Global Advent: Day 23

The Film: À bout portant [Point Blank] – France

A Bont PortantThe classic thriller made modern is a true work of art. It combines suspense and graphic camerawork with a literary presence to create something that satisfies like a good book but can only be a film.

Like other films coming from France, the saviors of the the thriller genre, you’re not only getting a tight, gripping, story of suspense and intrigue — there are also memorable characters, brilliant acting, and artful directing. The state of thrillers in France is at an elevated place where truly creative visual style of director Fred Cavayé is mixed with quality writing and performances.

Although it’s in English and its cast is not French, Taken is also a French thriller. It was co-written and produced by Luc Besson and directed by Pierre Morel whose camerawork is impressive, but the story is just as pulpy and thin as many Hollywood productions and falls short of any sense of quality. It serves as a great comparison against a film like Point Blank which, for the imperfections it has, ranks as a thoughtful piece of film instead of pure popcorn fodder.

The evidence lies in the conflict between the lead characters. The setup is smart and playing the two actors against each other heightens the gripping plot. Gilles Lellouche, who’s role as Bruno took Tell No One into must watch territory, and the always intriguing Roschdy Zem from Precinct 36, take this film beyond entertainment. The complexity and maturity in their performances add dimensions to Point Blank not found in pulpy popcorn flicks.

Which is, I fear, just what the upcoming remake will be reduced to.

An amateur forced into crime is similar to plot points in Tell No One or Anything For Her, which makes sense as the latter was co-written and directed by Cavayé. But while it’s not as thoughtful of a film, it is still constructed and executed with a passion for and great understanding of the genre.

The portrayal of the cops, squad versus squad, is reminiscent of some elements in Precinct 36 but Point Blank never strays to far away from it’s core story. The writing has a momentum which doesn’t give up, constantly pushing to the next scene — but with a logical clarity and always in tandem with the visual dynamics. Point Blank is an exciting, artful, thriller.

Holiday Spirit: +4

The Food:  Spinach Bacon Quiche with Sweet Potato Pie Shell

There’s always a mix of things in the fridge, ready to be made remade into something new. A creative and practical endeavor which results in some delicious new recipes.

Spinach Bacon Quiche with Sweet Potato Pie ShellUsing the leftover mashed sweet potato from a second batch of sweet potato roti, I made a crust for a quiche using the Foolproof Pie Crust recipe:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix the first four ingredients with a dough cutter. In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and cut the mix together. Put the ball into saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. The dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

This recipe makes two 9″ double crusts and one 9″ shell.

Sweet Potato Pie Crust

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated mashed sweet potato
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix the first four ingredients with a dough cutter. In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and cut the mix together. Put the ball into saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. The dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

If you’re making just the one quiche, you can cut the recipe down to a third or fourth, depending on the size of your pie pan. If you use a tart pan, like the one I used, you will need at least one third of the recipe. If you use a 9″ pie pan, you could make one fourth the recipe. Or, make the large recipe and freeze the remaining dough.

When you’re ready to make the shell — heat the oven to 400°. Roll out the dough and place it in a pie or tart pan. Make sure to use plenty of dough, it will shrink some. Bake until the crust turns a light golden brown.

For the filling I modified this low fat recipe:

  • Spinach Bacon Quiche with Sweet Potato Pie Shell1  tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 eggs + 1/2 cup egg beaters
  • 1 cup skim Or low-fat milk
  • ¾ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup precooked bacon crumbles (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake

Put the oil in a pan and saute the onions and garlic. After 7-10 minutes, when the onions are softened, add the spinach. Remove from heat when the spinach is wilted, toss in the bacon.

In a bowl beat together the remaining ingredients. Put the vegetables in the shell and pour the mixture over it. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy with an almond and balsamic side salad or french cut green beans and mushrooms. Delicious!

Holiday Spirit: +5

About Saint

Filmmaker, Screenwriter, Cinephile, Coffee Zombie
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2 Responses to Global Advent: Day 23

  1. Shaula Evans says:

    Thanks again for the great lists. Our respective film lists overlap a great deal, especially for French films.

    If you like Roschdy Zem, I highly recommend The Girl from Monaco (2008).

    I also recommend Little White Lies by Guillaume Canet, the writer/director of Tell No One. Lots of overlaps in the cast but the later film is a leap forward in filmmaking quality.

    I suspect you might also like the French TV series Engrenages, in which Daniel Duval, who played Eddy Valence in 36 Quai des Orfèvres, plays a disreputable lawyer, Maitre Szabo.

    Meilleurs voeux from a fellow francophile,


    • Saint says:

      Hey, thanks!

      I did enjoy Roschdy Zem in The Girl From Monaco. He’s one of the few great actors that are fantastic in romantic roles and action roles. Loved him in 36th Precinct. Another person who is great at those two types of roles is Sami Bouajila. I really enjoyed hm in Beautiful Lies even though the movie was a bit muddled.

      I just watched Little White Lies the other week. I love all those actors, I loved seeing them together. It reminded me of The Big Chill. But I have to admit I enjoyed Tell No One much more.

      Engrenages is in my Netflix cue so I’m glad for the recommendation! I also want to check out Hero Corp and Jo.

      I’m always on the lookout for more films or TV shows to enjoy. Recommendations are greatly appreciated!

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