The Movie Buffer

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Preview: The Valet (La Doublure)


This devil wears spoilers


Opens April 27, 2007 --- I saw a subtitled version, but a dubbed version may be available for the wide release.

The Valet seems like the kind of movie that would have a syrupy aftertaste that could turn the stomach of the biggest sweet tooth. There’s the whole Beauty and the Beast vibe happening so there’s bound to be some sort of moral to the story or maybe a musical sequence, right?

On the contrary, the film is a rather humorous take on a stereotypical guy’s fantasy of being romantically entangled with a supermodel while being paid for it. The story is about maintaining appearances, false perceptions of perfection, and surmounting personal shortcomings. And there’s also a bit of fashion show.

Through a paparazzi photograph, Francois (played by Gad Elmaleh) enters the world of haute couture and lavish dinner parties, when a billionaire, Pierre Lavasseur (played by Daniel Auteuil), tries to cover up his affair with supermodel, Elena (played by Alice Taglioni). Underneath the chaos brought into Francois and Elena’s lives, a true friendship develops and they end up helping each other extricate themselves from their respective problems.

This is a classic “nerd and popular girl become prom king and queen” type flick. It’s really been done to death but it’s hard not to smile when the nerd gets the courage to get up on that stage and dance with the girl.

Though the plot is thin but this doesn’t stop the actors from being excellent in their parts: Francois is relatable, Pierre is sleazy and Elena is beautiful and intelligent. I was unfamiliar with the cast save Kristin Scott Thomas, but a quick look through IMDB reveals that all these are well established, veteran actors.

The Valet sets out a simple framework with a couple of interesting characters and finds a way to perk up a tired old story. It’s a “date movie” through and through. It’s a hard movie to hate because it’s not too sappy, there’s a decent moral and there’s a boob joke but it’s just as hard to really like this movie because this isn’t anything new. So, this film gets a 5/10 or a two out of five star rating.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hot Fuzz


No spoilers this time


This quirky British comedy, brought to you by the writers and director of Shaun of the Dead, is certainly the most entertaining and funniest film of the year thus far. Where Shaun poked fun at horror, Hot Fuzz takes aim at the action.

Sgt. Angel (Simon Pegg) is a model police officer, but his job takes over every aspect of his life. When he is reassigned to Sanford, the village with the lowest crime rate in England, his over-zealous attitude causes problems for his new boss, co-workers including his naïve partner Danny (Nick Frost) and the villagers. As Angel begins to investigate crimes in his new village, he finds that things aren’t always as they seem.

The director, Edgar Wright, hits all the marks of a typical cop movie: an overly ambitious officer, the bumbling sidekick, the hard-ass detectives, a car chase, a huge explosion and a Mexican standoff, it’s all there. It’s also similar to an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus with a series of short sketches tied together by absurd segues.

The two lead actors, Pegg and Frost, have excellent chemistry together which makes their performance all the better. The cast of secondary actors, like Timothy Dalton, Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman and Jim Broadbent, was terrific as well.

There wasn’t anything to complain about this movie except for the two hour run time. There were several secondary stories about the crimes of the village that were funny but could have been removed to speed up the movie.

There were a few jokes for the Shaun fans (the garden fence jumping scene, the various pub scenes and some of the dialog) though these references are funny in their own right and don’t require knowledge of the previous film.

This really has been the best film that I have seen this year, so I’m going to give it an 8/10 or four out of five stars.