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-French Films Thread-

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*I caught up with Pepe Le Moko over the weekend*

 

ALGIERSCasbahLaRueXimenes1875.jpg

Casbah street, 1875

 

Well, I hope you didn't get lost in the labyrinth... ;)

 

I agree, a great movie. I like Algiers quite a bit too. I think Boyer makes quite a good Pepe and Hedy is surprisingly good. As always with me (sigh), memory doesn't serve well but I seem to remember thinking both versions were worthy of each other.

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*Well, I hope you didn't get lost in the labyrinth... ;)*

 

I managed to find my way. ;)

 

*I agree, a great movie. I like Algiers quite a bit too. I think Boyer makes quite a good Pepe and Hedy is surprisingly good. As always with me (sigh), memory doesn't serve well but I seem to remember thinking both versions were worthy of each other.*

 

The Criterion DVD of *Pepe* actually has a small bonus feature where specific scenes from *Pepe* and *Algiers* are compared. It's amazing how similar they are. I'm dying to see *Algiers* soon. B-)

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*The Criterion DVD of Pepe actually has a small bonus feature where specific scenes from Pepe and Algiers are compared. It's amazing how similar they are. I'm dying to see Algiers soon. B-)*

 

That's interesting to me because the similarities were so obvious to me as well. True, we have the same story but the two movies seemed almost to be the same screenplay and have the same director. Some of the dialog seemed exact, for instance. If I take you to mean that you haven't seen Algiers yet, then you have a treat ahead. Hedy Lamar, not the greatest of actors by some accounts, certainly holds her own and not just because of her beauty. She was a good choice for this role, IMO.

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*If I take you to mean that you haven't seen Algiers yet, then you have a treat ahead. Hedy Lamar, not the greatest of actors by some accounts, certainly holds her own and not just because of her beauty. She was a good choice for this role, IMO.*

 

No, I don't believe I've seen *Algiers* - I think I would remember it! B-)

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I finally saw The Red Balloon recently, as well. You are right- best D--m movie ever.... I figured I would have to have seen it before seeing the Binoche one. "Flight" is next in my queue from Netflix ...I have Moontide with Gabin right now, just haven't had time to watch yet. FF- I think you were the one who recommended it to me?

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I finally saw The Red Balloon recently, as well. You are right- best D--m movie ever.... I figured I would have to have seen it before seeing the Binoche one. "Flight" is next in my queue from Netflix ...I have Moontide with Gabin right now, just haven't had time to watch yet. FF- I think you were the one who recommended it to me?

 

Yes. I liked *Moontide* a lot and watched *Pepe le Moko* just a few days ago, because I'm starting to really like Jean Gabin.

 

I hope you will enjoy *Flight of the Red Balloon*. It's a very contemplative movie, almost no plot to speak of, but if you watch it in the right frame of mind you'll probably enjoy it.

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The very latest French movie I've watched is *Une vieille ma?tresse* - which was presented in American theaters as *The Last Mistress*, and stars Asia Argento. A period movie, to be sure, but with very candid romantic scenes, just like you'd expect from a good French movie. B-)

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Has anyone seen "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"? The description sounds compelling and it contains a lot of imagery from the brief cuts that I saw.

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Yes, I saw *The Diving Bell and the Butterfly* when it played in theaters, it's a very well-made movie, and unforgettable in many ways.

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Another French-language movie that is just making its debut in U.S. video shelves is *Ca$h*, a heist thriller with beautiful locations in the French coast, and a top-notch cast that includes Jean Dujardin, Valeria Golino, and Jean Reno.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1002966/

 

It's worth looking out for this one! B-)

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New this week at some video stores (BB exclusive) is Claude Chabrol's wonderfully subversive *La Fille coup?e en deux* ("The Girl Cut in Two"), starring the lovely Ludivine Sagnier. It's worth looking out for, if you can rent it. B-)

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I am thrilled that TCM is going to be showing Rene Clair's *Le Million* on January 18th.

 

Clair was one of a handful of filmmakers at the beginning of the sound era who took advantage of the new addition in order to create even more imaginative movies. His use of sound advanced filmmaking by leaps and bounds.

 

According to the TCM website:

 

*Indeed, Clair was very cautious not to follow the herd when it came to making films at the dawn of the sound era. He was one of a number of filmmakers who feared that sound technology would prove an impediment to cinematic expression. "I was not against the use of sound," Clair said in a 1957 interview, "I think the use of sound was something very good to add to the motion picture, you see. What we were fearing was that [by] using the words we would kill all the possibilities of invention that we had in the silent times. What I wished was to keep all that we had won, using the silent medium, and add to it the sound. But we were afraid of the dialogue, because if you use dialogue you go back, automatically, to the old stage technique, and we wanted motion pictures to be always something new."*

 

*"I tried to make my picture as silent as possible, and to use sound not only as a background but to use sound dramatically, to make it useful to add something to a picture."*

 

*Clair didn't merely accommodate sound...he exploited its potential to illuminate characters, generate laughs, and invest his film with new dimensions of meaning. In an interview with the Manchester Guardian, noted screenwriter Sidney Gilliat (The Lady Vanishes, 1938) singled out Le Million as the film that revolutionized the use of sound, and lamented the fact that no film since had been so innovative. "Looking back over 60 years or so, I often feel the most surprising thing in movie development has been the virtual total lack of follow-up to Rene Clair's use of music in, say, Le Million... I felt certain that a truly integrated use of music, a free and natural employment of its uses and benefits, would have developed after those early Clairs. But what have we had? Practically nothing. I always wanted to try it, but never got off the ground."*

 

I hope that TCM will show more Rene Clair movies in the future. :)

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He had a wry and spritely way of making films that is genuinely charming. I was able to watch 3 or 4 of his films years ago on PBS. They really made an impression on me, because he used humor, fantasy and a sort of theatrical creativity to tell the story. I would call his films fairy tales of real life.

 

I haven't been able to watch those films since then, so I am ecstatic to see TCM presenting one of them.

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This has already been posted in the *In Memoriam* thread, but I felt it wouldn't be out of place here, as well:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/arts/13berri.html

 

*Claude Berri, French Filmmaker of Sweep and Charm, Dies at 74*

 

By BRUCE WEBER

Published: January 13, 2009

 

Claude Berri, who as a director, producer, screenwriter and actor was among the most influential figures in the French film industry over the past 40 years, died Monday in Paris. He was 74 and was described after his death by President Nicolas Sarkozy as ?the great ambassador of French cinema? to the world.

 

The cause was a stroke, his agent, Dominique Segall, said in a statement. Mr. Berri had been admitted to the hospital on Saturday with a ?cerebral vascular problem,? he said.

 

Mr. Berri was, by and large, a filmmaker of mainstream sensibility who favored stories of either quirky charm ? many drawn from his own life ? or grand sweep. His best known films as a director include ?The Two of Us? (1967), which tells a story much like that of his own childhood during the Nazi occupation of France, in which a Jewish boy is schooled in Catholicism and sent off to live with an anti-Semitic old man; and the twin 1986 films ?Jean de Florette? and ?Manon des Sources? (?Manon of the Springs?), together an extravagant adaptation of a classic French novel set in Provence by Marcel Pagnol, ?L?Eau des Collines? (?Water of the Hills?).

 

But he was probably more influential as a producer, working with directors like Milos Forman (?Valmont?), Roman Polanski (?Tess?) and Philippe de Broca (?L?Africain?).

 

With his penchant for lush cinematography and scoring and audience-pleasing plot resolution, Mr. Berri was often credited with melding the wry, oblique sensibility of French New Age cinema with the more commercial outlook of Hollywood. Often described as impulsive, imperious and driven, he nonetheless worked successfully with star performers like Yves Montand, Catherine Denueve, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle B?art and G?rard Depardieu.

 

He did not get along with everyone, however. On the set of his 1997 film, ?Lucie Aubrac,? based on the life of a heroine of the French resistance, he abruptly fired his lead actress, Juliette Binoche, for having too many opinions about how she should play the role.

 

?When a director is so possessive about his film it?s a nightmare,? Ms. Binoche said in an interview in The New York Times shortly after her dismissal. ?You can?t work with someone like that.?

 

Mr. Berri?s early work as a director included several comedies in which he played himself or someone very much like him: a character, often named Claude, with a sentimental devotion to his parents and a goofy, Chaplin-esque weakness for women. Among these films were ?Mazel Tov, ou Le Mariage,? (?Marry Me! Marry Me!?); ?Le Sex Shop,? ?Le Cinema de Papa,? and ?Le M?le du Si?cle? (?Male of the Century?).

 

Mr. Berri was a contemporary and friend of Fran?ois Truffaut, and his work was often compared, though not always favorably, to the Truffaut trilogy ? ?Les 400 Coups? (?The 400 Blows?); ?Baisers Vol?s? (?Stolen Kisses?) and ?Domicile Conjugal? (?Bed and Board?), which featured Truffaut?s alter ego, Antoine Doinel.

 

Among Mr. Berri?s grander projects were ?Germinal,? an adaptation of Zola?s 19th-century novel about exploited French coal miners, and ?Uranus,? a brooding film about French collaborators during the war that probes the nature of their guilt. Both starred Mr. Depardieu.

 

At his death Mr. Berri was directing his 20th film, ?Tr?sor? (?Treasure?), a marital comedy. ?Berri was laughing all the time on the set,? Alain Chabat, who was starring in the film, said in an interview on Monday. He last saw Mr. Berri on Thursday, he said. Mr. Chabat described the director as ?brilliant and curious, a very funny guy with incredible intuition,? who was nonetheless sure of his own mind and a bit of a martinet.

 

?He was very precise, very demanding on a set,? and ?very honest,? Mr. Chabat said. ?Sometimes his honesty would go too far.?

 

Claude Berel Langmann ? he changed his name as an adult for professional reasons, so it would sound more French ? was born in Paris on July 1, 1934. His parents, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, placed their son in the care of a non-Jewish family during the occupation. They worked as furriers, and after the war young Claude, who had been an indifferent student, started his work life alongside them until he began taking acting classes.

 

His first film, a short called ?Le Poulet? (?The Chicken?), made with loans from friends, was about a boy who tries to save a pet from becoming dinner by sneaking an egg into its nest every morning. He was wholly inexperienced as a director, but his instincts were sure; it received notice at the Venice Biennale and eventually made it to the United States, winning a 1965 Academy Award ? his only one ? for best short film.

 

The investment his friends made in ?The Chicken? turned into a company, Renn Productions, that made dozens of films. In the late 1980s Mr. Berri sold half the company ? then worth about $50 million ? to support a new hobby, collecting contemporary art. His collection eventually included works by Cy Twombly, Yves Klein and Robert Ryman and became one of the most important in France.

 

His survivors include two sons, Darius and Thomas, and a sister, Arlette.

 

Ma?a de la Baume contributed reporting from Paris.

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There are a great many French films I have not seen but of what I have seen GRAND ILLUSION (1937) and LA PASSION de JEANNE d'ARC (1927) are my two favorites.

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1946) is certainly a very fine and innovative French fantasy movie.  Watched it last night for the second time.  Simply amazing it was filmed while the Nazis were still in power over France.  A lot of very artistic touches in the fine movie.  Very easy to fall head over heels in love with the exquisite Josette Day.

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1946) is certainly a very fine and innovative French fantasy movie..

I watched bits and pieces throughout. I was distracted. What I saw made me want to see the whole film next time around. Normally, I wouldn't sit through subtitles (I would prefer to hear whatever language it was filmed in without subtitles), but this was interesting enough to get me by. Like a filmed play.

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I like Gigot, with Jackie Gleason as the main character, a poor, mute, French janitor.  He wrote the music for the movie.  It was directed by Gene Kelly.  It was filmed in France and all characters are French but they do speak in English, with strong French accents.  Not sure if it qualifies as a "French" movie, but if you liked the Red Balloon, you'll like this one.  Wish TCM would show it.

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Anyone out there in Missouri? Check this out.

 

Upcoming French Film Festival - St. Louis, Missouri
 

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airing Wed., 6-18, for Director Rene Clair:

 

 

8:00 PM Sous les toits de Paris (1930)  

A street singer and a gangster vie for the love of a beautiful young woman.

DirRene Clair CastAlbert Prejean , Pola Illery , Gaston Modot .

BW-92 mins,

9:45 PM Nous La Liberte, A (1931)  

An escaped convict creates a business empire that becomes a new prison for him.

DirRene Clair CastR. Cordy , Henri Marchand , Germaine Aussey .

BW-83 mins,

11:15 PM Le Million (1931)  

A winning lottery ticket wreaks havoc on the lives of all who come near it.

 

BW-81 mins,

12:45 AM Grand Maneuver, The (1955)  

An officer makes a bet that he can seduce a beautiful lady in his town before he is sent to training camp for the summer.

DirRene Clair CastMichele Morgan , Gérard Philipe , Brigitte Bardot .

C-108 mins,

2:45 AM It Happened Tomorrow (1944)  

A newspaper editor writes headlines that predict the future.

DirRené Clair CastDick Powell , Linda Darnell , Jack Oakie .

BW-85 mins,

 

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Regarding classic French films, I haven't seen the essentials, but I have seen:

La Grande Illusion (1937)

Princess Tam-Tam(1935) 

Zou-Zou(1934)

 

I am gradually exploring more as I go. But I love French film. It truly is the seventh art in that country. I just watched Les Intouchables tonight. 

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Contempt was on last night--anyone happen to watch?  I remember my parents going to the movies to see it when I was a child and I was envious because I adored Brigitte Bardot.  A wonderful movie, one of my favorites.  

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