French Film Festibule (starts in Melbourne tonight)

Top Picks

Trailer Icon 03 Rosalie Blum (Opening Night)
Thirty-something Vincent Machot is a hairdresser, like his father before him. Life rotates around work, his overbearing mother who lives in the apartment upstairs, and a womanising cousin constantly trying to set him up. But one morning Vincent experiences a powerful déjà-vu when he meets the gaze of a grocery store clerk, Rosalie Blum. Intrigued by this mysterious woman, he begins following her…

Dheepan is a major film event and the winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2015. Three strangers in conflict-ridden northern Sri Lanka band together as a makeshift family in order to flee to the suburbs of Paris: Dheepan, an ex-Tamil Tiger, lost young woman Yalini and orphan girl Illayaal. As they struggle to find stability, they are forced to improvise their relationships. Soon they find they must cope with new violence and intolerance in their adopted home.
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The latest idiosyncratic masterwork from the much fêted auteur, Arnaud Desplechin, is a sincere paean to memories of adolescent romance which is by turns wistful and rueful. A prequel to his earlier My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument, it won the SACD prize at the Directors’ Fortnight of the Cannes International Film Festival in 2015.
Paul Dédalus recalls his early blossoming of love as a teenager, his awkwardly charming flirtations with the beautiful Esther, resulting in a life-defining affair, that is tested by Paul’s leaving rural France to study in Paris. In two other distinct episodes, Paul also remembers elements of his childhood, and a thrilling school trip journey to Russia involving passport espionage with a local Jewish boy.
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This period drama, set in a French village during the Second World War German occupation, has been a huge success in France since 2009. ‘To live is to choose’ is the motto of the series, as we see characters confronted with daily dilemmas of collaboration, resistance and survival.
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Stand-up comic sensation Kheiron directs and stars in this inspiring and hilarious retelling of his extraordinary family journey from the tumult of Iran in the late 70s to the feverish melting pot of suburban Paris. He plays his own father, Hibat, a lawyer and eventual political prisoner under the Shah who was released by the Ayatollah. The intolerant climate forces him to flee through Turkey with his wife Fereshteh and baby son. Ultimately the couple’s spirit of rebellion and joie de vivre continues as they make their mark in the migrant suburb of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine.
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Mathias, Gabriel, Andrea and Arlette are talent agents who work around the clock to keep their famous movie actor clients happy. But in this industry there seems to be more drama and comedy off the screen than on! Featuring an incredible line-up of real-life French stars, this sharp-edged and irresistible satire of the egos behind modern movie-making, was a ratings smash hit on French television.
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Thierry is a middle-aged man, long out of work and short on prospects. His is a precarious existence, surviving with his beloved wife and developmentally challenged son on meagre state benefits while subject to the corroding humiliation of pointless job interviews and skills training. When Thierry finally does land a job as a Head of Security he is thrust into a world of stark moral choices in which he discovers that his job not only pays, it costs.
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Ea, on the advice of her brother JC, hacks her father’s computer and sends everyone on Earth a text message with the date God has planned for their demise. Pursued by her wrathful father, Ea flees to Earth, enlisting bored wife Martine as one of her disciples. Meanwhile, after God decides to leave his apartment for the first time he becomes trapped in the outside world, powerless and alone.This brisk, idea-laden and absurdist film toys with the eternal struggle between fate and free will, asking the question – what would you do if you knew the hour of your doom?
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Imagine an alternate world where technological progress has been halted. This wonder-filled animation creates a Paris of 1941 built on coal and steam, in a thrilling story that will inspire awe in children and adults alike. Fans of comic book adventures will love this return to traditional line drawings based on the popular books by Jacques Tardi.
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In an unnamed African country, the Move For Kids organisation (based on the real-life Zoe’s Ark) is officially established to rescue orphans and provide them with a new life in France. Led by Jacques, it soon becomes apparent that the organisation’s motives behind saving the orphans are not always altruistic. With the line between humanitarian assistance and human trafficking becoming blurred, the stakes and risks get higher. But who is right and who is wrong? As a provocative and urgently current examination of the sometimes murky moral choices made by NGOs in strife-torn environments, this is an ambiguous, disturbing, yet hopeful must-see film.
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When the career of politician Philippe is ruined by a presidential candidate Francis, he is set on a path of bitter revenge. Making friends in high and low places, and forging an alliance with his closest advisor Amélie, Philippe does daily battle with his enemies and his own personal demons. For fans of political thrillers, this engrossing drama is both a suspenseful epic and a superb character study.
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Within the DGSE (French CIA), the Bureau of Legends is an elite group of deep undercover assets. When one such agent Guillaume, returns to Paris after a long mission in Syria, he is faced with a crisis: he must find another agent operating in Algeria who has gone off the grid. This exciting look at today’s world of espionage has plenty of twists and turns, as well as a refreshingly human story at its heart.
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Trailer Icon 03 Contempt (Closing Night)
Contempt remains a glorious experience made for the big screen. Over fifty years on from its first release, Jean-Luc Godard’s film remains a touchstone for world cinema, an incandescent work of intellect and passion, and a true movie icon.
Godard self-reflexively tells the story of a screenwriter Paul Javal, who is working on a script of The Odyssey, directed by film giant Fritz Lang, and sure to be a box-office bomb. Art, commerce and personal affairs clash as Paul courts favour with brash producer Jerry Prokosch, and compromises his marriage to Camille.
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6 Responses to French Film Festibule (starts in Melbourne tonight)

  1. Rob Bray says:

    First two last night

    “Premiers Crus” lightweight – boy meets girl (just before she gets married) boy saves family winery – easy watching, nice scenery (as one of the reviews said “juste une pub pour la Bourgogne”), do not get too concerned about gaps/incongruities in the narrative.

    “Mon Roi” brilliantly made, superbly acted (especially by Emmanuelle Bercot), which in many ways I hated as I watched (I have a low tolerance for seeing people do stupid things and not learning). A woman’s reflections on her relationship with a manipulative man.

  2. Rob Bray says:

    Another two

    L’Hermine: Ok movie – Fabrice Luchini is a good actor and puts in a solid role – in what is essentially a light romance (and a side bit of a French courtroom drama – and the operation of the French legal system) – but also an exploration of his own character – but it was hard to see him as cold as his reputation was made out to be. The daughter is great as a precocious 17 year old French kid.

    Les Anarchistes: Good but not great. Junior cop infiltrating anarchist group in Paris in 1899 – nicely made – the real problem is that it lacked passion. Early on there are a couple of scenes which give a bit of an insight into the motivation but beyond this it focuses more on the relationships and the action seems to be isolated from the underlying motivation for going down the pathway. It may be that to be French and have the commune as part of your upbringing that the motivation doesn’t need to be explained – but they end up coming across as more bourgeois nihilist than anything else. However the acting is good and there are some good scenes and betrayals.

  3. Rob Bray says:

    Papa ou maman: Couple drifting apart from their marriage amicably agree to divorce without rancour –except for custody of the three (pre-teen to teen) children – who for work reasons both want the other to take on for the next 8 months. The choice is that of the children – so the challenge is how to convince the children to choose the other. The fight escalates. OK the plot is thin the behaviours outrageous and conclusion a bit weak – but is it fun – oh yeah – let the battle commence.

    Anton Tchekhov 1890. A pleasant enough movie well-acted and presented, but did I emerge with a understanding of his life and motivation or indeed anything. He talks of a childhood of ‘bigotry and brutality’ but other than his father being told not to pray loudly this is not seen. Similarly while doing his social survey in Sahkalin while he saw some problems one didn’t really get – a sense of cruel and inhuman outcomes – the flogging seemed to be with regret not with vengeance.

    Baron Noir: This was the first two episodes of a new television series about the NSW Labor machine an ambitious politician of the left in France. Very well produced – as a television production it survived the big screen well and the two episodes had a strong enough story line and good enough linkages to work together as a feature. It is very well written and unfortunately totally believable. Just remember ‘your opponents are on the other side in politics, your enemies are on your side’.

  4. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Thanks for all the intel Rob

  5. Rob Bray says:

    Asphalte (Macadam stories): Just chill-out don’t think about what you might expect it to be and enjoy. Three vignettes of life (in at times a rather surreal form) in a run down apartment block. An ageing actress whose career has slipped away (superbly played by Isabelle Huber) and a young student; a somewhat delusional eccentric who creates his own problems and of course an elderly Algerian woman with a surprise lodger – an American astronaut who drops in. It is funny, it does make you think about people in a positive way.

    Un village francais: This is the first two episodes of a television series. A French village in the first few days of the German invasion and occupation. It is good – the production values and script is not quite up to Baron Noir but it makes for riveting watching. In many ways ordinary people with ordinary lives which are suddenly convulsed. There is confusion and some step up more than others when the challenges start coming. As the first two episodes it is definitely spending some time building up some of the characters for the series as a whole – but the story lines in are big enough to ensure the episodes are coherent. Do not expect to walk out feeling good about their future.

    Two more and my yearly movie quota will be met.

  6. Rob Bray says:

    As promised – the last two:

    Microbe et Gasoil: Two young boys (14-15), outsiders, organise an outrageous road trip in their summer holidays to escape dysfunctional families in a homemade vehicle. It is billed as a comedy and has great moments of humour – but as you leave you are no longer laughing. Hidden in the movie are many of the trials and obsessions of young adolescence. Good but not great (– at least for adults).

    Loi de marché: An unemployed worker, and father to a disabled boy, struggles to get employment with all of the humiliations and frustrations along the way. He finally gets work as a security guard in a large supermarket – for a man with pride and humanity this continues to brings its own challenges. Do not expect action – it is cinéma vérité and life is often just a constant struggle. Vincent Landon does smile at times, but not much – but does act well. Two quibbles – I did not find the wife’s role convincing (or too much was left unexplained) and it is mainly shot using handheld cameras. Very good, but do not expect to leave feeling wonderful about the world.

    (I’ve just realised that my review of Un village francais finished with very similar words – there is a difference, this time you leave with despair about daily life – you leave village knowing that the occupation is going to go on for four years and that there will be constant fear, betrayal and suffering.)

    Picks of the season – Mon Roi, Asphalte, Baron Noir

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