White Material

Amid the tumult of helicopters urging French nationals to flee for their safety and well-being, a French family struggles to save its coffee plantation. Pulled in competing directions, confused by the pace of events that unfold both within their compound and out on the streets of the neighbouring village, they have been labelled “white material,” and local radio stations warn that their day is over. Surrounded by the violence and chaos of civil war, they find themselves virtually powerless against the forces of history that swirl around them. With this threat of impending disaster as a backdrop, Denis uses her significant skill to tell the story of Maria (Isabelle Huppert), manager of the Café Vial plantation, who fights desperately to keep her life and business together. With her ex-husband at her side and her son violently propelled into the action, Maria must draw on all her resources to survive. At the same time, a legendary black hero, the Boxer (Isaach De Bankolé), also finds that his world has been turned upside down. Inevitably, the two are fated to meet. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]

35 Shots of Rum

Claire Denis, long known for her subtle, fluid and intriguing movies (“Beau Travail” is best known to U.S. audiences), sets her story in a Paris suburb: a widowed metro conductor, approaching retirement, lives with his beautiful grown daughter – the object of a neighbor’s romantic interest. The man’s former girlfriend also lives in their building and plays a role in their closely-knit lives. “35 Shots of Rum” considers the mysterious complexities that surround evolving relationships, whether romantic or parental. [Synopsis courtesy of Film Forum]

Venice 70: Future Reloaded

Made for the Venice Film Festival’s 70th anniversary, 70 filmmakers made a short film between 60 and 90 seconds long on their interpretation of the future of cinema

Friday Night

Paris, 1995. Laure (Valérie Lemercier) is about to meet friends for dinner to celebrate her moving in with her boyfriend. But on her way out, she discovers that the entire city is stalled by a massive transit strike. When a handsome stranger (Vincent Lindon) offers her a ride, Laure takes a highly charged, impossibly erotic detour.

Trouble Every Day

Beatrice Dalle and Vincent Gallo star in a disturbing film by Claire Denis. Music by the Tindersticks.

Beau Travail

Beau travail is a 1999 French movie directed by Claire Denis that is loosely based on Herman Melville’s novella Billy Budd. However, instead of the maritime setting of the novella, the movie takes place in Djibouti where the protagonists are soldiers in the French Foreign Legion. The film focuses on an ex-Foreign Legion officer as he recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in Africa.

The Intruder

Louis Trebor, a man nearing 70, lives alone with dogs in the forest near the French-Swiss border. He has heart problems, seeks a transplant, and then goes in search of a son sired years before in Tahiti. Told elliptically, with few words, we see Louis as possibly heartless, ignoring a son who lives nearby who is himself an attentive father to two young children, one named for Louis. He leaves his bed one night – and his lover – to kill an intruder; he dreams, usually of violence. Will his body accept his heart? Will his son accept his offer?

To the Devil

He is an Aluku man, one of the five tribes of Maroons who survives in the forest during 400 years after escaping from the Dutch sugarcane plantations. All the Maroons are issued originally from the West coast of Africa. They were taken as slaves.

Bastards

Acclaimed director Claire Denis’s jagged, daringly fragmented and darkest film is a genuinely contemporary film noir inspired by recent French sex ring scandals involving men of wealth and power. Vincent Lindon (Denis’s Friday Night) stars as Marco, a sea captain gone AWOL to avenge his brother-in-law’s suicide and to rescue his estranged sister and his teenaged niece (Lola Créton, Goodbye First Love); Chiara Mastroianni (A Christmas Tale) is Lindon’s married lover, who has sold her soul in exchange for the security of her young son; and the remarkable Michel Subor is her husband – a sleazy financier who is the very embodiment of an evil beyond comprehension.