- Although I rate IMDB very highly as an information source, I don't take it that seriously as a centre for academic review. Every now and then however, I feel compelled to step in to redress the balance if I feel some cinematic ignoramus has completely mis-read a film and might sway others' opinions.

A review of Le Souffle (2001) - written on 23rd August, 2004
- 'Under-rated modern classic'
I'm afraid those who mis-read Le Souffle as a boring film about a pretentious teenager are in need of cinematic guidance. The film- shot in black and white as an aesthetic decision which marks both the uncompromising stance of its director as well as the downbeat narrative-is about a teenager, life, death, and the rituals associated with all of them.
With echoes of Franju in its brutal depiction of animal cruelty, Le Souffle weaves a coming-of-age story with a semi-mystical backdrop of French rural life. This is not supposed to be 'real'- the frequent dream sequences point to a directorial awareness that he is making a comment on the very themes he is focusing on.
Le Souffle is a complex film but well worth watching- not once but again if one is to even touch the surface of its cinematic depth. Powerful, interesting stuff- the kind of film we can't make anymore.

A review of The Goodbye Bird (1993)- written on 30th December, 2006
- 'Lovely family film with a sensational performance by Pettiet'
I'm afraid our friend rsoonsa is guilty of misreading several films apart from 'The Goodbye Bird'. In fact, this is a warm film about truant teenager Francis 'Frank' Phillips gaining respect from the adults around him and finding a place in the world. Thus, it is ultimately a film about redemption and salvation.

One of the strengths of the film is its low-key opening and the wistful atmosphere created by first the non-diegetic piano music and that of the mouth organ. The opening scenes help flesh out Frank's character, as he is seen by Judge Julius Bartlett (Jesse Bennett) and told "sometimes the person you save may be you", setting up the theme of redemption which permeates the film. Frank also suffers a very unsettled home-life (his Father is absent, and later writes to say he will never come home, whilst his Mother Sharon initially lounges in bed). The reputation Frank has for transgressions make his interview with Miss Van Borins both uncomfortable and amusing- he can see the parrot escaping, she can not. That Frank is subsequently accused of stealing the parrot introduces the familiar theme of injustice, wittily undercut by Doris and her wildly eccentric behaviour.

The real thrust of the film's narrative concerns Frank's methods of saving the unadopted animals from euthanasia whilst developing a friendship with Miss Van Borins' parrot. Frank's increasing awareness of the shelter and its procedures motivate him to rescue animals with a youthful disregard of future consequences and is mirrored in the film's mise-en-scene. Thus, the black baseball cap worn by Frank at the start of the film is changed for the white cowboy hat (ironically sent to him by his absent Father), but events conspire to close in on Frank and his schemes.

Although the ending of the film is a little cliched, it does satisfy the expectations set up by the film's narrative- that Frank's humanity will be recognised and he will succeed. The mutual understanding amongst the adults that (apart from Ray and Doris) often have negative comments to make about him is heartwarming, as is Frank's return to the animal shelter.

Overall, 'The Goodbye Bird' lacks pretentiousness and does not have a glossy 'high concept' aura with an overpaid superstar cast. It is a very gentle family film, with perhaps too many narrative strands but highly enjoyable performances, not from (as rsoonsa states) Cindy Pickett, but from Wayne Rogers and the film's young lead.

Finally, 'The Goodbye Bird' is inseparable from the brilliant performance of Chris Pettiet as Frank Phillips, by turns sensitive, dry and compassionate. Despite the film's positive imagery and upbeat message, the feeling the film leaves me with is one of great sadness- Chris Pettiet was not an actor who made hundreds of movies, married five times and lived to be eight decades old. Instead, he had too little time in the world, and did not reach 25 years of age.

Whatever its other merits (and, as I have argued, these are not merely to be dismissed by those without sufficient engagement or knowledge), 'The Goodbye Bird' captures a moment in the life of Chris Pettiet, and as such, is to be celebrated and preserved for eternity.

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