Sink or Swim (Le Grand Bain) (2018) Film Review

Bertrand (Mathieu Amalric) is depressed, unable to go to work and his wife is finding it difficult to be understanding. Going for a swim, he sees a notice for a men’s synchronised swimming team and decides to give it a go. They are a bunch of middle-aged misfits – stuck in bad jobs, dealing with anger issues, not reaching the goals they wanted in life. They bond, and then they discover the European men’s synchronised swim team competition and decide to give it a go.

This film is kind of charming, but it drove me a bit nuts. I didn’t love the casual racism and homophobia throughout, and I felt like it was trying to cover far too many stories within the one film. There were moments that I really enjoyed, and I could even appreciate the ridiculous competition, but overall I just didn’t love it.

Aurore (2017) Film Review

Aurore (Agnes Jaoui) has hit a point in her life where things need to change. Her new boss at the restaurant is arrogant and treats the staff poorly, and everything else is just too much. So, she takes things into her own hands.

Women of a certain age are often ignored, certainly they rarely get entire films about just life. This is one of those films that capture a particular time in a particular place, and it was good, but not great. It was fun and the characters were charming, but I walked out wondering what exactly the point of the whole thing was.

Queen Margot (La reine Margot) (1994) Film Review

It’s France in 1572. The royal family is catholic, but the protestants are rising up. To try to broker peace, Princess Margot (Isabelle Adjani) is married to Henri de Navarre (Daniel Auteuil), but then thousands of protestants who’d come to Paris are massacred. This film covers that and then a series of events afterwards.

It’s quite beautiful, spectacular costumes. I got a little confused about who was who as there was a very large cast, mostly white men with brown hair who all looked pretty similar. It’s mostly an extremely good film, but with moments that are totally appalling which really ruined it. But it seems like this is a fabulous story, especially as a very brief bit of research has shown that there seem to have been a whole heap of rumours spread around about Margot and everything to do with her. This has to be a mini-series… well, there is a novel by Alexander Dumas, so that’s a good start. There doesn’t appear to be a series… yet.

The Teacher (2016) MIFF Review

It’s Bratslava, Slovakia in the early 80s. The country is under Communist reign, and Maria Drazdechova is not just a teacher but the chairman of the local communist group. When it comes out that the students who get the best grades have parents who are helping provide Maria with goods and services, it is very hard for the head teacher to take action. But a meeting is called with the patents and all kinds of truths are revealed.

This seems to be a great comment on communism along the lines of Animal Farm – we see the corruption which is inevitable when humans are involved. I thought it was great – funny, interesting but ultimately concerning.

Death in a Terminal (2016) MIFF Review

In 2015, in a bus terminal in Southern Israel, a horrible event happened. I don’t want to say more, because the film allows the story to unfold in a very unusual way. The filmmaker has interviewed people who were at the scene and then, using footage from the CCTV cameras on site, shows them during the event.

It’s fascinating and clever and horrifying. Just don’t read the blurb from MIFF, because it gives more information that necessary – had I read it before watching, it would have ruined the film for me.

BPM (alternative title – 120 Beats Per Minute) (2017) MIFF Review

It’s Paris in the late eighties/early nineties. HIV and AIDS is prevalent and there are several activist groups fighting for the release of more effective drugs and treatment. Act Up Paris are a group who lead protests involving fake blood and chants trying to raise awareness and force action. This film follows these activists as they fight, protest, dance and fall in love.

It’s a tough film, but of course it is going to be with that content. It’s funny at times, but generally is very sensitive and a fabulous story. I would definitely recommend it, but would suggest planning your evening so you don’t pair this with another difficult film, because it had me going home quite emotional.

Rosalie Blum (2015) Film Review


Vincent(Kyan Khojandi) lives a life stuck in a rut – he runs the hairdressing salon that he inherited from his father, takes care of his needy mother, Simone(Anemone), and has a long-distance relationship with a girl who keeps cancelling their visits. Then he sees Rosalie Blum (Noemie Lvovsky) in a grocery store outside of his usual routine and recognises her. He cannot place her, but becomes obsessed with trying to recall why she is so familiar. Things are not as they seem, however, and when Aude(Alice Isaaz) comes onto the scene, everything changes.

It’s a delightful French film. Somehow, even the kind of creepy stalking parts have an innocent charm to them. And people are raving about this film. Yet.. I wanted to like it, but just didn’t. It seems like the type of film I absolutely should love. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the story is quirky and fun with a hidden depth. But I just didn’t really like it. I still recommend it – I think most people will enjoy it more than I did. The guy behind me in the cinema loved it!


The Lovers and the Despot (2016) MIFF Review


In 1978, a famous South Korean actress and her director ex-husband were kidnapped and taken to North Korea to make films for Kim Jong-il. Eight years later, they managed to escape. That’s the story.

I’d heard the story told on This American Life some time ago, and I think that’s what made the documentary less engaging for me – I knew the story, I’d heard it told from their points of view, and so I knew where it was going. However, what I was fascinated with was the footage from the North Korean films – a few years ago, MIFF had a series of North Korean films, and it is very interesting to see what has been produced from that country.

Get Ready to Be Boyzvoiced (2000) Film Review


I cannot remember who introduced me to this insane Norwegian mockumentary, but I thank them forever. I got my own copy and for years, every so often a group of us get together and Get Ready to be Boyzvoiced. It’s a mockumentary following the three members of Boyzvoice, M’Pete (Espen Eckbo), Hot Tub (Oyvind Thoen) and Roar (Kaare Daniel Steen) as they hit the highs and lows of their career. Written, directed and starring Edpen Eckbo in multiple roles, I assume that he is the Chris Lilly of Norway. But it’s not the plot or the characters that are the highlight. It’s the lyrics. The cheesey love song that laments ‘but she’s my cousin. Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ Or ‘being fooled by a twelve-year-old woman’. It’s wrong, but oh so funny.

A Common Thread (Brodeuses) (2004) Film Review


Claire (Ariane Ascaride) is a seventeen-year-old who has accidentally fallen pregnant and decides that she will have the baby and adopt it out. She lives alone, and takes sick leave from her supermarket job. She doesn’t want anyone to know that she is pregnant – not her family or colleagues. She loves to embroider, and takes a job with a seamstress who has recently lost her son in an accident.

This is one of those films where kind of not a lot happens. It’s slow and beautiful and the craftwork is amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of this small world for an hour and a half.

A Common Thread won the Critics Week Grand Prize in 2004