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Ashley Judd, Pulp Queen

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Entries in Francophile (114)

Tuesday
Sep012015

European Film Awards - Vote for the 'People's Choice'

Have you ever been to Berlin? The annual European Film Awards will be held there this year just 102 days. As part of their annual tradition if you vote on their People's Choice Awards you can be entered to win a trip to the show.

This year's People's Choice slate (the only category thus far announced) feels slightly more "behind" than usual or perhaps we misremember past years? Generally the EFA titles are a mix of current and previous Oscar seasons (due to scattered release dates) but this year's batch feels especially 2014 heavy. On the down side this means it's less helpful in seeing which films are making inroads to general critics prizes and Oscar love down the road... in that they already have or haven't. On the plus side, potential voters will have seen more of them. YOU CAN VOTE RIGHT HERE... They also have an official facebook page up now.

The 10 Nominees...  

  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence d. Roy Andersson
    Just announced as Sweden's Oscar submission! This auteur's unique 'vignettes in absurdist tableaus' sensibility must be experienced to be believed. Reviewed / Best of 2015 (Thus Far)
  • Force Majeure d. Ruben Östlund
    Sweden's acclaimed awards magnet was a big Oscar snub in the Foreign Film category last season... though it was up for Best Film at the EFAs. Is the American remake still planning to go ahead despite being a terrible idea? Reviewed / Blurbed / Top 20 of 2014 
  • The Imitation Game d. Morten Tyldum
    Last year's Best Picture contender qualifies as European because...? Perhaps it's the Norwegian director. But it's a US/UK production so it feels strange to see it here. Past Articles.  
  • Leviathan d. Andrey Zvyaginstev
    Russia's Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning hit last season. Past Articles.
  • Marshland d. Alberto Rodríguez
    A serial killer drama from Spain.



  • Samba d. Oliver Nakache & Eric Toledano
    Omar Sy (The Intouchables) and Charlotte Gainsbourg headline this French film about a struggling Senegalese immigrant and a woman trying to get her life back together
  • Serial (Bad) Weddings d. Philippe de Chauveron
    A French comedy about a Catholic couple whose four daughters all get married to men of different origins and religions
  • The Salt of the Earth d. Wim Wenders & Juliano Riberio Salgada
    Best Documentary Nominee at the Oscars. On the international journeys of Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado. Discussed
  • Victoria d. Sebastian Schipper
    Winner of 6 Lola Awards. Germany couldn't really select this hard-partying drama about a girl who gets mixed up in a bank robbery for their Oscar submission -- too much English in it -- but it's won raves and a lot of attention for its one take trick. That's right, a 140 minute movie all in one continuous shot without Birdman's tricks. Laia Costa and Frederick Lau star and took the German Oscars (the Lolas) for Best Actress and Best Actor.
  • White God d. Kornél Mundruczó
    Hungary's Oscar submission last season (not nominated), an allegorical film featuring rampaging packs of wild dogs, has been riveting moviegoers since its 2014 Cannes debut. Now on DVD. Reviewed / Interview

I'll have to choose between the two Swedish films for my personal vote. Who gets yours?

 

Friday
Jun262015

Posterized: Matthias Schoenaerts

With the Kate Winslet romantic drama A Little Chaos in select theaters and on VOD, we're seeing Matthias Schoenaerts as the Romance Novel Ready Cover Boy twice over this year since Far From the Madding Crowd already passed us by. If they ever release Suite Française in which he co-stars with Michelle Williams we'll have three swoony Schoenaerts fantasies in one year in which he falls for beautiful recent Best Actress nominees.

So how familiar you are with Belgium's greatest export? He first came to our attention in the Oscar nominated Belgian drama Bullhead (2011) though in truth we had seen him before in Paul Verhoeven's undervalued Dutch WWII thriller Black Book. (2006). But since that movie was all about Carice Van Houten & Michel Huisman erotic fantasies (at least it was for yours truly -- they were both later coopted by Game of Thrones as Melisandre and Dario Naharis, respectively) I'll admit that I didn't glom on to him right then.

Did I ever tell you I met him? That story and movie posters after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun112015

Women's Pictures: Agnes Varda's Cléo From 5 to 7

 Cléo from 5 to 7 is easily Agnes Varda's most famous film. In a retrospective honoring Varda at the 2013 AFI Fest - my introduction to the dimunitive director - iconic photos of Corinne Marchand, ice cold in her black shades, were spread across signs and billboards on Hollywood Blvd. The highlight of the festival was a discussion with Varda before a screening of the film. During the discussion, Varda expressed disappointment that, of all her films, Cleo from 5 to 7 was the best-remembered. In a way, it's not so surprising. As Varda herself noted, the film was the result of a request by some of the New Wave directors that she make another fiction film in 1962. As a result, Cléo from 5 to 7 is actually the most easily categorizable film in Varda's ouvre. This is pure French New Wave, cerebral and cinematic, but containing those artistic flourishes that can only belong to Agnes Varda.

Cléo from 5 to 7 takes place over the course of a single afternoon, as a young singer (the eponymous heroine played by Corinne Marchand) waits to hear the results of a biopsy. Cleo is shallow, vain, and beautiful, kept by a rich gentleman who visits infrequently, and surrounded by sycophantic showpeople, superstitious assistants, and equally shallow friends. The mundanities of Cleo's life gain sudden symbolic importance with the shadow of death looming over her. A pop song becomes an anthem of discovery. A hat becomes an emblem of vanity. A walk down the street becomes a war between observer and observed. [More...]

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Wednesday
May202015

For Amélie, Silence is Golden

For The Lusty Month of May, we're looking at sex scene each night. Here's Denny...

Our favorite little Parisian pixie, Amélie Poulain, lives a quiet life. She amuses herself by posing silly questions...such as: How many couples are having sex at this very moment? 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May142015

Tim's Toons: Biking through Belleville

Tim here, to celebrate National Bike to Work Week in the only way I possibly could. Because when it comes to animated movies about bikes, there's nothing that can top 2003's The Triplets of Belleville, Sylvain Chomet's lightly mocking love letter to the most quintessential elements of French and American culture. Wine and frog-eating on the one side, obesity and urban rudeness on the other, and most importantly for our current purposes, the Tour de France, the most famous bike race in the world.

The bubbly, convoluted story pivots on Champion, raised by his grandmother, whose only interest as a lonely child was in biking. This translates, years later, into his competition in the Tour, from which he's kidnapped by the French mafia as part of their underground gambling ring, from which his grandmother can only rescue him with the help of a trio of elderly cabaret performers. I said "convoluted", right? Because that's a nice word to describe how random and weird Triplets of Belleville can be in its pileup of absurd plot developments. But also, always, delightful and beguiling.

Chomet's tribute to the bike culture in France is, like everything else, predicated on outrageous grotesquerie: in a movie where the entire cast have impossible, distorted body shapes, Champion himself is one of the most extreme examples.

It only takes one glance at his rail-thin body and enormous legs to grasp that this is what a lifetime of single-minded dedication to competitive bike-riding looks like. It might seem like a nasty-minded commentary on athletes destroying their bodies, except that the whole film is based on exaggerated caricature; we could just as easily say that Champion's malformed body is the expression of a soul-consuming passion that's so important to him that he doesn't even realize when the mafia has him chained in front of a movie screen, biking on an endless loop.

That went and got a little nihilistic on me, so let me switch tracks over to the film's other big biking-related sequence: the Tour de France itself, a beautiful little parody of the over-the-top, carnivalesque enthusiasm that crops up when a small town has a great big national event to celebrate, going out of its way to realign everything around this one chance to shine.

And on the more generous side of things, the film also shows off the undulating beauty of its animated countryside, a tribute to the landscape of France that wonderfully shows off the justification for having an internationally well-known biking tour all throughout that country in the first place. The films resting state is to be sardonic as all hell, as often as possible, but it doesn't lack for heart, or even a kind of sentimental affection for the textures of rural France.

The fair concession to make is that The Triplets of Belleville isn't really "about" biking in any sustained way; it's not about any one thing at all. But those things it chooses to glance at get treated with quite a lot of imagination and flair. This might not be cinema's most probing, deep consideration of bikes and the Tour de France, but it's certainly one of the most memorable.

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