At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
At Alliance Française on Friday, December 12: Les Brigades du Tigre / The Tiger Brigades (2006) by Jérôme Cornuau – 125 mins – France, Action/ Adventure. English subtitles.
With Clovis Cornillac, Diane Kruger, Edouard Baer, Jacques Gamblin, Thierry Frémont, Léa Drucker, Aleksandr Medvedev, Gérard Jugnot.
In 1907, an unprecedented crime wave strikes Belle Époque France. To counter the criminals of the new-born century, the Interior Minister, George Clemenceau, nicknamed "the Tiger,” creates modern special police force called "les Brigades Mobiles.” The French call them "les Brigades du Tigre.”
– Alliance description
The film, set in 1912, is about the exploits of France's first motorized police brigade. IMDb viewer: a lavish and rather enjoyable French movie spin off of a much-loved TV series, a sort of “Les Untouchables” about an elite quartet of crime fighters taking on Russian anarchists, crooked politicians and embezzlers in 1912 in the run-up to the signing of the Triple Entente between Russia, France and Britain that would make the First World War an inevitability. The film suffers from the lack of a memorable Al Capone-like opponent and there are no shootouts at train stations (though it does all revolve around a coded ledger) but there is a particularly good one at a farmhouse that draws a crowd of approving visiting aristocrats to watch as if it were a grouse shoot and a rather spectacular assassination at a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's “Ivan the Terrible”. But rather than a straight-out gangster movie, this is a period conspiracy thriller that naturally takes a slightly leftist leaning despite the heroes being the mobile brigades who tended to lean more to the right, and there is a sense of the film trying to have its moral cake and eat it at times with the characters' divided political sympathies occasionally seeming more like demographic-appeasing on behalf of the producers: Clovis Cornillac's cop even delivers a speech about what standup guys anarchists are just to reassure the modern target audience in the banlieues that these cochons are cool anti-establishment types.
At Alliance Française on Friday, December 19: 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.
Lost at Sea: In 1981, Beineix's Diva was a forerunner of the Cinema du Look movement that would come to hold a prominent role in the French films of the following decade. Wikipedia defines the movement as one that "referred to films that had a slick visual style and a focus on young, alienated characters that were said to represent the marginalized youth of Francois Mitterrand’s France." Common themes within the genre included alienation and doomed love, with a focus on the conflicted state of the country's youth and the frequent use of the Paris Metro. Beineix's wonderful film incorporates all of these aspects and more, showcasing a director truly fascinated by the possibilities of filmmaking and the tools of color, music, sound, and mise-en-scene. Diva is clearly a thriller, but one with very little action; the first car chase, minor as it is, doesn't occur until well past the film's halfway mark.
At Alliance Française on Friday, December 26: No film shown. Holiday!