Sunday, June 21, 2009

Movie: OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009)

I’ve watched OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies more times in the past eight months than I care to admit. When a chance to see the sequel at the Seattle International Film Festival came up, I jumped at it.

In 1967, France’s best secret agent – vain, spectacularly obtuse, and culturally ignorant – heads to Brazil and teams up with a beautiful Mossad colonel in pursuit of a fugitive Nazi turned lucha libre impressario with plans to start the Fifth Reich. (The fourth one didn’t work.)

The original is, in its way, a perfect thing, lampooning early ‘60s spy films in part by flawlessly recreating their look. (I’ve said it before: even the fight choreography in Cairo makes me laugh.) The sequel is bigger, broader, and sillier, but then so are the late ‘60s movies it’s satirizing. Again the era’s filmmaking is meticulously copied, with split-screens and lens flares galore. There are some sharp political barbs amidst the physical comedy. But the biggest laughs come from star Jean DuJardin and his extraordinary facial expressions.

Rio is not yet scheduled for U.S. release, which gives you a chance to watch Cairo first. The follow-up isn’t as good, but it’s still funny. The opening sequence, of DuJardin doing the twist with a chalet’s worth of lovely ladies to Dean Martin’s “Gentle on My Mind,” made me feel like a million bucks.

Here’s a trailer, with captions available. And a Wall Street Journal article on the series’ success, with hints about a third film.