Rendez-vous with French Cinema

With a Little Help from Myself, 2008

Like Pierre Schöller’s Versailles, François Dupeyron’s With a Little Help from Myself similarly presents a portrait of the marginalized in contemporary France, in this case, the plight of immigrants and the elderly. Shot in yellow hues characteristic of African cinema, as well as vibrant, chaotic milieus and canted angles that invite comparison – albeit to… read more »

Flanders, 2006

Bruno Dumont returns to the desolate pastoral and emotional landscapes of his earlier features L’Humanité and Life of Jesus in Flanders, an austere, tonal, and visceral exposition into the integral nature of violence, sexuality, desire, and instinctual survival. A rugged young farmer, Demester (Samuel Boidin) impassively harvests his dessicated, autumnal fields before finding his neighbor… read more »

Twentynine Palms, 2003

In the opening remarks for the film, Bruno Dumont described Twentynine Palms as experimental film in articulating sensation without narrative through abstract, dissociated forms, teasingly remarking that “a Manet without figures is a Rothko”. An American photographer named David (David Wissak) and his French-speaking, Eastern European lover Katia (Yekaterina Golubeva) set off from Los Angeles… read more »

The Page Turner, 2006

Favorably evoking Claude Chabrol’s La Cérémonie in its taut, slow brewing, and unnerving portrait of dysfunctional class relations, Denis Dercourt’s The Page Turner is a distilled, understated, and elegantly realized psychological tale of fragility, revenge, and manipulation. At the heart of Dercourt’s dark allegory is a polite, attractive, and meticulous young woman named Mélanie Prouvost… read more »

L’Intrus, 2004

L’Intrus opens to a shot of the Franco-Swiss border as a border guard performs a customs check and inspection of a random vehicle with the aid of a contraband-sniffing dog. The seemingly mundane image of frontier, wilderness, and deception provides a curiously appropriate introduction into the Claire Denis’ impenetrably fractured, enigmatically allusive, otherworldy, and indelible… read more »

Ain’t Scared (Regarde-moi), 2007

During the Q&A for Ain’t Scared (Regarde-moi), Audrey Estrougo remarked that one of her motivations for making the film was to create a more authentic portrait of les cités – the low income housing neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city – that had become an all too convenient political target for all the social… read more »

The Girl from Monaco, 2008

The prevailing stereotype of Monaco as exotic, laid back resort destination and land of fairytale – perpetuated in part by the public’s enduring affection for the principality’s most famous transplant, Grace Kelly – provides the surreal atmosphere for conscientious, Parisian attorney and self-styled ladies man, Bertrand’s (Fabrice Luchini) inopportune case of tropical fever in Anne… read more »

Gentille, 2005

The whimsical and offbeat opening sequence of subverted expectation and role reversal provides a tongue-in-cheek glimpse into the eccentric humor and understatedly irony of screenwriter turned filmmaker Sophie Fillières latest film, Gentille, as an anxious Fontaine Leglou (Emmanuelle Devos), an anesthesiologist working the evening shift at a private psychiatric hospital, accosts an unwitting man on… read more »

The Singer, 2006

Each day, a divorced, middle-aged dance hall chanteur, Alain Moreau (in an elegant performance by Gérard Depardieu), attired in his white satin suit and sporting a provincial, stylishly overgrown haircut with a touch of highlights, sings from his stout repertoire of familiar – yet not too iconic – love songs before an appreciative audience in… read more »

Blame It On Fidel, 2006

It perhaps comes as no surprise that the astute social observation and political acuity so integral to the wry, infectious, and irresistible whimsical humor of Blame it on Fidel comes from first (non documentary) feature filmmaker Julie Gavras, whose father, Costa Gavras, continues to redefine the bounds of political filmmaking with his distinctive blueprint for… read more »

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