Belgium

Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne – Rosetta (1999)

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The film opens with a chaotic scene: Rosetta (Emilie Dequenne), dismissed from her station after her employment trial period has elapsed, refuses to leave the factory, and is escorted off the premises by security guards. Shot through a handheld camera, the confusion seems to continue as we follow Rosetta as she crosses a busy intersection, makes her way through the woods, changes into her water-repellent boots that she hides in an exposed concrete pipe, and returns to her rented trailer home that she shares with her alcoholic mother (Anne Yernaux). It is a bleak life, and one that she desperately wants to escape. If she could only find a job. But Rosetta is a resourceful young woman, and remains undeterred by the latest setback. She returns to town with a bagful of repaired clothes to be sold to the local thrift store, and canvasses local merchants for job openings. Riquet (Fabrizio Rongione), a waffle vendor, takes interest in Rosetta, and when the food preparer is fired for absenteeism, he encourages her to apply. However, the job proves temporary as well, as the owner (Olivier Gourmet) is compelled to hire his own son. Without any new prospects, she sacrifices her friendship with Riquet to obtain a job. Read More »

Brecht Debackere – Exprmntl (2016)



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Knokke, Belgium. A small mundane coastal town, home to the beau-monde. To compete with Venice and Cannes, the posh casino hosts the second ‘World Festival of Film and the Arts’ in 1949, organized in part by the royal cinematheque of Belgium. To celebrate cinema’s 50 year existence, they put together a side program showcasing the medium in all its shapes and forms: surrealist film, absolute film, dadaist films, abstract film,… The side program would soon become a festival in its own right: ‘EXPRMNTL’, dedicated to experimental cinema, and would become a mythical gathering of the avant-garde… Read More »

Joost Wijnant – De laatste zomer AKA The Last Summer (2007)

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Synopsis:
The Last Summer (De laatste zomer) is director Joost Wynants’ movie debut. The film is set in 1996 and tells the story of four boys from a village in the West Flemish countryside. Although, at first glance, the four appear to be very different from each other, they are good friends. But then they meet the beautiful Sandrine… Read More »

Raphaël Jacoulot – Avant l’aube (2011)

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Director Raphaël Jacoulot’s dark and atmospheric mystery, set in an isolated high-Pyrenees hotel, has all the desired elements – precise and intelligent direction, excellent casting and a great plotline in the Chabrol-Simenon tradition.

The events, as they first unfold from an innocuous opening, quickly spiral downward for la famille Couvreur. One snowy evening, despotic hotel-owner Jacques Couvreur (Jean-Pierre Bacri) sends his incompetent son down into the valley to re-stock several cases of wine. The son collides with a pedestrian and for some reason the father decides to hide the truth and say nothing about the hit-and-run accident. A young trainee, Frédéric (Vincent Rottiers), just released from prison and re-starting his life, becomes implicated in this strange affair. Inspector Poncet (Sylvie Testud), in her endearing and off-putting Columbo-esque investigative style, strives to uncover the truth behind the discovery of the corpse. Read More »

Tom Tykwer – Lola rennt AKA Run Lola Run (1999)

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Pieces of the Action

A low-budget no-brainer, Run Lola Run is a lot more fun than Speed, a big-budget no-brainer from five years ago. It’s just as fast moving, the music is better, and though the characters are almost as hackneyed and predictable, the conceptual side has a lot more punch. If Run Lola Run had opened as widely as Speed and it too had been allowed to function as everyday mall fodder, its release could have been read as an indication that Americans were finally catching up with people in other countries when it comes to the pursuit of mindless pleasures. Instead it’s opening at the Music Box as an art movie.

Why try to sell an edgy youth thriller with nothing but kicks on its mind as an art movie? After all, it’s only a movie–a rationale that was trotted out for Speed more times than I care to remember. The dialogue of Run Lola Run is certainly simple and cursory, but it happens to be in subtitled German–which in business terms means that it has to be marketed as a film, not a movie. And of course nobody ever says “It’s only a film,” just as no one ever thinks of saying “It’s only a concert,” “It’s only a novel,” “It’s only a play,” or “It’s only a painting.” Because they’re omnipresent, movies almost oblige us to cut them down a peg or two just so we can breathe around them. Read More »

Ruben Desiere – La Fleurière AKA The Flower Shop (2017)

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During the holidays three men try to break into the Belgian National Bank from a florist’s shop. During their rain-hampered digging, they discuss trips to sunnier climes, the basic laws of physics and those back at home in Eastern Europe. Read More »

Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne – Le Fils AKA The Son [+Extras] (2002)

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Olivier is a good teacher of carpentry, but a touch gruff; even so, when he refuses to accept young Francis into his workshop, that doesn’t explain why he takes to following the boy, as if he were spying on him. Might it have something to do with his own dead son, as his estranged wife insists?

One strength of the Dardennes’ follow-up to Rosetta, winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or, is that, once again, they ask us to discover certain crucial facts for ourselves: by the time we’re faced with questions of ethical and spiritual import, we’ve done enough groundwork to assess the evidence properly. Wisely, the camera stays close to Olivier, with the result that, notwithstanding his subtle understatement and a relatively taciturn script, we’re privy to his every fleeting thought and nagging emotion. Never manipulative or sensationalist, the film is none the less deeply moving. – Time Out Read More »