff high by the pipe. You will laugh your ass off, how stupid are the military. Álvaro Brechner here made sure not to let up on the tension throughout the film. There are the occasional flashback that does not revealing to much which was a smart move here. Keep in mind that those men were incarcerated for twelve years of pure psychological torture. Those are men you will not see men like them now. Great film here not to be missed.

LES SORCIÈRES DE SALEM (1957)

A film by  Raymond Rouleau

Cast:  Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Jean Debucourt

English Title: The Crucible

Salem, 1692. Industrious farmer, John Proctor, has made love to 17-year-old Abigail, a young woman that he and his wife have taken in. Well his wife is frigid and john has needs. His wife finds out and tells Abigail to get out of her home. Abigail wows that she is going to get revenge. She accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft and manipulates younger girls to support her claims of seeing spirits. The town’s minister and politicians are now going to war against witchcraft and will clean Salem of it by hanging witches.

Here is a jewel of a film based on a true story . Signoret won the 1957 BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress and Mylène Demongeot was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer in the same year. In the 1957 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the Best Actor Award was given to “all actors of Les Sorcières de Salem in collective, and especially to Yves Montand. Not too bad here for a film. Screenplay adapted by Jean-Paul Sartre from the 1953 play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller.

It is 1692 in Salem John Proctor is the only member in the town’s assembly who resists the attempts of the rich to gain more wealth on the expense of the poor farmers. John got caught by his wife who is sick (well back in those days that is what they called it but she was frigid) with the maid Abigail which in turn got fired and left the Proctors. Abigail wanted her revenge and when a group of women are accused of witchcraft seeing her opportunity Abigail manipulate Mary and other girls into whitcraft which they will accused a bunch of people of being witches and sorcerers. Outstanding performances by the actors here. Mylene Demongeot which at the time was a new to the scene of acting is seductive, maleficent, and sensual. Simone signoret is astonishing as well. It is a powerful film worth seeing.

EXFILTRÉS (2019)

A film by  Emmanuel Hamon

Cast:  Swann Arlaud, Finnegan Oldfield, Jisca Kalvanda 

English: Exfiltrate

A true story, Rakka, Syria, spring 2015. Faustine opens her eyes to the hell she has thrown herself into with her 5 year old son. In Paris Sylvain the husband of Faustine is disturb by the news of his friend’s wife who is now sent a distress message to her husband. Two activists will attempt to extract Faustine and her son which is going to be a high risk operation.

Exfiltrated, inspired by an incredible true story, shows the resourcefulness of a group of young people to exfiltrate the woman that fell into a pitfall. Rakka Syria a hostile environment and trying to exfiltrate a young woman and her son not only it is going to be delicate but also very dangerous. A French woman and her young kid who made this mistake to be with the dangerous Daesh. We learn early on in the story that this young woman who is social worker in the ghetto converted to Islam a few month back. She naively believed in the promise by Daesh to make Syria a new world. There is a difference with Faustine here she is already married, most women who comes is promessed an husband. Most men who convert to Islam and see that is not what they sign up for seems to escape without a hitch. But no women can escape once there are in. It has not been done. They are killed or if they want to stay alive they do what they are told. Also it is costly to get them out. Sylvain and his two activists with the help of his boss are going to try the impossible because the state does not want to do a thing, well it is too risky for them. Seriously? Hamon has shot this film like a documentary and it works here. An ensemble cast to does their job well here. The director does its job here for a subject that is delicate but is not going to be solved any time soon.

UNE INTIME CONVICTION (2019)

A film by  Antoine Raimbault

Cast:  Marina Foïs, Olivier Gourmet, Laurent Lucas 

English: Reasonable doubt

Since Nora attended the trial of Jacques Viguier, accused of the murder of his wife, she is convinced of his innocence. There is no doubt in her mind that that Viguier is innocent. She ask a lawyer to reopen the case and together they will fight against an injustice.

Based on a true story the dossier Jacques Viguier where a judge reopened the case to see if he could get Viguier off the charges of killing his wife. Well they didn’t have a body let along the murder weapon. To make it more interesting the director will use a fictional character, like the character of Nora (Marina Fois) and real life, lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti played by Olivier Gourmet. It is not just a trial movie here but also the team-up with Nora and the judge trying to dig up 100 hours of taped conversation. Ok here at the trial is a man who is convicted of the murder of his wife and to make it interesting there is the other story, the one of Nora helping the lawyer. She becomes obsessive and even neglect her son and her job as a cook at a restaurant. And yes there is a twist in the story. Three great actors here make their mark. It is a joy to see those brilliant actors especially Marina Foïs whose character is passionate and obsessive in getting Viguier off his charges.

GRACE À DIEU (2019)

A film by François Ozon

Cast:  Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet, Swann Arlaud 

English title: By the grace of god

Alexandre lives in Lyon with his wife and children. One day, he discovered by pure luck that the priest who abused him at the boys scouts, and has sexually abused children. He then embarks on a fight, quickly joined by François and Emmanuel, also victims of the priest, to tell their stories to the media But the repercussions and consequences of these confessions will leave no one unscathed.

Here is a director who can jump from genre to genre making movies. He always surprises audiences with the subject matter and always writes his films. Grâce à Dieu is based on the real case of Father Bernard Preynat who in 2016 was charged with sexually assaulting around 70 boys in Lyon. Two things here the pain of the three man that the priest inflicted on those victims and the second he film criticises the church’s silence on paedophilia. Great cast in this one Melvil Poupaud is Alexandre a wealthy Lyonnais banker who has found success with his wife Marie (Petit) and five kids. Dénis Menochet is less cautious about his confessions, bringing an explosive emotional part for this actor. Emmanuel (Swann Arlaud) who claims his whole life has been traumatised by what happened, making it difficult for him to deal parent’s divorce and destroying his ability to connect emotionally with women, plus had difficulties to learn at school. Other will join the cause as the film goes along. Ozon does a great job of tipping the balance with the graphic scene plus there are some flashback not too much that will speak for themselves. of course every countries all over the world has a least an incident like that and yet the church kept it quiet and moved the priest to some other parishes. Ozon who does not seems to disappoint as usual has done a great job telling the story.