Jean Epstein – Finis terrae (1929) (HD)

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Polish-born Jean Epstein’s Finis Terrae is momentous.

While every film exists on a sliding scale of expression whose opposite poles are documentary and fiction, this film in particular does more than merely combine the two modes; it anticipates generic (as distinct from stylistic) attempts – poetic docudrama; Italian Neorealism – to fuse them. How successful Epstein’s film is remains in dispute; its importance is incontestable.

The initial action is set on Bannec, a Breton islet. It is summer. Two boys, in their teens or, perhaps, early twenties, are on the islet to work. These dear friends are Jean-Marie and Ambroise (played by Jean-Marie Laot and Ambroise Rouzic). They quarrel; Ambroise withdraws from Jean-Marie and another boy in their group as a cut finger causes infection and saps his health. Jean-Marie attempts to row himself to Ouessant, on the mainland, but hasn’t the strength. Braving the elements, which include dense fog, Jean-Marie takes over, attempting to bring Ambroise to a medical doctor; meanwhile, the doctor is heading to Bannec to attend to the sick boy. Will the two vessels miss one another in the fog and tragedy result?
Continue reading Jean Epstein – Finis terrae (1929) (HD)

Andrzej Zulawski – Fidelite (2000)

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“Taking his cue from “La Princesse de Cleves”, France’s first serious historical novel, director Andrzej Zulawski boots it into the modern world and filters this story of fidelity versus desire through an ever-earnest – and very modish – photographer (Sophie Marceau) who is hired by a sleaze-merchant to add class to one of his scandal-sheets. She falls for the charming gaucheness of an editor (Pascal Greggory) but becomes hooked on a blunt, loutish photographer who looks unnervingly like a perfectly-realised mix of Liam and Noel Gallagher.” (Reviewed by Michael Thomson – bbc.co.uk/films/2000/11/28/la_fidelite_2000_review.shtml) Continue reading Andrzej Zulawski – Fidelite (2000)

Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi – Poulet aux prunes (2011)

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Tehran 1958 – Nasser Ali Khan, the most celebrated violin player, has his beloved instrument broken. Unable to find another to replace it, life without music seems intolerable. He stays in bed and slips further and further into his reveries from his youth to his own children’s futures. Over the course of the week that follows, and as the pieces of this captivating story fall into place, we understand his poignant secret and the profundity of his decision to give up life for music and love. Continue reading Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi – Poulet aux prunes (2011)

François Reichenbach & Frédéric Rossif – Portrait: Orson Welles (1968)

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A famous French documentary director has chosen to match his talents with those of a powerful subject who talks on his youth, his formative years, his life and work. Reichenbach on Welles on Welles, one might say.

These recollections help to explain something of the creative processes of film making, comparing the behaviour of Welles the director and Welles the man. Orson at home, Orson interviewed at the Cannes Festival, Orson shooting a scene with Jeanne Moreau… Orson in portrait. No less. (MIFF) Continue reading François Reichenbach & Frédéric Rossif – Portrait: Orson Welles (1968)

Danielle Arbid – Beyrouth hôtel aka Beirut Hotel (2011)

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The story revolves around a young Lebanese singer Zoha, trying to break free from her ex-husband’s influence. She meets Mathieu, a French lawyer on business, who is tracked down and suspected of spying. Over ten days, they experience an affair made up of fear and desire, intrigue and violence. Beirut Hotel is described as “a romance on the edge, mirroring a country wavering between war and peace, where at any moment everything could be turned upside down…” Continue reading Danielle Arbid – Beyrouth hôtel aka Beirut Hotel (2011)

Maïwenn – Polisse (2011)

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The daily grind for the cops of the Police Department’s Juvenile Protection Unit – taking in child molesters, busting underage pickpockets and chewing over relationship issues at lunch; interrogating abusive parents, taking statements from children, confronting the excesses of teen sexuality, enjoying solidarity with colleagues and laughing uncontrollably at the most unthinkable moments. Knowing the worst exists and living with it. How do these cops balance their private lives and the reality they confront every working day? Fred, the group’s hypersensitive wild card, is going to have a hard time facing the scrutiny of Melissa, a photographer on a Ministry of the Interior assignment to document the unit. (~IMDb)
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René Féret – Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart aka Mozart’s Sister (2010)

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Plot / Synopsis

Written, directed and produced by René Féret, MOZART’S SISTER is a re-imagined account of the early life of Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart (played by Marie Féret, the director’s daughter), five years older than Wolfgang and a musical prodigy in her own right. Originally the featured performer, Nannerl has given way to Wolfgang as the main attraction, as their strict but loving father Leopold tours his talented offspring in front of the royal courts of pre-French revolution Europe. Approaching marriageable age and now forbidden to play the violin or compose, Nannerl chafes at the limitations imposed on her gender. But a friendship with the son and daughter of Louis XV offers her ways to challenge the established sexual and social order. Continue reading René Féret – Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart aka Mozart’s Sister (2010)