Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Alliance Française schedule

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm

At Alliance Française on Friday, November 7: Mauvais Sang / Bad Blood / The Night Is Young (1986) by Léos Carax – 116 mins – France, Crime/ Romance/ Drama. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 67 out of 100.

With Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant, Michel Piccoli, Hugo Pratt, Serge Reggiani, Hans Meyer.

The year of the Halley Comet. Two Rival gangs; one led by a mysterious black widow and the other led by Marc, Alex and Anna; want to get hold of an invention of a vaccine that can stop a threatening virus. In the meantime, a story of absolute love between Alex and Anna is flowering in a ghostly Paris…

Alliance description

Christian Checa Bañuz, Senses of Cinema: Leos Carax has stated on many occasions that “sister” is the most beautiful word for him. Incestuous relationships are a very important theme . . . In every Carax' film there is a dysfunctional family structure. In Mauvais sang, for instance, Marc (Michel Piccoli) acts as the father, Hans as the mother and Anna and Alex as brother and sister – in the scenes where they play, like the one with the shaving foam, they truly act as if they were siblings. But Alex desires his sister, Anna, who is inevitably in love with their father, Marc.

The New York Times: The pictures are in charge in Léos Carax's "Bad Blood." Most of the scenes seem to have been improvised in the interests of a striking shot, and the characters are in thrall to the camera. In this, his second feature, Mr. Carax lives up to his billing as "the natural heir of Jean- Luc Godard," showing a taste for underground types and milieus, an inventive eye and a tolerance for tedium.

At Alliance Française on Friday, November 14: Diva (1981) by Jean-Jacques Beineix – 117 mins – France, Action/ Drama/ Mystery/ Romance/ Thriller/ Music. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 80 out of 100.

With Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez, Frédéric Andréi, Richard Bohringer, Thuy An Luu.

Jules is a postman who’s mad about Opera. His is crazy about Cynthia Hawkins, a Diva who refuses to have any album of her own; so he tries to record her voice illegally but he is in trouble with pirate disc dealers…

Alliance description

Variety: Diva is an extraordinary thriller and first film from Jean-Jacques Beineix, complex, stylish and fast-moving.

The story [from the novel by Delacorta] involves a young mail courier (Frederic Andrei) with a passion for opera. His idol, Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez), has made a career of avoiding the recording studio but the industrious young man manages to covertly make a high-quality tape of her Paris performance. At the same time, a prostitute hides a cassette recording she's made in his delivery motorcycle putting the finger on a drug kingpin before she's killed.

His only ally is a mysterious, shadowy character, Gorodish (Richard Bohringer), who lives with a Vietnamese nymphet (Thuy An Luu). Character has been popularized in a series of French novels and provides an element of fun to the picture, popping up to help the hero throughout the story.

The director dots the tale with bizarre types who continually cross each other's paths and wind up doing more harm to each other than to the young postman. The novel touches, bizarre chases and plot twists, breathtaking camerawork by Philippe Rousselot and tension-filled editing, make Diva a superior piece of entertainment.

Roger Ebert: Here is an exhilarating film made for no better purpose than to surprise and fascinate. … The plot is both preposterous and delightful, put together out of elements that seem chosen for their audacity.

At Alliance Française on Friday, November 21: Cause toujours ! / Me and My Sister (2004) by Jeanne Labrune – 87 mins – France, Comedy. English subtitles.

With Victoria Abril, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Sylvie Testud.

My first is a moth (exasperating)

My second is a mute (enigmatic)

My third is a house (worrying)

My all is a film, which takes the form of a fantasy, about mistrust and its contrary: trust.

Alliance description

James Travers, Filmsdefrance: Summary

Whilst Jacinthe becomes obsessed with the insects which seem to be taking over her apartment, her best friend Léa takes an interest in an apparently dumb middle aged man who works in a supermarket. One day, whilst en route for a stay in the countryside, Léa sees the dumb man on a train and follows him to his home. Not having seen Léa for several days, Jacinthe becomes concerned for her safety…


Intended as the closing installment in a loose trilogy of films (the first two being Ça ira mieux demain (2000) and C'est le bouquet! (2002)) Cause toujours! is one of those gentle comedies which starts out well but just fails to take off. Part of the problem is that its writer/director Jeanne Labrune seems to have embarked on the project without a clear idea about where the story is heading, who the characters are, or indeed what kind of film it is. Consequently, the film feels listless and disjointed, a pot pourri of interesting but pretty random ideas. The numerous thriller references are clumsy and an unwelcome distraction, whilst the jokes are much too obvious to make you laugh. The film has a great cast who do what they can, but the lackluster script and aimless direction greatly diminishes its enjoyment value.

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