Friday, October 18, 2013

Le Joli Mai at the Carlton

Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme's film Le Joli Mai starts its exclusive week-long theatrical run today, Friday October 18th, at the Carlton cinema.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cahiers du Cinéma: Comedy and Kechiche

"Why a praise of comedy today? In our «dix tares du cinéma d’auteur» published in our last December issue (which continues to serve us as a compass) there was prominently featured the fault of "papal seriousness" of all these auteur films that by force of being so serious become unwatchable or succumb to be involuntarily comic. The cinema that we defend reserve instead a distance, an irony, an elegance, whether it is David Cronenberg, Wes Anderson, Hong Sang- soo, Leos Carax, Harmony Korine or JJ Abrams. This is the mark of great filmmakers to mix genres with ease and to create ruptures of tone. The two surprise successes of this summer surprises, L’Inconnu du lac by Alain Guiraudie and Frances Ha by Noah Baumbach, are shining examples. Regarding the renewing of French cinema in these last few months, the films rely much of their approach on comedy (La Bataille de Solférino by Justine Triet, La Fille du 14 Juillet by Antonin Peretjatko). After our praise of eroticism last year, and our praise of lyricism there were a few months ago, this issue participates in this same tradition and reaffirms our focus on a cinema of strong emotions, against that of being mild or shy or well-behaved, which has been developing just about everywhere. To praise comedy presupposes some kind of idea about comedy. A conception that is not at all weak. [ ...] This is the adjective of the wildest comedies: Magnificent because it is poetic. It has to do with temporal shortcuts, differences between one’s age and body, falls that are fast and slow, the invention of gestures that are unforgettable, and becoming a child or animal again and to make others laugh and marvel. Magnificent because it is passionate. These films shine by their candor and their praise of friendship or l’amour fou between characters that "are pure in their heart and feeble doing everything else," like they say in the latest Farrelly brothers film." - Stéphane Delorme (Editorial Comédie, N.692)

"The logic of this issue follows a montage between two French filmmakers, an assembly that concentrated all our forces: Abdellatif Kechiche, crowned with the Palme d'Or for La Vie d’Adèle, and John Grémillon, the eternal maudit of French cinema. We won’t hide the fact that Kechiche’s film divided us, perhaps primarily because the film itself is divided. The two chapters are more like two episodes then like two moments of a demonstration, similar to the films of Stanley Kubrick, a master of films broken into two (and which Adèle cites in the film as her favorite filmmaker). [ ... ] There is no specific actuality about Grémillon going on right now, but there has been a slow accumulation of events in the last three years that has him returning always more deeper into our spirits. There was the publishing of his remarkable writing about the cinema, and the release of his films from Gaumont of Daïnah la métisse, Pattes blanches et L’Amour d’une femme, and coming out in November there will be Lumière d’été. If we don’t do a Grémillon event now, if we don’t press this as a major and urgent actuality, he will again not find his place in Cahiers and a new generation might overlook him. We remember the last failure, it was ten years ago, when the rooms of his retrospective at the Cinémathèque remained half empty. Systematically missing Grémillon is to refuse to enter into what the French cinema can truly offer which is the most beautiful, intense and tender: the best." - Stéphane Delorme (Editorial Kechiche/Grémillon, N.693)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Je suis fâché!

The Cahiers du cinéma chief-editor Stéphane Delorme has been carving a unique editorial position for the magazine since he took the role in 2009. Every new issue gradually builds on this editorial and aesthetic position by way of appreciations, polemics, and an engagement with the actualities of cinema in Paris. But even though the general tone of Delorme's writings is appreciative and authoritative - opening the magazine with his editorial that puts the whole rest of the issue in perspective - sometimes there is an underlining frustration and anger that seeps through.

This clash with the rest of the French film criticism establishment can be seen in each issue in their Le Conseil des Dix section that compares their writers taste and evaluation to critics from other major newspapers and magazines. But more directly this anger can be seen, and expressed, in some of the debates Delorme has participated in on the French radio channels France Inter and France Culture. The most recent one is a round table on contemporary French cinema with Delorme, which builds upon a previous Cahiers essay that also became a podcast Pour un cinéma qui nous exalte!. Delorme has also participated in a fierce debate about American Cinema, and in another podcast, in a different register, he praises the films of childhood with a special emphasis on Steven Spielberg's E.T.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Positif - Soderbergh

"Today I feel really detached from filmmaking," concludes Steven Soderbergh in an exclusive interview in the newest issue of Positif (September '13, N.631). The French film-criticism magazine is famous for its lengthy Dossiers and this one, Steven Soderbergh: À 50 Ans, put together by Michel Ciment and illustrated by Christian Viviani, with its 8 articles that take up 28 pages, overwhelms with is depth and breath.

It's not only of interest to general Soderbergh fans but to cinephilies everywhere as a Dossier in Positif is the equivalent of a symbolic gesture towards the history of cinema that this is a major event: the release of Soderbergh's 28th and apparently final film Behind the Candelabra.

As Ciment writes in the Dossier's introduction,
"Soderbergh begins in the last generation of American cinema, but he is distinguished from his contemporaries Tim Burton, the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino by the extreme diversity of his creative choices, by giving the impression of never wanting to impose his signature, which follows in the example of other great classic filmmakers like John Huston, who he cites several times in his interviews, which we are now publishing our 11th with him in this dossier."
This September issue comes after their special Summer issue (this year on Italian Neorealism) and it includes their yearly Rentrée française Actualité where they highlight three new French films (Critique + Entretien): Emmanuelle Bercot's Elle s'en va, Arnaud Desplechin's Jimmy P., François Ozon's Jeune et jolie (last year the films were Stéphane Brizé's Quelques heures de printemps, Noémie Lvovsky's Camille redouble and Christian Vincent's Les Saveurs du palais).

The only other Événement Critique is for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine which gets 2 essays, Franck Garbarz' L'art de détourner le regard and Eithne O'Neil's Un tramway nommé Argent, while the Actualités Critiques include: La danza de la realidad (surprisingly reviewed by Ciment, who usually just writes the Editorials), Gare du Nord, Ilo Ilo, and Moi et Toi. The other Présences du cinéma sections are up to their standard high quality, and the Le cinéma retrouvé section with reviews of Sept d'un coup, Fedora and Plein Soleil looks especially good.

But to return to the Soderbergh dossier which I will like to bring up to discuss what makes Positif particularly unique.

The review of Behind the Cadelabra is written by Jean-Loup Bourget, who is a senior Positif critic (having joined the magazine in 1971) and whose specialty is Classical Hollywood cinema (his most recent book is on Cecil B. DeMille, which is also reviewed in this issue). In his review, Narcisse à Las Vegas, Bourget provides a general biography of Liberace, contextualizing him along his pianist peers, is able to identify the film that Liberace appropriated the chandelier over the piano novelty (e.g. Charlers Vidor's A Song to Remember), and elevates the film to the level of Proust. This enthousiasm and artistic evaluation is typical of a good Positif Critique. The review's authority also comes from Bourget's reputation and that he does not contribute Critiques too often so when he does write them they stand out (his other recent review was for Before Midnight, which he compares to a Lubitsch film).

Along with the Critique and Entretien, the Soderbergh Dossier includes articles by Michael Henry on his entire career, Adrien Gombeaud on Soderbergh's post-American-economic-bubble-burst films, Fabien Gaffez on women protagonist in Soderbergh's films, Pierre Berthomieu on Soderbergh's transition to digital filmmaking, Alain Masson on the Ocean films, and Fabien Baumann reviews the DVD of Gray's Anatomy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Dirties at the Lightbox (Opens October 4th)

 The Dirties starts its theatrical run on Friday, October 4th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.