This week - Africans prove that not all the French are cheese eating surrender monkeys (Days Of Glory) and Mr Bean goes on holiday to the South of France (Mr Bean's Holiday).
This week's Friday Film News has a definite French theme. As a result we are eating brie, beating everyone at Rugby and later we're going on strike. First up, Days of Glory
Bradshaw gives it 3/5,
The opening scene pretty well boggles the mind. In an Algerian village in 1943, a tribal elder strides boldly through the narrow streets calling for volunteers. The motherland must be saved, he says, and it is the young menfolk's duty to wash the French flag in their blood. It is like a through-the-looking-glass version of The Battle of Algiers. No one shouts him down; there is no debate, no politics. They join up. The Algerian and north African loathing of their French imperial master has been such an unchallenged premise in modern cinema and progressive culture that this scene is almost blasphemous to liberal ears.
Owww... our liberal ears... there's loads of liquid coming out...
Both this review and the Times review make certain comparisons with Saving Private Ryan,
I had the sense that for his final shootout scene, Bouchareb had about a 10th of the cash at his disposal that Spielberg enjoyed. Never mind. It's a rousing piece of gunplay.
A "curious thing" is the presence of Jamel Debbouze in the case he is "a top-whack comedian and star in France" who you may know from his small role in Amélie. We imagine it being for the French a little like seeing Jim Davidson in a war film. Or Gina Yashere. God forbid. The impression given is that Debbouze is pretty good ("I couldn't help but smile at his puppyish expressions") although strangely he has a paralysed right arm from a childhood accident which no remarks are made about, nobody "questions how an infantry soldier could possibly discharge his duties - including the use of a rifle - with one arm." Bradshaw concludes that "Debbouze's remarkable star status in France has allowed him to override these worries."
Bradshaw finishes the review calling it "a handsomely staged, well acted, and affecting story."
Quinn gives it 4/5,
The double irony at the heart of Rachid Bouchareb's impassioned picture is that, while the North Africans flocked to the cause of liberté, they got short shrift when it came to handing out the égalité and fraternité. So, on one level, it's a conventional war-movie, while on another it's the story of a historical grievance that continues to this day.
The cast is "terrific" and the script is "punchy" and highlights "the paradox of soldiers fighting for a country to which they never properly belong" but manages to avoid "heavy-handed moralising" (God bless European film)
Second World War movies, if they're any good, leave you with an exhausted admiration for the sacrifice that young men and women were willing to make. Days of Glory (which is an unimaginative fudging of its Algerian title, Indigènes) prompts that and something more: amazement and indignation.
It is a rubbish title, isn't it?
Wendy Ide gives it 4/5 and picks up on the rubbish title,
Days of Glory is a title that does not do justice to Rachid Bouchareb’s outstanding Second World War drama. It makes it sound like something that might have been scripted by Alistair Maclean, a rousing, ripping yarn in which good and bad are clearly delineated. The French title Indigènes (which translates as “natives”), with its slightly pejorative air of Gallic disdain, is more appropriate, hinting at the complex issues raised by this impassioned, intelligent film.
Her only criticism is that "occasionally it’s a little didactic",
A Moroccan Berber soldier asks the rhetorical question of his brother: “When the French slaughtered our family, what did they call it?” “Pacification,” is the reply.
However, Ide concludes, calling it "the most powerful war film of the year".
Watch the trailer -
Next up, Mr Bean's Holiday
It's time for us to come out of the closet.... we... really... like... Mr Bean. The other film was terrible but the ITV shows were so good. Funny funny funny. We're not sure we can stand to see how the memory of Bean has been defiled by this second film, we're not sure we can bring ourselves to read the reviews... it's like ripping off a plaster, or by the looks of the star ratings, a scab...
Steve Rose at the Guardian gives it 2/5,
They're saying this is Mr Bean's last appearance, but if Rowan Atkinson hasn't got the heart to kill off the character, I'll gladly throttle him by his necktie myself.
Bradshaw wouldn't write like this.
There are innumerable set pieces, most of which take an awfully long time to deliver an awfully weak gag.
Quinn gives it 1/5,
Before this dire celebration of imbecility cleans up at the box-office its only area of contention will be the creepy "friendship" Bean strikes up with a teenage boy en route to the south of France. Is Rowan Atkinson's gurning, mugging man-child-twit actually a secret paedophile?
Don't say such things!
Wendy Ide gives it 2/5 and sees many film references tucked into the film,
A scene in which Bean chases a chicken through a chaotic market is lifted from the kinetic opening sequence of the Brazilian film City of God. An old man on a slow-moving moped evokes Lynch’s The Straight Story. And Bean’s haphazard home movie provides a film within a film in the style of that surveillance enthusiast Michael Haneke – fast-forwarding and rewinding the action is another Haneke trick. There’s a possibility that I may be overanalysing at this point.
We bet Ide sees film references on the back of cereal packets.
The film-makers do, however, cross the line from cine-literate referencing to something approaching theft on occasion, with two scenes clumsily borrowed from Tim Burton’s debut film Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. What really riles here is not so much the plagiarism (although shame on you all) but rather the fact that the stolen sight gags – Bean overtaking Tour de France cyclists; Bean in drag to evade a road block – are simply not as funny with Atkinson at the controls.
There’s a complacency to the comedy that suggests that nobody could be bothered. Bean gyrating to Shaggy’s Boombastic is a gag that was past its sell-by date ten years ago.
They say some jokes never go out of date, Wendy.
Oh dear. It's bad. Oh well, we might go and see it anyway...
Watch the trailer -
Trailer of the week- Sunshine Released next week!