At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
The Alliance Française shows its series of French films in a small room in their building at 138 Charoen Prathet Road. The building is directly opposite Wat Chaimongkhon, near the Chedi Hotel. Tell your taxi "Samakhom Frangset" and/or "Wat Chaimongkhon."A contribution of 30 baht is requested; you pay outside at the information desk of the Alliance Française proper.
At Alliance Française on Friday, February 19, 8 pm: Vipère au poing / Viper in the Fist (2004) by Philippe de Broca – 100 mins – France/ UK, Drama. English subtitles.
With Catherine Frot, Jules Sitruk, Jacques Villeret.
In 1922, after the paternal grandmother who was looking after them died, the young boy and his brother Ferdinand found their parents, who’d returned from China, once again. But the relationship with their mother rapidly becomes a nightmare. She’s quick to lash out at the two children, mistreat and abuse them.
– Alliance description
Hollywood North Report, Vince D’Amato: Blurbed as “A Delicious Alternative to Harry Potter!” by Variety, Viper in the Fist is actually a story about a young boy, Jean Rezeau, living at a family estate in Brittany, and his mother who is apparently a descendant of fairy-tale witches, but is really just a grumpy old hag. It’s a straight-out drama with themes of child abuse and adultery in family values, despite the back-of-the-box description of “an atmosphere of comical but vicious civil war” (?!). Told in a flashback and narrated style from the boy’s point of view as an adult, we’re recounted with the family life as a European soap-opera drama. The boy playing the lead character is very good, but still can’t drum up much charisma from the often dull telling of the plot. Same goes for the mother (great performance), but the main problem is that these characters end up only feeding the audiences memories of better characters in a sub-genre that the distributors of this film wishes it was in, (like Angelica Huston in “The Witches” ), and never ends up hitting the mark on its own, despite several valiant attempts.
Overall, Viper in the Fist is well-made yet ultimately unsatisfying, plateauing instead of dramatically climaxing, leaving the viewer often unfulfilled. Sadly, part of the reason for this is that the filmmaker had intended this story to be a trilogy – something that will not happen now; Broca died last year. But since the intended future chapters of this story will not be filmed, we the audience must now take this film as a stand-alone piece, unfinished or not. And furthermore, contrasting the poor marketing attempts toward Harry Potter fans, There is none of the comic-book charm of The Harry Potter stories, in spite of a few lame parallels exploited for the DVD box description of the movie, and I’d think that fans of that series would be better off twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the next Potter sequel to hit theatres instead of trying to satisfy their anticipation with this ultimately mediocre film. Too bad, too – there were just so many almosts in this film, it’s really a shame thinking of what it might have (or could have) been. Viper in the Fist is not only based on a novel by Herve Bazin, but is also a remake of a 1971 French film of the same name.
Reel Film Reviews, David Nusair: Director Philippe de Broca reportedly intended for Vipère au poing to be the first part of a trilogy, though that'll never happen now (the filmmaker died in November 2004). It's a shame, really, given that the movie feels more like 100 minutes of set-up than anything else. The story revolves around two brothers in the '20s, whose comfortable lives are obliterated by the arrival of their strict, hateful mother (played by Catherine Frot). And that's essentially the first hour of Vipère au poing; there's no storyline here, just sequence after sequence of the boys being terrorized (resulting in an intriguing subplot revolving around the youngest son's efforts to knock off not-so-dear old mom). The film does improve slightly as it progresses, particularly following the departure of Frot's character. But in the end, despite some fine acting and an ambiance that feels authentic, the film just isn't engaging - though it seems clear that future installments would've likely improved this one in retrospect (i.e. once the entire story had been told).
At Alliance Française on Friday, February 26, 8 pm: Voisins, voisines (2005) by Malik Chibane – 90 mins – France, Comedy. English subtitles.
With Anémone, Jackie Berroyer, Frédéric Diefenthal.
A rapper searching for inspiration in a Paris suburb at "la Résidence Mozart.” He has three days to write his songs for his record company...
– Alliance description
FrenchCulture.org: Mixing a hip-hop sound-track with gritty and at times surrealistic images, Voisins, Voisines explores the multi-ethnic world of the French banlieues, the disadvantaged urban spaces that gained world media attention during the riots of 2005. Director Malik Chibane, the son of Algerian immigrants, reveals in these seemingly dead-end spaces human depth and global resonance that transcend social and ethnic divides.
At Alliance Française on Friday, March 5, 8 pm: Prénom Carmen / First Name: Carmen (1983) by Jean-Luc Godard – 85 mins – France, Drama/ Crime. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 77 out of 100.
With Maruschka Detmers, Jacques Bonnaffé, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Villeret.
Her name is Carmen. She borrows her uncle’s flat to shoot a film with friends. But at the same time, she is in a terrorist group. After a bank hold up, she runs away with a young policeman in love with her and tells him the film is a pretext to kidnap a powerful businessman…
– Alliance description
Louis Schwartz, All Movie Guide: First Name: Carmen tells the parallel stories of a quartet rehearsing Beethoven and a group of young people robbing a bank, supposedly to get the funds to make a film. Director Jean-Luc Godard attempts to make a film that resembles a string quartet, each of whose parts serves an abstract whole. The film is a meditation on the difficulties of youth in the 1980s, the relations between cinema and capital, and how to film the human body. Godard fills the film with carefully composed shots of bodies playing music, making love, and acting violently. His attention to bodies in First Name: Carmen makes the film's images very close to sculptures, particularly those of Rodin. The film's engagement with painting and sculpture continues Godard's ongoing investigation of the relationships between cinema and other arts.