France

Catherine Breillat – Anatomie de l’Enfer AKA Anatomy of Hell (2003)

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“A lonely and dejected woman (Amira Casar) learns that only when all inhibitions are cast aside will she be able to truly understand the truth about how men see women in this erotically charged exploration of sexuality from controversial director Catherine Breillat. Teetering on the edge of overwhelming ennui, the woman pays a man (Rocco Siffredi) to join her for a daring, four-day exploration of sexuality in which both reject all convention and smash all boundaries while locked away from society in an isolated estate. Only when the man and woman confront the most unspeakable aspects of their sexuality will they have a pure understanding of how the sexes view one another.” Read More »

Laurent Cantet – Entre les murs aka The Class (2008)

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Cannes Palmes d’Or winner ‘The Class’ follows a year in the lives of a class of junior high students who present a microcosm of society.

A fully sustained immersion in the academics, attitudes and frequent altercations of a group of junior high school students, “The Class” marks Laurent Cantet’s return to the sharply observed social dynamics and involving character drama that distinguished his 1999 debut, “Human Resources.” Talky in the best sense, the film exhilarates with its lively, authentic classroom banter while its emotional undercurrents build steadily but almost imperceptibly over a swift 129 minutes. One of the most substantive and purely entertaining movies in competition at Cannes this year, it will further cement Cantet’s sterling reputation among discerning arthouse auds in France and overseas.
Workshopped extensively with nonpro tykes at a Paris school in a manner not dissimilar to Mike Leigh’s improvisatory style (or that of “Human Resources”), “The Class” is a loose but full-bodied adaptation of Francois Begaudeau’s 2006 novel documenting a year in the life of a classroom, “Entre les murs.” French title translates to “Between the Walls”; fittingly enough, the film’s roving HD cameras never once leave the school grounds and only rarely leave the classroom, which is presented here as a microcosm of cultural, intellectual and aspirational differences. Read More »

Enki Bilal – Bunker Palace Hôtel (1989)

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Plot:
At some time in the future, a crumbling totalitarian state is racked by civil war between the old guard and the insurrectionists.
The current leaders take refuge in the Bunker Palace Hotel, a subterranean shelter staffed by run-down androids. A rebel spy, Clara, manages to infiltrate the secret base, but her mission is unclear. Meanwhile, the assembled leaders await with growing impatience the arrival of their president… Read More »

Abel Gance – Austerlitz (1960)

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In what must be the longest lapse of time between a film and its sequel, 70-year-old Abel Gance continues his nearly legendary, 1927 historical drama Napoleon with this tale of Napoleon’s life after his victories in Italy. The first half of Austerlitz delves into the private life of Napoleon Bonaparte (Pierre Mondy), the prodigal son of Corsica. The supreme commander of the French armed forces goes about his family life and dallies with Josephine (Martine Carol) and mistress Mlle. de Vaudey (Leslie Caron). He occasionally displays bursts of temper that presage some of the macho violence of the battle scenes in the second half of the film, after Napoleon has proclaimed himself Emperor. This sequel shows that Gance has not lost his directorial touch. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide Read More »

Raoul Ruiz – La Chouette aveugle AKA The Blind Owl (1987)

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Quote:
One of Raul Ruiz’s most obscure and enigmatic films, very loosely based on a novella by Sadeq Hedayat, “The Blind Owl”

In French and other languages. (Roughly halfway through the movie, the spoken language shifts from French (with snatches of German and Italian) to Old Spanish and Arabic—both of which are subtitled in fake Old French, but, not in a manner that corresponds to anything remotely resembling a correct translation. )

Jonathan Rosenbaum has said that this films “defies synopsis”.

Recorded almost 20 years ago from a cable broadcast, and obviously poor quality.
Much of the film is very dark, but what we see is Ruiz at his most visually imaginative. Transferred from a Betamax recording. Read More »

Abel Gance – Vénus aveugle AKA Blind Venus (1941)

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From Wikipedia :
Vénus aveugle (Blind Venus) is a 1941 French film melodrama, directed by Abel Gance, and one of the first films to be undertaken in France during the German occupation. (It is also sometimes cited as La Vénus aveugle.) In the upheaval following the German invasion of France, in summer 1940 Abel Gance went to the Free Zone in the south and arranged a contract to make a film at the Victorine studios in Nice. The original title was to be Messaline, drame des temps modernes (“Messalina, a drama of modern times”), but it was later changed to Vénus aveugle. Although the film is not set in any specified period, Gance wanted it to be seen as relevant to the contemporary situation in France. Read More »

Abel Gance – Napoleon [Brownlow restoration, +Extras] (1927)

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TCM Review :
The story behind Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927) is as exciting as the film. A masterpiece adventure originally running nearly seven hours, it breaks new ground with practically every shot, was filmed with techniques twenty-five years ahead of its time, and was rescued from oblivion by an obsessed teenager.

French director Abel Gance conceived an ambitious plan to film the life of the famous French leader in the early 1920s and, during a trip to America, even sought out D.W. Griffith to get his blessing for the project. Six feature films were to have presented a comprehensive biography of Napoleon but after a two-year struggle, Gance only succeeded in completing the first film before he ran out of money and time. Read More »