A touching story between a lonely woman and a TGV train driver.
The spirit of warming one’s heart and melting one’s shell brings the fifth Oscar nominee to life. La femme et le TGV (dir. Timo von Gunten; Switzerland, 30 min.) stars Jane Birkin (Blow Up, Twice Born) in a quirky and amusing love story about a frumpy baker who finds one daily bit of solace in her small Swiss town. Every day when the TGV train goes whizzing by, she rushes to the window and waves her flag. For such a grumpy sourpuss, the baker completely melts with joy each time the train passes. She’s as happy as a kid in a candy store—doubly so when a pen pal from the train starts pitching gifts and notes out the window. Birkin is lots of fun and gives La femme et le TGV its sprightly bounce and offbeat charm. Of all the shorts nominated here, La femme et le TGV is the most complete picture. With its economy of storytelling, upbeat tone, and underdog spirit, this fun comedy is a refreshing reminder that lightening up and being good to one’s neighbours is the richest truffle of all. Continue reading
Based on three different places, the film portrays the infractions to which people living in modern day China are subjected due to rapid developments: in the deceptively idyllic Jiuxiancun in the rainy south; in the apocalyptic coal mining site of Minqin and Wusutu in the parched north; and in Chongqing, the mega city on the Yangtze River. The protagonists give their moving accounts of an unresolved past, an uncertain present and their tentative steps into the future. The film thus paints a complex image of the mental state of the people in this complicated country. “Watermarks” is a subjective snapshot in time that takes a poetic look at the changing everyday life in China. Continue reading
Une femme coquette (A Flirtatious Woman) (1955) is the first of four short fiction films made by Jean-Luc Godard preceding his work in feature-length film.
The short film is based on the story Le Signe (The Signal), by Guy de Maupassant. It is a nine-minute story of a woman who decides to copy the gesture she has seen a prostitute make to passing men. Then a young man responds.
In Maupassant’s original tale the scene takes place indoors, the woman having signaled from her window, but in Godard’s revision the characters meet by a bench on the Ile Rousseau in Geneva. Continue reading
A young woman travels with her child to a remote coast on the Pacific in southern Mexico where she grew up. She had lived with her father in a house on the beach until her beloved, a young fisherman from the neighbouring village died a brutal death, causing her to flee. Years later she returns to make peace with the ghosts of the past. Continue reading
Masculinity turns against itself in Simon Jaquemet’s teen violence debut
Home is where the hate is in At War, in which a teenager’s boot camp punishment becomes a kind of perverted camaraderie. Filmed in the spirit of gritty Euro-miserabilists like the Dardenne Brothers and infused with the same show-all/judge nothing ethos, the film has a drive and intensity that pushes it compellingly through its first half before descending into predictability as it doggedly brings its inner logic full circle. But there’s enough of interest happening in that first section to ensure that there’ll be more to come from director Simon Jaquemet when War has done its time on the festival frontline. Continue reading
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Four couples struggle on the edge of mother Europe. In countries troubled by economic and social crises they stumble through life with charme, sex and plenty of passion. A movie about the politics of love. In Sevilla JUAN, 21, and CARO, 23, experience the wonder of a young love. However, Juan is without a plan for the life that lies ahead of him and she desperately needs one. SIOBHAN, aged 28, and TERRY, 23, live in Dublin. When they first met they have fallen for love and heroin like other young habitants of this cold weathered town. But now sober for some time, on their way to lead a common life, their passion seems to disappear. In Tallinn, close to the northeastern border of Europe, VERONIKA, a 29 year old go-go dancer, and her partner HARRI, 31, find themselves caught up in the toil of a patchwork family. Her oldest son proves to be a challenge for Veronikas confidence in Harri. She wants him to accept Artur as his own. Meanwhile in Thessaloniki, Greece, PENNY, 23, is about to leave her longtime lover NIKO, 33, to go to work in Italy. But how do you leave someone who loves you too much? Continue reading
Investment banker HP has allegedly ridden out the crash of the stock exchange. One evening, on a barbecue event with his banker friends and their wives, HP’s Danish au pair girl threatens to blow the whistle on her love affair with HP’s married boss. HP wants to please everybody but what was set out to be a gathering amongst friends spins out of control into a night of blackmail and intrigue. The next morning, he has lost everything: his house, his wife, his friends, and his job… Continue reading