Film Reviews by GS

Welcome to GS's film reviews page. GS has written 16 reviews and rated 79 films.

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Finally, Sunday!

Interesting but flawed

(Edit) 10/03/2019

Truffaut's last film is in that difficult genre, the comedy crime thriller. The film is interesting in that Fanny Ardant is the key protagonist, trying to solve the mystery, rather than the male suspect, and she's very watchable. However, the beginning of the film, when the first murder happens, is meant to mislead us, but does so in a way which, in retrospect, is rather unfair.

The tone doesn't quite work; the black and white filming evokes film noir and metaphorical darkness, but the occasional attempts at humour jar rather than amuse. In addition, the relationship between Fanny Ardant and the chief suspect, Jean-Louis Trintignant, never quite convinces.

Nonetheless, it's worth watching if you're a Truffaut devotee, or an admirer of the strong presence of Fanny Ardant.

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Kitchen Stories

Droll, measured comedy - a quiet gem

(Edit) 10/02/2019

On the surface, and to begin with, this film is about the dryly-humorous clash of Swedish efficiency with rustic Norwegian ways. As the film develops, it reveals itself to be about relationships and, especially, that of lonely men. Lovely performances, wonderful period details; a slow but gradually engrossing film. Worth seeing for the silent Swedish observer's stepladder in the kitchen corner.

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Happy, Happy

Bitter-sweet comedy about two Scandinavian couples

(Edit) 10/02/2019

Warning: If you haven't already done so, don't read the Cinema Paradiso Review unless you want more-or-less the whole plot revealed - it badly needs a spoiler alert! In addition, its final verdict is rather harsh.

An apparently perfect Danish couple come, one winter, to stay in a snowy Norwegian village. Opposite is a Norwegian couple, the wife being rather gushingly innocent - at least to begin with. Of course, things unravel, as all are hiding secrets, fears and hopes. Excellent performances, even from the children. The mix of humour and revelations is handled well.

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The Clairvoyant

Interesting psychological thriller

(Edit) 20/01/2019

It's old, black and white, and some of the accents are [as was often the way in British pre-1960s films] rather la-di-dah. However, the film is tightly scripted and is an interesting mix of the psychological and the - perhaps - supernatural. One of the pleasing aspects of this film is that it's socially subversive, almost as a casual by-product of the script. At several points, hard-working and endangered workers are contrasted with the hedonistic rich; very unexpected for a British film of the 1930s. Worth a look if you accept the usual limitations of films of this time.

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Read My Lips

Mix of the feminist film and the crime thriller

(Edit) 20/01/2019

This starts off as a feminist film - though not heavy-handed, by any means - and then shifts gradually into a crime thriller. If you can accept this shift, [and don't mind subtitles] it's worth seeing. The two main actors are very effective.

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The Murderer Lives at 21

Rare French 1940s black comedy

(Edit) 03/09/2018

This film is so rare that it's not even mentioned in my 2017 Radio Times Film Guide. The director [Henri-Georges Clouzot] is, however, famous, having directed the thriller to end all thrillers - "The Wages of Fear" - in the 1950s.

Although it's a crime film with several murders, it's a blackly humorous film [well, 1940s French humour] and well worth watching if you're OK with b&w subtitled French films. There's a twist at the end of the film.

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Unstrung Heroes

Interesting but not entirely successful drama

(Edit) 03/09/2018

A young boy in the USA of the late 1950s or early 1960s has an oddball, sometimes insensitive father, a loving but progressively unwell mother, and two very eccentric uncles. This has engaging characters, some effective acting, and one or two powerful scenes, but there's a sense that the screenplay is uneven. The film begins as driven by the eccentricities and their effect on the boy, but then the film is increasingly shaped by the mother's illness. It's not quite in balance; you sense that with more work on the screenplay, a better film would've emerged.

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How Do You Want Me: Series 1 and 2

Not entirely successful

(Edit) 23/08/2018

Got this on the basis of liking Dylan Moran in his later sit-com, "Black Books", and also of seeing the late Charlotte Coleman as a reliably interesting performer. However, the Dylan Moran character here is more annoying and dopey than amusing. In addition, his father-in-law and brother-in-law are set up as antagonistic, but too much so; they seem to be acting like people from "Straw Dogs" rather than a sit-com. Charlotte Coleman doesn't seem to have enough to do.

Thus, we gave up after the first three episodes. Obviously, things might have improved after those opening episodes, and humour is a very personal thing, so you might still want to give this a go.

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Quai des Orfèvres

Crime thriller [restored black & white subtitled French film]

(Edit) 29/05/2018

Jealousy, music halls, murder, feverish police interrogations, Hitchcockian twists and turns; apparently amoral at first glance, yet very contemporary in its nods towards a sympathetic lesbian and a policeman unashamedly proud of his mixed-race child.

Wonderfully restored Blu-ray version.

The director's other films are worth pursuing, especially the nail-biter of all nail-biters - "The Wages of Fear".

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Le Plaisir

Interesting French portmanteau film [b&w, subtitled]

(Edit) 29/05/2018

These episodes are set in the late 19th century, from 3 short stories by the great Guy De Maupassant. The central episode, about a group of prostitutes on an overnight visit to a Normandy village is especially delightful. As you would expect from the director [and from Maupassant], conventional expectations about brothels and respectability are quietly but firmly challenged. There's a light but adult touch to it which is very French. [Imagine a British Victorian writing about the same thing ....]

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Ruggles of Red Gap

Engaging comedy from the 1930s [B&W, well restored on Blu-ray]

(Edit) 29/05/2018

Delightful topsy-turvy comedy, with a wonderful performance from the great Charles Laughton. His butler manages to be at first quietly disdainful of all, but then gradually excited by the chance to throw off his subservience; imagine Jeeves losing control and then being transplanted to a barely-tamed US frontier town...

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Lost in Paris

Quirky but charming

(Edit) 20/05/2018

Taste in comedy is very personal thing, but I agree with LA's review; very individual, almost silent movie in effect at points, and with some wonderful touches - look for the tie rack at the crematorium, and for who helps when the heroine is sure that she doesn't need a guide out of the cemetery...

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O. Henry's Full House

Worth considering

(Edit) 25/04/2018

Apart from the 2nd & 3rd stories, these are light-hearted, slightly silly in an engaging way, and Charles Laughton, as always, commands the screen without apparently meaning to. Marilyn Monroe only appears for about 20 seconds, but does engage attention when she does so! There's a pleasing period feel to the film, set as it is in about 1900.

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The Grocer's Son

Understated family drama

(Edit) 21/11/2017

Yes, the French landscape is beguiling, and the start of the film demands a little bit of patience, but there's an underlying sadness here; the main male character is the victim of a charmless father, and reluctant to help the family out. His return to the family business provokes emotional storms, but in a gradual and often understated and convincing way.

Along the way, another of the troubled family has an apparently quiet encounter which is underplayed to devastating effect. I won't say any more. It's a scene to remember.

The customer encounters are played for a kind of truthful humour. I agree with the previous reviewer that the story is, in many ways, predictable, but it didn't feel that way to me when watching it. The ending has some elements of wry redemption, but in no neat Hollywood fashion.

GDS

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Maigret: Series 1: Part 1

Truthful to the novels - absorbing but slow

(Edit) 17/11/2017

These two episodes channel the Maigret novels more successfully than any of the other adaptions I've seen over the years. However, that makes them rather slow and "literary" rather than televisual or dramatic. [The recent Rowan Atkinson adaptations, which I quite liked, are very fast-moving in comparison.] Bruno Cremer [very convincing as Maigret] is often seen puzzling quietly, chewing on his pipe.

If you're used to the Agatha Christie school of clever plotting and the reveal-all at the end, Simenon's Maigret can come as a bit of a shock. In one of these episodes, for example, we never quite know exactly how the victim[s] died! Maigret is more about him solving the puzzle of character; there are plot points, but they're often subordinate to an interest in the people. This makes the episodes less shallow than many Agatha Christie adaptations, but much less showy. Horse for courses, etc. [I'd except the 2016 Sarah Phelps adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Witness for the Prosecution" from this charge, an adaptation which opened out the original brilliantly and tackled Christie's usual shallow characterisation head-on, turning it into a very satisfying production.]

Therefore - interesting and absorbing, but don't expect Hercule Poirot-like antics.

GDS

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
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