Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:46 pm 
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Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center 2016

In collaboration with UniFrance

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Links to the reviews (coming)
21 Nights with Pattie /21 nuits avec Pattie (Jean-Marie & Arnaud Larrieu 2015)
Apaches, The/Des Apaches (Nassim Amaouche, France, 2015
Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) (Eva Husson 2015)
Dark Inclusion /Diamant noir (Arthur Harari 2016)
Decent Man, A/Je ne suis pas un salaud (Emmanuel Finkiel 2015)
Dheepan (Jacques Audiard 2015)
Disorder/Maryland (Alice Winocour 2015)
Fatima (Philippe Faucon 2015)
Lolo (Julie Delpy 2015)
Much Loved (Nabil Ayouch 2015)
My King /Mon roi (Maïwenn 2015)
The New Kid /Le Nouveau (Rudi Rosenberg 2015)
Parisienne /Peur de rien (Danielle Arbid 2015)
Standing Tall /La Tête haute (Emmanuelle Bercot 2015)
Story of Judas /Histoire de Judas (Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche 2015)
Summertime /La Belle saison (Catherine Corsini 2015)
Three Sisters /Les Trois soeurs (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi 2015)
Two Friends /Les Deux amis (Louis Garrel 2015)
Valley of Love (Guillaume Nicloux 2015)
Winter Song /Chant d’hiver (Otar Iosseliani 2015)

Lineup
Opening Night
*Valley of Love
Guillaume Nicloux, France/Belgium, 2015, DCP, 92m
English and French with English subtitles

Guillaume Nicloux’s sui generis, elegiac road movie puts a meta twist on a familiar setup: titans Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert star as famous French actors Gérard and Isabelle, a long-divorced couple whose son Michael has committed suicide six months prior to their Californian rendezvous in Death Valley, occasioned by an enigmatic letter from Michael that seems to have been written some time after his death. The letter asks them to visit a series of sites in the area; at the end of this tour, Michael claims he will appear before them. What follows is an utterly singular trip of a film, by turns melancholic and funny, self-reflexive and surreal. In their first film together since Maurice Pialat’s Loulou in 1980, Depardieu and Huppert astound with their enthralling portrayal of grieving parents who, to an ambiguous degree, appear to be versions of themselves, making for a tour de force as moving as it is complex. A Strand Releasing release.

Closing Night
*Dheepan
Jacques Audiard, France, 2015, DCP, 109m
French with English subtitles

Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for this daring, genre-bending portrait of three Sri Lankan refugees—Dheepan (Antonythasan Jesuthasan), Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan), and Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby)—who form a fake family unit to emigrate. When they find themselves living together in a violent, gang-dominated housing project outside Paris, they start to reevaluate the terms of their intimacy. Like his character, the actor and novelist Jesuthasan was a member of the militant nationalist army LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) before fleeing the country and settling into a series of odd jobs in Paris, while eventually renouncing all ties to the Tigers. When, in its bloody last act, his character has to fall back on his military training, Dheepan becomes something darker: a harrowing reckoning with the past. A Sundance Selects release.

21 Nights with Pattie / 21 nuits avec Pattie
Jean-Marie & Arnaud Larrieu, France, 2015, DCP, 115m
French with English subtitles

The Larrieu brothers make oddball, tonally mixed comedies unlike anything else in French cinema today. In their latest, a slightly prim woman Caroline (Isabelle Carré) arrives in a small village in the Pyrénées to bury her estranged mother. There, she befriends Pattie (Karin Viard), who offers tales of her sexual adventures with the local men, including a priapic half-man, half-beast creature (Denis Lavant). Caroline’s ongoing debate between pride and pleasure is just one link in a chain of increasingly wild events: the mysterious disappearance of her mother’s body, the ensuing surreal police investigation, and some shocking revelations about her mother’s former lover, who may or not be the writer J.M.G. Le Clézio—played to perfection by André Dussollier. U.S. Premiere

The Apaches / Des Apaches
Nassim Amaouche, France, 2015, DCP, 97m
French with English subtitles

Les Inrocks accounted for the six years it took Nassim Amaouche to release his second feature by calling him "a director with a temperament as patient, roving and reflective as his films." He stars as Samir, a young French-Algerian man lured by a dubious "family" lawyer (André Dussollier) into making an occult business deal within a similarly marginalized setting: one of Paris’s largest and most diverse Kabyle communities. Having been drawn into the family bar business by his estranged father, Samir still agonizes over the memory of his late mother, while falling in love with a beautiful and mysterious single mom (Laetitia Casta). The Apaches is a delicate movie that doubles as a tense negotiation drama and a quiet, reflective memory play. U.S. Premiere

Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story)
Eva Husson, France, 2016, DCP, 98m
French with English subtitles

Eva Husson’s debut feature, shot and set in the wealthy coastal suburbs of Biarritz, is an unapologetically blissed-out, frankly explicit anthology of the sexual experiments a cluster of teenagers undertake over the course of one summer. Determined to keep the attentions of her favorite boy Alex (Finnegan Oldfield), George (Marilyn Lima) encourages her group of horny friends and acquaintances to start hosting elaborate, sunlight-drenched, EDM-filled swingers parties. Husson doesn’t ignore the students who abstain, but she’s utterly entranced by the excesses, risks, and temptations of George’s universe—a pulsating, slow-motion bacchanal pitched somewhere between the world of Spring Breakers and that of Larry Clark. A Samuel Goldwyn Films release. U.S. Premiere

Dark Inclusion / Diamant noir
Arthur Harari, France/Belgium, 2016, DCP, 115m
French with English subtitles

"You want them to pay? You have to be lucid, cool, precise. You go there, you see, and you take—that’s payback." Arthur Harari’s first feature is a poised, stylish, and utterly assured revenge thriller in which violence erupts suddenly amid tense, hushed stretches of talk. Pier Ulmann (Niels Schneider) comes from a family of powerful diamond dealers based in Anvers. After his estranged father’s death, he vows vengeance against his relatives who had abandoned him and returns to the business with an elaborate robbery in mind. Featuring menacing tracking shots; a cool, metallic color palette; surprising third-act reversals; and a terrific ensemble cast, Dark Inclusion is a movie precisely attuned to the logistical and moral complexities that accompany lives of luxurious crime. U.S. Premiere

A Decent Man / Je ne suis pas un salaud
Emmanuel Finkiel, France, 2015, DCP, 111m
French with English subtitles

"I am not a bastard"” The literal French translation of the title of Emmanuel Finkiel’s taut, intelligent morality play captures its tone perhaps better than its American name. In the film’s first act, Eddy (Nicolas Duvauchelle) is in a position of strength. Having just been injured in a mugging, he’s earned the sympathy and attention of his estranged family and gotten back on his feet. The same cannot be said for Ahmed (Driss Ramdi), whose life starts falling apart after he’s wrongly accused of the crime. When the case against Ahmed starts to unravel, Eddy has to go back on the defensive… U.S. Premiere

Disorder/ Maryland
Alice Winocour, France/Belgium, 2015, DCP, 101m
French with English subtitles

Alice Winocour’s follow-up to Augustine (Rendez-Vous 2013)—her study of the 19th-century neurologist Jean-Marie Charcot’s fraught relationship with one of his hysteria patients—is another finely tuned drama of unstable intimacy and mental imbalance. Having just returned from Afghanistan, Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) suffers from night terrors, pummeling headaches, and bouts of paranoia. To distract himself, he gets a job working security at the extravagant chateau of a Lebanese financier, whose beautiful wife (Diane Kruger) he’s soon hired to protect after the husband goes away on business. Disorder evolves from an exercise in nervous, slow-burn suspense into a tense domestic thriller. A Sundance Selects release.

Fatima
Philippe Faucon, France, 2015, DCP, 79m
French and Arabic with English subtitles

Middle-aged single mother Fatima (Soria Zeroual) lives with her two teenage daughters and works cleaning jobs to pay their way through school. Inspired by a true story and the poetry of the North African writer Fatima Elayoubi, who immigrated knowing very little French and slowly taught herself the language, Faucon’s eighth feature—winner of the prestigious Louis Delluc Prize for Best French Film—is a patient, reflective study of a woman pressured by her children and her neighbors alike to assimilate into a culture of which she’s wary. Despite the display of everyday racism, both veiled and overt; internal domestic disputes; and external gestures of inhospitality, Fatima offers an uplifting experience and one of recent French cinema’s most trenchant and moving portraits of immigrant experience. [AlloCiné 4.4/24]

The Great Game / Le Grand jeu
Nicolas Pariser, France, 2015, DCP, 100m
French with English subtitles

Pierre (Melvil Poupaud), a onetime darling novelist disgusted with the publishing world, lets a duplicitous government insider (André Dussollier) tempt him into ghostwriting a manifesto designed to transform the landscape of French public opinion—a shift with risky consequences for the activist (Clémence Poésy) with whom he soon becomes involved. Nicolas Pariser’s debut feature is an elegant political thriller that makes much use of its stellar cast, particularly with the brittle, uneasy rapport between Poupaud—the soulful young man at the center of Eric Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale and Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways—and Dussollier, a resourceful and protean actor who commits to his character’s malevolence with relish. U.S. Premiere

*Lolo
Julie Delpy, France, 2015, DCP, 99m
French with English subtitles

Writer, director, actor, composer: Julie Delpy is one of current French cinema’s great renaissance talents. In her new movie, a four-string black comedy that develops on the thinking at work in her recent 2 Days in New York, a world-weary fashionista (Delpy) finds her happy new relationship with a divorced, slightly unpolished computer programmer (Dany Boon) threatened by the machinations of her wheeling, malevolent son (Vincent Lacoste). Delpy is a filmmaker with a wise, prickly comic sensibility, and her movies often slide—like screwball comedies—from cerebral verbal banter to outright farce. Lolo is no exception, although it’s also her darkest, riskiest, and most startling movie to date. A FilmRise release. U.S. Premiere

Much Loved
Nabil Ayouch, France/Morocco, 2015, DCP, 104m
Arabic and French with English subtitles

“What do you know about men?” a voice asks over the opening credits of Nabil Ayouch’s provocative portrait of several female sex workers in Marrakech. “Men are like makes [of cars]: high-end, medium, and sons of bitches. All that matters is the cash.” Noha (Loubna Abidar), Randa (Asmaa Lazrak), and Soukaina (Halima Karaouane) are professional, thick-skinned, and practical about their line of work, which ferries them up and down the city’s class ladder and renders them vulnerable to a catalog of possible abuses. Controversially banned in Morocco for its “contempt for moral values,” Much Loved offers such a candid and unblinking picture of a subculture that it’s a perilous job to represent on screen.

*My King / Mon roi
Maïwenn, France, 2015, DCP, 128m
French with English subtitles

Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot, in a performance that won her the Best Actress Award at Cannes) and Georgio (Vincent Cassel) are an odd match—or so Tony’s brother Solal (Louis Garrel) thinks when she tells him that they’re falling quickly, recklessly in love. Actor-director Maïwenn’s fourth feature captures the couple’s tempestuous 10-year relationship in retrospect as a string of flash points, eruptions, betrayals, tender reconciliations, and life-altering decisions. At the center of My King’s wide, expansive frames are Bercot and Cassel for nearly every second of its runtime, and the movie stakes itself on their harrowingly committed, nerve-fraying performances. Maïwenn’s formidable new film is one of French cinema’s most memorable recent amour fous. U.S. Premiere

The New Kid / Le Nouveau
Rudi Rosenberg, France, 2015, DCP, 81m
French with English subtitles

In this delectable and vivacious debut feature, shy 14-year-old Benoît (Réphaël Ghrenassia) moves to Paris and a new high school, where he’s rejected by his cooler classmates and reluctantly sidelined into a precarious friendship with the "freaks and geeks." The New Kid is a rare case among coming-of-age movies: a portrait of allegiances made and broken among middle-schoolers that calls special attention to the uglier, less picturesque aspects of passing through puberty. The movie’s rhythm never stalls and its tone stays charmingly light partly thanks to its wonderful cast—a skilled and magnetic group of first-time young actors. U.S. Premiere

Parisienne / Peur de rien
Danielle Arbid, France, 2015, DCP, 120m
French with English subtitles

The French title of Danielle Arbid’s fourth feature, a luminous study of a young Lebanese woman restlessly accommodating herself to her new home in Paris during the mid-’90s, translates to "fear of nothing." Lina might sometimes be afraid, but—as played by the great young actress Manal Issa—she’s also intrepid, adventurous, confident, independent, and breathtakingly self-possessed. Parisienne follows her as she flees the abusive uncle in whose care she’s been placed, flits from bed to bed, passes in and out of university classes, makes friends on both extreme sides of the political spectrum, takes a handful of lovers, and, in the movie’s climax, fights a legal battle to stay in the city that’s become hers.

Standing Tall / La Tête haute
Emmanuelle Bercot, France, 2015, DCP, 119m
French with English subtitles

Emmanuelle Bercot’s fourth feature, which opened last year’s Cannes, is a candid, sympathetic, impassioned study of a teenage delinquent surrounded by adults both callous and supportive. On the latter side is a warm-hearted juvenile court judge (Catherine Deneuve) and a devoted social worker (Benoît Magimel); on the other side stand, it can seem, most other authority figures. Sixteen-year-old Malony (Rod Paradot) is clearly a victim of his circumstances and poor parenting from his basket case of a mother (Sara Forestier), but he’s also a bully, a brute, and a sexually violent offender. Part of the strength of Standing Tall is that it refuses to entirely absolve its central character; instead, it counts on Paradot, a powerful new actor, to render him as a convincingly troubled, tempestuous soul. A Cohen Media release.

Summertime / La Belle saison
Catherine Corsini, France/Belgium, 2015, DCP, 105m
French with English subtitles

Acclaimed director Catherine Corsini has made melodramas that range in tone from the bleak and violent to the tender and emotionally warm. At first glance, her Locarno prize-winning new film is one of her brightest and most bucolic. Soon after Delphine (Izïa Higelin) moves from her conservative parents’ farm near Limoges to Paris in 1971, she meets the older Carole (Cécile de France), a feminist organizer with whom she embarks on a passionate, mutually invigorating love affair. When a family sickness pulls Delphine back to the farm, Carole has to decide whether to follow her into hostile territory—and Summertime becomes something more complicated and fraught than its seductive, luminous visual palette initially suggests. A Strand Releasing release. U.S. Premiere

Three Sisters / Les Trois soeurs
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, France, 2015, DCP, 110m
French with English subtitles

"Life is hard. It seems to many of us dull and hopeless; but yet we must admit that it goes on getting clearer and easier, and it looks as though the time were not far off when it’ll be full of happiness." For her latest project, commissioned by Arte and starring members of the Comédie-Française, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi shot an idiosyncratic, half-modernized adaptation of one of Chekhov’s greatest, most expansively melancholy plays. The three sisters of the title—two unmarried, one unhappily married—congregate in their family’s ancestral house and, along with the additional soldiers, debtors, pensioners, and spouses who populate the play, struggle to give their futures a shape. From a translation by André Markowicz and Françoise Morvan. U.S. Premiere

*Two Friends / Les Deux amis
Louis Garrel, France, 2015, DCP, 102m
French with English subtitles

One of France’s most distinguished and recognizable actors for over a decade now, Louis Garrel makes his much-anticipated feature-length directorial debut with this clever and moving twist on the ménage à trois. Garrel stars as Abel, a gas-station attendant with literary ambitions, an underage girlfriend, and an always-active libido. Abel is all too accustomed to seducing away the crushes of his best friend, movie-extra Vincent (Vincent Macaigne)—but when an incognito convict working at a pastry counter in the Gare du Nord (Golshifteh Farahani) enters Vincent’s orbit (and, by extension, Abel’s), a comic, manic, and eminently romantic love triangle soon unfolds. Co-written by his frequent collaborator Christophe Honoré, Two Friends marks an auspicious and heartfelt first feature for Garrel, striking a pitch-perfect balance between tragedy and charm. U.S. Premiere

Winter Song / Chant d’hiver
Otar Iosseliani, France, 2015, DCP, 117m
French with English subtitles

There’s no mistaking the tone and structure of a film by the 81-year-old Georgian director Otar Iosseliani: caustic, mordant, detached, extremely funny, and dizzyingly panoramic. Like several of his earlier films, Winter Song doesn’t center on a single figure so much as a dense cluster of interrelated characters, all united by objects (an executed aristocrat’s skull), places (the apartment building where most of them live), historical events (from the French Revolution to the Russo-Georgian War), and pure coincidence. An aging upper-crust patriarch burning his letters; a tramp hoping to avoid the advances of a steamroller; an 18th-century nobleman who insists on taking his pipe to the guillotine: Winter Song is a well-stocked encyclopedia of human variety, eccentricity, and folly, elevated by an exquisite cast that include Rufus, Pierre Étaix, and Mathieu Amalric. U.S. Premiere

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*Previously reviewed.

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©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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