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Entries in France (27)

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.

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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.

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Friday
Nov202015

Mustang Interview: "There’s not just one way of being a director or looking at the world." 

France's Oscar submission Mustang (previously reviewed) focuses on five orphaned sisters going through adolescence in a Turkish village where hormones are considered to be the ultimate evil. Worried about their reputation, their grandmother decides the best way to care for them is by marrying them off as soon as possible, but the sisters have very little to say in the decisions made for them. They don’t understand why hanging out with boys is wrong, or why they should be married to strangers. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, in her feature length debut, tells a revelatory tale of oppression, but for all the hardships on display in the film, she keeps the style playful and fresh, reminding one of what it feels like to be a teenager oblivious or careless of the darkness in the world.

Most impressive of all, is the director’s work with the five actresses playing the sisters - Lale (Günes Sensoy), Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan),Nur (Doga Zeynep Doguslu), Ece (Elit Iscan) and Selma (Tugba Sunguroglu) - who through subtle touches make us believe these young women have always lived together, and have formed an indestructible bond. In a bold, wonderful move Mustang was selected as France’s Foreign Language Film submission for the Oscars, and with the warm response it’s received in festivals all over the world, it might make it all the way to the final five. I spoke to Deniz Gamze Ergüven and was not surprised to realize she’s as smart, refreshing and sincere as her film.

Our interview is after the jump...

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