10/17/2017  
Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...





Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Wellspring presents
La Būche (1999)

"I loathe people anchored in the present."
- Stanislas (Claude Rich)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: July 09, 2002

Stars: Claude Rich, Françoise Fabian, Sabine Azéma, Emmanuelle Béart, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Other Stars: Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Christopher Thompson
Director: Danièle Thompson

Manufacturer: Blink Digital
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for adult themes, profanity
Run Time: 01h:42m:54s
Release Date: May 21, 2002
UPC: 720917532424
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B+BB+ C

DVD Review

Here's a movie for those of us who want to throw things at the television screen during Christmas week, who know that the saccharine, happy families in countless Very Special Episodes don't look anything like the people sitting around the living room who are related to you. La Bûche succeeds where an American movie like Home For The Holidays comes up a little short, and while it's hard not to draw comparisons to Hannah and Her Sisters, which treads on similar emotional territory, La Bûche may be ambling, but it would be unfair to say that it's derivative. You'd better like these characters, or at least find them interesting, because that's what the movie has to offer, and generally it does a pretty good job of sustaining our attention.

Just a few days before Christmas, and Mom's second husband has died—after an opening montage of Christmas trees and ornaments set to an overly perky version of Jingle Bells, the film begins with a funeral. Yvette (Françoise Fabian) is of course devastated by the death of her husband, and rallying to her are her three daughters from her first marriage. How the extended clan deals with grief, revelations of ancient family secrets and the playing out of long-held grudges over the days leading up to the holiday is the bulk of the movie.

Louba (Sabine Azéma) at 42 is the oldest of the sisters—she's an entertainer at a Russian nightclub, who finds that she's pregnant. The father is Gilbert (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), the married man with whom she's been carrying on an affair for twelve years now. (He keeps promising to leave his wife when the kids are out of the house, but that's not going to be any time soon, as his wife is pregnant, too.) The middle child is Sonia, the Martha Stewart sister, who wants Christmas, and everything else in her life, to be just so—of course it isn't, as her marriage is falling apart, and she seems happy to start sorting through the shards of the emotional rubble. (Emmanuelle Béart, always so lovely, does great work here. You'd want to eat her perfectly prepared holiday feast, but then you'd want to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.) The youngest is Milla, played wryly by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who seems professionally the most ambitious of the three, but also the one harboring the most psychological baggage. (Her prescriptions for the human condition are cheery aphorisms like, "People should take turns suffering.") Looming large for the sisters is their father, Stanislas (Claude Rich), who hasn't seen his ex-wife in something like twenty-five years, despite the fact that they're both deeply connected to their girls.

The action is telescoped into just a couple of days—from December 21 to Christmas Eve—so there is sometimes that sense that things are racing along not because life is like that, but because they need to for story purposes. But only occasionally do things feel forced, and because the movie gets so many of the little things right—the dirty looks, the squabbling, the affection despite all the evidence and behavior—that it's reasonably easy to forgive some of the more overt bits of filmmaking business. This is screenwriter Danièle Thompson's first time directing, and she displays a keen visual sense and a deft touch; I'd say that she makes only one especially bad choice. A few times throughout the story the action stops for a soliloquy, monologues delivered directly to the audience as the camera pushes in on the actor speaking. These don't really illuminate the characters, and feel more like moments of showing off than like integrated parts of the movie. (Maybe the actors loved these, or the screenwriter in Thompson felt like she couldn't cut them, but a more ruthless hand at the editing bay would have excised these and served the story better.) She's so good at portraying the particulars of family dynamics—despite this being a cast of reasonably well known French actors, you truly come to think of them as kin—that you only wish that she had gotten rid of these precious moments, for her movie would have been better if she had killed these little darlings. (She collaborated on the script with her son, Christopher, who also has a pivotal role in the cast.)

The soundtrack is nearly wallpapered with American recordings of Christmas songs, and Thompson displays a particular fondness for Dean Martin, whose syrupy renditions of songs like I'll Be Home For Christmas provide a nice aural counterpoint to the family recriminations on screen.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Color levels are generally strong in this anamorphic transfer, though some pluming is evident, especially in the scenes shot at night. Black level is pretty solid throughout; it's a fairly satisfying movie visually, considering it's a writer's first time at the helm.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 track offers some extra ambience, in the more public settings especially—scenes set in markets and restaurants and such. But as it's a dialogue-driven movie (and it's in French), you'll find the stereo track a perfectly reasonable alternative.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. recipe for Christmas log cake
Extras Review: The featurette (04m:51s) is a brief interview with the director, in English; it's a pretty cursory look at the movie, with a couple of clips padding it out, but Thompson seems charming, and her English is excellent. The original French trailer is here, along with one produced for the U.S. video release; filmographies are for Thompson and the six leading actors. Weblinks are to a site for the director, and to another for Wellspring, and while the recipe for the Christmas cake looks delicious, it seems like a whole lot of trouble, too.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

La Bûche isn't going to replace It's A Wonderful Life as a holiday favorite any time soon, but in many ways the behavior in this movie is more recognizably human than that in Capra's. The fine French cast is good company for a couple of hours, and with just a few exceptions, they're well led by their director.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store