Jean-Luc Godard & Anne-Marie Miéville – Le rapport Darty (1989)

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“French companies never seemed to learn that Godard would never make anything like a traditional advertisement, so when the Darty appliance chain commissioned a pub from the mischievous director, they were in for trouble: a daring deconstruction of consumerism, rejected by its funders.” Continue reading

Raoul Ruiz – Ce jour-là AKA That Day (2003)

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Auspiciously set in the nebulous and indeterminate milieu of “Switzerland, in the near future”, Raoul Ruiz’s eccentric, surreal fable opens to the shot of an abstracted and dotty young woman named Livia (Elsa Zylberstein) sitting on a park bench overlooking a fog obscured dirt road that is curiously located near the entrance of the San Michelle mental health institution. While jotting down a series of random, fleeting thoughts into her journal, she meets a cyclist who is abruptly thrown from his bicycle and, convinced that he is an angel (since, as her idiosyncratic theory goes, all angels on earth have fallen), proceeds to explain that tomorrow is destined to be the best day of her life, or rather – as she corrects herself – the most important day, which she comes to realize is not the same thing. Soon after the encounter, Livia is whisked away by her faithful and devoted servant Treffle (Jean-François Balmer) and brought home to the family’s country estate where a crowd of snide and unscrupulously calculating relatives amass near the front steps awaiting her father, Harald’s (Michel Piccoli) return home to celebrate his birthday. Continue reading

Adolfo Arrieta – Flammes (1978)

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Synopsis: A girl’s obsession with firemen causes her to start a fire at her own home in order to trap a fireman in her room. The film features the last onscreen performance by Dionys Mascolo (writer, political activist, known for his voiceover in India Song and for his love affair with Marguerite Duras) and one of the earliest appearances of Pascal Greggory. Continue reading

Xavier Dolan – Juste la fin du monde AKA It’s Only the End of the World (2016)

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Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) is a successful writer returning home after an absence of twelve years. The purpose of his visit is to announce his imminent death, though this being context-light we’re not granted much insight into the nature of the illness, why Louis left home, why elder brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) is perpetually angry or anything much that would have helped us care about these people one way or another. Instead, we have Suzanne (Lea Seydoux ), his stoner sister, Antoine’s mousy and inarticulate, slightly spaced-out wife Catherine (Marion Cotillard) and Louis’ mother (Nathalie Baye), with blue eye shadow and a smoker’s laugh. Continue reading

Eric Rohmer – La femme de l’aviateur (1981) (HD)

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François (Philippe Merlaud) loves Anne (Marie Rivière), but he has doubts whether she loves him in return. His job, working nights at the post office, means he can’t see her as often as he’d like. One day, Anne is visited by her ex, airline pilot Christian (Matthieu Carrière), who tells her he is returning to his wife. Seeing Anne and Christian leave her apartment together, François becomes jealous and thinks that Anne is cheating on him. Then he sees Christian with a blonde woman and he begins to follow them… Continue reading

Joe Francis – La revue des revues AKA Parisian Pleasures (1927)

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Gabrielle, an ambitious but innocent would-be young chorine, trumps a music hall publicity stunt to become the new Parisian nightclub Cinderella. But this lighter-than-champagne-bubbles story is only a pretext for LA REVUE DES REVUES’s white-hot, non-stop procession of outrageously and scantily attired exotic dancers, showgirls, and acrobats including the Tiller’s Follies Girls, Ruth Zackey and the Hoffmann Girls, and danseuse russe Lila Nikolska. But it’s Josephine Baker, “the high priestess of primitivism”, who triumphs in two show stopping numbers in which “her clownish backfield-in-motion Charleston shimmy is unlike anything else in the movie and perhaps unlike anything anyone ever did”. Continue reading

Houda Benyamina – Divines (2016)

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A street teenager from a dysfunctional family from a banlieue (HLMs) in Paris comes across a young dancer who turns her life upside down.

Isabel Stevens (Sight & Sound) wrote:
From the opening credits – a grainy breakneck tour of the lives of two teenage girls who lark about, posing and dancing via vertical-aspect cameraphone footage, I had a suspicion we were onto something special. Then comes the unusual opener: a hazy, abstract shot. Gradually, the interior of a mosque comes into focus. The smaller of the two girls, who only seconds ago stared us down and asked “You looking at me?” with full Taxi Driver-esque bravado, is outside trying to get her praying friend’s attention through a grate in the wall. Continue reading