Saturday, April 23, 2011

ÉCOUTE VOIR (1978, Hugo Santiago, A++++++++++)

Things I like very much in this film include:

1.It is such a thrill for me to see Catherine Deneuve uses some martial art skills to deal with villains in this film. I usually like heroines who possess some martial art skills, such as the one in RAGING PHOENIX (2009, Rashane Limtrakul, A+++++), but I had never thought that Catherine Deneuve used to play in a role like this, too.

One of my most favorite scenes in ÉCOUTE VOIR is in the minute 3 in the clip below. It is the scene in which Deneuve fights with a villain and a villainess in a strange religious cult.

It is a pleasure to see Deneuve in a role like this. It is described in TIME OUT FILM GUIDE that her role in this film is a mix between Emma Peel and Humphrey Bogart. I have no knowledge about both Peel and Bogart, but I like Deneuve's character in this film very much.

I think Deneuve's role in this film is very different from the roles she usually plays. It makes me think of other great actresses who can show their true ability when they have a chance to play the roles they are not accustomed to. It makes me think of

1.1 Jamjuree Cherdshome, who plays a good-hearted woman in PLOENG PAI (1990, Thai TV series), though she usually plays the villainess in other TV series.

1.2 Chintara Sukapatana, who plays a tough servant in VICTIMS (1987, Chana Kraprayoon)

1.3 Charlize Theron in MONSTER (2003, Patty Jenkins, A+++++++++++++++)

1.4 Julia Roberts, who looks so serious in MARY REILLY (1996, Mary Reilly, A+)

1.5 Anna Faris, who looks like a normal, decent woman in YOGI BEAR (2010, Eric Brevig, A-/B+)

ÉCOUTE VOIR may be more like an ordinary film, if the film stars Alain Delon, Michelle Yeoh, or Maggie Q as the hero or heroine of the film. I think what makes this film unique is because I have never seen Deneuve in this kind of roles before.

2.The hints that the three main female characters in ÉCOUTE VOIR might be lesbians. I saw this film on the TV channel TV5 MONDE, and I don't know if some lesbian scenes had been censored from the TV version or not. From the version I saw, the lesbian thing in the film is not explicit, but there is something hinting at it.

3.One of my most favorite scenes in the film is the scene which parodies the elegance of Deneuve. It's the scene in which we see Deneuve walking so elegantly. Her head is held high. Her eyes look straightforwardly. The scene shows her walking from many angles. And then she has to stop walking because she bumps into some small children on the street. Because she likes to keep her head held high while walking, she can't see these children coming at her.

4. The plot about the radio signals which can control the minds of the listeners. The scene in a restaurant in which many people are moving slowly because they are controlled by the radio signal is very weird and very memorable.

The plot about the radio signal is very interesting. It reminds me of some political violence in Thailand which is partly instigated by Thai media, including newspaper and TV. It also reminds me of the Rwanda Genocide in which some radio stations played a part.

The plot about the radio signals also reminds me of some films which deal with the influence of the radio and TV signals, such as THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE (1933, Fritz Lang), LES CREATURES (1966, Agnès Varda, A++++++++++), and HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982, Tommy Lee Wallace).

5. The ending of this film, in which the heroine mumbles something to herself. If I remember it correctly, she intends to improve herself and intends to save the world again. This ending makes me love this character very much.

6.Anne Parillaud

Some other things about this film:

1.There's a scene in which the heroine goes to see THE LIFE OF OHARU (1952, Kenji Mizoguchi). Since I haven't seen THE LIFE OF OHARU, I don't know if it might be connected to ÉCOUTE VOIR in any other ways or not.

2.I don't understand why the castle owner wants to hire the heroine at the beginning of the film. Is it because I don't understand the film? Is it because I can't follow it story? Or is it because there are some plot holes? This case reminds me of THE BIG SLEEP (1946, Howard Hawks), because I'm still not sure who kills whom in this film. I hope someone writes about ÉCOUTE VOIR and THE BIG SLEEP by detailing the events in both films chronologically, so that I can understand them. However, the puzzlement, or the possible plot holes, in both films is not something important in my point of view. It's just a funny thing for me.

Apart from ÉCOUTE VOIR, there are other French crime/mystery films that I like very much, including:

1.WHO KILLED SANTA CLAUS? (1941, Christian-Jaque)

2.LES DIABOLIQUES (1954, Henri-Georges Clouzot)

3.PARIS BELONGS TO US (1961, Jacques Rivette)

4.FIRE AND ICE (1962, Alain Cavalier)

5.JUDEX (1963, Georges Franju)

6.IF I WERE A SPY (1967, Bertrand Blier)

7.LAW BREAKERS (1971, Marcel Carné)

8.THE DOMINICI AFFAIR (1973, Claude Bernard-Aubert)

9.THE INHERITOR (1973, Philippe Labro)

10.SHOCK TREATMENT (1973, Alain Jessua)

11.LE DOSSIER 51 (1978, Michel Deville)

12.I AS IN ICARUS (1979, Henri Verneuil)

13.LA MÉMOIRE COURTE (1979, Eduardo de Gregorio)

14.THE RED SWEATER (1979, Michel Drach)

15.THREE MEN TO DESTROY (1980, Jacques Deray)

16.CHICKEN WITH VINEGAR (1985, Claude Chabrol)

17.LA SENTINELLE (1992, Arnaud Desplechin)

18.SEE HOW THEY FALL (1994, Jacques Audiard)

19.RED LIGHTS (2003, Cédric Kahn)

20.LEMMING (2005, Dominik Moll)

21.CROSSED TRACKS (ROMAN DE GARE) (2007, Claude Lelouch)

22.CRIME IS OUR BUSINESS (2008, Pascal Thomas)

23.THE NEW PROTOCOL (2008, Thomas Vincent)

24.AM STRAM GRAM (2009, Stéphane Kappes)

25.LIGHTS OUT (2010, Fabrice Gobert)


RRD said...

Very interesting look at a rare film. Thanks.

celinejulie said...

Thank you very much. Your website is interesting and full of many spy films I have never heard of. :-)