OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (OSS 117: Le Caire nid d'espions) (2006)

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Released 6-Jun-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of
Outtakes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 95:00 (Case: 99)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (46:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michel Hazanavicius
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jean Dujardin
Bérénice Bejo
Aure Atika
Philippe Lefebvre
Constantin Alexandrov
Saïd Amadis
Laurent Bateau
Claude Brosset
François Damiens
Youssef Hamid
Khalid Maadour
Arsène Mosca
Abdellah Moundy
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Ludovic Bource
Kamel Ech-Cheik


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   

 Larmina (in derisive tone)- "You are very French!"  Hubert - "Thank You"

    OSS 117 - Cairo : Nest of Spies is an extremely amusing French film made last year. It is a spoof of a 1960's series of French spy films which were made in the style of early James Bond. You certainly do not need to have seen the original films to enjoy this as it also spoofs many other things such as Sean Connery's James Bond, Inspector Clouseau and others. Although it would be easy to compare it to Austin Powers this is a very different approach to the genre than that taken by those films. This film is not as broad as the Powers' films, rather it takes the approach of slight exaggeration instead, which is often funnier than very broad humour. Don't get me wrong I am a big fan of the Austin Powers films, it's just that the approach taken here is also a winner.

    The lead character here is Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (Jean Dujardin) also known as OSS 117 (a French equivalent to the 00 numbering used in the Bond films). OSS, by the way, stands for the Office of Strategic Services. He is a wonderful mixture of intelligence, stupidity, cultural insensitivity, sexuality and bravery. The film is set in 1955 and the period detail is excellent. His colleague (and possibly secret object of his affections) Jack Jefferson is killed while on assignment in Egypt and Hubert is sent in undercover as a poultry dealer to investigate what has happened, as well as keep an eye on the Russians, Germans, English and a secret society called The Eagles of Cheops. Here he meets his local contact, the beautiful Larmina (Berenice Bajo). Obviously, the plot plays second fiddle to the comedy but it's certainly not uninteresting.

    This film does a wonderful job of reviving the feel and look for 1950s and 1960s spy films with excellent costumes and lots of very reminiscent plot points, such as ludicrous escapes and flashbacks to happier (usually homoerotic) times. There are lots of great sight gags plus excellent dialogue which generally translates well from the original French. Lots of great details from the films being spoofed are included such as the karate chop style moves, excellent vintage style fight scenes, the 'spy stance' like the one used in the credits of older James Bond films, ties and hats plus much more. The director used period equipment such as lighting and period style camera movement to also add to the 1950s atmosphere. The music also does a wonderful job of creating mood as it is a great selection of arabesque cocktail jazz very reminiscent of the era. The overall effect is brilliant.

    All of the technical work would be wasted if it wasn't for the pitch perfect performance of Jean Dujardin who is hilariously funny as OSS117. He does a wonderful combination of Sean Connery & Inspector Clouseau with his own added touches. He was nominated for a Cesar for this role. The film was nominated for 4 other Cesar's, winning one for production design. The film was shot in France and Morocco.

    Any fan of either classic 60s spy films, spy film spoofs or French comedy will really get a kick out of this. It deserves to be seen by a wider audience in the English speaking world. It was a huge hit in France. I have not laughed as much at a film in quite a while.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, which I would guess is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. There was some very light grain but only occasionally. The shadow detail was excellent.

    The colour was fantastic with incredible richness and depth of colour. There were no colour blemishes of any kind.

    I noticed one spot of macro-blocking in an underwater scene at 49:40 but this was very minor. There was also a couple of spots of very minor aliasing..

    There are subtitles in English. They are in an SBS-style yellow font and seem to be well timed.

    The layer change occurs at 46:02 and is not noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains two audio options, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and a French Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. The cover mentions a DTS track however this is not actually present on the disc. The whole mix is very front focused with little surround action in either soundtrack.

    Dialogue seemed clear and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Ludovic Bource & Kamel Ech-Cheikh is a great mixture of cocktail jazz and middle eastern flavours, which is fantastic for setting the 1950s atmosphere and the jovial tone of the film.

    The surround speakers were only used occasionally for some directional effects such as the chickens and some atmosphere.

     The subwoofer was not used to any great degree.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu design is great, with motion, music and a very cool design.

Alternate & Deleted Scenes (17:13)

    Presented non-16x9 enhanced, but in widescreen. An amusing selection of extras and alternate silliness. Worth a look.

The Making of OSS 117 (19:08)

    Presented non-16x9 enhanced widescreen. A short but interesting making of which covers influences, how the feel was recreated, colour schemes, costumes, technical information, stunts and sets.

The Collection of Howlers (11:57)

    This is a genuinely funny set of outtakes which sets it apart from most other outtakes. Great stuff.

Original French Trailer (1:42)

    A trailer in the style of trailers from the 1950s. This is a hoot!

Madman Propaganda

    Trailers for four other French films.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The only other versions of this film which seem to be available globally at this point come from France. There are three different editions available. The standard edition is virtually identical to ours with the exception that the DTS track is included and a Director's commentary is available. Additionally, a short featurette on what was going on around the world in 1955 is included. The French edition does include English subtitles (certainly on the main feature). The second version includes a second disc with a 60 minute documentary about the film, and the third includes special packaging and a figurine. You would have to give the nod here to the French version.

Summary

    A very funny French spoof of classic spy films.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The disc includes a good selection of worthwhile extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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