Movie: Often enough, I get to see movies that rely more on style than substance. If the movie is made by a so-called master director on a low budget, it is then called a "classic" whereas if it's made by a new director with a big budget, it's called a host of things that are far less affectionate. There are reasons for this, mostly the snob appeal of the artistic types that frown upon the sensibilities of the average Joe, and I can't say that I'm all that enamored with the double standard applied to such matters. With that, I got to see a movie made by a talented French director, Claude LeLouch, who dropped the ball with And Now Ladies & Gentlemen.
The movie focused on a jewel thief/con man, Valentin (Jeremy Irons) who goes through life stealing from jewelry stores by pretending to by various people he's not. He is always on the run and looking for his next score as he travels across Europe. He runs into a woman, Jane (Patricia Kass), that has a past of her own and is desperately trying to find meaning in life, even though she's jaded to the point that her nightclub blues act is a clear reflection of her life. The two characters get involved after a series of coincidences and a medical problem forces him to make a decision between his past and his future as both of them try to forestall a doomed romance together.
The movie seemed like a hodgepodge of ideas thrown in like vegetable soup, hoping the ingredients would gel. Sadly, they did not do so. The individual components of the movie were intriguing enough, the acting well done (although to straightforward for the material at hand), the music pleasant, the visual aspects glorious, and the story interesting enough that with minor changes, might've worked, yet the combination of these factors was not done in such a way that the movie would succeed as anything other than a curio for wayward snobs to hold out as something more than it is, a flop.
The way the movie bounced between flashbacks and flash-forwards certainly didn't help it much, nor did the way Jane's character was developed give me much room for hope. If Lelouch had simply picked out what type of movie he wanted to make, a thriller, a romance, a suspense-filled movie about a thief, or several other genres stuffed in here, he'd have been on much more solid ground but as it was, he rambled about blindly. I found it interesting that some in the movie community have determined this to be a masterpiece and worthy of great praise when, in fact, they were unable to provide the slightest bit of evidence to base their conclusion on. Perhaps if they had been able to show me the error of my ways, I'd have agreed with them but for all the positive aspects of this movie, it was simply boring and had no replay value at all. As such, I think it was worth a rating of Skip It for the vast majority of people.
Picture: The picture was presented in anamorphic widescreen color with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, as originally filmed. There was some grain and minor video noise as well as a host of minor visual defects yet the movie, on average, looked pretty good. In terms of visual style, it was very artistic and pleasing to the eye. The DVD transfer was solid with no compression artifacts or other problems relating to it.
Sound: The audio was presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround with a choice of English or French, as well as optional subtitles in either language. The vocals were generally pretty good but had a number of hollow moments to them. The music and sound effects were about average for a moderate budget release with some decent music tracks played throughout the show. There was some true separation between the channels but nothing exceptional for such a film.
Extras: There were some trailers but nothing more.
Final Thoughts: If you are looking for a mindless collection of pretty scenery and pleasant jazz-light to listen to, you'll want to go buy this one but otherwise, the movie was a stinker with little to recommend. I've seen worse movies but few of them tried to pull the wool over my eyes like this one did.