Louis Delluc – La femme de nulle part (1922)

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Synopsis:
Like his fiery study of a popular milieu in Fièvre, Louis Delluc’s early masterpiece of impressionist cinema, La Femme de Nulle Part, is almost impossible to see outside of rare archival projections in Paris. Shot in natural settings, and stripped of all that is not cinema, Delluc’s psychological drama featuring symbolist muse Eve Francis is an experiment in ‘direct style.’ A fascinating study in the relationship between past and present, memory, dream and reality, this revolutionary film would be a source of inspiration for successive filmmakers, from Francois Truffaut to Alain Resnais. Continue reading

Eric Rohmer – L’Amour l’après-midi AKA Love in the Afternoon [+Extras] (1972)

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Synopsis
Though happily married to his adoring wife Hélène, with whom he is expecting a second child, the thoroughly bourgeois business executive Frédéric cannot banish from his mind the multitude of attractive Parisian women who pass him by every day. His flirtations and fantasies remain harmless until Chloe (played by the mesmerizing Zouzou), an audacious, unencumbered old flame, shows up at his office, embodying the first genuine threat to Frédéric’s marriage. The luminous final chapter to Rohmer’s Moral Tales is a tender, sobering, and wholly adult affair that leads to perhaps the most overwhelmingly emotional moment in the entire series. Continue reading

Eric Rohmer – Les Métamorphoses du paysage AKA Changing Landscapes (1964)

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One of Rohmer’s most obscure works (the IMDB’s is the only filmography which lists it), a black-and-white short film, “Changing Landscapes” (“Metamorphoses du paysage”), made for TV in 1964. It appears to be part of a series with the overall title Vers l’unité du monde: L’ère industrielle. It’s a series of shots of the countryside and its transformation into an urban landscape, with a voiceover (in French, subtitled into English). The end credits call it “Une émission de Maurice Schérer” (i.e. Rohmer, using a variation of his real name). The cinematography is credited to Pierre Lhomme, a DP of some distinction but one who never worked on any of Rohmer’s features. “Changing Landscapes” is full-frame, running 22:20. It’s in remarkably good condition, with only a few scratches here and there. This tele-essay will no doubt be much too dry for a general audience, but Rohmer fans and completists will be glad to have it. (DVDTimes) Continue reading

Eric Rohmer – La Boulangère de Monceau AKA The Baker’s Girl of Monceau [+Extras] (1963)

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Synopsis
Simple, delicate, and jazzy, the first of the Moral Tales shows the stirrings of what would become the Eric Rohmer style: unfussy naturalistic shooting, ironic first-person voice-over, and the image of the “unknowable” woman. A law student (played by producer and future director Barbet Schroeder) with a roving eye and a large appetite stuffs himself full of sugar cookies and pastries daily in order to garner the attentions of the pretty brunette who works in a quaint Paris bakery. But is he truly interested, or is she just a sweet diversion? Continue reading

Eric Rohmer – 4 aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle (1987)

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In 4 adventures of Reinette and Mirebelle directed by Eric Rohmer in 1987 the main protagonists are two girls of very different character. Reinette is a country girl, rough and direct, but at the same time very sweet. Mirabelle is city girl, more contemplative and intellectial. They happen to meet by accident in the country and spend a few days together, after which Mirabelle invites Reinette, who wants to stydy painting in Paris, to stay in her apartment. Following this the two friends venture on four “adventures” which all turn around the theme of speech and silence. Continue reading

Abel Gance – Napoléon Bonaparte (1935)

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2011 restoration by La Cinémathèque Française of the re-edited sound version of Abel Gance’s 1927 epic silent film “Napoleon”.

French language only, no english subtitles.

One of the most high-profile casualties of the transition from silent to sound cinema was the French filmmaker Abel Gance. In the silent era, Gance had proven himself to be as great a cineaste as the other legendary pioneers of cinema, D.W. Griffith and Sergei Eisenstein, through a series of groundbreaking masterpieces that included J’accuse! (1919), La Roue (1923) and Napoléon (1927). It was the latter film that was to earn Gance particular acclaim and lasting recognition as one of the architects of cinema art, a five hour visionary epic that presented the early career of Napoléon Bonaparte with a visual artistry and panache that is, to this day, virtually unrivalled. As he struggled to make much of an impact with his sound films, it was inevitable that Gance would return to his earlier great achievement and give it a voice. His sound version of Napoléon would prove to be both a monumental piece of cinema in its own right and a terribly prescient foretaste of the cataclysmic events that would soon overtake Europe in the mid-to-late 1930s. Continue reading