Tuesday, January 18, 2011

French cinema 2010: a playlist from Lucy

I may have given the impression a few weeks ago that I'm an uncritical fan of foreign movies. For example, last week we went to see Inspector Bellamy, starring Gerard Depardieu and directed by Claude Chabrol. It was billed as a "witty homage to the mysteries of Simenon by France's master of the suspense thriller", and had received excellent reviews from critics and fans.

Frankly, I think a better description would be "a tedious and poorly filmed character study of a cop and his family based around a non-mystery with no twist at the end." I really can't understand why it was so successful. It felt like the sort of film buff's movie I was supposed to appreciate, based purely on the pedigree of the director and star, but I didn't find anything in it to enjoy.

After I posted this on Facebook, my friend Lucy Georges sent me this, which she's allowed me to reprint. She's English, but has been living in France for many years.
Your blog post prompted me to write some thoughts on French films from 2010, just in case you're looking for ideas on what to watch over the next few months...

Comme les cinq doigts de la main: A good action film about a Jewish family and their run in with organised crime.

Des Hommes et des Dieux: The only one I hated. This is an overhyped true story of the monks that were assassinated in Algeria, and was a raging success in secular France where people have a strange love-hate relationship with religion. Unfortunately, while both the subject and location should have provided ample opportunity for beautiful photography, this was sadly lacking. The scenario was dreadful, and full of clichés. Only the acting saved the film in my view. It was however a roaring success, but if the average age of the spectators is anything to go by, you need to be at least 55 years old to appreciate the movie.

Elle s'appeleait Sarah: Kristin Scott Thomas, another expat, in one of the year's two films about the 1942 event at the Vélodrome d'Hiver. Interesting narrative technique.

Imogen McCarthery: Based on Exbrayat's short novel, this is an amusing story of a Scottish girl who unwittingly becomes a spy. Worth seeing for the very French view of the British Isles!

La rafle: The other Vel d'hiv film, featuring Jean Reno. You need hankies ready for this one.

Les émotifs anonymes: I haven't seen it yet, but as soon as the snow melts, I'm on it. With Belgian Benoit Poelevoorde, it looks to be a box office hit.

L'arnacoeur: Handsome Romain Duris stars in this romantic comedy about a team of swindlers who break up couples.

L'illusioniste: The one I missed, and will be buying as soon as I find it on DVD. Jacques Tati did the scenario, and the animation is by the maker of Les Triplettes de Belleville.

L'immortel: More Jean Reno as a Marseilles gangster type trying to get out of his past life. A good action film.

Les Aventures Extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc Sec: A superb adaptation of the Tardi comic books by Luc Besson. Great fun.

Pièce Montée: Rom com about a disastrous wedding. Some very funny scenes.

Potiche: Catherine Deneuve is back on form in this humourous tale about life in the seventies for a bourgeois wife. Also features Depardieu and Luchini.

Serge Gainsbourg Vie Héroique: An innovative take on the biopic with a dreamlike element which brings out another facet of Gainsbourg besides the provocative aspect he's famous for.

Simon Werner a disparu: A first film worth seeing for the experimental narrative technique. It wasn't an enormous success, but I think we might see more from Fabrice Gobert in the future.

Thelma, Louise et Chantal: One for women over forty. A comedy road movie.

Tout ce qui Brille: Another first film about life in the 'banlieue' and two friends trying to escape.

Une exécution ordinaire: Based on a novel, this tells the story of a female doctor forced to leave her life to become Stalin's personal medic.

Une petite zone de turbulences: This is based on the British novel, A Spot of Bother, and features Michel Blanc in the main role. Funny.

There's definitely a lot there I want to see. I'm particularly looking forward to the Besson film, and if it turns up in any of the local cinemas, I'm right there. I'll also be on the lookout for the Jean Reno films, and the one about the doctor looks interesting.

I'm off to check out how many of those are on Netflix, while I watch a Thai pirate movie, Legend of the Tsunami Warrior.

1 comment:

luxaeternam said...

Saw Les émotifs anonymes last night. Entertaining. Something tells me it's more likely to appeal to women than men, but I may be wrong.