France

Jean-Paul Le Chanois – Les misérables (1958)

Synopsis:
Jean Valjean (Jean Gabin) is paroled after serving 19 year term in a hard labor prison for stealing some bread. After spending a night in a missionary, he tries to steal some silverware, but he is set straight by a kindly bishop (Fernand Ledoux) who protects him from the police and gives him a set of expensive candlesticks and makes him promise that he has to become a new man that day. Nine years later, Valjean is now a wealthy industrialist and a mayor. Read More »

Philippe Grandrieux – Sombre (1998)

Quote:
Sombre, as Grandrieux’s first feature film, establishes some of the important characteristics of his art: An insistence on vision, with characters beyond psychologies, driven by biology or metaphysical forces.

Love (a mix of brotherly and sexual Love, a true awareness of the other, a communion) mostly overrules all, and its discovery by Jean creates waves that emanate in every shot, every cut and every sound in the rest of Sombre. Read More »

Claude Sautet – Max et les ferrailleurs AKA Max and the Junkmen (1971)

From slantmagazine

In a 1994 interview, director Claude Sautet, who had a particular fondness for his Max et les Ferrailleurs, expressed directly and unequivocally his disdain for its protagonist, the police detective Max (Michel Piccoli), an efficient, dedicated policeman with no home life and a hard-won icy exterior. Cops like Max weren’t new in 1971—not in French movies, not in the American thrillers and noirs that inspired the French film industry, not even in Sautet’s work. But like a lady once said about a reporter, you may have met hard-boiled before, but Max, he’s 10 minutes. He’s also independently wealthy. Read More »

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Operai, contadini AKA Workers, Peasants (2001)

Quote:
A peasant tradition of making homemade ricotta cheese on a wood-burning fire becomes an act of resistance in this unforgettable film. Amateur actors from the regional Buti theater, many of them ordinary laborers and farmers, recite or read passages from Elio Vittorini’s Marxist novella Women of Messina, their singularly musical voices ringing out as one in the verdant forest. The story, which Italo Calvino called a “choral narrative,” centers on a group of workers and peasants who rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the Second World War by rebuilding a destroyed village and forming a utopian community. Read More »

Virgil Vernier – Mercuriales (2014) (HD)

Synopsis:
In a Parisian suburb of Bagnolet two receptionists who work in the lobby of the titular high-rise drift from one enigmatic situation to the next going to the pool, visiting a maze-like sex club and hunting for new employment. Read More »

Maurice Pialat – À nos amours aka To Our Loves (1983)

Quote:
In a revelatory film debut, the dynamic, fresh-faced Sandrine Bonnaire plays Suzanne, a fifteen-year-old Parisian who embarks on a sexual rampage in an effort to separate herself from her overbearing, beloved father (played with astonishing magnetism by Pialat himself), ineffectual mother, and brutish brother. A tender character study that can erupt in startling violence, À nos amours is one of the high-water marks of eighties French cinema. Read More »

Barbet Schroeder – Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (1974)

Quote:
In 1971, the small African nation of Uganda was taken over by self-styled dictator General Idi Amin Dada, beginning an eight-year reign of terror that would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. In this chilling yet darkly comic documentary, director Barbet Schroeder turns his cameras on the infamous tyrant, revealing the dynamic, charming, and appallingly dangerous man whose fanatical neuroses held an entire nation in their grip. Made with the full support and participation of the infamous dictator, General Idi Amin Dada provides a candid and disturbing portrait of one of the 20th century’s most notorious figures. Read More »