Saturday, March 24, 2018

French Film Festival 2018

It's once again time for the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival in Melbourne, which is running from 28 February - 27 March 2018. Over the past couple of weeks I've been attending a number of films both solo and with friends. Here is what I ended up seeing this year:

Rock'N Roll is an exaggerated satire based on elements of the real lives of its stars director and actor Guillaume Canet and his partner actress Marion Cotillard. Canet is shooting a movie when he realises his younger co-stars don't consider him as young and hip as he used to be. This sets him off on a midlife crisis and downward spiral of partying and and trying to make himself look younger (which is taken to an absolute and comedic extreme). The film features a who's who of French cinema all making cameos as themselves and has some laugh out loud moments throughout.

Number 1 is a drama that explores the status and influence of women in the corporate world in France. Emmanuelle (Emmanuelle Devos), a member of the board of directors of an energy firm, gets approached by an influential network of women who want to put her forward to be head of France's largest water company. The film looks at the white male power structures and the glass ceilings women face when trying to advance their careers to top leadership positions.

Problemos is a hilarious post-apocalyptic comedy about a couple that goes to visit the wife's friend on a commune for the weekend, but never gets to leave because of a global pandemic that is wiping out the human race. Somehow all of these different personalities have to try and work together to create the utopian society they've been dreaming of, but of course things don't quite work out as they would have hoped.

120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) is a film set in Paris in the early-1990s documenting how ACT UP Paris fought against the government and pharmaceutical companies for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. It shows the lives of various members of the collective, in particular the relationship between Nathan (Arnaud Valois) and Sean (Nahuel Perez Biscayart), who is living with HIV.

The Return Of The Hero is a funny comedy starring Jean Dujardin as Captain Neuville, a member of Napoleon's army and casanova who gets engaged to Pauline, the younger sister of Elizabeth (Melanie Laurent) from an aristocratic family. Elizabeth can see through Captain Neuville, and when he gets immediately called off to war but never writes Pauline as promised, Elizabeth steps in to lift her sister's spirits with heroic tales from the battlefield. When Captain Neuville shows up in town a few years later, all sorts of hijinks ensue.

Gauguin is a period biopic that focuses on post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin's (Vincent Cassel) years living in Tahiti in the late 1800s. He left behind his Danish wife and five children to travel half way around the world and be inspired by a new environment. Poor and sick he befriends a local French doctor who tries to look after him, and also starts a relationship with a young Polynesian girl Tehura (Tuhei Adams), who becomes a bit of a muse for his works. The film is told from Gauguin's colonialist viewpoint, which makes it hard to have much sympathy for him, especially the way he treats Tehura towards the end of the film.

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