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Half Nelson (2006)
Very good urban drama with Gosling as the heart of gold teacher who seems to function normally but has a serious secret drug habit - one of his pupils (Epps) discovers this but keeps quiet and the two strike up a tentative friendship - her uncle is a dealer and tries to get her to join the business - forcing Gosling into direct action. What's interesting about it is that is non-judgemental - a junkie teacher would be an obvious target for moral panic but the film merely observes without drawing any conclusions - both leads work very together and Gosling shows even back then just what a superb actor he is - highly recommended...
Haneke's haunting parable set in a small German village on the eve of WWI - told from the perspective of a local teacher (with a voice over looking back many years later) it tells of a series of events that took place - some mundane, others quite horrific that engulfed the village - no-one can be found to be blamed and this creates tensions that ratchet up the already tense relationship between the major characters. Its as much a mediation on the roots of evil and how in the years to come these roots will manifest themselves as history. Its engrossing throughout with long elegant takes and fantastic B&W photography - its quite slow and at 2h24m quite a long haul but won the Palme D'Or at Cannes that year - and it does reward the effort.....
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Always been a big fan of Jim Jamursch's work - his offbeat tales and quirky characters are always interesting - although this is a bit of a minor addition to his work - 11 self contained scenes set in a variety of coffee houses across America and concern conversations based around....coffee and cigarettes...
Quite a few just don't work and at the end of them you are left wondering just why but several are worth highlighting - There is a very funny encounter between Iggy Pop and Tom Waits who play themselves as grumpy,techy middle-aged men - when Waits suggests they move to a Taco Bell as the coffee is better Iggy huffily retorts "do I look like a Taco Bell kind of guy?" and this sets the tone for the whole encounter - lovely.... Kate Blanchett gets to play two roles - a glamorous movie star and her down to earth resentful cousin to whom she can spare 5 mins between her busy schedule - the barely concealed hostility between the two is very well played and there are several good lines as mis-understandings lead to slights covered by a politeness stretched to breaking point.
Jack and Meg from the White Striped have a very odd scene involving one of Tesla'a machines and later we meet Bill Murray as a caffeine addicted waiter hanging out with the Wu-Tang Clan but its the encounter between Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan which gets the biggest laughs - Coogan's career in the US is just taking off and assumes that Molina has a film project to talk to him about but it soon becomes apparent that Molina has a much more personal matter to discuss - the way Coogan politely(and then not so politely)rebuffs him is a hoot as is the bit towards the end when he realizes that Molina could be very useful after all...but by this time he has blown it and his clumsy attempts to get back in favour only make things worse - not normally a fan of Coogan but he is very good......its interesting that most of the "actors" play themselves as Coogan comes across as obnoxious as his characters.
Photographed in crisp black and white by people like Fred Elmes and Robby Muller it all looks great - the interiors all have a grainy feel to them that enhances the drained coffee cups and overflowing ashtrays - just a shame that so many of the other scenes wern't as good
La mala educación (2004)
Anorther fine piece
Pedro Almodovar is one of the most interesting of the current crop of European Directors and this is another fine example of his work. A story within a story - we meet Enrique(Fele Martinez) a film maker who encounters a young actor called Ignatio(Gael Garcia Bernal) who knew at him at school and was in fact his first love - Ignatio has written a story about their schooldays together and their encounter with Fr Manola who had a thing for young boys.....Enrique(who is looking for a subject for his new film) is intrigued but something about Ignatio doesn't quite ring true....the sexual attraction is still there but its not the Ignatio he remembers - nevertheless he agrees to make the film.
This device allows Almodovar to unveil a Russian Doll of a movie - we see Igantio's story acted out with Bernal playing a transvestite pretending to be Ignatio's sister and blackmailing the Priest....during filming the real Priest turns up and it soon becomes apparent that nothing is at it seems....and everyone is playing a certain role whose motives are murky at the very least. You basically have actors playing characters playing actors playing other characters.....without revealing too much Bernal plays no less than 3 different roles in the film.....its as much to do with how individuals try and project onto others what they would like them to be - its most obvious reference point is Hitchcocks Vertigo and like that film its only afterwards that all becomes apparent. Martinez is excellent in the role,accepting certain things even though he knows them not to be the truth but its Bernal (who was equally good in The Motor Cycle Diaries) who is quite amazing - when he plays Zahara the trannie he bears an unsettling resemblance to Julia Roberts and manages to play all the roles with considerable style - he really is becoming a major talent.
It may not have the emotional depth of Talk to Her and some of the lurid elements hark back to his earlier work but its still a considerable achievement.
Dead Man's Shoes (2004)
An extremely effective(and very nasty)British revenge thriller from last year that disappeared almost as soon as it was released - but is getting very good internet word of mouth. Paddy Cosidine(who also co-wrote it) plays Richard an ex-marine who returns to the Derbyshire town of Matlock to wreak revenge on a local gang of drug dealers for the way they treated his retarded brother Anthony(Toby Kebbell). We learn how Anthony was treated in a series of B&W flashbacks as he is adopted by the gang but used a kind of court jester especially by the leader Sonny(Gary Stretch).At first Richard merely seems to want to humiliate the gang(the way they humiliated Anthony)and wants them to know who he is and why he is doing it - he is living rough at a farm with Anthony(who doesn't seem too effected by his experiences) but things darken considerably as Richard begins his bloody havoc.
As the gang members are murdered(or executed as Richard puts it) one by one it feels like the punishment is wholly dis-proprortiante to the crime....until we learn that all is not what it seems. There is a interesting moral ambivilence about it - the gang are small time dealers who seem to spend their profits on getting themselves stoned - they are a million years from the normal sadistic drug lords that feature in these sort of films and although Richard(Cosidine is excellent in the part) is supposed to be the heroic avenging angel his increasingly extreme behavior marks him down as someone who has gone well beyond the norms - a fact he himself realises but cannot stop the bloody chain of events until they reach their inevitable harrowing conclusion.
Very well written and tautly directed by Shane Medows it achieves more in its 84 minute run time than in most films far longer....hopefully the groundswell of opinion will continue to grow as its very good indeed.
Xi yang tian shi (2002)
Must admit it was the cover that sold me on this one - 3 foxy Asian chicks in sexy cat suits and tooled up - and its a belting movie as well... Qi Shu plays Lynn who with her younger sister Sue(Vicky Zhao) run a high-tech assassination group - they do this because their Father designed a satellite surveillance system but got murdered by the gangsters who wanted it for themselves and the two sisters undertake to revenge themselves. Lynn manages to gain access to the baddies HQ and guided by Sue who runs all the techie stuff manages to kill the Chairman - one neat trick is too flood the building security systems with music - in this case The Carpenters Close to Me - so you end up with a kick ass Kung-Fu fight sequence set to Burt Bacharach.....which you don't see too often.... A local maverick cop(Hong at Hong - Karen Wong) is soon on their trail - things become complicated when the next hit they undertake turns into a set-up and soon the two sisters are fighting for their lives while trying not get arrested. Soon we are up to ears in car chases,gunfights and HK action fighting - all brilliantly done by Coery Yeun(who was involved with both Crouching Tiger and The Matrix) - there is a also a central bond between the two sisters that provides an emotional core that acts as a counter-balance to all the action. An event takes place half way through that is the pay-off to all this and Sue and Hong join forces against the rest of the bad guys(more than a hint of John Woo's The Killer) resulting in some really stunning stunts and wire-work. The whole thing culminates in a bloody samurai sword fight and with more than a hint of lesbianism thrown in this is the kind of movie that Taratino gets his rocks off to.... The 3 leads are all excellent - Qi Shu is stunningly beautiful(she was the girl in The Transporter) and the whole thing is done with such style and grace it proves just how ahead of the pack Hong Kong still is.
Become a major fan of the Tartan video/Asia Extreme movies of late - from the more better known movies like Ring,Dark Water and Ju-On to the more obscure but equally satisfying films like A Tale of Two Sisters and this Korean movie is another fine example. Ji-Won-Hau plays Ji-Won whose story about several men indulging in under-age sex has resulted in them being sent for trial - she is being stalked by one of them so changes her mobile to avoid his abusive calls.As a consequence she begins to receive even weirder calls that she finds really distressing. One of her friends suggests she moves into the house they are renovating to get some peace which she does but all this does is intensify her fears. Her friend Ho-Jeong(Ju-Me-Kim) has a little girl Yeong-Ju(See-Woo Eun) who answers one of the calls and begins to act very strangely indeed.
At first this is put down to part of growing up but as begins to exhibit hostility to her Mother and an unhealthy obsession with her Father Ji-Won becomes increasingly concerned.Her anxieties are heightened when she discovers that several people who owned the phone before her have died in mysterious circumststances and this seems to be linked to the disappearance of a local schoolgirl - how this all works out I shall leave but its a very effective film. For obvious reasons it has been dubbed as Ring on a mobile ,but although it does share certain elements with that the way the plot works out makes it distinctive on its own. Some very creepy moments but what lifts it is See-Woo-Eun as the little girl who appears to be possessed - its a very disturbing performance - forget Linda Blair and the green vomit - this kid is genuinely scary in ways that kids her age shouldn't be....it takes the film into a new area.....and one that will haunt you for some time.....and you will never listen to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata in the same way ever again. I can't put my finger on just what makes these Asian movies so effective but with so much dross coming out of mainstream Western cinema these are a haven for people who really appreciate first rate movies.
A revolutionary history
As the blurb puts it - a story so improbable.....it must be true.... Set during the Mexican revolution of 1914 its the story of revolutionary hero Pancho Villa and his rather shrewd manipulation of the media - the Mutual Film Company led by the ever marvellous Jim Broadbent are contacted by Villa and offered to film the struggle.Star director DW Griffiths thinks its a great idea and Broadbent's nephew Frank Thayer(Eion Bailey) is dispatched south of the border with a bag containing $25 000 in gold as payment.Villa(Antonio Banderas) soon has them filming during actual battles and inspiring Frank with his dreams of a free Mexico. They return with the film but its fairly amateurish and gets laughed off screen - Frank somehow persuades his uncle to part with even more money and this time use actors like Raoul Walsh to play Villa and add some artistic licence to proceedings. There follows a very funny scene where Boradbent gets Villa to agree to only fight during the day(when they can film) and if they miss any battles to re-enact them for the cameras - Villa is appalled at the liberties taken with his lifes story but Frank explains its what the audience wants to see and will help his cause no end - something he needs as William Randolph Hearst's press empire is starting a campaign to get the US to invade Mexico to protect America's lifeblood - Oil.
Its a great little movie - made by HBO its a TV movie but Bruce Beresford directs as if its for the big screen - epic adventure,lavish battles and romance all intermingle to great effect - Banderas is excellent as Villa - a bit of a ham who is far more savvy than he lets on - the scene where he plays himself as the aged El Presidente is priceless - it doesn't shy away from the cruelties of both sides either - in fact this cruelty is what finally drives the friendship between Frank and Villa apart - although the way its used in the final film is a more than ironic touch. Fine support from Broadbent and Alan Arkin as a machine-gunning Brooklyn Jew add to the rounded cast and its picked up a really good reputation on DVD and its easy to see why......
King Arthur (2004)
Avoided this one at the cinema and got it on rental not expecting much.....which is just as well as really terrible - set in Britian towards the end of the Roman occupation in 452 AD - which is the first of many howlers - the Romans had pulled out decades before and by this date the Empire itself had ceased to exists - anyway the plot has it that Arthur and his Knights are a bunch of Eastern Europeans from around the Black Sea shipped over to Britain.Arthur(Clive Owen) has led them for 15 years mainly against the Woads who are led by Merlin who is isn't a wizard at all and appears in need of a good wash - the rest of the Knights are a pretty grungy non-descript bunch with only Ray Winstones Cockney hard man of distinction. They are on the brink of ending their servitude to Rome when the local bishop has them head North from Hadrian's Wall to rescue a Roman family from their Villa that is under threat from the invading Saxons - as if by this time any Roman would chose to live North of the Wall and survive more than about 5 minutes.... This brings Arthur into contact with Guinivere(Keira Knightly) who is a woad covered warrior - albeit one with a posh totty Home Counties accent and the rest of the film is the battle against the Saxons led by Stellan Stersgard which entails much hacking and slaying.
What lets it down is the lacklustre direction,flat wooden performances - only Winstone enjoys himself snarling and roaring at everyone and Stersgard who has fun peering at us from what appears to several manes of hair - the script is appalling - every scene seems to have the entire cast discussing freedom and what it means to be free until you expect to see George W Bush's name to appear as script adviser - Owen(who is normally quite good) makes like an oak tree and the lengthy battle scenes go on so long you give up caring who is hacking who......I suppose giving a go at Arthur the non-legendary mystical hero is worthwhile but the whole thing is no inept that even that good intention goes down the pan...
Mou gaan dou II (2003)
A fine follow up
Thought the first one was one of the finest Cop thrillers in recent years and the follow up is equally brilliant - for obvious reasons its a prequel set in 3 time periods leading up to the events in the first movie. This time round Ming(Edison Chen - Andy Lau last time) and Yan(Shawne Yau - Tony Leung last time) are more peripheral characters - the main action concentrates on Inspector Wong(Anthony Wong) and his struggles against the Triads. The leader of the major gang has been murdered and his son Hau(Francis Ng) has taken over - he is a more ruthless boss and intends to take over all the territory that other leaders currently control. These include Sam(Eric Tsang) and its interesting how close Wong and Sam are before the events that end so tragically later - Wong would rather have Sam running things and it appears that Wong has conspired with Sam's woman Mary(Carina Lau) to have Hau's Father killed - only to see the son become worse than the Father. To complicate matters Yan is Hau's half brother who as a cop is willing to infiltrate Hau's gang but whose loyalty is put under pressure when he realises that Wong(who he is working for) had a hand in his Fathers murder.Meanwhile Sam is grooming Ming to become his mole in the HK Police(although Ming's attraction for Mary does complicate things).
How this all pans out and leads to the events in the first film I shall leave but its an excellent film - a little complicated at times as you have to work out all the dynamics buts worth the effort - as mentioned the most poignant part is the relationship between Wong and Sam - they may be on opposite sides but have a closeness that will prove to be the central point of the story later.
There is a fantastic scene where Hau contrives to have himself held in Police custody whilst the other gang bosses are murdered and the way the film cuts between his interview(where he reveals how he knows who killed his Father) and the other bosses being wiped out is worthy of comparison with Coppola's Godfather - the series has that whole epic feel and the way it culminates with the handover of power to the Chinese in 1997 with new bosses on both sides of the conflict coming to power is very well done.
For once a sequel that lives up to the original........I shall be interested to see if Scorcese's remake can come close.
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
Billy Friedkins's brilliant cop thriller from 1985 - William Peterson(of CSI fame)plays Richard Chance a hotshot Secret Service agent hot on the trail of master forger Rick Masters(a menacing Willem Dafoe) who has murdered Chance's partner and friend 3 days before he was due to retire.As a consequence he is now partnered by John Vucocvich(John Pankow) who is as straight by the book as Chance is a maverick. Chance will stop at nothing to get Masters - he bends the rules,steals evidence and after his request to raise money to buy Masters forged notes decides to take matters into his own hands. He is also having a sexual relationship with Ruth(Darlene Fluogel)who feeds him information - in this case about a drug dealer who is carrying 50 Grand in cash and arrives the next day - Chance persuades Vucovich to rob the guy and use the cash to set Masters up - unfortunately the whole thing is a an FBI sting operation and both agents are soon way out of their depth. Chance decides to carry on with the operation but Vucovich's doubts grow and the fact that their actions led to the death of a Federal agent only makes his guilt even more intense.
Its an absolutely cracking movie - excellent played characters - Peterson plays Chance as someone beyond caring for anything apart from nailing Masters and Dafoe is at his reptilian best as the forger - his grin gets more and more sinister as the film unfolds.Fine support from Dean Stockwell as a slimy lawyer and the ever excellent John Tuturro as one of Masters bagmen whom gets caught and is forced to turn stoolie. The film also has a very amoral feel to it - Chance will use anyone he can to achieve his ends - he morally blackmails Vucovich to going along and his relationship with Ruth is even more dodgy - she asks him what he would do if she stopped supplying him with information(and presumably sex) - "I'll have your parole revoked and have you sent back to the joint".....
Fantastic photography by the great Robby Muller and a car chase through L.A. that ends up going down the wrong way of an 8 lane freeway adds to the films pleasures as does the use of locations around the city that you don't normally see - rail tracks,sidings,industrial landscapes and the L.A. river basin are all uses to terrific effect.It has a very '80's soundtrack by Wang Chung that fits the mood and location perfectly and its has a very bleak ending that Hollywood would have real issues with today. A key film from the 1980's - just a shame its the last great film that Friedkin made before descending into straight to video hell.....
Ulzana's Raid (1972)
Robert Aldrich's savage 1972 revenge western which as harrowing now as then - a band of Apaches's have left the reservation and gone on a killing spree - Young and idealistic Lt DeBuin(Bruce Davison) is put in charge of the calvary sent out to stop them - he is joined by wily,plain speaking scout McIntosh(a splendidly grizzeled Burt Lancaster) and his trusty Apache assistant Ki-No-Tay - the chase is on to stop Ulzana before he does too much killing.... DeBuin is from devout Christian stock and is appalled at the cruelty meted out to the Apache's victim's - he starts from a point that they are no different to himself but as the burnings,rapes and torture mount he begins to question how these men could have been made in God's image.
McIntosh is more sanguine about it - he respects the Apache but has no illusions about the way they operate - Aldrich doesn't shy away from the more grisly acts but its more than the usual Injun bashing - the point is made that if the white man treated them better then they woudn't feel the need to do these things - McIntosh is not so convinced and there is a factinating conversation between DeBuin and Ki-No-Tay about why the Apache kill and how others deaths give the killer power. Along the way DeBuin has his metal tested and has to make decisions that affect the life and deaths of both homesteaders and his troops - Davison is good in the role and Lancaster is excellent as the older,more experienced man who has seen it all before but knows what needs to be done - but still brings a warmth and humanity to the character.
Of course any search and destroy raiding party Western of the time can have endless Vietnam parallels - and the fine script leaves the film open to more than one interpretation. Fine stuff.
Yagyû ichizoku no inbô (1978)
Kinji Fukasaku was one of Japan's most prolific directors - its ironic that his breakthrough movie in the West was the last one he made before his death at the age of 73 - that being Battle Royale.During the late '60's to the mid '70's he made a series of excellent Yakuza gangster movies then in 1978 turned to the historical epic with fine results.
It is 1624 - Japan after a lengthy civil war which resulted in the Emperor being marginalized and the Shogun running the Government - the current Shogun has died suddenly leaving the succession in doubt - his eldest son Iemestsu should succeed but he is disfigured and stammers - his more handsome younger son Tadanaga has the backing of most of the powerful Lords. Things get complicated very quickly when it becomes apparent that the Shogun was poisoned at the behest of Iemestsu's main supporter Yagyu(Kinnosuka Nakamaru) - Iemestu is as at first appalled by this but as the country get embroiled in the struggle he realises how much he needs Yagyu's support if he is to become Shogun.Meanwhile the Emperor and his courtiers plot behind the scenes to exploit the chaos and return to power.
It is an epic tale with political intrigue,battles,assassination's and some spectacular sword-fights and the question of just how much would you sacrifice to attain power - Yagyu will stop at nothing to install Iemestu and this has appalling consequences for both the country and for him personally but he is willing to commit these - Nakamara is excellent in the role - at first you side with what he is trying to do but at the tragedy unfolds you realize what a monster he is. Sonny Chiba is equally good as his eldest son who bears the brunt of one consequence of his Fathers action and he brings the whole thing to its tragic conclusion with more than a touch of hubris.
It hasn't quite got the epic feel of a Kurosawa but has a much more cynical take on political struggle - highly recommended.
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
Another fine example
Always been a big fan of Hammer Horror and this is one of the best of the Dracula series.A travelling salesman(Roy Kinnear) comes across the Count(Christopher Lee as always) impaled on a giant gold crucifix(as the previous film ended) - he collects the cloak,ring and the dried blood and returns to England. There we meet three late Victorian gentlemen - Hargood(Geoffrey Keen),Carson(Jonathen Secker) and Paxton(Peter Sallis) - by day they are respectable Church-goers but at night go to the East End for "Charity" work - of course this means they go whoring in brothels but have found their experiences becoming jaded - they seek new excitements. This arrives in the form of Lord Courtley(Ralph Bates)a dissolute aristocrat who dabbles in black magic and realises he can get the 3 to buy the goods from Kinnear and summon up Dracula. The 3 are dubious but Courtley persuades them and in a disused churchyard the summoning takes place - the 3 realise they are way out of their depths and when Courtlery dies they flee. What they haven'r realised is that Dracula has returned and blames them for Courtley's death - he seeks them out to destroy them...
Direrected by Hammer regular Peter Sadsy the film mines a deep vein of Victorian hypocrisy - Hargood rules his family with an iron fist preaching Christian values and one the films most effective threads is how Dracula uses the the children of the 3 to achieve his ends - corrupting them so the Fathers can see the direct consequence of their actions. Lee is excellent as always(but not given enough screen time) and there is fine support from Linda Haydon(who was in the notorious Baby Love and so effective in Blood on Satan's Claw) as Hargood's daughter Alice who Dracula uses to trap and then destroy the 3 Fathers.
There is almost a Greek tragic element to it as the thing they hold most dear is the thing that kills them - it can also be read as the bourgious dabbling in forces beyond their control and unleashing a power that will destroy them. Terrific stuff.
Yeogo goedam (1998)
Now here's a curious movie - a supernatural ghost story from Korea. Set in an all girls school(thought that might have got your attention)its the story of a class being haunted by the ghost of a classmate who dies in mysterious circumstances and seems to return every 3 years.
It seems to be heading in obvious directions - Carrie one moment ,endless teen slasher movies the next but it neatly sidesteps these cliches and becomes something more interesting.
Yes there are creepy corridor moments and a couple of spectacular deaths (that owe more than a nod in the direction of Suspria - as does the soundtrack)but it is fairly gripping throughout and there are some schocking scenes of male teachers beating the pupils - The Korean educaution Minisrty tried to get it banned.
The ending is unexepected and quite enigmatic- so much so that I watched it 3 times (the ending that is) and am still not too sure.
Well worth a look
Major Dundee (1965)
One of his best
Pekinpah's excellent Western which works as standard Cavalry movie, a meditation of loyality and friendship and a study in a dangerous obsession.Heston is very good as the titular Major who will risk everything to catch the raiding Apache's and restore his good name - he is stiff necked and inflexible and plays nicely against Harris's dashing Southern Captain who only wants to get home. It has been compared to Moby Dick with Heston as Ahab and who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. It has fine support from the usual Pekinpah regular company with epic battle scenes offset by more thoughtful passages - this is the original restored version at 2h13m (on release the studio cut huge chunks out if it) and ranks up there with the very best films he made.
Quién sabe? (1967)
A terrific film
Always been a big spaghetti western fan and this is one of the best. Damiano Damiani's 1966 film is set against the Mexican revolution and tells the story of a bandit - the wonderful Gian Maria Volonté and his gang who terrorise the Govt troops and relieve them of their weapons that they sell to the revolutionary general.
They meet up with an American (Lou Castel) who joins them but whose motives they suspect.
There are spectacular train attacks , mega-massacres and piched battles along the way but the film has a strong moral sense allied with an almost Marxist viewpoint.
On several occasions we see Volente wrestling with doing the right thing and doing the thing that will pay him. The script is exellent and although most is dubbed (as always with these movies)the storyline is as engrossing as the action. Klaus Kinski has fun as the mad priest/bandit and the whole thing looks terrific in a 2:35 print really utilising the huge landscapes.
There is a terrific moment at the end where one character does a simple thing and the other character suddenly realises what has been going on all along.
A truly terrific picture and in feel not that far away from Leones'later Fistful of Dynamite.
La balance (1982)
Watched this last night - a belting French Cops and Robbers drama set among the Paris version of the flying squad. It opens with their main informant being murdered and they need replacement to get Mr Big.
They lean on a Dede (Philippe Léotard) a small time crook and pimp and his whore/girlfriend(Nathalie Baye) to persuade them to snitch on Messina.
They use threats,beatings - in fact anything to get a result. The cops are played in a very unsympathetic light - the're really thugs who bend the law to suit their ends.
Interestingly both Dede and Nicole are are much more attractive characters - he's her pimp but he loves her as she loves him. You really care about them as they are exploited by the cops who don't care what happens to them as long as they get their villian. There are car chases and shoot-outs aplenty but its the central relationship that lifts this above your average cop movie.
All the leads are well played and you hope things will work out for Dede and Nicloe but you know life isn't like that.
Not an obvious ending either and directed with an intesity by Bob Swaim who films it almost as a documentry so real is the gritty feel of the Parisian undwerworld.