To follow from my Rome-locations film list which I made last April, this is a list of 10 films that showcase the City of Light – Paris, a place for romance, charm, mystery, elegance and sophistication. As usual, this is a subjective, in no particular order, slightly “off the beaten path” films list.
I. Amelie (2001)
This romantic comedy, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen (1991)) and starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz, could be described as the very definition of whimsical Paris. The film is set around Montmartre, a place that once nurtured writers and painters, and is about a shy waitress, Amélie Poulain, who is seemingly on the mission to better the lives of those around her. Set in Montmartre, the film features the Basilica du Sacre-Coeur, and Café des Deux Moulins (15 rue Lepic) where Amélie works. However, the film also displays such sights as the distinctive staircase leading to the Métro Lamarck-Caulaincourt, as well as the Pont des Arts.
II. Breathless (1961)
A “New Wave” film-critic-turned-director Jean-Luc Godard produced in 1960 his directional debut À Bout de Souffle or Breathless, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg as Michel Poiccard and Patricia Franchini respectively, and what a debut it turned out to be! Breaking from previous confined film traditions, Breathless is a thriller and a love story in one package, showcasing such famous Parisian landmarks as Avenue des Champs-Élysées, l’Arc de Triomphe, and the Notre-Dame de Paris, while action also takes place around Avenues Mac-Mahon and George V (George V Métro station) and the Boulevard Saint-Germain. The final tense scenes take place not far from the Boulevard du Montparnasse – Rue Campagne Première.
Continue reading “Paris: 10 Great Films Set in the City”
It’s Only the End of the World  – ★★★★
This is my second post for the amazing O Canada! Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings and Kristina of Speakeasy (check out some of the amazing entries here).
“There I was…after twelve years of absence, and in spite of my fear, I was going to visit them. In life, there are a number of motivations…that force you to leave, without looking back. And there are just as many motivations that force you to return. So, after all those years, I decided to retrace my steps. Take the journey…to announce my death.” Such are the thoughts of a young man named Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) as he takes a plane journey to visit his estranged family after twelve years of absence. Louis suffers from a terminal illness, which means that death is at his doorstep. Few directors working today can convey the depth of emotion through a cinematic lense as masterfully as Xavier Dolan can, and It’s Only the End of the World is yet another film which is a proof of that statement. In this film, Dolan demonstrates that he can exercise visual restraint, but It’s Only the End of the World still ends up being as potent, emotionally-moving and convincing as his previous work.
Continue reading “The O Canada! Blogathon: Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World (2016)”
Ruth of Silver Screenings and Kristina of Speakeasy are hosting the O Canada! Blogathon to celebrate all things Canada in film and TV, and I thought I would contribute because Canadian cinematography is close to my heart. It has always tried to be different and often experimented. Xavier Dolan, my choice for this blogathon, is no different. He is a Montreal, Quebec-born film director who produced his first major film I Killed My Mother (2009), that received numerous awards, at the age of 20, and who then went to direct five other award-winning films, with his seventh film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (2018) currently being in production. I will focus on two of his films: Laurence Anyways (2012) and It’s Only the End of the World (2016).
Laurence Anyways  – ★★★★★
Xavier Dolan writes unusual films with equally unusual presentations, but his stories are always full of humanity and bare human emotion, and, thus, they are always relatable. Laurence Anyways is one of those films. It is a beautiful and daring French-language film about the enduring power of love that trespasses the boundaries of societal conventions.
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Some of these films do not contain nudity or contain only limited nudity. The references to eroticism/erotica and sensuality may be only subtle, but powerful. Incidentally, three of the films below are by British director Adrian Lyne (Jacob’s Ladder (1990)) and two – by Italian film master Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash (2015)). In no particular order:
1.) In The Mood for Love (2000)
2.) Betty Blue (1986)
3.) Call Me by Your Name (2017)
4.) The English Patient (1996)
5.) The Handmaiden (2016)
Continue reading “20 Unmissable Erotically-Charged Films”
Maddy at Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is hosting the Horrorathon, celebrating horror movies in the light of the forthcoming Halloween, and I have decided to contribute with a review of one intelligent and highly influential film which some view to be one of the precursors to the modern psychological horror/thriller genre.
Les Diaboliques  – ★★★★1/2
🛀 A true classic in the suspenseful thriller/horror genre, with a twist “to die for”.
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s French-language film Les Diaboliques is the film which Alfred Hitchcock was dying to make, but never did. The film is not a strictly horror film, but, rather, a psychological thriller with suspense and horror elements combined. In this story, two women, Christina and Nicole, the wife and the mistress of the oppressing director of a boarding school respectively, decide to kill their man and then dispose of his body. Everything goes according to plan, but does it, really? After the murder, the two women realise that the corpse of their victim is nowhere to be found and the mystery seems to deepen with each passing day.
Continue reading “The Horrorathon: Les Diaboliques (1955)”
The Odyssey  – ★★★
“No, no, no, you did not understand, no…I am not making animal documentaries. I am going to tell the story of men who are going to explore a new world” (Jacques Cousteau in The Odyssey).
I grew up watching Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s TV documentaries, amazed at all the underwater world, unusual sea animals and Cousteau’s adventures. Now, there is a French-language biopic starring Lambert Wilson as Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Pierre Niney as his son Philippe and Audrey Tautou as Cousteau’s wife Simone. The film explores Cousteau’s life from the late 1940s until about the 1970s, showing his journey from an underwater enthusiast to a TV celebrity, not forgetting his private life. A passionate explorer, Jacques Cousteau was indeed a pioneer in marine research and exploration, practically inventing underwater breathing equipment, and very slowly in his career moving from unethical handling of the marine world to promoting the protection of environment. Ironically, the biopic provides little insight into the personality of Jacques Cousteau, and in terms of drama, the film is stale. However, thanks to the beautiful score composed by Alexandre Desplat (The Painted Veil (2006)) and Matias Boucard’s rich cinematography, there are other things here to contemplate and enjoy.
Continue reading ““The Odyssey” Review”
Raw  – ★★★★
🥩 A staggering film debut with “unflinching” gore and disturbing atmosphere, reviving the best of what became known as the New French Extremity movement.
Julia Ducournau’s debut feature film Raw provoked extreme reactions from critics and audiences alike. However, despite its grim story and graphic imagery, the film still managed to gain its critical acclaim. Raw is a French-language film about an adolescent girl Justine (Garance Marillier) who enters her first year at a veterinary school in France. There, Justine joins her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf), and soon realises that the life of first-year students at the school is not an easy ride, and her recently-acquired (and initially forced) passion for raw meat is the cause for major concern. Realistic in its presentation, the film is known for its graphic scenes of cannibalism, but, ironically, its most shocking element is not the immoral craving of another human’s flesh, but the film’s ghastly and disturbing setting.
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Elle  – ★★★★
A Dutch director known for Basic Instinct (1992) and Total Recall (1990), Paul Verhoeven has produced his first French-language film to date – Elle, based on a novel by Philippe Dijan (who is also known as a writer behind Betty Blue (1986)). Elle has already competed for a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2016, and deals with a very sensitive topic of a rape perpetuated on a successful businesswoman Michele Leblanc, whose complex relationship with her family and the deep-seated psychological childhood trauma all lead her to have an unconventional response to the attack. This film is as disturbing as it is engrossing, and, overall, proves to be a satisfying experience, thanks to the outstanding performance by Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher (2001)) and to the masterful (though also slightly confusing) mix of a psychological thriller, a Hitchcockian detective story and French black humour.
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Two Days, One Night  – ★★1/2
Two Days, One Night is a critically acclaimed French-language film directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, probably better known for their previous film The Kid with a Bike (2011). The plot is uncomplicated: Belgium; a depressed married mother of two Sandra (Marion Cotillard) is having problems at work. The management of her solar-panels-making company proposed to make Sandra redundant if the majority of the staff (9 out of 16 workers) agrees to do so (there will be a secret vote). If the majority votes for Sandra to be redundant, each of the workers will receive €1,000 bonus, but will also be required to work slightly longer hours. In that vein, the film portrays the two days and one night which Sandra spends trying to convince her co-workers to vote in favour of her staying with the company (and against their bonus).
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