Monday, March 19, 2018

Just To Be Sure (Ôtez-Moi D’Un Doute)-French Film Festival

I was 0 for 3 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's French Film Festival with movies I didn’t even wish to review*, but yesterday I had the great pleasure of seeing Writer/Director Carine Tardieu’s cinematic treasure Just To Be Sure (Ôtez-Moi D’Un Doute) and my faith in French Cinema has been, not only renewed, but heightened.

This gem of a film starts out with middle-aged bomb disposal expert Erwan Gourmelon (François Damiens) taking his pregnant daughter Juliette (Alice De Lencquesaing) for a DNA test to see if her baby is in danger of inheriting her grandmother’s cancer gene.  Though the test proves the baby will be safe, it shows that Erwan’s father (Guy Marchand) is not his birth father.

What develops is a wonderful relationship story that only the French could conceive.  It is sometimes funny, sometimes hilarious and always charming thanks to Tardieu and her co-writing team of Baya Kasmi, Michel Leclerc and Raphaël Moussafir.

The extraordinary Cécile de France and André Wilms round out the key elements of this beautiful film.

Best of all is the surprising resolution the audience is left to figure out after the film ends.  It made me chuckle and smile hours after viewing and still brings a broad grin to my face as I write this review.

Thank you, Carine Tardieu.  I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Just To Be Sure (Ôtez-Moi D’Un Doute) most definitely deserves its 5 out of 5.   If it does not get more of a theatrical distribution in the U.S., it’s worth a trip to Paris to see it.

*The 3 duds I wish to forget were the amateurish July Tales, the ridiculous Ava and the insipid Montparnasse Bienvenue.  

Isle of Dogs

Writer/Director Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs is a wonderfully charming Japanese-based tale of 12-year-old Atari (voice of Koyu Rankin), the ward of Trumpian despot Mayor Kobayashi (voice of Kunichi Nomura), who has banned all dogs to an isle off the coast that had been used as a garbage dump. 

Atari’s dog Spots (voice of Liev Schreiber) was the first to go and Atari steals an airplane to go in search of Spots.   On the isle, he meets up with a stray named Chief (voice of Bryan Cranston) and four other victim dogs, including Tracy (voice of Greta Gerwig), Boss (voice of Bill Murray), Duke (voice of Jeff Goldblum) and King (voice of Bob Balaban), who aid him in his often grueling search.
Anderson’s genius is in his use of the Japanese lore and music in the telling of this fascinating tale, co-developed with Roman Coppola, Kunichi Nomura and Jason Schwartzman.  The animation is unique and extremely interesting.

Isle of Dogs should appeal to audiences of all ages, but does, ideally, require reading ability on the part of the children.

I give Isle of Dogs a 4.2 out of 5.

Tomb Raider

Director Roar Uthaug’s Tomb Raider is an action-filled film depicting the adventurer Lara Croft, when she was green and not very wise. 

Alicia Vikander is admirable as the novice Croft, who comes into her own in her search for her father (Dominic West), who had disappeared seven years earlier, while searching for the tomb of a Japanese witch.
Though some may have hoped for Vikander to be as tough as Angelina Jolie’s more mature version of this character, I enjoyed watching her mistakes and foibles as she stepped into her power.  And, let’s face it, I could look at Vikander all day.

While Tomb Raider is no Wonder Woman, it should appeal to its audience.  

I give it a 3.8 out of 5.