Albert Lamorisse – Le ballon rouge AKA The Red Balloon (1956)

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Quote:
The story of a boy and his toy, The Red Balloon is widely praised for its narrative and visual “purity,” but not enough is said about the movie’s delightful manipulation. A quasi-silent comedy with musical cues straight out of the Charlie Chaplin tradition, Albert Lamorisse’s film plays a game with its audience, just as the little boy (Pascal Lamorisse) and his glowing red orb cling to, fall away from, and chase each other throughout the 34-minute running time. With its many stairs and sloping alleyways, the blue-gray Ménilmontant neighborhood of Paris is like a maze, constantly threatening to come in between the boy and his new pal, but like a magnet or a dog starved for attention, the balloon always comes back to him. He lets go of it on his apartment balcony and watches it fall to him downstairs. He directs it to “wait here” while he buys a treat at the local bakery. A group of neighborhood bullies chase the balloon through a perilously narrow corridor, throwing rocks as it tries to escape. The honeymoon is short-lived, but Lamorisse suggests that kids are always keenly attuned to the objects of the world around them: After the boy loses his red friend, a montage of balloons across the city shows them flying to his side and, in the final shot, launching him into the sky. For Lamorisse, then, the pleasures of childhood are as fleeting as they are ecstatic. Continue reading

Max Ophüls – Divine (1935)

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Synopsis:
Ludivine Jarisse is a young woman who lives a contented but unexciting life in the country. One day, she is visited by Roberte, an old friend who has made a career for herself as an actress at a Paris music hall, L’Empyrée. Roberte intends to take a break and invites her friend to take her place. Ludivine readily accepts, and soon becomes a musical hall diva under the name Divine, although she is at first reluctant to expose herself in the revealing costumes she is given. One of her colleagues attempts to take advantage of her naivety, but when she resists, he implicates her in a drugs trafficking affair. Divine remains untainted by all this vice and falls in love with an honest milkman, Antonin. He offers to marry her and she is finally able to leave the music hall to start a new life, back in the country. Continue reading

Frederick Wiseman – La danse – Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (2009)

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Description: In “La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet,” his 36th documentary in more than 40 years, Frederick Wiseman takes his camera into the stately and elegant Palais Garnier in Paris, observing rehearsals, staff meetings and, finally, performances of seven dances, including classics like “The Nutcracker” and spiky new work by younger choreographers. To say that the film, sumptuous in its length and graceful in its rhythm, is a feast for ballet lovers is to state the obvious and also to sell Mr. Wiseman’s achievement a bit short. Yes, this is one of the finest dance films ever made, but there’s more to it than that. Continue reading

Claude Chabrol – Alice ou la dernière fugue aka Alice or The Last Escapade (1977)

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Alice, fleeing her boring boyfriend, arrives at a mysterious house which turns out very difficult to leave. A dreamlike cross between Alice in Wonderland and a Borges story – a veritable garden of forking paths. Quite unusual for Chabrol and little known today, but deserving a re-discovery. Continue reading

Louis Delluc – L’inondation (1924)

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Synopsis :
Dans un village paisible en bord du Rhône, Alban, jeune et honnête fermier, s’apprête à épouser la coquette et frivole Margot. Monsieur Broc, employé de mairie solitaire, retrouve sa fille adorée Germaine, devenue une charmante jeune femme. Germaine s’est éprise d’Alban. Lorsque celui-ci l’éconduit gentiment, elle s’effondre, fiévreuse, au grand désarroi de son père. La crue du fleuve inonde subitement le village et les alentours. Margot déclenche la colère d’Alban en fricotant avec son cousin Jean. Un soir elle disparaît. On la retrouve mystérieusement noyée. Continue reading

Sepideh Farsi – Le voyage de Maryam AKA The Journey of Maryam (2003)

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A poignant and poetic piece exploring the nature of memory, longing, loss, and the people and places that make us who we are. Shot entirely from the vantage point of Maryam, the invisible heroine in search of her father, the film recalls the visual sophistication of Vertov or Farsi’s compatriot Kiarostami. However, in the end, a unique voice rises to the top befitting this intimate and personal journey through the neighborhoods, alleyways, and people of Tehran. Continue reading

Maurice Pialat – La gueule ouverte AKA The Mouth Agape (1974) (HD)

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Monique Mélinand portrays a woman in the late stages of terminal illness. Her son Philippe (Philippe Léotard), Philippe’s wife Nathalie (Nathalie Baye), and her husband Roger (Hubert Deschamps) attempt to comfort her as she navigates through her ordeal. However, those two closest men in her personal life begin to get more involved in their relationships with multiple mistresses. Her husband flirts with customers in their clothing and haberdashery store while her son flirts with her nurses. The film incorporates elements of Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte to poetic effect, relating to these scenes. In the end scenes, she goes through several final, deeply emotional moments as the disease claims her life. (Wikipedia) Continue reading