The French Film Festival: 2018

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Trailer Icon 03 C’est La Vie! (Opening Night)
Over a career spanning more than 30 years, Max Angély has enjoyed a celebrated career as a caterer and event organiser. Today, it’s all hands on deck for Pierre and Héléna’s nuptials in a breathtaking 17th century French chateau. As per usual, Max has everything precisely organised but, as the celebrations get underway, Murphy’s Law takes over, and his perfectly planned occasion risks disintegrating into a chaotic farce. Can Max and his team pull together to make Pierre and Héléna’s special day memorable for all the right reasons?
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Thirteen-year-old Ava is on a summer holiday in the Medoc region when she learns a degenerative condition that is turning her blind has accelerated. Rather than wallow in her imminent disability, Ava chooses to embrace her remaining senses and explore her burgeoning sensuality, as encouraged by her mother. An encounter with a young troublemaker Juan, sends Ava on a series of adventures she would never have dared to do before her prognosis.
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☆☆☆☆ Filmoria
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With the death of his father looming, Jean returns from his Australian winery to his childhood ‘domaine’ in Burgundy after a 10-year absence. He takes over the family’s vineyard along with his siblings Juliette and Jérémie. Over the course of a year, Jean, Juliette and Jérémie put aside their lingering resentments about the past as they seek to maintain their father’s legacy and defy expectations – financial, emotional and professional – of those around them.
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☆☆☆☆☆ HeyUGuys
☆☆☆☆☆ The Upcoming

If you think the countryside is calm and peaceful, then you might want to think again. France’s most unconventional farm plays home to a number of mixed-up animal folk. We are introduced to a fox that thinks he is a chicken, a rabbit that acts like a stork and a duck that wants to replace Father Christmas. Not surprisingly, their shenanigans are as hilarious as their identity confusion.
☆☆☆☆ Eye For Film
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Swann Arlaud, one of French cinema’s most exciting up and-coming talents, plays a lonesome 30-something dairy farmer, Pierre, whose life revolves around his veterinarian sister, his parents and his property. A deadly virus affecting cows hits France and Pierre finds one of his much-loved herds infected. Distraught at the prospect of losing even one cow, he attempts to hide the outbreak from authorities and vows to fight to the bitter end to save them, even if it means resorting to drastic and irreversible measures.
☆☆☆☆☆ Borrowing Tape
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☆☆☆☆ The Movie Waffler

BPM (Beats Per Minute) throws us into the milieu of sexual and political activism during François Mitterrand’s Government of the early 90’s. As seen through the prism of the ACT UP movement in Paris, this film passionately illuminates the fight for social acceptance by people living with HIV in the face of drug manufacturers reluctant to expedite treatment breakthroughs. Nathan joins the ACT UP collective and is immediately drawn to the radical and somewhat militant Sean, a 20-something man living with HIV. As their relationship develops, and Sean’s condition deteriorates, BPM evolves skilfully from documentary-style to intimate drama, in a way that has captured the hearts of audiences across France.
☆☆☆☆☆ Cine Vue
☆☆☆☆☆ Eye For Film
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☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine

Coby – as was Jacob’s transitioning name – was 23 and partnered with Sara when he decided to take testosterone pills in his first step to becoming male. Surgery came next, as did cutting his hair short to assist his family in their acceptance. With a world of YouTube viewers watching Coby emerge from his gender chrysalis, those closest to him arguably underwent the more radical change – a change of perspective – which is something that sits at the heart of this documentary and informs it even more than the physical awakening. With Coby now reborn as Jacob, the final step in the transition is a hysterectomy; a crucial choice given Jacob’s partner, Sara, does not want to bear a child. Jacob’s father expresses the conundrum they face most eloquently when he says, “Changing has consequences. Not changing also has consequences.”
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☆☆☆☆ Queer Guru

This heart-stopping drama charts a family’s struggles with the fallout of divorce, and the resulting arrangements for (and impact on) the two children. Miriam and Antoine have recently separated. While she’s willing to permit their 17-year-old daughter Joséphine to decide living arrangements for herself, Miriam is desperate to keep her youngest, 12-year-old Julien, away from his father. But the magistrate rules in favour of joint custody, and suddenly the boy is thrown directly into the middle of an escalating parental conflict, where it seems inevitable that sides must be chosen.
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Isabelle a ‘divorcée’ with a child who is searching for love but finding only callous suitors whose actions lend her experiences an acid-laced comedic edge.
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☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine

Albert Maillard is a rank-and-file French infantryman battling to survive trench warfare as WWI comes to its conclusion. In a horrific final sortie, Maillard is almost buried alive by debris and his comrade Édouard Péricourt is horribly disfigured after being hit by mortar fire. Péricourt becomes addicted to morphine during his convalescence and, living behind elaborate masks to hide his disfigurement, concocts a plan with Maillard to sell phony monuments to French towns honouring their dead; an undertaking that will prove as dangerous as it is stunning.
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Adapted from the novel by Ernest Pérochon, The Guardians covers many years on the Paridier farm, beginning in 1915 when the men must leave for war. The matriarch of the household Hortense rallies her daugher Solange and new farmhand, orphan Francine, to shoulder the back-breaking farm duties. In this visually sumptuous pastoral setting, the women learn self-sufficiency, despite the hardships, and even fall in love. It all culminates in a final scene that acts as a fitting homage to the closing moments of Stanley Kubrick’s classic, Paths of Glory.
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It is summer in La Ciotat in the South of France. Antoine is taking part in a creative writing workshop run by novelist Olivia. Smart and loaded with teen angst, Antoine’s fascist sympathies lurk just beneath the surface and create friction within the group. However, Olivia is both alarmed and captivated by Antoine’s hostility and, as the workshop and its pupils gradually slip out of her control, her interest goes beyond mere intrigue into a fascination that is both intellectual and, at times, seductive.
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☆☆☆☆☆ The Upcoming

Samuel enjoys an A-list, hedonistic lifestyle on the sun-drenched beaches of the Côte d’Azur. Life is good, until the day former lover Kristin arrives out of nowhere and deposits the fruits of their tryst – an infant daughter, Gloria – in his care. Incapable of looking after a baby, Samuel rushes to the UK in an attempt to return the child to her mother, without any luck. He decides to stay in London and, after finding work as a television stuntman, their relationship slowly begins to bloom. When Kristin eventually reappears, Gloria has grown into a bright and effervescent eight year old… and the inseparable father-daughter team finds their connections tested.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Trailer Icon 03 50 Is The New 30 (Closing Night)
Even though Marie-Francine’s husband is a bore, the last thing she needs is to be kicked to the curb for a younger woman in the same week as being downsized out of her job as a chemical researcher. But that is exactly what happens. And her ‘solution’ to the problem is to move in with her overbearing parents and then act on their encouragement to open an e-cigarette boutique. A Portuguese fado score foreshadows the arrival of chef Miguel. Marie-Francine discovers he harbours some embarrassing secrets of his own but, still, Miguel might be the perfect someone to help Marie-Francine lift her sagging spirit.
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8 Responses to The French Film Festival: 2018

  1. Rob Bray says:

    Review time – first two today.

    Le grand méchant renard et autre contes – The big bad fox and other tales.
    A cartoon presenting three short stories all taking place in a French farmyard. In the first the stork delivering human babies wants a break and tries to hand over the task to a pig, who initially declines, but then feels it has to intervene when the task is taken up by the duck and the rabbit, the least responsible of the barnyard creatures. The second has a fox sick of living on turnips, who follows the advice of the wolf and kidnaps a hen’s eggs intending to eat the chickens after they grow. But the chickens identify with the fox as their mother. Finally the duck and the pig decide to be Father Christmas.

    The first two are good fun for kids and adults alike – in particular the fox and the chicks, the Christmas one had a much weaker narrative and seemed to lag – but the kids kept laughing.

    Demain tout commence – Two is family.
    A comedy turning tear jerker. Samuel (Omar Sy) lives an irresponsible party life on the French Mediterranean coast until one day a former English lover turns up out of the blue and leaves him with the young baby who was the product of their earlier encounter. He goes to London to return the child, can’t find the mother, but stays there building a deep loving relationship with the child Gloria and a career as a stuntman – and a life with as much energy and fantasy in it as the movies he is involved in. When the child is aged 8 the mother suddenly returns and wants her daughter back.

    As with his role in Intouchables Omar Sy acts well – but in this case he gets blown out of the water by his young co-star Gloria Colston – an energetic, believable and brilliant performance. In the end the story may not quite hold together – but it is one to see.

  2. vrtlar says:

    Antoine est en congés, il répondra à tes questions/remarques début de semaine prochaine. Antoine mesure 1,82m. Tu mélanges les versions 1 et 3, non ? Le “1 est l”entrée de gamme donc pas question de le configurer à la baisse Le site Rose propose bien en revanche de le configurer “à notre sauce Freins SLX, amorto X2, etc En passant du PP 2 (en 34 dents d”origine) au PP1 (32d), tu gagnes bel et bien 2 dents et de la polyvalence dans le D+.

  3. Rob Bray says:

    Le Redoutable – Redoutable
    A year or so in the life of Godard through the eyes of his soon to be wife, and later ex-wife Anne Wiazemsky. This film traces Godard as he seeks to be a revolutionary, and a revolutionary film maker, in France in 1968 and indeed his prescience to this in his 1967 movie La Chinoise in which Wiazemsky starred. The movie reveals the internal struggles of Godard, indeed at times his internal self-hatred of his role as a bourgeois film maker and his renunciation of this to be a revolutionary, and the spill-over of this (or perhaps just his self-obsession and patriarchal traits) into his treatment of Wiazemsky. It is not though without its share of humour, fascinating cinematography (and not being a student of film I am sure I missed the many allusions to Godard’s own films) and insights into the contradictions of French society. It is a profoundly French and deeply unsettling movie. The lead actors are entirely believable in their roles. Worthwhile seeing – although you will leave asking the ‘#me too’ question of how one views films when you know about the film-maker.

    Au revoir là-haut – See you up there.
    A brilliant movie. In many ways a simple narrative following three soldiers, one an artist, estranged from his wealthy family, who is badly disfigured (and addicted to morphine) by a pointless military action in the final days before the armistice in WW1; his mate and the lieutenant who was responsible. But it is much more – a lavish fantasy, an exploration of greed, friendship and family. The film is wonderfully produced and superbly acted. It will play with your emotions and while much is resolved other questions remain unanswered. Definitely one to go to see.

  4. Rob Bray says:

    120 Battements par minute – BPM
    The film centres on the activities and people of ACT UP PARIS in the early 1990s. It recounts their struggle to bring attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and their lives living with AIDS. The film blends a strong vitality in the meetings of the organisation, their demonstrations and in their social and intimate lives against the background of desperate urgency as individuals recount their falling T cell counts and the deaths of members. This urgency contrasts with the inaction, or business-as-usual approach of the government, the drug companies and even sections of the gay community. It also touches on, but not always fully exploring, the tensions of the coalition of activists, gays, ex-prisoners, immigrants, and those affected by the French blood contamination scandal.

    It is a good, but not great film, while, for example, the recurrent dance scenes seek to convey the sense in which the participants continued on with living their lives with exuberance they drag – and are not needed, we see it through their other actions. It is also a film which is situated within the specific French context of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1990s which means that many references can be missed. But in the end it is worthwhile seeing for the sense of humanity it brings – the members of ACT UP PARIS are engaged in a struggle, they are not victims.

  5. Stephen Hill says:

    The standouts so far from what I have seen at the French Film Festival are “Custody” and “The Workshop” (the director of the Palme d’Or winning “The Class”).
    “See You Up There” is great to watch from a technical perspective but I reckon “A Very Long Engagement” and “The Officer’s Room” are earlier films that do a better job at communicating the themes covered in this film.

    The only disappointing film so far is “Rock and Roll,” although you do get to see Marion Cotillard in a Quebec accent, and Guillaume Canet transform into a cross between Steve Irwin and Stephen Seagal in the closing sequences.

  6. Rob Bray says:

    M – M
    The concept of this movie – a relationship builds between a young woman who stutters so badly that she prefers to write things down, and an illiterate man – is plausible. But this movie is not. The relationship is between a girl in the equivalent of year 11 and a 30+ year old semi-violent illegal street racer. The cast is littered with other bizarre characters – her strange father, his detached mother, her precocious and painful young sister and a slightly creepy teacher. I think I was supposed to find deep meaning in words and language and an understanding of love – but I didn’t.

    The Exes – Les Ex
    A romantic comedy with bulldog. A series of interconnecting stories all concerned with ex-lovers and ex-wives and husbands, and an ex-lover’s bull-dog. The underlying premise is, as explained by one of the protagonists a psychologist doing a radio slot on the issue, one never quite leaves an ex. At times trying to keep the tangle of who is, or was, with who gets a bit difficult – but do not get too concerned just take the scenes as they come and enjoy some of the characters. A truly lightweight bit of fluff with some good laughs, some cringes, and a bull-dog.

  7. Rob Bray says:

    Rock’n Roll – Rock and Roll

    The advice I had been given on this was that it was ‘terribly silly’, but fun. And silly and surreal is what it is, as hinted by the use of Plastic Bertrand’s “Ça Plane Pour Moi” in the film. It commences with Guillaume Canet, aged 43, playing himself, acting in a movie. On set he is told by his young female co-star (who is in the role of his daughter in the filming) that he is no longer on ‘the list’ of sexually attractive actors – those who can rock’n roll. This plummets him into a mid-life crisis in which he seeks to reinvent himself. This reinvention is portrayed both in fantasies and in reality (not always well differentiated), along with the crumbling of his career. But the story line is not the main thing here – the film is an opportunity for a stack of French actors (and a few film industry players who usually operate at the other end of the camera and behind the scenes) to have self-indulgent fun – mainly by making fun of themselves and each other.

    Marion Cotillard, who is Canet’s partner on screen and in real life, brilliantly parodies herself and her method acting approach – especially her attempt to learn the Quebecois accent and patois, but also her commitment to organic food – and as Celine Dion. Also to be noted is a great cameo by the late Johnny Hallyday.

    Worthwhile seeing for the fun of it.

  8. Rob Bray says:

    My last two reviews for 2018:

    Normandie Nue – Normandy Nude.

    A small village in Normandy with local farmers, and the town itself, struggling economically. Their protests do not appear to be effective, or heard. An opportunity arises for the town to gain some national exposure – through a photo shoot by an American photographer who specialises in mass nudes in the landscape. The mayor seeks to convince his fellow villagers to participate. The film has all the standard caricatures, the two farmers fighting out a multi-generational feud over ownership of some land, the good looking lad who returns to the town after years in Paris, the Parisian teenager who is an unwilling participant in her parents’ relocation to the country, and so forth. This though is not enough to make the film work – the plotline is thin, and the key reason for agreeing to the plan – to draw national attention to the town and its plight gets forgotten, because it doesn’t fit with the other twists, and while the film attempts to engage with some environmental and related questions, this treatment is at best cartoonish. Not worth seeing.

    Le sens de la fête – C’est la vie
    A day in the life of a wedding planner – managing a reception (and a bunch of chefs, waiters, musicians and photographers, along with some unresolved personal relationships) in a Chateau for a picky client – what could go wrong? This is a very well made and very French comedy, bringing together some very good writing and great performances across the cast and good directing, from the team that was responsible for Intouchables. It is above all a romantic comedy, not just in terms of the nascent, frustrated and resolving relationships between various characters, but also in the team’s ultimate commitment to delivering a memorable and happy wedding reception. Go along and enjoy yourself.

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