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Cinefranco Film Festival 2004 - UPDATE #2

Nez Rouge
Directed by Eric Canuel
CANADA/114 MINUTES

Nez Rouge is almost a prototypical romantic comedy; it's got all the elements we've come to expect from such a film, including two characters that initially hate each other, the phony break-up, and (of course) the final, triumphant kiss at the end. Félix (Patrick Huard) is a snooty critic who once gave a terrible review to Céline's (Michèle-Barbara Pelletier) play, going so far as to suggest she quit writing altogether. So, when Félix is sentenced to a stint at Nez Rouge (a service that picks up drunk people and drives them home) after a DUI conviction, Céline uses the opportunity to get her revenge (Félix doesn't realize who she is). Somewhere in the midst of pushing him down escalators and spilling drinks on him, though, Céline finds herself falling for Félix. Nez Rouge is very charming when it sticks to the more romantic elements within the story (ie a ride aboard a horse-drawn carriage), but director Eric Canuel (along with screenwriters Sylvie Desrosiers and Sylvie Pilon) spends a bit too much time on needless subplots. Such moments serve only as a distraction, and we'd much rather see Félix and Céline interacting with each other. The film runs close to two hours, a running time that's overlong by at least 30 minutes; had some of the superfluous elements been excised, there's no doubt that Nez Rouge would be an ideal romantic comedy. Still, Canuel does a nice job of infusing the story with bursts of style (the film is a marked improvement over La Loi Du Cochon, a derivative thriller from 2001), and the two leads are incredibly appealing in their roles.

out of


Ce jour-là (That Day)
Directed by Raoul Ruiz
FRANCE/SWITZERLAND/105 MINUTES

There's always one at every film festival. A movie so bad and so incoherent that it's impossible to imagine what the programmer was thinking when he/she picked it. Ce jour-là certainly falls under that category, a film that defies description (and not in a good way, either). The movie is set in Switzerland at some undetermined point in the future, where Livia (Elsa Zylberstein) teams up with an escaped psychopath (played by Bernard Giraudeau) and begins offing her family (for no reason whatsoever, although there is a hint that maybe they're after her money). The fact that the film is set in the future seems to be an excuse for all the inexplicable developments in the story (ie Livia doesn't seem concerned that a nutcase is killing everyone around her). The only way any of this even begins to make sense is if we're to infer that the world has been overrun by crazy people, but that's not even alluded to. There isn't a hint of expository dialogue in the film; it's all nonsensical conversations about tarot cards and naming horses. It becomes evident almost immediately that Ce jour-là is less a movie and more an endurance test, as though the filmmakers are daring audience members to sit through the whole thing. Writer/director Raoul Ruiz has helmed almost 100 movies in his long career, leaving me to conclude that - somewhere along the way - he lost his mind and came up with this. That he managed to convince a lot of very good actors (including legendary French performer Michel Piccoli) to appear in this chaotic mess is incredible, and will likely convince a lot of folks that the movie is worth checking out. It's not.

no stars out of

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