Umbrellas of cherbourg, Jacques Demy, 82 min.
The film that helped launch Catherine Deneuve to international stardom, the wonderful The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg has a slender story: a pregnant shopgirl Geneviève (Deneuve) is separated from her mechanic lover Guy (Castelnuovo), when the latter is drafted into military service during the Algerian war. But director Demy conjures up a work of sheer cinematic delight, transforming the dreary port of Cherbourg into a pastel-coloured fairytale world, in which every line of dialogue is sung to Michel Legrand’s memorable score.
LA DANSE: LE BALLET DE L’OPERA DE PARIS, Frederick Wiseman, 158 min.
Documentary master Frederick Wiseman’s 38th film in a career that has spanned more than that number of years, turns his attention to one of the world’s greatest ballet companies, the Paris Opera Ballet. John Davey’s camera roams the vast Palais Garnier, an opulent 19th century pile of a building: from its crystal chandelier-laden corridors to its labyrinthine underground chambers, from its light-filled rehearsal studios to its luxurious theater replete with 2,200 scarlet velvet seats and Marc Chagall ceiling. LA DANSE devotes most of its time to watching impossibly beautiful young men and women — among them Nicolas Le Riche, Marie-Agnès Gillot, and Agnès Letestu — rehearsing the choreography of Mats Ek, Wayne McGregor, Rudolf Nureyev and Pina Bausch. For balletomanes and the curious alike, LA DANSE serves up a scrumptious meal of delectable moments, one more glorious than the next, made even more precious by their ephemeral nature.
PARIS, Cedric Klapisch, 128min
Even in its opening mash-up of images and musical styles, it’s clear that Paris will both indulge and explode the city’s mythology. In a frenetic series of scenes, director Cedric Klapisch announces that his movie will be set in many cities: the Paris of high fashion, the Paris of deeply embedded history, the Paris of love, the Paris of loss, aristocratic Paris, the Paris of African and Arab immigrants. Filming in some of the city’s most familiar precincts, from the mansard-roof apartment buildings to the marketplace at Ménilmontant, Klapisch captures both the picture-postcard ideal of the city and the candid truth behind it, managing to enhance both images.
PANIQUE AU VILLAGE, 75 min.
Hilarious and frequently surreal, the stop-motion extravaganza A TOWN CALLED PANIC has endless charms and raucous laughs for children from eight to eighty. Based on the Belgian animated cult TV series (which was released by Wallace & Gromit’s Aardman Studios), Panic stars three plastic toys named Cowboy, Indian and Horse who share a rambling house in a rural town that never fails to attract the weirdest event
LES AMANTS REGULIERS, Philippe Garrel, 183min
Winner of numerous international awards and garnering universal acclaim worldwide, Philippe Garrel’s REGULAR LOVERS (Les Amants réguliers) is a rapturous paean to France’s near-revolution of May ’68 and its aftermath. Shooting in lustrous black and white, Garrel and legendary cinematographer William Lubtchansky capture the era’s ambiance with an opulent intimacy that suggests an apocryphal French New Wave opus, while sparring overtly with Bernardo Bertolucci’s controversial The Dreamers
Cliente, Josiane Balasko,
French cinema has never been shy about depicting female desire. Cliente, Josiane Balasko’s matter-of-fact comedy about the commodification of love, is no exception. An elegant entrepreneur in her fifties, Judith unapologetically engages male escorts to minister to her pleasure. When she answers Patrick’s ad, she’s charmed by the sensitive fellow in the classic suit; it’s as if he stepped right out of the Nouvelle Vague films of her youth. But from the get-go, things with this good-natured gent aren’t as efficient as with other lovers. Not only is he unable to perform on their second date, but power dynamics and his private life begin to muddy their arrangement. At home in the Paris projects, Patrick is buckling under pressure to support a gaggle of demanding relatives, including his adorable wife, Fanny, who’s getting wise to his secret financial scheme. And just as you think they’ll be propelled onto predictable paths befitting characters in a less-playful, less-astute story, Judith, Patrick, and Fanny veer into murky emotional terrain, reluctantly getting tangled in a bittersweet triangle. Part bedroom farce, class melodrama, and feminist foray, Cliente is elevated by the superb performances of Eric Caravaca and Nathalie Baye. It boldly illuminates the challenge of contemporary women to define satisfaction on their own terms-somewhere between autonomy and interdependence