891 La poison

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swo17
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891 La poison

#1 Post by swo17 » Tue May 16, 2017 4:45 pm

La poison

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The writer, actor, and director Sacha Guitry emerged from the theater to become one of France's best-known and most inventive filmmakers, and La poison marked his first collaboration with another titan of the screen, the incomparably expressive Michel Simon. With Guitry's witty dialogue and fleet pacing, the black comedy is the quintessential depiction of a marriage gone sour: after thirty years together, a village gardener (Simon) and his wife (Germaine Reuver) find themselves contemplating how to do away with each other, with the former even planning how he'll negotiate his eventual criminal trial. Inspired by Guitry's own post–World War II tangle with the law—a wrongful charge of collaborationism—La poison is a blithely caustic broadside against the French legal system and a society all too eager to capitalize on others' misfortunes.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with filmmaker Olivier Assayas on director Sacha Guitry's influence on French cinema
On Life On-screen: Miseries and Splendour of a Monarch, a 60-minute documentary from 2010 on the collaboration of Guitry and Michel Simon
• New English subtitle translation
• More!
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau and a 1957 obituary for Guitry by François Truffaut

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Lachino
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Re: 891 La poison

#2 Post by Lachino » Tue May 16, 2017 6:02 pm

Well, it certainly has the Sascha Guitry opening montage to end all Sascha Guitry opening montages. I almost felt sorry for Michel Simon.

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Re: 891 La poison

#3 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue May 16, 2017 8:51 pm

Is this any good?

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domino harvey
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Re: 891 La poison

#4 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 16, 2017 8:55 pm

Not at all

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Rayon Vert
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Re: 891 La poison

#5 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue May 16, 2017 8:57 pm

Terrific! That saves me a 40$ blind-buy, that I would probably have done because it's got a 7.7. rating on IMDB.

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Re: 891 La poison

#6 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 16, 2017 9:00 pm

It's a one joke movie where the joke isn't funny and yet Guitry is determined to hammer it (stab it?) home over and over. There's a reason no one talked about this after MOC put it out a couple years ago

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knives
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Re: 891 La poison

#7 Post by knives » Tue May 16, 2017 10:25 pm

I thought that was because we never talk about releases anymore except to complain about specs?

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Re: 891 La poison

#8 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 16, 2017 10:48 pm

That too. God bless users like movielocke who actively seek out and discuss most releases (though he can skip this one)

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Re: 891 La poison

#9 Post by skeets kelly » Wed May 17, 2017 12:19 am

Huh. I think this is great.

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Re: 891 La poison

#10 Post by MichaelB » Wed May 17, 2017 2:44 am

Same here. Bizarrely gushing personal opening intro aside, this was pretty much an unalloyed delight.

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tenia
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Re: 891 La poison

#11 Post by tenia » Wed May 17, 2017 3:56 am

It certainly isn't an exceptionally good movie, but I found it quite OK too.

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Re: 891 La poison

#12 Post by Jonathan S » Wed May 17, 2017 6:54 am

It's my favourite of the six Guitry films I've seen, though mainly because he manages to confine his own appearance and buzz-saw voice to the credits. FWIW, my partner of 27 years (who generally avoids non-English language films) thinks it's one of the best, funniest and most extraordinary films he's ever seen. Maybe I should be afraid...

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Re: 891 La poison

#13 Post by MichaelB » Wed May 17, 2017 7:25 am

Out of curiosity, I dug out my S&S review of the Eureka disc:
Befitting its no-nonsense title, Sacha Guitry’s film serves up black comedy at its most gleefully cynical, in which murder is philosophically justified and the law is comprehensively revealed to be an absolute ass. The latter sentiment is especially heartfelt: at the start of the film, an on-camera Guitry introduces his cast and crew and expresses especial appreciation for the accuracy of the prison cell set - a detail that no-one familiar with his troubled mid-1940s history is likely to miss.

But despite this apparent score-setting and a seemingly penny-dreadful subject (a disaffected husband and wife harbouring secret plans to kill each other), the film is somehow as soufflé-light as Ealing’s bookending Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ladykillers, which gave serial murder and granny-bashing a similar air of disconcerting levity. It’s easy to tell from a dialogue description of the protagonist Paul Braconnier as a man who “looks like a monster, but has a strange kind of charm - halfway between chimera and clown” that the part was written with the incomparable Michel Simon in mind, one of the few actors who could take a man who is unambiguously a murderous misogynist and turn him into some kind of tragic hero.

The large supporting cast is deftly sketched, including Germaine Reuver’s monstrous shrew of a wife (the Braconniers’ mealtimes are sullen, surly affairs, mockingly underscored by airy radio chansons), Jean Debucourt’s blithely arrogant lawyer Aubanel (the mid-point scene in which he’s given an official bollocking - “Jurisprudence is not theatre!” - being a particular highlight) and Jeanne Fusier-Gir’s one-woman Greek chorus of a small-town florist, whose evident self-image as a latterday tricoteuse is reinforced by her French Revolutionary chalk-board calendar. Like all expert farceurs, Guitry plays it slowly at first, meticulously planting little comedic bomblets that are primed to explode when the action starts revving up.

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Re: 891 La poison

#14 Post by ptatler » Wed May 17, 2017 9:54 am

domino harvey wrote:It's a one joke movie where the joke isn't funny and yet Guitry is determined to hammer it (stab it?) home over and over.
So we're talking On purge bébé-levels of bad?

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Re: 891 La poison

#15 Post by domino harvey » Wed May 17, 2017 10:27 am

ptatler wrote:
domino harvey wrote:It's a one joke movie where the joke isn't funny and yet Guitry is determined to hammer it (stab it?) home over and over.
So we're talking On purge bébé-levels of bad?
Thankfully not, though it's worth recalling that some members of this forum rushed in to defend that film as well!

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Re: 891 La poison

#16 Post by Gregory » Wed May 17, 2017 12:44 pm

There is a crucial similarity between the two: both were extreme cases of fast, shoestring productions. On purge was shot in six days; La poison was done in nine—with multiple cameras and no retakes.

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Re: 891 La poison

#17 Post by swo17 » Wed May 17, 2017 12:48 pm

It should be said though that the Renoir film was one of his first (and his very first sound film), while the Guitry film was one of his last.

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Re: 891 La poison

#18 Post by ptatler » Wed May 17, 2017 12:51 pm

Gregory wrote:There is a crucial similarity between the two: both were extreme cases of fast, shoestring productions. On purge was shot in six days; La poison was done in nine—with multiple cameras and no retakes.
Merchant of Four Seasons was shot in nine days. That has at least two jokes in it!

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Re: 891 La poison

#19 Post by MichaelB » Wed May 17, 2017 1:00 pm

Little Shop of Horrors was shot in two and a half, and has loads!

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Re: 891 La poison

#20 Post by What A Disgrace » Wed May 17, 2017 1:29 pm

I have to agree with Michael. Found the movie a joy to watch from beginning to end, like the other Guitry films.

Pity I already own the Masters of Cinema edition that's 4 or 5 years old.

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Re: 891 La poison

#21 Post by teddyleevin » Wed May 17, 2017 2:40 pm

domino harvey wrote:one joke movie
domino harvey wrote:Guitry
So far, that's all of his films I've seen.

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Re: 891 La poison

#22 Post by Rayon Vert » Wed May 17, 2017 9:03 pm

swo17 wrote:It should be said though that the Renoir film was one of his first (and his very first sound film), while the Guitry film was one of his last.
swo, are you saying you don't think much of it either?

I want to see a tally by all board members so I can make up my mind! (Though I'm more likely to be swayed by heavily negative opinions.)

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Re: 891 La poison

#23 Post by swo17 » Wed May 17, 2017 9:25 pm

I actually remember liking it alright, though little else about it.

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Re: 891 La poison

#24 Post by Perkins Cobb » Thu May 18, 2017 2:09 pm

Michel Simon at his most insufferable. It's not worthless but it's one of Guitry's weakest. I wish someone would Blu Assassins et voleurs instead, as it's very witty and reminiscent of his late '30s peak.

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Re: 891 La poison

#25 Post by movielocke » Sat May 20, 2017 3:04 am

domino harvey wrote:That too. God bless users like movielocke who actively seek out and discuss most releases (though he can skip this one)
unfortunately, I saw this comment too late! Having enjoyed 3 of the 4 films in the eclipse set, I popped this up on filmstruck this week and oh my, this is a truly reprehensible film on virtually all levels. This might actually top Multiple Maniacs for me as criterion film I liked least from 2017, at least the John Waters film is a curio and merits seeing.

Virulently sexist to the point of being smug and self-satisfied at how righteous it is for a man to be sexist, the film has virtually no redeeming qualities whatsoever. That it's supposed to be a comedy is perhaps even worse.

I was disappointed the children's mock trial wasn't the real thing, I think they had the right of it. I thought for a moment that Guitry was going to pull the carpet out from under Simon at the end, when the picture is passed around,
SpoilerShow
as using the reasoning, "I killed her because I couldn't get an erection because she was ugly" as Simon uses in the film, is obviously an explicitly unacceptable defense. on the other hand, all male judges, all male jury, all male attorneys, and the only female witness says that all women conspire to murder men, so... Fuck, you can't describe any moment of this film without getting more irritated at the depth and breadth of it's complete embrace of misogyny.

what is even the point of the film, arguing for no fault divorce laws to be passed? arguing for stronger criminal laws and or punishment to be passed? I think I don't have the cultural context to understand just what society Guitry was positing this film in relation to.
Fairly grotesque throughout, I feel vaguely soiled for having watched it!

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