(us) wrote: Assassination of a High School President is an ambitious independent film that tells a terrific story. It is also Directed by a first timer, who really wasn't sure what direction the film should take. Touching on many genres, it manages to succeed adequately at all of them, but gives us little more than the great story it started out with. Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson) is the male answer to Veronica Mars, but he's not a detective, he works for the paper, or at least he wants to. Out of nowhere the biggest story in school history manages to fall into his lap and the introverted Funke, quickly gains popularity in revealing who stole the S.A.T.'s. Funke soon comes to question his initial accusation and digs deeper to uncover a conspiracy that could rock his small Catholic school to it's core. I'd never seen Reece Thompson in anything before, but he does a tremendous job at playing up all the right angles. From a bullied Sophomore to a school hero and even a man on a mission, Thompson cuts through it all with ease to give an amazing performance. He's paired with Mischa Barton, who is off the charts hot and tries to distract Bobby with everything he's wanted since the third grade. Bruce Willis adds to the already talented cast, by playing a hysterical principal who suffers from P.T.S.D., and runs his school like an army base. While the film isn't quite a comedy or a drama, it features a lot of both, while telling us a really well thought out story. The talented cast and the even more talented writers, more than make up for the Directors inexperience and really make this film a winner. Going into this movie, I had a feeling it was just going to be another awful High School comedy, but it really is so much more than that. The ending puts it all over the top and will just blow your mind. The Assassination of a High School President is very reminiscent of the show, Veronica Mars, except that it's a bit more edgy and maybe that's what it needed to survive. Bobby Funke lives the dream of every bullied student and teaches us something about the way teenagers think at the same time. It's an interesting film that certainly has it's ups and downs, but in the end, the good most certainly outweighs the bad.
(nl) wrote: "When the Lord created us, all his work was through; then the Children of Paradise did the only thing they really shouldn't do!" Yeah, that's a pretty cheesy song about the Genesis of man, but hey, that's a 1980s German pop song for you: so unusual that some of it was by black people based out of Germany, of all places. Come to think of it, the song "Children of Paradise" was by German disco group Boney M., this film was made during the German occupation of France during WWII, and the thankfully forgotten psychedelic trance project Children of Paradise was by a German, so it would appear as though most anything with this film's title has to be conquered by the Germans in some way. One might be aggravated by my referencing music projects as forgotten as Boney M. and Jan Mller's Children of Paradise, but hey, if you're interested enough in this film to be interested in reading this article in order to see what I think of it, then you're clearly open to obscure stuff. Well, I don't know if this film is all that obscure, at least not to Europeans, but really, who in this day and age is in the market for a three-hour-long, 1945 French drama about a bunch of guys competing for some woman's love in the 1820s and 1830s? Well, apparently I am, because I don't really have a whole lot to do around the house, so I reckon I'm cool with committing three hours to this. It certainly helps that this film is actually pretty good, and yet, I must admit that this three-hour ride, like the run of Boney M., gets to be a bit bumpy at times. While there are certain immersively realist tones here and there, this film is very much a French melodrama, and if you enter expecting that, it's not difficult at all to be consistently compelled by this somewhat histrionic opus, yet even those willing to run with this type of film will find the occasional challenge to their investment from the manufactured drama, partially because this melodrama gets to be a bit formulaic at times. The film is never all that conventional, but quite frankly, it's neither all that unique, being juicy enough to never be predictable, but decidedly with a moderate degree of unoriginality that, when derivative of tropes tainted by conventionalism, prove to be kind of distancing, though perhaps not as much as the slow spells, of which there are, well, less than I expected. I mean, I felt that director Marcel Carn had to have some kind of plan for sustaining your interest for nearly three hours and a quarter, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that this film is, on the whole, more entertaining than your typical dry drama of the this type and time, and yet, there's no missing slow-downs, as there's still plenty of them, chilling down engagement value with blandness and retarding momentum enough for you to have plenty of time to meditate upon the film's biggest core problem. Clocking in at a whopping 190 minutes in length, this intimate drama uses its time much more wisely than I feared, but nevertheless has way too much time to spare, bloating itself with excess material that gets to be pretty repetitious at times, and even leaves the film to focus too intensely on a certain subplot or character within this layered affair, to where you get too used to one layer for a shift in focus to be all that organic. The film is perhaps at its most relatively uneven when we enter the second part, but even changes in scene, maybe even a setting within a scene, prove to be kind of jarring, never to where you're launched completely out of the film, but decidedly to where you're thrown off by a direct result from overblown storytelling that makes the film itself seem overblown. The final product doesn't necessarily outstay its welcome, as it is consistently compelling and ultimately rewarding, no matter how long it takes to make sure that your investment pays off, but it tries to keep you going a bit longer than it probably should, gradually losing steam through pacing problems that, alongside the occasional lapse in uniqueness, challenge your attention. Of course, in the long, long, "long" run the film does not entirely squander its great deal of time with you, compelling you through and through, or at least doing a pretty decent job of drawing you into its world. Whether it be because of plenty of places in which this "mini"-epic tones down its scope, or simply because of limitations at the time, intensified by the project's coming along specifically at a time when spending money on lavish productions was anything but the biggest concern of a France that was deep in a struggle to get rid of those pesky Nazis, this period piece's production value isn't all that outstanding, but it is impressive, with art directors Lon Barsacq and Raymond Gabutti teaming up with production designers Lon Barsacq, Raymond Gabutti and Alexandre Trauner, as well as costume designer Mayo, to capture the dazzling setting of Paris during the early-mid-19th century with immersion value and artistic tastefulness that goes rivaled only by the film's other artistic touches. Granted, because of aforementioned limitations, the artistic value within this film's art direction doesn't raise all that high of a standard to challenge, and sure enough, Maurice Thiriet's score work and Marc Fossard's and Roger Hubert's cinematography aren't outstanding, but, also like the art direction, they are nonetheless impressive, with Thiriet's music having a fair degree of loveliness to it, regardless of considerable conventionalism, while Fossard and Hubert deliver on photography that, in spite of the color and definition limitations of the time, subtly plays with lighting in a way that is consistently tasteful and sometimes haunting. As with plenty of ambitious French efforts, this film is, at the very least, artistically impressive, with production value and style - both of a musical and visual nature - that aren't all that remarkable, but still stand as worthy of compliments, as they help in breathing some liveliness into the telling of a story that deserves nothing less than impressive compliments. There's little that's especially unique about this melodramatic tale, and that gets to be clearer and clearer the longer you're stuck with this story that storytelling takes over three hours to unravel, but there's still plenty of juice to this layered romantic drama and thoughtful ensemble character study, boasting dramatic potential that storytelling celebrates much more than betrays, with Jacques Prvert's script delivering on witty dialogue (I think, if the subtitles are right) and thorough exposition, as well as some sharp thematic touches, while director Marcel Carn executes Prvert's vision with a thoughtful attention to atmosphere reinforcement that immerses you into the film, when not backing the dramatic touches with engaging heart, and the lighter moments with enough flavor to keep dullness at bay. Sure, there are slow spots, but the film is never dull, and it's very rarely all that bland, which is impressive, considering how lengthy this meditative drama is, thus making the offscreen talents successful in their telling of this tale, as surely as the onscreen talents prove to be successful in their anchoring this tale. As you can probably imagine, considering the limitations in the sensibilities of this time, as well as the limitations in this drama's kick, there's not a whole lot for our performers to work with, yet most everyone delivers on charm and chemistry that draw you into his or her layered character and relationship with his or her peers, selling you on much of the human heart that drives this character study, and rounds out a tightly structured team of compelling carriers of a compelling film. I kind of wish there was more tightness to this effort, as well as more meat, as irony would have it, but there is enough effectiveness that is fleshed out within this epic for you to feel as though your three hours are not wasted. When it's all said... in French and "finally" done, you're left with a melodramatic film whose conventional areas challenge your investment, but not as much as the dry spells that retard pacing enough for you to really meditate upon the considerable excessiveness in material that often bloats narrative layers to the point of inspiring a certain inconsistency at times, and reflects an overblown ambition in this project that can never be fully fulfilled, but is ultimately done enough justice by strikingly tasteful, if limited production, musical and cinematographic value, as well as by a juicy story, - carried by witty writing, sharp direction and charismatic acting - for Marcel Carn's "Les Enfants du Paradis", or "Children of Paradise", to reward as an endearing, if overlong romantic drama. 3/5 - Good