Whale of a Tale Productions

A Post Production Company
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On the Road by Walter Salles (2012)

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The big screen adaption of Jack Kerouac’s 1959 novel of the same name is an acting tour deforce, and a look into Kerouac and his beatnik drug taking friends in the years just after World War 2. Sal Paradise (Sam Riley in the Kerouac role), through his beatnik friends meets the crazy and enigmatic Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund from Tron Legacy in the Neal Cassady role) and his 16 year old wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart in her best acting roll yet, and yes she does get naked). Dean is crazy, bisexual, drug taking, and girl crazy, impregnating another girl Camille (excellently played by Kirsten Dunst. We follow there travels, which Sal documents, as they meet other crazies with cameos by Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard and Amy Adams. We see Sal entangled with the crazy Dean and eventually pulling away and being himself and writing about his friend. Amazing performances and a really good if sad film. A slice of life, but worth checking out for sure.

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Dante 01 by Marc Caro (2008)

A strange but enjoyable science fiction tale (with a really out there, almost 2001 ending) which is the first solo directed work by Caro, who once worked with Jean-Pierre Jeunet on Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. Well worth seeing, but the ending is a bit out there, and certainly doesn’t bring any closure, not living up to the rest of the film at all.

In deep space is an orbital space station shaped like a cross, which is a prison facility and psychiatric station for criminals who are the worst of their kind around the fiery planet of Dante 01. A new shuttle arrives with a Vietnamese scientist named Elisa (Linh Dan Pham) who has come with new techniques from the company to test on patients and also brought another patient. This is a strange man who the prisoners end up calling Saint Georges (Lambert Wilson). He was found on a ship with the rest of the crew dead, and completely covered in blood. He doesn’t talk and is pretty out of it. He meets the other prisoners. The leader César (the great Dominique Pinon), the viscous recluse Bouddha (Bruno Lochet), the large Moloch (Francois Hadji-Lazaro), César’s right hand Lazare (Francois Levantal), the computer hacker Attila (Yann Collette) and the religious Raspoutine (Lotfi Yahya Jedidi) who believes that the new patient is actually Saint Georges come to slay the dragon and set them free, and he just might be right. Elisa immediately buts heads with the station commander Perséphone (Simona Maicanescu) who objects to her nanotech experiments, but the other researcher Charon (Gérald Laroche) sides with Elisa and the company over her old boss, but not before setting Attila to start hacking to find out about Elisa and what is going on and he finds out that all the prisoners are expendable.

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Banlieue 13 – Ultimatum written and produced by Luc Besson, Directed by Patrick Allesandrin (2009)

The sequel to the incredible action film Banlieue 13 starring the parkour master David Belle and the martial artist Cyril Raffaelli. This is a serious action film that looks incredible, and has some of the best action in the world. Raffaelli’s scenes are like serious Jackie Chan fight scenes (no comedy here) and Belle is amazing to watch, he literally is a human spiderman able to leap and jump and run up walls. The ending was a bit of a let down for me, but overall this is an enjoyable sequel, and one of the most impressive action films of the last few years.

The film starts with the ending of the last film, Leito (David Belle) the Banlieue 13 resident who fought back saying goodbye to his friend the cop Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli) talking about the government doing what it said and breaking down the wall holding in the getting B13, and putting money into education and parks. We cut to 3 years later and nothing has changed. The gangs still rule. And Leito is pissed off, and keeps planting bombs to blow up the wall, which neither the cops or the local gangs like. Damien is meanwhile undercover, breaking a chinese gang that is running drugs that are taken out from the district. He is dressed like a tranny, but manages to capture the Chinese boss, and all the other mob bosses who are there to meet to pick up their drugs. Damien can’t go out the escape tunnel though, as the Van Gogh Painting he has won’t fit, and he has to use it to fight his way out. Damien is a success, and is sent home to rest, but he wakes up to cops from the special edition breaking in and arresting him for drugs that they planted.

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Tokyo! by Michel Gondry, Leos Carax & Bong Joon-ho (2008)

An anthology film with director’s looks at the city of Tokyo! The trailer was amazing, and I was so looking foward to this, and was a bit let down. I loved Gondry’s surreal short, though it is incredibly strange, and Bong Joon-ho’s is at least interesting, but I did not at like the film of Leos Carax. It was strange and not the least bit enjoyable. Just off the wall for it’s own sake. It might be worth seeing the first and the 3rd short, but just skip the second, because it brings all 3 down. A pretty strange little anthology.

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King of Hearts by Philipe de Broca (1966)

A classic film that I watched with mom as a kid. I passed this on by showing it to my wife, who was charmed by this film. This is really a slightly slapstick anti-war film with the warmest of all hearts, and a message about just how crazy the world can be. If you have not seen it, you have missed out, and if you have, go watch it again. It is every bit as charming as you remember!

Set during the first World War in France, Scottish Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) is sent into a town that was known to be occupied by the retreating Germans. The German’s have set a large cache of explosives, and the Scots know about this because they had someone spying for them in town. What they do not know is that the entire Town has in fact run, and the German’s have left, but the door to the insane assylum has been left open, by Plumpick himself who was hiding from German’s, and the lunatics have taken over the town.

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Happenstance by Laurent Firode (2000)

I have to admit I picked up this film because of Audrey Tautou, as she is lovely and quirky, almost inhuman actually, and I a huge fan. And while I did enjoy this film, I was disappointed to see that she was in fact only in a small part of the film, in the open, the middle and the end. The film is all about Happenstance, and how the littlest things connect each person together, and connect events and people together. The film is well done, and really does flow together, though doesn’t come out as too deep. Still I kept thinking how hard it must have been to film with so many characters, and it supposed to be taking place in such a short period of time, what a production it must have been. Worth seeing at least once, though not amazing, still enjoyable.

Audrey Tatou plays Irène a young woman on a train, who works selling kitchen appliances, who gets chatted up by a woman doing a marketing survey, who when she hears her birthdate of March 22th, 1977 reads her her horoscope about her meeting her true love today, but being patient as it will take a while. When Irène leaves, the young man next to her Younès (Faudel) asks to hear the rest of the horoscope as that was his exact birthday as well. From here we jump to a series of seemingly unrelated events all happening around, and somehow connected to each other.

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Silk by Francious Girard (2007)

I am a huge fan of Francious Girard, and especially 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould and the Red Violin, but this film is not the same quality, other than it’s gorgeous cinematography, production design and costumes, but the story, acting and direction fall a bit flat, even with a cast including some impressive actors. I kept hoping their was some amazing point made to this film, which is an adaption of the Italian author Alessandro Baricco’s novel, but overall the film just fell flat to me, and I never saw the deep connections between any of these characters. Also the lackluster effects, and addition of some horrible fake snow attempted the mar the gorgeous picture, but the images did come through, it is just too bad the story didn’t. And the fact that the characters are supposed to be French, and yet speak American English seems very strange, especially with everything in Japan in Japanese without subtitles. And another bad notes is that the film is under 2 hours, but feels more like 3 or even 4 hours long.

In 19th Century France, the young Hervé (Michael Pitt) is a military officer, serving because it is what his father wishes. Hervé is dating a beautiful young woman named Hélene (the very underused Kiera Knightley), and is happy to leave the military and marry her, when a new business opportunity is presented to him. His town makes it’s money through silk, and the silkworms have been infected with a disease, so the local silk purveyor, Baldabiou (Alfred Molina) gets the heads of the town to put up money, and they send out young Hervé to get fresh eggs. First he quickly goes to Africa, and returns with eggs, but they are already infected, so the next time Hervé is sent across the continent to Japan, and blindfolded and snuck in country to a Japanese village lead by Hara Juberi (the great Yahusho Koji). While there Hervé falls for the mistress of Jubei’s (Ashina Sei), who touches him once, and he sees her breasts while she bathes in a hot spring. Hervé returns with the eggs and becomes a rich man, buying Hélene a lovely home, where she can build her dream garden.

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2 Days in Paris written and directed by Julie Delpy (2007)

I was really hoping for more of the magic of Before Sunrise and After Sunset, but honestly the characters in Julie Delpy’s freshman directorial effort were so off putting in comparison that this film suffers a bit. Honestly I never saw what these two saw in each other, though they both give great performances, there characters were just too at odds. The situation might be more realistic, with Delpy playing a bit of an expat, but even with the cultural clashes going on, I never got see why these characters liked each other to begin with, so I never really believed it, because they seem so far apart. Decent enough, but I can’t really recommend it.

A couple, Marion (Julie Delpy) a French photography with a problem in her vision who lives in New York City and her American boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg who I saw in Mayfair last week) who is interior designer, are going to Paris after an awful European trip to visit her parents for the first time. Jack got sick in Italy, and has become obsessed with photography, photographing every minute of their trip, even though she is the photographer. They arrive at Marion’s house, and it is an apartment above that of her parents Anna (Marie Pillet actually Delpy’s mother) and Jeannot (Albert Delpy actually Delpy’s father) and her sister Rose (Aleksia Landeau), and chaos ensues.

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Priceless (Hors De Prix) by Perre Salvadori (2006)

I have dyeing to see a movie for quite some time, but there has been absolutely nothing out since last year, so when I heard a new Audrey Tautou movie, I knew I had to rush out and see it, and was not disappointed (and yes I have watched many movies in between this and the last review, but have been working so much and planning the honeymoon that I haven’t had a chance to do all the reviews that I have been planning to do). This is a wonderfully twisted very French Romantic Comedy that is a twist on Breakfast at Tiffany’s and is well worth seeing, in fact I would easily say it is the best film I have seen this year. It is a wonderful and hysterical romantic romp, only hurt by the fact the always cute Tautou is so skinny here you can see her ribs and her spine, and that is too much. This girl needs to eat some food with butter, or maybe even a hamburger, I mean being that skinny can not be healthy at all!

Jean (Gad Elmaleh) works at an expensive hotel in Paris, doing every duty imaginable from walking the guests dogs to working as bartender at the posh bar. At the hotel is a young and beautiful (if too skinny) gold-digger named Irène (Audrey Tautou), who’s “boyfriend” the old but rich Jacques (Vernon Dobtcheff) has fallen asleep on her, so she heads down to the hotel bar. Jean meanwhile has been forced to drink with and smoke a 100 Euros Cigar with a patron, so passed out on a couch, Irène mistakes him for a rich man. Jean pretends to sneak behind the bar and make her drinks, then takes her up to the nicest suite in the hotel and sleeps with her, but she is gone in the morning, having left with Jacques. A year later Irène and Jacques return to the hotel, and Jacques gives her an engagement ring. Jean is again in his tuxedo, waiting tables, but when he sees her, he pulls his tie, and plays the rich man, sneaking off, and once again sees her at the hotel bar and sleeps with her again. That morning Irène sneaks out, but Jacques is up, and he takes her engagement ring and kicks her out, so she returns to Jean, pretending she left Jacques for him, but they are quickly caught when a family is brought into the suite, and they are found in bed, and he is exposed as a hotel worker.

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2 Days in Paris written and directed by Julie Delpy (2007)

I really had high hopes for this film, and wanted to watch it with my lovely fiancee Kelly because we are both such big fans of BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET, which this seemed to be a spiritual sequel too, but she couldn’t watch it because it is all handheld and too shaky for her, so I watched it on my own. And while I enjoyed it, the characters annoyed me more than made me love them (as had happened in the earlier films) and I couldn’t see why these two were really together to begin with. I just didn’t believe the relationship so much, and that made the film not so special.

Marion (Julie Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) are on a European Trip and heading to Paris before they return to New York to meet her family and for her to catch up with old friends, but things don’t go so well and start to draw them apart. She is a photographer, but on this vacation he annoyingly takes pictures of everything, and he seems to complain about everything. They meet her family, her mother Anna (Marie Pillet) who had a thing with Jim Morrison, Father Jeannot (Albert Delpy) and sister Rose (Aleksia Landeau), and things get off to a rocky start right away, especially when Jack learns she sent photos with him naked except a balloon tied to his genitals to the family, and it gets worse when he finds a similar photo of another guy in her apartment.

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Renaissance by Christian Volkman (2006)

A computer generated French science fiction film, and a top notch one at that (you can tell by the voice talent, I mean Daniel Craig, Jonathan Pryce and Ian Holm, damn!). This is really a must see for all those who like the utopian/dark futuristic visions. And the artwork is beyond belief. The whole film is done in high contrast black and white, which must have been so hard to pull off and get the visuals looking as comic book like as they did, and not only that, to sell a film like this in only black and white, these people must have worked hard. A great film, and well worth checking out, actually more of a must see (even if it is strange hearing Daniel Craig’s voice coming from an obvious frenchman, ha maybe I would have like the original dialogue better). This is very much in the blade runner vein, and I really do think any science fiction fan will enjoy it very much.

Paris, 2054, where the city is basically run by a huge corporation named Avalon, that basically attempts to bring youth and beauty to the world. A beautiful reasearch scientist for Avalon named Ilona (Romana Garai/Virginie Mery) is searching for something that she had a bartender steal, and runs into her sister Bislane (Catherine McCormack/Laura Blanc) who Ilona had recently gotten a job in records at Avalon. After she sees Bislane, Ilona goes missing, and a hard boiled cop named Barthélémy Karas (Daniel Craig/Patrick Floersheim) is brought on and is determined to solve the case, no matter what.

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Joyeux Noël by Christian Carion (2005)

This is a film that my father’s wife rented on NetFlix because it was a Christmas film, and this was not what I was expecting at all. This is an incredibly powerful and moving film about the futlity of war, that is based on a true even that occured on Christmas Eve in 1914 during World War Line on the lines with the French, Scottish and German soldiers, who on their own called a siece fire and spent the time together as friends, only to be thrown back into the war when higher ups heard of this and decided to punish these soldiers.

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Clean by Olivier Assayas (2004)

Now I have to admit that I am a huge Maggie Cheung Man Yuk fan, thinking she is one of the best actresses in the world, and I did not think that my opinion of her could approve, and after seeing this my opinion of her has improved. No wonder that she won best actress at Cannes for this film. Wow, what an incredible performance and what an incredible film. Assayas tailored this movie for his wife (now ex-wife since she singed her divorce papers on the set) and what an incredible role. Not only that, but her English is absolutely perfect, and I hope that she can become the biggest actress in the world.

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The Dreamers by Bernardo Bertolucci (2003)

Hmm not sure what exactly happened to my review of this film, which I know I did, but it disappeared, so I will write a new one here. Of course I know of the films of Bertolucci, especially last Tango in Paris, but for some reason didn’t have any desire to see this film, but my girlfriend was instantly into the racy content so we watched it. I myself wasn’t too impressed. Sure it has sex and themes of incest going on here, and there is some political activism and unrest going on in the background, but really this film is just an excuse to show some racy scenes and make some controversy. I really was not impressed at all.

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Banlieue 13 by Pierre Morel (2004)

I had read about this film and seen clips of David Belle in action thanks to Kung Fu Cinema and had showed it to my friend Ashanti, really wanting to see it. Well Ashanti picked it up, and we checked it out, and it is totally bad ass. And Cyril Raffaelli who was also in Jet Li’s KISS OF THE DRAGON is also in it, and is totally bad ass. I have to hope that Luc Besson keeps producing bad ass action films like this. And the sci-fi elements really work adding up to an in your face action film that brings back memories of Hong Kong in the 80’s, though now it is French and Thai films that are holding up the torch and making these action films. Lets hope it keeps up because I want to see more films like this if I can.

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