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Sunday, June 9, 2013

L'APPARTEMENT / THE APARTMENT (1996)

This was writer/director’s Gilles Mimouni’s first feature film, and (to date) his last. Inexplicably well-reviewed & awarded, it even whelped a Hollywood insta-flop remake, WICKER PARK/’04. Under its original title, you expect a nod toward Billy Wilder’s THE APARTMENT/’60, and sure enough, Mimouni tosses up (to little purpose) a suicide intervention & a cracked compact-case mirror as homage. But his real target is Alfred Hitchcock. Specifically, VERTIGO/’58; plus dollops of REAR WINDOW and a famous bit from STRANGERS ON A TRAIN/’51. (The lifts have all the point & purpose of a movie quote on THE SIMPSONS, yet manage to be far more annoying.) Vincent Cassel, an actor generally immune to false gestures, bats his long eye-lashes and swoons after two & a half women as he dashes up & down staircases in pursuit of a lost love who may have returned. Is it the same girl? (Nope: Monica Bellucci’s got fat, puffy lips; Romane Bohringer doesn’t.) And what of his current fiancée, a blonde who thinks Cassel’s in Tokyo on business? (It’s the Barbara Bel Geddes part, in case you forgot.) Mimouni shows a decent hand at playing out linear timeline games, flashing back from different POVs, but neither the plot nor the characters are believable even within the construct of movie logic. And his slick gliding camera moves are, at best, a showy misapplication of Hitchcock’s succinct elegance. Painfully so when smothered under the faux Bernard Herrmann score of Peter Chase.

DOUBLE-BILL: To see a talented director stumble over VERTIGO, try Brian De Palma’s OBSESSION/’76 which also uses a faux Bernard Herrmann score by . . . Bernard Herrmann!

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Better yet, just listen to Tom Lehrer doing his classic LOBACHEVSKY (PLAGIARIZE!), 'til you get the taste out of your mouth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU_j5cQ2sfQ

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