10 September 2021.
DÉLICIEUX (Delicious) ***1/2 (vo French)
This film by Eric Besnard is what the title evokes – delicious! The courtly interiors, the bucolic paysage, the delicate music, the inventive food, and the slow love that finally develops make it so. It’s a French film after all, based in the late 18th century, just before the French Revolution.
A fine chef (the expressive Grégory Gadebois) comes to shame in the employ of a nobleman, due to some sharp, very unfair words about his cuisine during a glittering banquet. He slinks back to his rustic beginnings, deciding never to cook again. When a mysterious woman (the delicate Isabelle Carré) comes to plead with him to teach her his metier, he very gradually comes back to life. But things aren’t as simple as they look. Even though she helps him create the first ever dining restaurant in his charming farm house, there are quite a few hurdles, such as trust, revenge and even murder, to overcome.
This is a beguiling, old-fashioned tale that will leave you happily satiated.
UN TRIUMPH (The Big Hit) ***1/2 (vo French)
Based on a true event that happened in Sweden some years ago, this film has been transplanted to France and is about a somewhat failed actor (an excellent Kad Merad, for once) who has volunteered to teach the art of theater to some tough prisoners. Giving his all to work with these often unreliable, but also at times enthusiastic characters, he manages to breath some camaraderie and excitement into their hardened lives.
Director Emmanuel Courcol has created here a touching group of n’er-do-wells that end up being the types you want to root for. And of course it doesn’t hurt that the play he has picked is Samuel Becket’s brilliant “Waiting for Godot”, a piece that truly reverberates in the corners of their disparate lives. In this beautifully written, acted and edited work, theater and film become an inspiring unit that will move your heart and lift your spirits. Stay for the credits to see the real Nordic players. Unforgettable.
Aretha Franklin was indeed the First Lady of Soul and for that, for her amazing voice and fortitude, she deserves RESPECT. But then that was also the title of her first great success, a sort of freedom anthem for black women.
This is her life story, from her early childhood in Detroit when she loved to sing in church and at the weekly parties in her Reverend father’s plush home, to her climb to fame with various men insisting on leading her life and her career. By first time director, Liesl Tommy, this too lengthy biopic is unfortunately somewhat stilted and overdone, especially during the childhood period, her dealings with her recurring “demons”, and her alcoholic phase.
But it’s worth your time for the rollicking musical numbers sung by Jennifer Hudson that should have those goosebumps coming out. And as an homage to the brave life Aretha led, fully supporting the civil rights movement of the 60s, and the many pressures on her private life and long career.
BOÎTE NOIR **1/2 (vo French)
Here’s an austere tale about an investigator of black boxes, inspecting a plane crash which has killed 300 passengers, who thinks there is some sort of a coverup in the conclusion of the causes for the accident.
That fact becomes an obsession with him, jeopardizing his career and relationships. It’s a dark thriller about the hidden forces behind many of our headlines, usually tainted by economic reasons. Very well acted, especially by the versatile Pierre Niney who has played such varied roles as Yves St. Laurent; the young French soldier in François Ozon’s “Frantz”; and a brash spy in the latest “0SS 117”.
Now wouldn’t you think with such a title, this film would be about space? It actually means a star that explodes and becomes extremely bright.
But there’s nothing very bright in this dull tale of a gay couple on a sort of a road trip while contemplating the death of one partner due to an incurable, encroaching disease. For some reason, the two usually fine actors, Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, do not ignite any sort of pathos or warmth between them. For me there was no real chemistry there and so no empathy. Maybe it’s because they’re actually both heterosexual. But it seems it has been highly praised and I am in the minority, so you might feel differently. There’s no arguing mood and taste.
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.