Thursday, June 24, 2010


Roland Joffe, 2000, France (8.6*)

Based on a true story, King Louis XIV (Julian Sands) of France visits a bankrupt prince, who happens to be France's best general and Louis needs him for a planned war with Holland. The prince spares no expense, all from creditors, to entertain him for three days, all planned by his steward Vatel, played by Gerard Depardieu, a master of illusions, who can create a vase of flowers out of sugar and food dye.

The king's mistress Anne de Montausier is attracted to Vatel's honest dignity, played by Uma Thurman in a role almost a sequel to her's in Dangerous Liaisons, so we are treated to musical beds at night as nearly everyone is after the fair madame, including the king's Marquis, played by Tim Roth.

But the real star of this film is Depardieu, and the illusions Joffe creates with the sets. In one scene, painted plywood outside creates the illusion of being in Versailles; they drop to reveal a tropical tableau with man-made golden palm trees. Since this is based on history, one wonders if these are the exact set pieces designed by Vatel for King Louis. Entertaining costume and historical drama throughout, and one of the more opulent French films.
Quote: My brother hates tulips, he'll be delighted if we war with Holland


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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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