Patrice Chereau

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Controvercial French Stage And Film Director Patrice Chereau Dies At Age 68


Patrice Chereau

Patrice Chereau, the famed film and theatre director, has passed away at the age of 68. The director, whose rebellious, sexually and politically charged productions with the Bavarian opera house managed to earn him both scorn and praise in the late XX century, began as a sort of outcast in the French theatre.


Continue reading: Controvercial French Stage And Film Director Patrice Chereau Dies At Age 68

Danton Review


Excellent
Long before we arrive at the time and place where Andrzej Wajda's captivating Danton takes place, democracy itself had failed. Has it gotten better since the days of guillotines and powdered wigs? The answer is muddled, but behind it all still lurks the fear of that blade, its finality and the power that gives whoever holds the rope from which it hangs.

Georges Danton, the titular Parisian political firebrand who was put under the blade in April 1794, is played here by the incomparable Gérard Depardieu, and it may very well be one of the mighty, imposing actor's best performances. Danton returns to Paris to decry the Reign of Terror that, under the hand of the Revolution, had claimed countless lives and allowed the Committees to continue to do what they want without bowing to scrutiny or criticism. Instead, rather quickly, the one-time revolutionist was jailed along with several other politicians and accused of trying to bring down the Revolution.

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Gabrielle Review


Very Good
With fangs still dripping dark blood, Gabrielle comes to us like Neil LaBute rewriting Henrik Ibsen's classic A Doll's House. Don't let that get you too excited: The film is also very slow, psychological, and just slightly experimental in its score and use of text as language. In fact, there's little mystery why the film was held for nearly nine months since its premiere at last years New York Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival.

Jean Hervey (Pascal Greggory) speaks eloquently (in voice over) about his wealth and his friends as he steps off a train and begins his short trek home. He talks at length about his distinguished, attenuated dinners that he throws for friends every Thursday, and then begins to talk about his wife, Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert). We watch them dine at a huge table of friends, including the editor in charge of Jean's newspaper who spews theory on the decline of theater. Gabrielle talks lovingly of Jean, as if he is the only man deserving of oxygen. Not but a few days later, Jean, still in voice over, is pontificating on how Gabrielle is his "favorite possession" when all of a sudden he finds a letter on his desk. What is disclosed in this letter will cause Jean and Gabrielle to be at each other's throats for the entirety of the film, with both parties drawing a bit of blood.

Continue reading: Gabrielle Review

Gabrielle Review


Very Good
With fangs still dripping dark blood, Gabrielle comes to us like Neil LaBute rewriting Henrik Ibsen's classic A Doll's House. Don't let that get you too excited: The film is also very slow, psychological, and just slightly experimental in its score and use of text as language. In fact, there's little mystery why the film was held for nearly nine months since its premiere at last years New York Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival.

Jean Hervey (Pascal Greggory) speaks eloquently (in voice over) about his wealth and his friends as he steps off a train and begins his short trek home. He talks at length about his distinguished, attenuated dinners that he throws for friends every Thursday, and then begins to talk about his wife, Gabrielle (Isabelle Huppert). We watch them dine at a huge table of friends, including the editor in charge of Jean's newspaper who spews theory on the decline of theater. Gabrielle talks lovingly of Jean, as if he is the only man deserving of oxygen. Not but a few days later, Jean, still in voice over, is pontificating on how Gabrielle is his "favorite possession" when all of a sudden he finds a letter on his desk. What is disclosed in this letter will cause Jean and Gabrielle to be at each other's throats for the entirety of the film, with both parties drawing a bit of blood.

Continue reading: Gabrielle Review

Intimacy Review


Very Good
The uncompromising nudity bared throughout Petrice Chereau's Intimacy has already garnered much notoriety, but it's in the naked faces of fearless actors Mark Rylance (Angels & Insects) and Kerry Fox (Welcome To Sarajevo) that the tender ache of emotional resonance is discovered. With sharp, intelligent eyes that reflect experience and maturity, Rylance and Fox are refreshingly detached from the false glamour of Hollywood idols. Their sex scenes together are bracing in their raw honesty, in the acceptance of flesh and messiness. Less apparent, but no less remarkable, are the astute observations of behavior revealed through those carnal beats of haste and hesitance, often without a single line of dialogue.

Not aiming for the spiritual poetry of In the Realm of the Senses or the philosophical transgressions of Crash, Chereau keeps his sexual odyssey firmly grounded in terms of straightforward character development. That may be the very reason why Intimacy seems unerringly impressive but never particularly significant on more than a tactile, sensory level. The themes of human isolation are barren and obvious, a science project devoid of any especially groundbreaking hypothesis. Intimacy does manage to stand out from lesser portraits of "human interconnectedness" and Pinter-esque rummages through psychological dirty drawers (okay, kill me). Shallow though it might sound, it's amazing how much is filled in through an inspired cast, perceptive camerawork, and imaginative ways of treating the love scene. Those ingredients are too assured and confident to merely dismiss as icing on the cake, especially since they are the substance of the cake itself.

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Those Who Love Me Can Take The Train Review


Excellent
The family, friends and lovers all rush to make it to the train. We're thrown into a whirlwind of over a dozen characters all clamoring to get on board, and we soon learn that they are en route to the funeral of the mercurial painter, Jean-Baptiste. This man was a fixture in their lives - a hostile cad with a miserable sense of humor who kept them attached through sex, his vitality for life and encouragement to keep moving forward, whether he meant it or not.

In a boldly theatrical touch, Jean-Baptiste demanded that those gathering to pay their last respects must make a journey by train to his final resting place in Limoges, knowing full well that the damage he has done within their lives will come to a passionate, tumultuous head. As if to mock them, his body is being transported in a small white car driven on the road alongside the tracks.

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Time Regained Review


Excellent
A literal adaptation of the final book of Marcel Proust's Remembrances of Things Past would be inconceivable and boring, since the tastes and smells which reveal layers of memory cannot be captured onscreen. Raoul Ruiz's Time Regained does the next best thing. Ruiz weaves a fragmented, experimental narrative in the form of a tapestry. There's an uncanny beauty achieved by telling his story in this manner, which reveals thoughts and inactions by using the very limitations of the film medium. He presents us with a series of photographs, or images shot into mirrors or through doorways which open up to the past and present (and cross-cut between the two with relative ease.)

Taking place within the huge estates and manor houses of the cultural elite, with string quartets playing in their studies and tiny cakes neatly arranged on trays in their kitchens, our main character, Marcel (Marcelo Mazzarello) wanders through this world drinking it in. The plot is inconsequential, it is more about observing the crowded rooms and bitten back emotions, the sips of wine and soft handshakes. Every now and then, Marcel is forced to confront his decadent relatives (sneeringly funny John Malkovich and sour Pascal Greggory.)

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The Time Of The Wolf Review


Good
What is it about French filmmakers and the word "wolf?" This is the second French film in three years to ostensibly cover the lupine species... even though it doesn't really.

Director Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) offers a tantalizing setup this go-round, yet he ultimately does nothing with it. Here's the gist: A family arrives at their vacation house under suspicious (and weirdly hazy) circumstances, only to find squatters living inside. Soon Haneke reveals that some (unexplained) apocalyptic event has transpired, scattering people across the countryside. What happens when people try to survive a nuclear winter (or thereabouts)? Does soceity break down or does it rebuild?

Continue reading: The Time Of The Wolf Review

Nearest To Heaven Review


OK
"Reinventions" rarely work this way. Normally, when a filmmaker gets an idea to reimagine a movie, they do it with a modern flair, a younger cast, and a hip soundtrack. Rarely does a filmmaker take an old standard classic and remake it with actors in their fifties -- and in French.

The strange update of An Affair to Remember goes like this: A dazed and neurotic French woman named Fanette (Catherine Deneuve) is so obsessed with Affair that she sneaks into the movie theater constantly to see it. (You can still see An Affair to Remember in Paris theaters?) An old flame resurfaces -- she thinks -- and a mysterious note arrives suggesting she meet him in three days at the top of the Empire State Building, just like in Affair!

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Lucie Aubrac Review


Weak
Thought a WWII movie couldn't be dead boring? Think again. Lucie Aubrac is the story of the French resistance member of the same name, a woman whose entire job during the war apparently consisted of busting her husband out of jail after repeatedly being caught for stupid offenses against the Nazis. Carole Bouquet as Lucie spends most of her screen time staring defiantly into the camera whilst wearing a stupid hat. Filled with minutaie about resistence members, dates, codes, and more than a little melodrama. Blame the French. I know I do.

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Patrice Chereau

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Patrice Chereau Movies

Intimacy Movie Review

Intimacy Movie Review

The uncompromising nudity bared throughout Petrice Chereau's Intimacy has already garnered much notoriety, but it's...

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Lucie Aubrac Movie Review

Lucie Aubrac Movie Review

While Robin Williams will probably score big at the box office this week with yet...

Time Of The Wolf Movie Review

Time Of The Wolf Movie Review

The Munich-born, French-dwelling Michael Haneke's work is nothing if not challenging.The first film I saw...

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