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Film Festivals

Rendezvous with French Cinema Series Brings Us New Titles By World-Class Directors

french cinThis year's installment of the Rendezvous with French Cinema series, The 19th edition -- presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance Films -- annually showcases a slice of contemporary French film of the previous year.

Running from March 6th through the 16th, 2014, this festival features several interesting new works at three venues: The Film Society, the IFC Center and BAMcinématek.

In François Ozon's Young & Beautiful, a gorgeous 17-year-old — Marine Vacth, in a striking, quasi-Bressonian performance — decides to become a call-girl. The director's films are consistently stylistically accomplished and this is no exception — his handling of camera-movement, camera-placement, composition for the frame, and editing are remarkable.

Ozon, working from his own screenplay, achieves some unexpected pathos and his refusal to explain his protagonist is admirable, although I would have appreciated greater artistic ambition here, as I would regarding the director's other films.

The digital image in Young & Beautiful is mostly handsome although some sensuality is attenuated in scenes with bright light. The sphinx-like Charlotte Rampling has a memorable cameo and the great French actress, Nathalie Richard, is featured in a small role. A final bonus is the expressive use of several Françoise Hardy songs on the film’s soundtrack, each one marking a passage of time.

In Jacques Doillon’s Love Battles, from the director’s own screenplay, a young woman engages in a series of erotic and romantic confrontations with a man whom she has fixated upon. Doillon is faithful to his austere conception and risks tedium in the pursuit of artistic honesty and refusal to charm but this certainly has many of the impressive qualities that distinguish the director’s original body of work.

The intertwining of aggression and hostility with vulnerability and tenderness is remarkable here and the female lead, Sara Forestier, gives an especially compelling performance. The film is shot in a relatively loose style, with a lot of handheld shots, generating an unusual intimacy. The use of a digital format, however, proves to be a serious liability as the copious bright sunshine in the film washes out the image due to the narrow range of contrast.

Agnès Jaoui's entertaining Under the Rainbow is about, among other things, a romance between a music student and the daughter of an industrialist, interspersed with fairy-tale elements. Working with her regular writing partner, Jean-Pierre Bacri — who brilliantly co-stars with Jaoui here — the filmmaker has constructed an clever screenplay with excellent dialogue. The mise-en-scène, however, is undisciplined, lacking the  elegance of an earlier feature like Look at Me. This weakness is further compounded by the inadequacies of the digital format.

love-battles-resizedSerge Bozon's eccentric Tip Top follows the investigation by two Internal Affairs operatives into the murder of an immigrant Algerian informant. The unusual tone here is engaging and it’s pleasurably disorienting effect is enhanced by delightful, comic performances by Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Kiberlain, in the lead roles. The director's style is formally controlled and characterized by abundant visual wit although the formal splendors are hampered by the deficiencies of the digital format. (The intriguing Bozon was the subject of a Film Society retrospective a few years ago.)

Bertrand Tavernier's Quai d'Orsay observes the circus-like atmosphere in which a newly hired young speechwriter attempts to please his employer, a Minister of foreign affairs. Thierry Lhermitte gives a bravura performance as the manic politician but Niels Arestrup as the chief deputy is even more impressive. 

Quai d'Orsay is not without interest but does not rise to the level of the director's best films, such as Coup de Torchon or Captain Conan. The absorbing classicism that opens the film settles into a somewhat routine conventionality for most its length. Here, again, the reliance on a digital format lamentably diminishes the visual texture.

For more information go to:

Film Society of Lincoln Center
70 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY  10023

IFC Center323 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10014

30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Open Roads—New Italian Cinema 2013

Director Marco Bellocchio
Open Roads — New Italian Cinema
June 6 - 12, 2013
You can’t fault the Film Society of Lincoln Center for bringing back Marco Bellocchio’s Dormant Beauty (which was first screened during Film Comment Selects in February 2013) as part of the latest edition of Open Roads — New Italian Cinema: this is an important, typically idiosyncratic film on a timely subject from a true cinematic master.

Read more: Open Roads—New Italian Cinema 2013

Sun, Sand, & Cinema at the Nantucket Film Fest

Running June 22 to the 25th, the Nantucket Film Festival has a slate of narrative features, documentaries, shorts, and star studded panels coming to the scenic Massachusetts island.

One of the spotlight films of the fest is Burden. Motivated by his girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough) and an African-American reverend (Forest Whitaker), a Ku Klux Klansman (Garrett Hedlund) seeks redemption. In Inventing Tomorrow is a profile of the forward-thinking scientists of tomorrow by inspiring teenagers from around the globe who bring their environmentally-themed projects to the world's largest science fair. Love, Gilda is a documentary following the life of comedy legend Gilda Radner directed by Lisa D'Apolito. The Sentence is a portrait exploring the personal impact of mandatory minimum sentencing laws on the filmmaker's own family, centered on his imprisoned sister and her three young daughters.

The festival has more to offer than just films. Actors and comedians Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) and Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) present a special version of their hysterical improv show, with special participation from Ben Stiller as part of the All-Star Comedy Roundtable. The fest also includes a slate of virtual reality films and experiences courtesy of Samsung.

To learn more, go to:

Nantucket Film Festival
June 22 - 25, 2018

Various locations on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

Downtown Comes Alive With Cinema During the SOHO International Film Festival


The SOHO International Film Festival, taking place at Village East Cinemas located at 189 2nd Avenue on 12th Street from June 14 to the 21st, brings a cavalcade of films and stars to NYC. The SOHO International Film Festival, which proudly carries the “Made in NY” logo from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Film, Television and Broadcasting is a vehicle to help the economy of the city, enhancing the festival’s sense of pride while boosting filmmaking and tourism in the Big Apple.

Features, shorts, and documentaries fill the proceedings. Films being shown include Moss, starring male supermodel-turned-actor Mitchell Slaggert, a road movie on a river about a young man who disappears into the woods on his eighteenth birthday to find himself. In Farmer of the Year, a grandfather tries to recapture his youth by road tripping with his unemployed granddaughter in a dilapidated Winnebago to his WWII reunion while desperately trying to find a date to impress his old army buddies. In the sexually charged Daddy Issues,  Maya, a talented queer artist cyberstalks the alluring Jasmine; an aspiring designer in an emotionally charged, co-dependent relationship with a neurotic sugar daddy. When Maya and Jasmine’s paths finally cross, it leads to a bizarre love triangle.The festival closes with Edouard Salier’s Cabeza Madre (Mother’s Head), a suspenseful thriller/black comedy set against the dreamy and vibrant backdrop of Cuba.

To learn more, go to:

SOHO International Film Festival
June 14 - 21, 2018

Village East Cinema
181-189 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003

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