Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 25 Films of 2010

[Wild Grass]

Note: Due to being in several different countries this year, the release dates are all funky. In fact "Sarah's Key" will be released in the U.S.A. in 2011. Have hope and wait a little bit and hopefully you'll get to see all these films!
  1. Wild Grass (Alain Resnais) Saw twice. I have never been an Alain Resnais film, so it is with great surprise that his last two films have become instantaneous favorites of mine. The crazier this film got, the more I fell in love with it. A great success!
  2. White Material (Claire Denis) Again, I don't always get the hype surrounding Claire Denis despite the fact that 35 Rhums was great. But I think more people should make films about how possessions and money destroy people. This was just too good.
  3. Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl (Manoel de Oliveira) Now our beloved director is 102 years old. And he is making the best films of his career. This film was a little short, and frankly, I could have done with the characters being more eccentric. However, the ending was amazing and exactly what should have been delivered.
  4. The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski) There are too many good things I could say about this movie. Amazing performances, especially from Olivia Williams and Eli Wallach. A very non-traditional ending. Amazing direction. Unfortunately, there was a chase scene that reminded me too much of the one in The Ninth Gate. However, overlooking this small detail, it was another masterpiece from Polanski.
  5. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese) It's kind of funny how much some people hate this movie. It was also a shame that the release date was pushed back to early 2010. It could have been a serious contender at the Oscars. It was not silly and had some great dramatic moments.
  6. Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno (Serge Bromberg) As a Clouzot fan, it's a dream that his lost film would turn up. The documentary-like style pulled the story along. Some restorations that show stills to account for the missing scenes really suck. I'm glad this was different and well-directed.
  7. Sarah's Key (Gilles Paquet-Brenner) Basically I cried and cried and cried. And the stupid critic who gave it two stars in Premiere should be fired and they should find a new career.
  8. Les invités de mon père/My Father's Guests (Anne Le Ny) The plot actually sounded dumb, but was extremely well-done and several unexpected things happened. It seemed really relevant. Whenever a story is focused on human emotion, it cannot go wrong.
  9. Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton) Saw twice. Had extremely low expectations due to really bad feedback from friends. Interesting circumstance: Saw on Easter Sunday in L.A. and an earthquake actually took place during the screening.
  10. The Tree (Julie Bertucelli) Another movie where I just cried and cried. Bertucelli is a burgeoning talent and this film just foretold that there are several more beautiful films to come from this director. Definitely unconventional and smart, another emotional film that will impact you, especially if you have lost someone and have reason to hang on to them.
  11. Gainsbourg, la vie heroique (Joann Sfar)
  12. Gainsbourg, l’homme qui aimait les femmes (2010)
  13. Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois)
  14. Crime d'amour/Love Crime (Alain Corneau)
  15. Copacabana (Marc Fitoussi)
  16. Bluebeard (Catherine Breillat)
  17. Greenberg (Noah Baumbach)
  18. Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold)
  19. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Woody Allen)
  20. Heartbreaker (Pascal Chaumeil)
  21. Micmacs (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
  22. Restrepo (Sebastian Junger)
  23. Special Treatment (Jeanne Labrune)
  24. Another Year (Mike Leigh)
  25. The Clink of Ice (Bertrand Blier)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top Five Films of November, 2010

"Did I say something that hurt you?"
Daddy Nostalgie (1990, Bertrand Tavernier) - This film's delicate poignancy made this film very special and tender.

Ana y los lobos (1973, Carlos Saura) - Being a "nanny" and experiencing weird stuff, it was kind of an odd wake-up call watching this movie. That's all I can say!

"He would still be alive if he hadn't given into his fear."
Viy (1967, Georgi Kropachyov, Konstantin Yershov) - Really, I felt that this film was really close to Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (which would come out three years later). However, the end was kind of a surprise, because of its message.

La proie du vent (1927, René Clair) - The Cinémathèque française put on a "cine-concert" and showed this film with live jazz music led by Ibrahim Maalouf. This was a very strange movie almost seemed jumbled at times. However, it was very entertaining and had several impressive cuts and tints. The acting could be melodramatic at times, but overall this was an impressive early film from Clair.

Une chambre en ville/A Room in Town (1982, Jacques Demy) - I wondered if the pregnant girl in this story was based on Agnes Varda and her child from a relationship previous to Jacques Demy. However, the plot of the film would hopefully be an intense exaggeration, because the ending sort of left me reeling. The ending was quite similar to François Truffaut's La femme d'à côté/The Woman Next Door, which came out the previous year in 1981. However, of course, Jacques Demy took it up a couple notches, which is saying something, because the ending to the Truffaut film has haunted me ever since I saw it (about 6 1/2 years ago).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Actors Who Have Worked With Both Truffaut and Godard

Despite Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut’s bitter dispute which left left them on a permanently non-speaking basis, there are several actors that worked with both directors. For more information on their brutal fight, Truffaut’s letters to Godard have been typed up on the net and they’re well-worth reading.

On October 21, 1984, François Truffaut died of brain cancer. Unfortunately, these two men would never reconcile.

I am not including the actors who starred in Une histoire d’eau (1961), which was a short film directed by both men.

Jean-Pierre Léaud
-Truffaut: Les quatre cents coups (1959), Antoine et Colette (1962), Baisers volés (1968), Domicile conjugal (1970), La nuit américaine (1973), L’amour en fuite (1979)
-Godard: Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965), Pierrot le fou (1965), Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis (1966), Made in U.S.A. (1966), La chinoise (1967), Week End (1967), Segment of Le plus vieux métier du monde: “Anticipation, ou l’amour en l’an 2000” (1967), Le gai savoir (1969), Détective (1985), Grandeur et décadence d’un petit commerce de cinéma (TV episode 1986 #1.21)

Jean-Paul Belmondo
-Truffaut: La sirène du Mississipi (1969)
-Godard: Pierrot le Fou (1965), Une femme est une femme/A Woman is a Woman (1961), Charlotte et son Jules (1960) , À bout de souffle (1960)

Nathalie Baye
-Truffaut: La nuit américaine (1973), L’homme qui aimait les femmes (1977), La chambre verte (1978)
-Godard: Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980)

Gérard Depardieu
-Truffaut: Le dernier métro (1980), La femme d’à côté (1981)
-Godard: Hélas pour moi (1993)

Jean-Claude Brialy
-Truffaut: Les quatre cents coups (1959), La mariée était en noir (1968)
-Godard: Une femme est une femme/A Woman is a Woman (1961), Charlotte et Véronique, ou Tous les garçons s’appellent Patrick (1959)

Alexandra Stewart
-Truffaut: La mariée était en noir (1968), La nuit américaine (1973)
-Godard: Segment of Ro.Go.Pa.G.: “Nuovo mondo, Il”) (1963)

Charles Denner
-Truffaut: La mariée était en noir (1968), Une belle fille comme moi (1972), L’homme qui aimait les femmes (1977)
-Godard: Segment of Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (1964): “Le Grand Escroq”

Claude Brasseur
-Truffaut: Une belle fille comme moi (1972)
-Godard: Détective (1985), Bande à part (1964)

Xavier Saint-Macary
-Truffaut: La nuit américaine (1973), Vivement dimanche! (1983)
-Godard: Détective (1985)

Castel Casti
Note: Castel Casti only worked on these two films her entire career.
-Truffaut: Vivement dimanche! (1983)
-Godard: Tout va bien (1972)

Jean-Pierre Kalfon
-Truffaut: Vivement dimanche! (1983)
-Godard: Week End (1967)

Danièle Girard
-Truffaut: Domicile conjugal (1970), Une belle fille comme moi (1972)
-Godard: Bande à part (1964)

Michel Delahaye
-Truffaut: Une belle fille comme moi (1972)
-Godard: Bande à part (1964), Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)

Daniel Boulanger
-Truffaut: Tirez sur le pianiste (1960), La mariée était en noir (1968), Domicile conjugal (1970),
-Godard: À bout de souffle (1960)

Paul Pavel
-Truffaut: Baisers volés (1968), La mariée était en noir (1968)
-Godard: Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962)

Gilles Quéant
-Truffaut: La mariée était en noir (1968)
-Godard: Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962)

Claude Mansard
-Truffaut: Les quatre cents coups (1959), Tirez sur le pianiste (1960)
-Godard: À bout de souffle (1960)

Jean-Louis Richard
-Truffaut: Jules et Jim (1962), La peau douce (1964), Le dernier métro (1980), Vivement dimanche! (1983)
-Godard: À bout de souffle (1960)

Michel Subor
-Truffaut: Jules et Jim (1962)
-Godard: Le petit soldat (1963)

Nicole Berger
-Truffaut: Tirez sur le pianiste (1960)
-Godard: Charlotte et Véronique, ou Tous les garçons s’appellent Patrick (1959)

Serge Davri
-Truffaut: Tirez sur le pianiste (1960), Tire-au-flanc 62 (1960)
-Godard: Segment of Paris vu par…: “Montparnasse-Levallois”)

Note 1: Jeanne Moreau appeared in Truffaut’s Jules and Jim and also made a cameo appearance in Godard’s A Woman is a Woman.
Note 2: Tire-au-flanc 62 (1960) is a lost film.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Top Five Films of October, 2010
Fear, Anxiety & Depression (1989) I've watched 3 films of Todd Solondz's in reverse chronological order. I hated the first film I saw (Happiness), thought the second one was a little better than okay (Welcome to the Dollhouse) and then absolutely loved Fear, Anxiety & Depression. In fact, it came off as a second-rate Woody Allen rip-off. However, I laughed throughout the whole thing, so it definitely struck a chord and I gave it a high rating.
Elle s'appelait Sarah/Sarah's Key (2010) I was on my way home, when I decided to check the showtimes at the movie theater across from the train station. It happened that this film was about to start. Basically, it was one of the best films I've seen in awhile, switching back to an occurrence that happened during WWII and the present day.
Dulces horas/Sweet Hours (1982) This film was reminiscent to Sarah's Key, as well as a film with Romy Schneider called La passante du Sans-Souci/The Passerby (1982). Basically, a boy is innocently in love with his mother.
The Famine Within (1990) Although, I was thinking this film was a tad outdated while watching it, the next day I realized that most of the key points are relevant. Perhaps it would be nice to have current data, as the film is 20 years old. Basically, the film explores women and their weight issues and their quest for not only attaining the ideal weight, but for being accepted by society and desirable.
Gerald McBoing-Boing (1951) It's hard to narrow down the best shorts I saw this month. However, this one is probably the best. I saw it twice: once by myself and the second time with a six year-old boy who likes Dr. Suess (the film is based on a story by the author). It was very entertaining.

It may seem excessive, but I saw 84 shorts this month. The reason: to ameliorate the number of films I'd seen for Also, I explored Sacha Guitry's filmography and saw a couple films with Emmanuelle Devos.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Top Two Films of September, 2010

This month was a strange month. I only saw two stellar films. However, I also saw a bunch of good but not great films. I'll list those as honorable mentions.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Claude Chabrol (June 24, 1930 – September 12, 2010)

Claude Chabrol was my favorite French film director. His films usually cover the downward spiral of an ordinary person’s life until everything is out of control.

Here is my ranked list of his work. It will be updated as necessary.

Tier One
1. La Ceremonie / Judgment in Stone (1995)
2. Que la bête meure / This Man Must Die (1969)
3. Le Boucher (1970)
4. La Rupture (1970)
5. Le Cri du hibou / Cry of the Owl (1987)
6. Une Affaire de Femmes / The Story of Women (1988)
7. La Fille coupée en deux / A Girl Cut in Two (2007)
8. La Demoiselle d’honneur / The Bridesmaid (2004)
9. Inspector Lavardin (1986)
10. L’oeil du malin / The Third Lover (1962) not in the database
11. Violette Nozière (1978)
12. Bellamy/Inspector Bellamy (2008)
13. Betty (1992)
14. “Redoutables, Les” (2001) Episode: “Coup De Vice” not in the database
15. La Femme infidèle / Unfaithful Wife (1969)

Tier Two
16. Merci Pour Le Chocolat (2000)
17. À Double Tour (1959)
18. Les Bonnes Femmes (1960)
19. Les Biches (1968)
20. Au coeur du mensonge /The Color of Lies (1999)

Tier Three
21. “Chez Maupassant: La parure (#1.2)” (2007)
22. Masques / Masks
23. Cyprien Katsaris (1996) [TV]
24. Le Beau Serge / Handsome Serge/Bitter Reunion (1958)
25. M. Le Maudit (1982) not in the database
26. Les Cousins (1959)
27. Les godelureaux/Wise Guys (1961)
28. Les fantômes du chapelier /The Hatter’s Ghost (1982)
29. La ligne de démarcation/Line of Demarcation (1966) not in the database
30. “Chez Maupassant: Le petit fût (#2.4)” (2008) not in the database
31. Les plus belles escroqueries du monde (1964) not in the database
32. Les Magiciens/Death Rite (1976)
33. Madame Bovary (1991)
34. Les innocents aux mains sales / Innocents with Dirty Hands (1975)
35. Juste avant la nuit / Just before nightfall (1971) not in the database
36. Marie-Chantal contre le docteur Kha (1965) not in the database
37. Le tigre aime la chair fraiche (1964) not in the database

Tier Four
38. Alice ou la dernière fugue (1977)
39. L’oeil de Vichy (1993)
40. Ophélia (1963)
41. La décade prodigieuse/Ten Days Wonder (1971)
42. Le scandale/The Champagne Murders (1967)
43. L’Ivresse du pouvoir / Comedy of Power (2006)

Tier Five
44. Jours tranquilles à Clichy/Quiet Days in Clichy (1990)
45. Le tigre se parfume à la dynamite (1965)
46. Les Noces rouges / Wedding in Blood (1973) not in the database
47. L’Enfer / Hell (1994)
48. La Fleur du mal / Flower of Evil (2003)
49. “L’Avarice”
50. Folies bourgeoises/Twist (1976) not in the database
51. Rien na va Plus / The Swindle (1997)
52. Docteur Popaul / High Heels (1972) not in the database
53. Nada (1974) not in the database
54. Poulet au vinaigre / Cop au vin (1985)
55. La Route de Corinthe / Who’s Got the Black Box? (1967) not in the database
56. Une partie de plaisir (1975)
57. Les Liens de sang / Blood Relatives (1978)

Tier Six
58. Landru/Bluebeard (1963)
59. Le sang des autres/The Blood of Others (1984)
60. Dr. M (1990)

Friday, September 3, 2010

French Actors

Here are some of the finest actors of yesterday and today whose faces define the cinema of France.

Note: Despite Gérard Depardieu’s recent outburst, I’ve included him in this list as planned.
Note #2: This list is loosely ranked. I couldn’t put everyone at #1, but then again, if an actor is on the list at all, they are worthy of attention.

Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Louis Trintignant

Grégori Derangère

Daniel Auteuil

Gérard Depardieu

Jean Reno

François Cluzet

Dany Boon

Mathieu Almaric

Gad Elmaleh

Guillaume Canet

Stéphane Freiss

Jacques Dutronc

Patrick Bruel

Jacques Gamblin

Roschdy Zem

Benoît Magimel

Melvil Poupaud

Gilles Lellouche

Fabrice Luchini

Jean-Pierre Léaud

Kad Merad

Pierre Arditi

François Berléand

Philippe Noiret

Yvan Attal

Maurice Bénichou

Denis Podalydès

Lambert Wilson

Alain Delon

Michel Piccoli

Jean Gabin

Edouard Baer

Lino Ventura

Dominique Pinon

André Dussollier

Hippolyte Girardot

Jean Rochefort

Jean-Claude Brialy