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This 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.
Serge 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: www.filmlinc.com/films/series/rendez-vous-with-french-cinema-2014
Film Society of Lincoln Center70 Lincoln Center PlazaNew York, NY 10023
IFC Center323 Avenue of the AmericasNew York, NY 10014
BAMcinématek30 Lafayette AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11217
Read more: Open Roads—New Italian Cinema 2013
Italy has had reverberations on the world of cinema that have been felt for decades. The Italy On Screen Today Festival, running December 8 to 15, celebrates the country’s cinematic heritage while looking at filmmakers of today. Held at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway (1871 Broadway, NY, NY) and at other venues in NYC.
The festival will have a special NY premiere screening of Euforia with special guests actress and director Valeria Golino, the novelist André Aciman and director Julie Taymor. Euforia follows Matteo and Ettore, two brothers that couldn’t be more dissimilar forced to reunite and reconcile in the face of life’s ebb and flow. A special screening of Call Me By Your Name will be followed by a Q&A with author André Aciman at NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. The strange Little Tito and the Aliens, about a lonely Professor living in the Nevada desert that is joined by his niece and nephew from his dying brother, set against the backdrop of Area 51 and alien weddings for tourists. The film will be introduced by director Paola Randi in conversation with journalist Silvia Bizio.
To learn more, go to: http://www.italyonscreentoday.it/
Italy On Screen TodayDecember 8 - 15, 2018
Kirkikou and the Sorceress
Focusing on black directors and black experiences, the 2018 African Diaspora International Film Festival (running November 29 to December 9) gives these stories a voice. Held at venues across NYC, the festival has a large slate of features, shorts, documentaries and works of animation for audiences of all ages.
Animated works include The Sky Princess, a CG-animated feature film about an ordinary girl who becomes an African princess with the help of a magical bird. Kirkikou and the Sorceress, directed by Michel Ocelot, is an animated tour de force, animated in a painterly style about a boy freeing his village from a terrible curse.
The Citizen, directed by Roland Vranik, follows a refuggee of the civil war in Guinea-Bissau as he seeks to gain citizenship in Hungary while working as a mall security guard in Budapest. One of the special screenings is No Shade, directed by Clare Anyiam-Osigwe which explores the hardships of the modern dating world through the dysmorphic presence of colorism as well as the fetishization of black women in a way that is tactful and honest. The festival also includes special slates of film organized for school screenings, films focusing on the lives of women and films realted to The Black Panthers.
To learn more, go to: https://nyadiff.org/ny-2018/
2018 African Diaspora International Film FestivalNovember 29 - December 9, 2018
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