"À la mode"

À la mode (1993) is a French romantic comedy/coming of age/buddy film. Writer Director Remy Duchemin said, "I wanted to make a film that makes you feel better when you leave the theater than when you came in. Dark films have become almost a convention. Life can be terrible, of course. But there are moments when it can be so bright, so wondrous, so full of love. These are the moments A La Mode is about." He did exactly that, which makes this a very atypical French film. Ken Higelin is orphaned in his mid teens, and placed in a Paris orphanage. His first group of room mates torture him, but he is moved to another room, and meets Francois Hautessere, who becomes his best friend. Higelin is apprenticed to a Jewish tailor, and discovers not only that he likes the tailor, but that he likes, and has an aptitude for, tailoring. For the tailor's part, he finally has the son he always wanted. Higelin gets Hautessere a job with the butcher across the street, and he and the butcher are also a perfect fit. Florence Darel, a mechanic's daughter, becomes his love interest.

IMDB readers have this at 5.5 of 10, but with only a few votes. It had a limited US release, and the critics listed at IMDB have it in the 2 to 2 1/2 star range, saying that the first two acts worked well, but found the film a little silly when Higelin finally looses his virginity and takes the fashion world by storm. Sometimes, I think critics forget how to have fun. Higelin tells Hautessere that he is now a man, and then we are treated to a rousing chorus of "He lost his virginity: to the tuna of Beethoven's 5th, and sung by nearly everyone in town that knows him. For me, this was one of many belly laughs. Darel shows breasts and bush in a lovely sex scene that might not have been part of the theatrical release, as the 82 minutes listed at IMDB is a few minutes shorter than the DVD I watched, and none of the usual sources listed the nudity. If a little silliness in a light comedy or sub-titles are enough to spoil a film for you, this one won't change your mind. For those who, like me, deal easily with sub-titles, you might wish to give this a try. C+.

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  • Florence Darel (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    SHATTERED (1991):

    I always complain when thrillers are so implausible that the events could not possibly have really happened within any reasonable limit of probability, so I am indulging in some serious hypocrisy here when I say that this mystery/thriller entertained the hell out of me even though the whole thing was so contrived as to completely defy all common sense and logic.

    The director (Wolfgang Petersen - the same guy who directed Das Boot!) managed to keep the feeling of suspense at a high level, and the confusion so typical of this genre actually worked in this context, because the hero (Tom Berenger) had amnesia caused by a severe auto accident, and he was trying to reconstruct his own life. Our confusion mirrors his own.

    Tuna mentioned that the ending surprised him, but I guess I've been around the block far too many times with these thrillers, because I guessed it immediately, in about the first two minutes of the movie. I explained my theory to my daughter, and she bet that, "it couldn't be that twisted", but I won the bet, because I expect Hollywood thrillers to defy all logic, and I start with the assumption that such is the case. I also expect the Spanish Inquisition.

    Even though I foresaw the twist, I still enjoyed the way the film fleshed out the details, and I enjoyed trying to guess who was in on it and who wasn't, as well as who knew what.

    The screenwriter did make one jumbo error, reminiscent of the famous chauffeur murder in The Big Sleep. (Background. The director of The Big Sleep was so confused by the plot that he called up Raymond Chandler, the author of the book, to clear up some plot points. Even Chandler could not explain who killed the chauffeur.) Greta Scacchi, the conniving femme fatale in Shattered, receives a phone call from a guy named Jack Stanton, somebody whose identity is integral to the entire mystery. The call was actually made by a man - we know this because of the maid who took the call. There is nobody who could have made that call! If the caller had been a woman, there could be a possible explanation, but the maid clearly said it that she talked to Stanton himself, and it was a man's voice. Not possible! So the Stanton call goes on the unexplainable plot point list, along with the chauffeur murder.

    In addition to an entertainingly convoluted plot, the film had two other excellent features:

    1. Bob Hoskins has a major role, and is as solid and down-to-earth as ever. It amazes me that this man has never won an Oscar. (He was nominated for Mona Lisa)

    2. Greta Scacchi removes her shirt a lot, and this was back in the day when you would strain for a look at that sight.


    Other crap:

    Here are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.

    • The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
    • If there is a white asterisk, it means that there isn't any significant humor, but I inexplicably determined there might be something else of interest.
    • A blue asterisk indicates the review is written by Tuna (or Lawdog or Junior or C2000 or Realist or ICMS or Mick Locke, or somebody else besides me)
    • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

    Graphic Response
    • Sigourney Weaver...topless, rear view and frontal nudity (as seen through a shower door) in scenes from "Half Moon Street" (1986).

    Be sure to pay Graphic Response a visit at his website. www.graphic-barry.com.

    'Caps and comments by Hankster:

    A few odds and ends today...

    First we have Sarah Jessica Parker looking pretty sexy in her bra on "Sex and the City".

    Then on to late night television with Jewel showing a little skin on recent Leno and Conan appearances.

    Anna Galiena
    (1, 2)

    Brief breast exposure and some serious pokies in scenes from the Tinto Brass movie "Senso '45" (2002).

    Juliette Andréa Having a breast sucked on in scenes from "Amor" (1999).

    Maria Bonnevie
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

    The Swedish actress breasts, bum and bush in scenes from "I Am Dina" (2002).

    Annette Bening Dark scenes, but the lovely Bening goes full frontal in scenes from the 1990 film "The Grifters".

    Glenda Jackson
    (1, 2, 3, 4)

    The Oscar winning actress turned British Parliament member going topless in scenes from "Women in Love" (1969).

    Jenny Agutter The "Logan's Run" babe looking gorgeous and baring all in the 1977 movie "Equus".

    Jenny Agutter
    (1, 2)

    More of Agutter showing full frontal and rear nudity. This time we see a 19 year old Agutter in scenes from the Nicolas Roeg film, "Walkabout" (1971).

    Jennie Linden The UK actress in a topless swim scene from "Women in Love".

    Penélope Cruz Topless in scenes from the Spanish movie "Abre los ojos" (1997). She also starred in the 2001 remake "Vanilla Sky" by Cameron Crowe.

    Sigourney Weaver
    (1, 2, 3, 4)

    The "Aliens" star topless and showing rear nudity, plus partial frontal views in scenes from the 1986 movie, "Half Moon Street".

    Victoria Abril
    (1, 2, 3)

    Breasts, bum, great leg views and bush in scenes from the Pedro Almodóvar film "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" (1990).

    Kim Cattrall Brief bush view in scenes from the 1981 comedy classic, "Porky's".

    Leonor Watling The Spanish actress looking great in bikini 'caps from "Son de mar" (2001).

    Virginie Ledoyen The French actress and L'Oreal spokeswoman topless in scenes from "Jeanne et le garçon formidable" (1998).