Pascal Bonitzer

Pascal Bonitzer

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Looking For Hortense Trailer


Damien Hauer is a professor of Chinese civilization whose life with his stage director girlfriend Iva Delusi has become rather stagnant and miserable. Things get more complicated for him, however, when she makes him promise to help her immigrant friend Zorica when threats of her deportation arise. To do this he must condescend to speak to his father Sebastien; an important figure in the French Council of State. However, Damien has not spoken to his father in several years and finds it very difficult to accept his quirks and have a good relationship - after all, relationships of any sort are not his strong point. If Damien's task does not go well, he faces permanently severing ties with Sebastien and losing his partner who is becoming increasingly frustrated and hurt by his lack of affection.

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The Duchess of Langeais Review


Excellent
It's no mystery that men and women do unconscionable things in the name of love, but the way French-new-waver Jacques Rivette plays it in his adaptation of Balzac's Don't Touch the Axe, you would think it was an epidemic.

Titled The Duchess of Langeais, Rivette's Restoration anti-romance takes the structure of a courtship between General Montriveau (Guillaume Depardieu), a celebrated war hero, and Antoinette (the astounding Jeanne Balibar), the titular married coquette, in the early 19th-century. At a ball in the upper echelons of French society, Antoinette becomes intrigued by the stoic Montriveau even before she meets him. Despite his lack of game, the general entices the married duchess with stories of his wartime campaigns. A student of Bonaparte, Montriveau becomes infatuated with Antoinette, who, in turn, begins to strategically toy with her soldier-in-waiting.

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Changing Times Review


Good
A man is buried under a heap of mud and dirt within the first five minutes of Andre Techine's Changing Times. It's not quite a mudslide since it's not on any sort of angle, but it piles on a man until a group of workers have to dive into the hole to dig him out. Not surprisingly, this event punctuates the subdued surreal nature of the film.

Antoine (Gérard Depardieu) has a nice job. He oversees construction for a company who builds media centers all over the world, using his skills as an engineer and a negotiator to keep projects rolling. These skills were not used to his advantage earlier in his life when he dated Cécile (Catherine Deneuve), who now makes her living as a radio show host and a wife to Nathan (Gilbert Melki), a renowned doctor. Fate, as it tends to do, intervenes (interferes) and sends Antoine to Tangiers, where Cécile lives. At the same time, Cécile and Nathan's son Sami (Malik Zidi) and his partner Nadia (Lubna Azabal) come home for vacation time. By vacation, they actually mean for Sami to visit his secret boyfriend and for Nadia to visit her sister, Aïcha (Lubna again). The film mainly pivots on Antoine's quest to get Cécile back, which begins as gazing from afar and eventually becomes family interaction.

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La Belle Noiseuse Review


Good
Fine art's a funny thing that I barely pretend to understand. In this molasses-slow four-hour drama, Jacques Rivette proves that he's got an understanding of fine art, but a minimal one of the art of movies. Four hours of sketching, painting, and posing a naked Emmanuelle Béart has a certain summer-in-the-south-of-France charm to it, but that can't drag us through 240 full minutes. The story is threadbare: Old artist, young visitor, his girlfriend becomes the old artist's model -- and together they figure out that neither of them is really in charge of the artistic process. Lots of self-discovery and philosophizing along the way. Very French, and actually much more capable of being enjoyed at a setting of x2 speed on your DVD player.

Lumumba Review


Weak
The story of the Congo and its struggle for independence from Belgium is a bloody and torrid one, but Lumumba doesn't really imbue the tale with much spirit. Rather, this is a fairly staid look at liberator Patrice Lumumba, intent on elevating him as a superhero above providing much entertainment value. The result: A barely watchable movie.

Tricheurs Review


Excellent
Gambling and addiction are common -- maybe too common -- themes that appear regularly in the movies. But gambling addiction hasn't ever found much of a thematic foothold, despite some noble failures.

Barbet Schroeder's Tricheurs (aka Cheaters) is an underseen and unappreciated masterwork, writ small and perfectly crafted to devastate. The story follows Elric (Jacques Dutronc), a serial gambler who plies the casinos on the island of Madeira and never seems to win. Rather, it's not that he can't win, it's that he doesn't know when to quit if he does. Elric plays roulette, the game with the worst odds but which carries the highest potential payoff: $35 against a $1 bet. All it takes is a couple of big wins before Elric blows his funds on wild bets and promptly loses it all.

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Va Savoir Review


Weak
Only the French could make a romantic comedy that clocks in at more than 2 1/2 hours in length. And of course, it wouldn't have much of a plot, either. This wafer-thin production, reminiscent of a really long Oscar Wilde play, Starring Jeanne Balibar (the poor man's Audrey Tautou), the movie is a hodgepodge of love triangles and petty theft, some of which amuses, but not for long enough to keep this critic's interest over its full running time. A curiosity that's easily forgettable.
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