Currently browsing the "French" category.

Review: Custody (Jusqu’à la garde)

Custody begins as a separated couple, Antoine (Denis Ménochet) and Miriam (Léa Drucker), sit before a magistrate who will decide the fate of their children. Their daughter Joséphine (Mathilde Auneveux) is nearly grown, so their 11-year-old son Julien (Thomas Gioria) is really the bone of contention. And he doesn’t want to see his abusive father. But the court grants the father weekend visits anyway. And it is immediately apparent that the court made a huge mistake. What follows is like watching the fuse on a bomb slowing burning down. You’re wait for the explosion, but hoping that someone comes along to defuse it, even though you know that is unlikely. It’s harrowing!

Review: Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti

If you are a lover of modern art in the least, you’re most likely familiar with Paul Gauguin’s work, particularly the bold colorful paintings he did while living in French Polynesia. Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti explores his first voyage there during the years from 1891 and 1893. Tired of the Paris scene, and looking to inject something new into his work, Gauguin decided to go half a world away to free his soul to create. And from the paintings I’ve seen in museums around the globe, it worked. French actor Vincent Cassel (Black Swan) plays Gauguin with his usual abandon, disappearing into the role of the driven artist in the exotic world of his dreams. The film won’t give you many insights into his work though. It’s a fictional view of his life with one particular girl/muse. It’s absorbing, but also seriously lacking.

Review: The Guardians (Les gardiennes)

Most World War One movies are set in the battles and the trenches, but The Guardians takes place at home on a farm in rural of France. There the women keep the home fires burning and the crops in the fields harvested as they await news of their husbands and sons. At the center of the film is the matriarch of the family, Hortense Sandrail, played by one of France’s great actresses, Natalie Baye. She has two sons and a son-in-law in the fight, and with only her daughter Solange (Laura Smet) not enough help to keep the farm running. So she hires young woman, Francine (Iris Bry), who fits right in grows to be almost one of the family. But just under the surface of the bucolic farming tale is the horror of the war and the fear that their little isolated corner of the world will never be the same and their men will not all be coming home.

Review: Back to Burgundy

Set in the beautiful wine region of Burgundy where so many of the great wines are born, Back to Burgundy is a thoughtful story of three adult siblings grappling with their family’s wine business after the death of their father. The French title, Ce qui nous lie, is really a more apt description, meaning “what links us.” There is a very large estate tax that has to be paid and how to pay it makes the family examine their relationships to one another and the meaning of their legacy. And the fact that the older brother has been gone for ten years and only returned temporarily to see their dying father complicates everything.

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Festival Download

What a great festival! It’s my first year at Middleburg, now in its 5th year, but I was truly impressed by their  selections. It’s a small festival, as yet pretty unknown, but not for long, I suspect. In all I went to 14 films in just over 3 days. It was exhausting, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Films included here are: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ; Mudbound; Last Flag Flying; Faces/Places; I, Tonya; In the Fade; The Divine Order; Lady Bird; Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold; Meltdown; Loveless; Darkest Hour; The Other Side of Hope; and Hostiles.

Review: Faces Places

Looking for a quirky fun film? How about a film where an 80-something-year-old New Wave film director takes an art filled road trip around France with a famous young muralist? Faces Places is a film like no other. It’s a buddy film, a travelogue, an art documentary, and a brilliant performance art piece. And it’s above all just a whole lot of fun watching this odd couple of the decade, tiny Agnes Varda with her two-tone hair and hip young JR with his penchant for wearing dark glasses 24/7, as they tool around rural France in his photo booth van, connecting with locals and leaving them with fabulous art installations.

Quickie Reviews: I Do… Until I Don’t; Crown Heights; Polina

Nothing gets you pumped for the start of the Fall movie blitz quite like the final weeks of summer at the box office. Bring it on! I’m ready for Awards Season! But first… a quick look at the latest releases that are unlikely to gain much traction as families enjoy a final long weekend of togetherness before the days get shorter, kids return to school and commuter garages reach capacity by 8 a.m.

First up on the altar of sacrifice: I Do… Until I Don’t, an ensemble comedy from writer/director/actress Lake Bell (In a World) about marriage and commitment. Here’s the gist: a bitter documentarian from the BBC shows up in divorce-mecca Vero Beach, Florida to test and prove her theory that marriage should be a seven-year contract with the option to renew. She recruits three seemingly diverse couples to appear in her documentary. They include Alice and Noah (Bell and Ed Helms), a boring couple struggling to keep their window-blinds business afloat while also attempting to have a baby; Alice’s kooky sister Fanny (Amber Heard) and her peace-loving soulmate Zander (Wyatt Cenac) who claim to be happy in their forward-thinking ‘open relationship’; and Cybil and Harvey (Mary Steenburgen and Paul Reiser), an older couple going through a bit of a midlife crisis as their anniversary approaches.

Review: The Midwife

France’s two greatest female stars unite in this bittersweet drama about unfinished relationships. Catherine Deneuve is hard-living Béatrice, who’s been living out of a suitcase for decades making a living as a gambler. She reenters Claire’s (Catherine Frot, Marguerite) life just as both their lives are about to change drastically. Claire is a midwife who’s clinic is about to shut down and it’s the one place she’s really alive. Béatrice disappeared from her life without explanation many years early, but suddenly wants to be a part of it again? Claire isn’t so sure. Though there are other storylines in the movie, the center is these two starkly different women growing to rely upon one another.

Lost in Paris Review

And the award for this year’s best slap-stick movie goes to … Lost In Paris, hands down! And though I’m not really a fan of most modern slap-stick, I loved this film. In it librarian Fiona (Fiona Gordon) who lives in the icy north of Canada receives a letter from her favorite Aunt who lives in Paris asking for her help, so she jumps at the chance and heads to France only to find Aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva) MIA. And then after losing all her possessions in an accidental plunge into the Seine, she meets kooky hobo Dom (Dominique Abel) who decides to help her find Martha, whether she wants him to or not. He is smitten. She’s desperate.

Cézanne et Moi

Cézanne et Moi offers a view of a friendship that spanned nearly a lifetime. It’s the story of the bond formed in an Aix-en-Provence childhood between two great artists of the late 19th century, painter Paul Cézanne and writer Émile Zola. Surprisingly devoid of paintings and writing, it’s mostly about the men’s relationship. There are warm moments you recognize as signs of a deep friendship but also painful scenes of betrayal. Not terribly deep, it’s an entertaining trip through the Paris art world as the world is leaving behind the Impressionists, as seen by one of the great post-Impressionists whose work was not yet recognized for its greatness and a writer on the rise.