Lincoln Center's Rendez-Vous with French Cinema Series to Fete 12 U.S. Premieres
by Brian Brooks
Plans for New York's annual affair with French film have been released, with 12 U.S. premieres and three New York premieres included in the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series taking place March 11-20 in Manhattan. The program, sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Unifrance and the French Film Office/Unifrance USA together with the French Cultural Services, will open with André Téchiné's 2005 Berlinale Golden Bear competition love drama "Les Temps qui changent" (Changing Times), starring Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu.
Director Benoît Jacquot returns to the U.S. with his latest "Bonnie and Clyde" inspired film, "A tout de suite." "The Flower of Evil" director Claude Chabrol will screen his film "La Demoiselle d'honneur" (The Bridesmaid) in the series. The film, adapted from a novel by Ruth Rendell, is the story of a man who falls for a bridesmaid at his sister's wedding, with a drama that ensues.
2004 Cannes competition feature "Clean" by Olivier Assayas, starring Maggie Cheung as the wife of a faded rock star, who later overdoses.
In all, 17 films will screen in the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. Last year, 40 films from France were released in the United States, earning $73 million at the box office. France produces over 200 films per year.
The complete lineup (information provided by the Film Society of Lincoln Center:
"36 Quai des Orfèvres" directed by Olivier Marchal
One of the big French box-office hits of 2004, "36 Quai des Orfèvres" pits Daniel Auteuil against Gérard Depardieu in a taut, atmospheric thriller set in the shadowy world of a Parisian police section fighting organized crime. Nominated for 8 Césars, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Daniel Auteuil), Best Supporting Actor (André Dussollier), Best Supporting Actress (Mylène Demongeot), Best Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Editing.
"A tout de suite" directed by Benoît Jacquot
"Shot in stunning black&white on digital video, "A tout de suite" is a period piece of a kind; set in 1975, it feels completely contemporary. It is a timeless story: Jacquot has said that its tale of lovers on the run is the stuff of classic movie drama..." -- Piers Handling, 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. A selection of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. A Cinema Guild Release.
"Les Temps qui changent" (Changing Times) directed by André Téchiné
There's an extraordinary sense of warmth to André Téchiné's lovely new film. The warmth comes not only from the powerful Moroccan sunlight that fills almost every scene, but also from the tremendous rapport between the director and his actors, whose performances are so open, at times so vulnerable, that they express levels of emotion rarely felt in movies. Nominated for the César for Best Promising Actor, Malik Zidi.
"Holy Lola" directed by Bertrand Tavernier
With his customary perceptiveness, Bertrand Tavernier has zeroed in on one of the most sensitive of contemporary issues: international adoptions. Pierre and Geraldine (Jacques Gamblin and Isabelle Carré) have been trying to have a child. Deciding to adopt, they head to Cambodia to begin the process: getting the proper clearance from the French Embassy, bringing documents to the Cambodian government officials.
"Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants" (Happily Ever After) directed by Yvan Attal
Three male friends in contemporary Paris face their present lives and even more nervously their uncertain futures -- meaning, Is This All There Is? Vincent (Yvan Attal) and Georges (Alain Chabat) are both married and fathers; their friend Fred is still single and seemingly possesses one of the finest little black books in town. "Happily Ever After" more than confirms the promise of his debut and signals Attal as one of the best guides to contemporary love and romance. A selection of the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. A Kino International Release.
"J'me sens pas belle" (Tell Me I'm Pretty) directed by Bernard Jeanjean
Thirty-something Fanny has had enough of lonely nights. Tonight she's prepared: a fine meal, soft lights, sexy underwear, just the right music. Now all she needs is for her cute co-worker Paul to show up like he said he would. But such a setup wasn't exactly what Paul was expecting. For his first film, director Bernard Jeanjean takes on an extraordinary challenge: to create a romantic comedy located principally in one setting with only two actors. It's remarkable how brilliantly he succeeds.
Clara et Moi (Clara and Me) directed by Arnaud Viard
As his 33rd birthday approaches, struggling actor Anton decides that it's time for him to settle down. The only problem is that he's not really with anybody at the moment. Then, one day on the Metro, there she is: Clara, smart and funny, not to mention beautiful. A selection of the 2004 Montréal Film Festival.
"Innocence" directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic
"Youthful joy and the menace of impending adulthood may seem the familiar stuff of cinema. But by knocking these themes out of the orbit of social realism and into a netherworld of seemingly utopian science fiction, Lucile Hadzihalilovic reconceives coming of age in unexpected and daringly original ways." -- Noah Cowan, 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. A selection of the 2004 Montréal and Toronto International Film Festivals.
"Les Fautes d'orthographe" (Spelling Mistakes) directed by Jean-Jacques Zilbermann
We're in France at the beginning of the 70s. Daniel Massu is fifteen but looks thirteen. His father and mother are, respectively, the principal and head of studies at a boarding school. For years, as one of the school's day students, Daniel was pretty much able to escape their notice, but now his father has decided that it would be good for his son to join the other students in the dormitory. Dorm life is a revelation for Daniel... Nominated for the César for Best Promising Actor, Damien Jouillerot.
"Le Rôle de sa vie" (The Role of Her Life) directed by François Favrat
A freelancer at a fashion magazine, Claire Rocher (Karin Viard) is assigned to do a story about film star Elisabeth Becker (Agnès Jaoui). After some initial missed signals, the two women seem to hit it off, and Elisabeth offers Claire a job as her personal assistant. At first Claire is taken aback, as she's always prided herself on her independence. Yet the chance to get close to an actress she admires, and to experience something of her world, proves a temptation she can't resist. Winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 2004 Montréal Film Festival, and nominated for the César for Best Actress, Karin Viard.
"Les Soeurs fâchées" (Me and My Sister) directed by Alexandra Leclère
Two of France's finest actors -- Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Frot -- go mano a mano in this unsettling comedy about the troubled reunion of two sisters.
"Le Silence" (The Silence) directed by Orso Miret
A hallmark of contemporary French film production is a kind of regionalism that finds filmmakers working in some of the lesser-known areas of the country, revealing what remains of local cultures and ways of life. The Silence is set in Corsica, home of Napoleon and a part of France much in the news recently. Olivier (Mathieu Demy) and his pregnant girlfriend Marianne (Natacha Régnier) come to spend a few weeks on holiday there.
"La Demoiselle d'honneur" (The Bridesmaid) directed by Claude Chabrol
If, like Japan, France could nominate its artists as "national living treasures," Claude Chabrol would surely be among the first filmmakers so honored. In a career that spans almost fifty years, Chabrol has meticulously exposed the darker, seamy underside of the well-ordered world of the French middle class. A selection of the 2004 Venice Film Festival.
"Ne quittez pas!" (Local Call) directed by Arthur Joffé
"Local Call" is a Jewish cell-phone comedy taking place in Paris and a father-and-son fable. Félix Mandel (Castellitto) is sweet and deeply nostalgic by nature, but his wife, floored that he would see his childhood girlfriend to try to relive his first love, tosses out everything in his overflowing home office, leaving only the cashmere overcoat that belonged to his dead father, Lucien.
"Clean" directed by Olivier Assayas
"Maggie Cheung has rarely looked so bad and hurt so good as in 'Clean', Olivier Assayas's film about a junkie struggling to kick. A tough look at addiction -- its seductions, stratagems, and self-immolating logic -- the film stars Cheung as the wife and would-be manager of a faded rock star." -- Manohla Dargis, Film Comment, Jul/Aug 04. Winner of Best Actress for Maggie Cheung at Cannes 2004, and a selection of the 2004 Montréal and Toronto International Film Festivals. Nominated for Césars for Best Actress (Maggie Cheung) and Best Cinematography (Eric Gautier). A Palm Pictures Release.
"L'Intrus" (The Intruder) directed by Claire Denis
"With each new film, Claire Denis becomes more daringly cinematic, eschewing convention and seeking a unique visual language to tell her stories... In The Intruder, conventional narrative storytelling has been replaced by an attempt to tell a story in purely visual and aural terms. The dialogue has been stripped down to bare essentials, while the image -- sumptuous CinemaScope color shot with incomparable skill by Agnès Godard -- assumes a privileged position..." -- Piers Handling, 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. A selection of the 2004 Toronto, Montréal and Venice International Film Festivals.
"Quand La Mer Monte..." (When the Sea Rises) directed by Gilles Porte and Yolande Moreau
Winner of the prestigious Louis Delluc Prize for Best First Film, as well as a surprise box-office success, "When the Sea Rises" chronicles a few weeks in the life of Irène, an actress traveling across the north of France putting on a one-woman show (A Dirty Business) in town halls and makeshift theaters. Nominated for Césars for Best First Film and Best Actress (Yolande Moreau).