The Forgotten: Aiming for the Heart

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Le bonheur (1934) may be Marcel L'Herbier's best talkie—even if it is, its existence should be enough to disprove the widely and uncritically accepted assumption that the director went into a steep decline with the coming of sound.

In fact, the bigger problem is that not enough people know his work at all. In the silent era, he quite deliberately competed with Abel Gance in terms of cinematic spectacle, swinging his camera from ropes and wheeling it on a lighting stand, while also pursuing a cinema of elaborate, stylized production design. There's something inscrutable about him: he shuttles from genre trifles to experimental epics, and his true sensibility may be glimpsed as much in the former as the latter. Perhaps his homosexuality, an open secret in the film business, led him to to employ layers of careful coding more than most commercial filmmakers.

L'Herbier's early talkies include the lighter-than-air
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Tiff Cinematheque presents a Summer in France: ‘The Rules of the Game’ is not only a great picture, but also an essential social document

The Rules of the Game

Directed by Jean Renoir

Written by Jean Renoir

France, 1939

F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously wrote in his 1925 short story, Rich Boy, that “the rich are different from you and me”, to which Ernest Hemingway trenchantly retorted, “yes, they have more money”.

Under the simplicity of this quote and counter-quote parley hides a grain of truth inherent to both. Yes, the rich have more money, and for that very reason, they live differently from the rest of society. With their abundant riches and excess wealth, they can afford to do things most others cannot. For one, they can afford to play games.

Fitzgerald himself masterfully portrayed the hedonistic lifestyles of the rich and famous in The Great Gatsby, and in the realm of literature, it lacks a suitable rival in that regard. But in cinema, the very same notions and ideas were also well accomplished by the storied French filmmaker,
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The Forgotten: On the Hook

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Stupéfiants (1932) is interesting in itself, to a moderate degree. It's even more interesting for the lives around it, but more of that later.

Yes, the title literally means "stupefiers," and it's a drug drama, a French-German co-production delivering German thriller entertainment with a Gallic lightness of touch. The hero, Jean Murat, is the kind of energetic superman beloved of the German cinema of the era, with some of the agility that distinguished Roland Toutain in L'Herbier's crime romances of the period—one moment where he swings from a crane adds a welcome dash of Doug Fairbanks excitement to the proceedings: one watches keenly for the rest of the movie in case he repeats it, but sadly he doesn't.

Murat's sister has become addicted to drugs, and Murat embarks on his adventures first to save her, then to avenge her. Along the way, the movie delivers some surprisingly accurate behavior from the addict,
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The Rules Of The Game Criterion Blu-ray Review

It is hard to believe that a film considered to be among the greatest of all time was not only ridiculed upon its initial release but also at one time lost for nearly twenty years. But such was the case with Jean Renior’s The Rules of the Game, the negative for which was destroyed in World War II and the film not reconstructed until 1959 at which point it was recognized for the masterpiece that it is. Hit the jump for my review of the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release. The Rules of the Game is a social satire about the frivolous, self-indulgent, amoral French bourgeoisie masquerading as a comedy of manners. André Jurieux (Roland Toutain) is a national aviation hero in love with Christine de la Chesnaye (Nora Grégor), wife of Marquis Robert de la Chesnaye (Dalio), who himself is having an affair with Geneviève de Marras (Mila Parély). But
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The Rules of the Game Blu Ray Review

The Rules of the Game Directed by: Jean Renoir Written by: Jean Renoir Starring: Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Roland Toutain, Jean Renoir This week I finally caught up with a movie that many consider to be one of the greatest films in the history of cinema; Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game. While I'm not sure it would top my own personal list of all-time favourites, it's certainly a fantastic piece of cinema that's full of humour, drama, and some wonderful characters. The film begins with a radio broadcaster interviewing aviator André Jurieux, who'd just landed after accomplishing a record setting flight around the world. His friend Octave (played by Jean Renoir) informs André that the woman for which he dedicated his flight didn't show up to greet him. We eventually learn that Christine, the woman over which André is obsessing, is actually the wife of an aristocrat named Robert de la Cheyniest.
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