Raymond Bailly – L’étrange Monsieur Steve AKA Mr. Steve (1957)

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Synopsis:
‘Georges Villard is a modest bank employee who dreams of earning more money so that he can live more comfortably. When Monsieur Steve offers him a chance to do just that he accepts without a moment’s hesitation, partly because he wants to be near to Steve’s woman, Florence. However, Georges knows there will be a catch: what Steve wants is help to rob the bank where he works. When Georges refuses, he realises that his life is now in danger…’
– James Travers, Willems Henri Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Jaune le soleil (1971)

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Quote:
Adapted from Duras’ Abahn Sabana David.

Jaune le soleil est un film de Marguerite Duras sorti en 1972, adapté de son roman Abahn Sabana David.

Tout le film se passe dans une seule pièce où sont réunis les représentants des deux forces politiques et leur ennemi “le juif”. Un personnage féminin établit le dialogue entre ces individus et commente l’idéologie de chacun ; ceci jusqu’à la scène finale où chacun semble se rallier à une idée commune.

Note de tournage :
“Il faudrait que le film donne l’impression d’avoir été tourné sans électricité, que tout effet de lumière en soit complètement banni. Que tout le film baigne dans une lumière uniforme qui n’avantage aucun personnage. Que ce soit la même lumière pour tous. C’est un film sur la parole, l’image ici sert à porter la parole. .(…) Ici c’est la parole qui tient lieu de contact corporel, ainsi que les bruits, les cris des chiens, le bruit des mots….” Cahiers du cinéma n° 400 Octobre 1987 Continue reading

Jacques Demy – Lola (1961)

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Quote:
Jacques Demy was arguably the greatest romantic of the French New Wave, and Lola was one film in which he proved how vital both sides of that equation were to his vision. While Lola exists within the same workaday France of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut’s early films, Raoul Coutard’s cinematography allows Demy to find a beauty and poetry in the most ordinary circumstances; Coutard’s moving camera brings the grace of a dancer to the film’s visual proceedings, no matter how shabby some of the characters’ circumstances may be. The narrative is so fluffy it threatens to blow away at any moment, but Demy primarily uses it as a device to focus on the emotional lives of his characters, and it is their common search for love that moves the story and keeps the film compelling. Demy’s casting is nothing short of superb: Anouk Aimée is joyously radiant in the title role, and her every word and movement convey such a seductive charm that it’s no wonder three men are vying for her hand; Marc Michel, Alan Scott, and Jacques Harden all resister in their own way as Lola’s suitors; and Annie Duperoux is spot-on as Lola’s teenage counterpart. Lola is a film whose goal is obviously to touch the heart rather than the mind, but Demy tells his simple story with such a rare blend of passion and intelligence that he’s able to please the intellect as well. The result remains one of the most purely pleasurable products of the French Nouvelle Vague. Continue reading

Bernard Queysanne – Un homme qui dort AKA The Man Asleep (1974)

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Quote:
In this French tour-de-force a young student (Jacques Speisser) decides to have no more interaction with the world than is needed to minimally sustain life. His increasingly automaton-like behavior is coupled with a strange clarity of insight about the world around him. His inner musings as he wanders the luminous streets of Paris are narrated in the form of an unwritten diary by Ludmila Mikael. Continue reading

Marcel L’Herbier – Eldorado (1921)

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Synopsis wrote:
The tale of a dancer rejected by her lover and forced to endure other indignities in order to support her child is shown in avant garde style and traditional narrative techniques, with camera angles and architectural design defining the emotional states of the characters. Featuring Eve Francis, Jaque Catelain and Marcelle Pradot. Continue reading

René Clément – La baby-sitter aka Jeune fille libre le soir (1975)

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Quote:
Whatever one says about the plot of this film is going to be a spoiler. Let’s just say that a girl takes a baby-sitting job for one night and in the morning finds that things are not what they seemed and she is in a big load of trouble.

The film has been trashed by just about everybody who ever bothered to write about it, and that’s unfair. At least among Clément’s thrillers – Les felins, Le passager de la pluie, La course du lièvre à travers les champs, etc – it can stand its ground, sharing their dreamlike ambiguity and opaque plot structure. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a worthwhile couple of hours. Continue reading