Friday, February 20, 2009

French film follies

A couple more days in Paris. The overcast sky gives the perfect excuse go to the movies and hit the museums. Sticking to localfare, so far I've seen Nicolas Saada's debut, Espion(s), and Danièle Thompson's latest, Le code a changé. Two fine, if very different, examples of quality filmmaking, French-style.

The former is a brooding thriller that's been embraced by the critics here--unsurprisingly, perhaps, as Saada is one of their own (he used to write for Cahiers du Cinéma). The movie's been compared to some of Hitchcock's best and most romantic flicks, like Notorious, but it reminded me more of the British series MI5. And while I liked the slow pace (we're very, very far from spy shenanigans à la Bourne), if you're going to do the classic set piece in which somebody transfers information from a computer onto a USB key while trying not to be caught by a bad guyelse coming up the elevator (cue closeup of screen with "copy" status bar moving maddeningly slowly), you'd better come up with a new twist; alas, Saada doesn't. Still, a lovely performance by Géraldine Pailhas lifts things up.

As for Thompson's movie, it's yet another "choral" on, a style the writer-director particularly loves. I admit going mostly for the splendid cast, which includes two of my favorite comediennes, Marina Fois and Karin Viard--together at last. A scene in which gynecologist Fois gives lawyer Viard an exam was the icing on the religieuse.

Next stop: a reissue of Claude Autant-Lara's cult 1949 adaptation of the Feydeau farce Occuppe-toi d'Amélie, starring the scrumptious Danielle Darrieux, and François Ozon's new Ricky.

1 comment:

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