Out Now – 20th June 2014

The Fault in our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
Based on a book I read in a day, no mean feat if you’ve ever watched me try to focus on reading in this internet age, and on a screenplay by the (500) Days of Summer scribes we have a film about two teens who fall in love at a cancer support group. Dismiss it if you wish but I know I will see it and that the person sitting next to me will be weeping like a loon.

3 Days to Kill
“A dying CIA agent trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter is offered an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment.” So rather than kill-or-be-killed it is kill-or-die-of-natural-causes? I’m not sure how well that stands up morally to be honest.

Chinese Puzzle
The third film in Cédric Klapisch’s international comedy trilogy that I didn’t know was a thing follows the gang to New York with Romain Duris’ Xavier as its focus. I saw the film and enjoyed it, regardless of whether or not I knew what I was watching.

Bright Days Ahead
Retired dentist has an affair with her younger computer lecturer and former patient. This is a French romantic drama so expect a healthy dose of sex and… cheese(?).

Camille Claudel 1915
Sticking with France, and joined by Juliette Binoche who was last seen sprinting in and out of Godzilla, we spend the film with a sculptor who has been sent to an asylum and is left with the task of convincing her doctors that she is completely sane.

Spring in a Small Town
The BFI are just starting a MASSIVE season of Chinese films over at the BFI Southbank and further afield and we should all try to educate ourselves before it is too late. I’ll let the BFI introduce this puppy: “Regarded as the finest work from the first great era of Chinese filmmaking, Fei Mu’s quiet, piercingly poignant study of adulterous desire and guilt-ridden despair – now restored – is a remarkable rediscovery.”

Leave to Remain
“Three teenagers forced to leave their family, friends and homes behind learn to live in yet another hostile country. That country is the UK.” I love the way this synopsis has been written; with a little biting twist at the end. I can almost imagine then raising their eyebrows and staring you down to gauge your shocked reaction; “but… but… this is the UK!”

Miss Violence
Greek drama revolving around suicide, self harm, and child abuse. Eesh.

Humshakals
Humshakals translates to doppelgänger which translates to “double goer” which makes no real sense. Let’s stick with the German. Bollywood comedy about three men who each have two doppelgängers that share their name. It’s like Primer but without the time travel. Good luck following the plot!

Jersey Boys
Acclaimed director Clint Eastwood directs the big screen adaptation of the acclaimed Broadway and West End hit about the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The resulting film? Well… all reports suggest that it a stinking mess of a musical. Enjoy!

Chinese Puzzle – Film Review

Chinese Puzzle

I’m not always completely up to speed with the films I watch as I try to not see all films having watched every trailer and speculative news article. Because of this I went to see Chinese Puzzle at last years London Film Festival knowing only that it starred Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris, and that I had enjoyed their work in the past both together and apart.

The film started by showing images of the cast when they were younger and slowly it dawned on me; they were all taken from the film I had seen Tautou and Duris in before. Without realising it I was watching a sequel to 2002’s French/Spanish film Pot Luck or The Spanish Apartment. The original film had shown an international group living together in Spain and Chinese Puzzle picks up the trail in New York over a decade later. I was a little confused at first as to how this had slipped me by but settled down to enjoy the film smug in the knowledge that I had at least seen the film that came first.

Chinese Puzzle - 1

Naturally I was wrong about this too. Researching the film later on I discovered that Chinese Puzzle was not really a direct sequel to The Spanish Apartment but actually the third film in a trilogy with Russian Dolls sitting in the middle. I still have yet to see Russian Dolls but at least it explained why I couldn’t quite remember everything the characters were referring to having happened in the past.

With this addled mind of mine and my failure to navigate a simply trilogy correctly perhaps I not the best person to review the film for you. Perhaps you deserve someone who has the wherewithal to watch three films in the order intended. Or perhaps you are like me and haven’t seen both, or either, of The Spanish Apartment or Russian Dolls and need to know whether you can still enjoy this English/French/Spanish/Chinese/Yiddish comedy drama. I sincerely hope the latter is true.

Chinese Puzzle - 2

All confusion aside I did enjoy Chinese Puzzle. Tautou and Duris are infinitely watchable, as are their returning co-stars Cécile De France (Belgian funnily enough) and Kelly Reilly. The film has a strong streak of drama running through while serving up a strong dollop of comedy to boot. Xavier (Duris) and Wendy (Reilly) are now divorced and she has taken their children to live with her new partner in New York. Not wanting to be away from his family Xavier follows them there and a culture clash comedy ensues as he moves not just to New York but to Chinatown. Meanwhile Isabelle (De France) is also in the Big Apple with her girlfriend Ju (Sandrine Holt) and struggling to stay faithful and Martine (Tautou) comes to visit and causes Xavier to think back on their old romance.

Chinese Puzzle has a lot of threads to follow and relies a little on you being able to grasp what is going on without it being told to you explicitly. I certainly benefited from having seen The Spanish Apartment and probably could do with seeing Russian Dolls to fill in the blanks. If you can cope with this minor inconvenience then what you are left with is a sweet and enjoyable comedy that isn’t afraid to move from emotional drama to comedic farce.

Good fun, if a little confusing for someone who doesn’t even realise they’re watching a sequel. If writer/director Cédric Klapisch continued with this pleasant international comedy franchise I certainly would not complain.

Chinese Puzzle is in UK cinemas from tomorrow.