Alain Resnais

Alain Resnais – Mon oncle d’Amérique AKA My American Uncle (1980)

Mon oncle d’Amérique (“My American Uncle”) is a 1980 French film directed by Alain Resnais. The film stars Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, and Roger Pierre.

The didactic film is built around the ideas of French physician, writer and philosopher Henri Laborit, who plays himself in the film. It uses the stories of three people to illustrate Laborit’s theories on evolutionary psychology regarding the relationship of self and society. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Providence (1977)

The film describes the process of literary creation. Part of the story unfolds in the imagination of Clive Langham, a famous writer who has learnt that he has only a few months of life left and, on the eve of his seventieth birthday, is working on his last novel: a story in which he speaks of himself, his memories and his family. The links and divergences between art and life are underlined. Believing he is describing others, he describes himself, revealing hidden aspects of his personality. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Smoking/No Smoking (1993)

The consequences of a housewife smoking or not smoking a single cigarette branch out into a dozen separate destinies and parallel universes, each with its own conclusion, in these two French features by Alain Resnais. Adapted and translated from six of the eight comic plays comprising British playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s Intimate Exchanges, they can be seen alone or together, and in either order. The project, a tour de force for two actors playing multiple roles (Pierre Arditi and Sabine Azema), succeeded at the box office when released in France in 1993, and as a unit the two films swept the Cesars (French Oscars) for best picture, director, actor, and set design. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Toute la Memoire du Monde aka All the Memory of the World (1956)

With Toute la mémoire du monde, Resnais is setting the basis of his cinematographic project about places of memory. Within 20 minutes, Resnais is surgically, methodically analyzing the national library of France. With an hyperactive camera, he’s sneaking, he’s smelling, he’s feeling this huge building. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Les herbes folles AKA Wild Grass (2009)

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Alain Resnais demonstrates he still has plenty to say in this drama based on a novel by Christian Gailly. Marguerite (Sabine Azéma) is a successful dentist with a busy practice and an offbeat hobby, flying small airplanes. One day, while running errands, Marguerite loses her wallet, and it’s found by Georges (André Dussollier), a seemingly happy man with a wife, Suzanne (Anne Consigny), and two children (Vladimir Consigny and Sara Forestier). As Georges looks through the wallet and examines the photos of Marguerite, he finds he’s fascinated with her and her life, and soon his curiosity about her becomes an obsession. Georges’ attempts to integrate himself into Marguerite’s life begin to alarm her, and she hires a private security team (Mathieu Amalric and Michel Vuillermoz) to keep him away, but Georges is determined that his new love for her will not be denied. (Mark Deming) Read More »

Alain Resnais – Nuit et brouillard AKA Night and Fog (1955)

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There is a dual meaning behind the title of Alain Resnais’ eviscerating holocaust documentary, Night and Fog: a reference to the arrival of interned prisoners into concentration camps under the cloak of darkness, and the subconscious suppression of knowledge and culpability for the resulting horror of the committed atrocities. Arguably one of the finest documentaries ever captured on film, Night and Fog opens with the fluid, horizontal tracking of an idyllic, seemingly impressionistic, barren countryside. But this is no ordinary remote open field. It is 1955, and this is postwar Poland, the site: Auschwitz. Using highly unsettling, archival footage recorded during postwar liberation contrasted against the stillness of the modern-day landscape, Resnais creates a powerful, haunting chronicle of cruelty, dehumanization, and denial of personal responsibility. Read More »

Alain Resnais – Aimer, boire et chanter AKA Life of Riley (2014)

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In the midst of rehearsals for a new play, amateur dramatics proponents Colin and Kathryn receive the shattering news that their friend George is fatally ill and only has a few months to live. Life begins to come apart at the seams – not just for Kathryn, who was once George’s partner, but also for her friends Tamara and Monica. The full force of the emotional turmoil they experienced in their youth and their long-buried dreams are rekindled. Much to the chagrin of their respectable, middle-class husbands, the women begin to argue about which of them should be allowed to accompany George on a final journey …
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