French Film Festival time has rolled around again. Today, I bought my tickets directly from the cinema using my Golden Oldie member card and avoiding booking fees. Didn't really save anything, though, because I had a cold Riesling while I sat at the bar and checked each ticket, munching on my salmon and avocado sushi.
So, here are my choices:
If we all lived Together
Annie (Géraldine Chaplin), Jean (Guy Bedos), Claude (Claude Rich), Albert (Pierre Richard) and Jeanne (Jane Fonda) have been friends for more than 40 years. So when memories let them down, heart rates quicken and the rest-home’s ghost appears, they rebel and decide to live all together. The plan sounds crazy but even if the lack of privacy is disturbing and brings back old memories, an amazing adventure starts! But house sharing is not always easy and sometimes ambitions and desires can make it really chaotic. Did they finally make the right choice?
Review: This was disappointing. The arguements for living together were not argued. The characters were light-weight. The two women were painfully thin (Chaplin and Fonda). The most interesting character was Fonda's husband with dementia, yet this was treated almost flippantly. More a vehicle for her angst. And they were very well off. Which negated the entire bloody thing. Poor choice, Julie.
Nathalie (played by the stunning Audrey Tautou, Amélie) has everything to be happy about: she is young, beautiful and madly in love with her husband François. But the accidental death of the latter radically changes her life. For years, Nathalie doesn’t go out anymore. She buries herself in work and puts her sentimental life aside, until one day when, without really knowing why, she kisses Markus (François Damiens), an insignificant Swedish colleague, who is the antithesis of her late husband. What follows is this improbable couple’s sentimental waltz which attracts questioning and aggressiveness within the company. Delicacy is both the particularly charming story of a relationship between two very different people and the revival of a woman broken by loss.
The Well-Digger's Daughter
Daniel Auteuil makes his directing debut with this remake of Marcel Pagnol’s 1940 film of the same name. It’s the beginning of the Second World War. Patricia (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) is young, beautiful and the apple of her adoring father’s eye. A chance encounter with Jacques Mazel (Nicolas Duvauchelle), a seductive and handsome pilot from a bourgeois family, leads to a fleeting romance. They meet but twice. No sooner have the pair fallen in love is Jacques sent off to fight in the war, leaving Patricia behind – and pregnant. A rift erupts between Patricia and her father (Daniel Auteuil) and the Mazels refuse to acknowledge their grandchild, having no desire for their superior genes to intermix with those of a lesser class. But what will happen when Jacques is reported missing? Will compassion triumph in the end? The classic cinematography evokes the nostalgia of a bygone era, and the enchanting vistas of the south of France are as mesmerizing as the story itself.
This is drama at its most beautiful.
Enchantingly led by Catherine Deneuve and her real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni, this sly and exquisitely romantic musical-drama from writer/director Christophe Honoré (Love Songs, Inside Paris) spans over four decades as it follows a mother and daughter’s twin misadventures in love. In Paris, 1964, carefree young Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier) steals a gorgeous pair of high heels, and whilst wearing them is mistaken for an escort – an error that signals the next direction her life will take. But she soon falls for and marries a suave Czech doctor Jaromil (Rasha Bukvic), leaving Paris for Prague. Thirty years later we follow Madeleine’s daughter, Vera (Mastroianni), a lovely but reckless young woman whose romantic life is no simpler than that of her mother. She has a sometime-lover Clément (Louis Garrel) but on a trip to London falls for an American (Paul Schneider), a man who’ll prove incapable of devoting himself to her. Meanwhile in Paris, a re-married Madeleine (Deneuve) has rekindled her love affair with Jaromil (now played by Miloš Forman)… Influenced by Jacques Demy but with style all his own, Honoré has made a film of many delights, not least of which is the sight of Deneuve’s character strolling through Paris, singing through tears and revisiting her reckless youth.
Vincent Lindon and Alain Cavalier star in this witty postmodern satire. The boundaries between fiction and reality are blurred as their fictional relationship runs parallel to their actual relationship. The two men don their power suits and ties and make the film they’ve always dreamed of. Alain Cavalier plays a version of himself, who is beginning to work on a film in which he will play the President of France. Vincent Lindon also plays a version of himself, who is preparing to play a politician who will be prime minister. The two men share a father and son bond, with Cavalier articulating a sense that he will soon be supplanted by his younger successor. Alain would like Vincent to become president, but does not want to forego his power and lose consideration and respect. Directed as if it was a documentary, the movie projects us into French political life and high-level power. The two men are both father and son and sparring partners: they need to lead the country but do not always agree on what should be done and how it should be done.
Part biographical documentary, part series of musings on life and art, The Look is Angelina Maccarone’s revealing portrait of one of cinema’s most renowned and extraordinary actresses: Charlotte Rampling. What does the world look like through the eyes of Charlotte Rampling? She played the beautiful and worldly foil to Lynn Redgrave’s Georgy Girl, before Luchino Visconti brought her to Italy for The Damned. Her role in Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter spawned an international debate. She inspired Helmut Newton to take his first nude photographs. In New York she was Woody Allen’s personification of the perfect woman. Breaker of taboos, feminist, icon avant-gardist... to capture this woman’s persona presents a challenge that succeeds remarkably, by being as unfettered and brave as the actress herself. The Look traces Rampling’s life story via a series of fascinating conversations about life’s big questions, between the subject herself and a collection of photographers, writers, poets, painters and filmmakers, including Peter Lindberg, Paul Auster and Jürgen Teller.
I idly gazed out the window at the city life flowing along Oxford Street, and transported myself back to Boulevard Saint-Germain way down near the Assemblee Nationale where one comes up from Metro Solferino and madly dashes across to the intersection with Rue Saint-Dominique, just near that wonderful bookshop ... drats now I cannot locate a simple bookshop in Paris. And I so wanted to tell you its name. Later ... much later ... It is 'Librarie Privat Julliard' on Place Jacques Bainville which is the intersection of Bvd Saint-Germain and Rue de Solferino. Phew!