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!

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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.

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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.

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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: The Newton Boys Review + 20 Follower Thank You

In late August, I achieved the accomplishment of receiving 20 followers on my blog! Because some of my recent posts have taken me longer to write and publish than expected, I apologize for the delay in releasing this post. I put a lot of thought into which film I would review for this blog follower dedication post. After looking at and thinking about all of my available options, I decided to go back to the well of talking about a movie that is based on a true story; The Newton Boys. When I started creating these blog follower dedication posts, the movie I reviewed when I received 5 followers was Saving Mr. Banks, a film that is based on the true story of how the Mary Poppins film came into existence. For The Newton Boys, however, this movie is not heart-felt like the aforementioned movie. It explores the relationship of the Newton brothers and how they turned to a life of crime. Before choosing this movie for my 20 follower dedication post, I had never heard of The Newton Boys or the true story behind it. Because this movie seems to be overshadowed by other movies from 1998, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to give The Newton Boys the “standing ovation” it deserves. So, as I start this review of The Newton Boys, I’d like to take a moment to thank each and every one of my 20 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! I would not have been able to reach this milestone without you!

The Newton Boys poster
The Newton Boys poster created by 20th Century Fox. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Newtonboysposter.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The cast of The Newton Boys was superb! Every actor that portrayed a character with an accent pulled it off very well, adding believability to their characters! Before watching The Newton Boys, I had seen a few of Matthew McConaughey’s films, including How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Fool’s Gold. However, The Newton Boys is the film that made me appreciate Matthew’s acting abilities, impressed by how he can, successfully, pull off a performance in both light-hearted romantic-comedies and dramatic historical/period films. I was also impressed with Julianna Margulies’ portrayal of Louise Brown! Julianna packed so much versatility and emotion into her performance, that it truly made her on-screen presence very memorable!

 

The atmosphere: This film takes place between 1919 and 1924. The world that this particular film created was immersive, with every aspect of this film looking and feeling like that time period. The level of detail the creative team behind this movie took in order to make The Newton Boys look and feel authentic was great! From the music to an old-fashioned calculator, even to the beginning introduction of the film itself, everything about this movie adds to the believability of this story!

 

The on-screen camaraderie: As I mentioned in the introduction for my review of The Newton Boys, this movie is about the Newton brothers and how they turned to a life of crime. All of the actors portraying the brothers (Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio) displayed an on-screen camaraderie that made their characters appear like they truly got along with one another. The bond between these brothers came across in this movie very believably, making this bond feel genuine. In this movie, the relationship between these brothers adds to the overall story.

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Railway Train image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-train-retro-background_1112415.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.

What I didn’t like about this film:

The dialect: Because the Newton brothers were from Texas, most of the characters in this movie spoken with a Southern/Texan dialect. Since I’m not used to hearing characters speak with this particular dialect, it was difficult, at times, to understand what the characters were saying. For me, hearing this dialect did take some getting used to. However, the dialogue in The Newton Boys can be understood.

 

The sound editing: Throughout this movie, the music and background sounds were louder than the dialogue. This means that every time a character spoke, I found myself turning the volume up on my television. Whenever there was background sounds or music playing, I turned the volume on my TV down.

 

The run-time: The Newton Boys is a 2 hour and 2-minute film. While watching this movie, I noticed there were scenes in this film that felt like they were incorporated in the movie for the sake of filling in this run-time. Because there are about less than 10 robberies featured in this movie, I think The Newton Boys could have been a 1 hour to 40 or 50-minute film.

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Money image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/bills-and-coins-in-isometric-design_1065328.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Like I said in the introduction, I was not aware of the Newton brothers’ story or this film before I decided to write this blog follower dedication post. Now that I have seen The Newton Boys, I can honestly say that I was not only entertained by this movie, I was also educated by it as well! This movie made me feel like I was engaging in a history lesson without having to worry about homework or passing an exam. To me, this was two hours well spent! If you are a fan of movies that are based on true stories or historical/period films, I would definitely recommend The Newton Boys, as I feel this movie did this story justice! Once again, thank you to my followers and readers on 18 Cinema Lane. I look forward to seeing what other movies I’ll review as I keep dedicating these reviews to you.

 

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

 

What is your favorite movie from 1998? What movies based on a true story do you like? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen