François Truffaut – Tirez sur le pianiste AKA Shoot the Pianist (1960)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
A hapless pianist at a jazz club gets caught up with the mob, when his older brother who owes money to them comes to him for help. Eventually, the piano player and his girlfriend become pawns in middle of a dangerous game.

Truffaut first read David Goodis’s novel in the mid-1950s while shooting Les Mistons when his wife Madeleine Morgenstern read it and recommended it to him. He immediately loved the book’s dialogue and poetic tone and showed it to producer Pierre Braunberger, who bought the rights. Truffaut later met Goodis in New York City, where the novelist gave Truffaut a vintage viewfinder from his brief experience as a 2nd Unit Director on a U.S. film. Continue reading

Cheyenne Carron – Ne nous soumets pas à la tentation AKA Lead Us Not Into Temptation (2011)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
The best movie that I’ve seen so far at Cinequest is the French thriller Lead Us Not Into Temptation. A middle-aged married man does a good deed for a beautiful young woman and finds himself the pawn in a dangerous game. Inventively constructed, we see the story from the perspective of the guy, then from the young woman’s point of view and finally through the prism of another character. Unlike in Rashomon, we don’t see different realities, but, as secrets are revealed, we finally understand the whole picture. It’s a brilliant screenplay by writer-director-producer Cheyenne Carron. In the young woman, Carron has created a character who is both predatory and damaged but who can act charming, vulnerable and sexy. The story hinges on actress Agnes Delachair’s ability to play that complex role – and she delivers a captivating performance. Continue reading

Syllas Tzoumerkas – I Ekrixi AKA A Blast (2014)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis
In a striking and courageous lead performance, Angeliki Papoulia plays Maria – a woman who started her adult life with the best of intentions but, ten years later, feels her world falling out from under her.
Unwilling to reconcile with a reality of unreturned care, lost dignity and a broken-down desire to live, Maria attacks. She attacks herself, her past, the people she loves, her country and the perception of her sex in a relentless battle to find truth.
Only a day before, she was a caring mother, a loving wife and a responsible daughter. Today, she has gone rogue… Continue reading

François Truffaut – Domicile conjugal AKA Bed and Board (1970)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
So here he is for the last time, Antoine Doinel, who has grown up like the rest of us and has finally, apparently, found conjugal peace. He has changed a lot along the way. Francois Truffaut first introduced Antoine in “The 400 Blows” (1959), his first feature. The character was roughly based on Truffaut’s own youth and adolescence, when he was the next thing to a juvenile delinquent and prowled the streets of Paris.

“The 400 Blows,” with Godard’s “Breathless” (1960) and Chabrol’s “Le Beau Serge,” inaugurated the French New Wave and changed the face and style of filmmaking almost overnight. But we don’t remember “The 400 Blows” for historical reasons; we remember it because, for many of us, it was our first taste of personal, almost intimate, filmmaking. Continue reading

Nicholas Ray – Born to Be Bad [+Extra] (1950)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:
One of the most oft-revived of the pre-Technicolor Nicholas Ray efforts, Born to Be Bad offers us the spectacle of Joan Fontaine portraying a character described as “a cross between Lucrezia Borgia and Peg O’ My Heart”. For the benefit of her wealthy husband Zachary Scott and his family, Fontaine adopts a facade of wide-eyed sweetness. Bored with her hubby, she inaugurates a romance with novelist Robert Ryan. All her carefully crafted calculations come acropper when both men discover that she’s a bitch among bitches. She might have gotten away with all her machinations, but the censors said uh-uh. Originally slated for filming in 1946, with Henry Fonda scheduled to play the Robert Ryan part, Born to Bad was cancelled, then resurfaced as Bed as Roses in 1948, this time with Barbara Bel Geddes in the Fontaine role. RKO head Howard Hughes’ decision to replace Bel Geddes with the more bankable Fontaine was one of the reasons that producer Dore Schary left RKO in favor of MGM. Based on Anne Parrish’s novel All Kneeling, Born to be Bad is so overheated at times that it threatens to lapse into self-parody; though this never happens, the film was the basis for one of TV star Carol Burnett’s funniest and most devastating movie takeoffs, Raised to be Rotten Continue reading

Kun-jae Jang – Han yeo-reum-ui pan-ta-ji-a AKA A Midsummer’s Fantasia (2014)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Split into two parts, shot in black and white, the opening chapter First Love, Yoshiko follows a Korean director (Lim Hyung-kook) who is scouting for locations for his next film in the Japanese rural town of Gojo, and is joined by his assistant director Mijung (Kim Sae-byuk) who interprets for him. There he meets the locals including an elderly lady and a civil servant (Ryo Iwase) who helps him tour the area. The second part, Well of Sakura, captured in colour, is inspired by a story told in the opening chapter of a romance between a Korean woman and a local man. Mijung is now an actress while the civil servant is a persimmon farmer as they walk around the town and learn about each other. Continue reading

Cary Joji Fukunaga – Beasts of No Nation (2015)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
Fukunaga, who’s emerged as the MVP of True Detective’s first season after departing before its disastrous second, sketches out this precarious stability with affectionate efficiency, then rips it all away in a few sickening scenes that send Agu running by himself into the forest, his family members all dead or gone. He wanders into the clutches of some rebel forces, where the Commandant (Idris Elba), swaggering out of the foliage bare-chested but in a military beret, deigns not to kill the boy but to add him to his ragtag army, promising him a chance at revenge against the people he saw slaughter his father. Continue reading