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A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Mon Idole

By EdwardHavens

July 5th, 2003

One of the most often asked questions in cinema is what one would do if they were given the chance to have everything they always wanted, if they were just willing to sacrifice some kind of moral price. In his feature directing debut entitled "Mon Idole,” French actor Guillaume Canet, best known to American audiences for his costarring role in “The Beach,” mostly plays it safe in answering this question. Most viewers will probably be able to answer the questions themselves before the end of the opening credits, and figure out the fate of the major players by the start of reel two. A minor film upon its release in its native France last Christmas, the film is still without an American distributor a year after its completion. If there will ever be any interest generated for “Mon Idole” in the future, it will be due to the newfound success of model turned actress Diane Kruger, also known as Mrs. Guillaume Canet, should her turn as Helen of Troy in the upcoming Trojan War epic “Troy,” starring Brad Pitt and Eric Bana, bring her the same stardom recently propelled on Monica Bellucci.


The focus of “Mon Idole” is on Bastien (Canet), a lowly technician on “Take Out the Tissues,” one of the top shows on French TV. Bastien also works as the assistant to Phillipe Letzger (Philippe Lefèbvre), the bastard child of Oprah Winfrey and Morton Downey Jr. host of “Tissues,” regularly finding himself humiliated by his boss, if only to allow himself access to his idol, the show’s legendary producer Jean-Louis Broustal (François Berléand). After work one Friday afternoon, Broustal invites Bastien out to his home in the country to discuss the concept for a new show Bastien recently pitched to Broustal. The pair arrives at the resplendently designed country home, where Bastien is introduced to Clara (Kruger), Broustal’s sexy young wife, who takes hospitality to new levels. Thus, the wheels are set in motion for Bastien’s temptation. Broustal will give the young lad the chance to host the new show, if only Bastien will agree to a unique personal services contract. When Bastien declines to participate, he finds himself not only out of a job but on the run for his life.

If there is anything remotely interesting concerning “Mon Idole,” besides the lovely Ms. Kruger, is the lengths director/co-writer/star Canet allowed his character to be shamed. Very few American stars would ever allow these kinds of moral degradations to be foisted upon them, let alone create them to be done to themselves, so Canet must be applauded for that. However, the bulk of the film is an uninteresting mess. As a satire on the reality television craze, it comes nowhere near the absurdity of most shows on the air, making its condemnation worthless in comparison. As a statement on the lack of morality in the entertainment industry, it pales in comparison to the savage beatings given by the likes of Paddy Chayefsky and Woody Allen. And as a first time director, Canet shows no kind of personal style that helped give neophyte directors like Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson a fan base through their debuts.

I give “Mon Idole” a C for effort and a D for execution.

"Mon Idole" Scorecard
Director: Guillaume Canet
Writers: Guillaume Canet, Philippe Lefèbvre
Producer: Alain Attal
Cinematography: Christophe Offenstein
Featuring: François Berléand, Guillaume Canet, Diane Kruger, Philippe Lefèbvre
MPAA Rating: Not rated by the MPAA
Running Time: 110 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Flat (1.85:1)
Sound Format: Dolby Digital, DTS

My rating: D