At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
The Alliance Française shows its series of French films in a small room in their building at 138 Charoen Prathet Road. The building is directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel. Tell your taxi "Samakhom Frangset" and/or "Wat Chaimongkhon."A contribution of 30 baht is requested; you pay outside at the information desk of the Alliance Française proper.
At Alliance Française on Friday, February 5: Fanfan la tulipe (2003) by Gérard Krawczyk – 95 mins – France, Adventure/ Comedy/ Romance. English subtitles. Mixed or average reviews: 51 out of 100.
With Vincent Perez, Penélope Cruz, Didier Bourdon, Hélène De Fougerolles, Michel Muller.
In this 2003 remake of the classic 1952 French film, Fanfan la Tulipe (Perez) is a swashbuckling lover who is tricked into joining the army of King Louis XV by Adeline La Franchise (Cruz), who tells Fanfan that by doing so, he will eventually marry one of the king's daughters...
– Alliance description
The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt: Talk about an identity crisis. Fanfan la Tulipe, directed by Gerard Krawczyk and written by Jean Cosmos and Luc Besson, wants to be a charming satire of swashbuckling epics. But this lead-footed affair can never find its comic rhythms. Instead, it wanders sadly through routine action sequences, mixing slapstick with derring-do yet never generating any wit or romance. Despite having Vincent Perez and Penelope Cruz as its leads, Fanfan should win few fans in its native France. Indeed, moviegoers may resent this buffoonish remake of the classic 1951 movie starring Gerard Philippe and Gina Lollabrigida.
Fanfan is a beloved character of 18th century France, a brash soldier in the army of Louis XV who, despite a disrespect for authority and defiance of social conventions, wins the day and his lady love through his courage, fighting skill and saucy wit.
As Fanfan, Perez has the right idea in his lighthearted, athletic approach, but the script and direction fail him at every turn. He prances through the movie without ever becoming a part of it. He makes love to women and fights many a man but never connects with anyone. Cruz as Adeline, the gorgeous daughter of the recruiting sergeant, stands on the sideline, cheering Fanfan on -- and occasionally firing a pistol to save his butt -- but even she fails to catch his eye for long. Why is her heart so set on him, you wonder?
The film's comic thrusts are third-rate Mel Brooks without the great jokes and one-liners. The characters are mostly goofs on movie roles in the swashbuckling films of old, so there are no surprises here. If a priest shows up, you know he will be a drunken reprobate. The king is incalculably stupid, the sergeant a coward and every officer an egotistical fool.
The $15 million production makes decent use of a few of France's ancient chateaux, and its period costumes, while a tad too spick-and-span, are effective. The fights are tame by today's high standards, neither clever enough to create tension nor comic enough to inspire laughs.
The movie's most satiric moments come in chaotic battle sequences, where masses of soldiers slaughter one another without a clue why they are doing so. The film takes the view that war in that era was the sport of the royals, even if the king often can't tell which men are his. A rascal like Fanfan getting mixed up in such murderous foolishness might have sparked some dark comedy. Alas, the new Fanfan seems based less on the old movie than on children's puppet shows.
IMDb viewer: Not the most intelligent film ever made, but for those wishing to see a fun, swashbuckling movie then I would certainly recommend this to them.Fanfan himself is difficult to warm to to begin with but once you get past the cheeky arrogance Vincent Perez makes a fantastic Fanfan and although Penelope Cruz can be difficult to understand for non fluent viewers, due to her strong accent, her performance is still enjoyable enough.
It was obviously never intended to be the most technically brilliant movie ever created but I honestly believe anyone who knows a bit of French should give it a chance. Great for a rainy day!
IMDb viewer: This new version of a favorite classic was a great swashbuckler - lots of romance, lots of adventure and excitement galore. Vincent Perez was handsome and energetic... a perfect romantic hero. Penelope Cruz was beautiful and feisty - a perfect romantic heroine. The crowd in the cinema was especially enthusiastic when we went -some viewers we know went to see it several times. The period costumes were wonderful, and certainly the equal of earlier versions. The photography was also well done - the French countryside has never looked so wonderful! Knowledge of French is definitely helpful, as the jokes might be lost on those who don't truly understand the language.
At Alliance Française on Friday, February 12: Je ne suis pas là pour être aimé/ Not Here to Be Loved (2005) byStéphane Brizé – 93 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles.
With Patrick Chesnais, Anne Consigny, Raymond Pellegrin.
Fifty-year-old Jean-Claude Delsart, worn out by his police work, gave up on the idea of life offering any sweet surprises some time ago. But he hadn't counted on just what would happen when he finally got up the nerve to learn the tango...
– Alliance description
Neil Young’s Film Lounge: Still waters run persuasively deep in Not Here to Be Loved, a startlingly dry - and ineffably "French" - comedy/romance in which almost every word, gesture, and shot is expertly weighted for maximum effect. The story of an unlikely relationship which blossoms between divorced, Prufrock-ish, 50-year-old bailiff Jean-Claude (suitably hangdog Patrick Chesnais) and Francoise (spirited Anne Consigny), the significantly younger woman he meets at a tango class - despite the latter's impending marriage to pudgy would-be novelist Thierry (Lionel Abelanski) - may be, if anything, a little too restrained, slow-burning and subtle for some. Patient (older?) viewers, however, will find many rewards in this deliciously poised, impeccably-observed fable of lonely lives redeemed by the possibility of a second chance.
At Alliance Française on Friday, February 19: Vipère au poing / Viper in the Fist (2004) by Philippe de Broca – 100 mins – France/ UK, Drama. English subtitles.
With Catherine Frot, Jules Sitruk, Jacques Villeret.
In 1922, after the paternal grandmother who was looking after them died, the young boy and his brother Ferdinand found their parents, who’d returned from China, once again. But the relationship with their mother rapidly becomes a nightmare. She’s quick to lash out at the two children, mistreat and abuse them.
– Alliance description
Reel Film Reviews, David Nusair: Director Philippe de Broca reportedly intended for Vipère au poing to be the first part of a trilogy, though that'll never happen now (the filmmaker died in November 2004). It's a shame, really, given that the movie feels more like 100 minutes of set-up than anything else. The story revolves around two brothers in the '20s, whose comfortable lives are obliterated by the arrival of their strict, hateful mother (played by Catherine Frot). And that's essentially the first hour of Vipère au poing; there's no storyline here, just sequence after sequence of the boys being terrorized (resulting in an intriguing subplot revolving around the youngest son's efforts to knock off not-so-dear old mom). The film does improve slightly as it progresses, particularly following the departure of Frot's character. But in the end, despite some fine acting and an ambiance that feels authentic, the film just isn't engaging - though it seems clear that future installments would've likely improved this one in retrospect (i.e. once the entire story had been told).