Marguerite Duras – Agatha et les lectures illimitées AKA Agatha and the Limitless Readings (1981)

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One of Duras’ most fascinating treatments of the dialectical relationship between sound & image, what is spoken & what is left unsaid, is an evocative “adaptation” of her then unperformed play, Agatha. Featuring Bulle Ogier & Yann Andréa as the wandering protagonists, & Duras & Andréa’s disembodied voices on the soundtrack, it is equally a haunting meditation on the relation between humanity & its geographic surroundings. Shot in Duras’ beloved Trouville, whose remarkable array of beachside villas the writer-director considered “the most beautiful tracking” shot in “the history of cinema”. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Les mains négatives (1978)

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Marguerite Duras (1914 – 1996) was one of France’s most famous writers of the twentieth century. Her talents ranged across fiction, film, playwriting, andjournalism, and all through her long career, just the mention of her name could be counted on to start a spirited discussion in a Parisian café or in an American or English college literature or women’s studies department. A compulsive worker, Duras wrote 34 novels and a wide variety of shorter works, returning to writing even after a stroke robbed her of the use of her dominant hand. Continue reading

François Ozon – Frantz (2016)

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Screwball comedy master Ernst Lubitsch took a rare stab at straight drama with 1932’s “Broken Lullaby,” the tense story of a soldier who attempts to make amends with the family of a man he killed in World War I. Preeminent French director François Ozon also wanders into unconventional territory with “Frantz,” his astonishingly beautiful and inquisitive remake of Lubitsch’s film, using it as a springboard for a profound look at alienation and grief. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Nathalie Granger [+Extras] (1972)

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The most insidious thing about the nouveau movie, which is a polite way of describing Marguerite Duras’s newest, most minimal film, “Nathalie Granger,” is that it traps you in its own time, unlike the nouveau roman, which can be skipped through or read at leisure in an afternoon or a year. You can’t skip through “Nathalie Granger.” To see it you are forced to watch it for as long as it lasts, while, in turn, it watches its characters, rather as if the camera were a Siamese cat whose feelings had been hurt. Without betraying the slightest interest, the camera records the physical appearance of two expressionless women who look a lot like Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bose. They share a house with their two children, one of whom, Nathalie, is apparently a problem. “She wants to kill everyone,” says one of the women, who seem to be interchangeable. “She wants to be an orphan, or a Portuguese maid.” Nathalie, however, remains docile—this being a minimal movie. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – India Song (1975)

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Poetical tale of Anne-Marie Stretter, the wife of a French diplomat in India in the 1930s. At 18 she had married a French colonial administrator and went with him on posting to Savannakhet, Laos. There she met her second husband who took her away and for 17 years they lived in various locations in Asia. Now in Calcutta, she takes lovers to relieve the boredom in her life. Told in a highly visual style with little dialogue but a constant voice-over narrative by the different characters. Continue reading

Benoît Jacquot & Marguerite Duras – La mort du jeune aviateur anglais AKA The Death of the Young English Aviator (1993)

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La mort du jeune aviateur anglais tells the story of a British airman whose grave Marguerite Duras discovered near Deauville. Although we don’t know where fiction begins, Duras’ narrative has a remarkable authenticity. A veritable manifesto of spontaneous writing, brilliantly directed by Benoît Jacquot, where the “direct writing” of Duras meshes perfectly with the unpretentious approach of the filmmaker. (Allocine) Continue reading

François Ozon – Le temps qui reste AKA Time to Leave (2005)

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Diagnosed with terminal cancer and given only a short while to live, a successful fashion photographer embarks on one final journey in the second of three films in a trilogy about death and mourning from French director Franחois Ozon (the first entry in the the trilogy was Under the Sand) . After passing out during a particularly grueling photo shoot, high profile shutterbug Romain (Melvil Poupaud) is shocked to discover that his body has been ravaged by a fully metastasized cancer that will soon kill him. Without revealing the cause for his erratic behavior, the shell shocked Romain commences to alienate his entire family and ditch his handsome young boyfriend before connecting with affable waitress Jany (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) at a roadside cafי while en route to his grandmother’s house. Upon arriving at the home of the one family member he knows will be joining him shortly in death, Romain’s naked vulnerability is met with a gentle ear and sound advice. Once again meeting with the kindly Jany on his way to his ultimate fate, Romain and the waitress strike up an unusual bargain. Continue reading