Results tagged “French Cinema”

Spotlight on a Murderer (1961) Blu-ray Review: Illuminating French Proto-Slasher

A most unique mystery/black comedy from Georges Franju receives a long-overdue opportunity to shine in the US thanks to Arrow Academy.
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To the trained eye of an advanced mystery movie sleuth, spotting the writing team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac as the authors of the film you're about to experience is a darn good indication you're in for a treat. Sure enough, Georges Franju's 1961's mystery, Pleins feux sur l'assassin ‒ which shall be referred to henceforth by its English title, Spotlight on a Murderer ‒ is such a treat. While it may have only been the third feature film for the late visionary filmmaker, Spotlight on a Murderer should serve as an inarguable example of just how far one

The Jacques Rivette Collection Blu-ray Review: New Wave, Old Hat

Arrow Academy releases a trio of lengthy, esoteric, and surreal offerings which quickly turn into a case of 'mise-en-seen it.'
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Sooner or later in life, everyone reaches a point where personal obsessions and rather weird views seem to overtake either their private or professional output. Indeed, Arrow Academy's box set of The Jacques Rivette Collection presents one such unique phase from one of the men most commonly associated with the French New Wave period. By the time he made the movies included in this six-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo ‒ Duelle (Une quarantaine), Noroît (Une vengeance) (both 1976), and Merry-Go-Round (1981) ‒ Jacques Rivette had veered off of the road less traveled he and his contemporaries had become so famous for frequenting.

The Jacques Rivette Collection Blu-ray Review: Not For Me

Experimental French films are interesting conceptually, but hard sailing to watch.
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Inspired by Jean Cocteau to become a filmmaker, Jacques Rivette moved to Paris in the 1950s began making short films and writing for the influential French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma. It was there he met Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, and Claude Chabrol. Together, they revived the critical consensus of American genre filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchock and John Ford and started the French New Wave (Rivette directed Le Coup de Berger, which is considered the first film in that movement). In early 1975, Rivette conceived of a film cycle consisting of four films using a made-up mythology

Ludwig (1973) Blu-ray Review: The Historical Epic Wherein Nothing Really Happens

Love it or hate it, Arrow Academy has unveiled an undeniably beautiful box set for one of Luchino Visconti's final films.
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I would only be slightly remiss were I to openly admit history was never my strongest subject in school. Truth be told, when I wasn't having assorted slurs shouted at me in the hallways or eluding those who wanted to stuff me in a locker, I was safe in my room at home watching movies most people had forgotten about. And the truly beautiful part about those otherwise terrible years was my ability to sit through even the longest, most boring film known to man and still be able to focus on it. Sadly, enduring great strides of monotony is

Valley of Love Movie Review: Isabelle and Gerard and the Goddamn Heat

Nicloux writes and directs this strange and lovely odyssey through Death Valley.
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Guillaume Nicloux writes and directs the considerate Valley of Love, which kind of has one foot in Maurice Pialat’s 1980 film Loulou and the other in a spectral inversion of reality. It positions its two glorious stars - Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu - nearly as themselves and dumps them in Death Valley. Valley of Love was France’s 2015 Cannes entry and it resonates as a classical road movie, putting two screen icons on a path to elusive elements like self-discovery, resolution, and peace. Nothing comes easy and Christophe Offenstein’s exceptional tracking shots ensure the audience is along for every

La Chienne Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Early Renoir is a Delight

Criterion does a masterful job of bringing an early sound picture to live.
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Life has not gone well for Maurice Legrand (Michel Simon). He works as a cashier for a hosiery company and is generally despised by his colleagues. In an opening scene, they openly mock and scorn him for being a wet blanket and for having to run home to his wife instead of going out on the town with them. The wife, too, rather deplores Maurice and spends nearly every moment of her time on screen berating him. The only pleasure the poor fellow gets from life is painting and even that is spat upon by his wife who declares he

Immoral Tales and The Beast Blu-ray Reviews: 1970's French Erotica

In which our hero has to ask himself, how much fake semen can one person handle?
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In my review of La Grande Bouffe, I noted that Arrow Films is second only to Criterion in creating masterful productions of interesting and obscure films. With their release of Immoral Tales and The Beast, I could easily add "obscene" and "pornographic" to that description. Or perhaps, "erotic arthouse" would be more suiting. I’m being intentionally flippant here which isn’t fair to the films (especially Immoral Tales which has its moments of artistic flair and depth of meaning behind its sex and rampant nudity) but after seeing two films back to back featuring enormous fake ejaculating penises, I can't help

La Grande Bouffe Blu-ray Review: A Feast For The Senses That Leaves One Overstuffed

Marco Ferreri's controversial film gets a grand treatment from Arrow Video, but leaves one filling a bit sick to the stomach.
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They say Catherine Deneuve refused to speak to her then lover Marcello Mastroianni for a week after seeing his performance in La Grande Bouffe. It created a huge stir at the Cannes Film Festival. It was rated X in America, banned outright in Italy, and became part of a censorship legal battle in Britain. It is surprising, then, just how tame the film seems from a modern angle. You’ll see more nudity and sex on a typical episode of Game of Thrones, more abandoned gluttony on any number of reality-television programs, and more scatological humor on any given night of

The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe Blu-ray Review: Forgettable but Fun French Farce

A spy comedy that's silly but never ridiculous.
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The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe is a '70s French spy comedy that never ventures into spoof or even too far into ridiculousness. It's not hilariously funny, nor so brilliant that it will replace anything on any of your top-ten lists. It is, however, a thoroughly enjoyable film with some hearty laughs and enough je ne sais quoi to keep you feeling happy the rest of the day. Like all good spy stories, the plot is as complicated as it is convoluted. France’s #2 man in counter-espionage, Bernard Milan (Bernard Blier), wants to discredit his chief, Louis Toulouse

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne / Island of Death Blu-ray Reviews

Much like The Damned before them, the folks at Arrow Video USA have fallen in love with some genuine video nasties.
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In Great Britain, they were banned from being made available to the public outright. In the United States of America, they usually wound up being released in a heavily altered form. And sometimes, even in their native countries, they wound up being the subjects of much controversy. I refer, of course, to those magical motion pictures that the former powers of the UK so unknowingly assigned the lovable nickname of "Video Nasties" to. Those various cannibal and/or zombie holocausts those of us who grew up without the Interwebs had to track down from mail-order companies advertised in the back of

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not DVD Review: A Movie So Nice You'll Watch It Twice

A fun take on both the romantic comedy and femme fatale genres and so cleverly constructed that I never minded its flaws.
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Halfway through He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not the film literally rewinds itself and starts at the beginning. Only this time we see things through the eyes of another character and the events take on a wildly different feel. I would warn you of spoilers here but that little plot device is literally on the back of the DVD cover. It's on the Amazon description too. And IMDB. Unless you come to this movie completely blind - catch it while flipping through the channels or something - you are going to know the trick. It's a clever trick at

The Bride Wore Black (1968) Blu-ray Review: The Roots of '70s Grindhouse Cinema

François Truffaut's homage to Hitchcock makes a stunning Blu-ray debut from Twilight Time.
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While it is frequently reiterated that we are unable to take it with us, it should be noted that we do manage to take some of it along into the next life. No, I'm not attempting to wax some fruity spiritualism on you here (that's a job for those weird people handing out pamphlets in parking lots to tackle), I'm actually referring to things such as fashion and entertainment. As each craze fades out, it carries a little bit with it over into the new (usually worse) fad. In the world of music, we witnessed punk music (the real kind,

The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears Blu-ray Review: Bizarre, Incomprehensible, and Mesmerizing

A hallucinatory fever dream of a film that is surprising, strange and wonderful.
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After watching The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, you’ll probably have a lengthy discussion with your viewing partner about style versus substance. That is if your partner hasn’t fallen asleep or left the theatre in a rage. It's the sort of film that will likely sharply divide its audiences. It's either a beautifully poetic, deeply intellectual masterpiece or pretentious trash depending on who you ask. The story for what there is (and what there is is very little) concerns a man, Dan (Klaus Tange), who comes home from a business trip to find his apartment door locked from the

Ernest & Celestine Blu-ray Review: A Tail of Two Cities

Oscar-nominated film is short on substance but long on style.
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One of the biggest surprise nominees at this year’s Academy Awards was this little-seen French animated film. Thanks to its new arrival on Blu-ray on June 17, it’s now readily accessible to the U.S. masses. This is a tale of two cities: the city above ground populated by bears, and the city underground populated by mice. The two tribes keep entirely to themselves, with mice being trained from childhood to avoid the fearsome bears at all costs, but adorable orphan mouse Celestine fantasizes about friendly bears in spite of the warnings of her elders. Meanwhile above ground, lovable oaf Ernest

The Right Stuff: 30th Anniversary Edition is the Pick of the Week

A classic American film about classic Americans gets the nod.
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Halloween has just ended. Thanksgiving is still weeks away. Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas? The makers of home video apparently think not for they sure have released a bunch of nice looking Blu-rays and DVDs that are sure to go on my Santa’s wish list. It was difficult to choose just one thing as my Pick of the Week, and likely I’ll change my mind if I think about it some more, but for now I’m going with the 30th anniversary of Phillip Kaufman’s masterful telling of the early days of the Space Race in The

Blue is the Warmest Color Movie Review: A Compelling Story About Love and Life

Three hours/ten years wasn't enough time to spend with Adele.
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Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue is the Warmest Color is a beautiful, coming-of-age story set over the course of about 10 years in the life of a young French woman named Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), beginning when she is a 15-year-old. While understandably controversial due to its graphic sexual content, what is most notable about the film is the normalcy of the relationship between Adèle and Emma (Lea Seydoux) because what they experience together could occur between any two people in love. Immediately upon seeing Adèle among her peers in school, she comes off more mature and above their pettiness. She begins dating

Eyes Without a Face Criterion Blu-ray Review: A Mesmerizing, Poetic Film

While it embraces the horror genre, it manages to rise above it as well and present itself as a masterful work of art.
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In the 1950s French critics and cultural purveyors thought that horror films were beneath them. Monsters and gore were not the sort of thing French filmmakers should bother with nor the cultured filmgoer should watch. The filmmakers mostly agreed but the public was becoming enamored with such British horror films as The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula. Producer Jules Borkon decided the critics could stuff it and embarked upon making a new French horror film. He enlisted director Georges Franju (a documentary filmmaker who was just then making his first fictional film, Head Against the Wall) to help
Director Édouard Molinaro considered the making of his La Cage aux Folles as "utter hell," but it's hard not to adore the final results. Now available on Blu-ray thanks to Criterion Collection, this French comedy is a farce with heart and a social conscience. It is a film as funny and necessary today as it was when it came out in 1978. The movie was based on the play of the same name by Jean Poiret. The production ran on stage for nearly 1,800 performances between 1973 and 1978. Poiret is among the writers of Molinaro's film version, bringing his

The Earrings of Madame de ... Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Direction of Max Ophuls Dazzles Like a Diamond

The entire experience of film, presentation, and extras makes it worth having.
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Director Max Ophuls' penultimate film The Earrings of Madame de ... is a classic French '50s melodrama that rivals its Hollywood contemporaries. The film tells a tragic love story, loosely based on Louise Leveque de Vilmorin's novel. So loosely in fact she can be seen in the special features saying, “they bought the title but they didn't adapt the book.” Regardless of how accurate an adaptation it is, The Earrings of Madame de ... succeeds because of the acting of its leads, the impressive cinematography, and the wonderful production design, all under the marvelous guidance of Ophuls. Louise, a countess

Shoah Criterion Collection DVD Review: Superb Release of Haunting, Tragic Film

Criterion Collection's release of Shoah is a superb packaging of the powerful, haunting Holocaust documentary.
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Shoah is a film about trains. Inside its nearly 10 hours of running time, the image and movement of the train itself is the most common visual motif. There are innumerable shots of trains moving, shots from inside trains, or mounted on the front of them. Though the camera rarely moves in the film, when it does, it often mimics the inexorable movement of the train, dollying forward slowly and surely on the subject which grows in the frame, particularly in shots of the camps. That's where these trains were going, in Eastern Europe in the '40s - Treblinka, Belzec,
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