Saturday, May 16, 2009

Movies Update May 16

Film Space schedule change!


Chiang Mai movies update, Saturday, May 16, 2009



by Thomas Ohlson



Film Space has changed its Saturday film, due to problems in getting Eric Bogosian's Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. The new film is Summer Time Machine Blues by Katsuyuki Motohiro, and there is a short description below.  


Second, Slumdog Millionaire opened at Vista, and so far only a few people have gone. I was surprised to note that as of 7 pm Thursday only 36 people had bought tickets. Really, you owe it to yourself to see this gem of a film on a big screen, where the sights of Mumbai can be fully appreciated, with a sound system that can do justice to its terrific sounds and music. I was at the second showing Thursday, and I can assure you, you haven’t really seen it until you’ve seen it on the big screen1



At Film Space Saturday, May 16, at 7 pmSummer Time Machine Blues / Samâ taimumashin burûsu / サマータイムマシンブルース (2005) by Katsuyuki Motohiro 107 mins – Japan, Comedy/ Sci-Fi.


A wacky sci-fi comedy written by Ueno Makoto (leader of Japan’s Europa Kikaku comedy troupe). The film features five members from the troupe as they play a bunch of geeks in a collegiate science fiction club, who just so happen t end up in an out of control time-travel adventure!


LoveHKfilm: A ragtag group of college kids get their hands on an honest-to-goodness time machine and end up wreaking havoc on the time-space continuum in quite possibly one of the funniest films ever made about time travel.


Filmmaker Katsuyuki Motohiro takes a breather from helming the mega-popular Bayside Shakedown series to direct 2005's Summer Time Machine Blues, a hilarious sci-fi comedy about the wacky complications that always seem to arise whenever time travel is involved. Based on a stage play by theatre troupe Europa Kikaku, this big screen adaptation revolves around five college geeks who all belong to the same college sci-fi club, although none of them seem to know the least bit about science fiction.

The film kicks off with the five club members playing a game of three-on-three baseball.A hilarious chain reaction causes one of them to accidentally spill Coke on the air conditioner's remote control. As a consequence, the remote malfunctions, as does the air conditioner! Immediately, the boys and girls find themselves sweating bullets in the sweltering summer heat. The sci-fi geeks rush to fix the remote and find a replacement fan the next day.


Out of nowhere, a time machine appears, complete with an equally geeky traveler from the future, who looks as if he's stepped out of the 1950s, not the year 2030 as he claims. As the boys come to grips with the fact that the device in front of them is an honest-to-goodness time machine, they decide to make good use of it. But instead of venturing into the distant past or the far-flung future, the boys have more practical aims, as they choose to go back in time to the previous day to bring back the AC remote control before it's ruined! It seems like a sound plan, but of course, what the kids don't realize is that any change made to the past will alter the very fabric of time-space continuum, and thereby blink them out of existence, a la Back to the Future! But each time the boys go back in time to fix things, they encounter mishap upon mishap, as they must correct their mistakes without coming in contact with their "past selves" and altering the past any further.

Half send-up, half homage, Summer Time Machine Blues is a matchless delight, as it gently pokes fun at the subgenre of time travel movies, while at the same time delivering probably one of the better sci-fi stories in the last few years. It's certainly the funniest. Although there are gags galore, the self-aware nature of the film's comedy is in full force during a scene in which the club members debate the issue of time travel. The local theatre manager, who also happens to be a Trekkie who bears more than a passing resemblance to Star Trek's Commander Riker, steps in to clarify matters, saying that time will basically fix itself and paint over the imperfections. This uninformed response is countered by Professor Kohtaro Hozumi, who also comes out of nowhere, to haul everyone to his classroom for a lengthy lecture on the dire consequences of time travel. The sci-fi club members' reactions are priceless.

The film is full of great comic bits like this, including some funny jokes that pay off later in the film. As a result of the situational time travel-centric humor, Summer Time Machine Blues is one film that merits a second viewing, as the viewer will begin focusing on the background details in later screenings, discovering events they didn't notice the first time around. Even better, with all its time travel complications, it's a movie that not only holds up to repeated viewings but actually stays true to its own internal logic. As a lighthearted farce, it had no obligation to "make sense," but the fact that it does - or at least acknowledges its own paradoxes for additional comic effect - make it an even smarter film, all the more worthy of acclaim. Of course, it's not just the crackerjack plot and the humor that work, but the actors involved as well. What's most refreshing about the actors is that, even though they are playing somewhat exaggerated characters, they all come across as actual friends, in no small part due to the fact that they are all intensely likeable, even though some of them aren't exactly the sharpest tools in the shed.


IMDb viewer:I just watched this movie again, and I've officially upped my rating to a 9/10. Folks, if you like philosophy & logic, you've got to see this movie TWICE. I haven't thought this deeply about a story since I read my last Tolstoy novel. Truly a philosophical masterpiece disgused as a goofy comedy!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Whats On starting May 14

Slumdog Millionaire at Vista!


Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, May 14, 2009


… through Wednesday, May 20


by Thomas Ohlson


Best BetsSlumdog Millionaire. Star TrekWolverine.  Angels & Demons.


Here is my list of movies playing in Chiang Mai at Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza and at Vista at Kadsuankaew for the week beginning Thursday, May 14, 2009.


I’ve also included here information on film programs at the Alliance Française and CMU’s Film Space for the next three weeks.


This year’s Oscar best picture Slumdog Millionaire is at Vista, and hooray for them! See it! (Star Dev Patel is at right.)


This is Issue Number 29 of Volume 4 of these listings – in our fourth year!


Now there’s a blog for Pattaya, too, at  



Now playing in Chiang Mai    * = new this week   

* Slumdog Millionaire: US/UK, Crime/ Drama/ Romance – 120 mins – This film won Oscar best picture and best director – and awards for adapted screenplay, original score, film editing, original song, sound mixing, and cinematography. Rated R in the US for some violence, disturbing images, and language. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 86/82 out of 100. At Vista only.

An impoverished Indian teen becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire?”, wins, and is then suspected of cheating. Trailer available here, just click.


Roger Ebert: This is a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating at the same time, about a Mumbai orphan who rises from rags to riches on the strength of his lively intelligence. It tells the story of an orphan from the slums of Mumbai who is born into a brutal existence. A petty thief, impostor and survivor, mired in dire poverty, he improvises his way up through the world and remembers everything he has learned. High-spirited and defiant in the worst of times, he survives. He scrapes out a living at the Taj Mahal, which he did not know about but discovers by being thrown off a train. He pretends to be a guide, invents "facts" out of thin air, advises tourists to remove their shoes and then steals them. . . . The film uses dazzling cinematography, breathless editing, driving music, and headlong momentum to explode with narrative force, stirring in a romance at the same time. For Danny Boyle, it is a personal triumph.


Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000), 28 Days Later (2002), Millions (2004) which was given a showing at Film Space on March 14, Sunshine (2007)).

* Angels & Demons: US, Crime/ Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – 140 mins – The team behind the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code returns for the highly anticipated Angels & Demons, based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown. Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who once again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals. Ron Howard again directs. Early reviews: mixed or average: 49/54 out of 100.


When Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati "the most powerful underground organization in history" he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization's most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. Upon learning that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, Langdon travels to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop, action-packed hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow the 400-year-old Path of Illumination that marks the Vatican's only hope for survival. Stars Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor.

Note that although the novel upon which the film is based is set before the events of the novel The Da Vinci Code, the film has been written as a sequel to follow after events in The Da Vinci Code (2006).


After church officials denied the filming of Angels & Demons on church property, director Ron Howard rebuilt the Vatican in a scaled-down version to replace the real thing. Shown here is a shot of the construction of the Vatican.


* Bangkok Adrenaline / อะดรีนาลีนคนเดือดสาดThai, Action/ Adventure – 92 mins – A Thai action-comedy created by and mostly starring Western foreigners, many of them stunt professionals, in a story about four deadbeat expatriates trying to survive in Bangkok after getting in debt to local gangsters. In a desperate bid to save themselves, they kidnap a beautiful heiress for ransom. Directed by Raimund Huber, it stars the British-born, tricking stunt actor Daniel O'Neill, a Jackie Chan stunt team veteran with acting credits that include Tony Jaa's The Protector. Shot entrely in Thailand and filmed in English, mostly, but shown here dubbed in Thai, with no English subtitles.


Star Trek (2009): US/ Germany, Sci-Fi/ Adventure/ Action 126 mins – All new! And I think it’s a great deal of fun, for fans of the series, and also for those who are not. This much-anticipated film is a reboot of the series, going back to the series’ ’60s roots by depicting the formative experiences of the legendary heroes Kirk and Spock. The young James Tiberius Kirk is played by Chris Pine as a wild Iowa boy whose father sacrificed himself at the helm of a spaceship at the very moment the child was being born. He is convinced to attend the Starfleet Academy with an eye to joining the crew of the Enterprise.


Headed for the same destination is Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, who has had a troubled background as a half-human, half-Vulcan. How these two very opposite figures become mutually trusted colleagues is the basic story of the film. It’s very well done, and I found it engrossing. From director J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, Lost, and Alias). Reviews: Universal acclaim: 83/81 out of 100.


Time Out Online, Tom Huddleston: It’s a genuine pleasure to report that Abrams’s Star Trek is a winner on almost all fronts. The cast – from Chris Pine’s whisky-soaked, pugilistic lothario Kirk, through Bruce Greenwood’s commanding Pike, to Simon Pegg’s overenthusiastic Scotty – are almost flawless. Perhaps the hardest task goes to Zachary Quinto, not just essaying the series’ most iconic character, Spock, but face-to-face with his predecessor Leonard Nimoy, thanks to the film’s time-mangling plotline. Luckily, Quinto delivers a note-perfect performance, managing, as Nimoy did before him, to make this taciturn, officious, archly superior lifeform enormously likeable.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine: US/ New Zealand/ Australia, Action/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller97 mins – Though most reviews are lukewarm, I think it’s simply brilliant, starting out with eight minutes of nigh perfect popular filmmaking, a sequence that is thrilling, sensible, and, wonder of wonders, deeply intriguing! It then veers into a quiet sequence building up a love-interest, which might seem to be just padding, but no, get involved with it, because the love relationship leads to some real emotional payoffs down the line. Really, it’s a superb action film for anyone who likes the genre, with excellent performances by Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, and many others. Mixed or average reviews: 43/44 out of 100.


Stay for two very short additional scenes during the closing credits, one of which, in a bar in Japan, is a lead-in to the sequel.


Horsemen: Canada/ USA, Drama/ Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller – 110 mins – A strange film, with an intriguing premise and a fairly interesting relationship between father and sons. Dennis Quaid plays a bitter detective emotionally distanced from his two young sons following the death of his wife. While investigating a series of murders of rare violence, he discovers a terrifying link between himself and the suspects in a chain of murders that seem to be based on the Biblical prophecies concerning the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. That’s a fascinating idea to me, and I just wish it had been more coherent in its telling. Rated R in the US for grisly and disturbing content, some sexual images, and language.

The film’s distributor, Lionsgate, opened the film to just 75 theaters in the US in early March, apparently hoping to sneak it in quietly and wait for real income from other sources and DVD. I really wanted it to be better, but nevertheless there are some nice things in it. There are only two reviews in existence so far:


Variety: Much of the initial action, as it shifts from blood-splattered crime scene to detailed autopsy and back, plays out in territory well trod by the latest and not-too-latest works of the torture-porn/Splat Pack school. A scene in which Breslin investigates a tattoo/S&M parlor connected to the murders typifies the approach of screenwriter David Callaham (Doom), as the script tries to immerse us in a faux-seedy world torn from a dozen other movies.


Thankfully, Breslin's shattered home life, where he remains estranged from his two young sons (Lou Taylor Pucci, Liam James) following the death of his wife from cancer, adds something vaguely human and original to the story. Quaid is best in these domestic sequences, in which he makes the tiresome pull between work and family seem believable -- much more so than when he's on the beat and merely going through the motions.


A Nutshell Review: as the trailers would have pretty much revealed, the serial killer victims are all tortured with meat hooks of sorts, and he's faced with more than one killer who model themselves after the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Sounds like your average detective movie right? I guess a memorable film from the genre like Se7en will only come once in a blue moon. This film by Jonas Akerlund tries to elicit similar moods devoid of humor and is all seriousness in tone, but its plot turned out to be quite flimsy thin, and those who have experienced enough of the genre, would have guessed the culprit for the last act somewhere by the mid-way point.


Dennis Quaid shows how he ages well into delivering stellar, lead performances, and makes it believable he's a man constantly struggling with a work-life balance.

Ultimately, the message here is how important parents play in nurturing their children, and should be very much involved in their development, rather than thinking that cash would be a sufficient substitute and settle everything.


Mor 3 Pee 4 / .3 ปี4 เรารักนาย: Thai, Romance/ Comedy90 mins – A nice little advertisement for MSN: Four teenagers make friends and chat online on MSN. Thee and Nut are brothers living in Bangkok, June and Jane are sisters who live in Phuket. Do the two pairs finally meet? Well it’s called a “romance” after all! Note: shown in Thai only, with no English subtitles.


Saranae Howpeng / สาระแนห้าวเป้ง!!!: Thai, Comedy 90 mins – Movie version of "Saranae Show" – a popular Thai comedy TV show that has been on the air for 11 years. With many well-known Thai comedians, including Mum Jokmok (Petchthai Wongkamlao), Kietisak "Hoi" Udomnak, Ple Nakorn, and Willy McIntosh.



Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, May 21


Night at the Museum 2: Escape From the Smithsonian:  USA/ Canada, Action/ Comedy – After a wacky night at the Museum of Natural History, the perpetually hapless Larry (Ben Stiller) must infiltrate the Smithsonian after shipping two of his resurrected friends to Washington by mistake. As a result, he finds himself in the middle of a vast conflict between many of the museum's most noteworthy historical figures. Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and Steve Coogan are back, and this time they're joined by Amy Adams, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Guest. The central thrust of the film will be bringing to life the Smithsonian Institution, which houses the world's largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections, ranging from the plane Amelia Earhart flew on her nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic and Al Capone's rap sheet and mug shot to Dorothy's ruby red slippers and Archie Bunker's lounge chair. This is the first major film to be shot inside the Smithsonian in Washington, and it may never be the same. …


And looking forward:


May 28 Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins: US/ Germany/ UK, Action/ Sci-Fi – 130 mins – With Christian Bale, Moon Bloodgood, and Common; directed by McG. In this highly anticipated – in some quarters – new installment of The Terminator film franchise, set in post-apocalyptic 2018, Christian Bale stars as John Connor, the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.


May 28 – 2022 Tsunami: Thai, Action/ Disaster – Here’s their synopsis: “Thailand 2022. …All life is swept away in an enormous tidal wave, the land is destroyed, and the only way to survive now is to battle nature itself.”


Jun 4 – Drag Me to Hell: Director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man trilogy, Evil Dead series) returns to the horror genre with this original tale of a young woman's desperate quest to break an evil curse. Surprisingly good reviews. Alison Lohman plays an ambitious L.A. loan officer with a charming boyfriend. Life is good until the mysterious Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Should she follow her instincts and give the old woman a break? Or should she deny the extension to impress her bossand get a leg-up on a promotion? She fatefully chooses the latter, shaming Mrs. Ganush and dispossessing her of her home. In retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on her, transforming her life into a living hell.


Jun 11 – Up: Disney/Pixar animated fantasy. A comedy adventure about 78-year-old balloon salesman (voiced by Ed Asner) who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell. Also starring Christopher Plummer.


Jun 18 – State of Play: A thriller about a principled investigative journalist in the midst of a vast conspiracy – engrossing, smart, unnerving, and surprisingly timely, and a tribute to the hardworking reporters that shed light on our political system. Russell Crowe stars as an old-school Washington beat reporter who's had a solid professional rapport with an up-and-coming congressman (Ben Affleck) -- that is, until some of the congressman’s associates turn up dead. Crowe uneasily joins forces with Rachel McAdams, a blogger at the paper, to untangle a sinister web of secrets and lies. The film’s ensemble, which also includes Helen Mirren as an exacting editor, is unimpeachable, as is the immediacy and authenticity of the newsroom setting.


Jul 2 – Public Enemies: With Johnny Depp as Dillinger!


Jul 16Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.


Alliance Française schedule

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm


May is The Month of Eric Rohmer at Alliance Française.


At Alliance Française on Friday, May 15:  Four Early Works by Eric Rohmer France. B&W. English subtitles.


A collection of four philosophically-oriented early works by French New Wave auteur Eric Rohmer, whose meditative, deliberately-paced romance stories dramatize the inconstant nature of the human heart.


1. Présentation ou Charlotte et son steak / Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak (1960) by Eric Rohmer– 12 mins – France, Romance/ Comedy/ Short. B&W. English subtitles.


With Jean-Luc Godard, Andrée Bertrand, Anne Couderet.


Charlotte is leaving. Before catching her train, she goes to her apartment for a quick snack -- a steak, as it happens. Walter accompanies her; the little time Charlotte will take to prepare and eat her steak represents his last opportunity to patch things up with her. A tall order, given the utterly unromantic circumstances...

– Alliance description


2. Nadja à Paris / Nadja in Paris (1964) by Eric Rohmer – 13 mins – France, Short. B&W. English subtitles.


With Nadja Tesich (also the writer).


Nadja, a Yugoslavian-born American student, lives at the Cité Universitaire in Paris, strolls in the city and gives her impressions of the different districts she visits...

– Alliance description


IMDb viewer:tells the story of a Yugoslavian-born girl, who was adopted by an American family, who goes to study at the Cité Universitaire in Paris. The character development, considering the brevity of the film, is pretty good, but overall, the film doesn't pack much of a punch at all. Rohmer's other films tend to have an overlying meaning (or "point"), often in a moral lesson. This short is basically a love letter to Paris. "We'll always have Paris." We've all heard that before, and we accept it. Hearing a student experiencing the joy of Paris for the first time isn't exactly exhilarating.



3. La boulangère de Monceau / The Baker of Monceau / The Girl at the Monceau Bakery (1962) by Eric Rohmer – 23 mins – France, Romance/ Short. B&W. English subtitles.


With Barbet Schroeder, Michéle Girardon, Bertrand Tavernier, Claudine Soubrier, Fred Junk.


In Paris, in June, a young man approaches a girl in the street, but after several days without seeing her again, he becomes involved with the girl in the local bakery. Eventually he has to choose between them when he arranges dates with them on the same day...

– Alliance description


Simple, delicate, and jazzy, the first of the Moral Tales shows the stirrings of what would become the Eric Rohmer style: unfussy naturalistic shooting, ironic first-person voice-over, and the image of the “unknowable” woman. A law student (played by producer and future director Barbet Schroeder) with a roving eye and a large appetite stuffs himself full of sugar cookies and pastries daily in order to garner the attentions of the pretty brunette who works in a quaint Paris bakery. But is he truly interested, or is she just a sweet diversion?


IMDb viewer:The first of Eric Rohmer's six moral tales, The Girl at the Bakery Monceau is probably what newcomers to the unorthodox style film-making Rohmer employs should first be exposed to. Not because they should be seen in order but more or less due to the fact that the film is under thirty minutes. As in all the tales the theme (chauvinist male protagonist conflicted over two women) remains the same and in Monceau you are given a small dose of what will carry over into the full length explorations of men in self righteous struggle with reality and ideals.

Rohmer's literary style can be quite trying and his protagonists obnoxiously condescending. His characters are neither heroic nor noble. Rohmer's narrative style which depends heavily on interior monologue reveals some ugly truths that may not cause catastrophe but offer insightful points of view that makes the audience pause in reflection. We sometimes see ourselves in such reflections as well as friends and acquaintances.

Eugene O'Neil said, "We live in illusion and die in reality." In all of his tales Rohmer narrows that gap, exposing a humdrum reality with a fickle illusion born of self deception. There is a subtle subversive reward to be found in all of the "Moral Tales" and with The Girl at the Bakery Monceau he is off to an excellent start.


IMDb viewer: It's said that a writer tells the same story over and over again. Eric Rohmer during a period spanning some nine years developed an idea in regards to the relationship between a man, the ideal woman he loves, and the alluring temptation that presents itself as an aggressive female. In La boulangère de Monceau, he begins his six-part observation.


4. La carrière de Suzanne / Suzanne's Career (1963) by Eric Rohmer – 54 mins – France, Romance. B&W. English subtitles.


With Catherine Sée, Philippe Beuzen, Jean-Claude Biette, Patrick Bauchau, Christian Charrière, Diane Wilkinson, Pierre Cottrell.


Bertrand, a shy and reserved student, admires the rogue confidence of his best friend Guillaume while he exploit the generosity of the sweetly seductive Suzanne...

– Alliance description


Bertrand bides his time in a casually hostile and envious friendship with college chum Guillaume. But when ladies’ man Guillaume seems to be making a play for the spirited, independent Suzanne, Bertrand watches bitterly with disapproval and jealousy. With its ragged black-and-white 16mm photography and strong sense of 1960s Paris, Rohmer’s second Moral Tale is a wonderfully evocative portrait of youthful naiveté and the complicated bonds of friendship and romance.


IMDb viewer: The MO is the same the usual suspects in place in Erich Rohmer's second of his six moral tales. Lifeless amateur actors, cinematic style sacrificed for literary interior monologues about blasé people leading unremarkable lives. Suzanne is basically a three character story told by Bertrand, a bit of a self righteous twerp who remains conflicted about his feelings for the innocent and gullible Susan and his relationship with the amoral Guillaume who exploits Susan. Both men have a low opinion of Susan who in part brings it on herself by allowing the men to use her for her money and in the case of the rakish Guillaume for sex as well.


More concerned with character than plot, Rohmer gives us healthy servings of pettiness, ego, condescension, and denial served up by a self absorbed threesome blind to every one's view but their own. Less than an hour long (Rohmer time) the pace is still slow and the characters repetitious bad habits irritating but if one remains patient is rewarded with an ending rich in truth.


While the more polished, bigger budgeted and lengthier later tales such as Claire's Knee and Love in the Afternoon have a more professional patina about them Suzanne sans all these trappings is still told in the same Rohmer unique way.


The films of Erich Rohmer are an acquired taste. In Night Moves, a hard boiled private investigator played by Gene Hackman says viewing a Rohmer film is like watching paint dry. For twenty years I agreed with this assessment. I may still, but once dried and finished I now see a work of interesting art that is both challenging and pure.


Suzanne is an interesting sketch but for those unfamiliar with Rohmer, I would recommend any of the last three of the six tales first for their accessibility. Watch one and if it doesn't agree with you, wait ten to twenty years and try again. In Rohmer's case patience is a necessity.



At Alliance Française on Friday, May 22:  Le genou de Claire / Claire's Knee (1970) by Eric Rohmer – 110 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 83 out of 100.


With Jean-Claude Brialy, Aurora Cornu, Béatrice Romand, Laurence de Monaghan.


Jérôme 35 years old, is on holiday in Talloires, near Annency. He meets Aurora, a Rumanian novelist, whom he came to know about six years ago. During her holidays she rents a room in a villa near the lake. She invites Jérôme to come to her villa and introduces him to the owner and to her daughter Laura who is 16 years old.


Jérôme is going to get married in one month time. Laura not knowing it, tries to seduce him and by curiosity, he enters into affair…

– Alliance description

Jérôme, a 35-year-old diplomat, is struck by teenage girl Claire and harbors an unquenchable desire to touch her knee.


Roger Ebert: Now if I were to say, for example, that Claire's Knee is about Jerome's desire to caress the knee of Claire, you would be about a million miles from the heart of this extraordinary film. And yet, in a way, Claire's Knee is indeed about Jerome's feelings for Claire's knee, which is a splendid knee. Jerome encounters Claire and the other characters in the film during a month's holiday he takes on a lake between France and Switzerland. He has gone there to rest and reflect before he marries Lucinda, a woman he has loved for five years. And who should he run into but Aurora, a novelist who he's also been a little in love with for a long time.


Aurora is staying with a summer family that has two daughters: Laura, who is sixteen and very wise and falls in love with Jerome, and Claire, who is beautiful and blonde and full of figure and spirit. Jerome and Aurora enter into a teasing intellectual game, which requires Jerome to describe to Aurora whatever happens to him during his holiday. When they all become aware that Laura has fallen in love with the older man, Jerome encourages her in a friendly, platonic way. They have talks about love and the nature of life, and they grow very fond of each other, although of course the man does not take advantage of the young girl.


But then Claire joins the group, and one day while they are picking cherries, Jerome turns his head and finds that Claire has climbed a ladder and he is looking directly at her knee. Claire herself, observed playing volleyball or running, hand-in-hand, with her boyfriend, is a sleek animal, and Jerome finds himself stirring with desire.


He doesn't want to run away with Claire, or seduce her, or anything like that; he plans to marry Lucinda. But he tells his friend Aurora that he has become fascinated by Claire's knee; that it might be the point through which she could be approached, just as another girl might respond to a caress on the neck, or the cheek, or the arm. He becomes obsessed with desire to test this theory, and one day has an opportunity to touch the knee at last.


As with all the films of Eric Rohmer, Claire's Knee exists at levels far removed from plot (as you might have guessed while I was describing the plot). What is really happening in this movie happens on the level of character, of thought, of the way people approach each other and then shy away. In some movies, people murder each other and the contact is casual; in a work by Eric Rohmer, small attitudes and gestures can summon up a university of humanity.


Claire's Knee is a movie for people who still read good novels, care about good films, and think occasionally.


At Alliance Française on Friday, May 29:  Pauline à la plage / Pauline at the Beach (1983) by Eric Rohmer – 95 mins – France, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. Rated R in the US for nudity and sexual situations.Reviews: Universal acclaim: 88 out of 100.


With Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle, Pascal Greggory, Feodor Atkine.


Pauline a young teenage-girl is being looked after by her cousin Marion, for a couple of days during the summer holidays. On the beach Mario comes across Pierre and old flame of hers whom Henri a friend of his introduces to her. Instead of going with henri. What will Pauline make of all this?

– Alliance description


The Movie Boy: The film takes place during a few weeks of August at the Normandy Coast, and centers on six different characters, primarily Pauline (Amanda Langlet), a wise beyond her years 15-year-old who has come to stay for the summer with her older cousin, Marion (Arielle Dombasle). On the first day at the beach, Marion runs into an old high school flame (Fedoore Atkine), and although he wants to rekindle their relationship, she is more interested in an older, more seductive womanizer (Pascal Greggory), who is also secretly having an affair with a candy vendor (Rosette). While Pauline watches as an outsider at what is happening between all of the adults, she forms a relationship of her own with a young teenage boy (Simon De La Brosse).


Pauline at the Beach is not a film in which big dramatic things occur, and there is not a clear-cut, tidy conclusion to the story. Instead, it is a picture that simply observes its characters in every day life, and the surprises come from little character details. The film is quite talky and slow moving, and so it is pretty safe to say it isn't for those who are only a fan of action movies, but is a treat for those viewers who often like to venture outside of the big-budget genre and see a good art film.



Spirituality and Practice: Eric Fromm wrote: "There is hardly any activity which started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet which fails so regularly, as love." Eric Rohmer, the French director, would probably agree: he is a connoisseur of the amorous interplay of men and women. His new series of films, "Comedies and Proverbs," explores the different expectations individuals have about love. Pauline at the Beach, the latest installment, follows The Aviator's Wife and Le Beau Mariage.


Rohmer stages this intricate and engaging story of love, romance, lust, jealousy, deceit and bittersweet disillusionment in a relaxed summery season. The lovely surroundings and the ensuing misunderstandings provide the perfect milieu for an examination of contrasting attitudes about relationships.


Each of the lead characters — Amanda Langlet as the impressionable Pauline, Arielle Dombasle as the romantic Marion, Pascal Greggory as the moody Pierre, and Feodor Atkine as the narcissistic Henry — present a very different slant on love. To Pauline, it is uncharted territory; to Marion, it is centered around erotic attention; to Henry, it is a playful game detached from intense feelings; to Pierre, it is a mix of devotion and disappointment.


Rohmer's movies are masterpieces on a small scale. He wants us to recognize love as a process — an incessant interrogation of being — not a route to definitive answers but an ever expanding journey. Every filmgoer is sure to see bits and pieces of himself or herself in the words and deeds of these characters. Some artists believe that more revelations about human nature can be found in sentimental relations than in politics or the marketplace. Eric Rohmer inspires belief in that thesis.