François Truffaut – Tirez sur le pianiste AKA Shoot the Pianist (1960)

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A hapless pianist at a jazz club gets caught up with the mob, when his older brother who owes money to them comes to him for help. Eventually, the piano player and his girlfriend become pawns in middle of a dangerous game.

Truffaut first read David Goodis’s novel in the mid-1950s while shooting Les Mistons when his wife Madeleine Morgenstern read it and recommended it to him. He immediately loved the book’s dialogue and poetic tone and showed it to producer Pierre Braunberger, who bought the rights. Truffaut later met Goodis in New York City, where the novelist gave Truffaut a vintage viewfinder from his brief experience as a 2nd Unit Director on a U.S. film. Continue reading

Cheyenne Carron – Ne nous soumets pas à la tentation AKA Lead Us Not Into Temptation (2011)

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The best movie that I’ve seen so far at Cinequest is the French thriller Lead Us Not Into Temptation. A middle-aged married man does a good deed for a beautiful young woman and finds himself the pawn in a dangerous game. Inventively constructed, we see the story from the perspective of the guy, then from the young woman’s point of view and finally through the prism of another character. Unlike in Rashomon, we don’t see different realities, but, as secrets are revealed, we finally understand the whole picture. It’s a brilliant screenplay by writer-director-producer Cheyenne Carron. In the young woman, Carron has created a character who is both predatory and damaged but who can act charming, vulnerable and sexy. The story hinges on actress Agnes Delachair’s ability to play that complex role – and she delivers a captivating performance. Continue reading

Jeff Nichols – Take Shelter (2011)

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Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

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From IMDB:

I’m going to try to be restrained in my praise of this film, but it’s going to be hard, because I think it’s about as close to perfect film-making as I’ve ever seen. I generally only write reviews for movies I’ve really loved, or really hated, and this movie I really loved. Continue reading

Yves Boisset – Un condé Aka Blood On My Hands AKA The Cop (1970)

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Synopsis:
‘Dassa, a bar owner who refuses to sell drugs to his customers, is killed by men working for Tavernier, a gangster known as Le Mandarin. Dassas’s sister Hélène is also in danger, for the same reasons. Inspector Favenin and the young inspector Barnero are put in charge of the case. Dan Rover, one of Dassa’s friends, engages the services of a man named Viletti to kill Tavernier. Another man, Raymond, is willing to provide an alibi if necessary. Barnero has grown disillusioned with his job and wants to leave the police service, but first he intends to arrest Tavernier. One day, Favenin and Barnero fail to prevent Viletti from killing Tavernier, and Barnero gets himself killed in the process. Favenin is given permission by his superior to continue the investigation alone. What nobody realises is that Favenin is ready to act without mercy and employ some very unconventional methods to achieve his aims…’
– Henri Willems Continue reading

Claude Chabrol – Le boucher (1970)

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Synopsis:
During a wedding celebration in a small rural French village, schoolteacher Helene (Stephane Audran) strikes up a conversation with the local butcher Popaul (Jean Yanne), who has just returned from a fifteen year spell in the army. As their unlikely friendship blossoms into a tentative courtship, the town falls victim to a serial killer preying on the women of the village. Just as Helene finds herself falling for Popaul, she simultaneously begins to suspect him of being the murderer. As the tension builds, the truth is revealed, leading to an explosive climax. Continue reading

Michael Winterbottom – Butterfly Kiss (1995)

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Winterbottom’s theatrical feature debut Butterfly Kiss was released into UK theatres in August 1995. Set in a dystopian environment limited almost entirely to motorways, service stations and motels, it charted the dysfunctional lesbian relationship between the violent and erratic Eunice (Amanda Plummer) and the credulous Miriam (Saskia Reeves). In so doing it offered up a portrayal of Britain that had not previously been seen on its cinema screens. Although the film garnered mixed responses, a couple of reviewers such as Derek Malcolm seized on it as heralding the arrival of a remarkable new talent in British cinema (2). Indeed, the film was to lay out many of the themes and techniques that would come to define Winterbottom’s oeuvre. Continue reading

Santiago Mitre – La patota (2015)

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Paulina is a young lawyer with a promising career in Buenos Aires, who chooses to go back to her home town. Her father, Fernando, is a well known judge. Against his will, Paulina decides to teach in a suburban high school as part of an inclusion program. One night, after the second week working there, she’s brutally assaulted by a gang. With the disapproval of the people around her, she decides to go back to work, in the neighborhood where she was attacked, without realizing that her attackers may be even closer than she thought Continue reading