Tag Archives: French Cinema

Manon Des Sources

manon Des source

 

It is the sequel to Jean de Florette. It won an award in 1989 as best french film. Time has passed and Manon (Emmanuelle Beart) is now a beautiful young woman.Galinette (Auteuil) and his uncle Cesar (Montard) have greatly prospered from the fresh spring water and their carnations grow well.  Galinette begins to turn towards ideas of love and steadily falls for the distant Manon. One day, Manon overhears the conversation of two locals about the vile action of Ugolin and Cesar and she plots revenge against the two men blocking the spring of the whole town. The film is an excellent travelogue of Provence, and its slow, deliberate pacing enables you to envelop yourself in a story that unveils itself in its own sweet time. The film binds all the people in town in a wonderfully spun loop of love, hate, crime, guilt, vengeance, repentance, and the possibility of forgivenes. Both Montand and Auteuil gave unforgettable performances.  Emmanuelle Beart was stunning as Manon. When this film ends, you will be devastated – and haunted forever by it.

Jean De Florette

Gerard_Depardieu_in_Jean_de_Florette

It is a 1986 French period drama film written and directed by Claude Berri, based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol.  The film takes place in rural France, where two local farmers plot to trick a newcomer out of his newly inherited property. The socially awkward Ugolin Soubeyran (Daniel Auteuil) returns from military service to his family home halfway up a green mountainside near his uncle César’s house.
Ugolin looks to César (Yves Montand), whom he calls “Papet,” for guidance as to how to carry on the family name, particularly since he is the family’s last member. Ugolin decides to grow carnations, which he hopes will make him rich. Although initially dubious about the scheme,  Papet changes his mind when he considers purchasing a land from his neighbor.  After accidentally killing the man, Papet and Ugolin block up a spring on the property with a scheme to buy the land cheap.  However, the plot goes wrong when ownership of the land shifts to the recently deceased Florette de Berengere, whose hunchback son Jean (Gerard Depardieu) moves back to his ancestral home with his wife and young daughter Manon. A recently retired tax collector, Jean is a well-read man with a fine strategy to plant a farm and a rabbit-breeding facility that will provide for his family until his death. As the film progresses, our attention narrowly focuses on the principal characters and their evolution. We are not distracted by outside events. At the same time, we are torn between the two conflicting wishes for the success of two conflicting projects.
Director Claude Berri’s epic period-drama masterpiece of French cinema features impeccable performances by reknowned French actors- Yves Montand, Gerard Depardieu, Daniel Auteil. Their brilliant ensemble work here highlights the rich history of French Cinema. The high-budget picture elegantly captures the natural setting, social customs, and personal prejudices of French villagers whose source of spring water is manipulated at different times by manipulative individuals.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091288/

La nuit américaine (Day For Night)

Day for night

 

“Shooting a movie is like a stagecoach trip. At first you hope for a nice ride. Then you just hope to reach your destination.” Early in the film, director Ferrand, played by François Truffaut, says this in a voice-over of ‘Day for Night’. A lot of the film illustrates this point. We are on the set of ‘Meet Pamela’.  ‘Meet Pamela’ is a love and revenge story, about a man falling in love with daughter-in-law. We get to know the cast and crew of ‘Meet Pamela’.  Julie Baker(Jacqueline Bisset), a second generation Hollywood star whose nervous breakdown she’s recovering from causes insurance problems; Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Léaud),a very jealous, very neurotic French actor who’s so madly in love with a girl he organizes the job of the script for her just to have her near; Alexandre(Jean-Pierre Aumont), a veteran actor who played many lovers in his life, but is actually a closet homosexual;  Severine (Valentina Cortese), an Italian actress with an alcohol problem who used to play opposite Alexandre frequently in her career, but hasn’t talked to him in years.
It is a film about making a film. It is also one of Truffaut’s most personal films. Day for Night” is Truffaut’s fondest, most compassionate film, and although it is packed with references to films and film people (Welles, Vigo, Fellini, Buñuel, among others), it’s not a particularly inside film. Bisset as Julie gives the film a bit of real heart as the one character who has something of a life beyond movies. Cortese is a treat, with both her sweetness and her lighter moments. Jean-Pierre Léaud is outstanding as selfish, spoiled Alphonse. Truffaut himself played the role of the director with a lot of confidence. “Day for Night” is an ensemble movie, showing how the many kinds of people on a film set surmount the many minor crises inherent in film-making.

 

Juste Avant La Nuit

Juste avant la nuit

Just Before Nightfall is another Claude Chabrol film that focuses on infidelity and again it’s an intriguing thriller and an excellent exploration of the human condition. When a sadomasochistic game goes too far, Charles (Michel Bouquet), a married man, strangles his lover, the wife of his best friend, and then does battle with his guilty conscience. The murder happens right at the start of the film, so it’s not exactly a spoiler. Bouquet despises the games she likes to play, mostly because he sees that what she’s really getting off on is his own distaste. He’s not sure whether he wanted to murder her.  He’s married to an elegant woman (Stephane Audran, Chabrol’s wife) and has a couple of nice kids and an elegant house that was designed by the victim’s husband.
His characters are generally from the section of French bourgeoisie. They’re respectable, they live in comfortable homes and work in well-paying professions, they present a facade of total respectability. But underneath there are dark passions and well-kept secrets and, at-times, the ultimate embarrassment of murder. The actors reveal their inner dilemmas with gestures more than words. Deep intentions run across surface motives. And the final gesture of this compelling film casts all that went before into another, deeper level. All the main characters are developed well and believable. The main character, Charles, is certainly the most interesting ; the way that guilt overtakes him provides a different take on the common murderer theme and makes for a very interesting watch. Guilt, forgiveness, revenge coexist and mutually triumph. Many of us assume these three moral stances are mutually irreconcilable. Chabrol balances them against each other and then fuses them together.

wolf

Director Christophe Gans has given us an exhilarating ride with this stylish period thriller. The story involves the Beast of Gevaudan, which in 1764, terrorized a remote district of France, killing more than 100 people and tearing out their hearts and vitals.
As the film opens, the king has dispatched eminent scientist Gregoire de Fronsac (played by Samuel le Bihan), along with a muscle-bound Iroquois blood brother named Mani ( Mark Dacascos), to investigate. The creature responsible is reportedly a monstrous wolf, but as the pair investigate, they discover that several of the locals may know more about the affair than they’re admitting.  Why is aristocrat Jean-Francois de Morangias ( Vincent Cassel) so indecisive towards the duo and is the prostitute Sylvia ( Monica Bellucci) just a little too savvy and sophisticated for someone who earns their living from dusk till dawn?  There’s also the small matter of Marianne (Dequenne), Jean-Francois’ virginal sister who fascinates Grégoire and then drives him into the arms of Sylvia.

Brotherhood of the Wolf encompasses every genre of film; martial arts, action, romance, thriller, horror, drama, everything.  There is the strikingly elegant and almost hypnotic courtesan Monica Bellucci, playing her role of seductress with ice-cold professionalism.  In complete contrast there is the innocent, fragile, and astonishingly beautiful, Emilie Dequenne, younger sister to the protective Jean Francois.
The two leads are fantastic and share a chemistry reminiscent of the relationship between Butch and Sundance.  Then there is Vincent Cassel who is suitably creepy as the immoral ‘Morangias”.  Atmosphere and suspense are strong throughout, and definite care is taken with the sound editing, whether it be the ceaseless patter of the driving rainfall or the heaving atmosphere of a noisy brothel.  The horror or ‘attack’ sequences are artfully played out, quietly refusing to reveal the identity of the creature; but when at last it is shown, the special effects do not disappoint.

Elle

elle

Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) is raped in her home by an assailant in a mask, then promptly cleans up the mess and resumes her life. The only witness to the attack is a black cat, which sits watching silently. This is the first image, the cat’s stare, a touch that’s grotesque and mysterious, like everything that follows in this subversive black humour.  Later, at dinner with friends, she offhandedly remarks, “I suppose I was raped.”  Michèle is the CEO of a video game company.  Her ex-husband, Richard (Charles Berling), is a obscure novelist who is trying to pitch her an idea for a game about a post-apocalyptic revolt of cyborg dog slaves. Her mother lives with a gigolo. And there are the violent fantasies that Michèle  initially entertains about getting back at her rapist, whose identity she discovers later.  Elle is at least three films at once: First, there’s the comedy of manners involving Michele’s adult son, mother, ex-husband and their respective other halves. At other moments, Elle plays like a sophisticated thriller. But it’s the third film, a complex psychological portrait of an unusual woman, that might be the most alluring (and these are the things u can never find in Indian cinema). As it progresses, Elle takes a deep dive into dangerous territory that could be misinterpreted as  misogyny.  Huppert gives a performance of imperious fury, holding the audience at bay, almost provoking us to disown her. Paul Verhoeven’s long-awaited return to  genre filmmaking pulls off a breathtaking film.

Ma nuit chez maud (My Night at Maud’s)

ma-nuit-chez-med

My night at maud’s is a 1969 French film directed by Eric Rohmer. It is the third film in his series of six moral tales. In this film, an introverted Catholic enginner (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is introduced by his Marxist friend Vidal (Antoine Vitez) to Maud (Francoise Fabian), a charming middle-aged woman and ends up staying the night in her apartment. They spend the evening talking about philosophy and religion, particularly about their different views on Pascal and his wager.  Pascal offered a pragmatic reason for believing in god : even under the assumption that god’s existence is unlikely, the benefits of believing are so vast as to make betting on theism rational. If god does exist, then our lives gain meaning and our reward is eternal. The three main characters are an interesting study in contrast. Vidal sees the wager as a logical tool for explaining everything, from religion to politics. For Jean-Louis, Pascal is too strict, a man who has sacrificed sensual pleasure.
Maud believes in the supremacy of love. After Vidal leaves, Maud tells Jean-Louis about her marriage, her ex-husband’s Catholic mistress, and the tragic end to her affair with the only man she loved. The girl that Jean-Louis is currently chasing is 22 year old Francoise ((Maire-Christine Barrault) a blonde,catholic girl that he has seen at church. They too fence with words as they try to mislead and reveal at the same time, and the audience is intrigued. Jean-louis is conflicted between his Catholic principles and his love of sensual pleasure.  He lives in a world centered on himself, involving in much philosophizing about choice but never choosing. Once Vidal leaves, Jean-Louis stays the night. Maud effortlessly engages Jean-Louis in a game of intellectual chess, provoking him with his own illusions about love. On the surface, the film appears very simple but underneath there is much complexity. Rohmer’s approach has often been called literary. He combines his intellectual interests with an intense examination of everyday life.