Sunday, April 24, 2016

Vidocq est Mort!

Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq (2001) was made by mono-named French director Pitof. He did a lot of visual fx work, but I looked this up because he directed Catwoman. I liked that one more that most people, and I liked this a lot.

It is set at the end of the French revolution. A lumpy looking Gerard Depardieu is chasing a mysterious man through crowds, warehouses and finally to a forge. After a fight, the mystery man, with a shiny, gold reflective mask, pushes Depardieu into the flames. The papers proclaim "Vidocq est Mort". It seems that Depardieu was the famous criminal-turned detective Vidocq. He was investigating a series of mysterious deaths of men who are struck by lightning and consumed by fire.

Now a journalist is trying to find out who killed Vidocq. He meets with his associate, a gold-toothed Gypsy with a lizard tattooed on his face. He tracks down the woman in the case, an exotic entertainer. And so the rest of the movie combines his investigation with flashbacks (so don't worry, we get more Depardieu after the first scene).

This is all fine, but not the most important thing about the movie. The important thing is the restless camera, always moving, jamming itself right into characters faces, swinging through crowds, under feet, up to the ceiling, circling, swooping, sliding, leaping. It's the craziest, most kinetic and frenetic, balletic camera performance I can think of. Unfortunately, this is combined with somewhat made-for-tv look, possibly due to the early use of digital cameras.

So, not entirely successful, but very interesting and exciting. Does not require watching Catwoman.

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