February 17, 2017No Comments

India Song, Marguerite Duras, 1975

Marguerite Duras was a prolific French writer of the XXth century, whose influences drew on her upbringing in the defunct Indochina, prior to the Second World War. And me, as someone who lived in the neighbourhood (India) for just 5 months, I can testify on the effect that Asia can have on the Westerner’s views and sensibility. Given the right circumstances, Asia is devastatingly rapturous. This being said, although India Song, a film that Duras directed, is by no means connected to Indian nor Asian culture, it is connected indirectly to its effects.

The film is almost unwatchable, if you naively approach it - with no prior proper documentation. Because it’s an experimental film. It offers a sensual universe where immobile members of a lost bourgeoisie interact and talk to each other, in post-modernistic fashion, without their lips moving. 

Besides this, Duras is also the scriptwriter of a classical masterpiece, Hiroshima, mon amour, directed by Alain Resnais. 

February 11, 2017No Comments

Holy Motor, Leos Carax, 2012

A personal favourite of the past years, Holy Motors blends postmodernist form & style with a story line surreal and tragic enough to reflect all of our contemporary anxiety. Except perhaps for our new world war 3 vibe, which was in brewing at the time, and whose absence, after my fourth viewing of the film, made a microscopic dent in what was otherwise a full ✮✮✮✮✮ film. 

There’s a heartbreaking sense of egocentrism captured here, of “me first” in watching the chameleonic character of Denis Lavant (French Klaus Kinski) go through his ordeals. It reflects our own ideas regarding our own exceptionalism and its cost. 

Not much else to say, I’m way behind on my reviewing, which should focus on rapid-fire-quick-reaction not this sort of bleak aftertaste probing. Plus the bloody Government got me hooked back on FB after almost 7 years of going clean. Excuses galore!

January 11, 2017No Comments

Mon Oncle, Jacques Tati, 1958

Monsieur Hulot lives in the old neighbourhood, in a lost-paradise version of his French town, an idealistic vision where buildings need a new coat of paint, dogs roam the streets, old ladies buy vegetables while the salesman drinks at a terrace nearby, where horse-ridden carriages roam the streets. (Yes, indeed, like modern day Romania, come to Romania, you Tati lovers, like now.) To get to his apartment, Mr. Hulot climbs up and down a labyrinth of stairs.

His nephew, the son of his sister and her industrialist husband, live in a state of the art, modern architecture house. When visitors arrive, the lady has a ritual. Before pushing the button which opens the door to the courtyard, she pushes another button that makes water come out of a giant state of a fish, in the garden-fountain. A true symbol of phoney social status.

In Mon Oncle, Tati pokes fun at modernity and its silliness by designing the house as a character in itself - which ends up bringing to their owners more trouble than comfort. When walking the garden, they hop-on from tile to tile as to not ruin the grass. When cooking there’s a tricky sequence of buttons that have to be pushed. The automated garage door traps the adults inside. 

When his nephew escapes to the real side of town, the idealisation kicks in, he’s having “good old fun” with the other boys, he eats from street vendors, etc.

+ most inspired scene, when the 2 round shaped windows of the 1st floor of the modern house turn into rolling eyes, when the couple inspect what’s going on outside at night.

Less riddled with great gags than Playtime, which would follow almost 10 years later, Mon Oncle feels like a training ground, and acts as a heart softener. 

January 6, 2017No Comments

Voyage à travers le cinéma français, Bertrand Tavernier, 2016

What makes Voyage a travers le cinema francais interesting is where it comes from: Bertrand Tavernier - a man close to the post-war French cinema, from his position as a fan, film critic, friend to filmmakers, assistant director, low-key director himself. For more than three hours we get to see and hear, mostly by use of filmclips, what makes somebody love cinema. Yes, and some stories about Jacques Becker, Marcel Carné, Jean Renoir, Claude Sautet or Jean Gabin.

The tone is nostalgic and although it doesn’t explicitly forward the idea that movies are not what they used to be, you get that actually it’s the world that is no longer the same.

January 2, 2017No Comments

a trois on y va, Jerome Bonnell, 2015

Comedy of errors happening between a love triangle of 20 year olds. 

A girl shifts her attention between a guy and a girl, who happen to be in a relationship. Everybody hides away from the other, and comical situations in a teenagey but still French way arise. Until poster image. 

December 15, 2016No Comments

Adieu au langage, Jean-Luc Godard, 2014

First time I’ve seen Adieu au Langage it was in 2015, in Paris, in a small cinema near Jardin du Luxembourg. It was the 3D version. I didn’t get anything, it was delicately frustrating, but I nevertheless defended the man’s right to his shit.

Second time was while preparing for a two day seminar at the local Lux Scene Nationale cinema, which gathered around a lively panel of people speaking ONLY about this film. Psychologists, researchers, historians, Phd. students. And  JLG’s recent cinematographer, Fabrice Aragno, one hell of a sweet guy.

The conclusion, after two days of debates is:

There’s no terminology in film analysis available to us to analyse JLG’s proposal, and probably that’s the point. Because all that the man is trying to say is that language is just a recent invention and the fact that we call a thing, a thing, is irrelevant. 

Otherwise, in the film we still have a man, we still have a woman, they still discuss, they fight, they mix with other men and women. The link between everything is played by JLG’s own dog, Roxy.

Godard’s 42nd feature film and 121st film or video project, according to Wiki. 
Godard turned 86 this year. Long may he reign.

December 15, 2016No Comments

Saint Laurent, Bertrand Bonello, 2014

A biopic. And an enjoyable one, if you can believe it. 

There’s something profoundly-DNA-level French about this film. In the way it conceptualises every department, from photography to production design, and especially editing, Saint Laurent vibrates with aesthetic ideas. Editing can be sexy and cool, imagine that! 

Somehow, the film succeeds in applying fashion industry keywords and concepts (modernity, innovation / tradition, classicism; stylish form / content) and this translates into visual freshness. 

The plot’s temporal order of events - we jump more or less causally through the  creates - doesn’t build up any kind of narrative intensity, somehow making us feel that any period of Yves Saint Laurent’s life was as relevant as the next.

Gaspard Ulliel is of lately a personal revelation. He’s expressive and strong. 

October 27, 2016No Comments

Une femme est une femme, Jean-Luc Godard, 1961

JLG’s most playful film ever, made on the wave of the previously released Breathless, at a time when, as someone put it, he was both in lust after Anna Karina, his fresh wife and the “power” of cinema.

The film is filled with formal gags, music goes on and off at odd times keeping you alert at all times, colour matches between props and characters abound, characters are constantly changing their mood and direction, borrowing a lot from absurd theatre, but in a joyous almost silly way.

Still feels fresh as fuck after more than 50 years!

July 8, 2016No Comments

La Forêt des Quinconces, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet

Written, acted and directed by Leprince (n.tr. the prince) who gladly put himself at the middle of a love triangle. He is a man trying to understand love. Love has no intention of allowing itself to be understood. 

Leprince then brings a shift in form and alternates between realistic dialogues and versed ones, in a theatrical manner, where rhythm and rhyme are supposed to take the weight. 

Should not judge what I don’t understand, no subtitles brought almost no understanding, but a lot of condescending thoughts on my part. 

Problem is that Leprince has no charisma nor charm, and at times it feels as if he knows this deep down so he wrote himself in the middle of some two actually charming ladies. 

June 27, 2016No Comments

Love, Gaspar Noé, 2015

Love debuts with a good apartment-size conflict. A young guy wakes up to his accidental life, woman and kid. We hear his thoughts. He usually lets them out between the frames of a door. He’s trapped. His head and heart is still with the ex. The mother of his kid is 17 (Europe is great! says the American young man when he finds out the number), the kid is the result of a broken condom. Well how about that. Film then continues to move into the ‘what the hell went wrong / how did we get here direction, a choice which sucks away (wink, right?) from the juice presented by the initial conflict. 

  • “The Eye-blink cut” from Enter the Void is the law making tool all over the film. And what an incredibly powerful tool it is. It cuts a conversation between two characters with a black one second blink just like a breath, a thought, a sigh. Like an emotional inner beat. Per-fect!
  • Sex scenes are gorgeous, it feels as if there’s no end to imagining how a sex scene can look on camera. The threesome of faces kissing is smashing.
  • writing directly on this blog and not on a notebook as usual is wrong and uninspiring. Internet is this horde of giant ants munching on my balance.


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