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Thread: Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2021

  1. #16
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    IBRAHIM (Samir Guesmi 2020)

    Strong feature directorial debut by longtime actor Guesmi is a Bressonian tale with hints of Italian neorealism of a naive teenage boy from the banlieue with a struggling father who is pushed this way and that in his effort to help out.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-12-2021 at 10:56 AM.

  2. #17
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    LOVERS/AMANTS (Nicole Garcia 2020)

    A brood noirish love triangle with a well known cast, Pierre Niney, Stacy Martin, and Benoît Magimel. But it never quite gets off the ground, starting with a lack of chemistry between the young lovers.

  3. #18
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    A L'ABORDAGE (Guillaume Brac 2020)

    Another vacation trip with Brac, this time a particularly accepting, multi-racial one.

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    MANDIBLES/MANDIBULES (Quentin Dupieux 2020)

    An oddball buddy picture this time about two illegal goofals who find a giant fly, for a change Dupieux has made a movie that's fun to watch and talk about. (The Metacritic rating has gone up ten points, but it was already going up.)

  5. #20
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    FINAL SET/CINQUIEME SET (Quentin Reynaud 2020)

    A French pro tennis player whose promise vanished early makes one last move at 37 to get into the French Opens at Roland-Garros. A movie that respects how hard it is for tennis players to make it to the top and stay there.

  6. #21
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    The state of French cinema. Ozon comments. (His SUMMER OF '85 will be the final review in this year's Rendez-Vous with French Cinema coverage.)
    I believe in cinemas. If you look at French attendance figures, they’re 50% down from last year but that’s because there are no American films – whereas French films are maybe only 20% down. There’s a lot going on in French cinema at the moment – a lot of variety, a lot of debate, commercial films, auteur films, some very strong personalities, it’s pretty healthy. And there are a lot of film shoots happening in France right now – everyone’s making the most of it, in case there’s another lockdown.
    -François Ozon, interview in the GUARDIAN last Oct. with Jonathan Romney,

  7. #22
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    SUMMER OF 85/ÉTÉ 85 (François Ozon 2020)

    Ozon has finally adapted a tragic gay romance he may haver wanted to film when he started out: he read the YA novel as a teen. Outstanding performances by the young actors Benjamin Voisin and Félix Lefebre and an eccentric turn by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. Melvil Poupaud as a kindly, maybe a bit over-attentive lycée teacher.

    And this is the last feature in the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema's 2021 all virtual edition!

  8. #23
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    Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2021: some comments.

    Like the New York Film Festival and New Directors series for 2020, it was all virtual, with Lincoln Center's theaters still closed. Sad, but, it also means people all over the country could subscribe to pay to view any or all of the films via internet at home. I really do miss those big collective gatherings, the beauty of Walter Reade Theater projections and sound, catching up with friends, and being in New York. I would be there now, starting to watch the New Directors series. But of course seeing the films at home is a lot better than not seeing them at all.

    There were two sensitive and formally inventive films that particularly stood out for me from the whole series - both about teenagers from the projects. I'm referring to Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh's Gagarin/Gagarine, about a brilliant black kid trying to save a doomed housing project, and Samir Guesmi's Ibrahim, focused on a confused Arab kid led astray in his desire to help his disadvantaged dad. In the teenager category also was the final film, François Ozon's Summer of 85. Ozon is one of the most accomplished filmmakers in this year's Rendez-Vous. He looks backward in Summer 85 however to middle class white kids, one of whom is a pain in the neck. It's a glittering, complexly told nostalgia piece in sun-drenched 16mm. but a book adaptation, not, I think, quite up to the director's most inventive work.

    This contrast reflects the way every year there is an unspoken push and pull in the Rendez-Vous as in French cinema as a whole between an increasingly dated- or parochial-seeming focus on bourgeois white, privileged characters and a greater emphasis on the burgeoning and vibrant French world of minorities and people of color. In the first category, examples of a retro feel were Nicole Garcia's Lovers/Amants, Emmanuel Mouret's Love Affair(s)/Les choses qu'on dit, les choses qu'on fait, the Emmanuelle Béart vehicleMargaux Hartmann, and Susanne Lindon's Spring Blossom/Seize printemps, which all featured well-off white people and their love concerns. Additional ones in the second category beside the first two I mentioned are À l'abordage! about two young black guys on vacation, The Big Hit/Un triomphe about prisoners playing Beckett, and Red Soil/Rouge, about factory workers' safety and health concerns. Key films about sexual issues are Little Girl/Petite fille, a documentary about a little trans girl, and Slalom, about a sexually predatory ski coach.

    Some of the films were perhaps blissfully free of social concerns or obvious categories, like the enjoyable Laure Calamy comedy My Donkey, My Lover, and Me about a nutty vacation trip - which won her Best Actress at the Césars on Friday; and Mandiples/Mandibules, oddball director Quentin Dupieux' goofy comedy about two dishonest idiots who find a giant fly and think it will make them rich. I enjoyed both of these, in the case of Dupieux more than I'd expected to. Knowing Calamy from Netflix's French series "Call My Agent," I expected her to be fun to watch, and she was, and pretty too.

    The series had two tough, intense sports-related films that were both quite impressive. Besides the aforementioned Slalom (directed by Charlène Favier), which features the always excellent Jérémie Renier as the coach, there was Final Set/Cinquième Set, a finely calibrated, smart film by Quentin Reynaud starring comic Alex Lutz about an underdog older tennis player trying to make it into the French Open.

    Love Affair(s), a rondel of couples in various combinations updating (only slightly) standard French "Boulevard" farce, received a raft of César nominations and also was accorded special attention at Lincoln Center. This clever movie lacks Mouret's earlier sensitivity and restraint and surely has been overrated. I notice some French critics and spectators alike have said (like me) they can't even follow the plot line.

    In this plague year fun movies are favored, and Mouret's more artistically pretentious piece, though multi-nominated, ended by being bypassed at the César awards in favor of Bye Bye Morons/Adieu les cons by Albert Dupontel. Dupontel is known for his crazy Monty-Pythonesque slapstick comedies. The more sophisticated critics in Paris had nothing good to say about Bye Bye Morons but the less snooty ones and those in the provinces adored it, and no doubt a good laugh was very, very welcome. Dupontel has been a favorite at the Césars in less dark years as well.

    Too bad Ibrahim and Gagarin and their actors were not mentioned at the French awards. But making up for past mistakes, perhaps, the Meilleur espoir masculin (Most Promising Male Actor) award, usually accorded to a 20-something, went to a 40-year-old rapper of African descent, Jean-Pascal Zadi, for playing himself in a film called Tout simplement noir/Simply Black.

    LINKS TO THE REVIEWS:
    À l'abordage! (Guillaume Brac 2020)
    Big Hit, The/Un triomphe (Emmanuel Courcol 2020)
    Faithful/De nos frères blessés (Hélier Cisterne 2020)
    Final Set/Cinquieme Set (Quentin Reynaud 2020)
    Gagarine/Gagarin (Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh 2020)
    Ibrahim (Samir Guesmi 2020)
    Lifelines/Si demain (Fabienne Godet 2020)
    Love Affair(s)/Les choses qu'on dit, les chose qu'on fait(Emmanuel Mouret 2020)
    Lovers/Amants (Nicole Garcia 2020)
    Little Girl/Petite fille (Sébastien Lifshitz 2021) Opening Night Film
    Margaux Hartmann/L'étreinte (Ludivic Bergery 2020)
    Mandibles/Mandibules (Quentin Dupieux 2021)
    My Donkey, My Lover and I/Antoinette dans les Cévennes (Caroline Vignal 2020)
    Red Soil/Rouge (Farid Bentoumi 2020)
    Should the Wind Drop/Si le vent tombe (Nora Martirosyan 2020)
    Slalom (Charlène Favier 2020)
    Spring Blossom/Seize printemps(Susanne Lindon 2020)
    Summer of 85/Eté 85 (Francois Ozon 2020)

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 03-15-2021 at 04:19 PM.

  9. #24
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    Leading the nominations at last Fri. Mar. 12's César Awards with 13 nominations, Emmanuel Mouret's "Les choses qu'on dit, les choses qu'on fait' ("Love Affair(s)") "only" received the trophy for best supporting actress (for Émilie Dequenne). Nevertheless, it is one of the French films that it's predicted will remain from 2020 and it has just been released in France on DVD. - Brefcinema info@brefcinema.com

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