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The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel

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Film Reviews: Jean de Florette (1986), Manon des Sources (1986), and More
Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources (1986). Directed by Claudie Berri. The duology is set after the end of the First World War in Provence, France. Ugolin Soubeyran (Daniel Auteuil) returns from military service with the idea that he can grow carnations, and sell for a good price. He conspires with his devious uncle (Yves Montand) to buy a neighbouring farm which has a natural spring, and the vital water they will need to grow flowers. After the owner refuses to sell a fight breaks out between him and the uncle, during which the owner is unwittingly killed. The property is then inherited by the owner's nephew, and Ugolin and his uncle block up the spring before he moves in, to ruin his chances of farming the land, in the hope he will then sell up. Both Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources are wonderful films. There are striking but subtle performances from all concerned. The story, although "small", is a powerful mixture of personal triumph, heartbreak, and regret. It isn't the sort of film I would have ordinarily chosen, but I'm very glad I stuck with it. Provence is conveyed well with moments of exquisite cinematography. For those who enjoy personal tales and can cope with foreign language films they're a must see. 5/5 (Excellent)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012). Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. The film starts with Abraham Lincoln as a child. His father challenges the owner of a slave and ends up losing his job. Later that night Abraham sees the slave owner break into their house and attack his mother, who then dies shortly after of poisoning. The film then moves forward to when Abraham is in his late teens, and he tries to execute revenge on the slave owner. He shoots him in the head, but it then becomes clear he is not human. The first 30 minutes or so of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter were OK - the film moved along and was silly but enjoyable fun. It then went rapidly downhill as Lincoln grows up, and the story tries to factor into the US Civil War. Essentially it was taking the earlier plot point and spreading it more and more thinly. As the film progressed further I cared less and less about the characters, and more about when it was going to be over. Those with a crushing interest in US history and vampire crossovers and/or braindead action might get something from it. 1/5 (Awful)

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012). Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Set in present day Seattle, the film centres around Darius (Aubrey Plaza), a semi-depressed loner who lives with her dad, and interns at a magazine. At an editorial meeting one of the journalists suggests following up on a peculiar advert - requesting a partner for time travel - as material for an article. The journalist selects Darius and another intern, and they head off to Washington to try and track down the person who placed the advert. Safety Not Guaranteed is perhaps best described as quirky black comedy, with the emphasis firmly on the quirky. It almost feels like a student film, with the low budget and less than perfect acting. Conversely though the less than stylish actors and odd feel to the film give it a certain charm. I suspect that charm will be much more for some than others, and it only just about sustained my interest. 3/5 (Average)