And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "French" category.

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 6

This week’s picks include two French films that couldn’t be more dissimilar, one a psychological thriller, and the other a magical story set in Paris. There’s an Italian ode to the world of movies, a story of a man drunk on celebrity, another of a simple man who finds celebrity without knowing it, a bureaucrat caught in a dystopian nightmare, and an undercover Hollywood director searching for the authentic America.

A couple of them won Oscars. All of them were worthy of the accolades they received.

This week’s picks are:  Monsieur Hire;  A Face in the Crowd; Sullivan’s TravelsBrazil Being There ; Cinema Paradiso; Amelie

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 5

This week’s  picks include a healthy dose of Roman decadence, an obsessive and tragic snoop, a ghostly romance, a grieving mother on the warpath, violent union busting, food to die for, and a woman who’s brutally honest about sleeping her way to the top.  Something for everyone!  One is from Italy, another from Germany. There’s a Korean flick and a Danish one, too. And three of them are Oscar winners.

This week’s picks are:  La Grande Bellezza; The Lives of Others; Truly Madly DeeplyMother Matewan ; Babette’s Feast; Baby Face

Review: The Bare Necessity (Perdrix)

This French comedy is definitely for those who like their films on the quirky side. In it a young woman named Juliette (Maud Wyler, Blue Is the Warmest Colour) is passing through a sleepy French town when her car is stolen by a naked woman. At the police station she meets Police Captain Pierre Perdrix (Swann Arlaud) who explains that the town has a problem with revolutionary nudists, as if that’s as natural as the sun coming up every day. Meanwhile there are tanks in the street because there’s about to be a WWII reenactment with Nazis. But since she has nowhere to go and everything she owned was in the car because she was “migrating,” she crashes with Pierre and his odd family. Think Wes Anderson only less stylized. And it’s a given that Pierre and Juliette will end up together.

Quickie Review: Burning Ghost (Vif-argent)

When we meet Juste (Thimotée Robart) he’s wandering on the train tracks somewhere in Paris, confused. He stops at a small house and the man there recognizes what is happening and tells him where he needs to go for help. Then flash forward 10 years and Juste is still wandering about Paris, only he’s not confused any longer. And it slowly becomes clear that he sees dead people, and he’s got a job helping them cross over by sharing a strong memory from their lives with him. And that’s pretty much all he does. That is until a young woman named Agathe (Judith Chemla) starts following him one day. And when he confronts her, it seems they had a brief, and for her memorable, connection back before he left the normal world. And so begins their otherworldly love affair.

Review: The Truth (La Vérité)

Director Hirokazu Koreeda’s follow-up to his award winning Shoplifters could not be more different. No longer set in his home country Japan, The Truth is a mother-daughter drama set in a lovely Paris house where an aging actress and her grown daughter come together for the launch of the mother’s memoirs. That the mother is played by the inestimable Catherine Deneuve and the daughter by the equally talented Juliette Binoche makes it a pleasure to watch, despite its fairly well-trodden storyline.

Review: Deerskin (Le daim)

This has to be one of the oddest movies I’ve seen in a long while! It’s from Quentin Dupieux the writer/director who brought us Rubber. In case you missed that one, it was about a tire named Robert that terrorizes a desert community. This time it all starts with the purchase of a deerskin fringe jacket. And it’s an equally absurd premise that somehow sustains itself for just over an hour, thanks in large part to the central character Georges being played by the marvelous Jean Dujardin (The Artist.)

Review: Synonyms

Based on the real-life experiences of writer-director Nadav Lapid (The Kindergarten Teacher), Synonyms is the strange story of a young Israeli man named Yoav (Tom Mercier) who comes to Paris to escape his Israeliness and meets French couple Emile and Caroline who become his best friends and more. You’re never really sure who he is and what he wants, but you’re along for the ride as he walks the streets of Paris memorizing his French vocabulary (particularly synonyms), dancing in his tiny apartment and in streets and clubs, and doing everything he can to shed his former skin.

Review: Non-fiction (aka Doubles vies)

After seeing Non-fiction, I found IMDB’s description of it to be kind of bizarre: Set in the Parisian publishing world, an editor and an author find themselves in over their heads, as they cope with a middle-age crisis, the changing industry and their wives. Whoever wrote that missed the part that Juliette Binoche is more than just an afterthought wife in this flick. For me, she was the most interesting character. Yes, it’s about the imminent demise of the printed page, and both lead men are in that world, but I’m not sure this film is about any middle-age crisis, but more about how two couples cope with infidelity and commitment. The world of publishing is definitely the milieu, and the many discussions of the digital future in the literary world are pretty fascinating. It’s a smart film, but it’s also extremely entertaining.

Quickie Review: Girls of the Sun

In our #Girlpower era, a film about battalion of Kurdish women fighting ISIS in North Kurdistan should be a slam dunk. But somewhere between idea and execution Girls of the Sun got a bit lost. Part of that may be that it is framed as being about a French war correspondent who embeds herself with this group of women and her story is a distraction. I was never sure why I should care about her. After all, the women she’s with have lived through absolute hell. The more interesting story is that of the female commander Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani) who lost her husband and son to ISIS and has a reason to be fighting the fight.

Review: Custody (Jusqu’à la garde)

Custody begins as a separated couple, Antoine (Denis Ménochet) and Miriam (Léa Drucker), sit before a magistrate who will decide the fate of their children. Their daughter Joséphine (Mathilde Auneveux) is nearly grown, so their 11-year-old son Julien (Thomas Gioria) is really the bone of contention. And he doesn’t want to see his abusive father. But the court grants the father weekend visits anyway. And it is immediately apparent that the court made a huge mistake. What follows is like watching the fuse on a bomb slowing burning down. You’re waiting for the explosion, but hoping that someone comes along to defuse it, even though you know that is unlikely. It’s harrowing!