Chantal Akerman, Bernard Dubois, Philippe Garrel, Frederic Mitterand, Vincent Nordon, Philippe Venault – Paris vu par… vingt ans après (1984)

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Directors:
Chantal Akerman, Bernard Dubois, Philippe Garrel, Frederic Mitterand, Vincent Nordon, Philippe Venault

“Two young French filmmakers, Bernard Dubois and Philippe Venault, had the provocative idea of making a follow-up to the 1964 anthology film, Paris vu par, that became a manifesto for the emerging directors of the New Wave. Unfortunately, the unity of that movement is long gone, and this new project is wildly uneven, ranging from the brilliant (Chantal Akerman’s opening sketch, J’ai faim, j’ai froid, is an entire coming-of-age film compressed into 12 frenetic, hilarious, and ultimately touching minutes) to the intriguing (Philippe Garrel’s Rue Fontaine offers a rare Stateside opportunity to see the work of this acclaimed avant-gardist, whose work suggests a crossing of John Cassavetes with early German expressionism) to the mediocre (the segments by Dubois, Venault, and Frederic Mitterrand) to the unwatchable (Vincent Nordon’s Paris-Plage, certainly the longest 13 minutes in film history). A sad lesson emerges–that the French have no more new ideas than we do–but the Akerman itself is worth it all.” -Jonathan Rosenbaum Continue reading

Roger Gnoan M’Bala – Bouka (1988)

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Plot Synopsis:
Bouka is a gifted young teenager. He lives with his parents in a village and forms with them a solid family. His father gives him a traditional education close to nature. Unfortunately this happiness will be troubled by the brutal death of the father…Remained widow, the mother of Bouka will suffer the consequences of a relentless traditional principle. She become the new wife of the nephew of her late husband, Bouka doesn’t accepts this new condition of her mother. He suspects his stepfather to be involved in his father death. He stops to go to school and organize a gang in the forest. In this tormented atmosphere, he develops a mortal hate towards its new “father”… Continue reading

Alain Tanner – Les Années lumière AKA Light Years Away (1981)

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In the year 2000, Jonas is 25 years old and lives in Ireland. Disillusioned with his life as a pub barman, he decides to give up everything and live with a mysterious old man, Yoshka, at a run down garage in the middle of no-where. At first, the old man taunts Jonas, giving him useless tasks to do, such as attending a derelict petrol pump. This drives the young man to distraction and he tries to kill himself. Impressed by his young disciple, Yoshka finally decides to share with him his fantastic secret… Continue reading

Alain Tanner – La vallée fantôme (1987)

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An ageing writer Paul is determined to make a film but he cannot decide on the subject or location. Instead, he chooses to concentrate his efforts on finding the actress who will star in the film, believing that she will define the lead character and content of the film. He recruits a young man, Jean, to try to find an Italian actress, Dara, whom he has lost sight of. Jean finds Dara in a small Italian town, serving in a modest restaurant, but she refuses to return to acting… Continue reading

Alain Tanner – Une flamme dans mon coeur AKA A Flame in My Heart (1987)

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The terrifyingly destructive power of a woman’s sexual obsession provides the compelling subject for this psychological study of a woman’s descent into madness from French filmmaker Alain Tanner. It is the tale of Parisian actress Mercedes who is first seen attempting to break up with the obsessive Arab Johnny, who stalks her until she meets handsome newspaper writer Pierre on the subway and goes with him for an afternoon fling. Before the sweat even dries, she finds herself hopelessly in love with him. Pierre is flattered and encourages her desperate devotion, but soon after their affair begins, he is called off on a business trip leaving the suddenly distraught Mercedes alone with her demons. Though preparing for a new play, she is unable to concentrate and barely able to function without Pierre. She quits the production, locks herself in Pierre’s apartment and quietly begins falling apart until he returns. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Meeting Woody Allen (1986)

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Woody Allen – Jean-Luc Godard? This might seem an odd combination to many American film lovers, at least to much of Woody’s loyal audience, trying hard to be highbrow and intellectual, but not perhaps all that much interested in the challenges of a mischief-maker like JLG. As it happens this is a highly entertaining and somewhat informative look at both filmmakers as they are passing through middle age (Allen 51, Godard 56), lamenting the loss of cinematic and artistic innocence through the corruption of TV and at the same time celebrating their own longevity and continued relevance in the small world of art-cinema. I was especially intrigued by Godard’s use of title cards and the couple of shots of him playing around with videocassettes and books, and a still photo near the end of the film that I think was of Allen around the “Take the Money and Run” days but may have in fact been Godard; both are small, owlish men and the similarities both physical and intellectual are certainly played up here. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Je vous salue, Marie AKA Hail, Mary (1985)

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In this contemporary retelling of the birth of Christ, the Virgin Mary is a gas station employee and Joseph her taxi-driving boyfriend. Mary is an ordinary teenager playing basketball, but who vows to maintain her chastity. Following a warning from an avuncular angel, a confused Mary unexpectedly falls pregnant and is forced to wed Joseph. He in turn must love his virgin bride from a distance, revering her without touching her. Continue reading