Taking Offspring Number One off to Manuka to get a bit of the benefit of having the French Film Festival in town was quite an experience! I haven't been to this cinema in years, and it hasn't changed at all (even the popcorn tasted like it might have been there since my last visit!). But this film made it all worthwhile.
La Guerre Des Boutons (or The War of the Buttons for those who are too lazy to figure that out!) proved an excellent choice given that we don't have time to see more than one this year. But really, how could you go wrong with any film in a French film festival?
The premise is simple; gangs of boys from two rival country towns in walking distance of each other elevate a long-standing tradition of conflict to all out war in which the greatest victory comes by the ceremonial removal of the buttons from the opponents' clothes. It may not sound all that terrifying, but the wrath of a French mother towards a son returning home with no buttons is nothing to be scoffed at!
The film is a romp, but in that inimitable French style, the humour is offset by some brilliantly crafted characters, whose more human side is shown as the impact of the Algerian War is felt in the town. The balance between humour and the film's more serious themes is impeccable, making La Guerre des Boutons a film for all ages.
"It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause."
17 March 2012
12 March 2012
Hugo is a great film, although it is about half an hour longer than it needs to be and (coincidentally?) half an hour too sappy.
Set in Paris, it's the story of an orphan in the care of his drunkard uncle, who undertakes his uncle's work to remain in his home in Gare Montparnasse, to avoid ending up in an orphanage. His home puts him in the perfect position to pilfer the bits he needs to continue his dead father's work restoring an old automaton, but it also puts him at risk from the station's other denizens.
The story is excellent, and the visual effects stunning. The characters are beautifully composed, and the whole film sings... as long as you're patient. This film would have been so much better if it had been written by a Frenchman; its American screenwright, however, has seen fit to weigh it down with as much schmaltz as he could muster. It's a shame, because it would be just about perfect without it.