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Whirlpool (1935)
A French Chatterley in the thirties.
11 December 2017
In his absorbing "Voyage A Travers Le cinema Français ",Bertrand Tavernier devoted a whole chapter to Edmond T GReville whose work is not very known in France ;with the exceptions of "Menaces" and "L'Envers Du Paradis" ,none of the works I've seen ("brief ecstasy" "secret life" "Le Port Du Désir" "Les Menteurs" "L'accident") really filled me with enthusiasm.But Tavernier talks about two very attracting movies : "Le Diable Soufflé " is ,alas,nowhere to be seen.But " Remous " was recently released on DVD .

"Remous" is certainly the best movie Greville produced in the thirties,even superseding "Menaces " ;the subject was,for the time, absolutely scandalous and they call a spade a spade: the word 'impotence" is uttered and the wife's sexual frustration is depicted as strongly as the times (mid-thirties) allowed :read the trivia on the main page at a time the Hayes Code was ruling;and do not forget that DH Lawrence 's "Lady Chatterley 's lover " was forbidden in the US.And that the first film based on it was made in France in 1955 in a watered-down adaptation.

Symbolism is certainly subtle : pictures of the sea waters (and its "swirls"= that's what's the title means),of the broken record (a piece of which both lovers pick up)and of the nervous sleepless wife at night;and if it were not enough, the husband ,an engineer ,is building a dam.Besides,the ending takes place on it.

Françoise Rosay provides the movie with a comic relief ,but it does not really interest the director who has only eyes for his characters' tragedy .

Bertrand Tavernier is right: its release on DVD is cause for celebration.Now,roll on "Le Diable Soufflé"
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Would you please say "Vous" to me?
4 December 2017
It could not have come at a better time ,this tale of harassment :harassment has always existed ,but it has almost been a taboo subject.Whatever the race or creed or sexual orientation ,harassment knows no limits ,no sex or class ...Many people have been subject to it , in their schools , barracks, factories or ..offices .

Bank executives are not spared ,particularly when they are getting old and when their boss has a young protegee who has his sights fixed high. The boss is condescending ,and his looks kill: he always use the familiar "Tu " whereas his victim insists he should use the polite "Vous".This nuance,which does not exist in the English language ,is crucial to feel Paul's humiliation.Humiliation leads to despair , rebellion and tragedy .But one individual struggling against the boss can't hope to win when many of his colleagues are resigned to their fate :his so called friend keeps on repeating "what can we do?" and Clarisse,who has just been unfairly fired, does not even want to fight against her employer : more,she despises Paul ,who tries to help him ,because she unconsciously knows that there's no place for an honest man in a place where brother will turn on brother.

The film begins with the ominous notes of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and is a long flashback ;even if it does not always avoid clichés (the hero's son) , Darroussin makes it all worthwhile, he is one of the best contemporary French actors , as brilliant portraying a fallen executive as playing a generous working-class man in "Les Neiges Du Kilimandjaro"
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Empty box of dreams
4 December 2017
For the cine buffs ,the consolation prize ,after sitting through this ponderous unfunny comedy is to see (fleetingly ) Simone Signoret (brunette)who would become director Yves Allégret's wife ,and for the very first time, Gérard Philipe in the part of an actor who has just did a screen test to be featured in a Marcel Pagnol's film as ...Raimu's brother (the only funny line in the whole film).

Paris,Saint Germain Des Prés;The movie begins with a long scene taking place in the Café De Flore ,the intellectuals' meeting place ( A Jean-Paul Sartre lookalike is featured);Among the clientele four young men, a composer, a journalist ,a painter and an actor, always short of the readies,who lead a bohemian life .Nicole ,a gorgeous girl ,is in love with one of them,Jean, and she decides to seduce him.The four bachelors find her in their bathtub (in a peignoir!) and she pretends she is amnesiac , so as to stay with them in the tidy flat they share.She helps them keep their place clean and with their work problems.Three of them begin to think she's fallen for them,but they are not the chosen one.

Although the actors (René Lefèvre,Frank Villard...) are usually good, they are here left to their own devices and they ham it up along the whole movie.Viviane Romance is cast against type and is not convincing as a nice girl .

Allégret was ill at ease in his occupation days comedies ;after the war ,he became a successful Film Noir director,masterfully using Gérard Philipe ("Les Orgueilleux" and "Une Si Jolie Petite Plage" ) as well as his then-wife Signoret and Frank Villard ("Manèges").
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All these Tavernier's favorites and more....
3 December 2017
Bertrand Tavernier 's "bedside" directors ,part 2

1)Sacha Guitry : the old critics such as Georges Sadoul, trashed Guitry, accusing him of "canning his plays".A short intervention by Truffaut points out that ,on the contrary , he was one of the first in France to understand what the "talkies" brought to the seventh art. In fact ,Tavernier says,his actors 'playing was often less "theatrical " than those of his colleagues.That said, I can do without Olivier Assayas's interventions ,he who compares Guitry to ....Tarentino.It was the first time I had used the fast forward button for these miniseries. But ,as soon as Monsieur Tavernier is back in control,I'm like the sultan listening to Sheherazade.

BT is on the right track when he mentions the almost unknown "Ceux De Chez Nous" (1914!) in which he filmed artists who went down in history:sculptor Rodin ,musician Saint-Saens (and not forgetting his peerless humor : "we can see the front view of the conductor ,for once!) ,painter Renoir and his young son,Jean who would become one of our greatest directors.

BT lets us savor the writer's witty lines ,maybe the wittiest in the whole French cinema.He praises his numerous innovations : a Tour De Force in "Donne-Moi Tes Yeux" in which he creates special effects with a simple flashlight;the scene in the car in "Bonne chance" which predates the Nouvelle Vague's would be innovations by 20 years.

Guitry was anything but politically correct :in his extraordinary 'Le Poison" (1951) he has Michel Simon consult his lawyer before committing his crime!And thanks ,Monsieur Tavernier,for this unforgettable scene when Simon and his missus "listen" to the radio.

2)Marcel Pagnol:BT begins with splendid pictures of the Provence of yore ;the (true) anecdote of the film distributor who finds a source for his director with a hazel tree ,told by our marvelous storyteller,sounds like an updated short story by Alphonse Daudet.

Pagnol would often film on location,and we feel a Joie De Vivre atmosphere,this director was nothing but a tyrant,unlike some of his peers.

In "Angèle" ,he praises Fernandel's portrayal of a kind-Hearted half-wit ,in sharp contrast with the ruthless attitude of the father who does not want a son by an unwed mom.(a recurrent feature in Pagnol 's work); the famous " the house ,not the orchard " scene of "Joffroi " is included . In " Merlusse " my own favorite , Pagnol leaves his dear Provence for a lugubrious secondary school where an one-eyed supervisor scares the pupils "because he is afraid of them" .It takes place in Xmas time ,and ,as BT says ,it is a redemption movie.

Because you must not go by appearances: behind the jovial "trial" of "Manon Des Sources" (BT's Pagnol favorite),there's a darker side, a real tragedy.

3)Robert Bresson and Jacques Tati : because he discovered both artists at the same time,BT draws a parallel between their styles .Being not able to enter the latter's world , I'll refrain from commenting. "Mouchette" and "Journal D'Un Curé De Campagne " ,IMHO,suffered from this standpoint ;besides they are not given enough time. The real meat lies in "Les Dames Du Bois De Boulogne ",featuring sensational Maria Casarès who intervenes (archive):"he wanted to do everything ,I hated him";in a short interview ,Bresson says "I feel alone" .

The superb ending of "Un Condamné A Mort S'Est Echappé" is featured ,and BT points out,quite rightly so,how Jean-Jacques Grunenwald enhances it.

The last minutes are devoted to the composer ,who wrote a totally unexpected score for Becker's "Antoine ET Antoinette".

(from Ep.5,currently impossible to review) The songs : Bertrand Tavernier has always been fascinated by the songs since he saw the "actors" playing female roles break into "La Marseillaise"in Renoir's "La Grande Illusion".Actors often came from music hall:Fernandel ,Suzy Delair (and her infectious "Avec Son Tralala " in "Quai Des Orfèvres " ,Bourvil (and his deliciously dumb song in "La Ferme Du Pendu").Other actors were occasionally Chanteurs :,particularly the wonderful Danielle Darrieux who could have been a talented Chanteuse,if she had not opted for cinema and stage .BT also points out that the directors themselves were also lyric writers:Sacha Guitry, René Clair, Jean Boyer...Compositor Van Parys's imitation of Michel Simon and Arletty in "Comme De Bien Entendu " (in "Circonstances Atténuantes" ) is worth the price of admission .BT also treats us to the delights of the Alida Valli /Georges Wilson waltz in Colpi's "Une Aussi Longue Absence " and of the priceless Moreau/Bardot duet in Malle's "Viva Maria" ;with Demy's "Les Demoiselles De Rochefort ,we enter another field : the musical ,influenced by the American classics. Julien Duvivier was also a lyric writer;Gabin's "Quand On'S Promène Au Bord De L'Eau " in "la Belle Equipe" has remained an all time classic.
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Three more aces and more.....
2 December 2017
1)Jean Grémillon :Bertrand Tavernier fell in love with Grémillon 's cinema since he saw "Le Ciel Est A Vous" in a college art house society.Grémillon ,he tells us ,and so does Charles Spaak (archive) he had everything going for him but the producers ' approval :his career suffered accordingly and after the war ,he was only allowed three movies whereas he had so much to give!

BT focuses on the post 1939 career ,omitting the thirties (with the exception of "Dainah La Métisse " which featured a black doctor in 1931 (which American movie,he points out ,would have done the same at the time?)"Dainah" is certainly attractive ,but so are "Maldonne " (a silent movie in which social relatives ,one of his main subjects,are already present) the raving "Gardiens De Phare" ,"L'Etrange Monsieur Victor" and "Gueule D'Amour".

Minor quibble : all the movies BT chose are great : the "Le Ciel Est A Vous " extracts are stellar : the march of the orphans singing "Le Pont De Nantes" , Charles Vanel abetting his wife in her dream to fly (a very feminist attitude at the time),the same making himself understand without having to spell it out:"your mom may come back,but later,much later".The sublime last scene of "Remorques",in which men fight against a raging sea is worthy of an epic Hugo poem. In Grémillon' s work ,realism becomes lyricism .BT praises the post war efforts "Pattes Blanches " (Michel Bouquet's first important part)and "L'Amour D'Une Femme " (then again, a female doctor on an island in the fifties!)

2)Max Ophuls ;here again, BT's work focuses on one period : the fifties .Danielle Darrieux is the queen of the sequence (she also dominates the third sequence).No static shots ,but film camera in motion , which makes you dizzy when MC Peter Ustinov introduces Lola Montès ,swirling dances in "Madame De ";and the title "La Ronde" (round dance) tells it all.Refined style ,even when he depicts prostitutes coming to a young girl's communion (BT shows us Gabin ,gauche, wooing Darrieux),or the brothel ,filmed from the outside)in "Le Plaisir".

3)Henri Decoin :it took BT time (like for Duvivier,his closest relative in this episode) before he entered Decoin's world ;Didier Decoin ,his son, a writer ,told us he was always a man who was afraid to starve (he did starve when he was young) .That's why he was forced to accept films he did not want (particularly late fifties and sixties).In "Bonnes A Tuer" (not a very bad movie,Monsieur Tavernier,by the way!) Michel Auclair tells us he knows what hunger means.

This is the sequence in which I do not always agree with Monsieur Tavernier:too much time is given over to the anodyne "Battements De Coeur" ;and what? No 'Non Coupable" (with a mind-boggling performance by Michel Simon) ? No "Fille Du Diable "?(unsung Andrée Clément deserves a honorable mention at least!) But all the rest is splendid indeed:the depiction of the lugubrious town in "Les Inconnus Dans La Maison" where rain never stops falling down, the voice over dialogue in "Les Amoureux Sont Seuls Au Monde,predating Resnais by a decade ,the comedy-turned-Film Noir in "Retour A L'Aube" .Decoin's marvelous use of his scores.And mischievous BT reveals us where he found the sentence which introduces all the episodes.

(this is from ep.5,currently impossible to review) Julien Duvivier: There's so much admiration on my part that I now enter a territory where commentary becomes almost purely subjective.. It took BT time to appreciate this huge work,often erratic ,almost always pessimistic and darker than the darkest of American Films Noirs (about the whipping scene in "Voici Le Temps Des Assassins ",he comments :it makes American thrillers look like fairy tales) for people who still do not consider Duvivier a true Auteur,he draws a parallel between the Passion (the populace mistreating Christ) and Monsieur Hire (Michel Simon)surrounded by a hostile crowd in the mind-boggling "Panique" . Duvivier had a bad reputation on the sets ,he would reportedly scare the actresses;but BT told us it was just a facade : the man was shy ,self-conscious ,always fearing of being a failure.He is represented in the sprawling "Sous Le Ciel De Paris " by the medicine student (the extraordinary scene of the obsessive ticking of the clocks).

His innovations were numerous :the oblique shots in "Carnet De Bal" and in "La Fête A Henriette " ( the former shows a waltz ,filmed backward ,including the music,the latter tells a story which does not exist when the movie begins)

He did create Gabin (along with Renoir) but his favorite actor in the thirties was Harry Baur ,who was in his first talkie "David Golder" and in the underrated "Les 5 gentlemen Maudits " ;although the latter is far-fetched to a fault,Duvivier would film it on location in Morroco in 1931 when many of his colleagues were still filming adaptations of stage dramas.

BT shows another side of Duvivier: he can feel sympathy for his victims :Gabrielle Dorziat and Madeleine Ozeret in "La Fin Du Jour ,his fin De decade masterpiece.But it's the harrowing sequence of Frehel singing with herself on a record ,with tears rolling on her face ,which shows Duvivier's compassion best in "Pépé Le Moko".

BT proves us ,with a masterful assurance ,by showing us side by side the ending of "Pepe Le Moko" and of its American version ("Algiers") that remakes cannot hold a candle to the original.

Duvivier was a worn-out man in the sixties;without mentioning any names,criticism had shattered his health ."when he died in a car crash ,BT says ,he was just "skin and bone" ;and he adds:" he did not deserve such a fate ;now I feel more friendship,more admiration and more tenderness for him".It' s the only episode ,in BT's absorbing series ,that brought tears to my eyes.
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Voyage à travers le cinéma français: Les oubliés (2017)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
Don't you forget them....Comme De Bien Entendu...
2 December 2017
Three directors ,parhaps not as overlooked as Bertrand Tavernier says,compared to such directors as Henri Calef ,Pierre Chenal or Albert Valentin,mentioned in other episodes in his voyage.

1°)Maurice Tourneur enjoyed a great career in the silent age ,but his talkies suffered accordingly."Justin De Marseille" is certainly an estimable work ,but I would not praise it as highly as Monsieur Tavernier;too much time whereas "La Main Du Diable" ( mentioned in the occupation days episodes)or "Volpone" are absent here."Au Nom De LA Loi" is a good thriller which gave French language the expression "Passer A Table" (idiomatism for: to talk,to come clean ,in a detective story contest).I would have passed over in silence ,Had I been in Tavernier's shoes, if only out of respect for the director ,"Les Gaietés De L'Escadron " , a coarse comedy which deals with the joys(?) of military service ,which seems obsolete today.

2)Raymond Bernard's "Les Croix De Bois" ,"which was screened every year on November the Eleventh ",on the other hand, has gained in strength over the years .Depicting the horrors of WW1 in a way to rival Kubrik's "paths of glory" ,it must be considered an all-time classic.Tavernier includes an interview with the director (archives) in which he told that he filmed where the slaughter took place and that they unearthed corpses who were identified ."Les Miserables " ,many consider the best version of the mammoth novel ,had a cast so strong (Harry Baur as Valjean ,Marguerite Moreno as La Thénardier, all would deserve to be mentioned) it would be hard to supersede it;Tavernier chose the luminous forgiveness scene of Monseigneur Myriel,and the impressive opening scene .I do not consider " Les Otages" and "Faubourg Montmartre" great Bernard works ,but his filmography ,as a whole,has to be upgraded (his remake of extravagant melodrama "Le Coupable" ,for instance ,or later "Le Jugement De Dieu" )

3)Anatole Litvak is not really "forgotten" as "sorry wrong number" "the snake pit" or "Anastasia " testify.But don't get Tavernier wrong :he 's speaking of his French movies (although "Mayerling" ,not mentioned here was a big success for Darrieux and Charles Boyer and opened the gates of Hollywood for him). "Coeur De Lilas" ,Tavernier points out ,is a stunning blend of genres ;"L'Equipage " features a sublime scene in which lovely Annabella searches her lover ,paying no attention to the wounded she meets on her way;the conventional husband/wife/lover love affair takes a back seat to successful aerial scenes and Vanel's performance makes up for Aumont's blandness.

4) Georges Van Parys and Jean Boyer : Annabella was René Clair's "14 Juillet " and "Le Million" star ".Georges Van Parys wrote the score for the latter but the songs seem straight from the ark nowadays,it was his debut after all.Greater stuff was to follow: "Prends La Route"by Jean Boyer had sung dialogues , thirty years before Demy;and the level-crossing scene is memorable .Boyer is certainly a much better director he's been given credit for;Van Parys does again (like in another episode ) his Arletty imitation in "Circonstances Atténuantes" ;"Un Mauvais Garçon " , a funny -but anti women's lib - comedy featured the infectious title track (a duet Danielle Darrieux /Henri Garat) covered by pop singer Renaud.And Boyer did make good movies after the thirties notably the excellent "Nous Irons A Paris " which dealt with pirate radios and featured the peppy "A La Mi-Aôut" .

Even if you do not always share Monsieur Tavernier's points of view,it is another essential viewing for people interested in the past of the French cinema.
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Voyage à travers le cinéma français: Les méconnus (2017)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
Nowhere men and women.
27 November 2017
This episode is not to be missed for it deals with unfairly forgotten directors ;of course there are more of them but all Tavernier's choices are welcome,particularly Pierre Chenal,Henri Calef and Jacqueline Audry.

1)Jean Vallée is an obscure director whose most interesting work is widely unknown :it was the first time a French director had filmed in color(1936) and "La Terre Qui Meurt " ,dealing with a problem still relevant today (the farmer who finds it hard to earn his living with his work) and with pristine colors ,a movie that should definitely be released on DVD.

2)Two of my favorites, unfortunately Tavernier neglects both artists' masterpiece.Both were Jews.

Pierre Chenal : Tavernier begins with an eerie scene of his remake of "L'Homme De Nulle Part" :the hero enters a graveyard where the undertaker is digging his own grave.He highlights Chenal's directing skills in "L'Alibi".But he passes over in silence "Le Dernier Tournant" ,the first version of "the postman always rings twice" and his darkest work in the thirties "L'Affaire Lafarge". In his post war career ,he praised to the skies "Rafles Sur La Ville "which is for me a Film Noir ersatz ;on the other hand ,he only shows the poster of "La Foire Aux Chimères " which would deserve at least five minutes!BT,however ,points out that Chenal did make the first version of Richard Wright's "black boy" ("Sangre Negra),an estimable work filmed in Argentina.

Henri Calef: in a precedent episode , about "Jericho " I wrote that BT should devote a whole sequence to him and I got my wish here.Minor quibble: "Jericho" was not the first effort by Calef,for "l'Extravagante Mission" was anterior.But he does this great movie justice .A must for everyone interested in the past of the French cinema,particularly those who think that Louis Malle was the first to show the dark side of the French attitude during the occupation :here members of the city council reveals themselves cowards ,an informer (Brasseur)ready to kill his mother and father to save his skin.And I entirely take BT's point of view about the absence of hero (the long scene with the prisoners in the church).Both "La Maison Sous La Mer "-BT praises Viviane Romance 's performance whereas she's cast against type- and "Bagarres " are estimable works,but why did he forget "Eaux Troubles" which is considered his masterwork by many people?But I'll let you off,Monsieur Tavernier ,because you mention the unsung unknown "L'Heure De Vérité " ,filmed on location in Israel ,one of the most disturbing movies dealing with the concentration camps ...And you did include Daniel Gélin's admirable words of wisdom and forgiveness.

3)The women are coming ! After Alice Guy and Germaine Beaumont in the silent age , there was a big gap ,and female works were few and far between (Marie Epstein...).The world of cinema would stand in the way of female candidates.Today ,there are plenty of them on the French scene ,but at the time ,it took a lot of guts to make a name for yourself in this branch when you were born a woman.That's why,unlike BT , I favor Audry over Varda to whom the former paved a reliable way.

Jacqueline Audry : Since her very first effort, Audry took a rebellious feminist stand:her -sadly totally unknown - version of Comtesse De Ségur's famous book for children is given a special treatment ,turning the grown-up heroine into a rebel: BT shows Mademoiselle (Marguerite Moreno) telling Sophie a great happiness is ahead of her: she is to marry a good match (she never met) ,but Sophie's choice is to join cousin Paul turned revolutionary. BT tells us that her pictures were the most immodest ones of the time:who could disagree with him,when "Olivia" was released : a scene of a ball in a school for girls ,where the teachers kiss their students on the mouth (and later meet them in their rooms);perhaps Edwige Feuillère 's most daring part,this is a movie crying to be seen.Too bad BT chose "Minne " and neglected her remake of "La Garçonne" ,a portrayal of a playgirl of sorts ,complete with male strip tease and S/M slave market scene.

Agnès Varda ,highly praised here there and everywhere ,was certainly important,but essentially because Audry's work has remained unrecognized to this day .My feelings are mixed,as far as "La Pointe Courte " is concerned, but I embraced "Cleo De 5 A 7 " without a moment's hesitation.Although the real time structure was used well before her ("Je T'Attendrai " aka "Le Deserteur" ,1938), her heroine has remained endearing and the subject (fear of cancer) is still relevant today.

Nelly Kaplan's "La Fiancée Du Pirate" did deserve a honorable mention.

4)Gilles Grangier: Once again,BT refuted a received idea: before the N.V., movies were filmed on location ,and such was the case with Grangier.Personally I prefer ,by a long way ,"Le Désordre Et La Nuit' to "Le Sang A La Tête" ,but there's no accounting for taste.Director Alain Corneau intervenes to praise the former.

All these unrecognized(with the exception of famous Varda) directors are worthwhile :take Monsieur Tavernier's advice and give them a chance.
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Voyage à travers le cinéma français: Mes années 1960 (2017)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
Journey's end.
26 November 2017
I feared that these Tavernier sixties were mostly "Nouvelle vague" ;but it is not so;most of the directors and the movies are not from that school .

He used to work as a press attache ;he used to go out of his way to support the movie he liked ;notably the lovely "Le Temps De Vivre " by Bernard Paul he helped find a theater and organized a tour in the whole country.

THE LOST MOVIES:"Le Temps De Vivre " epitomizes the movie-nowhere- to-be seen ;this kind of work may occasionally appear on cultural channel ARTE but not always.Jean-Louis Bertucelli's "Remparts D'Argile " was the first movie to deal with woman's place ,in the Maghreb and a rebel at that (Tavernier aptly shows the symbolic scene of the well).He also mentions Marin Karmitz 's "Coup Pour Coup" in which women who works at a furious pace in a factory go on strike and win.Jacques Ruffio 's "L'Horizon " ,in which a girl urges her fiancé to desert in WW1 ,scared everyone ,from the right wing to the communists :it's still impressive today and compares favorably with Autant-Lara's "Tu Ne Tueras Point".

THE REBEL:Tavernier likes the anti-authority ,anarchic side of Yves Boisset;he chooses relevant extracts of his "Un Condé" ,particularly the one when Michel Bouquet tells Françoise Fabian about the waste a body produces.Boisset has always taken a rebel stand :"RAS" "Le Juge Fayard" " Allons Zenfants"....,but he has always been accessible and can,from that point of view , be considered a mainstream director.

THE MAINSTREAM:much time is given over to this kind of movie ,which have sometimes stood the test of time better than intellectual works,without mentioning any names.

Jacques Deray insists he were not part of the Nouvelle Vague.His thriller "Du Rififi A Tokyo " began with an incredibly violent scene for the time ;in "La Piscine" he "filmed Delon and Schneider" "like wild animals " and both were perhaps never more attractive than near this swimming pool .

Tavernier does not forget Jose Giovanni ,first a screenwriter (Becker's masterpiece "Le Trou" ) ;his debut ,the bizarre but endearing "Loi Du Survivant" belongs to those "lost movies" ;he does the excellent "Dernier Domicile Connu" justice ,particularly this scene when the gangster kills an embarrassing witness ,which was" butchered by the editor" .Too bad Tavernier did not mention Enrico 's "Les Aventuriers ",from Giovanni's novel which spawns both "Les Aventuriers" and "La Loi Du Survivant" ,the former featuring the unforgettable haunting scene of the burial at sea.

Pierre Granier-Deffere , too often despised by the highbrows,is estimated at his true value:a perfect craftsman ,who directed odd pairs of actors :Gabin and Signoret in the cruel" Le Chat" ,the same actress and Delon in "La Veuve Couderc " ,both from Simenon's novels.

BITS OF NOUVELLE VAGUE : Both Chabrol's movies ("Le Boucher" and "Que La Bête Meure" ) are probably his masterpieces and would have deserved more than a treatment in a slap-dash manner;on the other hand ,I can do without Infant Gâté Eric Rohmer 's " Genou De Claire".

Alain Resnais : Tavernier insists that never ,in a month of Sundays,this artist criticized his fellow directors ;without mentioning any names, some Nouvelle Vague directors can't say the same .His short "Nuit Et Brouillard" has not aged a bit and Emmanuelle Riva's voice keeps on haunting us in "Hiroshima Mon Amour"."Je T'Aime Je T'Aime " an attempt at a sci-fi movie is,IMHO,less convincing.

Tavernier,at the end of his voyage,a la Sacha Guitry, thanks all the people (directors,screenwriters, actors and actresses ...) who made it possible .He knows he 's forgotten many artists along the way and he chooses one more movie for the road.

And it's Christian-Jacque 's excellent "Un Revenant" (1946) which takes place in Lyon... where Tavernier would film his first effort "L'Horloger De Saint-Paul" (1974). A mischievous Marguerite Moreno wish Louis Jouvet " Bon voyage!"

All aboard Tavernier's train!Bon voyage!
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Music scores, B movies, and other trivia....
25 November 2017
The second episode of Tavernier's voyage in the French cinema was also theatrically released .Some parts of it are not my cup of tea,but there is no accounting for taste.

1)The music in films ,focussing of Jaubert who passed away in 1940 ,after giving memorable scores ,notably "Carnet De Bal" and "La Bête Humaine" ;Tavernier points out that,unlike the American directors of the era, French ones would choose their music :hence the extraordinary scores of Bresson's "Un Condamné A Mort S'est Echappé "or Cocteau's "La Belle Et La Bête".

2)Edmond T GReville :his work is not very known in France ;with the exceptions of "Menaces" and "L'Envers Du Paradis" ,none of the works I've seen ("brief ecstasy" "secret life" "Le Port Du Désir" "Les Menteurs" "L'accident") really filled me with enthusiasm.But Tavernier talks about two very attracting movies : "Le Diable Soufflé " is ,alas,nowhere to be seen.But " Remous " was recently released on DVD .

3)Eddie Constantine sequence :"at a time when French thrillers were sluggish" ..Well Decoin ,Clouzot ,sluggish?Constantine's movies ,OK ,just for fans.Tavernier keeps harping about on Tarentino ,particularly "inglorious bastards " ,in which the American pays a tribute to Clouzot (twice).

3)A long time is given over to Jean-Pierre Melville ,who was Tavernier's mentor;my favorite is "Leon Morin Prêtre " ,particularly for the Belmondo/Riva confrontation.

4) Jean-Luc Godard :as I can't say something nice .... The Nouvelle Vague is also represented by Claude Chabrol ,but the choice of the movies is poor,and Varda's lovely "Cléo De Cinq A Sept".

5)Claude Sautet's extracts ,on the other hand ,are excellent: the extraordinary "Classes Tous Risques" ,"Les Choses De La vie ",an editing Tour De Force ,and his short return to thriller with "Max Et Les Ferrailleurs".

Mini- sequences are devoted to Jean Delannoy's "Le Garçon Sauvage " ,to Pierre Schoendorffer 's "La 317 Eme section" and ,yes! to Truffaut.
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In the event that this fantastic voyage.....
25 November 2017
This first episode was the first part of the theatrically released documentary ,Bertrand Tavernier's voyage in the French cinema.

1)Jacques Becker :the first film he saw was "Dernier Atout" but his "Coup De Foudre" was "Casque D'Or";he passes over in silence the director's failures ("Ali Baba" and "Arsène Lupin") and insists on the fact that in a movie the characters are more interesting than the plot and we can only approve of Tavernier's opinion ,when he says that Becker's plots are minimal ,but that he creates extraordinary secondary characters (one remembers the uncle who studied in Oxford from "Edouard Et Caroline as much as Manda's fiancé in "Casque D'Or") ;besides ,these human beings work,a lesson contemporary directors should pay attention to)

2)Jean Renoir : the extracts are well chosen: the admirable final sequence of "Une Partie De Campagne" ;this terrifying scene when Gabin tries to strangle Blanchette Brunoy in "La Bête Humaine" ; the advertising in "Le Crime De Monsieur Lange" which was oddly prophetic.Tavernier does not pass over in silence Renoir's debatable attitude at the beginning of WW2.

3)Jean Gabin : the director wanted to show that he was a character actor and he's convincing.This part shows extracts of movies by less known directors :"La Nuit Est Mon Royaume" by Georges Lacombe in which he is cast against type as a blind man ;He restores to favor directors who were unfairly lambasted by the arrogant Nouvelle Vague : Gilles Grangier's "Le Desordre Et La Nuit" and "Gas Oil" ,and mainly Jean Delannoy's "Maigret Tend Un Piège " ,one of the best Simenon adaptations .The biggest flaw of the Gabin sequence is that ,although he mentions him, Tavernier seems to forget that it's Julien Duvivier,not Renoir,who created the myth.What have we got here ? From the thirties, a very tiny fragment of "La Belle Equipe " whereas this movie represents the 1936 zeitgeist ;and what about "La Bandera " which spawned Gabin-the-outcast (Carné would use in "Quai Des Brumes" )?

4)Marcel Carné: "his collaborators,be they Jeanson or Prevert ,used to treat him condescendingly ,nay contempt.So did the notorious Nouvelle Vague although Truffaut would later make amends and say he would trade all his "filmography " for "Les Enfants Du Paradis ".And however,Tavernier concludes ,his masterpieces have stood the test of time gracefully .This part shows glorious Arletty in a flattering light .And to begin this sequence with the (dated ,admittedly ,although it was his next-to -last effort in the...seventies!)"Assassins De L'Ordre" ,is,as Tavernier says himself,a provocation.
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