Take 3: Au revoir les enfants Review + 165 & 170 Follower Thank You

At the beginning of the month, my blog received 165 followers! While I was figuring out which movie I would review, I was creating a new blogging schedule for myself. Several days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received its 170th follower! So, for this blog follower dedication review, I decided to write about one movie while acknowledging both milestones. I chose to talk about a French film called Au revoir les enfants! Foreign films are rarely talked about when it comes to these specific reviews. In fact, the first one I discussed was Vampyr last October. Au revoir les enfants has also been on my DVR since last February. So, I thought these reasons would be a good excuse to finally watch this film! While Vampyr is a French and German production, I have reviewed a French film on this blog before. For Clean Movie Month, I talked about the 1950 project, Les Enfants Terribles. Will my thoughts on Au revoir les enfants be similar to those on the aforementioned French film I reviewed last year? You’ll just have to read this post if you want to find the answer!

20200111_230227[1]
I chose to use this poster for the review because it verifies that I, indeed, watched this film. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Movies that have young actors make up the majority of the cast can be hit-or-miss. In the case of Au revoir les enfants, this aspect worked in the film’s favor! All of the young actors were not only allowed to act their age, but they were able to work alongside other actors within their age group. This made their performances feel genuine and realistic. Speaking of realism, I noticed that all of the character portrayals and the situations showcased in the movie appeared like it came directly from real-life. It gave these elements a sense of authenticity. Because this film is based on a true story, the creative team’s focus on making the characters and situations look and feel believable seemed to be taken very seriously.

 

The historical accuracy: This film takes place in early 1944. Because of this, all of the material elements of the project looked like it came directly from that period in time. The wardrobe of all the characters feature articles of clothing that one would likely find within the mid ‘40s. The architecture of the boarding school shows off the preserved interior and exterior style from an era gone by. Even the finer details of the picture, such as the books, feel like relics of that specific year. While watching this film, I noticed the way the characters spoke also reflected the time period. Whenever subjects related to World War II were brought up, it was done in a very subtle way. Even though this was a period film, I never felt like I was being talked down to or like the movie was treating itself like a history lesson. If anything, I felt like I was watching a moment in time.

 

The presentation of the subtitles: How the subtitles are presented in foreign films is very important. If they can be seen clearly, it allows the audience to better understand what the characters are saying. I liked how the subtitles were showcased in Au revoir les enfants! While all of the text was white, it was presented against backgrounds that were dark in hue. The very first scene in the movie is a great example of this. The station and train itself adopted colors of black and gray. None of the characters in this scene wore bright colors. Because of this creative decision, I never had a difficult time reading the subtitles.

491032-PH3FVI-159
Hanukkah mehorah image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mehorah-with-flaming-candles_3299423.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like the film:

A weak plot: The more movies I watch, the more I realize that “slice of life” stories aren’t my thing. That’s because I don’t find them to be as intriguing as other cinematic stories. That’s what the majority of Au revoir les enfants is: a “slice of life” story. To me, it didn’t contain as much interest as it could have. It felt like the screenwriter put so much emphasis on the premise of Julien and Jean’s relationship, that there was nothing else to offer in the narrative.

 

A somewhat mis-leading premise: In the synopsis I read for this movie, it said the film was about a Catholic boy and a Jewish boy becoming friends during World War II. However, the friendship aspect of their relationship isn’t portrayed until about the last twenty minutes of the film. Julien and Jean spend most of the movie apart than together. In fact, Julien starts off not liking Jean as a person. Julien does become nicer to Jean as the film progresses. When this does happen, it just makes them seem like acquaintances more than anything.

 

Situations being shown, but not explained: Throughout Au revoir les enfants, there are situations shown on screen that aren’t given explanations. One example is when Julien pokes his hand with a compass. As he is doing this, he tells the classmate sitting next to him how it doesn’t hurt. Not only was this action never explained, but it’s never referenced again in the movie. Julien’s action didn’t seem to serve a purpose for his character development or the overall narrative. Moments like this one happened at several moments in the film and I found myself being frustrating by them.

3 paris
Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my final thoughts on this film, I want to thank each and every one of the followers! 18 Cinema Lane would not be the success it is today without you. Now, on to my overall impression of Au revoir les enfants! Personally, I thought it was just ok. The movie does have merits that are earned, as well as a plot twist that works. But the overall project could have been stronger. As I mentioned in my review, Au revoir les enfants is based on a true story. It felt like the creative team approached the narrative as respectfully as possible. Because the creation of the movie was handled with a sense of reverence, it allowed the film to have the emotional weight it contained. The realism of the acting and writing gave me a reason to stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing. I’m not often given opportunities to watch and review French films. However, I’m glad I chosen this movie for my latest blog follower dedication review!

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on my review? Are there any French films you’d like to see me review? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Les Enfants Terribles Review (Clean Movie Month — #4)

Several months ago, I recorded the French film, Les Enfants Terribles, on my DVR. Since I don’t watch many foreign films, I wanted to see this film as a way to expand my cinematic horizons. When I found out that this particular movie was released during the Breen Code era, in 1950, I was curious to see if any traces of the Breen Code could be found in the film. So, that is why I chose Les Enfants Terribles for one of my Clean Movie Month reviews! If you read my review of Madeleine, you would know that Les Enfants Terribles is not the first foreign film I reviewed for this blogathon. In fact, I was quite surprised that Madeleine was approved by the Breen Code. An interesting coincidence is both Madeleine and Les Enfants Terribles were released in the same year. So, it’ll be interesting to see how this French film from 1950 compares to the British film, also from 1950!

20190721_222820
I’ve seen other posters for this movie, but I like this one the best! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The acting in Les Enfants Terribles was one of the finer points of the movie! The two main characters, Paul and Elisabeth, were very interesting to watch because of the lead stars’ acting performances! Nicole Stephane brought the character of Elisabeth to life with a sense of fierceness and strength. These two elements helped her carry the film. She was also able to stand on her own merits when it came to acting among the other actors and actresses! Edouard Dermit portrayed Elisabeth’s brother, Paul. The well-roundedness of his acting talents was very clear to see in this film. Paul goes through a lot in Les Enfants Terribles. In every scene, Edouard brought his A game and even made his character seem like he was a real person. Over the course of this story, Edouard not only incorporates a sense of realism to his character, but also pulls off an acting performance that was mesmerizing to watch!

 

The music: At certain points in the film, orchestral music could be heard. This type of music would normally come into the movie anytime a new location was introduced. I thought this was an interesting choice because it fit the film’s overall tone. The orchestral music was grand yet sinister, highlighting Paul and Elisabeth’s journey through wealth and growing up. In one scene, Elisabeth’s husband, Michael, sings a song while playing the piano. Not only did the piano music sound good, but the song was also sung well. The music’s role in Les Enfants Terribles brought a special significance to the project!

 

The dynamics of the characters: Les Enfants Terribles puts more focus on the characters than the story itself. Despite this, it was fascinating to see how the characters interacted with one another. Throughout the film, lives are transformed and relationships are built among Paul, Elisabeth, and the people around them. What makes this part of the movie work is the screen-writing as well as the acting. These two elements provide the perfect combination for making the characters as interesting as they were.

Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of explanation for Paul and Elisabeth’s “game”: During the movie, Paul and Elisabeth play a game that only the two of them know about. However, no explanation to what this game is or how it’s played was ever given in the story. While watching the film, I tried to figure out more about the game. But, without an explanation, it was very difficult to understand the importance of it. I also noticed that this game was featured in the story when it was convenient for the plot. This is because the game itself was mentioned on very few occasions.

 

A misleading premise: According to Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website, Les Enfants Terribles is about “a brother and sister close themselves off from the world by playing an increasingly intense series of mind games with the people who dare enter their lair”. As I’ve already mentioned, Paul and Elisabeth’s “game” wasn’t well explained or featured in the movie for very long. The sibling relationship of Paul and Elisabeth seemed very toxic, from calling each other names to treating each other horribly. If anything, this movie was about two things: siblings who grow apart and a young woman who slowly becomes obsessed with power and control. Since the movie was different than its synopsis, I found TCM’s description to be misleading.

 

An unclear time-line: Les Enfants Terribles takes place over the course of several years. But, to me, this movie felt like all the events happened within a year. This was because there were no clear explanations about when certain situations were taking place. Time-cards and any mentions of the year were not found in this movie. Even the narrator didn’t talk about how much time had passed. The film’s time-line became very confusing, leaving me wondering how many years were included in the story. Because of the unclear time-line, the characters appeared as if they were frozen in time.

3 paris
Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I ended up liking Les Enfants Terribles more than I thought I would! It was an interesting film that had a few surprises in store. The movie itself is a character study/character driven story, showing how they evolve as time goes on. The acting was really good and the characters were well developed, helping this narrative become engaging. As I was watching Les Enfants Terribles, I could see some of the Breen Code’s influence. One example was anytime the doctor came to examine Paul. Either the examination itself was not shown on-screen or the doctor would only be shown listening to Paul’s heartbeat. However, when it came to this film, the Breen Code could have been enforced more. There were several times where characters were swearing, either at each other or just for the sake of it. This shocked me because not only was Les Enfants Terribles released in 1950, but it was also released during the Breen Code era. I was surprised that this movie got away with having this much language in the early ‘50s. Was this particular film the beginning of the end for the Breen Code? That’s definitely a question for another day.

 

Overall score: 7 out of 10

 

Have you ever watched a French film? Which foreign film have you always wanted to see? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Madeleine Review (Clean Movie Month — #3)

When I discovered the film, Madeleine, on Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website, the movie’s premise is what caught my attention. I recorded the film on my DVR and saved it for a special occasion. Since Madeleine was released in 1950, during the Breen Code era, I finally found that special occasion. While learning more about the movie, I made some surprising discoveries. The first was who the director is. David Lean not only directed Madeleine, but he also directed Lawrence of Arabia, which I reviewed last November. Another discovery I made was where the film was made. Madeleine was created in the United Kingdom, meaning that it’s considered a foreign film. The fact that this movie was approved by the Breen Code, as the logo can be seen during the opening credits, surprised me. This is because I was given the impression, after reading the article, “The Production Code of 1930’s Impact on America” from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, that foreign films weren’t directly impacted by the Breen Code. On IMDB, Madeleine is labeled as a crime drama. This detail made me curious as to how the Breen Code would influence this story. Well, the wait is over, as it’s now time to review 1950’s Madeleine!

Madeleine poster
Madeleine poster created by The Rank Organization. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Madeleine_1950.jpg.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I liked watching the various acting performances in this film! Everyone did a good job with the acting material they were given! This is especially the case for the star of the movie. Throughout Madeleine, Ann Todd carried the movie with versatility. This helped her portrayal of the titular character be as believable as possible. Another performance that I enjoyed seeing was Ivan Desny’s! The way he portrayed Emile L’Angelier came across very believably. One such example is anytime Emile appeared ill. Like Ann, Ivan brought versatility to his performance. It worked in his favor, as his character was captivating to watch on-screen!

 

The setting: Like I said about Jersey Boys, the world in Madeleine was well crafted! All of the locations, as well as other aspects of the film, looked and felt like the movie’s respective time period. Even the artwork on the walls of the Smith family home reflected the Victorian era. This showed me that the creative team behind this movie were very detail oriented, caring about what was presented on-screen. Also, like Jersey Boys, the world in Madeleine was very immersive! It made the audience feel like visiting this created world was possible.

 

The on-screen chemistry: I was pleasantly surprised by the on-screen chemistry of Ann Todd and Ivan Desny! Anytime they were on-screen together, they made the relationship of Madeleine and Emile appear believable. Because of this, it was interesting to watch their relationship evolve as the film went on. Ann and Ivan’s on-screen chemistry kept me invested in their on-screen interactions. Even though I knew the fate of Madeleine and Emile’s relationship, I was curious about which directions they would go in. This aspect of the characters definitely added something interesting to the story!

265038-P4TIN9-926
Envelope with hearts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/hearts-and-pink-envelope-for-mothers-day_1950691.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/love”>Love image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The accents: As I said in my Jersey Boys review, accents in movies can be hit or miss. The characters in Madeleine had accents, but they didn’t reflect where they were from. This story takes place in Glasgow, Scotland. However, every member of the Smith family speaks with a British accent. Emile L’Angelier is known as a Frenchmen. While Ivan tried his best to speak with a French accent, it wasn’t consistent enough to sound believable. More often than not, Ivan could be heard speaking with a British accent. I understand that the film was created in the United Kingdom. But it never felt like an effort was made from the film’s creative team to encourage the appropriate accents for their characters.

 

A drawn-out plot: Madeleine is about a woman who is accused of murdering her lover. However, the crime itself isn’t featured in the story until the film’s half-way point. The first half of the movie is dedicated to showing the build-up to the crime. Personally, I think this part of the story didn’t need to last that long. At most, the build-up could have been fifteen or twenty minutes. If this was done, the narrative would get straight to the point, expressing the script’s idea sooner. This also could have helped shorten the film’s run-time.

 

A lack of mystery: When I found out that this film was considered a crime drama, I was looking forward to seeing a mysterious and intriguing story unfold on-screen. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of mystery in this movie. The creative team behind Madeleine tried to incorporate a mystery in the second half of the film. But because the build-up to the crime was featured in the first half of the story, the second half wasn’t as effective as the creative team had hoped. Madeleine should have taken place during Madeleine’s trial, with flashbacks coming into the story during people’s testimonies. With this approach to the story-telling, the audience could have been left wondering throughout the film if Madeleine was, indeed, guilty.

Clean Movie Month banner
Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/cleanmoviemonth85-is-here/.

My overall impression:

Madeleine made me feel the same way that Jersey Boys did. Both films are just ok. There are things about them that I can appreciate. Yet, they were held back from being better than they were. I expected more from Madeleine, thinking I would get an intriguing mystery story. Instead, the narrative was drawn-out and the mystery aspect was poorly executed. But, throughout the movie, I could tell that the creative team behind Madeleine had put in an effort to make the best film they could. Similar to Citizen Kane, I could see the Breen Code’s influence within Madeleine. Anytime Madeleine and Emile kissed, they turned their heads to hide the kiss from the audience. All of their kisses only lasted a few seconds. Madeleine and Emile engaged in an affair throughout the film. But because of how the script was written, their relationship was never labeled as an affair. Also, the word “affair” was never said by any of the characters. After watching this film, I’m now curious to find out what other foreign films were approved by the Breen Code.

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of David Lean’s films? Which foreign film released during the Breen Code era is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Moulin Rouge! Review + 110 Follower Thank You

In my review of Sister of the Bride, I mentioned that I would be reviewing Moulin Rouge! for my 110 follower dedication review. Since I did promise that this review would come soon, I made this post one of my top priorities for this week. As I said in my Jurassic World review, I have a new system for choosing movies for these specific reviews. If you want to learn more about this system, you can read the introduction of my Jurassic World review. Because I received 110 followers on 18 Cinema Lane last month, I chose a movie that was released in the month of June. But the year of its release was 2001. My last movie review about a musical was Little Nellie Kelly back in June. So, I decided to pick Moulin Rouge! for this particular review! This is a movie that I’d heard of, but had never seen. Now that I’ve seen this film, it’s time to share my thoughts on it with the help of this review!

Moulin Rouge! poster
Moulin Rouge! poster created by Bazmark Productions and 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/moulin-rouge.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I was very impressed with the cast in Moulin Rouge! Every actor and actress in this film surpassed my expectations when it came to their performance! Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman did a great job bringing their characters to life, providing a sense of depth and authentic emotion to their roles. The on-screen chemistry between Ewan and Nicole felt real, helping me to stay invested in Christian and Satine’s relationship. Richard Roxburgh also gave a good performance as The Duke of Monroth! The emotions and reactions that were brought to this character were truly unsettling. However, this made The Duke of Monroth be the unlikable character that he was meant to be. What helped was Richard giving everything he had, talent wise, into his portrayal of this character. His dedication to his performance is what made The Duke of Monroth so memorable!

 

  • The set-pieces: For musicals featured on film, one of the most important aspects of the production are the set-pieces. This part can make or break a musical. The set-pieces in Moulin Rouge! were exquisite, especially those within the Moulin Rouge nightclub! The colors were very vibrant and paired really well with the metals of silver and gold. A key ingredient to set-pieces is how immersive they make the world within the musical/movie feel. Set-pieces found in Moulin Rouge! made the world in the movie look and feel like it actually exists. The level of detail in these set-pieces added to the magnificent nature of them. It shows that the creative team behind this film put a lot of effort into making the set-pieces the best that they can be!

 

  • The transitioning animation: When scenes were transitioning from one part of the story to the next, the animation that was used in these transitions was unique. The best examples I can give to what this animation looked like are the television show, Angela Anaconda, and the “moving newspapers” in the Harry Potter film series. What I mean by this is most of the animation was in a black-and-white/gray tone, with a few hints of color to keep the images looking interesting. This type of animation is rarely seen in entertainment, so I like that the creative team behind Moulin Rouge! was thinking outside the box.
3 paris
Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The editing: One of the most distracting aspects about this film was the editing. Quick-cuts were commonly used in the movie, especially within the first half. As I mentioned, Moulin Rouge! had gorgeous set-pieces. But because of these quick-cuts, it was sometimes difficult to see these set-pieces on screen. In at least two scenes, there was “shaky cam” that didn’t need to be there. This aspect of the editing felt very out of place.

 

  • Some of the songs: I wasn’t a fan of some of the songs that were featured in Moulin Rouge! It’s not that the songs themselves were bad, they just didn’t fit within the world that the film created. For example, toward the beginning of the film, Christian sings “The Sound of Music”. If you know musicals, you would know that this song is from the movie and stage play, The Sound of Music. Because of this and the story of the aforementioned production, the context of this song feels out of place in Moulin Rouge! Another thing I noticed was that a large portion of the songs came from other movies or artists, music that was created prior to the film’s release. If this musical was advertised as or had a reputation of being a “jukebox musical”, having pre-existing songs incorporated into the narrative would make sense. But since Moulin Rouge! is not known for being this kind of musical, it just felt like the characters took a break from the story to sing karaoke.

 

  • Some of the humor: There was some humor in this movie that I did not like. That is because it was too crude and over-the-top for my liking. I understand that this humor was meant to represent the values and beliefs of the patrons associated with the Moulin Rouge nightclub. But that doesn’t mean I found this type of humor to be entertaining. In fact, some scenes that featured this kind of humor made me feel uncomfortable. One example is when Christian and Satine meet for the first time.
Note_lines_horizontal1
String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’m glad I gave myself a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to movie musicals! On 18 Cinema Lane, this genre doesn’t get talked about often. So, choosing Moulin Rouge! for this review was worth it! As for the movie itself, I thought it was just ok. There are things about it that I can appreciate, such as the quality of the acting performances. What held this movie back from making it greater than it was are the editing and some of the songs. Because some of these songs came from other movies and artists, they kind of took me out of the film. As for the editing, this part could have been better executed. Moulin Rouge! is definitely not one of the worst musicals I’ve ever seen, but I’ve also seen better. Before I finish this review, I want to thank all of my 110 followers! Also, thank you for your patience when it came to the release of this review. It means a lot to me that I have followers that are supportive and understanding.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What did you think of my review? Which movie musical is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen