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Entries in Francophile (99)

Tuesday
Nov292016

The Top Tens Begin... Neon Demon?

Everyone will have to have their say about which films are the "best" of the year and that starts, bizarrely, right now even though it's still November. First up is the famed Cahiers du Cinema, which is the oldest film publication still running stretching back to the early 1950s. 

Since they're in France, they have a different timetable on releases so TFE's primary 2015 obsession factors in -- Why Carol, it's so good to see you again! But because they are Cahiers du Cinema and generally choose at least one polarizing but largely hated picture, Neon Demon is up near the top. 

Their Top Ten List
1 Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2 Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
3 The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn)
4 Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
5 Slack Bay (Bruno Dumont)
6 Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar)
7 Staying Vertical (Alain Guiraudie)
8 La Loi de la jungle (Antonin Peretjatko)
9 Carol (Todd Haynes)
10 Le bois dont les rêves sont faits (Claire Simon)

What do you make of the list? The two I wasn't familiar with are both French and haven't played much elsewhere. Les bois... is a 2 hour plus documentary about people in the woods, cruising for sex, living there if homeless people, etcetera. Jungle is a comedy set in French Guiana which is in South America.

Thursday
Nov172016

AFI Winners: Divines, Land of Mine and More

We weren't able to attend the AFI this year due to lack of funds but we shan't skip sharing the winners. The literal winners we mean. Obviously the AFI is a great last second Oscar launching pad for the big titles (like American Sniper and Selma and such in year's past) ...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov112016

27 Films Eligible for Best Animated Feature

[UPDATE: Variety shared a list of 22 a week ago jumping the gun a week ago and we followed suit. Now we've updated on 11/11 with 5 additional titles since the actual list has been revealed]

Twenty-seven films are officially in the mix for Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature. Since the threshold to trigger a five wide shortlist in the category is only sixteen, we'll get five nominees this year. As per usual in this category the US will dominate but one or two of the nominations will surely be nabbed by formidable and lower profile threats from France and/or Japan. The list and a few notes follow...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct012016

NYFF: Getting High With Staying Vertical

Here's Jason reporting from the NYFF on the new film from the director of Stranger by the Lake.

With a movie like Staying Vertical it's tempting to go look up the definition of "queer" in the dictionary and start off with that - that would do a lot of my work for me. Because make no mistake about it - Staying Vertical is queer. It is queer as in it is strange, and it is queer as in it is not precisely heterosexual. It is that kind of off-putting gay guy in the corner of the party who's laughing at something even though nobody is talking to him. It's a good thing that I am that gay guy at every party, so me and Staying Vertical, we kinda hit it off.

Everybody won't. (The bane of my existence, y'all.)...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep262016

Foreign Oscar Watch: Can "Elle" Slay the Competition?

Verhoeven & Huppert at Cannes this summer

France, as ever, was spoiled with options when it came to selecting their film for Oscar competition this year. Frantz (reviewed) from François Ozon would likely have appealed to Oscar voters but the selection committee went with the controversial Elle (reviewed at TIFF). It's a brave choice but we think a smart one; even if its divisive within initial voting, it will likely be a candidate to benefit under the Executive Committee 'saves' rule. Plus those who love it will love it passionately meaning it could even have a dark horse shot at a win. Not only does it have a high profile auteur and star (Paul Verhoeven and Isabelle Huppert) but it's got sensational reviews, a US release on the table in the thick of Oscar traction season (November 11th), and an outside shot at a Best Actress nomination. France has not won the category since Indochine (1992) despite numerous nominations.

Trivia: Paul Verhoeven has had one previous film nominated in this category for his home country The Netherlands with Turkish Delight (1973). If Elle is nominated it would not be the first time a director has competed for multiple countries: Akira Kurosawa, who competed many times for Japan, won the prize for the Soviet Union with Dersu Uzala (1975); Luis Buñuel who won the Oscar for France with The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) was also nominated twice for Spain, his home country; and Michael Haneke won for Austria with Amour (2012) and also competed for Germany with The White Ribbon (2009) 

More News:
Oscar's other favorite country Italy has selected the Golden Bear winner, Fire at Sea (reviewed at Berlinale), a documentary about the European migrant crisis. To my knowledge only two documentaries have ever been nominated in this category (Waltz With Bashir from Israel and The Missing Picture from Cambodia) but both of those were in the past eight years so perhaps Oscar votings are loosening up about these distinctions. Among countries who have not yet announced their submissions (with a week left) Poland and Argentina are the most formidable, statistically speaking, with Oscar.

Foreign Film Oscar Charts
Predictions - 15 films that could have the best chance at the finals?
Afghanistan to Finland - 22 submissions thus far
George to Morocco - 23 submissions thus far
Nepal to Venezuela - 28 submissions thus far 

Friday
Sep162016

TIFF: François Ozon's Elegant "Frantz"

Nathaniel R reporting from TIFF

Frantz is dead when Frantz begins though everyone who knew him keeps willing him back to life through memories and the general refusal to let go. The movie has a terrifically simple plot generating event which reaps bountiful plot threads and emotions: In 1919 Germany, just after the first World War, a young girl named Anna (Paula Beer, Venice Winner Best Young Actor) repeatedly encounters a Frenchman named Adrien (Pierre Niney) while visiting her dead fiancee Frantz's (Anton von Lucke) grave. Then he comes knocking at her door. Why is he there? What does he want with Anna and Frantz parents? At first she and Frantz's parents (Ernst Stötzner and Marie Gruber, both superb) are wary about him since the wounds between the countries are still fresh. Quickly they warm to him though, much to their town's disapproval, when they realize that he knew their beloved Frantz (who had always loved Paris before the war).

Told in roughly two acts, the first in Germany is superb with a fine curtain closer if it were a play. (In fact, Frantz feels nearly like a full movie right then and there.) The second act in France, is perhaps too much of a good thing as the film suffers from repetition. Still the emotional arcs and tough emotional questions (is it better to lie than to cause more suffering?) are beautifully rendered. Ozon's hand is assured and elegant throughout. In fact, his queer gaze makes Frantz a more complex journey than it would have been with another director. Flashbacks to the young soldiers as friends are highly romanticized, nearly erotic. And this idealization is at fascinating odds with the film's feelings about romanticizing war and what the characters lives otherwise tell us about them. (In black and white with shifts to color a few times, always when Frantz appears in flashbacks, but more mysteriously on two other occassions.)

Grade: First Act: A / Second Act: B
MVP: François Ozon
Oscar Chances: France has four finalists for the Oscar submission this year. We're rooting for Elle but I think either that film or Frantz is likely to make the finals (9 films) at least with Oscar's foreign committee should it be the one that's selected.
Distribution: Music Box Films will release Frantz in the US. No dates have been announced yet but I suspect first quarter of 2017. 

Wednesday
Aug312016

Links: Movies (and TV) Matter, Garrel Picks Pics, Oscar's Centennial

Thrillist "Why everyone was wrong about Warcraft" - the summer's most underrated movie?
MNPP great moments in movie shelves hits Young Frankenstein
The Wrap looks at Colton Haynes winning an HRC award. Why Colton, exactly?

Criterion Louis Garrel chooses movies from the Criterion closet. He likes Jacques Tati, Loves of a Blonde, and Amarcord among others
FlavorWire looks back at Madonna & Sean's Shanghai Surprise in its Bad Movie Night column
Telerama (in French) Alain Guirardie talks about his filmography - he thinks he can do better than Stranger by the Lake
SBS hilarious satire video on White Fragility in the Workplace
Slate pits Bad Moms against Ghostbusters because women have to be pitted against each other!
NY Times on current film restoration anxiety asking the following question which I swear is going to give me regular nightmares:

What happens to an art when its foundational medium disappears? 

Today's Must Read
Richard Brody at the New Yorker wrote a great piece called "Why Movies Still Matter?" that examines the critical circularity that leads people to write things like "Could This Be the Year Movies Stopped Mattering?” We're all inside this ororborus! Help. My favorite part is his contention that the rise in popularity of serial television is actually emulating the college experience. Interesting.

The experience that the watching and the critique of new serial television resemble above all is the college experience. Binge-watching is cramming, and the discussions that are sparked reproduce academic habits: What It Says About, What It Gets Right About, What It Gets Wrong About. There is a lot of aboutness but very little being; lots of puzzle-like assembling of information to pose particular kinds of questions (posing questions—sounds like a final exam), to explore particular issues (sounds like a term paper). For these reasons, television’s actual competition isn’t movies or museums or novels but nonfiction books, documentary films, journalism, radio discussions, and general online clicking. Serial television is designed to gratify the craving for facts to piece together and analyze. The medium seems created for the media buzz that’s generated by the media people who are its natural audience, and to whom the shows owe their acclaim, their prestige, and their success.

Then he goes on to investigate the personal versus the public in our cinema experience. Love this piece. So much to think about and not judgmental about those film or television! Or to quote another great writer...

 

  

News
EW Emily Blunt hears what Julie Andrews says about her casting as Mary Poppins Returns
Guardian Anne Hathaway to star in Live Fast Die Hot  the adaptation of a bestseller about new motherhood and responsibility
Variety Richard Linklater is making a sequel (of a sort) to The Last Detail (1973) called Last Flag Flying
/Film early photos from Woody Allen's Crisis in Six Scenes, his new streaming series
Towleroad Matt Bomer has signed on to play a trans sex worker in a new film called Anything. They're still not casting trans actors for trans roles which is a shame. Especially since we actually have famous trans actors now, proof that there's no reason to not cast them or think they can't win media attention themselves 
Variety Stranger Things renewed for Season 2. (I liked Season 1 but a continuation of that story seems like a mistake to me. Better an anthology template!)
Comics Alliance Stranger Things' breakout "Barb" (Shannon Purser) will guest star on CW's Archie adaptation Riverdale
Awards Daily Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply will open the AFI Fest this year in November 

FINALLY
In case you haven't heard ABC and Oscar have extended their contract. The Oscars will now be held on ABC through 2028 now. In extremely related news: 2028 is when the 100th Academy Awards will be held so imagine that centennial. If you'd like TFE to be around for that (so far away) please consider joining our monthly donaters --see sidebar -- because it's so not easy to keep making this site work each year, financially speaking.