In the unnerving silence of a sparsely furnished kitchen in Brussels, a poised, anonymous middle-aged woman (Delphine Seyrig) – identified only through the title of the film as Jeanne Dielman – completes her food preparation, places the contents into a large cooking pot on the stove, reaches for a match, lights the burner, and with chronological precision, finishes replacing the matchbox from its original location as the doorbell rings, switching the lights off as she leaves the room. The scene then cuts to an unusually framed shot of a truncated Jeanne at the entrance of the apartment as she accepts a hat and coat from an unidentified guest (Henri Storck) before retreating, out of view, into a bedroom at the end of the hallway. Moments later, the obscured image is reconnected to a familiar referential framing of the darkened hallway as the unknown guest re-emerges from the room and prepares to leave, handing Jeanne a pre-arranged sum of money before confirming their next appointment for the following week. She deposits the money in a soup tureen in the dining room, then returns to the kitchen to attend to the boiling pot, before tidying the bedroom and meticulously bathing and changing clothes after the encounter. And so Jeanne’s monotonous daily ritual unfolds through the tedium of household chores, impersonal sexual transactions, trivial errands, and alienated conversations with her son, Sylvain (Jan Decorte), revealing the silent anguish of disconnection and systematic erosion of the human soul. Continue reading
A long time ago, I went to see Michel Deville’s Le Dossier 51 knowing absolutely nothing about it. About 5 minutes in, I realized I had made a terrible mistake, and I started to plan my exit from the middle seat where I was trapped. 5 minutes later, I had become intrigued enough by the weird experiment I was watching to be distracted from that plan. About 100 minutes after that, as the lights came up, I was convinced I had just seen a masterpiece, a film that should be mentioned in the same breath as The Conversation and Blow Out. Continue reading
Three guys are living in a Dagestan aul, and all three are in love with the blue-eyed Serminaz. According to a mountaineers’ tradition, a young man seeking the hand and the heart of a beloved girl has to make her a present that she would remember for the rest of her life. The friends set out in search of the special gift… Continue reading
In Liliana Cavani’s scintillating drama, a concentration camp survivor (Charlotte Rampling) discovers her ex-torturer/lover (Dirk Bogarde) working as a night porter at a hotel in postwar Vienna. When the couple attempt to re-create their sadomasochistic relationship, his former SS comrades begin to stalk them. Operatic and disturbing, The Night Porter deftly examines the cruelty and decadence of Nazi culture. Continue reading
Early in the 20th century, family and friends gather at the country estate of a general’s widow, Anna Petrovna. Sofia, the new wife of Anna’s step-son, recognizes Misha, the brother-in-law of one of the widow’s admirers: a few years before, they had been idealistic lovers and now she can’t believe he has settled for a dim wife and a job as a teacher. Amidst parlor games and idle talk of women’s rights and peasants’ capabilities, Sofia and Misha rekindle their love. Will they flaunt convention, abandon families, and run away to pursue lost dreams? Rescue comes from an unexpected place. Continue reading
The internationally produced Zorro is set in South America instead of the California locales of the series.
Alain Delon stars as the newly appointed governor who immediately butts heads with corrupt Colonel Huerta. To rescue the peasants from Huerta’s despotry, the governor becomes the caped-and-masked do-gooder Zorro.
The film never really takes itself seriously, not even during the final, well-staged duel between Zorro and Huerta. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Continue reading
This original sexual comedy by the director Joël Séria, who also made the popular TV-series “Nestor Burma”, is full of unexpected situations between a man and women. A salesman of umbrellas, Henri Serin (a magnificent Jean-Pierre Marielle), is having sex with all the women of which he paints a portrait and which he encounters during his travels. While one is cooking in her kitchen, he is painting. Once he is invited but immediately expelled when he wants to unfold her traditional ribbon. Henri Serin falls for a very young woman which he can seduce while making a portrait of her. His only friend is a modernist priest (Romain Bouteille) who likes to talk with him in the local bar. Henri Serin does not think of tomorrow and lives “la vie d’artiste”. Life is beautiful and sex is life. Continue reading