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Cinefranco Film Festival 2004 - UPDATE #4

Moi César, 10 ans 1/2, 1m39 (I, Cesar)
Directed by Richard Berry
FRANCE/97 MINUTES

Moi César, 10 ans 1/2, 1m39 is a cute little movie, sort of an Amelie for the tween set. Jules Sitruk stars as the titular César, a precocious 10-year-old with an overactive imagination and the vocabulary of a sailor (though the majority of his off-color remarks are limited to his thoughts, heard via voice-over narration). The film follows César as he attempts to navigate the treacherous terrain of life as a pre-teen, which leads him on a variety of mini-adventures (including his efforts to woo the prettiest girl in class and a trip to England to locate the birth father of a friend). Director Richard Berry infuses the film with an impressive amount of style, and clearly counts Pulp Fiction as a big influences (aside from a daydream inspired by the Quentin Tarantino classic, Maria de Medeiros plays César's mother!) The movie generally manages to straddle the fine line between drama and comedy, though there are a few supposedly humorous bits that fall flat (particularly one sequence that finds César and co. talking to a potential birth father, when the entire thing could've been avoided if they'd only asked him the name of the woman he slept with). Still, Moi César, 10 ans 1/2, 1m39 possesses enough widespread appeal to work as a break-out hit in English speaking countries, though the film clearly isn't meant for kids (César's penchant for R-rated curse words is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most parents).

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Petites coupures (Small Cuts)
Directed by Pascal Bonitzer
FRANCE/UNITED KINGDOM/95 MINUTES

Petites coupures is one heck of a head-scratcher. This plotless movie follows a man named Bruno (Daniel Auteuil) as he's sent to the countryside to hand deliver an important letter, and the various locals he encounters while there (most notably, the wife of an aging Communist - played by Kristen Scott Thomas). With absolutely no sense of pacing, it often feels as though someone switched the reels around and they're playing out of order. Scenes lead into each other without the slightest thought of flow, and character development is kept to a minimum. After everything is said and done, there doesn't even seem to be a reason for the film to exist. And yet, the movie remains somewhat watchable throughout - primarily because of several phenomenal performances. Auteuil creates a central character that's intriguing despite the fact that he never really does anything, while Thomas does a nice job of playing this enigmatic beauty. The supporting cast, which includes Ludivine Sagnier and Pascale Bussières, is just as effective. But the whole thing is so inconsequential, making it impossible to ever really become engrossed by the story (not that there is one, really).

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© David Nusair