12th Annual European Union Film Festival
2007, Gaël Morel, France, 90 min.
With Catherine Deneuve, Thomas Dumerchez, Élodie Bouchez
“Mesmerizing...One of Deneuve’s most expressive roles in years.”--Boyd van Hoeij, european-films.net
Catherine Deneuve continues her late-career renaissance in this provocative drama that provides her with a showcase role. Deneuve plays a Lyon bookshop-owner whose grief over her son’s sudden death leads her into an ever more intimate relationship with his best friend. Director Morel (THREE DANCING SLAVES) and co-scripter Christophe Honoré (whose LA BELLE PERSONNE is included in this year’s EU Film Festival) confront messy emotions with a combination of compassion and clear-eyed candor. In French with English subtitles. Preview courtesy of IFC Films. DigiBeta video. (MR)
Sunday, March 29, 5:15 pm
Monday, March 30, 6:00 pm
THE BEACHES OF AGNES
(LES PLAGES D’AGNÈS)
2008, Agnès Varda, France, 109 min.
With Agnès Varda
“Playful and lucid...It reveals the veteran French New Waver as the youngest 80-year-old to ever unpack her life’s sundry mementos on the screen.”--Fernando F. Croce, Slant
“If you open people, you’ll find landscapes. If you open me, you’ll find beaches,” says filmmaking giant Varda in this enchanting autobiographical documentary. Using beaches as a touchstone (including childhood seaside vacations, the fishing-village location of her first film LA POINTE COURTE, and her current island home in northwestern France), the 80-year-old auteur takes a breezy, reflective “walk backwards” through her life and films, accompanied by such fellow travelers as Alexander Calder, Gerard Depardieu, Jim Morrison, Harrison Ford, Chris Marker, Jean-Luc Godard, and her late husband, Jacques Demy. In French with English subtitles. Preview courtesy of The Cinema Guild. DigiBeta video. (MR)
Sunday, March 8, 3:00 pm
Thursday, March 12, 6:00 pm
LA BELLE PERSONNE
2008, Christophe Honoré, France, 93 min.
With Louis Garrel, Léa Seydoux
One of France’s hottest young directors, Honoré (DANS PARIS, LOVE SONGS) borrows a leaf from CRUEL INTENTIONS by updating the scandalous 17th-century novel La Princesse de Clèves to a high school in contemporary Paris. Court intrigues are cleverly replaced by schoolyard liaisons that freely cross gay-straight and teacher-student boundaries. Garrel stars as a hunky teacher who racks up casual affairs, until the arrival of a sultry new student (Seydoux) upsets the sexual balance of power and causes the young rake to lose his once-invulnerable heart. In French with English subtitles. Preview courtesy of IFC Films. 35mm. (MR)
Monday, March 16, 7:30 pm
Tuesday, March 17, 6:00 pm
FRONTIER OF DAWN
(LA FRONTIÈRE DE L’AUBE)
2008, Philippe Garrel, France, 106 min.
With Louis Garrel, Laura Smet
In this offbeat love story with supernatural overtones, director Garrel (REGULAR LOVERS) draws upon Cocteau and Aragon, with a touch of that surrealists’ favorite PETER IBBETSON. A photographer (Garrel fils) has a torrid affair with a self-destructive movie star (Smet). After her suicide, he finds solace with a devoted young woman, but his dead love calls to him from beyond the grave. Several critics have suggested that the film is further haunted by the memory of Garrel’s late lover and muse Nico. In French with English subtitles. Preview courtesy of IFC Films. DigiBeta video. (MR)
Saturday, March 21, 5:30 pm
Thursday, March 26, 8:30 pm
THE GIRL FROM MONACO
(LA FILLE DE MONACO)
2008, Anne Fontaine, France, 95 min.
With Fabrice Luchini, Louise Bourgoin, Stéphane Audran
“A revelation...so sexy, so clever, so wry.”--Bruce Kirkland, Toronto Sun
Director Anne Fontaine (DRY CLEANING, HOW I KILLED MY FATHER) steers a nimble course between frothy romantic comedy, bittersweet buddy movie, and femme-fatale film noir. While handling a high-profile murder case, a buttoned-down lawyer (Luchini of MOLIERE) has his horizons widened by an ultra-efficient bodyguard (Roschdy Zem) and a sexy weather girl (ex-weather girl Bourgoin in a splashy debut) who might have a darker agenda beneath her ditsiness. In French with English subtitles. Preview courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. 35mm. (MR)
Friday, March 13, 6:00 pm
Saturday, March 14, 7:30 pm
2008, Martin Provost, France/Belgium, 121 min.
With Yolande Moreau , Ulrich Tukur
Recipient of nine César nominations, including best picture, director, and actress, SÉRAPHINE was one of the revelations of last year’s festival circuit. The story is based on the life of outsider artist Séraphine de Senlis, a self-taught village charwoman whose inspiration allegedly comes from a guardian angel but whose canvases throb with vibrant sensuality. Scrubbing by day and painting by night, Séraphine toils in blissful obscurity until a famous German art critic comes to town. Director Provost’s tone is pitch-perfect, avoiding both cuteness and stodginess, and Yolande Moreau delivers a great, witty, moving performance as the devout drudge with a diabolical talent. In French with English subtitles. Preview courtesy of Music Box Films. 35mm. (MR)
Friday, March 27, 6:00 pm
Saturday, March 28, 3:00 pm
SHALL WE KISS?
(UN BAISER S’IL VOUS PLAÎT)
2007, Emmanuel Mouret, France, 96 min.
With Virginie Ledoyen, Emmanuel Mouret
“A sexy, quintessentially French delicacy.”--Stephen Holden, The New York Times
Is there such a thing as a kiss without consequences? That is the question broached in this multilayered romantic comedy that has had critics reaching to Woody Allen, Eric Rohmer, and Ernst Lubitsch for comparisons. Cleverly using multiple narrators and stories-within-stories, director-writer-star Emmanuel Mouret tells of happily married Judith (Ledoyen) who agrees to kiss platonic friend Nicolas (Mouret) for the most innocent and rational of reasons, but their petit baiser sets off a chain reaction of lust and confusion that finally comes full circle with delicious irony. In French with English subtitles. Preview courtesy of Music Box Films. 35mm. (MR)
Saturday, March 7, 7:30 pm
Tuesday, March 10, 6:00 pm
2008, Olivier Assayas, France, 103 min.
With Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, Jérémie Renier
“Assayas’s most fully satisfying film for some while, this is a warm, wise drama about the tensions and mysteries of family life.”--Geoff Andrew, Time Out London
Hailed as Assayas’s best film as years, this subtle Chekhovian character study is a departure from his recent continent-hopping melodramas and thrillers (CLEAN, DEMONLOVER, BOARDING GATE), although, as critic Nick Schager astutely observed, it finds the director “once again charting the effects of globalization on human consciousness and relationships.” Three siblings (Binoche, Berling, and Renier, all in top form) from various corners of the globe convene at their late mother’s country house, where the task of disposing of the family’s valuable art collection brings the differences between them into sharp relief. In French with English subtitles. Preview courtesy of IFC Films. 35mm. (MR)
Saturday, March 28, 7:45 pm
Tuesday, March 31, 6:00 pm
2007, Pascal Thomas, France, 107 min.
With François Morel, Danielle Darrieux
“Agatha Christie fans--and anyone who likes an old-fashioned whodunit, blithely played--will come away clucking from TOWARDS ZERO.”--Derek Elley, Variety
Mistress of crime Agatha Christie gets a witty Gallic update of one of her most esteemed novels in this murder mystery that could be called a who’s-gonna-get-it. As a character observes in the first scene, most whodunits are dull because the murder occurs at the beginning; in TOWARDS ZERO, the murder will come at the end, when a series of interlocking events converge on the fatal “zero hour.” The potential victims congregate at a Brittany seaside mansion presided over by a dowager (screen legend Darrieux) whose playboy nephew (Melvil Popaud) unwisely invites both his former (Chiara Mastroianni) and present (Laura Smet in a sensational sexpot role) wives to spend le weekend. In French with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of Cultural Services of the French Embassy. (MR)