Alain Tanner – Requiem (1998)

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Description: Paul, the narrator, has a rendezvous at noon on a sweltering Sunday. The person he has invited is none other than the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa… who is no longer among the living. It leads to a whole series of encounters between living Lisboans… and phantoms of the past, as the barriers of conventional time fall away to allow the people of today and yesterday to meet and communicate. Continue reading

Alain Tanner – La Salamandre (1971)

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A journalist recruits a novelist friend to help him rustle up a quick TV script based on a news item in a local paper about a man who accused his niece of shooting and wounding him. She claimed the gun went off while he was cleaning it; eventually dropped for lack of evidence, the case was never resolved. The novelist (Denis) sets out to create the script from imagination, while the journalist (Bideau) goes after the facts. But dedicated to a celebration of instinctive revolt, the film is less concerned with what happened than with the girl herself; and Bulle Ogier conveys volumes in the part as the film counterpoints her view of society with its varying view of her. There is, for instance, a scene where she has a job as sales-girl in a shoe shop, and without warning begins to caress the legs the customers present to her: it’s a gesture that’s at once funny, profoundly erotic, incongruous, and deeply shocking, and one that places both Rosemonde and the world she finds herself living in. A rare treat, infused with a rich and unforced vein of quiet humour. Continue reading

Alain Tanner – Les Années lumière AKA Light Years Away (1981)

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In the year 2000, Jonas is 25 years old and lives in Ireland. Disillusioned with his life as a pub barman, he decides to give up everything and live with a mysterious old man, Yoshka, at a run down garage in the middle of no-where. At first, the old man taunts Jonas, giving him useless tasks to do, such as attending a derelict petrol pump. This drives the young man to distraction and he tries to kill himself. Impressed by his young disciple, Yoshka finally decides to share with him his fantastic secret… Continue reading

Alain Tanner – Charles mort ou vif AKA Charles, Dead or Alive (1969)

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Charles, Dead or Alive, Alain Tanner’s first feature film, which won the Grand Prix at the Locarno Festival in 1969, is the kind of manifesto that, with other films, put Switzerland on the world cinema map at the end of the 1960s.

That the critics baptized the wave which emerged at this time as the “new Swiss cinema” simply reflects the fact that the “old” Swiss cinema was unknown to the cinema-going public. Today, the appeal and energy of this first film remain undiminished, magnified by the exceptional stature and presence of François Simon and the sublimely uncluttered camera work of Renato Berta. Tanner drew his subject matter from what he saw of the events of May ’68 in Paris, which he covered for Swiss television. Unimpressed by the ideological pronouncements of the young demonstrators (Tanner was nearly 40 and mistrustful of the siren songs of militancy), he was more struck by the elderly people marching alongside them. Continue reading

Alain Tanner – Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l’an 2000 AKA Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976)

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Description: “The third collaboration between the Swiss director Tanner and the English writer John Berger follows a group of young people in Geneva who are searching for new directions in their lives after the failure of the revolutionary hopes of the 1960s. A former labor activist takes a job as a gardener and handyman with some free-spirited farmers, setting up a school in a greenhouse for the neighborhood kids, while his wife continues to work in a factory. A disillusioned radical turns to gambling, while having interesting conversations with his girlfriend, an adventurous student of Tantrism. A history teacher uses radical methods in the classroom to foster socialist ideas in his students. He hooks up with a grocery store cashier who undercharges poor people and steals food from the store to help her aging friend, a veteran of the Resistance. Continue reading

Alain Tanner – Une ville à Chandigarh aka A City at Chandigarh (1966)

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When, in 1947, a portion of Punjab province was assigned to the newly created
Pakistani State, Albert Mayer began planning a new capital for the portion which
remained in the possession of India. Le Corbusier had been responsible since the
1950s for general planning and, more particularly, for large-scale buildings typical
of the governmental sector. A year after the death of Le Corbusier, Alain Tanner
began shooting his film in a city still partially under construction, or even, in certain
places, at the planning stage. The inhabitants of the metropolis, however, already
numbered some 120,000. Continue reading

Alain Tanner – L’Homme qui a perdu son ombre AKA The Man Who Lost His Shadow (1991)

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PLOT DESCRIPTION
Paul (Dominic Guard) is a journalist who is up to date on the latest horrors of the modern world and is heartsick about them. He has a wife (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and a steady job but leaves both of them suddenly for parts unknown. His wife is worried about him, and she is angry that he left without a word. She is sufficiently concerned to seek out one of Paul’s former flames (Angela Molina) for information about where he might have gone. Soon, this girl has joined her in a quest to find Paul. They finally discover him in a Spanish resort town on the coast, moodily riding his motorcycle over the countryside and sharing philosophical musings with Antonio (Francisco Rabal), a magnetic older man who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Romantic and sexual complexities brought on by the rivalry between these two attractive women add to Paul’s malaise. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide Continue reading