Every week, Ecran Large makes its market in cinemas, and selects some interesting releases and must-see films (for good or bad reasons). With Omar Sy which empties magazines, a strange story about a woodcutter (literally), a Denis Menochet lost in the mountains and a wave of Bertrand Blier.
What is it about : 1917. Bakary Diallo enlists in the French army to join Thierno, his 17-year-old son, who has been forcibly recruited. Sent to the front, father and son will have to face the war together.
Why you have to see it : Because it’s always interesting and valuable to discover on the big screen a story that has been little transmitted in fictionwhether in literature or film. Indeed, in SkirmishersOmar Sy, Mathieu Vadepied and co-screenwriter Olivier Demangel (November, Black Baron) attacked the condition of the so-called Senegalese skirmishers (from Senegal, but also from all over Africa) who fought for France, whether willingly or not, during the First World War.
And the film tackles it with remarkable rigor and authenticity. Rich relationship between the characters, dialogues almost entirely shot in the Fulani language, superb performance by Omar Sy, elegant and organic film photography, rich and palpable sets: Skirmishers put everything its know-how at the service of a sincere duty of remembrance, and therefore touching. Too bad the summary characterization of the characters and the somewhat wise staging of Vadepied stifle the breadth and sensitivity of the whole…
The Widescreen note : 3/5
The Strange Story of the Woodcutter
What is it about : De Pepe, lumberjack who loses his job overnight, like all his colleagues. His village will sink into depression, then the supernatural.
Why you have to see it : This is an opportunity, after the end-of-year regulatory flop, to go on vacation to less drunken (though…) and more mystical lands. In this case, Ecran Large airways recommends the strange Lapland, crossed by absurd phenomena, bathed in a cold and suspended atmosphere, The Strange Story of the Woodcutter.
However, you have to accept the change of scenery: your guide, the filmmaker and poet Mikko Myllylahti wants to reverse the conventions of classic narration and orchestrate, following a disturbing element that is all in all very classic, which one would think inherited from a certain social cinema, breaks in tone and changes of gear, story of encouraging the unexpected. The experience is singular, but leads, alongside the woodcutter of the title, to refocus on one’s own humanity, lost in a reality that is falling apart with surreal moments of grace. Have a good trip !
The Widescreen note : 3.5/5
LEAST RECOMMENDED OUTINGS
What is it about : After more than 40 years of absence, Felice returns to Naples, his hometown, and discovers the mutations that will eat away at him a little more.
Why you have to see it : Mario Martone makes his western in the middle of Naples with Nostalgia and on paper there is something deeply exciting about follow the nocturnal wanderings of Felice, brilliantly embodied by Pierfrancesco Favino (one of the most brilliant actors of contemporary cinema). In its first third, the feature film offers an intoxicating atmosphere by letting its character get lost in the winding meanders of this Naples so cinematic (again and always) and presages a violent confrontation of Felice with his past.
Except that the feature film gets bogged down in its own dynamics, the heaviness of its narration (with frankly heavy flashbacks) and finally its monotony. And so, a western where we look each other in the eyes for 2 hours without telling anything, it becomes a dull film, lacking complexity and ultimately interest.
The Widescreen note : 2.5/5
What is it about : a recently widowed father dumps his little girl at her brother’s to return to Italy, near the French border, where he has to deal with blue-eyed fascists and a migrant in distress.
Why we don’t recommend it : Because The survivors is meant to be a dramatic thriller that struggles to install tension or any emotional charge into its narrative. The film aims to be pensive and contemplative, but turns out to be just monolithic, with a leaden rhythm close to catatonia. Even when the script runs through a surveillance drone, a snowmobile chase, fights that leave teeth in the snow and a shootout in an abandoned ski resort, the film ends up bogged down and the viewer finds the time long.
The worst, however, remains the social discourse on the passage of migrants at the border between France and Italy, which is ultra-manichean and caricatural with a little white savior here and a little blue-eyed fascist there. All this for a predictable end and a totally fake emotion.
The Widescreen Note : 2/5 (including 1.5 points just for Denis Ménochet)
THE COOL SPRINGS
What is it about : Laura Hunt, a brilliant young woman working in advertising, is found murdered in her apartment. In charge of the investigation, Lieutenant McPherson will question the relatives of the victim in turn, starting with the columnist Waldo Lydecker and Shelby, her fiancé.
Why you have to see it (again) : Sixth feature film by Otto Preminger and the director’s first masterpiece, Laura literally upset the current codes of film noir; the ingenious narration relies on impeccable technique and chiseled writing. For Otto Preminger, trained by the famous theater man Max Reinhardt, the psychological component generally prevails over the contours of the plot while elegance is the key word of its staging.
For the occasion, the filmmaker adapts the novel by Vera Caspary, who had also been working as a screenwriter in Hollywood for a few years now (and for the anecdote, the masterpiece by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Marital chains will transpose another story by Vera Caspary). Using flashback, Otto Preminger deploys an ingenious device since the famous meeting, dear to film noir, between the cop and the femme fatale, takes place in an unusual way.
Indeed, the policeman falls under the spell of a portrait drawn during the interrogation of witnesses or suspects. This very clever process allows Otto Preminger to show the full extent of his genius and to enhance the character of Laura, embodied by Gene Tierney, who landed one of the greatest roles of his career for the occasion. And it’s obvious that Laura owes its setting as much to the radiance of the actress as to the mastery of the filmmaker. An eternal diamond.
The Widescreen note : 5/5
Movies coming out in theaters : One two Three Sun, The Actors, Hitler… don’t know!, Formal wear, Calmos