Tuesday, February 16, 2010

French eye candy for real

Searching Netflix for good science fiction isn't as easy as I thought it would be. One movie we accidentally came across recently was Suspension, which has a sci-fi "widget" but is otherwise pretty much a character study. It was very watchable. And then... did we really sit through that godawful thing from the 80s with Dennis Quaid about dream research the other week?

Last night we ended up choosing the French near-future action movie District B13 (Banlieue 13). Made in 2004, it's set in 2010 as an excuse to change (or perhaps simply exaggerate) the social structure of a major metropolis--Paris. Beyond that, there's nothing science fiction about it. It's a pure action story.

Loved it! It features several amazing parkour (urban mountaineering) sequences that pretty much make the film. The simple storyline probably wouldn't stand without those visuals. In fact, there's not much else to say about the movie except that it's hugely enjoyable and just the right length at 85 minutes.

Actor David Belle is one half of the protagonist duo, and is credited with coining the term parkour, a style based on the "obstacle course method of [French] military training," itself based on African tribal agility skills. Watching the "stunts" in this movie made me realize how much fun it is to see people throwing their bodies around for real instead of relying on CGI. It has about as much character development and moral preaching as Avatar (that is, not much and quite a bit, respectively) but for me it works much better as an action flick, and just as well as a visual feast. Not to mention it's over one hour of two pieces of perfectly cast muscular eye candy.

As a side note, I studied French for 7 years and could barely understand a word they were saying.

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