Many, many moons ago, I wrote a review of OSS 117: CAIRO—NEST OF SPIES! You can read it here: http://www.matchflick.com/column/1839.
I join you today having been to the 2010 Sacramento French Film Festival. Unfortunately, I was only able to see one film due to my schedule, but I made sure it was the sequel to this spy pastiche/parody: OSS 117: RIO NE RÉPOND PLUS (LOST IN RIO). My favorite aspect of the film series is that the hero manages to capture (and thus critique) the sexism, intolerance, and imperialist impulses common in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1967, Agent OSS 117, Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, is sent to Rio to deliver a blackmail payment. There, he begins to track a former Nazi. In doing so, he teams up with a beautiful, but rebuking, Israeli agent. In doing so, he demonstrates his cultural ignorance of and prejudices against hippies, peace, Jews, Muslims, Germans, French collaborators, fruit for dinner, women's liberation, homosexual experimentation, and mind-altering drugs.
So what makes him ultimately endearing? Well, it's fun to watch him squirm, which he inevitably does. He makes fantastic Robin Hood costumes, takes interesting pictures, and has the best possible strategy for getting information out of the German embassy in Rio (walk in and ask for the list of Nazis in hiding there). There's also something winning in his smile—I'm convinced that Jean Dujardin got the role because of that smile.
In addition to spoofing all the regular spy stuff (including the requisite boss fight on the arm of Christ the Redeemer of the Andes), the film nails 1960s conventions (multiple split screens, fashions, etc), several Hitchcock masterpieces, and chase scenes (the chase scene in the hospital here is one of the best I've ever seen).
This film was the last of the festival. The ushers were in 1960s go go boots and dresses. Afterwards, we had cheese, fruit, chocolate, and champagne.
What have I learned? That the bad guys are bad shots. That another glass of champagne is always a good idea. That my friend Jo looks fantastic in 1960s dresses. That appealing to Nazis' childhood dreams usually doesn't work. That crocodiles take too long to roast. That paddleboats are better if they're shaped like ducks. That I shouldn't trust seductresses named Carlotta, especially if they don't finish the seduction. That if I'm going to be a jerk, I'd better have a dazzling smile.
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