(1963– )


Blu-ray Review – Le Plaisir (1952)

Le Plaisir, 1952.

Directed by Max Ophüls.

Starring Jean Gabin, Claude Dauphin, Danielle Darrieux, Simone Simon, and Pierre Brasseur.


An anthology film consisting of three separate stories examining a single theme: pleasure.

In this elegantly crafted piece, Max Ophüls draws inspiration from France’s best known short story writer Guy de Maupassant to concoct a wistfully philosophical examination of the human experience of pleasure.

The three part film begins with Le Masque, a look at an ageing dandy’s attempts to stay young and desirable through dance and socialising. Ophüls captures a dream-like fantastic world of nightlife here, with the camera responding back and forth to the most expressive and extravagant dance moves. The dance of the man, who goes each night to the club wearing a mask to hide his aged visage, is modern in style and could easily fit in to a venue of today. Behind the blurred
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Review: Stéphane Brizé’s ‘A Woman’s Life’ Is A Uncommonly Raw Period Piece

Review: Stéphane Brizé’s ‘A Woman’s Life’ Is A Uncommonly Raw Period Piece
The rare period piece that feels observed rather than pretended, Stéphane Brizé’s “A Woman’s Life” finds the prolific French filmmaker applying his ruggedly naturalistic style — used to great effect in last year’s blue-collar drama, “The Measure of a Man” — to some very different source material. Adapted from Guy de Maupassant’s 1883 debut novel, Brizé’s latest is less a well-furnished historical saga than it is a selective simulation of life in the middle of the 19th Century; de Maupassant may have died before the invention of narrative cinema, but it’s easy enough to imagine him watching this doggedly matter-of-fact drama without the slightest bit of confusion. Merchant Ivory fans might find themselves feeling restless, but anyone who appreciated the quotidian rigor of Terence Davies’ “A Quiet Passion” will find a lot to love about this epic of asceticism.

Spanning decades with the speed of a pebble
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A Woman’s Life | Review

When a Potiche Ascends the Stairs: Brizé’s Winning, Textured de Maupassant Adaptation

Although cinematic adaptations of French writer Guy de Maupassant still occur with some regularity, few contemporary Gallic auteurs have successfully tackled the naturalist who was a protégé of Flaubert and a contemporary of Zola. Frequent adaptations of his famed short story “Boule de Suif” and Bel-Ami are resurrected regularly, and his stories have inspired auteurs like Robert Wise, Jean-Luc Godard, Marcel Ophüls, and Jean Renoir. However, de Maupassant’s seminal first novel, Une Vie (1883), has been adapted several times outside of France, while previously its most definitive mounting was the 1958 End of Desire headlined by Maria Schell.

For his seventh feature, Stephane Brizé persuasively reflects the subjugation of women’s agency with the fragmented A Woman’s Life, and is perhaps the most auspicious transformation of the author since the handsome productions of the 1950s with this astute period piece featuring an exquisite ensemble of character actors.

After returning from convent school, Jeanne (Judith Chemla) takes joy in assisting her father (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) in the garden and perambulating with her mother (Yolande Moreau), a woman who spends most of her free time scrolling through the contents of letters she received throughout her life. With only the young family maid Rosalie (Nina Meurisse) as a friend and confidante, Jeanne soon finds herself courted by the handsome Viscount Julien de Lamare (Swann Arlaud). Swept into what she’s made to believe is romance, the marriage soon sours when Rosalie is found to be with child after having been raped by Julien. Thus begins Jeanne’s initiation into a world more harrowing than she had anticipated as her ideals and dignity are slowly stripped away.

Judith Chemla, who has starred as a supporting player in a number of period productions for noted auteurs (Tavernier, Techine) comes to the fore as the passive, frustrated center of Brizé’s film. Oblivious to the tendencies and behaviors of those around her, A Woman’s Life gently ushers her from a frivolous young woman of privilege to an increasingly fraught wife forced to contend with a debauched husband.

Brizé’s film has all the potential of a tawdry soap opera, and yet is distilled into fragmented reflections of her escapist tendencies. As we rush through defining moments of her life, time slows as Jeanne disappears into the bright, sunshiny memories which brought her to such a brooding standstill. Chemla is tasked with revealing Jeanne’s persona through inscrutable moments, an object acted upon despite meager efforts to gain control of her life. When escape presents itself upon learning of her own pregnancy at the same time as her husband’s philandering with Rosalie, her own mother confirms her fate by forcing Jeanne to forgive rather than return home.

Yolande Moreau gives a subversively droll performance as a cold maternal figure who has several major secrets of her own. As her counterpart, Jean-Pierre Darroussin nearly disappears within the period garb as Jeanne’s mild mannered father, while a mousy Swann Arlaud is sufficiently unpalatable as her cheating husband. Clotilde Hesme surfaces in a brief subplot which yields shockingly violent results, while rising young actor Finnegan Oldfield (Nocturama; Les Cowboys) shows up in the third act as Jeanne’s selfish teenage son, the specter haunting her golden years and sending her into protracted anguish.

Much like Brizé’s last lauded feature, 2015’s The Measure of a Man, the narrative revolves around distilled, refracted moments informing its protagonist’s mind frame, a person once again trapped by economic necessity in an unfavorable role which whittles away at their resolve.

Collaborating once more with scribe Florence Vignon (who scripted his superb 2009 film Mademoiselle Chambon), they achieve a striking portrait of a woman of certain means as equally weighted down by her expectations and limited control. Brizé also taps Dp Antoine Heberle (who worked on Chambon and A Few Hours of Spring, as well as Ozon’s Under the Sand) who transforms the film into a constant visual juxtaposition of stark, contrasting palettes, ranging from the brooding grays of Jeanne’s present to the golden, sparkling vivaciousness of happy times she can never return to. With stunning finality, a drastic situation boils down to bittersweet reality— “Life is never as good or as bad as you think it is.”


The post A Woman’s Life | Review appeared first on Ioncinema.com.
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Sins of the Flesh Abound in U.S. Trailer for ‘A Woman’s Life’

Following a fall festival premiere at Venice, a U.S. trailer has arrived for A Woman’s Life (Une Vie), the latest drama from Stéphane Brizé (The Measure of a Man), which Kino Lorber will release this May. Shot in the aesthetically-pleasing 4:3 aspect ratio (where are my Ida fans at?!), cinematographer Antoine Héberlé‘s intimate portraits are on full display amidst a delicate and ominous trailer that hints at the film’s crueler side.

We said in our review from Venice, “This is the kind of thing Lars Von Trier usual does very well. Take a complex, apparently fragile, and slightly naïve female lead; put her through the ringer; and let the audience mull over whether she’s a character who is inherently weak or strong. You sense Brizé is attempting something similar but his Jeanne is a blank canvas; a brick wall; a vaguely soggy piece of tarpaulin,
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[Venice Review] A Woman’s Life

Misery is constant and humor is fleeting in the world of A Woman’s Life (Une Vie), an emotionally overcast period drama from French filmmaker Stéphane Brizé (The Measure of a Man). Shot in square-shaped academy ratio, it recalls — in a certain aesthetic and thematic light — the Danish Dogme films of the mid ‘90s, but without the pitch-black misanthropic wit that made that collective famous. Based on Guy de Maupassant’s 1883 novel of the same name (Tolstoy apparently loved it), it follows the endlessly unfortunate life of Jeanne Le Perthuis des Vaud, heiress to the fortune of a wealthy farming family in France in the 19th Century.

Judith Chemla stars as our doomed heroine, at first a wistful young pixie living in the family château who spends her days frolicking around and contemplating rain and skies and the like. Her blissful bourgeois existence is rocked, however, when she is wed
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The Private Affairs of Bel Ami

Cad, bounder, dastard... look those words up in an old casting directory and you'll probably find a picture of George Sanders. Albert Lewin's best movie is a class-act period piece with terrific acting from Sanders, Angela Lansbury, Ann Dvorak, John Carradine, Warren William and many more, and a powerful '40s picture that most people haven't discovered, now handsomely restored. The Private Affairs of Bel Ami Blu-ray Olive Films 1947 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 112 min. / Street Date May 24, 2016 / available through the Olive Films website / 29.95 Starring George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, Ann Dvorak, John Carradine, Warren William, Susan Douglas, Albert Bassermann, Frances Dee, Marie Wilson, Katherine Emery, Richard Fraser. Cinematography Russell Metty Film Editor Joseph Albrecht Original Music Darius Milhaud Assistant Director Robert Aldrich Production Design Gordon Wiles Written by from the novel by Guy de Maupassant Produced by David L. Loew Written Directed by Albert Lewin

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
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Classic French Film Festival Begins March 13th in St. Louis

Qui aime les films français ?

If you do and you live in St. Louis, you’re in luck! The Seventh Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival — co-presented by Cinema St. Louis and the Webster University Film Series begins March 13th. The Classic French Film Festival celebrates St. Louis’ Gallic heritage and France’s cinematic legacy. The featured films span the decades from the 1930s through the early 1990s, offering a comprehensive overview of French cinema. The fest is annually highlighted by significant restorations.

This year features recent restorations of eight works, including an extended director’s cut of Patrice Chéreau’s historical epic Queen Margot a New York-set film noir (Two Men In Manhattan) by crime-film maestro Jean-Pierre Melville, who also co-stars; a short feature (“A Day in the Country”) by Jean Renoir, on a double bill with the 2006 restoration of his masterpiece, The Rules Of The Game, and the
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New on Video: ‘A Day in the Country’

A Day in the Country

Written and directed by Jean Renoir

France, 1936

Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country comes at a curious point in the director’s career. In 1936, he had several exceptional silent films to his credit, as well as such classics of early French sound cinema as La Chienne (1931), Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), and The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936), among others. But he had still not yet achieved his singular place on world cinema’s pre-war stage. That he would do just a year later, with La Grande Illusion (1937). As noted on the new Criterion Blu-ray, A Day in the Country was “conceived as a short feature…[and] nearly finished production in 1936 when Renoir was called away for The Lower Depths. Shooting was abandoned then, but the film was completed with the existing footage by Renoir’s team and released in its current form in 1946, after the
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Remembering Actress Simon Part 2 - Deadly Sex Kitten Romanced Real-Life James Bond 'Inspiration'

Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine' 1938: Jean Renoir's film noir (photo: Jean Gabin and Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine') (See previous post: "'Cat People' 1942 Actress Simone Simon Remembered.") In the late 1930s, with her Hollywood career stalled while facing competition at 20th Century-Fox from another French import, Annabella (later Tyrone Power's wife), Simone Simon returned to France. Once there, she reestablished herself as an actress to be reckoned with in Jean Renoir's La Bête Humaine. An updated version of Émile Zola's 1890 novel, La Bête Humaine is enveloped in a dark, brooding atmosphere not uncommon in pre-World War II French films. Known for their "poetic realism," examples from that era include Renoir's own The Lower Depths (1936), Julien Duvivier's La Belle Équipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937), and particularly Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) and Daybreak (1939).[11] This thematic and
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Bel Ami | Review

My Best Ami-o: De Maupassant Gets a Jackie Collins Dress

In the right hands, the works of literary figure Guy De Maupassant are fodder for great cinematic achievements, especially considering that Jean-Luc Godard and Max Ophuls credit some of their best titles to the French author (not to mention an excellent 1934 classic of Mexican cinema, The Woman of the Port). But let’s not forget that Maupassant is first and foremost regarded as one of the fathers of the modern short story. Newcomers Declan Donnellan & Nick Ormerod have chosen to adapt one of Maupassant’s few novels for their debut, Bel Ami, a text that’s been adapted before in several languages (and once before in the Us as The Private Affairs of Bel Ami with George Sanders and Angela Lansbury, 1947). An unwise choice for their first outing, considering its lack of character development and overall coherence suggest that the
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Robert Pattinson Stares Into Your Eyes in This Bel Ami Poster

I can only imagine how many girls will hang the latest Bel Ami poster on their ceiling. Robert Pattinson takes center stage in this poster and is surrounded by very beautiful, but awfully obvious photoshopped, co-stars Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas. Again I can only imagine how many teenagers putting photos of their faces over the Bel Ami co-stars.

Check out the latest poster for Guy da Maupassant’s Bel Ami Starring Robert Pattinson:

Premiere on VOD on May 4th and opening in theaters on June 8th, Guy de Maupassant’s adaptation of Bel Ami stars Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott.

Here’s the synopsis for Bel Ami:

Bel Ami is the story of Georges Duroy, who travels through 1890s Paris, from cockroach ridden garrets to opulent salons, using his wits and powers of seduction to rise from poverty to wealth,
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Bel Ami – review

Robert Pattinson smoulders his way around 19th-century Paris in this hammy Maupassant adaptation

Robert Pattinson has to do an awful lot of hollow-eyed smouldering in this hammily enunciated French period drama, taken from the 1885 novel by Guy de Maupassant. He plays Georges, a young fellow on the make in Paris, and those cheekbones are soon cutting a swath through fashionable womanhood; he beds simpering society women who cadge jobs for him from their powerful husbands. He's a cross between Becky Sharp and Dorian Gray. As super-sexy political hostess Madeleine, Uma Thurman is always rolling around perfumed boudoirs in her underwear, scanning state papers and declaiming things like: "Look at the grain exports to Algiers!" The most dangerously self-conscious liaison is with Mme Walters, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, who is demurely at prayer when Georges shows up vampirically behind her, looking for a socially advantageous shag. "You are trying to seduce me in church!
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Robert Pattinson/Bel Ami Brazilian Trailer

Bel Ami movie: Robert Pattinson The Bel Ami movie trailer was released a week ago. Now comes the Brazilian Bel Ami trailer (scroll down), which happens to be the (classy) English-language trailer with Portuguese subtitles. The text below is an expanded version of the article posted at the time of the original trailer's release. In the trailer, we get to watch Robert Pattinson play a radically different character from his lovestruck vampire in the Twilight movies. Instead of having sex with Breaking Dawn's virginal Kristen Stewart, in Bel Ami Pattinson keeps himself busy with the more mature Kristin Scott Thomas and a whole array of other females of varying ages, shapes, and civil and social statuses. Two veterans of the British stage, Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, directed this latest film adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's novel about Georges Duroy, an impoverished but ambitious ex-soldier who uses his drive,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

New Trailer for Bel-ami Starring Robert Pattinson

A new trailer for the period drama Bel-Ami has gone online. Based on Guy de Maupassant’s 1885 novel of the same name, the story centers on a poverty-stricken soldier who climbs the social ladder in Paris by manipulating a number of mistresses. The trailer is basically Robert Pattinson bedding a bunch of involved women, then being surprised at the fact that his “Imma sex every girl in Paris” attitude brings him trouble. His conquests include Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Christina Ricci. I haven’t read de Maupassant’s novel, but the story doesn’t exactly look all that appealing based on this trailer. Hit the jump to check out the trailer. Directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Omerod, Bel-Ami opens in the U.K. on March 2nd and is currently awaiting a domestic release date. Here’s the trailer (via MSN): Bel Ami is the story of
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The Forgotten: Butterball

  • MUBI
Pyshka, 1934, directed by Mikhail Romm. Romm was an intermittently successful Soviet filmmaker who toed the line, making two biopics of Lenin. The fact that Pyshka was sonorized in 1955, with a voice-over, score and sound effects added, suggests that he was still well-regarded then. Romm had a fantastic eye for composition, light, and character. I don't know too much or have too much to say about him, but I think these images speak for themselves, and it's probable that his own Wwi experience informs the shots of dead soldiers that begin the story, by far the movie's most vivid sequence.

Pyshka is adapted from Guy de Maupassant's story Boule de Suif, which has an interesting cinematic history. One of Maupassant's semi-propagandist works dealing with the Franco-Prussian war, it's been bent to the purposes of a number of different filmmakers, nations, and era.

Basically, the story tells of a party
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The Notable Films of 2011: Part Two

The Beaver

Opens: March 23rd 2011

Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence

Director: Jodie Foster

Summary: A depressed toy company CEO with a failed marriage starts to wear a beaver puppet on his hand as a form of therapy, much to the initial bemusement of his family. He soon begins talking only through the character.

Analysis: This time last year, excitement was quietly brewing for "The Beaver". Gibson's drunken tirade a few years before hand wasn't forgotten, but enough time had passed that this looked to be the year of a potential comeback for the actor.

The thriller remake "Edge of Darkness" and this were his first on screen roles in ten years, 'Beaver' is also his "Maverick" co-star Foster's return to the director's chair fifteen years after her last feature. The script topped the 2008 Black List and scored rave reviews for its blend of sophisticated humor and sad pathos,
See full article at Dark Horizons »

The Notable Films of 2011: Part Two

The Beaver

Opens: March 23rd 2011

Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence

Director: Jodie Foster

Summary: A depressed toy company CEO with a failed marriage starts to wear a beaver puppet on his hand as a form of therapy, much to the initial bemusement of his family. He soon begins talking only through the character.

Analysis: This time last year, excitement was quietly brewing for "The Beaver". Gibson's drunken tirade a few years before hand wasn't forgotten, but enough time had passed that this looked to be the year of a potential comeback for the actor.

The thriller remake "Edge of Darkness" and this were his first on screen roles in ten years, 'Beaver' is also his "Maverick" co-star Foster's return to the director's chair fifteen years after her last feature. The script topped the 2008 Black List and scored rave reviews for its blend of sophisticated humor and sad pathos,
See full article at Dark Horizons »

Robert Pattinson / Bel Ami Clip: Budapest’s New York Palace Hotel

Robert Pattinson can be seen in the clip above in costume as Guy de Maupassant’s anti-hero Georges Duroy, an ambitious journalist and social climber in the salons of 19th-century Paris. Scenes for Bel Ami (literally, "Beautiful Friend") have been shot in London and Budapest (which could pass for Paris, and is a considerably cheaper filming location). The video clip was shot from far away by a Pattinson fan, so clearly it wasn’t a case of ruining any crucial — or non-crucial — scene. Pattinson is seen in a break between scenes at Budapest’s New York Palace Hotel. This may be — and I don’t have confirmation for it — the sequence in which Georges Duroy (without mustache — and unlike de Maupassant’s [...]
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

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