Le vrai du faux

Marco Valois (Stéphane Rousseau) is a film maker who specializes in The fast and the furious type action movies.  After the death of a young man who crashed his car (a replica of the car used in Marco’s movies), he decides he needs something drastically different. He wants to do serious movies, films that will make a difference. He meets Eric Lebel (Mathieu Quesnel), a vet who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Eric has numerous psychological scars from his experience in Kandahar. Marco offers Eric the possibility to tell his story on film. Eric is quite reluctant. Marco is quite persistent. The two of them embark in an eventful odyssey. Émile Gaudreault has the ability to talk about serious social subjects. He did it in De père en flic where he took a look at father and son relationship through the scope of group therapy. He does it again this time through the eyes of a director who wants to make a movie on war post-traumatic disorder, one of the most serious social problems for the military. Gaudreault manages to make it entertaining, not heavy, funny but respectful. I say funny because it’s a comedy-drama. It’s in no way a caricature but it has some humoristic overtones. To the credit of Gaudreault, we can praise him for having been able to combine intelligent humour with such a serious subject. It is a buddy-buddy movie that evolves slowly, gradually, that takes its time to tell the story. The clashes are frequent between the two main characters which keeps us amused and entertained.The second part of the film dwells more on its dramatic parts. Mathieu Quesnel is quite credible in the portrait of the macho vet who refuses to talk about his past, who hides behind humour, corny jokes and  machismo. Stéphane Rousseau is also believable as Marco Valois, a filmmaker who  seeks a second chance. Also to mention the performance of Guylaine Tremblay as the mother of Eric. I could see a Jutra (trophy for film recognition in Québec) for supporting actress. Le vrai du faux is an intelligent comedy with a serious subject that should do well in Québec this summer.
 
André St-Jacques
 
 
Le vrai du faux
 
 
Directed by:
Émile Gaudreault
 
Screenplay by:
Émile Gaudreault
Pierre-Michel Tremblay
 
Starring:
Stéphane Rousseau
Mathieu Quesnel
Julie Le Breton
Charles-Alexandre Dubé
Guylaine Tremblay
Marie-Ève Milot
 
105 min.
 
In French

Les vacances du petit Nicolas

It’s the end of the school year, the summer holidays are there at last. Little Nicolas will spend summer at l’hotel Beau Rivage, a posh french resort, with his parents and grandmother. At the beach, he makes new friends with the other kids at the hotel, including Isabelle who follows him everywhere, observing him closely. A first glance at relationships between boys and girls for Nicolas. How will he react? This summer will be an eye-opening experience for him that will give him a different outlook on life. This is one of those marvelous little films, absolutely charming that invites us to take a look at childhood in all its innocence and  its simplicity. This is the follow-up to Le petit Nicolas from 2010 (adapted from a popular French cartoon) which I haven’t seen. I can only tell you that this movie took me back to childhood and made me laugh.  The children are natural and amusing. The most hilarious of Nicolas’s friends is Blaise who eats everything and I do mean everything, even alive. Mathéo Boisselier is superb as Nicolas as well as Erja Malatier as an intriguing Isabelle with those big inquisitive round eyes. Not to mention Dominique Lavanant as meme the grandmother. Les vacances du petit Nicolas is a sweet film the whole family will enjoy this summer.  
André St-Jacques
 
 
 
Les vacances du petit Nicolas
 
 
Directed by: 
Laurent Tirard
 
Screenplay by:
Laurent Tirard
Based on a popular French cartoon
 
Starring: 
Mathéo Boisselier
Kad Merad
Valérie Lemercier
Dominique Lavanant
Erja Malatier
 
97 min.
 
In French
 

Fading gigolo

In this bittersweet comedy set in New York, actor-director John Turturro casts himself as Fioravante, a ladies man who takes on a new career (he’s originally a plumber) as an escort after bookshop owner Murray played by Woody Allen pimps him up with his beautiful but frustrated dermatologist played by Sharon Stone. He accepts reluctantly at first because of the moral aspect of things. After a while and a few more dates set up by Murray with women from the neighbourhood, he is more and more at ease with his new profession. Not to mention the financial advantages with being a gigolo. All this will change when he meets Avigal, (Vanessa Paradis) a young Hasidic with whom he’ll truly fall in love. If you can get beyond the impossibility of Sharon Stone paying John Turturro to join her in the sack you’ve got it made. Fading gigolo is a sweet and gentle film that takes its mood from its jazzy soundtrack. Music is important in this film. It sets the tone and creates the atmosphere. Woody Allen is very funny playing yet another variation of the permanently harassed, wise cracking paranoid character we saw him play in his own movies. This time he does it under the direction of John Turturro with sheer brilliance. The chemistry Allen-Turturro also works on the screen, especially in the scene where Allen cons Turturro into prostituting himself and sharing the profits with his new-found pimp. Sharon Stone is equal to the task as the dermatologist with sexual fantasies. Fading gigolo is a delightful sexy comedy with nice shots of Brooklyn. For the incurable romantics.
André St-Jacques
 
 
 
 Fading gigolo
 
 
Directed by: 
John Turturro
 
Screenplay by: 
John Turturro
 
Starring: 
John Turturro
Woody Allen
Vanessa Paradis
Sharon Stone
Sofía Vergara
Liev Schreiber
 
98 min.
 
Rated 14A

En solitaire

Staring François Cluzet as navigator Yann Kermadeck determined to win the Vendée Globe, a 3 month-long race arround the world where each navigators sail their yacht alone. Kermadeck is in full control of the race right until he discovers a clandestine passenger on board the yacht. After the initial shock, and mutual mistrust, they will learn to work together. A secondary intrigue shows us a difficult relationship between Yann’s new girlfriend and his young daughter. The film offers a rugged and realistic view at international sailing races. But on the cinematic side of things, En solitaire fails to offer characters you want to spend time with. Cluzet offers a solid performance as a tough sea wolf, but that’s it. The relationship between Kermadeck and Mano (the clandestine lad) falls flat and is not credible. Same goes for the secondary plot: it is purely melodramatic and insipid. On the positive side, there are amazing sea shots that demonstrates the roughness of life at sea. There’s not enough substance to keep you interested for the duration. If you are a fan of sailing races, well that’s another story. The photography is splendid as one could expect. The rest of the picture is pretty average and falls to some kind of film formula often seen in the past.
André St-Jacques
 
 
En solitaire
 
 
Director:
Christophe Offenstein
 
Screenplay
Frédéric Petitjean
Pierre Marcel
Marc Guilbert
Christophe Offenstein
 
Staring:
François Cluzet
Samy Seghir
Virginie Efira
Guillaume Canet
Karine Vanasse
 
93 min.
 
In French.

La garde

Luc can’t see his teenaged son Samuel because of a violent incident that happened years ago when his son was a toddler. Often Luc disobeys the court order regarding his son and has to spend a few days in jail as a result. One day, he kidnaps Samuel and brings him into the woods to hunt. There’s a lot of uneasiness between the two but an accident happens and Luc is seriously wounded and it’s up to Samuel to guide his  father through the woods to safety in order to save his dad’s life. La garde is a well constructed movie that keeps everything simple. The principal theme is a father-son relationship in those difficult circumstances. No over-melodramatic overtones, it is kept real and simple. The story will move and reach the audience, although one might think that the father could cooperate more, find an intelligent solution to his dilemma. Because of the high level of emotions of the story, the film could have turned into a cheap melodrama. But no, Quebec director Sylvain Archambault’s direction is strict, rigourous, credible. The actors are great in this scenario particularly Antoine L’écuyer as the son. In conclusion the film is touching without being weepy which gives us a stronger, realist vision of a complex father and son relationship.
 
André St-Jacques
 
 
La garde
 
 
Directed by: 
Sylvain Archambault
 
Screenplay by: 
Ian Lauzon
Daniel Diaz
Ludovic Huot
 
Starring: 
Paul Doucet
Antoine L’Écuyer
Sandrine Bisson
 
91 min.
 
In French.

 

9 Mois ferme

 
Judge Ariane Felder is pregnant! It is very surprising considering that judge Felder has very strict morals, no men in her life and is a workaholics. Even more surprising, according to the paternity tests, the DNA collected belongs to a criminal accused of a particularly brutal aggression. Ariane who doesn’t remember a thing because at the time of conception she was intoxicated due to a new year eve binge. Quite exceptional for her. She’ll try to put the missing pieces together and most of all, understand what the heck happened. This is a black comedy. It takes a serious subject and gives it a cynical black humour twist.The director Albert Dupontel has succeeded at creating a dysfunctional crazy atmosphere deliberately injecting gore graphic violence in some comic scene. It is irreverential, crude and funny. The dialogues are quick and snappy. Sandrine Kiberlain is  quite at ease as the judge who lives a ordonate life but who for one night will discover a wild side she did not suspect. She manages to give her character a sympathy not apparent at first due to her cold,, predictable  lifestyle. Dupontel who plays Bob the violent criminal and also directed the film forms an explosive duo with her that makes of 9 Mois ferme not what you would expect from a french comedy. You could compare it to Le père noel est une ordure. The film was very well received at the Outaouais Film Festival.
 
 
André St-Jacques
 
 
9 Mois ferme
 
 
Directed by: 
Albert Dupontel
 
Screenplay by:
Albert Dupontel
 
Starring:
Sandrine Kiberlain
Albert Dupontel
Nicolas Marié
Yolande Moreau
 
82 min.
 
In French.

Rock the casbah

It’s summer in Tanger. A family gets together three days  for the funeral of the father. Since this is a muslim family, traditions must be respected. No more skirts, bathing suits or dresses. At least for three days. It is the conflict between the modern and the traditional, the orthodox and the progressive. The deceased portrayed by Omar Sharif was a lady’s man with a few well-kept secrets. Some of those secrets will be disclosed during those three days in a mix of emotions, going between laughter, tears and hysteria. Sharif who appears as a ghost during the movie is in top form in this role of a not so wise man who dispense views and advises to his family. Sharif is the strength of the film, a film with weaknesses. Dialogues with no bite, stereotypes, and a lack of rigidity that prevents the movie to go deeper, to explore the different conflicts. It ends up being some kind of farce, a semi-emancipation exercise for the emancipation of muslim women that could have gone further, that could have been better.

André St-jacques

 

Rock the casbah

 

Directed by: 
Laïla Marrakchi
 
Screenplay by:
Laïla Marrakchi
 
Starring:
Morjana Alaoui
Nadine Labaki
Lubna Azabal
Omar Sharif
  
100 min.
 
In French

L’ange gardien

L’ange gardien is a psychological thriller who creates a high level of tensions while at the same time creating a very grim and dark outlook. A strange relationship is establish between Normand, an ex-cop turned security guard and a young woman, Nathalie who commits  break in and entries. While neutralizing the perpetrator, Normand,  suffers a heart attack. Nathalie saves Normand’s life and he let’s her go. Not too long after, Nathalie shows up again and beg for his help. He accepts reluctantly. She needs protection from her ex, a violent delinquent and her accomplice  in the burglary attempt. Guy Nadon is reliable as ever as the night watchman who carries a heavy load, the loss of his son. Nadon is no stranger  playing such characters since he played a father whose son had disappeared in the Quebec TV series Aveux. We definitely understand that Normand and Nathalie need each other. Nathalie needs Normand for protection, and Normand needs her to fill the gap of his son’s death. They are each other’s guardian angel. Marilyn Castonguay is convincing as Nathalie and Patrick Hivon is brutal as the delinquent boyfriend. The strength of this film is the complicity between the characters and the location, a dull,  lifeless industrial complex and the winter scenery. Winter does wonders to create intimacy in cinema. The magic operates once more. The combination of intimacy, solid interpretation and complex human beings will fascinate you as it did for me.
 
André St-Jacques
 
 
L’ange gardien
 
Directed by: 
Jean-Sébastian Lord
 
Screenplay by: 
Jean-Sébastian Lord
 
Starring: 
Marilyn Castonguay
Guy Nadon
Patrick Hivon
Véronique LeFlaguais
Frédéric Pierre
Shanti Corbeil-Gauvreau
  
94 min.
 
In French
 
 
 

Enemy

Enemy is a psychological thriller, the latest film of Quebec filmmaker Demis Villeneuve, the second cooperation between Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal. On the first degree it’s the story of a man who meets his double. Metaphorically it is also an analysis of his subconscious. Enemy is not a conventional story, it is an enigma, a film that challenges the audience’s intellect. This movie was also a technologic challenge, having an actor play  his double and making it believable. Mission accomplished for Villeneuve and his crew. Also to mention strong interpretations by Sarah Gadon and Mélanie Laurent, the two loves of Gyllenhaal and his dual roles. And let’s not forget the performance of Isabella Rosselini as Gylenhaal bossy mother. The movie is a brilliant thriller shot in Toronto with a very grim photography that will remind you of Lynch, Kubrick and Cronenberg. A  great follow-up to Prisoners.

André St-Jacques

 

Enemy

Directed by:
Demis Villeneuve
 
Screenplay by: 
Javier Gullón
Based on The Double by José Saramago
 
Starring: 
Jake Gyllenhaal
Mélanie Laurent
Isabella Rossellini
Sarah Gadonl
Stephen R. Hart
Jane Moffat
Joshua Peace
Tim Post
  
90 min.

Non-stop

Do you remember the 70’s and the Airport movies franchise? A series of disaster movies at 40,000 feet. Well the genre is alive and well in 2014 with Non-stop. Liam Neeson plays Bill Marks a tortured alcoholic air marshal who tries to save the plane he’s aboard .A terrorist sends him texts stating that a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless a 150 million ransom is paid. Marks will recruit the help of Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), the only person he think he can trust among the passengers. But remember, anybody can be the terrorist he or she. The plot is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing. Neeson and Moore make a fine pair, both of them have many skeletons in their respective closets. Also to mention in the cast Lupita Nyong’o  (an Oscar winner this year) as Gwen, one of the stewardesses. It may not appeal to those with a fear of flying but Non-stop is a good action thriller.
 
André St-Jacques
 
Non-stop
 
Directed by: 
Jaume Collet-Serra
 
Screenplay by: 
John W. Richardson
Chris Roach
Ryan Engle
 
Starring: 
Liam Neeson
Julianne Moore
Michelle Dockery
Nate Parker
Linus Roache
Scoot McNairy
Corey Stoll
Lupita Nyong’o
Anson Mount
Omar Metwally
Jason Butler Harner
Corey Hawkins
Frank Deal
Shea Whigham
Bar Paly
  
106 min.
 
 Rated PG‎‎