Author Topic: French Movies  (Read 971 times)

Teproc

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2018, 05:19:39 AM »
L'échange des princesses / The Royal Exchange (Marc Dugain, 2017)



Not exactly the stately period drama I was expecting. There is some of that of course, with the costumes and the sets and the wigs and all that, but this film does have a little more on its mind than that, even if it doesn't entirely work. Telling the story of two royal marriages between 18th century France and Spain (one between a 10-year old Louis XV and a 4-year old Spanish princess - the other between two teenagers, one the son of Philip V of Spain, the other the daughter of a cadet branch of the Bourbons, the Orléans), there is a sense of futility to the proceedings that feels very pointed. In about 50 years, the Bourbons will collapse, and though they'll come back in France for a bit and actually persist in Spain to this day, it's quite clear that the duty these characters are told they have to their family and their country is somewhat pointless.

Death hangs over the whole film: this takes place right after Louis XV became king because essentially his whole family died of smallpox, creating a power vacuum (since Louis XIV being replaced by a kid does change things somewhat) that necessitates this whole ordeal, not to mention the succession issue because Philip V having a claim to the French throne... but this is not what the film is about, so let's not get too bogged down in historical detail. The point is that this is a harsh world, and everyone here is stuck having to perpetuate institutions for no other reason than survival, without having any kind of choice in the matter.

Well, that's certainly what the teenage part of it is about, with an assist by Lambert Wilson as Philip V, who hams it up a bit and basically states the themes of the film a few times. There is also a more down-to-earth narrative here, with this marriage between a horny doofus and a haughty princess which develops into something surprisingly tragic, in large part thanks to a strong performance by Anamaria Vartolomei (unkown to me as well). The other half of the film is much less succesful, consisting essentially of Louis XV looking sad, the little princess looking cute, and Condé being a snivelling creep. There's some absurdist humour in both halves that works relatively well, but the Versailles part of the narrative just doesn't really have any emotional center, as it can't decide if Louis XV or the princess should be the protagonist, and just doesn't have time to do both.

It also looks pretty good, with the highlight being the exchange itself, when the princesses cross the border at the same time. Wish it had  wasted less time on the political side at the start and left more time for its fatalistic mood to settle, as is it's interesting but not fully realized.

6/10
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 05:21:37 AM by Teproc »

Teproc

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2018, 10:12:21 AM »
La douleur / Memoir of Pain (Emmanuel Finkiel, 2017)



An adaptation of a Marguerite Duras autobiographical novel taking place during the Occupation. As the name might indicate, it's not exactly a pleasant watch, but Mélanie Thierry is quite good as a young Duras facing the disappearance/probable deportation of her husband. The film starts as some kind of a thriller, with Duras having meetings with a French official who may or may not be able to help her, in exchange for information on her husband's Résistance network. It's not so much a moral dilemma (she never really seems close to giving in) as much as an interesting confrontation between two characters who, as he points out at one point, would never come close to being in the same room in other circumstances, and frankly I wish the film had been nothing but that. But history catches up with the film and the second half of it features Duras looking forlorn and desperate as the country around her is celebrating and trying its best to ignore the terrifying news coming from the East.

It's all interesting intellectually and affecting (hints of Hiroshima mon amour here, on multiple fronts including a pretty stereotypical "artsy" soundtrack), and it ends on an inspired shot, but it does overstay its welcome by quite a bit, and doesn't seem focused enough as a film to fully work. As Magimel disappears from the film, more screentime is given to Benjamin Biolay as Duras' friend/lover?, and, well, Biolay is not a very good actor, so that doesn't work out to the film's advantage.

6/10

Teproc

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #32 on: March 16, 2018, 04:16:02 PM »
Jusqu'à la garde / Custody (Xavier Legrand, 2017)



Starts off seeming like it's going to be a French version of a Separation, and then turns out to be a giant PSA for domestic violence. Or against, whichever way the grammar works out on that one. Unlike what the opening scene seemed to promise, this isn't a complex issue of divorce and battling over custody of children between two complex, three-dimensional characters. This is the story of an abusive man who desperately wants to exert control over his wife and children, and who finds that the most effective way to do so is by being as abusive as is legally allowed to his 116year old son which he gets to see every other week-end. Now, this is something that develops throughout the film: initially he seems like a sad sack who wants to reconnect, and I suppose that's where the film's interest lies, in the way it starts out seeming like a drama and ends up being a thriller. I suppose there is something to that, and the performances by Denis Ménochet (whom you are probably familiar with as being that French guy in the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds) and Léa Drucker are quite strong.

The problem I have is in the way the film ends, and I'm going to get very spoilery here. In the last 15 minutes of the film, Ménochet finally cracks and shows up at his ex-wife's appartment in the middle of the night, armed with a shotgun and very determined to get in through whatever means necessary. What ensues is a very suspenseful scene, as the neighbor calls the cops and Ménochet is breaking in... it's also incredibly voyeuristic, and it never seems to have any self-awareness on that point. After this, the credits roll in silence, as if to say "how about THAT ?". It's kind of gross, frankly. Effective, memorable, and well acted... but I don't feel good about it. Not that I'm supposed to, I guess... I don't know, I'm usually the one defending films like this, but - maybe because this kind of situation is one I actually have some real world connections to, unlike - say - police brutality as seen in something like Detroit, I can't quite stomach it. It's not a film I can quite bring myself to entirely dislike either, I can't help but appreciate the pernicious efficieny of its structure... but I sure can't like it either.

4/10

Teproc

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #33 on: March 28, 2018, 04:27:28 AM »
La prière (Cédric Kahn, 2018)

A solid drama about a recovering addict going to rehab in a religious community in the mountains. There's not much to it other than it's just well-done all around. I guess one could see it as a recruitement add for, you know, Christianity, but it plays more like a PSA for getting help and learning to accept yourself: though faith (or the lack thereof) plays an important role in the film, I wouldn't say it's a film about faith really, though some late developments explore that subject a bit. It works best as a character study though, and Anthony Bajon (the lead) is someone I'm curious to see in other roles now, because he is quite good here.

7/10

Teproc

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #34 on: April 11, 2018, 12:40:06 PM »
Dans la brume (Daniel Roby, 2018)



Basically what you'd expect would happen if a French director directed a disaster film. It doesn't bring much new to the genre, but it executes the basic tropes of it pretty well, and the effects are pretty convincing. Duris and Kurylenko are good, but I think I wanted more from them, Duris especially. He seems to be doing a Gary Cooper, "strong, silent type" without really bringing much character to it, and as easy as it is to relate to the basic stakes here (divorced couple try to ensure their sick daughter's survival in a disaster scenario), it never really goes beyond that, and the various developments are all rather expected. It all works pretty well though, aside from an ending that's too cute by half.

6/10

America (Claus Drexel, 2018)



A documentary about a small town in Arizona in the days before and after the 2017 election. I'm a sucker for this Depardon-style of documentaries, but Drexel can't help but try and direct things in a specific direction by repeatedly asking about guns, which constantly threatens to make this into an insuferable "how wacky and crazy is it that Americans love their guns so much, amirite ?" exercise. I mean, naming the thing "America" is obnoxious enough... still, putting people in front of a camera and having them talk about politics is kind of in my wheelhouse, so I found some stuff to enjoy in it.

5/10

Madame Hyde (Serge Bozon, 2017)




Isabelle Huppert as a physics/chemistry teacher version of Jekyll and Hyde sounds interesting, doesn't it ? And it is... it just doesn't work for me on any level. The Hyde part of it seems entirely superfluous and doesn't really connect much to the rest of the film, which is a weird version of those hokey teacher dramas. I don't know what Bozon is trying to do at all, and I don't really like the way he goes about it (the writing is pretty literary with people not contracting words that they definitely would... but it's not consistent either), so... Romain Duris shows up in a supporting role and seems to be in some kind of a comedy, and that was probably my favorite part ? It's not much though, and I just didn't connect with the film overall.

3/10

Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2017)




My first Kechiche, and the main thing I take away from it is that I'm now very curious to see his other films, but I also hope they have a different subject matter. This is a 3-hour semi-autobiographical, meandering... journey? into the lives of young people in 90s Sète (in the South of France). Lots of going to the beach and dancing in bars and in clubs and gossiping about each other, which is basically everything I try to avoid in life (well, the beach is fine I suppose), which does prove to be a limiting factor in my enjoyment of the film. All of it centers around what I can only assume to be a Kechiche stand-in as the protagonist, back from Paris after having abandoned medical school and exploring his interest in photography/his cousin's lover. Kechiche films it all in a sensual kind of naturalism, and gets great performances out of a bunch of newcomers, especially two of the main actresses (Ophélie Bau and Lou Luttiau) I just hope the basic narrative will get more interesting to me in the announced sequel(s). I still enjoyed this quite a bit, to be clear, and its length only started to wear on me in a particularly drawn-out party sequence in the third hour.

7/10
« Last Edit: April 12, 2018, 06:53:36 AM by Teproc »

DarkeningHumour

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2018, 06:32:41 AM »
I really want to believe the Bozon Isabelle Huppert movie is better than that. I was excited to see her. I wonder if I'll get the Kechiche here, and if I'll go.
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goodguy

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2018, 12:13:09 PM »
@Teproc
Have you seen anything else by Serge Bozon? One of the forum discoveries for me - from different times; I think it was Verite who put La France on my radar. That and Mods, his other offbeat musical, are marvelous. It took me a while to warm up to Tip Top, his first collaboration with Huppert and his first foray into a more aggressively comedic style (which is something I usually don't like), but ultimately I couldn't resist the originality and panache it was done with.


Teproc

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #37 on: April 12, 2018, 02:30:15 PM »
@Teproc
Have you seen anything else by Serge Bozon? One of the forum discoveries for me - from different times; I think it was Verite who put La France on my radar. That and Mods, his other offbeat musical, are marvelous. It took me a while to warm up to Tip Top, his first collaboration with Huppert and his first foray into a more aggressively comedic style (which is something I usually don't like), but ultimately I couldn't resist the originality and panache it was done with.

I haven't. I wouldn't say this has put me off him either, it looked distinctive and interesting, I just never got a hold of what he was trying to do really. I've heard better things about his non-Huppert films as well.

Teproc

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Re: French Movies
« Reply #38 on: May 13, 2018, 05:40:42 AM »
Plaire, aimer et courir vite* / Sorry Angel (Christophe Honoré, 2018)

In some ways a counterpart to last year's 120 battements par minute/BPM, as it's a gay romance (more or less) in 90s France (Act Up is even mentioned at one point), though it feels very different from Campillo's film. I would guess it takes place a few years later, for one thing, as AIDS is a presence but it feels like the main character (Pierre Deladonchamps, from L'inconnu du lac among other things) is someone who has survived longer than most of his social circle, and the whole point of his relationship with Vincent Lacoste's character is that he's a younger guy: there's a scene that plays with that pederastic teacher/student relationship really well, but it's more than that, because AIDS is always a presence in the background for him (Deladonchamps) in a way that it obviously isn't for Lacoste.

But that makes it all sound dreary, which this film is anything but. It's actually very funny, largely thanks to Vincent Lacoste, who is playing a variation on his usual character (not that non-French viewers would be particularly familiar with it I don't think), but one that's specific enough not to feel lazy while still retaining that effortless charm. Deladonchamps is quite good as well, as is Denis Podalydès in a supporting role.

It probably won't get honors in Cannes because, in the end, it's just another gay romance and it doesn't have anything that makes it particularly stands out... I expect it'll be one of my favorites of the bunch by the time I've seen them all, in about a year or so.

8/10

*Literally "To attract, love and run fast" for those interested.