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Thread: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center 2013

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center 2013

    Rendez-Vous with French
    Cinema 2013

    To provide feedback to reviews and get day-to-day updates on screenings go to the Rendez-Vous Forums thread HERE.

    Links to the reviews:

    Augustine (Alice Winocour 2012)
    The Atomic Age (Héléna Klotz 2012)
    Bad Girl (Patrick Mille 2012) .
    The Day of Crows (Jean-Christophe Dessaint 2012)
    The Girl from Nowhere (Jean-Claude Brisseau 2012)
    Granny’s Funeral (Bruno Podalydès 2012)
    In the House (François Ozon 2012)
    Jappeloup (Christian Duguay 2013)
    Journal de France (Raymond Depardon, Claudine Nougaret 2012)
    A Lady in Paris (Ilmar Raag 2012)
    La Maison de la radio (Nicolas Philibert 2013)--CANCELLED
    My Blue-Eyed Girl (Shalimar Preuss 2012)
    The Nun (Guillaume Nicloux 2013)
    Populaire (Régis Roinsard 2012)--NO FSLC PRESS SCREENING
    Renoir (Gilles Bourdos 2012)
    Rich is the Wolf (Damien Odoul 2012)
    The Suicide Shop (Patrice Leconte 2012)
    Thérèse Desqueyroux (Claude Miller 2012)
    Three Worlds (Catherine Corsini 2012)
    You, Me and Us (Jacques Doillon 2012)
    You Will Be my Son (Gilles Legrand 2012)

    The Rendez-Vous with French Cinema presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance has been announced for 2013. Public screenings will run from Feb. 28 to March 10. The Rendez-Vous site is here.

    Director: Alice Winocour

    Screenplay: Alice Winocour Cast: Vincent Lindon, Soko, Chiara Mastroianni, Olivier Rabourdin
    Paris, winter 1885. At the Pitié-Salpêtriere Hospital, Professor Charcot is studying a mysterious illness: hysteria. Augustine, 19 years old, becomes his favorite guinea pig, the star of his demonstrations of hypnosis. The object of his studies will soon become the object of his desire… Based on a true case, writer-director Winocour has adapted the story of a progressive 19th century doctor/therapist and his unusual patient into a study of personal wills, hidden desires and reversals of fate. A maid who suffers from seizures is sent to a mental hospital, where it seems she’ll be condemned for life until Professor Charcot finds in her the possibilities of testing his advanced notions of the sources of so-called “hysteria.” Soko as Augustine and Vincent Lindon as Charcot deliver astonishing performances. A Music Box Films release.

    The Atomic Age
    Director: Héléna Klotz

    Screenplay: Héléna Klotz, Elisabeth Perceval Cast: Eliott Paquet, Dominik Wojcik, Niels Schneider, Mathilde Bisson
    The Atomic Age follows what begins as a pleasure-seeking journey into Parisian night life and ends in abandonment and disillusionment in a remote forest at dawn. What are Victor and Rainer looking for when they take a train into the seemingly claustrophobic centre of Paris at night? The artificial paradise of a night club, amusement, sex, drugs, but also oblivion. Full of profound sadness and gloom, this is not the Paris of rationality and light, but a latently dangerous place where tedium, frustration and boredom, ephemeral flirtations and chance encounters can suddenly turn into aggression, violence and emotional breakdown. We follow the friends on their trip through the night which becomes increasingly charged with an unexpressed eroticism through gay gestures and prolonged eye contact. Thematically as well as formally, The Atomic Age is reminiscent of films by Robert Bresson, or even Gus Van Sant. Throughout all this, the director, Héléna Klotz, does not pretend to fully understand her characters – something fundamental and mysterious remains which defies explanation – but invites us to take a closer look at objects and people.
    Bande annonce AVEC ST anglais

    Bad Girl
    Director: Patrick Mille

    Screenplay: Patrick Mille, Justine Lévy Cast: Izia Higelin, Carole Bouquet, Arthur Dupont, Bob Geldof,...
    Louise simultaneously discovers that she is pregnant and that her mother is seriously ill. Happiness and guilt, euphoria and sadness, filial love and love, period. She’ll need a good nine months to cope with all this.

    The Day of Crows
    Director: Jean-Christophe Dessaint

    Screenplay: Amandine Taffin Cast: Jean Reno, Lorànt Deutsch, Isabelle Carré, Claude Chabrol
    Courge lives in the heart of the forest, raised by his father, a tyrannical giant who reigns triumphant and prevents his son from exploring beyond limited boundaries. Ignorant about the ways of men, the boy grows up wild, with the placid ghosts who haunt the forest his only company. That is until the day that he is forced to go to the nearest village, where he mets young Manon…

    The Girl from Nowhere
    Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau

    Screenplay: Jean-Claude Brisseau Cast: Virginie Legeay, Claude Morel, Jean-Claude Brisseau, Lise Bellynck… Synopsis: Michel
    Michel, a retired math teacher, lives alone since his wife died. He spends his time writing an essay about human illusions. One day he comes across Dora, a young homeless woman, who shows up injured on his doorstep, and puts her up until she recovers. Her presence brings something new to Michel’s life, but gradually the apartment becomes the site of mysterious happenings.

    Granny’s Funeral
    Director: Bruno Podalydès

    Screenplay: Bruno Podalydès, Denis Podalydès Cast: Denis Podalydès, Valérie Lemercier, Isabelle Candelier, Bruno Podalydès
    Gran’s dead. Berthe is no longer. Armand had “vaguely” forgotten his dear old grandmother…
    A druggist, he works with his wife Hélène in Chatou. Armand hides his magician’s props in a medicine draw because he is secretely preparing a show for the birthday of… his mistress’s daughter. And now there’s dear and dead gran? Should she be buried or should she be incinerated? Who exactly was Berthe?

    In the House
    Director: François Ozon

    Screenplay: François Ozon Cast: RFabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emmanuelle Seigner, Ernst Umhauer
    A 16-year-old teenager sneaks into the house of one of the pupils in his class and writes about in one of the pieces of writing he gives to his French teacher. Confronted by this talented and different student, the teacher finds renewed joy in teaching. However, the teenager’s home invasion will set off a series of uncontrollable events.

    Director: Christian Duguay

    Screenplay: Guillaume Canet Cast: Guillaume Canet, Marina Hands, Daniel Auteuil, Lou de Laâge, Tcheky...

    Journal de France
    Directors: Raymond Depardon & Claudine Nougare
    Screenplay: Raymond Depardon & Claudine Nougaret Cast: Raymond Depardon & Claudine...
    A journal, a voyage through time. He photographs France, she rediscovers the unseen footage he has so carefully kept: his first steps behind the camera, his TV reports from around the world, snatches of their memories and of our history.

    A Lady in Paris
    Director: Ilmar Raag

    Screenplay: Ilmar Raag, Agnès Feuvre, Lise Macheboeuf Cast: Jeanne Moreau, Laine Mägi, Patrick Pineau…..
    Anne leaves Estonia to come to Paris as a caretaker for Frida, an elderly Estonian lady who emigrated to France long ago. Anne soon realizes that she is not wanted. All Frida wants from life is the attention of Stéphane, her younger former lover. Stéphane, however, is desperate for Anne to stay and look after Frida, even against the old lady’s will. In this conflict of strangers, Anne will find her own way

    La Maison de la radio
    Director: Nicolas Philibert

    Screenplay: Nicolas Philibert
    A journey into the heart of Radio France during which Nicolas Philibert shall attempt to capture the mysteries of a media whose very matter, sound, is invisible

    My Blue-Eyed Girl
    Director: Shalimar Preuss

    Screenplay: Shalimar Preuss Cast: Lou Aziosmanoff, Jocelyn Lagarrigue, Victor Laforge
    Maden, 17 years old. Summer holidays on the island. She is waiting for the mail. Between her room and the beach, between her father and cousins, the house, and, very close, the prison.

    The Nun
    Director: Guillaume Nicloux

    Screenplay: Guillaume Nicloux, Jérôme Beaujour Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Louise Bourgoin, Martina Gedeck, Pauline Etienne
    Adapted from Diderot’s eponymous novel, The Nun tells the trajectory of a woman trying to resist imposed religious values, unveiling the dehumanization of cloistered life.

    Director: Régis Roinsard

    Screenplay: Régis Roinsard, Daniel Presley, Romain Compingt Cast: Romain Duris, Déborah François, Bérénice Bejo
    1958. Rose is a terrible secretary but a demon typist. Her handsome boss resolves to turn her into the fastest girl in the world.

    Director: Gilles Bourdos

    Screenplay: Jérôme Tonnerre, Gilles Bourdos Cast: Michel Bouquet, Vincent Rottiers, Christa Theret, Thomas Doret
    The Côte d’Azur. 1915. In his twilight years, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is tormented by the loss of his wife, the pains of arthritic old age and the terrible news that his son Jean has been wounded in action.
    But when a young girl miraculously enters his world, the old painter is filled with a new, wholly unexpected energy. Blazing with life, radiantly beautiful, Andrée will become his last model, and the wellspring of a remarkable rejuvenation.
    Back at the family home to convalesce, Jean too falls under the spell of the new, redheaded star in the Renoir firmament. In their Mediterranean Eden – and in the face of his father’s fierce opposition – he falls in love with this wild, untameable spirit… and as he does so, within weak-willed, battle-shaken Jean, a filmmaker begins to grow.

    Rich is the Wolf
    Director: Damien Odoul

    Screenplay: Damien Odoul Cast: Marie-Eve Nadeau, Damien Odoul
    Olaf is missing. He only left his lover Marie with a box of tapes with hundreds of hours of rushes (the last seven years of his life), together with a notebook. Marie decides to investigate. Day in day out, she views these pictures, these fragments of a life, and attempts to reconstruct the journey of the man she loves so as to better understand his departure.

    The Suicide Shop
    Director: Patrice Leconte

    Screenplay: Patrice Leconte Cast: Bernard Alane, Isabelle Spade, Kacey Mottet-Klein
    Imagine a city where people no longer have a taste for anything, to the point that the most flourishing store in town is the one that sells poisons and hanging ropes. But the store owner has just given birth to a child who is joy incarnate. In the Magasin des Suicides, the rot has set in.

    Thérèse Desqueyroux
    Director: Claude Miller

    Screenplay: Claude Miller, Natalie Carter Cast: Audrey Tautou, Gilles Lellouche, Anaïs Demoustier, Catherine Arditi
    A woman trapped in a disappointing marriage tries to reclaim her freedom by any means. Claude Miller’s new film, starring Audrey Tautou in an extraordinary role..

    Three Worlds
    Director: Catherine Corsini

    Screenplay: Catherine Corsini, Benoît Graffin Cast: Clotilde Hesme, Raphaël Personnaz, Arta Dobroshi, Reda Kateb
    Al, a young man from a modest background is about to marry his boss’ daughter, along with succeeding him as the head of a car dealership. One night, while coming back from his bachelor party, he is guilty of a hit-and-run accident, urged by his two childhood friends present in the car. The next day, gnawed with guilt, Al decides to inquire about his victim. What he does not know is that Juliette, a young woman, has witnessed the entire accident from her balcony. She is the one who had called 911 and helped the victim’s wife Véra, a Moldavian illegal-immigrant. But when Juliette recognizes Al as the reckless driver in the Hospital corridor, she is unable to denounce him…

    You, Me and Us
    Director: Jacques Doillon

    Screenplay: Jacques Doillon Cast: Lou Doillon, Samuel Benchetrit, Malik Zidi
    Seven-year-old Lina has a thing on her mind: are her beloved parents, now separated, secretly spending time together? She soon has the proof. It’s nuts! And then her mother tells her that she wants another baby, as though she, Lina, is not enough. And who will she have this child with? Yes, it’s totally nuts!

    You Will Be my Son
    Director: Gilles Legrand

    Screenplay: Gilles Legrand, Delphine de Vigan Cast: Niels Arestrup, Lorànt Deutsch, Patrick Chesnais, Anne...
    You can’t choose your parents or your children! Paul de Marseul, proprietor of a prestigious vineyard in Saint Emilion, has a son, Martin, who works with him on the family estate. But Paul, a demanding and passionate winegrower, can’t stand the idea that his son will one day take over from him. He dreams of a more talented, more charismatic son… a son who conforms more to his father fantasies. The arrival of Philippe, the son of his steward, will turn life at the estate upside down. Paul becomes fascinated by this ideal son. Thus begins a game of chess played by four: two fathers, two sons, under the powerless gaze of the women who surround them. And at least one of the men no longer has anything to lose.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-22-2015 at 05:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Films, Descriptions & Public Screenings Schedule

    Here is the full FSLC press release for the 2013 Rendez-Vous, received today (Feb. 5, 2013). It describes the offerings and gives the public screenings schedule. To the FSLC blurbs I have added information about French releases of these and Allociné press ratings, as usual and will give the Press & Industry screenings schedule when it's available.

    Main Venues: BAMcinématek (BAM)/Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (EBM)/IFC Center (IFC)/Walter Reade Theater (WRT)
    Opening Night: The Paris Theater (PARIS)

    Déborah François, Romain Duris in Populaire

    Régis Roinsard, 2012, France, 111m

    Stuck in the provinces of 1950s France, Rose (Deborah François) is taken under the wing of her handsome boss (Romain Duris) and develops astonishing skills as a high-speed typist, leading to unexpected fame. In the grand tradition of French social comedy, Régis Roinsard has concocted a scintillating entertainment lovingly looking back on an idealized and innocent decade. Starring Deborah François, Romain Duris. The Weinstein Company will release the movie in July 2013.
    Thurs., Feb. 28, 7:30pm – PARIS; Fri. Mar. 1, 7:00pm - BAM; Sat., Mar. 2, 7:00pm - IFC
    In person: Romain Duris, Régis Roinsard, Deborah François
    French release: 28 novembre 2012 (1h 51min) Allocinè press: 3.8 (based on 24 reviews). Now available on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray in France.
    Weinstein will release this movie in the US in July.

    The Atomic Age/L’age atomique
    Héléna Klotz, 2012, France, DCP; 68m

    Arriving from the Paris outskirts for a round of weekend clubbing, good-looking Victor (Eliott Paquet) and his Central European friend Rainer (Dominik Wojcik) are full of self-confidence and a youthfully self-conscious hipness. But across the span of one night, their impulsive adventure tests emotional and physical limits the lads never before knew in Klotz’s impressively mesmerizing feature debut. Winner of the 2012 Prix Jean Vigo. A TLA Releasing film.
    Wed. Mar. 6, 9:30pm – IFC; Thurs. Mar. 7, 4pm – WRT; Fri. Mar. 8, 9:00pm - WRT
    French release: 28 novembre 2012 (1h 8min). Allociné press: 3.4

    Alice Winocour, 2012, France, 102m

    Based on a true case, writer-director Winocour has adapted the story of a progressive 19th century doctor/therapist and his unusual patient into a study of personal wills, hidden desires and reversals of fate. A maid who suffers from seizures is sent to a mental hospital, where it seems she’ll be condemned for life until Professor Charcot finds in her the possibilities of testing his advanced notions of the sources of so-called “hysteria.” Soko as Augustine and Vincent Lindon as Charcot deliver astonishing performances. A Music Box Films release.
    Sun. Mar. 3, 6pm – WRT (no talent); Tues. Mar. 5, 9:00pm – WRT; Wed. Mar. 6, 7:00pm – BAM; Thurs. Mar. 7, 7:00pm – IFC
    In person: Alice Winocour
    French release: 7 novembre 2012 (1h 42min). Allociné press rating: 3.9

    Bad Girl/Mauvaise fille
    Patrick Mille, 2012, France, 108m

    25-year-old Louise is suddenly hit with a double dose of life-altering reality: She learns that she’s pregnant and that her mother has had a relapse of advanced cancer. Justine Lévy has adapted her own novel with spiky humor and brilliance, and director Mille mines the complex family material for an amazingly wide range of tones from poignant to irreverent. Izïa Higelin, Carole Bouquet, Bob Geldof and Arthur Dupont co-star.
    Tues. Mar. 5, 7:00pm – IFC; Wed. Mar. 6, 9:00PM – WRT; Thur. Mar. 7, 6pm – WRT;
    In person: Patrick Mille
    French release: 28 novembre 2012 (1h 48min). Allociné press rating: 3.1
    Available on DVD and Blu-ray in France.

    Jean Renoir, 1932, France, 84 min.

    Boudu (the irrepressible and unforgettable Michel Simon), a Parisian tramp, tries to end it all with a plunge into the river, only to be saved by a well-meaning bookseller. But when his rescuer offers him shelter, Boudu’s anarchic charms rock the household to its foundations. Shot largely on location along the quays of the Seine, Renoir’s freewheeling satire of bourgeois respectability is one of the master’s most innovative early works; it remains, in the words of critic Dave Kehr, “as informal, beguiling, and subversive as its eponymous hero.” Screening in a digital restoration.
    Sat. Mar. 2, 1:00pm – IFC

    The Day of the Crows / Le jour des corneilles
    Jean-Christophe Dessaint, 2012, France, 96m

    Raised like a wild child in the woods by his bitter and fearsome father, a boy finds himself discovering the world beyond the forest in director Dessaint’s enchanting visualization of Jean-Francois Beauchemin’s novel. The sensitively rendered hand-drawn animation and depth of characterization seem like a tribute to the films of Hayao Miyazaki, and yet, this movie for all ages stands very much on its own. Featuring the voices of Jean Reno, Lorànt Deutsch, Isabelle Carré and the late Claude Chabrol in his final film credit.
    Sat., Mar. 9, 1:00pm – WRT
    In person: Jean-Christophe Dessaint
    French release: 24 octobre 2012 (1h 36min) . Allocine press rating: 3.9 This is an animated film. Available in France on DVD and Blu-ray.

    Virginie Legeay, Jean-Claude Brisseau in The Girl from Nowhere

    The Girl From Nowhere/La fille de nulle part
    Jean-Claude Brisseau, 2012, France, 91m

    Lost in a maze of his philosophizing while trying to write a book, a retired math teacher is forced to deal with the real world when he must rescue a young woman from the clutches of a thug outside his Paris apartment. What the teacher doesn’t know is that this woman may be his muse, a mystical agent or an angel of death. Stars director Brisseau and Virginie Legeay. Winner of the Golden Leopard, Locarno Film Festival 2012.
    Sat. Mar. 2, 2:45pm – IFC; Sun. Mar. 10, 2:30pm - WRT
    French release: 6 Feb. 2013. Allociné press: 4.0 (7 reviews)

    Granny’s Funeral/Adieu Berthe: L’enterrement de mémé
    Bruno Podalydès, 2012, France, 100m

    Although he made no effort to see his grandmother in her waning years, pharmacist Armand (director Podalydès’ brother and co-writer Denis) must now deal with her funeral arrangements. This is awkward enough, but nothing like his emotional swings between a wife he can’t quite part from and a lover he can’t quite commit to, in a comedy stamped with the Podalydès brand of caustic, Gallic wit. With Valérie Lemercier, Isabelle Candelier, Catherine Hiegel and Benoît Hamon.
    Fri. Mar. 1, 9:45pm – IFC; Sun. Mar. 3, 8:15pm – WRT; Mon. Mar. 4, 3:45pm – WRT
    French release: 20 June 2012 (1h 40min). Allociné press rating: 3.9 (26 reviews)

    Ernst Umhauer, Fabrice Luchini in In the House

    In the House/Dans la maison
    François Ozon, 2012, France, 105m

    Swept up in the increasingly dazzling and inventive fiction writing of a precocious student, a high school literature teacher and frustrated author (Fabrice Luchini) married to a gallerist (Kristin Scott Thomas) sees real life overtake the fiction. Ozon is at the height of his powers in this ironic, cautionary tale on the dangers of mentoring gone too far. With Emmanuelle Seigner and Ernst Umhauer. A Cohen Media Group release.
    Fri. Mar. 1, 9:00pm – WRT; Sat. Mar. 2, 9:00pm - BAM; Sun. Mar. 3, 6:15pm – IFC
    In person: François Ozon
    French release: 10 octobre 2012 (1h 45min). Allociné press rating: 3.5 (25 reviews) Now available in France on DVD and Blu-ray. (There has been some buzz around this film.)

    Actor-director (Tell No One) Guillaume Canet in Jappeloup

    Christian Duguay, 2013, France, 130m

    A true sports story that utterly defies the odds, Duguay’s film captures the wild ups and downs of the Olympics-bound career of legendary equine star Jappeloup and his troubled rider, locked in a tense relationship with his horseman father and forever uncertain of his own skills as an equestrian. Stars Guillaume Canet, Daniel Auteuil, Marina Hands and Tchéky Karyo.
    Sat. Mar. 2, 9:40pm – IFC; Wed. Mar. 6, 3:30pm – WRT; Sat. Mar. 9, 5:30pm - WRT
    French release: 13 March 2013 (2h 10min)

    Journal de France
    Raymond Depardon & Claudine Nougaret, 2012, France, 100m

    Depardon’s brilliant self-portrait (co-directed by his longtime collaborator and sound engineer Claudine Nougaret) takes a surprising point of view on the great documentarian’s life—not only as a filmmaker, but as a photographer of expressive precision, capturing the entirety of French society over the decades. The patience of this imagemaker’s practice is testament to an alternative to the hyper-fast, instant delivery of digital images that now dominates the culture.
    Mon. Mar. 4, 8:30pm – IFC; Fri. Mar. 8, 4:15pm – WRT; Sun. Mar. 10, 12:15pm - WRT
    French release: 13 June 2012 (1h 40min). Allociné press rating: 3.9 (20 reviews).

    Laine Mägi IN A Lady in Paris

    A Lady in Paris/Une Estonienne À Paris
    Ilmar Raag, 2012, France/Belgium/Estonia, 94m

    Offered a job in Paris to look after a fellow Estonian-born woman, Anne leaves her homeland and finds herself in an emotional hornet’s nest. Frida, the elderly Estonian, gives new meaning to the word prickly and won’t be tended to, even though that’s exactly what Frida’s younger ex-lover wants. Stars a stunning, flinty and memorable Jeanne Moreau, Laine Magi and Patrick Pineau.
    Sat. Mar. 2, 4:30PM – IFC; Sun. Mar. 3, 3:15pm – WRT; Mon. Mar. 4, 9:15pm – WRT
    In person: Ilmar Raag
    French release: 26 décembre 2012 (1h 34min). Allociné press rating: 3.1 (from 20 reviews). Still showing in three small cinemas in the Paris area (5 Feb. 2013).

    North american premiere
    La maison de la radio
    Nicolas Philibert, 2013, France, 103m

    Radio France is a massive 24/7 operation, a national network which explores every aspect of life from breaking news to live cultural events. Applying his attuned senses to the mega-complex that is Radio France, non-fiction film master Philibert reveals the vast, rich and unexpected world of radio production and the imaginative power of sound.
    Fri. Mar. 1, 3:30pm – WRT; Sat. Mar. 2, 3:15pm – WRT; Sun. Mar. 3, 1:00pm - IFC
    In person: Nicolas Philibert
    French release: 3 April 2013

    My Blue-Eyed Girl/Ma belle gosse
    Shalimar Preuss, 2012, France, 80m

    Preuss’ uncommonly sensitive and nuanced debut follows the eldest daughter of a family on holiday as she navigates her growing desires for a prison inmate with her heartfelt but fraying familial love. Under the film’s placid surface is a teenage, and very human, restlessness that suggests impulsive curiosity, yet also wisdom. Stars Lou Aziosmanoff, Jocelyn Lagarrigue, Victor Laforge.
    Mon. Mar. 4, 10:20pm – IFC; Tues. Mar. 5, 4pm – WRT; Sun. Mar. 10, 4:40pm - WRT
    French release date: 26 November 2012, 80 min. No reviews listed on Allociné. VOD release.

    The Nun/La religieuse
    Guillaume Nicloux, 2013, France/Germany/Belgium, 114m

    Drawing on the same Denis Diderot classic as Jacques Rivette’s 1966 film, Nicloux’s version provides a fresh take on the 18th-century story of a young woman’s (a stunning Pauline Etienne) harrowing experiences in nunneries, one run by a too-loving Mother Superior (Isabelle Huppert). Young Suzanne’s discovery that she’s an illegitimate child compels her to a life in the convent, where inhumanity rules and battles of wills ensue. With Louise Bourgoin, Martina Gedeck, Françoise Lebrun.
    Fri. Mar. 1, 7:00pm – IFC; Sat. Mar. 2, 9pm – WRT; Sun. Mar. 3, 8pm – BAM
    In person: Guillaume Nicloux
    French release: ; 20 march 2013 (1h 54min)

    Patrice Chéreau, 2009, France, 100min

    A brutally intimate close-up of the moment-to-moment dissolution of a love affair, this psychological drama stars Romain Duris as a brooding, bestubbled Parisian juggling a hot-and-cold relationship with a jet-setting careerist (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and the intrusions of a middle-aged male stalker who has claimed him as the love of his life. Fueled by emotionally charged dialogue and nervy, passionate performances, Persecution continues Chéreau’s masterful observation of human desire in all its intricacies and contradictions. With Jean-Hugues Anglade.
    Fri. Mar. 1, 9:40pm – BAM
    In person: Romain Duris
    French release: 9 décembre 2009 (1h 40min). Allocine: 3.0.
    This film was actually shown as part of Film Comment Selects in 2010 and I reviewed it at that time, not very favorably: I said Chéreau "is running on empty here." It would be interesting to see the popular and prolific Romain Duris in person though, and his current film the Fifties gender roles comedy Populaire, this series' opener, is a hit.

    Gilles Bourdos, 2012, France, 111m

    Set in 1915, a pivotal time in the lives of master painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his war-wounded son Jean (who’d become one of cinema’s great masters), Bourdos’ atmospheric drama explores the ways in which creative powers wax and wane as one generation gives way to the next. Key to the changes that father and son experience is a female model who’s the elder painter’s last inspiration, and the figure who may turn Jean’s life around. Stars Michel Bouquet, Christa Théret, Vincent Rottiers, Thomas Doret, Romane Bohringer. A Samuel Goldwyn Films release.
    Sat. Mar. 2, 6pm – WRT; Sun. Mar. 3, 5:00pm – BAM; Wed. Mar. 6, 7:00pm – IFC
    In person: Gilles Bourdos
    French release:
    2 January 2013 (1h 41min) . Allociné: 3.4 (19 reviews).

    Rich Is The Wolf/La richesse du loup
    Damien Odoul, 2012, France, 82m

    Perplexed at the sudden disappearance of her husband, a wife watches hours of videotape that he’s recorded over the previous seven years to piece together some clues. Odoul’s most daring feature, whose color and black-and-white images are culled from his own videotaping, confirms his place as one of France’s genuinely exploratory filmmakers. Stars Marie-Eve Nadeau, Damien Odoul.
    Mon. Mar. 4, 6:45pm – IFC; Sat. Mar. 9, 3:30pm – WRT
    Damien Odoul is the director of Le souffle/Deep Breath, reviewed by Howard Schumann \ and one of his favorite films of the decade.
    No French release listed. IMDb. Variety review (Jay Weissberg). Debuted at Locarno 20 August 2012. 86min.

    New French DVD of The River

    Jean Renoir, 1951, France/India/US, 99 min.

    One of a British upper middle-class family of eight living on the banks of the Ganges River, teenage Harriet grows up in a tolerant and loving atmosphere that blends East and West. But when a dashing captain arrives at a neighbor’s home, the girl’s passions are ignited in ways she can barely fathom or control. Renoir’s classic, first color film, presented in a gorgeously restored print, remains a special and deeply emotional work in the master filmmaker’s oeuvre. Stars Patricia Walters, Nora Swinburne, Esmond Knight. Restored by The Academy Film Archive in cooperation with The British Film Institute and Janus Films. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
    Sun. Mar. 3, 1:00pm - WRT

    Jean Renoir, 1939, France 106m

    Renoir’s finest achievement and consistently praised as one of the best films ever made, The Rules of the Game is essential cinema; entire styles of filmmaking (Altman’s for one) are unthinkable without it. As a cast of characters from all classes assembles at a country house, the farce and melodrama commence, giving occasion for everything from hunting parties and gala balls to extramarital affairs and finally even murder.
    Sun. Mar. 3, 2:30pm – BAM
    In person: Introduction by RENOIR director Gilles Bourdos

    The Suicide Shop/Le magasin des suicides
    Patrice Leconte, 2012, France, 105m

    Master filmmaker Leconte makes a startling and unforgettable departure from his previous work with this whimsical animated 3D musical about a family business offering certain special "end-of-life" services. Rather than succumbing to a purely mordant perspective, the movie switches course and mood, driven by the family’s perpetually happy child whom they can’t control. Based on the novel by Jean Teulé and with the voices of Bernard Alane, Isabelle Space, Kacey Mottet Klein, Isabelle Giami, Laurent Gendron.
    Thurs. Mar. 7, 9:30pm – IFC; Fri. Mar. 8, 6:30pm – WRT; Sat. Mar. 9, 8:15pm - WRT
    French release: 26 septembre 2012 (1h 25min). Allociné press rating: 3.1 (23 reviews).

    Thérèse Desqueyroux (2012)
    Claude Miller, 2012, France, 110m

    The late Miller’s final film elegantly adapts François Mauriac’s modern classic of a woman’s growing resistance to her suffocating marriage, and showcases a remarkable Audrey Tautou as the disturbed titular heroine. With Gilles Lelouche, Anaïs Demoustier, Catherine Arditi. An MPI Pictures release.
    Fri. Mar. 1, 6:15pm – WRT; Sat. Mar. 2, 6:00pm – BAM; Sun. Mar. 3, 3:30pm – IFC
    In person: Annie Miller (producing partner and widow of director Claude Miller), Audrey Tautou
    French release:
    21 November 2012 (1h 50min). Allociné critic rating: 3.4 (based on 17 reviews). Still showing, coming on DVD and Blu-ray in March.

    Thérèse Desqueyroux (1962)
    Georges Franju, 1962, France, 109m

    Franju’s adaptation of François Mauriac’s novel adheres closely to the source’s flashback structure, while set in a somewhat more contemporary setting, thus providing fascinating contrast to Claude Miller’s new version. Continuing to tap into the extremities of human behavior that engrossed him as an artist, Franju crucially assembled a brilliant cast, including Emmanuelle Riva, Philippe Noiret and Edith Scob, with a magnificent Maurice Jarre score.
    Sat. Mar. 2, 1pm - WRT
    French release: 21 novembre 2012 (1h 50min). Allociné press rating: 3.4 (17 reviews).

    Clotilde Hesme, Raphaël Personnaz in Three Worlds
    Three Worlds/Trois Mondes
    Catherine Corsini, 2012, France, 101m

    A hit-and-run accident involving a hotshot car salesman and an émigré worker from Moldavia triggers a chain of dramatic events with life-altering consequences. Corsini’s complex narrative traces the small yet crucial events that expose a character’s true self, and the rottenness at the core of certain nouveau riche. A Film Movement release.
    Tues. Mar. 5, 9:30pm – IFC; Wed. Mar. 6, 6:15pm – WRT; Thur. Mar. 7, 9pm – WRT;
    In person: Catherine Corsini, Raphaël Personnaz

    You, Me and Us/Un enfant de toi
    Jacques Doillon, 2012, France, 136m

    The tentative nature of relationships is explored in dazzling, three-dimensional fashion in this cleverly written and directed roundelay between current and former lovers. Aya, the mother of a bright young daughter, struggles to come to terms with the end of her marriage, while hoping to have a child with her new lover. Stars Lou Doillon, Samuel Benchetrit, Malik Zidi, Olga Milshtein.
    Sun. Mar. 3, 8:45pm – IFC; Mon. Mar. 4, 6pm – WRT; Tues. Mar. 5, 6:00pm – WRT
    In person: Jacques Doillon

    Gilles Legrand, 2012, France, 102m

    Instead of grooming his son to inherit his lucrative wine-growing business, an imperious vintner (Niels Arestrup) looks to a talented California-based grower, rendering a harvest of jealousy and worse. Legrand’s narrative takes on Shakespearean qualities, driven by a titanic performance by Arestrup, while the film’s observations on the wine-growing business are thoroughly engrossing. A Cohen Media Group release.
    Sun. Mar. 10, 6:30pm – WRT
    In person: Gilles Legrand, Niels Arestrup
    French release: 24 Aug. 2011 (1h 42min). Allociné press: 2.8 (17 reviews); online audience vote: 3.9.

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .CONVERGENCE


    Some of the most exciting advances in storytelling are taking place in France, with independent creators, corporations, and game companies reshaping how audiences consume stories. At the forefront of this transmedia revolution is the epic pan-European immersive experience ALT-MINDS. When six scientists disappear while on assignment their kidnapping sparks a multinational manhunt. Mysterious online videos, mind-bending puzzles, and clues that point to a dark conspiracy of vast proportions threaten to ensnare the investigators charged with unraveling the mystery. The trick is that in this interactive experience the part of investigator is not played by an actor but assumed by the audience. Game designer, Eric Viennot of Lexis Numérique, will discuss this genre-bending project and the future of storytelling.
    Sat. Mar. 2, 5:00pm– EBM (Free)
    In person: Eric Viennot

    Axe-Apollo interactive online space travel game.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-17-2015 at 09:18 PM.

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    2013 RENDEZ-VOUIS Press screening schedule

    The following press screenings of the Rendez-Vous have now been scheduled. As last year some are missing but maybe they're available on screeners as last year they were. Some of the old films being presented for comparison or relevancy (Renoir's THE RIVER and RULES OF THE GAME) in the public series are omitted.

    The new titles missing from P&I screenings are THE NUN/LA RELIGIEUSE and the opening night film, POPULAIRE. There will be no press screening of THE NUN, and screeners are not available. The Weinstein company is setting up a separate screening of POPULAIRE.

    Press Screening Schedule


    Tuesday, February 19
    12:10PM – LA MAISON DE LA RADIO (90m)
    2:00PM – RENOIR (111m)

    Wednesday, February 20
    10:00AM - Therese Desqueyroux (105m)
    12PM – IN THE HOUSE (105m)
    2PM – GRANNY’S FUNERAL (100m)

    Thursday, February 21
    11:45AM – JAPPELOUP (130m)

    Friday, February 22
    10AM – JOURNAL DE FRANCE (100m)
    12PM – A LADY IN PARIS (94m)
    1:45PM – AUGUSTINE (102m)


    Tuesday, February 26
    10AM – THE DAY OF THE CROWS (96m)
    11:50AM – RICH IS THE WOLF (82m)
    1:30PM – BAD GIRL (108m)

    Wednesday, February 27
    10AM – YOU, ME AND US (136m)
    12:30PM – MY BLUE-EYED GIRL (80m)
    2:10PM – THREE WORLDS (101m)

    Thursday, February 28
    10AM – THE ATOMIC AGE (68m)
    11:20AM –THE SUICIDE SHOP (79m)
    12:50PM - YOU WILL BE MY SON (102m)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-07-2014 at 03:17 PM.

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    Gilles Bourdos: RENOIR (2012



    Partial beginnings and endings in the golden South of France

    An aging father tormented by arthritis and his son wounded in WWI are both charmed by young feminine beauty in the new French film Renoir. It's a beautifully shot tour of the last days of the great painter Auguste and of a youthful and an uncertain moment in the life of his celebrated filmmaker son Jean -- a more conventional film for director Gilles Bourdos as well as his strongest thus far. His continued use of the Taiwanese cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-bing and the composer Alexandre Desplat contribute to a languidly paced but visually pleasing and atmospheric period film that will appeal to the mature art-house patron for whom the film was bought up by Samuel Goldwyn Films for US distribution at Cannes' Un Certain Regard series. This is not a great film, but it's visually and almost tactilely voluptuous in ways only a French film about these two Renoirs could dare to be.

    Renoir generally works quite well, if you accept the languidness, but it sends us contradictory signals. Since it centers on the quintessential painter of voluptuous women and joie de vire, it is appropriately suffused with the warm gold of the French Midi caressing the creamy skin and voluptuous but perky breasts of young women. But this beauty becomes irrelevant when we realize that its three men, ailing, 70-something Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet), his 21-year-old son and future filmmaker Jean (Vincent Rottiers) and his very young son and future cinematographer Claude (Thomas Doret) are cool and cheerless types. They are withdrawn in the case of Jean, angry and stubborn when comes to young Claude -- while meanness and curmugeonliness dominate Auguste, who, though in a wheelchair, is still "Patron," the boss and withholding taskmaster everyone wants to please but fears. The worlds of both the painter and the director as we know them are full of warmth and action, but that of Bourdos's film, if not as dormant and patience-straining as Jacques Rivette's La belle noiseuse, is largely a static one. The film is not so much a train of events as a period of waiting, a series of tableaux vivants.

    This is, perhaps, because the film is set at a moment that, though war is raging off somewhere, here by the Mediterranean and for this particular family, floats between events. It is both "too early and too late," as its titular protagonist, the now feeble but constantly painting artist, says as he looks over at his lovely and spirited new model, "Dédé," Andrée Heuschling (Christa Theret). Not only is Auguste at last too old to sleep with his models as he formerly was very much wont to do, but when Jean arrives, a lieutenant convalescing from a serious wound in the leg, it may be too early for him and Dédé, even though they do become lovers. Once he's recovered, Jean feels he must go back to help his "comrades" who have died beside him by reenlisting in the air force, and he leaves her behind. He was to return to her, the final titles tell us, and she to become his chief actress for years. But at this point though he's made a film he still thinks he's nobody, and doesn't have any commitment other than to the war. Maybe Claude, or Coco, makes the most progress: before the movie ends, he seems to have won the friendship and recognition of his aging dad.

    Most viewers will focus on the beautiful women, who hover around Auguste -- he keeps doing paintings in which they "float" in the landscape, and he just likes to have his pretty young nude models around, painting them in different poses from the ones they're actually in. But take a look at the men. If you have seen him in films like In the Beginninig, Last Winter, or I'm Glad My Mother Is Alive, you know that Vincent Rottiers, who is Belgian, has an austere, chiseled face, a haunting manner, and hypnotic eyes. As for Thomas Doret, also Belgian, who plays little Claude, or Coco, Augueste's youngest son, he was the intensely driven boy in the Dardennes' The Kid with the Bike and he is a riveting presence, despite his small size. "I'm nobody," he tells Dédé when she arrives. "I'm an orphan." The subtext of this film, a tremendous one alas left undeveloped by the screenwriter, is that it's not easy being the son of a famous father. Coco is even confused in filmographies with Claude the younger, son of Pierre, and therefore Jean's nephew, because both worked in the cinema. This screennplay does not clarify such issues or even tell us anything about what became of this headstrong boy. As for the 85-year-old Michel Bouquet, as Auguste, he has great assurance -- all the acting here is fine-- but he is also opaque, without being especially interesting. His characterization (as written) is a string of gruff remarks, pontifications about art and life, howling nightmares, and shots of swollen hands doused with healing liquids or tied with strips of cloth. Nothing goes very deep here, though we're not quite sure how it could with this material.

    If this meandering, undramatic film has a center it must be Dédé and the sweet but sad Jean. Dédé disappears for a while when Jean declares his decision to join the airforce. Jean goes looking for her after a while, but from here on the transitions become weak and the action stumbles. Dédé, who wants to be an actress, is sprightly but unformed, though two things are clear: her affection for the old man and her love of Jean. But where is the ebullient Jean who made The Rules of the Game and The River? Inside this thin man there is a fat man gesturing to be let out.

    Renoir debuted in May 2012 at Cannes and opened in France 2 January 2013 to good reviews (3.4 press from 19 sources), but critics noted a leaning toward the bland and pretty. Cahiers du Cinéma's critic Charlotte Garson quotes Auguste's declaration "Moi, il me faut du vivant," "As for me, I need something alive," and adds "so do we, and we don't find it in this uselesss overindulgence in Provençal landscape and milky skin." US release date as yet uknown.

    Screened for this review as a part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center in collaboration with UniFrance, which runs Feb. 28-Mar. 10, 2013.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2014 at 07:10 PM.

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    Claude Miller: THÉRÈSE DESQUEYOUX (2012)



    Marriage trap

    Stephen Dalton of Hollywoor Reporter wrote, Miller's "swansong feature has the glossy, well-dressed, slightly staid feel of a middlebrow TV miniseries. But it still packs enough dramatic weight and literary pedigree to make a box office splash outside France, especially with Audrey Tautou as the story’s iconic anti-heroine." Partly to honor Miller, who died after completion of this film, it was the closing night film at Cannes last year. It got a reasonable reception after its 21 November French release -- the Allociné rating was 3.4 out of five. This adaptation of the 1927 François Mauriac novel, one of his most famous, of a woman gradually unable to endure an oppressive marriage is the second: Georges Franju did one in 1962 with Emmanuelle Riva (currently back in the public eye from Michael Haneke's Amour) and Philippe Noiret. I have not seen this 1962 version, which is included for reference during the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, and if I do see it, this review may have to be revised or amended.

    Here we have the very successful casting of Gilles Lellouche as Bernard Desqueroux, the man Thérèse marries, uniting their two families' considerable land holdings in the Landes region forested with pines. Lellouche is one of those warmly macho characters, with a punch to him, even if he isn't terribly distinctive. He is perfect for the part of the simple bird and dog countryman Thérèse will tire of and want to stun, whom she approves of in theory but hates in practice. Lellouche feels right in this part, a mixture of brutish and sympathetic. He's a little Hemingwayesque; in fact he even looks like Hemingway himself. But as Thérèse we have Audrey Tatou, and herein lies the central problem of an otherwise polished, well modulated, and interesting film. We all knew Tatou as the charming gamine of Amélie, the twee, but splendidly and intricately twee, movie that made her famous. But in Claude Miller's care she is a sad and dreary little wisp of a woman, and remains that from first moment to last in Thérèse Desqueyroux. Though the action takes her character through increibile changes, Tatou accompanies them limply, several steps behind. It is intriguing to imagine someone formidable, like Isabelle Huppert, reach the desperation of Thérèe; or someone young, vibrant, and beautiful, like Cécile de France, who breathed life into Miller's 2007 A Secret. Then the changes might be really alarming and thought-provoking. Here they are simply inexplicable -- especially since it's an aspect of the plot that the protagonist herself can't explain what she's doing.

    Even Lellouche suffers from a plot that loses its subtlety and abandons its own best interests at several turns. First this happens when Thérèse somehow betrays both her own desire for independence and the needs of her new bosom friend, Bernard's sister Anne (the vibrant Anaïs Demoustier), after Anne has become enamored of a young man (Stanley Weber) the family doesn't approve of. Then this happens again when the action devolves into into a legal struggle to save the family, leading to Bernard and Thérèse's estrangement. The best moments come when we're dealing with the idea of the story, which is the conflict between economics and human psychology. The way things end is ambiguous. It's a sad outcome for Thérèse that doesn't seem so very sad at all. One longs for some bold strokes. But though this is polished and watchable, Miller once rarely shows a flair for storytelling here. Miller had luck in his choice of actors from time to time -- Patrick Delawaere in his feature debut A Best Way to Walk, Charlotte Gainsbourg in L'Efronté and The Little Thief, Vincent Rottier in his collaboration with his son Nathan I'm Glad My Mother Is Alive Claude Miller had a cracking good story with Class Trip and A Secret. But his films always fall a bit short of first rate.

    Thérèse Desqueyoux debuted at Cannes and showed at other festivals, then was released in France and other French-speaking locales in November. It was screened for this review as a part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center in collaboration with UniFrance, which runs Feb. 28-Mar. 10, 2013.

    The Rendez-Vous also included a one-time screening of Georges Franju's 1962 version of François Maurois's Thérèse Desqueroux starring Emanuelle Riva, Philippe Noiret, and Édith Scob (of Franju's famous Eyes Without a Face) as Bernard's sister. Franju's film is a grand black and white early Sixties French art film, closer to Maurois in its flashback frame structure, some literary references exchanged between Thérèse and Jean Azevedo, and in more liberal use of Thérèse's voiceover, which can come at any moment, in any scene, and more stylish in every way, though the style is interchangeable in some ways with the work of several Nouvelle Vague directors of the period. Sami Frey as Jean seems less a pretty boy, more intelligent. Above all instead of Tautou's pathetic, limp quality, there is the poetic sadness of Riva so memorably displayed in Alain Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour. Franju's version is set in the present, so it makes its points about the tyrannies of provincial ignorance and materialism with more immediacy. Franju's film has more notable actors and is more stylish. Certain aspects of the narrative -- Thérèse's original motivation for marrying Bernard, the gradual process by which she falls into poisoning him with arsenic -- are more embroidered by Miller, but in "explaining" things he may only weaken the force of Maurois's stark story, whose surreal "horror movie" aspects Franju seized upon so neatly half a century ago. Maurice Jarre's music for Franju's film is as distinctive as everything else, though a jazzy passage during the honeymoon dinner shot feels obtrusive. The writer for the French daily L'Express compares the two films, finds the new one "insipid," and concludes we'd do best to remember Claude Miller for his 1976 feature debut, The Best Way to Walk.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-02-2013 at 04:11 PM.

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    François Ozon: IN THE HOUSE (2012)



    Voyeur auteur: Ozon gets his edge back

    François Ozon's new film, not unusual for him, has elements of titillation and button-pushing. It focuses on the relationship between a teacher and his student, and the stir caused by the student's sneaking into a classmate's house and writing about what he sees there. According to Variety's Peter Debruge, the tale is "more inspired by than adapted from Juan Mayorga's play The Boy in the Last Row and is a "low-key thriller" that constitutes something of a "return to form" for the director, whose films had "lost their psychosexual edge" (Debruge again) when he discontinued his collaboration with Emmanuele Bernheim (with whom he did his big Statesisde success, Swimming Pool). He's got it back here, and this film deserves to be as much of a hit in US arthouses as Swimming Pool was.

    In the House is smart, mildly intellectual, a little sexy, and full of surprises. The surprises are the best part, and they come out of the basic premise, which is amusing and ingenious and thought provoking. If they're worked out a little more superficially and repetitively and less profoundly than they might have been, that's not the end of the world, and should not surprise us. Even at his best, Ozon has his limitations. But when he's at his best, we share his giddy sense of fun.

    The two chief characters could not be better. As the student, Claude Garcia, we have the suave, pretty young actor Ernst Umhauer, who has a rich, confident voice. As the French teacher of the lycée Gustave Flaubert, Germain, there is Fabrice Lucchini, a self-referential role since Lucchini himself is known for stage performances of French literary classics, such as Germain gives to Claude to read. If this doesn't give Lucchini a chance to show off his usual flash and brio, this is still material that must have seemed more inward and personal to him than most. The secondary casting is unsurprising but right: Kristin Scott Thomas as Germain's art gallery manager wife Jeanne Germain, Emmanuelle Seigner as Esther Artole, the wife and mother, the "woman of the middle class" whose home Claude invades by befriending her son and whom he lusts after. The movie descends into comedy with Claude's "best friend," Rapha Artole fils (Bastien Ughetto), who is a little too goofy to take seriously, and the stocky, boyish Denis Ménochet, as Rapha Artole père, almost an appendage of Rapha junior.

    Claude charms and transfixes Germain by submitting a paper about how he spent his weekend. Every other paper from the class is vapid and idiotic, but Claude's describes with a cunning irony how he gained admission into Rapha's house and observed his family by helping him with his math. The description is vivid, provocative, and tantalizing: it ends with "(to be continued)". From here on Germain is in thrall to Claude, ostensibly his instructor, but really his admirer (he published a mediocre romantic novel earlier in his life, but admits he lacks the talent to be a writer that he thinks Claude possesses).

    In the House is playful and self-referential, a story about storytelling. As Germain gives Claude classics like Tolstoy and Flaubert to read, Claude keeps giving him his two-page narratives of voyeuristic scenes from life in the Artole house. Though Claude says his is not inventing and we see the stories enacted as they're told in Germain's or Claude's voice, there are also variations that come about when Germain says a certain incident isn't believable (even if it happened), and Claude's ability to walk in and out of scenes in the Artole house seems supernatural. Eventually Germain participates (see still).

    As has happened before so often with Ozon some of the edge around this movie is made fuzzy because he doesn't take his material quite seriously enough, but this does nothing to undermine the "conceptual" feel of the action. And this feel is enhanced by the fact that Germain's wife Jeanne -- her Labyrinth of the Minataur Gallery owners (both played by Jana Bittnerova) themselves very high-concept -- deals in discreetly absurd conceptual art. All of which gets a further edge when a sexual element enters Claude's relations with not only Esther but Rapha junior.

    If the incidents/actions recounted in Claude's succession of compositions become a little repetitive and redundant after a while and if Ozon doesn't seem to care all that much about where things end up, this is nonetheless delightful material, and it's a pleasure to see this filmmaker returned to form.

    In the House/Dans la maison, 105 min., debuted at Toronto in Sept. 2012 and was in other festivals, including London, opening in France Oct. 10 (Allociné press rating 3.5 from 25 reviews, public rating 3.9). It was screened for this review as a part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center in collaboration with UniFrance, which runs Feb. 28-Mar. 10, 2013.

    Limited US release began April 19, 2013.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 10-12-2020 at 11:06 PM.

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    Bruno Podalydès: GRANNY'S FUNERAL (2012)



    Funeral humor, French style

    The protagonist of this comedy, Armand (Denis Podalydès), is getting divorced from his wife Helene (Isabelle Candelier), with whom he co-runs a pharmacy, and now spends his free time with his girlfriend Alix (comic Valerie Lemercier), a loud, foul-mouthed divorce, and has a cliché teenage son, Vincent (Benoît Hamon) who spends all his time on video games. The action begins when Armand gets a phone call about his paternal grandmother's death and learns that since his father is in the nuthouse, he's in charge of arranging the obsequies, even though he barely knew the lady, in fact had forgotten she existed. Score one for the artificiality of blood ties in the modern world.

    Uneaven tone and a reliance on wordplay that's funnier in French than in English subtitles make Podalydes' Granny's Funeral (Adieu Berthe ou l'enterrement de mémé in the complete French title) a tough sell for American audiences. No one here has international star quality. This movie's cloying level of triviality would make one wonder why it's done so well with Gallic audiencs and critics -- except that the Podalydès brothers, Bruno, who directs and has a role as an over-relaxed funeral director and Denis, who cowrote and stars, are very popular in the home country. Those who get only the visuals will see some humor and satire in the fancier funeral home's choices of oddly-shaped coffins. There's some byplay involving magic -- Armand used to want to be a professional magician. Otherwise, blah blah blah.

    The humor here is verbal more than physical, and lazy, not elaborate. It relies mainly on meandering scenes involving only two to four people. There is nothing like the sense of structure, buildup, and high absurdity we get in the British Death at a Funeral or its cruder but still very funny American remake. A slight complication comes through the need to choose between two undertakers, the high-tech one with weirdly shaped coffins run by Rovier-Boubet (Michel Vuillermoz), who's connected to Helene's mother (Catherine Hiegel), and the more laidback Gronda (Bruno Podalydès), who has built up his income by specializing in pet funerals: mice are a gold mine, because they live less than a year. Sparrows and lobsters live a really long time. I didn't know that. But I didn't need to see this movie to find out.

    Whether or not you find all this charming, the humor fades away pretty much once Armand and Alix have visited the undertakers and are spending a night at the retirement home where the old lady died. At this point the Podalydès brothers (both collaborated on the writing) settle down and try to say something more serious about old age and death.

    Adieu Berthe, 100min., debuted at Cannes May 2012 and had a French theatrical release in June (Allociné 3.9, based on 26 reviews). It is evident from Amélie Dubois's review in the media-hip weekly Les Inrockuptibles that the French appreciated the vivid, nonstop wordplay combined with what they saw as great generosity toward all the characters and humanity and forgiveness in the treatment of the subject matter. The French find this movie "really funny and madly sad," to quote from another review, but the non-French-speaker might not perceive either quality with the same vividness. Clearly one of the most successful French film comedies of the year, but Americans would greatly prefer the in all ways more successful Camille Rewinds of Noémie Lvovsky (Lvovsky has a brief cameo here). An American would even prefer the corny but more successful Isabelle Huppert vehicle, My Worst Nightmare (where Bruno appears, as Denis appears in Camille): the French film world is small and the French comedy film world is even smaller).

    Screened for this review as a part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center in collaboration with UniFrance, which runs Feb. 28-Mar. 10, 2013.

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    Jean-Claude Brisseau: THE GIRL FROM NOWHERE (2012)



    Grizzled geezer meets paranormal waif: Brisseau weaves magic with simple means

    Jean-Claude Brisseau's small, low-budget film La fille de nulle part brings together paranormal activity and homelessness when Michel, a retired math teacher and writer (played by Brisseau himself) rescues the titular "girl," named Dora (Virginie Legeay) when he finds her beaten up on his own doorstep, takes her in, and ultimately makes her his editorial consultant. This has nothing to do with Louis Delluc's famous 1922 film, The Woman from Nowhere. When the old guy finds his adopted waif can levitate guéridon pedestal tables and do other stuff, he also begins to think she's also the reincarnation of his deceased wife. But that comes later.

    Those of us who have seen films by Jean-Claude Brisseau before (I've seen Secret Things and À l'Aventure) know his cinema has been a mélange of beautiful images, eroticism, psychoanalysis, philosophizing, and a Sixties Nouvelle Vague sensibility that's uniquely French. Maybe he's out of date, as I suggested in my review of À l'Aventure, but that's beginning to seem to me more and more a big part of his charm, a charm that seems greater this time because he keeps it simple. The Girl from Nowhere, compared to those other two films, which were longer on the eroticism, with some high-toned orgies thrown in, is more restrained and personal and less ambitious, indeed not at all the kind of film you'd expect from Brisseau. Any older man who is a little lonely can sympathize. Because this is a simple dream for such a man: that he will find someone to spend his last years (or his last moments) with, someone pretty, sprightly, and smart.

    There are no erotic fantasies here, or really only a brief one, a seemingly occult scene where two nude women caress each other. Michel and Dora address each other with exquisite courtesy. Michel want only to help Dora. Then after she has been in his apartment -- a big, lived-in place in the middle of Paris that might be any Francophile's fantasy pied-à-terre in the City of Light -- he wants her to stay. It turns out she is an orphan, who lost her parents in a car crash when she was seven and who has no one and has never had lasting personal ties or a fixed domicile, a "Girl from Nowhere" indeed. But she loves books and is intelligent. Her relationships with men never work. As soon as she falls for them, they kick her out. Thus a period of escape from Michel with a young man on a motorcycle ends with her return.

    The rest is spiritualism, visions, and scares, mixed with discussions between Michel and Dora about the subject of his book, which with her help he finishes. This is the project that the work on together after she comes back and wants to live with him, for now, anyway. The book's subject, inspired by Michel's experiences with an insane man who had hallucinations, is the illusions that men create for themselves in order to make life bearable. The book also includes some devastating declarations about the Bible based on new archeological findings. Some of the apparitions that appear to Michel and Dora when they're not working on the book are genuinely scary. Low-keyed though the film is, its tech package is impeccable. The levitation of the table is well done (and it turns out to be a very feisty table). But the best parts are simply the conversations between Michel and Dora.

    The most down to earth of these are the ones in which Michel tries to persuade Dora to let him make her the heir to his estate, the spacious and comfy flat and his possessions. Michel has "made solitude his companion" since the death of his wife 29 years ago, and says it took him ten years to deal with the loss and sometimes he thinks he still hasn't. He thanks Dora now for making him happy; he want to complete the gesture. He considers various methods to avoid the inheritance tax -- he has a good friend (Claude Morel) who provides advice -- including marriage or adoption. But Dora rejects all, because she wants to remain free. They seem only to reach to each other, celebrating a temporary connection, but these moments are touching and real. Brisseau's film is a triumph of the magic that cinema can achieve with imagination, heart, and the simplest means.

    Screened for this review as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema of the Film Society of Lincoln Center in collaboration with UniFrance, running from Feb. 28-Mar. 10, 2013, Le fille de nulle part, 90 mins., debuted in July 2012 at Locarno, where the Variety reviewer, Boyd von Hoeij, could not see the point of it, or understand why it won the grand prize of the festival. Among the press with whom I saw it a similar view was prevalent. But The Girl from Nowhere is a charming, quirky, well-made little film, touching on important things about life, that only a French filmmaker could have made. The French critics got it: it has an excellent Allociné press rating of 3.8, (based on 25 reviews) with raves in particularly from some of the more sophisticated publications, such as Cahiers du Cinéma and Les Inrockuptibles.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-20-2013 at 03:38 PM.

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    Christian Duguay: JAPPELOUP (2013)



    A bumpy road to equestrian glory

    From French Canadian director Christian Duguay comes this French sports movie Jappeloup, whose co-stars are a great rider and a great horse who made their way through many ups and downs to a Gold Medal for France in Show Jumping at the 1988 Seoul summer Olympics -- Pierre Durand, Jr. the rider and Jappeloup the horse. This is also the story of Pierre Durand's uneasy but passionate romance with horses and Show Jumping, shared by his winegrower father as well as his wife and the young female groom of gypsy origin who challenges Pierre's egoism and puts the horse first.

    This also seems an evident labor of love for the French heartthrob and now successful director (of Tell No One), Guillaume Canet, who plays Pierre Durand, Jr. and wrote the screenplay, a former equestrian competitor who's seen doing his own riding in the film. Canet had something to do with the star-studded cast, which includes Daniel Auteuil as Durand Sr. and Maria hinds (of Lady Chatterley) as Pierre's wife Nadia. Tchéky Karyo is notable as Marcel Rozier, a great former equestrian and coach of the French national team with whom Pierre has irreconcilable diferences. So is the earthy, vivacious Lou de Laâge as Raphaëlle Dalio, the aforementioned groom, whose presence is seen as essential to Jappeloup's great achievement. The rumpled Jacques Higelin is flavorful as Raphaëlle's father.

    What's somewhat unusual is that the film never stints on showing the troubles, and what must have been most difficult in the shooting was showing the many falls and injuries (as well as a terrible fire) that occurred along the way, not to mention several disqualifications from competition due to Pierre's jumping the bell and his humiliating failure in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Canet and Duguay arguably show more of the technical side of the sport than might come in a mainstream Hollywood film like Secretariat. Canet may lack what we would consider Hollywood star quality, but he has not only youthfulness and athleticism but an utter conviction and commitment that parallel that of his character, Pierre Durand, Jr. Auteuil gives a warm and touching performance as Durand père. In fact Canet was a competitive equestrian in his youth and has said in an interview that "The decision to quit competition, despite a father’s passion, was not unfamiliar to me." Pierre Jr. makes that decision, but then later is forced to reverse it.

    As for the authenticity, it turns out also that Duguay, the director, is an accomplished horseman and former of the Canadian national equestrian team. And indeed Canet, though he had given up riding, retrained to do all of his own performances in the saddle and says he was so inspired by this experience that he has now bought a horse and returned to competition. Maria Hinds too is an equestrian; Canet has said he used to see her in competitions. So was the ancient and indomitable Jean Rocefort, who appears briefly in the film as a spectator, referred to by name. There is a reference to Gail Greenough, the Canadian show jumping champion who beat Durand at LA, and I think the real Grenough may appear in that scene. Donald Sutherland also appears in the film in a cameo as John Lester, an American who almost buys Jappeloup for his son for $400,000 when Durand is disenchanted after his failure in the 1984 Olympic Games.

    Jappeloup will only appeal to fans of horses and sport, and it has the usual trajectory, the ups and downs its protagonist's vocational conflicts (he becomes a lawyer, but equestrian competition takes over his life and forces him to renounce law for sport), the quirks of the horse (Jappeloup is unusually small, fiery, unpredictable, and hard to train), births and deaths, the thrills and panics of the final triumph. The success of this film in a US theatrical release seems unlikely, but this is nonetheless a remarkable and beautiful film that will appeal especially to insiders because of the involvement of real equestrians in the film. In what it seeks to do, Jappeloup is an unqualified success. The collaboration between Duguay and Canet was ideal, a marriage made in heaven, the ensemble fine. CGI is seamless. Except for some 79's and 80's hits that are gratingly loud in transitional passages in the first half everything seems perfect.

    Jappeloup, 130 mins., was screened for this review as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, staged by the Film Society of Lincoln Center with UniFrance from Feb. 28-March 10, 2013. This is the film's North American debut. It will be released in Belgium and France March 13, 2013.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2014 at 06:33 PM.

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    Raymond Depardon, Claudine Nougaret: JOURNAL DE FRANCE (2012)



    The fact guy, now doing tranquil stills

    The title is somewhat misleading. This is not a "journal" of France, though a sporadic present-day "journal" of Raymond Depardon's large format still view camera wanderings around his native country is interspersed with the compendium of stored footage that makes up most of this "documentary." It's not exactly a "documentary" either, so much as a review and sampling of the long career of one of France's most accomplished international photojournalists. Whether all this works for you or not will depend very much on your interest in Depardon or in photojournalism. It is fascinating to get all these glimpses of the out-takes -- retrieved from the basement, edited, and narrated by Depardon's longtime companion and collaborator, Claudine Nougaret, who has often been his sound engineer. Even their first meetings, when his obsessive filming shows how attracted to her he was and how vivacious and appealing she was, are also memorialized here. (They first met on the set of Eric Rohmer's film Le rayon vert, and we get a haunting glimse of them sitting with the flirty, ageless director back then on a bench.) However, a better film, as a film, might have explained how this relationship and collaboration of the last quarter-century has played out in more detail. What work did they collaborate on? And when he was off to some exotic place on his own as she says he often was, what did she do in the meantime? (Is she along on this van trip in France? And if so, why don't we see her?) This is a mélange, and the only thing that holds it together finally is the versatility and wide curiosity and courage that Depardon shares with others of his relatively rare and remarkable breed.

    The out-takes, if that is even the right term (it's not always clear where some of the footage may have been used elsewhere and how), includes both war zones and celebrity reportage. Depardon has been a filmmaker and a documentarian. In the present-time interludes that link the disparate clips of Congo, French politicians, Venezuela, Poland, and the rest together, he's driving around in a van through rural France randomly choosing spots to shoot with a big view camera, and along the way as he does that he explains something about what working with that kind of camera is like. He must wait for people to get out of the scene to shoot a street corner in Nevers. He does a portrait of a row of old codgers sitting in another town. He develops negatives with a portable device leaning into the back of the van. Driving on a small road yet again, he tells the camera (held by whom?) that this is the Meuse, and that he knows it less well than Indo-China. Sometimes in this France-wandering in the mornings he says, "Je me demande qu'est-ce que je fou là?" ("I ask myself what the hell am I doing here?"). This meandering, tranquil, lonely journey: is it retirement? A new career? An antidote to all the intensity of the earlier life? And also, as a festival blurb puts it, "The patience of this imagemaker’s practice," in the current view camera work, that is, "is testament to an alternative to the hyper-fast, instant delivery of digital images that now dominates the culture." On all that, the film itself and Nougaret in her narration, following to a fault perhaps the photographer's tradition of neutrality, are silent.

    Depardon may be remembered by US festival-goers or DVD-watchers for his deadpan 2004 coverage or The 10th District Court: Judicial Hearings (NYFF 2004). This great chronicler is the quintessential neutral observer, and one is equally impressed by the danger he faced in shooting street fighting in Caracas and mercinary battlegrounds of Biafra in the late Sixties and by the intimacy he achieved in filming Giscard d'Estaing, in an underlit room with a group of associates, shrewdly and cooly discussing possible strategies for his presidential campaign. (He argues that he might win simply by saying nothing of substance, not antagonizing anyone, as other candidates would do.) We also see a clip from Reporters, Depardon's documentary about early Eighties French cameramen shooting politicians and cynically discussing their catches of the day. We learn that some of these work for Gamma, the photo agency Depardon himself co-founded in 1966.

    Depardon may not quite have done everything as a photojournalist, but he came close. He must be admired for the scrupulous way he has avoided editorializing and interpreting, relying on the accumulation of detail in an approach he has called "caméra stylo," writing with a camera, in other words. Depardon and Nougaret co-directed this film, which is a primer of the photographer-filmmakers career, a history of the last half-century, and in part a portrait of the relationship between these two lovers and collaborators. One might wish it were more tightly organized, though how one could review such a catholic, diverse career in a more clearly structured manner may be hard to imagine, and however much this may seem a grab-bag, that doesn't keep this film from being "A tribute to a masterful eye, a humanistic heart and a wondrous life," as Jay Weissberg in Variety put it.

    [i]Journal de France[/i, 100 mins., ] was released June 13, 2012 in France and got great reviews (Allociné press rating: 3.9). Screened for this review as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in collaboration with UniFrace Feb. 28 to March 10, 2013.

    [from VARIETY]
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-23-2013 at 10:33 AM.

  11. #11
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    Ilmar Raag: A LADY IN PARIS (2012)



    Another chance to admire Jeanne Moreau

    In A Lady in Paris/Une estonienne à Paris, Anne leaves Estonia and comes to Paris to take care of Frida, an old Estonian lady who has lived there for many years. On arrival Anne realizes she isn't wanted. Frida tries every possible means of driving her away. She wants nothing from life but the attention of Stéphane, her former young lover. Anne resists in her own way. Through contact with Anne, Frida rediscovers her quality of eternal seductress. So goes the festival blurb.

    The Estonian director Ilmar Raag is inspired by the fact that her own mother once went to Paris for a time to take care of a very rich woman and returned transformed afterwards. This is a generally good-looking, well-acted, but hopelessly slight effort. Compare Hou Hsiau-hsien's Dorsay-sponsored foray into Paris, Flight of the Red Balloon (NYFF 2007), which was charming and precise and memorable. Raag ain't no Hou.

    After viewing A Lady in Paris at a May 20, 2012 Cannes special screening Boyd von Hoeij of Variety summed it up this way: "A mousy, middle-aged caretaker travels from the Baltics to the City of Light to look after a serious piece of work in A Lady in Paris, from Estonian filmmaker Ilmar Raag (The Class). Jeanne Moreau aces the role of a prickly, elderly Estonian who doesn't want anyone to look after her in her adopted home country, much less a woman from her long-abandoned place of birth, but the wafer-thin story offers too little beyond an enjoyable reminder of the actress's talent. Older auds might appreciate the film's familiarity and elegant intimacy." I completely concur with von Hoeij's description. Indeed white-haired American arthouse customers who remember Jeanne Moreau's glory days in the Sixties would probably enjoy roaming yet another posh, cosy Parisian flat and savoring the aging diva's eternal elegance and edge. Even in bed she looks stylish. But there is nothing much here, for a variety of reasons.

    First of all, the "mousy" caretaker. As von Hoeij also says, there is an unnecessary opening reel set in a snowy Estonian village where this lady deals with a drunken boyfriend and a declining mother whom she's caring for, and who then dies, freeing her up for the Paris job. All that could have been better dealt with in five minutes, given that it does not build insight into or sympathy for Anne (Laine Mägi) -- and such sympathy does not develop later. What emerges is that while Frida (Moreau), who conveniently refuses to speak a word of Estonian, rejects everybody but Stéphane (Patrick Pineau), she comes to realize that Anne can be helpful and may relieve her solitude. Anne cares enough to contact the Estonian community through a church and get some of its older members who know Friday from singing together in a choir decades before. Their visit to Frida is a disaster and only awakens old resentments on both sides, but later Frida may realize this was a kind gesture on Anne's part no one else would have been capable of.

    Second, the haughty Frida too, despite her brilliant interpreter, is underdeveloped, supplied with a curiously vague backstory. She came to Paris very young. How or why we do not know. She has had many lovers, but what else she has done we also do not know. Are the lovers the reason why she is rich, and lives in this "grand appartement bourgeois"? One little story about a letter from an Estonian sibling who only asked for money and mentioned her mother's death as an afterthought explains in only a fragmentary way her negative relations with her homeland. But otherwise she is an cipher, if an impressive one, being embodied by Jeanne Moreau.

    Finally, there isn't much of a point of view. The "mousy" Anne hasn't got much of one. Frida offers only feistiness, and possible suicidality. The director has aid that she was warned by her French collaborators to avoid focusing on the cliché sights, that they are not the real Paris. And yet that is just what she does. Every time Anne gets a chance she oggles the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower or the Seine by night. Abut the only real Paris we get is the inside of Frida's real apartment and the inside of Stéphane's real café.

    What happens is that after deciding to take this job, Anne is picked up at the Paris airport by Stéphane and driven to her nominal employer (he's actually responsible), where he tells her nothing but not to let Frida have the key to her medicine cabinet and that she can be "a little direct." Immediately it turns out Frida is a hellion who is politely brutal with Anne and does nothing but tell her to leave. Anne makes a little progress, learning to buy croissants for breakfast at a bakery and not a supermarket, and not to try serving Estonian food. The medicine cabinet remains an issue, and sometimes Frida refuses to get out of her posh bed. Finally Anne is about to give up, but something happens, which we could hardly have helped predicting from the start. If her morning tea were this thin Frida would throw it on the floor.

    All of this is not to say Raag lacks skill as a filmmaker. Things move along with a steady rhythm. The camerawork is assured, sometimes handsome but not distractingly so. And he does not waste his glamorous veteran. As von Hoeij says, "Though Moreau doesn't show up until 20 minutes in, she looks luminous and steals every scene she's in, seeming to savor each line on her tongue before spitting it out with evident relish." And we enjoy that. Apparently Raag's debut film was a fast-paced crime thriller as well as a work of social criticism. In approaching this very different material the 44-year-old Raag, who has also been a media executive, chooses to works with taste and restraint, but has pushed the light touch a little too far, leading to blandness.

    Une estonienne à Paris, 94 mins., had its French theatrical release came on Dec. 26, 2012. Allociné press rating: 3.1 (from 20 reviews). Everyone admired the acting and the cinematography but wished for a sharper point of view; Premiere pointed out that Moreau was no more Estonian "than you ore me." Screened for this review as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2013 (Feb. 28-Mar. 10) at Lincoln Center, presented in collaboration with UniFrance.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2014 at 06:31 PM.

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    Anne Winocour: AUGUSTINE (2012)



    Medicine and desire in nineteenth-century Paris

    Paris, winter of 1885. At the Hospital of Pitié Salpêtre, Professor Charcot (he is addressed simply as "Monsieur") studies a mysterious malady: hysteria. Augustine, nineteen years old, an illiterate housemaid, is taken to the hospital, reserved for the insane, by her cousin, Rosalie (Roxane Duran) because she is subject to seizures and partial paralysis. Once noticed by Charcot having a fit, she becomes his favorite guinea pig, the star of his demonstrations of hypnosis. From object of study, she becomes little by little an object of desire. Soko (Stéphanie Sokolinski) as Augustine and Vincent Lindon as Charcot deliver intense performances. In fact this first film by Alice Winocour is an intense experience in every way, visual, auditory, and emotional. But it is also so expressionistic and vague in style that it provides sense impressions, but no thought, emotion, but no information. An important part of the style is the visuals, always partly out of focus, at once suggesting old camera lenses and medicine's constant state of partial confusion. There are a few scenes with an elegant, upper-bourgeoise Chiara Mastroianni as Charcot's heiress wife Constance, who, though aware his attraction to Augustine isn't purely medical, helps him get funding and advance to a key demonstration at the Academy of Science that is the film's climactic public moment. There is also one sweeping, impressionist dinner party sequence slightly reminiscent of Patrick Chéreau's marvelously austere and grand Gabrielle (NYFF 2005). At home, Monsieur Charcot also has an attractive and rather well-behaved monkey. Stylistically, Winocour has impressive antecedents, though in content, this debut of hers is a bit troubling. It seems to set out to shock and mystify, which are not the most humane and civilized of aims, however well and poetically it achieves them.

    Winocour is on similar ground with two other recent movies about the history of psychology, David Cronenberg's excessively explanatory 2011 A Dangerous Method (NYFF 2011) about Freud and Jung and their female patient and sometime lover Sabina Spielrein, and Tanya Wexler's frivolous but not uninformative 2012 account of sex-therapy-cum-hysteria-treatment in nineteenth-century England, Hysteria (SFIFF 2012). Cronenberg's approach was explanatory, Wexler's was satirical, and Winocour's is poetic and impressionistic. All provide a shocking picture of male chauvinism and sexism, none more so than this new film, in which it's obvious not only are patients exhibited to galleries of male doctors at learned medical convocations, but these patients all diagnosed with "hysteria" conveniently are young women and examining them requires that they be in various stages of undress. Augustine also brought to mind Abdellatif Kéchiche's Black Venus (NYFF 2010), the chronicle of a black woman in the nineteenth century who was made into a public spectacle with racist "medical" exhibitions as part of the mix.

    Soko is a voluptuous, almost animalistic young actress (also a musician, who composed the film's surging score). Apart from her mixture of dramatic symptoms, her character is deeply contradictory because despite her sensuality, she may also be sexually repressed; at nineteen, she still has not begun menstruating. It's implied that either her "hysteria" or in her case epileptic-style seizures and partial paralysis may be due to sexual repression -- in keeping with the theory of the time that hysteria was a grab-bag women's disease whose seat was the uterus. Charcot is on the frontiers, though, and suspects the brain is the seat of the problems.

    Nothing is analyzed or explained on screen -- paralleling Charcot's brusque, imperious manner with patients and staff alike, to which the audience becomes also de facto victim. Augustine seems a prisoner at the hospital, though a favored one: she's taken out of the general ward full of insane people and awarded a kind of chambre de bonne, as well as provided with flashy clothes for public appearances. She prays -- first to God, then on advice of a fellow patient, to Charcot himself -- for a cure, which seems the only way she will gain release. The whole process has an element of charlatanism and carnival, and the convocations are designed progressively to garner public financial support for the hospital and Charcot's experiments. A hint is dropped in that he orders that the patients' meals include meat and it's pointed out extra money will be needed for this, as for the experiments themselves.

    Another hint of links with the present is given by having half a dozen current women who've had psychological issues explain them directly to the camera, but dressed in period costume.

    Whatever one's reservations one must acknowledge that Alice Winocour has taken on theatrical material and dealt with it with a splendid theatricality. This is an assured debut. Soko draws you in with her explosive helplessness. Lindon, who played a modern doctor recently in Moonchild (Rendez-Vous 2012) as always gives a splendid performance, this time a forbidding, harsh one. Winocour takes a lot of liberties but carries it all off.

    Augustine debuted at Critics' Fortnight at Cannes, May 2012 and opened in France November 7. It received favorable reviews (Allociné press rating: 3.9). Music Box Films has bought this film for US release but no dates have been announced. Augustine was a nomineeat the 2013 Césars for Best First Film, though the winner in this category was Louise Wimmer (Rendez-Vous 2012). The other nominees were Comme des frères, Rengaine and Populaire. Screened for this review as part of the Feb. 28-Mar. 10, 2013 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, a joint enterprise of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-19-2015 at 11:45 AM.

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    Jean-Christophe Dessaint: THE DAY OF THE CROWS (2012)


    A boy emerges from the woods and finds amour

    The Day of Crows/Le jour des corneilles (AKA "The Day of the Crows") is a hand-drawn animated film helmed by Jean-Christophe Dessaint, his first direction of a feature; he has workked on an animated TV series and was assistant director under Antoine Delesvaux and Joann Sfar of the much-admired (and César-winning) Rabbi's Cat (ND/NF 2012). This script is by Amandine Taffin, adapting from Jea-François Beauchemn's French Canadian novel depicting a boy known to himself and his father only as "Fils" or Son (Lorànt Deutsch), who has been raised like a wild child in the woods by his bitter, fearsome and tyrannical father, known as "Courge" (Pumpkin) (Jean Reno). Events lead Son out of this harsh, feral existence into a world of kindness and love. This is a sweet story with many little delights to the eye.

    Things change for Son after his father is badly injured in a fall and the boy, going against his father's admonitions in the past but urged on by half-human half-animal spirits that are his guardians, drags his father out of the forest into the "Other World." This leads the boy to a little town -- we appear to be in rural France in the Twenties or Thirties -- where he lugs his dad to seek help. There is a small military HQ and across from it a hospital. Though Son knows nothing of civilization he manages to get help from the benevolent Doctor (the late Claude Chabrol; his final film credit), who operates on Pumplin's broken leg. Thus Son meets a girl of his own age, Manon (Isabelle Carré), daughter of the Doctor, whom he's sent to play with during his father's surgery and from whom he beings to learn more about the real world. By Manon's side Son discovers love and civilization, and begins to seek out where his father's love for him also may be hidden, because Son believes it must be somewhere. Eventually the story behind Pumpkin's bitterness and his fanatical avoidance of the village emerges. When crows come into the story -- with Son communicating with one he helps, following the model of kindness learned from the Doctor -- bird also become helpers and friends, instead of being only killed for food (by Pumpkin) or for sport (by the brutes of the military HQ).

    In style The Day of Crows somewhat evokes the animations of s Hayao Miyazaki, a link perhaps heightened by the frequent appearance of anthropomophic animal figures. These gentle guiding spirits, half ghosts of the living, half animal spirits of the forest, become protectors and guides for Son and also for Manon and in a sense for Pumpkin. This is an authentic children's fantasy that draws us into its own world rather than providing easy parallels or moral lessons for everyday life.

    Day of the Crows is a film out of Canada but is a Canada/Belgium/France/Luxembourg production. It depicts a struggle between a magical world that's also the wild and feral world and a more real and everyday one, and, obviously, a search for love.

    Day of the Crows , 96 mins., debuted at San Sebastian. Hollywood Reporter writer Neil Young, who reviewed it in detail but not altogether favorably, felt this film "isn't quite distinctive enough to stand out in an environment so jam-packed with flashier computer-animated rivals." Well, this labor of love about about love will appeal precisely to all those who are tired of the endlessly cranked-out Pixar et al. computer-generated pictures. Young sees links with f Shrek and Truffaut's The Wild Child - even M Night Shyamalan´s The Village and, in the final third sees parallels with Ken Loach's Kes -- and he notes that while the forest and valley landscape drawings and even the village have a lush period quality, Son and Manon are drawn in a more contemporary way; he sees Son as not unlike a figure in "Peanuts." This is all true, though Son is a distinctive and very lively character who comes across very different from a comic strip in these rich settings.

    The film was released in France and Belgium in October 2012. It may be even more appreciated in Canada, with those who know the original story. But as Young says, on TV and DVD it may have a great future in many French-speaking countries. All the voices are well done, with Carré and Deutsch cute and appealing, Reno appropriately resonant and gruff, and Chabrol warm and mellow. Bruno Podalydès is present voicing a nurse and another character. This is a finely crafted piece of work whose story line -- more important than its drawing -- is fresh and interesting. I wish I could have seen it when I was eight or ten. This is a resonant myth for children, one worth remembering.

    Le jour des corneilles, 96mins., opened in France October 24, 2012 to excellent reviews (Allociné press rating 3.9 based on 20 reviews). Screened for this review as part of the joint Unifrance-Film Society of Lincoln Center series, Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, where it will play Sat., Mar. 9, 1:00pm at the Walter Reade Theater. It becomes available in France on DVD and Blu-ray March 6, 2013.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2014 at 07:16 PM.

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    Damien Odoul: RICH IS THE WOLF (2012)



    Found footage biopic, second hand

    In Rich Is the Wolf, a woman called Marie (Marie-Eve Nadeau) spends days and days watching a whole shelf-full of small-format K-7 videotapes (from the last seven years) left behind when her boyfriend Olaf (Damien Odoul) suddenly disappears, using these records and mementos as a way of trying to get close to him. She does not expect him to return, nor does she question his sudden unexplained departure, or notify the police, or Olaf's family: she says he has no family and no friends either; that he wanted to "become Asian," eating a lot of rice and practicing martial arts (footage shown is of wrestling practice). The many hours of video images randomly excerpted for us, with voiceover and musical accompaniment, are supplemented by a a notebook. Only very limited narrative content emerges through Marie's commentary and her conversations with another woman (both of whom speak with what sounds like a French Canadian twang), and with occasional poems or ruminations by Olaf. The film being evidently Odoul's, this is a very peculiar and personal kind of documentary autobiography: oneself seen through left-behind fragments viewed by an abandoned girlfriend. This film falls into the category of Interesting Experiment, but it's more interesting to think and talk about than to watch.

    The director, Damien Odoul, is an avantgardist French filmmaker little known in this country, and this film has no French release or mention on the website Allociné, either. However, it was shown at Locarno and reviewed for Variety by Jay Weissberg (Aug. 20, 2012). This is a meditation, a speculation, an experiment. It's a little like Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour: a woman goes back over a love affair, reviewing her past and his -- but with none of the art house polish or narrative detail of that earlier film. Odoul uses random found or personal footage, and though he "plays" Olaf and we see him a few times, most of the time we see no one in particular and no story is told to us. Instead we get farm animals staring into an amateur camera lens. We get trees being chopped down in a forest (Olaf says he is celebrating his 40th birthday and is chopping down a 40-year-old tree). We get a hamburger and canned peaches being broken up and flushed down a toilet. Music and words often go counter to image. It's surprising how poetic and momentous trees can look seen from below as a car rushes along (as in the famous sequence in Shoot the Piano Player). A French commentator (in connection with the Marseille documentary festival) says wolf" is used in the title because that's the old German meaning of Odoul's name; he likes the filmmaker's instinctive and indirect way of working drawing character, scattering and dispersing it rather than doing a linear drawing of its contours. As Marie makes clear, she, and by implication the viewer, is not trying to "see" Olaf, but to experience him by imagining oneself seeing through his eyes.

    I know Damien Odoul only as the director of his debut film, Le souffle/Deep Breath, reviewed by fellow Cinescene contributor Howard Schumann and one of his favorite films of the decade. Le Souffle is a partly vérité, partly surreal 77-minute film about a day in the life of a bored, tense teenage boy spending the summer with his uncle at a rural French farm. There is a wild beauty about Le souffle, which brought Odoul to the attention of French film fans; his method is very sui generis. In 2007 he made L'histoire de Richard O., starring the well-known Mattieu Amalric as a man spending the hot days and nights of an August in Paris searching for erotic experience, with 13 encounters included (Amalric co-produced Rich Is the Wolf).

    Rich Is the Wolf contains what Weissberg may be right to refer to as "an almost parodic level of Gallic philosophical inquiry," and likely also right in saying "Prospects outside Paris are low." In fact prospect inside Paris are not established as high, given that no French theatrical release of Rich Is the Wolf is listed on Allociné or IMDb. In his Variety review from when th 89min. film debuted at Locarno, out of competition (20 August 2012), Jay Weissberg noted correctly that the premise was intriguing but felt that the film's "lack of visual development" with its long train of nondescript videocassette footage and the philosophical rambling would not win new fans for Odoul or play well anywhere outside Paris.

    La richesse du loup was screened for this review a part of the Unifrance-FSLC Feb. 28 March 10, 2013 series Rendez-Vous with French Cinema.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2014 at 07:18 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    Patrick Mille: BAD GIRL (2012)



    Giddy crises

    In this feature debut by the actor-turned-director Patrick Mille (he played the young man in Corneau's swan song Love Crime (Rendez-Vous 2011]) , 25-year-old literarily inclined Louise (Izia Higelin) is suddenly hit with a double dose of life-altering reality when she almost simultaneously learns both that she’s pregnant and that her wild-living former model mother Alice (Carole Bouquet) has a recurrence of now advanced cancer. Justine Lévy has adapted her own novel and Mille, her husband, filmed the result. Bob Geldof and Arthur Dupont co-star.

    Jacques Morice of Télérama noted that the film is "much less cruel than the book," "moderating the anguish and paralyzing guilt." Others say the book is much more personal and inward-looking; a lot may have been lost, despite the author's very direct complicity. One gets the feeling from the French reviews that most critics felt the film provides too little depth to its characters and doesn't make us care about them enough; it presents a narrative as if it is coming from a friend of a friend. This also was my impression. Sophie Grassin of TéléCinéObs thought (and I'd agree) the film is too facile in its use of flashbacks; they somehow seem too easy, almost irrelevant.

    Several of the critics loved both actresses and found Bouquet, clad in striking bright hippie-ish outfits, brilliant and luminous as usual. And one does. Bouquet, seen most recently in the US in André Téchiné's Unforgivable , released Stateside last year, is a perennially classic French film actress who is fascinating to watch. Boyd von Hoeij of Variety points out that in Mauvaise fille Mille is adapting a work of autobiographical fiction by his real-life partner, Justine Levy, who in turn is the daughter of the superstar French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy ("BHL"), but that despite this inbred connectedness, "rather than feeling lived-in, the pic is a meandering muddle." As von Hoeij points out that in French the title means both "bad girl" and "bad daughter," a nuance lost for anglophone viewers.

    A recent article in the New York Times, "It Takes a Family to Adopt a French Novel" (Feb. 24, 2012), by Kristin Hohenadel, explains more details of this film's gossipy background, which may be more interesting than the film itself. Justine Lévy was not known as anything other than the daughter of BHL until the publication of her 2004 autobiographical novel, Nothing Serious/Rien de grave. At that time she'd just been left by her husband of five years, Raphaël Enthoven, for Carla Bruni, his father's girlfriend and later wife of Sarkozy and hence to become "first lady" of France. Possibly the scandal element of a novel with a thinly veiled portrait of Carla Bruni in it was the main thing that drew attention to Justine Lévy's writing, but her next novel, Mauvise fille, in 2009, had sufficient literary merit to be nominated for a Prix Goncourt.

    Bad Girl relies on flashbacks, sometimes rather random ones, to establish that Alice was a bixexual, irresponsible druggie and a terrible mother who forgot to pick up Louise at school and later was more like a pal than a mother; I'm not sure Carole Bouquet is the best choice for such a character, though she handles the present-day cancer-ridden mom with dignity and lightness. Bob Geldorf plays Louise's distant if loving rock star dad; in his scenes he speaks a little French and a little English in every sentence. Despite that fact that many will think this movie is worth seeing, if at all (French reviews not having been wildly enthusiastic), for Carole Bouquet, it was Izïa Higelin, who plays Louise, who was nominated for a Most Promising Young Actress (Meilleur Espoir Féminin) César award. And Higelin, though she may be hard to believe as a literary type -- she's meant to be an aspiring writer and a manuscript reader here -- is the one who pulls out all the stops, delivering tears and riotous laughter in nearly every scene. She's amply backed up in this by Arthur Dupont, as Louise's loving and sexy Spanish husband Pablo, a bullfighting enthusiast. A lengthy bullfighting sequence and another of what seems to be a baby shower that turns into an hysterical trip to the maternity ward (Louise screaming her refusal to give birth, even though she is quite evidently about to), are examples of how exaggerated and superfluous many of the scenes in this film are.

    However well all this may work in the book, the film meanders, and many of the scenes seem both vague and overdrawn. So much so that without getting to know the characters, one begins to find them annoying. -- except for Bouquet: Dupont and Higelin overact and Geldorf is just walking through. In either case, experiences don't seem really felt. One begins focusing on peripheral elements, like the very French fact that even though of one of the two main characters is pregnant and the other is dying of cancer, hardly a single scene arrives without someone lighting a cigrette. This film make me think of Valérie Donzelli's 2011 Declaration of War, a much better film, also about cancer, and made, in an even more remarkable way, by the couple who actually lived the events. And also of Asayas' Clean, with its rock-star drug vicissitudes, which also feels in some ways false, but ultimately, in retrospect, winds up being a more interesting film than this one.

    Bad Girl/Mauvaise fille 108mins., was screened for this review as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the series presented from Feb. 28 to March 10, 2013 by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance. Showings are Tues. Mar. 5, 7:00pm – IFC; Wed. Mar. 6, 9:00PM – WRT; Thur. Mar. 7, 6pm – WRT; with Patrick Mille appearing for the screenings.

    French release was November 28, 2012. Allociné press rating: 3.1, based on only ten reviews. The film will be available on French DVD starting Wed., April 3, 2013.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-04-2014 at 07:13 PM.

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