Tuesday, July 20, 2010

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

2006, France, directed by Michel Hazanavicius (Aka: OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d'espions)

Not quite the comic diamond I anticipated, OSS 117 is nonetheless a clever, detailed spoof of both the original OSS117 character - subject of several rather more self-consciously serious French films - and, more prominently, of the James Bond films and their surrounding mythology. The filmmakers are attentive both to the conventions of 1960s spy yarns - the exotic locations, patronizing sexism and colonialism, absurd villains - and the minutiae like the terrifically artificial back-projected driving scenes, during which the actors are constantly whirring the steering wheel even on apparently straight roads. Jean Dujardin is perfectly cast as OSS117, playing the part absolutely straight while also very obviously having a terrific time, his very unsecretive agent making one cock-up after another, in a spirit of blithe indifference. Even if film just outstays its welcome, recycling several set-ups and jokes a couple more times than strictly necessary, it's still streets ahead of most Bond-style spoofs.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States