Posts Tagged ‘France’

Papillon” (1973)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the prison / escape historical drama “Papillon“, starring Steve McQueen in the title role as Henri Charrière (aka: Papillon) and Dustin Hoffman as his friend and fellow prisoner Louis Dega.  Papillon is french for “butterfly”, which is the medium size tattoo character he has on his chest.  He has been sentenced to life without parole for murdering a pimp.  He insists he is only a safe-cracker and that he was framed for the murder.  The Dega character has been sentenced for forgery and embezzlement.
Before I forget to mention it, there is an outstanding supporting role of a prison warden (for solitary confinement) played by William Smithers.  In this movie, the system is the villain, but he makes an exceptional focal point for the “system”.
They get on a ship from France to French Guiana / Devil’s Island.  Papillon saves Dega’s life and contracts to protect Dega in exchange for Dega funding Papillon’s escape.  After several acts of bravery, Dega trusts that Papillon is a true friend and probably innocent of his conviction for murder.
Blah, blah, blah…  Brutality, betrayal, torture, escape attempt, solitary, torture, betrayal, solitary…  you get the point.  There are three things to take from this film: man’s inhumanity towards our fellow man; friendship; and, the indomitability of some men’s spirit.  In the end, Papillon escapes and “outlives” his prison.
So, is this movie any good?  Is it entertaining?  Is it worth seeing?  If you are a fan of either McQueen or Hoffman, I believe this movie is a MUST see.  McQueen plays a different role /character than normal – he doesn’t settle for “cool”.  He acts.  Hoffman really “just” plays Hoffman, but he does it very well and it’s kind of a mini-display of many of his doddering roles in other films.  That sounds like a put-down, but it’s not meant in that spirit.
Is it an entertaining movie?  No.  Try as I might to find joy in the progress and eventual success, I did not.  The movie is just too long and there is only so much punishment you can watch before you start to feel victimized too, and I don’t watch movies to feel victimized (too).  I won’t say it was boring.  It just felt plodding.
Is it worth seeing?  Again, it depends…  It is supposed to based on a real life experience, it does have two good actors in two above average performances, and finally, it is a story about perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit.  So, yeah, I guess it is “worth” viewing.
Final recommendation: moderate.  The acting is good.  The end result of the movie is satisfying (spoiler: he gets away).  But the movie really just felt almost as suffocating as the prison, so it would be hard to give it a higher rating.
Two final notes:  First, there has been a remake, in 2017, but the reviews were pretty bland, so I’m not sure I’d spend another two hours on this story.  And, second, I don’t remember this “movie”, but I feel as if I definitely must have seen it before because I distinctly remembered the last ten minutes (the satisfying bit of the movie).   Coconuts, anyone?
On This Day In:
2019 Insha’Allaha Bukra
No More Tears (Or Fog)
Too Busy Thinking About My Baby
2018 Lost Time
2017 Are You Talking To Me?
2016 Here, Desire Is Purified
2015 Hopefully Just Visiting
2014 Fond Memory?
2013 Distress, Hope, Trust
2012 Creating Interlocking Fragility
2011 Four Stories And A Gospel
What Have You Burned Lately?

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Leap!” (2017)  (U.S.)  /  “Ballerina” (2016) (France)
Today’s movie review is for an animated, “rise-to-fame” / dance, kids movie which was originally released in France / Europe in 2016 and then released in English / America in 2017.  The story is of two orphans who escape an orphanage to seek their fame in Paris.  The young girl wants to be a Ballerina and the young lad wants to be an engineer / inventor.  By hook and by crook, they both get their wish.  And the boy gets the girl’s heart along with it…
As most anyone who follows this blog for any length of time will realize, I am all about this sentimental, rags-to-riches, ugly duckling to swan story / genre.  As a former computer programmer I am also predisposed to “liking” an animated film or one with technical special effects.
So, does this movie work as a kids film?  How is the animation?  How is it as an adult film (will the average adult enjoy it)?  Good.  So-so.  And, probably.  Will kids like this film.  Yes, up to about the age of 6 to 8, I think they will, particularly if their parents have filled them with dreams that anything is possible.  But the animation is only “good”?  Yes.  Basically, that’s about it.  Most of everything possible has been done and probably done better in other films.  Shading, shadows, color, textures, skin tones, hair, facial expressions.  All of it has been done, and, if I’m honest, better in other movies.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad.  It’s not.  It’s just not done at “super” hi-def levels.  Also, and this really isn’t a criticism either, the movie lacks the required one or two “fabulous” take-away songs which would make it (the movie) a HIT movie.   And, maybe, it doesn’t need to be for this kind of “kids” movie to be “okay”.  Is it an adult movie?  Not really.  It’s a bit too simplistic for an adult or a “date” movie.  It is an excellent auntie / uncle or grand-parents take the niece / nephew or grand-kids to the afternoon matinée movie.  And, sometimes that’s really all a movie has to be.
It is rated PG for some “suggestive” scenes / themes and it has the requisite good and evil adults and a notable bullying child.  Like most movies for this target age group, the movie resolves hopefully for the children and leaves the adult issues mostly unaddressed / unresolved.  Again, it’s a kid’s movie, so children can “win” without “justice” for adults.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  For what it is, it is a “good” movie.  It doesn’t really try to be a great deal more than entertaining – in a kid-sie / hopeful way.  I enjoyed it, and it was a pleasant enough way to spend 90 or so minutes.
On This Day In:
2018 As I Recall
2017 Truly Generous
2016 Choose Your Destiny
2015 Fast And Firm
2014 Neither Head Nor Heart
2013 Lonely, Foolish, Love Songs
Batting 1.000
Coward, n.
2012 At Least A Little More Difficult
2011 Speaking Of Fear

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