Tag: France

The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies De Cherbourg)

My Blind Spot choice for May was an excellent one, and as I write this a couple of weeks after watching Jacques Demy’s 1964 film The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg for the first time, I feel relatively confident in saying that it is now one of my favourite musicals – a vivid, colourful and bittersweet melodrama […]

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups)

The first of five semi-autobiographical François Truffaut films – also his debut – that star Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel, a young Parisian boy whose journey from neglected, mis-treated youth to juvenile petty criminal is profoundly moving and wonderfully acted. The opening sequence sets 1950s Paris up as a kind of playground, and it remains […]

Heal The Living (Réparer Les Vivants)

The narrative in this excellent new film by Katell Quillévéré, written by Quillévéré and Gilles Taurand, drifts from one character to another, all of whom are linked together in some way by a dying patient in a hospital and his heart. You could argue that there are three specific threads: a teenager is left brain-dead after […]

L’Age d’Or

The second collaboration between Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí – who had fallen out with each other by the time of production – is another surreal film, this time a series of vignettes that seem to mock the absurdity of modern life, as it was in France in 1930. The main link throughout is a […]

0577 | À Bout De Souffle (Breathless)

[Note: this is the sixth film in my 2016 Blind Spot series. For a list of the other well-known or well-respected films I’ve already watched or I’m going to be watching for the first time this year, see this post.] When Jean-Luc Godard decided to make his feature-length debut Breathless in 1960, he famously turned […]

0555 | Fantômas

[Note: The 1913/1914 Fantômas serial by Louis Feuillade is actually a collection of five films ranging from 60 to 90 minutes in length, but I’m just posting one review here. For the record the five films I watched were Fantômas I: À l’ombre de la guillotine (Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine) (1913); Fantômas […]

0537 | Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes (Rififi)

Often referred to as the finest heist movie ever made, Jules Dassin’s Rififi was developed while the American noir director was living in France, having found himself on the Hollywood blacklist a year or so earlier. Dassin came across Auguste Le Breton’s slang-filled crime novel of the same name, and though he was initially skeptical […]

0527 | Bastille Day

Alarm bells start to ring when one of the opening scenes in a modern crime film features a law enforcement agent receiving a dressing down from his superiors (because he’s reckless and insubordinate, of course, and his behaviour endangers the lives of others). Unfortunately this action thriller – directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake) and […]

0526 | La Famille Bélier (The Bélier Family)

Light-hearted coming-of-age dramedy La Famille Bélier (released as The Bélier Family in some countries) was a surprise hit in France, picking up a number of award ceremony nominations and wins in 2015, including Most Promising Actress at the Césars for its star, Louane Emera. She plays 16-year-old Paula Bélier, the only hearing person in a […]

0506 | Gemma Bovery

Based on Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel, Anne Fontaine’s Gemma Bovery is a tragicomic drama (with more emphasis on the tragic than the comic) that plays around with the idea of life imitating art, specifically Gustav Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary. Gemma Arterton stars as Emma, an archetypal English Rose who moves to a small, rural French […]

0478 | Microbe Et Gasoil (Microbe & Gasoline)

The latest film by Michel Gondry is a typically whimsical affair, and taken at face value it’s concerned with little other than the summer holiday adventures of two uncool 14-year-old French boys, but as you’d expect from this director it has a considerable amount of quirky charm. It helps that the two main characters induce […]

0476 | Casse-tête Chinois (Chinese Puzzle)

This 2013 film is the third entry in  Cédric Klapisch’s ‘Spanish Apartment’ trilogy, following the earlier comedy/dramas Pot Luck (aka The Spanish Apartment) and Russian Dolls, both of which I’ve watched recently. The series has followed the life and loves of Xavier (Romain Duris), a writer who has endured several ups-and-downs during the 16-years depicted, […]

0464 | Le Dernier Diamant (The Last Diamond)

This new release is the fifth film by French director Éric Barbier, but the first that I’ve seen. It’s a heist movie set in Paris and Antwerp, starring Yvan Attal as a safecracking jewel thief and Bérénice Bejo as the exhibitor / seller of a 137-carat diamond, and it spends a lot of time following […]

0455 | Pauline À La Plage (Pauline At The Beach)

Where do you begin when faced with an entire body of work by a director whose films you have never watched before? The sensible option would be his or her debut, of course, but often that’s not as readily available as something that arrived much later in their career, and there’s an argument to say you should begin with one […]

0430 | Suite Française

Irène Némirovsky didn’t manage to complete her three-part novel Suite Française as she was arrested by German forces in occupied France during the Second World War and sent to Auschwitz, where she would die. Her handwritten manuscript was discovered 60 years later, however, and it was published to critical acclaim in 2004, becoming something of […]

0333 | Eden

The fourth feature-length film by French director and screenwriter Mia Hansen-Løve is less a celebration of the church of dance – though it is at times a paean to clubbing and its inherent vices, particularly in the first of its two parts – and more a bittersweet tale about moderate success, moderate failure, gain and loss, spanning a period of twenty years and […]

0311 | Adieu Au Langage (Goodbye To Language)

‘Those lacking in imagination take refuge in reality’ declares a title card, somewhat ominously, at the beginning of Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye To Language. This hyperactive arthouse film was met with critical praise upon release but will certainly cause many who see it to throw their hands in the air through sheer exasperation and return to their imagination-free diet of straightforward, conventional, […]

0309 | Les Combattants

Thomas Cailley’s quirky and engaging romance Les Combattants (released in some areas with the dismal pun title Love At First Fight) crosses the Channel with quite a reputation: in addition to a haul of awards during last year’s Cannes Film Festival, as well as some high profile nominations, the film achieved considerable success at this year’s Césars. There Adèle Haenel was crowned Best Actress […]

0283 | Bande De Filles (Girlhood)

The international title of this film has made many think, quite naturally, of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, and you could argue either way about this being or not being a counterpoint to 2014’s most praised American film. One thing’s for certain: a counterpoint was not the intention of director Céline Sciamma when she made this critically-lauded French indie, yet the question […]

0087 | Hors De Prix (Priceless)

Hors De Prix may looks very warm, but it is a cold, heartless film in which Audrey Tautou is required to do little other than act as a mannequin, modelling the clothes, bags and shoes of several chic and expensive fashion designers. Translated as Priceless in English, it showcases the exclusive hotels of Nice, Monte […]