For Bertrand, every day is like the last in this little Pas-de-Calais town. His mother is constantly at the bedside of a handicapped daughter and his father sinks deeper and deeper into alcoholism. Bertrand tries to escape his everyday life with a fisherman friend.
“An incredible moment shot through by unflawed emotion, incredible beauty, but also by the horror of love become monstrous (as an offhandedly incestuous mother, Bulle Ogier is formidable). This feverish tension, this clinging fear runs through North from beginning to end.”
Frédéric Strauss, Cahiers du cinéma, février 1992
- N’oublie pas que tu vas mourir (1995)
Three days before he begins his national military service, a young art history student learns that he is HIV positive. His world is shaken and, like a Romantic hero, he decides to defy fate.
“One of Xavier Beauvois’ major virtues: he knows no fear. No fear of trying, no fear of being wrong, no fear of crossing the lines of life and the strata of the dead, of mingling the biography of his characters and the life of his friends, no fear of going full out […]. No fear, at the far horizon of his film, of risking […] being taken for a fool. Or yes, but with that formidable and disturbing foolishness that is not far from heroism or holiness: there is something of that in the way Beauvois surrenders his body to film so that a certain idea of cinema endures and progresses: a living art that ceaselessly records that, soon, we will be dead. But, in the meantime, life!”
Gérard Lefort, Libération, 4 janvier 1996
- Selon Matthieu (2000)
Francis and his two sons, Matthieu and Eric, work in the same factory in Normandy. Francis is fired for smoking on the factory floor. Matthieu, revolted by this injustice, tries to persuade the directors, then to mobilize his brother and the other factory workers. In vain. Shortly afterwards, Francis suddenly dies. Matthieu, convinced his father committed suicide, has only one aim: to avenge him
“By far its creator’s best work, where the talent glimpsed in his two previous films emerges fullblown. […] Beauvois has had the intelligence to put distance between himself and his subject, first by choosing the very restrained and very impressive Benoît Magimel for the role of Matthieu, then by observing this character with an unrelenting gaze. […] To Matthieu is, primordially, the record of an unhappy passion, thus a beautiful film.”
Frédéric Bonnaud, Les Inrockuptibles, novembre 2000
- Le Petit Lieutenant (2005)
Antoine, a rookie police lieutenant from the provinces, is assigned to a Paris precinct. He works under Commandant Vaudieu, an attractive fiftyish woman coming back to police work after a family tragedy. The two of them learn to know each other while investigating the murder of several homeless men.
“In Xavier Beauvois’ films, the relationship to society is detached and bitter: Beauvois often films from a distance, amplifying the contradiction of an individual whose cold energy cannot completely conquer a fated tragedy. […] The Young Lieutenant shows us a new image of the police officer. The film is full of all sorts of cinematic callbacks and Antoine says he wanted to be a cop because he saw ‘great movies.’ Beauvois offers an original image of the police, profoundly influenced by the troubles they deal with. Humanity and its imperfections fascinate Beauvois, like the beautifully wrinkled face of his favorite actress, Nathalie Baye.”
Natacha Seweryn, critikat.com, 26 octobre 2010
- Des hommes et des dieux (2010)
A monastery perched in the North African mountains, in the 1990s. Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers. When a team of foreign laborers is massacred by an Islamicist group, terror spreads in the region. The monks refuse the protection they are offered by the army. Should they leave?
“Borne by absolutely masterful, stripped-down direction, swerving occasionally into risky yet moving territory, there are both mysticism and triviality in Of Men and Gods, and Xavier Beauvois favors them equally, anchoring the film in the real world and the spirit of the individual. The actors are immense (Lonsdale, Wilson, Rabourdin…), fully possessed by their roles but modest. A great work.”
Éric Libiot, L’Express, 7 septembre 2010
- La Rançon de la gloire (2015)
1977, in Vevey, a little town on the shore of Lac Léman. Eddy, just out of prison, is welcomed by his friend Osman. They have made an arrangement: Osman hosts Eddy, in exchange for which the latter takes care of his seven-year-old daughter, Samira, while his wife Noor is hospitalized for examination. But this Christmas season, a lack of money is keenly felt. So, when the death of the wealthy comedian Charlie Chaplin is announced on television, Eddy has an idea: steal the actor’s body and demand a ransom from his family.
“Xavier Beauvois’ direction takes us by the hand and doesn’t let go from beginning to end of the film, as we follow with him the adventures of his two lakeshore clowns. […] The Price of Fame never descends to cinematographic vulgarity, it constantly raises the viewer up, under the (modest) patronage of the great Chaplin, without straining for triumph or perfection.”
Jean-Baptiste Morain, Les Inrockuptibles, 6 janvier 2015
- Les Gardiennes (2017)
1915. At the Le Paridier farm, women have taken over for men gone to the front. Working without rest, their life is divided between hard labor and waiting for their men to return on leave. When Hortense, the oldest, accepts a young girl from an orphanage to help them, Francine believes she has at last found a family.
“The director of Of Men and Gods is comfortable in this earthy setting. […] Through seasons and years, The Guardians draws us into its landscapes and rustic interiors, bathed in magnificent light by Caroline Champetier, peerless cinematographer. Her art accompanies that of the actors in recapturing something of the gestures and emotions of yesterday.”
Marie-Noëlle Tranchant, Le Figaro, 6 décembre 2017
- Albatros (2021)
Laurent, a brigade commander at the Étretat police station, plans to marry Marie, his girlfriend and the mother of their daughter nicknamed Poulette. He loves his job, despite the poverty and disorder he deals with daily. When he tries to save a suicidal farmer but accidentally kills him, Laurent’s life and that of those near to him are turned upside-down.
“Beauvois’ special accomplishment, besides his direction of the actors, is to have woven together so many plot threads, never superfluously, to arrive at that duel of a man with the elements, thus giving it its full power.”
Odile Tremblay, Le Devoir, 3 mars 2021
Autour de la maison rose
(Al Bayt Al Zahr, 1999)
Early in the Lebanese civil war, two families found refuge in the “Pink House,” an abandoned mansion in Beirut. Now, as the neighborhood is being redeveloped, the new owner gives them ten days to leave the house, which he wants to transform into a shopping center. Neighborhood residents are torn between dreams for the future and nostalgia for a lost era.
“At base, their cinema has not changed. It still struggles against a Beirut handed over to and destroyed by shopping center magnates. They have chosen to sweeten their sadness or anger by diluting it in a ‘comedy of conversation,’ perhaps to find a less pessimistic note and infuse this paradoxical Eastern sense of life into their critical gaze.”
Philippe Azoury, Libération, 15 décembre 1999
- Rondes (Barmeh, 2001)
- Cendres (Ramad, 2003)
- A Perfect Day (2005)
Twenty-four hours in the life of Malek in today’s Beirut. This young man, suffering from a sleep disorder, can’t stay awake unless he keeps moving. When Malek manages to convince his mother, Claudia, to see a lawyer and make an official declaration of his father’s death fifteen years before, the young man resolves to get into step with other people, the city, and especially Zeina, the woman he loves but who no longer wishes to see him. What if today was “the perfect day” to escape the old ghosts and find again those we’ve lost?
“In a sophisticated mise en scene oscillating between sensuality and abstraction, the narrative unfolds in superb settings, like a musical score. The bass line is provided by Beirut, a city in a constant uproar of buildings being built and torn down, smog and magical swirling nights.”
Isabelle Regnier, Le Monde, 1er mars 2006
- Open the Door, Please (2006)
- Je veux voir (2008)
Lebanon, July 2006, after a new war. The directors wonder what cinema still can do in this world. They decide to go to Beirut together with an “icon” of cinema, Catherine Deneuve, and the Lebanese actor Rabih Mroué, then try to recover a lost beauty their eyes are unable to see anymore.
“Deneuve is brilliant in a role where she needs do nothing but be present. Nothing is more difficult for an actor, even more so in the context of a pampered idol passing through a wounded region […]. Total class, splendid propriety. On a terrain inviting every Manicheism, every militant discourse, Hadjithomas and Joreige have fulfilled Godard’s old wish: they have made cinema politically rather than making political cinema.”
Serge Kaganski, Les Inrockuptibles, 2 décembre 2008
- The Lebanese Rocket Society (2012)
In the early 1960s, a group of utopian researchers entered the space race. Under the supervision of Professor Manoug Manougian, students of the University of Haigazian built rockets. By chance, the two directors rediscover this story. Fascinated that their country actually had its own space program, they delve into the forgotten past, rediscovering forgotten archives and tracking down the protagonists of this incredible adventure.
“Here is a film that looks back yet keeps its eyes on the stars […], that seeks itself in the present. That it doesn’t always succeed is a minor flaw. What counts here is the movement of art, poetic propulsion, the effort to break the bonds of an earth encumbered with killing grounds and murdered utopias. We have liftoff.”
Jacques Mandelbaum, Le Monde, 2 mai 2013
- Memory Box (2021)
Maia, a single mother, lives in Montreal with her teenage daughter, Alex. On Christmas Eve, they receive an unexpected delivery: notebooks, tapes, and photos Maia sent to her best friend from 1980’s Beirut. Maia refuses to open the box or confront its memories, but Alex secretly begins diving into it. Between fantasy and reality, Alex enters the world of her mother’s tumultuous, passionate adolescence during the Lebanese civil war, unlocking mysteries of a hidden past.
“Haunted by war but throbbing with youth, the film forms part of the pair’s long study of how we live with buried, repressed, whitewashed memories that nonetheless remain alive. Eight years after The Lebanese Rocket Society, Memory Box deploys an overwhelming attention to the flow of signs charged with emotion, political meaning, violence, personal and collective quest.”
Jean-Michel Frodon, slate.fr, 8 mars 2021
La Lampe au chapeau
(Lampa Cu Căciulă, 2006)
Very early in the morning, Marian, a 7-year-old boy, wakes his father up and persuades him to go into town to fix their old TV set.
Tavi, a forty-year old divorced father, realizes that Alexandra, his four-year old daughter, does not call him Daddy anymore.
In the Morning
Two characters, one taxi, a crisis and a compromise.
La Fille la plus heureuse du monde
(Cea Mai Fericită Fată Din Lume, 2009)
Delia is the happiest girl in the world. At the age of 18, she has just won a new car in a competition sponsored by a brand of orange juice. To take possession of it, she must appear in a commercial to promote the juice in question. But Delia is not a very good actress, filming conditions are not optimal, and she must do take after take. And then there are her parents, nagging her to sign a release so they can sell the car and recover the money.
“A social comedy displaying the underside of a changing society. Every scene amuses with incisive little details exposing generational and historical conflicts between those who lived through Communism and those who want to live the images of the new consumer society. In this static road movie that takes the seamy-side route, Delia drains her happiness to the dregs and fascinates us with her calm power.”
Daisy Lamothe, cinéaste de l’Acid
- A Film for Friends (Film Pentru Prieteni, 2011)
Considering that his life is a failure, a man records himself leaving a video-message to his loved ones.
“This is a hell of a performance for actor Gabriel Spahiu (Everybody in Our Family and last year’s Adalbert’s Dream), who’s pretty much alone on the screen in what it seems to be one long, continuous take. The camera never moves, but director Radu Jude cruelly pushes the viewer along the thin line between comedy and horror, until we no longer know what to expect. […] Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a bumpy, noisy and twisted ride.”
Film at Lincoln Center, 2012
- Papa vient dimanche (Toată Lumea Din Familia Noastra, 2012)
Marius is a young, divorced father whose five-year-old daughter now lives with his ex-wife. This separation is agonizing. So Marius is thrilled to spend a few days by the sea with the little girl when it’s his turn to look after her. But that Sunday, nothing goes as planned.
“Almost in real time, with a hand-held camera and nervous editing, Everybody in Our Family avoids the clichés of minimalist filming to bring out the tragic humanity of its characters. […] A former assistant of Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), inspired by John Cassavetes and Maurice Pialat, Radu Jude chooses to dig deep into each situation.”
Clément Graminiès, critikat.com, 1er octobre 2013
- Ombre d’un nuage (L’) (O Umbra De Nor, 2013)
On a torrid summer day in Bucharest, the priest Florin Florescu is called to a dying woman’s side to say prayers
- It Can Pass Through the Wall (Trece Si Prin Perete, 2014)
An old man tries to play backgammon with friends while babysitting his granddaughter.
- Aferim ! (2015)
Early 19th century: a policeman and his son scour the Romanian countryside in search of a gypsy slave accused of seducing the wife of the local nobleman. Like a farcical sheriff of the wild Balkans, the zealous civil servant loses no opportunity to instruct his offspring on the meaning of life. Smutty insults, absurd proverbs, bigoted morality, gratuitous humiliations, threats… Costandin trumpets his scorn for women, children, the aged, peasants, Jews, Turks, Russians… And above all, above all, gypsies.
“With this historical costume picture, in black and white 35mm, like a Ford western mixed with the humor of Django Unchained and the weirdness of Dead Man, the filmmaker demonstrates an unsuspected sense of space and the epic, though without sacrificing subject to mise en scène. He lavishes sarcasm and cruelty with the character of the obtuse policeman, a formidable racist scarecrow. […] In a word: Aferim! [Bravo!]”
Vincent Ostria, Les Inrockuptibles, 31 juillet 2015
- Cœurs cicatrisés (Inimi Cicatrizate, 2016)
Romania, 1937. While confusion reigns in Europe, Emanuel, age 21 and suffering from skeletal tuberculosis, has no choice but to reside in a sanatorium. He is in love with Solange. He recounts his attempts and those of his companions to live their lives fully and not let themselves be cut off from the world.
“Scarred Hearts stands out in the Romanian film landscape. Far from the preoccupations and esthetic of that country’s major filmmakers over the past ten years (Puiu, Mungiu, Poromboiu), Radu Jude opts for a formal strategy more reminiscent of Manoel de Oliveira (for its fixed camera, austerely beautiful compositions, and evocation of early cinema) than his talented elders. […] After Aferim!, Radu Jude invites us on a new political and novelistic journey through Romania’s past with this literary film offering a celebration of life, love, and physical desire, placing the body at the heart of his mise en scène.”
Olivier Père, arte.tv, 8 décembre 2017
- The Dead Nation (Tara Moartă, 2017)
A trove of photographs, all taken between 1930 and 1940 by the photographer of the little Romanian town of Slobozia. Accompanying these images, the reading of a diary kept by a Jewish doctor, recounting with precision the horror of rising antisemitism. A treasury of sounds and images on a subject rarely addressed in today’s Romania.
“The cohabitation of different types of documents making up the film forces the spectator to perform a critical examination of its sources: while the doctor’s diary provides a remarkably well-informed resumé of the persecution of Jews, the photographer’s studio welcomes Romanians who are comfortable enough to want their picture taken. The film draws a dialectic between the evocation of historical events, which remain invisible, and a daily life that nobody recounts, but which fills the screen.”
Nathan Letoré, mediapart.fr, 8 août 2017
- The Marshal’s Two Executions (Cele Doua Executii Ale Maresalului, 2018)
Two different views of the execution of General Ion Antonescu, Romania’s leader during the Second World War.
- Peu m’importe si l’Histoire nous considère comme des Barbares (Îmi Este Indiferent Dacă În Istorie Vom Intra Ca Barbari, 2018)
In 1941, the Romanian army massacred 20,000 Jews in Odessa. Today, a young director wants to reproduce this dreadful episode in a military reenactment, offered as part of a public event. But will such a performance be allowed?
“Like the young Jean-Luc Godard, who knew how to speak of politics with insolence in his film-tracts (like La Chinoise, 1967), Romanian Radu Jude boisterously drags into the light the taboo past of his native country. […] While authoring an impressive film, Radu Jude expresses his complete absence of illusions on the ability of his work to provide a salutary shock. Barbaric antisemitism no longer shocks anyone. The Holocaust is confused with warrior heroism. Chilling.”
Frédéric Strauss, telerama.fr
- Uppercase Print (Tipografic Majuscul, 2020)
This is the story of Mugur Calinescu, a Romanian teenager who was arrested, interrogated, and finally executed by secret police for graffitiing protest slogans against the regime of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
“Radu Jude has made the first great documentary of the year. With this confrontation, conceptual but incisively simple, he shows us how violence and paranoia were everywhere, in the smallest classroom and the humblest family, but he implies as well that no one was really fooled by this insane game, that rebellion lay dormant everywhere as well. The echo of today’s world is equally striking. Official speech is still as cynical, truth still as hidden. Yesterday’s revolutionary slogans are not easily erased.”
Grégory Coutaut, Le Polyester, 17 février 2021
- The Exit of the Trains (Ieşirea Trenurilor Din Gară, 2020)
A documentary essay entirely composed of archival photographs and documents on the first great massacre of Jews in Romania: on June 29, 1941, in Iasi, more than 10,000 Jews were killed, first by bullets, later asphyxiated by sealing them in railway freight cars.
“This documentary is a difficult cinematographic experience, but also very necessary, because Romanian society has an overwhelming tendency to deny its role in the Holocaust. […] This film becomes one of those commemorative monuments that haunt you, paying homage to all those who were killed that day.”
Stefan Dobroiu, cineuropa.org, 26 février 2020
- Journal confiné (Nu Știu, 2020)
Invited by the goEast Film Festival (Wiesbaden, Germany), Radu Jude explores thoughts about his relationship with cinema, inspiration and streets, objects and people around him.
- Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Babardeală Cu Bucluc Sau Porno Balamuc, 2021)
Emi, a teacher, is threatened with the loss of her career and reputation after a sex tape she made with her husband is uploaded to the Internet. Forced to meet with a committee of parents demanding she be fired, Emi refuses to give way to them, questioning what is considered obscene in our society and how we define it.
“’This is a film as well developed as it is savage, intelligent and childlike, geometric and vibrant, sprawling and stinging: it leaves no one indifferent while shaking our social and cinematographic conventions,’ affirmed one of the [Berlinale] Jury members, Israeli director Nadav Lapid.”
François Becker et David Courbet, Le Soleil, 5 mars 2021
(Al-Wedaa Ya Bonaparte, 1985)
Napoleon, thirsting for power and glory, opens his campaign in Egypt. Indifferent to military ambition, one of his officers, General Caffarelli, explores the Egyptian land and its soul. He comes to oppose Napoleon’s destructive action.
“For this bristling, noisy, disordered film (typical of the filmmaker), Gabriel Yared combines the grandiose and the intimate, a great symphony orchestra with soloists playing the oud and the musical saw. It is his greatest ‘Orientalist’ success.”
Pierre Murat, Télérama, 23 mai 2020
- Le Talentueux Mr Ripley (The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999)
A new adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, forty years after Purple Noon.
Tom Ripley has never known the good life. The same cannot be said for Dickie Greenleaf and his girlfriend Marge, living in careless luxury on the Italian Riviera. When Dickie’s father asks Tom to bring his spendthrift, frivolous son back to America, the young man sees a chance to enter a world he has always dreamed of.
“Minghella captures light. Italy. 1950s jazz. But amidst all the sunlight and artificial gaiety, there spreads a spiraling darkness, like the oriental swirls of Gabriel Yared’s music.”
Pierre Murat, telerama.fr
- L’Avion (2005)
Charly dreams of a bicycle for his birthday, but is given a model airplane instead. When his father brutally dies in an automobile accident, Charly discovers that the plane, which the dead man gave him, has special powers.
“Darting lightly as an airplane through the sky, Yared’s music is in the direct lineage of the composer of Bon Voyage [Jean-Paul Rappeneau, 2003]. The French composer takes as his theme the melody line of The Idol [Samantha Lang, 2003], a previous composition. The soundtrack is coherent, unfussy, a seamless contribution to the whole.”
- Bandes originales : Gabriel Yared (2007)
The first documentary from the In the Tracks of series is devoted to Gabriel Yared, the Lebanese-born French composer who established himself, over a career of nearly [fifty] years, as one of the greatest film music composers. Along with his well-known works, Gabriel Yared takes us into the heart of his creative process, letting us see in its everyday context the world of skill and emotion he drew upon.
“To compose a soundtrack, I need to be in my own fog, without images. […] The creator’s home reflects his creation. In Gabriel Yared’s, […] the shelves are laden with Asian statuettes, thousands of scores, and books of philosophy […]. These objects reflect the hundreds of film scores that this Beirut native has composed […]. Their mysterious, glowing atmospheres. Their muted harmonies. Their contained lyricism. The very French — and very “eighties” — touches in their chords and instrumental textures, but always shimmering with the lights of the Levant.”
Sébastien Porte, Télérama, 29 janvier 2021
Rome, ville ouverte
(Roma, Città Aperta, 1945)
Winter 1944. Rome is declared an “open city”. Giorgio Manfredi, a communist engineer, attempts to escape the Germans occupying the city. He hides at a friend’s place, whose fiancée, Pina, puts him in touch with the parish priest, Don Pietro. But all of them will be denounced to the Germans by Manfredi’s mistress.
“Rome, Open City was the first success of this style that would later be described as ‘neorealist’. Because it lacked technical means, but also (and above all) to obey an intuition, an inner necessity, Rossellini went down into the street, chose natural settings, non-professional actors, a throng of extras almost as important as the two actors that he had the prodigious idea to put to work at odds with their usual roles (Fabrizi was a comedian, while Magnani had made her début as a music-hall singer). Thus an illusion of documentary was born, a testimony captured on the spot, a newsflash that surpasses melodrama without neglecting novelistic aspects.”
Christine de Montvalon, Télérama, 20 avril 1980
- Païsa (Paisà, 1946)
An evocation of the liberation of the Italian peninsula through six independent stories retracing the major phases of the Allied progress against the fascist forces. Based on these individual destinies, Roberto Rossellini paints an overall portrait of Italy at a watershed moment in its history.
“We thus find within each episode one or more very particular points of view on the war, but also an overview of each situation described. It is a true war film: the kind that focuses more on the human consequences of a conflict than on the politico-military stakes. […] With Paisan, much more than in Rome, Open City, [Rossellini] suggests an impression of objectivity. He gives spectators the possibility of choosing their own viewpoint and interpreting what they see in their own way.”
Vincent Ostria, Cahiers du cinéma, Hors-série « 100 films pour une vidéothèque » n° 17, 1994
- Allemagne année zéro (Germania Anno Zero, 1947)
Berlin, just after the war. At just twelve years of age, Edmund tries to support his family by making small trades. On one such errand, he meets one of his former teachers, an ex-Nazi, who reminds him of the principles that Hitler had pronounced regarding the elimination of the weak. “The dark side of Germany, the Nazi alienation, ailing heroism.
Germany, Year Zero is surprising in its minimalism and the way in which the film conserves its errant, atonal, and grave freedom, right up until the final, noiseless explosion. In Rossellini’s work, there is a point of encounter between chance and the underground tensions that haunt a society and an individual at any given time. And so the shock occurs, the scandal, the failure to comprehend that strikes the characters like lightning, condemning or saving them.”
Isabelle Potel, Libération, mai 2005
- Amore (L’Amore, Due Storie D’Amore, 1948)
Una Voce Umana A woman’s lover has just left her after a five-year relationship. Living as a recluse in her apartment, she calls him one last time.
Il Miracolo A young shepherdess meets a vagabond on her travels, who she mistakes for Saint Joseph and begs him to show her the path to Heaven. After sexually abusing her during the night, the vagabond leaves. Several months later, realising that she is pregnant, she remains convinced that this was a pure miracle.
“Anna Magnani never leaves the screen. She lights it up with an extraordinary presence. She never gives the impression of ‘acting’ […]. She is not ‘natural’ either in the neorealist sense of the word […]. Anna Magnani endlessly procures the sensation for the spectator of discovering the most secret, most intimate signs that betray the inner workings of a character.”
Radio-Cinéma, avril 1956
- Stromboli (Stromboli, Terra Di Dio, 1949)
To escape the horror of a concentration camp, a young Lithuanian, Karin, accepts to marry an Italian fisherman who takes her to live on his island. There, she discovers a primitive and brutal world in which she feels totally foreign.
“What is abundantly clear, when seeing this film for the second time, is the passion of a filmmaker for an actress. Rarely has anyone gone so far into filming this contract – of both employment and love – that links two beings either side of the camera.”
Charles Tesson, « La méprise, le mépris », Cahiers du cinéma, n° 329, novembre 1981
- La Machine à tuer les méchants (La Macchina Ammazzacattivi, 1952)
An American family wishes to settle in Amalfi, in southern Italy, to build a hotel complex on the site of a cemetery. Upon their arrival, they accidentally run over an old man, whose body mysteriously disappears before reappearing in front of a photographer to whom he bestows an extraordinary, malevolent power.
“This ferocious social satire describes the invasion of post-war Italy by capitalism and American mass culture. […] The film’s importance must also be measured within the broader context of the Italian cinema of its time. It emerges as a manifest attempt on the part of the director to revitalise the neorealist movement that, towards the end of the forties, found itself in a downward trend, owing, among other reasons, to the subsiding of the political and social thematic in the post-war period.”
Ariel Schweitzer, Cahiers du cinéma, août 2011
- Europe 51 (Europa ‘51, 1952)
In Rome, Irène Girard, the wife of an American manufacturer, leads a simple existence up until the day her twelve-year-old son commits suicide. She decides to change her life and to listen to others from now on.
“Europe 51 attains the sublime through the most efficient filmic means and this exemplary drama derives the better part of its strength from its absence of pomposity. It is also one of the best roles played by Ingrid Bergman and we discover Giulietta Masina in this, as Fellini did.”
Michel Pérez, Le Matin, 2 février 1984
- Voyage en Italie (Viaggio In Italia – L’Amour Est Le Plus Fort, 1953)
On a trip to the south of Italy, an English couple gradually comes apart at the seams. Alexander samples the guilty pleasures of adultery while Katherine wanders through the museums and archaeological sites.
“Journey to Italy (which Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders perform remarkably well) is not an ‘easy’ film. It is a work that demands a degree of effort on the part of the viewer, a certain empathetic gift. If you love cinema, if you are interested in its progress, and in the occasionally perplexing research of its creators, you won’t regret seeing it.”
Jean de Baroncelli, Le Monde, 22 mai 1955
- Où est la liberté ? (Dov’È La Libertà, 1953)
Condemned for having killed his wife’s lover twenty years ago, Salvatore Lojacono is freed from Portofino prison before serving his full sentence. But after attempting to break into the same prison, he is summonsed once again before the court.
“Between burlesque and satire, it is one of the first milestones in Italian comedy. Sketches that enable Totò, a sad and surrealistic clown, to demonstrate the full extent of his talent. When he loses himself in an exhausting dance marathon or when a bewildered Jew tracks the individuals who denounced his family, the severity of a frightening world looms.”
« Le guide cinéma », Télérama
- La Peur (Angst – Non Credo più all’Amore, 1954)
Irène manages her husband Albert’s pharmaceutical factory. While she is deciding to end her adulterous relationship with her musician lover, she is approached by a woman who claims that she too has been the composer’s mistress. This ex-mistress starts to blackmail Irène, threatening to reveal all to her husband.
“A strange work that will fuel a great deal of discussion. A disconcerting work for the German public, despite the familiar presence of the excellent actor Mathias Wieman, alongside whom Ingrid Bergman finds the best role of her Rossellinian career.”
Jacques Siclier, « Lettre de Berlin », Cahiers du cinéma, n° 52, novembre 1955
- Le Général della Rovere (Il Generale Della Rovere, 1959)
A small-time crook arrested by the Gestapo, Bardone accepts to pass himself off as General Della Rovere, member of the Resistance gunned down by the Nazis in 1943, allowing himself to be locked into the political wing of the San Vittorio prison of Milan, so as to come into contact and help identify the other members of the network.
“This film is treasured for its encounter between Rossellini’s minimalist stagings and the impassioned, at times grandiose, performance of Vittorio De Sica, who finds here, on a par with Ophuls’ The Earrings of Madame de…, the role of his life.”
Christian Viviani, Positif, n° 600, février 2011
- Inde, terre mère (India : Matri Bhumi, 1959)
The complex reality of a country teaming with life: Bombay, its streets, buildings, inhabitants, the love story between an elephant keeper and the daughter of a Chinese shadow-play artist. “India marks a natural and vital phase in Rossellini’s œuvre. It’s not a question of seeking out oddity or exoticism […]: the question is the Indian people, not in terms of who distinguishes them from Westerners, but on the contrary, what they have in common with all people.” (France Observateur)
“For me, India was like the tarpaulin Eisenstein came up with. Like the solution to a problem. You look for days and days without finding anything. Then, suddenly, the solution appears. It stares at you point blank in the face. India is a bit like a word that I have had on the tip of my tongue for several years now. Its name was Paisan, Europe 51 or Fear. Today, its name is India.”
Jean-Luc Godard, Arts, 1er avril 1959
- Vive l’Italie (Viva L’Italia, 1960)
In 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi led the Expedition of the Thousand to liberate Sicily from the Bourbons.
“The simplicity with which Rossellini tells the story of Garibaldi, his Expedition of the Thousand, is stupefying, but the simplicity of the narration here is quite the opposite of naivete. It is the result of an extraordinary effort towards a cinematographic form that until then had never existed. Garibaldi is a chronicle. The events of a past time are reconstructed in their chronological order. Objectively and without emotion. Almost without taking sides.”
Rudolf Thome, Roberto Rossellini, 1990
- La Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (1966)
1661: Cardinal Mazarin dies after having brilliantly served his king. Young Louis XIV, who previously left affairs of state to his chief minister, must confront a delicate situation.
“The Taking of Power by Louis XIV is a new and captivating interpretation of a figure petrified in legend: more than a great page in French history, Rossellini’s film reveals, illuminates, and strips of mythology the Sun King we thought we knew.”
Henry Chapier, Combat, 10 octobre 1966
- La Force et la raison (La Forza E La Ragione : Intervista A Salvador Allende Di Roberto Rossellini, 1971)
Roberto Rossellini questions the Chilean president Salvador Allende on his notion of Marxism from a democratic position, the problems of development on the Latin American continent, and the relationship of his government with the United States.
“To rewatch Rossellini’s films, from every era, is to undertake a journey through fifty years of the History that has shaped us and of the most essential, most ardent, and most living cinema there is, in the company of a man who has been at once its conscience, a key actor, one of its greatest formal inventors, but also a man like other men, with his weaknesses and his contagious power of freedom.”
Alain Bergala, « Rétrospective Roberto Rossellini », La Cinémathèque française, 2006
- Mon père a cent ans (My Dad Is 100 Years Old, 2005)
Isabella Rossellini revisits the life and career of her father, Roberto Rossellini, on his 100th birthday.
“I play all the characters in My Dad is 100 Years Old: David O. Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock, Federico Fellini, Charlie Chaplin, Anna Magnani, my mother [Ingrid Bergman] and myself. I make them all talk about movies. I want to direct now, even though I love acting. And I have some surreal ideas.”
Isabella Rossellini, propos recueillis par Jean-Luc Douin, Le Monde, 27 février 2006
- La Dernière Utopie : la télévision selon Rossellini (2006)
In the early 1960s, Roberto Rossellini turned away from the big screen to dedicate himself fully to a gigantic television project. Nothing less than recounting the whole human adventure in images, from prehistory to the conquest of space. Within this encyclopedic ambition a goal is discernable: giving the people of his time the means of re-appropriating their History, to relearn how to think about the world and their own condition. Biographies, historical panoramas, film excerpts, conversations among partners and colleagues retrace the history of a great idea, as humanist and generous as the filmmaker himself.
“We dolly back from a television on which a series of advertisements plays. Filmed by Comolli, this shot suggests the contemporary relevance of Rossellini’s project, a ‘Debordian’ revolt against the society of the spectacle. Rossellini, then considered a Master for a whole generation of young filmmakers, broke with what he called ‘unconscious cinema.’ […] Working for television, he went from an ‘esthetics of beauty’ to an ‘esthetics of utility’.”
Teddy Lussi, édition DVD, CNC
- La Passion d’Anna Magnani (La Passione Di Anna Magnani, 2019)
Magnificent and ordinary, comic and tragic, this great actress, the emblem of Italian neorealism, revolutionized the representation of women. As volcanic offscreen as on, she impressed Hollywood with her powerful acting and was the first Italian woman to win an Oscar. This documentary immerses us in the Golden Age of Italian cinema by following the career of an extraordinary actress who marked the history of the 7th art.
“In this documentary, a treasure trove of previously unreleased archival material and fascinating testimony, ‘la Magnani’ appears as she was: an exceptional woman of atypical beauty, volcanic temper, and incandescent talent.”
Alain Constant, Le Monde, décembre 2019
(La Otra, 1946)
María, a penniless manicurist, murders her wealthy and recently widowed twin sister Magdalena in order to take her place and the immense fortune she has just inherited.
“Rarely has a film been so deeply rooted in the cruelty of situation. Rarely too, it must be recognized, has a risky subject been so soberly handled. No emphasis, no showy set piece breaks the deliberately even rhythm of this tale, recounted like any ordinary news item. And Roberto Gavaldón must be congratulated for helming, with such evident concern for realism and detail, a plot so challenging to express in images. Not to forget that this triumph is also due to Dolores Del Río’s moving interpretation, supported with praiseworthy discretion by the Mexican artists Agustín Irusta, Víctor Junco, and José Baviera, who can hold their own with our best French actors.”
Claude Chenot, Cinémonde, mars 1948
- La Déesse agenouillée (La Diosa Arrodillada, 1947)
To celebrate their anniversary, Antonio, a wealthy aristocrat, gives a party during which he presents his wife, Elena, with the statue of a kneeling female nude. The model for it was Raquel, Antonio’s mistress and a guest at the party, who wants to break up with her lover. Antonio, for his part, sees this statue as a way of preserving the memory of their love.
“This story of neurotic obsession gives Gavaldón the opportunity to film with great subtlety emotions difficult to portray onscreen: guilt, jealousy, remorse. His use of sets and deep focus allow him to put several characters in the same shot and reveal the power relationships between them.”
Frédéric Gavelle, Jeune Cinéma, printemps 2012
- Mains criminelles (En La Palma De Tu Mano, 1950)
Conman Jaime Karín poses as a psychic to swindle the clients of a beauty salon where his wife works. He tries to blackmail one of them whom he suspects of killing her husband.
“With In the Palm of Your Hand, Gavaldón and his usual collaborator, José Revueltas, together with the Mexican writer Luis Spota, continue to explore the ideas examined in previous films, creating a distorted world of neon dribbling down into alleys where twisted, neurotic men and women plunge into moral failure and crime. […] Leticia Palma plays a perfect femme fatale, an icy manipulator, while De Córdova is appalled by his own spiritual failing, and yet thrilled by the hungry, brutal passion Ada arouses in him. The influence of German Expressionism is evident in Phillips’ chiaroscuro.”
Chloë Roddick, cinematheque.fr
- La nuit avance (La Noche Avanza, 1951)
A champion jai alai player in thrall to dangerous gangsters juggles many mistresses, one of whom says she is pregnant by him.
“Gavaldón explores social disillusion, violence, and murder against a background of endless night in the heart of Mexico City, where the jai alai stadium looms ironically close to the Monument to the Revolution, relic of another era, whose ideals have no place in the sordid underworld where men will do anything to get ahead. This depraved world is depicted in gloomy tones by DP Jack Draper, a Hollywood émigré, to represent a socioeconomic context in which the illusion of progress merely masks a jungle of corruption and poverty.”
Chloë Roddick, cinematheque.fr
- Jours d’automne (Días De Otoño, 1962)
Luisa leaves her home in the country to work for businessman Don Albino in Mexico City. The young woman, who dreams only of finding a husband and starting a family, takes refuge in a web of lies to assuage her loneliness and isolation.
“This schizophrenic melodrama, with its Hitchcockian accents, is a triumph. It is raised to even higher heights by the sumptuous black and white photography of the great Gabriel Figueroa.”
senscritique.com, 9 août 2019
- César chez les Gaulois (1931)
- Soigne ton gauche (1936)
- L’Arabie interdite (1938)
- La Bièvre, fille perdue (1939)
- Ceux du rail (1942)
Bataille du Rail
In 1941, the border that divides France into two zones is under close surveillance by the Nazis. A stationmaster, Camargue, and his deputy Athos are organising the resistance in their sector: passages over the demarcation line, various acts of sabotage, and communications with England to exchange information. After the landing in June 1944, the occupier decides to send a convoy of men and munitions into Normandy. The “Résistance Fer” movement undertaken by Camargue is active in the fight.
“The Battle of the Rails is an important milestone in French cinema, for reasons that surpass the artistic cause alone. This film, one of the first dedicated to the Resistance, contributed to constructing the heroic and unanimous image long associated with this movement.”
Jacques Mandelbaum, Le Monde Magazine, 7 mai 2010
- La Grande Pastorale (1947)
- Les Maudits (1947)
In 1945, in the last days of the war, a submarine left Oslo, carrying German leaders and various personalities devoted to the Nazi cause on board. A young French doctor is brought aboard by force to treat a wounded passenger.
“Technically, it’s a tour de force: Clément reconstituted, aboard a former U-Boot or on a studio set, the conditions of life on board; he obliged his actors (including the exemplary Michel Auclair) to stoop or slide like vines, like true submariners. He also gave his theme an ideological and political dimension that extracted the ‘abstract’ and ‘psychological’ character of this confined space, bringing it within a context that was considered very contemporary at the time.”
Albert Cervoni, L’Humanité, 1er avril 1974
- Au-delà des grilles (Le Mura Di Malapaga, 1949)
Pierre has killed his mistress in France. In the Italian city of Genoa, a toothache forces him to leave the cargo ship that he had stowed away on. Back on land, he makes the acquaintance of a young woman separated from her husband and who lives alone with her young daughter.
“Curiously forgotten for many years […] The Walls of Malapaga all the more richly deserves to be seen again today in that it has aged better than most of the neorealist films with which it was assimilated at the time of its release. One of its great advantages is that the melodramatic element inherent to its script is regularly countered by humour, by the pedagogical complexity of the action, or by the staging procedures that orientate the spectator’s attention in such a way as to prevent the poignant side of the story from gaining the upper hand, by shifting the focus between the Verismo of a sequence and elements bearing a different order of ideas.”
Denitza Bantcheva, René Clément, éd. du Revif, 2008
- Jeux interdits (1952)
A five-year-old orphan girl is taken in by a peasant family during the defeat of 1940. Together the little girl and the family’s son invent a world of childish loves and games inspired by the tragic events that surround them.
“Forbidden Games (1953 Academy Award for Best Film in a Foreign Language) demonstrates its director’s desire to innovate: it was the first French film to give a realistic image of the 1940 defeat; its dialogue is exceptionally uncompromising for the era (of a nearly shocking crudity); its imagery is at times almost surreal. The thoroughgoing originality of this film engendered a whole family of works treating the theme of childhood with mingled darkness and fantasy […].”
- Monsieur Ripois (Knave Of Hearts, 1954)
Having recently moved to London, Frenchman André Ripois marries Catherine there, a well-to-do young lady. On holiday, he attempts to seduce Patricia, one of Catherine’s friends. The latter, tired of her husband’s infidelities, decides to travel to Edinburgh to start divorce proceedings. During her absence, Mr. Ripois invites Patricia to dinner. To win her over, he tactfully decides to tell her his life story with its various sentimental setbacks.
“The performance element of this successful film is great, whether it be on the part of the British actors or Germaine Montero. But the best has to be Gérard Philipe, who has never been so intelligent as in this creation. Charming as he is, he manages to also strike us as unappealing. This is because this lowlife Don Juan is constantly seen here through the uncompromising eye that he himself brings to bear on his miserable successes, only to be revealed by the subsequently disenchanted gaze of scorned women.”
Claude Mauriac, Le Figaro littéraire, 29 mai 1952
- Gervaise (1956)
In 1852 in Paris, Gervaise, alone with two children and abandoned by her lover Lantier, rediscovers love with Coupeau, a working-class roofer. Unfortunately, their happiness proves to be short-lived.
“One of the main qualities of the film consists of […] the comparisons that we come to establish between the characters, and that reveal a multitude of human particularities while also justifying each phase of the action in several ways. […] The film is among the best ever made based on a Zola novel […] along with La Bête humaine (1938) by [Jean] Renoir and Thérèse Raquin, the Adultress (1953) by [Marcel] Carné. By comparison, Gervaise emerges as the adaptation the most capable of teasing out the novelist’s irony, the scope of his narrative and naturalist perspective, while also being the most modern of the three.”
Denitza Bantcheva, René Clément, éd. du Revif, 2008
- Plein Soleil (In Pieno Sole, 1960)
Tom Ripley is sent by a rich business man to bring his son Philip back to San Francisco. But Philip, who is enjoying the good life in Italy with his girlfriend, extends his stay indefinitely. Tom then develops a close friendship with the couple becoming Philip’s right-hand man.
“This is a masterful film in which René Clément proves that, for him, filmmaking is a craft in the noblest sense of the word. He conceives each of his films the way the craftsman of old times conceived his ‘masterpiece.’ Throughout the film we admire the beauty of a shot, the daring use of ellipsis, the architectural rigour of a sequence and the remarkable performance from Alain Delon, beside whom Maurice Ronet has found one of his best roles.”
Jean de Baroncelli, Le Monde, 16 mars 1960
- Quelle joie de vivre (Che Gioia Vivere, 1961)
Rome, 1921. Liberated from military service, Ulysses and his friend Turiddu move to the Italian capital in the hopes of finding work there. Unemployed, they join the Mussolinian Blackshirts, to whom the mission of locating an antifascist printworks has been entrusted. There, Ulysses meets Franca, the printer’s daughter. To seduce her, he gets caught up in the moment while passing himself off as a legendary anarchist.
“With a light touch not devoid of gravitas, [René Clément] has created a film about freedom, oppression, political commitment, and the buffoonery of certain situations does not mask the crucial nature of the times. […] The joie de vivre peters out, the prison gates enclosing the protagonists of the film as much as the spectators watching them. As Clément says, to be free, ‘you need either genius or heroism’.”
Jean A. Gili, Positif, n° 612, février 2012
- Le Jour et l’heure (Il Giorno E L’Ora, 1962)
In 1944, under the Occupation, Thérèse Dutheil, a woman from an important family who has been sheltered from the war up until now, finds herself having to escort three Allied aviators. Specifically, Thérèse must succeed in accompanying the American pilot Allan Morley to Toulouse to avoid his capture by the Gestapo.
“This is a finely crafted film. Flawless and well pressed. Impeccably fitted, cut, and sewn. We sense that the staging has been developed down to its smallest details. Polished and re-polished. Simmered on low heat. Everything is in place. Nothing is left to chance, the master craftsman is René Clément, a director who knows his trade admirably well, a ‘man of cinema’ in the best sense of the term, and viewers cannot fail to be sensitive to these efforts and attentions.”
Jean de Baroncelli, Le Monde, 11 avril 1963
- Les Félins (1964)
Killers have been hired by a cuckolded husband to find Marc, the lover of his unfaithful wife, hiding on the Côte d’Azur. Marc accepts a position as the chauffeur of a rich American, Barbara, but soon realises that his recruitment is far from fortuitous and that he now finds himself mired deep within a sinister plot.
“Strikingly baroque, as [in] Joy House where he plays with the codes of the thriller film genre, in an unexpected and refined way that would earn him, on the one hand, widespread critical incomprehension […] and, on the other, a definitive image as the ‘French Hitchcock’ among the American press and professionals. […] As a genre film, Joy House is innovative in its combination of postmodern aestheticism, parody, eroticism, and absurdism: brought together, these particularities make it an unusual work that falls within the film noir revival of the 1960s.”
Denitza Bantcheva, « Modernité de René Clément », Positif, février 2012 & René Clément, éd. du Revif, 2008
Enfance nue (L’)
After several failed placements, François, a foster child, finds understanding and comfort with an elderly couple. Unfortunately, after causing a traffic accident he is sent to a reformatory.
“Although Naked Childhood seizes fragments of raw existence from the real world, everything is calculated, even its rough spots. […] Pialat scripted everything; the many hesitations — technical included — are an integral part of his creative process and may be read as lucky accidents. […] The film is not sentimentally appealing and never tries to be. That is its strength. […] Naked Childhood is 50 years old, but time and tide cannot affect it; it remains intact and unassailable. Still standing. Always on the run.”
« L’Enfance nue de Pialat, le cinéma à vif », cnc.fr, 24 janvier 2019
- Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble (1972)
Jean and Catherine have been lovers for six years. He has never wanted to divorce and still lives with his wife. She lives with her parents. They meet every day in hotels and cars, during vacations and on weekends. They love, argue, fight, then reconcile. One day, Catherine decides to call it quits.
“We Won’t Grow Old Together, together perhaps with Van Gogh (1991) and certainly Naked Childhood (1968), is the richest and most astonishing of Maurice Pialat’s films. An intimate, cruel, and tender film, which manages to be of its time and political without displaying its allegiances. […] The most stupefying and satisfying aspect of We Won’t Grow Old Together is its naturalness, its immediate authenticity. If you didn’t know that it was an adaptation of a book […] you would believe it was reporting, a documentary. […] Pialat is in search of an emotional realism of which few examples exist, and even the best are sentimental rather than realistic.”
Barthélemy Amengual, Positif, mars 2004
- La Gueule ouverte (1974)
In a little village in the Auvergne, a woman stricken with cancer is living out her last months. Around her, her family must do its best to help her through her dying days. Her husband and son, needing more than ever to feel alive, continue their skirt-chasing. Meanwhile, her daughter-in-law ceaselessly broods over old grudges toward the dying woman.
“The Mouth Agape is in the lineage of We Won’t Grow Old Together, Pialat again exploring biographical material, drawing upon his neuroses and fears, and releasing everything in a film that is profoundly disturbing, pitiless, and, thus, surely cathartic.”
Olivier Bitoun, dvdclassik.com, 26 novembre 2020
- Passe ton bac d’abord (1978)
In a city in northern France, adolescents approach the baccalaureate examination with anxiety tempered by indifference. For them, this is a year of conflict with adults and teachers who consider the test a passport to a career. “Passport to unemployment,” think the cynical youngsters, instead.
“Maurice Pialat returns in smashing form, sweeping away the mythologies and sly idealization
— tinged with nostalgia — of liberal society, shaking up the world of petit bourgeois prep schoolers to confront us with a ‘naked adolescence,’ butting heads against an unyielding horizon, the dead end of unemployment, and the impossibility of making for oneself, as used to be said, a place in the sun after secondary education, even though the latter has been ‘democratized.’”
Jacques Siclier, Le Monde, 1er septembre 1979
- Loulou (1980)
Nelly, a young girl of good family, leaves her stuffy husband for Loulou, a young layabout whose nonconformity attracts her. Although she soon becomes pregnant by him, Loulou refuses to give up a life divided between his gang of pals and the nighttime break-ins they organize.
“Pialat wouldn’t have admitted it: nonetheless, his story of adultery is a great political film. Nothing apparently could be further from Maurice Pialat than the figure of the ‘activist’ filmmaker. And yet, viewing Loulou again today, the class struggle leaps to the eye. Oh, no didacticism for Pialat. No lecture, no caricature. Just the stuff of humanity: bodies given over to love, boredom, alcohol, violence.”
Olivier Nicklaus, Les Inrockuptibles, août 2006
- À nos amours (1983)
At fifteen, Suzanne makes the bitter discovery that sex comes easier than love. Fleeing family problems, she accumulates experiences, changing partners often, loving none of them, until she meets Jacques.
“His films, better than masterpieces (a term inappropriate to this unfinished cinema), are first of all brutal shocks. So To Our Loves, a hard, icy slap, a caress burning with despair, plumbs the depths of adolescence, that complicated age of possibilities and ordeals.”
Jacques Morice, telerama.fr
- Police (1985)
Louis-Vincent Mangin, a loose cannon of a police inspector, hunts down smalltime drug dealers. During a raid, he meets Noria, a dealer’s girlfriend, and falls in love with her. Becoming his mistress puts her life in danger.
“As we might have expected, Maurice Pialat’s Police is no ordinary procedural, even if it respects some of the genre’s conventions. The first part centers around interrogations, showing the routine and banal violence of the policeman’s job and the power struggle between suspects and police, made up of brutality and lies. In the role of Mangin, Depardieu is magnificent. This is one of his subtlest interpretations. First coarse and sure of himself, little by little he reveals an unsuspected complexity when the film explores his life outside the stationhouse, and exposes an overwhelming fragility and loneliness. […] A masterpiece.”
Olivier Père, arte.tv, 16 janvier 2016
- Sous le soleil de Satan (1987)
The country priest Donissan, haunted by evil and the failure of his mission, flagellates himself and cannot make contact with his parishioners. Until he meets young Mouchette, who has just committed a great sin.
“The filmmaker has been accused of betraying himself, of abandoning his realism in transposing this masterpiece too laboriously. This ponderousness, on the contrary, crushing beings and landscapes, enables Pialat to distill a dull, devastating violence. The northern countryside is transformed into a chaos of clods and chalk, a silent universe for the combat of good and evil, faith and doubt. The fantastic torpor is sometimes rent like a heavy tapestry, showing a glimpse of the tragic face of Mouchette (the sublime Bonnaire), bound to damnation. Depardieu embodies a roughhewn priest, shambling as though weighed down by God. Humbly he cloaks himself in shadow, suggesting this astonishing paradox: it is in the grayness of the world that grace may burst forth, far from Satan’s deceitful sun.”
Cécile Mury, telerama.fr
- Van Gogh (1991)
After his stay in the asylum, Vincent van Gogh settles in Auvers-sur-Oise at the home of Dr. Gachet, art lover and protector of painters. Between his troubled relationship with his brother Théo and his wavering mental health, Vincent continues his work.
“Nothing less comfortable than this Van Gogh, which intoxicates, tortures, soothes, then springs out on you without warning. […] A tumultuous portrait, perhaps Maurice Pialat’s self-portrait (he was a painter in his youth), this work avoids any lyrical, feverish portrayal of creation. […] To the distortions of the paintings, Pialat responds with blocks of clashing sequences. A form that seems shaped bare-handed. A chaos tamed. At the intersection of naturalism and impressionism, the filmmaker favors landscapes, women’s bodies, common people. And Dutronc. The actor’s emaciated face and bent back display the weary labor of creation.”
Jacques Morice, telerama.fr
- Le Garçu (1995)
The deeply unstable Gérard sees his little son Antoine growing up. He feels he has never loved and been loved so much. But since his wife Sophie, tired of his behavior and his mistresses, has more or less thrown him out, Gérard is terribly afraid of losing his place in his son’s heart.
“This is pure Pialat, but a new, cooled-down Pialat, with a certain distance from his usual material and treatment. Certainly, he has not deserted the arena of cinematic realism, stubbornly seeking to understand those famous ‘things of life’: couplehood, the war of the sexes, the difficulty of loving, and all those obsessions that make him ‘a Lelouch under the sun of Satan.’ But the social setting has become more middleclass, the relationships between men and women more peaceful, and the emotions domesticated. […] No Pialat film has seemed so serene and pacified, so open to a certain rationalism, and yet so glacial. This, perhaps, is what is known as mastery.”
Gérard Lefort et Olivier Séguret, Libération, 31 octobre 1995
- Sous le soleil de Pialat (2021)
Maurice Pialat was an immense filmmaker and an exacting man, in his art as in his life. A nonconformist, an outsider whose originality and passion raised him to the rank of legend in only ten films. A unique gaze, which William Karel observed closely over nearly twenty years.
Maurice Pialat was an immense filmmaker and an exacting man, in his art as in his life. A nonconformist, an outsider whose originality and passion raised him to the rank of legend in only ten films. A unique gaze, which William Karel observed closely over nearly twenty years.
“The film reveals Pialat through the prism of Karel. It is Karel who tells us of his mentor and friend. The eye, behind the still and moving picture camera, is accompanied and guided by the voice: Karel’s voice in the archival footage filmed with Pialat, reacting and interacting with the director, but also with the films’ crews. His voice, again, in contemporary interviews with Pialat and his actors. His voice, finally, in the interviews filmed today for this very work, with witnesses of the departed genius, witnesses whom he knows well and with whom he shares a deep common ground: that of having been part of the world according to Pialat, of having lived beneath his sun.”
L’Enfant de Paris
The young Marie-Paule de Valen finds herself orphaned when her father, an officer posted in Morocco, is declared missing and her mother, overwhelmed, dies of grief. Desperate, MariePaule flees her lodgings before falling into the hands of a criminal who entrusts her to an alcoholic cobbler. Living in poverty and mistreated, she finds support from Bosco, the cobbler’s young apprentice. Suddenly, and entirely unexpectedly, Marie-Paule’s father resurfaces, having returned from his mission.
“L’Enfant de Paris is served by a very dense, novelistic script, offering a series of episodes as incredible as they are dramatic. […] Perret’s cinema possesses an incontestable flair for rhythm. A refined work – the lighting and architecture of the shots are finely wrought – L’Enfant de Paris is reminiscent or annunciative at times of the fantastic realism of Franju – a filiation that strikes me as more adequate than the poetic realism offered by certain others.”
Jacques Morice, Cahiers du cinéma, n° 463, janvier 1993
- Le Kid (The Kid, 1921)
A baby abandoned by his penniless mother is taken in by a poor itinerant glazier who immediately becomes attached to him. Five years pass and the boy becomes an enthusiastic partner-in-crime to his adoptive father, breaking windows which the glazier then offers to repair.
“If Charlot loves the ‘Kid’, it is also because this ‘Kid’ is the one he was himself: not, as it happens a lost-child-now-found, but a very poor child. So this rather spineless, rather lost creature, who greatly fears cops, who greatly respects wealth and the established order (these obsessions were to follow Chaplin his whole life, as attested by his memoirs, My Autobiography) will nevertheless have the courage to raise the abandoned baby that nobody wants, to feed it with a coffee pot serving as a baby’s bottle, and teach him to learn to work with him. […] For CharlotChaplin, it is perhaps always-already his obsession with the myth of legendary and bourgeois success and of ‘making it’ out of the most impoverished neighbourhoods.”
Albert Cervoni, « Trente ans après… ou le retour au burlesque », L’Humanité, 2 janvier 1974
- Visages d’enfants (1923)
In a mountain village in the Haut-Valais region, a man is mourning the death of his wife. He lives alone with his two children, ten-year-old Jean and five-year-old Pierrette. However, the father-of-two rapidly remarries with a widow, herself mother to a young girl, Arlette. Having heard of the news belatedly and still grieving the loss of his mother, Jean is unable to accept his stepmother’s authority and sees Arlette as an intruder.
“What is still striking today about Faces of Children is the modernity of its acute gaze, devoid of any squeamishness, directed at unhappy childhoods. Feyder radically counters the trend of the times, fond of children’s comedies or melodramas. He dares to tell a rather dark tale without any literary alibi or comic relief. To do so, he has a (minor) major asset: Jean Forest, a bona fide ‘gamin de Montmartre’, who draws the eye through his naturalness and high sensitivity. […] An intimist film, Faces of Children is one of the masterpieces of cinema relating to the world of childhood.”
Lenny Borger, « Notes sur Visages d’enfants », Jacques Feyder, Hors-série n° 1895, 1998
- Pierrot, Pierrette (1924)
Two orphans, Pierrot and Pierrette, live in a caravan with their old grandfather – a former circus manager – and make a living singing on the street. For all this, they are far from unhappy. Believing it to be “for their own good”, a charitable lady takes it into her head to place the children in an orphanage and their grandfather in an old people’s home. Pierrot and Pierrette decide to run away.
“Louis Feuillade was, after the 1914 war, one of the most famous filmmakers in the world and his series Fantômas (1913), his episodic films, Les Vampires (1915), Judex (1916), Tih Minh (1918), and Barrabas (1919) whose heroes soon filled the ranks of great popular myths, brought millions of spectators flocking to cinemas. Less well-known today, since a large part of his filmography has been lost and some are only known to us through their scripts, his comedies and vaudevilles should not be overlooked – far from it.”
Raymond Bellour, « Hypnose et cinéma muet », catalogue du Festival international du Film de La Rochelle 2009, à l’occasion de la rétrospective Louis Feuillade
- Le Tour de France par deux enfants (1924)
A film in 5 episodes.
After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, two young brothers, André and Julien Volden, leave Phalsbourg, in the Lorraine region, to traverse France and attempt to join their uncle Frantz in Marseille.
“The film that skilfully superposes onto the Compagnon tradition the schema of an initiatory voyage aims to share with the spectator the revelation of national unity as experienced by two orphans coming from an ‘orphaned’ province, upon their discovery of the Motherland.”
Marcel Oms, « Le cinéma des Années folles », Les Cahiers de la Cinémathèque, n° 33, automne 1981
- Poil de carotte (1925)
The suffering and revolts of a young boy nicknamed ‘Poil de Carotte’ [Carrot-Top] by his mother who hates him. What does family mean to Poil de Carotte, other than a loose gathering of people who can’t stand each other? What does it matter to him if his big brother Félix steals money for a singer from the local caff? The tenderness that the little Mathilde has for him or the affection that the servant Annette demonstrates do not compensate for either the mother’s hatred or the father’s indifference.
“Poil de Carotte is one of the summits of Duvivier’s silent work, which already contained a great deal of the qualities of the 1932 version. The film is built on three axes, a choice of point of view between the three main protagonists: the fiercely caricatural version of Mme Lepic, the growing revolt of M. Lepic, and the emphasis on Poil de Carotte’s despair. The film’s perspective modifies certain aspects of Jules Renard’s work, by eliminating certain nuances, but creates a unity and strength that proves the intelligence of the adaptation.”
Éric Bonnefille, Julien Duvivier, le mal-aimant du cinéma français, 2002
- Children of No Importance (Die Unehelichen, 1926)
Peter, Lotte, and Frieda are entrusted to a host family whose sole motivation is money. The father is an alcoholic; he beats Peter and forces him to work. When Lotte suddenly passes away after a bout of pneumonia, Peter plucks up the courage to alert the authorities that his sister has in fact succumbed to exhaustion.`
“The basis for making the film was an official report from a society for the protection of children against exploitation and cruelty, and socially committed director Gerhard Lamprecht brought to light a deplorable state of affairs that was widespread in the Weimar Republic. Unlike the romanticized depictions of child poverty in the US, featuring waif-like child stars such as Jackie Coogan [The Kid], Lamprecht, the humanist son of a prison padre, combined his portrayal of blatant childhood misery with a call for reform.”
- Gosses de Tokyo (Otona No Miru Ehon - Umarete Wa Mita Keredo, 1932)
The children of an office clerk start a hunger strike on the day they discover that, in order to gain his boss’ esteem, their father is behaving like a lackey in front of him.
“This watershed film, in which Ozu is not yet Ozu but becoming what he’ll become, is above all an extremely moving social melodrama accompanied by a frankly comical aspect of which Italian neorealist cinema has provided the only other comparable examples. […] In I Was Born, But… the thematic of Ozu’s cinema is in place, the warmth of his characters, but what will later form the essence of his art is still absent. Ozu is as much an author of films as the creator of an œuvre and the fascination of his mature films is due to the systematic repetition of images, the recurrence of themes, and finally, to the establishment of a system that revives the very best of oriental art. […] Ozu masterfully manufactures the void in such a way as to overwhelm us with the subtlety of a detail.”
Olivier Assayas, Cahiers du cinéma, n° 319, janvier 1981
La Fée printemps
On a dark winter night, a childless couple sorrows. A fairy in the guise of a beggar woman comes to fulfill their dearest wish.
Le Petit Jules Verne
A voyage through the dreams of a little boy who reads a Jules Verne story before going to sleep.
Le Bon Invalide et les enfants
Children come to play in a park. When a young scamp steals their ball, a kindly old veteran on a nearby bench takes pity on them.
La Jalousie de Dick
A dog who is jealous of his masters’ love for a child shows his ill will, going so far as to start a fire.
When their father is attacked by a Paris gang, the Apaches, Bébé and his little sister decide to avenge him.
Bout de Zan vole un éléphant
Bout de Zan, a playful tot, steals an elephant from a circus.
In a castle, a young woman reads letters written by her ancestor. She comes to believe she is the reincarnated spirit of an aristocrat who once lived there.
“A sumptuous visual style plunging the spectator into magical landscapes, a romantically sinister castle, and the spectacular performance of the diva Borelli. […] The plot is developed in such a sober, stripped-down style that those who have not read or do not remember the eponymous Gothic novel by Antonio Fogazzaro (1881) have no way of understanding who is who, what relationships exist between one character and the others, and why they do everything they do. […] But, as a famous director once said, “the script is a mere distraction from what really counts in cinema.”
Mariann Lewinsky, Il Cinema ritrovato, traduction libre de l’italien
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
Harry Quincey lives in Corinth, a little New Hampshire town, with his sisters, Lettie and Hester. He leads the dull life of an aging bachelor until he meets and falls in love with Deborah Brown. He is ready to marry her, but Lettie is mad with jealousy and will do anything to stop him.
“The filmmaker presents his observations with the eye of an entomologist. He neither condemns nor absolves. He suggests that the monstrosity inherent in the character of every human being is banal, natural, inevitable; his pessimism is even more complete and radical than that of Lang or Hitchcock, members of the same cinematic ‘family.’ Set off by dazzling editing and photography, the plot has the authority, the supple ease, the serene and rigorous precision, sometimes elliptical, sometimes acute, of a perfect narrative.”
Jacques Lourcelles, Dictionnaire du cinéma, Éditions Laffont
- Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951)
A young tennis player is torn between her mother’s and her trainer’s ambitious plans, and her recent meeting with a boy who shares her passion for the game.
“Beyond the pleasure of discovering an obscure film, we have all Lupino’s talent for creating touching, believable characters, as well as a stinging attack on social elevation as the only ideal of happiness. […] Lupino’s direction is astonishingly masterful and precise.”
Frédéric Bonnaud, Libération, 26 octobre 1996
- Le Sang à la tête (1956)
François Cardinaud used to work on the docks of La Rochelle. Now he is one of the region’s richest shipowners. But this success arouses hate and jealousy. When his wife Marthe suddenly runs away with a young scoundrel, François sees his life, until then made of labor and sacrifice, fall gradually to pieces.
“Blood to the Head is a remarkable Simenon adaptation. The realism and themes of the novel, Le Fils Cardinaud, are preserved: the hostility and spite of a whole town towards an isolated, humiliated, cuckolded man. Gilles Grangier adds a probing examination of the bourgeoisie whose rules have not been followed. Stubborn, jaw set, Gabin goes in search of François Cardinaud’s truth. And we find, in the fog, the wet paving stones, and the port of La Rochelle, something of the world of Carné and Prévert.”
Jacques Siclier, telerama.fr
- Main basse sur la ville (Le Mani sulla città, 1963)
In Naples, a dilapidated building collapses due to construction work on a modern building by the Bellavista company headed by Nottola, who is also an influential rightwing town councilor. Two people are dead, one seriously injured. An investigative commission is formed, the most active member of which is De Vita, a leftwing councilor. But thanks to rightwing intrigues, this commission merely confirms that regulations were followed.
“Combining a crime film atmosphere and a profound consideration of political responsibility, Francesco Rosi is the heir of Rossellini’s Neorealism in his commitment to making films as one commits a political act. But, like Rossellini, he goes beyond simple description, elevating it through dramatic framing: he uses film and its possibilities to echo a social reality that has not changed much since. We await [from Francesco Rosi] other films, as simultaneously light and terrifying as this.”
Ariane Beauvillard, critikat.com, 10 janvier 2007
- Charulata (1964)
Calcutta, 1880. Charulata is neglected by her husband, who is distracted by his editorial and political work. She takes refuge in art. Her husband invites his cousin Amal to help her in her literary aspirations. Emotional bonds form between the two young people.
“The ability to evoke inner worlds from closed space and unconsummated action is doubtless the most striking aspect of this film. Side by side with his favorite actor, Soumitra Chatterjee, in the role of boyish cousin Amal, Ray trains his camera on the beautiful, dark-eyed captive, Madhabi Mukherjee, transforming her slightest expression into a smoldering of repressed sensuality.” .”
Jacques Mandelbaum, Le Monde, 13 mai 2013
- Au feu, les pompiers ! (Hoří, Má Panenko, 1967)
In a little town in the provinces, a firemen’s ball is given in honor of one fireman’s fifty years of service. In addition to a raffle, there is a beauty pageant to select the girl who will present a farewell gift to the veteran. But nothing goes as planned: the raffle prizes disappear one by one, the potential beauty queens are markedly unenthusiastic. Then a fire breaks out in a neighboring house.
“The most striking thing about this film, perhaps Forman’s deepest and most masterful, is the literal explosion of freedom and dynamism. From beginning to end, we are captivated, carried away, we abandon ourselves to laughter and emotion, we feel happy to be in the movie theater, to enter into a show (it is indeed a show) that is so close to reality and so refreshing.”
Yvonne Baby, Le Monde, 20 mai 1968
- Le Cercle rouge (1970)
No sooner is he released from prison than a crook executes an incredible heist with the help of a recently escaped gangster and an alcoholic former policeman. The job is a success, but their fence, frightened by the amount involved, tells them to contact a specialist — who turns out to be the inspector responsible for investigating the crime.
“Melville’s style is elliptical, pared down to the minimum of words and gestures. Short, cutting lines, few words, many silences. The actors all perform with unshowy effectiveness. A crime film with no fat on it — just muscle, bone, and sinew.”
Jean-Loup Bonnamy, Le Figaro, 29 décembre 2020
- Parfum de femme (Profumo Di Donna, 1974)
A handsome man in the prime of life and a great lover of women, Fausto lives alone with his old aunt in Turin. Seven years before, when he was a cavalry captain, he was blinded by a bomb. He defies his handicap and hides his bitterness under a show of aggression. Even blind, Fausto can sense the presence of women around him by their scent.
“Dino Risi gives us a mordant social satire in the Italian style, dizzyingly farcical, but also a feverish reflection on suffering, self-disgust, fear of loving and hoping. And this disturbing, sardonic masterpiece reveals its second nature: a ferocious, sorrowful, overwhelming romanticism.”
Cécile Mury, telerama.fr
- Dark Star (1974)
In a distant future, the space ship Dark Star’s mission is to identify planets as either habitable or unstable if its orbit may deviate. The crew has been on this mission for twenty years; boredom reigns supreme. When all of a sudden the ship encounters an electromagnetic storm.
“Dark Star treats the conquest of space with humor and mockery, giving an early glimpse of John Carpenter’s anti-conformism. Despite its cobbled-together look and offbeat, wry tone, Dark Star might be considered the ancestor of a more modern science fiction film, where suspense and terror take precedence over humor and humanist or political discourse.”
Thomas Roland, culturopoing.com, 11 février 2014
- Tom Foot (Fimpen, 1974)
Barely 6 years old, the young Swede Johan Bergman has a mighty kick and a great dribble. No sooner is he noticed by star striker Mackan than the little football prodigy steals his spotlight. Shooting immediately to professional status, he even comes to the rescue of the Swedish national team to help them qualify for the 1974 World Cup. But he finds it harder and harder to combine his life as a child and the demands of professional football.
“One day in 1971, when Bo Widerberg was playing football with the film crew during the shooting of Joe Hill, this little kid, Johan Bergman, got the ball away from him. Once, twice, three times. Bo was impressed, though humiliated, and wondered how professional football players would react in the same situation. That was the starting point for Stubby.”
Mårten Blomkvist, journaliste et biographe de Bo Widerberg
- L’Échiquier du vent (Shatranj-E Baad, 1976)
Iran under the Kadjar dynasty (18th century), in the household of a family of the local nobility. When the First Lady of the house dies, conflict breaks out among family members over inheritance and succession.
“The film’s preview at the Teheran Film Festival was sabotaged: reels out of order, projector tampered with. There was not the slightest resemblance to the original film. During the showing, critics left the theater and the judges withdrew the film from Competition. […] In 2015, by pure chance, the filmmaker, now mainly a documentarian, discovered a copy of his film, which he had thought lost forever, in a junk shop. He bought it and immediately had it restored. So The Chess Game of the Wind was rediscovered and, after forty years in oblivion, recognized for its painterly esthetic, brilliant direction, and many twists and turns of intrigue.”
Festival Lumière, octobre 2020
- Property (1978)
When the residents of a neighborhood scheduled for demolition decide to buy the land themselves instead, they develop a new life as a community.
“I was a witness to a situation like the one in the movie, in the Corbett-Terwiliger-Lair Hill neighborhood of Portland. It’s very close to the center of town, so of course it was a target for the construction of high-rises. It was happening a lot in that era, and so it was scheduled for demolition. The neighborhood kept it alive by buying up portions of it. I had a theater troupe at the time, so I was working with a lot of actors, many of whom are in the movie. […] Eric [Edwards] was the one who contacted Gus Van Sant, who had also gone with him to high school in Portland, and then to Rhode Island School of Design. So Gus came up and was our sound man.”
- Possession (1981)
Returning to Berlin after a long journey, Mark rejoins his wife, Anna, and son, Bob. But he soon realizes his wife’s behavior has changed. When Anna leaves their home after a violent quarrel, a friend of the couple tells Marc that Anna has a lover. He hires a detective who discovers that Anna is sheltering in a strange house.
“Possession is a visionary film, a work combining human passions and ancient metaphysical fears. […] Possession shows and tells terrible things. But it is not a horror film. It is a film of love, despair, and magic. It will be called provocative. If there is provocation, it is the one that cracks open the doors of the invisible and unspeakable. The one that announces every apocalypse.”
Jean de Baroncelli, Le Monde, 27 mai 1981
- Élu (L’) (The Chosen, 1981)
Two young New York Jews become friends in the 1940s. Their widely diverging characters and values fascinate them, then threaten to turn them against each other.
“Jeremy Kagan is unarguably on the side of the humanists. […] In The Chosen, […] History — that of the 1930s and the Depression, that of 1945-48 with the defeat of Nazism and the founding of the State of Israel — is never the real subject, only the backdrop. Nevertheless, it provides indispensable perspective to individual stories. In The Chosen, the story is that of oneself’s discovery, and thus the rediscovery of other people.”
Michel Sineux, Positif, avril 1986
- Louise l’insoumise (1984)
1961. Louise is ten and lives on the outskirts of Paris. Her parents, Tunisian Jews, moved to France a little before Tunisian independence. The mother reigns over the apartment and her three daughters. Jewish tradition is respected to the letter; when the girls disobey, they are beaten mercilessly. Louise rebels against this discipline and discovers the world beyond her mother’s strictures.
“Charlotte Silvera’s touch is firm and exact in her first fiction feature. […] Twenty-five years later, the themes of this film still seem perfectly handled; flawless direction generates strong empathy and rich food for thought.”
Cédric Lépine, mediapart.fr, 22 novembre 2020
- Thérèse (1986)
Late 1800s: Thérèse Martin enters the Carmel de Lisieux convent with her three sisters. She is cheerful, open, idealistic. The realities of the convent, her desire for perfection, the death of her father, privations, and lack of care ruin her health. She struggles against both physical suffering and the testing of her faith. She dies of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four, leaving a notebook where she recounts her “little life.”
“She is there, in every shot, irrefutable. This tour de force, gentle and delicate, owes much to actress Catherine Mouchet. Her smile and laugh are a spring of life, the joy of a profound faith, completely unafraid. Alain Cavalier himself is unafraid. Between Thérèse, her interpreter, and himself, communion is possible. This belief carries the film. […] From this double focus, on concrete truth and what transcends it, came a film that belongs to no fashion or time, a film in a state of grace.”
Frédéric Strauss, telerama.fr
- Cinéma Paradiso (Nuovo cinema Paradiso, 1988)
- Peaux de vaches (1989)
In northern France, Gérard sets fire to the family farm in the course of a booze-up with his brother Roland. Ten years later, Roland leaves prison and finds Gérard married, head of a family, and owner of the farm. Roland wants a reckoning, but Gérard panics and flees.
“Patricia Mazuy’s film is very strong, very surprising, because it makes us feel, through everyday details and nuances, the influence of this rural world, today, in this countryside, on mind and behavior. […] Patricia Mazuy has pulled off a hat trick: script, mise en scene, direction of actors. She has reinvented Jacques Spiesser by giving him a dimension of ambiguity, brought inner fragility to Stévenin’s solid, virile presence, and worked with Sandrine Bonnaire’s instinct to make her the soul of this story of men. Brilliant Bonnaire.”
Le Monde, 19 mai 1989
(Thunderbolt And Lightfoot, 1974)
Bank robber John Thunderbolt becomes friends with Lightfoot, a young wanderer. Together they decide to recover the half million dollars that Thunderbolt stashed in an old schoolhouse
— which has since been destroyed.
“This magnificent first effort marked the birth of one of the most original talents of New Hollywood in the 1970s. […] From the first shots, it glorifies the American landscape (painstaking location scouting in Montana), exalts the virile friendship and individualism of its heroes, lovingly eulogizes losers and down-and-outs. Cimino as a filmmaker is both sentimental and intellectual; his films oscillate between nostalgia for origins (his primitive side) and a very modern artistic stance (his mannerist side).”
Olivier Père, Arte, 19 novembre 2014
- Voyage au bout de l’enfer (The Deer Hunter, 1978)
Pennsylvania, 1968. Michael, Nick, Steven, Stan, and Axel, steelworkers who hunt deer together on their off hours, prepare to celebrate Steven’s marriage and their going off to war. In Vietnam, combat is brutal. Two years later, captured by the Viet Cong, they live as prisoners in submerged cages, coming out only to be forced to play Russian roulette. Then fate separates them. None of them will ever be the same.
“The Deer Hunter raised to the highest pitch a number of great Hollywood narratives: melodrama, emptied of all pathos; monumental panorama, but filmed intimately; war movie and home movie. Cimino dragged us into the depths of horror, but, barely one shot before the final credits, took us by the hand. Saved in the nick of time. […] Now we know: few cinematic images are as alive as those of Michael Cimino.”
Jean-Baptiste Thoret, Michael Cimino, les voix perdues de l’Amérique, 2013
- Année du Dragon (L’) (Year Of The Dragon, 1985)
A mysterious wave of violence has swept over Chinatown. Headstrong police captain Stanley White believes the Chinese triad is responsible. A duel to the death ensues between him and the new Godfather of Chinatown.
“Year of the Dragon may be considered the third part of a stealth trilogy begun with The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate. A ‘war film in peacetime,’ as Cimino said. […] In these three films, Cimino dares to say that America was built on genocide, lies, and betrayals.”
Olivier Père, arte.fr, 28 février 2016
- Michael Cimino, un mirage américain (2021)
“Movies have something essentially magical about them,” Michael Cimino once said. “You’re creating a nostalgia for a past that never existed.” He died at the age of 77 on July 2, 2016, after twenty years spent dreaming of films that never came to be.
“In Michael Cimino un mirage américain we see Jim, Kathy, Orin, Bobby, John Wayne, and a guy called Boom-Boom. Quentin pops in, as do Oliver, Stanley, and John. And among all that, there are scraps of Mingo Junction, Ohio — of America, thus of movies —and a little of Michael Cimino. It’s a mirage, but it’s real.”
Alien, le 8e passager
Merchant space vessel Nostromo and its crew of seven men and women are returning to Earth with a load of ore. But when they are forced to land on a deserted planet, Officer Kane is attacked by an alien “lifeform.”
“Alien, which skillfully combines horror and science fiction, gives Ridley Scott a perfect set-up to prove his narrative and technical mastery. Suspense is maintained with a remarkable economy of means. We shiver as the alien decimates the crew, then tremble for the survival of Sigourney Weaver, perfect as the brave heroine. This magnificent exercise in style could be a sumptuous metaphysical poem about a lost civilization.”
Aurélien Ferenczi, telerama.fr
- SOS Fantômes (Ghostbusters, 1984)
Peter, Raymond, and Egon are parapsychological researchers. Fired from their university, they decide to create a company to get rid of supernatural pests, “Ghostbusters.” It is so successful that they end up working around the clock.
“Ghostbusters’ most remarkable feature is its mixture of comedy and seriousness in a film that is neither a parody nor a satire. Unusually, here comedy does not preclude a serious approach. […] Ghostbusters has yet another advantage […]: the presence of one of today’s most stirring seductresses, Sigourney Weaver.”
Alain Garsault, Positif, février 1985
- Working Girl (1988)
The adventures of Tess in the Wall Street jungle. A pretty, intelligent office worker, manipulated by chauvinist bosses and by Katherine, more upper-class and polished than she, Tess will nonetheless triumph through daring and persistence.
“With the pitiless world of Wall Street as its background, with props as poetic as computer screens and a setting as romantic as the Mergers & Acquisitions department of a brokerage, Mike Nichols has created a thoroughbred of a Hollywood comedy. The crispness of the screenplay, the rhythm of the direction, the substance of the secondary characters, the talent of the leads, all hark back to the irresistible models of the genre by Capra and Cukor in which Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant sparkled.”
Le Monde, 15 mars 1989
- La Jeune Fille et la mort (Death And The Maiden, 1994)
Paulina Escobar, once a victim of her country’s military dictatorship, now believes she recognizes the voice and laugh of her torturer in the man who has just brought her husband home after his car broke down, Dr. Roberto Miranda.
“Death and the Maiden confirms the filmmaker’s taste for tense, violent, no-exit confrontations of ambiguous characters, involving themes of evil, corruption, and guilt. […] Once again Polanski shows himself to be a peerless director of actresses and gives Sigourney Weaver one of her finest roles.”
Olivier Père, arte.fr, 2 juin 2016
- Ice Storm (The Ice Storm, 1997)
1973. It’s Thanksgiving and a storm is brewing in a little Connecticut town. At the Hoods’ house, the atmosphere is far from festive; everyone is going through an existential crisis in one way or another.
“Ang Lee (The Wedding Banquet, Sense and Sensibility) continues his films’ recurring theme of family torn between tradition and modernity. The Ice Storm stigmatizes the effect of the 1970s on today’s society: the destruction of established values and the patriarchal figure (even Nixon), and so on. The demonstration, heavily symbolic and moralizing, is carried out through a clever circular construction, set off by the playing of Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, and above all Sigourney Weaver.”
Gilles Médioni, L’Express, 12 mars 1998
Eight junkies wait for their dealer in a Greenwich Village loft. To make a little money, they have agreed to be filmed for a documentary by filmmaker Jim Dunn and his cameraman J.J. Burden. As they impatiently await their fix, four of them play jazz while Dunn asks them to tell him stories from their lives.
“Underground filmmaker Shirley Clarke’s first feature illustrates, in her own ambiguous way, the operations of New York independent cinema, then coming into its own. Of course, this tragic huis clos, adapted from a stage play, is, despite its documentary airs, as much pure fiction as any Hollywood production. But, more importantly, in it Shirley Clarke tears apart the filmic and ideological conventions then dominant.”
Louis Guichard, telerama.fr
- Depuis qu’Otar est parti (2003)
Ada lives in Georgia in a small apartment with her mother, Marina, and her grandmother, Eka. Her uncle Otar has gone to Paris. He works on a construction site and sends a little money to his mother now and then. While Eka is out, Ada and her mother learn that Otar has died. The two women do all they can to keep the terrible news from Eka. But the old woman, whose strength is fading, expresses a desire to see her son again before she dies.
“The director’s strong personality imbues every centimeter of film; restraint and generosity are the key words of this modest and profoundly human film. Since Otar Left derives its unique force from the indescribable grace filling every shot, the incredible dignity radiating from each character, and especially from the three lead actresses, Esther Gorintin most of all.”
Clément Graminiès, « L’art de la fugue », critikat.com, 1er décembre 2004
- Mon Trésor (Or, 2004)
Ruthie and Or, a mother and her 17-year-old daughter, live in a little apartment in Tel Aviv. Ruthie has been a prostitute for twenty years. Or has already tried several times — unsuccessfully — to make her leave the streets. Or’s daily life is an endless series of odd jobs; she still goes to school, but only when she can. When her mother returns from yet another stay in the hospital, Or decides that things must change.
“Films like this sting like an open wound and, when they are over, leave you defenseless and exhausted; but despite their bitterness, they give you new faith in the cinema. Through the gaze of this young director who, with her first feature film, dazzles us with her maturity and talent, we discover a part of Israel little known to us in France […]. Keren Yedaya focuses on a motherdaughter couple struggling to survive. […] This awareness of real life makes this film exemplary and gives it a universal bearing. It is magnificent.”
Myriam Aziza, lacid.org
- Grave (2016)
In Justine’s family, everyone is a vegetarian and a veterinarian. At the age of 16, she is an adolescent prodigy, about to enter the veterinary school where her older sister is also studying. But no sooner has she settled in than the hazing begins. Justine is forced to eat raw meat. It is the first time in her life she has done so, and Justine discovers her true nature.
“Rarely do we see first works as feverish and electrifying, their romanticism as wild and uninhibited. […] Raw orchestrates with brio the marriage of two types of narrative that we never imagined could pair so well: on one hand, the coming of age story; on the other, body horror, with mutilations and carnal outrages.”
Mathieu Macheret, Le Monde, 14 mars 2017
- Tu mérites un amour (2019)
After Rémi has been unfaithful to her, Lila, who loved him desperately, suffers through their breakup. One day he tells her that he is going away to Bolivia, alone, to confront himself and try to understand his mistakes. Once there, he insinuates that there is still hope for their relationship. Between discussions, comfort, and encouragements to mad love; Lila is relentlessly confused.
“You Deserve a Lover reveals a real filmmaker’s gift and, in addition, confirms the rare talent of actress Hafsia Herzi, stunning once again as this heroine determined to let no one stand in the way of her desires. Since her debut under Abdellatif Kechiche’s guidance, the actress has given several convincing performances. […] Under her own direction, Hafsia Herzi confirms that sometimes an actress’s best friend is herself.”
Olivier De Bruyn, Les Échos, 10 septembre 2019
- Sous le ciel d’Alice (2020)
1950s. Young Alice leaves Switzerland to go to Lebanon. In this sunny, exuberant country, she falls in love with Joseph, a wily astrophysicist who dreams of sending the first Lebanese into space. Alice soon finds her place in Joseph’s family, but after a few years of dolce vita, civil war disturbs the paradise that until then seemed to be theirs.
- Depuis qu’Otar est parti (2003)
- SOS Fantômes (Ghostbusters, 1984)
- Voyage au bout de l’enfer (The Deer Hunter, 1978)
- Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951)
- The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945)
- Le Kid (The Kid, 1921)
- Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble (1972)
- La Déesse agenouillée (La Diosa Arrodillada, 1947)
- Païsa (Paisà, 1946)
- Le Talentueux Mr Ripley (The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999)
- A Film for Friends (Film Pentru Prieteni, 2011)
- N’oublie pas que tu vas mourir (1995)