Friday, August 29, 2008

Jean de Florette / Manon of the Spring

Claude Berri, 1986, France (10*)

Best Picture (BAA)
Superb French epic, that country's finest film for me, though admittedly, I'm not a big fan overhyped French cinema (Godard's Weekend seemed to last that long, worst two hrs of my film life). This is one novel split into two films, and oddly seems to now carry a half French, half English title, the 2nd part is really "Manon des Sources". Filmgoers could see it as a double feature when released or come back the next day for the second half! Now, the dvd is flippable, a film on each side, and should be viewed as one.

The first half concerns an urbanite, Gerard Depardieu, who moves his family to a beautiful yet arid French farm, with the dream of becoming a flower grower. Jealous and greedy neighbors (the best acting ever for Yves Montand and Danielle Autiel both) hope he fails so they can get the land cheaply for themselves (as a subprime foreclosure, nothing is new!). The entire story hinges on drinking water, notably a spring that supplies the town's water supply. The second half tells the story of his daughter, Manon, now grown up, and beautifully as Emmanuelle Breart, and since I don't want to include any spoilers, everyone should watch both halves for themselves, as together they are Yin and Yang, the complete circle. Like impressionist art, simply beautiful to watch, and with a story worthy of modern parable and myth-making. An all-time Top 10!


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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