ARCTIC (2019)

A film by  Joe Penna

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir

In the Arctic, the temperature can go down to -70 ° C. In this hostile, icy desert far from everything, a man struggles for survival.

Here is a man who is struggling to survive. His plane crashed in the arctic all he can see is this icy landscape and the mountains. The biggest asset here is the actor Mads mikkelsen who does a great performance here. Food is on his mind at all the time and how is he going to survive for one more day. His crashed plane is now his home. He knows they are looking for him but are they going to find him?  Arctic relies on visuals of white snow and vast landscapes to lure us into the reality in which Mads Mikkelsen is stranded. It is a realistic look of one man’s survival. Not too much dialogue here just the expression on Mikkelsen should tell you what he is thinking. The man has to rely on himself and has to be resourceful. What will he do next? What can he do? It is cold as hell and there no city in sight. Snow and mountains. Is the weather going to hold? and when is the next big storm is going to get there? However not the great film that is supposed to be? one thing smart about it Penna does not offer us the flashback of what happen to the other pilot and what was the cause of the plane crash. Not too bad but could of been better.

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IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (2019)

Cast:  KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King

A film by  Barry Jenkins

A woman’s fiancée is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. She finds out that she is pregnant which her family is going to struggle to prove his innocence.

Director Barry Jenkins decided to do an adaptation of the book by James Baldwin If Beale street could talk. Two thing James Baldwin a great writer and Barry Jenkins a great director so why not. And yes you have a great love story on screen. Jenkins decided to let the story live. The story is narrated by Tish (KiKi Layne, great acting for her first time) by looking on the camera and said “I hope that nobody has ever had to look at anybody they love through glass.” Powerful word there. Yes her fiancée is in jail and she carries here unborn child. He as you will discover later that he did not commit the crime, and what I like about it is you don’t see the crime being committed. Her boyfriend’s name is Fonny (Stephan James). There is a kind of dark humor between the two which are followed sometimes by tense moments. The story has flashback so you can see what went on before Fonny got to jail. It is a story set in the 60’s where black and white especially white cops didn’t get along that well. It is a story where black folks are going to relate to it, also a beautiful love story with an horror attached to it. The family of Kiki will try their best to get out Fonny out of jail. It is going to leave the audience angry about the society that Fonny was force to accepted . Here is a story that Baldwin has written 44 years ago and it is happening now.

 

SAUVER OU PÉRIR (2018)

A film by  Frédéric Tellier

Cast:  Pierre Niney, Anaïs Demoustier, Vincent Rottiers 

English title: Through the fire

Franck is a firefighter from Paris. He saves people. He lives in the barracks with his wife who is pregnant. He is happy. During an intervention on a fire, he sacrifices himself to save his men. When he wakes up in a burn treatment center, he realizes that his face has melted in the flames. He will have to relearn how to live, and accept to be saved in his turn. The question is will he accept. 

With l’affair SK1, Frédéric Tellier had plunged us with a realism striking in the daily life of an elite police. He plunges himself again into the realism but this time with the firefighter. This story based on a true story takes us with this nice looking man and his beautiful wife who has everything, Tellier here make sure that there will be two stories a love story and a man where is world is going to collapse and will struggle to get back on his feet. At the beginning you see the life of the fireman Franck Pasquier (Pierre Niney) who lives with his wife at the fire station in their own quarters the everyday life that Frank has to go through and the constant training in order to keep in shape. Frank here study to be a fireman and has to have his certificate in order to complete his training. Niney is is remarkable he trained with real firefighter (is a matter of fact the film was shot in the real firehouse) took on 19 pounds of muscles to play the part because the equipment that the firefighter has on them is about 50 pounds so you have to be in shape plus the pounds that he had to lose for the other half of the film. The film tells the story of Frank in stage for his recovery. The things he had to go through in order to get better. The emotional ride of what is going on inside himself and with his family. And finally the road to recovery. Franck is not a fireman like the others. Very demanding of himself and his colleagues, he is also ambitious and the bar is set as high as it can be for him. Training, discipline, he is a paramedics until he gets to the next level the one he is training for to become a firefighter. He knows the sacrifice he has to make even looking at his friend who can’t get there do to some health problem. But suddenly his world is going to crash. Did he believe to be invincible enough to brave the dangers to save his colleagues? Did he make the mistake of the beginner? Has he misjudged the risks? Frédéric Tellier brilliantly shows Franck’s double physical and psychological decent and the struggle to get back to the road of recovery. Which will bring us to the final act love that perishes or love that saves? Here is a story that is moving as well that will raise a lot of question beautifully told by Frédéric Tellier. 

L’INTERVENTION (2019)

A film by  Fred Grivois

Cast: Alban Lenoir, Olga Kurylenko, Sébastien Lalanne

1976 in Djibouti, the last French colony. Terrorists kidnap a school bus and get stuck at a hundred meters from the border of Somalia. France sends on the spot to take care of the situation a sniper special unit of the Gendarmerie. This team, who is heterogeneous and undisciplined, will conduct a high-risk operation that will mark the birth of the GIGN.

The intention of the filmmaker is double sided. This is obviously to pay tribute to the men in the shadow of the birth of the GIGN, and then to portray a long sequence of pure suspense and action, rather than to dwell on the complex geopolitical reality of this part of Africa. where the presence of France in 1976 is questionable.

Here is a team of gendarmes that are snipers they called them the special unit team at the time, who are going to Africa to try to save the school bus full of children by the border of Somalia and the french side. Here is an elite team that is waiting the order from Paris to take assault and get back the children safe back home. But the problem of bureaucracy in France that can’t take a decision because they are scared to start a war. So this team of snipers will prove themselves to be effective. This piece of history is not know in my country until now. The film is a beautiful tribute to those snipers who are expendable but not killing machine just trying to save life in any condition and never underestimate the price of every lives they will take away from the enemy camp. Here the director has master the suspense with an interesting casting, plus some great action scenes. And that is how the GIGN ( (Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale)  is born. GIGN in english National Gendarmerie Intervention Group. GIGN has been involved in over 1,800 missions and rescued more than 600 hostages, making it one of the most experienced counter-terrorism units in the world.

L’INCROYABLE HISTOIRE DU FACTEUR CHEVAL (2019)

A film by  Nils Tavernier

Cast:  Jacques Gamblin, Laetitia Casta, Florence Thomassin 

English title: The ideal Palace

At the end of the 19th century, Joseph Ferdinand Cheval (Jacques Gamblin), is a simple postman who travels every day at least 32 kilometers a day from villages to villages. One day his wife dies of a sickness and Cheval is along until he meets the woman of his life who will give him a daughter that is going to love more then anything and then Cheval throws himself into a crazy idea : build her with his own hands, an incredible palace. This ordinary man will not give up and will devote 33 years to building an extraordinary work: “The Ideal Palace”.

I didn’t know this story at all as I am living in the country where this Palace was built. Here Nils Tavernier wishes today to draw from this story a lesson in life, and pay tribute to the man by filming the poetry of his gesture. Here is a beautiful love story out of the ordinary. Here is a man who is a postman and walks 32 kilometers a day when suddenly his wife past. His son goes living with some relative in Lyon. One day Cheval meets this woman that he falls in love with and marries her later on. Cheval was a loner spent most of his days along delivering the mail . When his daughter came to this world and old dream that he forgot about came up again and decided to build her with his own hands an ideal Palace. He created this architecture that resisted 2 world wars and even it still stands today. Million of tourists has seen it. The nature, the stones, the lime and Joseph’s knowledge of kneading bread, certainly helped him to realize and finalize his project. Jacques Gamblin who plays cheval is perfect for the role, he embodied the character with grace. Of course it was not easy for Cheval throughout his life.  Laetitia Casta who plays his Cheval’s wife who is devoted and supported him all through his project is also perfect for the role. A terrific film about this stubborn man who realized his dream.

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.

GREEN BOOK (2018)

A film by  Peter Farrelly

Cast:  Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellin

1960’s An italian American bouncer who had two month to kill because of renovation at the club he was working at, ends up driving for a black musician  on a tour in the deep American south.

Here are two men quite different one black one white comes from different background get thrown together under unusual circumstances. Here is a mismatched buddy road trip with a message about race relations. And it is based on a true story. Green book it is a bit an old fashioned film making which is kind of nice for a change. It is a joy to see two actors like Mortensen and Ali their chemistry is so perfect and their performance is so outstanding. The film feels has similarities with Driving Miss Daisy.

Mortensen here has to gain 20 pounds which he said was fun to do but not fun to loose he said in an interview. Tony is from the bronx Italian descent and his vocabulaire is limited. (Tony’s son, Nick, co-wrote the script with Farrelly and Brian Hayes Currie.) Tony is the kind of guy with big appetites and loyal to his wife ( Linda Cardellini) and two young sons. He is happy to be living in the Bronx. However Don Shirley is an educated man well mannered with expensive taste and a genius musician.

Tony who finds himself out of the job due to the renovation of the club he is working at needs to provide for his family. So he accepts a job from the record company to be the driver of this musician. Yes there are the clichés thrown in there of what Tony thinks about the black people, plus the lesson learn with fast food and such. Too funny at times. The adventure will takes us across the country with the ups and downs. The green book back then was a guide used by black motorists to help them avoid the dangers and indignities of road travel, especially below the Mason-Dixon line. Well as we know from history the south was segregated. Tony was the bodyguard as well as a chauffeur. Don is a well known musician but is denied to dine with white people. It is a bit crude and offensive at times but back then that’s the way it was. Some Americans white and black the older folks were talking about it to me as I was listening to their stories was a bit shock that was going on in America. It is an intelligent screenplay where the two character are going to learn from each other. A nice film done the old fashion way that have funny moments and not so funny moments but played very well by two great actors. Do not miss this one.