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Entries in Francophile (81)

Thursday
Apr242014

Tribeca: "5 to 7," Or Why Frustrated Writers Should Back Away From Final Draft

Tribeca coverage continues with Diana on 5 to 7 with Anton Yelchin & Glenn Close

Based on the imaginings of an out-of-touch, middle-aged writer-director, 5 to 7 is about a 24 year-old “writer” (Anton Yelchin) who becomes involved with the 33 year-old wife of a French diplomat (Berenice Marlohe). Brian lives in Manhattan, presumedly on his parents’ dime (Glenn Close and Frank Langella, both painfully misused), and attempts to write, his creative juices facilitated by posting a multitude of rejection letters on his wall and playing lonely man wiffleball in his apartment. Arielle also lives in Manhattan  and is oh so very “French” -- husband, two kids, posh neighborhood, and ability to balance high heels with a well-fitting dress.

Spotting Arielle in front of the St. Regis, Brian pursues her through quips that sound more like early drafts of “wit” rather than the finished product (think Woody Allen without the neurotic charm). She tosses words back at him that are meant to signify mutual attraction. When they do end up in a hotel room together (after she hands him the key), there is zip chemistry between the pair, cringingly highlighted all-the-more when Arielle tells Brian that he is a natural lover and asks whether his other lovers had told him that. That’s the crux of the problem with this film - we are told things consistently through voiceover and character iteration (Brian loves Arielle, Arielle loves Brian, Brian’s mother can see that they love each other), but we’re rarely shown anything substantial enough to back up these assertions. [More...] 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr172014

Cannes '14 line-up announced

Tim here. It's Christmas morning, everybody: the Cannes Film Festival announced its line-up today for this year's edition, running from May 14-25.

Opening Night
Grace of Monaco (dir. Olivier Dahan; starring Nicole Kidman)

Official Selection
Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonelo)
Winter's Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg) Yes No Maybe So
Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
Mommy (Xavier Dolan)
The Captive (Atom Egoyan)
Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard)
The Search (Michel Hazanavicius)
The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones) Yes No Maybe So
Still the Water (Naomi Kawase)
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
Jimmy's Hall (Ken Loach)
Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller) We Can't Wait
Le Meraviglie (Alice Rohrwacher)
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)
Wild Tales (Damian Szifron)
Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev)

Channing Tatum & Mark Ruffalo as brothers in "Foxcatcher"

Un Certain Regard
Opener - Party Girl (Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger, Samuel Theis)
Jauja (Lisando Alonso)
The Blue Room (Mathieu Amalric)
Misunderstood (Asia Argento)
Titli (Kanu Behl)
Eleanor Rigby (Ned Benson)
Bird People (Pascale Ferran)
Lost River (Ryan Gosling, directorial debut) formerly How to Catch a Monster, We Can't Wait
Amour fou (Jessica Hausner)
Charlies Country (Rolf de Heer)
Snow in Paradise (Andrew Hulme)
A Girl at My Door (July Jung)
Xenia (Panos Koutras)
Run (Philppe Lacôte)
Turist (Ruben Östlund)
Beautiful Youth (Jaime Rosales)
Fantasia (Wang Chao)
The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado)
Away from His Absence (Keren Yedaya)

Above: the first still from Ryan Gosling's LOST RIVER

All told, a nice mix of established auteurs, up-and-comers, and just enough new names that the Festival can't be accused of too much imagination (though the representation of women directors is still pretty grim). For myself, Winter's Sleep (over three hours long!), Leviathan, and Timbuktu leap out as being the films I'm most interested, by directors whose careers I'm excited to keep following; but what films are you all most excited to see?

Sunday
Mar092014

Happy Binoche Day

Our favorite French Oscar winner celebrated the big 5-0 today.

Better news:  Several movies on the way!

In both the would be blockbuster Godzilla and Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria, both arriving this year, she has potential talent imbalance problems with co-stars (CGI Monster, Kristen & Chloe respectively) but both films might be great, fingers crossed.

She's also currently filming the true-story The 33 with Antonio Banderas and Rodrigo Santoro which is about that Chilean miners who were trapped for weeks.  Three more movies have been announced but announcing and actually happening are two different things with movies. We'll see. Hollywood has lost interest (Hollywood only allows one French lady at a time so Marion Cotillard has to watch her back with Léa Seydoux rising) but we shouldn't!

Juliette Binoche's last team-up with Olivier Assayas was the terrific "Summer Hours"

What's your favorite Binoche? Mine is 100% Trois Coleurs: Bleu though she's perfection in quite a few others, like ahhhh Flight of the Red Balloon. Just gorgeous. 

Friday
Jan312014

Cesar Academy Nominates French President's Mistress! (Who cares about movies anyway?)

Julien, your french correspondent, here to discuss the César nominations.

OUTRAGE ! Twitter was in uproar this morning when the nominees for the Best Actress César were announced, and the name Adèle Exarchopoulos was nowhere to be seen. While Léa Seydoux made the cut for her arguably supporting role, Adèle’s astounding lead performance in Blue is the Warmest Color was relegated to the Most Promising Actress category.

Before you raise your pitchforks, consider this perfectly logical explanation: since Tahar Rahim won both the Best Actor and Most Promising Actor gongs for A Prophet in 2010, the rules were altered so that a single performance can only be nominated in a single category -the one which collects the most votes. Fair enough César, but when a category which is supposed to promote new talent prevents the year’s most celebrated performance to be nominated in its rightful place, you’re clearly doing something wrong.

All the nominees and a lot of gay drama and political mischief after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov192013

Gold is the Most Coveted Color

Léa Seydoux & Adele Exarchopoulos at the Governor's Ball

Let's see Léa & Adèle at all the Oscar-courting events. S'il vous plaît. Werk that circuit, ladies.

Monday
Nov112013

AFI: Agnes and "Cleo"

The film is called Cleo From 5 to 7, but it’s actually Cleo From 5 to 6:30 Exactly”

Agnes Varda states with a chuckle. Varda is the Guest Director for the 2013 AFI Fest, so four of her films are being screened at the festival, starting with her most famous film, Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962). The woman who has been rightfully called the Godmother of the New Wave practically bounces in her chair, which is surprising for a woman her age. I hope I age half as well. Filmmaking and boundary-breaking agree with her.

Cleo From 5 to 7 takes place over a single afternoon. A young singer (Corinne Marchand) waits for results from her medical exam to tell her whether she has cancer. More surprisingly, the story takes place in real time; starting at 5pm and ending at 6:30pm. The film has the hallmarks of many French New Wave films: the preoccupation with cinematic form, the unflagging coolness that comes with good sunglasses and disaffected youth, the filmic experimentation. Cleo From 5 to 7 is different from Breathless or Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Agnes Varda’s unique voice has been attributed to her gender (the New Wave could be a talented boys club), but she attributes it to her background in art instead of film.

Varda says during the discussion that she purposely watched as few films as possible before becoming a filmmaker. Her purpose was to create something totally new and from scratch. Other New Wave auteurs were film lovers first (think of the fantastic book Hitchcock Truffaut). Varda speaks with the same rapture about Picasso and the artists in other mediums that inspired her. Of specific importance to Cleo From 5 to 7 is a painting by a 16th century German artist named Hans Baldung. In the painting, called The Three Ages Of The Woman and The Death, a young woman gazes into a mirror while a ghastly skeleton whispers into her ear.

Varda observes that the picture seems almost scandalous because beauty and death aren’t supposed to go together. Certainly that’s Cleo’s belief in the film. She worries constantly through the film that illness will ruin her beauty. Like the woman in the painting, Cleo constantly looks at herself, and the many people she meets look at her too. This, Varda states, is her feminist message: “Women become real when they stop looking at themselves and start looking at other people.” Cleo is an object to be stared at. The singer’s moment of revelation happens at 5:45pm, during this haunting song:

Agnes Varda sets the song as a midway point: from 5:45pm on, Cleo actively observes instead of passively being observed. The act of observing and the looming question of death make every moment precious. The challenge of making the story seem to unfold in exactly ninety minutes makes it not only a technical marvel - there are a lot of clocks in frame that need to be set precisely - but also inspires deeper examination of moments that might otherwise be missed. As Agnes Varda winds up the discussion, the bubbly auteur tells the audience that this is the theme of the film: fear gives texture to reality.

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