sun 23/01/2022

French cinema

Titane review - love under the bonnet

The restrictiveness of conventional gender identities explains the extreme body horror of Titane, in which a pregnant rookie firefighter frequently invoked as Jesus bleeds car oil from her vagina and from the stigmatic splits in her swollen belly....

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Blu-ray: Le Samouraï

Jef Costello, the lone contract killer in Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967), carries out the murder of the boss of a night club. We see how meticulously he has prepared for it, including the construction of an airtight alibi involving precise...

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Album: Jarvis Cocker – Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top

Wes Anderson and Jarvis Cocker do 1960s French pop – this frothy confection couldn’t be any more “art school” if it were smoking a gauloise in a black polo-neck. Truly, what a match made on the Eurostar! For one so thoroughly Sheffield born-and-bred...

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Gagarine review - hazy cosmic jive in a Paris banlieue

This is the story of a boy and a building. Sixteen-year-old Youri (newcomer Alseni Bathily) lives, with his telescope, in Cité Gagarine, a vast red-brick Sixties apartment complex in Ivry-sur-Seine, an eastern suburb of Paris governed by the French...

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Two of Us review - a lesbian love story with a difference

“Do you have a problem with old dykes?” demands Nina (the superbly ferocious Barbara Sukowa) of a bland, nervous young estate agent, halfway through this wonderfully original first feature from director Filippo Meneghetti. No, he stammers. “You see...

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Blu-ray: Masculin Féminin

Jean-Luc Godard’s film-making career, a restless quest for a cinema that questions the medium as well as its place in the social and political context, is both astonishingly prolific and unique. Rarely drawing directly on autobiographical themes,...

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Blu-ray: Raw

Raw opens with a bang, a distant figure on a remote country road stepping out in front of a car, causing it to crash into a tree. What’s really happened isn’t made clear until we’re well into French director Julia Ducournau’s 2016 feature. Part...

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Berlinale 2021: Petite Maman review – magical musings on the parent-child relationship

Hot on the heels of her 2019 triumph Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma’s fifth feature continues a perfect track record; this is yet another gorgeous and perceptive film, told from a determinedly female perspective but with a wisdom...

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Simple Passion review – a case of female amour fou

Pushing 40, Simple Passion’s Hélène (Laetitia Dosch) lectures Paris college students on poetry and is single mother to pre-adolescent Paul (Lou Teymour-Thion). Blessed with a bountiful Deneuve-ian mane, she’s a pale but unfallen bloom in her late...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Le Cercle Rouge

Misdirection is at the heart of Le Cercle Rouge. The Buddhist quote that opens Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1970 thriller – "when men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day… they will inevitably come together in the red circle” – is fake, written by...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Breathless

Just as British pub and punk rock of the mid-to late 1970's ushered in an era of music that referenced the history of pop and thrived on irony, much of the French New Wave, nearly 20 years earlier, looked back as much as forward, an avant-garde...

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Summer of 85 review - a tender, tragic coming-of-age

Intriguingly, Summer of 85 could have been François Ozon’s very first film. Back in the mid-Eighties the French director was much taken by Dance on My Grave, the YA novel by Aidan Chambers on which it’s based, its youth-romance, coming-of-age story...

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