Sunday, June 03, 2007

Movie Watch! - The Valet and Nico and Dani

Krámpack (2000) - The English title of the film was changed to Nico and Dani. Why? Because the original title refers to the act of mutual masturbation. To title a film Mutual Masturbation probably wouldn't sell as many tickets. Nonetheless, this film had a high rating on Netflix, so I added it to my queue. I think I added all of Netflix's highly-rated, foreign, coming-of-age stories to my queue. This one, set along the gorgeous Spanish coast outside of Barcelona, is certainly a different take on it. Directed by Cesc Gay and starring Jordi Vilches and Fernando Ramallo as the respective title characters, it takes a rather frank, surface-level look at changing friendships amidst one character's emerging homosexuality. It was somewhat reminiscent of Alfonso Cuarón's excellent 2001 Y tu mamá también, except without instead of the insightful social commentary and bucolic Mexican countryside. In their place are gorgeous Mediterranean beaches and modern Spanish architecture. Too bad. This tale comes off as a lighter, less intriguing version of Y tu, thanks to awkward pacing and uneven plot development. There might be a tender heart somewhere in there, I just didn't find it. 5.5/10

La Doublure
(2006) - The English title for this movie, The Valet, is also not a direct translation (that would be La Voiturier). That's not as big of a deal as it was for Nico and Dani though. Anyways, director Francis Veber keeps this romantic comedy light as a feather, cruising the movie along at just 85 splendid minutes. If you're like and love to see beautiful French women, fantastic French couture, and amazing European cars, this movie has it all. Gad Elmaleh stars as François Pignon, an endearingly hapless chum who lives with his fellow voiturier Richard. Gad gets caught in a web that causes cheating billionaire Pierre to pay him off to pretend that he is actually going out with Pierre's gorgeous supermodel mistress Elena (Alice Taglioni). It should have been a predictable, boring movie. No American romantic comedy has been worth watching since...I don't even know. However, Veber gets the comedy down pat, and manages to inject a real warm, fuzzy feeling throughout. Parfait! Kristin Scott Thomas, as Pierre's suspicious wife, is incomparably refined, a classy wonder to behold in her wardrobe consisting entirely of Yves Saint Laurent (except for one fantastic Chanel outfit). Pierre and his lawyer look the part of fashion executives with their smart Lanvin suits (if only American men would dress that way...). Karl Lagerfeld even had a cameo and recreated his dazzling Fall/Winter 2005 Chanel Haute Couture show for the film (see if you can spot his gorgeous bodyguard Sebastien Jondeau). There were cars from every company from BMW to Ferrari to Porsche to Audi. And of course, those lovable French voitures from Renault and Peugeot. Just a (fashionable) delight through and through. 8/10

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