MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019)

A film by  Edward Norton

Cast:  Edward Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis

New York in the 1950s. Lionel Essrog, private detective suffering from Tourette syndrome, investigating the murder of his mentor and only friend Frank Minna. Thanks to the rare clues in his possession and his obsessive mind, he discovers secrets whose revelation could have consequences on the city of New York … From jazz clubs from Harlem to the slums of Brooklyn, to the upscale neighborhoods of Manhattan, Lionel will face the most powerful man in the city to save the honor of his missing friend. And perhaps also the woman who will assure him his salvation …

Based on the Novel from  Jonathan Lethem, Ed Norton took on the adaptation , directing , acting and producing this film. It took 20 years to be able to lift off this project. Here Lionel played by Norton is a character with Tourette syndrome where he is going to investigate the murder of his boss who was on something big. The story takes place in the 50’s. Moses Randolph, (Alec Baldwin) is a builder and will crush anyone who gets on his way. Randolph wants to displace a neighborhood mostly where black people lives, to put hospital and new houses. Here comes in the picture Laurie Rose ( Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who is political activist  helping African-Americans resist displacement. Lionel has colleagues who were in the orphanage with him. Norton here was able to play this character with skills . He also make the choice to make it a film noir like the old days. Here is a man who plans to rebuild New York his way but has a secret that he wants buried. Alec Baldwin here shines as well playing this politician who is hungry for power but is a racist, he did have to look to much further for research as he played Trump on many occasions in Saturday Night live. The film is a smart slow burner but to me is a little too long.

SEULES LES BÊTES (2019)

A film by  Dominik Moll

Cast:  Denis Ménochet, Laure Calamy, Damien Bonnard 

English Title: Only the animals

A woman disappeared. After a snowstorm, her car is discovered on a road to a small remote village. While the police have no trail, five people know they are linked to this disappearance. Each has its own secret, but no one doubts that this story has started far from this mountain swept by the winter winds, on another continent where the sun burns, and where poverty does not prevent the desire to dictate its law. .

Around the unexplained disappearance of a woman, in a snowstorm, evolve five protagonists. Alice, the social worker (Laure Calamy). She goes from village to village in the mountains to provide assistance and give advice to the isolated farmers. This is what she does with Joseph (Damien Bonnard), this goat farmer who seems a little loss and lonely due to the fact that his mother died that summer. Alice is married to Michel (Denis Ménochet) who seems not too care for her too much and is somewhere else most of the time keeping up with his accounting so it seems. Also he also has a secret like his wife. I am careful not to reveal anything. Chance will put Marion (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) on the road, a young waitress who clings desperately to her impossible love affair with Evelyne (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). And may the adventure of those 5 protagonist begins.

Five characters, five points of view, five stories that intertwine, to finally converge to the mystery of the disappearance of Evelyne Ducat. A single plot to reveal each chapter with a new elements that will shed the lights on the investigation. The tension is never let go neither the suspense which the story is full of characters that are going united with them not knowing it. There is a beauty towards this landscape of beautiful snow in the mountains and the plains as the eyes can see that is impressive. A great casting to ad to this film and you have yourselves a terrific thriller with a great ending.

LES MISÉRABLES (2019)

A film by Ladj Ly

Cast:  Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djibril Zonga

Stéphane, just arrived from Cherbourg, joined the Anti-Crime Brigade of Montfermeil, in the 93. He will meet his new teammates, Chris and Gwada, two aggressive cops . He quickly discovers the tensions between the different groups in the neighborhood. While they are overwhelmed during an arrest, a drone film their every act and their every move…..

Stephane (Damien Bonnard) is a policeman newly moved to Paris and assigned to a unit of the Anti-crime Squad. His partners are Chris (Alexis Manenti), a virulently racist white man whom the kids on the street have referred to as “Pink Pig,”and Gwada (Djebril Zonga), who is African Muslim . Stéphane who is a bit snubbed as an outsider by the loser cops who give him the nickname of the “greaser”. The first day on the jobs  Stephane gets a taste of his partners’ brutal grip on the neighborhood harassing girls at a stop sign, bullying others spraying fear where ever they go. As the day goes by it turn into madness mode who the three are in the pursuit of a teenager who stole a baby lion at the circus in the neighborhood. Ladj Ly gets the film into high gear choreograph every scene beautifully well. Ly also keep the tension that is to the point of blowing up. Mobs of kids and adults, foot chase, and confrontation.

The Misérables start by the good cop, bad cop routine but Ly does not let this perception running too long . Here the police is abusing their power and double dealing the community to top it all off. Ly drags the story trough many level. The level of the film however is exiting with heart pounding action specially in the hallways of a housing project. Ly here put in some realism who has a documentary feel to it. The final sentence of Victor Hugo extracted from Les Misérables, highlighted before the credits, say it very well: “there are no bad men, no bad weeds, there are only bad farmers”. Well said there.

JOKER (2019)

A film by  Todd Phillips

Cast:  Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz 

The film, which tells an original story focuses on the emblematic figure of the sworn enemy of Batman. He paints the portrait of Arthur Fleck, an uncompromising man despised by society.

Little problem this film feels a little too much like Taxi Driver and the King of Comedy combine to me. it has a lot of similarities of this man who is alienated with mental issues. Ok Nice story telling here no doubt because most people love this film which have great performance from Joaquin Phoenix and even Robert de Niro. The story takes place in the 1980 in Gotham where the garbage truck strike makes big news on TV. Arthur Fleck played by Phoenix takes care of his mother. Here is a man who is broken by the system and where the world is rejecting him and in order to channel his anger is going to take it on people who has done him wrong. He meets his idol a talk show host similar than the one on the tonight show with Johnny Carson. It is dark as it is going to get. the violence is meant to shock here and it does. And yes the film belongs to Phoenix with a terrific performance.

PIRANHAS (2019)

A film by  Claudio Giovannesi

Cast:  Francesco Di Napoli, Viviana Aprea, Mattia Piano Del Balzo 

Nicola and her friends are between ten and fifteen years old. They travel by scooter, they are armed and fascinated by crime. They fear neither prison nor death, only to lead an ordinary life like their parents. Their models: the godfathers of the Camorra. Their values: money and power. Their rules: to frequent the good people, to frequent the world of luxury , and to occupy the place left vacant by the old mafia to conquer the districts of Naples, whatever the price.

Nicola, a 15-year-old with little or no prospects of a proper job, but who wants access to the life of luxury enjoyed by his role models: designer clothes and watches, nights of drinking and doing drugs at the city’s clubs together with good-looking girls likewise impressed by those signs of status. Nicola wants to find a way to stop his mother to pay protection money. He needs money. So in  Sanità his own town he meets the local drug lord who put him to work. Soon after they party, get new clothes, and even new scooter. Nicola has charisma and rapidly moves up the latter. An adaptation novel by Roberto Saviano, the Neapolitan who made a name for himself as an authority on the organised crime. Nicola, a 15-year-old with little or no prospects of a regular job, but who wants access to the life of luxury enjoyed by his role models: designer clothes and watches, nights of drinking and doing drugs at the city’s clubs together with good-looking girls likewise impressed by those signs of status. Nicola wants to find a way to stop his mother to pay protection money. He needs money. So in  Sanità his own town he meets the local drug lord who put him to work. Soon after they party, get new clothes, and even new scooter. Nicola has charisma and rapidly moves up the latter. Saviano known this world well it looks like and Giovannesi cast non professional actor to have this feel of authenticity plus the research and it pay off well. Giovannesi avoid the glamour and the sensationalism plus the camera movement is fluid never flashy . Here are teenagers who sees no way out and thinks that being a gangster is the coolest thing but reality is far more than an other monster.

REBELLES (2019)

A film by  Allan Mauduit

Cast:  Cécile de France, Yolande Moreau, Audrey Lamy

Without work or diploma, Sandra, former Miss Nord-Pas-de-Calais, returns to live with her mother in Boulogne-sur-Mer after 15 years on the Côte d’Azur. Hired at the local cannery, she vigorously rejects her boss’s advances and kills him accidentally. Two other girls witnessed the scene. As they prepare to call for help, the three workers discover a bag full of money in the deadman’s locker. A fortune that they decide to share. May the adventure begins…..

English title: Rebels

Rebelles” is a dark comedy that reveals three ordinary women in extraordinary situations: jubilant roles for Cécile de France, Audrey Lamy and Yolande Moreau. The film is a little bit à la Tarantino and you will think later on you are in a sergio Leone film. Here is Sandra (Cécile de France), Marilyn (Audrey Lamy) et Nadine (Yolande Moreau) who is suppose to clean the machinery after work and where Sandra’s boss is going to attempt to rape her which Sandra is going to cut something off him and he will try to get away in pain while falling is the stairs to his death. Well here are are three feminist musketeers who are going to find a bag a money from their dead boss. Now the thing is how to hide the body and what to do with the money? Rebelles avoid anchoring the film in a defined context, are we in 2019 od 1999 we do not know. No gadgets, no hi-tech here and no clichées either. The director here has a great casting here, the actresses does a great jobs to embody everyday women who are going to find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Here is a dark comedy with girl power. This amazing film, awarded at Alpe d’Huez, surprises with its constant changes of tone. This explosive comedy contains some dark humor, but has some great gags.

THE HATE YOU GIVE (2018)

A film by  George Tillman Jr.

Cast:  Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, common

Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now there is going to be pressure because some people tells her not to say anything and other to speak up. What will Starr do?

“The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.” Here is a phrase by rap artist that stick back in the 90’s  as an acronym for “THUG LIFE,” The filmis from this book The hate you give by Angie Thomas. It was on the best seller list of the New York times in 2017 and now the film is made with a message black lives matter.

Starr ( Amandla Stenberg) is you typical teenager who lives in Garden Heights but goes to school to the wealthy Williamson neighborhood. She plays on the basketball team and has this boyfriend named Chris (K.J. Apa). Then at a party on her side of her town at a party an old friend  Khalil (Algee Smith), starts reconnecting with her. A fight breaks out followed by gun fire Khalil decides to take Starr to her house. But on the way there they get stop by the police and all hell breaks loose. The event that occurred is tumultuous for Starr and since she is on both side of the world Black and white she wonders what is she doing in this rich white neighborhood. On the other hand she is threatened by some other folks drug dealers not to talk. The relation with her family who is as tight as they can be giving a lots of love to their children plus there is the daughter father talk. The father not a saint here but on the right path tries to teach them how to protect themselves. Starr is torn between both world black and white because of their different views that both races has. you see Starr struggling with some racist friends and a reporter who is interested in Khalil past. No one seems to be interested in justice but the black people. There is a sense of isolation toward Starr who tries to manage this situation as best as she can. Some people are going to relate to this film even see themselves in it. The cast is outstanding so is smart written script . Here is the question can we break the cycle? Do not miss this one.