At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
At Alliance Française on Friday, March 27: 13 m² / 13m2 (2007) by Barthélémy Grossmann – 84 mins – France Crime/ Drama/ Thriller. Black and white. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 82 out of 100.
With Barthélémy Grossmann, Youssef Hajdi, Thierry Lhermitte, Lucien Jean-Baptiste.
Jose is looking for a way out of his small time banlieue deals. When he overhears a conversation between his girlfriend and his step-brother, he might just have found a very lucrative way. Together with his two best friends, he decides to attack an armored vehicle, full of cash. But everything goes wrong and they're forced into hiding, in a 13 square meters bunker. There, they will have to test their friend-ship, their motivations, as every move outside triggers even more paranoia...
– Alliance description
A first-time directing effort by actor Barthélémy Grossmann, who also wrote the script. After the hold-up of an armored lorry, José, Farouk, and Réza take refuge in a hideout measuring 13m². Shut away with the money and a tarnished conscience, the relationships and personalities of the three friends are revealed with the passing lies and conflicts that this oppressive situation triggers. Each excursion into the real world from now on presents a threat. Will they manage to overcome their fate and make a fresh start?
At Alliance Française on Friday, April 3: L'Atalante / Le Chaland qui passe (1934) by Jean Vigo – 88 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. Black and white. No English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 87 out of 100.
With Michel Simon, Dita Parlo, Jean Dasté.
When Juliette marries Jean, she comes to live on his ship, on board of which are, besides the two of them, only a cabin boy and the strange old second mate Père Jules. Soon bored by life on the river, she slips off to see the nightlife when they come to Paris. Angered by this, Jean sets off, leaving Juliette behind. Overcome by grief and longing for his wife, Jean falls into a depression and Père Jules goes and tries to find Juliette…
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes Synopsis: Considered by critics to be one of the 20th century's best films, L'Atalante is the final work of French director Jean Vigo's (Zero For Conduct) tragically brief, but brilliant career. After their wedding, Juliette (Dita Parlo) and Jean (Jean Daste) set out on L'Atalante, the river barge that Jean captains. In a scene representative of the film's lovely, poetic cinematography, Juliette, both desiring and fearing her new life, wistfully walks atop the length of the barge, wedding dress fluttering in the wind. The couple soon settles into wedded bliss, with the companionship of quirky, tattooed bargeman Pere Jules. He provides many of the film's unexpected comedic moments (watch for the plethora of cats, and the cigarette smoking belly button). Trouble arises, however, as Jean continually foils Juliette's attempts to learn more of life by listening to the radio and exploring the barge's ports. When a charming traveling salesman/entertainer (Gilles Margaritis) entices Juliette with stories of the charm of Paris, she decides to venture out on her own. The question of whether Jean and Julliette's love will win out over their conflicting ideas, along with the naturalistic, dreamlike visual world that Vigo creates, will keep viewers enraptured to the end.
Passing note: The film's much-lauded cinematography was by Boris Kaufman, the brother of Soviet film maker Dziga Vertov. He would later go on to shoot Hollywood films such as On the Waterfront (1954).
Wikipedia: The film has been praised for its prescient poetic realist style, but it also includes surprising surrealist passages, such as the double exposure Michel Simon wrestling match and a scene in which Jean jumps into the river. Upon its release, the French art historian Elie Faure found the film "classical, almost violent and always tormented, fevered, overflowing with ideas and with fantasy; truculent; a virulent and even demonical romanticism that still remains humanistic".
The film became a favorite of the filmmakers of the French New Wave, whose films contain many allusions to Vigo's work. The French director Francois Truffaut fell in love with it when he saw it at age 14 in 1946: "When I entered the theater, I didn't even know who Jean Vigo was. I was immediately overwhelmed with wild enthusiasm for his work".
L'Atalante was chosen as the 10th-greatest film of all time in British journal Sight & Sound's 1962 poll, and as the 6th-best in its 1992 poll.
At Alliance Française on Friday, April 10: L'Ami de mon amie / My Girlfriend's Boyfriend / Boyfriends and Girlfriends (1987) by Eric Rohmer – 102 mins – France, Comedy. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 78 out of 100.
With Emmanuelle Chaulet, Sophie Renoir, Anne-Laure Meury, Eric Viellard.
Blanche has recently moved to Cergy-Pontoise, to work at the town hall. During a lunch break she meets the vivacious and immediately likeable Léa. Although not fond of sports, Léa agrees to go swimming with Blanche, at the local pool. There they meet Alexandre, one of Lea's acquaintances, along with Adrienne, his current girlfriend. Blanche finds herself under the spell of the young engineer. The holidays arrive. Léa leaves while Blanche stays on. By chance, Blanche bumps into Alexandre in the street. She clumsily tries to make a pass at him. Soon she's also bumping into Fabien, Léa's boyfriend...
– Alliance description
Roger Ebert: Rohmer knows exactly what he is doing here. He has no great purpose, but an interesting small one: He wants to observe the everyday behavior of a new class of French person, the young professionals whose values are mostly materialistic, whose ideas have been shaped by popular culture, who do not read much, or think much about politics, or have much depth.