Thursday, April 8, 2010

Alliance Française schedule

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, April 9, 8 pm:  Une vie / End of Desire (1958) written and directed by Alexandre Astruc – 86 mins – France/ Italy, Drama. English subtitles.


With Maria Shell, Christian Marquand, Antonella Lualdi, Pascale Petit.

C:\Users\User\Pictures\10-04 Apr Pix\Une vie 02.jpg«End of desire» is based on a novel by Guy De Mauppasant. Maria Schell plays Jeanne, who enters into a loveless marriage with impoverished Julien. Having married Jeanne only for her money, Julien has no qualms about carrying on an affair with Gilberte, the family maid. Even after Gilberte gives birth to Julien's child, Jeanne forgives her husband, but he fails to learn his lesson and as a result deeply suffers. The physical and psychological isolation of the long-suffering heroine is emphasized by director Alexandre Astruc's decision to film «End of desire» almost exclusively in a remote country mansion.

– Alliance description, James Travers: Maria Schell stars in this respectable adaptation of a great Guy de Maupassant novel. As in René Clément’s Gervaise (1956), she plays a young woman who is unlucky in love and driven by cruel fate to endure a life of pain and tragedy. The bleak Normandy setting, beautifully shot by Claude Renoir, conveys the barren futility of Jeanne’s hopeless love but also gives the film a cold feel that plays against its emotional potency. The characterless, slightly wooden performances from Christian Marquand and the supporting cast further weaken the film’s dramatic impact, almost to the point that Maria Schell resembles a star actress single-handedly trying to lift a faltering amateur stage production. For all its faults, Une vie is an alluring, well-crafted film with a strange appeal, suffused with a bleak Brontë-style poetry and surprisingly brutal in its depiction of an unrequited love.


Synopsis: In the late 19th century, Jeanne Dandieu lives with her parents in an isolated country house in Normandy. Her only companion is her childhood friend, Gilberte, who is now her servant. One fateful day, Jeanne drifts out to sea in a rowing boat. Soon after she is rescued by fisherman, she meets a young man, Julien, with whom she falls instantly in love. They marry, but it soon becomes apparent that Julien has no love for Jeanne. He insists on having a separate room where, unbeknown to Jeanne, he takes Gilberte as his mistress…


At Alliance Française on Friday, April 16, 8 pm:  Ascenseur pour l'échafaud / Frantic / Elevator to the Gallows(1958) by Louis Malle – 92 mins – France, Crime/ Drama/ Thriller. English subtitles. B&W. Music by Miles Davis. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 93/81 out of 100. Louis Malle's 1957 masterpiece of suspense and film noir starring Jeanne Moreau, in the role that catapulted her to international stardom.


With Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Lino Ventura, Georges Poujouly.


An industrialist is assassinated but an elevator breakdown prevents a perfect crime.

– Alliance description


RottenTomatoes: This psychological thriller is imbued with a wonderful Parisian atmosphere and a moody, improvisational score by legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. A beautiful woman, Florence, and her lover, Julien, plan to murder her husband (who happens to be Julien's boss as well), so they can be together. After carefully carrying out the crime, Julien gets stuck inside the elevator when the power is turned off. The film takes off in a number of surprising twists and turns, one of which includes a young couple who steal Julien's car. They take a ride outside the city and kill a German couple in a hotel, a crime the police eventually pin on Julien. However, Jeanne Moreau's performance as Florence wandering around nighttime Paris in a sad, desperate search for her missing lover, with Davis' haunting score in the background, heightens the tension and suspense of the film and reveals the story's emotional core.


Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan: As beautifully fatalistic as its title, the classic thriller Elevator to the Gallows is a consummate entertainment rich with the romantic atmosphere of Paris in the 1950s. Coming at a turning point in French cinematic history, it drew upon several major talents — director Louis Malle, star Jeanne Moreau, cinematographer Henri Decaë, musician Miles Davis — and achieved near-legendary results with all of them.

Made in 1957, when first-time director Malle was only 24 years old, Elevator(Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud) has the brisk craftsmanship and efficiency of classic French cinema and a breathless hint of the energy of the New Wave that was but a few years away.


It made a major film star of Moreau, whose work remains completely bewitching. ...  Adapted by Malle and Roger Nimier from a pulp novel by Noël Calef, Elevator has one of those twisty plots that, as typified by films like Clouzot's Les Diabolique and the Boileau-Narcejac novel that was the basis of Hitchcock's Vertigo, was very much of a French taste.

It starts with what has the look of a perfect crime. Cool customer Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet, later the star of Malle's The Fire Within), a case-hardened former paratrooper, is planning a murder. The victim is to be his boss, who also happens to be the wealthy husband of his mistress Florence, played by Moreau.

Things do not, needless to say, go exactly as planned, and Elevator ends up following the separate destinies of Julien, Florence and a pair of delinquent teenage lovers (who prefigure the Jean-Paul Belmondo-Jean Seberg couple of 1959's Breathless) who go for an impulsive joyride in Julien's convertible.

From Elevator's opening shot, a super-tight close-up of Moreau, the great skill of cinematographer Decaë, who also shot the debut films of Truffaut and Chabrol, is very much in evidence. Decaë was a master at working with available light, a technique considered daring at the time. It is especially effective in the film's signature sequence, shot with the camera in a baby carriage, of Moreau's Florence searching for Julien on the streets of Paris.

"She was lit only by the windows of the Champs-Elysees, that had never been done," the director recalled in "Malle on Malle." "That first week there was a rebellion of the technicians at the lab after they had seen the dailies. They went to the producer and said, 'You must not let Malle and Decaë destroy Jeanne Moreau.' They were horrified."

Rather than destroy Moreau, who was already the top stage actress of her generation, Elevator was the platform for her further ascent. The desperate urgency and ethereal despair of Florence's quest for Julien, which one critic has likened to Eurydice in the Underworld, remains completely compelling and underscores the actress' unsurpassed ability to subtly convey complex emotions on screen.

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