9 items from 2014
San Sebastian, Spain– Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, who delivered the biggest French-language hit ever with the Omar-Sy starrer “Intouchables” ($426 million worldwide) in 2011, fired up this year’s San Sebastian fest with the European premiere of “Samba” on closing night. In the well-polished social comedy, Sy plays Samba, a hard-working Senegalese migrant whose life is turned upside down after getting caught by authorities. Pic, which is produced by Quad Films, centers around Samba’s unlikely relationship and building romance with Alice, a social worker (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who is recovering from a burn-out. Sold by Gaumont, “Samba” sparked standing ovations at both Toronto, where it world-premiered, and at San Sebastian. Kicking off the European tour to promote the movie, Toledano and Nakache took time to chat with Variety about the genesis of “Samba,” what the film means to them, their collaboration with Sy and Gainsbourg, and what they look forward to in France and beyond. »
- Elsa Keslassy
Birds of a Feather: Camargo’s Debut a Tepid Chekhovian Transplant
Contemporizing classic literature can be a tricky feat, though it more often than not seems unjustified. Actor Christian Camargo has reworked Anton Chekov’s classic play The Seagull for his directorial debut, Days and Nights, curiously setting the Russian tragedy in 1984 New England. With an extremely lucrative cast at hand, Camargo’s fiddling around with the text isn’t completely bereft of ingenious new ways to converse with Chekov’s classic, though more often than not, this is simply another tedious glimpse of familial dysfunction, relocated to the heart of a Wasp’s nest. While it isn’t necessary to be familiar with the material Camargo is in correspondence with, one’s awareness of it may impede rather than enhance this film, which often feels strained or confused upon comparison.
It’s Memorial Day Weekend in 1984, and famous »
- Nicholas Bell
The Skin I Live In: Ozon’s Exquisite New Exploration of Gender Subversion
For his most playful and delightfully creepy film in years, Francois Ozon adapts crime writer Ruth Rendell’s short story for his latest, The New Girlfriend. Rendell has long supplied a bevy of European filmmakers with some of their most memorable titles, including Claude Miller’s Alias Betty (2001), Pedro Almodovar’s Live Flesh (1997), and perhaps, most notably, Claude Chabrol’s La Ceremonie (1994) and The Bridesmaid (2004). An excellent purveyor of strange and complicated relationships that often involve sublimated identities and tendencies that often lead to deadly scenarios, Rendell serves as an excellent template for Ozon with material that recalls the sexually transgressive explorations of his early career.
Claire (Anais Demoustier) and Laura (Isild Le Besco) have been inseparable friends since childhood. They’ve followed nearly the same life trajectory as well, both marrying handsome young men and what not. »
- Nicholas Bell
The seductive mystery fiction of British writer Ruth Rendell has proven highly adaptable source material for a number of non-Anglo European filmmakers, among them Claude Chabrol in La Ceremonie and The Bridesmaid, Claude Miller in Alias Betty and Pedro Almodovar in Live Flesh. Francois Ozon joins the list with The New Girlfriend, spun from a 1985 short story by Rendell into a delectable riff on transformation, desire and sexuality that blends the heightened reality of melodrama with mischievous humor and an understated strain of Hitchcockian suspense. Ozon has carved a career out of scratching beneath the cool surface of the
- David Rooney
Michel Gondry had a Tin Drum moment on the red carpet for his Mood Indigo*, starring Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris with Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy, Aïssa Maïga and Charlotte Le Bon. Boris Vian transformed into Günter Grass with a Volker Schlöndorff image stuck in and out of Gondry's head ending up in Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? An Animated Conversation With Noam Chomsky and out of a faucet in Mood Indigo. Tautou and Duris walked the red carpet in 2013 at The Paris Theatre - she for Claude Miller's Thérèse Desqueyroux and he for Régis Roinsard's Populaire.
Audrey Tautou at Mood Indigo New York premiere: "I was really intrigued by the imagination and phantasy of this universe." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
David Byrne, »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
Actress, director and screenwriter Nicole Garcia is to preside over the Jury for this year’s Caméra d’or award for the best debut film at Cannes.
Garcia, who has presented a total of seven films at Cannes as both actress and director, first came to attention in Bertrand Tavernier’s Let Joy Reign Supreme in 1975 and subsequently worked with directors Henri Verneuil (Body of My Enemy, 1976) and Laurent Heynemann (The Question, 1977).
In 1979, her performance in Philippe de Broca’s Practice Makes Perfect earned her popular acclaim and a César award for best supporting actress. She went on to work with the greats of French cinema including Alain Resnais (My American Uncle, 1980), Bertrand Blier (Stepfather, 1981), Claude Lelouch (Bolero: Dance of Life, 1981), Pierre Schoendoerffer (A Captain’s Honor, 1982), Claude Sautet (Waiter!, 1983) and Claude Miller (Little Lili, 2003).
She made her behind-the-camera debut with Every Other Weekend in 1990, followed by The Favorite Son in 1994. She has directed seven films, of »
- email@example.com (Michael Rosser)
Paris — France’s Nicole Garcia, a well-regarded actress-turned-director who has worked with many of French cinemas greats, will serve as president of the Cannes Festival’s Camera d’or Award jury.
Created in 1978, the Camera d’or prizes the best feature debut at the Festival, whether the Official Selection (Competition, Out of Competition, or Un Certain Regard), Directors’ Fortnight or Critics’ Week.
Past plaudits have gone to Jim Jarmusch (“Stranger Than Paradise”), Mira Nair (“Salaam Bombay!”), Jaco Van Dormael (“Toto the Heroe”), Naomi Kawase (“Suzake”), Bahman Ghobadi (“A Time For Drunken Horses”) and Steve McQueen (“Hunger”).
Often selecting films from directors who came into Cannes as virtual unknowns outside their country of origin – Mexico’s Michael Rowe, with “Leap Year,” for example – winners very often count among the select group of Cannes arthouse movies which garner bountiful sales in Cannes’ follow-up, though prices paid for winning titles is now another matter. »
- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy
We French pride ourselves at being great at many things: Cooking elaborate meals, cultivating ridiculously expensive wine, making love while speaking with a thick accent English-speakers find inexplicably sexy, for example. But if there’s one aspect of French culture that’s particularly brag-worthy, it’s our films.
From the invention of the cinematograph by the Lumière Brothers to the New Wave, French cinema has established itself as one of the most revered in the world, perhaps second only to Hollywood in its influence over the rest of the world. Most filmgoers have seen or at least heard of such landmark works as Breathless, The 400 Blows, Grand Illusion or La Femme Nikita. As such, this list will focus on French films that, due to lack of media coverage, poor international distribution or their own unconventional nature, are not as well-known as the aforementioned ones but are just »
- Thomas Ricard
Moving into family-autobiography terrain after her 2008 biopic “Sagan,” Diane Kurys depicts an episode from her parents’ lives just after World War II in “For a Woman.” This drama of covert political and romantic intrigue has the kind of respectable if slightly soap-operatic historical and narrative juice that’s traditionally been a winning formula for upmarket Gallic cinema. Somewhat pedestrian packaging and one less-than-committed central performance won’t help this fairly engrossing pic achieve the sleeper status of a similar endeavor like Claude Miller’s “A Secret.” Still, prospects remain reasonably solid for multiformat niche biz in various territories, with Film Movement launching U.S. theatrical release May 2 in New York.
A framing device features a dour Sylvie Testud as Kurys’ alter ego, Anne, a veteran filmmaker who joins sister Tania (Julie Ferrier) at their ailing father’s deathbed in 1991, then finds old letters he’d kept, which she reads and »
- Dennis Harvey
9 items from 2014
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