Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Alliance Française schedule

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm


At Alliance Française on Friday, July 3:  La marche de l'empereur / March of the Penguins / The Emperor's Journey (2005) by Luc Jacquet – 85 mins – France, Documentary/ Family. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 79/78 out of 100. Note: This is the original French version, not the US release with Morgan Freeman narrating.


With Charles Berling, penguin father's voice; Romane Bohringer, penguin mother's voice; Jules Sitruk, penguin baby's voice.              


A film on the annual journey of Emperor penguins as they march, single file, to their traditional breeding ground in the Antarctic...

Alliance description

Rotten Tomatoes: Coming from a French director, Luc Jacquet, the miraculous March of the Penguins would have to be a love story. And so it is. The film explores the mating rituals of the emperor penguin, one of the most resilient animals on earth. Each summer, after a nourishing period of deep-sea feeding, the penguins pop up onto the ice and begin their procession across the frozen tundra of Antarctica. Walking doggedly in single file, they are a sight to behold. Hundreds converge from every direction, moving instinctively toward their mating ground. Once there, they mingle and chatter until they find the perfect mate--a monogamous match that will last a year, through the brutal winter and into the spring. During that time, the mother will give birth to an egg and then leave for the ocean to feed again. The father will stay to protect the egg through the freezing blizzards and pure darkness of winter, which would be deadly to practically any other species. Finally, with spring, the egg hatches and the baby penguins are born. Mothers return from the sea to reunite with their families and feed the starving newborns, while the fathers are finally relieved of their protective duties after months without food. This remarkable story is narrated by Morgan Freeman[not in this version], whose dignified voice gives the penguins the grave admiration they deserve. But even more incredible is the photography, which shows the penguins hunting underwater, sliding on the ice, and even what definitely looks like kissing. At one point the camera even zooms inside the mouth of a penguin as it regurgitates food for its young. A story of love and, more strikingly, survival, March of the Penguins is a stirring, eye-opening, and educational experience. 



At Alliance Française on Friday, July 10:  Le papillon / The Butterfly (2002) by Philippe Muyl– 85 mins – France, Comedy/Drama. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 64/66 out of 100.


With Michel Serrault, Claire Bouanich, Nade Dieu, Françoise Michaud, Hélène Hily.              


Julien, an aging and cranky widower, collects butterflies. Isabelle and her eight-year-old daughter Elsa have just moved into his apartment building. The young mother is usually out, and lonely little Elsa starts visiting Julien. One day, Julien decides to go to the breathtaking Vercors plateau in search for a rare breed of butterfly, the Isabelle. He thinks he is alone, but young Elsa has managed to tag along on the trip. The little girl asks tons of questions, upsetting the tranquility that the old man longed for...

Alliance description


Rotten Tomatoes: Writer-director Philippe Muyl delivers this tender French family drama about an unlikely bond that forms between a young girl and her elderly neighbor. Michel Serrault (Le Cage aux folles) is Julien, an aging butterfly collector who leads a quiet life. But when Elsa (Claire Bouanich) moves into the apartment above him, Julien's life takes on a new trajectory. Neglected by her mother, the inquisitive eight-year-old attaches herself to Julien and convinces him to take her on a trip to the mountains to try to locate Isabelle, a beautiful but elusive butterfly. At first skeptical, Julien relents--thinking that Elsa's mother has left her alone in the apartment--and the pair embark on their journey. As the journey unfolds, Julien shows Elsa the attention that she's been craving, and Elsa gives Julien a new lease on life, helping him to see the world through more innocent eyes. Back at home, Elsa's mother Isabelle (Nade Dieu) is shocked to discover that her daughter has disappeared. A near-tragedy brings the situation to a head, teaching each of the characters a very valuable lesson about life and love. Directed with extreme sensitivity by Muyl, The Butterfly features standout performances from the always reliable Serrault and newcomer Bouanich.


Available on DVD from



At Alliance Française on Friday, July 17:  Touchez pas au grisbi / Don’t Touch the Dough / Grisbi / Hands Off the Loot (1954) by Jacques  Becker – 95 mins – France/ Italy, Action/ Crime/ Drama/ Thriller. B&W. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 85/88 out of 100.


With Jean Gabin, René Dary, Jeanne Moreau, Dora Doll, Gaby Basset, Denise Clair, Michel Jourdan, and Daniel Cauchy


“Don’t Touch the Dough” Jacques Becker’s 1954 farce starring Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, and Jeanne Moreau visits the underworld of the Paris mafia and the two gangsters, now in their 50’s, who have decided to retire, just like everyone else...

Alliance description


An aging, world-weary gangster is double-crossed and forced out of retirement when his best friend is kidnapped and their stash of eight stolen gold bars demanded as ransom.


Film Forum: The granddaddy of the modern Gallic gangster movie, Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (translation: "Don't touch the loot!") immediately created a market for offspring like Dassin'sRififi and Melville's Bob Le Flambeur. Adapted from the seminal 1952 "Série Noire" novel by Albert Simonin, Grisbi took the gangster saga to new heights of realism by portraying the criminal class as a larcenous subbourgeoisie and introducing authentic underworld slang to screen dialogue.


Available on DVD from

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