Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21

Thread: Rendez-Vouz with French Cinema 2017

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    Rendez-Vouz with French Cinema 2017

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-03-2017 at 10:54 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282
    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2017
    March 1-12

    See the General Film Forum thread for this event here.

    Following is the main slate of the series, including this time some French films in this year's "Film Comment Selects" series.


    NOCTURAMA (Bentrand Bonello)

    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema Main Slate:
    Opening Night
    Django
    Étienne Comar, France, 2017, 115m

    French with English subtitles
    The world of legendary Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt is brought to vivid life in this riveting saga of survival, resistance, and artistic courage. Reinhardt (Reda Kateb) is the toast of 1943 Paris, thrilling audiences with his distinctive brand of "hot jazz" and charming his admirers (including an intrepid friend and muse played by Cécile de France). But even as the rise of Nazism and anti-Romani sentiment force Reinhardt—whose music is considered degenerate under the Third Reich—to make a daring escape from the city, he refuses to be silenced, his music becoming his form of protest. The feature debut from acclaimed screenwriter Étienne Comar (Of Gods and Men) immerses viewers in a tumultuous chapter in the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest musical geniuses. North American Premiere
    French release coming 26 April 2017.
    Wednesday, March 1, at 6:00pm and 8:30pm (Étienne Comar, Reda Kateb, and Cécile de France in person)[/B]

    Closing Night
    The Odyssey / L’odyssée
    Jérôme Salle, France, 2016, 122m
    French with English Subtitles

    Lambert Wilson is magnetic in this grandly lyrical dramatization of legendary explorer-turned-filmmaker Jacques Cousteau. Spanning half a century and criss-crossing oceans, the film charts Cousteau’s professional triumphs and personal failures as he achieves renown for the underwater documentaries he produced on his oceanographic expeditions, amid the constant struggle to secure financial backing for increasingly ambitious scientific (and cinematic) objectives. Set against the backdrop of cross-generational family drama—centered on his long-suffering wife Simone (Audrey Tautou) and his talented, deeply conflicted son Philippe (Pierre Niney)—The Odyssey is an epic ode to scientific exploration and documentary filmmaking, and a celebration of the human drive to seek out new realms of discovery. U.S. Premiere. ) HERE. French release 31 Oct. 2016 AlloCiné press rating 3.4. [Previously reviewed on Filmleaf]
    Saturday, March 11, 6:00pm (Q&A with Jérôme Salle)
    Sunday, March 12, 8:00pm


    150 Milligrams / La fille de Brest
    Emmanuelle Bercot, France, 2016, 128m

    French with English subtitles
    A fearless everywoman stands up to a drug company in this gripping David vs. Goliath story, based on a real-life medical scandal. Irène Frachon (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is a pulmonologist at a hospital in Brest who begins digging into the connection between a widely prescribed diabetes drug and a spate of fatal valve disorders, with help from a research scientist (Benoît Magimel). Soon enough, Irène sets off a media firestorm, making powerful enemies in the pharmaceutical industry who will stop at nothing to suppress her story. Knudsen and writer-director Emmanuelle Bercot have created a memorably eccentric heroine, at once a tireless crusader and compelling human. U.S. Premiere. French release 23 Nov. 2016. AlloCiné press rating 3.7.
    Saturday, March 4, 3:15pm (Q&A with Emmanuelle Bercot)
    Monday, March 6, 4:15pm

    The Dancer / La danseuse
    Stéphanie Di Giusto, France/Belgium/Czech Republic, 2016, 108m

    English and French with English subtitles
    This visually sumptuous drama set amidst the opulence of La Belle Époque Paris charts the real-life saga of modern dance icon Loïe Fuller (Soko). Raised on the plains of the American Midwest, Fuller became the unlikely toast of turn-of-the-century France with her legendary performances, in which swirling swaths of silk fabric and dazzlingly colored lights created a kaleidoscopic spectacle of color and movement. Boasting lavish period detail, breathtaking dance sequences, and fiercely committed performances by Gaspard Ulliel, Mélanie Thierry, and Lily-Rose Depp as Fuller’s rival Isadora Duncan, The Dancer is an arresting chronicle of an artist’s struggle to realize her vision. French release 28 Sept. 2016. AlloCine press rating 3.4.
    Thursday, March 2, 1:45pm
    Monday, March 6, 9:30pm (Q&A with Stéphanie Di Giusto)

    Daydreams / L'indomptée
    Caroline Deruas, France, 2016, 98m

    French and Italian with English subtitles
    Past and present, fantasy and reality collide in the boldly original feature debut from Caroline Deruas. A group of young French artists converge at Rome’s sun-dappled Villa Medicis for a one-year residency. Among them are Camille (Clotilde Hesme), a writer whose marriage to a famous novelist (Tchéky Karyo) is disintegrating, and Axèle (Jenna Thiam), an erratic photographer haunted by spectral visions of the villa’s past. Deruas conjures a subtly surreal atmosphere through striking stylistic flourishes—iris shots, color effects, dream sequences—in this beguiling tale of creative struggle, romantic rivalry, and ghosts. U.S. Premiere. French release 15 Feb. 2017.
    Wednesday, March 8, 4:30pm
    Friday, March 10, 6:45pm (Q&A with Caroline Deruas)

    Faultless / Irréprochable
    Sébastien Marnier, France, 2016, 103m

    French with English subtitles
    Out of money and options, 40-year-old Constance (Marina Foïs) abandons her life in Paris and returns to her suburban hometown in hopes of picking up where she left off. After she finds no real romance from her occasional lover (Benjamin Biolay), something finally snaps when she discovers that her old job as a real-estate agent has been given to a younger woman (Joséphine Japy). It soon becomes clear: Constance is dangerous, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Both a wild-ride thriller and a chilling character study, Faultless is driven by a riveting central performance: almost always onscreen, Foïs brings unexpected depth and poignant humanity to her portrayal of a coldly calculating sociopath. French release 6 Jul. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.7.
    Sunday, March 5, 6:15pm (Q&A with Sébastien Marnier and Marina Foïs)
    Monday, March 6, 2:00pm

    Frantz
    François Ozon, France/Germany, 2016, 113m

    French and German with English subtitles
    The new film from acclaimed director François Ozon is a sublime, heartrending saga of guilt, forgiveness, and forbidden love in post–World War I Europe. Based on Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 antiwar drama Broken Lullaby, it charts the complex bond that forms between two strangers: Anna (Paula Beer), a young German woman grieving the loss of her fiancé, Frantz, in the war, and Adrien (Pierre Niney), a former French soldier. What plays out between them is a haunting investigation of postwar trauma and healing rendered in gorgeous black-and-white that occasionally gives way—gloriously—to psychologically charged bursts of color. French release 7 Sept. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.7. A Music Box Films release (US). [Previously reviewed on Filmleaf]
    Thursday, March 2, 9:15pm (Q&A with François Ozon)
    Saturday, March 11, 1:00pm

    From the Land of the Moon / Mal de pierres
    Nicole Garcia, France/Belgium/Canada, 2016, 116m

    French and Spanish with English subtitles
    Marion Cotillard delivers a performance of searing emotional intensity in this psychologically charged, 1950s-set saga of amour fou. She stars as Gabrielle, a troubled young woman—sick in both body and mind—who is stuck in a loveless marriage. When she travels to Switzerland for a rest cure, she meets the handsome, terminally ill lieutenant André (Louis Garrel), beginning a decades-long romantic obsession that will shape the course of her life. Beautifully photographed in the sunny south of France and the snow-capped Swiss mountains, From the Land of the Moon is an exquisite showcase for one of the finest actresses working today. French release 19 Oct. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.5. A Sundance Selects release (US). [Previously reviewed on Filmleaf]
    Friday, March 3, 6:30pm (Q&A with Nicole Garcia)
    Sunday, March 12, 1:00pm

    Heal the Living / Réparer les vivants
    Katell Quillévéré, France/Belgium, 2016, 103m

    French with English subtitles
    A medical drama of unusual depth and sensitivity, Heal the Living charts the disparate lives touched by a tragedy. Following a car accident, 17-year-old Simon (Gabin Verdet) is left brain-dead, setting into motion a chain of events that affects everyone from his family to the hospital staff to a mother of two (Anne Dorval) in need of a heart transplant. Director Katell Quillévéré weaves together the multistrand narrative with consummate grace, abetted by a remarkable ensemble cast (including Emmanuelle Seigner and Tahar Rahim), elegant camerawork, and a striking score by Alexandre Desplat. The result is an enormously affecting study of human interconnectedness that finds a silver lining of hope in a wrenching situation. French release 2 Nov. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.8. A Cohen Media Group release (US). [Previously reviewed on Filmleaf]
    Thursday, March 2, 6:30pm (Q&A with Katell Quillévéré)
    Friday, March 3, 1:45pm

    In Bed With Victoria / Victoria
    Justine Triet, France, 2016, 97m

    English and French with English subtitles
    Victoria (Virginie Efira) is a hotshot lawyer with a disastrous personal life. Between juggling a demanding job, raising two kids, and fending off an ex-husband who’s slandering her on the Internet, she can barely be bothered with the hit-or-miss (mostly miss) online hookups she sets up. Around the time Victoria agrees to help her old friend Vincent (Melvil Poupaud) with a decidedly bizarre legal matter, she runs into a charming former client Sam (Vincent Lacoste). Now that a shot at real romance comes along, will the perpetually harried Victoria even recognize it? This refreshingly offbeat (how else to describe a film that features a trial in which the star witness is a Dalmatian?) farce is propelled by Efira’s irresistible performance as a heroine who’s raw, real, and complicated in ways that transcend the rom-com formula. French release 14 Sept. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 4.0 (This is the biggest critical success in France on the list so far.)
    Saturday, March 4, 9:30pm (Q&A with Justine Triet)
    Sunday, March 12, 3:30pm

    In the Forest of Siberia / Dans les forêts de Sibérie
    Safy Nebbou, France, 2016, 105m

    English, French, and Russian with English subtitles
    Based on the award-winning memoir by adventurer Sylvain Tesson, this tale of survival follows Teddy (Raphaël Personnaz), a young Frenchman who leaves everything behind to live in isolation in the icy Siberian taiga. But initial exhilaration soon gives way to the harsh reality of staying alive in a frozen wilderness miles from civilization with roaming bears, life-threatening blizzards, and no electricity. The film captures majestic footage of the unspoiled Siberian landscape, its bleak beauty underscored by jazz trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf’s plaintive soundtrack. French release 15 Jun. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.4.
    Sunday, March 5, 1:00pm
    Thursday, March 9, 4:00pm

    Journey to Greenland / Le Voyage au Groënland
    Sébastien Betbeder, France, 2016, 98m

    English, Inuktitut, and French with English subtitles
    Scruffy, thirtysomething best friends both named Thomas (Thomas Blanchard and Thomas Scimeca) leave behind their struggling acting careers in Paris for an extended sojourn in a remote, snowbound stretch of Greenland. One is there to reconnect with his off-the-grid father, the other for adventure. What ensues is a perceptive, warm-spirited study of cross-cultural misunderstanding and connection, as the two men learn to survive in a place without alcohol, indoor plumbing, or a reliable Internet connection. Director Sébastien Betbeder balances wry, unforced comedy with casual insight into human relationships: between friends, family members, and the strangers who touch your life. Sébastien Betbeder previously made the 20-something loser rom-com with Vincent Macaigne, 2 Autumns, 3 Winters (Rendez-Vous 2014)[/I]. French release 30 Nov. 2016. AlloCiné press rating 3.5. A Netflix release (US).
    Tuesday, March 7, 4:30pm
    Wednesday, March 8, 6:45pm

    Mum’s Wrong / Maman a tort
    Marc Fitoussi, France/Belgium, 2016, 110m

    French with English subtitles
    When idealistic 14-year-old Anouk (Jeanne Jestin) embarks on a weeklong internship at her mom’s insurance company, she gets a crash course in the less-than-rosy reality of the corporate world, discovering some unsavory truths about her own mother along the way. An emotionally complex look at parents, children, and the moral compromises we make, Mum’s Wrong adroitly blends workplace satire with a compassionate social-issue message, while its leads Jestin and Émilie Dequenne (Rosetta, Our Children) create a nuanced, wholly believable portrait of a mother-daughter relationship undergoing a crisis. French release 9 Nov. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.3.
    Sunday, March 5, 3:30pm (Q&A with Marc Fitoussi)
    Friday, March 10, 2:00pm

    Nocturama
    Bertrand Bonello, France/Germany/Belgium, 2016, 130m
    French with English subtitles

    The audacious new film from Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent) unfolds in two mesmerizing segments. The first is a precision-crafted thriller, following a multi-ethnic group of millennial radicals as they carry out a mass-scale terrorist attack on Paris. The second—in which the perpetrators hide out in the consumerist mecca of a luxury department store—is the director’s coup, raising provocative questions about everything that came before. Bonello stages his apocalyptic vision with stylishly roving camerawork, blasts of hip-hop, and a lip-synced performance to Shirley Bassey’s "My Way." This is edgy, risk-taking filmmaking that is sure to ignite debate. A Netflix release (US). French release 31 Aug. 2016. AlloCiné press rating 3.4.
    Saturday, March 4, 6:15pm (Q&A with Bertrand Bonello)
    Sunday, March 5, 9:00pm (Introduction by Bertrand Bonello)

    The Paris Opera / L'Opèra de Paris
    Jean-Stéphane Bron, France, 2017, 110m

    French with English subtitles
    This all-access documentary goes behind the scenes of the Paris Opera, following the array of personnel—management, performers, costumers, cleaning crew—who work to bring breathtaking spectacle to audiences night after night. Over the course of a season, director Jean-Stéphane Bron nimbly juggles a dizzying number of storylines, from labor disputes to procuring a live bull for Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron to a PR crisis involving the head of the company’s ballet. Sweeping in scope yet full of intimate human moments, The Paris Opera offers a candid look at everything that goes into operating one of the world’s foremost performing arts institutions. U.S. Premiere. French release 5 Apr. 2017. AlloCiné lists the title as L'Opéra.
    Thursday, March 2, 4:00pm
    Saturday, March 11, 3:30pm

    Planetarium
    Rebecca Zlotowski, France/Belgium, 2016, 105m
    English and French with English subtitles

    Natalie Portman lends her star power to this dreamy, visually ravishing tale of magic and movies set in a glamorous vision of 1930s Paris. She and her sister (Lily-Rose Depp) form a psychic duo, touring the stages of Europe performing séances. When they catch the eye of a movie producer (Emmanuel Salinger), he resolves to make them stars and to capture an act of spiritualism on film. Forgoing traditional narrative structure in favor of swooning atmosphere, director Rebecca Zlotowksi revels in the Art Deco architecture, sumptuous period couture, and doomed decadence of prewar Paris. Zlotowski made the 2010 Belle Épine (ND/NF 2011 and 2013 Grand Central (R-V 2014), both with Léa Seydoux. French release 16 Nov. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.1 A Swen Group release (US).
    Friday, March 3, 9:30pm (Q&A with Rebecca Zlotowski)
    Tuesday, March 7, 2:00pm


    Raw/Grave

    Film Comment Selects

    Raw / Grave
    Julia Ducournau, France/Belgium, 2016, 99m

    French with English subtitles
    When incoming freshman — and lifelong vegetarian — Justine (Garance Marillier) joins her older sister (Ella Rumpf) at a strangely decrepit veterinary college, she seems poised to be the school’s new star pupil. But a hazing ritual in which she’s forced to eat raw meat awakens something primal in Justine: a newfound — and highly disturbing — taste for flesh. The feature debut from Julia Ducournau marks the arrival of a bold new directorial voice, blending blood-spattered body horror, pitch-black comedy, and one of the most dysfunctional sisterly relationships ever depicted on screen into a potent, emotionally resonant coming-of-age nightmare. Many reviews, including Walter Chaw 4-our-of-4 stars at Fantastic Fest. French release 17 Mar. 2017. Seems to have had an online release in Jan. US release 10 Mar. A Focus Features release (US).
    Tuesday, March 7, 6:45pm (Q&A with Julia Ducournau)
    Wednesday, March 8, 9:15pm (Introduction by Julia Ducournau)

    Right Here Right Now/ Tout de suite maintenant
    Pascal Bonitzer, France/Belgium/Luxembourg, 2016, 98m

    French with English subtitles
    Workplace drama doesn’t get any messier than in this intriguingly knotty tale of corporate backbiting and buried secrets. Nora (Agathe Bonitzer) is a bright young professional whose new job at a financial firm turns out to be a trial by fire when she learns that her bosses (Lambert Wilson and Pascal Greggory) share a tumultuous history with her prickly mathematician father (Jean-Pierre Bacri). Meanwhile, an interoffice romance with a competitive colleague (Vincent Lacoste) leads to even more complications, leaving Nora to navigate a minefield of delicate relationships as she climbs the corporate ladder. Isabelle Huppert costars and delivers a typically multilayered performance as one of many sharply etched characters populating this complex moral tale. Bonitzer was Raoul Peck's writer forMurder in Pacot and 2014 FCS included his Cherchez Hortense French release 22 Jun. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.5.
    Friday, March 10, 9:30pm
    Sunday, March 12, 5:45pm

    Slack Bay / Ma Loute
    Bruno Dumont, France/Germany, 2016, 122m

    English and French with English subtitles
    In a postcard-perfect seaside village in 1910, an eccentric (to put it mildly) leisure-class family whiles away the summer. But something troubling is afoot: what’s behind the string of tourists gone mysteriously missing? Former enfant terrible Bruno Dumont continues his surprising foray into farce—which began with 2014’s acclaimed Li’l Quinquin—with this surreal, oddball mix of slapstick and detective story. The director and his cast (which includes Fabrice Luchini, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, and a very game Juliette Binoche) stretch each joke to its breaking point, resulting in a winking, weirdly captivating comedy that’s in on its own absurdity. French release 13 May 2016, AlloCiné press raging 4.1 (highest in this list so far). A Kino Lorber release (US).
    Thursday, March 9, 6:30pm
    Saturday, March 11, 9:00pm


    Slack Bay

    Sophie’s Misfortunes / Les malheurs de Sophie
    Christophe Honoré, France, 2016, 106m

    French with English subtitles
    Based on the French children’s classic by the Countess of Ségur, the latest from Christophe Honoré is an enchanting fable for adults and kids alike, set in a light-filled 19th-century chateau. The film captures the imaginative freedom of childhood through the eyes of the irrepressible Sophie (Caroline Grant), a mischievous young girl whose life changes drastically after she’s left in the care of a severe stepmother (Muriel Robin)—a far cry from the life she had with her loving mother (Golshifteh Farahani of Jarmusch's Paterson and Louis Garrel's Two Friends/Les deux amis). With the help of her two friends and their mother (Anaïs Demoustier), Sophie works to escape her stepmother’s wicked grasp. Throughout, Honoré combines gorgeous period detail with playful modern touches: a bouncy electronic score by Alex Beaupain (who wrote the songs for Honoré;s Lse chansons d'amour/Love Songs, expressive handheld camerawork, and a menagerie of animated animals. French release 20 Apr. 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.4 (Users rating 2.2). U.S. Premiere.
    Saturday, March 4, 12:30pm (Q&A with Christophe Honoré)
    Wednesday, March 8, 2:00pm (Intro with Christophe Honoré)

    The Stopover / Voir du pays
    Delphine & Muriel Coulin, France/Greece, 2016, 102m

    French and Greek with English subtitles
    On their way home from Afghanistan, a band of French soldiers stop in Cyprus for decompression: three-days at a sun-splashed resort, where they will undergo intense psychological debriefing. There, amidst the crystal-blue waters and hordes of vacationing tourists, Marine (Soko) and Aurore (Ariane Labed)—two of only three women in their male-dominated unit—confront rage, trauma, and army sexism as they struggle to readjust to "normal" life. This riveting drama—winner of the Best Screenplay award in the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes—is an all-too-rare exploration of war’s psychological wounds on female soldiers. This debuted in Un Certain Regard at Cannes. The sisters previously made 17 Girls (R-V 2012)and Samba. A First Run Features release (US).
    Thursday, March 9, 9:00pm
    Friday, March 10, 4:15pm

    Struggle for Life / La Loi de la jungle
    Antonin Peretjatko, France, 2016, 99m

    French with English subtitles
    In this wild, joke-a-minute slapstick satire, a middle-aged intern (Vincent Macaigne) is sent from France to French Guiana to oversee the creation of a South American ski resort led by Galgaric (Mathieu Amalric). There, he meets a beautiful intern at the National Forestry Office named Tarzan (Vimala Pons) and what ensues is a surreal journey through the Amazon jungle, with absurdist bureaucratic disasters, an aphrodisiac mishap, and a cannibal encounter. Playing something like a Jerry Lewis gag-fest meets Survivor, Struggle for Life combines anarchic black comedy with a scathing critique of colonialism. French release 13 Jun 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.6 (USers 3.0).
    Monday, March 6, 7:00pm (Q&A with Antonin Peretjatko)
    Tuesday, March 7, 9:15pm (Introduction by Antonin Peretjatko)

    The Together Project / L'effet aquatique
    Sólveig Anspach, France/Iceland, 2016, 83m

    English, French, and Icelandic with English subtitles
    The final film from the late French-Icelandic director Sólveig Anspach is an irresistibly offbeat aquatic comedy. When gawky construction worker Samir (Samir Guesmi) encounters prickly swim instructor Agathe (Florence Loiret Caille), he’s immediately smitten. But his unconventional plan to win her over—pretending he can’t swim in order to take lessons from her — proves more than a little problematic. Sweet without being cloying, quirky without being grating, this romantic charmer succeeds thanks to the interplay between the two leads and Anspach’s breezy sincerity. French release 29 Jun. 2016, AlloCiné press rating a very favorable 3.9.
    Friday, March 3, 4:00pm (Q&A with composer Martin Wheeler)
    Thursday, March 9, 2:00pm

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-01-2017 at 07:02 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    Previews



    Previews.

    I'll be previewing the following films in the series before the Rendez-Vous begins. Some others I may catch at public screenings or elsewhere.

    The Dancer / La danseuse
    Stéphanie Di Giusto, France/Belgium/Czech Republic, 2016, 108m

    English and French with English subtitles
    This visually sumptuous drama set amidst the opulence of La Belle Époque Paris charts the true-life saga of American-born modern dance icon Loïe Fuller and boasts a fiercely committed lead performance by Soko

    Django (Opening Night Selection)
    Étienne Comar, France, 2017, 115m

    French with English subtitles
    The world and music of legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt (Reda Kateb) are brought vividly to life in this riveting saga of survival, resistance, and artistic courage set against the tumultuous backdrop of World War II-era Paris.

    Frantz
    François Ozon, France/Germany, 2016, 113m

    French and German with English subtitles
    Based on Ernst Lubitsch's 1932 antiwar drama Broken Lullaby, the new film from acclaimed director François Ozon is a sublime, heartrending saga of guilt, forgiveness, and forbidden love in post-World War I Europe. A Music Box Films release.

    From the Land of the Moon / Mal de pierres
    Nicole Garcia, France/Belgium/Canada, 2016, 116m

    French and Spanish with English subtitles
    Marion Cotillard delivers a performance of searing emotional intensity as a troubled woman in love with a terminally ill lieutenant (Louis Garrel) in this psychologically charged, 1950s-set saga of amour fou. A Sundance Selects release.

    Heal the Living / Réparer les vivants
    Katell Quillévéré, France/Belgium, 2016, 103m

    French with English subtitles
    A fatal car accident sets into motion a chain of events that touches the lives of seemingly disparate people in this enormously affecting medical drama of unusual depth and sensitivity. A Cohen Media Group release.

    Nocturama
    Bertrand Bonello, France/Germany/Belgium, 2016, 130m

    French with English subtitles
    The audacious new film from Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent) is both a precision-crafted thriller about a mass-scale terrorist attack on Paris and a provocative exploration of consumerism and millennial disaffection. A Netflix release.

    The Odyssey / L'odyssée (Closing Night Selection)
    Jérôme Salle, France, 2016, 122m

    French with English subtitles
    Lambert Wilson is magnetic in this grandly lyrical dramatization of legendary explorer-turned-filmmaker Jacques Cousteau. Set against the backdrop of cross-generational family drama, The Odyssey is an epic ode to exploration and documentary filmmaking, and a celebration of the human drive to seek out new realms of discovery.

    The Paris Opera / L'Opéra
    Jean-Stéphane Bron, France, 2017, 110m

    French with English subtitles
    Go behind the scenes of the Paris Opera, where backstage dramas, crises, and triumphs play out each night before the curtain rises.

    In Bed With Victoria / Victoria
    Justine Triet, France, 2016, 97m

    English and French with English subtitles
    A hotshot lawyer with a disastrous love life gets a shot at real romance-if only she could recognize it. This refreshingly offbeat farce is raw, real, and complicated in ways that transcend the rom-com formula.

    Slack Bay / Ma Loute
    Bruno Dumont, France/Germany, 2016, 122m

    English and French with English subtitles
    Juliette Binoche, Fabrice Luchini, and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi costar in this surreal, weirdly captivating mix of slapstick comedy and oddball detective story, the latest foray into farce from former enfant terrible Bruno Dumont. A Kino Lorber release.

    Raw / Grave
    Julia Ducournau, France/Belgium, 2016, 99m

    French with English subtitles
    When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    DJANGO (Django (Étienne Comar 2016)

    ÉTIENNE COMAR: DJANGO (2016)


    REDA KATEB (SEATED, FAR RIGHT) AS DJANGO REINHARDT IN DJANGO

    Wonderful music, teamwork, blah plot

    In 1943 the great gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt left Paris and, after months of waiting in Thonon-les-Bains, fled to Switzerland to escape the German massacres of his people who, along with Jews, homosexuals, and communists, were targeted for extermination by the Nazis. This is the moment French director Étienne Comar chooses to focus on in this atmospheric, beautiful, but unfortunately rather flat film, which comes out 25 Apr. 2017 in France. It debuted at the Berlinale 9 February and opens Lincoln Center and UniFrance's Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 1 March. This film nicely showcases Django's music, including a lost suite for orchestra, organ, and chorus composed while in flight and a Paris theater concert of Django and the Jazz Hot Quintet recreated by the Rosenberg Trio, Warren Ellis. The filmmakers deserve much credit for letting the music breathe in a few extended sessions rather than the usual tiny cli[ps. The movie also is valuable for the information it conveys about the persecution of the Roma people. And it's an unusual lead role for the inconspicuous French-Arab actor Reda Kateb, who's played in excellent films like Zero Dark Thirty and (most notably) Audiard's great A Prophet, but is rarely noticed, especially outside of France.

    There is much here to show what exceptional chops Reda Ketem has. He not only looks and acts the part but gives an effortlessly convincing impression of Django's lightening fingers on the guitar and speaks the Roma language. But despite a vivid mise-en-scène (complete with period Roma encampments) and a good cast - including Cécile de France as an ambiguous femme fatale, a Django fan and a bit more (her hair big and wavy as in her "The Young Pope" HBO TV series performance for Paolo Sorrentino), we seem to spend too much of the movie just waiting for something to happen. And when it finally does, it lacks drama because it's masked by an unmemorable decadent-Nazis partying sequence. And then, in this oddly paced scenario, we're immediately zipped forward to 1945, when Django's safely back in Paris, the War over, conducting his suite (or a recreation of it). We're left with the memory of those toe-tapping, head-bobbing Jazz Hot sessions.

    Maybe writer-producer Étienne Comar, who scripted for this directing debut, is better at static situations, which is where he excelled in writing the screenplay for Xavier Beauvois' Cannes Grand Prix-winning 2010 film Of Gods and Men/Des hommes et des dieux about a group of monks menaced by terrorists trying to decide what to do. Django also begins with a kind of stagnation. Django is an enormously admired musician in Paris and around the world, when we meet him, who's been joined by Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins; you name it. So the fact he's from a group classified as "degenerate" by the Occupation seems not to matter - till it's gradually clear that the culturally sophisticated Nazis aren't ultimately the ones in control, but the racists and exterminators.

    Perhaps the film's highpoint is its recreation of the Quintette du Hot Club de France theatrical performance, with the group cooking non-stop on stage and the audience smoking, jiving, finally standing up and dancing in the theater. Details of the group's makeup aren't much detailed. Instead we see how boorish and domineering the German officers are when they tell Django how he must play at an upcoming tour of Germany, for which he's to be highly paid. Django, whose proclivity for drink and fishing have been roughed in when he's first seen prior to the concert, is contemptuous, and simply says he won't go or ever play for the Krauts. But Louise de Klerk (Cécile de France) and others warn him that he can neither go - he'd never come back - nor simply refuse to go: the moment has come to go into hiding. And so reluctantly he does sneak off to Thonon, with his pregnant wife Naguine (Beata Palya) and colorful mother Négros (Bimbam Merstein), for what will be a boring and drawn-out period of waiting, shifting residences, and performing incognito to pay expenses.

    Here, despite initially arousing hope with its musicality and its fluent sense of period, the film founders, and we realize that, outside of the toe-tapping concert sessions, it never did really have a sense of rhythm. There are several more of those, all good, and Django connects with his local Roma comrades. And there's a complicated and cooked-up Hitchcockian-cum-Inglourious Basterds plot that neither gels nor convinces. All the fun little details just ultimately seem like only an excuse to glue together the musical sessions, and we can't help wishing for more of those and less ho-hum plotting. Kateb always quietly shines, as he might better have done in a movie with more charisma. Props to dp Christophe Beaucarne for the film's handsome gloss and to production designer Olivier Radot for its quietly authentic settings. I love it when the old cars in a period movie don't look like they just came out of a museum or collector's garage but have some rickety patina, as here. The purely musical parts of this film deserve to be anthologized and re-watched.

    Django, 117 mins., debuted at Berlin 9 Feb. 2017. Screened for this review as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema where it is the Opening Night film 1 March. French theatrical release 25 April 2017.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-15-2017 at 07:32 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    FRANTZ (François Ozon 2016)

    FRANÇOIS OZON: FRANTZ (2016)


    PIERRE NINEY AND PAULA BEER IN FRANTZ

    Ozon redoes the postwar romance in fine style

    Ozon's new Frantz at times seems terminally tasteful and tame, impeccably set in post WWI trappings and filmed in handsome black and white (with discreet color segments) that makes everything and everyone look pleasingly generic. Primarily it's a nice vehicle for its two young protagonists, the rising French star Pierre Niney (ex-Comédie Française and the official film YSL) and the promising German newcomer (so awarded at Venice) Paula Beer. Niney plays Adrien Rivoire, the mysterious slim young Frenchman who appears in the little German town cemetery where Anna (Beer) pays daily homage at the grave of her late fiance, Frantz Hoffmeister (Anton von Lucke), killed in the war.

    As is his wont Ozon teases and puzzles us. And yet still he lays out points with absolute clarity. When Adrien explains who he is, it takes a while for Frantz's father, Doktor Hoffmeister (Ernst Stötzner) to accept him. But then everybody does. Later comes a shocking surprise that amateur script-doctors may have guessed; and concealment goes on, while the impact of the surprise is muted, some are protected from it, and it's then viewed from various angles.

    If nothing gathers intense emotional power, Frantz touches on various intriguing themes. First is the pacifist one. A beer-drinking gang of bereaved German fathers are made to consider that they caused the war and sent their sons off to die in it. Frantz's favorite poet was Verlaine and French was his and Anna's secret language and she is fluent in French as Adrien is in German. But nationalism can't be banished with cultural affinities and a few pious generalizations. One is somewhat in the territory of Vercors' Le silence de la mer, the subject of Jean-Pierre Melville's first film, about the German Occupation officer who just loves everything French; but whose delusions become painful, while all along his humble French "hosts" refuse to ever utter a word to him.

    In his Venice review for Variety Jay Weissberg points out that in Frantz Ozon is remaking Ernst Lubitsch’s anti-war drama Broken Lullaby, "expanding the melodrama while soft-pedaling the pacifism." More than that Ozon may see the pacifism as a mere teaser, or a red herring. With these two attractive people (Niney and Beer) drawn (impossibly?) to each other, there is much material for melodrama. But Ozon is having most fun with deception, surprise, and mysterious portents, including multiple hints (with reference to a painting in the Louvre by Manet) of the possibility, or temptation, of suicide. Frantz isn't as clever, sensuous, and certainly not as eccentric and provocative as some of Ozon's previous films. But in a world of kitsch excess, it does stand out. It is an elegant and beautifully made movie. In Hollywood Reporter Boyd van Hoeij saw the French/German mirroring effects as signs of "a master storyteller."

    Frantz, 113 mins., in German and French, debuted at Venice, where Paula Beer won the Best Young Actress award. Nine other festivals including Busan, Telluride, Toronto, and London. French theatrical release 7 Sept. 2016 (AlloCiné press rating 3.7/33). The anglophone critics' rating is a bit more lukewarm (Metacritic 63). The film is also included in the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2 Mar. 2017(with Ozon) and 11 Mar., and its US theatrical release is 15 Mar., Bay Area 24 Mar. Rewatched 15 Feb. 2017 as part of the FSLC-Unifrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-03-2017 at 05:06 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    NOCTURAMA (Bertrand Bonello 2016)

    BERTRAND BONELLO: NOCTURAMA (2016)


    HAMZA MEZYANI, MANAL ISSA IN NOCTURAMA

    Bonello's ballet of young terrorists

    Ideally the title will seem to you dark, cool, and threatening. Those who've been unable to avoid seeing the trailer, as I have several times, will suspect a terrorist act involving a dozen or so young people of mixed social and racial types. But it's still a gripping, tense thriller composed in new ways: staccato, process-oriented, powerfully suspenseful, turning a cold eye on youth, politics, consumerism, holding you in its tight, sweaty grip for over two hours. Dazzling in another genre, Bertrand Bonello goes on showing his originality, boldness, and chops.

    Even the unsatisfied ones must grant the boldness and variety of Bonello's filmography, in what I've seen of it. Apollonide was a languorous period film of a nineteenth-century Parisian bordello. Saint Laurent (NYFF 2014) was a biopic, but a cool one, focused on the designer's period of high fame and other highs, and lows, drugs, decadence and depression- with a to-die-for cast including Gaspard Ulliel, Helmut Berger, Dominique Sanda, Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, Jérémie Renier, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi - YSL himself would have liked to be in it. Nocturama takes on the different challenge of an action film. Except Adèle Haenel, who speaks a key line, and Vincent Rottiers and Finnegan Oldfield (not really box office luminaries) the cast is carefully selected but largely unknown.

    The anonymity and youth of this team underlines its simple efficiency. It works perfectly to do what it's set out to do. As the young people rush around taking Métro trains hither and yon in the disquieting, brilliantly conceived opening sequences, grabbing stuff, and tossing "burner" phones, all focus and all energy go into the operation. What is it? We don't know till it happens. And Bonello plays a bit with time, shifting back and forth among the characters, challenging and confounding us (this is a movie that will benefit from repeated viewings). When it's over, as we know from movies from Rififi to Reservoir Dogs, then things tend to go wrong. But the question is how. Each one must transcend the tradition in his own way. What's new about Nocturama is the strange, subtle, drawn-out disintegration, staged in a large, old, extremely posh Paris department store where the young terrorists mysteriously assemble, and hide, and wait all night.

    Bonello has explained how he conceived this movie while working on the "opiate," sleepy Apollonide: something completely different, contemporary, fast, hard, energetic, explosive. (It's explosive, alright.) The opening rushing around of the young men and women he saw as like a ballet, organized, purposeful. Then, the shock, the explosions. Last, the waiting, dissipation of energy, chaos. As he describes it, his film was thus conceived in contrasting movements, abstractly, impressionistically, telling its story "plus dans l’action que dans le discours (more in action than in speech). So, nothing likeRififi's long period of planning. No filling in of character - except for one or two, and what emerges or is hinted at in the last third. Viewers may complain of a lack of character or of technical detail. They can't fuss about the tension. That screws up tight in the first frames and won't let go even in the enveloping flames of the final credits.

    Bonello is musical and particularly here tecnno and other types of very loud contemporary music are screwed up to a pitch to produce a sense of (I have to keep using this word) tension, dissolution, Dionysian release: in the deluxe playpen that is this department store where the wind up the kids find the sound system department and crank up the Bang & Olafson. It throbs and screams and shakes us. When after the Paris attacks of 13 November "Paris est une fête" (Hemingway's celebratory Moveable Feast) having become too much a morale-building rallying cry, no longer was a good title, Bonello browsed through his albums and found "Nocturama" by Nick Cave, a word that turns out to apply generally to the part of the zoo for nocturnal animals which fits the film and its conclusion too. Terrorism became specially sensitive for French people in 2015, but Bonello avoided problems by staying focused on the subject as he conceived it six years ago.

    Mike D'Angelo rated this highest (74) of the films he first saw at Toronto (Toni Erdmann was an 82, but already seen at Cannes). His tweet was hedging on the score, "Depends where I ultimately land on the ending, the ugliness of which I'm not sure is justified. But this is stunning." So: yes, the ending, where the Gendarmerie Nationale's shock team GIGN moves in and guns them down, is brutal and numbing. But it provides the decisive sense of an ending that suits the construction of this remarkable film. This is a conceptual revolutionary movie on steroids. Especially at the end it didn't really remind me of the November 2015 Paris attacks but the claustrophobia of Marco Bellocchio's 2003 Buongiorno, notte (2003) about the Red Brigade kidnapping of Aldo Moro - which does not end well. After D'Angelo's recommendation, I was surprised Nocturama wasn't in the New York Film Festival (so was he). Now that it belongs in the US to Netflix, people are afraid it won't see the big screen, or not much. That would be wrong. It's a magnificent looking and sounding film - even if in its effective creation of discomfort and nerves it goes on a bit too long at two hours and ten minutes.

    Nocturama, 130 mins., premiered in Paris 8 July 2016, in French theaters 31 August. Over 15 international festivals starting with Toronto. AlloCiné press rating is 3.4; Metacritic rating 73. (On D'Angelo's scale, his 74 is much higher.) Some French critics were displeased by the lack of context or politics or realism, want these young people to be vicious ideologues instead of confused and naive, as they are. Les Inrockuptibles gets it right: the film shows their utter foolishness but is tenderly sympathetic toward their anger and frustration with the materialistic world they've inherited. Screened for this review as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center-UniFrance 1-12 March 2017 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-25-2017 at 08:23 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    RÉPARER LES VIVANTS/HEAL THE LIVING (Katell Quillévéré 2016)

    KATELL QUILLÉVÉRRÉ: RÉPARER LES VIVANTS/HEAL THE LIVING (2016)


    GABIN VERDET AND TAHAR RAHIM IN RÉPARER LES VIVANTS

    It all comes together

    Katell Quillévéré's third feature adapts Maylis de Kerangal’s bestselling French novel (Heal the Living), a humanistic medical thriller about events leading up to a heart transplant. It begins with Simon (Gabin Verdet), the bleach-blond surfer boy whose car accident makes him brain dead and his perfect organs available for replacing others' failing ones, if his devastated parents, Marianne and Vincent (Emmanuelle Seigner and Kool Shen) are willing. Meanwhile there are closeups of the medical professionals involved, young cardiologist Thomas Rémige (Tahar Rahim) and his master Docteur Pierre Révol (Bouli Lanners) and nurse Jeanne (Monia Chokri). Then we observe Claire (Anne Dorval of Xavier Dolan's Mommy), the lady who is to receive Simon's heart, a lesbian classical pianist and motehr of two college-age sons (Finnegan Oldfield, Théo Cholbi) whose heart's days are numbered.

    Like Tell No One, a French version of an American crime story way better than Hollywood could do it, this is a ridiculously vivid, clear, humanistic and tasteful version of what seems the most conventional US TV medical drama material, and you cannot but admire it, while in the back of your mind still wondering, why did she bother? Quillévéré's leap forward as a director of complex, demanding movie dramas - with more budget and more name cast members - is also a step back out of the raw indie territory she inhabited in her first two movies into a safer, more mainstream, even if demanding, work.

    But it's still an ambitious, complex film, and not only does she never slip into the saccharine territory that the material threatens to draw her into, but she provides some lovely touches, while the whole fits together impeccably.. The opening passage when Simon leaves his girlfriend Juliette (Galatea Bellugi) in the wee hours, leaping out the window, races a pal, suits up and surfs - water sequence magnificently shot to show both perfect marriage with the waves and threat of death. Then the fatal drive, turned into a sea death as sleepiness of all three youths makes the road and horizon fade into soft waves, the crash just a bang, no messiness. This whole Simon passage, a model of its kind, is of a sublime simplicity and physicality, delivering nothing but a sense of youth, health, and impermanence. The only further development of Simon is equally physical: to seduce Juliette at first meeting, he successfully races her rail car with his bike, leaps over his bike in a move I've never seen, climbs up breathless to the platform, and they kiss.

    Later, the film gets equally intimate in a lower key in following Claire as she interacts with her concerned sons Maxime (Oldfield) and Sam (Cholbi) and attends a piano concert by her beautiful protégée and former lover Anne Guérande (actress and pianist Alice Taglioni). She also meets with her cardiologist, who will perform the translpant; Drs. Rémige and Rémol will remove Simon's heart. Claire's scenes require a refocusing effort from the audince after the intensity of the earlier passages, all of them at a high pitch further heightened by Alexandre Desplat's piano-based score. The presence of the well-known French movie composer is a sign of the glossier production, but Thomas Marchand, the editor, whose presence is more essential, was present on the director's first two films. Claire's sequences apparently add to a barely outlined character in the novel, and they're still relatively flat after the vivacity and invention of Simon's sequences and the high pitched emotions of his parents' grieving. A turning point in the film, and a key to its humanism, comes when Marianne and Vincent, still in great grief, come to accept the goodness of allowing their son to be an organ donor.

    The still boyish Rahim, who gently elicits this decision, is a good choice for exuding human kindness, and the film's best moment and best evocation of the magic of the medical miracle this story is about comes when he carries out a ritual farewell to Simon in the operating room following the boy's parent's directives, and it's at this moment that this tasteful and economical film indulges in its one repeat sequence, Juliette's tearful face in the light of dawn and Simon's leap out her window: rhythmical repetition, a joining of the circle, death and life.

    Still, for all this beauty, though may not miss the oddness of the director's debut Love Like Poison, one does miss a bit the wildness and emotional extremity of her sophomore effort, Suzanne, which also put Adèle Hanel on the map. What Réparer les vivants, heavily publicized in France and widely distributed there, does do, is show that Quillévéré is a directorial talent both recognized and worth continuing to follow.

    Réparer les vivants/Heal the Living, 105 mins., debuted at Venice Sept. 2016, also showing at Toronto and London. French theatrical release bega 1 Nov. 2016. Origially screened for this review at UGC Danton, Paris, 1 Nov. 2016. Also screened as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center-UniFrance series Rendez-Vous with French Cinema (1-12 Mar. 2017).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    MAL DE PIERRES/FROM THE LAND OF THE MOON (Nicole Garcia 2016)

    NICOLE GARCIA: MAL DE PIERRES/FROM THE LAND OF THE MOON (2016)


    MARION COTILLARD IN MAL DE PIERRES

    Magic Mountains

    "Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard) comes from a small village in the South of France, at a time when her dream of true love is considered scandalous, and even a sign of insanity. Her parents marry her to José (Alex Brendemühl), an honest and loving Spanish farm worker who they think will make a respectable woman of her. Despite José's devotion to her, Gabrielle vows that she will never love José and lives like a prisoner bound by the constraints of conventional post-World War II society until the day she is sent away to a cure in the Alps to heal her kidney stones. There she meets André Sauvage (Louis Garrel), a dashing injured veteran of the Indochinese War, who rekindles the passion buried inside her. She promises they will run away together, and André seems to share her desire. Will anyone dare rob her of her right to follow her dreams?"

    That's an IMDb plot summary for this new film by Nicole Garcia, which opened in France today, 12 Oct. 2016. It's nice to see Marion Cotillard looking beautiful and being full-on passionate again after her unflattering role in Xavier Dolan's tiresome It's Only the End of the World. It's also enjoyable the way Nicole Garcia likes to take us for a wild ride, as she did in her pleasingly mysterious - and more contained and interesting - 2013 Un beau dimanche/Going Away. And this is terribly romantic. Having Marion Cotillard and Louis Garrel fall in love in a Swiss sanatorium provides an exotic new dose of French movie glamor.

    Adapted by the bestselling Strega-prize wining novella by the Sardinian writer Milena Agus, this is like Nicolas Sparks in French, on acid. It transfers events from Italy to France, and considerably simplifies the plot. Set in the post-war period, it focuses on an eccentric, strong-willed and sensuous woman who's put in an arranged marriage with a Spanish man when she's over thirty. Both swear they will never love each other. The husband is allowed to see prostitutes but his wife Gabrielle starts taking the prostitute's role to save them money. They try to have a child but her painful kidney stones cause repeated miscarriages. Her husband sends her to the cure in the mountains so she can have a baby, and she does. You think you know exactly where things are going, because there is a frame tale, and a very long flashback, so we know what's up with Gabrielle in the present, so when we see her finally meet Louis Garrel's dreamily ill French army officer back from Vietnam at the mountain water cure resort, and he plays Tchaikovsky's "Barcarole" so beautifully on the piano, we think we know what's going to happen.

    The plot pitches us a couple of curves that feel unconvincing. The movie explanation is less convincing than the novella's, and and also winds up confusing the ongoing issue of whether Gabrielle is crazy or not. Once we get to the mountains, there are some very nice scenes and the watered-down "Magic Mountain" sequences are engaging. Cotillard and Garrel and even the underappreciated Brendemühl get to do some nice work - that doesn't, however, quite work.

    A lot of the early stuff is unnecessary. It should not take so long to show Gabrielle is unhappily married, and is looking for a great love. In all the establishing scenes one feels one is being force-fed; in the mountain "cure" ones, that one is being offered a cartload of sweet pastries. Screen International calls this "an old-fashioned romantic weepie," but it pitches too many curves to provide that kind of simple satisfaction.

    at Cannes May 2016, four other festivals; French theatrical release 19 Oct. 2016. Again a film well received by French critics (AlloCine press rating 3.6) that English critics have little use for (Metacritic score 42%). Screened for this review at UGC Odéon Paris on 19 Oct. 2016. Also screened as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema (FSLLC/UNIFRANCE 1-12 MAR. 2017).


    LOUIS GARREL AND MARION COTILLARD IN MAL DE PIERRES

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    DANSEUSE, LA/THE DANCER (Stéphanie Di Giusto 2016)

    STÉPHANIE DI GIUSTO: LA DANSEUSE/THE DANCER (2016)


    SOKO IN THE DANCER

    Biopic of a turn-of-the-century dance innovator is showy, but fails to engage

    Stéphanie Di Giusto's directorial debut is a lush but routine biopic. Its subject is a turn-of-the-century American dancer and theatrical staging pioneer known as Loïe Fuller, who took her talents to Paris. She wowed theatergoers with her dramatically swirled drapery and advanced use of mirrors and colored light. After a struggle for acceptance of her unusual routine, her talents were showcased at the Folies Bergère and briefly the Paris Opera. She helped other performers including the now more famous Isadora Duncan.

    La danseuse begins with a long, unnecessary introduction depicting the protagonist's early life in America. This passage shows her past to have been exotic in French terms, with its trappings of a Western, her drunken father and bossy mother and her habit of carrying around a pistol. But none of this seems relevant later except to learn she was a child actress before conceiving more elaborate and unconventional performances and stagings.

    As Fuller, we get the 100% commitment of Soko, who played the hypnosis subject of Alice Wincour's moody, stylized Augustine, with Vincent Lindon. Names in the cast include Gaspard Ulliel as the decadent Conte d'Orsay (an invented character, with him playing a less interesting version of his Saint Laurent lead),Mélanie Thierry as the dancer's beautiful manager, collaborator and lover Gabrielle Bloch; François Damiens as director of the Folies Bergère, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing as the Paris Opera boss, Christopher Plummer's daughter Amanda as Fuller's temperance crusader mother, and Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paridis's daughter Lily-Rose Depp as Isadora Duncan. The Conte d'Orsay is Fuller's involuntary Maecenas and would-be lover, who's hooked on ether, a period drug in this very period movie. Fuller flourished in the Nineties and early twentieth century. Perhaps the greatest success of this ho-hum effort is the way it evokes the tastes of its times - for such things as this cloth-swirling show, and for young women in diaphanous, vaguely classical drapery running around in the woods.

    Di Giusto's film, written in collaboration with Jacques Audiard's writer Thomas Bidegain, takes various liberties, jazzing up lesbian relationships, adding a fictitious character in the Count, and dwelling so much on Loïe's muscle pains and eye trouble she comes to seem as much a patient as a performer. Swirling the gauzy materials around is shown to be a huge physical effort, sometimes leading to exhaustion. It hurts! What's wrong with her eyes - severely damaged apparently by the bright lights? We never really learn, but she spends the last third of the labored film putting in eye drops and wearing round sunglasses. Isabella Duncan, with Lily-Rose Depp lacking the authority to play such a future diva, is presented ambiguously. At some moments it seems we're supposed to hate her for seeming about to steal Loïe Fuller's fire. At others they seem not only friendly collaborators but erstwhile lesbian lovers. Loïe's off-and-on affair with the Conte d'Orsay has been strenuously criticized in queer circles for falsifying by diluting her pioneering open homosexuality.

    Loïe's personality is otherwise unclear, seen as a mix of fiercely ambitious, physically determined, and insecure. She keeps saying she is not a dancer. And indeed her "flame" performance, in once scene impressively recreated here, is more playing with cloth and lightening than dancing in the classical sense. With all the effort, suffering, mood swings, and physical problems, Loïe Fuller still doesn't quite emerge as a real person. Even the final sequence, a fraught long-awaited debut at the Paris Opera, is ambiguous. It seems Loïe is barely able to go on, and as staged her performance, all in white instead of with the colors, seems lackluster, a disaster ending in collapse. Then she goes out to receive a standing ovation. Maybe that's how it actually was. But despite the impressive mise-en-scène, cast dotted with notables, and collaboration in the writing from Thomas Bideguin, Di Giusto has not produced a coherent or solidly enjoyable film.

    The Dancer/La danseuse, 109 mins., debuted at Cannes may 2016; over a dozen other festivals, including the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema of FSLC and UniFrance (1-12 Mar. 2017), as part of which it was screened for this review. The French theatrical release 28 Sept. 2016 led to mixed reviews (AlloCiné press rating a fair 3.4). Most critics admired the dedicated performance of Soko; some noted the biopic conventionality.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-17-2017 at 05:54 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    IN BED WITH VICTORIA/VICTORIA (Justine Triet 2016)

    JUSTINE TRIET: VICTORIA/IN BED WITH VICTORIA (2016)


    VIRGINIE EFIRA AND VINCENT LACOSTE IN VICTORIA

    A hectic blonde lawyer

    Victoria, with the delicious and amusing Virginie Efira in the lead role and featuring Vincent Lacoste and Melvil Poupaud, is a distinctive modern French version of a Hollywood screwball comedy, and the second film of Justine Triet, whose debut was the tour-de-force The Age of Panic/La bataille de Solferino (Rendez-Vous 2014). Its lead character is Victoria Spick, a divorcee with two young daughters whose career as a trial lawyer is highly accomplished but whose personal life is a trainwreck. And this has been compared to the recent Judd Apatow/Amy Schumer vehicle of that name. While Efira's talents may not match Schumer's, she's got them; and she and the other leads contribute to the fun by freely improvising. The jazzed-up English "in bed" title misleads a bit. Victoria keeps arranging online hookups for herself at her apartment, but she never manages to be in the mood.

    The movie is perhaps most hilarious at the outset, during a chaotic, also American style, wedding party, but the trial that's the action's main focus has its moments too, even when a Dalmatian and a chimp are introduced in the elegant red courtroom as witnesses. Vincent Lacoste (if memories of him in Julie Delpy's crude Lolo don't kill him for you) plays a charmingly silly yet sincere and helpful young man ripe to become this lighthearted film's love interest. Victoria got Sam Mallet (Lacoste) off a drug dealing charge; they meet up again at the wedding. Out of work (without the drugs) and in effect homeless, he wants to be her law trainee and, to solve his residential problem, act as her au pair babysitter. Later he wants to be her lover, and this affectionate and more sincere hookup may solve her midlife sex crisis.

    Vincent (the ever-watchable Melvil Poupaud), a dear friend of Victoria's, does a song and dance number at the wedding, a wonderful quick mix of modesty, ease and charm. Good and drunk, he tries to have sex at the party with his nutty ex, with her pet Dalmatian watching disapprovingly. (We don't see this.) She then accuses him of stabbing her in the stomach. (He says she stabbed herself: we don't see this.) He is arrested, and he insists Victoria defend him (we see this). She protests that mixing the personal with her criminal defenses is a big mistake, but gives in. Scenes at her sublimely chaotic apartment (thanks to production designer Olivier Meidinger) show the amiable disorder of her home life. (The two girls are charmingly and sparingly used.) When her ex, David (Laurent Poitrenaux), turns up uninvited, he reveals that he's writing a blog now that's a big hit due to its thinly disguised details of her professional and personal peccadilloes, including sex with judges (back in the day when she was up for sex, evidently). This leads to another court case, since his revelations threaten her career. A narcissistic nincompoop, he conducts his own defense.

    Vicky's periodic arranged assignations at home only lead to confusion or nerves. Once an abandoned session gives her a serious anxiety attack and Sam, experienced at helping clients through bad trips, coaches her back to calm. He administers a Xanax, and she dozes. Her sleeping beauty is what enamors Sam and makes him want to kiss her. Meanwhile she sees not only a (white male) "psy," a shrink, but a large black female psychic who card-reads her fortune, usually disapprovingly. This mélange, when shown in rapid succession, produces a quietly giddy state of amusement in the sympathetic viewer - who, however, may be surprised when Vicky is summoned before the bar council for talking to a witness in a case. It was a woman who came to her home and harassed her: she should have refused to speak. Despite a beautiful lawyer's pleading in her defense, she gets suspended, like Will Gardner (Josh Charles) in "The Good Wife," but for a lesser offense and only for six months.

    This leads her to let Sam go, but the girls will miss him and he will be in the wings ready to return when her suspension ends - and Vincent begs her to take his case again now that an old girlfriend (Claire Burger) has appeared, inspired by word of his impending trial, to accuse him of harassment. She will take the case on, with little time to prepare, and Sam will be back to become her lover and law assistant as well as man slave. The trial will climax with its Dalmatian-chimp appearances and a favorable outcome for Vincent and Vicky. But despite all the action this movie, which is glossier but obviously less original than La bataille de Solferino, isn't so much notable for its plot drive as for its comic vignettes, like Victoria's failed at-home sex hookups, Poupaud's song and dance performance, the meetings with Sam, the shrink and card-reader sessions. Triet manages to be both over-the-top and tastefully French - and sexy, especially in one heavy makeout scene between Lacoste and Efira (who throughout play very well together). It is this mixture that, especially if you're a fan of French film comedy, that will endear Victoria to you.

    Victoria/In Bed with Victoria, 90 mins., debuted at Cannes May 2016 and opened in French cinemas 14 Sept. to great reviews (AlloCiné press 4.0) including a rare rave from Les Inrockuptibles and a favorable opinion from Cahiers du Cinéma. French critics more than once mentioned Woody Allen, and so does the American Jordan Mintzer of Hollywood Reporter, who locates Triet's comedy "somewhere between more femme-centric Woody Allen films like Alice or Another Woman and the work of French farce maven Louis de Funes." Shown at a dozen or so other festivals including Chicago and Vienna. Screened for this review as part of the 1-12 Mar. 2017 UniFrance-Film Society of Lincoln Center series The Rendez-Vous with French Cinema.
    Saturday, March 4, 9:30pm (Q&A with Justine Triet)
    Sunday, March 12, 3:30pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-05-2018 at 08:23 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    MA LOUTE/SLACK BAY (Bruno Dumont 2016)

    BRUNO DUMONT: MA LOUTE/SLACK BAY (2016)


    BRANDON LAVIEVILLE, RAPH, DIDIER DESPRES, CYRIL RIGAUX

    A post-Victorian slapstick murder mystery by the sea takes Bruno Dumont in a new even stranger direction

    In Ma Loute/Slack Bay, one of the weirdest and most arresting movies you may ever see, the Bruforts are a family of rude sailors who carry softer folks across a shallow bay in their arms. They also practice cannibalism, and that explains the disappearance of a young couple from Lille. This event is being vaguely investigated by inspectors Machin and Malfoy (Didier Després, Chril Rigaud), a Laurel and Hardy-like pair. The Bruforts' eldest son, an angular rube called Ma Loute (Brandon Lavieville), connects with the daughter - or is it the son? - Billie (Raph) of the haughty Van Peteghem family, who have come to their Egyptian-style manse on the hill for the summer. This might be a love that would cross the class divide, and the sexual one too, since "ma loute" is a feminine term of endearment - but instead it goes bad. The action is set in the early days of automobiles, in 1910, by the sea, near Dumont's usual rather desolate home region of Bailleul, Nord, but we're far from the harsh, intense neorealism of his early films if not from their religious overtones.

    An extension in a way of his 2014 mini-series P'tit Quinquin/L'il Quinquin, which also has a pair of bumpkin cops investigating a chain of murders, this is stranger and harder to relate to. It's a costume drama, with elaborate, melodramatic, absurd acting mannerisms. It also has two more name actors. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Fabrice Lucchini join Juliette Binoche, who was there last time. All behave and look peculiar. In the case of Binoche, as Aude Van Peteghem, this is allowed to go much too far: she croons and moans - it's just bad overacting. Lucchini, as André Van Peteghem, comes off better. He is almost unrecognizable, his face looking flat and a little bloated; almost a hunchback, he lurches back and forth, his arms flailing oddly. Brother Christian (Jean-Luc Vincent, Paul Claudel in Dumont's 2013 Camille Claudel) is similar. Everyone tends to fall down a lot. So does the big, bloated Inspector Machin, who rolls down sand dunes and topples into things constantly. Does all this ineptness, these pratfalls, make this a comedy? But what about the cannibalism?

    Dumont is always unclassifiable. Hence it should not surprise us that he was meaning here to evoke the haute-bourgeoisie charm of the photographs of Jacques Henri Lartigue (at least in his detailed article on the making of the film in Le Monde, Jacques Mandelbaum says so). Or that there is an interrupted outdoor ceremony in celebration of the Virgin Mary that leads Aude to float up into the air, which happens to Machin in the final sequence, when he inflates even more, and breaks away from a rope. Magic realism, surrealism, horror, harsh social satire, slapstick, black Charles Addams comedy form a mixture that is both numbing and hypnotic.

    This personal world is rich and fascinating in its way. And it's beautiful: look at the delicate color, and the lovely decor of the Van Peteghem dining room. Watch the romantic, painterly scene of small boats on a stormy sea and listen to the soaring music of Bach at the end. And yet the action lacks the charm of L'il Quinquin or the power of Dumont's strong earlier films. Here, he has lined up two class enemies, a "decadent bourgeoisie and carnivorous proletariat," as Philippe Lagouche of La Voix du Nord put it, in a "ferocious farce" that "Buñuel would have loved."

    With the exception of the misfired US-set Twentynine Palms, Dumont made one stunner after another: Life of Jesus, Hunanité, Hadewijch (NYFF 2009) and Hors Satan command one's utmost attention, almost reverence, even if one is at times also repulsed. Well, Slack Bay/Ma Loute too provides a bracing, unique experience. But Dumont seems to have entered a mannerist phase.

    Ma Loute/Slack Bay,122 mins., debuted at Cannes in Competition May 2016 and opened in French cinemas simultaneously, to rave reviews (AlloCiné press raging 4.1)


    BINOCHE, LUCCHINI, BRUNO TEDESCHI

    Ma loute/Slack Bay, 122 mins., debuted at Cannes in Competition May 2016 and opened in French cinemas simultaneously, to rave reviews (AlloCiné press raging 4.1). Screened for this review in Rendez-Vous with French Cinema (UniFrance, Film Society of Lincoln Center) Feb. 2017. US theatrical release begins 21 Apr. 2017. A Kino Lorber release.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-18-2017 at 03:02 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    L'ODYSSÉE/THE ODYSSEY (Jérôme Salle 2016)

    JÉRÔME SALLE: L'ODYSSÉE/THE ODYSSEY (2016)


    LAMBERT WILSON AND PIERRE NINEY IN L'ODYSSÉE

    Shallow waters

    This biopic follows the career of the famous French undersea explorer and maker of TV documentaries Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He was a pioneer who made the world of water his domain. Commander Cousteau (Lambert Wilson), depicted here with his two sons Jean-Michel (Benjamin Lavernhe) and Philippe (Pierre Niney) and his wife Simone (Audrey Tautou), was a naval officer, member of the Académie Française, scientist, innovator (most notably of the aqualung), explorer, conservationist and indefatigable public figure as well known in America and beyond as in his native France. Salle has made a grand and glorious film full of energy and hope and enlivened by big, bright, open images of sun and sea, with some breathtaking underwater photography. The cinematography by Matias Boucard is luminous, the music by Alexandre Desplat sweeping.

    And yet this movie based on books by Jean-Michel and Albert Falco takes on a routine air early on and winds up being at times on the flat and disappointing side, too timid in its exploration of rough truths, too hagiographic all the rest of the time. Salle's handsome, beautifully filmed movie has a few impressive diving sequences, but not many and only a couple that are awesome. But maybe that wasn't the point. Public issues and personal problems are not ignored. The trouble is that throughout, the film seems showy and artificial. It winds up feeling like a missed opportunity: too often the ceremonial overtakes the dramatic, and overall a bit on the bland side. Salle's Odyssey is a spectacle that will delight fans of ocean photography and of Cousteau. It's just not one of the year's compelling dramatic films.

    The film doesn't hesitate to depict some of Cousteau's sad, dark times and conflicts with Simone and Philippe. Tautou and Niney shine, and this is further proof that Niney has the makings of a big star, who's perhaps at his most dashing and sexy on screen yet as Philippe. Philippe's conflict with his father began when the brothers were sent off to boarding school, which he considered "abandonment." It's clear the Commander has some large blind spots and a giant ego, and loves fame as much as he loves nature. Niney provides glamor and excitement as well as eye candy (the glowing skin, the sculptured torso, the glossy locks, the steamy glances), but the clash of father and son is powerful dramatic material that the film unfortunately only touches on.

    There are important historical themes here. First of all Cousteau begins diving at a time when it was all new. He and his collaborators (a crew lovingly satirized in Wes Anderson's endearing The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou <), with the big boat The Calypso, had to develop the aqualung, to breathe underwater, and the pressure-resistant cameras they used to photography the marvels they found. And then Cousteau had to develop a career - the big American contract to make films to be shown on TV. Over the decades, we see how this innovator started to become outmoded.

    The height of Cousteau's fame comes through the Palme d'Or-awarded film (based on his first book), The Silent World, co-directed with Louis Malle; and then, starting in the Sixties, for decades the "Voyages of the Calypso" TV series was standard fare in the US and elsewhere.

    The film gradually reveals the extreme naivety of the Calypso crew, who ignored how they were destroying the world they were observing. Cousteau is aware of ecological issues early on, but does work for petroleum interests because he needs financing - and that's an issue from the start, when Simone sells all her jewels to buy the Calypso. Later, the Commander forgets about ecology and cheats on his wife. This behavior causes a serious rift with Philippe, who disappears for four years - and Niney is missed. But they make up.

    Fabien Lemercier comments on Cineuropa.org</a> that [i]L'Odyssée "doesn’t dig too deeply, so as to preserve the audiences’ empathy for its characters." That's precisely the trouble with this beautiful, ambitious, not unrealistic but still thoroughly timid movie. Commander Cousteau dives under the waters, director Salle stays on the surface.

    L'Odyssée/The Odyssey, 122 mins., debuted 23 Aug. 2016 at the Festival du Film Francophone d'Angoulême, also showing at four other festivals, and released in French Cinemas 12 Oct. by Wild Bunch. French critical response was positive but not exceptional (AlloCiné press rating 3.4). Les Inrocks, Le Figaro, Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur, and Le Monde] all published reviews expressing serious disappointment. See the lively take-down in Le Nouvel Observateur and the explication of the more complex issues in LIbération. This film was originally screened in Paris in Oct. 2016, and again for the March 2017 FSLC/UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, in New York.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    L'OPÉRA/THE PARIS OPERA (Jean-Stéphane Bron 2017)

    JEAN-STÉPHANE BRON: L'OPÉRA/THE PARIS OPERA (2017)



    A distracted look at the Paris Opera

    This Swiss/French documentary film, as the festival blurb says, "nimbly juggles a dizzying number of storylines," including strange staging of Schoenberg's Moses and Aron; bad press for the opera ballet director (who later resigned); a national strike that makes performances tricky;, the freshly hired young Russian bass-baritone Mikhail Timoshenko
    - featured, understandably, in the trailer - he's photogenic and charming and could have been the subject of a documentary himself; a group of mostly black school kids who get several weeks of rehearsals of stringed instruments and a pubic performance attended by parents and a proud sponsor; an effort to replace a lead singer at the last minute; troubles with the blocking of a chorus; that chorus' director in action; some moments of ballet rehearsal; and on and on.

    "Nibly" juggled, perhaps these various strains are. But there are too many of them. The director should have decided what he wanted to focus on. He seems too easily distracted, as for example, understandably, the director of the Opéra must give a speech after the November 2015 terrorist attacks. Since this film is meant to cover a single season and a half of the Paris Opera, and it included that time, reference to it needed to be there. But the details of using a giant bull in the staging of Moses and Aron is unnecessary. You have to ask yourself: was bringing this bull on the stage representative of the life of the Paris Opera? It just seems a novelty - and in the end how the bull appears in the finished production isn't even made clear. In fact, there is far too little footage of actual performances - the most essential, what this place is about, is badly underplayed. And some followups - the directorial resignation; how Mikhail Timoshenko's career has gone; he's been in many operas and recitals in he past couple years, the Opera's website shows, but he's left dangling by the distractible Blon.

    Bron may feel he is doing something in the manner of Fred Wiseman, but he is not. He does not have Wiseman's dedication, thoroughness, and clarity. LOpeera doesn't hold up in comparison, in fact, with Wiseman's typically exhausting but highly rewarding 2009 documentary, La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet. That film too, in rather more detail, includes a labor dispute. It also has lengthy, and illuminating, segments of dance practice. It concludes at the end of its nearly two and a half hours a satisfying view of the finished public performance of the ballet we've been seeing worked on. Wiseman proceeds methodically. He dots his i's and crosses his t's. He moves around, but everything he looks at, he looks at long.

    In view of the fact that he doesn't do that, but prefers to flit about, Blon might have provided more guidelines to viewers, such as text lines identifying certain figures in the film when they first appear, and when they reappear after a long interruption. And he might have provided an introduction that informed non-French viewers what the Paris Opera is, that it has two venues, L'Opéra Garnier and l'Opéra Bastille, and might have clarified the film's movements back and forth between them. This film will show you glimpses of the wonderful stuff that goes on at this essential cultural venue. But as a documentary film, it falls a bit short.

    L'Opéra/The Paris Opera, 110 mins., debuts in French cinemas 5 Apr. 2017, distributed by Les Films du Losange. Jean-Stephane Bron is a Swiss writer and director who has nine previous directorial credits, mostly documentaries. Not listed yet on IMDb, slated according to AlloCiné for French theatrical release 5 Apr. 2017. L'Opéra was screened for this review as part of the 1-12 Mar. 2017 Film Society of Lincoln Center-Unifrance series Rendez-Vous with French Cinema.
    Thursday, March 2, 4:00pm
    Saturday, March 11, 3:30pm
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-24-2017 at 10:10 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    LA FILLE DE BREST/150 MILLIGRAMS (Emanuelle Bercot 2016)

    EMMANUELLE BERCOT: LA FILLE DE BREST/150 MILLIGRAMS (2016)


    SIDSE BABETT KNUDSEN IN 150 MILLIGRAMS

    A successful battle against French Big Pharma

    Right after 2015's Standing Tall/La tête haute about an at-risk teenager who struggles to become a good citizen, actor-writer-director Emmanuelle Bercot has made an Erin Brockovitch/Karen Silkwood film about real-life big Pharma whistleblower Irène Frachon. In the role as the feisty "Brest Girl" is Danish-born actress Sidse Babett Knudsen, who's in every scene. Dr.Frachon is a pulmonologist at the university hospital in Brest, in Brittany. Assisting at an open heart surgery operation, she observes degenerated heart valves in a middle-aged woman, Corinne Zacharria (Isabelle de Hertogh), who's been taking the Sevier company's drug Mediator, prescribed for decades for diabetes and for weight loss. Frachon notices there are other similar cases. The film takes us through Frachon and her collaborators' struggle to get this killer drug taken off the market.

    Bercot and her co-authors, adapting Frachon's own book Mediator 150 mg, Combien de morts? ("Mediator 150 mg., How Many Deaths?"), take us through grueling, sometimes numbing details of this struggle. This may seem a humorless film - except that Knudsen's slightly over-the-top performance is engaging and full of fun - and frankly I had doubts somewhere in the middle if all this mundane detail was really worth it. But at the end Irène Frachon's (and all her collaborators') victory feels so good, it all turns out to be worth it.

    Essential to the process, and to the film, is the great Benoît Magimel - who won an award for his performance in Bercot's last film, who plays Dr. Antoine Le Bihan, a specialist in medical research, who authors a paper that is the basis for negotiations with authorities. Big Pharma is ruthless, of course, and indifferent. They don't care if hundreds are dying from Mediator; they just want to go on selling it for the hundreds of thousands of patients in the country taking it. Magimel's performance makes clear the human toll of this battle as Dr. Bihan is ruined by the drug company, losing all his grants, and eventually winds up applying for jobs in Canada. But this isn't just a movie of a few stars, great though the two leads are: it's an ensemble piece, and when the ministry makes its statement condemning Sevier and withdrawing Mediator from the market, the camera pans around to all the people who have played a role. Not least, Dr. Frachon's family, and her good-humored husband who, when she notices his new glasses, which he's been wearing for three months, just laughs, and is the one who persuades her not to give up at her lowest point.

    The beauty of 150 Milligrams is in its meticulous details of every stage of the struggle, and that makes it hard to talk about. Early on, notably, Dr. Franchon loses her cool at her first hearing before the government review board and does what Bihan said she should absolutely not do. She reveals that there is a study under way, and that he heads it. This puts the under an almost impossible deadline. They must finish the study immediately. At the board, the Sevier officials are condescending and game the system skillfully to put off any enquiry. When she and her collaborators ever appear, they are mocked as being rubes because they're from Brittany and the small city of Brest. Later, not for the first time, Dr. Franchon is contacted by an insider, this time a man inside the national insurance system, which is penetrated by Big Pharma. He takes the code name Santa Claus ("Père Noël"), and is the one who can gather national statistics of the number of deaths attributable to the drug. Dr. Franchon also has a female PhD candidate who attaches herself to her, who even more skillfully and rapidly crunches numbers.

    When they have suffered several defeats, rather in desperation Dr. Franchon writes the book, Mediator 150 mg with the subtitle Combien de morts?, How Many Deaths? The drug company brings suit against her tiny publisher (another ally gathered along the way) and bars him from using the subtitle. He figts back, and prints the book with "Sous-titre censuré," subtitle censured, on the jacket. The story is growing national news, and still another ally is a blowzy, every more eccentric woman reporter for the national magazine, L'Express. When the magazine gets behind the story, the effect is decisive.

    The film been criticized for being too utilitarian and observational. But that is the point. With all its little steps and details, it conveys the long tough slog that is a medical study that resists the forces of Big Pharma. And the admittedly sometimes flat and grinding scenes are counteracted by humanness. Bercot has directed a lively, impressively human ensemble production, headed off touchingly and entertainingly by the unique Knudsen and soulful Benoît Magimel, both of whom give selfless and memorable performances.

    La fille de Brest/150 Milligrams, 128 mins., debuted at Toronto 12 Sept. 2016 and also appeared at San Sebastián. French theatrical release was 23 Nov. to excellent reviews (AlloCineé press rating 3.7) It got two César nominations, Best Actdress and Best Adapted Screenplay. Screened for this review as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center-UniFrance series Rendez-Vous with French Cinema (1-12 Mar. 2017).
    Saturday, March 4, 3:15pm (Q&A with Emmanuelle Bercot)
    Monday, March 6, 4:15pm


    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-23-2017 at 10:34 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,282

    LA LOI DE LA JUNGLE/STRUGGLE FOR LIFE (Antonin Peretjatko 2016)

    ANTONIN PERETJATKO: LA LOI DE LA JUNGLE/STRUGGLE FOR LIFE (2016)


    VIMALA PONS AND VINCENT MACAIGNE IN LA LOI DU JUNGLE

    Schlub adventure satire

    The American festival blurb for this film calls Vincent Macaigne's character, Marc Châtaigne, a "middle-aged intern." He's not really middle-aged - just bald and pudgy at 38. Macaigne makes an amiable fall guy, as seen in Louis Garrel's talky, stylish directorial debut Two Friends/Les deux amis where he's madly in love with an impossibly beautiful young woman (Goldshifteh Farahani). Macaigne has been acting in movies since he was 20, but lately he has been seen much more in ones that have made it outside Gallic territories. Four years ago he was in 2 Autumns, 3 Winters and Age of Panic/La bataille de Soférino and Guillaume Brac's Tonnerre.

    In Antonin Peretjatko's slapstick comedy set in French Guyana, Macaigne/Châtaigne has been sent by the French Bureau of Standards to follow up on a project to build a ski resort into the jungle, using artificial snow, and write a report. Macaigne may be pudgy, but he comes off as tirelessly energetic and resilient. So are Galaric (Matthieu Amalric), a prancing, cigar-puffing supervisor in a rakish hat, and the young lady who becomes Châcaigne's companion for jungle misadventures, an intern with the Forestry Ministry known as Tarzan (Vimala Pons).

    A lot of effort has gone into this satire of bureaucracy, colonialism, and commercialism, which seems like a poor cousin of the wittier, more successful Brice de Nice James Bond style satires that made a name for Jean Dujardin. The festival blurb calls this movie "something like a Jerry Lewis gag-fest meets Survivor." My guess is that while this combination may appeal to French viewers, it's unlikely to play well with non-francophone audiences. A familiarity with French politics and bureaucracy is a prerequisite. The gags may be almost simple enough to laugh off, but not to laugh with. An example: at one point Tarzan declares herself bitten by a water snake and says she has ten minutes to live, and her dream is to have sex with Marc. Both strip and have at it. After a while Marc notes they've been going for over an hour. "Well, sometimes I'm wrong about these things," Tarzan comments, and they move on. Rather than amusement, most of the time one feels mostly awe that the filmmakers and the cast were capable of so much work in such steramy, muddy conditions.

    La loi du jungle/The Struggle for Survival, 99 mins., showed at festivals in Cabourg, Vienna, and Torino. French release 13 Jun 2016, AlloCiné press rating 3.6 (USers 3.0). Watched for this review on a press screener provided by the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema (1-12 Mar. 2017) of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance.
    Monday, March 6, 7:00pm (Q&A with Antonin Peretjatko)
    Tuesday, March 7, 9:15pm (Introduction by Antonin Peretjatko)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-23-2017 at 12:07 PM.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •