2 April 2021.
Sorry, but we are still without any cinemas opening up. It is getting tiresome searching for those precious classics of yore to watch at home and picking the best films of various countries such as Russia, France, China or England, as I have been offering you during these lean months of COVID anxiety. It’s been fun revisiting greatness in the 7th Art, as the French call cinema, but I give up now.
ARDE MADRID: Burn Madrid Burn
This week I recommend this one series which you can find on RTS.ch. It is a Spanish production in 8 episodes and it is like nothing you’ve seen before.
Filmed in black&white and set in the Franco years when Ava Gardner lived in Madrid, it has politics, sex, dark humor and the wild lifestyle and parties of Ava, seen through the eyes of her earnest housekeeper who has been sent by the Franco people to spy on the suspicious comings and goings of Ava’s reactionary friends.
Its hilarious parody, of characters such as Argentina’s exiled Peron and his wife Eva, is especially spicy and typically Spanish. It’s a clever and juicy delight!
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
The very best series for me was THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT – about a young orphan girl who is passionate about chess and grows up to become a formidable chess master.
From beginning to end it is a masterpiece of writing, acting, decor, suspense and deep emotions.
THE WHITE TIGER
THE WHITE TIGER is an excellent film set in modern India about a poor, bright young boy in a backwater village who is hungry to become as successful as his masters.
This is a gentler, more humane version of the huge Korean hit of 2019, “Parasite”.
THE TWO POPES
And if you have not seen it yet, do see THE TWO POPES, starring Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI, and Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis.
Brilliant acting, dialogue and simple yet innovative mood in this imaginary conversation between two completely different men.
CALL MY AGENT
10% or CALL MY AGENT – an addictive, tremendously fun French series about a talent agency that handles top film stars, coddling their many anxieties, overblown egos and personal glitches.
The agents (who grow on you like long lost family) are constant in each episode, but huge stars such as Isabelle Huppert, Jean Dujardin, Natalie Baye or Jean Reno are the surprise guests in each new chapter. It’s a delight, and you’ll be missing these crazy characters when the series ends. More French than this, you can’t get!
As a reminder from last week, check out this outstanding film when the cinemas finally open. I reviewed it back in autumn 2020, and it has in the meantime won most of the French Césars.
ADIEU LES CONS ***1/2 (vo French)
Here’s a desperate, depressive computer specialist who has just been demoted; a young woman who finds out she doesn’t have much time to live and wants to find the child she was forced to give up at age 15; and a blind archivist who finds a bit of warmth with these two desperados. None of them have known each other before their destinies collide here. https://www.youtube.com/embed/yXYTRLUxC8k?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
Albert Dupontel’s latest film turns out to be a touching, chaotic chase that brings these three lonely people together for various strange reasons, and it’s something that should not be missed.
Alongside its somber premise and hectic pace, humor and heart is there – in the acting, scenario, wonderfully warm colors and moments of surprising gentleness.
Dupontel could be considered the intellectual bad boy of French cinema. His films are often violent, bitter takes on society and the individual struggling within it, but this one has an absurd spirit (with a tip-of-the-hat to the Monty Python gang) that raises it out of the blues. Much of its charm is due to the lovely and talented Virginie Efira, who scintillates in every role she takes, and here she will also break your heart. César take note.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.