Review: Les Intouchables

French cinema is having something of a renaissance, with films sweeping across the channel attracting a global audience. Les Intouchables raises the bar even higher, breaking box-office records set by previous smashes such as ‘Amelie’ and ‘The Chorus’. A laugh-out-loud comedy, and a touching, original story, watch it before Hollywood gets their hands on the rights. Language: French Running Time: 112 minutes Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano Starring: François Cluzet, Omar Sy Genre: Comedy Drama Rating: 4 stars The Film Philippe (Cluzet), is a multi-millionaire Parisian with a short temper and a love of classical music and pretentious art. He is also a quadriplegic, confined to a state-of-the-art wheelchair. Driss (Sy), is a French-African born into the slums of Paris, where drugs and violence are a way of life. They form an unlikely partnership when Driss turns up at a job interview with Philippe just so he can get his social security benefit, and ends up with a job as Philippe’s carer. Philippe’s dull, clinical world is flung into disarray as Driss delights in driving his supercars, flirting with Philippe’s assistant and disbelievingly pouring hot water onto his boss’ unfeeling legs. Life without Driss is soon unthinkable, but are their worlds simply too different for the fun to last? The Review: I knew this film was something special when it had my mum and brother gripped – I can’t usually get them to sit through an entire foreign-language film! From the first flash-forward scence, which sets up an extraordinary scenario that takes the rest of the film to unpick, to the moments of laugh-out-loud humour, this is a compassionate, fresh and funny film. While there...

An Amelie Tour of Paris

Thirteen years ago, an off-beat French film captured the hearts and imaginations of people all over the world and propelled Audrey Tatou to stardom. Le Fableux Destin d’Amelie Poulain remains an iconic Parisian film, with such a sweet story at its heart that you just can’t help but fall in love with Amélie and her city, and there’s no better way to relive the film than with an Amelie tour of Paris.  If you’d like to know more about the film, read the review here. These days, though the Amélie obsession there once was in Paris has quietened, the film is still deeply intertwined into Paris life. Stand long enough in the Gare du Nord, which was one of the locations used in the film, and the tinkling, melodic music of Yann Tiersen’s soundtrack will fill the air, courtesy of an amateur pianist at one of the public pianos. But it is in Montmartre that the film really comes to life. Walking up Rue Lepic, close to the Moulin Rouge, the Café des 2 Moulins is an unprepossessing sight at first; one street café among many along this stretch. Patrons sit in the wicker chairs beneath the scarlet awning, sipping coffee and flicking through the morning paper, keeping one eye on the hustle and bustle of life around them. But it is unmistakably Amélie’s café. Inside, the long bar, and even the layout of the chairs and tables, is exactly as it looks in the film. The only thing that is missing is the hypochondriac waitress, and you can’t help but watch the glasses on the shelves behind the bar,...

Review: Little White Lies

Following the success of Tell No One (2006), writer-director Guillaume Canet and actor Francois Cluzet reunite for this close-up look at friendship. With a stellar ensemble cast that also includes Marion Cotillard, we are invited on a holiday where small deceptions and hard truths are revealed. Language: French Year of Release: 2011 Running time: 154 min Director: Guillaume Canet Starring: Marion Cotillard, François Cluzet, Benoit Magimel, Jean Dujardin Genre: Drama/Comedy Rating: 4 stars The Film                                                                                                               Max (Francois Cluzet) is a rich and successful Parisian restaurateur who owns an idyllic summer home by the sea. Every summer, he invites his close circle of friends to come and spend a month there, where they pass lazy days on his boat, at the beach and visiting the fatherly oyster-farmer Jean-Louis who is an old family friend. However, a few days before they are due to go, Ludo (Jean Dujardin) is seriously injured in a motorbike accident. While he remains in intensive care, the rest of the group make the decision that they should still go on holiday. But once they get there, it’s not the relaxed break they had hoped for. Max and Vincent (Benoit Magimel) are barely on speaking terms; Marie (Marion Cotillard) is preoccupied with thoughts of Ludo and everyone is having some kind of...

Friday Photo: Autumn

Tomorrow marks the first day of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere – it is the Autumn Equinox – that special time of year when the seasons are actually equal all over the world and we have an equal amount of night and day. It’s a beautiful  moment in the year.   I love the Autumn. The food at this time of year is at its most glorious, the trees put on their show of colour, there are bonfires, woodland walks, mugs of spiced chai tea. I can’t wait to go tramping through the Chilterns as the leaves blaze with colour, spend time with friends in cosy cafes, a pot of tea between us, wrap up warm for Bonfire Night. So I hope you enjoy this autumnal photo, taken in woodland high in the French Alps.  You now have the right to snuggle beneath a blanket with a mug of cocoa and some soup cooking on the stove. Happy Autumn!...
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