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Entries in Francophile (74)

Friday
Oct182013

Two Graces at War

It's Julien your French correspondent to pass a bit of a contentious interview your way. After tampering with the ending of August: Osage Country and cutting 20 minutes off Snowpiercer, it seems Harvey Scissorhands is at it again. Grace of Monaco director Olivier Diahan spoke to French newspaper Libération (in an article published today) about his ongoing feud with Weinstein.

The disagreement is apparently the cause of the film's delay:

What’s complicated right now is to make sure that the critics will be able to judge my own version of the film, and not another one. But it’s not over yet, I haven’t given up. (…) There are two versions of the film: mine and his… which I found catastrophic.”

Quite a strong assessment from the guy who directed My Own Love Song, wouldn’t you say?

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep212013

Three Reasons Why People Ought to Stop Bitching About the Foreign Film Race and Just Appreciate The Movies

There are now 38 Official Submissions for Oscar's Foreign Language Film race, one of The Film Experience's favorite categories. Which means there are now undoubtedly about 38,000 bitchy articles lodged around the web and print... many of them undoubtedly focused on Blue is the Warmest Color, due to its high profile both from content (lesbian sex!) and prestige (Cannes winner).

the new US poster. It's a beauty

I am exhausted by the griping each year about this category. I really am. And often from people who should know better. The grumbling over this oft divisive category reminds me of how Oscar fans like to say...

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Tuesday
Sep102013

"At the Farm" or "By The Lake", Queer Films Among Best @ TIFF

This article was originally published in my column at Towleroad

The French famously call an orgasm "la petit mort" or, the little death. In two new French-language films playing at the Toronto International Film Festival (in full swing through next weekend) this euphemism forgets to be euphemistic. If you like your sex all mixed up with danger -- you know, the way straight people did during the mainstream erotic thriller years (the Glenn Close thru Sharon Stone continuum) -- consider these films 'must sees' when they hit your city. IF they hit your city. It's tough out there for art films, especially gay ones, as recently discussed in a fascinating piece at IndieWire mapping out the problems.

Prolific twenty-four year old writer/director/actor Xavier Dolan has been a sensation on the festival circuit and in Canada since his award-winning debut I Killed My Mother in 2009. Despite the accolades Dolan has yet to win the Stateside following he deserves, even among LGBT audiences. This is largely because his films are in French and they have had a weirdly hard time making their way onto US screens. I Killed My Mother was famously delayed and delayed and delayed again. Before I received a screener a couple of years ago I was convinced that it was an imaginary movie, dreamt up by journalists to make the rest of us feel jealous that we aren't fabulous enough to party in Cannes with them each May. Dolan's subsequent features, the stylish unrequited love triangle Heartbeats (also known as Imaginary Lovers) and the recently released three hour trans drama Laurence Anyways only increased his wunderkind reputation. His latest TOM AT THE FARM may well be his most accessible but reviewing it presents a challenge because the less you know about it going in the better.

Let's keep it very simple AFTER THE JUMP... 

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Sunday
Sep082013

TIFF: Asghar Farhadi Returns With "The Past"

Weirdest Cannes best actress win"

Nick whispered to me as the end credits unspooled on Asghar Farhadi's The Past. Co-sign. It's not that Berenice Bejo, who was charming in her international breakthrough in The Artist, is not a good actress and she's certainly a beauty. But at least in the context of The Past she's a blank one. Despite the plethora of information writer/director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) keeps sending us -- e-mails are an enormous plot point -- I'm still waiting to hear anything substantial about the character of Marie, Bejo's woman at its center.

Yes yes, we learn that she still loves her ex-husband Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa), has troubles with her teenage daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet, wonderfully cast) and is cagey about her new relationship to Samir (Tahar Rahim). But we learn all of this very quickly in the movies promising opening scenes in which Marie picks up her ex-husband from the airport and brings him home rather than to a hotel room he asked for. 

But after that... what else?

Farhadi has quite a lot else in store for us... though strangely what seems to take precedence is the intricate minutae of its plot, rather than the characterizations. It's not that we learn nothing about the characters exactly, but that they seem to be serving the intricacies of its many twists rather than the other way around. Like Farhadi's recent masterpiece A Separation, we return again and again to the same seemingly tiny event, although this one is offscreen, and its enormous ripples. To be fair to Berenice we do learn two more thing about Marie. First, she's a bit of a dramatic queen and pushes situations and conversations past their natural end point until they reignite or explode. Second, and long delayed... that she is guilt-ridden about her relationship with Samir without realizing it. But it's too little too late for a film that overextends its welcome and pushes its luck with its intended cartographic drama.

Marie between her men. She does this to herself.

When your favorite touch in a hotly anticipated movie by a brilliant director is the subtle dynamism of its title card ("The Past" is erased by windshield wipers as the ex-lovers are reunited in the opening scene) and the thing you relate to most visually is the endearing confused scowl on a young actor's face (Elyes Aguis is just superbly natural as Fouad, Samir's son) something has gone quite wrong. Thanks to a fine turn from Mossafa, Ahmad the exhusband, is the film's most interesting and well defined character. The movie suffers considerably whenever he (wisely) steps out of his place in this quiet heavy love triangle. Three may be a crowd but Marie and Samir are too blandly conceived to carry the film's heavy heart and complicated plot on their own. C

Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Mano-a-Mano Hallucinations Norway's Pioneer & Jake Gyllenhaal² in Enemy
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
Jessica Chastain at the Eleanor Rigby Premiere
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
Queer Double FeatureTom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness 
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars

Wednesday
Jul032013

Woody Allen to be Jacki Weaver's (Third Time) Lucky Charm?

Glenn here to discuss one of his favourite topics: the career rejuvination of Jacki Weaver!

When Weaver scored a seemingly improbable Oscar nomination a few years back for Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom (a nomination I predicted an equally improbable year in advance), most expected the diminutive Aussie to crawl off back home with her pride, some glamorous memories and little else. The rest, however, as we all know, went much differently. She hasn't been working anywhere near as much the lady that bested her to the statue - that'd be Melissa Leo who's accepted everything in her path - but she's been afforded the chance to work with some great auteurs and got a second nomination earlier this year to boot. More...

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Thursday
May302013

Blue is the Hottest Controversy

Julien K. here, your special correspondent in Paris, reporting on the recent controversy surrounding the latest Palme d’or winner, Blue is the Warmest Color

As those of you who are familiar with the French film industry may know, director Abdellatif Kechiche’s work has been consistently lavished with praise for the last decade. In 2005, his sophomore effort L’esquive –a raw, direct exploration of teenage sexual politics in the banlieues (the French suburban hoods) by way of eighteenth century playwright Marivaux- unexpectedly trumped critical favorite Kings and Queen and populist heavyweights A Very Long Engagement and Oscar nominee The Chorus at the César Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. The same thing happened in 2008, when his powerful immigrant family drama The Secret of the Grain defeated a pack of prestige Oscar contenders (La Vie en Rose, Persepolis, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) in the same top categories. 

But now that he’s won the most prestigious award of them all, Kechiche is facing a harsh backlash. [more]

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