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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Entries in France (8)

Monday
Jan302017

Review: "Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo"

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

You've seen the moment many times. Two future lovers see each other in a crowd, and something clicks. In West Side Story that moment prompts a blur on the edges of the frame, with only the lovers in focus. In La La Land, it takes the form of a camera push-in with all the lights, but for a spotlight, going out. The moment is so familiar in fantasies (and desired in reality) that there's even an old showtune about it.

Some enchanted evening, you will meet a stranger
You will meet a stranger across a crowded room.
And somehow you know, you know even then...

The last place you might expect to see it deployed is in a new French film which begins with 18 minutes of explicit activity in a sex club...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug032016

New to DVD: April and the Extraordinary World

by Tim Brayton

As even the quickest look at a box office report shows, 2016 has been a great year for the popularity of animated films. But outside of the heavyweight American studio tentpoles, there have been genuine treasures that have still managed to slip through the cracks. Thus it's my pleasure to introduce to you the crackling Franco-Canadian-Belgian sci-fi fantasy April and the Extraordinary World, new to DVD this week, thanks to the endlessly wonderful folks at distributor GKIDS.

The film takes place in an alternate world where Emperor Napoleon III of France died in a lab explosion in 1870, just before our history had him falling from grace in the eyes of the French legislature; here, his son ascends as Napoleon IV and ushers in a bold new era of European diplomacy that manages to prevent both of the 20th Century's World Wars, but also results in an era of scientific stultification, meaning that by 1931, when the film proper begins, the world is still in an age of steam.

Here we meet young April, whose parents are working on a serum to prolong life...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May102016

Doc Corner: 60 Years Since The Silent World's Historic Palme d'Or

Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. In celebration of not just the Cannes Film Festival, which launches this week, but also the release of my book Cannes Film Festival: 70 Years out now through Wilkinson Publishing, we're looking at the first documentary to win the Palme d'Or. The book is a glossy trip through history, looking at the festival's beginnings, the films, the moviestars, the fashions and the controversies. You better believe I convinced my editors on a double-page Nicole Kidman spread!

Despite the belief that documentaries are as rare among the Cannes line-up as rain in the desert, the Cannes selectors of old were particularly fond of them. Especially so through the 1950s and 1960s. That just happens to be where we find the first documentary winner of the Palme d’or, The Silent World, or Le monde du Silence.

The documentary is a collaboration between explorer Jacques Cousteau and a pre-fame Louis Malle, who was just 23 years old at the time and was only two years away from delivering the noir masterpiece (so says me) Elevator to the Gallows. In The Silent World, Cousteau and Malle are able to capture images of natural wonder that 60 years later continue to thrill and take the breath away and sing with poignancy while putting our place among nature into perspective. More after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr212016

Cannes Announces Its Critics' Week and Classics Selections

Cinephiles across the globe collectively held their breaths last week wondering whether the new Olivier Assayas or Lucretia Martel would make it onto the 2016 Croisette – his did, hers didn’t – as Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux unspooled the Competition, Un Certain Regard, Midnight Screenings, and Outside Competition line-ups. As if the promise of new adventures with Almodóvar, Dolan, and Park Chan-Wook weren’t enough, the recent announcements of the Critics’ Week and Cannes Classics sidebars present a whole host of new gems and old treasures to discover.

Let’s start with Critics’ Week, where a coterie of freshmen and sophomore directors compete for their own Nespresso Grand Prize. That would make this the branded stadium for spring-boarding international talents, such as Iñárritu (Amores Perros), Wong Kar-Wai (As Tears Go By), as well as Andrea Arnold and Jeff Nichols who are contending in the Main Competition this year with American Honey and Loving, respectively. The Critics Week features competition includes a number of films that examine schisms in national identities, and a closing selection of shorts featuring the directorial debut of human mystery box Chloe Sevigny. And speaking of people that could always be lurking over your shoulder; this is where David Robert Mitchell’s sexually transmitted horror film It Follows debuted back in 2014.

Critics’ Week 

  • Albüm – directed by Mehmet Can Mertoğlu (Turkey)
  • Diamond Island – directed by Davy Chou (Cambodia/France)
  • Raw – directed by Julia Ducournau (France)
  • Mimosas – Oliver Laxe (France)
  • One Week And A Day – directed by Asaph Polonsky (Israel)
  • Tramontane – directed by Vatche Boulghourjian (Lebanon)
  • A Yellow Bird – directed by K. Rajagopal (Singapore)

    Opening Night: In Bed with Victoria - directed by Justine Triet (France) 

Cannes Classics
The festival also hosts restored films from the international canon. This year they'll feature honors for documentarian and institutional excavator Frederick Wiseman, as well as a master class with raconteur and all-around mayday man William Friedkin. In addition to that Friedkin talk, Cannes Classics will screen the divisive Sorcerer, his 1977 remake of Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear – a film that sets a long fuse for a series of gut-wrenching flare-ups, a rattling exercise in tension. Ivory’s Howard’s End, Parts 5 and 6 of Kieślowski’s Decalogue, Gordard’s current repertory release Masculin feminine, and a bunch of other exciting classics will remind us why we were drawn to the cinema in the first place.

Any ideas how we could all split the cost of a yacht to the south of France this year?

Friday
Apr152016

Review: The Measure of a Man

Like Bicycle Thieves’ Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) almost seventy years before him, Thierry Taugourdeau (Lindon) the protagonist of The Measure of a Man, is simply trying to earn an honest living to support his family. He has been unemployed for well over a year and must make ends meet with a small unemployment check. He spends most of his days trying to find a job, and at night he puts on his best face to appease the fears of his wife (Karine de Mirbeck) and his teenage son (Matthieu Schaller) who has a disability that will require special education in the near future. While Thierry’s overall situation is absolutely lamentable, there is no “time bomb” outlook in the meditative film, rather than push this everyman into “Michael Douglas in any 90s thriller” mode, director Stephane Brize invites us to observe and perhaps develop empathy.

Thierry is both unique and one of many like him who lose their jobs on a daily basis. After being laid off from a factory, along with hundreds of others who we never see, we understand that Brize’s film is touching on a larger sociological phenomenon, without losing the insight that comes from a particular case. This balancing act between the specific and the universal is handled by Brize with elegant tenderness and passionate impotence; how have we allowed our society to become this?

Halfway through the film, and this is not a spoiler, Thierry finds a job as an inspector at a large supermarket where he must confront people who shoplift. Considering this isn’t Chanel or Dior, the items being purloined range from meat to “loyalty points” a cashier adds to her own personal card. We understand Thierry knows the poverty that forces these people to commit such acts, but then the film poses another question: is Thierry’s loyalty to his economic needs or his humanity.

Towering over almost every other actor in the film, Lindon gives a performance of such subtle power that you often ask yourself if he’s even “acting”. Seeing the pain in Thierry’s eyes, as Brize’s immovable camera pierces into the souls of people who must explain they can’t afford to pay for that piece of food they put in their pockets, is at times even harder to look at than the goriest Hollywood trick. Brize knows that the film won’t be able to solve the problems it exposes, and those looking for “entertainment” will certainly not be pleased with this feature, but as a window into the social realism perpetuated by the Dardennes, Bresson, De Sica and Rossellini, The Measure of a Man poses one pithy question: will we look out, or will we close the blinds when the view gets too hard to handle.

The Measure of a Man is now in theaters.

 

Thursday
Mar312016

Review: Francofonia

The question at the center of Alexander Sokurov’s rich, meditative Francofonia is a rather complex one: would France be France without the Louvre? Would our civilization, for that matter, be a civilization without museums? Focusing on that existential premise, Sokurov crafts a cinematic essay that deals with the seeming randomness of what art is preserved for posterity, the question of fate when it comes to the Louvre’s existence, and even a chronicle of France during the Occupation. Those looking for a plot to follow beware, for the film not only makes do without one, it also invites us to explore it with the open mindedness with which we would wander inside a museum.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar182016

Interview: Arnaud Desplechin on 'My Golden Days' and Doppelgängers

Jose here. At one point during our conversation, Arnaud Desplechin says to me “sorry if my answer is long, when what I want to say is so simple”, in a way this could very well describe what’s so wonderful about his films, which surround simple messages with layers of rich characters and dialogues. Take for instance My Golden Days, in which he revisits the character of Paul Dédalus played in My Sex Life...Or How I Got Into an Argument by Mathieu Amalric, and is now played in flashbacks by Quentin Dolmaire. The film is all about the joy and terror of first love, but Desplechin sees it through a labyrinth of emotions and plotlines that involve everything from double identities, to wise college professors.

Propelled by the extraordinary performances of newcomers Dolmaire and Lou Roy-Lecollinet who plays Esther (Emmanuelle Devos in the 1996 film), My Golden Days is Desplechin’s most romantic, melancholic work to date. The film was received warmly by critics in Europe, played in Cannes and the New York Film Festival in 2015, and is now opening in American theaters, it was also nominated for 11 César awards, giving Desplechin his very first win for Best Director.

JOSE: You won the César for Best Director for this film, did the award feel more special in any way because it was for this project?

ARNAUD DESPLECHIN: It sure was, I interpreted the win as being because this film explored territories I’d explored before, it was a collage of bits and pieces from my previous works. I guess it also had to do with the two young actors, they brought a sort of freshness to the film, the plot, lines and scenes are dark and they brought light to it. During the writing I went for tough situations: loneliness, despair, mourning, but who cares, because I knew we would find two young actors to enlighten it. I owe this César to them.

Read more after the jump.

Click to read more ...