Barbet Schroeder – La vallée aka Obscured by Clouds (1972)


During the opening credits of Barbet Schroeder’s fable La Vallée, the camera swoops over a mysterious mountain range dotted with trees. The landscape glows with an eerie greenish tinge. Most of the view is obscured by thick clouds. Meanwhile, the original musical score by Pink Floyd sets an ominous tone, and a voiceover narrator tells the myth of a valley hidden by veils of mist. Later in the film we learn that the mountain range is one of the last uncharted landmasses in the world. Even on maps, large portions of the mountains are left white. Although the mountains have been explored, none of the explorers who made it to the top of the range and found the valley have returned. Not only is the journey treacherous, but local mythology claims that once the explorers find the valley they never want to leave. For the valley is paradise, and to leave paradise would bring down a curse on their souls. Continue reading

Christian-Jaque – Fanfan la Tulipe [+Extras] (1952)


Criterion Synopsis
Legendary French star Gérard Philipe swashbuckled his way into film history as the peasant soldier Fanfan in Christian-Jaque’s devil-may-care romantic action-comedy. In eighteenth-century France, Fanfan joins King Louis XV’s army to avoid a forced marriage to a local lass and gets himself into close scrapes and tight squeezes with Gina Lollobrigida’s impostor fortune-teller, Adeline, on his way to fighting in the Seven Years’ War. Filled to the brim with dazzling stunts and randy innuendo, Fanfan la Tulipe, which won the best director prize at Cannes and was a smash hit upon its initial release, remains one of France’s all-time most beloved films. Continue reading

Julien Duvivier – Golgotha (1935)


Golgotha is noteworthy because it is the very first sound-picture ever made about Jesust. On top of that, it is thoroughly well done and engrossing. It starred a cast of hundreds—perhaps the biggest ever assembled for a film at the time. Like Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 film King of Kings, Duvivier gives his film a glossy, Hollywood look featuring terrific sets and (at the time) epic camera shots, but unlike many Hollywood incarnations of Jesus’ life, the story is decidedly intimate, focusing on characters who speak quietly in closed rooms rather than over-expressive actors who wear their Shakespearian training (or lack thereof) on their sleeves. Continue reading

Jacques Rozier – Les naufragés de l’île de la tortue AKA The Castaways of Turtle Island (1976)


Bonaventure (Pierre Richard) is a semi-competent travel agent who makes up stories about his great romantic adventures to tell to the girls in his office. One evening, he meets a woman who has the same name as one of his made-up romances, and they share a for-real one-night encounter. Afterward, he thinks up a scheme for a unique tour situation in which people might pay for a limited-time visit to a completely undeveloped island where they will be forced to become modern-day Robinson Crusoes.

— Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Christopher Thompson & Alper Cagatay – How to Sell a Banksy (2012)

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“Banksy’s work now reportedly changes hands for millions.
But he puts up his street art for free. Have you ever wondered
what would happen if you got your hands on one of these?
Does it mean you’ve found a winning lottery ticket or just
scraped some worthless crap off a wall?

Going up against the Art Establishment, Critics, Auction Houses,
Gallery Owners and Authentication Boards in a quest for the
elusive meal ticket, two filmmakers unwittingly gatecrash the
murky and protective world of Banksy. Continue reading

Howard Hawks – Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

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While waiting for her boat, Bonnie Lee stops at a small airport in South America. The pilots there deliver mail over a dangerous and usually foggy mountain pass. Geoff Carter, the lead flyer, seems distant and cold as Bonnie tries to get closer to him. Things heat up as Judy MacPherson, Geoff’s old flame, shows up with her husband who is an infamous pilot.
A ship docks at the South American port of Barranca. Out comes a woman, Bonnie (Jean Arthur), subsequently pursued by two flirtatious pilots who fly shipments of mail over treacherous terrain for a barebones operation manned by Geoff Carter (Cary Grant). Within minutes of their meeting, one of these men, Joe (Noah Beery Jr.), is called to fly despite potentially dangerous weather conditions. Geoff demands that he go, and thus begins the series of tragic deaths and defiantly stoic responses that supply a large part of the emotional and philosophical flow of Howard Hawks’ brilliant Only Angels Have Wings.
Continue reading

Alain Cavalier – Le plein de super aka Fill ‘er up with super (1976)


When a young auto salesman is forced to give up a vacation with his wife in order to drive an American car to its new owner who lives on the Riviera, he makes the best of things. First, he gets and old friend to ride along with him. Then, the two of them are joined by another pair of men who want to ride south. The four of them have a great time, talking about women and fatherhood, among other things… Continue reading