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Entries in Francophile (94)

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. 

Friday
Jun102016

Interview: 'Diary of a Chambermaid' Director Benoît Jacquot on Léa Seydoux and Literature

With the release of Diary of a Chambermaid, which reunites the director and star of the great Farewell My Queen, here's Jose with a new interview...

Octave Mirbeau’s 1900 novel Diary of a Chambermaid has been turned into a film no less than two times before, with filmmakers like Luis Buñuel and Jean Renoir taking on the task of bringing to life the tale of feisty, tragic chambermaid Célestine. Now, director Benoît Jacquot (Farewell My Queen) has re-teamed with Léa Seydoux to bring Célestine to life one more time. Jacquot’s adaptation injects Célestine with an even stronger sense of self awareness, she is often granted the power of breaking the narrative to address the audience, or herself even, and is given a sexual agency that forces audiences to see Mirbeau’s heroine under a different light. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Jacquot to discuss his take on the novel, working with Léa Seydoux, and how literature influences his work.

Read the interview after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May172016

Best Shot: Queen Margot (1994)

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Queen Margot (1994)
Director: Patrice Chereau. Cinematography: Phillipe Rousselot. 
Starring: Isabelle Adjani, Daniel Auteuil, Vincent Perez, Jean-Hugues Anglade, and Virna Lisi 
Awards: 2 Cannes jury prizes, 5 César Awards, 1 Oscar nomination.

They say that death always takes your lovers..."

When I was young and extremely sexually naive, let's say hypothetically in High School French class, I was startled to discover that the French phrase "La petite mort," which translates literally to 'the little death' referred to a sexual orgasm. I had no idea why these two towers of Human Obsession, Sex and Death, would be linked up like twins. But the movies, ever the personal tutor for young cinephiles, kept forcing the connections.

Which brings us to the decadent, opulent, erotic, violent and visceral 16th century French epic Queen Margot, this week's Best Shot subject. (The shot choices are after the jump due to the graphic nature of the film...)

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb272016

César Winners: Mustang, Fatima, Michael Douglas and More...

Busy awards weekend, huh? The Spirit Awards commence this evening (Murtada will graciously live blog so yours truly can reserve last fumes of energy for Oscar night) but France's own Oscars, the Césars were already held. (We discussed their nominations earlier right here.)

<-- The glorious Juliette Binoche graced the poster for the big event and also presented best picture. Michael Douglas was the honorary winner (they love their Hollywood stars at the Césars in that particular way).

It turned out to be quite a Ladies Night as three films about women battled it out for supremacy: Fatima, an immigrant drama was the surprise Best Picture winner; Marguerite an operatic musical/comedy (based on the same story as Meryl Streep's forthcoming Florence Foster Jenkins) was the nomination leader and won multiple tech trophies and Best Actress; and, finally, the great Mustang (France's Turkish-language Oscar nominee and on my top ten list) took Screenplay, First Film and Editing prizes

The full list of winners and ceremony photos are after this amazing picture of 3 giants of French cinema: Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, and Emmanuel Béart

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan272016

César Noms: Mustang, Marguerite, Melanie, and More...

Kristen Stewart's César win last year for Clouds of Sils Maria was historicThis year's César nominations (i.e. The French Oscars) have been announced. Due to the oddities of release schedules statesides, especially when it comes to subtitled pictures, many of the French films we've been discussing as "best ofs" like Girlhood, Saint Laurent, and Clouds of Sils Maria were 2014 features in France and honored accordingly. The only real crossovers with our current awards season are Denis Gamze Erguven's Oscar nominated Mustang (now playing in very limited release in the States) which is all over their nominations and two of their "Foreign Film Nominees" Hungary's Son of Saul and Italy's Youth which will compete with last year's US Best Picture winner Birdman.

Their nominations were led by the prestige vehicle Marguerite (which is "loosely based" on the story of Florence Foster Jenkins who is getting her own American biopic starring Meryl Streep this year) and Arnaud Desplechin's My Golden Days which are both expected to receive US theatrical releases in 2016. (If you see a link, it goes to our review of the picture, or past articles about the actor or director)

BEST FILM 

  • Dheepan, Jacques Audiard
  • Fatima, Philippe Faucon
  • The Measure of a Man, Stephane Brize
  • Marguerite, Xavier Giannoli
  • Mon Roi, Maïwenn
  • Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven
  • Standing Tall, Emmanuelle Bercot
  • My Golden Days, Arnaud Desplechin

Let's discuss their nominations and various beautiful Frenchies after the jump. 

Click to read more ...