Alain Corneau – Stupeur et Tremblements AKA Fear and Trembling (2003)

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synopsis

French director Alain Corneau delves into the painfully irrational world of office politics, which are further complicated by a severe case of culture clash in his 2003 comedy, Stupeur et Tremblements (Fear and Trembling). Based on the similarly titled memoirs of author Amélie Nothomb and her employment experiences with a Japanese mega-corporation, Fear and Trembling begins with Amélie (Sylvie Testud) landing in Tokyo shortly after receiving her college education. The young Belgian chose to return to Japan — where she spent the first five years of her life before her family relocated back to Europe — for her first job in an entry-level position with the Yumimoto Corporation. Amélie diligently accomplishes her daily tasks with invention and ambition, but her work ethic proves threatening to her immediate supervisors who single her out as a deviant within the corporation’s firmly entrenched power hierarchy. As she is led through a series of humiliations and demotions designed to destroy her individuality, Amélie is forced to submit to an endless stream of unreasonable demands issued by nearly every supervisor with seniority over her. Determined to complete her one-year contract with the company in spite of the vicious power struggles, Amélie wages a kind of culture war from her irreversible position as lowest rung on the power ladder. Continue reading

Alain Corneau – Le nouveau monde AKA New World (1995)

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Synopsis
A young boy who worships all things American comes of age in this amiable French melodrama set in Orleans where over 14,000 American GIs were stationed. The film opens with the solemn vow between young Patrick and Marie-Jose that they will both head to the US when they grow up. The children are totally obsessed with American culture and even surreptitiously go through the gringo garbage to find things such as old magazines, clothing, and empty packages. Years pass and the two friends are seen as lusty 16-year olds. Patrick finds himself feeling smothered by Marie-Jose and ends up falling for the vivacious blonde Yankee coquette, Trudy. He lives to go to the military base where he can hear the live jazz he is so crazy about. Soon his studies begin to suffer. On base, Patrick is befriended by a clumsy but kindly sergeant who buys him a drum kit so he can play with the jazz quintet when it entertains the troops. But when Patrick gets a chance to play drums at an out-of-town concert, his father forbids it, causing his son to rebel. Tragedy ensues. Continue reading