WASP NETWORK (2019)

A film by Olivier Assayas

Cast:  Ana de Armas, Penélope Cruz, Wagner Moura

Beginning of the 90’s. A group of Cubans living in Miami set up a spy network. Their mission: to infiltrate the anti-Castro groups responsible for attacks on the island.

Rene Gonzalez (Edgar Ramirez) seems to have a perfect life. His wife Olga (Penélope Cruz) is beautiful, they have a young daughter and he flies planes. But one day he decided to take off and fly under the radar and over the short stretch of sea to Miami. In a televised press conference he tells them the frustration about the Castro regime and announces his intention to stay in the US, after all he is an American citizen who just left his wife and kids to Cuba and he is being accused of being a traitor. Juan Pablo (Wagner Moura) soon joins him too. Both René and Juan become pilots for the CANF (Cuban American National Foundation) to assist defecting Cubans and hasten the collapse of Castro’s regime. Both infiltrate CANF, rising up the ranks, with Juan Pablo graduating to a lavish lifestyle. Assayas, while filming Wasp Network, was given the rare opportunity to film in Cuba. The over shot of Cuba by plane was a rare sight on film and the most vibrant. As the story unravels the mystery behind René and Juan Pablo, other characters are introduced and historical figures, such as the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles (Tony Plano) and Gerardo Hernandez (Gael García Bernal), director of Wasp Network. As the story goes along it is going to be a little confusing at times. The story has its twist and turns. It is film in an unconventional way and it fells that it is going all over the place. It is watchable and entertaining but it is missing something unfortunately. And to think this was going on in the 90’s.

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.

DUELLES (2019)

A film by  Olivier Masset-Depasse

Cast:  Veerle Baetens, Anne Coesens, Mehdi Nebbou 

English title: mother’s instinct

In the 60s, Alice and Céline are the best friends in the world just like their sons Maxime and Théo. Their complicity is flawless until one day an event disrupts their lives. To friendship succeeds guilt, to paranoia and complicity, to suspicion.

Duelles is a very dark psychological thriller and one does come out of the movie theater unsettled. It is a story about two families who lives next door to each other and are best friend. But when an unfortunate events takes places things are going to go dark very dark. People will be people and may the duel begins. A cleverly developed scenario explores the possible motives of this psychological jousting (madness, Vengeance, horrible pain.) While taking care to never privilege one in particular with a music that keep the tension mounting. The two women are going to go onto battle and testing their limits. Even one is going to turn the husband against the other. A tour de force and manipulation is going to take place and it is going unsettling. The darkness of the events that follow one another ricochets against the bright decor of the 60’s. The two actress are on the top of the game with this draining emotional role. Duelles remain in its classic form with a well written script.

TEL AVIV ON FIRE (2019)

A film by  Sameh Zoabi

Cast:  Kais Nashif, Lubna Azabal, Yaniv Biton

Salam, 30, lives in Jerusalem. He is a Palestinian and an intern on the set of the hit Arabic series “Tel Aviv on Fire!” Every morning he crosses the same checkpoint to work in Ramallah. One day, Salam is arrested by an Israeli officer Assi, fan of the series, to try to get away, he claims to be the scriptwriter. Taken to its own trap, Salam will be imposed by Assi a new scenario. Obviously, nothing will happen as planned.

Salam (Kais Nashif) a Palestinian living in Israel, he’s working as a production intern on the TV series named Tel Aviv On Fire, set in 1967 on the verge of the Six-Day War, it is clear that he is here because his uncle is a producer of the series and tries to rekindle the relationship of an ex girlfriend. Salam is here on the set as a person who reviews the authenticity of the language spoken. When he goes back home, Officer Assi , fan of the series ask him if he is the screenwriter, and bang Assi read the latest script and demand that he writes the story as he sees fit. To top it all off the next day the original writer had enough and leaves the set. Salam’s uncle promote Salam to screenwriter. Ho! boy. Salam here has no inspiration and has writer’s block. but you will not believe that is going to happen.

The director here is being conscious and careful about the ongoing issues about the Israeli and the palestinian, and balances the humour and the narrative perfectly well. Here Palestinians and Israelis has to live together regardless of the past and it is not an easy thing to do. Salam here is in his neck but seems to try to get his head above water. He is trying to get his old flame back in the process. Making a series is a hard thing to do and is a lot of work. Nobody seems to be on the same page. Here Salma is trying to make everybody happy will he succeed at getting his old flame back and will he succeed in writing a successful ending. Well see the movie.

KURST (2018)

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A film by Thomas Vinterberg

Cast: Michael Nyqvist, Léa Seydoux, Colin Firth, Mathias Shoenaerts

August 2000, The Russians Navy engages in exercise with the unsinkable submarine called the Kurst (K-141). But before performing this exercise, they celebrated the wedding of one of their comrade.

Mitkhail Kalekov (Mathias Shoenaerts) says goodbye to his wife who is played by Léa Seydoux and son. Shortly after departure the explosion occur due to the fact they could have prevented it but the orders are the orders. Another explosion followed and more violent than the other which force the crew to be in a small compartment with water freezing to death. The soviet government was trying to save them but their equipment was defective and did not want to admit to the English who themselves offer to help.

Government especially the soviet government are this bunch of liars who would admit that it was their fault and too proud to ask for help because they suppose to have the equipment to rescue them. Plus they lied to the families to top it all off, and why is that  not surprising me. We all know what happen it was news back then in 2000 august 12. Luc Besson who produced the film decided to go with what happen in the sub and the rescue attempt than showing more of the politics with the soviet government. Keep in mind that Norway wanted to help too but the soviet turn them down. The director tried to shoot the film in the soviet but the soviets would not have it, so it was film in France and Belgium. Also he was trying to get documents for his research but the soviets refused because those documents are classified. It is a sad thing to see that the government does not care about its people, especially those crew members that had families.

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MON KET (2018)

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A film by François Damiens

Cast: François DamiensChristian BrahyMatteo Salamone

Dany Versavel (François Damiens) is in jail and has a son who does not want to see him. So he breaks out of jail to see him and try to be a father to the kid.

OK mon, ket is a slang term in Belgium meaning my son. François Damiens here directs, and co-wrote the sketch film. That is how he got started doing sketch on a TV show with hidden camera so it is no wonder that is first film is going to be his first love sketches with hidden cameras; pure genius how he transform himself into a character where you are not going to recognize  him right of way.  The all film is with hidden camera where the other persons has no idea they are filmed. It is hilarious as hell. Dany is a man who has no faith, does not follows the rules or does not obey the law, he does want he wants . To get under the skin of the character, Damiens went under makeup for four hours a day with a different voice as well so the people will not recognized him. Some of you are not going to comfortable watching some scenes. Best scenes is when he teaches his son to smoke it is so hilarious. Dany Versavel spares no one, and his encounters, all more far-fetched than the others, that creates some funny situations and above all, it is totally hilarious. The 90 minutes of this film is going to be a delicious feast.

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THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (2018)

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A film by Terry Gilliam

Cast: Adam DriverJonathan PryceStellan Skarsgård

Toby (Adam Driver) who is a commercial director who shoot a vodka commercial that utilises the figure of Don Quixote . One night, he finds someone selling a bootleg DVD of his thesis film from ten years ago, itself a Quixote adaptation he shot with some friends and nonprofessional actors at a local village. To get inspired he tries to reconnect with the past by going to the village where he shot his thesis film and may the adventure begin…..

Orson Welles has tried to make this film but the director has died before he could finish it and it took 30 years by the way. Here Gillian tries to make his own film which took 30 years or so in the making, he had truly had a hard time to get the project done. I kind of love it feeling what the hell was this made a lot sooner. Here Toby embarks in the village hoping to reconnect with his youth. He finds that some of the non professional actors that was in his film some had great luck others not. But soon after that he meets the man who played Don Quixote the aging shoemaker Jonathan Pryce who thinks he is Don Quixote. Toby will embark then is this strange adventure in the wild west of Spain. Here you are going to feel lost in the film but Gillian wants you to be. The energy of Gillian here is infectious. The plot is not linear it is going to be going every which way. Not too worry you are going to have a good time. It is presented like a kaleidoscope fable. What I like about it it is going to go in a loop. You’ll know what I mean when you see the film. Here is one for you the actor Jonathan Pryce after the film was done was suppose to go to Cannes but he suddenly had a stroke. Some say it is a curse. Maybe maybe not.

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C’EST TOUT POUR MOI! (2017)

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Le Label des Spectateurs

A film by Ludovic Colbeau-Justin, Nawell Madani

Cast: François Berléand, Nawell Madani, Victor Artus Solaro

English: It’s all her 

Nawell Madani delivers a fictionalised self-portrait of her journey since she was a girl until now , one marked by perseverance.

Lila, grows up in the high-rises of the Marolles in Brussels with her sister and father. She dreams of becoming a dancer in the world of hip-hop. The thing is we don’t all succeed in achieving our dreams but the message here is perseverance and never give up.  She is ready to go to Paris and may the struggle begin. It all going to hell as soon as she gets there. But she meets this guy her drama coach where she open up and become a stand up comedian but she has one struggle to overcome convincing her father that she loves that she has made the right choice.

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You see a heroin confronting the sexism around her despite her talent, she must prove herself again and again. That is when perseverance is going to kick in. She has to clean her act and be as creative as she can be but you will see that this business is a cut throat business because every comedian wants to be No 1. Madani here  has invested herself  in this film project, she would not trust anyone with it after all it is her life story. In the end the other message is this that you succeed or not there is family that will be there to support you , the other thing id you have fallen get back on your feet and learn from your mistakes.

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TUEURS (2017)

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A film by Jean-François Hensgens, François Troukens

Cast: Olivier Gourmet, Lubna Azabal, Kevin Janssens

English title: Above the law. 

A criminal who escape prison who is going to plan one last heist and get out for ever. He performs his heist without a hitch but has as soon as it is started it is doom to fail.

Here the real translation is Killers. It is the first feature for the two director Jean-François Hensgens, François Troukens. The protagonist, Frank Valken (Olivier Gourmet), a robber, has just pulled off yet another masterful robbery without a hitch. At least that is what he thinks , but soon after the cops knows his every move. He gets pinched which is the ideal suspect for a bunch of murders that happens 30 years ago. Of course  Frank knows he is set up. The film includes the Belgium’s most famous criminal incidents at the heart of its narrative. The Brabant Killers, which was much talked about in the 1980s. Responsible for  some fifteen break-ins, the Brabant Killers, who had a preference for supermarkets, did not care about leaving bodies in their wake (almost thirty victims),  killing children and seniors. To this day, there are still doubts about the identity of the murderers, and some see it as more than a simple crime, but as a state affair some others thinks that the CIA as something to do with that. 

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The directors here plunge right in the old gangsters school film doing a heist where the robbers does not kill anybody just takes them hostage. Frank believe that he is not a killer a man of principle old school like I said. The film maintain its integrity and knows that along the way there is going to be one way out is killing is going to take place.

The film follows Olivier Gourmet who fit the role perfectly well I do not care what film he is in but I will see all his film eventually I am trying to catch up and what a terrific actor he turned out to be, which he is trying to save his skin and his honour. The rest of the cast is on it as well which brings me that this casting is so perfect it is not even funny. First features for the directors and they did not disappoint. I can’t wait until the next film.

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JEUNE FEMME (2017)

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A film by Léonor Serraille 

Cast: Laetitia Dosch, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Grégoire Monsaingeon

Broke with only her cat and her bag is locked out of her boyfriend’s apartment embark in the adventure in Paris.

Here is the portrait of a young woman who is in Paris knows no one there and tries to get a place to stay and food. Paula (Laetitia Dosh)  is in a hospital where she gets pissed off of why she is in the hospital to which she has been taken after trying to break down the door (with her head) of Joachim, a famous photographer. Suddenly after being back from Mexico her boyfriend does not want to see her anymore so with a cat and her bag at 31 years old  is in Paris all along trying to get a job and a place to stay. But very quickly this exuberant, straight-talking, hyper-social, sharp-tongued and  disturbed young woman is not entirely without resources, and may the adventure begins.

Laetitia Dosch, who  carries the film on her shoulders with here a great script. She gets into a melodrama mode with bits of humour. She meets characters along the way and even is mistaken for someone else in the subway. A woman who is damaged by rejection is going to seek into poverty, you will see how she is resourceful and trying to stay above water. And to top it all off her mother never wants to see her again. Nice one for a first film for Léonor Serraille with hope she will do good if not better in the near future. By the way the tile translation is young woman.

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