thu 26/05/2022

French cinema

Vortex review – an old couple's road to nowhere

Life, opined Thomas Hobbes, is “nasty, brutish, and short”. In Gaspar Noé’s Vortex it’s not short enough for a dementia-afflicted octogenarian psychiatrist (Françoise Lebrun) and her addled film critic husband (giallo auteur Dario Argento), whose...

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Blu-ray: Round Midnight

Among the plentiful bonus items in this Criterion Collection Blu-ray of Round Midnight, the last one is a surprise. It shows Dexter Gordon in his prime, back in 1969.He’s doing the thing for which, purely as a jazz musician, he’s best known. We see...

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Blu-ray: Jules et Jim

François Truffaut’s Nouvelle Vague masterpiece revolves around an endlessly mutating love triangle, set in a world that encompasses the hedonism of the Belle Époque, the horror of the First World War, and the book burning that ushered in the Nazi...

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Happening review - searingly intimate, furious abortion drama

France is a female dystopia in Audrey Diwan’s immersive illegal abortion drama, set in 1963 and based on Annie Ernaux’s autobiographical novel.Anamaria Vartolomei is Anne, the first girl from her rural family to go to college, where she is a modest...

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Blu-ray: The 400 Blows

Many groundbreaking cinema classics remain frozen in a particular zeitgeist, but François Truffaut’s first feature, from the early days of the French New Wave, is not one of them. Released in 1959, The 400 Blows (Les 400 coups) is so adventurous in...

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The Night Doctor review - down and out in Paris

Elie Wajeman’s moodily lit film noir is, among other things, a great advertisement for the French healthcare system. Doctors in Paris do home visits! Even at night, and even for minor troubles such as a painful leg or stomach upset. It costs...

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Blu-ray: Hiroshima mon amour

Hiroshima mon amour (1959), Alain Resnais’s first feature-length film, followed a number of remarkable short documentaries, the most famous of which was Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog, 1956), a haunting evocation of Nazi terror, and still a...

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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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