Tuesday, March 28, 2017

French Film Festival 2017

I have once again been busy attending the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival over the past couple weeks. My tight list of five films expanded a bit as work colleagues encouraged me to join them for other films. Here is what I ended up seeing this year:

Slack Bay is a slapstick comedy set in the early 1900s in the seaside town of Slack Bay. Summer visitors to the town keep disappearing, and the bumbling local detectives can't figure out what is going on (or what role the locals may be playing). While Juliette Binoche was great in her over the top performance as the haughty Aude Van Peteghem, I didn't find the movie to be that funny as it seemed to rely on tired cliches and physical pratfalls for cheap laughs.

It's Only The End Of The World is the latest film by French Canadian director Xavier Dolan, and was winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Based on a play of the same name by Jean-Luc Lagarce, the plot revolves around playwright Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) returning to visit his family after a 12 year absence to tell them that he is dying. There are tense interactions with his mother (Nathalie Baye), brother (Vincent Cassel), sister (Lea Seydoux) and sister-in-law (Marion Cotillard), and everything climaxes towards the end of the family lunch. The film maintains its tension between the characters throughout and is visually stunning to look at.

Tomorrow is a documentary by Melanie Laurent and Cyril Dion about how communities around the world are working together to utilise local solutions to combat global problems. The film is split into chapters that cover agriculture, energy, the economy, democracy and education. I really enjoyed this film and was inspired by the different ways people are tackling these complex issues. Check it out if you get the opportunity.

Daguerrotype is a dark, atmospheric film by Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It centers around a young guy named Jean who picks up work as a photographer's assistant. Stephane shoots life-sized Daguerrotypes, using his daughter Marie as his main model and muse. Most of the action centers around their old mansion, and Kurosawa uses music and lingering shots to build suspense and mystery so you don't know if you are seeing reality or what is in the characters' imaginations.

Monsieur Chocolat tells the true story of Rafael Padilla/Chocolat (Omar Sy), a former slave who partners with white clown George Footit (James Thierree) to develop a duo act that becomes the toast of the Nouveau Cirque in Paris during the belle-epoque. The film tackles the racism of the time and Chocolat's gradual realisation that despite the fame, being part of a minstrel routine isn't worth it if he wants to achieve equality.

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