The ironically titled Mr. Nice charts the rise and fall, and rise and fall of infamous, global drug smuggler Howard Marks. Marks stole a real-life Mr. Nice’s (pron. Neece) identity and enjoys the joke of pronouncing it “nice.” Anyone who finds that terribly clever may appreciate writer/director Bernard Rose’s adaptation of Marks’ autobiography.
The Webster University/Cinema St. Louis Classic French Film Festival concludes this Thursday through Sunday with four films by four directors. They are: Jean-Paul Rapeneau’s Le Sauvage/Call Me Savage, Robert Bresson’s Journal d’un Curé de Campagne/Diary of a Country Priest, Jean-Luc Godard’s Sauve Qui Peut (la Vie)/Every Man for Himself, and Claude Chabrol’s Une Affaire de Femmes/Story of Women.
It's so rare to have a film from the Democratic Republic of Congo that Viva Riva shoulders a heavy representational load. It can't quite manage it, resorting to the trite triumvirate of violence, sex and corruption to drive the nearly nonstop action cobbled together helter skelter. That's especially unfortunate because several scenes contain striking social details that deserved development.
Webster University and Cinema St. Louis’ Classic French Film Festival continues this Thursday, July 21st, through Sunday, July 24th, with two films directed by Jacques Demy—Peau d’ane/Donkey Skin and Les Parapluies du Cherbourg/The Umbrellas of Cherbourg—one with his wife Agnes Varda—Les Demoiselles de Rochefort/The Young Girls of Rochefort—and one by director Claude Chabrol—Les Cousins/The Cousins.
Impressively minimalist, Le Quattro Volte contains not one intelligible word of dialogue and no discernible plot. Instead, writer/director Michelangelo Frammartino inhabits the rural, Calabrian region in southern Italy. There he documents the primary activities: goat herding with emphasis on one shepherd and his dog, one kid, villagers harvesting a huge fir tree and then cooking its estimable wood into charcoal.
Immigrants have left for the U.S. for decades, pursuing a better life. Appropriately and also a bit ironically, the film titled A Better Life depicts the tough reality of that pursuit for hard-working gardener Carlos Galindo and his 14-year-old son Luis. After seven years in East L.A. illegally, Carlos reaches a difficult turning point.
Beginning appropriately on July 14th, Bastille Day, Cinema St. Louis and Webster University's Film Series launch the Third Annual Classic French Film Festival. Over three weeks, the festival will present twelve films, each screening once. Seven great French directors are represented: Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Demy, Agnes Varda, Robert Bresson, and Jean-Paul Rappeneau.
Before action begins, titles on the screen state, "In memory of the 300,000 victims of the Nanking massacre." This sets the scene for the emotionally overwhelming City of Life and Death. Many features distinguish it as a landmark film: its historical references, its cross-cutting between Japanese and Chinese action, and its unflinching portrayal of Japanese atrocities.
American: The Bill Hicks Story begins early in the life of its title character in suburban Houston. It progresses chronologically through major moments up to Hicks' death of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at only 32. However, the documentary breaks one of the cardinal rules of filmmaking, or any good story telling: don't talk about it, show it.