A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT: I took a break from getting ready to go to LA for an evening out with Mal and Maria to see the new Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, A Very Long Engagement. One of the most visually stunning movies I've ever seen and Audrey Tautou is brilliant. It has some of the same whimsy as Amelie, but it's also a war epic and a tear-jerker. Some of World War I battle scenes were gruesome...they made Saving Private Ryan look like a cakewalk. The story is very simple: Mathilde's (Tautou) young fiance, Manech, is believed dead, but she discovers that he and four other soldiers were court marshaled for blowing off their own hands to get out of the army. They are forced into the no man's land between the French and German trenches to either be shot by the enemy or freeze or starve to death. Mathilde hears conflicting reports about what happened to the soldiers, but believes Manech is still alive. The story turns into a gripping mystery, filled with melancholy flashbacks, as she begins the long journey to find out what really happened.

Jeunet uses CGI animation to recreate 1920's Paris so perfectly you can't tell where the real and CGI begin. He even manages to revive the old Orsay train station (now a museum) and make it look like trains are arriving and departing there again. Jodie Foster shows up, speaking perfect French, and has an extended cameo that helps Mathilde continue her search. Of course the movie belongs to Audrey Tautou. She will be remembered as one of the greatest actresses of her generation. Mathilde has a superstitious habit that is endearing, such as when she's peeling an apple: "If the peel doesn't break before I finish, Manech is alive" or "If the dog comes in before dinner, I will get word from Manech." In a beautifully played and absolutely wrenching scene, she does this same thing as she runs down a hill to intercept Manech's car as he's driving away to the war. Mathilde had polio as a child and walks with a pronounced limp and watching her trying to make it to the road is heartbreaking. "If I make it to the bend before the car, Manech will come back safely." Don't miss this film! It's a triumph for both the star and the director.

So, I'm off to SoCal tomorrow...first stop San Diego. Check out the main website at www.collinkelley.com for all the details. I will try and post while I'm out there. I think it's going to be an amazing trip.


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